Sunday free-for-all – June 22, 2014

Sam on keyboardIt’s the Sunday free-for-all.

Since we limited Friday’s open thread to work-related discussions, this comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. Have at it.

{ 1,085 comments… read them below }

  1. bullyfree*

    Awww, I just want to reach through the screen and pet the kitty. How can you get any work done with those furry bundles of love around you, Allison?

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I’m really not much of a cat person, but that photo is warming this dog person’s heart.

  2. CoffeeLover*

    This is just something I’m curious about. Recently, I stumbled on a post about the use of the word “ladies” to address a group of women. As in: “Hello Ladies! I’ve attached the monthly review…”
    A few people mentioned they found the term insulting in some way. Further googling told me that this term can be viewed as sexist/degrading in the U.S. in particular. I have used it in email greeting and such and want to see what you think. Do you or people you know dislike this term? Is it a U.S. thing?

      1. ArtsNerd*

        I’m thinking about this – and I think it’s absolutely fine if you’re striking a friendly and familiar tone, as in your example. If it’s a more formal context, then it can come off as stiff or a bit condescending, perhaps?

        I can see this coming from a coworker I’m buddies with and being totally above reproach, but am also flashing back to my stern ballet teacher talking down to my (pre-teen) class and referring to us as “ladies,” though that wasn’t in the US.

    1. Trixie*

      I don’t take issue from it but if you’re concerned maybe go with Greetings, Good morning/afternoon, Hi all, etc. I don’t know if its a U.S. thing to take it as an insult but I think there are those who are simply more likely to take anything personally.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I’m not really worried, more curious really. I’ve used “ladies” since learning about its potentially negative image. I’m also a woman and in Canada, so maybe there’s less risk. Though I generally refuse to be overly politically correct; perhaps to my eventual detriment ;).

        1. Anon*

          If you’re a woman, I would not find it condescending at all. If you were a man, however, I would. I know that makes no sense, but it somehow brings a different tone to it.

          1. Tara*

            I feel the exact same way. “Ladies” from a woman invokes a friendly sense of comraderie; “ladies” from a man is patronizing and othering. Not to say that I’ll hate him over it, but it’s definitely a pet peeve of mine.

        2. Laura*

          I wouldn’t find “ladies” condescending in most circumstances – only if it was contrasted with something less formal, as though we needed a more rarified term – or were said aloud in an unfortunate tone. (First case: “Hi guys!” Then to the women: “Ladies.”)

          And from a woman, I think it is less likely to be taken wrong, as well.

        3. Jazzy Red*

          I like you (and I love coffee, too)! I’m tired of trying to be so darn politically correct all the time. I will not ever be deliberately offensive, but sometimes I’m old fashioned which is the way I was raised. So, yes, I use the terms “ladies” and “gentlemen” instead of saying “y’all” or “youse”.

          I guess I could just yell out “PEOPLE!”.

      2. Amy*

        i’ve often found that ‘folks’ is a good substitute- still conveys the friendly and familiar tone, but is gender neutral

      1. abankyteller*

        Same here and I like to think I’m sensitive to things like this. “Ladies” doesn’t bother me at all.

    2. ZSD*

      I’m a woman, and I don’t exactly find it degrading, but it kind of makes me think, “Bleah,” when I get a work email that starts with, “Hi Ladies.” It feels like a greeting for middle aged women who are planning to have lunch and gossip.
      Hm. I hadn’t articulated it to myself this way before, but I think it bothers me because it sounds like the writer is defining the addressees as women rather than just humans. Like, why is the fact that I’m female relevant to the request you’re making in this email?

      1. Anx*

        I was about to say the same thing.

        I’m offended but I do get the bleah feeling sometimes.

        I’m guilty of messing up greetings/goodbyes. I’m from an area with a more gender neutral “hey guys” greeting and I accidentally said “see you guys later” to a small group of older women the other day. I’m still working on phasing it out.

      2. carlotta*

        I feel the same way. I get it mostly in emails from certain coworkers and I have to say it just grates on me!

        1. Angora*

          I agree with you. We know the tone that particular individuals use in verbal communication. We than apply that to any written correspondence.

      3. Clara*

        Yes, this. It just sounds oddly out of touch and rather clueless to me. I wouldn’t get offended but I certainly wouldn’t think particularly well of the person using it. It would elicit an eye-roll and a sigh, and probably a rude and uncharitable thought.

      4. Blinx*

        Exactly how I feel — not insulted, but not quite happy with the term either. My boss (a woman) addresses emails to her team (all women) with “Hello Ladies” (or gals, or girls), and I think I’d prefer her to be just a tad less formal and say “Hi Team”. It’s not an age thing, since we’re all about the same age.

        1. Jen RO*

          To me, ‘team’ sounds… odd. Like we’re just cogs in a machine. ‘Ladies’ acknowledges that we are human beings, not just resources.

      5. Mallory*

        I feel the same. Our budget director (who can be pretty clueless about a lot of social cues) addresses emails with “Hello, ladies” all the time. I’m not insulted, just minorly “bleah”. I roll my eyes and sigh a little at the cluelessness, and I move on until it’s rinse and repeat time.

      6. Ellie H.*

        I feel the same way. I know it’s kind of a trendy word (esp. for men to refer to a girlfriend as “my lady”) but it grates me the wrong way. It seems old fashioned.

    3. Student*

      Maybe there’s some mild confusion going on here. The word isn’t generally considered bad in the US – but it is not proper as a form of direct address. It’s acceptable as a salutation in plural, but not in singular, probably because of the insulting connotation when used as a direct address. It’s a bit of a historical hang-up that is probably slowly falling by the wayside (think back to the days of the phrase “little lady”).

      When you use the word “lady”, if you want to figure out whether it is polite or impolite, think about what word best conveys your sentiment if you were addressing the opposite gender. If you’d substitute lady-> bro or dude, then it’s probably not a good word choice. If you’d substitute lady -> gentleman, then it’s fine.

      Examples: Mildly insulting direct address – “Hey! Lady!”
      Neutral direct address: “Hey! Ma’am!” (“Sir!”)

      Weird salutation: “Hello Lady,”
      Acceptable plural salutation: “Hello Ladies,” (“Hello Gentlemen”)
      Neutral plural salutation: “Hello folks,”
      Polite Salutation: “Dear Madam,” (“Dear Sir,”)

      1. Al Lo*

        Weird salutation: “Hello Lady,”

        Although not weird if you’re being greeted by a giant and you live in Florin.

      2. The IT Manager*

        neutral plural: “Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen” ????

        So why is that okay, “Hello Gentlemen” is okay and “Hello Ladies” is not?

      3. LMW*

        I really think that depends… Among my friends (20-40s Midwesterners), “hey lady” or “hey ladies” is a frequently used “yo bro” equivalent..

      4. Artemesia*

        Hello Lady immediately brings to mind Jerry Lewis

        And ‘Hey’ is never neutral — it is almost always rude unless followed by ‘look out’ meaning a car is swerving at you.

        Excuse me Ma’am can work but ‘lady’ never

        Ladies can work depending on the norms of the group.

    4. Coco*

      These are some factors that MIGHT contribute to me being bothered by “ladies” (also “girls”).

      1) The speaker is a man
      2) There is a power differential between the speaker and the ladies (e.g. boss speaking to employees, or old person speaking to young people)
      3) The speaker has a bad reputation regarding treatment of women
      4) The speaker is making an unwarranted assumption that the people are all women

      As always, context is key.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I agree with this. I’m usually not bothered by “Ladies” unless one of the above is in play.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        (4) is key. Please be sure that all of the individuals you are addressing are indeed of the same gender before using ladies/gentlemen as a greeting. Many names are androgynous so please don’t just go by the names.

        I haven’t been in a single-gender situation that I can remember, so I use hi all / hi everyone / hi folks / etc.

    5. Jen RO*

      I think I remember an old AAM thread where women were indeed annoyed by the word. Personally, I find it funny when my boss addresses us as ladies, because we swear like sailors and we are not very ladylike.

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      I don’t have an issue with it, but I remember it being a bone of contention in college – I went to a women’s college where professors/administrators often referred to groups of students as “ladies.” However, not all of our students identified as female, so there was a movement (mostly successful) by the trans* community and their allies to make faculty and staff aware of why they should address groups with gender-neutral terms (e.g., “students”).

      TL;DR – Know your audience before you use it. Which is not the most solid/helpful advice, but that’s all I’ve got.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        I realize that my comment might sound like I didn’t support this movement by the students – I did and still do. Trans* erasure is not okay.

      2. Coco*

        This is good advice. I’ve tried to train myself to use gender-neutral pronouns, especially when speaking to or about people I don’t know.

    7. Relosa*

      “Ladies” doesn’t bother me that much in the right context (addressing a group comprised only of women) but what DOES bother me is that it is often expected to be part of my identity, rather than just a salutation.

      For example, if a dudebro were to belch the alphabet backwards, it would be weird for him to be corrected by anyone as “un-gentlemanlike behavior,” and for anyone to refer to it that way would be seen as very old school. He might hear “woah, gross!” or “Wow, disgusting!” but nothing that addresses it directly.

      However, if I were to belch the alphabet backwards, no one would blink twice if I were scolded publicly for “un-ladylike behavior”- that’s when the word “lady” bothers me. Or any time someone calls me a young lady, for any reason.

    8. James M*

      Try “Greetings and salutations, my fellow sentient humanoids!”
      It’s neutral, even to yetis and sasquatches. The only people left to be offended are the quadruped mutants in the Byzantine back country.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I found it funny, James. I appreciate the humour in our sometime quick-to-be-insulted world.

      2. ChiTown Lurker*

        Very nice. For my coworkers, I use “Greetings and salutations, my fellow earth dwellers!” They actually seem to like it as well. Of course, it am in IT.

      3. Lindrine*

        I have a pretty mixed group at work so usually it’s something like Hi Everyone, – or – Hi, or if it’s something quick I just jump right into the note. My bosses boss uses team quite a bit, but it doesn’t but me because of how she uses it in normal speech and I know by the way she treats us we are not just her robotic underlings of doom. Ladies does erk me a bit, but usually only if the person rubs me the wrong way already.

    9. Eyeroll*

      I don’t find it particularly offensive, but it is at least mildly sexist and I don’t see why you’d want to focus on the fact that I’m female when addressing me, unless you are my gynaecologist.

    10. NylaW*

      To me the ultimate issue is that there is no need to have any references to gender/sex/race/etc when you are addressing people. A simple hello, greetings, whatever is neutral and inoffensive.

      1. Girasol*

        This. In a workplace more accepting of men than women, I hate to have my otherness specifically pointed out even in a group that’s all women. “Hello” works fine with nothing to adorn it.

      2. NoPantsFridays*

        Oh yeah, this is a perspective I hadn’t actually thought of — you maybe don’t want to address people by a protected class. Like, you wouldn’t say “Hi, Christians!” or “Hi, Muslims!” or “Hi, black folks!” Nope. So along those lines, “Hi, Ladies!” or “Hi, Gentlemen” might be considered inappropriate in the workplace.

    11. Jamie*

      In the context you’re using it wouldn’t bother me at all. But then I’m not bothered by ‘girls’ either if the tone is friendly and not condescending.

      What I don’t like is ‘lady’ in the context of ‘the HR lady’ – that seems off putting of me. And I had someone would would call me lady as in ‘hey lady’ and it had a Jerry Lewis quality about it besides the tone being rude. That I put a stop to.

    12. ClaireS*

      I’m not offended but like a few mentioned, it’s a little grating. It harkens back to when a “lady” had to act a certain way -quiet,
      Reserved, etc.

      I’m much more bothered by “girls” and “females” is in the same camp as “ladies” for me.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I’m okay with ladies. They use it in figure skating–it’s better than girls or women, because not all skaters are grown up (some of them are young teenagers) so women doesn’t exactly fit. And not all skaters are young girls. Ladies is polite and covers everyone.

      Come to think of it, they say “men” for the male skaters, but I can’t think of a better inclusive word for them. Guys really isn’t formal enough.

      1. Snork Maiden*

        Although, “gentlemen’s” might be rather enjoyable in the context of figure skating. “Gentlemen’s short program” has a nice ring to it.

    14. Gilby*

      Waaaaay more things to worry about in life then over- anaylzing stuff like that.

      It’s like people, with intent, over think this stuff for the sole purpose of getting mad, standing up for some precieved slight just ……. because they can.

      It is NOT to say that people CAN’T find stuff irritating, it is just to say, think about for a second. Does it impact your life…. at all? Nope…. then who cares.

      Do people seriously think others say this stuff on purpose? Like.. ” How can I offend some people this morning… I know.. I will address the crowd of WOMEN… as… ladies……” Yeah,, that will get them riled up a bit. ”

      Do people expect others to just know that the word ” ladies”
      ” might ” irritated 1.7 % of the women so they should re-think it.

      This, should be in someones thought process, when speaking to women that are suppose to be strong, self assured people and that want to be known as such? But if you say.. ” lady” they will crumble and get mad?

      Strong, self- assured women should be not be offended.

      People seriously need to chill.

      1. Gilby*

        Might I add…

        Self Assured ” Ladies ” will not be offended..

        Self Assured ” people ” will not get offended or mad or feel slighted at innoucous things like that….

        1. Xxx*

          Wow. I’m almost impressed by how much you are missing the point in order to have your little rant, sweetie! Bless your little heart.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I haven’t seen anyone saying they’re outraged or mad. Some people are saying they find it mildly irritating or grating. We discuss things all the time that people find mildly irritating or grating, because people find that interesting. If you personally don’t, then it’s fine to just move on to the next topic. But taking this much issue with how someone else feels — let along telling people not to feel something they haven’t said they felt — seems like you’re seeing something in it that isn’t there and reacting to something separate from this that bugs you.

          (And in general, telling someone that if they were self-assured they wouldn’t be mildly irritated at something — especially something relating to gendered language — seems pretty unwarranted/personal/insulting without basis).

      2. Anon*

        Huh? Honestly, you seem more offended by anyone else commenting on the issue. Is there something I missed?

    15. the gold digger*

      A woman at a sensitivity training told me that the word “ladies” was on the “do not use” list in the text because a group of women might think they were being thought of as prostitutes in being called “ladies.”

      So the next day, I saw the two women at work I always see walking together at lunch and asked them, “Do you think I am calling you prostitutes when I say, ‘Hello ladies!’ to you? Is it offensive because I will stop.”

      Oh how they laughed.

      1. Mallory*

        I was in the elevator with our interim dean who has never in her life cut anyone any slack for any less-than-feminist remark ever.

        This building services guy got on and said, “Afternoon, ladies.” I thought,”Oh, crap, she’s going to light into him and I have nowhere to run and no choice but to watch as she tears him a new one.”

        All she said was, “Well, I myself have never been a lady, but who’s counting.” Which is waaay more contained than I’ve ever seen her before or since.

      2. Jamie*

        I am now dying for someone to refer to me as a lady so I can ask them why they think I’m a prostitute.

        Because that’s hilarious.

    16. Harper*

      The major point here is that gender shouldn’t factor into the workplace. The fact is that it wasn’t too long ago that women were restricted to the type of work they could do in the public sector and we’re still struggling against that in certain industries and with generally lower pay in most industries. Although it may seem silly and that people are “over-analyzing” it to some, language is important and is often a “dog whistle” or at least an indicator of their general feelings.

      I wish it weren’t that way and that we didn’t have to watch out for things like that in this day and age, but we still do.

      1. NylaW*

        Exactly. We just need to take things like gender, race, ethnicity, etc. completely out of the equation(s). It. Shouldn’t. Matter.


        When that’s the norm, then we’ll know we’ve gotten somewhere.

      2. Celeste*

        It seems weird to me to think we can take gender out of the workplace. It’s like trying to create a spot of clean in a sea of dirty. The rest of our culture is just that saturated with it.

      3. Gilby*

        I get the point. And I stay on mine.

        I just think we need to learn which battles we need to fight. Addressing a group of women as ladies is not my battle.

        And I am pretty sure that most men ( at least the ones I know and worked with) would take me less seriously if I got mad about that.

        As this blog has shown everyone gets mad at anything they precieve as insulting. No girl, no guy, no lady, no dude, etc…..nothing. Society has gotten so PC is it ridiculous.

        You talk about gender issues in general in the workplace?

        That will never go away unless males and females stop working together. We are fools if we think that will go away if women fight againts stuff like calling them ladies or whatever.

        I have at least 4 friends that all willingly slept with their bosses.
        There was no pressure or power tripping from the bosses.

        One guy I know at a job had affairs with at least 3 women. One of the women divorced her husband for him. He is still married.
        I can go on of course with the affairs, divorces etc.

        Too many men think us women should be seen and not heard. They promote in looks. Some are condescending to women. Jerks.

        Too many women become overly aggressive and treat people poorly to prove they… ” I AM WOMEN HEAR ME ROAR… ”

        I know a lot of you will tell me I am wrong and that I am crazy. But all of this is GENDER related issues. And gender issues will exist as long as males and females work together. And yes.. there will be problems with men working men and women with women.

        I am not saying it is right. I am not agreeing. And nor am I judging the above examples. But we as people, males AND females do so many things that aggravate the issues.

        Call me a lady anytime… better than being ” that girl” having an affair or called a witch for firing people soley because I have the power now.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If it doesn’t irritate you, that’s perfectly fine. It’s when you start telling other people that they shouldn’t be irritated that I think you’re losing your way. Saying “interesting, it doesn’t bother me because ___” is fine. Saying other people are wrong-headed, hysterical, or weak because they’re irritated by gendered language that doesn’t bother you isn’t really cool.

          Also, no one here is saying they get mad or outraged at this. You’re setting up a straw man and getting agitated at it, but it’s not rooted in anything anyone here is saying.

          1. Jen RO*

            I think I understand where Gilby is coming from – it’s not this particular thread, it’s all the other gender related discussions, and yes I agree in principle – many times, women get fixated on the little things. As long as a boss offers women professional opportunities, I don’t give a damn of he calls me lady or not. It might shock some, but language is not the most important thing in the world. If a woman complained to me that she was called ‘lady’, I would wtf and mark her as too sensitive.

            1. Coco*

              Why would you automatically mark her as too sensitive when there are legitimate reasons, as outlined by me and other posters in this thread, that the word could be problematic?

              If you are concerned that the “little things” don’t matter, you should look up microaggressions.

          2. Algae*

            Especially hysterical, which has a loss of baggage attached to it and the way people use it to dismiss a women’s feelings about a subject.

          3. Algae*

            Especially hysterical, which has a lots of baggage attached to it and the way people use it to dismiss a women’s feelings about a subject.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I like working with men. If they don’t like you, they just ignore you except for work stuff. They don’t do the “Hiiiiiii!” to your face/nasty behind your back stuff that some women (NOT ALL) do. Plus you get a different perspective on stuff from the opposite sex. That’s why I like having male friends, too.

          1. Em*

            Men also do “the “Hiiiiiii!” to your face/nasty behind your back stuff that some women” do, it is not just a trait reserved for women.

              1. Em*

                Right but what I’m saying is that it isn’t okay to use that one experience to generalize all woman as essentially being “catty” or underhanded. Men and women alike do this and display this kind of behavior, equally. To say that SOME women but NOT ALL and to excise men entirely from that kind of discourse isn’t right as it perpetuates negative stereotypes women have to deal with in their personal and professional lives.

              2. Em*

                I hit submit before I could finish:

                If that is your current experience, you happen to work with really unpleasant and not nice people.

    17. C Average*

      I don’t care for it, in part because it almost always comes from someone above me in the corporate hierarchy, and it’s usually someone male, and it does feel like a term you’d only use when addressing someone you outranked. I can’t see a middle manager addressing our senior leadership team as “ladies,” though they certainly are, but I CAN see him doing it to a female-only group of direct reports. Just say “hello, everyone” or “hi, all” or some other non-gendered variation. See, that’s not so hard.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! Is a male assistant going to address a group of senior women as “ladies” without it feeling condescending? Not generally, and I think that’s telling.

    18. Lora*

      It’s a tone thing, really.

      “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, the breakfast buffet is now open” = fine
      “Hello ladies, I’d like to invite you all to a quilting bee followed by tea and biscuits” = fine
      “Hey LADY, ya can’t park ya car there! Where didja learn ta drive???” = not fine
      *puts on leisure suit & gold chains* “It’s Ladies Night at the disco, guys” *sleazy wink* = not fine
      “Young lady, you have detention for a week” = not fine

      The word itself is fine, and I think in the context you’re using it it’s perfectly fine and people just don’t have enough work to do, but it’s often used as a prelude to asshattery.

    19. Artemesia*

      This was a big deal in the 70s and still resonates for some. ‘Lady’ was viewed as a derogatory term because it’s connotation was both classist and sexist. A lady is someone under the protection of a gentleman; a lady is someone in white gloves who doesn’t get her pretty little hands dirty. The term ‘woman’ was considered the descriptor when you considered females to not be subordinate to men. So many people, especially older people who grew up as I did when it was perfectly legal to openly discriminate against women (in admission to medical or law school or grad programs, or in hiring and promotion) When I graduated from high school many jobs were simply off limits to women or they were accepted in tiny percentages and promotions to the top were beyond rare.

      Ladies could be exempted from jury duty just because they were too delicate to deal with sordid realties. Ladies could be excluded from country clubs except on the arm of a man. Ladies could be denied employment because they are female.

      So ‘Ladies’ has this negative connotation for many older people.

      1. Artemesia*

        Sorry about the grammar scramble there. But at any rate, women who grew up in the 60s and 70s when ultimately gender got added to the civil rights act as a joke or as a way to try to prove how ridiculous it was and get it defeated, are inclined to not like the term ladies and prefer women — which leads to greetings of ‘you guys’ when ‘ladies’ might also fit.

        1. Mallory*

          This is where our interim dean is coming from when she brings the full force of the hammer down on anyone who uses a term that may be perceived as less than feminist. She is in her sixties and she educates all us younger women about what it was like for her to get to the top of a msle dominated field.

        2. azvlr*

          I thought I remember Miss Manners saying this: There is a difference between a man and a gentleman, and thus between a woman and a lady. In that context men and women were those not refined enough to earn the “gentle” portion of the reference. Referring to someone as “that man” or “that woman” rather than “that gentleman” or “that lady” was long ago perceived as just as insulting as what the opposite is today.

          I get it that Miss Manners deals with social situations and that people don’t want to be judged by their gender. In business, I don’t want to be addressed as anything but my name.

          In group emails, I will address my team as “Colleagues”, “Hello Team”, or “Hello ladies” (everyone on my team, including me, is female) depending on the subject of the email (formal or less formal).

    20. Anon*

      I don’t like being called by my gender instead of my name. But I don’t think that’s what you’re going for when you use “ladies” – you’re trying to be friendly and casual, and I think that’s how most will see it.

    21. ChiTown Lurker*

      The term “ladies” does not bother me at all but I am not easily offended. However, it does make me feel as though I am back in high school as that was the form of address my teachers preferred to use for students.

    22. Tami M*

      Not sure how a woman can consider ‘ladies’ an insult. Quite baffling, actually. Of course, I’m not prone to being stuffy, pretentious or uptight, either.

      Even if the group of women are in a more formal or professional setting, I still don’t see anything wrong with ‘Hello, Ladies’ or ‘Good Day, Ladies’ or anything else along that type of salutation. Personally, I consider that quite respectful and appropriate.

      Some people just have to find offense in everything these days, and it’s quite exhausting. All you can do is consider the setting and do what you feel is appropriate, and if someone has a problem with it, it’s on them. That said, I’d be very interested to hear why these ‘ladies’ found it insulting or degrading; what would they have preferred?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You know, the other way to look at this is that the culture is changing to be more aware of how language can be harmful to people, because the language we use is connected to how we think. Seen that way, it’s basic thoughtfulness, not stuffiness or uptightness.

        1. Tami M*

          Alison, you’re right…the culture IS changing, and when you speak of ‘language’, I apply that to both verbal and non-verbal forms. Being thoughtful, respectful and considerate are very important to me, especially in the workplace or non-casual social settings.

          What I don’t understand, is why people seem to increasingly find offense in things when it’s clear that no offense in intended. I feel that it puts too much undo pressure on people. Per the OT’s post, I just can’t see how anyone should know that a woman might be offended by being addressed as a lady.

          I mean think about it; even calling someone by name can be considered insulting or offensive if you say it like Seinfeld….’Hello Newman!’.

          What I’m saying, is find offense where it intended; consider the tone and intent, and quit sweatin’ the small stuff. Life’s difficult enough as it is.

          1. Artemesia*

            So was ‘offense intended’ during all those years in my youth when ‘ladies need not apply’ to any executive management track of an organization or to law or medical school (except for a small handful of the exceptionally qualified — there was a small quota for women) or when Sandra Day O’Connor, third in her class at law school, was only offered office manager jobs? Words have history. And ladies as refined and delicate flowers has a history. And ladies as excluded from positions of authority has a history.

            I am not bothered by its use as a greeting by a woman to a group of women — or sometimes similarly by a man to women. But I lived through the era when very sexist men used it as part of their arsenal to put women in their place.

        2. LD*

          It’s interesting to have the discussion, too, because so much of our behavior and speech is unconscious. Until we are “enlightened” by how something is perceived by others, we behave and speak unconsciously in ways that may have some historical aspect of discrimination. Later generations don’t necessarily have the experience or context for the language or behavior and are often puzzled by the offense. But there are people who, instead of pointing out the potential offensiveness in a polite way, such as, “Hey, did you realize that the term you are using may be offensive to (insert group here) because (insert explanation)?”, will choose to be angry and lose the teaching moment. That’s not to say that anger or taking offense at someone’s speech or behavior is never the right or effective choice, but it’s not usually the most effective.

    23. Jubilance*

      I’d rather someone use “ladies” over “gals”. I use ladies but only when conversing via email with friends. I generally don’t use it in a work setting or professional email.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t like gals much. I think it sounds like we’re all cowgirls, or something. I usually just say”Hey, everybody,” or “Hey, people,” when I’m addressing a group. Sometimes “Hey, peeps,” if it’s more casual.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes, I don’t like gals because it makes me feel I should be dressed like Jessie from Toy Story. It just sounds dorky to me – but it doesn’t bother me.

          1. Windchime*

            I actually love Jessie from Toy Story, but you’re right–now I’m going to picture her anytime anyone says “gals”.

            I like it here in the PNW, where everyone is “guys”, as in “Hey, you guys, let’s go to lunch”. You can say it to a group of all women, all men, or a mixture of. It’s the all-purpose word up here. But we are super casual, so maybe that won’t fly in other regions.

      2. Artemesia*

        I love the southern contribution ‘you’all’ — it works in lots of places where ‘Ladies’ or ‘gentlemen’ might be used. I also use ‘folks’ instead of ladies or gentlemen.

        1. Snork Maiden*

          Ha, up here (central Canada) only politicians use “folks” so it is not something I use often!

          As for “ladies” – I figure if someone is going to the effort to ask you to stop using a word, it’s only polite to comply. After all, what do you lose? Your right to say “ladies”? I have a difficult time requesting others to not use a word so I think if someone is making a point it’s because they feel strongly about it and their discomfort is greater than mine. If they’re not being sincere, I’d still comply because it’s not my job to determine other’s intent.

    24. C Average*

      So I spent most of my 10-mile run this morning pondering this question (because I needed SOMETHING to distract me from the big hill I was climbing and then descending).

      For me, “ladies” has a lot of subtexts, none of them positive. When I think back, I recall my parents saying to my sister and me, “Ladies, knock it off back there,” and never “Ladies, we’re very proud of you for earning straight As again.” It’s the PE teacher saying “Ladies, can we quit socializing and pick up the pace?” and not “Ladies, that was some truly excellent hustle in today’s dodgeball game.” It’s the teacher saying, “Ladies, would you like to share that with the rest of the class?” and not “Ladies, well done on your state Science Bowl victory.” It’s the sorority president saying “Ladies, can we make sure we’re not leaving our underthings to dry in the laundry room during parents’ weekend?” and not “Ladies, congratulations on raising $5,000 for the Cancer Society during Greek Week this year.” And at work, it tends to be “Ladies, can we make sure we’re running the dishwasher EVERY day?” and not “Ladies, I’d like to recognize the amazing work you did on the presentation for the VP.”

      The word evokes condescension, scolding, sexism, and power differentials.

      I don’t go around calling out people who use the word, but it does grate on my ears. I assume that the people who use it just don’t realize it grates, and I do my best to ignore it. (That said, I could tell you EXACTLY which men in my world use it, so even if I’m ignoring it, on some level I’m noticing and recalling it, and it doesn’t make me more pleasantly disposed to these men.) But if I knew they DID know and continued to use it anyway, I’d wonder why. There are plenty of reasonable alternative ways to address a group of people that happens to be all-female. If you realize at least some of the people in the group are likely to prefer not to be addressed as “ladies,” why would you address them this way? That just seems obtuse to me.

      tl;dr = “ladies” has no positive associations for me, and it rankles, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. If other people, know that and have reasonable alternatives, why on earth would they continue to use it?

      1. K.inFL*

        Why is it “ladies, make sure we are running the dishwasher daily”? Are men not required to do that? That would rankle more than the use of ladies.
        So when everyone in your examples used “ladies” to scold, did they never congratulate those ladies? Again, the lack would bother me. Or did the ladies get acknowledged individually?

        1. Anonymous for this one*

          That first example was from a women-only office, so it wasn’t intended to single out the ladies from the men.

          I guess the point I was trying to get across was that in my experience (and yeah, I’m just one little data point), any sentence that starts with “ladies” or “hi ladies” or “hello ladies” is not going to be a good sentence. So even if you’re the least sexist, most well-intentioned person in the world, when you start a sentence with “hello ladies,” a certain subset of your audience is likely to be bracing for a scolding or something sexist and condescending.

          (And I haven’t even touched on “young lady,” which all women know is never, ever, ever good.)

          1. C Average*

            Er, that was me. Sorry. Not anonymous. I commented anonymously on an old post and it defaulted to that screen name when I posted here.

          2. Daisy*

            Yeah, young lady is generally not something I would want to be addressed with in writing.
            Personally, I only use “Hi ladies” informally in emails and that’s so I don’t seem so blunt. Otherwise, I’d use “all”.
            I don’t think I’ve ever heard “lady” as a form of address in scolding so maybe that’s why it doesn’t bother me (depending on context of course).

      2. CEMgr*

        Yes, you have actually hit the nail right on the head here about when and how “Ladies” is used. It’s breezily trivializing or condescending or correcting 97% of the time. I give you an A Plus for this insight.

    25. In progress*

      I find it somewhat condescending- I also have bad experiences with it due to being misgendered by it all the time. So in general I caution people about assuming gender.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        The gender point is a good one — some members of a group that you perceive as female might not actually identify as female.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Holy crap, what a hot button this turned out to be!

        I started working waaay back in 1967, when women in the office and factory were called “girls”. As in “I’ll have my girl call you back with that information” or “I’ll have my girl get us coffee”. Considering how demeaned working women were treated back then, being called “ladies” sounds respectful, refreshing, and much more equalizing.

  3. Trixie*

    Grrr. Made a bonehead move in the car while parking today. Driving mom’s Honda Civic (which sits super low) and scraped the concrete island as I pulled in. When I slowly tried to back out, it popped off the right side of the front bumper. Bumper still intact and no one was close to being hurt but so not a good time to spend money on something like this. Really hoping some calls on Monday will result in someone being able to pull out/pop back into place for close to free. I’ll get over it but just hate when I do stupid stuff like this simply because I wasn’t paying attention.

    Good news? I sold two more items on Ebay and had a successful first cut at the barber shop. Feeling grateful otherwise for a great week :)

    1. LAMM*

      I have a Honda Civic that had the passenger side of the front bumper popped out for quite a while (due to a shady repair job by the insurance company… but that’s a long story). You probably broke the bracket holding the front facia on, but…

      Good news is my car went 4.5 years with that bumper sticking out – and I do a lot of driving. You can pop it back in (you just push it back into place), but it’ll keep coming out, so you’ll have to do that every so often. You just have to be careful of giant bumps/potholes.

      Bad news is it’ll cost about $600 to replace/fix (depending on the year. My car is an ’09 so 5 years later parts aren’t super expensive… compared to the 3K it cost when I got into an accident in like 2011). And you can only keep popping it back in for so long before it just doesn’t stay.

      My bumper finally ripped off (on the way to an interview no less!) when my boyfriend backed the car up into the driveway. He stopped short and I asked him to pull it into the driveway more (our street was flooded due to melted snow. Muddy pants are not what you want to be wearing walking into an interview!) and some ice was sticking up and ripped it off.

      1. Trixie*

        Funny part is I can’t see where anything is actually broken. It’s like I made contact just enough to pop/dislodge some of the interfacing parts. Whole thing is making me love my Subaru even more if that’s possible.

        1. LAMM*

          If there is a part of the bumper that looks like a “C” on the bumper part (closer to the edge where it’s popping off), then it’s a broken clip/bracket.

          From what I remember… it didn’t look like anything was broken either, but the clips (brackets) are really easy to break. Around here, there are a lot of cars (and Hondas) with a side of their bumpers sticking out because of the really snowy winter.

          If my BF didn’t used to work in the service department of a Honda dealership, I would have never noticed what was broken either.

          In my case, the place the insurance company took my car to tried to epoxy the bumper back on, which just drew more attention to the issue once it pooped back off. So it made the problem super obvious.

          1. LAMM*

            Also – I was totally willing to slap some white duck tape on it (as I have a white car) to fix the problem but the BF thought that that would be tacky.

            Probably would have saved me $600 though…just sayin…

            1. dawbs*

              My Versa has been holding the cracked/loose part of the bumper via duct tape for 10,000 miles now.
              (It wasn’t a curb so much as it was a raccoon. Poor raccoon had a worse night than I did that night)

              It was/is tacky, but for the cost, I’m OK with being tacky–and you have to look really closely to see the tacky since I crawled underneath and taped from the inside.

        2. Canadamber*

          Ooh, you drive a Subie? Yeah, unless it’s a WRX or an Impreza, it probably has a lot of ground clearance.

    2. Jen RO*

      I don’t know about your particular car, but I did the same to my Ford Fiesta and the mechanic just smacked it twice and the bumper hasn’t moved an inch since then (December). Mine lost a metal thing that was connecting the bumper to the rest of the car, but it seems fine without!

      1. Trixie*

        Its a Honda Civic and not uncommon problem based on all the online forums I found. Yet not bad enough to warrant a recall. Go figure.

    3. danr*

      If you have a regular mechanic he’ll probably do it. And be honest if the repair will cost money. And be honest if the money part can wait.

  4. Ali*

    Has anyone ever done income-based or income-sensitive repayment options for student loans? My payment for July nearly doubled because I was on an interest-only plan that ended (of which I got no letter telling me that it was ending), and I was told to apply for income-sensitive repayment to see if I qualified. I’m hoping it’ll be easy to get, but the rep on the phone told me if I don’t qualify they can’t help and my payment is my payment.

    I find it so frustrating and am crossing my fingers. I’ve struggled to pay my loans since getting out of school due to periods of unemployment and dealing with medical problems before I had health insurance. It seems like every time I think I’m doing good paying them, or I’m starting to save money for moving out, some other financial thing pops up that feels out of my control.


    1. SP*

      Ugh loans. I keep getting emails that I “don’t have to wait” to start paying (am a recent grad). Thanks, but I’m unemployed…

          1. De Minimis*

            I’m waiting too….I know I’m getting killed on the capitalized interest, but I’m wanting to get us on more stable ground before I start paying. Just got hit with some out of pocket medical expenses that I did not expect [miss the good insurance we used to get through my wife’s job….]

            1. chewbecca*

              I waited too long to start repaying my loans, too. It was a big source of shame for a long time. Luckily, I’ve started paying them back and just set up an arrangement with my loan holder to get my loans “rehabilitated”.

              I have federal student loans, though. I’m not sure how private ones work.

              1. De Minimis*

                Thankfully I’ve never gotten in to a bad status for my loans, but they’ve always been under some kind of deferment or forbearance. I’ve decided I will try and start paying on them after this most recent forbearance ends.

    2. Dan*

      What’s your actual question? As someone who is still $82k in the hole with student loan debt, I’ve certainly looked into it.
      You can look at IBR calculators on the web without having to apply and cross your fingers.

      But the IBR calculations exclude any private loans you may have. (For example, Sallie Mae handles some of my stafford loans, but also does private loans for me as well. Same servicer, but completely different programs.)

      Honestly, though, I’m not sure your servicer owes you a letter telling you that the plan you agreed to is at the point where your interest-only payments are ending. For instance, I know that my interest only payments will end in one year, and then I’m going to have to pay $$$.

      I don’t know what kinds of loans you have, but for anything under the federal stafford program, you can get all kinds of deferments. There’s “just because” forbearance, and also unemployment deferment.

      If you’re still living with your parents and “stuff gets in the way of you moving out” then you may want to consider sticking around a bit longer while you’re able to adjust to the new reality of your student loans.

      1. azvlr*

        The calculators I’ve seen don’t really do a good job spelling out which program you should apply for, and then don’t really let you see what your payments might be with a given program unless you apply. I won’t graduate until December, but I would really like to know what my payments might be. My lender is equally unhelpful. Why does it have to be such a mystery?!

        I mean, even when I was applying for the loans and signing promissory notes, there was not really an estimate of what the payments might be. I’ll admit, at that point I didn’t care, because nothing was going to keep me from going back to school, especially money.

        1. TL*

          My loans – all federal loans, except for a few thousand through my school – were all pretty clear on the monthly payments due for a 10 yr payoff. I don’t know about the income-based repayments, as I’ve never looked into those. I do know with federal loans there are a fair number of forgiveness programs (including forgiving your loans if you make on-time payments for 25 yrs.)

    3. Turanga Leela*

      I’m on IBR and it’s easy to get, but there’s a lot of math to figure out what you owe. Just be aware that if you have a big loan and low income, your IBR payment might be less than the monthly interest, in which case it is not enough to amortize (reduce) the loan.

    4. Geegee*

      I’m on the IBR plan and i just had to renew myself. I didn’t realize that was time to renew but the day i decided to randomly check my student loan account happened to be the day before the deadline to submit the renewal. Sallie mae showed my payment nearly tripled and i had a bit of a panic attack. Then i went over to the student loans dot gov site. There is a link there for you to submit your renewal. There are several reasons you can select and i think medical bills qualify as well. For me, i was able to link the information over from the IRS and input my income and all. I was able to submit the application in time and Sallie Mae changed my payment to a more manageable amount. Hopefully youll be able to do the same.

      1. Ali*

        That’s what I’m hoping. I applied for income-sensitive through my lender as well (which is not Sallie Mae at least) and have to fax the paperwork tomorrow. So hopefully one of those options sticks. It just sucks because it’s not like I want to default or not pay my loans…just have something more manageable so I can have an independent life.

        1. Defaulter*

          I will be honest here and say that I ended up defaulting on some private loans because they just wouldn’t work with me. I had gone back to school and was working while in school, but then was laid off during the lovely recession of 2009. I struggled hard to find a job and it just wasn’t happening. I called the loan companies and told them I’d send what I could, but that wasn’t good enough. It’s this humongous payment that you will never be able to swing or NOTHING was their stance. So I just didn’t pay them. I couldn’t. I feel badly about that, but since they refused to work with me there was nothing I could do. I ended up not eating some days because I literally could not afford food. It was a rough time and since they refused to be reasonable, there was nothing I could do.

          I am not saying you should default. Avoid it at all costs. I’m just saying that you do what you can and that is all you can do.

          1. Dan*

            TBH, there’s a double standard in this country. When a business enters into a contract that is not in its financial best interest, it can file bankruptcy and void the contract. When they do, it’s always understood to be a “business” decision.

            But when an individual can’t pay his/her bills, we heap so much guilt and shame on them and call them a failure. We don’t do this to businesses who go bankrupt.

            I happen to agree with you that defaults are something that should be avoided at all costs, but I honestly don’t think you should feel any guilt or shame for not living up to your end of the bargain.

            Personally, I’d like to see private loans be able to be discharged in bankruptcy. I’ve heard of people paying 14% on those loans; that rate covers a lot of risk. Banks shouldn’t be able to charge that kind of risk premium and then still have the protection from bankruptcy.

            Federal loans I’m somewhat ok with the current system. Generally, the rates are low enough, there’s tons and tons of flexibility in payment and deferral programs, and the amount you’re allowed to borrow is limited.

            For my first few years out of college, my only concern was how not pay my student loans. I ended up capitalizing over $15k in interest, and now I’m paying the piper. I’m lucky enough that I can make my payments without undue burden to myself, but they’re still a huge beast to deal with.

          2. Ali*

            That’s what happened to me when I was denied income-sensitive repayment about two years ago. (I’m making different pay now, though, so I’m reapplying.) My lender either wanted my payment or said I could go into a deferment. These were my federal loans too.

          3. Yogi Josephina*

            I would never presume to tell you how to feel and not feel, but honestly, if the tables were flipped, I don’t think I would feel guilty about not paying them. Big Banks and Corporations are not people, and they have all the power in this situation. To be honest, no one’s livelihood there will be affected by you not paying your loan. YOUR livelihood, however, is deeply, profoundly affected. You are not screwing over an individual by not paying, you’re not contributing to a behemoth that already has waaaaaay too much clout in the US.

            There are other ways that it’s made really difficult to not pay your loans (credit history affected, repossessing things, garnishing wages), but feeling guilty about “not doing the right thing” is a choice you can probably choose to not make.

            I have a $1,000/month loan payment with the same stipulates; private, no options, pay it, or we go after your cosigner. It’s heinous. I sympathize. Loans in the US are just nauseating. What these companies get away with is criminal, predatory, and, in my opinion, should be illegal. Absolutely disgusting. The amount of strife this loan has caused in my life is beyond description, something that I simply did not know would happen when I was a 17-year-old who had just gotten into her dream school and didn’t know any better (and they know you won’t, and they take advantage of it).

            I am not forgiving of loan companies.

    5. Anonymint*

      I literally JUST sent in the paperwork to apply for IBR. The paperwork was really easy – just a brief form and your tax return from the previous year. I went to an online calculator and I’m fairly certain I qualify.

      I found out last month that the payment plan I’d been on (basically interest-only) didn’t qualify me for the SL Forgiveness program they have in place for non-profit employees. I thought I was three years into the program, but it turned out none of my payments had qualified. I’m crossing my fingers that I qualify for IBR so I can start knocking out those 120 payments…

      The only issue I have with IBR is that I wish they took into account other student loans – I have about $30K that qualify and about $70K that don’t – it’s the payments for the $70K loan that really kill me!

  5. hellothere*

    Someone I know just cancelled a wedding they already planned, booked, and paid for. Nothing to do with the bridal couple. Bride finally decided enough is enough with her alcoholic mother and didn’t want a scene at the wedding. They are eloping to the Caribbean instead. I’m so sad and angry for her.

    1. Student*

      As someone with an alcoholic mother who didn’t attend my wedding – it’s too bad your friend didn’t just dis-invite her mother at that point. However, this is probably the best, lowest stress option that she has (I wanted badly to elope, but didn’t for the sake of my husband and his family).

      Please, when you talk to her, try to be happy for her and praise her elopement as a good solution instead of dwelling on the issue of her mother and cancelled plans. Celebrate the accomplishment. She’s probably very embarrassed by her mother’s problem and would rather not have friends focusing on that right now.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great advice. Her mother sucks as a parent. But you can be a good friend. It doesn’t change the mom-problem. But your friend will carry your kind words for years to come. Your words of encouragement and support will help fill the holes in your friend’s mind/heart.

        1. Ruffingit*

          YES! This is not about your friend’s alcoholic mother, it’s about her happy marriage! Concentrate on that and, if you can, offer to throw a “we just got married” party for her and invite all her friends and family (except mom) if she’d be OK with that. A reception of sorts hosted by friends.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Great idea!

            Invite the people that the couple really wants to be there, and have a wonderful time.

      2. the gold digger*

        I wanted to elope, too! I didn’t want my husband’s mean alcoholic parents anywhere around. But instead, we had the drama of their threatening not to come to the wedding two weeks before the wedding, then their getting drunk every night at our house, where they stayed for nine days in our bedroom (if you heed nothing else from me, hear this advice: do not let people stay at your house for your wedding. Also, marry a rich orphan.), and then their getting drunk and weepy at the reception, where my husband’s dad made a toast and never mentioned me or my name once.

        It was all this drama that gave me the initial material for my blog. Someday, I will get a novel out of this, so now, I just wait for material from them. Mean drunks give you a lot of material.

        1. Artemesia*

          My mother had tons of moocher relatives — when I was a kid, I remember uncles and their families staying for months at a time in our dinky two bedroom house — probably 800 square feet. They would take over the living room. One bathroom of course.

          She had a hard and fast rule — she refused to put her husband, my father, out of his bed for her visiting relatives. And she later pointed out to me that that meant, she was not put out of her bed either. She highly recommended that preserving the marital bedroom be a hard and fast rule. And doormat that she was to moochers she held the line there.

          I took this to heart and never have given our bedroom to guests. They cope with the guest room (and its cat/cat box) or they get a hotel. Sorry you didn’t have that rule before your wedding. What a misery that must have been. My husband and I eloped. Worked great.

    2. Coco*

      Same thing happened to a friend of the family, but because of social anxiety. When the reality of 200 guests dawned on her, she had a breakdown and cut it back to 6 guests in her back yard. Sucks to have wasted money, but it’s better than going through with something awful just because you made the original mistake of buying it.

      1. Trixie*

        I remember a story from last year when the wedding was cancelled so the family chose to donate the already paid for food / party to give a special donate at the local homeless shelter. Very touching to turns your worst day in a while (I”m guessing) to something so meaningful for someone else.

    3. Phyllis*

      Speaking of weddings, I found out I could put together a wedding reception in 4 hours!!!
      I was looking at FB and my niece had posted she was engaged. I looked again an hour later, and she was talking about getting married, so I asked her when, and she said that night!! She said I could come watch if I wanted.
      Well, this is a woman who has been through a lot and has a very generous heart, so I couldn’t stand the idea of her getting married without someone doing special to mark the occasion. I called my mother and her mother, and my daughter, and we got it in gear. (Before you ask, my daughter called her and asked her if she would like us to. We did not want to do anything to upset or embarrass her.)
      Well. You should have seen the excitement on her face when she saw what we had done. Said she never felt so loved. She cried and hugged us all and thanked about a thousand times. It was so worth it!! :-)

      1. Jazzy Red*

        You’re the nicest woman ever!

        I have nieces and I would do anything to make them happy.

    4. Jubilance*

      Wow, so instead of simply disinviting her mom (and maybe having security) she cancelled a paid for wedding? I shudder at the thought of how much money she’s out.

    5. Windchime*

      My son and his fiancé seriously considered eloping. They are instead going to have a small, casual wedding. There is one cousin who is a criminal and a druggie and he is not going to be invited. All other cousins (who are lovely people, including the druggie’s sibling) are invited. The invitations went out this past week and I am waiting for the stuff to hit the fan because of Druggy being excluded. I expect that my mother will throw a fit and threaten to not come because Druggy is her favorite grandchild.

      I’m not sure why, but weddings often seem to bring out the worst in people.

      1. Ruffingit*

        The druggy criminals are always the favorite grandchildren. What is with that? Le sigh.

      2. Beth Anne*

        OMG tell me about it! My sister got married in March and I’m sooo glad the wedding and the drama is OVER. I almost died 3 weeks after the wedding when my sister told me she missed wedding planning…no…just no.

        The other day I had to go into a store that I hadn’t been in since we were wedding planning and the last time I went was for wedding stuff….I was cringing at the idea of being there bc i just remember all the wedding drama haha

    6. Jean*

      Maybe the couple can salvage some of the paid-for-and-not-getting-refunded arrangements by donating it to someone else’s celebration? Just a suggestion, not a dictation. More importantly, I hope the couple enjoys a long and happy marriage and that the alcoholic mother causes no more unhappiness (and hopefully enters recovery).

  6. abankyteller*

    Cat owners, please cuddle your cats a little longer tonight for me. I had to put mine to sleep but all I want right now is to cuddle her again.

    1. Luxe in Canada*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s always a hard day when you have to say goodbye.

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      Sorry about that, abankyteller. :( I empathize with you and know how hard it is, especially within the first few days. I hope you at least can have some dream cuddles tonight.

    3. LAMM*

      I’m soo sorry :(

      We just lost a kitty ourselves. Passed away in my boyfriends arms just seconds after he had made the decision to take the kitty to the vet to be put out of his misery. The kitty was 20 years old but it was still really upsetting.

    4. Relosa*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. Of all the tough love you have to give a pet during your time together, the worst is the day when you’re really tough-loving yourself and doing the best possible thing for her. I wish you well during such a difficult time.

    5. Schmitt*

      Gladly. Cuddles underway. We’ve lost two in under a year. The only thing that helps me is knowing that the pain fades and in a while I’ll be able to look at photos and be glad they were with us, instead of sad that they aren’t any more.

      1. Tami M*

        Very well said, Schmitt. :)

        For the first time in nearly 30 years, we’re a pet free home. Those little furballs know how to get into your heart and steal it. And while it takes the heart time to heal, I wouldn’t change a thing, and cherish those photos even more than before. <3

    6. the gold digger*

      I am so sorry. Pets are part of our families. I am convinced that if heaven exists, our pets will be there waiting for us. How could it be heaven without them?

      1. Jamie*

        I agree 100%. I like to think of my mom up there taking care of them until I get there. I don’t want to spend eternity anywhere there is a no pets rule.

        Although not too sure that’s where I’ll end up spending eternity, but in case I don’t make the cut my mom has got it covered.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        I actually told my dogs that if they get to heaven before me, to find my dad and he’ll take care of them until I get there.

        Almost every pet owner I know believes this, too.

        Surely love lasts forever.

    7. Canadamber*

      Oh, no! I’m so sorry. :( My cat was sleeping beside me when I read this, so I did give her extra pets.

      My old cat ran away from the catsitter’s house, and we never saw her again… It’s so hard to lose a pet. >_<;

    8. Artemesia*

      We are not that far from the day when we will need to do that with ours, so we will give her an extra cuddle for your kitty today.

    9. Stephanie*

      Funny story about pet deaths (heh, worst intro ever, I know).

      My senior year of high school, we had to put our dog down. I had to go out of town for state science fair (I was a very cool kid in high school). Our dog got sick right before I left. She took a dramatic turn for the worst and my parents opted to put her down while I was gone. They call me and tell me and I got upset and was crying. The next day, we had judging, which entailed standing in front of our board and talking about our project. I was still upset (we had had this dog for 10 years), but I’d straighten up long enough to talk to the judges and then get sad again while we were waiting between judges.

      My project partner (and now close friend) is Vietnamese. He came to the US when he was 14 and learned English really, really fast. Thing is, while his English was great, he still hadn’t picked all of the American colloquialisms, such as “putting a pet to sleep.” So he asked why I kept crying and I said that we put our dog to sleep. He was like “Huh? I don’t get it. The dog’s just sleeping–she’ll be awake when you get back.” And that just made me cry harder. And then he kept getting upset that I couldn’t stop crying (and then I got upset about him being an ass on top of the dog being gone). So, just imagine a very-pissed off looking person standing next to me making an ugly cry face in front of a science fair tri-fold about bacteria in a local stream. Yeah.

      On the way back home, our teacher asks how the judging rounds went. My friend is like “It was good, but Stephanie kept crying between judging rounds!” Our teacher asked what was wrong and I mentioned our dog being put down. He hugs me and tells me he’s sorry to hear that. My friend is like “I don’t get it! What does that mean?!?” Our teacher’s like “Oh, they humanely killed the dog because she was past the point of treatment.” Friend is like “Oh. Sorry, Steph. That was kind of mean of me in retrospect…”

    10. Seal*

      So sorry for your loss! A year and a half ago, I lost my elderly boys within 2 weeks of each other – one from kidney failure, the other of a broken heart. As difficult as that was, I still taken comfort in knowing that they’re together again in a far better place.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. :( It’s so hard to have to make that decision. They become family. Just know that she’ll be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you.

      1. Phyllis*

        When we had to put down our 13-year-old dog the vet clinic sent us a sympathy card with that poem. Not only that, every person in the clinic signed it and they wrote a personal note, too.

        Five years later, I still have it.

    12. Tami M*

      abankyteller, I am sooooo sorry for your loss. It breaks my heart to know you’re hurting so. :( Please know I’ll be sending prayers your way, and hope you are able to find comfort from the well wishes of your friends and family. <3

    13. hugs from Italy*

      You have my sincerest sympathy. It’s amazing the bonds we form with our furry friends; I hope there is comfort in knowing you provided a good home for yours.

    14. Windchime*

      I’m so sorry, I had to put my old guy to sleep a couple of years ago and it was very, very sad. May you find comfort in your memories of your beloved pet.

    1. Jamie*

      I am so freaking jealous I can’t even…I just showed my husband and got a loud ‘NO’ before he went back to sleep!

  7. Ann Furthermore*

    Anyone ever heard of or used a travel website called We want to do a driving tour of the UK next year, and this website has what looks to be a really good route, with recommended hotels to stay at along the way. They all look pretty nice, are at least 3 stars, and have (in general) good comments on

    The way it works is that you give them a credit card number, but they don’t charge anything on it. They just use it to hold your room at each hotel along the way, and then you pay when you check out. I’m sure the hotel gives them a cut of the room rate and that’s how they make money.

    It sounds and looks legit, and of course their own website is full of rave reviews. I’ve been looking for reviews elsewhere, but haven’t had much luck.

    1. Elkay*

      Had a quick look and they’re not part of ABTA or any other travel agency group which may not be a bad thing but I think it leaves you without official recourse if something goes wrong. I looked while on my phone so may have missed something.

    2. Artemesia*

      Is there any reason you can’t call ahead and book rooms yourself. Heck it is England so it isn’t even a language issue. I have been making travel arrangements internationally for decades and have had great luck with great hotels, apartments etc etc. I would not want to turn over my credit card to some middleman to manage hotel bookings that I can do myself. And you know if there is any problem, you are out of luck when you go through an intermediary.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yeah, I thought the same thing. It looked like on the website though, that they had negotiated better rates for the hotels, so that’s what’s making me try to figure out if they’re legit or not. We’re not doing this for another year, so I’ve still got some time to research.

        Maybe I’ll email one of the hotels directly and ask them if it’s legit or not.

        1. Ms. Anonymity*

          I would check out Rick Steve’s travel site:
          He has some really great advice on travel in Europe and also offers tours. He also has travel boards where you can post questions and get advice.

  8. LinkedIn Question*

    I wanted to ask if there is a way to add that I am going to graduate school in my LinkedIn profile, but not have my current employer see it.

    I am studying in a field that is not the same as the job that I am working in. I did not tell my employer I am going to graduate school, and I do not know if they will like it if I am studying something that is different from my job.

    Yet at the same time, I also wanted to connect with people that I met in graduate school, such as professors and alumni groups. I wanted people affiliated with my school to see my graduate school description in my profile.

    So if there a way to hide my graduate school information in my LinkedIn from some people, but let people that I want to connect with see it?

    1. jesicka309*

      You might just have to accept that your studies will show up in your profile. After all, in the end, networking with people in your future field is way more important than your current field finding out you have other interests.

      I can’t remember how, but you can limit your profile so that your updates are hidden from the timeline. So, your contacts won’t be notified of the additions to your profile. They’ll only notice if they are viewing your profile. And of questioned, you can always say that you love education and wanted to keep learning beyond the workplace. :)

  9. Stephanie*

    What’s everyone currently reading?

    I’m currently reading Unreal City: Las Vegas, Black Mesa, and the Fate of the West by Judith Nies, which is about the controversial history of a coal mine in NE Arizona that’s a big power source for Southwest cities (and the looming water crisis in the Southwest).

    On a related note, how do you guys figure out which fiction books to read? Probably 90% of my reading is nonfiction, just because I’ll pick out books based on topics of interest (such as infrastructure with the pick above).

    1. Jen RO*

      Tablet (Kindle app<3): NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. Not as impressive as reviews led me to believe, but enjoyable.

      Audiobook: Dark Tower (book 7) by Stephen King. I'm re-reading for the 4th or 5th time, so I know what happens and I just got to the beginning of the sad parts. I am not shocked (like the first time) that my favorite character died, but I will miss the character, as ever, for the rest of the book. (And I have been missing Frank Muller's reading of the character since book 4. George Gudall is good, but Muller was better.)

      1. Jen RO*

        And I choose my books based on friend recommendations, mostly. I have a couple of favorite authors that I always buy, but that list is short.

      2. Loose Seal*

        I adore the Dark Tower series and cried pretty much the whole last quarter of book 7. I read somewhere that they are in discussion about making a TV series and they are presumably talking with Aaron Paul (Jesse from Breaking Bad) about playing Eddie.

        1. Jen RO*

          I keep reading that and I’ve never seen Breaking Bad, so I can’t have an opinion and it’s annoying me! I’m torn on a Dark Tower series – if it’s like Game of Thrones, yes please! But what if they get it wrong? :(

        2. Jen RO*

          And you will understand this squee moment I had last night: in NOS4A2, the main bad guy mentions various ways of getting to parallel worlds… among which the doors to Mid-World. (Joe Hill is of course King’s son.) I love hunting for Dark Tower references!

          1. Jen RO*

            Exactly! I don’t dislike Under the Dome, the TV show, but it has nothing to do with the book.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I think it’s horrid. I was really disappointed that they “youthwashed” the Julia character by making her much younger. The whole older Julia / younger Barbie thing made the hookup way more interesting. But NOOOOOO, according to Hollywood, any woman over the age of 30 can’t possibly be sexy. :P

              The rest of it was equally dumb, so I quit watching it before the first season was over.

      3. Stephanie*

        I am reading Wolves of the Calla right now for the very first time. I am so excited when I hear another Dark Tower fan but then I go all nahnahnahnah so I don’t get spoiled. I cried at the end of Wizard and Glass AND Wind through the Keyhole, so I don’t want to think about The End yet!

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh, I should probably note that I am not the same Stephanie as the one who posted the questions in this thread! :)

          In terms of how I pick books to read: Goodreads has been very dangerous for me. I update my to-read list whenever there is an interesting sounding book, and now my list has 100+ to read. My reading habits also changed dramatically when I graduated with my MS and got myself a Kindle. I do take advantage of the free samples and also e-books available from my local library when I can.

          I am also a member of two book-clubs (one online, one local), and so I am usually reading one or both of the monthly picks.

          The online club is sci-fi/fantasy based and has an accompanying podcast that usually is giving me more books to add to my to-read list.

          The local women’s bookclub is mostly a way for me to get out of the house a few times a month and talk with other adults that are not my coworkers or my husband. I’m shy and I have a toddler, so if I didn’t force myself to get out and meet people I’d be happy to be a homebody for forever. The club picks a lot of books I wouldn’t have selected myself (minus Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was the choice the first month I joined), but since I am a pretty quick reader, I figure it is good for me to branch out a little.

    2. Elkay*

      I’m reading The Little Women Letters which was a £0.99 Kindle impulse buy. Generally I pick fiction either by people I’ve read before or by browsing in bookshops (which is a dangerously expensive pastime).

    3. Daisy*

      I pick my fiction books the same way: topic of interest. I usually don’t end up read highly popular ones, like Oprah’s book club., Twilight, Hunger Games (I read Game of Thrones when it came out. Book of the Month club it whatever it was called. Now, I kinda want a Stitch Fix version for books.)
      I’m currently reading ‘Summer of the Big Bachi’. I also use Goodreads and that gives you recommendations based on what you’ve read (entered).

        1. Daisy*

          Ok, I did a quick search. There is Just the Right Book, Book Riot and Powells Indispensable.

        2. Windchime*

          Hey, I tried searching for the AAM group on Good Reads and couldn’t find it. Is it still going? I’ve never used that site so maybe I was searching incorrectly?

          1. Daisy*

            I think you should find it if you go to Groups and then enter ‘askamanager’. It popped up for me that way…but I’m already in the group.

    4. Jessica (tc)*

      Huh, I don’t know how to answer that question. I often go to the library and pick a bunch of books off the shelves and randomly open to pages and start reading. If the blurb sounds interesting and the writing grabs me, then I’ll take it home and read it. I’ll sometimes pick up books based on others’ recommendations or from reviews I read online, but I’m a voracious reader, so I just really like to just grab stuff and go for it. If I’m not into it after a good period of time, I just stop reading and go on to something else. I also check out the library’s “new reads” shelf regularly and tend to get one or two from there every couple of weeks or so. (These aren’t always truly new books, but are sometimes just new to the library’s shelves.)

      I’m currently entrenched in the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, if you’re interested in fantasy/sci-fi. I read many of them so many times when I was a middle schooler and teenager, and I recently decided to re-read through as many as I could get from the library or via e-book check-outs. I also have a couple from the new reads shelf at the library that I haven’t started yet. You can get fiction based on interest, too, because you can often find fiction that deals with topics (or periods of time) that interest you.

      One of my all-time favorite books that I recommend to almost anyone who loves to read is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery — gorgeous and elegant prose.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        This is how I pick books, too. I also check for other books by authors I’ve enjoyed, or occasionally something I’ve heard about on the radio or something, but just browsing is great.

        The other afternoon I went to the library and did the whatever-catches-my-eye thing and picked up Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I started reading it in the library, then sat in a coffee shop and kept reading, and then went home and kept reading. Summer vacation just started for me, so I just kept going until I’d read the whole novel in basically one sitting – even though it meant that I went to bed at two in the morning on a Thursday!

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Wow, I just checked it out online, and I’m going to pick that up when I’m done with the stack I just got out. That sounds compelling! (On the other hand…maybe I should get it now, so I can read it on vacation later this week, because I probably shouldn’t stay up all night before going into work…)

      2. Schmitt*

        Shout-out for Pern! There’s so much that just isn’t quite right with the books, but the world is still intriguing. Have you been in the MUSH text roleplay scene at all? I run Second Pass (just google “second pass mush”, leaving link out to avoid moderation).

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I haven’t, but I’ll check it out! There is so much more out there about it now, and I was excited to see that when I started looking around during this particular re-read.

    5. Anna Moose*

      Hardcopy: The Journal of Best Practices – A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch

      Audiobook: The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

      I usually pick my books off the New Material Shelf in the library. I hate it when a book or audiobook is manhandled. I also choose by whatever summary looks interesting. Lately, there have been some duds.

    6. Al Lo*

      Right now, I’m working through the Go Fug Yourself Goodreads lists. On the D-Day anniversary, there was a whole thread of recommendations of novels about People Having Romantical Problems During Wartime (and other related books), so right now, I’m in the middle of a WWII-era reading spree.

      1. Al Lo*

        Although the book I’m actually currently reading is The Silkworm, the brand new Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) book.

        1. Artemesia*

          What do you think of it? I was only medium impressed with ‘The Casual Vacancy’ She writes well but the story dragged for me.

          1. Felicia*

            I felt similarly about The Casual Vacancy. There were parts of it t hat were amazing, but then it just dragged on and on in parts. I think if it had been half the length, it could possibly have been great.

          2. anon in the uk*

            I liked her first venture into crime novels and am on the hold list at the library for Silkworm.

            1. Al Lo*

              I liked my second read of Casual Vacancy (about 6 months apart) better than the first time through – once I had a better handle on the characters, it was a much more enjoyable read.

              Her detective novels are great. If you look at the classic detective structure of some of the Potter books, particularly Goblet, you can see that she’s got a great handle on the genre, and that holds up outside of the YA/fantasy realm, too.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I thought Casual Vacancy was interesting, though it’s not the kind of book I typically read. I think they’re going to make a TV show of it, or so I thought I heard.

    7. Sandrine (France)*

      I’m all about Sci-Fi, Fantasy and things like that.
      I’m going to take up reading the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy again, but my criteria tend to be quite weird.

      Also, for some reason, I can’t borrow books anymore. I need to buy the thing and call it mine to be able to read it o_O

    8. NylaW*

      For fun: Smiley’s People by John LaCarre, rereading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, and and I just downloaded Gone Girl.

      For work: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012

      1. Jen RO*

        Yay for more Dark Tower! I’ll probably be done with the last audiobook in a couple of weeks, and then I have to decide between IT and Talisman for my new commuting soundtrack. (And for some reason Black House is not available on Audible :()

        1. Windchime*

          I wish I could like the Dark Tower series. I went through the first book really fast, and then got bogged down/lost interest on the second book. Should I try to power through it?

    9. Dorth Vader*

      Right now I’m reading The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon. It’s good, but a REALLY slow read. I’m someone who can usually read 2 pages per minute, and this one is taking about twice as long. Generally I pick my books by going to the New Releases section at my library or, if I’m buying, clearance at Barnes and Noble. I also tend to read a lot of similar books at once (my last theme was something like “American war fiction with a strong female lead”), so I love the Related Titles (or whatever it’s called) section on Amazon/bookstore sites.

      1. Annie*

        I got a giant stack of fluff for Tuesday when I will be acting as an election judge for the primary election… I read one of the books yesterday (oops) and finished in less than 3 hours… these are definitely fluffy books though (the Cupcake Club- and a beach books) beyond that I’m reading the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie which is in the Divergent/Hunger Games vein (and is well written).

      1. Annie*

        THIS! I got to hear Brene Brown speak 2 years ago at a conference and it was awesome and in a room of almost 6000 she made me feel like she was speaking directly to me!

    10. Felicia*

      I’m reading How to Build a Zombie: The Real Life (and Death) Science of Reanimation and Mind Control .

      I picked it for the title, and it’s actually a very fascinating non fiction book covering things such as Haitian voodoo, the history of CPR and other forms of resuscitation , viruses like rabies and other “mind control” type viruses, the history of organ donation and more. I don’t think I learned how to make a zombie but I am learning a lot :)

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Just finished a re-reading of LOTR. I’d like to re-read Harry Potter before I go to the UK, but I have so many books on my Kindle that I better get them read before Amazon has some kind of hissy fit and I lose them all.

      Next up are NOS4A2 and 11/22/63 by Joe Hill and Stephen King. I usually get those two in hardback but didn’t. And Preston/Child have new stuff coming out. Arrgh! I’m so behind on them–I haven’t read any of the Gideon books at all yet. And two giant comic omnibuses–Brian Keene’s The Last Zombie one, and the other is an anthology thing I backed on Kickstarter. Those are physical copies and are enormous. I have some Emile Zola I haven’t read either. I’m a huge fan of his and am collecting his Les Rougon-Macquart novel cycle.

      As far as how I choose fiction to read, hmm. If the story sounds interesting. It’s easier to say what I don’t like than what I do. I don’t like romance novels, and I don’t like political stuff. I’ve been a horror fan for years, but I’m just starting to check out sci-fi.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I really liked 11/22/63. Amazon had it for free last year for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death and I picked it up then. I think I’ve read it at least half a dozen times since then.

        This may be heresy because I generally like fantasy but I cannot get into LOTR. I’ve tried many times but I get bored so quickly.

      2. Jen RO*

        I wasn’t expecting to like 11/22/63,because Kennedy’s death means virtually nothing to me, but I got hooked and I loved it. I’m about halfway through NOS4A2 and I’m not terribly impressed, but I’m not giving up yet. Joe Hill is definitely a good writer, but I think I was (unconsciously) expecting something more like his dad’s.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Read Horns, and Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill. He’s definitely inherited some of that. Horns is fantastic–they’re making (or were making) a film of it with Daniel Radcliffe.

      3. Relosa*

        I’ve been fighting the urge to do my annual fall HP re-read now instead of, you know, October and November – Reading HP and the fantasy of actually competing and winning NaNoWriMo are the only two worthwhile things of fall to me outside of Halloween. All the press and excitement around Diagon Alley’s opening in Orlando is got me all abuzz.

    12. Graciosa*

      Stephanie, I just wanted to thank you for starting some great threads today. I’ve really been enjoying reading the answers to this one and the one below on perceptions of U.S. culture.

    13. Loose Seal*

      I just finished two that I have been waiting on for some time and recommend both series wholeheartedly:

      1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, the newest Diana Gabaldon novel that is the 8th book in the Outlander series. It’s gotten middling reviews but maybe I’m just too much a fan-girl because I thought it was wonderful. Ms. Gabaldon is one of the few writers that I have to have a dictionary by my side as I read because she is masterful about picking the exact word she needs and it’s frequently not a word I’m familiar with. I only hope it’s not going to be five years before we get the next book in the series.

      2. Skin Game, by Jim Butcher. It’s the 15th book in the Harry Dresden (wizard private investigator) series. I love these books because Mr. Butcher has a great way with comedy writing, which is hard to do successfully. I get a giggle out of a lot of lines but I’ve also gotten really attached to the characters. I believe there are supposed to be 25 or so books in this series and they come out roughly one year to 18 months apart, which is great for getting my Harry fix.

      1. Al Lo*

        I also just finished Written In My Own Heart’s Blood. That’s a series that I’ve had more conversation about — “You know, the time travel with the sex scenes” — and everyone seems to have heard of it on some level. I don’t find them the most well-written books I’ve ever read, but they’re definitely one of my guilty pleasure series.

        Someone on my twitter feed commented that she just picked up the first one, and has already bought the next 4 from her used bookstore. I wished her a happy 12,000 pages of reading ahead…

    14. C Average*

      Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. It’s fantastic.

      Also The Guns of August, by Barbara Tuchman. It’s . . . dense. Not easy going at all.

    15. littlemoose*

      I’m close to finishing Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. It’s about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and ties in the story of H.H. Holmes, America’s first “serial killer.” It’s non-fiction, but is incredibly well-written and reads like a novel. I really recommend it. Next up is Meg Wolitzer’s “The Interestings,” which I bought myself as a birthday present. I might also reread Michele Huneven’s novel Blame, which I read a few years ago and really enjoyed.

      As for how I pick my books – it varies. Sometimes it’s word of mouth, and sometimes it’s just browsing the tables at the bookstore. I also sometimes check out books based on reviews in magazines or on blogs that sound interesting. I keep a list in Evernote of books I want to read, so I’m never without ideas for what to read (just time to read it).

    16. danr*

      This and that… Currently reading (again) Into the Back: Odyssey One by Evan Currie. Just finished the Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan (again), What Kings ate and Wizards drank by Krista D Ball, A Day of Infamy by Walter Lord (been ages since I read it), and for summer, Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert book.
      All on Kindle.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I just finished Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham, which I really enjoyed. I would read anymore that she wrote. I’ve got some crime novels to read as well that are sitting on my pile.

        I find books much in the same way as above. Mostly they just look appealing to me or someone has recommended it to me in some way, either through forums or via goodreads. My friend works in a bookshop so we speak about books alot. I also love the new additions shelves in my local library.

    17. Mallory*

      Currently almost finished rereading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for the fourth or fifth time. I started it again when I heard about Maya Angelou’s death. She had recently canceled a speaking engagement at our public library due to her final illness.

    18. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Stephanie, I find Amazon’s book recommendations really helpful, as well as the “customers who book this book also bought…” section on books that I’ve read and liked. On an e-reader, you can usually download the first chapter for free (at least you can on iBooks — I think on Kindle too?), so I’ll often do that to get a better idea of whether I really want to read something before I buy it.

      1. stellanor*

        I get probably 75% of my new stuff from the Amazon monthly editor’s picks stuff. That and I think I read like 3/4 of the Booker Prize and National Book Award shortlists this year.

        Mooooost Kindle books have a free sample you can download. It’s publisher opt-in I think so it’s not all of them, but a lot do. I must admit I have never downloaded a sample and then not bought the book, which is probably what they’re counting on.

    19. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Part of me thinks we need a separate open thread just to talk about books. I know we have the AAM Good Reads group, but for some that isn’t getting used as much as we talk about them here. Maybe on next Sunday’s open thread, we’ll make it books plus.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        That would be…I’m not sure if I have the words for how amazing that would be if you did Alison!

    20. Anx*

      Island of Dr. Moreau.

      Doing a cloneclub bookclub (or as Ainsley would call it, ‘full-contact’ reading).

    21. fluffy*

      I’m avoiding Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, becauuse it’s next week’s book club title–I’d better get cracking. I read lots of book reviews, and I like looking at book lists
      Hennepin county library posts lots of lists, both staff picks and patron reommendations

    22. samaD*

      I’m currently cutting back on reading until I get my project done….went on a bit of a bender earlier (5 novels, 5 days :) )

      for choosing fiction it depends where I am and what time’s like :)

      new books – I go with recommendations from friends who read things I like and stick with authors I know I like. Anthologies are good, in that you can sample several writers’ styles without being in for several novels’ cost. (This holds double when ordering online)

      if I’ve got lots of time & selection & can actually hold the books (I usually use this for used bookstores and libraries):
      1. browse the shelves in your general area of interest – if you have a preferred genre start there – and grab anything that catches your eye
      2. look at the book you’ve just grabbed – does the cover art look interesting to you? read the teaser on the back. If it still has your interest at all pop it in your basket and keep looking
      3. when you’ve a basketful find somewhere you can sit for a bit. Look through the basket and do gut judgements: yes, no, maybe – look at the front, read the back, and perhaps read the first page.
      4. the maybes are the hard ones. I generally give them a chapter (10 pages if they aren’t chaptered or are exceedingly long chapters). If they can’t grab me in that first chapter then they aren’t for me that day.
      5. if I’ve a hard spending or borrowing limit then I go with the ‘yes’ pile and the highest-level maybes, to the limit.
      6. don’t buy the ‘should’ books, unless they actually interest you or are required for work or class (I should read this because everyone says it’s so good, because my friend loves it, because I usually like the author, etc….)

      if it’s part of a series then just buy the first one, unless you find yourself completely drawn into it while doing your pre-read (I’ve occasionally found myself halfway through a book that had been a maybe getting a chapter-read….I got the rest of the series :) )

      price is a factor too – I’m more likely to buy a quite-maybe if it’s $1 than if it’s $3, and a secondhand paperback had better be a really definite YES if it’s $7

      um, this got really long, sorry :)

    23. smilingswan*

      Unless I’m familiar with the author’s work, I pick books by book cover. If the cover catches my eye, I look at the title. If the title seems interesting, I’ll read the description. If the description looks good, I’ll read it. If there is no description, it goes back on the shelf (I’m looking at you Neil Gaiman).

      I’m currently rereading the Outlander series, since I just got the newest one, and the show will be airing soon. Then I have to catch up on Game of Thrones. I started reading it when it first came out back in the late 90’s, and I love it. However, I still haven’t read the most recent one, because I didn’t want to have to wait years for the next installment. Now that the show is getting closer to that point, I feel like I have to get back to it. I sometimes have a hard time with his books though, because I want to skip ahead to the next chapter from my favorite character’s POV! And of course, whenever a new one comes out, I have to reread all of them, which takes a while. ;)

    24. Mints*

      I’m in the middle of three series, waiting to get off the wait list at the library: Throne of Glass, medeivel-ish fantasy, a cool lady assassin, cute boys, fluffy YA.
      Peter Grant series, modern urban fantasy, some police procedural, he’s a wizard and hangs out with various mysterious magical creatures, very very funny.
      Mercy Thompson series, modern fantasy set in Oregon, she’s a walker (turns into a coyote), hangs out with a bunch of werewolves and some vampires and some fairies, exciting plots.

      Joining a book club was really helpful. All these books were recommended by book club peeps. (Through a Meetup group)

      1. TL*

        I couldn’t get into the Mercy Thompson enough to read past the first books (lack of interesting/important female characters – even though the main character is female! – has become a real turn-off for me) but I’ll have to look into the Peter Grant series -that sounds good!

    25. Lore*

      I just finished Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi–a sort of a modern Snow White that was pretty interesting. Not sure what I’m starting next–I had a good haul of things at the library yesterday (including The Silkworm and the new Megan Abbott), and I don’t even know what to start next! Plus I’m feeling guilty about reading not as much nonfiction, or as many things on the stuff-I-dragged-home-from-work pile, so who knows.

      In terms of finding stuff: I’m totally spoiled by a) being able to read Publishers Weekly at work and see what’s coming out and b) getting so many free books also at work. I hardly ever buy print books unless I’m in a great used bookstore or I’ve already read something from the library and know I want it in the permanent collection. And even Kindle stuff, I’m pretty restrained. I’ll generally request stuff from the library well in advance and then if it comes in and I don’t actually want it, I’ll just return it. I also keep a monstrously long running list of stuff that’s come to my attention through reviews, or browsing, or someone else recommending it. I know a lot of people who use their Amazon wish list as a place to keep those; I have a Google doc that’s almost 50 pages long and I highlight stuff of especial interest. But I would say at least half the fiction is new books by authors I like–I’m kind of a completist that way–and a decent chunk of the nonfiction too. Certain journalists I read in magazines or newspapers–I’ll read any of their books even if the subject doesn’t seem promising because I am generally fascinated by their take on things. But I live in a sea of books, too, so…not representative necessarily.

    26. Ruffingit*

      The Diary by Eileen Goudge

      I’m listening to the unabridged audio version. I’m really enjoying it.

    27. BCranston*

      If anyone has seen the terrible cult movie The Room, then I can HIGHLY recommend the book The Disaster Artist on the making of. Really well written and entertaining story of the guy who played Mark (Greg Sesteros). I’ve read it three times already and its got 5 stars on Amazon. If you haven’t seen the movie then just do a YouTube search for the top 10 scenes.

      To find new books I have been using Good Reads lately to browse within certain genres I like and see what is popular.

    28. Persephone Mulberry*

      Currently re-reading American Gods (10th anniversary revised edition).

      GFY has a new book club on goodreads, and they (we) will be kicking off with Code Name Verity, so that’s on my list next.

    29. TL*

      I’m reading The Anxiety of Kalix the Wereworlf (urban fantasy; not sure if I’ll finish; the humor isn’t really striking me) Cinnamon and Gunpowder (seriously amazing fiction about a cook who was taken prisoner by a female pirate) and I just finished Navajo Weapons (fascinating nonfiction about the Navajo codetalkers -seriously, that was so whitewashed in my history books!).

      I am a major browser – I just wander through bookstores I like (good displays get me coming back) or the local library and see what catches my eye; then I read the back, then I read the first chapter or so and then I carry it around for a while looking at other books and if I still can’t wait to finish it, I get it.
      I also tend to browse with specific criteria in mind – lately it’s been either lots of female protagonists or set in modern-day (sub)cultures I don’t know much about and anything fairy tale will always get my attention.

    30. Phyllis*

      I read everything, from fiction to biographies. I also love books dealing with etiquette and business/career. I also love books on trivia and word origins. I can’t remember to pick up milk on the way home, but if you want to know the origin of the term “scape goat” I’m your girl.

      My kids call me the trivia queen, and were forever telling me I should try out for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”. I told them it was one thing to answer from the couch, but if you put me in front a camera and millions of people I would do good to be able to state my name.

      1. Phyllis*

        Also, for fellow grammar freaks; over at Huffington Post they have a grammar quiz. I’m a sucker for these things, so of course I took it. I got rated a Grammar Pro. I have all of you to thank, because one of the things I got correct was the Oxford Comma. I had never heard that term before reading it here, but when I saw the choices I just knew which one it was. Didn’t get the dangling particle/split modifier. Never could remember those.

  10. Tinker*

    Closed on my house on Friday. Aieeee!

    Because of fun timing issues, I’ve got a little over 30 days overlap between the house and getting out of my apartment, so I’m taking advantage of the gap — well, kinda — by taking boxes and such down in my car so that the actual Moving Day event will be only furniture. Which I could maybe do with U-haul and friends, but practically speaking (especially with the other complications) I have a suspicion that I’m going to end up hiring movers.

    The other complications being: 1) I’m going to be donating large items — at minimum a washer and dryer, and possibly other furniture also, and since donation pick-ups won’t enter one’s home and I live in an apartment, that means the donation has to be done with the move 2) roommate, whose presence weighs against conducting the move significantly before the end of the lease and whose moving logistics will likely at least partly fall on me 3) cat, who adds to the list of “that which I must deal with personally on the day of the move” and, unlike the previous items on that list, is both animate and opinionated.

    And then there’s the usual stuff along the lines of “Why do I have so much stuff, and where is it all going to fit?”

    But the house is really nice, it’s like a 15-minute bike ride from work, and the layout is almost ideally situated for the sort of entertaining that tends to happen in my social circles. Provided that I don’t go a more inconvenient form of insane first, it should be awesome. Eventually.

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      We’re moving from an apartment building to a duplex, and we built in overlap for the same reason. It’s been fun to take a little bit over each night, and only have the big stuff on “moving day” is going to feel relaxing for once! We’re also looking at hiring movers for the big day, because it’s harder to coordinate people in the summer and it’ll just be nice to not have to worry about the stuff ourselves so much. We absolutely hate moving, but it’s really helping us purge a lot of stuff that we’ve collected over the years that we’ve lived at this particular apartment, which is always the nice part of moving.

      Congratulations on the new house!

    2. Jen RO*

      This sounds great, congratulations! I know that feeling of looking at the amount of stuff and wondering how on earth did it fit in your house… I’m selling at least half my books before my next move, because I am not hauling them around town in my car ever again.

    3. Stephanie*

      Congrats on the new house!

      And then there’s the usual stuff along the lines of “Why do I have so much stuff, and where is it all going to fit?”

      Yeahhhh. When I moved, I shipped all my personal effects via Amtrak. Amtrak has a 500 lb/day limit. Since I donated a lot and sold most of my furniture, I was like “Pshaw, no way I have 500 lbs worth of stuff.” Yup, I did. I actually had like 697 lbs. Amtrak has a 500 lb/day limit, so I had to come back the next day to ship the remaining 197 lbs. The extent of my stuff just seemed so stark sitting there on the floor scale with the scale number flashing. I was in disbelief like “Could it be the pallet? Those weigh a lot, right? Am I standing on the floor scale and don’t realize it?”

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yay! Congrats!

      I’m trying to purge stuff now, even though I have no real hope of moving anytime soon. The inside of my tiny house, which I’ve nicknamed The Crumbling Albatross, needs painting, and it will be much easier once I get rid of a bunch of crap. I’m pretending that I’m moving overseas and can’t take much with me. ;)

    5. Artemesia*

      maybe find someone else to donate to. When I left a big southern city for the north I sold or gave away most of the furniture. I think I outfitted about 4 apartments for immigrant/refugees with furniture and kitchenware. The charity that resettled refugees send two guys and a truck and they carried stuff out of our house and attic and made several trips. I think they would have taken the washer dryer; they took about 15 or 20 sets of shelving, several couches, boxes of dishes etc — and all of it involved them coming into our home and very carefully removing it.

      Goodwill or whatever may not do that, but there may be other charities who would want a washer and dryer who would. I’d call around.

    6. Mimmy*

      Oh don’t I know all about the ever-accumulating personal belongings!! I dread the day we have to move out of our current home–we’ve been here since 2002–I’m sure it’ll be a lot. That’s not including what’s in our (huge) storage unit!

      But congrats on the closing and good luck with the move!!

    7. Loose Seal*

      Congrats on the new house!

      When I sold my house a few years ago, someone in the community had just had a house fire where they lost everything (the residents were all fine, thankfully). Since I was moving seven hours away and did not want to transport anything that could be bought for less than the moving costs or that duplicated things my new husband already owned, I opened my house to the family and told them they could have anything I hadn’t marked — basically everything except for my clothes and computer stuff. They got members of their church to come help them load it up and took beds, dishes and cookware, washer/dryer, a microwave, and lots of miscellaneous stuff. They were thrilled and I was happy to help out. Plus, it helped me by not having to organize donations to a bunch of different places.

      1. Phyllis*

        That was a wonderful thing you did. Yes, it helped you not have to take all these things, but you gave these people a new start.

    8. smilingswan*

      The Salvation Army will come and collect from your home. I lived in a gated apartment community and they came and carted away a sleeper-sofa and recliner. :)

    9. Gene*

      We did the overlap deliberately so we could do things at the house that needed to be done. Repainted before ripping out the old carpet (built-in dropcloth), then pulled the carpet and pad and had the hardwood floor under it refinished.Did some wiring for the stereo, cable and network. replaced some ceiling fixtures and replaced all the outlet and switch covers.

      So much easier with nothing int he house!

  11. Canadamber*

    I’m sooooo tired! D:

    I just went train-watching with some friends, and we were on the road from 8 PM until just about 2 AM. I’ve been up since 10 AM (and now it’s 2:19 AM…), so I was getting pretty drowsy, which is why we didn’t stay out longer – night time is actually a pretty busy time for freight trains, but since dying of a sleep deprivation related incident isn’t really my idea of “fun”, I headed home sooner rather than later.

    I started looking through my videos, because I took actually quite a lot of them today, but I’m too tired to really be able to pick out what’s good and what’s not, so I’ll have to deal with it in the morning, or on Monday after my last high school exam, which I still haven’t studied for. Eek!

  12. Stephanie*

    Another question!

    International readers, what do y’all find weird or notable about American culture? I know healthcare is a confusing one, but I’m curious what else just seems odd. (Alison did a post on this about workplace norms–I’m curious just from a general perspective.)

    This is what my friend from Northern Ireland thought was notable:
    1. The diversity of the landscape (and climate). She loves it when I post pictures on Facebook of Arizona (or anywhere in the Southwest, really) because the landscape is so foreign to her.
    2. How expensive our universities are (she told me there were protests at her alma mater when total cost of attendance per year increased to about 15,000 USD).
    3. Mobility–that it wasn’t uncommon for people to go across the country for work or school.
    4. Twinkies. We gave her one and she said it was the most horrible thing she ever tasted.
    5. And healthcare, of course.

    1. Elkay*

      Yeah Twinkies are nasty although there’s an Italian treat that tastes similar to me so that’s not purely a US thing!

      One thing I’m often surprised by is Americans identifying themselves as Irish, Italian etc when their family have been inthe US for many generations. In Europe you tend to identify as the nationality you hold not one your ancestors had.

      1. Fruitfly*

        If someone is of pure Asian descend living in Europe for many generations, would Europeans prefer the person to say that they are Chinese, Indian, Korean, etc. or would it be best to identify them as the nationality, such as British, German, French, etc. ?

        I am curious since this opinion is new to me.

        1. Jen RO*

          If the person was born and raised in France, for example, I would expect them to say they are French (or French-Chinese, if their parents were born and raised in China). If they were third generation French (grandparents born in China, parents born in France), I would say they are simply French.

          1. Jen RO*

            And because of the nature of this comments section, I feel the need to add the disclaimer that of course there are exceptions, people might live in segregated neighborhoods and never become culturally French, etc, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with most Americans that identify as Irish, German etc. (Though I have learned that this is just shorthand for Irish-American and so on.)

            1. robot chick*

              yep, and 3rd or later gen “immigrants” who still identify as their ancestors’ culture more than their own seem kinda off to me (sometimes even outright obnoxious esp. with strongly mixed heritage)

            2. Jamie*

              I know a lot of Europeans take issue with Amercian’s saying they are Irish, Polish, or German or whatever because we’re not – but it’s just a colloquialism and to us it just means were of that ethnic descent. No one is claiming it’s the same thing as having lived there – and no one is denouncing that were Amercians.

              It’s our shorthand, and something we should keep in mind when speaking to someone from overseas, but the umbrage I’ve seen on some forums about us trying to claim a nationality that isn’t our own – that’s not what were doing. Ever. It’s a figure of speech.

            1. Fruitfly*

              Thanks for the inputs. I do wonder for how many generations would people say Asian-American and for how many generations would people say just “American.” I know some Asian who still refer to themselves as [their ethnicity]-American even after 8 generations.

          2. Alice*

            Here in Germany, even if the family has been here for generations (they had a Turkish migrant program in the 70s/80s?), they are still considered as having an ‘immigration background’. My german bf refers to his 2nd generation German coworker as being Russian because that’s where his family is from (I guess it doesn’t help that his coworker’s german is very russian accented). I find it a shame.

        2. De (Germany)*

          Most people I know go by [something]-German for about a generation (so their parents came here) and after that it’s just German.

        3. carlotta*

          Some people I know, who would relate to your description, self-identify and describe themselves as Eurasian.

      2. De (Germany)*

        The first few times I encountered German-Americans on the internet, I was fully expecting them to be at most one generation removed from Germany, probably still speaking German. Imagine my surprise when it was more like 5 generations.

        1. Jamie*

          Yes, it’s just colloquial and our way of stating ethnicity of descent.

          My dad was born in Germany and he did raise us as German americans. Our food traditions, holidays, our family heirlooms from his side – these are things he gave us and wanted for us to keep. We have family there. Amercian’s first and foremost – always – but we’d darn well better know how to make a decent schnitzel and spaetzel from scratch. I think with many immigrants they want to fully embrace their new country and raise their kids as regular Americans, but they want to pass on the traditions and some of the culture from their homeland. It’s important to give some of who you are and where you came from to your children.

          My maternal grandmother’s family came in part from Switzerland and Germany in part in the early 1700’s. Yeah, technically a DNA test shows us of german descent but we don’t have any of the traditions on that side so I don’t think about that as being German. We’ve been here since before there was an America and several great grandfathers who fought In the the rev war and then more in the civil war. That’s side our heritage is just colonial – the European aspect is so removed that except genetically it’s didn’t pass down.

      3. Stephanie*

        Actually, this is why I’ve always found the term “African-American” a bit odd. I have no clue which African country my ancestors came from (for, uh, obvious historical reasons) and I definitely look different from an African (again, for, uh, obvious historical reasons).

        (Of course, I don’t speak for all black people.)

        1. Felicia*

          The term African-Canadian never seemed to catch on in the same way as African-American, so it always seems a little weird when I hear it , but I do try to accept peoples’ preference. Black seems to be the more common preference here

        2. Fruitfly*

          Last year, I watch a youtube channel of a highly-subscribed hair-styling channel. The star of the channel was a white mom who had white children and an adopted baby daughter, who was black. In one video she refer to that daughter as “little black daughter” in order to clarify which daughter she was referring to since she has four other daughters. There were many people that were offended when she refer to that daughter as “black,” even though the she mentioned that the birth mother of the daughter preferred the term “black” over African-American. I think the daughter might be of Afro-Caribbean descent–I don’t quite remember clearly. I was surprise by the number of offended comments.

          1. Fruitfly*

            I also want to clarify that the mom only said “little black daughter” in that one video ONLY just to clarify in the conversation the daughter she as referring to. She does not want to give out the names of her children. She usually refers to her daughters, including the little one, by nicknames. And also, there were some black viewers that were not offended by her use of the term “black.”

        3. Mints*

          I find “African-American” weird too. Although I’m not black, and I don’t override other peoples’ definitions, it doesn’t really make sense to me. The only person I know who’s from a country in Africa (born there, and if you ask her where she’s from, she says that nationality) she’s not black. Meanwhile the black population that came over like 1700s is very much American to me, and the “African” qualifier doesn’t make sense today. Black=/=African

          1. Felicia*

            A lot of black people that I know here are actually of Caribbean descent. I think that was a part of the reason African-Canadian isn’t used as much, although I would use it if that’s someone’s preference. One of my best friends is from Kenya, and he’s white, and people think it’s weird if he refers to himself as African Canadian, even though he is.

            I think it’s much more common in the US to refer to your background even when it’s multiple generations removed, well at least among people I know, if they were born here, or have been here a decade or more, they just identify as Canadian. E.g I have friends who’s great grandparents came from China and every subsequent generation was born here, and they wouldn’t say they’re Chinese

          2. Anon7*

            “Black =/= African”
            ^ This. I’m white, but a friend of mine is of mixed heritage. I was describing her mother to a coworker one day, and ended up on the receiving end of a tirade about how the term “black” was offensive and I should be using “African American”. When she finally stopped talking, I had to be like, “No. [Friend’s mom] is neither African nor American. She is Haitian, and she is black.”

            Living in an area that has a large immigrant community, it is very weird to me to use the term African American, since it assumes that the person’s family comes from Africa (either recently or historically), and that they identify as American. Most of the people in my area who are black do happen to come from Africa, but prefer to identify as Somali/Ethiopian/Kenyan/whatever, not “American”.

            1. Tzippy*

              Same in this area, in that people prefer to identify as their actual country of origin. I had someone say I should refer to my friend as African American, but she’s actually Jamaican, as are her parents and grandparents

        4. Prickly Pear*

          +1 for sure. I have a couple of friends that are really African-American, as in both have told me their immigration stories. I like to describe myself as a mutt, but I don’t think my parents appreciate that very well.

      4. Stephanie*

        Also, I’ve heard Italian-American assimilation (ie, fewer people identifying as Italian or Italian-American) as one theory why the Mafia’s declined in the US.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Interestingly, I hear people do this when their roots or Irish or Italian or sometimes Asian, but with hardly any other demographic. I rarely hear people say “I’m Slavic” or “I’m British” unless they were born in those countries.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I moved to Minnesota a bit ago, and it kind of surprised me how much people talk about their Swedish or Norwegian heritage here. There’s something of a friendly rivalry in some places based on heritage, even though it’s often very far removed.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            I’m Minnesota born and raised, and you are totally right. It’s kind of funny when you think about it.

        2. TL*

          I think it’s also a regional thing – in Texas, it’s something that would offhandedly come up as a topic of conversation once in a while – like, “Oh, I want to go to Germany” “why?” “my family’s German” “Oh, cool! My family’s X, Y, and Z” but was never A Thing, whereas in Boston, I’ve been asked by several people that I have very little acquaintance with what ethnicity I am. (which is interesting, because I’m a mutt and I finally started answering “most of Western Europe, a little of Eastern Europe, and a dash of Cherokee,” which seemed to confuse a fair number of people.)

      6. KrisL*

        I think maybe the way people identify themselves as Irish, Italian, etc. instead of adding “American” to it is that we probably assume that people already know that we’re American.

    2. Variation*

      At-will employment just blows my mind, every time- how the law is set up to foster and develop corporate profits over everything else.

      In my province, termination pay is legally required- for example, if after giving notice, an employer asks you to leave, they’ll pay you out for the period you were going to work. The termination period varies, depending how long you’ve been employed, but at least it exists.

    3. Jen RO*

      Besides the things already mentioned, I have:
      * Leak of maternity leave
      * Vanity sizing (I am an M, but when an American friend sent me an M t-shirt, it fit my boyfriend who wears L or XL).
      * Big servings (this is just hearsay – can someone confirm if they really are bigger than in Europe?)
      * The bad kind of political correctness. Sometimes it feels like all topics are of limits since abutting can be offensive to someone somewhere.
      * Giving your kids names that no one will be able to pronounce/spell correctly.

      With the disclaimer that I’ve never been in the States, but I spend a lot on time in the American side of the Internet.

      1. Stephanie*

        From my personal experience, I do think the serving sizes are bigger on average. I did get a chorizo, egg, and potato burrito the size of my foot (I do not have small feet) for $4.50 the other day.

        However, the serving size definitely varies depending on the type of restaurant. Anywhere pushing value will give you a mountain of food. Higher-end places seem to give more normal serving sizes.

      2. Relosa*

        in my defense, my name seems hard to pronounce/spell…but it’s a traditional Norse name, and very blatantly so. Still I get questions about it all the time.

        1. Jen RO*

          I was thinking more along the lines of Kharringtyn-McKhynleigh (not linking to avoid moderation – it’s the currently the first post on STFU Parents). I have no problem with genuinely foreign names, just the creative misspellings to make something ‘unique’. I hope the Internet makes this seem more common than it actually is.!

          1. Relosa*

            Yes and no. I think it’s particularly traditional names that people want to seem more ~artistic than they are. (Teyhlir, Myqinze, etc) it’s frustrating because I get super-snide remarks about my name all the time when I pronounce it for others – “Oh, heh, your parents were creative, weren’t they?”

            No, they were actually just lazy and took my grandmother’s first suggestion. If you took the time to actually use ur fonetic skillzzzzz my name would be much easier to figure out. Ugh! I don’t get why people do that to names that are easy and common. If you wanted your kid to have an uncommon name, find one!

            However, I do have to say that I hate the Americanized version of Isobel – “Isabelle.” I much prefer the “Isobel” spelling. Fewer letters! :)

      3. Relosa*

        and yes, servings really are huge. Not all of them, but quite a few. Especially for casual restaurants, anything that doesn’t require a fancy chef, reservation, or credit check to dine there…usually all have insane portions.

        1. the gold digger*

          Which is why to-go boxes are so common here. We weren’t sure how it would work in Paris, so when my husband and I were there a few years ago, I kept ziplock bags in my purse and snuck the leftovers out of the restaurant that way.

          Here, we usually eat less than half of what the restaurant serves us and take the rest home to eat the next day.

        2. KrisL*

          A lot of times, instead of ordering a dinner, I order an appetizer and have that for dinner.

      4. Mallory*

        I’ve spent some time hosting my university department’s Italian exchange students, and they always think everything is HUGE here. Not just the vehicles, but also the food portions and every part of the place setting (the salt and pepper shakers, the coffee cops, the plates, everything). The girls were strategizing over how not to get fat with all the oversized dining accoutrements they’d be using for several months.

        1. Jen RO*

          I struggle with European-sized servings! In US I would constantly feel guilty that I can’t finish my food.

    4. Luxe in Canada*

      It takes you guys absolutely forever to get to legal drinking age. And you don’t use the metric system, except in a few circumstances. But on the plus side, you have Trader Joe’s (you lucky duckies!)

      1. Relosa*

        What’s even better about the drinking age, is that it’s not even an actual requirement. The states, individually, can lower it at any time to 18 if they want. But they don’t. They’re pretty much blackmailed by the federal highway system.

        1. Stephanie*

          Didn’t Louisiana have the drinking age at 18 for the longest time? And then raised it when federal highway dollars were going to be withheld?

          1. Relosa*

            Either that or Wisconsin. Almost half the states currently have provisions that permit drinking under 21. But yeah, that’s how it goes for all the states and the highway funding.

          2. The IT Manager*

            Yes. I was about to say it was a recent change, but it was when my brother was between 18 and 21 so about 18 years ago.

            And the loophole was that it was illegal to buy until 21, but legal to sell to 18 year olds and up. Therefore the sellers happily sold to 18 year olds for years until the state closed the loophole to avoid losing national funding for highways.

          3. BRR*

            I went to college in Louisiana and that was the story I was always told about the drinking age there. Although I also always heard the legal drinking age was when you were tall enough to reach the bar.

            1. TL*

              As long as you’re within arm’s reach of your parents, drinking is legal in many ages in more than a few states.
              Or if you’re married to someone over 21, you can also drink in some states.

      2. Lee*

        I’m australian, and I never fail to be surprised at how politically correct Americans seem to be, and I feel like I see it a lot on this page.

        1. Artemesia*

          I’d prefer the silliness of some political correctness to the acceptance of degrading language directed at often vulnerable people.

          1. en pointe*

            Yeah, so would I. And that’s probably why you guys have Obama, and we have a guy who’s said that he feels threatened by homosexuals, and that women are physically unsuitable for leadership and should have their rights to withhold sex moderated.

            Seriously though, all the social commentators I’ve seen speak on this acknowledge that Australia is at least two to three decades behind the US in terms of racial tolerance. For example, I’ve heard loads of racist taunts thrown around at footy games about Aboriginal players and I know no shortage of people who will readily complain about all the ‘Abos’ or ‘Lebbos’. As far as I understand it, that stuff just wouldn’t be tolerated by others in the US. Our sexism, particularly in politics, is also wayyy more overt. We definitely need to make a lot more progress and, if that has to come with more political correctness, then that’s fine with me.

            All that said though, I think what Lee means might be more about how people sometimes take things too far. For example, there was a long debate here a while back about whether using the word tribal to refer to institutional knowledge was offensive, which (in my opinion) was a bit ridiculous. I don’t think that conversation could even happen in Australia; if you tried to start it, people would probably just assume you were being sarcastic. Also, some people tend to be really, really quick to pin things down to sexism, e.g. the Jill Abramson firing and the woman who got her job offer withdrawn while trying to negotiate with that university, without any real evidence other than the person in question being a woman.

            But yeah, I’m definitely with you on political correctness not being a bad thing.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              To be fair, I think it was only one person arguing that about “tribal knowledge” and no one else thought the term was problematic. But point taken.

              1. en pointe*

                Oh sure, I was more talking about how so many people took it seriously enough to engage and argue vehemently. (IIRC you ended up asking them to stop because it got so long, it was taking over the thread). In my culture, I couldn’t envisage that conversation because we would probably just say “Good one, mate”.

        2. Jen RO*

          See the discussion about ‘ladies’. I am exhausted just reading it, I would probably go nuts if I lived in a society that analyzed my every word and ignored all intention behind them. (I obviously have no idea if the US is really like that, or the Internet exacerbates everything.)

      3. Al Lo*

        To be fair, Canada’s random use of the metric and Imperial systems is also kind of strange.

        Babies are measured by the hospital in grams, but colloquially in pounds. Produce is measured/priced in pounds, but bulk dry goods and meats are measured in grams, but if you’re cooking or baking, the measurements are in cups/tsp/etc, not grams/mL/etc. Distance is generally in km, but country roads are in miles, because it was on the Imperial system when the land was divided up. People’s height and weight are in feet/inches and pounds (except at the doctor’s office and on your driver’s license). Temperatures are in Celsius — except if you’re baking, and then the oven is in Fahrenheit.

        1. Esra*

          I think that will change, a lot of it is a holdout from the transition to metric. It’s only been 40-odd years, but you see more metric now than you did even ten years ago.

          1. Felicia*

            I know that amongst people my age (early to mid 20s) and older, it’s even common to use metric when baking, or for height and weight. Most measuring cup type things have both, so it depends on which you look at. People my sister’s age (16) use metric even more often. I think the people who use both are rapidly getting older

            1. Al Lo*

              True. My dad is in his late 50s, so he grew up with both, which is the generation the crossover starts with.

              I’m in my early 30s, so metric has been around my entire life, but all of those examples are ways in which I (and most of my peers) use metric vs. Imperial.

      4. Felicia*

        The legal drinking age is another one for me. It’s particularly weird spending so long in college/university without legally being able to drink. 21 is not a significant birthday here.

      5. matcha123*

        Canada only recently switched to the metric system, right? I know an older Canadian who says that he still uses feet/miles/etc.

        When I was in science class, one of my classmates said, “The only people that use the metric system are doctors and drug dealers.”

        1. Felicia*

          Canada switched to the metric system roughly 40 years ago, so it’s really not all that recent. My parents, who are in their early 50s, learned the metric system in school, so they understand and sometimes use both, and know how to convert…generally it’s only Canadians that are 55 or older who don’t use the metric system. Most Canadians under 30 have little understanding of the imperial system. I know things like farenheit and miles are fairly meaningless to me.

    5. Jen RO*

      Another one, based on CollegeAdmin’s comment upthread: that women’s colleges are a still a thing.

      1. Felicia*

        We don’t have women’s colleges in Canada either…at least not that I know of. I think maybe one, that’s really small and not well known. I kind of wish we did though.

      2. smilingswan*

        There really aren’t very many, if you consider how many colleges/universities are in the US. Per Wikipedia: There are approximately forty-eight active women’s colleges, out of a total of 4,599 title IV degree-granting institutions, either colleges or universities in the country.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          That few, really? I dont know why I thought there were more – possibly because I currently attend one.

          1. Helka*

            There are a lot of colleges that were formerly women-only, have gone co-ed within the last couple decades, and are still attended mostly by women. So that may skew the perception. So by the rules, very few women’s colleges; by tradition/habit, quite a few more.

    6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      My Finnish friend said once that Americans use much more hyperbolic language than Finns. For example, if you offer an American a cup of coffee, she might say, “Oh, that would be amazing.” He said that always sounded so strange to him – a cup of coffee might be nice, or pleasant, or refreshing, but not actually causing of amazement.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I find this one fascinating. (Or maybe that’s an Americanism and I should say “moderately interesting”!) That kind of hyperbole feels natural and weirdly enjoyable to me, and realizing how culturally-based it is is endlessly interesting to me.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Me, too! I tend to be profuse and a bit hyperbolic in my thanks for little things like that anyway, so I wondered if it’s along those lines. If someone says, “Hey, I grabbed you a cup of coffee while I was down in the kitchen,” I’m likely to respond, “You are freaking awesome! Thank you!” If I really would like a cup of coffee but can’t or don’t want to go get it, I will respond similarly if someone offers to get some for me. “That would be amazing” if I said it in that context really means “That would be amazing of you to do that for me!” Hmmm…now I’m going to start noting use of hyperbolic language, I just know it…

        2. Befuddled Squirrel*

          It’s kind of a regional thing in America too. Californians do it more than New Yorkers, for example.

    7. De (Germany)*

      All of that, plus the extreme focus on “personal responsibility”. Like, when commentors here write something like “well, you chose to have children, so now you need to deal with that and nobody else should be inconvenienced by your choices”.

      And guns. I really don’t get that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Extreme personal responsibility. Where does that come from? I thought it went back to my German-Irish heritage? Guess not?
        I tend to think of it as using words as weapons but there is a soul-lessness about it.

        Anyway, thank you for giving this a name. I have been watching it for decades and not knowing what to call it. I have also spent decades rebeling against the practice. It’s the road to nowhere.

        1. Felicia*

          It’s sort of the “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality that seems uniquely American. Like the whole concept of the American dream where one can pick themselves up from rags to riches without any outside help, which even though it’s fairly impossible a lot of Americans cling to. Maybe you were founded by a lot of rugged individualists sailing for the unknown? Canada still hasn’t broken away from the UK (the queen is still technically our head of state), so maybe that’s why we don’t have that part of your culture.

          1. nyxalinth*

            I’m all for it but people here carry it to the most stupid extremes possible. Not to mention not everyone is capable of it. In my more cynical ‘read too much dystopian sci fi in my youth’ moods, I think that some people here do think that those incapable shouldn’t exist at all… and unfortunately, some of them are in places where they could make it happen.

            1. Artemesia*

              There was a time in the US when land was free and those with initiative often could make their ‘fortune’ and rise from serfdom. That time is long gone and the current saddling of young people with obscene college debt has helped further put the nail in it.

        2. nyxalinth*

          The Protestant side of Christianity tends to really push that concept, and so does Conservative political beliefs. Personal responsibility is great, but the way some people act, they expect you to have a third eye. “Oh, we’d better not have a baby right now. I’m going to lose my job in two weeks.” “But honey, you just got promoted at Wakeen’s Teapots!” “I know, but the backstabbing bee-otch who didn’t get the promotion is going to sleep with her boss in exchange for getting me fired, and he thinks too much with his pants where she’s concerned to not do it. ” “Wow, how do you know all of that?” “My third eye, of course! Duh!”

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You’re right. That forecasting goes hand-in-hand with the extreme personal responsibility attitudes.

            Combined the two look like this: “WELL. You should have known that [fill in with some obscure, unforeseen thing that no one else in the world would come up with].

            Reality is that we are all interwoven and interdependent. One person’s failure does not automatically mean the other person won by default.

        3. Mallory*

          I come from a family where the extended family were one another’s responsibility, and my husband’s side are vehemently staunch that one’s duty is to the immediate family only. The bar for putting anyone in a nursing home on my side is waaay higher than on his side (on my side, it is expected never to happen and on his it is considered almost inevitable).

          I find the different attitude confusing and more than a little soulless and self serving. The extreme personal responsibility is used to divorce oneself from the moral obligation to render aid to a struggling family member. I’m still mad at my husband because he wouldn’t let me help my sister relocate here (by living with us until she could get settled) a few years ago. She gets more of a hand up from friends she met in an online poker group than I’m able to give her. I wasn’t raised to not help a family member, but I can’t get past my husband’s side’s belief in extreme personal responsibility (aka extreme self interest).

          1. nyxalinth*

            I think that’s what it really is. There’s a lot of selfishness if not outright evil that people shove under the rug of ‘personal responsibility’. Not everyone can do for themselves all of the time. Personal responsibility (when used in that manner) is just a way to try and make “I don’t give a crap about anyone but me and mine” look good.

            1. Mallory*

              The kicker to this is that now my husband’s mom is starting to comment that she’s worried that we’re all not going to take care of her when she is old ( like she has not taken care of her parents). We are totally going to take care of her. But isn’t it a bitch that she coasted through not doing a damn thing except for herself, and now she’s all worried about what’s going to be done for her?

              My husband told our kids that he wants them to put us in a home when we’re old so we won’t be a burden on them. I told them, “Oh, hell no! Y’all have to take care of us and don’t you dare let anybody cut my toenails, only file them, because my worst fear is someone else controlling my toenails and cutting them to the quick with no regard for my pain, only their own convenience and expedience.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                ” But isn’t it a bitch that she coasted through not doing a damn thing except for herself, and now she’s all worried about what’s going to be done for her?”

                And this is how these things play out. Not being snotty- I honestly believe she is having a learning experience. We all do. But her’s is out there in the open for all to see. Typically, with folks like this it becomes their theme song for the rest of their lives. My dear family member was a lot like this. Went to her grave believing that no one was taking care of her, even though she was being taken care of. I chalked it up to her life coming back on her- not something I could ever fix. Just work to keep her safe and sheltered and that was the best I was going to do there.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Well said, nyxalinth. My feelings exactly. They have no clue that they are self-interested/self-absorbed people, either.

              I do not believe in breathing for other people. I know that somethings a person has to do on their own. But I also know that simple gestures can carry meaning for a life time.

              I try to hand out fishing poles, not fish. But sometimes you have to hand out fish, too. It varies. And people’s failure to TRY to discern what types of needs are temporary and what types of needs are vampire-y annoys me. At least try to help in some way.

              Painting everyone with the same brush does not work.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t get the guns thing either, and I grew up in a rural area where they were ubiquitous to the point where we actually had gun safety courses in school. And got to go shoot rifles at paper rabbits. FOR SCHOOL.

        I don’t hunt, but I have to say that venison is delicious.

        1. Felicia*

          People still hunt here, but they have to pass a test to be able to have guns, kind of like they would to drive a car. And carrying around a gun when you’re not hunting would be considered super weird.

          1. robot chick*

            well, you can be in favor of allowing guns for hunting, without being in favor of giving out conceiled carry permits like candy or allowing guns to be kept at home outside of a heavy safe your teenage son doesn’t know the combination to.
            Just saying.

        1. C Average*


          I’m from Idaho and have killed and eaten various things with a gun, and I totally get why people in rural areas want to keep their options to hunt intact. It’s a food source and a recreational opportunity all in one!

          What I don’t get is the belief that the second amendment entitles every man, woman, and child to own any weapon short of a Sherman tank. Why?

          1. littlemoose*

            +1. I don’t hunt, but I do enjoy target shooting with my dad’s small-caliber pistol and rifle. We live near a nice and inexpensive range with excellent safety procedures, and going is a fun thing for us to do together. But I’m in Missouri and the extent to which a lot of folks on this state want to expand legal protections for gun ownership is ridiculous. I can definitely see how strange it would be to non-Americans – it’s pretty weird for this American.

          2. Mallory*

            I’m from Arkansas, and the hunting culture is pretty strong here. The men in my family have hunted deer, duck, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, and have gigged frogs (for frog legs) and trapped crawdads (crayfish) with a piece of bacon inside a pantyhose (the crawdads grab on to the pantyhose with their claws, you whap them off into a bucket and then you have them). The first time I had fried crawdad tails my dad tricked me by saying it was fried okra.

            Anyway, I still think there has to be a way for responsible gun ownership, but who the hell needs an automatic assault rifle that can shoot 40 shells without stopping? That is insane.

    8. Schmitt*

      Ha. There were protests here in Germany when they introduced fees of €150 per semester (and if I remember right, that was only for students not finishing in a normal amount of time….).

      Healthcare, of course.

      1. De (Germany)*

        150 was the one for long term students. And then years later came the actual fees up to 500. Most states introduced them and have by now gotten rid of them again.

      2. Anx*

        I graduated 6 years ago (ouch), but I was in the bookstore for a few classes I’m taking this summer. One of the textbooks was almost $200. I declined.

    9. Sandrine (France)*

      Worplace norms and school fees >:D .

      But then, I’m in love with the US, so don’t mind me.

      (You can find evidence of that all over my FB, Youtube, website… every chance I get, it’s basically “USAAAAAAAA I LOVE YOU I will never live and work there but the minute I win the lottery HERE I COOOOOOOOOME”)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You could come live by me. If you like cows. There are lots and lots of cows. People? not so many.

    10. robot chick*

      well, let’s see:
      – I definitely back up 2, that’s insane (and I’ve gone protesting for less, as a matter of principle)
      – then there’s the thing that you trust (even expect) a person to operate a multi-ton vehicle a full five years before you trust them to have a beer, which seems… backwards?
      – only two politcal parties. That feels, don’t lynch me, almost undemocratic
      – homeschooling. Then again, creationism in schools, so maybe there’s a point (disclaimer: I’m not one of ‘them evil atheists’. But come on!)

      aaand I’ve made enough enemies for one day. I’d like to clarify fwiw, that I still like the US a whole lot, everything considered, so.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This to me, describes the US. It’s a bunch of individualists under one government. You have a bizillion things going on, people going in every direction imaginable (and some directions not so imaginable) and yet we manage to have some cohesion.
        I have no clue, maybe it’s just gotten to be a habit after a couple hundred years?

      2. Kay*

        I live in the US and am totally with you on the only two political parties. I took a comparative democracies class in college (poli sci major) and I finally figured out why non of the smaller parties do well. We have single-member districts for our house of representatives. Because of this you’ve got one guy going against one other guy. If a third guy comes in that’s not part of a major party, most people won’t vote for him even if they agree with his platform because they don’t think he can win. It’s called “negative voting”. Instead of voting for the guy you actually agree with, you vote for whatever you think the lesser of two evils is. To win you need a simple majority. Libertarians, Green Party candidates and Independents can almost never surmount those odds. It sucks. (I say this as a libertarian who refuses to partake in “negative voting”).

      3. Anon*

        Hey, I think the different ages for driving, joining the military, and drinking make a little bit of sense. As adults, we should be able to do those things, but not all three at the same time!

        1. nyxalinth*

          Yes. I’m not wholly against guns, but do you really need a freaking rifle at Walmart? People are scary there, but not that scary!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        As an American it horrifies me too, but people in other countries have guns and it’s not an issue. There have been a shocking number of shootings — I believe I read that the last shooting in Oregon a few weeks ago was the 74th since the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012. 74th.

        My feeling is that it’s not the access to guns and weapons that’s the problem. I believe that there’s a direct correlation to these horrifying things happening all to often, and the deplorable state of mental health care in the US. Many, many of the people who do these things are younger men who are/were either struggling with a mental illness, and/or were taking prescription drugs that were supposed to be helping them.

        Many other countries have better health-care systems than we do in the US, and therefore better access to help with mental health issues when it’s needed. I think that is the big difference.

        That being said I do think the pervasiveness of guns here does contribute, mostly because people are far too casual with their firearms and don’t treat them with the respect they deserve. All to often there’s a story in the news about something like an accidental shooting at a party because some kid was snooping around and found a loaded gun in a nightstand. Someone who does that should be prosecuted for negligent homicide (or something similar) and have their 2nd amendment rights permanently rescinded.

        Now — I’ve never fired or even touched a gun. It holds no interest for me. My husband has a few, one that he takes camping because in his view it’s foolish to go into the woods with nothing to protect yourself if you happen to run across a bear or a mountain lion. He also has some antique firearms that belonged to his grandfather, which he keeps in a gun safe where he works. The other one is in our house, but in a secured location.

        1. en pointe*

          That almost definitely contributes, but I think access to guns is way more the issue. Other countries may have better health care but, at least in Australia, we have massive issues with stigma and discrimination around mental illness (as I think most countries do), and we have huge problems with people actually accessing the services that are available and getting the help that they need. The difference is that mentally ill young men (and others) in Australia, who might be inclined to commit these sorts of crimes, can’t go strolling into a school with an AK-47.

          You can get a gun illegally here if you really want one, but it’s mostly gang members that have them, and they almost always just shoot at each other. You also need a lot of money and connections, and it’s almost certainly out of the reach of your garden variety, mentally ill young person, for example. And then if you can get your hands on one, you almost certainly won’t have grown up around guns and be skilled in using them the way someone like Adam Lanza was, which presumably limits some of the damage you can do.

          1. Felicia*

            We have similar issues in terms of access to mental healthcare here, in terms of stigma, discrimination, lack of services in rural areas and and over burdened system. Basically I think what en pointe said applies to Canada as well. I’ve heard a bit from my Australian-Canadian friends that our 2 countries seem to have a lot in common (both good and bad)

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            The problem in the US, though, is the minute anyone starts talking about any kind of regulations around guns or ammunition, it gets the gun nuts all riled up and they start shouting about how the government is trying to take our guns, the second amendment, and now it goes even further than that with these same people saying that it’s Obama that wants to turn the US into an Islamic state under sharia law. You might think I’m kidding, but I’m not.

            So I think that since mental health is definitely a factor it would be more productive to focus on that, and something might actually get accomplished. Probably not though.

            1. en pointe*

              No, I don’t think you’re kidding. I just don’t understand why you guys are letting a bunch of trigger-happy gun nuts run the show. I mean, come on, Islamic state? Really? I realise that some people won’t support gun control due to libertarian ideology, and that the NRA, for example, is a powerful lobby group, but the NRA does only have five million members. Not exactly a convincing majority considering your country has 313 million people in it.

              We had our fair share of gun nuts too, who were never going to support change, but they lost in the name of safety and sense. Our gun control was in response to our worst ever massacre in 1996, 35 people died at a place called Port Arthur – we had a massive swing of public opinion toward gun control, said never again, and haven’t had a massacre since. One of the most compelling bits of footage from implementing gun control here was our super-conservative (yes, really) then-prime minister being booed at a rally by thousands of his own base, and he’s up there screaming “THERE IS NO OTHER WAY, THERE IS NO OTHER WAY”.

              The thing that’s just purely incomprehensible to me, and I think probably to most of the international readers who’ve been saying they’re horrified by US gun culture, is the lack of public support for gun control. Because I understand that your politicians can’t/won’t do anything until the public opinion is there. I just don’t understand how you guys can watch massacre after massacre, to the point where people dying on a more than monthly basis is almost normalised, and not have an overwhelming majority screaming for gun control. In other countries there just isn’t any real controversy over the fact that the right of innocent children to life trumps the right to bear arms.

              1. en pointe*

                I feel like adding that I’m not actually anti-gun. I’m originally from a very remote, agricultural (and in terms of wildlife, very dangerous) part of Australia, and grew up around guns. I’m just anti-gun sans permit, background check and proven need.

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  The NRA may only have 5 million members, but it is one of the most powerful and well-funded lobbies in the US. There is alot of public support for what’s being referred to as “common-sense gun regulation” but the NRA jumps all over anything like this.

                  What it comes down to is that the American political process has been completely corrupted by money. It’s accelerated even more in the last few years because of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court, which stated that there is no limit to the amount of money that can be contributed to a political campaign by a corporation, association, or labor union. So all any uber-rich person with an agenda has to do is set up a political action committee (PAC) and start donating money to it, and then the PAC does its best to influence the outcome of the election. It’s shocking and disgusting to watch.

                2. Stephanie*

                  What Ann said. The NRA’s is basically a lobbying group for Glock and Friends at this point and has strayed far from its origins as a marksmanship and safety group.

                  I’ll also add that at the core of the debate, some people take gun control as an overreach of big government and an indictment on their lifestyle.

                3. en pointe*

                  @Ann, thanks for explaining more about that. As an outsider, I think I am underestimating the extent to which money influences power and voice in your political process. I don’t believe in the concept of perfect democracy, and money certainly influences things in my country also, but it doesn’t appear to be on anywhere near the same scale.

                  @Stephanie, yeah, your latter point is what I meant by libertarian ideology.

    11. Colette*

      The lack of ideological flexibility (politics is very heated and many people don’t want/try to understand the other side; creationism; militant enforcement of politically correct ideals).

      So many things are cheap (couponing is not nearly as effective here, flights are cheaper in the US) while others are far more expensive (health care, university).

      The whole gun thing.

    12. Felicia*

      How expensive universities are for me for sure. I’m in Canada and went to university in the most expensive province and I complain but it’s still nothing compared to the US. Similarly the existence of private and public universities, we only have public ones unless theyre something like a seminary or a for profit thing. Also the fact that you guys use the words college and university interchangeably. Here university is what you’d call college, and college is what you’d call community college.

      Also that even though you have that whole separation of church and state thing, religion in certain parts of the country, particularly Christianity seems so intertwined in public life, like school, work, politics etc.

      Gun culture. Here only police and other law enforcement types can carry around guns, yet over there anyone can carry around a gun in places like Walmart, or in restaurants, or in certain states, places like bars. Our gun laws are very strict and there’s not much controversy about them here.

      Healthcare is a big on for anyone outside the US. Related to the lack of maternity leave.

      Acceptability of what seems like a high level of patriotism, like saying you live in the best country in the world or God Bless America type things. Not all Americans do this, but it seems a big segment do. I love my country and I’d never want to live in any other country, but being that patriotic isn’t generally considered that socially acceptable.

      Canada isn’t all that far, takes me 1.5 hours to the border, but there’s lots of differences. And none of these are meant as criticisms and I love everyone here! Those are just the aspects of American culture that are unusual to me..

      1. EduStudent*

        Technically, a college doesn’t have graduate school as well (only BA/BS degrees offered), whereas a university has college-level degrees plus graduate degree offerings. But yes, colloquially, people use the terms interchangeably.

        1. Felicia*

          Here we would call both of those things university. Though I can’t actually think of a university that doesn’t have any graduate degrees off the top of my head….maybe like private universities there just aren’t any here.

          1. Vancouver Reader*

            Maybe it’s the difference between eastern vs. western Canada (or just Greater Vancouver being its weird self) but so many of the colleges here have now switched to being university but they don’t offer graduate degrees.

            Also, technically only law enforcement should be carrying guns in public, but it seems that more and more people are getting killed by gun carry individuals here. Again, Greater Vancouver is probably just an anomaly.

        2. SaraV*

          This. The college I attended was a “college” while I was there. About ten years ago, they started to offer graduate courses, so their name changed to “XXXX university”.

          But yes, when the question is asked, Americans say “Where did you go to college?”, regardless of the actual name of the institution.

          1. Felicia*

            Here if you went to college, it is what Americans would understand as having gone to community college.

          2. Relosa*

            If someone asked me “where did you go to college?” I read it as “which uni did you attend for your undergrad?” specifically referring to where I earned my Bachelors’ degree

            1. Felicia*

              I’d read it that way too, but it’d be an American thing to phrase it as “Where did you go to college?”

        3. Anx*


          I never knew that. I thought it had more to do with university ‘unifying’ a group of academic colleges. And that they were more integrated with the public (outreach, research).

          1. Liz in a Library*

            As a former academic, this is the distinction I’ve seen as well. There are some colleges that do offer graduate degrees, and some universities that do not, although it is rare. Also, there’s no requirement to call an institution either a college or a university depending on any set criteria, so the whole thing is kind of muddled.

          2. chewbecca*

            Really late, but that’s my understanding of it, too. Colleges offered one branch of degrees, while the university is the umbrella name for the whole group. Like, you would say you went to Chocolate Teapot University, but studied in the College of Saucers, or School of Handles (Where I went, most of the branches were known as schools instead of colleges).

            1. Felicia*

              Some of our universities have branches of degrees called colleges, but we would still say we went to university. I wonder if Canadian academics use that distinction too, even if it’s all colloquially called university? I don’t know if there are any to ask.

      2. en pointe*

        Re the very strict gun laws you mentioned – are they effective even though you guys have a really long border with the US?

        I don’t know too much about US gun culture, but there seems to be so many people who argue against gun control on the basis that it doesn’t work. But this seems weird to me because I live in Australia, where we did gun control fairly recently, in 1996, and it did work. (Really, really well – it completely eliminated our mass shootings and greatly reduced our gun homicide and suicide rates, without substitution effects), so I was thinking that perhaps they say that because the US borders other countries, whereas Oz is an island and has easier control?

        So I guess I’m just curious as to whether you guys have any trouble with such strict gun laws, when you border a country with such a huge gun culture?

        1. Felicia*

          It still works here…most of the guns used here in crimes are illegal, and many of them come from the US, but even adjusting for population size, gun crime in Canada is significantly lower than in the US…We’ve had 15 school shootings in the past 150 years which is significantly lower, and we have much less gun crime, like by a lot, in terms of percentage of the population. So no, bordering the US doesn’t stop our strict gun laws from working…just looking at the numbers, even adjusting for population, it works very well. The gun culture in the US only affects us to an extent that that’s where our illegal guns come from, but gun crime is comparatively rare here, by a significant margin. The people who claim gun control doesn’t work tend to ignore the actual numbers that prove it does

          1. Anon*

            “We’ve had 15 school shootings in the past 150 years”


            The U.S. has averaged one a week for the past couple of months.

            1. Felicia*

              Yes, that is why i made the school shooting comparison. It’s a pretty good example of how gun control works. The only actual school shooting I can remember in Canada that was random and massive was 8 years ago. The only one that I can remember here was targeted, one person died and it technically was in the parking lot. We still have a day of commemoration for a school shooting in 1989 which was before I was born, which I don’t think would happen if it was a more common thing.

              1. en pointe*

                Mmm yeah, I think you’re right that the ‘it doesn’t work’ argument is probably just not rooted in fact. Thinking about it, I’ve never actually seen it explained, just stated. In Oz, we’ve had gun control for 18 years and the stats are fairly clear as well:

                Mass shootings (at least 4 deaths) in the 18 years prior to gun control – 13
                Mass shootings in the 18 years since gun control – 0

            1. Felicia*

              No schools are K-12 in this city at least, it’s generally K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. In very small towns like the one my best friend is from, there are schools that are K-12 but not usually.

              Not sure if you were asking me, but thought i’d answer

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Hey, thanks, Felicia!

                How many students do schools have?

                For example: I was talking to someone who went to school on Long Island, in NY. She said it was fairly normal not to know your classmates. Matter of fact people had to ask each other what year they graduated because there were so many kids no one knew all of their peers.
                Thousands of kids in ONE school- sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. I wondered if smaller schools helped to ward off school shootings and violence in general.

                1. Felicia*

                  Well I’m in Toronto, which is the 4th biggest city in North America (only Mexico city, new york and L.A are bigger), so we had really big schools. My highschool had 1500 students , and that’s relatively normal for a highschool in Toronto. The only school shooting I ever remember here was actually gang related, in the school parking lot and only one person was killed – and people still talk about it. School sizes are similar in other big cities. So I don’t think school size really has anything to do with school shootings. I don’t know all the people who I went to highschool with and in Toronto it’s fairly common to not know all of your classmates and I’m cool with that. For me it’s more chance to find someone you get along with, where in smaller schools it’s all the same sort of kids, so if you don’t fit in with them then there’s nothing you can do. Canada is as diverse a country as the US, although urban Canada has a lot in common (at least from the people I know from Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal), so I could see most urban high schools being quite big

                2. Felicia*

                  For reference, I know a couple of people from Calgary and Vancouver who had over 1000 students in their highschool, I believe my friend from Vancouver went to a high school of 2000.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  More of a chance to find people …

                  I like that thought. And I know you are right- these tiny classes of 30 or so -yikes. This group of 30 people go through 12 years of schooling together and it gets – uh- interesting.

                  I was thinking in terms of how much time can teachers/staff put into a large group of kids. But having friends is very important, too. I’ve seen folks drop out because of no friends.

                4. Felicia*

                  The individual classes weren’t that big in my school of 1500, there were just a lot of them. And therefore more teachers and staff. Each class had 25-30 people which seems average to me. Going to a big school is similar to what I like about living in a big city – I like that you can be anonymous and not everyone knows you, and also that you have more chance of finding friends when there are more people to choose from in your circle, and on the opposite end of things, it was easier to avoid people you didn’t like. There was also not the traditional “popular” or “unpopular” kids because it was impossible in a school that big for there to be people everyone knew (either knew as popular, or knew as strange). Sure there were more outgoing types and more loner types, but I was a weird and sometimes bullied kid in highschool, and I think that would have been way worse in a small school, because I wouldn’t have found other weird kids to be friends with and I wouldn’t have been anonymous in my weirdness to most of my classmates. Not that a large school is good for everyone, but the advantages of a large school (and now, of a big city) are perfect for me.

            2. Anon*

              That’s different all over the U.S. It all depends on where you live, city/county/state.

              I usually see public schools with 1,000-3,000 students, grades K-5, 6-8, 9-12. A lot of private schools are K-12.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I can’t imagine 3000. I thought 2000 in high school was intimidating. But in grammar school we’d have a class with 50 kids in the room- high school classes were a bit smaller, depending on the course the class could be just a couple people. (Latin- 2-3 people).

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          The Colbert Report did a report on that a while back. Being that show, they made it sound like Australians were ridiculous with their gun control laws, but it showed how crazy it is that Americans don’t have stricter gun laws given the amount of shootings that take place.

    13. German Chick*

      People who pack your plastic bags for you in the supermarket. And ask you “How are you?”.
      Also, US Americans asking “How are you?” all the time but never actually expect an (honest) answer.

        1. robot chick*

          (not GC, but German too)
          The thing is, pleasantry is culturally subjective – asking “how are you” is pretty innocent, but the whole scripts of “pleasant” conversation you’re supposed to keep to as an American sales person (or the like) feel outright invasive to many here…. a (small) part of why Walmart failed here was because people were really confused and upset by being unpromptedly approached by strangers upon entering – the concept of greeter never caught on.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Aww, Walmart failed. How sad.
            Harvard had a case study of Walmart in Brazil (? I think). Walmart wanted to have trucks that drove across the country. No, that is not how they do things there. Walmart kept insisting on it, though.

            This stuff embarrasses me, when American companies do not respect other people’s ways. Those ways are in place for a reason. grrr.

            1. robot chick*

              Ha. Google for “walmart germany”, read some econ articles and bask in the second-hand embarrassment! Highlights of “sh*t that doesn’t fly here” include:
              – mandatory group chanting (would you like to change the uniform color to brown, too? No?)
              – hating unions (well, German unions =/= US unions though)
              – selling stuff for less than your buying price to undercut competition (just plain illegal)
              – asking the entire HQ staff to relocate across the country (and having to replace most when they flip you the bird)
              – being surprised about the existence of urban planning and zoning restrictions that mean you can’t just drop a huge ugly supercenter wherever you please

              I take way too much glee in the fact that this economical fungus didn’t survive here (while Aldi does alright on the east coast I believe?).

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Your examples prove that there is NO thinking going on there at corporate. None.

                All I can hang on to is that there are plenty of people here that see Walmart for what it is – it will just take time for this to play out.
                The first time I shopped in Walmart- I did not know anything about the company and I bought a half dozen various items. Every. single. one. broke with in the first six months I had it. I have never seen anything like this before with purchases from any other company.
                My Walmart stories get worse, but I can’t repeat them here.

                Yes, we have an Aldi’s here and I am in the east but several hours from the coast. It’s annoying to go in there. I hate the whole concept of putting a quarter in the shopping cart to make it work. Maybe they dispensed with that, I have not been there in a couple years. I prefer simple foods and they seem to have a lot of processed foods.

              2. Mallory*

                I am an Aldi convert in Arkansas. Didn’t realize it was a German company until a German exchange student at my daughter’s high school told her and she told me.

                I first thought Aldi was some third-rate store because of the cheap prices. But it ranked really high in the Consumer Reports grocery store ratings (the highest grocery scores in my region, as we don’t have Wegmans, et. al).

              3. Ann Furthermore*

                I did a paper in grad school about Walmart’s failed venture in Germany, and all of those reasons made it onto my list. The research was fascinating — of course the fact that I’m totally anti-Walmart helped too.

                My company has an office in Frankfurt, and reading about the German reaction to the daily “Walmart chant” (basically a big bunch of WTF) made me laugh. I had a mental image of some of my German co-workers — all very practical and no-nonsense type people who just tell it like it is, which is why I so enjoy working with them — being asked to do this, and what their reactions would be.

                Another thing I found very interesting is that Walmart rolled out an anonymous tip line for people to use when they were concerned about something, observed the code of conduct being violated, and so on. It’s a very common thing at larger companies in the US; my company has one. It was presented as a good thing, because you could keep your name out of things, not have any fear of retribution from your manager or co-workers, and so on. The German response was basically, “Um, yeah….you know who else was a big fan of anonymous tips? The Stasi. And the Nazis. So no, we’re not going to be doing that.”

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Wow. This is just so far out there. I cannot imagine a company being so ignorant on so many levels.

          2. Mike C*

            Even as an American I hate that feeling of interrogation when I just want to be left alone to my errands.

            1. Mallory*

              Me, too. I don’t fit the extraverted, blithe American ideal. Sometimes I want there to be a test that I can take to tell me where (U.S. or otherwise) I’d really effortlessly fit in.

      1. KrisL*

        I don’t like the “How are you?” either, and I’m American. I always feel like people are saying “Lie to me.”

    14. BeBe*

      Funny. My boss is German and lives in Paris.
      She LOVES to come to the U.S. and visit the desert states such as Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and just finds it lovely. I guess that’s a very different look for Europeans. I’m an ocean girl myself!

      1. Stephanie*

        My family did a road trip between Phoenix and Denver last fall. Along the way, we stopped at Monument Valley and Arches National Park. There were so many Europeans and Asians.

    15. Lora*

      I love this thread. I do indeed live in a very weird place.

      What my ex-in-laws (British) used to find amazing:
      -Real estate being fairly cheap in rural areas
      -Debt loads being considered normal (i.e. student loans, some credit card debt up to a point, mortgages)
      -Lack of public transit
      -Everything is big. Not just in Texas, but everywhere. You have to drive really far to get places that you have to go to all the time (groceries, gas, garden center, etc.) If you drove for an hour in Europe, you’d be three cities over. Drive for an hour in the US, and that’s just the morning commute.
      -Peanut butter, maple syrup
      -Specialized stores. Like, Petsmart (big chain store that has all pet things) having 20+ brands of cat food and 15 different dog shampoo scents and so forth. Apparently they don’t have them in the UK, or if they have any pet store type things, it’s a small business selling perhaps two brands of whatever, there’s not much to choose from and it comes in small bags.
      -How much we love our pets. I hear this one from several of my non-US friends, actually, that we love our pets better than people. We buy them special food, spend a lot of time training them, carry them about with us, get them groomed into funny shapes. We’d never dream of doing that for a homeless person, and aren’t people more important than animals? (Ans.: No, because my dog is way better than most of our politicians.)

      1. kas*

        Real estate – yes! When I watch HGTV I’m always shocked at U.S. house prices. People are buying decent size houses for under $200,000 (obviously depending on where they live), whereas in a lot of places in Ontario, you wouldn’t find a house that size for under $600,000.

        1. Esra*

          Ugh, right? I’m in Toronto and I’m going to have to leave the city when I want to own a home.

          1. Felicia*

            I think in both Toronto and Vancouver (and increasingly other cities), most people will never be able to own a home.

        2. Jubilance*

          This is one reason why I love watching Property Brothers, I didn’t realize it was a Canadian show at first & it took me awhile to realize why all the prices are so high.

        3. Persephone Mulberry*

          I was watching a House Hunters International set in Sweden the other day and they couldn’t find a 3BR apartment under $2 million USD. I don’t know what the conversion is, but I was like daaaaamn.

      2. Stephanie*

        My dad still owns the plot of land he grew up on in Southeast Missouri (the house has since long been demolished). The land value from the county assessor was (wait for it) $42. The postage stamp to mail the payment costs more than the assessed taxes (I think they were $0.40 last year).

        My mom has a similarly-priced piece of land in Southeast Arkansas that is worth about $300. She still pays someone to mow the lawn and jokes that the annual lawn care costs more than the land. She also likes to lord it over my dad’s head that her cheap land is worth more than his.

      3. Stephanie*

        Also, my parents say the got the grass in the backyard (we’re in the desert, so grass is a bit of a headache to maintain here) “for the dog.” He is older and my mom wanted something soft for his joints (well, and to break up all the brown in the yard).

      4. Not So NewReader*

        “If you drove for an hour in Europe, you’d be three cities over. Drive for an hour in the US, and that’s just the morning commute.”

        Years ago, a well known motorcycle company who was selling bikes here in the states was asked to make their seats more comfortable.
        The big wigs ignored repeated requests. Finally some big wigs came here for a meeting. Instead of having a connector flight to their main flight home, they were given bikes to drive.

        That was when they saw the light. You can drive hundreds of miles with no need to stop. You can get on a highway and just keep going. They drove hundreds of miles to the airport.

        When they got home, they started working on comfy seats.

        1. Windchime*

          Many of us don’t understand it either. It’s a barbaric practice and yet people still do it all the time. I confess that I had a cat declawed years ago, but I didn’t understand at the time what was involved and I am ashamed about it now. I would never, ever do it again.

      5. Number One*

        There are definitely big chain pet stores in the UK. Pets At Home is one, and they have a huge range of stuff. There are certainly a lot of smaller pet shops, more likely to be found in town and city centres, but there are the larger ones at out-of-town shopping parks etc.

      6. Harriet*

        No, we have big chain pet shops in the UK too. Petsmart went out of business a few years back but Pets at Home is thriving.

    16. kas*

      Interesting read.
      Everyone else basically mentioned everything but:

      1. Food portions – I always forget your regular size meals are larger than a “large” meal in Canada, it’s crazy and I end up ordering way too much … I need to remember to order everything small.
      2. Uni/college – basically everything Felicia said above but also, the U.S. has much better college/uni programs. I wanted to take a program or classes that are not available here but when browsing U.S. schools, you had it all. Plus, you have more degree options whereas for us, a 2 or 3 year program would just be a diploma/advanced diploma.
      3. Your healthcare scares me.
      4. Your homeless population. I’ve never seen so many homeless people, no matter where I was/what part of the city. I’m sure it’s not like that in every state but the ones I’ve been to were surprising.

      There’s more but I’ll keep it short.

    17. Stephanie*

      One of my own: I find it odd we have an unsingable national anthem. I hear professional singers mangle it (usually the high notes or switching keys).

      Couple of interesting books relating to the odder aspects of American culture y’all have mentioned:
      Gun Guys by Dan Baum. He goes on a road trip to look at gun culture from a non-political perspective just to figure out the allure of guns.
      American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodward. This talks about the rabid regionalism in North America (mainly the US) as a result of varying colonial, immigration, and annexation history.

        1. en pointe*

          You guys actually legit pledge allegiance to the flag in school every day (as opposed to just special assemblies and occasions).

          True or false?

            1. Stephanie*

              Clarification: true from my experience in a large district in a suburban Dallas. Sounded like it was pretty common in other public schools in my area.

              We also had a moment of silence which they repeatedly emphasized was not for prayer (but it probably was in actuality).

              1. TL*

                True from my experience in a small rural South Texas school (though we weren’t particularly consistent about it.)
                I think we did it in all three schools I attended, though one was a church-run pre-K/pre-school.

                1. De Minimis*

                  We did the pledge and also the Lord’s Prayer [same as the Our Father] and did a Bible reading over the intercom system. This happened each morning all through grade school, I think we stopped all of it by junior high, except maybe for the pledge. I don’t remember doing the pledge in high school.

                  This was in the 1980s, don’t know if they still do it today but I imagine it is still fairly common practice in smaller town schools in the Bible Belt.

                2. Felicia*

                  Not too knowledgeable about American law, but how is a prayer or Bible reading over the intercom even allowed? Don’t you have that whole separation of church and state thing? That makes it seem like you don’t , but I guess the Bible Belt is different and we don’t really have an equivalent (people say Alberta, but in comparison, not really).

                3. Stephanie*


                  Well, depends on the school. Private schools are exempt from those rules. There’s also been a lot of cases in the higher courts about the legality of school prayer in public schools, so I’m not even sure what the official law is anymore.

                  My (public) school in the Bible Belt didn’t have school prayer explicitly, but there were events where prayer was clearly the intended activity. We had a moment of silence daily after we said the pledge of allegiance (and the Texas pledge of allegiance, heh).

                4. De Minimis*

                  In response to Felicia, technically I think it was illegal since we were in a public school, but as is often the case in the Bible Belt, people did it anyway and I guess if anyone objected they were too intimidated to complain.

            2. en pointe*

              Wow, that’s patriotism right there. I don’t even know my whole national anthem (lots of people don’t).

              Another question, what do you guys call your leader, or refer to them as? In Australia, we either give them offensive nicknames or just say Tony or Abbot, and the one was before him (Kevin Rudd) was often K-Rudd. On the internet, Americans seem to be more respectful saying fancy things like President Obama, and I’ve never heard anyone call him Barack, but I wonder if that’s different in casual conversation?

              1. en pointe*

                To be clear, I know most of it, but there’s few lines I mumble through. It’s not played very often here

              2. Not So NewReader*

                We pretty much do what you are saying. The only thing different I would point out is that sometimes the use of President LastName is meant as sarcasm. It’s in the voice inflection. And it means something like “This guy is not much of a leader.”
                You won’t see it in news reporting, unless the reporter is quoting someone who is being sarcastic.

                I do not hear first names much at all. I tend to think that when first names are used it’s a sign of endearment. That could be me, though. That and many first names are common so “which Tony, Bob, Susan are you talking about?”

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            As already mentioned, the gun culture, the food portions and the drinking age. I always liked the fact that you seem to be able to learn to drive in school(?) – at least, that’s what I got from reading the Babysitters Club when I was younger!

            & yes, everything does seem so big and tall.

            1. Stephanie*

              Depends. Schools in my area (suburban Dallas) didn’t offer drivers ed, so you had to learn on your own either via a private school or your parents. (I did the latter and it was slightly traumatizing.) You couldn’t get your license before 18 unless you did so many hours of drivers ed.

            2. Felicia*

              Being able to learn to drive in school is also an impression I got from reading The Babysitter’s Club (and other American books/movies!

              1. Annie*

                Schools nixed this after their insurance rates went up (my county did it when I was in middle school so I had to go to private driver’s ed).

              2. Windchime*

                I took Driver’s Ed at school and my kids (who are now in their mid-twenties) did as well. I don’t know if it’s still done at our small-town school, though, but they were still teaching it in the the early 2000’s.

                1. De Minimis*

                  We had Driver’s Ed but it was sort of a joke…it was usually “taught” by one of the athletic team coaches and met in the library. He would take a group of us out to drive maybe once every couple of weeks, but the rest of the time it was more of a glorified study hall.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              They offer driver’s ed in many places, but it wasn’t mandatory in my school (at least I don’t think). Many of the farm kids had already been driving tractors, pickup trucks, and other equipment long before they were old enough to take driver’s ed classes, so they didn’t really need it.

          2. Felicia*

            Similar question, does the national anthem play in your school’s every morning? We don’t have a pledge of allegiance type thing, but in schools (kindergarten – grade 12) the national anthem is played every morning. In elementary school most people actually sing it but our isn’t imo too hard to sing.

            1. Felicia*

              Speaking of which, pledging allegiance to a flag seems like a weird thing to do, coming from a country that doesn’t do that.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              It didn’t in my school, but we didn’t have a PA system. We did do the pledge of allegiance, which I always thought was kind of strange. I was never all that patriotic. I only loved the Fourth of July (Independence Day) because I liked shooting off fireworks.

            3. YALM*

              I never attended a school where the anthem was played every morning, and I attended schools in five different states. However, my spouse did attend a school where it was played every morning. Playing the anthem, reciting the pledge, or getting driver’s ed in school–all this stuff varies by state or district within the state.

              1. Felicia*

                I think the fact that what happens in school varies so wildly by district, including this stuff, as well as curriculum is also a thing that’s different in the US. Here, if you went to any school within the same province, during the same general time period, you would have had essentially the same school experiences. Some stuff varies of course, but the curriculum, requirements to graduate highschool are all standardized by province.

                I’ve wondered if that’s why you guys have the SATs and we have no equivalent…our requirements for a high school diploma are standardized by province so you can compare more fairly on that.

                1. YALM*

                  Yes, that is a driver for standardized tests like the SAT. There is no easy way to compare otherwise.

                  Not all colleges (or universities) use standardized tests for evaluations, and some use the SAT, some use the ACT, some use both.

              2. De Minimis*

                We actually did not do the national anthem each day….when I was growing up that was more something that was done at public events.

                I’d guess at our school they figured we were already taking up a lot of time each morning as it was, and maybe playing the anthem over the intercom system would have been overdoing it.

          3. Mallory*

            Totally true. And when I was a fourth-grader back during the Iranian hostge crisis, we had daily group prayers over the school intercom for the hostages’ release. We prayed for them every single day we were in school.

          4. Befuddled Squirrel*

            True. In Baltimore in the 80’s, we pledged allegiance to the flag and recited the Lord’s Prayer every morning.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          As a trained singer, I can corroborate that The Star-Spangled Banner is a real bitch-kitty. I always have to adjust the key to the highest note–if I can’t hit it, I change keys.

          1. De Minimis*

            We did sing each morning in second grade, but we would sing “America the Beautiful” instead of the Star Spangled Banner. I’d guess that it’s easier for kids to sing, and has a lower chance of some sort mischief occurring during the song.

    18. SherryD*

      Speaking as a Canadian, you Americans have SO MANY FLAGS. I think Canadians love being Canadian as much as Americans love being American, but you don’t see too many Canadian flags up in Canadian cities, other than government buildings, schools, legions, and such.

      1. Felicia*

        Yeah, that. I get a little Canadian flag for Canada day but I don’t really see any for the rest of the year other than schools, government buildings etc. I think we’re less attached to our flag, I guess because it’s relatively new maybe, being only 50 years old (well in about 8 months, or flag will be 50 years old)

    19. Ann Furthermore*

      As an American who has spent a considerable amount of time in Europe in the last few years, I have to say that when I’m in Europe one of the things I enjoy most is being able to watch TV without being bombarded by ads for prescription drugs.

      The US is the only country where this is allowed. I won’t go into my usual diatribe about how I feel that the US, in general, is becoming full of over-medicated people who want a magic pill to fix everything. But that mindset is there because you can’t go 10 minutes without seeing a commercial for some new drug that’s going to allegedly fix all your problems. There’s a drug for restless leg syndrome, which I’d never even heard of before. There’s a drug you can take (or apply) that’s supposed to make your eyelashes grow longer and fuller, but one of the potential side effects is that it could turn your eyes brown! Is mascara really so inconvenient?

      There was a thing floating around on Facebook last week that was a list of things that Americans don’t realize make them weird, which was pretty funny. On it was the observation about enormous portion sizes, and also flags being everywhere.

      Also on the list was the drug ads, and the point was that your doctor is supposed to tell you the medications you need, not the other way around. Ha! And there was something on the list about how we all consume soda in mass quantities, and I’m guilty of that. I love Diet Coke. Love, love, love it. I’ve cut down by making myself alternate with water (and now I have 2-3 per day, instead of the 12 I could drink if I let myself) but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to totally give it up.

      1. en pointe*

        Holy shit, isn’t that a little dangerous? Advertising is supposed to make you want something. Prescription drugs aren’t meant to be wanted, they’re meant to be needed. That’s why they have to be prescribed! But on the practicality of it, why doesn’t the doctor just refuse to prescribe something you don’t need?

        1. Mallory*

          People will doctor shop until they get just what they want. So, yeah, they’re pretty much treating themselves at that point. Scary, huh?

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          Mallory is right – people will just look for a doctor who will give them the drugs they want. Want, not need.

          I think in the US the pendulum on this has swung in the complete opposite direction. It used to be (and maybe it was this way in other countries, not just the US) that people were intimidated by doctors and would never question them, people from my parents’ generation in particular. It was considered rude or disrespectful to ask questions, challenge your doctor, or seek a second opinion. My mom has told me that she and my dad were never like that, but many people she knew were. My sister had a lazy eye when she was little (mid-60’s) and the doctor they saw wanted to do surgery to shave off part of the muscle on her good eye to even it up with her weak eye. My dad asked what would happen if they took too much, and was told that then they’d just go in and take a little off on the other side. Or something like that — in any event, my dad said hell no, and instead my sister wore an eye patch for a couple years over her good eye, to force the muscle in her weak eye to strengthen, and it did. But most people would have said, “Well, you’re the doctor, you must know what you’re talking about, so OK.”

          Then there were lots of PSA’s encouraging people to be more active in their health care, to ask questions, do their own research, seek out multiple opinions, and so on. Which was a good thing. But now, I think it’s gone so far in the other direction that people think they can diagnose themselves on the internet, go get the drug they just saw the commercial for (and to hell with the possible side effects — the time it takes to list them all doubles the length of the ad) and everything will be fixed.

        1. Anon*

          This is upsetting but true; I don’t have TV but I get cancer treatment center ads on Hulu, in magazines, sometimes the newspaper.

        2. TL*

          The saddest two days of my life were 1) when I realized MD Anderson advertised (c’mon, babs, you’re better than that!) and 2) when my dad thought that Cancer Treatment Centers of America was a better place to get treatment than MD Anderson – which is consistently ranked #1 or 2 in the nation – because of their advertisements.

      2. kas*

        Yes, this too. In Canada we can advertise the prescription drug but we can’t say what it’s for. We don’t have that many presc. drug commercials but the few we have all basically say to speak to your doctor for more info.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Thank you for saying this about prescriptions.

        It’s huge here. And the prices. $160,000 per year for a drug for a cancer patient. I think I would just call it a good life and wrap it up. No drug is worth that kind of money.

        A friend is on 41 scripts plus inhalers plus insulin. Get this- they still don’t know what is wrong with him.

        If you say anything, you are obviously from Mars or Jupiter.
        Or you get accused of abuse. wth. I’m not the one pushing the drugs.

        Right behind that is the chemicals we use in our yards. My uncle was from Germany. He said that they did not have bugs over there the way we do. He thought the chemicals made things unbalanced and actually brought on more bugs.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I’m not anti-drug, really. I think all these drugs do help people who legitimately need them, but they are way over-prescribed.

          My daughter was very, very shy and slow to start talking. Her pediatrician recommended speech therapy, which we did. When she turned 3 we enrolled her in a once-a-week preschool, the next step in the program. I told the teachers that she was very shy, and would probably never totally warm up to them since she’d only be seeing them once a week. At the end of the semester they told me they thought she was exhibiting symptoms of “selective mutism,” which is essentially a fancy way of saying “shy.” I read through the material they gave me, and when I got to the part that said there had been success with Prozac therapy, I tossed it in the trash. Prozac. For a 3 year old. OMG I was so furious with those teachers; I thought they’d been quite irresponsible. Someone else could have taken their kid off to the doctor to get some Prozac. Ugh. Fast forward a couple years, and she is going to start kindergarten in the fall, and her preschool teachers (in another district – we moved) have done wonderful things with her and she’s outgoing, talkative, and a “leader in the classroom.” Still a little shy around new people, but that’s natural. They also told me that selective mutism is a real thing, but there was no way my daughter had it.

          When we moved I got a pediatrician recommendation from a friend, and she said she liked this guy because her son had had all kinds of issues and was on all kinds of medication. They switched doctors, and the first thing he did was to stop all the drugs, and then said they could try and figure out what was going on. And guess what? He never went back on any of them. People drug their kids, and then get more drugs to “cure” the side effects. And so on, and so on.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You’re an excellent mom.

            My cousin was on ritalin in the 60s. She is still dealing with the damage from that drug.

            I don’t think they understand the impact from medications on children is harder than on adult bodies. I shudder to think of a child on Prosac. Adults might hack it and be okay, but children??? I can’t be so sure.

    20. ZSD*

      This might be a weird one, and I’m sorry if anyone’s offended, but about ten years ago, when I was studying abroad in Germany, one of my German guy friends asked me if it was true that in America, males who weren’t Jewish sometimes got circumcised. I said of course, and he couldn’t believe it. Apparently he and all the guys in his apartment, and basically all the German guys I knew, were uncircumcised. So I guess Germans think it’s weird that American Gentiles get circumcised, while I ended up thinking it was weird that I was surrounded by foreskins all the time. (It took me a few days to stop thinking about that any time I was in the presence of a male. I mean, I hadn’t thought about it one way or another before, but after that conversation, it was just on my mind for awhile.)

      1. Mallory*

        I didn’t get my son circumcised because I saw a pamphlet against it while I was pregnant. I had been reading a lot of Alice Walker and other anti-female-circumcision literature besides, so I thought, “Why the hell is it an outrage to do this to girls but still totally okay to inflict unnecessary pain on our boy babies?” I talked my husband out of it and we just did not do it. No regrets.

      2. Amy*

        Yeah America is the only western country that circumcises infants for non-religious reasons. ‘Secular’ circumcision started in the early 1800s when they realized that it desensitizes the penis over time and they thought it would reduce masturbation. Then generations of Americans thought ‘well I’m circumcised so my son will be, too’…the whole ‘cleanliness’ argument is moot at this point, since we lived in a developed country with clean water and abundant soap. Personally I think circumcision (in all cases, infants or teenagers, males or females) is cruel, but c’est la vie.

    21. Not So NewReader*

      Stephanie (who posted the original question waaay up) thanks for asking this question. It’s been a terrific read, extremely interesting.

      I hope we can do more discussions like this.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I think this is the most civilized debate about gun control I’ve ever seen on the Internet. Granted, it sounds like most people agree it needs to be strengthened, so there wasn’t much of a debate (and the people who did disagree may have not chimed in).

        1. en pointe*

          Yeah, probably because we didn’t really have disagreements on the major ideological issues. Though I like to think we could have done that without devolving, also!

          1. Felicia*

            I don’t think gun control is much of a heated debate or much of a debate at all outside the US, at least in my experience in Canada it isn’t, so maybe coming at it from a non American perspective where we’re not used to it being a thing to be debated might be the reason.

    22. Beyonce Pad Thai*

      I interned in DC in 2009 (I’m from Belgium) and remember LOVING it.
      – Everyone was really nice to me, even strangers on the street. Most Europeans call it superficial or whatever… I much preferred it to my city where people walk around like they’d just as soon run you over. I know being a 20 year old kind of obvious touristy girl probably had a lot to do with the niceness, but that was my impression at the time.
      – Religion is a Big Deal and young people haven’t totally rejected the church like at home. Also, there’s so many options for churches. (Where I come from you’re mostly either non-believing, catholic, or muslim).
      – There are cities where you can’t safely get around on foot or by bike and there’s no reliable public transport so you pretty much HAVE to have a car and then sit in deadlocked traffic all day?? This blew my mind
      – Beautiful parks, like I’m pretty sure you have national parks the size of my entire country and they’re breathtaking. Coming from a place that’s pretty much 95 % paved road and 100 % people packed together, it was amazing to me that a half hour outside DC you could be in such a beautiful vast place without people.
      – Diversity of people! and it’s not really treated as An Issue. Like I know the US has a whole host of its own race/language/etc issues but where I come from things sometimes seem dire in comparison.
      – Tipping! It took me so long to figure out the tax + tip every time we went out, I think I consistently overtipped out of fear of offending anyone
      – One negative: People having to live with this sense of total insecurity of life in the back of their head all of the time. This was 2009 and I worked for a news org, the recession and stuff like people living in tent villages was a big story that spring. Coming from a place with a sturdy social safety net, I could not wrap my head around the idea that as an American, you could be doing perfectly fine one day but through some mishap with a financial side to it (illness, accident, job loss, etc) you might find yourself living on the street the next.

    23. Stephanie*

      If anyone’s still reading, here’s an interesting article from the Atlantic about the history of gun control. The Black Panthers were the ones who started the modern pro-gun movement. Some conservatives actually argued for stricter gun control after seeing the images of the Black Panthers at the California State Capitol with guns in hand.

  13. Jessica (tc)*

    Is anyone else on here watching the Mario Marathon 7? It’s pretty much the only reality “television” that I actually enjoy watching — partially because it only happens once a year and partially because when the players and guests become really tired, they get silly and the feed just gets hilarious (although it possibly is only funny because we’re so tired from watching so late at night, too).

  14. Anna Moose*

    So I finally got a haircut Thursday. Chopped off 6 inches! I couldn’t take the frizz anymore or the summer heat. I feel so much lighter. My thing is that I have a default hairstyle. No matter how drastic I change it. My hair always reverts to the same style since high school. Siiigh. Does anyone else have this problem?

    1. Stephanie*

      Not with my hair, but definitely with eyeglasses frames. I keep buying purple, brown, or red frames (usually plastic due to my Rx).

    2. Jen RO*

      I had one haircut (hair down my back, zero styling) for 10+ years. I cringe when I look at old pictures. I got tired of it and cut it shorter (above my shoulders) and now I’m experimenting with haircuts in that range… so I’ve kinda found another default, but at least this looks better!

    3. The IT Manager*

      Yes. My default hairstyle is short and I’ve used it since college. I am again trying to grow my hair long-fid it one before.

      I’m getting sick of the extra work and having to pull it away from my face and the fact that the ends still flip up-I thought that that would have stopped by the time it got to shoulder length.

      I am embarrassed to admit that my prime reason is that men find long hair more attractive/sexier on women and I do actually hope to find one one day. This annoys me because I think I look cuter and more polished with short hair. The medium length is very fly away for me. Why, why do men think that?

      1. TL*

        I think that depends on the man – my dad definitely prefers short hair (I know because my mom had to cut her hair off due to migraines and he was really happy about it) – and I know a fair number of my male friends have no preference, really, unless you’re talking men’s haircut short, in which case there is a lot of bias against from American males.

        1. The IT Manager*

          The “men prefer long hair” seems to be a general preference, but obviously not true for all men. It is something I am trying for a change. I live in the south and it is hot, hot, hot, so I am curious about how long I can hold out. Also I do wonder if once it gets long enough if it will become easier to deal with and look nicer. I am still in an in-between phase and I do want to see what happens. I am forty, and I don’t think I had anything other than short hair for 5 years in my life including early childhood so I’m trying it for a bit.

          But since I do prefer it short and think it looks better that way, I do think that if I end up with a partner he’d better like it short.

      2. Snork Maiden*

        I thought this for awhile too, but then I realized I wouldn’t want to date anyone who had a conditional attraction to the length of my hair. So I styled it as I pleased and considered it a good way to weed out the first round of potential partners.

        Now I am married and the only feedback I get from my husband is when I missed brushing a spot (if it’s long) or if I have rooster tails (when it’s short).

    4. Hcat*

      I just got a Brazilian blowout, after being at war with my curls for years, now I just blowdry and go, don’t even need a flat iron. takes 15 minutes to do hair vs. 1.5 hours before. No more frizz and hair is soft and shiny. It’s pretty awesome. It’s 200.00 and supposed to last 8 weeks.

      1. LD*

        If you use the recommended shampoo and conditioner products, the results should last longer than 8 weeks, more like 10-12.

    5. nyxalinth*

      Have never, ever been able to do a damn thing with my hair. I look like a troll with short hair, so am growing it out. But I always have bangs, because I have a weirdly high forehead, which I hate.

      1. Mimmy*

        LOL!! I had to laugh because that’s about how my hair looks when it’s shorter. Now it’s past my shoulders, so when it’s at its frizziest, it still looks semi-decent. I do get it straightened about once a year, and it is SO helpful!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I like my layered cut; however, I’m trying to grow it out. It’s usually just past my shoulders. I’d like to see just exactly how far it will go. I have bangs, but I have a love/hate thing with them. I look better with them than with no bangs. I don’t have time to style them in the morning if they’re grown out.

    7. Harper*

      I’m growing my hair out to donate. Plus, after I donate it, I want some left, so .. it’s getting really long. I don’t know how much longer I can take it!!

    8. Trixie*

      I went with a pixie cut about ten years and its such an easy style to wear. It can take some time to find the right stylist but so worth when you do. I just tried a barbershop and am thrilled with how it went, although the rate was hired than expected. Its wash, a dab of product and GO.

    9. en pointe*

      I don’t share that problem but I know what you mean about feeling lighter. I completely shaved mine in mid-March and it’s now grown out to about an inch and a half long. It’s wonderful how low-maintenance it is. I’ve always had long blonde hair and been very vain about it to be honest, spending ages on it etc. I never thought I would actually be hesitant to have it go back to normal, but I kind of am.

      1. TL*

        Ah! My super-pale-blonde friend shaved off all her hair a year or so ago – actually, it was kinda awful because she has super pale eyebrows/lashes and she had a cold, so people kept on thinking she was a chemo patient.
        She’s kept it men’s-cut short ever since, but brings up shaving it every now and then. I told her I’m not going out with her in public with a shaved head – I felt too awful about all the people letting us cut in line or offering us their seats!

        1. en pointe*

          Ah no! I haven’t really had that problem, perhaps because i’m tanned and look generally healthy. I wouldn’t do it again though, as it was a one-off charity thing for me. I’m surprised your friend is considering it again if she got that kind of attention from people!

          1. TL*

            My friends likes attention from strangers. A lot. It’s one of the biggest ways in which we differ.

    10. Artemesia*

      Anyone know a site that shows fumble fingered non-hair talented women how to put up longish hair into updos? I can’t make a bun for the life of me even with the bun forms. I have a couple of things I do with a French clip but they aren’t all that great.

      I have fine hair and live in a windy humid place and so having long hair I can put up should work. The scrungy with ponytail is not that sheik but I am not particularly adept with anything else.

      There must be a site that is genuinely easy to follow– I see all sorts of women with what look like effortless well controlled updos.

      1. Trixie*

        You might search for uppiesbeads59 on youtube, I know she does some hair stuff. And her videos will pull up others on the sidebar.

        1. Artemesia*

          I looked and this was great — I didn’t actually know how to use those bun forms. Not sure I’ll be able to do it, but at least I know how now. The other video rolled the form and I just couldn’t do that and have it work. So Thanks.

          1. Trixie*

            If you have a chance, check out her other videos. She’s so funny and entertaining. I found her when looking at DIY Vitamin C serums, and saw her stuff on essential oils, masks, etc. I’m sure others knew this but until she explained it I never realized certain pink/rose lipcolors can have too much blue in them. One of mine does and while I won’t waste it, I’ll know better next time.

  15. Schmitt*

    What blogs / websites do you guys read aside from AAM?

    I’m going to suggest posting the name(s) of the blog and replying to your own comment with the link(s), so that we can maybe have a discussion about them without everything getting stuck in moderation and waiting for Alison to wake up. ;) Alison, let me know if that’s not OK.

    1. Schmitt*

      My current favorites:

      xkcd’s What If – fun stick-figure illustrated answers to questions that take the answers to the next degree

      JetHead’s Blog – poignant, interesting, sometimes funny stories from a commercial pilot

      Fear of Landing – stories and news roundups from a private pilot in Europe

      Hooves – a good horse blog with a focus on conformation

      Mugwump Chronicles – horse stories from a trainer now trying to arrange her life around Parkinson’s

      Deep Dark Fears – gruesome cartoons about reader-submitted deep dark fears (go figure)

      Cake Wrecks – because who doesn’t, right? ;)

    2. Sandrine (France)*

      I read quite a few. Not putting the full links, but the main name of the websites ^^

      Akarui-Kibuno (my own, but mostly because I’m obsessed with how it looks and keep trying to think of ideas to make it better)
      Lamebook (because I like to feel like a genius)
      Fmylife (and the French counterpart)

      I’m sure there are others, but I can’t remember them off the top of my head right now.

      1. Jen RO*

        My boyfriend reads VieDeMerde and pastes me the best bits. I see it as an educational experience – it keeps my French up to date!

    3. De (Germany)*

      Lots and lots.

      Skepticism/atheism/feminism (lots of overlap there) :
      *Skepchic and its sister sites
      *Greta Christina
      *Geek feminism
      *Science based Medicine
      *Respectful Insolence

      *Captain Awkward
      *Dan Savage
      *A Practical Wedding

      Fashion :
      *Already Pretty

      *Offbeat Home

      *Nerd Fitness
      *Nia Shanks
      *Go Kaleo

      *Good Math, Bad Math
      *Bad Science

      And that’s not even half of them. I read a lot of blogs :-)

    4. Alice*

      -Offbeat Home & Life – wonderful blog about everything off the beaten path. Like how to decorate your bathroom tastefully with skulls, or how having childlike fun with bf can help you both destress, tips for gardening, etc.
      (and associated blog OffbeatBride – which I will never offically admit to reading, I’m definitely not planning. NOPE NOSIREE. :P)
      -Passiveaggressivenotes – i think self explanitory. Nothing really of substance, but fun, in the same vein as NotAlwaysRight, and Lamebook
      -Lifehacker – a little tech-heavy, but wonderful place to find tips to sort your life. I especially love their technology recommendations (getting the best bang for your buck with headphones, because Beats aren’t all that) and DIY desk hacks (using a binder clip to keep charge cables from slipping off the desk)

    5. StarHopper*

      Tom and Lorenzo (for both red carpet smackdowns and Mad Men recaps!)
      Amalah (a mommy blog, but I’ve been reading her since before she had kids)
      STFU Parents
      Various foreign language teacher blogs

    6. The IT Manager* <– but not too much lately. My AAM is falling off too although I read AAM at work usually and Tor at home.

    7. Felicia*

      RaisingMyRainbow – about a woman raising a gender creative son
      JerryMahoney – The parenting adventures of 2 gay dads.
      Adulting – Hundreds of easy steps about how to be an adult
      I used to read TWOP a lot and haven’t yet found anything to fill the void.

      1. Windchime*

        Totally missing my TWOP.

        Captain Awkward
        BetterAfter (cool before-and-afters in DIY home improvement)
        Corporette (in small doses)

    8. nyxalinth*

      CRPG Addict He plays old school computer RPGs in chronological order.

      Manboobz He mocks misogynists and so called Men’s Rights Activists.

      Captain Awkward (not so much lately, maybe once a month now)

    9. Elizabeth West*

      –AAM (of course)
      –Buzzfeed (I’m addicted to the quizzes)
      –Listverse (I get really behind though)
      –Preditors and Editors (though I mostly use it to check out agencies)
      –Writing World
      –Right now, lots of travel sites

      Used to read a lot but not much lately:
      –Author! Author! (has HUGE posts on every bit of conceivable advice for writers; querying, formatting, etc.)
      –Unf*ck Your Habitat (I dislike the format)

    10. SaraV*

      The only two other blogs I read regularly:

      Cake Wrecks – “When professional cakes go horribly, terribly wrong” (Although today is Sunday Sweets, which means pretty cakes)

      And that blogger’s sister site

      Epbot – This is her geeky, crafty, geek-crafty blog. She is über talented when it comes to crafting, and isn’t afraid to try stuff, either.

      1. Stephanie*

        I made Cake Wrecks once! The people at Kroger took our instructions literally and wrote “(next line)” in icing.

      2. Al Lo*

        Since the most recent post on Epbot, I have the corset website open, mulling over the pros and cons of trying one.

        Jen is my geek inspiration. Someday, I want to cosplay with as much creativity as she does.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Cake Wrecks is my anti-depressant! I end up laughing so hard my sides hurt.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh, I forgot about DamnYouAutocorrect. That absolutely KILLS me. I actually turned off the autocorrect on my phone because it wasn’t funny enough.

            1. Schmitt*

              The first time my partner tried to do the shopping list via voice, she said “Milch” and the program wrote “fick dich” which in English corresponds to “milk” and “eff you”.

      3. anon*

        Cake Wrecks reminds me of my first conflict resolution moment. I “managed” at an ice cream shop where I also decorated cakes. Brought a cake I had decorated out to a client which read, per the cake order form transcribed by someone else over the phone,

        “Congratulations, (insert name here which is pretty specific to the black community)! You are truly black!”

        The client was in fact black, but the cake was supposed to have read “You are truly blessed.” This woman was truly pissed. I was also truly white, and truly 17. It was truly not cute. The situation actually turned around a bit after I was able to comp and fix the cake, and the woman thought the whole thing was kind of hilarious, but it still sends cringy shivers down my spine thinking about it.

      4. Windchime*

        Ooooh, I totally forgot about Epbot! I have even pinned a couple of Jen’s projects (her hubby made a super cool desk covered with pennies). I need to go visit that one again.

    11. en pointe*

      These ones mainly:

      – The Conversation – Australian website where academics analyse news, social issues, politics, current affairs, science, etc. (I believe there’s also a UK version.)
      – Savage Love – sex advice column
      – Miss Manners – etiquette advice
      – Humans of New York – photo blog on Facebook, which tells amazing stories through photos and captions
      – Daily Mail sometimes, but it usually makes me angry

    12. C Average*

      99u (marketing, business, general life-hacking stuff)
      sethgodin (he calls it marketing, but it’s way more than that)
      tomatonation (not as much as in the past, but I check in every few weeks)
      slate (news, business, politics, etc., plus really awesome podcasts)
      letsrun (bro-tastic running-specific message board–a very weird little corner of the interwebs)
      runnersworld (more running stuff)
      xojane (some great stuff, some awful stuff, on all kinds of different topics)

      1. Schmitt*

        I am so sad that Tomato Nation has moved away from the life and cats topics. I only read the Vine any more and even that’s mostly gone to just reader recommendation questions.

        1. C Average*

          Me, too. I think Sarah is one of the best writers on the internet. I loved her site back in the day, when she’d reliably put up a new post every Tuesday and a new Vine just about daily.

          Her 9/11 posts are always beautiful. I hold out hope that she’ll find Don one day.

    13. Mimmy*

      The only other blog-ish site I read is The Consumerist. Mainly I skim the headlines, but some articles are good.

      Otherwise, I tend to read what others post on Facebook because there is just SO many sites out there, and I am awful with choosing a site and sticking to it (except for AAM ;) ). One favorite, though is BuzzFeed. I like some of the quizzes, and some of their lists and gifs have me cracking up.

    14. Anon*

      I read a lot of blogs mentioned here. Also Captain Awkward, an advice blog that seems to share many readers with AAM, and Unfuck Your Habitat, a surprisingly helpful blog about cleaning.

    15. Diet Coke Addict*

      The Toast (I know there’s other Toasties here, I think!) daily

      The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor for royals-gem-watching

      Gofugyourself for celebrity clothes and general enjoyment

      Buzzfeed, for Anne Helen Peterson articles and pictures of cute animals

    16. Jubilance*

      I read SO MANY BLOGS – I probably have 200 feeds in my Feedly. I won’t post links but I’ll leave the names which are easily Googled.

      If you click the hyperlink on my name you’ll be taken to my blog – Black Girl Unlost :-)

      *Broke-Ass Bride
      *A Practical Wedding
      *Black Brides
      *Munaluchi Bridal Magazine
      *Offbeat Brides

      *The Atlantic Magazine
      *Field Negro

      Random stuff
      *Captain Awesome
      *Awesomely Luvvie/Awesomely Techie

      *Budgets Are Sexy
      *Get Rich Slowly
      *The Consumerist
      *The Simple Dollar
      *You Need A Budget

    17. Persephone Mulberry*

      Go Fug Yourself
      Hyperbole and a Half (if she ever starts posting again -come back, Allie!)

  16. Al Lo*

    I’ve always been fairly against direct sales companies, at least as an adult. I grew up on Tupperware and Avon, but so many of the newer ones have just seemed so irritating to me.

    Well, I’m eating my words, because I’ve fallen in love with a particular product that’s only available via direct sales, and I’ve become such a proponent of this one particular product that I’m selling it now. Yeah.

    Just starting out, and I’m not sure whether I’m going to just do it on a hobby level to get the discount for myself or whether I’m going to try to make a go of it, but I’m trying really hard to balance my enthusiasm for the product with not being annoying about it.

    I’ve always been a “sales-y” kind of person — when I really like something, I can be very persuasive in convincing other people to try it — and I just mean that in general, not on a formal sales basis. If I like something, I talk about it. So hopefully that natural enthusiasm will be what sticks, and not the overly sales-y part of a direct sales scheme.

    (And honestly, if all I got from it was the 30% discount on my own product, that’d be okay with me, but if I can make a little extra at it, even better.)

    1. Annie*

      Which one? Lately I’ve been invited to two new (at least to me) companies parties (Jamberry – which are nail decals – which sound weird but look pretty awesome & Southern Belle – which is almost anything you can think of monogrammed in cute patterns) I’ve thought of doing the Pampered Chef thing but can’t quite get myself to commit to it.

        1. Annie*

          A friend of my mom’s did the online party and ours got here yesterday! I’m so excited to try them but I’m waiting until after my interview tomorrow to put them on (I got the white polka dots on clear background)

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          A friend of mine is doing an online party right now. Considering how much nail polish i already own, I probably should stay far, far away.

      1. Paige Turner*

        Incoco . com is basically the same idea, but not direct sales. I keep meaning to order some…

        1. Al Lo*

          Those are made out of nail polish, though, which means they can chip (and they don’t last once you open them, I don’t think – I’m not sure on that brand, but that’s pretty typical with the drugstore brands). Jamberry is made of a thin vinyl, so they can’t chip, which was a huge selling point for me, and they don’t expire once the package is opened.

  17. Sandrine (France)*

    I’m quite perplexed at the moment. There’s a part of me that’s happy, content with life in general, and just… relaxed.

    The other part, however, is… not so good. I can’t go to work. There are public transportation strikes in France at the moment and I got stuck home for 5 days (no joke) and couldn’t go in anyway, but then I got back the first two days were ok since I had been stuck for so long, but now I get panic attacks and cry like a baby when it’s time to get up.

    I’m going to see someone to help with this today, but it’s time I try and negociate either a transfer or a dismissal or something. Can’t go on like this anymore.

    And of course that has an influence on my personal projects, cleaned up my website and all, but have to avoid posting at times otherwise it would be bleak and sad and all.

    Am also obsessed with a person I hooked up with in the past. That’s quite confusing. I am not in love with the person, I just… I just keep thinking about him all the time.

    And I feel like an idiot cause my cats got fleas and I didn’t realize until later.

    Is all for today’s whining! At least I have my cute dress on, so the day won’t be so bad. Whew.

    1. Jen RO*

      Fingers crossed for a new job for you! By the way, I like the look of your new blog, and your rainbow nail art.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Obsessions happen (sometimes) because the present is stalled or locked up, so the past starts looking better and better. Get yourself unstuck from these other things and then think about this person from the past. Right now, energy wasted on this person is preventing you from dealing with current problems.

      Don’t ask me how I learned all this….

      1. C Average*



        Someday you will not think of this person all the time. Someday he might send you a friend request and you’ll look at it and shrug and silently wish him well and then click “no thanks.” Someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll meet someone who actually is the right person and you’ll wonder how and why you so willingly accepted imitations for so long.

        Don’t ask me how I learned this, either.

    3. BeBe*

      I’ve heard about this as my boss is based in Paris. She was working from home a lot as well. I thought though they were made to run at least minimal trains?

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        BeBe yes there are and it is getting better little by little.
        On June 11th the strikes started.
        Friday of that week I would have had to take a bud at 4Am to get a chance to be at work at 8 am.
        Then on the 16th it started but stopped at a branch, so I still had to leave about an hour earlier. We’re now back to the usual routes, except less frequent (and less frequent than once an hour at certain times is less than ideal).

        Sooo yeah. And no one understands the point of that strike, either. In the US it would probably wreck havoc on employment, even worse than here :/ .

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        Thank you all. I am seeing my doc tomorrow and will also ask for meds.

        I saw someone to help with all this today and he was just amazing. He did not realize it but he just… he made me realize I can make it.


  18. Jen RO*

    As a counterpoint to Stephanie’s thread about American things that international readers find weird, and after reading about the ‘dollar dance’ in one of yesterday’s threads, here’s one that will probably horrify most of you: in Romania, no one gives actual wedding gifts anymore. Instead, the going rate is about 100 euros per person. This is partly justified by the fact that most newlyweds already have a home and don’t need cutlery or appliances or whatever… but mostly it means that the guests are paying for the wedding. There is even some math behind it – apparently, you won’t break even if you wedding party is less than 100 people. Some people even keep notes about who attended their wedding and how much they paid, so that they know whether to attend the guests’ potential weddings and how much money to give them. Oh, and sometimes the DJ calls out the amount of money each person gives.

    I find this incredibly tacky, but I’ve gotten many odd looks when I said that I wouldn’t want money for my wedding, because I can either afford it on my own (+family) or I’m not having one. (I’ve since decided that I am definitely not having a wedding.)

    1. Perpetua*

      Yup, the same goes for the Western Balkans. There is always math involved (one of the rules of thumb is that you know at least roughly what the cost of the dinner is, and then you give double the amount), but on average it does come out to about 100 euros/person. Wedding are beginning to happen in my friend circle and I’ve had several discussions about gifts/the amount of money you are “supposed” to give. I get annoyed when I feel pressured to do something, regardless of how much I care about the people, and honestly, I’m not thrilled about spending, let’s say, 1/4 or 1/5 of my monthly earnings on one evening.

      However, after some of those discussions, I’ve come to see it in another light – giving money can be a community effort to help the couple and you give what you are comfortable with, counting on getting back either karma points (:D) or the same kind of community support once it’s your turn (should you decide to get married, of course). I still dislike many parts of the wedding industry (don’t get me started on calling out names and amounts, or on taking out loans in order to pay for a lavish wedding when you clearly can’t afford it), but focusing on the people in question and the fact that I love them (and if I’m not close to them, I’d rather not go at all) has made it easier for me to think about weddings and related expenses.

      1. Jen RO*

        For someone who doesn’t particularly want to get married, I have an old fashioned idea about them – you should get married for love, and the party should be a celebration of that love together with your friends, not a pain in the ass about whether or not to invite Aunt Mary, because you attended her daughter’s wedding, but you’re not close, but the whole family will be upset if your don’t invite her, but those extra hundred euros wouldn’t hurt, ugh. If I do get married, it will be a civil ceremony (this is probably the wrong term) with 15 people tops.

        1. kas*

          I’m not a fan of that either which, if I decide to have a wedding, is why I prefer to have a destination wedding. I have a big family with many family friends. If I got married here I wouldn’t hear the end of it. Even though there’s no bad blood, I haven’t seen most of these people in years and see no need to invite them.

        2. Student*

          That is not old-fashioned. That is a very modern concept of marriage.

          The old-fashioned concept of marriage is that it is an economic arrangement, meant to secure the financial future (and breeding opportunities) of both participants. This whole “marry for love” modern thing came about after the feminist movement got off the ground so that marriage was no longer a strict economic necessity for women.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            Additionally, part of the reason family obligations are so paramount at weddings is because for a very long time (and to some extent still), a weddindg is a very real uniting of two families. It’s not about just two individuals, it’s bringing together two families–the whole families, not just the couple and their parents, but their siblings and cousins and everyone else. It was a partnership of families, not necessarily just the couple–hence it being a large family affair.

      2. Annie*

        This is a “New Jersey/New York” thing too. My family usually brings gifts for the shower and cash/check for the wedding. My friends and I ran into this when we were trying to figure out what to get another friend for her wedding- the friend from New York wanted to just write a check – the rest of us decided to go in together for a big ticket item from their registry (which yes I understand most people don’t get). The friend felt bad for being left out and felt like we weren’t spending enough. (We were about 25 and spending $75 per person on the item and accessories). It was a 2 week email conversation before we just did it and said if you want to do more that’s up to you.

    2. matcha123*

      It’s somewhat similar in Japan. Wedding guests give money in odd numbers, because they can’t be divided easily.
      BUT, the newlyweds then give the wedding guests a bag of stuff. So, I think they use some of the money to pay for the wedding and the rest to pay for gifts for the guests to thank them for coming…?

      1. matcha123*

        edit, should add that 10,000 yen ($100) is usually the minimum with 30,000 yen ($300) as the standard!

    3. Jamie*

      We have an unwritten rule about giving enough to cover the cost of your plates and then some, as well.

      I personally believe in just inviting people you want to share the day with you, and for me the list isn’t huge, but I give $200 +gift. (And I like to get something keepsakey – like monogrammed glasses for the bar or whatever.)

      If I could t cover the cost of our plates I wouldn’t go – and if I’m not attending I’ll send a gift and $100. I’m bad at this and had a lot of weddings lately so needed a formula.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, but gifts are NOT supposed to be obligatory. I don’t know who came up with this unwritten rule, but it’s gotten people stuck in this grabby, greedy mindset.

        If it’s your wedding, you’re hosting a party and the people are guests. Gifts may be expected, like at a birthday party, but they’re certainly not required. I’d rather have someone I cared about show up to my wedding empty-handed and celebrate with me than worry about what gift they brought.

        1. BRR*

          I agree completely. If we don’t get one gift that’s fine because we weren’t expecting people to cover their plate. Many of our friends aren’t earning that much and for most of them it is a stretch to even be able to make it. Even if they can’t afford to make it and sent a gift I would feel bad because I know it’s money they need for something else.

          PS I now want to invite Jamie to my wedding $$$

        2. Jamie*

          I totally agree, and I would t throw any kind of event expecting others to cover – and tbh I couldn’t tell you what anyone gave us except for the sentimental things.

          I’m just saying I know how other people perceive things and sometimes it’s about appearances but tbh mostly I just want to – I don’t have a ton of acquaintances so if I’m invited it’s family or someone I genuinely care about.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If I had to do this, I would not be going to any weddings.

      What a money grab.

      I feel that couples should do what they can pay for themselves.
      If they can’t pay for swan ice sculptures, then go without.

      I would be embarassed to have my guests feel they were financing my wedding.

      1. Windchime*

        I would be, too. I have heard some people talk about the “cost of the plate” thing and it just seems so horribly tacky. If you can’t afford to feed people, then just serve cupcakes and punch. Don’t have a huge fancy catered event and then expect your guests to pony up to cover their dinner.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Advice columnists pretty much say ignore that rule of thumb. Give the gift you can afford.

    5. The IT Manager*

      I’m American and went to slot of my cousins weddings as a kid. I have only gone to a few to weddings of friends since college.

      FYI – 20 years ago dollar dance was common in south LA with my family. Food was usually buffet type. I was completely and utterly shocked by one friend’s wedding where there was a sit down meal served a number of hours after the ceremony. I tried to say my good byes after several hours (barely knew anyone there) and she said no the meal was still coming. Sit down meal at a wedding? Weird, to me. No wonder weddings cost so much when people talk about meals costing $50 -$100.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve seen it both ways. My friend’s wedding was a sit-down meal and most family weddings have been buffet-style. I much prefer the buffet, mainly because I can ignore the weird carrot raisin salad and load up on the chicken. Plus, I think it allows for more of a free-flowing experience. With a sit-down meal, you’re pretty much chained to the table until you’re done.

        I cannot imagine spending $50-$100 a plate. I love food, but not $100 worth of food. I also can’t fathom parents mortgaging their home so their kid can have filet mignon by the waterfall.

        1. Artemesia*

          When we did our daughter’s wedding, buffet service was more costly than sit down dinner. The rationale is that most people will sample as many entrees as are available and so the expensive stuff tends to fly off the buffet and buffet service factors that in. Our guests had a choice of a vegetarian, pork or fish dish which they indicated on the reply cards and that was a nice meal but cheaper than similar dinners presented buffet style.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Sit-down meals are fine, but they shouldn’t be happening several hours later. That puts guests who may have traveled to an inconvenience. What are they supposed to do for three hours before the reception?

        1. Al Lo*

          That’s a very Canadian thing — the photo shoot happens in that 3 hours or so between wedding and reception, and the ceremony is typically around 2, with the reception starting at 6.

          I often take it as an opportunity to visit with friends/family I haven’t seen in a while, go for coffee, buy the wedding gift, etc.

          When I was a kid, we would often go to the ceremony, and then my parents would take us home and get the sitter before heading out to the reception. Much more enjoyable for them, but we were able to participate in the day at some level.

          1. Annie*

            Its also called a “Catholic Gap” because traditionally you have to have your ceremony end after 3:30/4 due to Saturday Evening Vigil Mass (usually begins between 4:30 and 6 and you have to clear out of the church about an hour prior to the mass start time- meaning any pictures need to be done by then too). So if you’re ceremony ends at 3:30 and you need to get pictures done and not serve dinner at 5 you have a gap you need to fill in. My friends who have had a gap have filled in 2 different ways- one had a bus tour of the city their wedding was in (which worked for about 90% of the guests outside the wedding party- only a few weren’t staying in the city), so they had their time filled and most people didn’t notice it took them almost an hour to get across town because they were weaving around to see the sights (those who didn’t get on the bus – my parents were 2 of them- knew what the plan was… so they found a coffee house or bar to wait in before the cocktail hour), the 2nd had 20 minute drive in between and the cocktail hour(hour & a half) ready when we got there.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              The Catholic weddings I’ve been to (I’m also Catholic, btw) always were at the church and then right afterward, everyone went to the parish hall for the reception. There were pictures taken after the ceremony and Mass, but I can’t recall anyone making us wait several hours.

              1. The IT Manager*

                I’m catholic and that’s not the way the do it where I am from. I find making people wait an hour or longer while the wedding party takes pictures super annoying.

                Of course I expect that during the casual buffet style reception the photographer will be calling the various groups up for photographs so I’ve seen it take place DURING the reception.

                I know its the a couple’s wedding, but they invite people to join them and you should be polite and not make people wait around when you’re hosting an event – even your wedding.

        2. Jessica (tc)*

          I think it’s part of that “can’t see the bride before the wedding tradition.” I’ve had several friends abide by it and they took a bit of time between wedding and reception to take bride/groom and family pictures including the couple. I had a tiny wedding with just a cake/punch reception, though, because I didn’t want to deal with family dynamics at my wedding (including photograph stuff, which I saw a lot of my friends deal with). In the end, I just wanted to be married with little fuss.

      3. BRR*

        I can’t stand weddings/events where they don’t feed you. My best friend’s wedding was amazing, ceremony at 6, by 6:30 cocktails and finger food, 7:15 inside and food was waiting at stations. The “cocktail hour” being only 45 min was nice.

      4. Jen RO*

        *Not* having a sit down meal would mark you as a cheapskate/weirdo here. Hors d’oeuvres, fish, steak, sarmale (traditional food) and cake, at least. Served starting with 9-10 pm until 4 am. Why yes, of course I want to eat steak at midnight! Ugh. (Weddings in some areas start earlier, but where i am, it’s customary for them to last from evening to morning.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          For weddings at traditional lunch/dinner hours, yeah, I expect people to be fed. Otherwise they’re missing a meal.

          If you can’t afford a meal at your wedding and can only do cake and punch, late morning or early afternoon is always good.

    6. Liz in a Library*

      I am clearly old-fashioned about this. My perspective is that you aren’t owed a gift period, if an attendee chooses not to give one, and that expecting a monetary gift, particularly a high-value one, is really greedy. When you throw a party, you are responsible for the costs of that party, not the guests.

      As an attendee, I do always bring a gift. Depending on the couple and what I know of them, I’ll either use their registry or go the cash + small unique gift route.

      But then, we are from the south, and my southern mama would have had a fit if we’d hinted that people should give a specific gift, or that we felt entitled to one at all. So that’s probably coloring this for me. :)

      1. Jamie*

        Ditto – and in my family it was rude to even say no gifts because it implies you thought they should have been thinking about them. Tricky when you really want no gift and have to spread it word of mouth.

        Kind of off topic but I remember growing up on Father’s Day and my dad’s birthday he’d try to be gracious but would always say some version of if he wanted something he’d buy it himself and if he couldn’t afford it we sure as he’ll couldn’t and he didn’t want us eating our money on him – and then he’d always try to slip us cash to make up for whatever we bought him. I get the sentiment, but way clumsy about how he handled it.

        Gifts are so tricky sometimes,

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          I believe this is Miss Manners’ take on gifts as well–even to say “No gifts” is rude because it implies that you were expecting the invitee to bring gifts.

    7. Sabrina*

      Some of this happens in the US, though not the DJ part. But in larger urban areas, especially in the north, you give cash instead of gifts. Often there’s a cardbox near the reception entrance which might resemble a birdcage or might be some other decorative shape. Sometimes the bride carries a purse and people give a card with cash or a check in it which goes in the purse during the receiving line. I kept track of our gifts, but it was for the thank you cards. As for paying for the wedding, it’s considered polite to “cover your plate” but it can be hard to know how much that is depending on the location of the wedding.

    8. FD*

      I understand the historical background, but in the modern context, I find a lot of the culture around wedding gifts really tacky.

      I won’t have a wedding unless I can pay for it myself, and I’d want to put something in the invitations about gifts not being expected.

      Part of my attitude is probably informed by being the person who’s the best off financially in my group of friends (graduating when we did, we all had slow starts to our careers), so expecting gifts from the people I’d want to include would be tacky.

      Besides which, who’s ever going to use half the crap they register for?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Me too. We’d both been living on our own for nearly 20 years when we got married; we needed less stuff, not more. That said, we registered because people tend to get antsy if you don’t. But we registered at Amazon, where we weren’t limited to house stuff (although the only knives I now use came from that registry — ceramic knives rule). But even there, registering was hard; you don’t want to feel like you’re wasting your friends’ and family’s money in the service of facilitating gift-giving.

          1. BRR*

            Exactly, I feel like we need less stuff. I want to make a registry of stuff we have for other people to take out of our apartment.

              1. BRR*

                When we moved in together we had three slow cookers. Thankfully we are down to one now (and haven’t used it in at least a year).

          2. Windchime*

            My son and his fiancé are in their lat 20’s and are also registered at Amazon. They really don’t need anything but they are starting to really enjoy cooking, so hopefully they have registered for some nice knives or something.

            I have only attended one wedding in my life that had a meal; all others have just served cake, punch and coffee. So I guess I’m not part of the crowd who feels that they are owed a meal if they attend a wedding, or that the attendee must give a fancy enough gift to cover the cost of the meal. Both ideas seem….I don’t know, impolite or something.

        2. FD*

          You’re buying things for people that they haven’t bought for themselves because they think they’re overpriced.

          Exactly! That really sums it up for me.

      1. Jamie*

        I think registries are great for china/crystal because if I buy a setting I want to know what they need and the exact pattern – and I just love buying this kind of stuff.

        But daily use towels and Tupperware – I don’t get it.

        What gets me is when people have crazy spendy stuff on a baby registry. In my family the expensive stuff (strollers, baby furniture, etc) were given by close family privately and the shower stuff for the cute lower priced stuff – so it’s weird for me to see $300 strollers on a registry for a shower. But I guess people chip in or whatever, but it’s odd to me.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          We were the opposite. We will be moving A LOT, and I’m set to inherit at least one gorgeous china set, so I didn’t want a beautiful set of china I was going to have to pack and unpack every two years. Instead we asked for quality things we’d use, rather than the stuff we’d been using. We got a lovely everyday set of dishes rather than the Corel that has been in my family since the 1970s and showed it. We got a fantastic knife block to use rather than the knives that my dad gave me that he got free with a steak purchase years ago. We got decent towels rather than the mismatched set that I’ve been using since I went away to school.

          I’d say that people at my (tiny) wedding were split fairly evenly–half gave money, half gave gifts, I’d say.

        2. FD*

          Even china’s rapidly becoming obsolete–it usually has to be hand-washed, and most people don’t eat off it even on special occasions.

          Heck, I’m getting the family’s china when it’s time to pass it on by dint of the fact that I’m the only one who wants a set of dishware that has to be handwashed, wrapped in paper, and carefully repacked after each use.

          (The set’s been in the family for three generations before me, so it only ever comes out for Christmas and Easter, if then.)

    9. C Average*

      I find the whole weddiquette thing obnoxious. All these unwritten rules!

      I just don’t go to weddings. The people who invite me tend to be people I like but don’t love, so I don’t feel too guilty about sending my regrets (and a gift if, and ONLY if, I actually want to send a gift). The people I actually love tend to elope.

      I am so glad my wedding was immediate family only, with no gifts. It was simple to plan and fun to attend. I’m not knocking those who choose to do something bigger, but it seems like there’s a lot of moaning and complaining that goes along with wedding planning, which I don’t get. If it’s such an ordeal . . . how about just not doing it? You’ll be every bit as married if you go to City Hall than if you throw a bank-breaking shindig for your 500 best friends.

      1. Jen RO*

        I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph. My best work-friend got married last year and she did want a big wedding, but oh boy the amount of stress! If it’s such a pain in the ass, why do it?!

        1. Jamie*

          I would have easily eloped both times – I do not get the concept of the expense and I’m not a center of attention kind of girl.

          First time his mother guilted us into a wedding, second time dh did – parents lived out of town and so we had to do it there and make it a thing. Still pissed about being cheated out of my jaunt to city hall and then IHOP after.

          Marrying the man you love followed by strawberry pancakes – how could it get better? I’d say maybe next time, but no way will there be a next time. I’m tired…lol

  19. matcha123*

    I just got a visit from two different friends in the last week. I haven’t seen one in almost 3 years and another in almost two.

    Plus, I’m finally getting out of Japan for a small trip to Korea. I haven’t had any money to get out of here for almost three years. I’m really excited! Living abroad sucks when you don’t make enough money to travel and see everything you came for. >_<

  20. AMD*

    Should I break down and get a smartphone?

    Got a series of tests on my dumbphone last night from my new business partner, including one that was just a typo correction, and have previously gotten texts from my off-site manager that imply that he thinks I have my phone with me at all times and am checking it regularly, even at work.

    I’m just holding out because of a) the expense and b) I already have a late generation iPod Touch, and an iPad, which I feel like meet all my mobile needs other than at work (in a retail environment, so no wifi.) Is it worth it to switch? Is just fitting in with the professional expectation that I have one a good reason to switch?

    1. Rebecca*

      I have an Android Tracfone now. It links to my home WiFi, so I can download apps, get updates, and post things when I get home, and it doesn’t use airtime. I turned the data off when I’m out and about, but it’s there if I need it. It was the perfect compromise for me, as I didn’t want a big phone bill every month for something that I don’t use a lot.

    2. Graciosa*

      My personal mobile phone is very, very dumb (I even turned off the texting!) and I love it. If someone needs me, they call, and we talk using our actual voices.

      We just changed from Blackberries to iPhones at work, and I have to say that other than the phone and email, the only feature I have used is the map application. It came in handy once when I was traveling in a different city. That’s it.

      So for me, the question is whether the map is worth the expense every month, and my answer is no.

      Smart phones have lots of whiz bang features that you could use, so ask yourself whether or not you would actually use them. Then ask yourself whether the value of those features is worth the recurring cost.

      I wouldn’t worry at all about anyone else’s expectations. First, they’re not paying the bill. Second, my “antique” phone is a terrific conversation piece – lots of nostalgic comments from people who suddenly remember what it was like before we were quite so tethered to our gadgets. :-)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      If you’re happy with things the way they are, and the phone isn’t going to improve anything, then why bother?

      That said, I did switch from dumbphone to smartphone (though it’s still prepaid) and I love my phone. But I use it as an mp3 player and it’s better than the dumbphone about getting on the internet, so those things were important enough to me to justify the upgrade.

      What I’ve been avoiding is contract phones. The pricing is just insane.

    4. Jen RO*

      I thought I didn’t need a smartphone or a tablet. Now i have both and I am hooked. No advice, just another data point.

      1. Anon*

        I thought I wouldn’t like a smartphone. I wanted something like my old phone, but working better. Maybe a better camera. But my old phone hasn’t been made in years, so I went with an iPhone.

        I love the smartphone!

      2. en pointe*

        Ha, I thought wasn’t missing much either before I got a smartphone. Now, I feel disoriented when I leave the house without it, as I can’t track my buses in real time, check Facebook, follow the dot to my destination, etc. I should actually probably be working on reducing that dependence.

    5. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I wish I didn’t have one. It’s convenient in many ways, but I find that being constantly connected ultimately just adds more stress.

  21. bullyfree*

    Has anyone ever had an ear canal infection that closes off your canal completely, and you needed to have a wick inserted ? This is day four – ear pain came on suddenly Wednesday evening and by Friday evening, the hole was swollen shut. I had to go to the ER to have a wick inserted yesterday and it allows the antibiotic ear drops to get into the canal. This is the strangest and most excruciating infection I have ever had! It has not really healed much since leaving the ER last evening. I have to take three medications every four hours to keep the pain to a somewhat manageable level. I have no idea what caused this and worried it’s going to take forever to heal! Has anyone ever dealt with something like this ? If so, how did you get it to heal up ? Could you eat at all or were you on liquids for awhile ? Everything in the jaw joint is swollen and misaligned so my teeth can’t even rest in their normal “bite”. Ugh, this is frustrating.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Get to a chiropractor. A good one can realign your jaw, get your ears to drain, etc.

      My chiro just reset my jaw. That connective tissue between the upper and lower jaw- he pushed on that. With gloves on, of course.
      I have had an over bite all my life- now, it’s much better.

      There are things they can do to help your ears also.

      Do you have a health food store near you? I presume driving is difficult right now. Maybe someone will go for you. Get some willow bark. Willow bark is the natural equivalent to aspirin. It will help with anything that is swollen. I use it on stuffy sinuses and enlarged bruises.

      Drink plenty of water to help get everything moving out of you.

      I had numerous things driving my problems with my ears- my ear canals were straight, not tipped. So stuff did not drain. I was wildly allergic to dairy and had no clue that my allergies were driving my ear problems. I ate a lot of foods that produced mucus- such as orange juice. And that mucus would load up my system and set the course for yet another ear infection.

      I’m not a doctor, so take it with a grain of salt. I have had a life time of ear infections, strep etc. What works for me may or may not work for the next person. Definitely check with a respected chiropractor and see what she thinks.

      I have had ear problems that have put me flat on my back. I could not move.
      So yes, make a plan for dealing with this. It’s fixable.

      1. bullyfree*

        Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! I had not even thought of going to a Chiropractor! I will definitely try out what you have suggested here. I am so glad you have found relief for what sounds like a long time condition. That is very encouraging.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          ah, my heart goes out to you and anyone having ear problems.

          When you finally pick a chiro and call to make an appointment- ask if the doctor has had success with jaw and ear issues. (Yes, these problems travel in pairs like this.) Not every chiro knows how to do this.

          When I found this my current doc, I emailed a half dozen friends whose opinions I respect. I asked them if they had a chiro that they liked and I asked them to tell me WHY they like their chiro. One friend gave me a reason why that stood above anyone else’s reason why. So I went to him. He’s saved my life.

      2. Mimmy*

        I don’t have the ear problems bullyfree described, but I do sometimes get discomfort in my ear, behind my eye, one spot where my head meets my neck, and sometimes my jaw–all on the right side, all at the same time.

        That’s my rambling way of saying, “Wow! That totally explains it!”

        bullyfree – Ouuuuuuuch!! I don’t know what a wick is in this context, but it does not sound like much fun. Hope it feels better soon!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Mimmy, that sounds familiar to me, too. I have had so many adjustments I have lost track. But it’s really good that you are able to identify the problem areas so clearly. Probably, that could easily be reset by a good chiro.

          I was having problems with vertigo- this entailed getting my eyes adjusted and the bones in my skull moved among other things. It sounds horrible, but it is something close to nothing. (Some of this stuff can be done on babies because it is soooo tame.) I said “That’s it? That’s all you’re going to do? This won’t work.”
          And then it worked. It’s a matter of knowing what to adjust and what order to do the adjustments.

  22. Jamie*

    I was walking in my office the other day and stepped funny, my knee twisted just a little and there was this loud pop and ever since when I’m move a certain way it hurts a little and buckles, but if I don’t move that way it’s fine and zero pain and swelling. Weird. I hate doctors so I let my boss diagnose me with stuff (she’s always right) and she said I hyperextended my knee and to wear a brace.

    Two out of three kids need to get their wisdom teeth out now – well that’s just shy of $1800 after insurance. Stupid evolution not moving fast enough in my family to save me the money.

    Coming up on one of my twice yearly huge projects at work – usually have 5+ days for the final step and this time I’ve got 2. Should be interesting. Lead up to it will be a nightmare, but good thing I love a challenge. Planning a day or two to collapse afterwards.

    Spent yesterday and will continue today getting the house in perfect order since I don’t expect to be home before 10:00-11:00 pm until the week of July 6th – including the weekend. Rumor has it that when I first started some people took issue with my hour per hour comp time deal during these projects – since the rest of the plant is off. Last 6 years I average between 72.5 and 87 hours in 5-7 days and if they think I was doing it for 40 hours comp then they were mistaken. I’d love to work less, let’s cross train someone else…oh, there is no one? Guess you just have to suck up my comp time then. (the complainer wasn’t my boss or anyone affected, just whiners.)

    This time of year is exhausting and aggravating but it’s one of those times where I just feel really, really good about how well I do my job. Bad for sleep good for ego – all works out.

    I cleaned my desk yesterday and was so excited I took pics – which is weird I know. I showed my family who think I’m a big weirdo – I love when spice works does the desk pics – I love looking at other people’s desk sets ups the way some people love going to open houses when just looking.
    Tldr – weird week

    1. bullyfree*

      Oh I’m so sorry Jamie – about your weird week. (My last four days have been painful and weird^^)

      When I read about your knee it brought back memories. Google “symptoms of a meniscus tear”. I had surgery in March for a meniscus tear and when they got inside they found I had two meniscus tears and other issues. With physical therapy post surgery, I have healed quite well, which make me happy I had the surgery.

      On other note – I love a clean (and orderly) desk too ! And I admit to taking pictures one time after cleaning and re -organizing my whole work space. This is the first time I have ever admitted this!

      1. Jamie*

        I did google that very thing, actually, but it’s hardly painful and no swelling so I don’t think that’s it. It’s just a awful twinge when I go a certain way which vanishes as soon as I right my knee.

        I used to get hurt doing stuff, now it get hurt walking to the copier.

        1. Mimmy*

          Sounds like me with my ankles, especially when I was younger! I did the long jump (track & field) during high school. You’d think I’d hurt my ankles from, perhaps, a bad landing. NOPE! I twisted an ankles just GETTING OUT of the pit!

        2. Mallory*

          My husband had a meniscus tear, and he would feel fine except for an awful twinge every once in a while. The knee specialist who did his surgery said that the awful twinge was when the torn meniscus flap was getting pinched as he moved or walked.

    2. the gold digger*

      Two out of three kids need to get their wisdom teeth out

      Dental college! The best deal in town! (Is there a dental school in Chicago? If not, it might be worth it to come up to MKE.)

      1. Onymouse*

        Not sure if that’s the best idea if you need anything more than a simple extraction. Too easy to get nerve damage if they botch it up.

        1. the gold digger*

          Depends who is doing it, I suppose. I have had a root canal and a dental implant done at the dental school and am very pleased with both.

          However, when I learned that the school has just regular dental students (as opposed to practicing dentists who are returning to specialize) do gum grafts, I decided I would rather pay for someone who has been doing the procedure for 20 years. I didn’t want to be the first person from whom the student had ever cut tissue out of the roof of the mouth.

          1. Onymouse*

            “regular dental students (as opposed to practicing dentists”

            Ah, I thought you meant the dental students, not the specializing dentists, in the earlier post. I think we’re in agreement :)

        2. Stephanie*

          The local school here actually has services that most dentist offices don’t have, like an entire special needs clinic.

          I’ve gone to my local school for dental work while I’m between jobs. They’re pretty thorough (more thorough than some dentists). Main drawback is that they’re a bit slower and the hand skills aren’t all the way refined (so they might be a bit heavy handed).

          1. Onymouse*

            I suppose I’m a little gun shy after my local optometry school misdiagnosed my (highly contagious) pinkeye as allergies, but of course YMMV.

      2. Stephanie*

        My last dentist went to Northwestern, so maybe you could see if Northwestern has a dental clinic?

    3. danr*

      Not surprised at the pictures of a clean desk. Mine was always a disaster and friends spread the word when I had some wood showing.

    4. Shell*

      I have seriously screwed up my knee with less symptoms than what you’re describing. I really would recommend seeing a doctor. A popping makes me think of a minor meniscus tear, but five minutes with a competent doctor and they can tell if you’ve anything wrong with your ligaments too.

      And I was young when I busted my knee (23?). Didn’t think I needed the doctor either. It’s been five or six years now and my knee will never be completely 100% again.

      Also, liberal amounts of ice. Stupid 23-year-old me didn’t do that, either.

    5. Anon*

      Please go to the doctor! It will save you from so much trouble.

      By the way, it sounds to me like you dislocated/subluxed something and it didn’t get back into place quite right. A doctor can help. You might have to wear a brace for a while, but you’ll be OK.

      (Scary knee injury story to get you into a doctor’s office: I busted my knees repeatedly as a kid. By 15, I couldn’t walk well enough to leave the house. Don’t let leg injuries slide! It’s a pain in the ass if they get worse before you see a doctor. Literally, the braces poke you!) (I’m OK now, but it took three surgeries.)

      1. Mallory*

        Your desk looks great!

        I cleaned my desk on Friday and I had an urge to take pictures. Now I wish I hadn’t suppressed it, and I am totally going to take pictures tomorrow.

      2. EAA*

        I have had a Hello Kitty from McDonald’s hanging from my review mirror for years, she had a tennis racket (my son played). Now I want Hello Kitty with glasses.

    6. Unmitigated Gal*

      I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but a loud pop is often the sign of an ACL tear. If you do not have the ACL replaced (it cannot be repaired) you’ll run the risk of repeated buckling, which significantly increases the risk of more tearing (meniscus, other CLs) and arthritic. See an orthopedic surgeon soon.

  23. Jamie*

    I need recommendations for a decent doc for iPhone 5 and ipad air. Bought a new one this week but it doesn’t charge and do the volume thing at the same time – I need one that will charge while I have it at max volume so I can get texts in the middle of the night and hear them (and also listen to Bowling for Soup and Kathleen Madigan way too loud while I clean.

    I had a good one, but I need a new one with the lightening connector and can’t seem to find one with decent reviews under $300 or so and since this is a work expense kind of not explaining that.

    Need something under $150 – anyone have good recommendations?

  24. The Other Dawn*

    Today is the day I start going through all my clothes in preparation for moving.

    I dread it. Mainly because I know I’ll need to try on every single item (I had weight loss surgery). And also because I tend to hold on to clothes thinking someday I’ll wear them again, even though I’ve worn them into the ground and they’re now my “fat clothes” and I hope NEVER to wear them again.

    I’m starting to feel overwhelmed about packing. When I look around I can’t imagine several weeks from now when everything is packed and the place is bare. Seems like I’ll never get there. Not because I have a ton of stuff, but because my husband has a ton of stuff: tools, car parts, etc. That’s just the garage and the backroom in the basement. Then there’s all the home improvement crap we’ve accumulated over the years. Then the attic. OMG…

    1. Jamie*

      Moving is so exciting though! Seriously it’s so much work but I love the organizational and clean slate aspect of it so much I would love to do it again. I’ve actually suggested boxing everything up and moving back into our own house but that got me looks like they were wondering which home to check me into so I let it go.

      And yes, get rid of the old clothes. I haven’t lost what you have, but I’m down 47 lbs this year and I walked out of my favorite jammie shorts the other day. Literally got out of bed took a couple of steps without holding them up and they were on the floor and I stepped out of them before I knew what was happening.

      Thank god there was no audience except the cats.

      I have some pants I’m still trying to wear to work but now I have to either hold them up or wear a belt and I hate belts. I like those pants – oh well. There are worse problems. :)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Congrats on the weight loss. That’s great! I tried on a pair of pants and had to run downstairs and show my husband, all while I was hanging on to them for dear life. They were huge!

        I often wonder what my cats are thinking when they see…what they see in a house that has no kids.

        I think I’d enjoy packing more if I were throwing out more stuff. But we did some renovations a few years ago and we did some purging. Not much left to purge.

        I think what really contributes to the overwhelmed feeling is that we have a few home improvement things to take care of. We’re renting the house out so they need to get done. Not big stuff, but my mind takes over and I guess I talk myself into a state of being overwhelmed.

        By the way, I posted a link to some pics of the new house in last week’s free-for-all thread. Take a look if you get a chance.

        1. nep*

          Congratulations on your health and new home.

          ‘…my mind takes over and I guess I talk myself into a state of being overwhelmed.’ — Therein lies your answer and your peace. The stress/the overwhelmed state is not inevitable.
          Wishing you all the best.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            You’re exactly right. I’m very good at talking myself into a tizzy. I’m generally not a negative thinker, but if I’m unhappy in some aspect of my life (like work, at the moment), I tend to think it to death and stew about it and make it into something so much bigger.

        2. Jamie*

          I thought I commented last week? Sorry – yeah this whole thing has got me a happy jealous state (happy for you will some kind spirited envy) that my husband is tired of hearing about wanting to move somewhere historical.

          It’s gorgeous, you will be so happy.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            You may have and I just missed it. I don’t use a feed or anything so I have to come check.

            I’m kinda getting into the whole historical aspect of the house. I’m going to get a period-correct flag for the house. And when I was at my friend’s dad’s house (estate sale) I found a replica of the Declaration of Independence I’m going to frame. Also found reproduction colonial paper money. Thought I’d frame it. I know it’s not authentic, but that’s OK. I’m also going to buy a reproduction map of New England from 1720 to hang over the fireplace.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When I lost the bulk of my excess weight, I keep the clothes that were one size larger than my current size. I used the larger clothes for working around the house and yard work. I had to do something conservative like that because I was on a tight budget.
      What was good about this is I tossed the stuff that was bigger than my previous size. That meant I was committed to my current size. (At any given time, all I allowed myself to keep was current size and previous size. Some stuff I was able to take in on the sewing machine so I kept that, too.)

      You could consider putting somethings in a consignment shop. Maybe you would feel better if you got a little bit of money for some stuff.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I have a friend coming over today and I’m going to let her go through my clothes to see if she wants anything. Considering I’m 5’11” and she’s about 5’6″, there probably won’t be a lot that fits her. The remaining clothing I plan to donate to several local groups: special needs people my niece works with; LGBT group a friend works with; and a local rescue mission another friend works with. Apparently there is a severe shortage of plus size women’s clothing – all three of these people keep telling me to let them know when I have some clothes to donate because there’s a great need for these sizes.

        That’s a good idea about not keeping anything that’s more than one size bigger. I went through my clothes about a month ago and found some items I felt I could get away with wearing – a few tank tops to go under a cardigan, a cardigan, and a couple other things – but when I actually wanted to wear them I realized the make me look link of frumpy since they kind of hung there.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Re the clothes: Hang onto maybe two outfits with items you can mix / match with “thin” clothes and chuck the rest. That will take up almost no space and ease your anxiety about needing them again (because you know they are there). Then, in a set period of time, if you haven’t used them at all, you can chuck those too.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I also need to make a commitment going forward that I will NOT buy clothing that doesn’t fit quite right in the store, or just looks “OK” or is passable. Very bad habit of mine. But that’s what can happen when you’re trying to find anything at all that will fit halfway decent. When going through my clothes last month I found lots of things I never even wore, because I got them home and decided I didn’t like them and was too lazy to return them, or thought I’ll wear it someday. Such a waste of money.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            I like this rule!
            I also try to visualize integrating it into my wardrobe – what I’d wear it with and where. Oftentimes I’ll really like something but if it doesn’t fit in with what I already have, its a no-go.

          2. TL*

            My rule is if I don’t love it, I don’t buy it – unless it’s ridiculously cheap (under $10.)

            I’ve been looking for 4 years for a pair of new flats and I’ve yet to find any I’d spend money on, so this has its downsides, but I rarely go through my closet and find things I haven’t worn in ages (unless they were bought for me.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Gah, me too. I’m trying not to do that either!

          Since I’m working out and losing weight (slowly but surely), I’m not going clothes shopping again until I absolutely have to. There’s no point in doing it now because most of the stuff I wear often is still just a LITTLE bit big, not a LOT big.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Me, too. I’m trying very hard not to buy anything unless i really need to. I’ve worn things that are a little big, but they’re getting way too big now. Which is good. But I don’t really want to spend the money now.

            Congrats on your weight loss!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Thanks! It’s not huge amounts or anything, but I’m glad because I don’t like being pudgy–it’s uncomfortable and I hate the way my clothes fit.

    4. C Average*

      Don’t laugh too hard at this suggestion, but there’s a book I’d recommend called “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.” Some of it is a little woo-woo (well, OK, some of it is a LOT woo-woo), but there’s also some really practical advice that honestly changed my life.

      The biggest takeaway: almost everything you need is commercially available. If you’re hanging onto something you really don’t want to keep, get rid of it! On the off chance you come to regret it, you can buy a new one. If you get rid of worn-out fat clothes and come to regret it, you can go to the Goodwill and buy other people’s worn-out fat clothes. If you get rid of something that’s been forgotten in your attic for years and then find you actually did want it, you can go get another one just like it.

      But the odds are you won’t, right?

      Also, I find it helps when I’m getting rid of something that’s nice but that I don’t use to think about how excited someone else will be to get it. That thing in your attic that’s never been used might make someone’s day as they’re scouring the Goodwill for bargains, and that’s a net good.

      Good luck with the move!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s fantastic advice. Thank you! I never thought of it that way.

        Actually, that’s kind of how I used to look at food (hence, why I finally had to have weight loss surgery). If I didn’t have the app and the entree when I went out to eat, I felt I was missing out on something. I needed variety, also. I couldn’t just get a burger. It had to be the burger with fries and coleslaw and something else. And if I went to McD’s for a Big Mac and not BK for the Whopper, I would think, “well what if BK closes and I can’t go there anymore? Then I’ll regret not going there and getting the Whopper.” Seriously, that’s how my mind worked.

        I guess it’s the same with clothes. “I love this shirt, but I haven’t worn it in two years. What if I get rid of it and want to wear it someday? I’ll never find another one!”

    5. Artemesia*

      We moved last year after 25 years in one house which we filled up because we could. Before moving we donated most of our clothes; I had to go through my stuff about 4 times to get down to stuff I really wanted to keep. I donated to a thrift shop that is used by poor people so I felt like some perfectly good clothes that I clearly wasn’t really going to be wearing went to good use.

      Then we sold some of our furniture and gave the rest to a refugee resettlement program. I bet we mostly furnished about 4 apartments. We had couches, about 15-20 shelving units, some dressers, futon couches, chairs etc. We only kept our bedroom furniture and our dining room furniture and my husband’s office furniture — everything else went.

      Then we gave most of our kitchen stuff to the refugee resettlement program keeping only our good dishes and a few breakfast dishes and our good wine glasses and stainless tableware. Oh and the Kitchen Aid mixer. Virtually everything else was donated — and it was pretty good stuff so I think whomever received it probably was pretty pleased. We also donated all of our linen except two sets of king size sheets for our bed and a set of brand new towels we had bought to place while showing our house. The stuff was fine but we didn’t need so much.

      Now I sit in a small condo — we bought new living room furniture and new kitchen stuff. The kitchen is tiny but everything has its place and we don’t have all that crap you accumulate but rarely use. Unloading the dishwasher is actually a pleasure — what with the shiny new everyday glasses and the fact that everything fits.

      I would strongly encourage you to use the move as a time to streamline your life. Instead of deciding whether to keep each individual item approach the closet as ‘what do I love wearing and just have to have’ — i.e. not what to discard but what to keep.

      I can’t tell you how much happier we are not having closets full of stuff we don’t wear, and cupboards stacked with stuff we don’t use. A move is a great time to get ruthless about ‘stuff’.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m actually going into a bigger house and don’t have nearly enough to fill it up. My friend had an estate sale recently and she let me come over a few days beforehand so I bought some necessary furniture. Great quality, gently used, and CHEAP!

        That being said, the new kitchen is very small compared to the one I have now, so I used the opportunity to donate a bunch of stuff to the local cat project (I’m a volunteer there). Like you, I kept my Kitchen Aid mixer. :) But I got rid of the ice cream maker, various gadgets I thought I had to have and never used, some storage containers. etc. At first I was worried about such a small kitchen, but when I looked around the current one, I realized that I use about the same amount of counter space I would have there. My extra counter space isn’t really necessary.

        1. Artemesia*

          I went from a gigantic badly designed kitchen to a galley kitchen that is just fabulous to work in. I have a spice drawer, a drawer with my big knives, a baking cabinet, only enough pots and pans to do what we need to do and at hand — it is just perfect and makes cooking a pleasure. And we have two work spaces, one on each side, that make it feel that we actually have more counter space than we had in the giant badly designed kitchen. Small is not bad in kitchens if you have the storage well designed.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, I’ll have a galley kitchen also. Very small, though. only about 8′ x 11′. But you’re right, it’s laid out much better and everything will be close by.

            Eventually I’ll probably remodel it, but that will be a challenge in such an old house.

    6. Sara*

      Congrats on the weight loss! Hope you never have to use those clothes again :)

      I’m in the same boat, we’re moving from a 1 bedroom to a house, and my god it feels so overwhelming. We’ve already moved the majority of stuff (moving day will be furniture only) but all the kitchen stuff is left and that’s overwhelming/stressing me out. I love to cook and bake so of course I have a load of kitchen stuff, but…..yeah. I’m scared. :(

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Well, I’m happy to say that I was able to either toss or put aside for donation about 90% of my wardrobe. I was ruthless about it, too. If I didn’t love it or it didn’t fit exactly right, out or aside it went. I also packed up most of my bedroom so I have an empty closet and dresser, and a stack of filled totes to show for it.

  25. BRR*

    I’m thinking of honeymooning in big sur, I’m curious about others’ thoughts as to if it’s awesome or not. The other part of this is long story short I can get free airfare out there as part of something else but it would be in late march, is that too cold to be there?

    1. Student*

      I really enjoyed Big Sur. The redwoods are something special to see. If you like nature hiking, you’ll love it.

      I don’t remember the weather patterns off the top of my head, but if you check a weather site you can usually get seasonal averages.

  26. Canadamber*

    Just found out that my dad’s car has a flat tire :( since I was driving it last night, that means that it’s something I did, like maybe drove over a nail or something. And since it’s a Subaru, that means it’s all qheel drive, and ALL the tires will have to be replaced! >_<;

    1. Jamie*

      Nah, it was just something that happened when you were driving it…nothing you did.

      Unless you scattered nails in the road on purpose before driving over them – and if so then stop doing that. :)

      1. C Average*


        I’ve destroyed a tire or two, and so has everyone I know who’s driven for any length of time. It’s like a leak in the roof on a house: a hazard of ownership that’s likely to visit you at some point no matter how many right things you do.

    2. danr*

      Not really. At the most replace the tire on the other side. I’ve replaced tires in pairs on my all wheel drive rav4 and haven’t had a problem.

      1. Artemesia*

        We have always replaced tires in pairs as well — but ours are not 4 wheel drive.

  27. a.n.o.n.*

    This week I had a tire blowout on the highway in the middle lane. (That’s always been one of my biggest fears. I’ve heard stories of people losing control of the car, being killed, etc.) I didn’t even know it happened. I heard a loud noise like a bad muffler and didn’t realize it was me. Finally, after a few cars passed, I realized it was my car and thought maybe my muffler broke. So I pulled to the shoulder and got out to check. Flat tire.

    I had to wait for AAA to tow me to the tire place. I didn’t want them to put the donut on since I was 40 miles from home and it was all highway driving (the donut has already been used several times for long distances). While I was waiting the DOT people stopped to check on me, as did a state trooper.

    It took about an hour and half for a tow truck to get there. Boy, was it scary sitting on the side of the highway with the cars whizzing past! There were lots of manufactured homes being transported that day and several came within a couple inches of my driver’s side mirror. Scary!

    While I was waiting, I emailed my boss (we were all on our way to an afternoon function) to tell him what had happened. All he replied was, “Oh no.” Didn’t ask if I was OK, do I have AAA, nothing. I thought that was kind of crappy of him. Just reinforces that I picked the wrong job, though.

    So, anyway, I finally got towed and got new tires. And I missed the work function, which was a plus for me.

    1. Sabrina*

      Glad you are OK! I had a boss once just say OK to a special request that involved me telling her that my dad’s house burned down. Didn’t ask if he was hurt or anything! (He was fine)

      1. a.n.o.n.*

        UGH! That’s awful. I’m glad he’s OK.

        I understand he was at the function already and was using his iPhone, but it only takes an additional few seconds to say, “You OK?” Maybe I’m being too sensitive about it, but I think that’s something that adds, or subtracts from, one’s overall work environment.

        He asked the following day if I got everything squared away. I said yes, and then proceeded to talk about how scary it was up on the side of the highway, the cars whizzing past, the near-hits with the mobile home haulers, etc. I wanted to make sure he knew that I wasn’t sitting there having a glorious time.

        1. Colette*

          I doubt he thought you were having a glorious time.

          I understand he didn’t react the way you wanted him to, but I don’t see anything wrong with his response. I could see him thinking that you would have mentioned if you were hurt, and changing the tire/arranging for a tow truck wasn’t something he could help with. You obviously were able to communicate, since you emailed him, and he was busy at a work event.

    2. danr*

      Use the donut next time. I used to commute 60-70 miles one way and regularly used the donut spare when I had a flat. Despite the warnings about keeping your speed down, they were good for decent highway speeds in dry weather. The trick is to keep them fully inflated.

  28. FD*

    Okay, this is the soppiest thing ever, and I can’t believe I’m posting this.

    I’ve been with my girlfriend for a bit over two months. It’s amazing to me because I never thought I would have a relationship at all (I was very deeply in denial about my sexuality all through college, and I’ve been very focused on my career ever since).

  29. Anonymous for this one*

    I’ve got a strange situation and could really use an outside perspective.

    Some background first: I’m married to a man with two kids from a previous marriage. He and his ex-wife have been apart for nearly seven years and he and I have been married to him for three years. During their marriage, his ex-wife was a stay-at-home mom. He brings in a very good income (nearly $200k), so they could afford for her to stay home.

    They split mostly due to her mental health issues. She had severe postpartum depression and had always suffered from a lot of general anxiety. She is definitely someone who will likely be on some kind of meds for life.

    When they split, she got a very generous settlement and alimony: a paid-for condo, alimony, child support, and tuition to return to school in the subject of her choice. (She had a masters in a field that’s pretty glutted in our area, so she went back for a masters in social work.) The alimony was set up to continue for two years after she’d re-entered the work force, to ensure she was on her feet financially and was mentally stable and generally doing well before her backup means of support was cut off. It was also agreed upon that if she earned x amount (an amount higher than she was likely to earn in her field), the alimony would stop, as she’d no longer need it.

    So, we’re now 18 months from the time the alimony is set to end. Unexpectedly, both of ex-wife’s parents have died in the last three years, leaving her a decent but not life-changing inheritance.

    My husband wants to revisit the alimony topic and negotiate to end it now. He feels that even though her windfall came through her parents’ death, the outcome is the same: she’s solid financially, and she’s not in need of his money anymore.

    This just feels . . . icky to me. I’d like us to keep paying until the agreed-upon end date. We have a cordial relationship with her and a harmonious co-parenting situation. She’s in a good job and is mentally stable and more confident than I’ve ever seen her before. I know her parents’ deaths were difficult for her–heck, I loved her dad, too, and cried right in the row behind her at his funeral!–but she handled them far better than any of us expected. She is doing really well. I don’t want to rock that boat. I also think that getting out of paying alimony due to someone’s parents dying reads like a jerk move, no matter how legitimate the numbers are. And given our income disparity (we have a household income of well over $250k, she’s a social worker), it feels doubly jerky.

    I think the benefits of staying the course–continued harmony, the knowledge that we’ve done the right thing and beyond, the knowledge that she’s well-fixed financially and continuing to do well and in a position to succeed–are well worth the $40k or so we’re looking at in total.

    He’s leaning toward yes on this one. I’ve told him how I feel. I’ve also told him I’ll support whatever he decides, and I will. But I’m wondering if I’m off-base here or if he is, or if both positions are fair and legit.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I would say if paying the extra alimony is a financial hardship for you and your husband, seek to end it. But it sounds like it you can afford it so I’m with you on this. I think it would be a crappy thing to do to someone when both parents have died recently. And it sounds like things are peaceful; you’re very lucky.

    2. Maddy*

      I’d think over the relationships (this one and his last marriage) is this a pattern? How does he treat kids? Alimony effects them too? What about that? How does he treat you when you need help?

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        He is a bit tight with money overall. I knew this about him when we got married and it’s a reason I’d never give up my job and my own income.

        Child support is separate from alimony, and it’s definitely not in question. She will get child support for as long as the kids are minors, regardless of her income, and we are planning to pay for their college.

    3. Trixie*

      If he’s set on changing something, maybe a new agreement can included allocating her remaining alimony payments to savings/college/investment funds for kids? Or even donate?

      Considering she is going to be in your lives forever, I’d want to maintain the status quote/healthy relationship as well.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you are doing very well with all this. You are right, money is no substitute for parents. I am sure she does not see the inheritance as being a good thing. All she sees is a hole in her life. If she starts arguing over these payments that will put a second hole in her life. Her sudden income has no bearing on previous agreements- unless there is something in the divorce agreement that clearly addresses this. I think stay the course and encourage her that she has an opportunity to really do something different with her life in honor of her parents.

    5. Student*

      Alimony is intended to make sure the spouse who sacrificed earning potential to fulfill other family needs is not left in financial ruin and has time to get back on her feet.

      I would ask two questions:
      (1) Is she in a solid financial situation? That doesn’t just include the inheritance – is there a reasonably good expectation that, given her entire financial picture, she can support herself?

      (2) How long was she a stay-at-home wife? This is meant to make you think about how much she sacrificed. I can’t tell from your letter whether she gave up 20 years of income or 2. Your husband has been supporting her for the last 7 years – how many years does he owe her?

      I’d say that, if she is financially stable and she was married to your husband for 7 years and she’s financially stable, then I’d think hard about her long-term financial stability. If her long-term stability would be jeopardized, then hold off – if all reasonable expectations point to her financial success, then go back to court. If she’s financially unstable still, then think about whether she’s made any serious progress to improve that – if she’s been making progress and they had a long marriage, wait it out, but if she’s not making progress or she’s made progress and they had a short marriage, then maybe it’s time for her to fend for herself.

      I can understand being concerned about her parents’ demise and being a jerk – but this is an arrangement regarding her financial stability. You’ve said she’s not suffering obvious difficulty in coping with her parents’ death. As long as you’ve waited a reasonably decent time to bring it up (a few months), then it’s fair to reconsider her financial health given her new assets.

      1. Anonymous for this one*

        She is financially stable now, yes. She’s been working full-time for nearly a year now and, though she doesn’t earn a lot, she earns more than enough to meet her needs. The inheritance will give her even more financial security.

        By the numbers, my husband is correct: she no longer needs the alimony to be financially stable.

        It’s the emotional part of the equation I’m concerned about. Given that we’re well-off financially, and given that her financial stability is in part the result of very sad events, it just feels unnecessarily mean to choose to revisit this now.

        My husband’s father is a psychologist with many decades of experience working with families. My husband has agreed that we’ll present this question to him and abide by whatever he decides. I’m good with that. His father is a wise man with a good heart. He’ll know the right thing to do.

        1. Maddy*

          Unless it’s in the divorce decree that alimony ends IF she wins the lotto for example- I’d drop it. We’re talking 18 mos more. Alimony will improve kids lifestyle too. Cutting her off may be seen as mean spirited and may sour her toward him even more and that will leave an impression on kids. He needs to think of kids first- not a few months more of alimony.

    6. Vancouver Reader*

      I don’t think the alimony should change. Yes, she’s gotten some extra money now, but the circumstances surrounding how she got the money is key. When my mother passed away, dad gave her life insurance money to my sister and me, and I used my share to pay down a big chunk of our mortgage. If I could’ve had my mom around for more years and not had the money, that would’ve been much more preferable. I guess what I’m saying is that she’s probably going to be hurting from the death of her parents for a long while to come and to take away the alimony due to the inheritance is a shitty thing to do, IMO.

    7. Sara*

      I honestly can’t give advice on this, but you sound like a very kind hearted person…..I hope whatever happens, will be for the best

  30. Elizabeth West*

    I don’t really have too many updates. I found out someone I had a crush on is taken; ouch. There was only a theoretical possibility there, but it was keeping me going during this dry spell. Now I feel like crap, and I don’t want to do anything, and I’m just waiting for it to pass. :\

    Things on my sequel book are going slowly (trying to outline at the moment and do a little preliminary research). I’m querying the most current book.

    I think I have all my ducks in a row for my UK holiday; now there is only the waiting. I had meant to get some hiking boots anyway, so I bought some good waterproof ones for Wales (I’d like to get out of Cardiff into the country a bit if there are any day trips running that time of year still). They are pretty nice. I’ve worn them on my neighborhood walks twice now and they’re very light and comfortable. Should not add to much weight to my luggage. I’m only taking three pairs of shoes–those, my walking shoes (nice leather ones I got on my birthday), and a pair for a dress. I can always buy some there if I need anything more.

    Now I need to find a nice dress. Preferably a little black dress. I don’t really have one–I haven’t worn dresses in ages. It’s a major lack in my wardrobe.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Sorry about your crush, maybe you can find yourself a handsome Englishman while on vacation.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Regardless you’re going to have an amazing vacation and then we can read all about it on your blog right?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yep, because I’m going to be blogging the whole time!

            I’ll take lots of pictures, too. I’m trying to plan a jaunt to the White Cliffs of Dover. Always wanted to go there. :D

  31. NylaW*

    I finally have a desk at home that is big enough for dual monitors. I’ve had 2 at work for years and now I’m moving up to 3, so when I work from home I feel like I can’t function. Why is it that as soon as you have more desktop space you wonder how you ever lived?

    1. nep*

      Perhaps some kind of corollary to ‘work will always expand to fill the time allotted to it’…Absolutely essential work equipment will always expand to fill the space allotted to it.

    2. Jamie*

      Humans are constantly resetting our baseline for adequacy and happiness.

      That’s why it takes a lot of effort to readjust to downsizing whether it’s space or money or whatever…after you’ve reset the bar to a higher level that becomes your new normal and stuff that was perfectly okay before now feels like a sacrifice.

  32. Ashley Ro*

    I have a situation that is sort of work/networking related.

    I have a friend who is deeply religious, and very into her church. Although we have similar faiths, I come from a different denomination, so her church practices are foreign to me. She’s invited me to a lot of her church events (which are at least 3-5 times a week–a bit much for me), and while I’ve attended a few of them, they weren’t really for me, so I stopped going.

    Because the church is near my university, it has a lot of members that have attended my university/are currently in my field/similar fields. So, I even though I don’t go to the events /services, I still run into the members from time to time around the city at industry events.

    I like my friend–she’s a great person, and so are the others I’ve met at the service. I just prefer a different spiritual setting, and I don’t want to mix my business/networking with my spiritual path.

    Any thoughts on how I can continue to politely decline invitations to her church?

    1. Ashley Ro*

      Also any thoughts on what to say to the other members I see at industry events when they ask me why I’ve stopped attending their church? I don’t want to be rude and just flat out say it’s not for me.

      1. nep*

        Seems to me it’s not rude to say something along the lines of ‘it’s not for me’. Rather it’s just the truth, no?
        Regarding your question of how to ‘continue to politely decline her invitations to church’ — does she persist in asking you? If so, perhaps it’s because she’s not gotten clarity from you that it’s not your thing; she might just think each time it’s a schedule conflict or something. I reckon it’d be a service to yourself and to her to be clear about it. And you don’t mean to offend and it’s not your responsibility if someone takes offense. You’re respecting her faith and her choices; perhaps give her the chance to reciprocate.

        1. Ashley Ro*

          True. Well she does continue to invite me, but I suppose my declines make it seem as though it’s more to do with schedule conflict–not really a clash in faiths. I guess the best way to respond is, “hey, I’ve actually found a different church home that’s more in alignment with my spiritual background.” I still definitely want to hang out with her and network with the other folk in my industry, but I just don’t want to do it under the roof of a church. That just seems too personal for my taste and personality.

          1. nep*

            Makes sense. I hear you.
            The way you phrase that response sounds good. Honest, straightforward, respectful, and meriting respect in return.

      2. Artemesia*

        you need to stop making excuses that make it sound like you want to go, if only X. say ‘I have joined another congregation that was a better fit but thanks for being so welcoming’ or ‘thanks but X is not a good fit for my faith’

      3. Not So NewReader*

        “I was just visiting because I wanted to meet my friend’s friends.”

        “I went for a little while because I feel it’s important to learn about what other people are doing and thinking about.”

        “I enjoy visiting other churches, I think it’s important to do that. But I have my home church that I go to regularly.”

        Or something similar that is true for you- whatever you do- don’t lie/exaggerate.

      4. BritCred*

        I agree with the be honest thing. “I enjoyed attending the events but its not truly a place I am comfortable and I’m choosing other activities.”

        To other members “I enjoyed the events, my life and activities have just taken a different road which means I am unlikely to attend any more.”

        In fact scrap the first one and use the second for both….

    2. Student*

      You have different religious beliefs than her. Be authentic to your beliefs. I think it’s always a good idea to be respectful of other people’s beliefs, but that doesn’t mean you need to pretend to share them.

      What would you do if you you belonged to a less-closely-related religion? Do that.

      “I appreciate the invites, Mabel, but I’m a . I enjoyed meeting your church community, but after giving it a try I’m going to stick with . I’m not interested in attending more of your church’s events, but I appreciate the offer.”

    1. littlemoose*

      I have a couple of friends who live up there, and they like it. They’re in West Des Moines and Waukee.

    2. SaraV*

      I live in Iowa, about 1.5 hour drive southeast of Des Moines, and the husband and I would love to move up there in the near future. (Husband’s field of work is extremely limited, hence not moving up there…like…yesterday)

      Whether you would like it or not I believe depends on three things. 1)Where are you coming from? 2)Do you like/dislike the place you’re at now? 3) What’s your “scene” or what do you like to do?

      Obviously, not everyone is going to like Des Moines, but I personally can’t give you a specific thing that’s terrible about it that most people would agree on.

      1. Sabrina*

        I’m from the Chicago suburbs originally, but we’ve lived in Omaha for the last 6 years. I *hate* Omaha. I don’t need concert venues 24 hour goings on, I need people who know how to drive and are more socially liberal. I’m not sure how much of a difference a 2 hour drive makes.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I don’t know how big of a town you’re looking for, but Iowa City might also be up your alley with your specific requirements if you’re looking for something on/near I-80. It’s smaller, of course, but people generally know how to drive there and it is socially liberal, too. I lived south of there a bit for several years (perhaps near where SaraV is) and really wanted to move there myself at one point. I ended up somewhere else that is larger but still reminds me of IC in spirit.

        2. SaraV*

          Okay, now I’m intrigued because I am also originally from the Chicago suburbs, lived in Omaha for 9 years (and Columbus, NE…and Lincoln).

          I would say Des Moines is more socially liberal than Omaha, and Iowa City even moreso, especially with U of I being there.

          I really didn’t mind Omaha…I felt like it was Naperville with a downtown area. But if you have friends/family still in the Chicago area, it would certainly put you closer.

          And everywhere has bad drivers. Let’s talk about how stupidly fast people drive on 80/35 through Des Moines. I can hang with them, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.
          (Or, I could be just getting old and crotchety)

          1. Sabrina*

            Yes, like Naperville. I don’t like Naperville either! LOL My brother and FIL are in Omaha, but my dad, friends, and the rest of DH’s family are in Chicago, which makes holidays trying to say the least. Iowa City might be an option, I just don’t know what all is there.

  33. Mimmy*

    Aww love the cat picture as always! I think she’s saying, “Mommy, please get off the computer and feed me!” lol, j/k.

    Well I’d say I made a good first impression with the program I’m starting in the fall….NOT! But I have some mixed feelings.

    So, I’d asked in last week’s Open Thread, I’d asked how long it takes for programs to provide new students with information and instructions so they can get set with classes. Well, Miss Impatient Me went and contacted the Admissions office via chat on Thursday. The rep suggested I contact the Program Director. Which I did….bad idea! She said it’s still going to be a few more weeks and to please be patient. She said she’ll send out info soon, but her response was as if she thought I was expecting her to send me stuff now. No lady, that’s not what I was requesting…I just wanted an idea of when I’d get further instructions/registration info. I don’t even think I came across snippy or anything–all I said was to the effect of, “I was just curious when new students will receive further info…”

    Honestly, I think this is information the Admissions rep could’ve told me–maybe not specific dates, but that most programs contact students at some point during the summer. But when I accepted admission, it said I’d hear from Admissions “soon” regarding registration, etc.

    On the one hand, I am a little embarrassed that I bothered the director, but at the same time, it’s been over 10 years since I was last in school, so I don’t know what the normal timeframes are. Maybe I’m asking too much (probably–my husband says I live on “Earth 2”, lol), but I think a somewhat more specific timeframe upon accepting admission would’ve been helpful.


    1. BRR*

      I know for my masters you have to take two tests and they determine if you have to take certain classes and you don’t receive your results until the first day of classes. So you don’t know what your schedule will be until the first day of classes. Good to know, when do they tell you this, sometime during the week before the tests.

      Don’t feel bad about bothering the director. I’m finishing a second masters and for that one too there’s no information given. I had no idea what I should be taking.

      1. Mimmy*

        This is for an Advanced Certificate program – so not a full Masters, but it does entail Masters-level coursework. Thankfully I don’t have to take any tests!

    2. FD*

      Cats are always morally certain that they will die if you don’t stop what you’re doing and feed them/pet them/play with them RIGHT NOW.

  34. Felicia*

    Does anyone watch Orphan Black? I just watched the season finale and it was amazing! So I really want to discuss all the stuff we learned, and the brilliance that is Tatiana Maslany. Spoilers if anyone isn’t caught up, obviously.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Loved it. Was going along grooving, enjoyed the 4-clone scene (check out the OB FaceBook page for a video of how they filmed it), then went “WAIT WHAAAAT?” on multiple fronts.

      Tatiana Maslany deserves the Emmy this year. So. Freaking. Much.

      1. Felicia*

        The dance party was so awesome~! I loved how there were different dance styles with each clone. I’m like wow this woman has some serious chemistry with herself :)

        Am I the only one who suspected boy clones, but really wanted those boy clones to be Felix? I’m not sure that creepy guy (Marc, I think his name was?) can pull off playing a few totally different characters as well as Tatiana, but we’ll see.

        I’m so glad it looks like Cosima found the key to getting better, shes my favourite.