Sunday free-for-all – September 21, 2014

Sam and LucyIt’s the weekend free-for-all.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Have at it.

{ 630 comments… read them below }

    1. fposte*

      I’m basically with Wakeen, but I’m pretty excited about the recipe anyway. It looks absolutely wonderful–thanks.

    2. LadyB*

      UK based, I’d never heard of chess pie before last week. Thanks for broadening my knowledge and giving me something new to try.

  1. nina t.*

    OMG, love the picture!

    Who else is looking forward to all the new TV shows this week?
    My weekly lineup:
    Sunday – The Good Wife, Madam Secretary
    Monday- Gotham
    Tuesday-Person of interest
    Wednesday – law&order:svu, Chicago pd, Nashville
    Thursday – scandal, how to get away with murder
    Friday – the amazing race, blue bloods

    My pvr will be busy :)

      1. Christina*

        I liked that show (wasn’t the best written and kind of ridiculous situations, but good eye candy and entertaining), but they just killed a character I really liked in a really stupid way. I’m still angry about it.

        1. Trixie*

          Elam? Well, he wanted off the show because it was a lot of time away from his music. Rather they ended it this way than bring in another actor. And what a storyline, Callum has to do this to the one person he really cares, and who doesn’t even recognize him.

    1. Stephanie*

      Looking forward to Scandal! Season 3 was sort of a train wreck, but I’ll still watch. Also looking forward to How to Get Away with Murder.

    2. The Earl Marshal*

      I’m definitely looking forward to Scandal, How to get away with murder and madam secretary. Can’t wait!

    3. Grey*

      I’ve spoiled myself on binge watching. It’s to the point where I prefer to wait until the season is nearly over before I start watching each saved show on a daily basis.

      I still have the entire past seasons of Revenge, Major Crimes and Brooklyn Nine-Nine to get caught up on. But I plan on watching the new season of Trailer Park Boys first. I’ve been looking forward to that. While I’m watching those, I’ll be collecting episodes of the Good Wife, SVU and the final season of Sons of Anarchy to binge watch next Spring.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Major Crimes were terrific, I don’t think I could let them sit on the TiVo that long. :D

        The only time I’ve saved up a whole season is when I got into Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead on Netflix, and I decided to start recording them. I had to wait until the previous season was out on Netflix and I had finished watching it before I started watching the “current” season, which IIRC was over by that time.

    4. Kay*

      OMG, so many shows!

      M- Big Bang Theory, Castle, The Blacklist, NCIS:LA (3 of those are on at the same time… thank goodness for DVR)
      T- NCIS
      W- Criminal Minds
      Th- Parenthood
      F- The Amazing Race.

      Also Once Upon a Time. I can’t remember which day it’s on, but the DVR is set! I’m thinking about checking out Forever… looks like it’s about a guy that’s immortal? and Maybe Selfie… I set the first couple episodes of those to record so I can check them out.

        1. Kay*

          Thanks! I knew I had set it to record, I just couldn’t remember which day it airs. A friend introduced me to it last spring and I Netflixed the first 2 seasons and then they put season 3 up over the summer, so I’m all caught up and excited! :-D

      1. Cruciatus*

        You can watch Forever for free right now on Hulu (if you’re in the US). He’s immortal in the sense that he dies…but he always comes back to life, naked and in water… It may also even be on other sites as well–same with Selfie. Forever was good, but not quite great…but the first few episodes often involve everyone figuring things out. Overall I enjoyed it, the cast, and will definitely check it out again–I just didn’t need quite so much narration (even if it is by Ioan Gruffudd). I think it airs twice this week, first on Monday, then a new episode on it’s regular night, Tuesday.

        1. nina t.*

          Thanks for the review. It’s tentatively on my record list but I wasn’t reading too many positive reviews so still unsure if it’s worth my time.

    5. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Due to work issues, I never get to see the entire episode of Person of Interest, then my damn DVR died and I lost the entire 3rd season. Can’t wait for Tuesday!

    6. Rebecca*

      No new shows for me (no cable or satellite) but I am happy to watch last season’s episodes of Criminal Minds, NCIS, Big Bang Theory, and CSI on Netflix DVD’s!

      1. Bea W*

        Some of the networks will put new shows online shortly after they air. Sometimes you have to wait a week. If you live someplace where you can’t really get over the air broadcasts with a standard antenna, you can stream just about anything with Roku or Amazon’s box…is it Fire TV? Firebox? Fire-something.

    7. Jazzy Red*

      I’m such an old lady! Looking forward to 2 episodes of Miss Marple on PBS tonight, and also to the return of Major Crimes and The Walking Dead (on the promo, when Rick says “We’re family”, I keep singing “We Are Family, I’ve Got All My Sisters With Me”. I have no respect [smirk].)

        1. Militant Intelligent*

          me too agh! i’m still on season 4. S4 comes to netflix next week #soexcited. damn. my life is crazy. :)

      1. Trixie*

        Huge Masterpiece fan! Really enjoyed the recent Breathless even though it was more mini-series than mystery. Also Endeavor as a fantastically done prequel.

    8. Artemesia*

      Time to program the DVR. WE missed the first two episodes of The Roosevelts because we didn’t know about it — need to make sure we don’t miss cool new shows if there are any. What is the show you all are most looking forward to?

      1. Mister Pickle*

        I like Big Bang Theory, but I can’t handle much more of Amy Farrah Fowler being put down so frequently by Sheldon and the others. Either she and Sheldon have a “relationship breakthrough”, she dumps him for someone else who treats her better, or I’m just going to stop watching the show. It was funny for awhile, but now it’s just mean.

      1. Jen RO*

        I can’t wait! And, with the change of day, I can watch it first thing Saturday morning instead of having to wait until Monday night, yay!

      2. nina t.*

        Season 2 of the Canadian version ends next week so I’m happy I won’t be without new episodes with this new one starting again either.

    9. Liane*

      We don’t watch a whole lot of TV shows, but the whole family is looking forward to Agents of SHIELD, it’s been 1 of Family Time things since it premiered.
      I am also Very Pumped about Star Wars Rebels. Been re-watching the preview/teasers on YouTube.

      I imagine my daughter will be watching more Dr. Who & Attack on Titan (anime series)

      1. Liane*

        Forgot! I think we will get back to watching Once Upon a Time, too. I got out of the habit when the Teens started watching on their computers or via DVR at times I couldn’t join them.

    10. Still Trying To Find a Clever Name*

      Downton Abbey Series 5 starts tonight in the UK! Also looking forward to The Good Wife and Madam Secretary, Scandal and Greys start this week too which means that is my PVR fired up.

    11. CAA*

      I’m sad that Outlander only has one more week before it goes on hiatus. It’s lived up to all my expectations so far, and I do have “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood” that I’ve been saving to read after the first half season.

      For new TV, I am looking forward to Madam Secretary, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Amazing Race. I’ve also heard really good things about Black-ish, even though I really don’t like that title.

      1. Traveler*

        And last night was the big Outlander episode too. I don’t know how I feel about the hiatus. I’m kind of curious why they chose to space it out that way.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’m going to miss the season premiere of Once Upon a Time. :( My Amazon video is going to be busy when I get back. I’m also going to miss Doctor Who next Saturday–I’ll be running around Llandaff looking for ghosts. 0_0 Will have to see if my Amazon UK account will let me stream it when I’m actually in the UK.

    13. Audiophile*

      My watch list:

      S – Madam Secretary, The Good Wife (maybe?) And of course TWD next month!!
      M – Gotham, BBT (possibly)
      T – empty
      W – Red Band Society
      T – How to Get Away With Murder
      F – empty

    14. Nina*

      SUN: American Dad (before it moves to TBS), Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn 99
      M: Sleepy Hollow
      T: Agents of SHIELD, Selfie
      W: Black-ish (Here’s hoping it doesn’t suck)
      Th: How to Get Away with Murder (also hoping it doesn’t suck)

      1. Stephanie*

        Cautiously excited about Black-ish as well, as that sort of was my childhood–parents/grandparents attempting to try to explain the “struggle” and me being confused why I couldn’t have a bat mitzvah. But overall, I’m just happy to see more representations of blacks on mainstream TV.

        If How to Get Away with Murder follows the usual Shonda trajectory, it’ll be good the first two seasons and then just falter after season three when she gets distracted or disinterested or something.

        1. Nina*

          LOL about the bat mitzvah. Black-ish could be a clever satire, or an offensive mess. I’ll give it a chance.

          ITA about Shonda’s shows, which is why I don’t watch them much. But I’m hoping HTGAWM doesn’t go down that path.

    15. coconut water*

      The Mysteries of Laura pilot last Wednesday was really funny. Debra Messing is a detective with twin five year old boys.

      I like a lot on your list…I’m really curious about Person of Interest…. Now that they all have new identities…. What is is going to be like?

    16. The IT Manager*

      I am very pleased with how I have cut more and more TV our of my life. I’m down to Grey’s Anatomy and Person of Interest, but that darn Scorpion is drawing in. I think I am going to give it go.

      Also Fox’s Gracepoint which is a remake of a series I loved so much I am willing to try the sure to be less good American remake.

      Trixe – I watch Longmire, but I think they finished their season over the summer so I don;t expect it to return until next summer.

      And speaking of POI, I am marathon watching the first season (23 episodes) in a week because I checked out the season 1 DVDs from a library and they’re due back in a week.

  2. Trixie*

    Another successful sale on CL this week! Since I’m not in a particular hurry the bigger pieces, I’m firm on price with no haggling. I’m still a fan of Ebay but shipping can quickly add up. Next piece I’m thinking about is a wrought iron king headboard which I’ve been hauling around for a while. I think something like this will definitely find a buyer around my area.

      1. M. in Austin!*

        A lot of buyers don’t want to pay shipping, or are used to very cheap shipping options. I decided not to bid on a wallet because the shipping was 16$! It was only from PA to TX, so idk why it was so expensive.

        1. Trixie*

          Exactly. I usually included free shipping but it was reflected in starting price or buy it now price. Some piece are just much easier to unload on CL if you can.

  3. kristinyc*

    Sort of a shameless plug here, but I just started an Etsy shop last week (link is with my name), and I’m really excited about it. I’ve been kind of unhappy at work lately (I work in marketing), but I’ve always loved making things and doing crafts as a hobby. My niece is going as Elsa from Frozen for Halloween this year, and my mom made her dress, and I offered to come up with some shoes. I designed some really cute ballet flats for her, but my brother gave me the wrong size, so I bought more… and then realized that it’s really, really fun to play with glitter. So I bought a lot more shoes, and I’ve spent the last week covering them in glitter and sequins and painting snowflakes on them. So fun!

    To tie it back to being somewhat relevant to this blog: I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to go part-time at my “real” job so I can freelance and work on other projects (like making things and selling them!). Anyone have any words of encouragement for how to do that?

    1. K*

      Your Elsa shoes are really cute! I think you can expand this business if you learn to make other kinds of accessories and make them for a wider range of characters.

      Also look at Etsy’s forums and blog for tips on how to sell more. Tags and titles are really important for getting your items found. When making tags you want to use 2 or 3 word phrases in each one, like blue shoes, blue flats, elsa cosplay, frozen cosplay, elsa costume, etc, instead of just one word. Look at your stats to see what phrases people use to find your items and put those in your tags as well.

      1. kristinyc*

        Thanks for the advice! I’ve been tweaking my listings every day. It’s so hard to know what sizes to have in stock (for the little girls sizes, I have to order them, and since I’m paying shipping, I’m trying to order several at once). I think I’m in pretty good shape now. I’ve been getting plenty of page views – I think a lot of girls are going to be Elsa for halloween.

        I’m probably going to expand to other colors/princesses after Halloween (unless I get requests for them before that). Too many different kinds of supplies to have in stock! I’m also planning a bunch of totally different products for the holiday season. It’s so fun!

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Those shoes are so cute! I’ve heard that joining a team on Etsy is a good way to get your site noticed. Having a marketing background is probably going to be very helpful too. GOod luck!

        1. Elizabeth*

          I’m a team captain on Etsy. My team is for new sellers (and sellers with low sales) and we are active. I don’t think I should link here, so check out the Etsy DListers (DTeam). If you can’t find us, my name will go to my website and you can contact me through that.

    1. Dan*

      Half of the United States goes into a funk every two years, I guess you could say we’re used to it.

      I travel quite a bit around the world. I never stop being amazed at how much American culture and politics permeates the rest of the world.

      I traveled to Nepal in late 2008, right after Obama won his first term. There were some school children (one told me he was six) who when they found out I was American, started yelling “Obama! Obama!” I was actually shocked.

      Why? Because I hate to admit this, because I can’t name the head of state of any countries but my own. I certainly don’t know who the Nepalese head of state is. Some places get confusing, because there is a ceremonial head, and then there is a political head. Thailand is like that, where the King is ceremonial but not much of a political guy.

      That’s a very, very long winded way of saying that I had no idea that NZ had elections last night, let alone who actually won it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I travel to Europe quite a bit for work and I’m asked all kinds of questions about why the American political system is so messed up. I tell them that it’s because money has completely corrupted the entire process. I explained Citizens United to some Swedish and German colleagues, and they were all completely appalled.

        1. Dan*

          How freely do you speak about politics when you’re overseas? I don’t mind it, but when I travel in Asia, I try to keep my mouth shut because they don’t enjoy the same freedoms we do, and saying the wrong thing in the wrong country can get you thrown in jail.

          I’m torn, though, because you learn so much about local culture/thinking at a bar with booze flowing. It’s your best shot at getting the unsanitized “truth.”

          1. Bea W*

            I haven’t traveled overseas so frequently, but my limited experience in Europe is that there always seems to be at least one person interested in talking about US politics, even when I was in the USSR in ’80s – though that may not be surprising given the climate at the time. When I met my pen pals in person they wanted to know what I thought about the US presidential candidates (we’d just had an election) and had their own opinions about which ones they liked. We were teenagers. We mostly talked about things teenagers talked about, but politics did not go untouched. :)

            My last trip was to the Netherlands for business, but I spent my off days staying with a friend. We talked a lot about politics and social issues, mostly because I was asking a lot of questions myself seeing the country for the first time. Like in the US, there are political parties and candidates at the extreme ends. We think of much of the EU as being liberal and maybe not having the issues of having conservative or nationalist parties and candidates, but they most certainly do and some of them win. However, the way the political system is set up seems to work to keep more of a balance. US politics is very much a two-party system. Other countries have more…variety is maybe not the right word, but political power is not so concentrated amongst just two groups, and the way my Dutch friends have explained their Parliament, the only way for a political party to have much influence is to work with other political parties where in the US with only two parties in power, one or the other usually has a majority and/or the backing of the presidential administration.

            I love talking politics and social issues with people who are not from the US. I find it less stressful and really interesting, and it seems people are less rabid when discussing politics of another country. I usually avoid these same types of conversations with other US Americans. I think the fact that people are personally invested in the issues at home makes it more difficult to have a conversation on controversial topics without it degrading into something unpleasant.

            When I was in Israel trying to catch some video of the sunset while in a cab, the driver was interested in hearing our opinions on Obama, and was immediately shut down. Half the van were tea party conservative and the other half were loosy goosey liberals. No one wanted to start that war! I’ll try to remember to post that.

          2. the gold digger*

            How freely do you speak about politics when you’re overseas?

            I get more than enough politics in my own house. I certainly don’t want it when I am on vacation!

            (When I was in the Peace Corps, I would hear a lot of crap from people about the US this and the US that. They almost never had the full story, but I just didn’t feel like getting into it with them. I did want to snap at the women I worked with that the US that they thought was so awful was paying their salaries. (They had a grant from the Inter-American Foundation.))

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I’ve been watching The Roosevelts on PBS and what’s very sadly amusing is that nothing’s really changed since the 1880s.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Except it’s much easier to destroy the whole world.

            I never realized what horrible childhoods TR, FDR and ER all had. It made them truly heroic people, but they each paid such a high price.

          2. Mister Pickle*

            Yeah. I’ve been watching it, too, and criminy: “uplifting” it is not.

            One thing: the show has led me to an understanding of why so many people admire Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a neat lady.

            1. Amateur Pundit*

              I don’t understand why FDR could have a decades spanning affair, Eleanor could continue with a romance-less sham of a marriage, and yet Clinton was vilified for similar behavior over a shorter time. I say this having voted against Clinton both times. I’m not pro Clinton.

              Yet, FDR is always glorified.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                The times were different. The press all knew this stuff and never wrote about it. I have no clue if it was social mores or muscular/financial clout. Probably both.
                Some of it banks off of the problems the nation was having at the time. If a group of people are stuck in a burning building and someone says- “This way, we need to go this way!” That person can get raised up to hero level. Lincoln is another example. Thirty years ago, a history prof said in class, ” There is a code among historians that you do not talk negatively about Lincoln.”

                I remember being taught in grammar school a country that over all feels safe is more inclined to be critical of it’s leadership. A country under duress is more apt to cling to it’s leadership and less apt to be critical.

                These are generalities. Every setting has its own unique particulars.

              2. fposte*

                I think it’s the times. Now the glare of the spotlight and the ruthlessness of the press are inescapable. I once worked for a woman who’d been a journalist covering New York state politics years ago, and the press all knew Rockefeller’s mistress was in the gubernatorial mansion when it caught on fire. Standing around the mansion, they agreed among themselves that they’d report on her presence if he *didn’t* go and get her out; if he did get her out, they’d keep quiet about it.

                In general, I think America is really overobsessed with sexual behavior as a litmus test. I also think we (a we that may extend beyond past America, and in a process that’s very media-driven) are currently tending to a binary approach where people are fine until they make a mistake, and then they’re beyond the pale, regardless of what it is they’re achieving for the good and what the mistake is. And I think that’s complacent and lazy and foolish, because everybody’s making mistakes, and the issue shouldn’t be who’s getting caught at what but overall what can somebody offer and how much of a problem are their flaws and weaknesses.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  I agree with you.
                  The only good thing I can see here, is that real issues that we used to keep in the closet are coming out, too. We discuss molestation, rape, prejudice and so on like we never have in the past. I like that this stuff is on the table for discussion- too many people have been harmed or literally died because of these issues.
                  I can remember when society laughed at a drunk driver. Not any more, mercifully, society grew up.
                  So we have an increase in candor across the board. There are going to be times where candor does not serve any true purpose, except maybe someone’s hidden agenda. Shock value seems to be a good way to sell newspapers and get advertising dollars.

                  Eh. Here’s how much we have changed. When my father had medical bills that almost bankrupted him, the thinking at that time was “well, you must have done something wrong, you should learn how to handle money better.” Peach, bankruptcy plus social scorn. Now we know, most bankruptcies are because of medical bills. Small groups will pop up to raise funds for community member that is struggling. Big difference from the general scorn of years ago.

      2. BritCred*

        Most of the UK are still sniping about the Scottish Referrendum from Thursday too. Whether it be the result, supposed vote rigging, “gangs” of yes or no bullies or just the silly politicians statements.

        The rest of us are like? “guys, let the dust settle and just live rather than sniping!”

        1. en pointe*

          Yeah, apparently there were riots in Glasgow today. British nationalists singing Rule Britannia versus pro-independence campaigners. My friend who’s on exchange there has been worried all week there’d be riots.

          1. fposte*

            I didn’t see BritCred’s response as denigrating the principle or being limited to one side, though. I think some people like to move forward after a result whether they’re on the losing side or the winning side (I was a Democrat in the Bush/Gore election and still wasn’t a big fan of protracting the issue, so it really isn’t just the winners).

      3. en pointe*

        Yeah, I think a lot of people expect most Americans to not be able to name other leaders, to be honest. Definitely not saying it’s nuanced or even true – I’ve never been to the US so I can’t say – but ignorance about what’s going on in the rest of the world is definitely the stereotype.* That said, I certainly don’t have a clue who the Nepalese head of state is. I just had a think, and I can only name ten, which are almost all because of something really specific like they’re a neighbour, or we signed a big trade deal, or they rose to power through the Arab Spring, or we’re helping them look for a plane, etc., so considering there’s 196 countries, I’m clearly not as smart as I think I am.

        The American influence on Australia is huge, mainly because of the media. Our TV, movies, books and music are all predominantly American. I even get taught by Americans – 60% of academics in Australia are foreign and a lot of those are from the US or Canada. I took a basic psychology course last year where it was like a really broad overview of different topics, with different lecturers each week, and I think something like nine or ten out of twelve spoke with American or Canadian accents. Australians are really shit at psychology, apparently.

        *I would actually be much more inclined to attribute that stereotype to my own country at the moment. I don’t know if it’s the same in the US or other western countries, but the amount of ignorance and Islamophobic sentiment in Australia at the moment is pretty disgusting. Large parts of our leadership and community seem to have pretty much adopted ‘innocent until proven Muslim’.

        1. en pointe*

          Oh yikes, sorry. Just checked back and read this through properly, and it possibly looks like I’m saying that the stereotype of Americans is that they’re prejudiced, Islamophobic f*ckwits, which I’m not. I’m saying that the stereotype of Americans is that they’re ignorant, but I would be much more inclined to call Australians ignorant at the moment (due to lots of Australians currently acting like prejudiced, Islamophobic f*ckwits). Just to clarify.

            1. en pointe*

              Ha, sorry to hear it pervades your area also. They’re pretty much everyone at my current job, unfortunately. I just don’t get it at all. These are seemingly nice, intelligent people who’ve taught me so much and who really like me (or at least act like they do), yet if you were to change just one aspect of who I am – make me Muslim – and BAM they’d be saying hateful things about me right now. I just do not get that at all. I asked my super-conservative, Christian boss, who was going on about how ISIS is representative of Islam, whether she thought minorities like the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church were representative of her religion, and she called me a smartarse. Maybe, but I’m a smartarse with a damn good point.

        2. Looby*

          I grew up in Australia and the only reason I know our first PM was Edmund Barton was from some tv commercial a few years ago, but also thanks to TV/media, I can probably name more US presidents than Australian prime ministers.

      4. Bea W*

        I have a friend in NZ who spent 2 weeks here last year, and I can’t tell you anything about anything, other than it’s a long flight and they call candies “lollies”.

    2. NZ Muse*


      If I did not love my job so much…I might seriously be considering going abroad.

      Was not an election about policy despite, I think, needing to be. From my pov, i have never been so invested. This was the first time I actually really cared, where outcomes would affect me (ah the joys of growing up).

    3. saro*

      I have a friend from NZ and she shares your views. I’m sad for you since she and I share the same views on most things.

  4. Dan*

    While stimulus of this post does arise from something work related, my real beef is with bad customer satisfaction surveys which isn’t…

    I just decided “customer feedback surveys” piss me the hell off. Not that I ever did them anyway, but I just figured out how badly they SUCK.

    So my company hosts internal training events on a regular basis. These courses always come with a follow up survey. Sometimes they teach it with in-house staff, other times they contract it out. I mentioned on Friday that I’m taking almost a week’s worth of Tableau training. The course is split into two sections, “intro” and “advanced.”

    The Tableau training is contracted out, presumably as part of our deal with the company itself. Except it isn’t Tableau itself doing the training, it’s consultants that they use.

    Before class concluded on Friday, the trainer said that we *had* to fill out a survey. “Had” as in bad shit happens to his job if he doesn’t get a high response rate bad. WTF. I have to fill out his survey, then presumably the company survey later in the week, and wash rinse repeat for the advanced class next week. So four surveys for what, exactly?

    The survey we had to do sucked too. A good chunk of their survey was on the facility and food, which makes sense if you’re taking it at one of their own facilities. When you’re taking it on your company’s property, none of that makes any sense.

    In general, I hate surveys for two reasons. One, they never capture the sentiment I wish to express. *Every* question should always have an “N/A” as an answer. If I’m just didn’t exercise that portion of the customer “experience”, I can’t rate it. But I have to if you tell me it’s mandatory. Next, how do I tell the difference between good, bad, and ugly? Most of the time, my experience is “met expectations” which is very acceptable and worth a contract renewal in my book. But not everybody can go above and beyond all of the time, so the expectation that whatever is being asked about did is asinine. I so wish survey makers would let you give a simple answer of “things were fine. Not complaints, and nothing totally memorable sticks out.”

    Second big reason I hate surveys is that most companies do them all wrong. I’m a math guy, not a survey guy, and I can tell you that the mere fact someone/body/thing knows they’re being observed changes their behavior. Imagine what happens when companies start making bonuses, promotions, and even job security itself dependent on survey scores. The pressure from staff to give the top mark is relentless. I hate it. I may want to review you, but I want to give an accurate review, not be forced/guilted/manipulated into singing your praises.

    I was doing some homework and found out that the reason for all of this “top mark” pressure is because of something called a Net Promoter Score. Basically, for the question “would you recommend this to others”, the person compiling the stats is supposed to take the number of top scores and subtract out ALL of the bottom scores. If you’re rating from 1-10, 10 is the only acceptable “top” score, 8-9 are ignored, and the rest count against you. So if 1/3 of your respondents love you, 1/3 think you’re great, and 1/3 think you suck, the NPS is 0. (100 is the best, -100 is the worst.)

    I seriously hate being guilted into being manipulated into taking the survey, and furthermore actually be told what to put in there. And it isn’t the fault of the employee I’m dealing with directly, it’s the fault of his management.

    I think I’m going on survey strike, and am going to email the president of the consulting firm and tell him his survey sucks. I shouldn’t have to take four surveys for a training class. I’m going to class because my company is paying for it, I need to learn it, and I get out of my day job for a week. The Tableau survey asks what you expected to learn, and if you did so. Hell if I know. I expect to learn whatever the curriculum developer thinks is appropriate for an entry level and then advanced class. If I knew what all that crap was I wouldn’t be in class.

    Just ask me if this was a waste of time.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      I hate it when people are forced to beg or otherwise demean themselves asking for people to give them good scores on a survey. If someone is going to tell you “hey, please fill out the survey, and remember that I’ll get fired if I don’t score all ‘excellents'” – I’m pretty sure the system is broken.

      1. Dan*

        I’m seriously tempted to tell the next guy that I’m a heartless bastard, and have a policy of not giving out top scores to anybody, because my company has a policy of not giving out top scores during employee reviews.

        Change starts from below, and it isn’t necessarily easy. I do think a few solid performers will have to get fired for survey related stuff before companies figure out the system is broken. All it takes is one person to start change.

        It is completely bizarre that someone can get fired for giving me the service that I paid for and expected, no more, no less.

      2. LAMM*

        It’s even worse than that. At my old job a 5 (out of 5) was “100%”. A 4 was closer to a 40% and anything below that was a 0. So if we had three surveys done in a period and got two 5’s and one 4 our score would be 80% (which is below the 85% target). Which is why there’s the big push to get your customer to give all 5’s.

        We hate the surveys as much as you guys do… if not more.

        1. Dan*

          Have you known anybody to actually get fired over their scores? I’m serious when I talk about starting a one-man boycott of these things.

          But we have such a “don’t take it out on the little guy” mentality in this country, so we have a social resistance to change because the little guy is the first one to feel the impact. So in an effort to protect him, we perpetuate a system that we don’t like.

          I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the “Net Promoter Score” which drives all of this survey nonsense. I really do think for the executives to figure out the system is broken, either 1) Someone will have to show them something better, or 2) They will have to lose strong performers over it. But right now, because we all protect the little guy, the system *looks* like it’s working so management won’t change it. Even when it is actually the most harmful thing to the customer experience.

          1. Corry*

            Dan, I worked in a huge call center and knew several people who were on PIPs for not having “excellent” customer surveys, regardless of the rest of their performance. One of my co-workers had a Middle East accent and matching ethnic first name; when he got the boss’s permission to introduce himself as “Jeff” (let us say) instead, his survey numbers went up immediately.

            The same survey also asked the customer if their problem had been resolved. It was funny (but not, because our jobs and raises depended on it) that whether they thought you were smart depended on how polite you were, and that the same customer would rate you as not very knowledgeable, while stating that you fixed their complicated problem.

          2. LAMM*

            I have not seen anyone fired for low scores. It counts towards your performance review though, so I suppose you could be put on a PIP, and the District and Regional Managers wouldn’t be too happy.

            For the most part, we only take into account the scores on the surveys that are taken. The percentage of surveys completed is not taken into account… so not completing the survey won’t accomplish much. Though for what it’s worth, I never do the surveys either.

    2. Graciosa*

      I actually like the idea of surveys if they really are being used for the purpose of gathering useful information. Getting anonymous feedback about how to improve can really help – especially as many people are unlikely to just walk up to you and tell you what you could have done better (which is really hard to do politely and professionally).

      However I do agree with you about the way these types of surveys are being used – an almost mandatory metric simply for the sake of the metric has nothing to do with improving service. Having providers tell you what scores they need makes it perfectly clear that they have zero interest in any type of improvement. I resent someone trying to guilt me into helping them manage their relationship with their boss – or invest my time in a survey – when all I wanted to do was get my product or service and leave. It makes the whole experience unnecessarily adversarial.

      1. V. Meadowsweet*

        agreed on the surveys that are for gathering useful information rather than ‘rate this with a number and no way to expand on why or say it has no relevance’.

        back in college I had 2 semesters with a professor teaching his first upper level course, and you could tell. At the end of the first semester he gave out a survey for his students to fill in that was specific to him and his teaching rather than being the more generic ‘rate the teacher’, and the second semester was like night and day.
        Specific, targeted surveys are a wonderful tool.

    3. C Average*

      I hate surveys, too, and I agree with you about NPS having a toxic and disproportionate effect on business strategy.

      Basically, if you’re a normal human being, you’re going to think about the people you encountered and the experience you had when you’re filling out a survey. Say you went to a restaurant. You’re going to think about the food, sure, but your survey data is also going to be affected by the mood you were in when you walked in, by whether your waiter was pleasant and attentive, by whether you got a good table that wasn’t adjacent to a family with a crying baby, by whether you didn’t get interrupted by an annoying work-related phone call, and by a jillion other variables beyond the restaurant’s ability to control and beyond the survey’s ability to measure.

      Would you recommend the restaurant to others? That depends on a whole OTHER set of variables. We don’t recommend things in a vacuum. We recommend things in response to questions like “Where can I take my insanely picky in-laws to dinner?” or “Do you know of a kid-friendly place to eat near the airport?”

      Then there’s potentially a little bit of crossover between our opinions about our own experience as captured on the survey and the actual likelihood of us promoting the business to others: “Well, there’s a place out on 182nd that might do the trick. I went there once and the food was OK, the location’s good, and you should be able to find something everyone likes.”

      In other words, we don’t promote businesses based purely on our own great or not great experience. We promote them in response to our friends’ inquiries, and with the knowledge that their needs and tastes are different than our own. I can think of a handful of times I’ve told my general circle of friends, “This product is great and I loved it and you probably would too,” but that is really, really rare. And my survey data wouldn’t match that experience. When asked “would you recommend this to others?” if I had a decent experience, I’m gonna say, “Yeah, sure, why not?” But if the question was changed to “WILL you recommend this to others?” I’d be forced to say no, because I don’t generally market other people’s products–even good products–to my friends and family.

      (My business uses Tableau, too, and I sit right beside our team of analysts, so I pick up fragments about this topic pretty regularly. It’s interesting stuff. I’m hopeful that our obsession with big data and click-paths and ROI will eventually enable us to stop pestering consumers with questions they’re unlikely to answer with meaningful or useful data.)

    4. Anon1234*

      Four surveys are annoying but does it really warrant all of this anger and an email to the president of a company? This response seems strange to me.

      1. Dan*

        I was a little liberal with my words (sorry), but the social contract in this country says that the employee-employer agreement is between the two of them, and the customer needs to be kept out of if. If you’re not happy with your boss, or you’re not making enough money, keep me out of it.

        The “reverse” (whatever that means) is also true. In the interests of “privacy”, companies will not disclose personnel actions because it’s not the customer’s business. So why, all of a sudden, is some guy’s job on the line because I don’t want to do a survey? That’s information I don’t need, nor guilt that I want, so I resent being put in the middle of a situation to which I don’t care to be.

        And if the president cares so much about my feedback that he’s going to guilt me into taking a survey, he can read an email from me telling him that I think his methodology is stupid. Because my feedback is *so* important, somebody might get fired if I don’t give it. So I’ll give the feedback that I want, because this truly was the most memorable experience from the interaction. (That’s not hyperbole.)

    5. Anonsie*

      One, they never capture the sentiment I wish to express. *Every* question should always have an “N/A” as an answer. If I just didn’t exercise that portion of the customer “experience”, I can’t rate it. But I have to if you tell me it’s mandatory.

      These types of surveys have to have a null response to be valid, yes, and it is mind blowing how often they don’t.

  5. Mister Pickle*

    I finished Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 and it was pretty good, although it lost some momentum about halfway through. I still plan to read HORNS.

    I’m about 2/3 way through Ian Tregillis’ SOMETHING MORE THAN NIGHT, and it’s pure fun. It’s like a Raymond Chandler hard-boiled detective novel, except that Philip Marlowe is a fallen angel. Tregillis is a physicist at Los Alamos, and it comes through in the writing. This is Really Good Stuff. If you like Richard Kadrey’s SANDMAN SLIM novels, or Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs books, you’ll like this.

    1. acmx*

      I just looked up Something More Than Night on Goodreads. This also popped up Something More than Night: The Case of Raymond Chandler .

    2. Ludo*

      I was surprised to learn Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. I think that man’s entire family writes for a living.

  6. Fruitfly*

    Has anyone read the book, “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens” by Benedict Casey?

    It is a book about studying the ways our brain can memorize things and how old methods of memory strategies, such as repetition, might not be effective in some situations.

    I have longed struggled with memorizing things. I have struggled to remember the concepts taught in my college major program to the real names of my cousins.

    1. Fruitfly*

      I haven’t read the book yet. I just want to know if the book is as insightful as the reviewers in Amazon though it is.

    2. Coco*

      It was recommended reading for my Philosophy of Education class but I never picked it up. Kinda wish I had, since an important topic in that class was learning and why formal education believes it has some kind of monopoly on it. (Kind of an ironic challenge to the establishment seeing as we were sitting there in a public university classroom…)

    3. Path Taken*

      I haven’t read that one, but I did find “Moonwalking With Einstein” really interesting. It’s all about memorization techniques and people who compete in memory contests where they have to memorize long strings of numbers or the order or a deck of cards.

  7. Dan*

    So Friday was a really, really late night. Much later than expected.

    I was out with some friends in the city, and figured on taking the last DC metro train home. DC metro schedules its last trains of the night in a somewhat confusing manner. With the new silver line open, there’s three lines that share the same set of tracks in the city proper. For the last train of the night, they will send only one color to collect everybody, and bring them to the various split points. So the orange line will take me to Falls Church, where I wait for a silver line train that starts in falls church and goes to the end of the line.

    The last full-service silver line leaves the heart of down town and 2:40 am. The “last” train of the night leaves that same point at 3:06. It’s a 20 minute ride to Falls Church from there, and another 20 minutes to the end of the line. So by just missing the 2:40 am train, I hoofed it out to Falls Church to wait for the train that would like there at about 3:30 am.

    Except those last trains never came there. They closed one of the stations because of “fire department activity” but it wasn’t a station on the line we were using, so I don’t know what. I waited until 4am, when some other people gave up and decided to get a cab. I went with them. The station manager had said 30 minutes ago that the next train would be there in “20 minutes” but it never came. There was *no* communication from Metro. Which reminds me, I need to complain about that during regular business hours.

    So the 4 of us split a $50 cab ride home. There was a cabbie sleeping in the Metro parking lot who at first didn’t want to do the run. Then he wanted to fight about the toll road, and then he wanted to fight about taking a credit card as payment.

    I didn’t get to bed until 5am, after having been up since 720 Friday morning. I was Not. Functional. today. FML.

    I don’t take DC metro as a regular part of my commute, but damn, I’m starting to find out why people are complaining about service and reliability.

    1. Stephanie*

      I’ve been screwed over by that last train business before. The logic behind the scheduling was never very clear. I got to a station once and the manager’s like “No more inbound trains.” I pointed out that the sign said there was a Vienna-bound train coming in a few minutes. “Oh. Yeah, sometimes the sign is wrong.” My friend and I just ended up splitting a cab.

    2. en pointe*

      Oh wow, you would think there’d at least be an announcement or something.

      At my station, the last train gets in at 2.50 am, so at like 2.52 they start closing off the barriers with these big pull-across shutter doors. The problem is that if the train is even like 3 minutes late, you get locked in the station. There’s sometimes nobody on it so they can’t rely on watching out for people, but you’d think they could at least listen for the train or something before shutting things.

      It’s happened to me twice in the past month; the first time with a couple of other people and the second time on my own, and I had to walk around awkwardly (holding my shoes by that point) looking for some guy, who I think was a cleaner, to open up. Pretty awkward haha.

      Good luck with your complaint. I did ring up and complain in my case, but they didn’t seem to care very much.

    3. Graciosa*

      New York seemed to do this fairly well (from a non-resident perspective). The last time I was there, it felt like I was constantly listening to announcements about changes in service on other train lines in the subway system (not even the one I was on).

      I’m really sorry you went through that – a horrible experience anywhere, but especially frustrating at our nation’s capitol. This doesn’t make us look like we’ve got it together.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Well, the NYC subway also never closes, it just runs maybe two trains an hour in the middle of the night. That was the weirdest thing when I first moved from the NYC area to DC, that you couldn’t stay out until last call and take the Metro home, it was already closed! (The DC Metro used to close even earlier than it does now.)

        Well, I guess that’s the up side to being too old to party that late any longer. :D (Well, at least no bar-hopping or clubbing; I’ve stayed up most of the night when at a friend’s house.)

        1. Natalie*

          Our train lines have the same problem, although our line is much newer and less developed than DC, so I have hope for the future.

          The dumbest thing, IMO, is that it runs through a couple of bar areas and the largest university, but shuts down an hour before bar close. College students are way less likely to be able to afford cabs! Maybe we could make it easier for them to not be tempted to drive drunk by running some trains.

  8. Kali*

    Semi-work related, but not really: I moonlight as a second photographer at weddings. We’re nearing the end of the wedding season and I’m nearing the end of my patience for guests, family, and yes, brides and grooms. What’s your best, funniest, most horrific, most groan-worthy wedding story? I need to know that it’s not just us that attract the worst people but it’s weddings that bring it out in (relatively) normal people…..

    1. Dan*

      Well, this would actually be the wedding I *didn’t* go to.

      My ex’s family is severely disfunctional. I.e., Jerry Springer-style disfunctional. My ex’s older brother has two grade school children with a woman he isn’t married to, and they’ve had and on-again, off-again Jerry Springer-style relationship.

      So, my ex and I had planned a month long overseas trip a year in advance for some fall travel. Like booked tickets and everything that far out. Within that year, the ex’s brother and the baby momma decide to tie the knot. They first talked about a summer wedding, and then moved it to the fall *when they knew when we would be gone.* WTF? I’m actually glad we didn’t get invited (er had scheduling conflicts) because I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut about how bad things were with them.

      For a wedding present, we got them the most passive aggressive gift *ever.* In Bali, they sell Luak Coffee, which is basically made out of a coffee bean that has been run through the digestive system of the Luak animal. And by that, I mean he swallows the bean and craps it out.

      That coffee is considered a delicacy, and is the most expensive coffee you can buy (I think). My BIL was pissed that we got him “Poopie Coffee” which is exactly the message he was intended to receive.

      1. EG*

        There’s someone who now produces and sells similar coffee that has been “processed” by elephants. Apparently the herbivore stomach acids are milder or something, so the taste is exquisite. I don’t know, I don’t drink coffee and I don’t think I’d dare try this kind of thing.

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      I was a maid of honour, and I passed right out shortly before they got to the vows. That was super embarrassing.

      The best wedding cake I have ever heard of was a stack of cheese wheels. Yum! That was someone I didn’t meet until after her wedding, though.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        My best friend almost passed out in her brother’s wedding. She hadn’t had much to drink that day and she was in the sun (the other bridesmaids were in the shade). Luckily she felt it coming and sat down in the first row before she actually passed out.

        1. Luxe in Canada*

          Exactly what Blue_eyes said, except that despite sitting down I still passed out and made a scene. Not enough water, sun, standing for a long time without moving, and a genetic propensity for passing out whenever my body feels like it.

    3. BRR*

      I was at a wedding last night that was at a hotel a sports team was staying at for a game. They arrived when the guests did which involved blocking traffic, huge crowds, and parts of the hotel being blocked off. An elderly lady with a walker grabbed an employee and told her to tell the team to go f themselves.

      1. Kali*

        The elderly guests are often the best! We had one couple who was acting cutesy while cutting the cake and one of the elderly guests in the back was trying to get a photo and his arms were getting tired from holding the camera. In a small moment of quiet, we just heard his voice pipe up from the back, tinged with impatience, “Cut the cake, Cheryl!”

    4. Diet Coke Addict*

      My parents and their best friends switched godparent duties for their kids. My godfather died when we were all very young, so one of his daughters asked my dad–her godfather–to walk her down the aisle at her own wedding. She had left the Catholic church and joined a very different Christian church that didn’t allow drinking, dancing, or pretty much anything fun.

      It was a dry wedding attended mostly by members of their new church and her husband’s enormous family. Then there was one table where all the heathen Catholics were sitting together–me, my family, my godmother and her family, and that was it. We were even pointedly set apart from everyone else at the reception–all their tables were in groups and ours was away alone near the back of the hall. No drinking, no dancing, no socializing–the main event was a video blessing. We ate dinner and then adjourned to the bar. The newlywed couple left immediately after dinner. It was very weird.

    5. Oh no*

      Girl from high school marrying man who she started dating while he was still married or right after separation. Her bridesmaid dresses were made by her mother and didn’t fit. One girl dare not bend over there was so much extra space in the front. And material was light weight and had small flowers on it. Much better suited to a little girl’s sundress. Bride and groom cut cake with her father’s sword from when he was in the marines.

    6. the gold digger*

      This is all chronicled in my blog, but here are some highlights:

      1. My husband’s parents threatened to boycott the wedding. He finally convinced them to come. I would have been happy for them not to come at all.
      2. Husband’s parents stayed with us for nine days. Stayed in our room because they can’t take stairs and our room is the only downstairs bedroom. They got drunk every night. For the first few days, they were getting drunk on booze they had bought, but on Day 5, they ran out of their booze and started drinking ours. Neither of us are big drinkers, so we get the really good stuff, thinking that when we have friends over, we want them to be treated well. We did not spend $28 on that bottle of bourbon for someone to drink it like iced tea.

      3. They took us out to dinner one night and FIL picked through every piece of bread in the common basket before finding one he liked. We took them to the VFW for karaoke so they could hear husband sing – they had never heard him sing before and he is actually quite good, as he inherited this talent from his parents, who are very good singers. His dad went to the bathroom as soon as husband started to sing. Returned halfway through and was bellowing that it was too loud and he wanted to leave. I stood – I was under the influence of vicodin because I had had a D&C that morning – and slammed my fist on the table and told him he would by God listen to his son sing. He stalked out.

      4. Husband’s mother got drunk at the reception and started sobbing. Told me that the happiest time of her life was when my husband was a baby, which, given what I know of her life, I believe. Husband’s dad is an abusive jerk.

      5. Husband’s dad and husband’s brother both toasted and both managed to not mention me by name or by role. My brother and sister, in contrast, both said how happy they were that husband was joining our family and how much they liked him, etc.

      6. Husband and I slept in the sofabed in the basement on our wedding night. The next day, husband got ready to drive MIL and FIL to the airport and MIL discovered she couldn’t find her wallet. I was terrified they wouldn’t leave. Fortunately, security let her through. Wallet had fallen out at the restaurant when she was drunk. She had also lost her watch and spent a few years being angry at me for not finding it, convinced, I suppose, that I either wasn’t looking hard enough or that I had found it and was withholding it out of spite. I found out yesterday that she found the watch last year in the pocket of a sweater she had brought with her on the trip.

      1. Ezri*

        I know I’m a day late, but does anyone else get the impression that weddings are a subconscious trigger that turn relatives into drama-stricken divas? Mine weren’t nearly as bad as yours, I will say, but I’ve heard a lot of stories like this.

        I barely speak to my extended family most of the time, but I vividly remember the day I sent out the wedding date announcements. I was at work when I got the first ragey phone-call from my Dad, saying that G’ma was just devastated over our choice of wedding date (New Years Eve), how dare we be so unthoughtful of other people’s travel arrangements, don’t you know Aunt is going to have her baby three months after that, etc., etc. I told him that if people had other plans they could just, you know, not come; that clearly wasn’t a good solution.

        We canceled the wedding and decided to elope about a week later.

    7. Seal*

      My brother married a rude, nasty woman from a fairly wealthy family. She want nothing to do with our family, and goes out of her way to try to keep my brother and niece way from us. Very sad situation for my mother.

      Their wedding was held at a swanky country club. I had volunteered to escort my 90 year old grandmother. When we got to the end of the aisle, the woman directing traffic – a friend of the bride’s – barely looked at us as she aimed us towards the back row. I said loudly, “this is the groom’s grandmother – we are NOT sitting in the back!” To her credit, the woman immediately started fawning over my grandmother and grabbed an usher, who very graciously escorted my grandmother to the front row. I followed along behind, rolling my eyes at the fact that no one had bothered to tell the ushers that my brother had family attending.

      Later I found out that my brother’s new inlaws had completely ignored my mother, who as the mother of the groom has been invited to come early to take pictures. Needless to say, my mother was crushed.

      At the reception, my extended family – including my parents and grandmother – were relegated to tables at the far back of the room. None of us could even see the front table or any of the toasts. Towards the end of the evening, my brother came over and mumbled an apology. He claimed the families were supposed to be in front, but there had been a “miscommunication”. There was plenty of eye rolling going on amongst our family that night.

      Believe it or not, my brother has been married to this woman for almost 15 years now. My sister-in-law still hates our family and goes out of her way to skip all family functions, despite regular efforts on the part of my mother to reach out to her. If my SIL had her way, my brother would cut off all ties to his family. The rest of us finally gave up on them – not worth the effort.

    8. C Average*

      My mom was a bridesmaid in a wedding with a country theme, and part of the outfit was a rustic-looking straw hat. She was standing beside some candles, and the hat caught on fire. It was burning slowly, so she didn’t realize it was on fire, but the smell made her woozy. One of the photographers saw what was happening, rushed over, and put out the fire while propping my mother up so she wouldn’t pass out. The wedding went on while all this was happening. Only a few of us had any sense that anything unusual was going on.

    9. littlemoose*

      I went to a Catholic wedding several years ago of two college friends. Neither of them was particularly religious, but they had a Catholic ceremony to please their parents. Anyway, the second reading was stated to be from Corinthians, which has a lot of sweet passages about love. But nope, this reading was about “sins of the flesh.” Awkward for everyone!

      Also her parents backed out of paying for the bar at the last minute, so our friends all brought booze and snuck out to the parking lot for drinks. That couple is still happily married!

    10. Valar M.*

      My wedding was intentionally very tiny – parents/siblings sort of event. Except grandmother in law invited herself and showed up to tiny wedding uninvited – only to complain the entire day, which was precisely what I was trying to avoid in keeping the wedding so small. She complained about everything – that she wasn’t allowed to bake a cake, that she I wasn’t posing the way she wanted – telling I was rude for not complying, that she didn’t get a proper invitation (uh yeah, cause you weren’t invited!), that we didn’t want people posting pictures to social media – and she still refuses to accept that I didn’t change my name. I seriously hate weddings. I would rather just sign some paperwork and take a nice vacation.

    11. Liane*

      Check out the transcripts of Carolyn Hax’s Live Chat on the Washington Post site. In August they have a special Wedding Hootenanny chat for Wedding Horror Stories.
      My favorite: Groom’s Mommy wore black. His whole family had threatened to do so, but Groom had the “Your Choice–Stay Home/Behave/Be Thrown Out” Talk with his family ahead of time, so most of them wised up, but not Mommy. So Maid of Honor decided getting revenge on the Bride’s behalf was in the scope of her duties. She got the DJ to play Back in Black for the Mother-Son dance! Bride reported that she *loves* watching this part of the wedding video.

    12. Nerd Girl*

      Coming to the party late but…
      * went to a wedding for a friend who had met and married a girl in less than 4 months. My husband was best man. The bride was (is) a high maintenance type woman who immediately rubs people wrong with the things she says and does. She’s one of those people who is 100% okay telling you her opinion but has 0% interest in hearing yours. Our friend (her husband) has a severe, life-threatening allergy to egg and fish. ALL of the food she had her family prepare included egg or fish in some way. He literally was nibbling on cheese squares all night long. On top of that, the wedding cake she ordered from the bakery was, according to her, off center with the top tier and she wanted the bakery to re-bake and deliver the cake the night before the wedding. The baker hung up on the bride after the bride screamed at her for several minutes. Literal, top of voice, horror movie type screaming.

      * my wedding. I had worked really hard on my seating arrangement and for weeks my grandmother was trying to get me to tell her where everyone was sitting. My cousin had this horrible guy she was dating who my mother hated. My mom had asked that I not put him at her table. My grandmother wanted to sit with him. The end result? I had to take my mom and my cousins boyfriend and switch their tables. This meant my mom was sitting with my unlces and a couple of really close family friends and not with my grandmother. It also meant my grandmother was not sitting at the table directly in front of the head table. OH THE DRAMA!

      *I try really hard not to judge people based on gifts or lack thereof at a wedding. But my aunt and cousin had made this big to-do about how they “all” went in on a gift for me and how I was going to be happy with it. 5 people signed the card. Inside the card? $25. That works out to $5 a person. It was 2 aunts, a cousin, her husband and my grandmother. I found out later it was meant to be an insult because they didn’t like the fact that my wedding and reception was more than an hour from their house.

      That was the tip of the iceberg for my wedding. I could write a book. I’ve told my husband that if he ever wants a divorce I’m taking him to the cleaners for pain and suffering due to wedding planning. LOL!

    13. Carrie in Scotland*

      We’d gone out drinking with some of the wedding party the night before (incl groom) and the next day my then boyfriend left me in the middle of the ceremony to go outside and throw up – which led to everyone asking me where he’d gone. He didn’t come back into the church because he was worried that he’d disturb everyone.

    14. Kali*

      Thank you all! I needed this, including the “latecomers.” A lot of these were posted while I was out shooting yet another wedding, but this was one of those that you get every once in a while that makes even a jaded cynic like me tear up a bit. There are some weddings that just make you think, “Yes. This is good. This is right. We need more of this happiness in the world.”
      Back to photo album design work!

    1. Dan*

      Every four to eight years we watch somebody move into this big ass house in the middle of the city. The funny thing is, nobody ever actually sells the house.

        1. Dan*

          Uh huh. And a fence. Plus, the dude who lives there gets a helicopter and a funny looking limo. That all comes with the house. Heck of a package (and his private jet is something else.)

          While I’m clearly being a wise guy, one of the things us “locals” forget is what it’s like living somewhere where watching the local news means watching CNN. Where movie/TV backdrops for political thrillers aren’t shot in “exotic” locations, but in your back yard.

          And then when out-of-town family comes to visit, you don’t know too many tourists sights, because after all, *you* aren’t a tourist.

    2. JMW*

      Back in the 70s, you would NEVER have made your own mum and you NEVER would have had a fake flower – you had to get it from a florist. And only girls wore mums. The corsage, while large with ribbons with glittered messages, were not quite the monstrosities of today. They had to attach to your clothes with florist pins, and real flowers weigh more than fake ones.

      1. Stephanie*

        Usually, your date’s mother makes it. And it would become this pissing contest between some mothers to see who could put the most lights or what not on the mum or garter.

    3. en pointe*

      In Australia, we have a birthday drinking song. Lots of other countries are supposed to have drinking songs too, but exchange students always say they don’t have anything comparable.

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I grew up in and around St. Louis and every year for more than a century they’ve held a unique celebration called The Veiled Prophet Parade. If I tried to tell you about it, you’d think I was BSing you. So here’s the official website: Also check out Wikipedia.

    5. Kai*

      I was unfamiliar with the concept of a housewarming party until I moved to Chicago, at least in the sense that it’s done here. It seems like every time someone moves to a new apartment, they have one, even if they’re only going to be renting for a year or so. Not complaining, because it basically means buying a bottle of some sort of alcohol and hanging out with your friends for a few hours, but it was definitely new to me.

    6. Not Myself Today*

      There is a bar / restaurant on the lake in Austin, Texas, where they ring a bell every night as the sun sets over the lake and everyone applauds.

      The sun setting.

      They APPLAUD!

      As if they clap with sufficient enthusiasm, the sun is going to reverse itself and come back immediately for a quick encore.

    7. SevenSixOne*

      People in my hometown (Cincinnati, OH) wait in line better than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Crowd control is generally a non-issue and cutting in line is simply Not Done. The big amusement park here has signs that say “Line jumping will get you escorted out of the park”, and they’re serious about it!

      I think this is because the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire and The Who Concert Disaster are burned into people’s minds– failure to control the crowd meant people DIED, so it’s become part of our culture to form an orderly line, stand/sit where you’re supposed to, and wait your turn.

    8. brightstar*

      We have a state holiday (schools are closed for two days, city and state government’s close for the day) to basically get stupid drunk and go to parades and catch plastic beads. I was in high school before I found out this wasn’t a national holiday.

      1. The IT Manager*

        At least two days. Some schools have 3 days or the whole week off. 3 days because, really, even though the police clear the streets at midnight, a recovery day is not a bad idea.

        The whole week off allows the rich people to take ski vacations because although this holiday is variable always takes place in the winter/spring. Also I hear the Walt Disbey world is usually crowded with people from our state that week.

    9. Lora*

      Barn raisings. Shoo fly pie, which is like a pie crust filled with pecan pie goop but no pecans, with brown sugar crumbly stuff on top. Horse drawn buggies. Homemade uniform clothes with bonnets. Venison every Thanksgiving. Time off school for farm kids who have to help with planting. Speaking eighteenth century Low German. Shopping for just about everything at a farmer’s market as opposed to a supermarket. “Clean” = does not actually have animal placenta on it. Having to check if someone you want to date is your cousin.

      No we do not have a mafia for real. All those teevee shows a couple years ago were fictional staged nonsense.

    10. Phyllis*

      Our school had mums, but it was the flower. Our school colors were red and gray, so most corsages were made with white mums, with fancy ribbon and maybe if you were dating a football player, his jersey number. Yours look like much more fun!!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Missouri–we did the mums here too. I literally cannot think of one single thing to add besides that, even though I grew up in a small town. Soooooooo boooorrriiinnng. I can’t believe I’ve managed to live in this area so long without setting myself on fire.

    12. mm*

      In Portland, Oregon we have the Naked Bike Ride where hundreds of bicyclists ride naked from the top of a hill into town. I think it’s a few miles.

    13. littlemoose*

      In St. Louis, when you meet someone, one of the first get-to-know-you questions is “Where did you go to high school?” Non-natives are completely baffled by this question, wondering why anybody would care. But St. Louis is really a city of neighborhoods, and that question gives a lot of insight about somebody – what area they grew up in, whether they were a part of the extensive Catholic school system here, etc. I don’t know how it got started, but it’s a staple here.

    14. C Average*

      I grew up in a very small town in Idaho, and school was always closed for the first day of hunting season. School wasn’t closed for the county fair, but it was clearly understood that almost no one would be at school during the fair, because everyone was at the fair showing 4H animals and quilts and homemade pickles and suchlike.

    15. Anonsie*

      Hah! I’ve been trying to come up with a way to make mums make sense to people for years. I have yet to come up with one.

  9. Dan*

    Since I’m on a roll with broken processes that piss me off, I’ll go with another one: My favorite grocery store always asks people if they’ve found everything they’re looking for.

    I have no idea how to say “no” to that question. By the time I get to the front of the line to check out, I’ve mentally decided that I’m done shopping for the day. I’ve waited in line, I’m prepared to leave. Not to mention there’s a line forming behind me, and there’s no way I want to be “that guy” who holds everybody up while they send a staff member running. So why do they bother asking? (The better question is “Why does management force employees to ask that?”)

    1. Dan*

      Oh, one particular day at the store, they were out of *five* things on my list. You can bet I sought out the store manager, and didn’t wait for no stinkin’ survey to make myself heard.

      1. Dan*

        I don’t know what mechanism the cashier has to collect that information. Plus, I go to a well-stocked store that is staffed by a lot of young kids. I’d have to explain to the kid what I’m looking for, and he’d have to… write it down? That seems like an odd (and certainly unorganized) collection system for that kind of information.

        1. AB*

          I used to work at a grocery store that had us ask that in college. The mechanism was, if you said, ‘I was looking for brand a soap and you don’t carry it,’ the cashier would either call over the customer service person and they would fill out a form with what you want and your name and contact info. If they could order it for you, they’d call or email you and let you know. There were plenty of people who got special orders that way.

      1. INTP*

        This made me LOL. I love TJ’s customer service in general – I got a free watermelon there yesterday! – but I feel so awkward when they ask this question, I mention something that I couldn’t find and ask if they’re out of it (because the stock goes in and out, things get discontinued or disappear for months, etc), and they instantly ring the bell and summon an employee to travel hill and dale (okay, just all the aisles and the back) to go look for it for me. I just know the people behind me in like are like “Ugh, could this ahole not ask for things before she got in line and held everyone up?” I’ve learned not to say anything.

        I do think it’s cool, though, how when I mentioned “that israeli feta” in response to this question, without any recollection of the actual brand name, every employee involved in the whole emergency feta search process knew exactly what I was talking about.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          OMG yes! This is why I <3 Trader Joe's so hard…any product I mention to any employee, and they instantly know all about it. I just wish they wouldn't discontinue products so often…after more than 5 years, I still look for that cold smoked tuna “lox” every time I go there. But of course I don’t bother asking about it any more.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I guess it’s an attempt at customer service in case you couldn’t find everything you wanted or get to the front of the line and realise you forgot the bread, milk or whatever.

    3. Chris*

      Ours ties into the mystery shopper company that comes- if we don’t ask and you are the mystery shopper, you mark us down on your checklist as “failed to ask”. Not the best answer (and yeah, one that makes no sense when you really look at it) but that is why.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      A chain by me makes their employees ask the question. I always say “Yep”, just to make the check out process move along. The whole thing is lip service. I have point blank asked the manager to stock Bon Ami (a cleaning item) and the manager said “nope”. wth? So I know that the question means nothing. But the employees get dinged if they don’t ask.
      One store I go to is renovating. grr. Quit moving things around. I know they do it to make you consider new products. If I want a new product I will look for it, thank you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s an old, fairly mild abrasive cleaner. I have no idea why this stupid chain won’t carry it. I have to go a different store and I buy several at a time, because it is out of my way to go there.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Just don’t be a jackass when you answer (the general you, not you, Dan, in particular). A (former) friend once complained that she was asked that question, and she told me she turned to the woman and said, “Um, NO” in a rude, obnoxious tone, and she ranted about how rude the salesperson was. Excuse me? No. Here’s how to answer: “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” “Actually, I didn’t. I couldn’t find any lemons.” “Oh! They’re in aisle 3. Would you like me to go get some?” “No, thank you– I’ll come back.” Or, if you don’t want to be bothered: “I did, thank you.”

        1. Kay*

          At the grocery store, I always say “More than I was looking for actually” because I usually do. When I walk down aisles at the grocery store, things have a way of hopping into the cart and all of the sudden it costs $150… I’m not an especially savvy shopper.

      1. Liane*

        Yes, your examples–not the ex-friend’s!–work very well. Thank you! As Customer Service, I don’t cashier much, only if we are short or it’s Black Friday, but I can assure all of you that they are polite & acceptable answers. (And I will make a note to ask if we can get Bon Ami or whatever in stock. Alas, the Powers That Be may not pay any more attention to me, but I will pass on the request.)
        Tip: Cashiers at my company can print a Suspend Ticket if you really do want the lemons but don’t want to hold everyone up (or realized while you’re being rung up that you forgot items). It doesn’t require a supervisor/manager, just 2 keystrokes and the register prints out a ticket with a barcode. Once you have the additional items, bring them, your cart & the ticket to any cashier in the store–not just the one you were at. The cashier scans the barcode, no need to re-scan items the first cashier did, only the new items & you pay for everything. So next time you’re shopping–before you need it–ask if your retailer has something like this.

    6. kas*

      I used to work in retail and had to ask this question (and hated asking it). The reason behind it was so it would somehow trigger something in the customer to remember an item they forgot. After asking the question, quite a few customers would remember they needed something else and run off to go get it. Or, as mentioned above, if they were looking for a specific item and couldn’t find it, we would tell them where it was so it would hopefully add to the sale. It really is just a yes or no question, some people were beyond rude and difficult for no reason. Even if I didn’t find everything, I just say yes and keep it moving.

      Thankfully, at the store I worked at, we could “save” or “hold” the transaction and take the next person in line. Then, when the customer came back we could continue where we left off. There’s nothing worse than being behind someone who forgot something and having to wait for them to get back because the associate cannot cancel/hold/save the transaction.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It took businesses a bit to realize that it was a bad idea to send the customer back into the store for an item at the checkout. It ticked off a lot of people, complaints rained down on managers.
        Then computers with save buttons came into being.

    7. danr*

      After our favorite store reorganized, that was a real question. The cashiers asked if we had figured out where everything moved to…. The store had two sets of maps. One organized by item name and one by the old location.

    8. C Average*

      I spent a lot of years working retail and being forced to follow these kind of scripts, so I’m sympathetic to the cashier in this situation. I generally smile, look them in the eye, and say something like “Inspiration. Solace. The meaning of life.” Sometimes they smile back and we exchange a wry “yeah, isn’t everyone?” kind of glance. When at all possible, I like to infuse these throwaway interactions with a little humanity. I remember appreciating people’s efforts to do so when I was on the other side of the counter. (And yeah, I know a few cashiers are going, “Shut up, lady, you are not funny or cute.” That’s OK. These people were not happy before I got there and they’re not going to be happy after I leave. I’m sorry for them and hope they can find a job they don’t hate that doesn’t force them to recite inane pleasantries to strangers all day.)

    9. SherryD*

      Yeah, it’s hard not to sympathize in with the cashier in that situation — they’re not choosing to ask that!

      That said, a well-run store empowers all employees to take action on customer satisfaction. Obviously there are some dummies working as cashiers, but there are also cashiers who will follow up on customers complaints. When I was a cashier, I knew where virtually every product in the store was, which sale items were temporarily sold out, and which manager to ask about getting new products. One time, a customer asked me if a product was discontinued, since they couldn’t find it any more. I didn’t know myself, and I knew the relevant department manager was away that day. So I took the customer’s phone number, asked the department manager the next day that he was in, and then called the customer to let them know.

    10. The IT Manager*

      I agree totally, Dan. If I haven’t found everything, I still yes because by walking to checkout I’ve signalled I’ve given up. If I really needed something, I would ask one of the many employees in the store while I was still wanderign the aisles.

      This is at Publix for me.

  10. Ann Furthermore*

    Looking for some advice. On 3 separate occasions I’ve reached out via email to the principal of my daughter’s school. (3 times over 2 school years…not enough for her to be cringing when she sees my name hit her inbox.)

    Once was to request in May or so for a kindergarten teacher based on recommendations from other parents at the school. No reply. Not only did my daughter not get the teacher I requested, every single one of her good friends (like 5) were placed in the other class. Weird, but ok. And the teacher she got is really great. So maybe it was for the best, although I was really hoping she’d have at least one good friend in the same class.

    I emailed her right after the administrators came back from summer break to ask when parents would find out if their kids got into the full-day session, as I would need 30 days to make changes to my daycare arrangements, if necessary. No reply.

    3 weeks ago she sent out an email to all parents asking for volunteers for a School Accountability Committee, which is made up of some parents from the school, one PTO member, and one member of the community who is not a parent of a student. The group looks at spending, budgets, etc, makes recommendations, and so on. I’m an IT geek with a BS in Accounting and an MBA so this sounded right up my alley. I responded via email, as she requested, as soon as I read the message. No reply. On Friday she sent out another email saying there had been so much interest that she was putting it to a vote. Was my name on the list? Nope.

    WTF? I’ve beean active parent since my daughter started preschool there in 2012. I’ve volunteered with PTO functions to raise money for the school. My husband and I probably spent around $200 on donations of snacks and supplies to her preschool class over 2 years. I volunteer once a month in my daughter’s kindergarten class. So I’m definitely an active, involved parent, which the school board, PTO, and school administrators are always saying they need more of.

    Any ideas why this woman is completely ignoring me? Any advice about how to handle it? This is starting to feel like an audition for a mean girl high school clique.

    1. Dan*

      Is there a possibility that your emails are ending up in her spam folder or otherwise not being received?

      One thing you could do is call the school and get some appointment time on the principal’s calendar and have a face-to-face. Be pushy about it.

      If you don’t get a reasonable response to that, go to the school board. And make it clear you won’t be an involved parent at all until you communication issues get resolved. Er, make it clear your involvement will be limited to clearing up the communication issues.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about any negative ramifications on your daughter. There’s a pretty big gulf between the principal and the teachers. I had a knack for pissing off my principal with the support of my teachers, so it was actually kind of fun. (To be slightly less vague, we all had a chuckle when I reported him to the state department of public instruction for not following state law on something. I got what I wanted for that stunt.)

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I did consider that, but I’m doubtful that’s the case because I’ve communicated with both of her teachers via email from the same address with no problems. They’re both quite responsive. And they all have the same domain.

        I’m going to call, presumably leave a message, and then if that doesn’t work nag for some time on her calendar.

        1. Observer*

          That means nothing. Your emails to them could be coming through, but not your emails to her. I’ve seen that happen. This happens for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes for no discernible reason, which is why I always check our spam filters and have people check their outlook junk boxes when stuff doesn’t show up. While it’s been extremely rare to have false positives in the enterprise wide filter, the Outlook junk filter can be seriously weird.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Unless you’re in a very small district, there is no way the school board will do anything in response to a parent complaint about a principal not responding to email. School boards are about policy and budgets (and to an extent, strategy), not day-to-day management.

    2. JMW*

      Principals can get hundreds of emails a day, and they may only have an hour or two to deal with them each day. They are incredibly busy people, especially at the start of a school year. Sometimes there is no way to answer emails in time for the information to be useful. Also a lot of schools make a policy of not accepting teacher requests because they get SO MANY of them, and accommodating them fairly is just not possible. I think you are taking something personally that’s just not.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes, but she ASKED for emails on the volunteer issue. I’m sick of people using the “I get hundreds of emails” excuse. I do too and I am expected to manage them and respond to people who ask me questions.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        As an aside, I read a recent case study about the equity impact of teacher requests. Maybe unsurprisingly, wealthy white parents are the most likely to make requests (and usually request the same teachers, who are usually the best teachers), so if schools follow requests they end up with segregated classrooms, and poor kids of color with the less successful teachers.

    3. Ludo*

      I think you are making a rash assumption. Maybe she isn’t ignoring you. Maybe she isn’t getting your emails. Have you tried calling?

    4. Chloe*

      I would go and ask her – like others have said, its perfectly possible she hasn’t got the emails, they could have gone to her spam folder. I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and go and ask her if she got them. If she says yes, then ask her if there was any particular reason she didn’t respond/put you on the list for a vote/get the teacher you wanted etc.

    5. Coco*

      One time I had to do a uni project where I needed to interview someone at a high school. I emailed multiple students and teachers and no one got back to me. I was like, is this thing on? When I finally did get in contact with someone, she told me the school district email system filters out a LOT of stuff, even messages that you wouldn’t think have any spam triggers (like “sex” or links or something). And they apparently don’t even go to spam, they just get blocked or something. I’d call the school and tell them you have an issue getting in contact with staff through email and ask them if the email system may be preventing your messages from getting through.

      However, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if people are just glossing over your emails, simply because a lot of people don’t have the time or care enough to go through every email they get. It sucks and it’s hard for me to understand since I’m a little obsessive about getting back to people.

    6. Lizzie*

      I agree that calling (either to have a conversation on the phone or to set up an in-person appointment) is probably a better way to handle important conversations with the principal – at my school, we strongly encourage parents to direct communication to the principal through the front office (i.e. call the clerk and make an appointment, or just find out when’s a good time to drop in), because with 500+ families at the school, it would be a lot for the principal to handle directly.

      I obviously don’t know how class placements are handled in your school/district, but in every district I’ve worked in, this is an issue that is handled 95% by teachers, with the principal chiming in on any Major Issues (i.e. don’t put Bully and Target in the same class next year) and basically rubber-stamping the decisions made by the grade-level teams, who know the students the best. In the future, I’d advise reaching out directly to your daughter’s current teacher (and to a particular desired teacher for the following year). YMMV, I do realize every district is different, but I think you’re more likely to get some response that way.

    7. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’m going to echo the “not getting your emails” chorus. I have one particular email address that my work emails never get through to. My personal email sends & receives just fine, but there’s something in the ghostly parts of the inter-tubes that prevent emails from my work address from reaching this guy.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I suggest talking to other parents and see what their experiences are. Some schools around here are noted for being closed and “good ol’ boy”groups. There is a disconnect between the schools and the towns. Some of that is because the top cheese ordered it. Oddly, the principals will tell you anything you want to hear to your face and then when you leave, it’s business as usual.
      But, yeah, there can be schools where there is an across the board refusal to interact with the community and it can be that the principal sent out that decree.
      As mentioned above, decide not to take it personally, until you find out for sure that it is indeed personal. Probably other people are seeing the same thing you are.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        I can think of 100 reason why this principle hasn’t gotten back to her and your response would be #1 on the list

    9. Blue_eyes*

      The third contact is really strange, but for the first two I can understand why she didn’t reply. Does the school accept teacher requests? Many schools don’t allow them, so she may have just disregarded your email without responding. For your second contact, honestly she was probably too busy to answer that kind of question. Is there a receptionist or someone like that at the school? That’s the person who would have that info and the time to respond to you.

    10. Waiting Patiently*

      As far as the Accountability Committee, how did the principal come up with the names to vote on? It would make sense that she would only put people on the list that may have receive the most nominations? I’m sure not all parents want to be on this committee and they probably submitted a nomination for a fellow parent. Otherwise, everyone would vote for themselves and everyone would be a square one again.

  11. Gene*

    We got into a long discussion about why it seems to only be old(er) men who tend to drink scotch and bourbon. My thought was one needs to get to a certain level of maturity to start drinking for flavor and nuance instead of quickest buzz. I drank my share of cheap tequila, vodka, gin, and beer; now I drink a lot less, but I tend to drink the good stuff. And let’s face it, good brown liquor and añejo tequila are expensive. If one is doing shots, one doesn’t want to do shots that cost $20-100 per. That alone eliminates a lot of the younger crowd. While I might spend $30 on a small-distillery añejo tequila, I’m still sipping on it long after the frat guy next to me has downed his sixth $8 shot of Sauza Gold. I can’t even imagine trying to swill down half the cocktails I see mostly young people order when I’m out. The things that have as much simple syrup as alcohol in them. Things like a Lindsay Lohan (that’s a Shirley Temple with vodka.)

    What do you think?

    1. Dan*

      I donno, because I’m still in denial about my age, I haven’t started drinking old-geezer booze yet.

      Craft beers have come a long way from the Miller/Bud/Natty Light/Natty Bo/PBR days. I won’t even touch that swill. In craft beer, there’s a lot of flavor and nuance in there.

      Craft cocktails are rising as well. Simple syrup isn’t inherently bad — but sour mix made out of HFCS is. You want quality ingredients

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      Think about children who love sweet things so much that they will put ketchup on everything but refuse vegetables. Also, think about college-aged kids who will happily live off of KFC and Macdonald’s, not just because it’s what they can afford, but because they choose to eat that. I think older people drinking good scotch and bourbon has as much to do with maturation of taste buds as maturation of wallet, though I dunno about the fact that it does seem like it’s mostly men drinking them.

      My favourite drink is the Manhattan, with rye or bourbon usually but I’m flexible on the recipe. I asked one of the bartenders at work to make me one, but I made him list what he thought was in it first. When he included simple syrup on the ingredients list I flat-out refused to let him make the drink. It already has vermouth, any more sweetness would ruin it.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. I look back on my college days and can’t believe the stuff I was afraid to eat or didn’t like, and now I can’t get enough of it. Stuff like bone marrow and avocados.

        My boyfriend and I are big cocktail drinkers, and he likes to mix. You should see the array of bitters and syrups in our fridge. We started going to more “serious” cocktail bars and I discovered that I do like gin, sometimes I like bourbon… it’s about maturing tastes more than anything, though I do think I would have gone broke if I’d leaned this way in my younger, vodka-drinking years. Fashion also plays a part; we met in Mexico and spent some time in Oaxaca, where we learned to love mezcal. A year after we got back, mezcal was everywhere, and I think that’s an acquired taste that requires some maturity of palate. Oddly, my boyfriend is 6 years younger than I am and has a love of amaros that boggles the mind.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Yeah — I learned to drink single malt scotch in college, about 25 years ago. Not a man, wasn’t particularly wealthy, but admittedly also wasn’t a huge drinker, so sipping a glass once on the weekend was more my style.

    3. Henrietta Gondorf*

      It’s changing. Bourbons, scotches, and whiskeys are becoming trendy in a way that craft beer did over the past 20ish years.

      When I was growing up, my mom drank bourbon and my dad drank scotch and neither would touch the other. (They still won’t.). I think it’s also a matter of exposure and what people are expected to drink.

    4. salad fingers*

      Just chiming in here to say that I’m 24 and a lady and just about exclusively drink whisky/bourbon and craft beer. My bff at 21 had a bottle of old grandad (eek, i know) in our apartment at all times which she drank copiously – she is a lady, 5’1 and cute as a button. I agree that age determines how much $$$ you have to spend on quality, but I also think the gender norms (at least wrt drankin) are loosening with my generation. Also the trendiness of craft beer and mixology generally seem to have people of all ages developing their taste in alcohol pretty early, at least in cities.

    5. Tomato_Frog*

      I think the thing you mention are doubtless factors. So is how different alcoholic drinks are perceived, culturally (manly versus feminine, etc). But I also think you are probably observing the habits of your own peer group more closely than those of others. The main scotch/bourbon drinkers I know are young women.

    6. INTP*

      I’m young, but I don’t do shots or drink to get hammered. I hate the taste of all whiskey and haven’t felt compelled to develop that taste yet. That’s probably part of it – any kind of straight liquor is an acquired taste, and older men are more likely to at some point have forced themselves to acquire it. Women face no social pressure to be able to drink whiskey like “a real man” and older men have had more time (and money) to devote to the process than younger men. And I don’t mean this as a criticism – I hated wine when I first tried it but stuck at it so I could be the type of person who drinks wine, and now I genuinely like it. Most people don’t like any of this stuff on the first sip, and social stereotypes can govern which alcohols you choose to develop a taste for.

      1. Phyllis*

        As a person who came of age when Boone’s Farm was all the rage (cringe.) I never cared for hard liquor. Still don’t, though I will drink a strawberry daiquiri or strawberry margarita on occasion. I am a wine drinker, (but no longer BF :-) )

        I live in a city where selling alcohol was illegal until the late 60’s. so I never really had been around “spirits” very much. (That’s what my aunts called them.

        I have a friend from Texas who taught me about wine and told me I needed to learn to drink like a grown up. :-)

    7. skyline*

      I’m not a huge drinker so am generally oblivious to trends in that area, but even I know lots of folks in their 20s and 30s who are bourbon aficionados. I would also say that is a fairly recent change; I wouldn’t have said that ten years ago.

    8. C Average*

      I’m just one data point (and a middle-aged female one at that!), but I had my first taste of cognac at around five and was instantly smitten with it. It remains my liquor of choice, although I do also enjoy wine of all colors and the occasional dark beer.

      I’d been out playing in the snow at our friends’ house and came inside after getting cold. The woman, a childless sixtysomething, offered me a little cut-glass goblet of cognac, promising it would “warm me up.” It was the most wonderful thing I’d ever had! I can still remember where I was standing in their house, the way the snow looked outside the window, and the hot-sweet taste of the cognac. Liquid bliss. It’s one of my most vivid early memories.

      I drank very little until I was in my late twenties. There was lots of alcohol around, of course, but it was all terrible–cheap beer, wine coolers, lethal jungle juice. Nothing worth risking a hangover for.

      I am allergic to tequila (yes, really) and for that reason am very, very cautious about imbibing anything mixed that I didn’t make myself. I’m also a total lightweight and never have more than one drink on any given occasion. I am a very unadventurous drinker.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’d say a majority of the trend you see is young people drinking what they see other young people drinking; what they see advertised, especially for their age group; and what they are offered. That would be shots of Jagermeister/Goldschlager/Viniq/whatever other crap is currently “in”. But not all of us do that, obviously.

      Another part of it is just trying and/or getting used to new things. My wife didn’t drink scotch or bourbon at all when we met, but a few years ago I bought her a bottle of Glenmorangie Nectar D’or as a present because she liked it so much. But she didn’t like it much when she first tasted it.

      1. Anonsie*

        Also, what is available where they are drinking or shopping. The venue/store has a lot to do with it, aside from the price point. The grand majority of bars I’ve been invited to don’t even have anything else, and when they do I can’t say I know enough about any of it to try it anyway.

    10. Diane*

      I’ve been drinking good scotch since my late twenties, so either I’ve aged prematurely or I skipped over the youth drinking culture.

    11. Traveler*

      Just chiming in to say that I also think its about what’s popular in the moment – since scotch and whisk(e)y are gaining popularity now. It was cocktails for awhile, then PBR, then craft beer (I’m so tired of this, but I spent several years in the US mecca of craft beer so that might have something to do with it), then/now whisky seems to be the new thing with everyone making their own “craft” version. Though there was an article not too long ago about the crafts not really being that craft – because they’re all using the same base, and just flavoring it differently. Scandal!

    12. Jubilance*

      Random story – I was once on a work trip with an older colleague and we were hanging out a bar. He decided he was going to teach me to enjoy Scotch that night. He ordered 2 shots of Scotch neat, and taught me how to sip slowly and enjoy the flavor. I must admit, those first sips were very strong and I wasn’t sure I’d ever like it, but I grew to have an appreciation for Scotch and a love for a few brands.

      What I call “man drinks” – Scotch, bourbon, whiskey, etc – they tend to be unsweet and strong, so young people who are just trying to get drunk as soon as possible aren’t trying to order them. And there’s also the cost factor which you mentioned. Older folks generally are enjoying a drink to mellow out, not to get drunk.

    13. Anonsie*

      Man, I wish I could have got anyone to drink Sauza Gold when I was in college, as it’s like the minimum passable cheap tequila to me. That was too rich for my friends’ blood, though. They usually went for the Skyy or whatever was on clearance.

  12. KCS*

    How soon after starting a new job would you consider buying a new house? Or having another kid?

    We relocated back home for a great job opportunity. I started in July. Husband found a job here a month later. We’re crashing at my father-in-law’s house until we find permanent housing.

    We have the savings for a down payment. On the one hand, I don’t want to tie us down into debt given that our jobs are so new. (What if it doesn’t work out for one of us?) I also don’t want to cramp my father-in-law’s style any more than we have. He’s been generous and wonderful to live with, but he’s used to living by himself.

    The mortgage payments would be mostly dependent on my paycheck. I think I’m doing well in my new role, but it’s definitely a stretch position.


    1. Dan*

      Hard one. How expensive is housing? I grew up in an area where you can get a “starter” for less $150,000. Where I live now, that “starter” (basic SFH with a yard) is at least $500,000. If I could get my hands on that $150k starter here, I’d have been in it 5 years ago. $500k is an unfathomable amount of money for this midwestern kid to commit to.

      Do you have to buy, or can you rent for awhile? This may not apply so much since you’re returning to an area you’re familiar with, but I always feel like when I move to a new area, that I should rent for a year to get the lay of the land. You also get the benefit of feeling out your job before committing to the mortgage. Maybe if you rent, you can buy on your terms, and not feel like you’re getting pressured into something you’re not ready for just to get out of your FIL’s house.

      1. KCS*

        Housing is expensive. A “starter” home is $500K-$600K. I’ve seen a four-bedroom house for over a million dollars, and I say, “Seriously?” But it’s a great school district plus it’s close to the big city, where I work.

        Anyhow, we considered renting – but the idea of moving and then moving again is so painful. We’d like to have a second kid soon, and moving with two young kids would difficult. However, I see your point about the flexibility and not being tied down to debt so soon. Argh, I’m torn.

    2. acmx*

      How’s the market there? When I bought my house a few years ago, in a sand state, it still took about a 1.5 years to actually close on a house (offer not accepted, seller can’t close, etc). So, you could start looking now and still have months ’til you close which gives you more time to see how you’re doing in that job(s).

      Would you relocate if your job situation changed? How’s the rental house market? Even if you stay but could no longer afford the mortgage, you could rent out your house and find cheaper housing.

      1. KCS*

        Good ideas. It might take a year to find a house we like and so that might be a good time to gauge how the job is going. It’s nearly fall, so I think the market is slowing down.

        We won’t relocate if the job situation changed. So maybe renting out the house to rent somewhere else is an option. Thanks for the suggestion.

    3. Schmitt*

      When I prepare my budget categories and give them monthly amounts, once I’m done with our normal state of things I go through and do exactly the same thing for worst-case scenario, like so:

      Haircuts: Every 3 months instead of 2
      Eating out: Cut to once a month
      Random horse crap: Cut totally

      And adjust everything until it’s obvious that we can get by, even if it isn’t comfortable.

      When we bought, we actually got a mortgage that we can adjust the payback rate up to 3 times without being charged (we’re not in the US, don’t know if there’s anything similar). It’s really been nice to know that that possible cushion is there, and — my partner did lose her job 3 months after we bought, by the way — it was good to be able to say, “should we adjust the payment, or would we rather cut back on X?”

      1. KCS*

        That’s great you can adjust your payback rate. (I’ve never heard of that here in the U.S.) It’s also clever you budgeted for the worst case scenario. Now that you mention it, I suppose that’s what all of us are supposed to be doing in any event!

        1. Colette*

          In many Canadian mortgages, you can increase your payments up to double the original payment. This means that if you get a mortgage payment of $400, you can make your payments anywhere from $400 – $800. If you decide to pay the max, you would have regular payments of $800, which you could decrease to $400 anytime.

          1. fposte*

            Most American mortgages allow you to prepay directly to the principle whenever you want–it’s not as organized as the arrangement you describe, but you could treat it as that if you want.

            However, it’s not always the best use of that money, so it’s a very individual choice. It shouldn’t be done at the expense of putting money in tax-deferred space, for instance.

            1. Colette*

              We have that option in addition to increasing payments – usually 20 or 25% per year. But our mortgage interest isn’t tax deductible.

              Regardless, I agree it’s a good practice to consider your other options before increasing mortgage payments. Having a mortgage closer to being paid off won’t make up for a lack of savings if you lose your job.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When you take out a loan, the loan processor will want to know how long you have been at your jobs. That WILL factor into the mortgage rate they give you. Mortgage rate is tied to the riskiness of the loan. People new to their jobs have a higher risk than people who have been at their jobs for a while. There are other points they check on- credit rating, etc.

      There are variable rate mortgages in the US that allow the customer some say in the rate charged. It gets complicated. For example: you maybe given the right to forestall one rate increase. If you go this route make sure you go over the agreement with a fine tooth comb and totally understand what you are signing. I am not a fan of variable rate mortgages and there are more types than anyone can count.
      We got a fixed rate mortgage here. For a number of reasons we also got a higher interest rate. Being conservative people we were willing to tolerate the higher interest rate rather than risk having monthly payments that yo-yo’ed. Just before the economy fell, I did a refi and cut my mortgage in half. (We had a bad-bad interest rate.) A friend went with a variable rate mortgage and when the % rate dropped so did the payments. He used that as an opportunity to pay off some of the principle of the loan. Differences in people.

      1. De Minimis*

        We went through the process last year, it’s easier if you’ve been at the same job for the past two years. I hadn’t, so it was a lot more invasive and more of a hassle.

  13. HGTVjunkie*

    Homeowners: Did you buy a fixer-upper or a move-in ready home?

    How did you come to your decision and was it worth it?

    1. Fucshia*

      Move-in ready. That was actually decided by the bank. They wouldn’t finance one that needed work. It was right when the number of foreclosures was high, so they didn’t want to get stuck with one that they wouldn’t be able to resell as-is for a good rate. And, I think they knew how much fixes can cost and didn’t want me to overextend doing that.

    2. PuppyKat*

      Move-in ready. Because our previous home was a fixer-upper and I refused to go through that again. Things like the toilet and furnace were breaking down in the first month after we moved in. (It was winter.)

      We’re now living in our dream house, and yes, it was absolutely worth it. I should mention that the house wasn’t in perfect condition. But it was definitely in move-in shape, which satisfied me, with enough small projects to satisfy my husband’s handyman urges.

    3. NW Cat Lady*

      More or less move-in-ready.

      As a single, non-handy person, I was fine with cosmetic fixes and a few things that needed to be taken care of, but I wasn’t looking for a major project.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      My “move-in ready” house has been one project after another for the past 5 years: new furnace, new water heater, new deck, new driveway, new landscaping (twice), redoing the hardwood floors, new kitchen floor, new kitchen appliances…

    5. Sandra Dee*

      Custom built home for my current residences. When I built, it met the needs at the time, as I was caring for my mother and needed handicap accessability in the lower level. Plus a teenage son at the time. Home with 2 master bedrooms, bonus room (quickly became the drum room) and the lower level and first floor master completely handicap accessible.

      When I get ready to sell, it will be a great home for the right person. Biggest challenge was convincing my builder I wanted 2 masters with bathrooms. He asked who would want 2 masters when trying to resell, my answer, anyone with a teenage girl. He quit arguing with me.

      It is too much house for me now, but it was the right decision at the time. Waiting for a little more market rebound before thinking about selling.

    6. Jazzy Red*

      Move-in ready. It was halfway to work from the house I was renting. I wanted to get a dog, so I looked for a small house with a fenced-in yard. The only small houses I could find were horrible, so I bought a subdivision home. The house and yard are both bigger than what I need. I plan to stay here until my dogs die, then sell for whatever I can get. Home maintence and upkeep are physically difficult for me, and now that I’m retired, kind of expensive to hire out. The only DIY that I’m competent in is painting, so I’m slowly repainting all the rooms.

      The housing market went into decline immediately after I closed on this house, and my house is worth about $25,000 less now. However, it would cost $200/month more to rent the same house, so for the time being, I’m better off staying here.

      1. Bea W*

        Same happened to me. The market is just starting to come back up. I do plan on staying here for a long time, and I am 25 years out from retirement now. It would cost me a lot more to rent a small apartment though, so it was worth it even with the decline in value. My mortgage payment is way below what I would pay in rent for a comparable space, and below what I would pay in rent for even just a one-bedroom apartment.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      We could not juggle a fixer upper and live in an apartment- money was an object.
      We bought an old house. Yes, we could live in and basically be safe, but what a money pit. Since we were on a limited budget while house hunting, our options were not huge. Some of the houses we looked at had rooms that you could not even use without doing massive work. We rejected those houses because of the money and the time. (We did not have a lot of money or time.) I am glad we kept looking, even though it was super-discouraging. We found a house where we could use all the rooms immediately.
      In the course of looking at houses, we learned about each other and learned about ourselves. The house we bought was no where near what we thought we would buy, but in the end it was perfect for us from a practical standpoint.

    8. Bea W*

      I was a first time buyer with not a lot of extra cash after purchase, so I wanted something that was pretty move-in ready. I was willing to do minor things, but could definitely not take on full fledged a fixer-upper. Often I love fixer-upper type bargains, but for a home purchase that was not in my budget and would be a whole new set of knowledge I would have to acquire. If I had been sitting on a pile of money though, I actually would have considered it. The place I bought just needed interior cosmetics but not urgently. It was in desperate need of insulation upgrades and tightening up the new HVAC system. I did the ductwork sealing and insulation myself, and the general weather sealing, attic insulation, and venting I had done through a city program that provided $3500 grants and a contractor.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      First house was a fixer upper. Foreclosure. Husband and I were in our early twenties, just married and living with his parents. The house wasn’t my cup of tea but we were both adamant we didn’t want to waste money on renting. The price was right. 18 years it was still a work in progress, mainly because of money and procrastination.

      Two months ago we bought an old house. Very old: 1735. It was move in ready, but needs some cosmetics like taking down the fugly wallpaper and tearing up carpets. Very well cared for despite its age though. Never thought I’d buy this house but the property is so worth it. I have a barn, covered bridge, a stream, and 1.5 acres. Hubby bought it for the house. He likes old houses. The price was also fabulous.

    10. fposte*

      Move-in ready. My realtor told me the difference between what I thought I wanted (lovely old Victorian) and what I actually wanted (nice older house that doesn’t ask a lot of me), and she was right. It’s a 1940s Cape Cod, so it’s got plenty of character, but it hasn’t asked a lot in the way of upkeep and when something happens it’s almost always something that I can wait for a few months to get to if I have to. *Love* my house.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I grew up in a Cape from the same era. It was not a big house but everything was nicely done. Even the yard was well landscaped which was unusual for a modest sized house in those days (early 60s). But it was pretty easy living there, no huge makeovers and no huge disaster problems. I am not sure. I think ours was a 3/4 Cape. I did not realize until recently there are different kinds of Cape Cod houses.

        When I got older, I realized that you just do not go out and find houses every where with hardwood floors throughout, solid wood doors, chair rails and so on.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I didn’t even know about the variants–thanks! I found this ( but I think mine is basically a Midwest bastardization that isn’t any of those, as it’s brick and has a big square bay/oriel instead of the sequence of windows and an additional front-facing gable with a bumpout on the footprint. There’s a lot of variants of those around, so clearly it was a popular post-war style around here.

          The only problem is that the walls are thicker than contemporary houses, so I have to special order doors and windows; I’ll trade that for all the benefits, though.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            My childhood home looked like the mirror image of the second photo down. So NOT a 3/4 Cape. A basic Cape lends itself well to personalization by the owner. I love the dormers in the third picture. It seems to be a popular post war choice in many areas.

            When I stumbled on this, I was surprised to see that there was enough interest to keep track of the various styles and actually NAME the styles. ha!
            It was a good solid house. It had good bones. I bet yours is the same way.

            1. fposte*

              Ha. That’s the Midwest for you. Every style in every material. On the bright side, you might not recognize it as a Cape.

              1. Bea W*

                You’re right about that. I actually googled this because I couldn’t believe this was a real thing. I’ve probably even seen some of them in their natural midwest habit and not even realized they were capes.

        2. Windchime*

          So true. My last house was a cottage built in the 1920’s with hardwood floors (covered up by ugly carpet). It had built-ins everywhere, crystal door knobs, and original wavy-glass windows (that leaked air like a sieve in the winter). It also had trouble with wiring and plumbing, but I loved that house.

          My current house was basically new. Everything was pristine and in excellent working order. It’s a nice house, but is lacking the character of my 1920’s cottage.

    11. Diet Coke Addict*

      Move-in ready. (In fact, we move in next Saturday! So I can’t speak to what the results will be, but for our reasoning.)

      We would have done a fixer-upper, but we’re only going to be in the area 3-5 more years, so we didn’t want a house that was going to require a bunch of multi-year projects that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy. Ours has things that can be upgraded and improved, but won’t require us to spend our next few years here tearing down and rebuilding.

      1. Aam Admi*

        Two years ago I bought a brand new condo apartment. It was 100% ready including blinds and I just had to bring my furniture. The only maintenance I need to do is replacing burnt out bulbs.

    12. RR*

      Fixer-upper, because that was what I could afford. I bought in a time and area where house flippers were snapping houses up, slapping in shoddy “upgrades” and really jacking the prices up. I had a number of friends who bought “move-in ready” that had to redo a lot of the work in fairly short order. It took me a lot longer to get my house in the shape I wanted, but it was done to my tastes, and on my budget. That being said, and while I am happy in my house, I never — EVER — want to buy a fixer-upper again. No regrets, but not an experience I’d want to repeat.

    13. Colette*

      No renovations required before moving in, but it got a new roof and chimney the next year, and the 1950s kitchen was done a few years after that.

      Since then, I’ve replaced the furnace, redone a bathroom, and had the window wells replaced. Current wish list includes redoing the basement, building a garage, more foundation work, and new windows. There’s always something.

      Even with all of that, it was with it.

    14. the gold digger*

      We bid on a house where we would have had to build out the attic. Didn’t get it. Ending up buying a house that was move-in ready except we wanted to rip out the carpet upstairs. Then there was a flood right after we closed, so the basement carpet had to be ripped out and replaced. And the 2nd-floor balcony, which we just wanted to re-surface, had carpenter ants (a very bad thing) and had to be ripped out and re-done.

      Just those small experiences of renovation made me so grateful that we did not get the house that needed the attic re-do. There is just so much drama and hassle and it always costs more than you think it will. Unless I win the lottery and want to get a fixer upper as a hobby, I will never buy one.

    15. AcademicAnon*

      Somewhere between move-in ready and a fixer. And unless I’m doing a custom house next time, it will be the same, because there is always something that will need to be fixed or renovated. Current house had wallpaper, carpet, and window treatments that were the same basic color that I hate, so when we moved we put in laminate floors in several rooms, removed a LOT of wallpaper, and painted an entire floor of the house before moving in, in addition to running a LOT of cable through the house for internet (think thousands of feet of cable). In the future we plan on a total renovation of all the bathrooms and kitchen. For most people however that didn’t hate that color, it was probably basically move-in ready.

    16. butterbeans*

      I love HGTV too!

      I intended my house to be closer to move-in ready, but ended up gutting the place. The house had really ugly wood paneling nailed into plaster walls. I pulled the panels down intending to patch the plaster and paint, but it was far more damaged than I expected. I also realized the house had no insulation (in the midwest!). So I tore down the walls, put in insulation, and drywalled back over (cut gas&electric bill nearly in half). While the house was gutted, I moved a few walls, because why not?

      In retrospect, I could have paid a little more and gotten something actually move-in-ready for the same amount of mortgage + fixing up costs I ended up spending. But, it was actually pretty fun and I learned an awful lot about houses.

    17. danr*

      If you’re not the first owner, every house will need stuff done. If you are the first owner, you’ll still need stuff done after you close (and not want the builder to do it).

    18. littlemoose*

      My boyfriend is very handy and bought a fixer-upper. He wanted something he could fix up and make the way he likes it, plus it was cheaper. In the two years he’s owned it, he’s done a ton of renovations. But the key for him is that he has done all of the labor, which saves a lot of money and makes it a bargain as far as the ultimate resale value. If you don’t have those skills but are willing to pay for it, then renovating does still allow you to personalize it. But it takes a long time and a lot of patience. Our house is greatly improved but is still about 40% ugly, and it’ll still be a few years at least before everything is truly done.

      1. Geeri*

        I grew up in a brick cape cod! In a hoity toity town too! No lie!

        Fixer upper cape house. Love it, and values in MA have been steady or going up

  14. nicolefromqueens*

    So I’m about to get my own apartment (in the Bronx), but it looks like I will need a guarantor. My mother is willing to do this, but is there anything not obvious that we should be prepared for?

    Also, would it be outrageous/illegal if she was the only leasee, yet I was the only person living there? I do not make 40x the typical rent, nor does she make 70x the typical rent. Landlords typically require these figures for new tenants.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Generally, NYC guarantors need to make 80x the yearly rent, but you might have some flexibility in the Bronx. As for your second question, don’t do that– you can get in big trouble, especially if the apartment is rent-stabilized. I can’t speak to all the legalities, but as far as I know, the tenant on the lease must be living in the apartment UNLESS your lease indicates otherwise, and if you’re dealing with a small building or a condo (and renting directly from the owner) instead of a big property management company, you might be able to swing it. I’m not sure if you and your mom can be co-lessees with just you living there, but I’m pretty sure you have to be on the lease to live there.

      How’s your credit? When I moved into my studio in Queens back in 2005, I didn’t make the required amount and had my stepfather all lined up to be my guarantor, but the management company came back and said my credit was so good they wouldn’t require a guarantor. If you’re not in a high-demand area, that might be an option too.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        You must mean 80x the monthly rent, right? Cause that’s crazy enough. Yikes! I wouldn’t for my current apartment with that requirement, and neither would my parents. And I love in b the land of cheap rent! (I could easily afford to pay at least 50% more than I do)

        1. Fucshia*

          Yes, but that’s only for the guarantor (who presumably also has their own residence to pay for). For the main renter, it it 40x.

          I always find it odd that NYC calculates it that way. Everywhere else seems to use the idea that rent can’t be more than about 30% of your monthly income.

  15. Chloe*

    Has anyone read The Goldfinch? I’m struggling. I loved The Secret History but I can’t get into this one, would be interested in anyone’s opinion on whether to presevere.

    1. Nodumbunny*

      I read it – just finished it last week. I got bogged down a couple of times but felt it picked up again in the last third. At one point (Las Vegas) I gave myself permission to skim, but then that part wrapped up. I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars – not a great read, but interesting and worth finishing.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I slogged through about 3/4 before it had to go back to the library. Didn’t like it at all, couldn’t stay interested. I read a lot, I read a lot of different things, but I read for fun so I should have just given up. I give you permission! :)

    3. Mister Pickle*

      My wife and daughter read it and loved it. Wife says I should give it a try, and someday maybe I will. But so far – nothing I’ve heard about the book resonates with me.

    4. Chloe*

      Thanks all – I’ll give it one more go, but if it doesn’t engage in the next chapter I’ll shelve it.

  16. Sandrine (France)*

    I’m getting married and I’m still happy about it. I guess it’s all good :D . The work to prepare the party scares me, but oh well :P .

    I haven’t watched yesterday’s Who episode yet, I swear I’ll do it today. Promise, pinky swear.

    I got my first pair of luxury shoes this week (I wanted them for a potential wedding of mine and got lucky and BOOM found ’em) and I couldn’t be happier. It’s pretty weird.

    But now I have to find new tools to film my YouTube videos (stupid me did like all those pretty girls on YouTube with their shoe reviews and collections and all :P) and I’m all just… bursting with nerves and excitement and happiness despite the fact that I finished all the Coca Cola in the house.

    So yeah.

    And the cats are still cute :P .

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        It’s not being old, it’s being reasonable I say :D

        We were planning on doing it courthouse style with witnesses, but then the nerves calmed down and we realized we wanted something “nicer”, even if it’s low-key and pretty casual. So off to next summer we go, if we’re lucky :P .

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know–I loved him from the first moment. And “Deep Breath” clinched it. “SCOTTISH! I’m Scottish! I can complain about things!” And this week– “Everybody shut up! Shut up! Shutit-ty up up up!”

          SO funny. :D

  17. Tasha*

    Does anyone have any tips for international travel with a baby? We are leaving the East Coast this week for Australia.

    1. Sally*

      If you’re taking a red-eye, spring on a seat for the baby, even though it’s not required. We took a red-eye and planned to have a baby sleep on our lap once, and it was a disaster. Also – bring the car seat on the plane, assuming your baby regularly sleeps in it in the car. That way it will feel familiar to her. The worst thing that can happen on a long flight with a baby is for them to refuse to sleep.

      Also – bring extra clothes for the baby AND you. You don’t want to be washing baby vomit out of your jeans in an airplane bathroom, and then put the jeans back on – still damp – for the remaining three hours in flight. I promise.

      If you are visiting family or friends in your destination, prepare them for the chance that you will be zombies and not interested in doing anything your first day. Plan low-key activities for that first day that you wouldn’t mind having to cancel. You don’t want to arrive sleep deprived and stressed out and then feel obligated to go on a walking tour of the city or something.

      1. fposte*

        Check to make sure it’s an FAA- approved car seat, though, otherwise they might not let you put it in the seat.

        1. Noah*

          The exact wording you look for is “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” This is coming from a former flight attendant and current part-time gate agent. I know lots of people get confused because it doesn’t specifically say FAA approved or approved by the Federal Aviation Administration or something similar.

    2. Mephyle*

      Bring a bottle to give the baby water during the flight – they get dehydrated on the plane; besides, it gives them something to suck on for equalizing pressure without overfeeding them.
      When you sit down on the plane, find your airsick bag in the seat pocket in front of you. Pull it partly out so it is easily accessible. Mentally (or even physically) practice reaching for it and deploying it in one swift motion, so that when the inevitable happens, you will be ready. Also bring two or three light, absorbent cloths for wiping up messes. Cheap, thin, hand towels are good for this. They take up less volume than fluffy, higher-quality towels.
      If you are breast-feeding, don’t wean until some time after the trip is over. I can not emphasize this enough. It is so convenient to have an instant snack or meal ready at all times that you can carry with you without worrying about safe storage.

    3. Henrietta Gondorf*

      Bring at least 3x the number of diapers you think you’ll need. If you miss a connection, get delayed, etc., the last thing you want to be doing is panicking that you’re down to the last two diapers and are behind passport control.

      If your baby takes a pacifier, get a few that have a snap on cap. Also bring extra. If one gets flung under a seat, you’re highly unlikely to get it back.

      If you’re going to bring the car seat on the plane, be sure to have a stroller or frame so you aren’t lugging it a mile across the airport. Gate check the stroller.

  18. Rebecca*

    Today is my Dad’s 80th birthday! Our car club is going to a cruise in for charity today, complete with a lot of food and a cupcake contest. After the cupcakes are judged, we can buy them, so I’m going to fight the crowd and get Dad cupcakes for his birthday. Not sure what cars we’re taking, but it will be a fun day, and it’s supposed to be warm, in the upper 70’s, which is pretty good for central PA in late September.

    I bought a Fila Sport running outfit, walking for me, though :) – from Kohl’s, and it was warm enough to wear yesterday. It’s nice to walk in clothes made for exercise, and I love the lime cheetah stripe up the sides of the capri pants that match the shirt. The other day I saw our neighborhood bear cross the road while I was walking, and that’s always a thrill. I’ve been keeping up with 10,000 steps or more per day and hope to be able to manage at least 7500 during the winter, if the snow and ice isn’t too bad.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Happy Birthday to your dad! Today is my dad’s 74th birthday. I’m also in PA, but the northwestern part. I just went to the track hoping to get some steps in (I have a Fitbit) before the thunderstorms that all the weather sites told me were coming…while there, the sun came out, it warmed up considerably, and I see no threat of storms on the horizon. It’s just a bit windy today so far… Well, at least I got the majority of my steps in early and I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day…

      1. Rebecca*

        I have a Fitbit too, and I like that it keeps track of activity time. I aim for 2 hours per day, and hopefully more than 10,000 steps. I’ve read things online where people say the distance isn’t accurate, etc. but for me, it’s about activity not accuracy.

        We had a big rainstorm here – while I was walking :) My clothes are hanging up to dry now.

    2. Stephanie*

      Happy birthday to your dad! I also noticed a difference when I wore activewear for workouts (vs leggings and a cotton t-shirt). I can’t go back now.

      1. Rebecca*

        I also bought new athletic shoes, 2 pair of Adidas, one is waterproof with a really thick sole for trail walking, and a pair of Asics gels, all from 6PM. I need size 12, and shipping is free, and the prices were pretty good. I had a pair of just regular sneakers, and when I wore the Adidas for the first time, I couldn’t believe the difference. Now I feel like when I put these things on, I’m off to do a specific thing, and mentally it really helps to keep me more active.

  19. Starbux*

    I will be traveling to Phoenix for work in a couple of weeks. I would love to try out some great local restaurants while I’m there. I believe I will be staying at the JW Marriott downtown. Any suggestions for places to eat and/or cool things to do in the area?

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      El Gallo Blanco in the Clarendon Hotel. Suuuuper good Mexican food (plus dancing and other fun stuff).

    2. Stephanie*

      Ah, I don’t eat out a ton, but I’ll try. Are you renting a car? Phoenix is pretty sprawling.
      -Pizza Bianco
      -Navajo Fry Bread House
      -Mariscos Playa Hermosa (area’s kind of dodgy, but you will get a delicious whole fried fish the size of your torso with avocado)
      -Cornish Pasty Co (this is in Tempe, but is very close to the airport)

      If it’s cool enough, check out the Desert Botanical Garden.

      1. Starbux*

        I wasn’t planning on renting a car, but can always take a taxi if need be. Thanks for the reccos – they sound great! :)

        1. Stephanie*

          Pizza Bianco’s walkable if you’re staying downtown. Fry Bread House and Mariscos should be relatively cheap cab rides. My parents also liked Blue Hound Kitchen, which is downtown and within walking distance.

          There is the light rail to Tempe, but I think it’d be about a 2 mi walk from the nearest station to Cornish Pasty.

      2. Jubilance*

        I went to the Botanical Garden with a friend the last time I was in Phoenix & it was gorgeous! I fell in love with the desert in that garden :-)

        I have no idea what its called, but we went hiking in a state park(?) south of Phoenix and it was so beautiful and peaceful – just blue skies and the desert plants and fresh air.

        I also really loved the Heard Museum which has a ton of great info about Southwest American Indians.

        For food I liked Over Easy and Matt’s Big Breakfast – and if I recall correctly I think Matt’s is nearish(?) to downtown.

    3. CAA*

      If you can get up to Old Scottsdale, it’s a nice area to walk around, and while you’re there, eat and drink at Barrio Queen.

      1. Starbux*

        Interestingly enough, I ended up in Old Scottsdale the last time I was in town. I really enjoyed it – it’s a neat area.

    4. Noah*

      Not exactly close to downtown Phoenix, but Mill Ave in Tempe is a cool place if you like nightlife. There are lots of restaurants there and several cool bars. I grew up in the area and one restaurant my family always went to in that area was Monti’s, which is kind of a relaxed steakhouse.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Definitely Pizzeria Bianco. I’d go to the Cornish Pasty Co in Old Town Scottsdale (on Goldwater 2 blocks down from Poisoned Pen Bookstore)–take the light rail up to Indian School and the 41E to Scottsdale. St. Francis at 1st St & Camelback. Matt’s is downtown. I’d also try Vovomeena, America’s Taco Shop and the Phoenix Public Market Cafe.

  20. Jazzy Red*

    My dog DOESN’T eat poop!

    I posted a while back that my dog was eating the other dog’s poop in the backyard. Even though the vet told me it wouldn’t hurt him, I found it disgusting. One of the assistants at the clinic suggested I sprinkle a little unflavored meat tenderizer on their food. She said it makes the poop unappealing, and my boy dog would stop eating it. Well, she was 100% right! After a few days, I observed him sniffing poopie piles and walking away. I was happy that this worked (and that it was so inexpensive).

    Of course, there is a down side. My backyard smelled like a cow pasture. And as I live in rural Arkansas, I know what that smells like. Cleaning up the yard went from being a sort-of-unpleasant task to something that took all my resolve to do. Eventually, I decided the down side far outweighed the plus side, and stopped with the meat tenderizer. But I think my little guy learned his lesson – I haven’t observed him eating poop any more. And if he does, I’m just going to take the Beatles advice (“Let It Be”).

    1. Liane*

      Glad it worked! Even if it does mean more clean up. (I still recall cleaning up after our last dog, a lab/shepherd.)

      And you’re in the same state as me! I don’t know why I thought I was the only AAM groupie here.

  21. Livin' in a Box*

    I started a book review site this week and I’m already drowning in free review copies! Victory!

    1. Calla*

      Ooh can you share any details on how?! I always figured you had to build up a readership/reputation before you got sent free stuff.

      1. Livin' in a Box*

        All I did was buy my domain and tweet that I wanted books, and BAM! Books. I also got a bunch of e-books from Netgalley.

    2. Maxwell Edison*

      What sort of books do you review? I’m an independent author (contemporary fiction and suspense, and I have a mystery coming out in November), and am always looking for reviews. :)

  22. Natalie*

    I’m going to be in Austin for work at the end of October, and probably adding a few days on to see my cousins there. What should I definitely see/do/eat?

    1. Mister Pickle*

      I live in Austin (but I don’t get out much anymore).

      End of October? There’s usually a pretty big Halloween blowout down on 6th street (if you’re into that kind of thing).

      There’s supposed to be a thing called the Housecore Horror And Music Festival on Oct 23-26th ref There are a ton of bands scheduled to play, but the only one I’m interested in possibly seeing is Author&Punisher.

      You’ll probably want to check out the Congress Avenue bats some early evening.

      There are many, many BBQ joints in town. I think Rudy’s is probably the best. If your seriously into BBQ, you may wish to trek out to some of the nearby towns and try Black’s or Kreuz’s.

      For tex-mex, Chuy’s is an old favorite. It’s not as funky as it once was, but the food is still good.

      There’s a Cajun seafood place called Pappadeaux that’s expensive but very good. October is a month that contains an “r” in it, so I’d recommend the raw gulf oysters.

      Theres a really good Thai place called Titaya’s – don’t be surprised if you see a long line out the door.

      Shopping at Central Market or at the new Whole Foods in the Domain can be fun.

      Finally, there are several Alamo Drafthouse cinemas about if you want to drink beer and watch an indie movie.

    2. the gold digger*

      Don’t forget Threadgill’s for chicken fried steak. And I love Fiesta grocery store. I will be in Austin in November and both of those are on my list.

      The Broken Spoke is a fun place to go dancing.

      Mister P, is Green Mesquite still open? What about Seis Salsas?

    3. anon+in+tejas*

      the weather will likely be great. if it’s still pretty warm, you may be able to hang out at barton creek. austin has a ton of outdoors parks/hikes that would be fun.

      catch some live music, get bbq (franklins or salt lick)– if you eat meat, get some tex mex (trudy’s is my fav)

  23. Hcat*

    Speaking of cats, I just finished reading “A Street Cat named Bob” and ” The World according to Bob”. Both equally awesome and inspiring. I also read “Dewey Readmore Books, the library cat that changed the world”. I love reading about how animals can inspire and influence the lives of so many people.

    1. Calla*

      “A Street Cat Named Bob” was a sweet story but I didn’t find it a particularly well written book. My favorite (so far) book about a pet changing someone’s life is “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him,” by Luis Carlos Montalvan. It’s about a veteran who comes back with PTSD as well as physical injuries and, eventually, after some tough times, gets a service dog–tells both of their individual stories and then their life together and talks about disability policies and other things too!

  24. Cruciatus*

    Very “important” question for Jen in RO… How fiercely do you hate the song “Dragostea din tei?” I’ve met one Romanian who absolutely despised the song and years ago told me all the reasons why–but I think it’s damn catchy! Then again, I have no idea what I’m singing about–something about love and linden trees?

  25. INTP*

    I guess this is borderline work-related, but it calls for advice about food rather than workplaces or career, and could equally apply to other contexts where people have schedules like school or parenting, so I’ll throw it out there…

    I just can’t get into a groove with my lunch on workdays. I’m someone who likes for lunch to be my biggest meal of the day and I like to take an hour and relax while I eat it (I’m a slow eater). I am also particularly prone to “hanger” and if I let my blood sugar get too low, even once I eat, I can be emotionally drained for awhile afterward. It’s odd. At my current job I am hourly and “as-needed” rather than working a specific schedule (though my hours tend to be about 9-2). We have a lot of short deadlines throughout the day and they tend to be clustered earlier in the day, ending around 1 or 2. This means that if I take 12-1 for lunch, I may not have the chance to make up that hour of work by staying later, I might just be short an hour for the day. I’m also a student, and I do my schoolwork in the afternoon, so it kills my productivity when I let myself get so hungry that I still feel drained after eating.

    I’ve tried eating leftovers for lunch at my desk, but I’m a slow eater so eating while working tends to mean that I am taking an hour or more to eat my lunch and it makes my work a lot less efficient (the time we spend to complete each task is tracked). I’ve tried eating snacks around 11 the morning and having my lunch after all the work is done, but I tend to just be absolutely starving, cranky, and unfocused by then. I’m eating filling snacks like apples with nuts or cheese, I guess I’m just programmed to have a hearty meal before 1pm. I haven’t tried more traditional lunch foods like sandwiches as I try to stick to one carb-based meal for the day and I crave them more at dinner time. (I’m vegetarian, so sandwiches are never really high protein.) I am absurdly slow at eating salads, like it takes me 45 minutes to eat a meal-sized one even when I’m not working at the same time.

    Anyone had a similar experience? What worked? I’m thinking that I’ll either need to start packing more efficient and desk-friendly foods like sandwiches, even if they aren’t what I want for myself nutritionally, or taking a half hour to scarf down normal food even if I don’t get to make that time up.

    Oh, and my breakfast is a large bowl of greek yogurt with a lot of fruit and a handful each of granola and walnuts/sunflower seeds/almonds. So it has plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and some carbs for energy. I’m just an early-in-the-day eater who likes big lunches and small dinners.

    1. FX-ensis*

      Our bodies all work differently, I guess. However, do you have a condition causing this? If so, is there a medication for it that could help?

      1. INTP*

        Not that I know of. I’ve had my blood sugar tested a few times in my life and it was always normal. I’m not sure what else it would be. I eat a normal amount of food, just earlier in the day than most people – my dinners are usually small and I never snack after dinner. (I don’t want to try eating big dinners because going to bed with a full stomach interferes with my sleep.)

        Plus, I’m generally averse to taking medications for things that can be controlled in more natural ways, like eating a larger lunch.

        1. nyxalinth*

          Are you me? I get the same thing quite often, but not once has any test ever showed a problem with my blood sugar. This is partly why last week I was posting about food to eat during a fifteen minute break that is filling and nutritious. I work six hours at m job, with two fifteens, so I don’t get an actual lunch.

          Prior to getting hired, ate most of my calories at lunch. Now I have to try to cram it in mostly before work, have small meals at lunch, and a small dinner. The adjustment is slow :P

    2. fposte*

      I think you’re right that you can’t have both the food you want and the work hours you want right now. Additionally, an hour break in the middle of the day is a tough sell in a lot of workplaces (I couldn’t accommodate it in many of my positions), so any ways you can find to be more flexible on this will be an advantage later.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Have you been checked for allergies? Have you tried a week without one of the items on the common allergy list? I say that thinking about your greek yogurt and dairy allergies.

      Have you tried a protein drink? I was using one then found out that I cannot tolerate whey. Keep an eye on the ingredients.

      I was doing the same thing, low or no carb meals. I brought salads into work and I could not finish them in a 30 minute period. It made me realize how companies are truly running up their own health care costs because a person cannot eat healthy in a 30 minute break.

      You could consider getting into juicing and sipping the juice through out the day.
      Water intake could be a problem- if you are not getting enough water daily, weird stuff happens.
      Also keep an eye on your digestive track. Are foods breaking down and going through your system correctly? Not to be gross/too personal, this is just general inputs- healthy bowels work two or three times a day. I got into alternative stuff and I was told constipation is one or less bowel movements a day. I was so surprised, I grew up thinking that if bowels worked a couple times a week that was fine. I got that under better control a while ago, and I can see a huge difference in me.

      1. fposte*

        Because I am the yin to your yang on medical stuff :-), I offer an alternative view just for balance’s sake. While individual preferences ultimately reign, one or less bowel movements a day is not the medical definition of constipation; Mayo, for instance, notes that normal and healthy can vary from three times a week to three times a day. By all means explore diet and see if you feel better with changes, because bodies are individual and if you feel better there’s no arguing with the results. But there’s no medical reason to worry if you’re having fewer than two or even one a day–that is not in itself a sign of health problems.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I know, alternative stuff is not for everyone because there are just too many variables out there. “A” works in settings x, y and z but never works in settings m, n and p. It’s sort of a throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Some things resonate with people.

          Funny you should mention Mayo Clinic, my husband had a traditional med doctor that insisted that anything on the internet about medical issues was untrue. I immediately mentioned the Mayo Clinic website. Nope, not true because it’s on the internet. Just goes to show there’s all kinds out there.

          He changed doctors.

          1. fposte*

            Heh. So if this doctor emailed patients, then what he said would be untrue?

            I figure in anything medical we can each represent for our points on the allopathic-to-alternative spectrum, and then people reading will have a range to explore :-).

            1. Not So NewReader*

              {Giggling] Apparently by her own definition she would not be speaking the truth. She turned into stalker doctor after he left, she kept calling us. She was scary.

              Lovin’ that range thing. I firmly believe that the way we all learn is by hearing all kinds of inputs. And there is always an added wrinkle or additional layer of complexity. It’s intriguing.

              Off topic– I read recently that some people (doctors) still believe the term allopathic to be offensive- on a par with a cuss word. wow. I am “scared” to use it around here.

          2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            Ha, I’m a librarian and I’ve seen this with faculty too. Y’all, PubMed, Elsevier, Springer, Wiley peer-reviewed journals are all “on the internet”….

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have blood sugar issues too– I have to carefully maintain a balance of protein and sugars throughout the day or I get hungry/sleepy/cranky/lightheaded. NotSoNewReader’s suggestion about a protein drink is a good one– can you make a smoothie and sip it through the morning? Something like yogurt, almond milk, fruit, and honey. Easy to consume while working. Maybe have some almonds or other nuts in a little container near your desk for quick, clean snacking (I’m a big fan of the Trader Joe’s chili lime cashews, but they’re too messy). Instead of salads, try foods that are easier for you to eat like working and pack a big protein punch– lentils, quinoa salads, stuff like that. You can make a big pot of rice, quinoa, or bulgur at the beginning of the week and put it into containers with some veggies, a little olive oil, some vinegar or lemon juice, maybe a little feta or goat cheese. Personally, I find grains easier to eat than lettuce or noodles– a quick dip of the fork every few seconds is all that’s required. Even if that’s not your main meal, little snack portions can keep you going until you have time to savor that main meal.

      The other thing that can mess with your blood sugar is coffee. Caffeine raises insulin levels. If I drink coffee too early in the day, I am STARVING by 11am, even if my breakfast was perfectly balanced. I drink green tea in the morning and coffee at 10am, and I always have a snack with the coffee (usually a banana for carbs and potassium). So if you’re a coffee drinker, pay attention to when you’re drinking it and how much. And definitely, definitely drink enough water.

    5. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Can you do soup? I find I eat soup fairly efficiently compared to other kinds of meals at lunch, and it seems more filling. On the weekends, I make big pots of lentil soup, roasted cauliflower and cheddar soup, and chicken noodle soup, among others, and freeze it in individual size containers. I’m not a vegetarian, but there are plenty of good recipes that are, or can be modified by leaving out the meat and subbing vegetable broth for other broths. I’ll take one container to lunch (or eat for dinner when I’m lazy or tired) because it requires no preparation at all, unlike a sandwich or salad. Right now I’ve got a least seven containers of three kinds of soup in the freezer. Another option is to buy a big container of the hot bar soup from somewhere like whole foods or giant eagle marketplace, take it home, decant it into your individual containers, and freeze it. I love winter because I can activate my lazy lunch soup solution!

      I like Ina Garten’s lentil soup recipe in particular — easy and foolproof.

      1. Anx*

        I hope this isn’t too work related:

        I have morning commitments throughout most of the week for the first time in a long time, and have regular hours, for the most part. This is awesome, but I need to put a showering routine into place (I need to schedule them because they are uncomfortable for me so I tend to put them off if I don’t)

        So, I have a skin condition which precludes daily showers (at least full-length, hot, wash-your-hair-showers). I’m also irritated by detergent based shampoos and the ones I can use leave me with clean, but weighed down, slightly damp or dark looking hair (I’m blonde). So I can’t shower everyday, but I need to shower more than every other day. That means I’ll have to take morning showers.

        Does anyone here shower in the morning that can’t use a blow dryer (it irritates my skin too much) regularly? Any recommendations for damp-hair styles that aren’t too sloppy and are professional looking? Or any guidance on how to take advance of headscarves? My workplace is very casual and several of my coworkers are students, too, but I would like to put my best foot forward.

        [I’m a white woman with long, fine, dark blonde hair with a stubborn but slight wave and some very coarse hairs dispersed throughout my head]

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That sounds like a good solution.
            I never blow dry–it’s bad for my *colored* hair. I just air dry. I style my cut with a little product (moroccan oil and a little hairspray) and let it air dry, then brush it quickly in my cube (or sometimes not, if it’s not too frizzy. Don’t worry–no one can see me and it doesn’t make any noise!). I condition every day, but I only wash it twice a week unless I’ve been really sweating or it’s dirtier than usual.

        1. Trixie*

          I’d experiment with some dry shampoos, there are a lot of quality ones to choose from these days. Generally speaking , everyone should avoid hot showers because they’re too drying to the skin. And we can also usually wash our hair less often and instead rinse/conditioning. Hair will rebalance how much oil its producing.

          1. fposte*

            Or just not even bothering with the hair wash as often, dry or wet–as you say, most hair will adjust. Especially with cooler and drier weather coming in, it should be easy to start spacing the hair washing out and just shower the rest of you most mornings.

        2. Hcat*

          Have you tried Dry Shampoo/ Body Powder? Cake Beauty makes a great product in different scents. It’s another alternative if you can’t shower everyday.

        3. C Average*

          Your mileage may vary, of course, but I’m a devotee of the before-bed shower. I, too, have wavy hair, and I’ve found that it curls quite nicely when I spread it out on the pillow and go to sleep with it wet. In the morning, I have clean hair in beachy waves (as the fashion mags are calling this style this year). And my mornings are way more streamlined without the need to fit a shower in.

    6. Sunday*

      Everyone’s different… My body believes that yogurt with fruit and cereal (or even rice & beans) is all carbs, and not protein. I do better with animal proteins for breakfast, then subsequent meal contents don’t matter as much; I’ll need calories, but not as many and the sources matters much less (why yes, I do have “insulin resistance”…). That won’t work for you as a vegetarian, but might you have high protein alternatives that do? Then have your yogurt/cereal/nuts for lunch? You describe snacks as apples with nuts or cheese – I’d be inverting that to cheese with some apple, as the protein is the more important part for my system. There are soy and whey based drinks that have a fair amount of protein to add to the desk food mix. My experience is that if I’m eating what my body interprets as carbs for breakfast, then things just aren’t right, and my hunger is ongoing even if I’m full. Best for me is “dinner” for breakfast, lunch, and an evening snack for dinner. It was really helpful to me to hear all the different ways people choose to eat as I was sorting this stuff out for myself. Not fun, but the results definitely worth it.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      I know you said you like to have a big lunch, but is there any way you could switch your biggest meal to breakfast? You could have something like a breakfast sandwich (fried egg, cheese, maybe some greens), an omelet, or even whatever you would normally eat for lunch. That way you could take your time to eat it before work, and it might hold you over for longer. Then you could snack at your desk and eat lunch after work. FWIF, I find that sometimes just yogurt with fruit and granola isn’t enough to tide me over until the next meal. I like to make homemade granola/protein bars and then eat one of those with some yogurt and fruit for breakfast.

      You might also want to talk to a doctor or nutritionist/dietician about this. If you’re eating reasonable amounts but not staying full, or getting very hungry suddenly, your a professional may be able to help you understand your metabolism and blood sugar levels and find solutions. I totally know what you mean about being drained for hours after you’ve let yourself get too hungry. That happens to me sometimes when I’m using my sewing machine and just don’t want to stop working. Even after I’ve eaten, I feel shaky and weak for a bit.

    8. Mephyle*

      Before you think, ‘what nonsense,’ let me say that I’ve seen this in the real world: Slow eating can be a manifestation of a mild form of anxiety. You don’t feel anxious, you don’t feel upset, you just can’t eat as fast as most people.
      As for solutions, I think the ones people have suggested that incorporate liquid foods like smoothies and soups are the most practical ones for you. You can load them up with protein so that they will satisfy you, and you can sip them while you work with minimum distraction.

  26. fposte*

    Doctory stuff! Apparently I do have considerable stenosis as well as a disk problem, but I can do minimally invasive surgery as an outpatient and go home that day (the surgeon didn’t exactly say “Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom” but he came pretty close) with little restrictions. I’m taking a little more time off than after my cervical fusion, but they said it should be pretty much on a par. I’m so excited to be done with this stuff.

    And on a different health note, the microscopic colitis I’ve had for thirty years is apparently Crohn’s after all. Well, whaddya know. It’s pretty mild for Crohn’s and I’ve been surviving with it for decades, so I’m mostly just pleased to finally get some medication that’s actually helping and eat some enjoyable food again.

      1. fposte*

        Thanks! As I get older, I worry less about what my body does and more about successful workarounds. I think it’s kind of like a really old OS :-).

          1. Not So NewReader*

            (It got away from me.) I was trying to say if you are like an old OS, then I am not doing much better. ;)

            1. fposte*

              Hey, I’ve stuck with OSes for ages. They may not be as quick or intuitive as newer stuff, but as long as it does what I want I’m good!

    1. Mimmy*

      Glad to hear the surgery won’t be so invasive after all! Good luck with that. And ouch….my (now deceased) grandfather had stenosis, and he couldn’t even stand up straight. My poor grandmother was so worried :(

      1. fposte*

        Apparently they’ve gotten the surgery really refined now–it sounds almost like a dental procedure! I’m mentioning it to a friend whose elderly mother is having similar trouble and doesn’t seem to have heard about this option.

  27. FX-ensis*

    hope everybody’s having a good Sunday. This may be a bit tl;dr, but I’ll condense it the best I can:

    – I have a casual friend/acquaintance who I attend German classes with. We’re not very close, and don’t speak online as much as we used to, but then I’m not sure what’s going on.

    The thing is, of late she’s been acting hostile…well not hostile as such, but then in class she kind of looks very stern at me, as if she’s looking down at me. But would be very friendly to others.

    But it was my birthday last month and she left me a message on my Facebook wall saying happy birthday, and added me on Linkedin. As said, we’re not close friends, but then I’m thinking if she did this, then why do cold in class? I’m not sure what to think. And the thing is, well I’m recovering from a depressive state, and I know setbacks are part of life, but then I thought at the least I had an ally, but I’m not sure if I’m mistaken or if I’m being too sensitive.

    – This is personal, but is it normal to ask cousins and female friends about potential dates? I am 35, and looking to settle down.

    – This point is related to the above, but which yoga asanas are best for losing weight? I know weight is a disadvantage in dating (not wholly, but let’s cut to the chase, it is) and I want to get this sorted before I start dating more fully. I do yoga regularly and have noticed benefits, but am considering going the full hog as it were.

    – Are there any good sites online for developing Spanish? I learn now and then, and I’m enjoying it, but want to eventually get fluent. So at the moment “estoy feliz” with my progress lol…

    1. fposte*

      FX, I’m picking two of your questions :-).

      I don’t think this is a close enough friend to worry about deeply either way. However, if it’s just a look that seems odd to you, and she’s treating you well enough around class, then you may be misreading the look; if she’s generally standoffish and it’s not just how she looks at you, she’s not interested in a class friendship with you, and I wouldn’t count Facebook/LinkedIn stuff as significant. Are there other people you talk to in class? If not, maybe time to start finding other classroom friends. I certainly wouldn’t put much effort into clarifying/working out a casual classroom and FB friendship.

      In general, specific asanas aren’t going to be linked to weight loss in yoga; the burn rates for holding positions vary only slightly, as they’re still pretty static (and the better you get, the less you’ll burn holding them). Different styles of yoga will make more of a difference, so flow/vinyasa/Ashtanga yoga is likelier to work off calories than hatha, say). Ultimately, though, yoga isn’t overall a big weight loss exercise compared to a lot of other stuff; if you’re looking to find something with weight loss as the goal, I’d look elsewhere, but if you’re just looking stay within yoga and maximize the exertion, I’d go with the flow, if you’ll pardon the pun.

      1. Trixie*

        Agree. Overall weight loss is daily get-your-heart-rate-up cardio, strength training twice a week, and diet. Yoga can be considered some strength training but its mostly a fantastic balance to cardio/weights so you stay flexible and challenge your balance. I think there are some fantastic channels to follow on Youtube where you can easily add up a short cardio, body weight moves and yoga in no time. Free, and totally at convenience assuming you’re disciplined about it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Plenty of people do ask cousins/close friends to date. Go very carefully in these situations. Ask yourself is it worth the risk of losing the relationship entirely. I have even heard of cousins with benefits. I know of siblings with benefits. I guess it is whatever two people agree to. Seemingly unrelated: If you are looking for someone to settle down with, look for people with a similar goal.

      Your casual friend/acquaintance is just an acquaintance and that is all. I have no patience or time for people who run hot and cold. Life is too short and there are too many other positive things to enjoy. Spread out, talk with other people. She will either straighten out or…. not.

      1. FX-ensis*

        No, what I mean is asking if cousins have friends who are single, not dating them.

        And yes, I think the person doesn’t care that much, but I guess such is life.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Sorry, I misunderstood. Yeah, ask your cousins. Maybe they have someone they have been wanting to introduce but did not know if that would be okay with you.

    3. the gold digger*

      is it normal to ask cousins and female friends about potential dates? I am 35, and looking to settle down.

      Do you mean, ask them to fix you up with their friends? Yes, not only is this normal, it is expected. I am always mentally fixing people up. One of my frustrations is a 32 year old friend whom I have tried to fix up with a great guy I work with. She wants to bar hop but he is a little more mature than that and is interested in things like astronomy and Russian history. He is super cute and has a good steady job and is as nice as can be. She wants to hang out with bar rats who don’t have steady employment. Fine for fun but they are not husband material.

      Anyhow – definitely ask your female friends to introduce you to their friends.

    4. Dan*

      I’ll pick the part about weight and say that to a certain point it matters, but one must not worry about being super skinny… Unless one only wants to date the sort of guys who only date super skinny chicks. And those guys will frequently be found at bars.

      So if the bar scene ain’t your thing, focus on meeting people in activities groups where there is less pressure on dating and more pressure on doing things and meeting people. Plus, it’s actually easier to talk to people in those settings than it is in a noisy bar.

      1. FX-ensis*

        I don’t mind bars, however I am looking to use both. I have some hobbies/activities I like, as well as going to bars with friends/family. thanks for your point.

        1. Trixie*

          Love Meet-up groups for this. Or really, love the groups for getting out to hiking/biking/favorite activities. Meeting folks and making new friends comes easily in that setting.

    5. Natalie*

      On the dating question – have you considered dating online? If you live in any reasonably sized city there will be a boatload of other people to chose from.

      The best way to think about it, in my experience, is more of an online introduction service than “online dating”. You meet people online but move it offline as soon as you can. I really enjoyed it – I was never great at meeting people at bars or whatever, an ended an LTR at 29 with no single friends. Went on some good dates and some blah dates and met a nice guy I’ve been seeing for about 5 months now.

      1. Kay*

        I’m going to second this. I met my husband online (on okcupid of all things!) and though I dated a couple guys who were not “keepers” on there before finding him, I really think it’s losing it’s stigma and allows you to weed out non-matches pretty quickly.

        Also, on the weight thing… I’ve never been a skinny person and I’ve always been what one would describe as plus size. If you want to lose weight for *you* or for your health or something, by all means, you should. But if you’re looking for someone to love you, wouldn’t it be better to find someone who will love you no matter what you weigh? I wouldn’t really want to be with someone who would only be attracted to me if I fit in a certain size jeans.

    6. Mephyle*

      The most important thing about weight/dating is to feel comfortable with your body. That translates into confidence (opposite of neediness) that is attractive to the right kind of potential partner (the kind that appreciates you for who you are, not for what you look like in comparison to society’s standards).
      Yoga can help with accepting yourself as you are, and it can also help with mindfulness. I am convinced that the only way to lose weight is to eat less. So the calories burnt with yoga are negligible, but the mindfulness that you practice in yoga can be extended to mindfulness about your eating patterns and habits.

  28. nyxalinth*

    I’m just enjoying a full weekend off this week! I have to work every other Saturday (last Saturday was fine until I came home, two buses didn’t even show and it took me 2 and a half hours to make a trek that normally takes an hour and a half) but I have this upcoming Friday off. I did accomplish cleaning out my hall closet yesterday (boring, but I feel so accomplished, and found loads of cool stuff I’d forgotten about) including an olive green twill messenger bag that I thought was long gone!

    Now I’m debating downloading Wasteland 2 (which just hit on Friday, played the original 25 years ago and loved it) or waiting until Friday. I’m probably the only one who’s ever played the oriiginal, but does anyone else remember it?

    And since we’re discussing games, does anyone else play Dwarf Fortress? Old lady gamer is old :P

  29. Mister Pickle*

    Perhaps I shouldn’t bring this up, because it’s not a Sure Thing and it could fall through – but I’m feeling optimistic about it.

    In short: I’m going to Shanghai for a week or two of training sometime before year-end. I’ve got my passport, but in all of my years with my company, this is only my second trip outside of North America. (In 2008 I went to South Korea for a week – it was soooo boring).

    In addition to doing well with my work responsibilities, I’d like to be prepared to take advantage of the local culture: the food, the sights, the shopping, the museums … everything and anything!

    Also – this being a once in a lifetime opportunity, I wonder about taking vacation time and spending my own money on short trips to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, etc (my employer is not adverse to this).

    Any and all advice would be appreciated. Two specific concerns: I tend to travel with several computers. Should get a simple temporary / loaner machine for this trip? And: I have long hair and tend to dress casually. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t take illegal drugs, and I’m not prone to copping an ‘attitude’ with members of the local police – but am I going to get hassled, possibly dragged off to People’s Barbershop #46327 for an Emergency Crew-cut?

    1. Dan*

      Why did South Korea suck? Were you stuck at some factory in the country side? That’s not sarcasm, I know that many Americans traveling abroad do go visit their companies factories, which are stuck in the middle if nowhere. Seoul was awesome (spent a week there in April). Jeju Island too.

      You’ll need to take a look at plane schedules to get a feel for distance and travel times. If you are only going to be gone for a week or two, most of the places you list for “short” trips are way too far. If you’re taking a couple of weeks on your own, that’s different.

      Singapore to Sydney itself is a 7 hour flight. Beijing to Sydney is 10 hours. Beijing to Singapore probably clocks in at 6 hours.

      I think going to Japan is the only thing, from what you mentioned, that is worth doing for a quick weekend trip. Hong Kong will be nearby, check that out for certain.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Thanks, Dan. I’d be taking an additional week or two of my own time for “extended” travel.

        My trip to South Korea was basically a week in the InterContinental Seoul Coex Hotel, which was immediately across the street from the business office I was working with. They were connected via tunnels, I probably spent less than an hour outdoors the whole time I was there. Also, it was a 14+ hour work-day, every day. As business trips go, this one was *all* business. The food sucked, too: when I asked for hot sauce, they brought me some stuff that tasted like ketchup. I also got to learn about some of the interesting business practices of the area – but that’s a post for another day.

        1. NZ Muse*

          NZ is a loooong way from China still. One week? Probably not worth it. 2 weeks, maybe. If you decide (or start leaning toward) on NZ I’d be happy to offer more advice.

    2. Jill of all trades*

      I agree with Dan – Hong Kong can be tacked on to the end. I went from Beijing to Shanghai to HK to Sydney and OMG the flight from HK to SYD was LONG. I thought it would be easy to tack the Australia trip onto the Asia trip since I would be on that side of the world anyway but I honestly only trimmed about 4 hours off of the travel time from Atlanta to SYD. I was pooped and pretty sick of customs and airports (and I LOVE to travel).

      If I were to do it again, I would stay in country and go to either HK or Beijing and see the Wall, or out to the city with the clay soldiers (if that’s your thing).

      One word of caution about the side trip: make sure you have a multi-entry visa for China. If not, you cannot get back into China from a side trip, so you need to plan for that. For what it’s worth, multi-entry visas cost the same as single entry when I was there a couple of years ago, had the same hoops through which to jump, and gave me piece of mind that if for some reason I had to cross back over from HK I could.

      For your other concerns, I’d get it down to a single machine just for ease, and they honestly don’t give a flying squirrel about hair length, clothes, drinking, etc. Just don’t wear something like a “Remember Tienammen Square” shirt and you’ll be fine.

      1. Jill of all trades*

        That would be “peace of mind”, and you said North America but not your passport citizenship, so keep in mind my comments about the visas apply to US passport holders.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Thank you! Yes, I’m a US citizen and thank you for the advice about a multi-entry visa – that sounds exactly like the kind of thing I’d not know about and regret it later.

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      Agree with Dan and Jill, definitely put HK as the last place to visit if you’re going to be visiting other parts of China. HK will be a nice segue way back to North American standards.

      Xian, where the terra cotta soldiers are, is really cool. If you go, I’d recommend getting a tour guide, one that picks you up at your hotel and takes you out to the site.

      1. Jill of all trades*

        Expanding on North America standards vs what you’ll see in China, take TP with you everywhere you go, along with a washcloth to dry your hands and a bit of soap or purell. Most of the facilities outside your hotel will not be stocked at all. I cannot speak to the men’s rooms but the ladies rooms do not have toilets; it’s just a hole in the ground. Be prepared for that. Even at the hotel, be careful about what you eat and don’t be shy about asking them to cook your eggs longer (even at a western hotel we had a lot of people get serious food poisoning). There will be people trying to sell you things at all of the tourist places; learn to say “boo yow” (<– phonetic spelling); it means "I don't want" in Mandarin (more helpful for Beijing but it also worked for us in Shanghai). In Shanghai go to the top floor of the Finance Tower; it has a great view of the city and the river and glass bottom parts for terror.

        Hong Kong is subtly British in my opinion-you won't feel like you're in the UK, but they still have a lot of expats there; the SoHo area has nice pubs and restaurants with amazing food that is really affordable. Go up to the Victoria Peak for a view of HK- they also do a light show every night in the harbor. In Shanghai you can go to the fabric market and get something custom made for a very reasonable price.

        1. Dan*


          I know three phrases in Chinese: Knee How (hello) She-She (Thank you) and Boo Yow. My Chinese friends think it’s hilarious.

          I spent a week in China split across Beijing and Shanghai back in grad school in 2008. I don’t remember toilet paper and western style toilets to be an issue, so YMMV.

          Speaking of Victoria Peak, I have a night shot of the HK city line from there hanging up on my wall.

    4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Can’t speak to Shangai, but totally recommend coming to see us lovely folks over here in New Zealand :)

      However, we’re not a ‘short trip’ — it’s an 11-hour flight from Hong Kong. Better to get to Australia first, then pop over to New Zealand :o)

    1. Julia*

      The Road from Koorain and True North by Jill Kerr Conway. The first is about her growing up in Australia and the second about her marriage. Interesting, compelling. And My Life in France by Julia Child.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’m a fan of Jon Krakauer’s work, which is predominately journalistic non-fiction/documentary, but I’m interested in other’s suggestions as well.

      1. Mimmy*

        I read one of her books earlier this year–I think it was her compilation of “My Planet” essays. Some of them were really funny!

    3. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Not a huge reader of non-fiction now, but I loved Austerity Britain, by David Kynaston — it made sense of all those wartime and post-war British novels (I’m from the USA and am a passionate fan of Barbara Pym) and gave the background to understand why Maggie Thatcher came to power. Kynaston quotes a lot of diaries and primary sources and evokes the time in very vivid ways.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, wow, I need to find this, and also to high-five a fellow Barbara Pym fan. (I always wanted to make quilts from those gorgeous tessellated covers in the early hardbacks, too.) Thanks for the recommendation!

    4. Natalie*

      Bee Wilson does great history stuff, mostly on food I think.

      At Day’s Close is one of my favorite history works – it’s about how people interacted with nighttime prior to widespread artificial lighting.

      Your Inner Fish – evolutionary biology

      At Home by Bill Bryson – the history of the house, essentially, done room by room. He has a lovely dry British wit.

      Barbara Ehrenreich, pretty much all of her work.

      I’ll second Mary Roach, as well.

    5. Grey*

      Anyone who works in management should read “Iacocca: An Autobiography”. It’s 30 years old, but it’s still a good story with relevant advice.

    6. Mimmy*

      Well, most of my reading lately has been for school, lol. But other than that, I like a mix of genres…can’t say I have a particular favorite. I used to really like memoirs, mainly from those who have a disability or a medical condition. Nowadays, I just look for something that seems interesting to me at the moment, be it a trivia book by Ken Jennings (Jeopardy winner) or something written by Readers Digest.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I just read Watching the English, by Kate Fox, not long ago and it was fascinating and hilarious. She’s English herself, which made the anecdotes a lot more fun. I like sociology and stuff like that. Right now I’m reading Dr. Robin Zasio’s Hoarders book.

    8. Liane*

      The Spy Wore Red, by Aline, Countess of Romanones (true World War II spy tale)
      Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden
      Dogs of War, by Lisa Rogak (military working dogs)
      The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston
      Apollo 13 (aka Lost Moon), by Jeffrey Kluger & James Lovell
      The Astronaut Wives Club, by Lily Koppel
      We Band of Angels, by Elizabeth M. Norman (WWII nurses trapped on Bataan)

    9. Mints*

      Zealot, by Reza Aslan, was super duper interesting. It’s essentially the historical context to Jesus. A lot of the historical context completely flips the meaning to how the passages read.
      (Not recommended for the more literal Christians, but good for progressive Christians and people who are familiar with Christianity but aren’t super attached)

  30. Not So NewReader*

    Looking for recommendations or general suggestions. My friend has macular degeneration. She still sees well enough to do most things but her eyes tire.

    She would like to see her computer monitor better, she is currently using a laptop. (Sorry, I don’t have the info with me to tell you brand/model.) We were thinking about getting her a larger monitor to use with her laptop.

    Does anyone have an specific recommendations for brand/model?
    I have never looked into anything like this before, has anyone had an experience helping someone with MD to find a new monitor? What worked? What didn’t work?
    Lastly, any general advice regarding MD and computer monitors? (I’m thinking this is straightforward, just get a larger monitor. Please let me know if this is incorrect thinking.)

    1. Rowan*

      I work with low vision/MD experts. I’ll see if I can get some recommendations from them and get back to you, either on this same post tomorrow or on the open thread next week.

    2. Calla*

      I don’t have advice about computers, but I wonder if the program f.lux might help her–it warms the tone of the screen so it’s not so harsh and makes it much easier on the eyes.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        My newest pair of glasses are slightly tinted blue — apparently they’re treated so as to filter out some of the blue, which is supposed to make staring at monitors all day easier on the eyes. I’m now using them just for work, where I stare at a monitor 8 hours a day. Sounds like the same idea. Maybe there’s a screen cover (like the privacy or glare screens) that does that? Or the friend can ask her doctor or optometrist about the treated lenses?

    3. Mimmy*

      Is her issue with actually seeing the font, or with glare? I’m getting tired of the glare of computer monitors, so I’ll be looking into some of the ideas others suggested for that issue.

      I should mention that a bigger monitor doesn’t automatically make whatever is on the screen bigger. But…computer systems have built-in accessibility features where she can increase the font size or magnify the image. A larger monitor would help with that as more would fit on the screen (hope that makes sense!).

      I’m not familiar with specific brands, but I do know in general ways people with reduced vision can see easier, since I have personal experience with this myself.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I know the size of the font bothers her. But I have never asked about the glare. She does say that she appreciates stark contrast, but that is not the same as glare. I will have to ask her.

    4. Ms. Anonymity*

      I think there is a magnifying screen you can get to put on top of the computer monitor and a swing magnifying glass that she can use to magnify things even more. I would consult Google.

  31. saro*

    I’m going to rant a bit. I had a very stressful Friday. I’m moving overseas on Sept 30. The plans came together late so I went to the regional office to get my baby’s passport (they expedite). Unfortunately, the consent form from my husband to allow our son to get his passport was too old. So now my husband has to get a new one and DHL it to us before we leave. It’ll probably cost something like $200+. I didn’t realize that it could expire. No one’s fault but my own. Then, that evening, the baby was hurt in a freak accident. He had to get three stitches on his head and is fine now. I held it together but it was so stressful. Our biggest issue this weekend was trying to get him not to bump his head (he’s trying to stand up)

    Now, my bones ache. I think it must be the after-effects of the stress.

    Also, I’m filled with dread about results of the Afghan election. Just filled with dread. I hope it works out. I really do.

    Sorry for the vent and so I don’t end on a completely negative note: Gunn’s Golden Rules is a delightful read.

    1. saro*

      By the way, the baby was laughing and playing at the ER, it was the blood on his scalp that very obviously showed that something was wrong. We’re all traumatized but him. He loved everything at the ER (so many cords to grab at!) except when he was swaddled to give him his stitches. I haven’t told my husband (who is overseas) b/c it would be unnecessarily stressful.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Babies are tougher than we think. I remember a 6 month old baby in a cast, broken leg. I held that child in my lap and talked to him. He clipped me on the side of my FACE (hard!) with that cast and giggled his butt off. I knew he’d be okay.

  32. Consoling a friend on a breakup*

    Just got an email from a friend that her boyfriend of many years broke up with her. Said he didn’t love her and had never loved her. I think that is such a strange thing to say to someone when you’re breaking up with them… What is going through a person’s head when they decide they need to twist the knife by saying that? Anyway, I believe that, from her perspective, it was completely out of left field. I don’t know him well enough to even begin to guess at his perspective. Wondering if anyone has any advice as to what I might say to her (beyond I’m sorry and I’m here if she wants to talk), and also what I should avoid saying to her.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Try to avoid bashing the guy out of left field. She’s probably very confused and upset right now, and friends going “I always hated that guy, what a douchebag, I knew he was never good enough for you” is going to make her think “God, I’m such an idiot, everyone hated him but nobody told me” and just generally spiral down the path of despair.

      1. Consoling a friend on a breakup*

        No danger of that, I only met him once, and he seemed super nice. I think people tended to like him. Which I can only imagine is making it harder on her in an entirely different way.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Did he say that out loud to explain it to her or to explain it to HIMSELF. Was he trying to justify his own actions in his own mind but superficially, it looked like he was explaining it to her.

      Tell her to go ahead and cry. Crying causes chemical changes in the brain that make the brain healthier in the long run. Annnddd the quickest way to get a crying person to stop crying is to tell them to go ahead and cry. This would work on me and I would know what you were doing yet it would still work for me. I think it is because it’s an affirmation of sorts- “yeah, this is freakin’ sad, any sane person would be crying right now”.

    3. FX-ensis*

      Be there, support her.

      If it was out of the blue, she holds every right to cry, be angry, upset, scream, shout, be mad, etc. it’s perfectly normal in those scenarios….

      1. Consoling a friend on a breakup*

        I should add, we live very far apart. I’m not going to be seeing any tears. It’s really just a words thing.

        1. FX-ensis*

          OK. Well you can obviously call, e-mail, Skype, etc. and keep in contact and make sure she’s OK. It’s probable IMO that he was along for the ride, but didn’t see it as much other than that. Your friend was not to know this of course, but then I guess it can be shattering.

        2. Kay*

          Since you’re far away, if you have the means to send her a care package, that would be a really nice gesture. Maybe a couple of her favorite movies or books and some chocolate/snacks to eat while watching them. I love getting mail, especially packages and it would really mean a lot that a friend to know that you’re thinking of her.

    4. Dan*

      Oddly enough, I don’t think they’re trying to be hurtful.

      What isn’t helpful at this point is to over analyze a single statement or interaction. Macro patterns and trends, sure, but “What did he mean when he said X?” That question will never be answered.

      It’s going to suck, it’s going to hurt, but the reality is that it’s over and time to move on.

      Think about the things she couldn’t do or had to give up because of him, and those are the things that she has to look forward to in terms of moving on. Did she want kids and he didn’t? Now she can focus on a relationship where that is a priority. Did she want marriage and he didn’t? Check.

    5. C Average*

      I think culturally we’re all brought up with the ideal of One True Love, and it’s something that people–especially young people or people who haven’t had a lot of relationships–aspire to. So when it’s clear that the love is gone or has changed in some irretrievable way, the person wants to rewrite history and say “Oh, actually, I never loved you.”

      This is immaturity speaking. Anyone who’s been in love a few times knows that just because love is gone or has changed doesn’t mean it was never there, and that very few real humans only fall in love once and have it last forever.

      I can think of roughly half a dozen people I loved deeply but no longer stay in touch with and thus couldn’t say I love now. I’m happily married to someone I love and fully expect to continue loving. It would be inappropriate to love other people that way. But that doesn’t mean I can’t look back on past relationships and feel sentimental and know the love is real.

      When your friend’s ex-boyfriend has some distance and perspective on this relationship, I hope he’ll be able to be honest with himself (and with her, if it’s appropriate and welcome at the time) and acknowledge that even though his love for her changed and isn’t what it used to be, it still did exist.

      Or maybe he’s intentionally saying nasty things to make sure there’s no chance of reconciliation. I’ve been on the other side of that and have even done it myself. Sometimes when you really need for something to be over, you’ll say anything to escape. It’s awful.

      1. Consoling a friend on a breakup*

        I think both your reasons are plausible. I hadn’t considered either. These aren’t young people, but that doesn’t preclude immaturity.

    6. Natalie*

      Some advice for her, if you care to pass it on:

      – take care of yourself physically. Try to eat well, sleep well, get some kind of regular excercise, and keep alcohol consumption reasonable.

      – box up all of his stuff and just mail it back. Pack up any kind of mementos/photos/gifts or whatever and throw them under the bed or in storage. Rearrange so you’re not looking at empty spaces.

      – be really intentional about filling the time your relationship took up. Some combination of a class, a new hobby, volunteer work, professional development. The empty time can really surprise and depress you.

      – reach out to people. Hopefully they will remember and reach out to you but that doesn’t always happen. Don’t be embarrassed! They’re your friends and they care about you.

      – if you don’t want to tell everyone constantly, there’s no shame in a blast email or FB post, or having a few close friends spread the news. Telling everyone over the next few months can be fucking exhausting.

  33. FX-ensis*

    I don’t intend to hog the thread, but then just this brief point….

    I kind of find medical professionals single me out to treat me badly. Like I remember a while ago that therapists used to say it’s “immoral” not to go to church, or that having a tattoo is “wrong and immoral”. I kind of think they tell others the ethical stuff and not me, for whatever reason. This is coupled with “seeing porn is wrong and abnormal” (as an 18 year old, yep, no people that age see porn…) and getting drunk is “wrong”.

    I saw a therapist about a year or so ago, but then I went off her because she was telling me stuff that I “must be nice to everybody or I won’t be considered well/normal”. However, she is a co-member of my mother’s Rotary Club and my mother said she made a little verbal faux-pas that mildly angered some people there. Am I being a dope here, or is it a case of shopping around?

    Regarding the post I made earlier re: the class girl, well to be honest we were never that close, but then I thought we had somewhat of a rapport, since she disclosed some personal stuff to me, and more or less extended the arm to me so to speak as we used to chat a bit. But then I guess I was reading more into it than her, since as I said above I am looking to move beyond a depressive state. I do have other things occupying my time, such as career goals (I’m changing career into something more aligned to my passions/talents, losing weight as said, making travel plans, etc.) but then I guess setbacks are part of life, it’s not something I can change.

    yes, this hasn’t been short, but then no more threads from me here, I’ve taken up enough space.

    1. Just Visiting*

      Where do you live? Is it in a highly religious or conservative area? Honestly, therapists are just people, and people are influenced by their surroundings. I’ve been to a handful of them, and nobody’s ever used the terms “immoral” or even “wrong,” certainly not to describe having tattoos (of which I have many) or being an atheist (which I am). But I have always lived in liberal cities. I think you need to be blunt and ask in advance if certain personality traits or decisions will be a problem for them. So yeah, it’s not you it’s them, and maybe it’s your location.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is really good advice. Basically, you’re looking for a fit and realizing that it might not happen, so initially you’re sort of interviewing/dating before you commit. I haven’t encountered anything like you’ve described either. I’m thinking about shortcuts to finding a less insistently normative therapist–one possibility might be is to see if anybody near you is identified as LGBT-friendly, because if they’re really that in a conservative area they’re not going to be telling you it’s immoral not to go to church. And even if that’s not the therapist for you, they may be likelier to have some good referral suggestions. The Psychology Today listings have headings for gay issues/lesbian issues–maybe you could see if you pull up anybody in your area.

        1. FX-ensis*

          I’m not gay, but then I’ll take that in mind. I guess I thought before that they get trained, and then they practice. Yes, mistakes happen, but then there is a template to follow…hmmm…I guess I need to shop around.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                You can see my stories below and add your own examples to the mix. It seems like they do whatever.
                I cannot relate the whole story on here, but the punchline is do not stay with a person who is not helping or worse, antagonizing you. Move away from that person for your own well being. The gist of the story is one person was going to a local doctor, finally one day he said to the doctor “you have messed up my life beyond repair.”
                Don’t let this happen to you. If a person is not connecting or worse yet being antagonistic- drop the counselor. No help is better than anti-help. Regroup and figure out where to go next.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I agree with this completely. My mother is a therapist and she gets so frustrated dealing with people whose other therapists had messed them up.

                  You know how we always compare job hunting to dating? If it’s not a good fit, find another job? Same thing here. If it’s not a good fit, find another therapist.

      2. FX-ensis*

        OK. I guess I’m a bit naive in that regard, because obviously there are diagnostic guidelines, but then i guess I need to shop around more.

        1. Bea W*

          You don’t need to be diagnosed with anything to see a therapist and they don’t need to diagnose you with anything (except maybe for insurance approval). There are all kinds of therapists and methods of approaching therapy. It’s definitely not all diagnosing and pathologising things. That’s really just a small part of the whole picture. It’s also a very inexact science and “normal” is subjective and whether something is a problem is dependent on whether or not it bothers your or is hindering your life in some way.

          I find it strange that the therapists you are seeing are making moral judgements. That’s really not typically part of the training in the 21st century. I might expect that from a religious counselor or someone with a particular religious bent or practice, but not a straight secularly educated therapist. Keep shopping around. Fit is crucial in therapy. Bad therapy is worse than no therapy at all.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think to get insurance coverage they need to diagnose you with something.
          The problem here is that not everyone has a “disease”.

          Now I am wondering if the counselors were frustrated by your situation because they could not pigeon-hole you as someone with X or Y or Z.

          Sad to say, but I have seen traditional med doctors become totally rude in effort to drive away a patient that they just did not like/understand or could not help. My late husband had one such doctor for a leg problem. The first visit, he was the kind of doctor you’d want to tell everyone you know about him. The second, visit he morphed into someone we could not get away from fast enough. The reason was the doctor insisted my husband had to have a day-patient procedure requiring my husband to lay on his back. With 8 broken vertebra my husband could NOT lay on his back. Because the doctor had NO other ideas on how to handle the recurring problem, he got mad at us for coming back to him. He lashed out. We never went back. Had my husband lived, we would have searched for a doctor that had the skills to handle the leg problem without making my husband lay on his back.

          The punchline on this story is when people max out their skill set they can (not always) morph into a very dislikeable human being.

          Spend some time learning about the different schools of thought regarding counseling. Maybe you can find someone whose thinking most closely matches with the school of thought you like the best.

          1. Stephanie*

            I think it depends on your insurance plan. I saw a therapist (who was a psychologist, not a psychiatrist) and it was covered by my PPO. My plan just considered a therapist a specialist like it would consider a dermatologist a specialist. Unsure if you’d need a diagnosis to cover meds, however.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      For counseling I think it is extreme shopping around. I mean, heavy-duty, intense shopping around.
      I went through a rough patch years ago. Finally, I went to a shrink. After 8 weeks, he said, “Why are you here?” (remember, week number 8). I said “I am putting in 20-22 hour days and nothing is getting done, I just go from one emergency to another.”
      He said “You are a woman, you need to accept your lot in life.”

      Nothing going on there, keep moving.

      Years earlier I had been to another shrink because of a family crisis. A family member recommended her to me. I went numerous times. One day, I felt like we are getting into a meat and potatoes discussion and she blurts out “You aren’t jealous are you?” Not being sure what she meant, I asked. “Oh you aren’t jealous that your family member comes here, too and you both have to share me?”

      Nothing going on there, keep moving.

      Are these people even screening to see if you are a good match for them to be talking with? Neither of mine did that. By the time I figured out they weren’t going to be of any real help I was out of money. Might be just as well, I don’t think that they had much real life experience and that is more the type of inputs I needed. People with real life experience in the unique situations I was facing. (Okay, not so unique no one else has ever seen it, but unique to the counselor. For example, on the earlier case I should have said “Have you ever worked with someone that has a dying family member and everyone else is fighting with each other?” Asking that question might have saved me tons of time and money.)

      One mistake that was a common thread for me is that I waited too long each time to decide to move on. I could have learned some red flags and moved sooner, which would have saved me from listening to the second person’s abusive remarks. (I need to accept my lot in life, reeeally?)

  34. Shell*

    I have a whole bunch of cleaning to do (okay, let’s be honest, it’ll take 2-3 hours at most) but if left to my own devices I’d just while the whole day away with relaxing things and the mess will remain a mess.

    How do you motivate yourself to do the cleaning and laundry and other household stuff you’d really rather not do? Upbeat music? Bribing yourself with rewards?

      1. brightstar*

        I do this as well, or listen to an audiobook. I’ll often find myself looking for things to do to continue listening.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I do this too, especially since I no longer have a commute so I don’t listen to my podcasts during the week like I used to. If my boyfriend isn’t around, I put on a favorite DVD and clean while that’s in the background– I don’t have to pay attention to every minute, but it’s comforting in a weird way.

    1. Dan*

      Invite someone over who you really want to come over, and then be absolutely mortified if they saw the real you so you’re forced to clean.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, good idea. I have shame and that works for me. I wish it worked for my friend and her husband. Their house is crusty. She offered up her couch next time I was in town and I’m thinking “Ehhhh, I’ll pass on a moldy bathroom.”

      2. Jazzy Red*


        When my house needs cleaning, I call someone and invite them over for dinner in a couple of days time. That gives me plenty of time to get the stress of housecleaning over before I plunge into the stress of trying to cook an edible meal.

    2. fposte*

      Back-and-forth plus music. I can’t do a binge clean. I *can* pick the stuff up off the floor/counter/stairs every four chapters. Smaller successes encourage me forward to keep going.

      Basically, same as big project methodologies at work–break it up into smaller concrete steps and congratulate myself as I go.

    3. Natalie*

      I always found an episode of Hoarders was great motivation.

      I’m also a fan of UfYH (full name will put me in moderation) and their 20/10 or 45/15 system. Set a timer for either 20 minutes or 45 minutes, and then just work until the timer goes off. Then take a 10 or 15 minute break, and repeat a few times until the work is done. Music, podcasts, NPR, or casual streaming TV is great for the cleaning periods, too.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m taking a break–the cleaning is almost done. My motivation is that I do not want to come home to a dirty house, because I will go right back to work the next day (on a Tuesday), and I am 100% sure I will not want to clean it until that weekend. The pet sitter shouldn’t make a mess, but I don’t want him to see MY mess either!

    5. Trixie*

      Music, then start with something small and easily accomplished. You often move on to other stuff before you know it.

      1. Stars and violets*

        Yes, this for me too. Lots of music and then start with small tasks that lead to other bigger tasks and then chocolate or something similar as a treat at the end. I hate housework so I have to bribe myself.

  35. LazySadSackAnon*

    Lately I’ve been thinking about how people perceive me, especially friends. It always end up with me feeling terrible and depressed because I’m late to workforce, getting a degree in an area that I now don’t ever want to work in, staying with parents, and nearly broke. I feel that I have to give a handy ‘get out of being judged’ explanation card just to avoid being look down on. Even then it doesn’t help because the events that lead to my current situation have a huge stigma around them.

    It’s hard to not care when you obviously have to. It sucks feeling paranoid, and that people are looking down on you and think the worst is going to happen to you. So I don’t know how to get over.

    1. Dan*

      I think first you do have to come to terms with where you are at in life, and then figure what you can actually change about it, even if that change won’t be fast.

      But American society is afraid to let people think negative things, even when life temporarily sucks. I.e. friends saying “don’t be depressed, things get better”.

      I got separated from my wife and laid off within four months of each other late last year. I’m glad at thanksgiving we didn’t have to do the “name something were all thankful for” because quite frankly, things sucked. What am I supposed to be thankful for, my health? That I have a large enough credit line that I can pay rent without moving back in with mom and dad?

      Yeah sure, but let me own and process the major life events that really are throwing me for a loop without having to force myself to be in a spirit in which I’m not.

      So do that first. Be ok with being in the dumps, and then figure out what you can do to change it.

      1. fposte*

        Dan, do you know Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright Sided? It’s a great book that talks about just this apple-polishing phenomenon, which made her absolutely crazy after she got breast cancer.

        1. Dan*

          Nope, but I did get a totally awesome job back in January, so I’m more than over that. I’m totally comfortable with single life, so the issues I have related to the ex are more related to the relationship itself as opposed to the “woe is me, I’m single again” phenomenon.

          But I didn’t want to detract from the OP with this “my life turned out great, so will yours.” Because that’s a humble brag that I didn’t want to interject. (And hey, I’m still single, so only half of it turned out great so far ;) )

      2. LazySadSackAnon*

        I am working on changing my life circumstances. I’m graduating at the end of the year and working on getting a job ASAP that tries to mix my degree with the field I want to go into.

        I understand a lot is about my self-perception, but I have been burned by former friends (including a nasty public post and friend who thought I was below IQ despite being witness to my academic successes and years of knowing me).

        It adds to whole paranoia bit since I’ve been “bitten once, twice shy” twice. As for counseling, I have access to it, but the wait list is for months and they don’t find my issues as much as an emergancy as other patients.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I understand a lot is about my self-perception, but I have been burned by former friends (including a nasty public post and friend who thought I was below IQ despite being witness to my academic successes and years of knowing me).

          Wow. That says a lot more about them than it does about you, though.

    2. fposte*

      Do you have any access to counseling? A lot of this sounds like self-talk and self-perception rather than issues coming from other people, and therapy might help you change your patterns a little there. It might also help if some of people you’re worrying about are the family that you’re living with–it can be really helpful to have an external ally to arm yourself against the water you’re swimming in.

      Here’s a great Captain Awkward guide to finding low-cost therapy in the US and Canada:

    3. Stars and violets*

      May I suggest The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris? It helped me tremendously. It’s about acceptance therapy and mindfulness and shows you ways to cope when things are going wrong for you, from the trivial to the life altering. You can’t control how people think but you can control your response to what they say and do and this approach helped me a lot more than Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
      Good luck!

  36. Tara*

    So last week’s computer issue is all sorted out– it turns out I had some iobit software that conflicted with my Windows. Guy fixed it in ten minutes, so yay!

    We adopted a new family member yesterday. His name is Jack, and he is a tiny orange kitten. He’s lovely and very adventurous (and I’ve taken roughly 70 pictures so far). The only issue is our other (10-year-old) cat is Not Happy. We had hoped that since he’s just a kitten she might get over it, but so far she’s hissed like crazy everytime she’s seen him. She ran out of the room when he came in last night. Is there anything to do besides wait and hope they get used to each other?

    1. Claire*

      It’s usually best to keep new introductions to the household apart to begin with, and let the established members get used to the presence of the newcomer slowly. So what I’d recommend if someone was getting a new kitten and already had a cat or cats would be to keep the kitten confined to one room for the first couple of days, and allow them to meet the other cat/s briefly while confined to a pen or carrier so that they are able to see each other etc. Let them get used to each other’s scents. Build up contact slowly, and see how they get along.

      That said, some adult cats never adapt to new kittens coming along. That’s how I got my cat – his previous owners got him as a kitten but their adult female cat wouldn’t accept him no matter what they did, and she was attacking him so they had to find him a new home.

    2. Sandrine (France)*

      I’ll dissolved eventually.

      I have two adult cats (Marvin and Flora). I adopted a little gray kitten that I named Daenerys (yes, after the show) and she was born on June 8th, 2014.

      At first, Marvin and Flora hissed. Little by little, they started eating together, then sleep close by on the couch, now they coexist just fine and Marvin and Flora like to give baths to Daenerys. Marvin has even assumed the position of authority over her and “disciplines” her when he thinks she’s too rowdy. During those times, Flora just plops down somewhere and watches.

      If things haven’t improved after, say, two or three weeks, I’d try something else, buf if it’s only a few days, it shouldn’t take long.

    3. Sparrow*

      A bit late her, but if you’re still checking comments look into the book “Cat vs Cat” from Pam Johnson Bennett. Lots of good tips for introducing a new cat to the family.

  37. C Average*

    I have SO MUCH data analysis homework (mostly reading, a few exercises) to do for my MBA program, and it is so freaking DENSE. I have two classes, and I love one of them and blast through the homework for it, and then I’m left with the other one, which involves stuff I really struggle to comprehend and embrace. I keep telling myself, “Stay the course. You’re shoring up your weaknesses, and that’s a GOOD thing.” It’s just . . . challenging.

    I would rather waste time here, but I am off to study now. Sigh.

    1. Mimmy*

      Well, we just got our data analysis assignment for class, due Oct. 6, so I’ll be able to commiserate with you :) I have no. idea. how the heck to do this! Luckily, I can choose a topic of interest, so that’ll give me more motivation.

    2. Programmer 01*

      Data analysis is beastly for me, and I started off in data management. We do “DNA” tracking in our games to see things like where people go, where they die, what their loadouts are, HOW they die, and while it can be really interesting once it’s mapped (especially now that we have a lot of automated tools) it sets my brain ON FIRE trying to comprehend it without that extrapolation already done.

      Good luck to you! You are learning things, and that is hard, especially when it’s something you are not totally sure you are getting!

    3. C Average*

      Thanks, all. I’m not quite done–will have to finish up during tomorrow’s lunch break. I feel like that old Far Side cartoon with the small-headed guy saying to the teacher, “May I be excused? My brain is full.”

      We’re learning really good stuff, though: ways to turn data into charts and graphs, ways to cherry-pick data, ways to make sure your data expresses the truth, ways to deal with outliers and other weird problem-making data. It’s cool. And our professor, against all odds, is engaging and funny! I’m confident if I stick with this, it’ll come easier.

  38. Diet Coke Addict*

    Hey, cat lovers: does anyone have any advice for moving with cats? We have two year-old sister kitties, who are generally very well-behaved–no inappropriate elimination, no clawing up the place, etc. Next weekend we’re moving across town to our new place, which is twice as big as our current apartment.

    The plan right now is to take them over to the new place first thing in the morning with their food/water/litter/toys/beds/things they love and close them up in the spare room with Feliway, etc., so they’re not disturbed by people moving stuff around them, stepping on them, etc. Once the hubbub has died down and everyone is gone and we’ve had a chance to cat-proof, we’re planning on letting them out to explore the new place, little by little, with plenty of treats/toys/snacks so they’ll associate it with good things. Thoughts? I’m confident they’ll love the house once they’re used to it (so many windows! So many places to watch their mortal enemies, The Bugs and Birds!), it’s just the moving process that will be stressful.

    And is there any truth to putting butter on a cat’s paws to liken them to a new environment? My grandmother swore up and down that if you buttered a cat’s paws, once they were done licking the butter off they’d behave like they lived at the new place all their life. I tend to doubt it.

    1. Programmer 01*

      You should be just fine, and honestly once you let them out to explore you might as well leave the door open, just making sure you have lots of hidey-holes for them (at least temporarily, but you know how cats are, you wind up with cubes and beds and scratching trees everywhere…). The buttering paws thing is actually not bad advice! It sounds silly but it works really well for stress (and also works with stuff like petromalt or other hairball remedies, anything seriously sticky and is safe for cats) as they are forced to stop and groom themselves, which is soothing, and it kind of derails their kitty-brain train of AAAAAAUGH WHAT IS HAPPENING THE WORLD IS ENDING to “oh, new things”. They’ll probably slink around for a day or two then act like they’ve owned the place all their lives afterwards.

      Also they will be convinced that the door out is a portal to your old place, so really watch them with the door for the first… forever. My cats are still extremely confused when the door leads to HALLWAY instead of OLD PLACE and we’ve been here 3 years.

      Also also, they will re-test all your boundaries about kitties on surfaces. Every single time we move I spend a month with a spray bottle and a disapproving frown. Cats are super resilient and they adapt fast, and the Feliway really does do a good job at calming them down. I also let them sleep with me for the first few weeks (I’m allergic to them, and them sleeping ON MY FACE does not in fact help my allergies any) before I start being a meaniehead and shutting them out of the bedroom at night.

      1. Programmer 01*

        Oh, um. Butter/tunapaste the tops of their front paws. Otherwise you have cat butter footprints everywhere. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          Thanks! I did think it was the bottoms of their feet….which I could see leading to kitty prints all over the damn house.

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        I’ve usually done the opposite for an in-town move–lock the kitties up in a room in the OLD house with their necessities, and maybe a small piece of furniture or two that can be moved via car. Then, load furniture into new house, THEN move kitties to new house, so even though it’s mostly strange and there are boxes all over, at least the rooms are full of familiar furniture to explore. As others have said, they’ll likely seem really cautious at first, and definitely watch the doors ’cause they’ll try to escape, but they”ll most likely do just fine.

    2. Just Visiting*

      I guess it depends on the cats, but other than an anxiety reaction from one cat on the first move she’d ever made (she climbed up in the rafters and was up there for an entire day), ours have been incredibly chill. Our last move was cross-country and all three of them were awesome about it. Cats do feed off their owners’ emotions so if you act like it’s no big deal, likely they will too. Just close them up in a bedroom with a litter pan and food while you’re moving in the furniture so they don’t get underfoot or dart out.

    3. Trixie*

      That’s almost exactly what I do and while the cats have varied over the years, they all seemed to respond well to this kind of transition. I found having a bed or something they could hide under especially helpful when they felt to the need to run and hide which was often in a new place. Sometimes I moved them last from the old place to new place and they did okay with that too.

    4. Sparrow*

      I think you have a good plan in place. We moved twice in 6 months (house to apartement and then apartement to new house) and my cats have done fine. Two out of my three are a bit more cautious and they spent the first few days hiding under the bed. Also, they love food but it took them a week or so to settle down and eat like they usually do. My third cat is the oldest, but has the most calm temperment and had no problem adjusting. We had the same furniture and I didn’t wash the blankets they use so I think the familiar smell helped. Good luck!

    5. HR Manager*

      I’ve been lucky – I’ve moved twice with my cats and they adjusted rather quickly. I chose to move them out last so that they missed the bustle of movers (strangers can freak them out) and just had time to cautiously explore the new environment. There was a lot of hiding and ears back at first, but they felt relatively comfortable within a few days. I would say if you can find them a nice comfortable, hiding spot that they can settle into, they will be find. I’ve never heard of the butter thing, and not sure my cats would have liked that.

  39. brightstar*

    I had my first dinner party in years last night, and I’m glad to say it was a huge success. My apartment is small, so I only invited over three friends. The menu included an appetizer of dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon, with Korean braised pork shoulder over scallion pancakes as the main course. I paired a Scottish Ale with the entree. For dessert I bought cupcakes from a food truck. My friends loved it and ate everything (I was hoping for some left overs). After dinner we watched Doctor Who and continued drinking until about 11 p.m. when they went home (there was a designated driver).

    I should load the dishwasher but there’s an open bottle of wine with no cork so I can’t in good conscience just let it go bad. Dishes can wait.

    1. Trixie*

      Well done! This kind of thing can be nerve-wracking and doing it once in a while is such a good way to stay relaxed about the whole thing. Like everything else, practice means less stress.

      1. C Average*

        So true! In my mid-twenties, I had a weekly open house in my small, crappy apartment, inviting all my friends over to watch “The X Files” with me on Sunday night. I’d cook a main dish, and other people brought side dishes and drinks. It got to where entertaining a crowd was honestly no big thing. Now that I rarely entertain, the prospect of a dinner party is totally angst-making.

  40. Beth+Anne*

    I just opened the open thread and said, “Awww look at the cute kitty!!” and my cat pierre got jealous and came running onto my desk to see…and was not enthused…LOL

  41. Liane*

    We’ve had some threads on specific books, so here’s a general book one.
    Last 1 (or 2) Books Read:
    1. Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller. First novel in Lucas/Disney’s new unified (or whatever it is) canon, introducing 2 of the heroes–Kanan & Hera–of the upcoming Star Wars Rebels Disney XD series. Good read. Parental Guidance Note for those with young SW fans: The book is a lot more serious and has darker moments than the show, judging from the trailers. Equivalent to the more intense Revenge of the Sith movie scenes.
    2. Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs. Short stories–new & previously published–short stories set in her Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega universe, with characters from those novels. Ms. Briggs is a great writer of urban/modern as well as traditional fantasy & these tales are also a good intro for those who haven’t read the novels. Those who have will want this one too. I loved the new stories!

    Book you’re currently reading (or plan to start):
    Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke. Love this series–see, I don’t read *only* SF & Fantasy. Good mysteries and lots of dessert recipes! What’s not to love about the Hannah Swenson novels? But the small town they’re set in must have the highest murder rate in the world!

    1. Stephanie*

      -Last Book: Brazil’s Dance with the Devil by Dave Zirin, about Brazil’s World Cup and Olympic bids and all the sociopolitical issues surrounding prep for those. Interesting stuff.
      -Current Book: The Secret Lives of the Tsars by Michael Farquhar, about the nuttiness of the Romanov dynasty. Fun read.
      -Next up: Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t wait until someone can mention one of mine in these threads.

      –Just finished NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. It was really good.

      –Trying to read Writing 21st Century Fiction, by Donald Maass, uber-agent. It has a lot of fabulous information on character development, and Adventures in the Screen Trade, by William Goldman. I need the last one because it relates to Secret Book. I might have to take it with me, and it’s fat. Ugh. But I can get a lot of reading done on the way back (day flight; I’ll be bored).

      –Lots of websites about topics I’m researching, but I honestly have very little attention span right now.

    3. EduStudent*

      Last book: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (so excited for the Gone Girl movie!)
      Current book: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym; this is the sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling, which I HIGHLY recommend for any mystery lovers)
      Next book: probably Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott

    4. Kay*

      Recently Finished:
      1) The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh for book club. It was an enjoyable read for the most part, but there were some things that were kind of irritating. I learned way more about flowers than I ever thought I would.

      Currently reading:
      The Giver Quartet. I’ve finished the first 2 and am starting the 3rd. Very interesting so far. I read the Giver back in middle school before there was a “quartet” of them.

      Hoping to Read Next:
      The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan I’ve suggested it for book club and I hope they pick it!

      1. Stars and violets*

        Last book: ‘When will there be good news’ by Kate Atkinson, a wonderful novelist and this is one of her best.
        Current book: ‘Smile or die’ by Barbara Ehrenreich, described as a “frontal attack on the cult of positive thinking” and it really is.
        Next book: ‘A madness of angels’ by Matthew Swift, which is an urban fantasy novel recommended to me by Amazon.

    5. Mints*

      I just read Embassytown, by China Mievelle. This book is really unique. I’m not going to try a synopsis, because I won’t do it justice. I’ll just say it’s sci-fi, set in the future on another planet with sentient aliens. It brings up lots of really interesting ideas about language as thought vs language as signifiers. But it’s not so pretentious because these ideas are central to the plot. I will say the author really drops you into the deep end and the first thirty or fifty pages are intensely confusing. However, the pay off is completely worth it.

      Other books I’ve read recently and really enoyed:
      Mercy Thompson series (I just finished #5, I think). I’ll probably read more Patricia Briggs once I’m finished with the couple more books left. I inhale these all they are so action packed.
      Peter Grant #4 Very fun urban fantasy about a copper in London who becomes a wizard (#4: holy plot twist, batman!)
      Cinder. Young adult, cyborg Cinderella, set in future China. You’re either into the premise or you’re not, and I loved it and need to finish the series asap.

  42. butterbeans*

    Hi AAM commenters. I’m a frequent reader and infrequent poster, but you all seem so nice, supportive, and practical, that I wanted to talk about this.

    I took a new job in a new city 8 months ago, and my husband left his job to follow me. He gave a lengthy notice period to help his old company transition. During that time, our old state rewrote their laws to remove their trailing spouse provision, so he we denied unemployment after initially being told it was no problem. The funny thing is, despite the fact that old city has higher unemployment rates, he keeps being contacted for jobs in our old city but is getting no responses from applications in new city. I adore my new job and I can’t believe what kind of opportunities I have and how much I’m learning. But we’ve had to adopt a painfully frugal lifestyle, and our contingent emergency funds are slowly being eaten away.

    The saddest part, for me, is that we haven’t been financially able to move our cats out to new city. They’ve been with my mother for the last 6 months. She loves them and cares for them like I do, but I miss them so much. Nothing takes away stress like holding a cat.

    1. Trixie*

      So true, I’d be miserable without my cats too. I don’t know what he does but any option to telecommute to old city if if he’s getting calls there? Would he consider alternative work just to help with monthly bills, and maybe bring kitties out sooner? A lot of places still hire on for holiday help and now’s a perfect time to apply to places like Costco, Target, etc who you know will be busy over holidays.

      1. butterbeans*

        Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately the old city is midwestern and telecommuting is kind of rare in that culture. He actually did try to suggest it but it didn’t pan out. Retail applications are not working out well either. We are guessing to that he probably looks too experienced in specific areas–but you’re right, seasonal work might be more possible. Oi, this economy!

        We did meet some nice new neighbors that have graciously allowed us to care for their cats when they go out of town. :)

  43. Programmer 01*

    I haven’t posted in a while but I really like the folks here, it’s just been hard for me to keep up with things. :)

    I finally have started talk therapy for my PTSD (diagnosed June, started meds July, also hurt my back in July, fun times are being had by all). I really like my therapist, and because I’ve been having energy issues she is super cool about doing Skype sessions as she is recovering from surgery and totally gets how serious pain sucks most of the energy out of your life. This is kind of the second half to healing, and quite honestly the more important one — I’m on the right dose of medication, I’ve found a medication that has stopped the every-night flashback nightmares and am no longer afraid to go to sleep, but none of these things are really HEALING, they’re just letting my resting state be “tired and sore but not ready to give up and definitely not convinced a car is going to somehow hit me four floors up in my bed, but I still flinch every time a car goes by on the street and still jump a mile if I hear metal hit metal”.

    Tangentally, work has been super cool about everything. They make sure to reach out to me to invite me to company events so I went to our picnic and am going to assist at an art exhibit (games as art!), and was invited to the launch party for my game (which happens several weeks AFTER launch because ahahahahaha are you kidding there’s a reason why we have day 1 patches).

    Home life, my partner and I are separating, but it’s not entirely due to my PTSD (although that has been part of it). His work visa expires at the end of this year, and unless we get married he can’t stay (he missed his application for permanent residency deadline, which would let him stay another year), and we’re really not in any shape to get married at this point (financially, emotionally, all the ally-s). He’s been interviewed at some seriously cool places in his home country, we’re still good friends and still care about each other, but we kind of have to get our stuff together separately before we can look at building a life together. That said, good grief I am going to miss him. I’m trying not to think about it too much because I have a whack of stuff between now and then on my plate (therapy and surgery and more therapy and physical therapy and getting cleared to go back to work), so we’re just trying to enjoy the time we have left.

    Also, uh, if we got married here, his home country wouldn’t recognize it, but they also wouldn’t recognize us getting married THERE, so it’s seriously shitty in terms of relocation for both of us.

    1. Mimmy*

      I remember you…so glad to see you’re doing better with the PTSD. Sorry to hear about the back though…if it’s not one thing, it’s another thing, right?!

      Good luck as you continue to heal, both physically and emotionally.

      1. Programmer 01*

        Haha it’s so true, at one point I had bronchitis on top of all of this and I was laying in bed saying “Seriously? Can we stop kicking me while I’m down now? Please?”. The nightmares were seriously the kink in my hose, once those stopped everything else became about 500% more manageable and I have had maybe one anxiety attack since.

        Thank you so much!

        1. Trixie*

          I can’t imagine dealing with all that, you sound so much calmer than I would be about it. Hopefully when those anxiety attacks do roll around, you’re in a place to recognize it and know that it will pass.

          1. Programmer 01*

            Thank you! I really appreciate it. I was definitely not calm when this started, and there has been a whole lot of not-at-ALL calm points, but things are much much more on the positive side these days and everything is so much more manageable. I wound up having to really let go of control of a lot of things, and hey, the world didn’t blow up.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I remember you, too. I am very happy to hear that you sound “better” than before. (I hope that sounds the way it’s intended- it’s meant like “Cheers! keep going!”) Your writing has changed some how- your tone or something. Continue to drag your monsters out it to the light of day. It makes them melt, they can’t handle day light.
      Years ago I went through a dry spell where everything was coming at me and I had no resources to deal with it all. My health deteriorated to a point where I could no longer sleep at night. I was spring cleaning my kitchen at 2 am because that was easier than facing another night of tossing and turning. I kept saying, “If I could only SLEEP, I could heal.” One at a time, I dragged my monsters out into the light of day and dealt with each one. Gradually, I started sleeping more and more. When I got to 4-5 hours of sleep per night I thought a miracle had happened. I have to explain this because it gives context for this: I am very hopeful for you now that you can sleep, I know how much that means to the healing/reweaving process. It’ huge. I think you are on a good path, and just have the sheer brass to keep going. Remember the poster of the pelican and the frog.

      1. Programmer 01*

        I remember you too, and thank you, it is totally taken that way — I can tell my tone has changed, honestly my personality is slowly growing back towards who I am inside, and out of the hole that depression/etc digs for you. I am smiling, laughing, able to spend time with friends, I was just so shellshocked when the symptoms flared up and I got that diagnosis that it took quite a while for my brain to process everything. As far as my doctor is concerned, I managed to concentrate pretty much a lifetime’s worth of experiences into a few short months, AND their associated coping, and no wonder every day feels like it’s 10 years long.

        So I had ONE PTSD-flashback nightmare (did you know they’re not real nightmares? I didn’t — they’re flashbacks that happen at night but you’re not in REM sleep and you’re not paralyzed, much to my partner’s dismay) this week, and it sucked, but I was much better coping afterwards and still got stuff done. I really like my new therapist, she made me cry because she’s offering me sessions at less than 1/4 of her usual rate so I can afford to see her multiple times a week, and just… the world is so full of kind people. Even with all the jerks. I don’t feel broken anymore, just a little dented and bruised, but I’ve also learned I have a core of steel that won’t let me give up on myself, even when I want to.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Having a couple dents myself, I know first hand that seeing kindness in other people can be a relief and can be a couple of threads in the reweaving process. For every AH out there, I think there are dozens of kind people.

          Today, there was a talk show on the radio and they were discussing the importance of sleep. One person ran down a list of what happens due to lack of sleep. The list was extensive including loss of memory and loss of employment. It went on to cover health issues, finances and relationships. Sleep is that important.

          Am smiling, you sound good. Congrats.

    3. C Average*

      I remember you, too. The first time you posted (I can say this now) you scared me a little, and I really hoped you’d get some help. I’m glad you’re doing so–you sound much more hopeful now, even though things are still rough. It’s great that your work is trying to ease your situation rather than contributing to it.

      It sounds like you’re pretty philosophical about your partner, but even when going separate ways is the right thing to do for lots of objective reasons, it’s tough to lose the day-to-day companionship of someone you’ve counted on. Do you have friends who can help fill that gap? (I mean, other than your internet friends here, who are of course pulling for you.)

      My now-husband and I broke up for a few months in the summer before we got engaged. We sincerely believed it was the right thing to do, for a lot of reasons. Then he went on a business trip to Israel and, between his jet lag and his broken heart, he couldn’t sleep for a too-long stretch. When he got home, he called me in semi-desperation and I came to his house and read aloud to him from the most boring part of the Aeneid. (While dating, we’d begun reading aloud from the classics to each other.) The idea of him being half-crazy from sleeplessness was really unbearable to me. I’d have done anything to help him. That’s how we got together again.

      Not even sure why I’m sharing this. Maybe to bring home that sleeplessness is one of the hardest things there is to deal with (even if you’re a 100% healthy type A overachiever) and that people do crazy stuff for love, and that love isn’t always over when you think it’s over.

      Anyway, hang in there, keep popping in here to let us know how it’s going, and rest well. Everyone here is pulling for you.

      1. Programmer 01*

        Thank you so much, C Average (you’re A Plus in my book!), you always have such kind words for me and I really appreciate it. It IS okay to say that because… I was scaring me too. Really scared. But it’s like the sun has come out from behind the clouds and I am able to take so much pleasure in tiny things and really do have a lot of hope for the future. It’s still a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, but the ups are much more ups and the downs nowhere near as low.

        It’s rough with my partner and I think I’m going through the stages of a break-up before actually doing so, but the love is there and is always going to be there. We made kind of an internet family for ourselves (we met playing World of Warcraft, shocker, we are nerds) that we keep in daily touch with despite none of us having played the game for at least two years now, we still have plans to go to a convention together next year (well, we’ve planned for like 9 of us to go together, so), but yeah it will be hard. I DO have friends here who are wonderful and will be able to hang out and support me, and a really strong Team Me when it comes to medical care. My secret is I bake for them, muahaha. I have my cats, too, and they make it kind of impossible to be lonely when they swarm you at the door anytime you come home (even if you just went across the street).

        Thank you so, so much, I truly mean it.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s the ones that don’t post that are the most worrisome.
        Clue 1- It takes guts to put yourself out there. You have to reeeeally want something different than what you have, that is what drives a person to make that first post. Clue number 2 comes in when the person seems to be trying to help themselves along. I would expect clue 3 to take longer, but clue 3 is you start to “hear” changes in their writing.

        Echoing C Average, hang out here for a while, Programmer. You’ll find something to yak about with almost everyone here at some point. Visit with people from all over the world and never leave home.

  44. Mimmy*

    So I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on school. Last week when I was feeling overwhelmed, I think it was more the nature of the readings for that week–very long chapters and difficult subjects.

    Also, I just finished the first of several 5-page papers today. No rest for the weary though–the next one is due on October 6! As I mentioned to “C Average” above, it’s a data analysis, which I’ve never done before.

    On top of all that, I have an all-day training Tuesday, a trip at the end of October (just had one trip earlier this month), and work related to my two volunteer councils. What on earth was I thinking cramming all of this in?!? lol.

    1. C Average*

      “What on earth was I thinking cramming all of this in?!?”

      My sentiments exactly.

      Keep up the good work! I’m off to finish my nine million pages of reading for tomorrow’s class. Spent all day on homework and I’m STILL not done.

  45. Blue-eyed Francine*

    Have you ever known someone that was very different from you, and who you did not admire certain attributes about? To the point that the thought of turning into them scared you? I know this is an odd question, but I can’t be the only one. My problem is, I’ve “turned into” them. After many years of knowing them and spending a lot of time with them, I often now behave like them. As an example, someone I knew very well had a very bad temper. I had a bad temper maybe a couple of times a year, when I was really angry. Now, I often behave like them, engaging in behavior that scared me about the other person. I am ashamed to have developed these habits. Most importantly, I am trying to understand how it could be that I (subconsciously?) adopted these behaviors.

    Part of the issue is that I experienced a traumatic event since the change. However, I am still alarmed at the frequency of my behaviors that mirror theirs. I am no longer around that person, and have not been for a while, but I know it is due to their influence, because I don’t know anyone else who acts that way regularly.

    The same thing happened to me with someone else I know. Do I just have identity issues? Or is this just another way that behaviors are contagious? (The same way, apparently, that divorces, depression and obesity is, according to research). I really want to hear what any of you has to say about this.

    1. Colette*

      Behavior is definitely contagious – if you’re around people/media who value a particular behavior or outlook on life, it changes the way you think.

      Therapy might help, or just being really conscious of how you’re acting and making a decision to change.

      1. Bea W*

        Ugh yes. I’ve experienced this, particularly when I was a young adult. I found myself doing and saying things that were out of character before being with those people, and then had a hard time getting away from some of it. I also think if you spend a great deal of time around someone things are bound to rub off, you fall into habits and like other habits, these ones are also hard to break. It can take a long time to undo the damage, years even.

        It’s good that you are at least aware of it, which is the first thing you need in order to change it. A good therapist can help with this. If you have not tried counseling, do some looking into your options.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s tough to soar like an eagle when you hang out with turkeys.

      We learn from each other. In order to learn admirable ways of handling things, we need to see people handling things admirably. If we do not see how it is done then our own skills sets will suffer a set-back of some sort.

      No, you do not have identity issues, but what you do have is an extremely poor role model.

      The behaviors are contagious in the “monkey see, monkey do” context. I was just talking about this with a friend tonight. Growing up my mother was a screamer. I decided not to be THAT person. But I found myself almost screaming when something went wrong. Why? Because that is the response I saw, I did not know how to have other responses. It took a while to find people who responded calmly to difficult situations and it took a while to learn how they were able to do that. (One tidbit I learned was that people who do not understand how things/systems work are more apt to lose their temper quicker than people who do understand how things/systems work. This was helpful. I picked up a few other helpful tidbits, too.

      So the answer here to canceling undesirable behaviors in one’s self starts with two parts:
      a) WANTING to stop.
      b) Developing a replacement plan to use instead of the undesired behavior.

      The action plan is not hard. You can look for people acting in a manner that you do admire. You see a coworker handle a difficult situation and you think “wow, look at that”. Take a minute to figure out what she did right. Perhaps your neighbor makes a sweet, thoughtful gesture. Again, pause and ask yourself why that works so well.

      This is funny, I hope you chuckle. A few years ago, a friend told me that he copied the way I handled X when he had a similar situation occur in his life. He said, “I just liked the way you approached that, so I stole it.” I was totally surprised by his comment. Totally caught off guard. We all learn from each other- that learning can be wrong lessons or right lessons- but the learning occurs no matter which type.

      1. C Average*

        YES to all of this.

        Behavior and attitudes are definitely contagious, and if you’re forced into proximity with people you don’t wish to emulate, you have to constantly remind yourself to avoid those undesirable behaviors and to emulate other, better role models. It’s even harder when you’re in a climate where the bad behavior is tolerated and even expected. It’s tough to define your own standards in that environment.

        Find the good influences in your life and make time to be with them, absorbing their influence.

        There’s a woman in my department who’s been with the company for 35+ years and is funny and wise and decent all the way to her bones. I have literally never heard her say a mean word about anyone, although I know she’s in a position where she has to coach and correct and even fire people. Sometimes when things feel toxic I go to her office and say, “Jeanne, tell me some good stories.” She loves to talk about our company’s early days, and I come away from a 15-minute chat with her with my compass pointing the right way again.

        Is there someone like this in your life? Find reasons to spend time with them.

  46. Programmer 01*

    Trauma can seriously screw things up personality-wise for a while (or longer), and really shouldn’t be underestimated. Anger is a really, REALLY typical response to trauma in addition to other things — have you tried talking to a therapist or other specialist? I am a huge believer in having people on Team You that you can be open and honest with, but who are also professionals and have that distance where you can say “Look I’m having angry outbursts all the time and it’s bothering me” and they won’t reassure you that it’s cool but will help you get to the bottom of things.

    I think we all have that to some extent or another with our families. Most of us swear not to grow up to be like our parents, and then 20 years later you catch yourself saying the same thing your dad used to and go OH CRAP WHAT HAPPENED. It is especially common with abuse and addiction (and really hard to break that cycle) and is kind of shocking how behaviour 10, 20, 30 years ago can influence us so strongly.

    There’s no shame in your feelings or in getting help figuring out what’s causing them, and I really hope you’re able to get things sorted out so you feel like yourself again.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Great points, here.
      I would like to add that society has a thing about anger. It’s not wrong to feel angry, we are supposed to experience anger. The key is in how we use that anger. Do we channel it into productive behavior? My friend chops his firewood. Another friend does verrrry long walks. And we see many examples of people angry over a social unfairness that funnel their anger into a movement for change.

      Anger and tears. When will society as a whole figure out that these are normal things and we are supposed to experience them. Sigh.

      1. Programmer 01*

        Yes! I anger clean. Usually the bathroom, but anything requiring some scrubbing will do.

        A logical life/relationship/everything includes emotions, it’s not like it’s all on one spectrum! If you’re not taking your emotions into account, THAT is illogical, because we have ’em for a reason. Otherwise we’d be robots.

        And you have to tell me if you’re a robot, that’s the rule.

  47. Starbux*

    Is it normal to want to find a new friend group when the group dynamic changes?

    I’ve been friends with my current group for around 5-7 years. We were all in our mid-to-late 20s during this time. Understandably, life goes on and circumstances change. Most of the group has gotten married and started having children and me…well, I’ve been a happy, loving relationship for the past few years (a great thing!) but am not married or a parent.

    I know not everyone progresses at the same rate, but I can’t help but feel so behind the curve. My significant other is divorced, and I feel like he’s even more cautious about getting married again (unstandably so). Part of me feels like it’s time to find some new friends who are more in my “life stage.” Has anyone else experienced this?

    1. Stephanie*

      If it’s abnormal, I’m a weirdo with you. Yeah, I started experiencing that when a lot of my friend group started getting married or seriously coupled up in our mid-20s. I decided to try different activities to expand my group, which worked really well. I felt a little awkward when one someone from the old group would be like “I haven’t seen you in forever!” I didn’t know how to say my honest thoughts: “Er, it wasn’t fun being the lone singleton among a bunch of couples or feeling like I had to ‘compete’ with your S.O. to hang out.” Definitely still friends with everyone, it just took time for me to accept that the tenor of our friendship had changed.

      It doesn’t have to be anything dramatic–you could just go try some different activities or social outlets and work on meeting people that way.

    2. Bea W*

      Totally normal. Things change. People move on to different things. If you feel like it’s time to meet new people and make new friends who can relate to your life stage, it’s time to do that. I went through the same thing in my 20s and early 30s to some extent as people got married and had children. I wasn’t there and going down a different path. I also went through that with local friends after high school. I wanted to go one way. They wanted to go another way (or stay right where they were). I have found in my late 30s and early 40s things have been more stable with friends in that age range. I am sure has I hit retirement, there will probably be more transitions as some people start retirement and others continue to work either by choice or because they are younger.

      I found with my previous circles, we just gradually drifted off in different directions naturally. The people with new marriages and children became busy and focused on their families and had less time and interest in old activities and met other parents or couples they felt more connected to. The people not there yet continued to do their thing and found new friends they felt more connected to. It just works itself out.

  48. Stacy*

    So I have been blindsided this week with my life blowing up with domestic violence. Lovely, I know, and I’ve been looking forward to this thread because it has actually been funny to me this week (okay, maybe funny is too strong of a word) how much stuff from this website has actually been really helpful for me right now!

    Stuff like your boss sucks, of all things. It has actually been really helpful for me in letting things that other people own go.

    So thanks for that, guys.

    1. Trixie*

      So sorry to hear this. And yes, an open thread can not only be helpful but a good distraction. Plus a window into what so many others are dealing with.

      Keep your chin up.

  49. AB Normal*

    Can someone point me to the community forum that was recently created by someone here to allow AAM fans to exchange ideas? I think I saw it mentioned in a previous thread, but was using my cellphone and didn’t have a chance to bookmark. I’d love to participate in work-related conversations with the commenters here, but would prefer a forum that allows you to follow individual threads (my time is limited, and the comments section here doesn’t allow you to subscribe to specific discussions when there are multiple questions being answered). Thanks in advance for sharing the link!

  50. Ruffingit*

    Totally random, but I bought a new pillow yesterday and it’s heaven! I didn’t realize how bad my old lumpy pillow was until I got this new one.

    Also, I realize that I inadvertently shoplifted two candles from the store yesterday. I had propped them in my purse so they wouldn’t fall out of the cart and I totally forgot to pay for them. Discovered them today at the bottom of my purse. Total cost for both is $1, but I still feel badly. Thinking I’ll go to the store and scan them at self-checkout so I can pay for them.

    1. Rebecca*

      Just curious, what type of pillow did you get? I always get the cheapo Walmart pillows, and I’m curious to hear what you got.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I got the Serta Won’t Go Flat Pillow. I usually get the cheap WalMart pillows as well, but this time I sprung for the Serta one (actually purchased it at WalMart too) and it was SO worth it. I’m loving it!

        1. en pointe*

          Ditto towels. I cheaped out on towels from the supermarket the other week and they shed blue cotton everywhere. My mum went off at me because she came out looking like a smurf. That one was pretty hard to keep a straight face.

    2. Natalie*

      I just bought new pillows today, too. Impulse Costco purchase, but lovely thus far. It made me think I should remember to replace them somewhat regularly – they get lumpy and kind of gross, and I’ve never had success washing a pillow.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      One time I had several bags plus purse in my arms. I walked out of the store. THEN I realized I had hangers over my wrist with unpaid for garments! I needed a rock to crawl under. I had so much in my left arm that I forgot I had hung a couple things over my wrist., Amazingly, no one noticed, and the store alarm did not go off when I left NOR when did my quick return. No idea why.
      It’s been years, I only recently got so I could talk about it- I was sooo very embarrassed.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I just went on a major pillow-buying spree — bought a bunch and tried them all out, then returned the ones I didn’t love and kept the ones I did.

      It turns out that I love latex pillows. I have very specific pillow preferences: They have to be really soft, and they also have to have low “loft” (meaning that they’re pretty thin). This is surprisingly hard to find — apparently most people like firmer pillows with high loft. I was able to find latex pillows that I loved though. (If anyone also requires super soft, low-loft, let me know and I can post links to what I ended up liking.)

        1. HR Manager*

          I have to use high-loft or I can’t breathe. My sinuses are terrible and they get stopped up unless my head is propped up.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I have the same requirements! I always end up buying the cheaper pillows because they’re the only ones that are soft/thin. I would love the links!

    5. Liane*

      Don’t sweat the candles too much. I have people come to me at the service desk a few times a month asking me to charge them for something that got missed. I just ring them up and thank them for going to the trouble. It happens. I think I’ve done it once or twice, myself.

  51. Ruffingit*

    Sunday Best and Worst! Searched and didn’t see this posted yet, so a bit late, but here goes.

    Worst part of the week and best part of the week.

    1. Bea W*

      Worst: Surprise Audit!
      Best: Did some tech volunteer work at an animal shelter and spent more time snuggling than setting up computers.

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Whoops – posted below by mistake!

      Best: Had a great 15 minutes at meeting for worship this morning. Really powerful!

      Worst: I’m feeling super stuck on a big work project. Don’t even want to write more for fear of getting my head sucked into it on a Sunday night. :)

    3. Natalie*

      Best: went out for a very good meat and scotch focused dinner with bf and six friends. It was amazingly affordable on top of that ($40/person including the tip).

      Worst: obnoxiously vague email relating to a committee I lead. I asked for clarification and got no answer. I’ve been thinking about dropping off this committee next year because I really need to focus on school, and this did not help.

    4. Trixie*

      Good: Sold another item on CL, having great luck with at-home chemical peel, and I have a house/pet-sitting job for the next 7-10 days.

      Worst: Lost my place today while co-instructing group exercise class. This was bound to happen eventually so glad the wait’s over!

  52. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Best: Had a great 15 minutes at meeting for worship this morning. Really powerful!

    Worst: I’m feeling super stuck on a big work project. Don’t even want to write more for fear of getting my head sucked into it on a Sunday night. :)

  53. Ruffingit*

    Random thought, but what is something in life you’ve quit and you were glad you did? We’re always told how bad quitting is, but I think it can be a good thing. So what did you quit and why?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is job/health related, I hope I don’t get deleted for the job part. I had a job that I absolutely LOVED. It was THE job of my life.
      And I was wildly allergic to the chemicals used on that job. I was eating 4000 calories a day and losing five pounds a week. At night, I would lay in bed and cry because I was so hungry. My body was just so hyper that I burned all my calories right up.
      I lost 30 pounds in 6 weeks. I knew what I had to do. The job had to go. It was so hugely sad and I went into a 9 week migraine because I knew I would never love a job like that again.

      But it made me reflect on many aspects of my life. I had to rethink some of my beliefs and some of my approaches. I needed to look at my life with a broader perspective. I needed to get a more sophisticated way of assessing people and situations. (I was in my mid 20s so I had no comparative basis for many of these points here.)

      It took years for the rest of the story to unfold. There was some monkey business going on with the books in that place that made problems for other people. The chemicals I was exposed to are now mostly banned by the government. I was very under paid and incredibly over worked. My raises were insults not raises.
      Time was kind to me, I am glad I had that job AND I am also glad I moved on from that job.

      Cruel irony piece here: I had to move on BEFORE I could clearly see just how right that decision was.

    2. Programmer 01*

      Piano practice.

      Not to be confused with music — I love music, and I continued on with other instruments, but it took me forever to convince people that no I loathe the piano. I love how it sounds, I love to hear it played, I DO NOT ENJOY PLAYING IT. I took piano lessons for something ridiculous like 10 years to please my parents and loathed every second of it and being trotted out to perform for their friends and never practiced and used any excuse to get out of it. As soon as I switched instruments I actually learned how to sight read (I faked it for years), started transposing and composing, and was at school 2 hours early for jazz band practice and stayed after school 2-3 hours late for concert/area/regional band practice, and practiced another hour or two at home, PLUS actual music classes during the day.

      Job-wise, I quit a cold-calling sales place after a couple of months because I hated myself and threw up every day before work and was screamed at all day on the phone and my manager suggested I take up drinking because that’s how he dealt with it. Yeah. Don’t do that. Either of those. I was honestly sitting on the Metro at one point on my way home from work and said to myself “I can actually feel my soul draining away, I feel so empty inside, is this what death feels like?” and decided you know what, I would eat ramen for a few more months and find something else.

  54. Elizabeth West*

    I did not even take a shower today until eight o’clock. PM.

    The house is clean, and I’m half-packed. I still have some things to do, but only three days left. I hope my holiday doesn’t go by as fast as the last two weeks have! D:

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I will–if stupid stuff doesn’t keep happening. The last two weeks have been full of dumb. The Universe gremlins are active–they sensed impending happiness and fun, and they are being very bad right now!

  55. De Minimis*

    Trying to schedule rental showings for my wife for the day after her interview this week…it’s slim pickings mainly due to our dogs and wanting a place of a certain size, so this unfortunately may end up being pretty nervewracking. It’s hard too because we don’t know where I’m going to be working, so we can’t tell where would be the best place as far as commuting.

    I have to stay here and watch our dogs….will only be at work 2 days this week then the rest will be a staycation.

  56. Stefanie*

    random note/psa: has anyone read up on filial responsibility laws? They are frightening and seems that adult children will inherit parents’ debts.

    1. Dan*

      What country? That doesn’t sound right for the USA, unless it’s in extremely narrow circumstances or your children co-signed for your debts.

      1. Stefanie*

        It’s in effect in 30 states in the USA, sadly. In 2012, a son in Pennsylvania was sued for $93,000 from a nursing home his mom stayed at, but didn’t pay the bills for.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I live in a state without a filial responsibility law, thank God because supporting myself and my husband is all I’m able to do presently. I am happy to provide what I can for my aging parents, but frankly that isn’t much at this point with my own debts and obligations.

    3. Shortie*

      This is very scary to me since neither my parents nor my in-laws have adequately prepared for retirement or failing health in old age. I am doing my best to save for my own retirement and old-age health issues, and it is frightening to think that I may have to spend it on them, leaving myself destitute. (I have no children.) I love my parents very much, but I don’t think I should be punished for their failure to prepare. :-( Unfortunately, my parents don’t take these concerns seriously because these laws have only recently started to be enforced . . . they don’t really believe it could happen because in their experience with their own parents, it didn’t happen.

      1. Stefanie*

        My thoughts exactly. My siblings are also unconcerned, either due to apathy and negligence but it’s disheartening because I’m not sure how I’ll fund my own future let alone my parents

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s not a failure to prepare all the time.

        The sad fact is medical bankruptcies are fairly common. My late husband’s out of pocket medical for 3 months was just over 20k. I am not sure if a lot of people could find that kind of cash. Projected out that is 80k per year had he lived. I know a lot of people could not find a spare 80k per year on top of their current expenses.

        A friend of a friend is on a medicine that costs over 150k per year. Insurance does not cover it. This person needs a helper medicine (helps the first med) that costs 40k a year. Insurance does not cover that either. Then there is the cost of doctor visits etc plus living expense. Her husband cannot work because he has to take care of her.
        How do you prepare for this?
        You don’t. There is no way on earth to be able to prepare for this type of catastrophe.

        I think it’s wrong to make off-spring pay.

        But the real problem is the cost of everything medical. Very few people can meet these costs. My father was told he should have prepared better. His out of pocket medical was 250k in three years. In today’s world that would be more like 400k. I think that our whole medical industry needs a major revamping. Making the kids pay is not a solution and it is a crime that it is even an option. The kids incur a debt that they had absolutely no input about. This is wrong on so many levels.

  57. StudentA*

    Since there is so much tv talk on this forum, here goes. Twin Peaks kept being recommended to me on Amazon and Netflix, so I gave it a chance. I am almost done with Season 1. I can be quite cult-y with my tv taste, and I love mysteries, so I thought this was a sure thing. I am surprised how much it, well, sucks. It is not so bad that I totally gave up on it after a couple of episodes, but I don’t see the appeal. Uh, unless you count Kyle McLachlan’s perfect bone structure when he was younger. I know David Lynch has a strong fan base, but I was never into his work. In fact, I found his Lynch-isms distracting from what could be good movies. I never saw one movie by him that I slightly liked.

    Anyone have a different opinion?

    1. StudentA*

      One thing I will say about this series is the score is beautifully memorable and evocative. There is a little piano piece that keeps playing throughout each episode that practically brings tears to my eyes. Amazing work from whoever composed that score.

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