Sunday free-for-all – July 20, 2014

Olive in hidingIt’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.

{ 854 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*

    Thinking of moving. Been in the same place for five years. There is nothing wrong with the place and would be content to stay here for a few more years. Older place, decent rent.

    Literally one tenth of a mile up the road they are building a luxury high rise. Rent is $500/no more than I am paying now. I can kind of sort of afford it. (I have $82k in student loan debt to pay down.) The place is awesome. Do I move? Do I stay where I am now and put away the student loan debt?

    1. Michael.*

      Pay off your debt. Then, keep paying at the same level into a savings account with a good interest rate. And then, whenever you get a raise or bonus, don’t spend the money, but put it all into your savings account (and/or other safe investment).

      Once you have enough (take your current expenditure and times by 20 or 25, and don’t ever spend any more), you can retire. If you do it right, you can retire within ten or twenty years (depending on your current age).

      Look up financial freedom, financial independence, and retiring early. (One popular blog is Mr Money Moustache.)

      1. Dan*

        I like my job, get paid well, and have ample PTO. Quitting my job early and sitting on my ass is not high on my priority list.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Even if you’re not planning to retire early, I would still advise paying off your debt as soon as you can. No matter how much you make, how old you are, what your career aspirations are, or what your future plans are, there is no better feeling than being out of debt.

          I had tons of debt when I was younger, and now my husband and I are pretty much debt-free, other than the mortgage on our house. It gives us so much freedom. We’re saving up to remodel our kitchen, which we’ll be able to pay for in cash without running up the credit cards. We’re planning a 10th anniversary trip next year, which we’ll also be able to pay for in cash (and frequent flyer miles too).

          If you’re earning good money, pay down the debt first. Then you’ll be able to do whatever you want.

          1. danr*

            You’ll find that you will run up some credit card debt anyway. But you’ll pay it down quickly, because you operate that way. We remodeled our master bath and paid cash… except for the the little extras that we needed.

            1. fposte*

              I don’t think credit card debt is that inevitable, though. I’m not saying it’s the end of the world to pay over a couple of months on a low-interest card, but if you have an emergency fund and plan ahead for other stuff, the CCs don’t have to pick up the slack.

          2. TheSnarkyB*

            Nitpicky thing: I hope you intend to use credit cards & pay them off right away bc if you’re making so many large purchases, you’d be giving up a lot of points/miles/cash back if you just do cash up front!
            (Also if you don’t have one already, consider opening a credit card that has extra cash back categories- ie my card is 1% back on everything, but 5% at Loews for one quarter every year which sounds like something you could use for those renovations. And if the timing doesn’t work out, you can buy a bunch of gift cards during the 5% quarter and use them whenever).

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Very true — I have a United card that I use for everything, and then we pay it off each month, so we can accrue the points.

              When I say “pay cash” or “debt free” I mean that it’s wonderful to live your life not under the burden of crushing debt. I’ve been there, worked like hell to get out from under it, and I can safely say that I will never go back. Running up some debt on a credit card that you can pay off over a few months is not the same thing. Plus it is good for your credit score, at least in the US — it shows that you can use credit responsibly and not live beyond your means.

              1. kris*

                When I started my job after college, I had about 10,000 in debt (from expenses like bills, groceries, etc.) plus student loans. It was crushing for a while, but I prioritized the debts and eventually paid them off.

            2. Bea W*

              That’s what I do. I still use a credit card for just about everything so I can earn the points, but I pay if off every month.

        2. De (Germany)*

          Yeah, I am sort of fascinated by the financial freedom and early retirement thing, but it’s not everyone’s goal. Not mine, certainly.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            I don’t think financial freedom and early retirement are the same thing though. Financial freedom means that you can do the things you want to do, instead of having all your money sucked up by loan payments and credit card payments every month.

        3. Michael.*

          It’s not quitting your job and sitting on your arse. It’s having freedom to do what you want. Don’t retire, keep working. That’s fine. But think about it this way. If you’re fired (laid-off, your company goes bankrupt, whatever) tomorrow, would you rather take your own sweet time finding a new job, perhaps go on a vacation first, and not have to worry; or would you rather be panicking because you’ve go zero cash reserves and you have to find a new job ASAP (especially because you just moved into a new place that’s $500 more expensive)?

          I’d rather take the first option. (And retiring early doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means having the freedom to do what you want. Whether that is continuing to work, but only 3 days a week, or continuing to work at 5 days, or whatever.)

          1. De (Germany)*

            It also means not having the freedom to do what you want if it means spending more money for the 10 to 20 years before this. It’s really not for everyone.

            1. Dan*

              If I did everything by the book, it really would take me ten years to pay down all of my student loan debt and accrue a cash reserve of $18k.

              So I happen to agree, it’s not for everyone.

          2. De (Germany)*

            Also there’s a lot between “zero cash reserves” and “financial independence and early retirement”. Like having a decent savings account.

            1. Dan*

              In all honesty, while I have zero cash reserves at the moment, I have a 401k balance that’s the same amount as my student loan debt. I also get a healthy match at work, so my account will grow like crazy.

              The real issue is that because it’s a 401k account, it’s not liquid.

              1. HarryV*

                If you have zero cash reserve, where is all of your money going and how will you get the extra $500 a month in surplus? Doesn’t seem you have the financial flexibility to come up with the extra $500 or I may have missed it.

          3. fposte*

            I think you’re conflating two different things. Having a cushion that allows you not to worry is a good thing, and it’s possible for non-Mustachians too. But a lot of us like our jobs, so the notion of stricturing your life to get rid of them doesn’t make any sense.

            1. De Minimis*

              The thing about the Mustache guy is that he entered the workforce at the perfect time, in the perfect field, and had perfect timing as far as his investments. A lot of what he did probably would be difficult for a lot of people to replicate, although some might, if they start really young and are frual to begin with.

              However, he does have excellent advice and food for thought as far as frugal living/lifestyle changes. That’s the main use I have for his site.

            2. Kayza*

              I agree. But, in this particular case, it’s not about restructuring his life, but about NOT restructuring his life to put him on the financial edge.

              What I’m saying is that I think that sometimes it’s worth taking this approach to get you started to your goal, and then when you get there, looking at what you want your next steps to be.

              1. fposte*

                I’m all in favor of that–I’m keeping a budget to max out retirement contributions myself–I’m just disagreeing with Michael. on the endgame.

        4. Kayza*

          First, pay off your debts. Then accumulate a “rainy day fund” – the usual advice is three months of living expenses, but I would say go for 18 months, as it can take a LOOOONG time to find a new job, and there can be costs involved. This way, you won’t go broke, or find yourself in a sea of debt if something happens. And, if you ever find yourself in a job situation that is really tough (read about some of the “worst bosses” on just this blog, for some samples), you have many more options open to you.

          You may have a great job now, but stuff happens. You may want to move, your boss may quite and be replaced by someone not so great and about a million other things. So, try to put yourself into a position where at least your financial ducks are in a row if anything comes up.

        5. kris*

          It’s great that you like your job. It’s smart to have some security though. Having some extra in savings, little to no debt, and a retirement plan is a good way to go. Think of it almost like Murphy’s Law backwards – if you plan for the worst, it won’t be needed.

      2. kris*

        Keep your apartment. Pay your debt as soon as you reasonably can. Start funding a 401K or Roth IRA with some of the extra $500. Keep some of it in a savings account for emergencies.

        1. Dan*

          I have more money in my 401k than I owe in student loan debt, so I’m not worried about that.

          I wasn’t asking for basic money management advice, and *do* have the freedom to choose how I spend my money.

          1. Kayza*

            You have the freedom now – but you say that this would max you out. And, because you have no liquid savings, that’s dangerous.

            You may not have asked for advice on money management, but, you did ask a question whose answer is embedded in basic money management principles.

      3. Anna*

        How quickly exactly do you think he’s going to pay off that much in student loan debt? The way your advice is phrased, he’ll pay it off quickly. Maybe he will, but it’s so unlikely for so many of us.

    2. Gene*

      How stable is the ownership where you are now? How have they been on rent increases? Research the management company for the new place, many start out low rent to fill the place up and get some ROI and jack it up after the first lease runs out.

      I can see both ways, I have a friend who pretty much moves every year; she likes variety and new stuff. I’ve been in my house since 1989 and don’t see moving unless I have to.

      1. Dan*

        Not quite sure what you actually mean by the first question. Not worried about a bk, but also don’t know enough about commercial real estate to comment.

        Rent increases have been between 4-8.

        New place has been in commercial real estate for awhile, but the sales person says is new to residential real estate. (Ive never heard of them if that helps.) They’ll give me a two year lease but you are right, after that is a wild card.

        1. Gene*

          Part of the first question is how likely the place you are currently living is to be sold, part is how stable your rent has been (which you’ve addressed). There has been lots of good advice here.

    3. Alan Miller*

      What are the services that the possible new place offers? How likely are you to use them? Are they duplicated by similar services already available to you that you don’t use (e.g. new place has a clubhouse with pool and weight room, but so does the local park district that you’ve never gone to). Is the new place full of hot & cold running singles or something? And if so, can’t you just take up jogging and be running through instead?

      Also, what kind of financial reserves do you have? Can you put half of that rent difference into an awkward-to-access savings (ask your credit union about these) to build up savings? The sooner you get rid of that mortgage student loan debt, the sooner you have the ability to replace it with a mortgage should you choose to do so.

      1. Dan*

        Long list of amenities, reasonably likely to use them.

        Far enough out in the suburbs of a major metro area to get a year on what that social scene is likely to be. I currently live 0.1 miles from it; its new construction in what may potentially be an “up and coming” area.

        Financial reserves are zilch in cash but an OK 401k balance.

        Iffy on buying a place, the real estate market here is screwy. I’d rather rent an awesome apartment than by an older townhouse. Which isn’t going to be cheap anyway.

        1. saro*

          I was on board with the move until you said you have no financial reserves. Savings in case of emergencies are important. Some people are ok with keeping their student loans because they believe they can invest their money at a higher rate than the student loan interest rate. But most of those people have enough saved to pay off their debt. I strongly recommend saving up enough so you have 6-8 months living expenses should you get laid off.

          1. De Minimis*

            I think I’d be hesitant to sign a two year lease anywhere. Too much can happen.

            As someone who is now a reluctant homeowner, I have to warn against buying unless you are totally completely sure you love a location and plan to live there for several years.

            1. Dan*

              I’m a professional renter. Leases don’t scare me, decent ones are easy to get out of for major like changes, like a job loss and relocation. My current place is like that.

              Owning, OTOH, scares the sh!t out of me. Committing to a $400k debt is overwhelming, TBH.

              1. Noah*

                I totally get that. I sold my house because I realized I bought it because everyone says you should buy a house. I didn’t really love the area it was, but it was what I could afford. I hated yardwork and fixing crap that always breaks. I’m much happier in an apartment where I can call someone if something breaks and I can generally break the lease with only a one month penalty if I have to move somewhere else for work.

                1. De Minimis*

                  I wasn’t thinking about layoffs or job changes so much as getting stuck for a year or more with a bad landlord/property.

        2. Bea W*

          “Up and coming” when you already live in the area, really only matters if you are looking for an investment. It also means that if it comes up, your rent will to do the same, especially if it’s a building with a lot of amenities and owned by some big property investment and management type company. At .01 miles away you’re close enough to whatever social life is there that moving into a new building won’t make a difference on that front.

          I agree with saro – if you have no financial reserves hold on moving.

    4. Bea W*

      Where on earth do you live where rent in a luxury high rise is $500? Is that per month or per week?

      Moving is expensive in and of itself. You usually have to come up with first, last, and security deposit, plus the expense of moving – either hiring someone or renting a truck and bribing some big strapping friends to help. If you are happy where you are, and the new place would not give you some super special benefits or save you money, I would consider staying put. You know your landlord and your neighbors. You know more or less how things go. In a new place you could end up with crappy management or annoying neighbors or the rent increase when you renew the lease may be more than what your current landlord raises the rent. The grass is always greener and all that. It might *look* awesome, but it’s still an unknown quantity.

      If it were me (and I stayed in the same apartment for 15 years before buying a condo), I would stay put and save the money / pay off debt.

      1. Dan*

        Metro DC, one of the wealthiest counties in the nation. We ate talking by the week – hell, my “basic” older apartment is $1400/mo.

        You are right about everything else. I’ve got no real reason to move other than greener grass. And yeah, future rent increases scare the hell out of me. This is an unknown market, luxury high rises are new to the area.

        1. Bea W*

          Oh DC… I misread something then. There’s noway anything is even close to $500. Do you mean $500 *more* than what you are paying now? If it’s $500 more, that’s a significant hike for moving what is essentially down the street. Unless you have money burning a hole through your pockets, it’s probably best left as a nice fantasy.

          1. Variation*

            Psst- re-read his post, that’s what he wrote:

            Rent is $500/no more than I am paying now.

            1. Bea W*

              I read this line as “my rent is $500 which is no more than I am paying now” – I still read it like that. I think it’s the “no”. It probably should have said $500/more than I am paying now instead of $500/no more.

          2. Dan*

            It’s literally down the street, not “essentially” down the street. My original post was a typo – $500/mo more than I’m paying now.

      2. anon for just this one*

        I’m pretty sure he meant $500 a month more than he’s paying now, not $500 total

        1. Bea W*

          I could have sword he said it was basically the same as he was paying now -$500/month. If it’s $500 EXTRA – that’s a totally different scenario (and also crazy). If it’s DC metro, there is no way anything is $500, so that makes sense.

      3. Valar M.*

        I think this “usually having to come up with first/last/security” is only in certain areas or if you’re working with individual owners. I’ve lived all over the States and the most I’ve ever had to pay is a $400 security deposit – and that was rare. Most places only required $0-99.

        1. Bea W*

          In my area, whether it’s individual owners or a management company, the security deposit is often a full month’s rent. You would never find a $99 or $400 security deposit in these parts. You might get lucky and find someone who asks for half a month’s rent or a full month’s rent for security and no last month’s rent, but most people end up paying the equivalent of 3 month’s rent to move into a place (first, last, security), plus possibly a fee to an agent.

          1. Valar M.*

            Oh yeah, I completely believe you. I just think that tends to happen in places where rent is very competitive rather than a universal thing. I missed the DC thing though so probably applicable in this case.

            1. Bea W*

              I think it’s totally ridiculous to ask for more than $500 for a security deposit. Some of these deposits are well over $1000 or $2000!

              1. Dan*

                Security deposits aren’t full month’s rent around here. I’ve never paid more than a few hundred to move in.

    5. Stephanie*

      Personally, I’d stay and prioritize the debt, but I can understand the allure of shiny, new building.

      One thing-are the current rents guaranteed for the long term? In your area, I saw a lot of buildings that would offer some awesome rent for a year and then jack up the rent to market-rate or higher after the initial lease expired.

      1. Dan*

        Since you know where I live, archstone is notorious for that. My place has been reasonable.

        New place is new to residential real estate so who knows what the future brings.

        I can get a two year lease at this place though.

        1. Stephanie*

          I saw this a lot in the city. New, shiny building would go up in a trendy (or up-and-coming) area. Building would advertise a rent special that would be below or just at market rate to get tenants. Special would expire and then you’d be stuck with the crazy-high rent.

          My friends lived in an up-and-coming neighborhood across the street from a luxury building. It had above-market rates for the area. I’m guessing the developer got some deal from building the complex and could afford the vacancies until the neighborhood commanded those rents.

          1. Dan*

            I talked to the sales guy about it. He tried to blow me off, but if I were to sign papers, I’d make them put in some long term stuff. If they won’t, then I won’t sign. They need me more than I need them.

        2. Bea W*

          Ahh Archstone – I have never seen an Archstone property around my parts that was not above market. A friend of mine did live in one in NoVA for years, but I have no idea how it compared to other rents where she was. When a new building went up right down the street from where I worked, I checked it out, and the rent was way beyond what it normally cost to live in that area. They were nice, but not “my rent payment is equivalent to a mortgage on a small house” nice. To give you an idea – it was a lot more than my friend was paying for her place in NoVA, and it didn’t even have a pool.

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      Stay where you are and pay off the debt.

      To run some numbers, let’s say you have $82K of debt at a 5% interest rate, with a minimum payment of $500 a month. If you switch apartments and increase your rent, let’s say you only pay the minimums on your loans. It will then take you 23 years to pay off your debt and you’ll pay just over $55K in interest alone.

      However, if you take the same debt and throw the additional $500 at the loans instead of at rent (for a total of $1000 a month to the loans), it will take you just 8.5 years to pay off the debt and you’ll pay about $18K in interest, saving yourself $37K in interest.

      If you want to run your own (real) numbers, you can plug them in here: http://www.whatsthecost.com/snowball.aspx?country=us

      1. Dan*

        I’m a math guy for a living, so there’s that and I won’t argue with you about that other than the shiny.

        My only real argument is that you should be taking into account NPV when talking about money that far in the future but your larger point still stands. Oh and my SL debt is at rates lower than that.

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          You could also take into account the current returns if you were to invest that extra $500 per month, but that would get a little involved as well. :)

          I was really hoping your interest rate was lower than that, particularly with that principle, but loan rates are just all over the board so I pulled a mid-range number out of thin air.

          1. Dan*

            I pay a financial planner for that crap ;) I told the sales guy that I cant do anything without talking to my finance guy. Sales guy says that if I have one of those, then I can afford the rent. I told him true, but can and should are two very different try things.

            $500/mo ain’t chump change, I’m well aware of that

    7. Billy*

      My situation is opposite of yours. No FT job, no car, no place of my own. I only make enough to pay 1 or 2 major expenses( student loans and my credit card).

    8. Artemesia*

      Not original but true. The secret to a happy life, earn a dollar, spend 99 cents; the secret to a life of misery, earn a dollar, spend 101 cents.

      Knocking out debt and then putting away as much as possible i.e. living well below your means is the way to go. My husband and I did this and when each of us was unemployed at some point, it was no big deal because we didn’t have debt and could manage on the other’s salary for a time.

      We slowly accumulated enough money for retirement so that now it is here we an live in a great urban location where we can walk to everything, go to plays and out to dinner with friends several times a month and travel internationally without worrying about money.

      Not having debt is freedom.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      The sales guy is sending out a bunch of red flags in my mind. I would fully expect that once your lease expires then you will be facing $2K per month for rent. Conversely, when you renew all those amenities will vanish and you will find charges for anything extra that you might want.

      I live in a depressed area. $500/month would be an excellent rate around here. I think the sales guy is not doing you any favors. What he thinks of to say is similar to what the mortgage told us. Fortunately we used my numbers not the mortgage guy’s. My mortgage guy was just seeing dollar signs in his head, he wasn’t looking out for our long term best interest.

      I am a big fan of living below my means. When the car/furnace/roof break it’s not the end of the world, financially speaking. Don’t move in to this shiny new place because you are bored in your current place. You could move to a place that is more secure/stable for the long run. You could take on some new activities in your life. There are many things to do that would change your current setting and involve less risk.

      My husband was not a fan of leases. He felt that leases took away flexibility and options. You are locked in, he would say. Interestingly, he was not a fan of moving, he liked to stay in one place. He just didn’t want to be chained to the place.

      My two cents, FWIW.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        It’s not $500/month. It’s $500/month more than he pays now – which he says is $1400, so the new place would be $1900/month. (I think there was a typo in the original post that is confusing the issue.)

        To me, that’s a big difference; if I had that much extra money I would probably use it in some other way.

        1. Bea W*

          Same, especially if I had ridiculous debt and no reserves, I’d rather put it into reserves, investments, towards the debt or some combination of those things before throwing it at rent when I already have a suitable place in the same area.

        2. Artemesia*

          That is how I read it i.e. 500 MORE a month. With nearly 100 K in debt,I cannot imagine paying 6000 a year unnecessarily. The OP should accumulate an emergency fund of several thousand dollars so that unexpected costs don’t cause problems. Then tackle the debt as aggressively as possible. S/he would be better off looking for a cheaper apartment so even more could be put on that debt until it is wiped out and it is possible to save for the future.

          1. Dan*

            Cheaper apartments where I live don’t exist. If they do, I’m giving up material things for it, and I *still* won’t save money when you consider the general overhead in moving. Given the 60-day notice I have to give to move out, I’d be stuck paying rent at two places for two months, unless I can time it perfectly. Depending on the particulars, I figured it would take one to two years to actually start saving anything.

            And that assumes I can get something in the same neighborhood. The true savings are further out from the city center, in which case, I’m trading cheaper rent for increased commuting costs.

            Believe it or not, I make enough money where even with that student loan debt, I’m far from drowning.

      2. Dan*

        The sales guy is certainly doing a lot of talking. I’d be wanting to see a lot in writing.

      3. Bea W*

        I’m not a fan of leases either for the same reasons, and I hate moving. When I did move though I didn’t have to try to carefully time my home buying with the end of my lease term. Then there’s the matter of renewal, and if I were smart, I’d want to look at my options before renewing, and that’s just a PITA. As a person who doesn’t like moving, not having a lease with a fixed term means I don’t have to think about it. I just keep paying my rent.

        I think my former landlord only did TAW. He had a lot of long term renters. The turn over was really low.

        1. Artemesia*

          Without a lease you have no protection against being asked to leave at someone else’s convenience or having the rent raised at any time. We had a sublease when we moved to Big City recently; after 6 mos we went to month to month and then the landlord wanted his place back as he was returning to the city — it meant we had to accelerate our move and buy a place quicker than was ideal. A lease protects you from this sort of thing.

          1. Bea W*

            There is still a rental agreement. It’s not like either party is free to do whatever. Even in a lease situation the landlord can break it with X amount of notice, and with a TAW similar terms are written in, such as the amount of notice the landlord needs to give the tenant regarding a rent increase or to move out. Those are also conditions that may be written into state law as well. Whether you have a term lease or are month-to-month renters have certain protections under state law that prevent landlords from screwing them over, and the kinds of people that would ignore state law will do it no matter what kind of rental agreement you have with them. So for me, in my state anyhow, you have the protection of a lease without the liability of what happens when you have to or want to get out of it early. The purpose of a term lease is geared to protect the owner, not the renter. The renter only gets a guarentee that the rent will remain the same for a period of one year or whatever, and then at every renewal you are pretty much guaranteed an increase. Some multi-year leases have annual increases written into them, so be sure to read the fine print!

            If your landlord isn’t a greedy dick, he won’t arbitrarily raise the rent more often than having a term lease, and in my experience with my own places and that of others, the people with TAW have gotten much less frequent increases, because there’s not this annual re-agreement thing going on that reminds someone “Oh new lease time! I can toss in a rent increase since everything needs to be re-signed!” Locally, when working with small landlords, there are a number of them who just want to do TAW, less work for them and you if you plan to be long term. A good landlord wants to keep good tenants no matter what kind of rental agreement they have, and will act in good faith.

            I’ve seen too many cases of problem landlords using term leases to trap people into sucking it up for a year or two, because it is too much of a legal hassle to fight a lease like this than it is to suffer through the rest of the lease term. TAW caught in a crappy rental situation? You give the 30 or 60 days notice as stated in your rental agreement, and that’s that. You are free to go without penalty.

            I had my rent raised twice in 15 years. That’s probably an exception, but then a maybe lot of people don’t stay in the same apartment for 15 years either (except in my building – that was normal).

          2. Bea W*

            A sublease is an entirely different animal, and is not the same as a rental agreement with the actual owner/landlord. In a sublease agreement you are paying the current lease holder, and since sub-leasing often violates the terms of the original lease, you are totally at risk for being screwed over.

            If you read the fine print, a term lease does not necessarily protect you from a landlord deciding to break your lease and asking you to vacate before your lease term is up. Many people assume a lease is for their own protection, when in reality most of the language protects the owner while the lease holder does not have similar rights.

    10. TheSnarkyB*

      I don’t think it’s smart to automatically default to “pay off your debt first.” I know it’s the conventional wisdom, but the changing dynamics/high levels of the student debt situation really have to incite a shift in your knowledge. Dan, that’s a lot of debt and I have a lot more than you do, so you have to ask yourself some questions and do some math. Find out if you’ll spend more money over time trying to pay it down aggressively than you would if you paid the required amts for 15/20/30 years (depends on your repayment plan), and let it expire. If you Always pay on time, sometimes this option is better.
      Also, Loan Debt is not the same as credit card debt. It’s good debt, and can be thought of more like a mortgage (not completely but you get what I’m saying- theres a spectrum). Think seriously about treating it like regular bills and laying the minimum (if it makes sense to let it expire), while putting your extra money towards a wise and (if you’re young and have money to spare) maybe risky/high reward investment.
      There are times when paying something down fast doesn’t make sense, but I’m not an expert so I can’t 100% explain what I mean. A financial advisor (saw one for free at an event) once told me that paying down a mortgage fast, for tax reasons, can be really dumb bc of all the $$ in tax returns you’d be forfeiting while putting that money you’d use to pay it down, into a well-constructed fund, puts you in a win/win situation.
      Sorry if that doesn’t make sense…
      TLDR: Don’t assume you should pay down your debt fast. Do the math- it might work to your advantage to let it expire and use the extra money in a better way.

      1. fposte*

        I agree–if you’ve got loans on the low end of the interest rates, throwing everything into paying them off will lose you valuable time in savings for retirement with likely less overall gain. Do ’em alongside each other. (If I’m remembering correctly, Dan has been divorced, so his retirement funds may have taken a hit at that point, too.)

        However: It sounds like Dan doesn’t have an emergency fund. Dan, get an emergency fund.

        1. Dan*

          Kept the retirement accounts all to myself in the divorce, it was the cash reserves that took a hit. And a subsequent layoff wiped out anything left. 2013 certainly sucked, both events happened within 4 months.

          The building I’m looking at is preleasing, and isn’t expected to be ready until the first of the year. One of the reasons I’m half tempted by the idea of moving to this place is that I’d have 6 months to shore up the financial reserves first.

          1. Kayza*

            I’m a bit puzzled. You’ve seen for yourself how badly things can go wrong, even when it’s not your fault. Why would you seriously consider taking that risk again? Yes, six months will give you some time to shore up reserves, but unless you are really going to scrimp, it won’t be THAT much.

            1. Dan*

              To keep it simple:

              New job = lots more money, divorce from a non-working spouse = lot fewer expenses.

              The answer to my original question is clearly becoming “wait a year or two and see how you still feel.”

      2. BRR*

        For the tax deduction you have to figure interest vs. tax write off and that includes what you would do with the money after the debt is paid off. Sometimes going for the tax break is penny wise and pound foolish.

      3. Noah*

        I agree 100% with this. All of my student loans have a very low interest rate and if I pay the required payments over the life of the repayment plan some of the debt will be forgiven at the end. Student loans also have lots of options if you ever get in financial trouble that can buy you some time. Personally I would put money towards savings and building the ability to weather a job loss before paying extra on student loans. I guess I should also mention that all of my experience is with federal student loans, if you have private loans things might be very different.

        1. De Minimis*

          Iwould put building short-term savings way ahead of paying down student loan debt, especially if the interest rate is low.

          1. TheSnarkyB*

            I think this is true even if your rate is high, bc unless you do, you could go 20-30 years without a cushion, depending on your principle and income. You have to live your life and safe for What Ifs almost as if you don’t have debt, bc it just lasts so damn long.

            1. fposte*

              You can also hedge your bets and max out your Roth IRA as part of your emergency fund, since you can take your contributions back out without penalty. (Dan may make too much for a Roth, but it’s worth noting in general.)

              I didn’t realize you were also a money geek, Snarky–we should get together over spreadsheets sometime :-).

              1. Dan*

                I don’t make too much for a Roth (yet) but I’m in the 25% tax bracket, which I think is way too high to pay up front for a retirement account.

                All of my stuff is in a 401k, which is worth almost as much as my student loan debt.

                My debt is also at really low rates (most of it under 5%).

              2. TheSnarkyB*

                Fposte we totally should!! I’m a baby money geek – I’m interested but I don’t know much yet, so I’m trying to get all informed and stuff :)

      4. The Cosmic Avenger*

        TheSnarkyB, the financial advisor you saw was a charlatan.

        This is how the mortgage deduction works. Let’s say you pay $12,000 in mortgage payments a year, and $6,000 goes to principle and $6,000 to interest. You’re in the 25% tax bracket for this exercise. You pay the mortgage company $12,000, and you get $6,000 in equity in your house.

        But wait! The mortgage deduction! Right, that means you get to deduct $1,500 from your taxes! Whoopee!

        But you still paid the mortgage company $6,000 in interest, so you’ve basically lost $4,500. If you paid off your mortgage early, you would have paid the $6,000 in principle for that year and get to keep ALL of that $6,000 in interest.

        So would you rather have $1,500 back, or $6,000?

        Now, I do have a mortgage, it’s difficult (but not impossible) to avoid, but we’ll have paid off our house by the time we’re 50, and we’ll start putting what we did pay in mortgage right into retirement savings.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Eye roll. This financial advisor was not a charlatan. The specifics will be different for everyone depending on their rates, cost of mortgage, etc, and your oversimplified example doesn’t really work to illustrate the complexities of taxes and a mortgage, etc. There are many benefits to having a mortgage, and there are many investment and savings structures/products that would outweigh the mortgage interest. I already gave the caveat that I can’t explain it better than I did, because I’m not a financial advisor and I didn’t ask him for the nitty gritty details about the trade-off. But it’s safe to say that everyone should question their assumptions about financial priorities bc many times people don’t fully understand the up AND downside of a financial situation. Usually due to oversimplifying their thinking.

          1. Dan*

            If you wouldn’t itemize without your mortgage, then you also have to consider that your mortgage allows you to write off other things as well, such as state income taxes.

            Then you also have to consider that with mortgage rates being where they are (under 4.5%) you may very well do better investing that extra principal in the market as opposed to paying down a cheap mortgage early. If I had a mortgage at 0%, there’s no way I’d pay it down early, even though the “no debt” crowd would preach that you should still do that.

            I think most people think that just because you have debt (and a lot of it) that means we can’t pay it back. Yeah my cash reserves to a hit in the divorce, but new job with lots more money, and not supporting a non-working spouse has freed up a lot of cash.

            I can certainly find the cash to pay for this new place if I wanted to. If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t even ask. My only real question in this thread was trying to figure out if I want to find the cash bad enough, or if it’s better to be repurposed for something else.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I simplified it in order to make clear that if you pay X amount in interest per year, and you’re in the Y% tax bracket, the mortgage deduction only gets you back X * 0.[Y]. You still pay X * (1-0.[y]) in interest that’s just gone.

            As Dan said, if you could somehow get a 1% mortgage, and you invested your surplus money in 2% CDs or bonds for 30 years, you’d make more money from investing than you would from prepaying your mortgage. However, there are no investments that have a truly guaranteed return other than CDs and paying off debt (which nets you the interest you save), and I’ve never in my life seen a CD rate higher than the lowest mortgage rate I’ve ever seen.

    11. StateRegulator*

      If you are wanting to move, another option is to look for a rental that is less expensive than your current place. You will still get a change in scenery without the added expense. That’s easier said than done where you’re living, but if possible could take care of the itch to live in a different unit.

      I am not sure what types of student loans you have, but if they are government loans, there are earlier payoffs if you work in certain types of jobs. I carry a chunk of student loan debt from graduate school, but I pay as little as possible (based on adjusted gross income annually) and sock away extra money in an investment account that is easily liquidated in about three days if an emergency arises.

      All the best!

      1. Dan*

        That won’t happen where I live. I do keep an eye on the market, and for me to pay significantly less than I’m paying now, I’d be giving up a lot and likely trading lower rent for increased commuting expenses.

        I just started working for a nonprofit, but can’t figure out how to make student loan forgiveness work for me. A large part of my debt is a private loan, which gets excluded from any forgiveness benefit. The other thing is I actually do make a lot of money, so IBR and what not wont apply.

    12. Sarah*

      I would only put that kind of money into moving if it would make a serious difference in quality of life, more than $500 spent in any other fashion. Are there issues with your current building that seriously affect your health or happiness that might be mitigated in new construction, like dealing with neighbors’ cigarette smoke or loud music? Do you live in an area with horrible winters and not manage to get to the gym during the winter, but this building has one inside? Absent some major issue that the new building would solve, I don’t think it’s worth it. A great location and safe, nonsmoking, quiet building are worth paying to get into, but aesthetics, luxury amenities you don’t need, etc are not.

      1. kris*

        Yeah. I wouldn’t move unless there are serious problems with your current place. It’s so much easier in life to live within your means and be able to deal with emergencies than to live in a nice place and have to go into more debt if there is a problem with the car, etc.

    13. Vanilla*

      I was in a similar situation to you about a year ago. I became debt free about two years ago and it has greatly enriched my life. As others have mentioned, the freedom you have by being debt free is incredible. It frees you up to spend money on the things you want to. You don’t stress near as much if you have a set-back.

      Personally, I got rid of my credit card about a year ago because I noticed that I tended to spend money on frivolous things, like buying a lipstick at the mall that I didn’t need or another dress that would be worn once and then donated to Goodwill. This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I know it’s not for everyone but it has worked put very well for me. I’ve been saving for first house and not having a credit card has helped me to save more.

      One final word about being debt free: I had been having problems for months with my car. The problems had gotten so bad that the car was no longer reliable and the repairs were getting super expensive. I bought a new car this week in cash, something I never thought I would be able to do. Granted, it’s not a fancy car but it’s all mine. Even with the new car, I still have enough cash for a “rainy day.” If I hadn’t gotten rid of my credit card and became debt free, I would be in big trouble right now.

    14. Christy*

      Do you want to spend $6,000 a year to live in a luxury high rise? For me, it wouldn’t be worth it. I’m in the DC metro area as well (just moved from Takoma Park to Chevy Chase) and I can’t IMAGINE willingly letting my rent go up that much. I mean, for $500/month, you can buy all of the amenities the high-rise offers separately, easily.

      Then again, I don’t mind older buildings, and I couldn’t stand to live with the yuppies (do people still use that word?) who live in luxury high-rises. So ymmv. But think about it like this–is $6000 a year worth it?

    15. Celeste*

      Over the next two years, you would be committing to paying $12K out of pocket extra to live there instead of where you are now. Ask yourself if you will get get $12K worth of happiness out of it. Is there anything else you can do with $12K that will make you happier? You could certainly set that money aside into its own fund if you stay where you are.

      I think there are lots of tangents here on retirement and whatnot, but you’re talking about a lump sum of money. While you can spend it if you want to, you don’t have to. Only you know your goals and priorities.

      I’ll be interested to know what you decided.

    16. Vicki*

      “There is nothing wrong with the place and would be content to stay here for a few more years. Older place, decent rent.”

      WHY are you thinking of moving???

    17. Anna*

      It really depends on why you want to move. Is it just because it’s the same place? Is there anything else you can do to spruce it up a little and make it feel a bit fresher? Even though I think some of the advice you’re getting is not really appropriate for the question (you aren’t looking for a long term financial plan here), I’m not sure I’d recommend moving for the sake of moving. There has to be a more compelling reason for me to move house (because I have done it so much and don’t want to do it again for a long, long, long, long time) so when I get bored, I paint. :)

  2. Luxe in Canada*

    I wait all week for Sunday open post to see a pic of Olive. This was everything I had hoped it would be. <3 So cute!

      1. Bea W*

        Yes yes yes! If you ever have the chance to go, do not miss it! (But wait until it settles down a bit over there and avoid the height of summer unless you like it super hot!) I think the 8 days I was there was too short to see and do even all of the things on the itinerary, never mind all of the other things. Two weeks would have been perfect.

        1. Mariette*

          What lovely photos! So glad you enjoyed Israel – we really appreciate tourists, especially now with the troubles.

          1. Bea W*

            Are you in Israel? People were concerned that I was taking this trip even before things got a more hairy. What people don’t realize is it is actually very safe for tourists. Israel is no dummy when it comes to security. The only time I was a bit concerned was waiting to take off from Tel Aviv, because of rockets (and I don’t know how these work if they could even take out a plane coming in or taking off), but surely no one would be flying passengers planes if it was not safe. I went as part of a tour group, and our guides were always on top of things and were flexible in adjusting the itinerary where needed. There was one only thing we could not see (Bethlehem). Some others site we delayed but after a day or two were deemed safe to visit. We did not have any problems. The worst things that happened was back home with the bird strike.

            1. Janis*

              Bea — I used to live in Israel, on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee (aka Yam Kinneret) for about a year, and then I went to Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a summer. I was so happy to see those photos and I’d forgotten how lush and lovely Tel Dan is — I remember sticking my feet in the icy water of the Jordan. My favorite view was always the bus ride from Haifa to Tiberias, as the bus was slowly getting lower and lower in elevation from the plains to the sea, and you could see peeps of the blue water as the Galilee got bigger and bigger. People think it looks like Arabia with sand dunes, but it actually has 4 distinct geographies in an area about the size of Maine.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Mine can’t be bothered with theirs :(. Taking the dog’s bed is much more appealing.

      2. nyxalinth*

        I’m looking at it for Carly. Her thing is she likes what I call the ‘kitty tent’ where I have blanket and pillows arranged on my bed and she can hide in there whenever she wants. She’s very skittish and fearful of anyone but me (almost) and it helps her feel more secure if someone comes to the door. So she might like one of these too.

      3. Clever Name*

        I don’t know why, but I love stuff made out of felted wool. One of my cats is a “cat of size” (she’s a fat Maine Coon), so I’m glad they have them in different sizes.

      4. Anon*

        I really hope you didn’t pay $60 for those! They look cheap and could be made for $20 at most yourself!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I might theoretically be able to make it myself, but in reality I’d buy the materials in a fit of optimism, never get around to it, and then end up buying one a year later, anyway. I’d be out $20, some pride, and a year of having a cat cave.

          I think I’ll just buy one!

  3. Gene*

    Any other Ingress players on here? Agent name and faction?

    BinkyTheHorse, Enlightened

    If you’re on iOS, it’s now available to you.

    1. De (Germany)*

      I have been playing since January 2013. Don’t want to associate the nick names, but I am Enlightened, L13. I love it, obviously.

    2. GrumpyBoss*

      I’m looking for a new iOS game where I don’t have to continually make in-app purchases to stay competitive.

      Is this one worth checking out?

      1. De (Germany)*

        I’m not sure what you know about Ingress yet, so this might be something you already know : while Ingress is totally free, it is an Augmented Reality game. Meaning you play the game outside, in real time against and with other people who are also playing. Most players spend money on additional battery packs, bicycles or other forms of transportation.

        I really love it, though

  4. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Okay, I need a TV series recommendation to keep me entertained during a daily treadmill walk. It needs to be something super engrossing (my rule is that I’m only allowed to watch it while I walk, so it has to be enticing enough to make me want to get on the treadmill) and something that will keep me totally absorbed (because otherwise I’ll get bored and stop walking). I watched all of Orange is the New Black and House of Cards this way, but I just finished the latter and need to start something new.

    Other things I’ve found totally engrossing: Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, BSG, Sopranos, Firefly (to a lesser extent). What fits next on this list?

    1. Ali*

      I just finished Orange is the New Black season 2 and need a Netflix suggestion myself! Think after all that OINTB I may need something a little more light-hearted or funny though…

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I started that and liked it but didn’t love it. It didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat wanting to see what happened next. Maybe it would if I gave it more than a couple episodes?

    2. Stephanie*

      If you like crime dramas, The Wire or Boardwalk Empire. The former gets pretty bleak, however. If you don’t mind soapiness, Scandal (it will keep you entertained). Homeland is pretty good the first two seasons (third season started off kind of rough, but redeemed itself in the end).

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I was also going to recommend Homeland. I agree, the first 2 seasons were great, but then I kind of lost interest after 3 or 4 episodes of season 3. However I’ve read some things about what they’ve got in store for season 4, and I think they’ll be back on the right track. So I might have to do a binge-watch of season 3 here pretty soon.

        1. Stephanie*

          If you can power through the Dana Brody and institution junk, it gets really good the last few episodes. Just keep telling yourself “It gets better” anytime the Brody clan shows up.

        2. Mimmy*

          Yeah I was disappointed with season 3 too. Glad to hear it picks back up for season 4.

      2. Janis*

        The Wire. Absolutely. Season 4 is probably the best season of any show that’s ever been on TV. It haunts me to this day.

        “Omar comin’, yo!”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Is it engrossing, like must keep watching episode after episode and can’t stop to go to sleep? I had the sense it might be good but not crazy-engrossing for some reason.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          I absolutely LOVED Six Feet Under. It is my favorite show of all time. I re-watch the whole series every couple years. And the series finale….best ever. The last 10 minutes is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on TV.

          The executive producer is Alan Ball, who wrote the movie American Beauty, and for awhile was the show runner on True Blood (also HBO). If you like either or both of those, then Six Feet Under would probably be right up your alley.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I know — it really sticks with you! I think that was Alan Ball’s masterpiece. I’m a huge fan of True Blood, but IMO Six Feet Under was a better show. He also did a show for Cinemax called Banshee, which I tried to watch and (surprisingly) did not really enjoy it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Also awesome — highly recommend it. It doesn’t have any of the characters from the movie, but it’s got the same quirky sort of vibe. And I’ve never been a huge Billy Bob Thornton fan, but he is amazing in this show — I think it was the role he was born to play.

        1. IT Squirrel*

          I was just about to suggest Fargo! I loved it, particularly when I was away and came home to a couple of episodes recorded so I could have a Fargo-session and not have to wait for the next one.

      2. Rachel - HR*

        I agree. I hated True Detective and was weary of Fargo at first but ended up loving Fargo.

      3. jennie*

        I love Fargo now that I’m almost all the way through, but I did find it a little slow at first. Definitely not edge-of-your-seat engrossing in the first few episodes.

    3. MolinNJ*

      True Detective Season 1 was outstanding. Probably my favorite series ever. You won’t believe it’s Matthew McConnaughy. Nic Pizzolatto is such a talented writer. I heard Season 2 will be based in LA and Brad Pitt may star in it… But it will be really difficult to top Season IMHO.

        1. Lore*

          There is a second season of The Fall coming but I don’t know exactly when. (Also, probably another 5-episode season so doesn’t get you too far on the treadmill!)

          I am totally on the Orphan Black bandwagon. Had to talk myself sternly down from watching them all in three days (which I never do). Hannibal is also weirdly compelling, although the beauty/violence nexus does get overwhelming if you watch too many in a row.

        2. Dana*

          Damages is on Netflix and is super engrossing – I was even dreaming about it and couldn’t stop watching, even though it’s really creepy!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In fact, we loved True Detective so much that at one point my husband proposed that we “get black-out drunk so we could watch it all over again without remembering it from the first time.”

        1. MolinNJ*

          Ha ha you husband’s idea has some merit to it. No one else I knew (family, friends, or coworkers) was watching it, but I loved that some people were so into it that they had finale parties. One girl tweeted some pics of Carcosa-themed cupcakes:
          http://www.businessinsider.com/true-detective-reactions-on-twitter-2014-3

          I did read an article on Variety that Season 2 is going to be even better … So something to look forward to!
          http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/true-detective-season-2-scripts-more-exciting-than-season-1-1201260866/

          Not sure if you have watched Breaking Bad? I have been meaning to watch that series.

      1. Camellia*

        Hi, fellow Leverage fan! I still hold out hope that they will bring it back the way it finished – just Parker, Elliott, and Hardison.

    4. Julie*

      I don’t think these are the same types of shows as the ones you’re watching, but I really like Motive, Murder in the First, and Night Shift. Also, there’s The Listener on the Ion channel.

      1. Julie*

        Also, I watched every episode (on Netflix) of Life and of Murder One (first season). You might like those

    5. Laura*

      You’ve basically just listed all my favourite TV shows. I worked through BSG and Caprica while on the treadmill too. Possible next options include:

      – Downton Abbey
      – Doll House
      – The Walking Dead. I enjoy the show but in my opinion there are a few parts of seasons that become boring, so wouldn’t compel you to walk.
      – Buffy. It’s just something I enjoy and it’s usually upbeat. I rewatched this while on the treadmill.
      – Oz. This probably isn’t to a lot of people’s taste but I enjoyed it.

      1. Stephanie*

        I liked Oz, but I admittedly have odd tastes. Also, was the entire Law and Order cast in Oz at some point?

        The last season was kind of bad. In my mind, I got the sense the writers were like “Eff it. We’re getting cancelled anyway, so let’s just kill everyone off in ridiculous ways.”

        1. Audiophile*

          There’s a lot of crossover with the OZ and SVU casts, another reason that I loved it.

          I pretty much agree with everyone else’s recommendations. I’ve never watched The Wire or Boardwalk Empire, but those are on my must-watch list. I tried to get into BSG, but haven’t yet.

          I recommend Treme, but it’s probably not engrossing enough. It’s from David Simon and set in post-Katrina New Orleans. He also created The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street.

          1. Stephanie*

            Treme, I liked, but it was slooooow.

            I saw an interview with Christopher Meloni once where he joked about fans’ very different reactions to SVU vs Oz.

            1. Audiophile*

              Completely agree that it was slow, but I really enjoyed it.

              And yes, OZ and SVU were very different. I used to love seeing OZ actors pop-up on SVU. I still think my fave is Lee Tergesen’s appearance on SVU.

              1. Stephanie*

                Yes. That casting had to be intentional. I was hoping Stabler and the perp would kiss (SVU’s already batty enough anyway).

                1. Audiophile*

                  Oh definitely.

                  There were a few other OZ actor appearances that I really loved, but I’m drawing a blank now.

                  I stopped watching a few years ago, although sometimes an ad will catch my eye.

      2. Annie*

        ooo Dollhouse… I need to go back and watch that again.
        I loved Heroes- you kinda need to ignore the last season where they jumped so far over the shark it was ridiculous but they are supposedly getting a 6 episode mini-series this coming season so who knows where that is going.

        If you liked House of Cards – try West Wing- if you’re looking for something well written and quick (there’s only one season) and also funny try Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

    6. Seal*

      There’s always the various Star Trek series – DS9 in particular, but the others are good as well.

      1. A Bug!*

        That reminds me, Babylon 5 might be a good one to fit the bill if you haven’t seen it already. The first season is rather slow but it picks up steam in seasons 2, 3, and 4. You kind of do need to watch the first season, though. (Maybe not all the episodes but I wouldn’t be able to tell you which ones are safe to skip without missing important plot developments.)

        On the surface, Babylon 5 shares a lot in common with Deep Space 9 – it takes place on a space station and deals with a lot of political intrigue in a sci-fi/fantasy setting. But if you’re not a fan of Star Trek I wouldn’t let it deter you from giving Babylon 5 a try, especially since you liked BSG.

      2. Rye-Ann*

        I like Star Trek, but DS9 is the only one I’ve managed to watch the entirety of. If you haven’t already seen it I recommend at least giving it a shot. :)

    7. Ms. Anonymity*

      I really liked Hemlock Grove and Arrow. The guy that plays Oliver Queen in Arrow is also yummy to look at. :)

    8. A Bug!*

      Give Life on Mars a try. I’ve seen the original UK version but have also heard good things about the US version, although I’ve also heard that they’re both different enough to merit watching both.

      I found it to be engrossing enough that I watched the whole thing in a matter of days.

      1. MaLea*

        I second the UK Life On Mars. Also its sequel, Ashes To Ashes (but with a different protagonist).

    9. JessA*

      Right now, some of my favorite shows are:

      Nurse Jackie (I loved the first 4 seasons. Season 4 with Bobby Cannavale was AMAZING! The last couple of seasons, in my opinion I haven’t liked as much, but overall, I still like the show.)
      Perception
      General Hospital (it’s my guilty pleasure.)
      Dallas
      The Big Bang Theory

    10. The IT Manager*

      Broadchurch – dark British police mystery. one horrifying crime investigated over the course of about 8 episodes in a very small town. one detective the outsider / the other long time local and neighbor close to the victim’s family

      I admire your willpower to only watch while exercising

        1. The IT Manager*

          There’s about to be a US version of Broadchurch on Fox with David Tenant. It still won’t be the same.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        With bonus David Tennant.

        Bletchley Circle is similar in that it’s one investigation over several episodes. It’s four women who were Nazi codebreakers for Britain during WWII, who turn their skill to solving a mystery after the war. It’s very addicting (I haven’t finished it yet).

      1. IT Squirrel*

        I don’t know if you can get it in the States, but I really enjoyed Whitechapel over here. Instead of one crime over the whole series, it’s a different one every two episodes. Plus it has added supernatural edge (without actual supernatural stuff…it’s all explained in the end, if you get my drift?).

    11. Variation*

      The Good Wife- more than 100 episodes, and the first four seasons are on Canadian Netflix, if you’re able to spoof your IP. It’s seriously one of the best dramas on television, per the AV Club.

      1. BRR*

        I just watched good wife in the past year and I can’t believe I didn’t start it earlier. It’s one of my favorite shows now and I even named my wifi after it (the good wifi). I believe it’s still on amazon instant video.

      2. Windchime*

        I’ve watched a couple of episodes of The Good Wife and I don’t get the love for this show. Isn’t it just another lawyer show? Do I need to stick it out a little longer to get into it?

        1. Variation*

          The AV Club has an article called “Previously, on The Good Wife… 10 episodes to catch you up for season 6”, which I’ll link to in a comment below, but if you google it, you’ll find it. Watch anything on that list, because it’ll cover plot points and important character development.

          But, honestly- the show consistently defies genre and convention, and is better off for it. Sonia Saraiya’s article really covers everything I could say about the show.

        2. gold digger*

          The whole purpose of the show is to marvel at a Chicago where one can go outside in the winter in a pretty, elegant coat and high heels.

    12. Advice*

      I’ll second Leverage – damn good show.

      I’ll add two more: White Collar – Art Conman turned FBI assistant
      Ringer – Sarah Michelle Geller in a twins/double lives thrilller.

      Although be prepared to be trying to draw spider diagrams for Ringer – it gets complicated.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        These are good shows.

        Leverage is more episodic, which I love, I love episodic television but I don’t think it’s the page turner ep to ep the way some other shows are.

        White Collar, love that show, wraps up seasons. It’s got a season long arc (but then it does hook you into the next season at the last ep so maybe meets what Alison is looking for that way).

        Ringer! I freaking love double lives twins stories. I haven’t watched it because I heard it was cancelled early and I hate hate hate hanging plots. Does it wrap up enough to not feel cheated?

    13. Josie*

      I’d reccomend Orphan Black. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch it, but saw the first episode and glommed both seasons in three days (I might have missed by bus to work because I just had to finish an episode….)

      If you like Downton Abby, A Place to Call Home (Australian series) is excellent. :)

      1. Kirsten*

        Orphan Black- yes!! Very addicting! Was going to recommend also. Not a ton of people have heard of it, but it’s amazing. I am netflixing it right now.

      2. Felicia*

        I love Orphan Black too!! It’s my current favourite show. Tatiana Maslany is a genius . It has clones, and mystery and conspiracy and all that fun stuff!

        It’s more well known here because it’s a Canadian show , and I’m strangely proud of it in a weird patriotic way:)

      3. brightstar*

        I adore Orphan Black! I couldn’t wait for the next episode to find out what would happen.

        1. Anx*

          Agreed.

          I am not loving some aspects of the pacing (I think they need to slow things down and really establish the stakes and consider their endgame) but it certainly makes the show all the more engrossing.

          I’m also about the age of the characters, and I really love having a Gen Y show that’s not full of millenial tropes. Of course shows about women in their late 20s is nothing new, but the whole tone of the show is dominated by those women in a way that’s a little more relatable that most shows. But it’s definitely something all ages can watch, too.

          1. Felicia*

            I love that they’re all such different women in their late 20s, with their own strengths and weaknesses, that all have totally different aspects that make you root for them. Plus it’s awesome that all those different strong women are played by the same actress. Sometimes its so well done that I forget that.

      4. Libby*

        After DA amd OITNB, Netflix suggested Call the Midwife. I really liked it! Not a zippy plot or anything, but coming of age in an era of major social change.

    14. NW Cat Lady*

      If you liked Firefly, try Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dollhouse.

      Also, try Lilihammer. It’s the first Netflix original series, about a mob guy who turned states’ evidence and went into witness protection, but only if he could move to Norway. With Steven Van Zandt (from the Sopranos).

    15. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Echoing The Good Wife, mentioned upwards.

      It’s on Amazon Prime.

      If you have not seen The Good Wife, you will be so happy you asked. Promise. Cross my fingers and hope to die. (well, not really, but hyperbole to that part.)

    16. theotherjennifer*

      I’ve been watching Orphan Black – BBC America. Sounds like it’s in your wheelhouse.

      1. quietone*

        Seconding Orphan Black, we’re rewatching season 1 as season 2 has just completed. Also Carnivàle was an HBO show that ran for a couple seasons. Both of these have us wanting to watch the next episode.. now!

    17. obec*

      I was going to recommend True Detective, but I am happy to see you have already seen it and enjoyed it.
      2nd recommendation would be Top of the Lake. I have heard it described as a “slow burn”, which I suppose is true but it was amazing and I still found it extremely engaging and addictive.
      Runner-up recommendation would be The Wire.

          1. Felicia*

            I love Veronica Mars! And now after you finish the 3 seasons you can watch the movie , which was awesome.

      1. Valar M.*

        +1 for Hell on Wheels, though I am not sure it’s engrossing enough at some points, it’s still fantastic.

    18. Boo*

      Broadchurch, if you can get it in the US. It’s fab. Only about 10 eps but it has David Tennant being a broody detective trying to find who in a small seaside community is responsible for the death of a young boy. I mainlined it over one weekend a fortnight a go.

      1. brightstar*

        The ending of Broadchurch broke my heart and was a little frustrating, too. Did you hear Tennant is going to be in the American version they’re doing?

    19. littlemoose*

      Mad Men is one of my favorites. I have definitely found it engrossing, and have stayed up too late a couple of time because I just had to watch one more episode.

      1. StudentA*

        Love Mad Men. I enjoy the workplace drama (duh). And the period-ness of it (adore the 60s).

    20. brightstar*

      One show that I recommend to nearly everyone (if you don’t mind bad language), is Misfits. It’s a British comdedy/drama about 5 young offenders doing community service who are struck by lightning in a freak storm and develop super powers. But, instead of trying to save the world with their powers, they hide them and continue drinking, doing drugs, and trying to get laid. Their crime rate also goes up exponentially.

      1. MaLea*

        I watched I think 3 episodes of Misfits before I started going “…meh”. So it gets better?

        1. brightstar*

          The fourth episode is fairly solid and season 2 was my favorite. But I was hooked from the beginning, so it may just not be for you.

    21. StateRegulator*

      I won’t repeat other great shows already mentioned, with the exception of Orphan Black.

      End Of The World Theme
      Jericho
      Under the Dome

      Cop/Procedurals
      In Plain Sight
      Life

      Comedy/Light Stuff
      Drop Dead Diva
      Arrested Development

      Also, if you liked Law and Order, try to find the UK version. Accents and wigs!

      Happy treading!

      1. Mimmy*

        So glad there’s another human out there that liked Jericho! Very scary concept, but it was a good show, especially the first season.

    22. MaLea*

      If you haven’t seen it yet, Sherlock is highly entertaining and will command your attention. Benedict Cumberbatch, mmmm. Also the guy who plays Dr. Watson, Martin Freeman, is the main protagonist in Fargo.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Sherlock is fantastic and it kills me that we’ve got another year and a half to wait for season 4. :(

    23. Sarah*

      Shows I’ve felt that way about (obviously, tastes may vary): Hannibal, Under the Dome, Lost, Dollhouse, Orphan Black. The past season of The Good Wife, but the previous ones haven’t been as tense (good, just not tense). Also V and Flashforward, but I wouldn’t recommend starting those as they finish without revealing the central premise and it’s frustrating. (Imagine if Lost had ended on the first or second season.) When I work out I also like to watch Sarah Connor Chronicles and Covert Affairs – they aren’t fully engrossing but inspire me to be more badass as I’m swinging my kettlebells around.

    24. Seal*

      Let me echo was others have suggested – Jericho, Mad Men, Call the Midwife are all great.

      If you’re looking for comedy, Arrested Development or The Wonder Years.

      And 2 great shows from the 80s only available (so far) on DVD – China Beach and Hill Street Blues.

    25. It's Marie*

      Veronica Mars, Sherlock (but the episodes are 1.5 hours long, so you’re either going to be on the treadmill for a while, or you’re going to have to tear yourself away).

      1. Felicia*

        There are also only 9 episodes of Sherlock, so I was really sad when i’d seen them all.

    26. Mints*

      Have you tried Sons of Anarchy? I don’t watch much drama on TV, but this one hooked me. It is plot twist after plot twist, and things are always falling apart and then coming together at the last second. It’s definitely a show where you’re like “How can the episode end like this? I need to know what happens next!” (cliffhangers abound!)
      Although if/when you get to the end of Season 6, I apologize for recommending the show.

    27. Katie the Fed*

      Fiance and I just finished Breaking Bad. Wow. Great show.

      Have you watched Friday Night Lights? I think it’s one of the best shows ever (except for the weird second season). Much more human-focused and very realistic small town USA portrayal. One of the best.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        The Americans too. It just finished its second season on FX. Excellent show. Great spy tradecraft, pitch-perfect acting, hilarious 80s scenery. Plus since you live in DC you can play the “where was this filmed” game.

    28. SevenSixOne*

      Avatar: The Last Airbender was my binge-watching gateway series. I watched all 60 episodes in less than 3 weeks!

      It’s animated and most of the main characters are teenagers, but don’t dismiss it as a kiddie show– it’s a great epic story with one of the most immersive fantasy worlds I’ve ever seen.

    29. salad fingers*

      I binge watched the hell out of Twin Peaks and Kingdom (the Danish one (aka “Riget”) by Lars von Trier). Feel a lil snobby suggesting and not sure if these are conducive to workouts but since a ton of things seem to be covered already…

    30. Workingfromhome*

      If you like a good UK Drama Series then Spooks (which is known as MI5 in the States) is fantastic.

      Luther is also another completely addicting UK detective show and it doesn’t hurt that Idris Elba plays Luther…swoon..

      Broadchurch is fabulous but I don’t think it is available on US Netflix (I have read David Tennant is currently filming a US version), it should be on Itunes.

      Fans of The Killing may also like Top Of The Lake – the show was filmed in NZ, the scenery is breathtaking.

      Happy Valley which was on the BBC recently was also very good. Like Broadchurch, it is only 6 episodes and maybe only available on Itunes but it was the best Police Series I have seen for years.

      If you like Call the Midwife or something a bit lighter like that then Last Tango in Halifax is really really nice.

    31. Ask a Manager* Post author

      These are all great suggestions — thank you!

      I’ve noted them all down and am going to check them all out. I just did my daily walk and started The Good Wife. I’ll report back next week on whether I’m engrossed or not!

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        Supernatural! It is the little show that could! And actually I started watching it the same way you are looking for show now. In the summer between the 3rd and 4th season I started watching it while on my treadmill. I caught up on all 3 seasons before the 4th season started and never looked back.

      1. angie*

        It’s an old HBO series, but worth a shot if you like supernatural showdowns and circus freaks: Carnivale.

    32. badger_doc*

      House and Nip Tuck (if you can stand the gore of surgeries). I’m also into Law and Order SVU. These three shows can keep me engrossed for HOURS during TV marathons.

      1. jennie*

        Most of these were mentioned above but:

        The Americans
        The Bridge (US version)
        The Good Wife
        The West Wing

      1. Another Lisa*

        Deadwood
        Warehouse 13
        X Files (yeah I know its old school)
        Lost

        Trying to think Engrossing here…

    33. looloo*

      BBC’s Sherlock! Unfortunately its only 3 shows a season, but they at 1.5 hours each and there are 3 seasons out currently.

  5. Bea W*

    It may not appear until the morning (it being midnight here) because it got caught in the mod queue, but I posted a link to the photos from Israel. Time for bed!

    1. smilingswan*

      Really gorgeous pics! I’d love to go there someday. My mother has tried to go with a tour group there two separate times, but both were cancelled due to escalations in violence in the area. :(

  6. Ali*

    (Am I allowed to ask what’s been up with all the comment moderation lately? Seems like every comment I make gets sent there, whether there’s links in my posts or not, and I haven’t been warned for any bad comment behavior, so I am just curious.)

    Anyway, I have posted before about making friends, keeping friends and so forth. I felt desperate to make new friends for a while, but in the last day or two, I’ve had a revelation that I don’t need new friends as much as I thought. That’s not to say I’m never going to try anything new or that I won’t talk to anyone new or whatever…just that I’m not obsessing over friend-making right now. I realized after running into a friend when I was shopping the other day that between work, my internship (which may end up turning into a paid, part-time job in the fall) and doing stuff with my family some nights after work, plus other things…I don’t really have energy for new friends. The run-in with my friend (who also mentioned she is having trouble meeting up with one of our mutual friends because Mutual Friend is so busy) made me see that I don’t have much time for the friends I have, and neither do they. I feel like I’d rather see them than be going to Meetups making new ones…that is, as long as my current crop seems to want me around, which they do. It’s just harder to get together.

    Does anyone else ever feel this way about friendships? I have my current good friends, plus the people I socialize with at the gym/yoga studio, and with everything on my plate, I guess I don’t really feel like going to meet new people off the Internet or anything. Normal?

    1. EduStudent*

      Totally normal, IMO. Sometimes people don’t have the energy/desire to make new friends, sometimes it’s the same with relationships, sometimes it’s the same with reconnecting with old friends. Do what makes you happy – it sounds wonderful that you have your crop of good friends and the other activities in your life, and you’re not feeling like there’s a void that you’re desperate to fill right now.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds pretty normal to me. My theory has been that as we go along people settle in and that is why it is harder and harder to meet /befriend new people. People are content/busy with the people they have already. For the reasons you show here.
      I do notice every 5-10 years I have a bunch of new people in my life. But it’s a subtle thing- gradual.

      1. Bea W*

        Same – life changes, especially though my 20s through mid 30s with people marrying, starting families, starting careers, moving, and such. I have a couple close friends that have been around consistently 10 or more years, but my social circles have changed and adapted in parallel with my life.

    3. gee*

      I think I know what you mean. With me, I’ve really never had a best friend. I wish I had a close group of friends, kind of like many of the sitcoms characters. All through high school and college, I kept myself busy with work. I never felt like I really had the time or energy to make friends. It was more after college that I started feel like I wanted friends. At one point, I felt really depressed about my lack of friends. Also, it’s lot harder to make friends after college. I tried meet up once but it was a little awkward. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve posted ads on craigslist to make new friends. I actually made one good connection from there. I met up with this person and it turned out we had very similar backgrounds. She ended up ditching me though because I ended up cancelling plans several times because of family, work, and other commitments. I was actually a bit sad about it but the truth is I continue to place other at a higher priority than friendships. I actually have one friend from high school that I still keep in touch with. We hardly ever see each other but every one in a while she’ll send a text and ask how I’m doing. If it were not for that we would not be friends anymore. We meet maybe twice a year even though we still live in the same city. But she doesn’t give me a hard time when we don’t speak for or if I cancel or if I forget her birthday (she doesn’t remember mine either) or if I text and say I can’t make it to her birthday party. I do think I need find a better balance with friend relationships. Everyone is busy but we do need to make time for things that matter and quality friendships do matter.

    4. Bea W*

      If it’s you and me and my friends – we’re all “normal” like this. We’re all open to meeting new friends, but are happy with the ones we have and don’t feel the need to deliberately look for even more people to connect to. Our work, family, and social lives already have us busy enough.

  7. Dani*

    (deleted because this is the non-work-related thread!)

    (you can post work stuff in Friday’s!)

    1. TheSnarkyB*

      Wait, I’m very confused by this…
      Did Alison write this in place of Dani’s original comment?
      I thought the free-for-all was…. Free for all? I got the sense that this was *for* non-work questions but work Q’s were ok…

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, I removed it and left the explanation so Dani would know where her comment went. This thread is for non-work stuff only; otherwise it would end up being like the old open threads before we separated them. I’ll start making that clearer in the lead-in.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          Thanks for deleting my work-related question too – wrote the whole thing out and posted, realised, and then thought “Oh wait, there’s no way for me to delete this post!”

  8. Stephanie*

    Dog people! There have to be a couple of you among the commenters.

    1. Tips for getting a dog to settle down during his walk? We have a 10-year-old pit-lab mix. When I walk him, he likes to pull and sniff everything in sight. After about 10 minutes, he calms down and is super easy to walk. But before that, it feels like he’s walking me (he is not a small dog). He’s usually pretty obedient, but just gets really excited during walks. Suggestions?

    2. Speaking of pits, Esquire has this really good piece about pits (it is also full of pictures of adorable pit bulls): http://www.esquire.com/features/american-dog-0814.

    This was my one of my favorite quotes from the piece: “Reviled, pit bulls have become representative. There is no other dog that figures as often in the national narrative—no other dog as vilified on the evening news, no other dog as defended on television programs, no other dog as mythologized by both its enemies and its advocates, no other dog as discriminated against, no other dog as wantonly bred, no other dog as frequently abused, no other dog as promiscuously abandoned, no other dog as likely to end up in an animal shelter, no other dog as likely to be rescued, no other dog as likely to be killed. In a way, the pit bull has become the only American dog, because it is the only American dog that has become an American metaphor—and the only American dog that people bother to name.”

    1. araminty*

      Best advice I ever got: Easy Walk harness. Lots of dogs have built pulling on the leash into response to excitement, and the neck pressure only reinforces that. The harness removes the stimulus, they stop pulling, you reinforce CALM walking behaviour, and bing, nice leash manners!

      Good luck!

      1. BRR*

        I second the easy walk harness. When I got my dog at the shelter they have a short trail and I did two walks with him, one with the harness and one without. It was like night and day.

        Also great article!

    2. Dan*

      Mine’s 6.5 lbs, does what he’s told. My biggest problem is getting him calmed down enough to get hooked up to his leash. Runs around in circles for five minutes. Every time. Damn.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ours is 80 lbs. And he has the stubbornness of a pit and the energy of a lab. So if he sees a lizard, we are going after the lizard.

        1. Dan*

          Mines never seen a lizard. Finds plenty of rabbits though. When he does, he turns into a boomerang, cause at 260 lbs, I sure as hell ain’t going anywhere.

    3. CJ*

      In regards to #1, I have a very energetic dog as well and use a Gentle Leader by Petsafe. The training facility we go to recommended it to keep my dog from walking me and it has been a lifesaver! Like your dog, mine usually calms down about halfway through the walk, at which point I attach the leash to her normal collar and take the Gentle Leader off.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        I had big problems with my dog and the gentle leader. I adjusted it many times but no matter what I did, it rubbed the fur off his nose. Thankfully, it wasn’t permanent and started growing back after I got rid of the thing, but one thing to consider. (Took a month or 2 for him to look totally normal, and with a pitbull mix anything that looks like he’s been in a fight is bad).

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Dog person!

      with absolutely no behavior control tips whatsoever. ;/

      I’m really good when you want somebody to tell you how adorable your dog is though.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        p.s.

        I make our own dog food.

        Anybody want recipe tips? HA! Love and food, I’m good at that.

        1. De Minimis*

          Actually, I might find that helpful. We’ve got a geriatric Havanese who can’t seem to handle her Science Diet ID food anymore. She eats it, but it makes her sick. We’ve been giving her chicken and rice as a stopgap measure, but know we’re going to need to do something else soon. The vet has suggested that we eventually might try to add some kind of vitamin supplements to the chicken/rice, so we might want to try that too. But really open to any ideas about dog food…she is really picky a lot of the time.

        2. Stephanie*

          Actually, yeah. Recalls have been freaking my mom out and we do this mix of dry dog food with unseasoned chicken and rice.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          What I do is easy, once I established a routine for it. This is approved-by-my-vet for our older dogs. I started cooking when my new-at-that-time rescue was diagnosed with Cushings.

          It’s meat + brown rice + vegetables, and I use the variation method which is to vary up the ingredients week to week so they get a full range of nutrients. I can do this for under $20 a week for 2 dogs – 30 lb and 20lb dogs. (Friend of mine at work is interested but she has 80lb and 90lb dogs and the thought of that daunts a bit.)

          I used to use chicken breasts on sale a lot but I got tired of chopping. Now I only use ground meat for meat base and go by what’s on sale. Turkey is reliably 2.66 a pound. When ground beef, pork or chicken get under 3.00 a pound, I stock up on that. 3lbs of meat makes about 5 days of food, so the meat they get fed changes every 5 days.

          Brown rice is well, brown rice. I change this every couple of batches for pumpkin, since that’s bit of a doggie superfood.

          My dogs like mostly spinach, peas and carrots for the veggies so I change up between those.

          Here’s the real fun:

          I feed my family dog food. :p

          Sometimes I make a turkey meatloaf first (making sure I don’t put in doggy unfriendly things like onions), make the brown rice up in my rice cooker, etc. The family gets the entire meal that I’m then about to put together for the dogs afterwards.

          Last week I made up ground pork and made my husband a wonderful pork and black beans wrap, and then used the pork as the base of the dog food batch.

          Here’s another awesome thing:

          I use up my veggie leftovers that used to go bad and make me nuts! Example – spinach I bought for salads that people didn’t eat, steam it up in the microwave. Baby carrots that have been in the veggie drawer for a bit, roast them in the oven and boom in the dog food. (Obviously I have to do that BEFORE they go bad, but once I got in the habit it’s kinda second nature to check the veggie drawer and capture them in time.)

          Once a month I make them a few fish meals from inexpensive fish I can get my hands on. I should probably feed them more fish but I’m a little cheap about it.

          It’s a lot of fun. The dogs love it (although if I get to creative with the vegetables the one dog has been known to refuse the food). The dogs are healthy and my vet is happy. I feel good about serving the same quality of food I feed my human family. (Er, it’s better really because they don’t get Ho Hos or Frosted Flakes.)

          (Of course it makes sense to ask your vet about any diet for your dogs the same way I asked mine.)

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            p.s. eggs are really good for dogs, so I mix eggs in frequently. I love being able to buy the larger size of egg cartons and not have to worry about them going out of date before they get used.

            p.p.s. apple slices for snacks! good for their teeth also.

            p.p.p.s. damn dogs won’t eat bananas. no help whatsoever in a banana overage.

          2. Meg Murry*

            If you go to a grocery store that still has an actual meat counter, they will probably grind the chicken for you – our grocery does it. Alternately, a food processor is your friend if you find cheap meat that isn’t already ground – just pulse it so you get ground meat, not meat paste.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

              Heh, I was looking at the grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid on Amazon the other day.

              I’m afraid of making too big a project of it, though . I tend to, er, complicate things sometimes so do I really want to take it to the next level?

              I do like buying things. Not cleaning them so much.

    5. nyxalinth*

      I’m more a cat person and so no help whatsoever, but I think pitbulls are great! They often have really adorable markings. I have an ASPCA calender with a picture of one: his face is spit into half black, half white. so cute. When I see people walking them, I ask to pet them and I tell the dog “You’re not a bad doggie, you’re a good dog, people are silly.” It’s really more nature than nurture. I wouldn’t have one, only because I don’t think I’ll ever have a place big enough for one.

    6. Addy*

      Some dogs need to feel like they have a job to do when they walk. We just bought our 30 lb cattle dog a dog backpack off amazon for like $30. When the backpack goes on, she knows it’s business time, not squirrel chasing time and walks very politely. She carries the keys, a bottle of water, some money to buy a coffee, you get the idea. We felt a little like crazy dog people, but it works! We’re looking forward to using it on longer hikes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OOO- good thought! And how true. We had a dog that was very service oriented, he wanted something to do. He was extreme in that he would push around hammers and screwdrivers with his nose to tell us he wanted to help. Neighbors here give their dog something to carry in his mouth- usually a plastic bottle- when they walk their dog. The dog is totally happy to do this. (This isn’t meanness- the animal shows that much desire to want to do something that they had to come up with a task for him.)

    7. Jazzy Red*

      I have that problem with my dogs, too. I’ve tried the Gentle Leader and another type of restraint but neither of them worked. My female HATES other female dogs and cats, and since the male dog has bonded with her, encounters with other dogs have become so problematic that we don’t do walks any more. However, that’s my problem, not yours.

      Try giving your dog lots of exercise BEFORE walking him. If he will chase the ball or the frisbee, play that. If he’ll run around the backyard with you, do that. Essentially, wear him out a bit before going on your walk. And remember, dogs will smell everything. It’s what they do, so you might as well just accept that part.

      1. msad*

        This is more leash reactivity than excitment (what you describe in your female dog). It can be moderated through training, but takes quite a bit of work depending on severity.

    8. Lindrine*

      One of the best things we did with our rescue dog was go take lessons. Walking the dog – I use a kong harness. We have a retractable leash but when dealing with the pulling issue you want a regular leash.

      You have to start with the basics – Sitting nicely for treats and happy come over here. Some dogs work better with a clicker or a squeaky toy than treats. Mine loves treats. So I break the treat into very small pencil eraser sized pieces. Then I say “Molly, sit!” and at first you will have to hold the treat over her nose and kind of run it over her head and down her back a little, gently positioning her to sit. Only practice for about 10-15 minutes.

      Once they are sitting, do the “happy come here”. Put the leash on, have the dog sit. If you can, this is easier with a helper. Give them a treat to hide as well. Now be very excited and clap your hands on your legs like you have a super fun happy party where you are. Say a very excited “SoandSo Come!”. When the dog runs over, give them a treat “Good Come!” then let the other person be all “SoandSo Come!” with enthusiasm super party sounds. Do this back and forth for a few minutes. The key is to make them feel really good and happy about coming over to you. You never want to punish them for coming to you.

      Walking – we had a lot of trouble with this too. You want to hold the leash so it runs from your leash holding hand to around your back. If you are left handed like me, then it will be in your left hand and then around your back to your right hand. The leash between your right hand and the dog is not super tight, a little slack. Gather up the slack in the opposite hand. Start walking forward with a “let’s go!”. When she pulls you can either stop and do a “look at me!/say their name” When they pause and notice you, praise them and continue on. You can also take two steps back or sideways.

      There is more to it than that but that is the overall picture.

      Classes help because the dogs see each other doing the commands and getting treats. And it is good for socialization.

    9. msad*

      Front fastening harness as first step – there are several on the market now. Easy walk, Freedom etc. I would consider getting one with padding for your pit mix if lightly coated. On some pits, the harness rubs them at their armpits, and the padding helps with that.

      Work on calm before the walk – start off by a little fetch, or other game to blow off steam.

      Work on Calm – If your dog already has a good sit, Start by asking for sit to get your leash on. Leash doesn’t go on until they are sitting. (It’s totally cool to reward them with treats too! But the leash on/getting out the door/getting off the stoop etc acts as a reward. I likt using treats if they can’t figure out what I want to break the behavior down into smaller staep they can get right – Sit, treat, reach down with the leash and they stay sitting, treat, etc.) Want me to open the door? Sit, and If you stand up, I close the door. Stay sitting and we go out the door. Basically introduce a lot of focus and self-control into the vary first steps of the walk. Also don’t feed their excitement – keep your voice and body very low-key and calm.

      If it’s more than a mild annoyance, seeing a trainer can be helpful – going in with a specific set of questions, that you can have them address.

      I like Pits and see a lot of them in my work. While a lot are great dogs, I do see a huge range of behaviors, from one of the most temperamentally solid dogs I have ever met, to dogs that were unadoptable into any situation. Most common issues are tipping (becoming too aroused and unable to control themselves) in play, dog-dog issues at sexual maturity, and you get shy/fearful ones occasionally.
      I wish they weren’t so polarizing among some public. It’s either “all pit bulls are evil” or “pit bulls are totally misunderstood angels, and if any of them are less than perfect it’s bad owners”. Some pitbulls are dangerous, some are amazing, and it’s a combination of their genetics, previous life experiences and current environment.

    10. TheSnarkyB*

      Stephanie! I have a pitbull/lab mix too! Mine is 1.5 yrs and is always bad for the first 10mins of the walk too. Unless he can tell we’re going to the dog park, then he’s bad the whole 15mins til we get there. I feel like we maybe have a lot in common lol :)
      Hit me up on gmail (exactly what you’d think it is) if you want to talk dogs or job apps or anything else. :)

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        Ooh one other thing – we’re not fans of the gentle leader (see comment above) but when mine (Sir Shadow) is being particularly annoying, I just double loop the 6′ leash so he’s got his collar and a leash loop on his neck and I have the handle and another grip of leash in my hand- it works kind of like reins?

    11. Katie the Fed*

      I have a pit mix! Never in a million years thought I would (especially for my first dog) but it just sort of happened.

      Walking her was really hard at first – she’s VERY excitable and loves people. What I had to do was allow a LOT of time for a walk and then do this:

      Walk.
      When she pulls on the leash, I stop. When she stops pulling, we start the walk again.
      When she pulls, we stop.
      When there is slack, we walk.

      This teaches the dog very quickly that good behavior (not pulling) will be rewarded with what she wants (a walk). It took a few days of this for her to get it, but once she got it she was fine on leash walking. I still have to do remedial training once in a while.

      Oh, you should have been there the week I taught her to sit on the sidewalk while we wait to cross the street. Good god. That took FOREVER. But now she does it immediately.

      Also, if she gets overexcited when you talk to people (mine gets hyper and bites the leash) give her something to chew on. It’s just excited energy – she needs an outlet.

      Good luck! My pit mix is one of the best things that ever happened to me. She can be a handful but I’ve never met a dog with more personality.

    12. badger_doc*

      Bring along a wooden spoon with some peanut butter on it. You will look strange but it works. Keep the dog at your side and looking at you and every 10-20 feet or so, give him a quick lick for good behavior. Gradually make the distance longer and longer between licks and he will get the hang of it. That worked for me.

  9. M.*

    After three and a half years, I got basic cable. Now I remember why I was in no hurry to get it, there is nothing interesting on. Oh well, it’s keeping my internet costs down.

      1. A Bug!*

        My first guess would be an introductory rate on a bundle discount, which is how the same thing happened in my household a few times. Every time the introductory rate ended, we’d call to switch our package back to phone+internet only, and they’d extend the rate to keep us from doing it. Eventually they called our bluff and we went without cable for about six months until they called us and offered the rate again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

        1. Dan*

          Comcast told me to stuff it, so I have no cable. I py $75/mo. I have no use for cable, so even “free” doesn’t strike my fancy.

          1. fposte*

            How do you get your internet–do you just have fast DSL? I’m toying with dumping cable, but I have really slow DSL and would need to upgrade to get video reliably; I’m trying to decide if I want to bother.

            1. Bea W*

              I used to have DSL and no cable, but after I moved I found the DSL provider’s customer service to be beyond bad, and eventually just bit the bullet and went to the cable provider. At that time I had added on cable TV, so it wasn’t really that much of an additional expense. We only have 2 choices for fast internet here – the one cable company and the one DSL provider. Very few towns have FiOS, and Verizon has sworn off Boston after the mayor insisted they pay taxes on their property in the city like everyone else (and apparently, they will treat Boston customers with extra disdain. I had NO problems with them before I moved!) DSL is only available if you live within 3 miles of wherever it is you need to live within 3 miles of, and a lot of towns don’t have it, so that leaves you with either getting internet from the one cable provider in your town or not.

              There are some wireless options. My neighbor just uses a 4G card, but I’m not sure how practical that is for heavy users or multi-connection households. She does not have cable service at all, just her cell phone and a 4G card for her laptop. She must not be a heavy streamer, and I don’t think she actually uses the internet that much.

    1. Noah*

      Agreed, I’m moving in September and the place only has either expensive DSL or slightly less expensive cable internet. Right now I have AT&T uVerse which is some weird DSL offshoot but it actually works great and the cost is about $35 a month.

      DSL is a no go because the cost is really high for really slow speeds.

      Cable is an ok deal, but I still don’t understand why it is cheaper for them to give me television, internet, and phone together than it is for them to just give me internet.

      1. De Minimis*

        It’s really crappy here, they really push you to get a bundle with TV service. I pay the cable company around $75 a month for internet alone. AT&T is the only other provider and they charge a $200-300 “connection fee” that can only be avoided if you get a bundle.

        We’ve gone without cable for the last seven months. We had it in the hotel when we were travelling and realized that we weren’t missing anything. I don’t think we’ll probably ever get it again, although when my dad was staying with us a while back he got us access to his HBO GO account so we’re still watching that.

    2. Bea W*

      That’s pretty much the main reason people get basic cable, because it’s often less expensive than having just internet since the cable company jacks up the price of internet-only service. There’s really nothing on basic cable you can’t get with an antenna.

  10. Dan*

    Aussies.

    I’m going to spend a month down under next March/April. Going to spend a week each in Sydney, cairns, Tasmania, and Melbourne. Suggestions on things to do or itinerary alternatives? I fly into Sydney and out of Melbourne.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m not Aussie, but my husband and I went to Sydney and New Zealand for our honeymoon. The Sydney Zoo is really cool, if you’re into animals and wildlife. It’s built on the side of a hill, and you take a tram-type thing up to the top and then work your way down. Really cool. You can walk through the kangaroo habitat (or you could when we were there). My husband and I also appreciated the understated, common-sense approach to things. There was a pit kind of thing, with a raised wall around it, that was open at the top, where the Tasmanian Devil was. Beside it was a small sign that said, “This animal bites,” with the unspoken message being, “If you’re stupid enough to stick your hand in here and end up getting bitten, too bad.”

      Also, a good way to see the more “touristy” things in the city is to use the tour bus that’s a hop-on/hop-off kind of deal. It makes a circuit through the city, stopping at various places. You can get off and go see something that interests you, and then get back on the next bus and continue on your way.

      Never been to Tasmania, but my parents went there years ago and just loved it.

      Enjoy yourself!

    2. Milly*

      I’m a Melbournian :-)
      Things to do in Melbourne:
      Go to an AFL (aussie rules football) match.
      Go to the Melbourne Zoo (tram ride from CBD), and Werribee Zoo (train)
      St Kilda Beach is nice on a Sunday (a tram ride from Melbourne CBD). There is a craft market on Sundays. If you like pubs you should visit the Esplanade Hotel.
      If you can, hire a car and drive to Philip Island (spend a night or 2) and also Great Ocean Road (spend a night or two)
      Tasmania is beautiful. We went to Hobart for our honeymoon.
      Darwin in the Northern Territory or Broome (in Western Australia) would be worth visiting if you want to see the ‘outback’.

      1. Outback Jack*

        Good suggestions for Melbourne. In Sydney if you are not scared of heights, the Bridge Climb is an awesome way to see the major parts of the centre of the city and the harbour. Near to the bridge is an area called The Rocks which is the birthplace of the city. There are a lot of interesting tours you can take and plenty of restaurants and pubs. On the other side is the Opera House, which is a spectacular building and you can take a tour there.

        About two hours from Sydney are the Blue Mountains which are part of a magnificent sandstone mountain range which is worth seeing. A little further is the Jenolan Caves which is also awesome.
        Also within driving distance to the north is the Hunter Valley which is a well known wine making area. I suppose it depends what your interests are.

    3. Luminescent Fish*

      Aussie and Melbournian here!
      Melbourne has a free tourist tram that loops around the city center, so I would take that and hop on and off to see sights as it suits you.
      The National Gallery of Victoria is free, and a fun thing to do (with the exception of one or two paid exhibitions, on St Kilda Road and Federation square).
      Go to Crown casino on Southbank and eat gelato while you watch the fire show they have every hour outside from the massive pillars containing gas jets.
      Heck, wander up Brunswick Street and sample a different gelato flavour at every store you pass, or try one of the many restaurants there.
      Don’t stick to the major streets in the CBD, or you’ll miss Melbourne’s laneways and arcades. Flinders lane is a good tourist walk, and you can stop in at one of the indie coffee shops on the way. The botanic gardens are also a great place for a picnic, and not too far.
      The view over the city from the Eureka or Rialto towers makes for a good photo opportunity (though maybe $$).
      You could also book a tour on a boat heading up and down the Yarra river, with commentary about the when the bridges were built, and what part of the city you’re passing through.

      From Melbourne, you could do a great day trip out to the Healesville Nature Sanctuary, which is way better for seeing native Aussie animals than the Melbourne Zoo (which is also awesome, btw). While you’re in Healesville, stop in at the White Rabbit brewery and try their dark ale – it’s really good!

      A trip to Philip Island is also a good idea. If you want to see the penguins march in from the sea at night, you should rug up because it does get very cold.

      It’s a little hard to know what to suggest without knowing what your interests are, so let me know if you want me to elaborate or suggest more activities. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time!

  11. Fruitfly*

    I am looking for books about financial markets, consumption, and usage of money. Something that Michael Lewis, author of the Big Short, will write about. Does anyone know a good one?

    By the way, what do you all think of Michael Lewis’s books? I looked at Amazon and Goodreads, and there were so many mixed reviews. One of my finance professors like his books, but I am wanted to make sure that it can really teach me something.

    It is hard to find a good book with such mixed reviews. I also stumbled upon these books: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.
    I wondering if these two books are worth reading. Some people say they are insightful, while others say the authors are making straw-man fallacies in their points.

    1. A Bug!*

      I read Freakonomics when it was quite new and I could barely be called an adult. I thought it was amazing and insightful, but in retrospect I’m more in the “straw-man fallacy” camp. Essentially, it’s fluff.

      That’s not to say it’s devoid of value or uninteresting. But for me at least, it mostly functioned as a bit of a gateway drug to deeper critical thinking.

      1. fposte*

        Malcolm Gladwell’s another like that, I think; I love the books, but mostly to find studies and concepts that I want to read more about elsewhere.

    2. The IT Manager*

      Love Freakonomics, Super-Freakonomics. You can sample their podcasts to get an idea of if you’d like their work.

      1. Fruitfly*

        Good idea. I will look at Steven Levitt’s videos in Goodreads before checking out the book. Thanks.

    3. Stephanie*

      I liked the Big Short. If you’re looking for nuanced economic theory, I don’t think you’ll get that from it. It’s more narrative non-fiction giving an overview of the financial crisis.

      A good book about insider trading is the Billionaire’a Apprentice. It goes into the case against Raj Rajaratnam, the ascendency of Indian-Americans in the US, and how hedge finds work.

    4. Wonkette*

      Neil Irwin’s “The Alchemists” is great if you’re interested in how the Federal Reserve and other central bankers dealt with the 2008 financial crisis. Neil Irwin is a respected journalist at the NY Times and I highly recommend reading his articles as well.

    5. fposte*

      You might like Jason Zweig’s Your Money and Your Brain–it’s about neuroeconomics, and he’s a pretty decent finance journalist.

      I like Freakonomics (and Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational, which isn’t technically economics but overlaps a lot, I think); I think a critical reader will understand that these aren’t the final word and aren’t placing themselves as such. What they’re doing is offering some interesting disruptions to older ways of thinking.

      1. Fruitfly*

        Thank you for your input on Freakonomics; that is good to keep in mind. I also checked out Predictably Irrational on Goodreads, and the description in has a line: “Why does recalling the Ten Commandments reduce our tendency to lie, even when we couldn’t possibly be caught?”

        That doesn’t ring true for me. But the other stuff are pretty relevant.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s a reference to a priming study; while there’s some controversy about some of that, there seems to be a reasonable body of evidence that what you think about just before a task/test/experiment affects your behavior on that task/test/experiment. I don’t remember if the Ten Commandments one identified the likely faith of its subjects or not, which could make a difference.

    6. AVP*

      I liked Niall Ferguson’s history of money- even if you’re not into his politics (I’m not) it’s very well-researched and informative.

  12. Al Lo*

    Argh! I just plugged my Kobo Aura into the computer, and got an error message saying “this USB device is not recognized.” I’ve tried everything on the Kobo short of a factory reset; I’ve tried googling the error message phrase to see what I can come up with on the computer’s end, solution-wise, but despite trying for an hour, nothing has worked so far.

    Any suggestions? Has anyone run into this, either with the Kobo or a different device?

    At least one of the posts on this error ended with the device being replaced while on warranty. Which mine is, but I’d really like to avoid the hassle if at all possible.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      No solution here, but I would say you should try plugging it into another computer. If you don’t have a second computer, see if you can borrow a friend’s.

      If the other computer also says it’s not recognized, it’s definitely something wrong with the Kobo. Otherwise, it may be something wrong with your computer (I know this is silly to ask—but have you tried rebooting your computer?).

    2. TopCat*

      Try a different USB port. Try a different USB lead. Try rebooting your computer and reconnecting the Kobo.

      Make sure to select “manage library” when connecting the Kobo to the PC.

      Run your PC hardware and devices troubleshooter.

    3. Al Lo*

      Ironically, I just got the exact same message when plugging a work iPod into my work computer. Bah.

      I was going to try the Kobo on my work computer, but now I’m not sure that would do anything, since the work computer is giving a different device the same message.

      But yes — I’ve rebooted both the computer and the Kobo, all the USB ports on my computer, deleting the device from the computer and rebooting…

      I suppose I’ll try rebooting the work computer (since I’m in on a Sunday for non-work reasons) and give that a shot.

    4. Mephyle*

      Emphasizing something that was mentioned in passing: try another newer and/or shorter cable. iDevices can have this problem if the cable is too long, or if it’s worn (like the plastic broken so you can see some bare wires) – I don’t know if it also happens with PC computers/devices.

    5. Office Worker*

      Have you tried connecting the Kobo when the Kobo is turned on as well as when the Kobo is turned off? My first Kobo would only connect if the reader was actually switched on first.

      As an aside – how do you find the Aura? I have the Arc but it is useless outside so I am thinking about changing to the Aura.

  13. Ann Furthermore*

    I survived the dreaded camping trip! As with every camping trip, it seems like karma rubs its hands together, saying, “Hmmm…let’s see. What can we do to make this even more unpleasant?” But I’m back home and recovered. Whew!

    1. Dan*

      Don’t read the open threads much, so don’t know the back story on your camping. I did a shit ton of it as a kid. As an adult, I stay in hotels unless a cute girl can convince me otherwise. Hasn’t happened yet.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Yay, you survived! I never understand why people enjoy camping, especially the sleep on the hard ground and no plumbing type of camping. Isn’t this what our forefathers worked hard to get us away from? :D

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        My husband just loves it, so I go with him every so often. But the older I get, the less I enjoy it.

        On the road about 12 minutes before my daughter had to stop to go potty. Traffic was dragging at one point through the mountains because of some kind of Partridge Family bus that was trying to make it up the hill. It was a wet spring here, so there were bugs everywhere, including some sort of creepy prehistoric flying beetle thing with antennae about 2 inches long. Ack! But on the upside, the wet spring did mean no campfire bans.

        Made it through my 2 nights and headed home on the morning of the 3rd day. My 5 year old asked if she could bring home a bag of chocolate kisses someone brought, and I said yes. But did not realize that she was sitting in the backseat eating them, one after another, all the way home (2 1/2 hours). Let’s just say it did not end well. And to top it all off, I broke the nozzle clamp thingy when I went to hose off the floor mat and car seat…I’m sure my neighbors heard the impressive stream of profanities spewing from my mouth! But I got through it, and had a couple days to recover. So I can laugh about it now.

        1. Jill-be-Nimble*

          I’m sorry; this is really terrible of me…but I laughed loud and long (and deviously) at the chocolate kisses! At least you’ll have some embarrassing stories as ammunition against her as she grows up! Imagine meeting the first boyfriend….

    3. Noah*

      Glad you made it. I actually like camping, well more backpacking than camping, but I’m usually ready to be home to a shower and a bed at the end.

    4. Clever Name*

      I love nature. I love the outdoors. I love hiking and biking and geocaching. I love horseback riding. But camping? Ugh. My husband is all gung-ho to go camping with our son. To me, it seems like a huge PITA. It’s basically doing everything we normally do at home (cooking, cleaning up), except outside and with no plumbing or electricity. Not to mention the planning and packing. Double ugh. I think my husband is remembering the camping trips he went on with his family as a kid. A kid who just went and had fun and didn’t do any of the actual work like I’m sure his mom (and dad) did.

      1. Laura*

        That’s more or less why I want to go camping…so my children can have that experience. And because it encourages us to get out in nature.

        But man, I’m twitchy about having to do the grownup part.

  14. CollegeAdmin*

    Non-graphic medical question: I have an extremely high pain tolerance – as in, I have a tattoo on my ribs that didn’t hurt kind of pain tolerance. I feel like my body just kind of takes pain and establishes that feeling as a new baseline so it doesn’t really hurt anymore.

    Well, I messed up my shoulder somehow last week. It started out as excruciating pain and now that has just kind of faded to the background, but it still pops and cracks and aches and feels incredibly “wrong.”

    I messed up the same shoulder in high school and got diagnosed with a pulled trapezius muscle, but it’s never been the same – a little misshaped, hard as bone, and lessened mobility – so I’m not sure that was a correct diagnosis. So now I’m a little paranoid about going to the doc and worried that I did something ridiculous like, I don’t know, finishing tearing a rotator cuff that got started five years ago.

    So, after that little rant of minor panic, what this boils down to is:
    1. Does anyone here have a very high pain tolerance?
    2. Have you ever had a serious injury, and did you have any doubts about whether it was serious or not?
    3. Any advice other than “find a new doctor who maybe won’t misdiagnose you”?

    1. Stephanie*

      1. Yes, kind of. I don’t think it’s quite as high as yours, but I can endure pain. I did used to put up with hair relaxers. :)

      2. Yes, both relating to broken (or almost broken) bones. First time, I fell off a bike and broke my wrist. I didn’t know it was broken at the time, but I knew something was seriously wrong when I couldn’t put any weight on my wrist. Second time, I fell playing football after my knee buckled. Again, didn’t know what was wrong, but couldn’t put any weight on that leg without excruciating pain. That turned out to be a bone bruise.

      3. Can you get a referral from your primary care doctor? Your PCP (if you have one) might be able to refer you to a competent specialist.

        1. Nina*

          A way to chemically straighten hair. The lye in the formula is what makes the relaxer burn like hell. Although relaxers have been tweaked over the years, even the no-lye formulas have trace amounts of it. The first time I got one, I though the stylist had set my scalp on fire.

          1. Stephanie*

            Haha, just the first time? I’ve got super coarse, thick hair and usually needed the nuclear option to straighten my hair. After about five to ten minutes, I’d usually be like “Ok, you need to get this sh*t off my head.” And this is why I just have a tiny ‘fro now.

            Even the no-lye ones burn like hell because the product usually contains a strong alkaline.

            Dan, I’m not sure how common these are outside the black community, because I think a relaxer would be too strong for anything except for really curly or coarse hair.

            1. Audiophile*

              As someone who used to use relaxers and is trying to rock a short ‘fro, I second Stephanie’s comment. They hurt like hell. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, usually I could make it to recommended time on the box. But yeah it burns. Texturizers aren’t as bad, but still a ton of chemicals. Once my hair started breaking off, I stopped all that stuff, even getting it braided, and went natural.

            2. ChiTown Lurker*

              My hair is thick and course as well. The stronger relaxers are still rough but they have gotten better over the last few years. I still only have it done about 5-6 times a year. It’s extra fun with a color rinse as well. I wish I could wear a small Afro but my hair won’t cooperate.

              1. Audiophile*

                This is how I feel. Hair isn’t cooperating the way I want it to. I’m still experimenting with different products – a few months back I bought the Aussie product line and the OGX line. I like the Aussie stuff, haven’t tried the other yet.

      1. Liz*

        Yes, very high pain tolerance. Broke 3 toes once, week before I went to doctor. When my appendix ruptured, took 3 days before I went to hospital. Just thought it bad stomach bug, because girl I worked with had one a few days before me, and thought I caught it from her. Won’t go into detail into what made me realize I needed to go to hospital, because it wasn’t pretty. Doctor told me later it was one of the worst cases he had ever seen.

    2. Dan*

      1. Yes, I think so.

      2. Yes. Even had it checked out. Figured out something was seriously wrong when I couldn’t do certain routine work functions without my shoulder popping out. Turned out to be a labral tear.

      3. Nope, swore the workers comp doc was going to be a quack, but turned out to be the best ever. Still would recommend him to this day.

    3. A Bug!*

      I don’t have anything helpful to say about your shoulder specifically, but the mention of a high tolerance for pain stood out to me in the face of how you described it. There’s an important difference between a high tolerance for pain and a lessened ability to feel pain.

      The reason I say this is that when a person has a high tolerance for pain, it generally doesn’t interfere with the ability to recognize injury and doesn’t necessarily mean the person feels the pain less intensely than others; rather, it means the person can work through the pain if desired.

      An inability to feel pain, on the other hand, is potentially dangerous, as you may be discovering. Such people can injure themselves quite severely without realizing it, because if you don’t register pain, you’re not going to moderate your behavior to avoid causing or aggravating injury.

      So I’d just recommend you mention the pain thing to your doctor as an independent concern, as it might be a sign of some other condition that could need attention.

    4. Seal*

      A year and a half ago I partially tore my biceps tendon in my shoulder. When it happened it felt like I got shot, then I couldn’t raise my arm and was in quite a bit of pain. Thinking I had torn my rotator cuff, I went to an emergency orthopedic clinic. They gave me a cortisone shot and sent me on my way; I was given exercises and an exercise band at a follow-up visit. Even with the shot (or perhaps because of it) and the exercises, my shoulder was messed up for quite some time and still pops and crackles on occasion.

      My suggestion is to find an orthopedic doctor that specializes in shoulders – they do exist. Chances are they’ll be able to address your current and HS injury.

    5. Ehlers-Danlos anon*

      1. Yes.

      2. Yes, I used to keep walking after hurting my legs. If I wasn’t hurt badly enough to be unable to walk, it’s no big deal, right? Don’t do that. If you’re questioning whether it’s serious, it’s probably serious enough to see a doctor.

      3. See a doctor as soon as you can. Try an orthopedic clinic. Seeing a doctor early can keep the injury from getting worse. And if they brush you off, you’ll at least have this in your medical records, giving you back-up if it happens again.

      1. manager anonymous*

        first of all me too.
        and yes, I didn’t know I had a high tolerance for pain until the physical therapist noticed that I complained of nausea. Turns out in my brain pain=nausea. By the time I get to “pain” I am already at the stage of “please cut it that leg off, I can’t breath”

    6. Liane*

      1. I don’t but Husband does. “Gee, that hurts a bit” in conversational tone is when the rest of us mere mortals are screaming “Get me morphine NOW or I will rip you apart!!”
      2. No. He usually knows.
      3. Husband has learned that you have to tell doctors upfront about your pain tolerance. E.g., “What most people call a 9 or 10, is about my 5 and what I consider a 10 they’d say is a 12+.” actual quote. Reminders may be needed as they do have a lot of patients. He’s also learned to use a more urgent/less stoic tone. If you have someone with you, having them explain as well helps–keeps the doctor from assuming you just want to seem brave–I say something along the lines of what I wrote in 1. (Husband used to hate when I would volunteer this, until he noticed that it did get him the pain meds faster.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I did a number on my rotator cuff a while ago. And like you are saying, this is a shoulder that I injured decades ago and some how I just keep injuring it.

      I would check with a chiropractor before I went much further, if I were in your shoes. Mine did a few easy adjustments, had me take some nutrition and drink lots and lots of water. The pain went down and down.
      The water is something you could start working with right now. It’s amazing how water can reduce pain. I was ready to cut my shoulder off, because it really freakin’ hurt. Non-stop hurt. The key is to do the water every day- that is when you gain ground.

      Ask the people around you if they have been to a chiro they are impressed with and why. And yes, if you need more serious attention the chiro will tell you to go to an MD.
      Rotator cuff pain can go on and on and it can really wear a person down.
      Oh, yeah, keep your elbow down below your shoulder. No reaching up on that side. It will heal, but it takes time.

      1. kris*

        As far as drinking plenty of water goes, my trick to do that is to keep water at my desk all the time. I have 2 of those cups that people use in the car, with lids, so I don’t have to worry too much about knocking them over. I keep one in the fridge and the other at my desk. Cold or cool water whenever I want it. Much easier to take a sip here and there when the water is within reach.

    8. fposte*

      Shoulder muscles are comparatively tiny, so they’re pretty easy to damage, and because shoulders are so carefully balanced (remember, a rotator cuff is four different muscles), it’s easy for an impairment in one muscle to make a shoulder crackle and wobble, and it takes them a while to settle down.

      I think a doctor makes good sense, but mostly as a gateway for physical therapy. You’ll probably need to strengthen things a bit while resisting overdoing it, and that’s a physical therapy thing, not a doctor thing. (The trapezius isn’t a shoulder muscle, so I’m wondering a little about the history there, but injuries can certainly get weird.)

      1. fposte*

        P.S. It occurs to me that regardless of what the old injury actually was, a scarred muscle may mean that you had some base-level imbalance in the kinetic chain in that area that made you more vulnerable, so PT might be helpful in addressing that too.

    9. Aunt Vixen*

      ~ I am not a doctor; what follows are anecdotes rather than medical advice. ~

      My pain threshold is pretty low, but Uncle Vixen’s is sky-high. He will shrug off anything that doesn’t require a trip to the emergency room. But when he does need medical attention, he knows it. It’s a difference between “uncomfortable” and “wrong” – might be the same level of pain, even, but there are times that “very uncomfortable” is okay and times that it isn’t. Go see a doctor.

      As for me: I do have a knot in my shoulder and a rock-hard trapezius with limited mobility. I did several months of PT and some of the stretches help some. I also aggravated it not long ago and it hurt enough to send me to the doctor, and she said they really, really try to avoid rotator cuff surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary because the recovery is so long and so painful – even a slight tear can heal on its own if you take it easy and give it a chance. In my case, that was 800mg ibuprofen 3x/day for a couple of weeks whether I felt like it needed it or not, for its anti-inflammatory properties rather than its pain-relief ones, sleeping on my other side, and generally using my other arm whenever possible. It’s probably never going to be the same as the other shoulder, but it’s certainly better now than it was when I went to see the doc.

    10. Clever Name*

      1. Yes. High pain tolerance. I had no idea I had a high pain tolerance until my OB mentioned it after I had gone through 33 hours of labor (and a 4th degree tear) with no pain meds. The next day I just wanted some ibuprofen.

      2. Yes. Twice. First time I broke my hand, and I waited like a day and a half to see the doctor. It did hurt really bad when it happened, but I thought breaking a bone would hurt more. I decided to go to the doctor because it was swollen so badly my friends were noticing. The second time I broke my ankle. Again, it hurt really badly when it happened, but I figured I just sprained it badly. I could walk on it a bit (hurt like hell, though). The doctor at the clinic didn’t think it was broken either (because I could put some weight on it). Got x-rays and it was broken. That was actually the first time in my life I took pain meds (Vicodin) that were prescribed. I didn’t take anything when I broke my hand because I was nursing my son. I even had back surgery as a kid, and the pain pills hurt my stomach and messed me up, so I didn’t take those when I got home. (I did have a morphine drip in the hospital, though)

      3. I would find a specialist. If you just went to your family doctor, they probably didn’t have the expertise to diagnose what was going on, but had too big of an ego to refer you to someone else. Find a specialist yourself, or find a doctor who is big enough to say, “I’m not sure, but I have a colleague who is an expert on this”.

      1. fposte*

        In my experience, that would be Sports Medicine. They’re generally the department focused on therapy and rehab and getting you back up and running/punching/whatever.

    11. Debbie W*

      Just your words stating something is “incredibly wrong” gives me the feeling that your intuition says to get it checked out. Even though I have always hated paying the money to see a specialist, my intuition has always proven me correct and I’m so glad I went.

    12. Bea W*

      Yes and yes. I’m the person that writhes around on the floor for a couple hours in the middle of the night trying to figure out if I need to go to the ER or even see a doctor at all. I dislocated a hip and was in a nasty wreck many many years ago. I have chronic pain. It’s just “normal”. I judge my pain compared to those things, which means it’s pretty much “suck it up” level compared to dislocating a hip. I am absolutely horrible at figuring out any of that stuff, but for having some medical knowledge, I may have not been able to convince myself to be seen at all in some circumstances where I really needed to be seen.

      For example, if I hadn’t known that sudden onset horrible abdominal pain is considered a really serious and needs to be evaluated urgently, I may have very well just kept chewing ibuprofens, puking, and writhing in bed (or wherever it was I happened to collapse at the moment). Even then it took about 2 hours of mental gymnastics to even work up the nerve to call an ambulance, and only because it was 2 AM and I had figured out that driving was not an option.

      I land hard on an ankle once and went down in front of other people, all of whom were concerned I had broken something. My response was “I’m fine.”, and I got up, tried to walk, and immediately went down at soon as I put weight on that foot. Then I insisted I only needed to wait a few minutes. If I hadn’t coincidently already been in a medical sitting surrounded by nurses, I would have continued “waiting” and trying until I could hobble off home and ice it. It didn’t occur to me to see a doctor. I don’t even recall that it hurt that much, except when I stepped on it. Then it hurt like f**k.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      1. Does anyone here have a very high pain tolerance?
      Yes, more than I used to because of chronic shoulder pain. I’m getting quite sick of it, though; it’s hard to sleep anymore.

      2. Have you ever had a serious injury, and did you have any doubts about whether it was serious or not?
      I nearly broke my ankle skating when I first started–I fell and the back of my blade got caught in the ice. My ankle bent the wrong way and popped and OMFG that hurt so badly. It swelled up like a donut and the sides turned absolutely black. Nothing to do but stay off it, ice, and elevate it. I was back on the ice in two weeks, but that first day I couldn’t walk on it. I knew it was bad.

      3. Any advice other than “find a new doctor who maybe won’t misdiagnose you”?
      I like the advice to ask your doc to refer a specialist. Shoulders are tricky and you don’t want to mess with them. *says the person dealing with impingment syndrome*

    14. Lindrine*

      Depending on your insurance situation, you may want to see an orthopedic. No matter who you go to, they will likely want to do x-rays. You actually can call around if you have to self pay or are on an HSA.

  15. James M*

    I’ll be 31 this Tuesday. I’m in serious need of a new environment in which to live/work. I’d really like to move to within 100 miles of San Francisco (for opportunity’s sake), but the idea is daunting, and I’m not sure where to start (mentally). It’s not like I have any ties to my current location apart from Current Job (which is lousy).

    Any advice for a singly guy who’s not very outgoing and who wants to roll the dice on a big change in pace?

        1. Sue D. O'Nym*

          If my map reading skills are correct, that puts you somewhere roughly in the middle of Runway 34L at the Van Nuys airport. Watch out for planes!

          1. Dan*

            Google maps puts it a hair west of the runways. I used to work at that airport for three years. Fun times.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      When I was younger, my spouse and I moved out to San Francisco on a lark (thinking we’d return in a few years to the East Coast), and we ended up staying over a decade. We moved back to the East Coast for only a short while and then moved back to San Francisco again. It is a wonderful city. You’ll see a lot of SF natives decrying the Google buses and Twitter gentrification, but even that kind of complaining about things changing is what always stays the same in SF. It still remains a wonderful city, and it’s well worth the move.

      I’m not sure if you’re asking for moving advice or not. The only thing I will say is that the rents are ridiculous, even more ridiculous than when we were here before.

      Best of luck!

      1. Another Anonymous Educator*

        Hey, same here. I moved to the Bay Area in 2006, thinking I’d live here for a year, maybe two. Suddenly it’s 8 years later… and I’m still here. The rents ARE ridiculous, especially for people in non-tech jobs (*cough*teachers*cough*), but there’s so much else to recommend it…

        If you do move, James, I’d suggest actually moving to San Francisco itself or somewhere within BART/Caltrain range – Sacramento is (barely) within your 100-mile mark, but doesn’t actually feel at all like living in the Bay Area. It’s much easier to meet people in SF or Berkeley or Oakland or even Mountain View than it would be in, say, Gilroy or something. There are activities like contra dancing, ultimate frisbee, hackathons, etc. etc. that could be good ways to meet people – and often, once you meet a few people, you wind up meeting more people through them.

        Do you have any more specific questions? Have you been to the Bay Area? In SF, the different neighborhoods can be quite different in character, so if you move to the city I’d advise looking around in person before renting a place, if possible. I love where I’m living (Glen Park) but think I would find some others not as good for my personal taste – I LOVE going to the Mission but appreciate living somewhere quieter, and on the flip side I’m glad not to be way off in the Outer Sunset or somewhere.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I haven’t lived in the Outer Sunset, but I love the Inner Sunset and the Inner Richmond. Even the Outer Richmond (near the Balboa Theater) has its charms. To each her own, I guess!

      2. Windchime*

        I went to San Francisco for a work trip about a year ago and most of the time, I forgot that I wasn’t in Seattle. Same foggy, cool weather, same people wearing fleece and sweaters and sandals, same yummy seafood, same seagulls.

        In other words, I liked it there. :)

    2. StateRegulator*

      You describe yourself as single and not very outgoing, working in a job you don’t particularly enjoy. Moving to SF isn’t going to change who you are, so maybe you might consider changing your pace and job near where you are now without dramatically changing your location.

      There are tons of areas in greater LA that are terrific for singles, but you have to get out and get involved in groups with shared interests and hobbies. The Beach Cities/South Bay is a fabulous place to live and there are many other small/cool areas to relocate that are less daunting. If you’re having trouble making connections where you are now, this will not be much different in SF.

      I wish you the best with whatever you choose to do.

  16. De (Germany)*

    I bought tickets for my husband and me to go to the US! We are so very excited. It’s for October, after he hands in his dissertation. I have been to the US once as a teenager, and he has only been for conferences . This time, we are flying into Seattle and out of Las Vegas and plan to see lots of National Parks in between.

    So excited :-)

    1. Stephanie*

      Yay! Park wise, Arches in Eastern Utah is awesome. Since you’ll be flying out of Vegas, you should also go to the Grand Canyon. Not too far away east of Flagstaff is Sunset Crater. Sedona will be stunning that time of year as the leaves will be changing colors. If you have the time to go a bit further east in Arizona, you should also check out Monument Valley (FYI, that’s not a national park and is run by the Native American tribe) and Petrified National Forest.

      Are y’all going to rent a car or do a package tour?

      1. De (Germany)*

        The current plan is staying in Seattle for two or three nights, then renting a car, down to San Francisco with nature seeing, a few nights in San Francisco and then probably the Grand Canyon. And probably just flying out of Vegas (that was the cheapest option) and not actually doing much there. We only have 17 days, so we need to focus on what we really want to see, and that’s mostly the two cities and as much awesome nature as possible.

        1. Anonyby*

          Be prepared for all-day driving between Seattle/San Francisco and San Francisco to LV/Arizona. I’ve in in car trips for both, repeatedly for the trips between California and the Seattle area!

          1. Anonyby*

            Oh, and not to mention that the drive between San Francisco and Las Vegas is mostly farmland and dessert. A whole lot of monotony!

            1. De (Germany)*

              Depends on what way you are going I suppose. We are not planning on going directly. I am kind of surprised people are reading that into my plans – there’s 17 days of travel between Seattle, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

            2. Another Anonymous Educator*

              You could take CA-1 and then cut across a little north of San Luis Obispo. It’d take a couple hours longer, but the California coast is truly beautiful – amazing cliffs and crashing waves.

              I recommend seeing redwoods in California, too. Near San Francisco, you can either visit Muir Woods (probably the most famous, though that also means most crowded – though by October hopefully not to bad) or, more out of the way, Big Basin State Park (less well-known but just as impressive trees). Or, if you don’t take the coastal route on your way to Las Vegas, you could stop by Sequoia National Park on your way south.

              1. Another Anonymous Educator*

                Quick primer on redwoods, FYI:

                There are two main types in California. The coast redwoods, sequoia sempervirens, which is what you’d see in Muir Woods or Big Basin, are the tallest trees in the world. The tallest coast redwoods are over 110m tall! The giant sequoia, sequoiadendron giganteum, grows inland. It’s not quite as tall (the tallest is 95m) but they grow much wider, so they can claim the title of “world’s biggest tree” if you’re measuring by volume. They’re the trees that sometimes had tunnels cut through them for cars to drive through in the ’50s – we don’t do that to trees anymore, as we’ve realized that that’s not a sensible way to treat 3000-year-old organisms.

                1. De (Germany)*

                  Cool, didn’t know that. Definitely planning to go to Redwood National and State Park. I assume that’s the coastal variety there?

          2. Stephanie*

            I’d actually look into some of the budget domestic airlines like Southwest or JetBlue for travel between cities. If you book far enough in advance, you might get some decent one-way fares. The West is pretty sprawling (and the cities aren’t close) so you’ll have some long, boring drives between these cities (especially to Las Vegas). My friend went to Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah and loved it. It’s about a four-hour drive from Las Vegas.

            There’s not really flight service to the Grand Canyon, so you’ll have to drive there (or take a bus) from Las Vegas, but it’s only about a four-hour drive. I can’t remember when peak tourist season hits at the Grand Canyon, but it might be around then. If y’all are planning to stay there or in one the nearby towns (like Williams), accommodations fill quickly. Also, the lines at the entrance get pretty long, so I’d get to the entrance as soon as possible.

            I’d check out the Hoover Dam (outside of Vegas) and Muir Woods (just north of San Francisco).

            And on the complete opposite end, supposedly there’s very good shopping in Vegas.

            1. Anonyby*

              Yeah, driving around the western US is a pain in the butt. Back when I was going to college, we would drive me up at the beginning of the school year, and drive back at the end (roughly the same as would be taken from Seattle to San Francisco). For holidays I’d fly home. At first we would make the trips a two-day thing, before shortening it down to one very looooong day. The flights, on the other hand, were only about 2 hours, 1.5 if you got a good tailwind to push you along. Heck, it took me longer to get to the airport by bus and check in/go through security than it did to actually fly!

              And we’ve also roadtripped it to Las Vegas. My family would habitually go on road trips instead of flying when it came to going between CA/NV/AZ, so we were rather used to it. I think we still needed to stop for a night.

                1. Rana*

                  If you have the time, I recommend taking the coast highways. I-5 (the main north-south highway) is good if you’re trying to get somewhere reasonably quickly, but it has a fair number of boring stretches. The coast highway (1 or 101, depending on where you are) will give your steering muscles a workout, but the scenery is gorgeous along that route, and you can always get out and enjoy the coastline when you need to stretch. Bring a sweater and long pants, though: it’s often foggy and cold, even in the middle of summer.

                  Things you can take in, besides the shoreline: the cheese factory in Tillamook, authentic logging-camp-style dinners at The Samoa Cookhouse, clam chowder at Mo’s in Newport, fudge at pretty much any seaside place, several lighthouses, more redwoods… there’s also a nice hostel (or there was – not sure if it’s still in operation) just south of the Oregon-California border that has a really friendly feel and is close to a coastal area.

                2. Mints*

                  Agree with Rana! I live here and still prefer the coastal freeways for day trips. It’s so so pretty. It’ll feel like a commercial

            2. De (Germany)*

              The way down from Seattle to San Francisco is what we are most looking forward to.

              1. QualityControlFreak*

                If you had time, it would be worth it to take the ferry from Seattle to the Kitsap peninsula and drive over the Hood Canal bridge to pick up the north end of 101 and take in Olympic National Park. But that would add extra time and it is rustic, just incredibly beautiful.

                1. Gene*

                  I agree with this route. I live a bit north of Seattle. Seattle-San Francisco on Interstate highways is ~13 hours plus stops. I’ve done it in one day, but don’t recommend it. Take the coast all the way. It will take 4 to 5 days, but they’re days well spent.

                  San Francisco to Las Vegas either take I 80 to Reno, then US 95 or to Sacramento, then US 50 to US 395 to CA 120 to US 6 to US 95.

                  What surprises most Europeans (and east coast USeans) about the west is how far apart things are. For a lot of us, anything within 100 miles is local. I drove 180 miles each way last Saturday to look at a car I want to buy.

                  Do you dive? If so we can go out and find some Giant Pacific Octopuses, largest octopus in the world.

                  AAM, if De (Germany) is OK with it, please pass my email on to him/her.

              2. Annie*

                I just got back from at trip to Crater Lake, and I highly recommend it. You can probably do most of the park in a day. We also went and saw the redwoods near Crescent City. Jedediah Smith State Park has a 10 mile drive through lots of old growth redwoods. Mount St. Helens is also a few hours of I-5, and is a really amazing sight to see, especially some of the before/after shots.

                1. ThursdaysGeek*

                  I was going to recommend Crater Lake too. Do check the weather to see if it’s started to snow for the season. It’s beautiful to see, but it’s nice to be able to do some of the rim drive too, and that’s closed much of the year.

                  If you’re driving Oregon 101 and then to the redwoods, Crater Lake is rather out of the way, but it really is breathtaking.

            3. NW Cat Lady*

              Peak tourist season at the Grand Canyon is summer, not fall. It starts getting really cold up there and sometimes you get snow even that early (although that’s more likely on the north rim than the south rim).

              Depending on the timing, about 2 hours south of SF is Big Sur. It’s right on the coast of California, and it’s gorgeous. Lots of hiking and scenic views of the Pacific.

              Between Seattle and Portland there’s Mt. St. Helens, but I think the visitor center might close in October due to weather. But it’s something to think about.

              Good luck and have fun!

              1. Stephanie*

                October shouldn’t be too cold, at least at the South Rim. De, if you’re planning to hike into the canyon, be warned that the temps vary dramatically. The bottom’s about the same elevation as Phoenix, so it’ll be kind of hot (around 100).

            1. Anonyby*

              I hope you have fun with them! We on the US west coast are used to people underestimating driving time/distance, so it tends to be automatically brought up. I hope you have fun with it! Roadtrips are a blast, especially when you can take the time to see the sights. :)

        2. Monodon monoceros*

          If you have time, I really like Mesa Verde NP. Really interesting and beautiful.

      2. Sue D. O'Nym*

        Oddly enough, I have a National Parks calendar hanging at my desk at work (yes, I’m at work at 8:15pm on a Sunday :( ) and Arches National Park is this month’s picture.

    2. mm*

      If you are driving down from Seattle to San Francisco there are plenty of beautiful places to stop in Oregon (I’m from Portland). If you have the time, take Highway 101 instead of I-5 for a beautiful scenic drive along the ocean.

    3. Artemesia*

      The Oregon Coast is stunning. I would spend a night at least there preferably in a hotel that overlooks the ocean. There is a place between Seaside Oregon ( a classic trashy beach town with tide flat type beaches) and Canon Beach (a prissy tourist town with interesting large rocks off the beach e.g. Haystack Rock) called Ecola State Park. Definitely stop there if only for a picnic and go to Indianhead Beach. There is an overlook/picnic area there above the beach that has a simply stunning view down the coast.

      Lots of other great spots including the Depoe Bay area with gorgeous views of the rocky cliffs of the Oregon Coast. This is a much prettier area than that miserable haul to Las Vegas.

      1. JamWheel*

        We stayed in yurts at Ecola state park and it was great fun. Did the 1 drive sf to Vancouver (Canada) about 9 years ago. The drive along the coast will take you longer than you think, but its gorgeous.

        We did stay at one motel in Crescent City, CA that was made out of most of a redwood tree in the 50s. Sooooo kitsch!

        Also, as a former resident of both northern and southern Nevada, distances in the west are very far, and once you get south of say San Luis obispo it gets pretty sparse. If you wanted to do something different you could drive 4 hours from SF to Tahoe and then down through the middle of Nevada on some of the most desolate roads in America and see a submarine base, brothels, ghost towns, Area 51, and a lot of sagebrush :-) Its a 7 hour shot from Reno/Tahoe to Vegas, and October is a good time of year to do it.

  17. Monodon monoceros*

    Anyone have recommendations for a shortish trip to Scotland? I’m going for work but am tacking on a few extra days. Will be in St Andrews for work, then I have just 2 full days after. I am hoping I can see a bit around St Andrews in the evenings, but for my 2 extra days, I was thinking of a day tour to the Highlands (organized) then spend the last day in Edinburgh.

    1. Fifer*

      I’d say your plans for a tour of the Highlands and then a trip to Edinburgh are the best options in the time available.

      St Andrews is very small, unless you’re a golf fan and want to explore the courses. If you’re based there fore more than a few days there are some pretty little fishing villages nearby that you could easily visit in an evening (Anstruther, Elie, Earlsferry, St Monans).

      1. Fifer*

        PS If your trip is in August, you may struggle to find affordable accommodation in Edinburgh due to the Festival.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Thanks for the heads up! Just checked and the hotel I was looking at yesterday is now full :( I just booked my second choice, so at least I have some place to stay.

          1. duschamp*

            If you are going to be in Edinburgh in August, you should know that there are five major festivals going on in the city for the entire month.
            -The Edinburgh International Festival: the older and more high-brow of the performance festivals, it’s more traditional theatre, music and opera. (http://www.eif.co.uk/)
            -The Edinburgh Festival Fringe: the larger and more low-brow cousin of the EIF, it’s a melange of comedy (stand-up & sketch), music, drag acts, experimental theatre, street performance, etc. (https://www.edfringe.com/)
            -The Edinburgh Book Festival (https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/)
            -The Edinburgh Art Festival (http://www.edinburghartfestival.com/)
            -The Edinburgh Military Tattoo (http://www.edintattoo.co.uk/)

            The up side to visiting in August is that there is a ton of amazing shows, events and things going on constantly throughout the city (many of which are free). On the other hand, you don’t actually get to see anything of Edinburgh itself. Visiting Edinburgh during the festival is like visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the event swallows the city whole.

            If you are here in August though, I can give you some tips & tricks on making the most of the festival & its attendant joys!

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              I’m a little bit more thinking that it might end up being a downside. I’m not a huge fan of crowds, and my town that has had festival after festival recently, so I’m a bit festival-ed out actually, and would rather just see Edinburgh for what Edinburgh is, but oh well. I probably won’t specifically plan to go to any of the festival activities, but it’d be OK if I run into a street performance or 2 (on my way from one pub to another for a Scottish ale).

              1. duschamp*

                If you’re up for a bit of walking/hiking & some nice scenery, I’d recommend tackling Arthur’s Seat (as Elizabeth mentions below). If you walk all the way ’round to the other side, you can reward yourself at the Sheep Heid in Duddingston, which is a lovely, traditional Scottish Pub. It claims to be the oldest surviving pub in Scotland, and is one of my favorite places to take people visiting from out of town.

                1. Monodon monoceros*

                  Great, thank you! Arthur ‘ s Seat was on my list, but I really appreciate the pub recommendation! I am a bit of a beer nerd, and always enjoy checking out the local pubs and brews.

                  I noticed there’s a small brewery in St Andrews. I am excited to check them out too!

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I’m going to have to remember that for later. My jaunt to Scotland is only one day and I”m not going to Edinburgh, but I know I’ll want to go back.

              The timing of my trip means I’m going to miss a BUNCH of festivals, everywhere. Rats! But it will still be cool. :)

      2. StudentA*

        “I’d say your plans for a tour of the Highlands and then a trip to Edinburgh are the best options in the time available.”

        Seconding.

    2. De (Germany)*

      Sounds like a good plan. Edinburgh isn’t the biggest city so a day is okay for getting a feel for it. And I say that as someone who’s been there for 4 to 7 days three times by now.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Edinburgh is great just to wander around in! I was there for a week last February and my favorite thing was honestly just walking about – up towards Arthur’s Seat, around the outside of the castle, etc. And then, of course, stopping in at a traditional pub for a pint of Real Ale!

        Monodon, if you can manage to get there when it’s open, the castle in St. Andrew’s is really very cool. It’s a ruin, but one with some great stories. The best is how, when it was under siege in 1546, the besiegers tried to tunnel through solid rock under the walls – only to be foiled by the defenders making their own tunnel and meeting the attackers underground! You can clamber through the tunnels yourself, if you’re not too claustrophobic. It’s also pretty to wander out by the coast there.

        Enjoy Scotland! I was so happy to get out there last winter… it’s dear to my heart, but it had been a full 10 years since I’d last been.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          I saw that it closes around 1730 on weekdays, so it will be tough, but I really want to see it! I may be able to make it to St Andrews by 1600 the day I arrive. Will try to get there!

          1. Cb*

            Definitely try if you can. I’m Edinburgh based and love the St Andrews ruins are my favourite.

    3. Monodon monoceros*

      Thanks Fifer and De. Good to hear that the area around St Andrews is doable in the evenings, I was hoping it was. And now I’ll book the Highlands tour. Yay!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        There are some lovely bars down in Leith – The Granary is my favourite. In St. Andrew’s there is a lovely ice cream parlour – have only been once, briefly, so that’s all I really remember other than the ruins and cathedral. Enjoy :) (& come back and explore some more!!)

  18. Caro*

    I love the wisdom you guys offer, so thought I’d ask for some advice on situation I’m in.

    It turns out my roommate (not a friend, just someone who had a spare room) has some kind of paranoid mental health problem – as in she thinks she is being followed, that people are coming into the house and that people are stealing her belongings. She has taken to searching roommates’ room for these items. She is also highly anxious and constantly needs to talk about her worries.

    I don’t feel I have the expertise or the patience to support her, especially as she is now searching my room and disturbing my down time.

    I want to move out but need to take time to find somewhere right – and I want to make life bearable in the meantime. How can I support this person without getting caught up in the drama?

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      I was in a similar situation when I was in college. There were 4 of us in the house and one would formulate the idea in her mind that someone was stealing from her: everything from the rent money to a baking sheet! When I’d leave, I’d come home to find my room ransacked. I was graduating shortly, so moving out wasn’t an option for me.

      To answer your question – there isn’t much to do to make it bearable. I spent as much time outside the house as I could. I moved anything of value, even sentimental, out. She would invent that I stole something random from her, like a fork or her pushpins for the cork board, and take things out of my room in retaliation. Since I couldn’t stop it, I just made sure I didn’t have anything around that her taking would really upset me.

      One night, I was pretty close to knocking her lights out. I had had enough. I found someone else’s couch to sleep on that night. You sound like you have some empathy for this person. I can promise you that with enough interaction, you won’t. I detest this girl to this day. I have no care if she got treatment or not; I just want my life to be psycho free. 5 years ago, she tried to friend me on Facebook and sent a novel length message to me about how she got married to a guy who didn’t respect her. Delete. Do. Not. Care.

      Distance and space are the only things that worked. She isn’t your problem to cure, or to even support.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I agree with GrumpyBoss about just staying out of trying to help her. Just do what you can to keep your stuff safe while you are there, and get out. I let a “friend” stay with me while she was “between apartments.” I didn’t know her well beforehand, but figured out pretty quickly that she was probably bipolar. I was sympathetic for a while, but when 2 weeks turned into almost 4 months, and me having to kick her out, I was not sympathetic anymore. I just wanted her to be gone. When she finally left, I suggested she probably needed some professional help, then distanced myself from her as much as possible. It was up to her to seek that help (I don’t think she ever did).

        1. kris*

          Can you put most of your stuff in a storage facility for the short term? Or maybe do you have a friend who has some space to put your stuff?

    2. Rebecca*

      Can you lock your room when you leave, so at least she can’t go through your things? Even if you have to put a clasp and padlock on the door when you leave, it would save you the aggravation of knowing she was going through your things. I’m sorry this is happening!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Sadly, there is not a lot you can do to support this person. If you successfully remove one hurdle then ten more will pop up.

      What do the rest of your roommates say? Can you vote her out? Maybe you don’t care at this point. If that is this case, then develop plans as mentioned above. Find a friend willing to suddenly loan you a couch for a night or two- to have on standby while you look for a new place.

      Take care of your valuables. When people accuse others of things the others are NOT doing, then there is a probably that the accuser is doing those very things.

    4. Jazzy Red*

      If it’s your apartment, you can kick her out. Sounds harsh, but as the other commenters said, you can’t really help her. If you must have her there, put a padlock on your door.

      If that’s not possible, then go head and put a padlock on your door and move as soon as you can.

      1. fposte*

        Though if you kick her out, make sure you abide by the eviction laws in your area–might mean 30 days’ notice, for instance.

      2. Liane*

        Maybe someone already covered this, but it reads to me that it is not the OP, but the roommate with the issue, who owns the place (or in whose name the lease is):
        “It turns out my roommate (not a friend, just someone who had a spare room)…”

    5. Katie the Fed*

      I’d have two big concerns in this situation.

      1 – making sure you and your things are secure.

      2 – helping the roommate.

      For one – you need to get a lock on your door, both inside and out. Lock the door when you’re not there and lock it when you are. Protect yourself. I would try to get her to move, or move out yourself, sooner rather than later.

      For 2 – does her family/other close friends know about the issues she’s having? Does she acknowledge that she’s struggling with mental illness? Does your college/city offer any low-cost mental health assistance? Can you point her to them for help?

      How you respond is going to depend a lot on these factors, but if she generally has a supportive family or network of friends, I would maybe try to get in touch with them and tell them what you’re seeing, and hopefully they can encourage her to get treatment.

      You can also try yourself. You need to approach it from the most non-judgemental place you can, as in “this isn’t a criticism, and I want you to know I love and care about you, but I’m really concerned because _____. I’m concerned because these seem like symptoms of a possible mental health issue, which is no way your fault, but I think you should look into talking to someone, the same way you’d see a doctor if you broke your leg.”

      Something like that. Remind her that you care about her and this isn’t making you care about her any less, but she isn’t well and needs help.

      Depending on what age you are, these might be the early signs of schizophrenia which can manifest in the teens/20s.

      Good luck. One of the hardest things I ever did was to call a friend’s mom when I thought the friend was experiencing severe post-partum depression. She started making comments like “I don’t think I’d ever hurt the baby, but….” and I called her mom and told her my concerns. Her mom picked her up that night (she had a d-bag of a husband who didn’t realize anything was amiss) and she got treatment and is doing much better. I was so worried she’d be mad at me but I felt that given the circumstances I’d rather lose a friend than something worse.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to suggest letting her family / network know. They may not be aware that this is going on and they may need to arrange something for her to find treatment.

  19. Rebecca*

    I am one step closer to driving my 1989 Firebird Formula T Top on the road! License, registration, insurance, check. Everything in running condition, check. I was stuck on the carpet part – but my Dad knows a guy who knew how to clean up really dirty carpet, and it looks pretty good. So today, hoping to get the carpet in the car, and the rest of the trim pieces, put back, then seats and seat belts, then actual driving!!

    I still need a few non mechanical parts, like the wheel caps, floor mats, and the hood insulation really needs to be replaced, but we’re getting there! There still a pile of little trim parts that need to be identified, attached, whatever, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Between the shop manual, the GM parts book, and the internet, it won’t be too difficult (I hope)!! Oh, and the air cleaner lid needs to be painted. Can’t forget that.

    So excited. It’s a fun project to work on with my Dad, and something I’ll remember long after he’s gone. He’ll be 80 in September.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh wow. This is really cool. Look at your dad go! Eighty and still rockin’, what a guy!

    1. Mimmy*

      Best: Saw Queen+Adam Lambert in NYC on Thursday…such an awesome show!! We were waaaaaay up in the nosebleeds and in cramped seats, but it didn’t matter once the show got started (very late!). There’s no replacing Freddie Mercury, but Adam comes pretty darn close.

      Worst: Nothing super awful…just that my husband has a summer cold and is coughing a lot. He’s on Z-Pac and a couple other meds, but I think this thing may just have to run its course because nothing’s easing his cough much.

      1. TryingToBuy*

        Oh wow! I saw Queen + Adam in London a couple of years ago and it was amazing. I’ve been following the current tour online and the staging looks wonderful – I do wish I could go!

        1. Mimmy*

          The staging truly is wonderful. There’s a pretty long catwalk and several screens. Unfortunately, because our seats were so high up, our view was partially blocked by speakers, so we couldn’t see some of it.

          One thing we really liked was Adam didn’t try to replace Freddie. Far from it–they incorporated footage of Freddie actually singing into a couple of the songs.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Best: Finally got the AC in my car fixed. Started the new job a month ago and finally had the $$ to get it fixed. Such a relief in so many ways, it had been out for three months and I live in a very hot climate.

      Worst: Had a cold a couple of weeks ago and the cough is lingering a bit. We changed the filter in our home AC, which I think helped a bit, but I also think my job just had wonky air issues, which isn’t helping.

    3. Sabrina*

      Best: Got a really good mid year review. Doesn’t come with any more money. But my manager is moving on, so I guess it’s good to have it on the record.

      Worst: I had a bad stomach bug all week. I can finally eat regular food.

      1. Liane*

        My sympathy for the bug. It sounds like the one I had about 2 weeks ago. Glad you’re feeling better.

    4. littlemoose*

      Best: saw lots of friends this weekend.
      Worst: had a tiff with the boyfriend a few days ago (we worked it out though).

    5. mm*

      Best: Started my 12 day vacation on Friday

      Best: Heading out to a pedicure, lunch and shopping with a friend in a couple of hours.

      Wait… that’s two bests! Guess I’ve just had a great week.

    6. Stephanie*

      Best: RSVPed to my friend’s wedding and booked travel. Can’t say Indiana’s on my must-visit list, but excited for a mini-reunion next month with friends.

      Worst: Gah, I’ve been injury-prone lately. I don’t know if I did some acrobatics in my sleep or what, but I woke up yesterday morning with a strained back muscle. It’s been kind of painful. I think most of today will be spent on the couch.

    7. Lady Unemployed*

      Best: Applied to a job with a nearby college! I feel good about it and hope that I get a call from them. They offer reduced tuition for employees and this would be my shot to go back to school.

      Worst: my mom and brother are out of work (mom a year and a half; brother, two and a half years) and my mom went on an interview Friday and it didn’t go well.

    8. Clever Name*

      Best: We got the carpets cleaned in our new house, and it made a HUGE difference! Husband also painted the laundry room, and it looks great. Just about ready to move in on Tues.

      Worst: Seven-year-old son has been crabby and argumentative lately. Obviously, it’s stress from selling our house and moving to a new one, but it’s still hard. He’s sad he’s moving (10 mins) away from his best friend. :(

    9. Liane*

      Best & worst: We paid our first Going-Off-to-College Expense for our oldest.
      Very bittersweet. Just under a month before he leaves.

    10. Persephone Mulberry*

      BEST: We are finally in our new (rented) house!
      WORST: Found out at work that a CSR gave me bad info TWO MONTHS AGO so now I’m two months behind on MY task. And didn’t even get an apology for their incompetence.

    11. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: We’re doing phone screens for a new deans assistant for our new dean — I’ve written here about how the immediate past deans assistant was a nightmare and recently did a ragequit once the interim dean and department heads decided to put her in her place. The best about this is that the new dean and the former interim dean have asked me to sit in and listen while they phone screen. My job is to listen and tell them my gut reaction to each candidate to help inform their decision. I’ve been pretty vocal about what we do and do not need in this position, and it feels like this means they have a lot of respect for what I’ve said. Which I got most of from reading AAM, so I’ve been channeling Alison and all of you guys!

      Worst: I realized I misread the schedule for my conference, so I should have booked a Friday evening flight. Now I’m going to miss some of the Saturday morning activities because I don’t arrive until Saturday afternoon. Oh, well — it’s not anything terribly important that I’m missing. I’ll just look at the schedule better next time.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Best: spent the weekend at my mom’s for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I drove my uncle up there because his car is acting up. My mom’s best friend and her husband came and it was great to see them. I was glad to give them hugs, since one of their sons recently committed suicide. :( They’re doing okay but of course there are bad moments. The husband is a musician (and so is my uncle) and he brought his guitar, and they traded off and had this amazing jam session in the kitchen. :)

      Worst: on the way up there, my car tire created a road gator (threw a tread). AT 70 MPH! Lucky for us, the tire didn’t blow and we were a few miles from a little town that had an auto/tire place that was 1) open, and 2) had the tire I needed. We only lost an hour and got there in time for dinner. But that was super aggravating.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thank you–it could have been much worse. The tire itself didn’t actually blow, thank goodness. When it started vibrating heavily, I slowed down a little and hit the hazard lights and managed to get off the road.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’ve always wondered what I would do in that situation. So the thing to be aware of is heavy vibrating (assuming that tires don’t just pop with no previous warning). Good to know!

  20. anon_for_this*

    Anyone have thoughts on traveling into NYC for a weekend? I am debating taking the train versus a bus (I don’t have a car, so I can’t drive the ~4 hours myself). Looking to do it cheaply but without making it a real pain…I’m worried that the bus will just take forever because of traffic, for example, so I’m leaning toward shelling out for the train.
    Or maybe there’s another transportation option I haven’t considered, or some way to get a discount?

    1. ItsMe*

      I’ve done both. It would depend on the time of day you arrive. If you arrive during non-rush hour then taking the bus will be fine. The train (assuming Amtrak) will let you off in the Madison Square area. The bus (assuming Greyhound or similar) will let you off in the Time Square area. Both areas are close to the subways or you can take a taxi to your destination.

      The bus will be cheaper. The train may have more leg room or a food car. You can get a discount on the bus if you buy a non-refundable ticket online.

    2. BRR*

      You’d need to add time for bus transit due to traffic, but this depends on the time the bus would be traveling. I am a big fan of the train though.

    3. CheeryO*

      I’ve done Megabus and Amtrak for trips from Buffalo to NYC (8ish hours). I really prefer Amtrak. It’s much more roomy and comfortable, and the bus feels vaguely unsafe and tends to run late, in my experience. I’d only do the bus if it were a LOT cheaper.

    4. Lore*

      It really depends where you’re coming from. The bus route from Boston saves time (barring traffic) and a lot of money over the train (even if you shell out the big bucks for Acela, it only saves half an hour or so on the bus); if you take one of the bus companies with a street pickup/drop off rather than going into Port Authority, you generally cut a surprising amount of traffic out. There can still be some, but–in my experience–not really enough to make up for the extra $200+ it will cost. From Philly/DC, the traffic seems to be predictably more of a problem, plus the train isn’t quite so outrageous for some reason (and the bus stations in Philly and DC aren’t as conveniently located if I remember correctly). Amtrak does offer advance discount fares if you buy the ticket more than 14 days in advance. It’s still not as cheap as the bus, but it’s a lot closer…

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve done the bus ride from DC multiple times. I haven’t done Greyhound, but I’ve done the express service via Bolt Bus/MegaBus/DC2NY several times.

        On the bus, it’s a lot more fun if you can make the trip with a friend. There is wifi, but I’ve found it too jammed for anything aside from (very frustrated) email checking. I’ve left DC right after work (so at the height of rush hour) and the trip wasn’t too much longer. Most of the traffic was right outside DC, anyway. The bus company also had some bypass route via Annapolis that let us avoid a lot of the traffic. There was the usual traffic immediately outside NYC.

        Unless things have changed in the last year or so, the bus stops in DC are pretty centralized now. Most pick up and drop off from Union Station. Greyhound has its own station nearby.

        1. Lore*

          I’ve only done DC on Greyhound, so there you go. It seemed weirdly located but it was also very early in the morning.

    5. Melissa*

      If you book it well if advance, Amtrak is now offering $49 one way tickets from DC to NY. Really good deal because I used to pay around $28-35 on bolt bus for a ride that takes an extra two hours on average. So book early on Amtrak!

  21. EduStudent*

    Maybe we talked about this last week, but I don’t remember doing so? Apologies if we did, but…
    Anyone get anything really good at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? :)

    1. BRR*

      I’m really tempted to buy a pair of Allen Edmond shoes. They’re never on sale and they’re about 30% off. But they’re just so expensive I’m not sure if I could justify them :(

    2. Windchime*

      I bought a couple of Eileen Fisher pieces. I’ve always wanted to wear her stuff, but it’s crazy expensive. It was still spendy on the sale, but not crazy expensive. I’ll have to wait till the weather cools off to wear it, though. It’s all long-sleeved and sweater-y.

      1. Clever Name*

        That’s the best part of the sale. It’s a pre-sale on the fall stuff, so you get stuff for the upcoming season at a discount. I’ve stopped buying stuff at the end of the season (well, sometimes I’ll buy winter stuff in March, because it’s still snowy here then) because half the time when I pull it out the next year I wonder why I bought it.

    3. Clever Name*

      I did! I’m a cardholder, so I went the first day of the preview, which was also my 35th birthday.

      I got a cute pussybow sleeveless blouse and two sweaters. Oh, and the Bobbi Brown nude palette.

  22. Julia*

    Going back to TV series to watch: no one mentioned Mad Men! Also: Call the Midwife, (PBS).

  23. Felicia*

    Does anyone else play Geoguessr? It’s a game where you’re dropped on a random place in the world on Google maps and you have to figure out where you are (and you’re often dropped really rural places). I’ve recently become obsessed with this game, and very good at it. I highly recommend it.

    1. Colette*

      It is fun!i think someone here recommended it – was that you? I also like Smarty Pins – trivia questions involving geography.

      1. Felicia*

        It wasn’t me, I actually just heard about it from an ama on reddit with a google street view driver :)

    2. fposte*

      Oh, God, Geoguessr. The only reason why I’m not on that 24/7 is that my wifi is so slow that a game takes forever. Sometimes it affects my real life and I get overexcited about finding a road sign.

    3. Rana*

      I love that thing. Even if you can’t figure out where you are (shakes fist at locations that consist of an uninhabited road in the middle of forest) it’s fun to cruise around the streets looking at things.

      1. Felicia*

        I hate those uninhabited roads in the middle of forests! The closest I ever got was 1.5 km for the place. It’s sort of like being a detective. I too only take breaks because after too long the images stop loading.

        1. Al Lo*

          I think I’ve gotten within a few hundred feet — I cruised around until I found a business with a phone number on it, so I was googling the name and phone number and using google maps to find the business itself.

    4. Sarah*

      Love that game! I always try to find a street sign and guess based on the language. If it’s in English, checking what side of the road people are driving on can help.

      1. Felicia*

        Also if you see a street sign with miles that narrows it down to the US! The rest of the world uses kilometers, so seeing kilometers doesnt narrow it down :)

        The hardest for me is Russia, because while I recognized Russian letters I have no idea what they say and can’t google them, so if you guess wrong in Russia you could still be 2000 km off and have the right country.

          1. Felicia*

            Ah ok, I guess you’re right. They use the metric system for everything else though which is weird. I was never in the UK in this game much :) So the rest of the world other than the US and the UK uses kilometers :)

  24. Canadamber*

    I’m kind of sad because my family was supposed to go to Newfoundland this week, and I have to tell my manager AGAIN what days I actually do need. It was originally the 20th to the 3rd, then it was the 26th to the 3rd, and now it’s just the 26th to the 29th. But being a teenager who needs money means that I shouldn’t just take the time off. :( No Newfoundland trip for me this year! *le sigh*

    However… on Saturday morning, I will be embarking on a 2 to 2 1/2 hour road trip by myself! :D I work Friday until closing, but my family’s leaving Friday afternoon to go to my sister’s rowing thing. I’m staying home on Friday night but coming down on Saturday morning. ^_^;

    Also, I still have to call Virgin Mobile and get some more data added to my plan… le sigh!

      1. Canadamber*

        Family isn’t actually going, due to a bunch of renovations that have to get done, and my sister’s rowing regatta which is inconveniently in the middle of the two weeks in which we would have been going. So. Yeah. :$

  25. TheSnarkyB*

    Hi friends!!!
    So I started the new job this week (finally!) and I really like it. Some of the administrative stuff is scary, because it has to be *just right* (for regulatory reasons), and I’ve been pretty nervous and forgetting to introduce myself half the time (just launching into a convo and the other person looks a little confused), but my coworkers are nice & the higher-ups all seem very smart and astute, and it’s not the back-to-back onslaught I was told to be ready for.
    I’d love to use this thread for any general “new job” tips if you want, but more than that I’m looking to streamline the rest of my life. Some of you might remember I’ve been looking for tips on developing an “adult” routine (incl working out times, how to cook for the week, etc.) – it’s my first job since grad school, and college wasn’t long ago so I’m starting over a bit on the “being an adult” front.
    Hope you’re all doin great!

    1. Canadamber*

      Eeek!

      I don’t want to be an adult any more. I just graduated high school about a month ago and turned 18 about three weeks ago, and already it’s far too scary. (What do you mean, I have to make all phone calls regarding me myself?!)

      My best friend’s not even 18 yet and she’s already done with adulthood, too.

      BLAH.

      1. Felicia*

        I still find being an adult terrifying and I’m 24 , so just realize that at 18 you don’t need to have it figured out any time soon, if ever. Most adults are just faking it until they make it :)

        1. Bea W*

          I guess this is where I can be thankful that my childhood was terrifying, so that becoming an adult was like winning the lottery and felt like a cake walk compared to everything else before it. :-/

          I kind of envy you in some weird way.

          1. fposte*

            My childhood wasn’t even particularly terrifying, but I knew the whole time that being an adult would be better and I was absolutely right. Autonomy is the best thing ever.

      2. TheSnarkyB*

        Yes, Canadamber- don’t forget this! Stay a kid in as many ways as you can bc you do NOT have to rush into being an adult. I have days where I get to feel like a kid (I’m 24) and it’s soo nice.
        I’ve noticed other comments you’ve made on here that sound very mature and like you’re (maybe?) putting pressure on yourself to get everything figured out. Sometimes when you’re 18 that’s not possible, but you’ll stress yourself out anyway. Not recommended. :). (I speak from experience)

    2. fposte*

      The Adulting blog at http://adultingblog.com/ is excellent for this; I don’t know if the book has additional material or not, but it’s also a possibility. She’s good for both behavioral standards and little life practices that really do simplify, and she’s a good writer with a pragmatic view.

      1. Rana*

        Seconding Adulting. It’s really good about breaking things out into bite-sized tasks to master.

    3. Stephanie*

      I like to cook a lot and could work unpredictable hours at my last job. What helped me was planning out my meals and buying groceries based on that. So Monday would be spaghetti, Tuesday would be chili, etc and I’d buy ground beef and pasta. What helped, too, was to plan meals with similar ingredients (like the spaghetti and the chili). I also would cook multiple meals on Sunday.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      My best advice for the new job: listen and learn.

      nobody is expecting you to know everything or get it all right, but you’ll piss your coworkers off immensely if you start making suggestions to them after being there a week. Give it a couple months before proposing any ideas to coworkers or your boss, and keep it to a minimum :)

  26. TheSnarkyB*

    Ooh I remembered another thing:
    Fitness & food tracking
    I got a Fitbit 2 weeks ago and I LOVE it. Anyone else wanna talk about fitness/food tracking?
    Anyone know of a good food tracker/tool for home cooking? I made a complicated dish and I could do all the work/math on paper to figure it out, but I’d rather have an app import it for me if there is one.

    1. ItsMe*

      Have you tried My Fitness Pal? It will track all of your vitals and it has a food diary that you populate with a few simple clicks. They also have forums to talk to others trying to get into shape.

      One of the easiest ways of losing weight is to keep a food diary and many people complain about how hard that is. With MFP, you can track your entire day’s food in less than 10 minutes.

      1. Mimmy*

        We just started using MFP! As I said below in my post, I think it’s a really cool tool–it has a pretty extensive database of food and exercise. I just don’t know how realistic the daily caloric intake goal is.

        1. ItsMe*

          You can set your own goal. Remember that MFP is a tool that YOU control. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s your body and your life. YOU get to decide what’s right for YOU.

          You control the tool. The tool doesn’t control you.

          I set my own goal, used the tracking features, ate a 1200-1500 calorie a day diet, exercised 30-45 mins. a day and I lost 40 lbs in 3.5 months.

          1. salad fingers*

            Has anyone else had trouble figuring out what activity level they should fall under for My Fitness Pal? I live in a large city and commute via public trans, walking and bike, but I work at a desk. I marked sedentary and log bike rides and loooong walks — not sure if I’m doin it wrong. Seems so arbitrary to me…

            1. Persephone Mulberry*

              Activity level adjusts your base calories. If you walk/bike the same amount every day, take a look at how many calories you get “credit” for in the logging you’ve done so far, and then see if adjusting your activity level ups your base by a similar amount. That way, at least you don’t have to log your commute every day.

      2. BRR*

        I’ve heard a lot about MFP and just started (as in right now). I tired a different tracker in the past and didn’t really like it so I’m hoping this one works better.

    2. Rebecca*

      I love my Fitbit Zip! It’s perfect to keep track of my steps and get me motivated to get up and walk.

    3. brightstar*

      I’ve started using myfitnesspal and like it. It has a recipe feature where you can put in your recipe and it calculates the totals for you. And if you’re using a recipe you find online, you can just copy and paste the ingredients and it’ll calculate it for you as well.

      I measured myself this morning and after a month have lost half an inch in my waist. I’m having to go by measurements since I don’t own a scale.

    4. Audiophile*

      I bought a flex a few weeks ago and love it. The first few days, I went over my calorie intake, but once I really started paying attention that was easy to keep down. Now my problem is I took it off, and forgot to wear it last week. I’m going to charge it tonight and put it on tomorrow, in hopes that I’ll remember to start wearing it again.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        I have a Flex too!
        I answer everyone else- I really dislike MFP – it’s way too hard to use for homecooked meals. The fitbit app’s food tracker is just as good as my fitness pal for doing the barcode stuff & entering general food items. But I’d love a site that let’s me enter a recipe, #of servings it makes, and then give me an approx. calorie count per serving.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I mainly eat home-cooked stuff (not exclusively, but largely) and I’m using MFP’s recipe builder. It’s a little annoying and feels like it should work more smoothly than it actually does, but it ultimately does let you build recipes and then give you a calorie count per serving.

        2. Mimmy*

          Well, I just ran into the first thing I don’t like about MFP–documenting what you eat at a local restaurant. There are lots of choices for major chains, but not local diners. So I just chose the “homemade” options for what I had today (had lunch with friends).

        3. Bea W*

          You can do that in MFP. There is a recipe section that lets you create your own foods by adding in the serving size and the ingredients. That gets saved to your recipe list and you can add it to your meals any time.

  27. Mimmy*

    Any tips on getting/staying in shape without going to the gym? We just cancelled our gym membership (too expensive) but we’re still looking to try to get healthier because we both are on diabetes medication and, overall, have less-than-ideal health habits.

    I know walking is one good method, and I’m hoping we can do that together once DH is over his cold. I could go by myself, but it’s boring. That’s always been my issue with exercise–I find it so dull.

    We just started using an app called MyFitnessPal. Has anyone used it? I love their food and exercise database, but the goal for daily calorie intake seems unrealistic–mine is set for 1200 calories per day (I think it’s based on initial weight and height) and I’ve gone WAY over every day so far. I can’t resist those sweets, darn it!! (DH is the same way). But even without the sweets, is 1200 calories per day realistic for anyone??

    Not only am I looking to get healthier physically, I want to increase my mental stamina so that I can succeed in my upcoming Advanced Certificate program on top of my existing volunteer work (and looking for part-time employment). I haven’t done this type of work since grad school, and I’d like to be able to sustain attention to it without getting tired or bored.

    Sorry this is so rambling. I know I have to eat better and get more active for better physical and mental health, but it’s so, so hard to break old habits. Doubly hard when you’re married to someone with similar habits!!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m doing 1200 calories a day (and using MFP too). It hasn’t actually been that hard once I figured out what low-calorie meals I could put together that would keep me full. You have to look at it like a math problem and figure out how to put each day together.

      The thing is, if you’re short (as I am), even if you’re just trying to maintain your current weight you probably shouldn’t be eating more than ~1800 calories a day. That’s just to maintain. Anything over that will make you gain. So if you’re trying to lose, you need to cut from there. (Sucks being short.) Realizing that was eye-opening for me.

      1. brightstar*

        I”m 5’0 and even at 1200 calories a day the most I’ll lose is 1 lb a week. It does suck being short!

      2. Mimmy*

        Yup, I am short: 5’0 and small-boned. And I am trying to lose. Not a whole lot–maybe 10-15 pounds max. Thanks Alison *fistbump for short MFP users*

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          1200 sounds light to me- not judging anyone just answering since you asked if it sounds reasonable. I’m trying to lose more than you (maybe 18-25lbs), and I really need to maintain it and establish some lifelong habits, so I’m running a 500+cal deficit everyday , and yeah it’s slow. At this rate, I’ll hit my goal weight in October or December, can’t remember. But so I’m burning like… 2000-2500 calories everyday and goal intake is around 1500. I would recommend getting a fitbit flex, partially bc I move a lot more than I thought I did, prob because I work and live in NYC and it’s a lot of walking (don’t have a car), but someone else may move less than they realized. I burn more calories on a pretty sedentary day than I thought I was.

          But my trick that’s worked best for me, when I’m trying to lose 6-10 quickly, is to stop drinking, and pick a few items to cut out entirely, for a month or a year. So for me in college, I cut out Kraft mac+chz (ate it like 2x/wk), and packaged ramen noodles (are often), and beer, and then drank 60-80 oz water daily. I dropped like 4lbs in a couple days and 10 after 14days or so? It says more about how influential my bad habits were, but it really made a difference cutting out alcohol.
          I don’t do well with restriction (of the ‘no carbs’ or ‘lean fats only’ style) bc it makes me think too hard, but fully cutting out some specific things really works for me.
          Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      Can you walk to places or in places? I’ll do a walk to the grocery store for a couple of items, or walk out to see a neighborhood garden; sometimes I head out to a local park and walk in there. I also use that time to plan–my mind works best when my body’s moving, so I’m often creating a work plan or vacation thoughts or house intentions.

      1. Rana*

        That’s good advice. I’m terrible about “just walk around for x minutes” but if I have a destination (even if it’s just “walk to the post office and back”) it’s much more pleasant.

        1. Mimmy*

          That’s how I am too…I find walking for the sake of walking to be dull. There are a couple of places that are within walking distance and where I don’t have to cross the highway, so if it’s a nice day, I’ll walk it.

          1. Windchime*

            I like to look at peoples’ yards as I’m walking around for exercise. I tend to stick to certain routes, and I like to watch as their flowers progress over the summer. Sometimes I also take my little mp3/radio with me and I can listen to NPR as I’m walking.

            Now that I’m re-reading what I wrote, I realize that I sound like a really boring person!

            1. fposte*

              Not to me, because I do the same thing :-). It’s especially fun in late winter when you can see bulbs start coming up.

              1. Mimmy*

                That’s true. I love mid-spring (e.g. between late April and June) because you can see things starting to really grow. There’s just something really invigorating about seeing everything so green and colorful–almost therapeutic after a long, cold winter.

          2. salad fingers*

            I’m the same way — bored by workouts just for the sake of working out. I don’t own a car, so I bike for transportation and that’s my workout.

            This probably won’t help for weight loss and it’s not universally applicable (works best in large cities, I’d guess), but my favorite motivation for long bike rides is noteworthy restaurants and breweries. A couple of friends and I regularly do 20-40 mile bike rides to some breweries close by, eat and drink too much and then take our bikes home via public transportation. Very satisfying, maybe a break even situation, and the perfect workout for people who don’t like to work out.

        2. Artemesia*

          I was one of those tall skinny people until I hit 50-55 and suddenly the pounds started accumulating. It is soooo hard to just lose 5-10 pounds and I would be happy with that.

          One of the things that keeps it sort of under control i.e. not gaining more is that we have moved to a big city where everything we need can be walked to. I just got back from a mile round trip to the grocery store carrying heavy bags. Yesterday went to dinner with friends, walked a mile and a half to an outdoor concert and walked a mile and a half home. This constant ‘destination oriented’ walking keeps the weight steady; like you I can’t just walk aimlessly, I need to be going somewhere. If you can organize your necessary errands so you have to go a few blocks here and a few blocks there, this can really make it easy to get some exercise in.

      2. Reader*

        Get extra walking in on the little things like going to the store. Park as far away from the door as you can. Make extra trips up and down the stirs of your house if you have them. I also prefer someone to walk with but try just short walks. A couple of blocks and back or 10 minutes out then back.
        Regarding calories – if 1200 is too hard start a little higher and gradually work your way down. Don’t eliminate all treats but make them smaller portions and not every day.
        Slow changes are most likely to become a permanent part of your life then trying to do everything at once.

    3. Riki*

      IMO, it helps a lot to find activities you enjoy. For example, you say that walking bores you. What doesn’t bore you? Biking? Swimming? Hiking? Dancing? Yoga? Do you listen to music when you walk? I like to run, but my work out music is what keeps me going after the first couple of miles. Can you walk or bike to work?

      Also look into online work outs. I have a subscription to Barre3 Online ($120 per year) and I love it. My old gym membership was pretty cheap, but I never went. Barre3 is a much better value for me because I can access it any time, anywhere as long as I can connect to the internet.

      1. Ali*

        There’s so many of us AAM people that also use MFP that I’m thinking of starting a group on MFP for us! Haha.

        Since it’s on topic I wanted to add that this blog has been really helpful when I’m asking for nutrition advice. I realized the other day that part of my problem is I’m not eating well enough and I’m going to focus more on my food intake now that I have the exercise part down. I’m going to try to make an honest effort to cut down on the sugary foods, eat lower-calorie stuff and get in my protein. I go to a Twitter chat every week and they just suggested a good nutrition bar, so I bought a sampler pack to start and see where/if I can incorporate that in.

        Thanks for the help!

      2. IronMaiden*

        What about DVD workouts? You can get all sorts of things from Yoga to Zumba to the Les Mills programs etc. Thrift shops and yard sales are good cheap sources and you will often find fitness equipment selling cheaply as well.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      We bought a Wii Fit and 2000+ days later, it and I are still good friends (most of the time). I don’t calorie count but I try and make sure I don’t stuff my face until I’m full at dinner like I used to, and don’t eat after 7pm. I do however, snack all day long but I make most of the stuff I eat, so I control the nutritional value that way.

      1. Ali*

        I hate my Wii Fit sometimes! Especially when my avatar blows up and yells at me for gaining weight. :(

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Diabetics can have problems with dehydration. I think water doesn’t get mention enough because there is so much to explain about food and food portions.

      Part of exercise is mental- what do you do when the boredom hits?
      Bring a radio. Time your walk, see if you can pick up some speed.
      Perhaps split your walk in two- half in the morning and half in the evening. Use a reward system. “When I get done with my walk I can read AAM [or other enjoyable activity].

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      Don’t forget that with MFP, you add in calories based on your exercise for the day. Think of it as motivation to get off the couch!

    7. Stephanie*

      Not a cookie, but I found herbal teas good for sweet cravings without the added calories. Hibiscus teas are naturally sweet and need little to no sweetener. Tazo makes a passion tea that got even my juice-loving sister to cut back. Carob-based tea is also naturally sweet.

    8. Mephyle*

      There are oodles of equipment-less workouts on the internet – exercises, routines, and templates for building your own routines. Search for keywords like “bodyweight exercises” and “bodyweight workouts.”
      If you like to have someone in front of you showing you what to do (as is my preference), you can invest in a few good workout DVDs of your own, or find endless variety on YouTube. Also, my favourite sources of free online fitness videos include: Hang Tight with MarC, Sparkpeople, and Fitness Blender.

    9. Bea W*

      The calorie intake is based on what you put on as your activity level, height, and weight. If you are more active and log that you will find that it calculates the number of extra calories you have burned and adds that to your daily allotment, so that you can “go over” without going over.

      I do find the base calculation inaccurate for me. I have some crazy metabolism, and the 1400 calories it gives me for a goal of gaining is waaaaaaaaay below what I need to maintain. I had to set mine manually. If what it gives you for your goal isn’t working for you, you can set custom calorie and nutrient goals instead.

    10. angie*

      Apologies if this has been mentioned and kudos to you for initiating a lifestyle change! Small steps that have helped me:

      Get a free pedometer app. I use Noomi (?) but there are others. It’s kind of like a game to see how many steps you can rack up without even trying. Plus, it keeps your all-time and your best of the week which is sort of interesting.

      If you have a bike, I like Map My Ride, also free. You can have it look for rides that originate near you of various lengths and it’ll give you a map to follow. Or, you can set out on your own accord and it’ll create and store your personal workout map. It calculates calories, although distance (since GPS’ed) is way more accurate.

    11. TheSnarkyB*

      Ooh!! And anyone who gets bored during workouts should be listening to Podcasts if you aren’t already! I’ll try to post this in next week’s too but here are my favorites:
      – Mental Illness Happy Hour
      – Planet Money
      – Put Your Hands Together (comedy)
      – The Read (aka “This is the read w/ Crissle & Kid Fury)
      – Audio Smut (sooooo goooodd)
      – 99% Invisible (architecture in real life, not as niche as it sounds)
      – This American Life
      – Freakonomics
      – Girl on Guy (Aisha Tyler)
      – Nerdette
      – The Truth
      – The Broad Experience
      – The Moth
      – All the NPR good ones (Wait Wait, Radiolab, Ask me another, Pop culture happy hour)

      1. Stephanie*

        Oooh, good suggestions! I absolutely adore The Read, but they talk about Beyonce TOO. D*MN. MUCH. I haven’t listened to this past week’s episode because I know half it will be about the On the Run tour.

  28. AVP*

    Are there any Quebecois on here today?

    I’m going to Montreal this weekend for the Comedy festival, and planning to take a day trip to Quebec City while we’re there. What hidden gems should I do/see/eat?

    I’ve been to Montreal once before but it was in the winter! Never been to QC.

    1. Luxe in Canada*

      Salut! Not from Quebec, but spent enough time there to give you some eating suggestions. If you eat meat, get a Montreal smoked meat, and have some poutine, but try not to eat them on the same day. If you don’t eat meat but eat cheese, get some fresh cheese curds. In Ville Quebec, the old city is just gorgeous, so go full-on tourist there. Looking forward to seeing what other suggestions people have.

      1. AVP*

        Thanks, this is good to know about Quebec City. Sometimes when traveling it seems uncool to just go to the touristy places but I’m absolving myself of this thinking and spending the day in the old section!

        1. Colette*

          It is touristy, but it’s not fake, if that makes sense? And really, if you didn’t go, you’d be missing what makes the city unique.

          1. AVP*

            That does make sense, and it sounds perfect! I was worried it would be the Disney version.

  29. Vancouver Reader*

    I want to thank everyone who recommended Where’d You Go Bernadette and A Dirty Job. Finished WYGB and loved it, and currently reading ADJ which makes me laugh and a little sad at the same time.

    1. NW Cat Lady*

      Christopher Moore is fantastic! ADJ is one of my favorites by him. Also try Lamb and Fool.

  30. Jubilance*

    This weekend my mom was in town to help me find my wedding dress. I had liked so many pics but I had a couple of must-haves – it needed lace and I wanted something that didn’t make me look like a giant column (I’ve seen so many plus size brides in ill-fitting dresses who looked like columns). We visited 3 places, 2 on Friday and 1 Saturday. The Friday shops were “regular” and it was disappointing to not be able to get into some dresses because of my body shape. I had a couple possibles but nothing that made me feel like I’d found The Dress.

    My appt Saturday was at a boutique that specializes in plus size brides and the experience was AMAZEBALLS. It was so nice to be able to fit into everything, and some samples were too big! My consultant was a dream, so supportive and listened to what I was looking for. And best of all – I FOUND MY WEDDING DRESS! It’s got everything I wanted – it’s got this beautiful lace overlay and hugs my curves just right. When I put it on again after trying on about 6 dresses, and put on a veil, I started crying because I felt so beautiful and like a bride. And then my mom cried and so did my friends, it was so cute.

    The icing on the cake was my mom telling me she was buying my wedding dress! Originally we agreed to split the deposit but she surprised me by paying for the entire thing. I was so shocked and touched that I started bawling right there in the shop. It means so much that my mom wanted to do this for me.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, Jubilance, that all sounds wonderful. I’m so happy to hear you’re having a good time with the prep. (But for you, shouldn’t it be the icing on the pie?)

    2. Mimmy*

      That is so wonderful Jubilance, congratulations!! I remember how amazing an experience it was when I was trying on wedding dresses. When is your big day? Just remember to take in every moment because it’ll go by so fast.

        1. Mimmy*

          Oh that’s right, I think I do remember you telling us about that. That is a really neat concept!

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Awww that’s so nice! My mom wasn’t with me for the shopping so I texted her pictures.

      I went to a plus-sized boutique as well and it was really nice. I felt beautiful versus stuffed-into-ill-fitting-sausage-casing.

      So excited for you!

  31. TC*

    I am looking to revamp my resume. I am a photographer looking to move into editing. It is a creative job. My resume has a slightly creative layout but I am seeing some very creative, not traditional layouts on the web. Should I just keep it simple or that I am in a creative field give me leeway? Do HR people like traditional layouts?

    Thanks!

    1. Noah*

      Keep it readable for sure. I received an infographic style resume from an applicant last week and it was horrible trying to decipher it.

      1. CC*

        If an infographic is so hard to understand it needs to be deciphered, then it’s a badly done infographic!

  32. marian*

    This is sort of an awkward thing for me to talk about. Basically, I’m 18 and I’ve never dated but I’m starting to get a lot of attention from guys and I don’t like it. Throughout high school people always saw me as a loner/loser.

    Now I’m taking an art class at a community college and a lot of the guys in the class are hanging around me. I keep second-guessing myself and trying to believe that they’re just trying to be friendly but that’s really not the vibe I’m getting. I’m not interested in any of them.

    So how do you discourage someone without being an asshole? I get the feeling that at least one of them is going to ask me for my number.

    1. Noah*

      Like many things in life, just be direct. If they ask for your number, tell them you are not interested. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you also don’t have to try and find a subtle way around it.

      If you don’t even want to talk with them, then don’t engage when they try and start a conversation. Keep any answers to questions short and don’t continue the conversation.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think it helps to be seen talking with all sorts of people, young/old, male/female. After a bit people get the drift that you just chat with people and aren’t particularly interested in dating.

    3. MJ*

      Wear a ring. That will stop a lot of casual interest. If asked directly whether the ring means you are in a relationship, you can reply that you are not looking for a relationship at this time.

      Interestingly, rather than shutting down conversations entirely, wearing a ring often just shifts the tenor of conversations from “interest” to “just friendly.” For some guys it makes you safer to talk to, because they are not interested in dating either.

    4. Luxe in Canada*

      Kind way to let them down: Thanks for asking, but I’m not interested in dating anyone right now. I’d rather just be friends.
      Jerk way to let them down: Haha, no, you’re not worth dating.

      I used to be bad at that kind of thing when I was your age (and a fair bit older, too). You don’t want to hurt their feelings, you don’t want to feel like a stuckup bitch, you might be scared that if you reject them then they’ll stop being your friend. I get it, I’ve been there. The good news is that this skill gets easier with practice! The bad news is the practicing part.

      Practice saying the words out loud, preferably to a friend but even a pet or your own self in the mirror. Be as kind as you can while still being honest. You have a fantastic advantage right now in that you are rejecting the idea of dating in general, rather than rejecting the idea of whichever young man who first asks, so you can be completely honest that he seems like a good sort but it still isn’t going to work.

      Nobody’s died yet of awkwardness and embarrassment, even if it feels at the time that you might. :)

  33. How to...find a psychiatrist?*

    How do you go about finding a psychiatrist/psychologist? And how do you even know what your problem is? And I’d rather not go through my doctor’s office because I often question their competence (I realize this is not good). Dear Prudence is always suggesting people talk to professionals about problems they are having. She makes it sound so easy! But I have no idea how to start. I’ve looked at my insurance’s website and found a list of people, but none of them really said what their focus is. I don’t want to just call 40 people and and go over everything again and again.

    And I don’t quite know what’s up with me. I’m in a good position for a new job that I can only think of pros for, but when I think about being hired on the best I can come up with is “meh.” I’ve substituted other jobs in my mind and I’m still uninterested, so I don’t think it’s the job (and I don’t think it’s super loyalty to my current job–it’s OK for now, but pretty much a dead end in my company). And I imagine them telling me no and I’m not really upset about it. Shrug and move on with life. I actually interviewed with one of the highest ranking elected officials in my county and I just thought “no big deal.” I’d like to say it was just confidence–but I don’t think so. I did have some nerves when actually in the room at the moment, but not nearly as much as I’d had with other much lesser jobs.

    And then this lack of interest does extend to other things…don’t really have any interest to date (and haven’t….in maybe a decade or so). I come home from work at the end of the day and that’s it. The idea of going out again is pretty much out of the question. It seems like most everyone else just gets by easier and are more joyful about things. I don’t really have friends. People seem to like me at work or even at a party, but no one really ever asks me to do anything. And if I ask them other plans always seem to get in the way. So I’ve more or less stopped and, worse, I seem to be OK with it. My only out-of-house social life is when my sister comes to visit. And I’m usually fine once I’m out, but I like my plans in advance and don’t really like spontaneous stuff. Even a trip to Walmart.

    There are people at work I think suck (1 in particularly is very moody and people even admit it–but then they’re still all friends with her). And I see this and just think…people would rather be friends with a wretched woman than nice ol’ me who remains level-headed every day. Just WHAT am I giving off that I don’t notice?

    But yet I function. I go to work every day and do a good job. No absences. I get in a little exercise every day. I don’t spend the day in bed, though I’m always a little relieved at night when it’s bedtime. I don’t have any harmful thoughts toward myself or others.

    I was hoping it was all situational because I live with my parents about 20-25 minutes from the city (where stuff actually happens). I find I’m much more anxious than excited about the idea of moving out (in my 30s) but I was still hoping that a move would maybe be good for me anyway, but then I was reading something in Self about making a big move across country (not what I was doing, but still applicable advice) and it said something like “If you can’t meet a guy or have difficulty forming friendships, a move is unlikely to help with that as it’s internal”. Well, dammit!

    So that’s kinda where I’m at. It was actually pretty difficult typing that as I’m finally admitting it “aloud” to other people. I think I tried to ignore it because I know people with much more difficult problems. I can get by day-to-day and can even occasionally find some happiness here or there. But I don’t want to go through life lacking interest in so much. I’m much too indecisive as well about stupid stuff. Like, the bathroom connected to my room has never been painted because (I think) I feared making a “wrong” choice. Never you mind that paint can be changed. And that happened when I was a teenager….so just how long has this been going on?

    Sorry to unload everyone. Once I started typing I guess I couldn’t stop.

    1. fposte*

      Good for you for reaching for more–I think you’re right to do so. Have you talked to a regular doctor about depression/dysthymia? That might be an easier place to start, and you may get a referral out of that that would help you through the search.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Some people might think that this is depression, or it could be an mindset of poverty (poverty isn’t just because of money). Or it could be that you have a slow thyroid or heart rate. Profound allergies will also zap a person’s will to go at life. (It’s amazing how foods can impact us.) I’m no doctor for sure, but these are some of the things I have seen as answers for this sort of wandering through life thing.

      Do the doctors on your list have websites? You might be able to Google a few and get an idea about the doctor that way. You could type one email and keep reusing it.

      Sometimes ministers are willing to help people search for someone. Or they may be able to tell you of someone that others have been speaking of highly. (That is the way I would frame it- don’t ask for a recommendation, rather, ask is there a counselor whose name seems to come up often as a good counselor?) You don’t have to go to their church or any church. You don’t even have to believe in a higher power.

    3. MJ*

      Public libraries often have motivational speakers from therapeutic fields. You could try attending to see if you find someone you click with. Maybe look for life coach types.

      You can also ask friends or workmates for recommendations. When you hear others talking about troubles in their lives, commiserate and offer that sometimes you think it might be helpful to talk to someone – people who have been helped by therapy are often quick to share!

    4. StateRegulator*

      You have a lot going on!

      I would start with getting a new primary doctor. See a list in your area that is covered by your insurance if applicable, read their bios and see if there is someone you think you can connect with. Check with the licensing board to make sure they are legit. Google their names for lawsuits.

      Get a complete physical. Sometimes blood work will show chemical levels being off that can be corrected with medicine.

      You could also use the same method for finding a therapist, a psychologist (not a medical doctor) would probably help you. You could have a bit of depression and just need a disinterested person to listen to you work things out aloud. Frankly, what you’re describing sounds like normal young adulthood. You’re in a normal stage of life.

      On the friends subject, I highly recommend making friends outside of work. Not that you shouldn’t be pleasant and friendly at work, but find an outlet elsewhere to form your close friendships. Volunteer with an organization that attracts lots of adults with similar interests, take up a hobby or sport you’ve always wanted to try. Go back to school at night (not online) so that you are around other working adults. Your indecisiveness sounds like a lack of confidence. Keep making small decisions and gain the confidence to make the big ones. No one feels 100% confident when choosing paint colors. That’s why you see so much white/off-white/beige in homes. My parents own rentals and they swear by antique white and buy it in 5 gallon buckets because its cheap. And no decision is required.

      All the best. Just hang in there.

    5. Anonymous*

      Try the Psychology Today website. I found my current, very good therapist there. You can check that against the list of therapists your insurance covers, and you can sort the list of therapists by what they do.

    6. Jubilance*

      I used my company’s EAP to find a therapist. I gave them a general idea of what I was looking for and they gave me 3 names, and the first 3 sessions were covered by my EAP. That might be a good route to test out a few before you commit to seeing someone regularly.

    7. gee*

      It’s kind of funny. I almost posted something very similar on last week’s open thread but I gave up. There is just too much to write and go over and I didn’t know where to start or where to finish. It’s a bit frustrating because I don’t know what my exact problem is and I’m not sure how to solve it. I also live with my parents so I gave some thought of moving to a new city or just changing my environment. While this sounds exciting in theory, the thought of actually doing this is daunting. I have no real connections elsewhere and I have a hard making friends in my current city. Over the past few years, I’ve seen several different therapists, counselors, psychologists. It was nice to be able to open up to someone who is an outsider. Other than that, it was not particularly helpful. I feel like I’ve been stuck in the and situation for the post few years and I’m not sure how to move on. One thing that’s a little better with me me is that I’m more accepting of myself and I try to complain less about my life. I think it’s so easy for people to suggest you see a professional counselor. That’s great and all but it’s easier said then done. I spent quite a bit of money on professionals to tell me what’s wrong with me but nothing has really with me. I have better insurance now and I spent some time meeting with different therapists. I haven’t found anyone I really felt I connected with or who could help me. The last one I saw was honest and said she couldn’t really help with a solution but was willing to work with me. A few psychologists did think I had social anxiety disorder. Maybe that’s part of it. I’m sure there are good therapists out there but Finding a good professional who you feel comfortable with and who will help you meet your goals can be daunting.

      1. gee*

        I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s hopeless but It is difficult. I second the suggestion of the psychology today website. It is frustrating to have to explain your feelings over and over again to different people. It takes some work and effort on your part. But hopefully you will find the right person.
        Also finding activities to keep you busy, preferably activities that get you out of the house and where you have the potential to meet new people. Like taking classes, a part time job, a team shot if you’re an athlete, or maybe a joining a church if you’re religious. I think All of this is easier said then done but trying some of these things can help you understand yourself better.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        “Other than that, it was not particularly helpful. I feel like I’ve been stuck in the and situation for the post few years and I’m not sure how to move on.”

        Yeah, I agree on that. I know people can get very stuck. I reached a point after about 6 months where I felt like we had accomplished everything we were going to accomplish and I didn’t want to be going to therapy forever, so we ended it.

      3. Miss Anxious*

        I agree with this. I’m in therapy now and while I like my therapist, I’m finding certain things that aren’t clicking. She’s very good at identifying my problems but her ideas on how to fix it aren’t really working for me.

        For me, there are slew of things that are causing me issues- personal relationships(family, romantic, friends), stress coming from every part of my life. It’s hard to nail down where exactly it’s coming from so I would say try to see if any providers have websites, or at least reviews online. Also, you might have to try out a few before you find one that fits. One thing I didn’t do, that I wish I did, was go over my therapy goals before my first session. You might be able to weed out who fits and who doesn’t.

        1. Anx*

          My boyfriend and I (I’m their age on the show, he’s their age in 2014) like to joke about our career game in OB terms.

          “I’m at a Cosima and I need to get on a Delphine level”

          “I’m at a Sarah and I need to get to to a Jennifer”

    8. Katie the Fed*

      Ask your friends!

      When I started seeing a therapist a few years ago I was open with some friends that I was getting help for depression and anxiety and I was STUNNED that probably half of the people I know have worked with therapists for similar issues over the years. Nobody really talks about it. Ask around – maybe someone has a recommendation.

      I totally lucked out on mine. He was a licensed psychologist who also happened to be a total hippie who hosted drumming circles and similar pursuits but he was a great fit for me.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I got my therapist through a referral from a friend as well and I’m open with people who come talk to me about personal troubles that therapy is a great tool in the process of life.

        Don’t be afraid of seeking help.

    9. Christy*

      It took me three tries to find my therapist. I did a locational search from my insurer’s website, which didn’t really narrow it down at all. And THEN I contacted my grad school’s counseling center to see if they had a list of recommendations. (I was an alum at the time, so it wasn’t just for current students.) And I tried someone and I hated her so much I cried literally for hours afterwards. And then I tried someone else and she recommended my current therapist.

      Know what’s going to be a deal-killer for you. I was having emotions around my weight (in conjunction with a bunch of other emotions) and so after I felt like the first therapist was bullying me about it I decided that the next therapist I saw had to be overweight. So I looked for pictures online and found an overweight therapist. The one she recommended isn’t overweight, but she’s still awesome, so it’s ok. So maybe think about if you want a male or female therapist, or an old or young therapist. It’s at least SOMETHING to narrow it down.

    10. From A Therapist*

      To “How to find a…”
      It sounds like therapy could be a really great step to take, and I commend you for going after it without a source of distress to pinpoint. Many people stop there, assume that this is just life, and don’t get to experience how much better things can be.
      There are many ways to find a good therapist, so I’ll give you all the options I can think of and break it into 2 parts- how to find us, and how to know if we’re any good/right for you. You may have to go to a couple to find out what style you want. If the first therapist isn’t a good fit personality-wise, you can tell them that and move on to try a 2nd.

      How to find: PsychologyToday website; ZocDoc; friends + family; your insurance company’s website or referral phone line; google “find a therapist” or “mental health services (your city)”
      Once you pick out a few names that are located conveniently, google the thpsts themselves- often they’ll have a website. I tend to go for those for my own personal use.
      Even if they don’t, Psychology Today usually lists their specialties or areas of focus. You may want to look for terms like “career” , your gender (especially if you’re male- more women seek therapy, so someone who sees a lot of men might be extra helpful), or “depression” (I’m not saying that you’re depressed, but it’s a good catch-all for this “meh” feeling until you can get a professional to talk to).
      How to tell if they’re good:
      Make sure the person you see is licensed. If they’re approved by your insurance, they are.
      You can call first to ask about their therapy style or what it would be like. Notice how it feels talking to them- do you feel comfortable, are they rushing to go do something else? Etc
      And then in the first session with someone, you can ask more questions and tell them you’re not sure how to choose a therapist. Ethically speaking, they shouldn’t be pushy about being the right choice for you unless they can tell you why they think they can help you. (And with this general sense of malaise, MANY therapists will be confident about being able to help you. Just bc it’s very common and you sound open to exploring it. But if they sound defensive or presumptuous, just trust your gut and call or visit a different office). Best of luck to you on your journey. :) The vast majority of us are good apples so it’s about fit for you more than anything else :)

    11. polkadot (Ger)*

      “And how do you even know what your problem is?”
      The good news is: it’s not your job to diagnose yourself. You can totally leave that to the experts.

      When I started feeling really awful I found a counsellor at my university who helped a bit and who made me feel like it was ok to ask for more help than just someone to sort school work with.
      I went to my general doctor and told her that I don’t feel good. You can say what you feel. “I find it very hard to feel alright about anything.” “I’ve stopped having contact with most people.”

      I don’t think anyone expects you to have a full diagnosis. That’s their job!
      Wishing you all the best! :)

  34. Heavy Topic Alert*

    Anyone out here recover from food addiction? I could really use some serious advice. I can stand to lose 50 lbs or more, but cannot bring myself to stop depending on food for comfort and happiness. I know there are a ton of books out there on the topic, but I am not a self-help book person. Therapy worked just slightly for me, but the money I was paying out of pocket and the time commitment were just short of worth it.

    Thank you for any advice you can offer.

    1. Anon*

      Haven’t recovered…all I’ve really done is lost weight and exercised more, but I’m still a food addict. Sometimes I think the whole idea behind getting healthier was just to make binges that much more of an event. I think about food even more than I did when I was overeating all the time. Whatever need I was using food to meet is still being unmet.

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      I’m wondering about the possibility of group work, whether it’s overeaters anonymous or a group therapy class led by a professional. I don’t know about availability, or how comfortable you’d feel with that, but it might be a more reasonably affordable option than one-on-one.

      Wishing you the best of luck.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Two thoughts based on my own experiences. The foods I kept eating were the very foods I was allergic to. Some people experience cravings for the very food that they are wildly allergic to. (This is what I was doing.) Disturbingly, the more you eat of that particular food, the more you want it.

      Many addictions come with a huge nutritional deficiency. Bring that deficiency up and the cravings go way down to the point of manageable. You can simply chose “No, I will eat this piece of fruit and skip the candy bar.”

      I suspect this might be helpful for you because this is not something that talk therapy is going to help. There is no way anyone could have spoken to me enough to make me change my eating. Why. Because it was a physical problem more than a problem in my thinking. Knowledge is power, once I was told “stop drinking milk, you have a very strong allergy to milk” my world opened up and I started looking for what else was pulling me down.
      Yeah, I did go through some emotional stuff when I changed my diet. But I was willing to face those emotions because I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

      1. Heavy Topic Alert*

        How did you figure out you were allergic to milk? Trial and error? I wish it were easier to figure out vitamins/minerals deficiencies. Some deficiencies are detectable, but to my knowledge, many are not. I don’t know how I can figure out if I am deficient in the ones that are not detectable on blood tests.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          When I got involved with alternative medicine. Kind of controversial stuff- but I was getting no results from the regular doctors. And the pills they were giving me was taking away the little ability I had left to function. I went every two weeks and they just gave me stronger drugs than the last time I went.

          I wish I had the money to run the medical tests along as I progressed through the alternative med program. That would have been very cool to see what their results showed. But I only had enough to pay for my nutrition and my appointments with my practitioner.

          They use (controversial topic alert!) a form of kinesiology.
          For the first year I went, I did not believe in the kinesiology thing at all. But the practitioner was giving me things to work on and I bought the nutrition and the results flowed. If I had not experienced it, I don’t know if I would believe someone else. However, friends and family started commenting that my skin/hair looked better, I had color in my face, I was standing straighter and so on. Ugh. I sound like a commercial.
          Well the punchline is get involved with learning about nutrition and you might find the relief you need there. Sitting in a room talking about it, probably won’t do too much, if you are like me.

          As far as the milk allergy, the practitioner picked up on it, immediately. I should have realized it though. Whenever I had milk I had all I could do not to double over. The dots just never connected for me, though. (Casein allergy is an immediate reaction, lactose allergy takes a bit longer.)

    4. MJ*

      You have an addiction to something you cannot give up on cold turkey – this must be the hardest addiction in the world to deal with. You need support. You might consider Overeaters Anonymous or Weight Watchers.

      Addictions are often symptoms of a bigger problem, which you need to uncover and address. Therapy and self-help books may not have helped in the past, but it doesn’t mean they won’t help in the future. Susie Orbach’s Fat Is a Feminist Issue helped me see other reasons beyond comfort, happiness, and fatigue (like self-protection and an unconscious need for “armor”) behind weight issues I was having. Sometimes eating is a way to stifle our own voices, and when we begin to sp