Sunday free-for-all – September 28, 2014

Lucy bathes OlivesIt’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.

{ 623 comments… read them below }

  1. DoubleYouElle*

    I just bought City of Stairs on advice from a review written by Kameron Hurley, who just published a new book ‘The Mirror Empire’. Does anyone have any opinions on either of these? Book recs?

    1. Rowan*

      Not read City of Stairs yet, but American Elsewhere, the author’s previous novel, was my favourite read of 2013. I’m looking forward to CoS being released here.

    2. Eva*

      I’m currently reading Steven Pinker’s new non-fiction book ‘The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century’ which I suspect many AAM readers (and maybe AAM herself!) will enjoy, as it’s reminiscent of the discussions on writing and verbal nuance that occasionally take place here. It’s intelligent, informed and refreshingly non-pedantic. Besides being an excellent writer himself (and one who has taken issue with the copy editing of his books in the past, which is what prompted him to write this one), Pinker is a Harvard professor in cognitive psychology and linguistics (meaning he knows the science behind good and bad writing) as well as the chair of the American Heritage dictionary (meaning he follows the discussion on evolving language from behind the scenes), so he really knows what he’s talking about.

      For instance, he explains why the active voice is frequently a poor and even responsibility-evading choice (e.g. in the case of a politician who prefers to say “mistakes were made” rather than “I made mistakes”), but also why it is frequently a good and even necessary choice since the active voice would lead the reader’s thoughts in the wrong direction (e.g. if a journalist is reporting on a forest fire, it is better to say “helicopters were flown in” than “Bob Jones flew one helicopter in” since the reader does not need to think about who did the flying). Except he does it much more interestingly than how I just summarized it!

      Reading the book really reminds me of reading AAM (sane and frequently non-obvious advice dispensed to the reader like a peer and always with explanations to go along with the advice), so I’m curious to hear if other readers here enjoy the book as much as I do.

      1. nyxalinth*

        I am going to have to check this one out! Speaking of grammar and good English skills, a caller at work told me yesterday “Nevermind, yall’s is about dumb.” because I tried to explain to her that we weren’t the organization she thought we were and we didn’t pick up donations in her area. I wanted to say “You haven’t grasped basic subject-verb agreement rules, (‘y’alls’ is plural, ‘is’ is single) and you’re calling me dumb? Well all right then.” but of course I didn’t. She hung up before I could explain that there are three or four other groups with ‘Veterans’ in the name that do the same thing :P She could use that book for sure.

        1. matcha123*

          Please, please, please! Do not judge people by prescriptive grammar rules.
          I know that a lot of people who consider themselves educated assume that the rules of written grammar apply to spoken language, but they don’t.
          Language is ever evolving with a wealth of dialects. It’s only by chance that one dialect is considered “standard” while another is considered “uneducated.” A native speaker of a language will not make a grammatically incorrect sentence in their native language.

          1. Anna*

            Would it be okay to assume she’s a bit stupid based on the fact that she didn’t believe the person she was calling knew what organization they worked at? I think that would be a fair leap in logic.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have to check this out. I will admit though, I wrinkled my nose when I read that “the reader does not need to think about Bob Jones flew one helicopter in”. I guess that type of point would be a taste/preference point for the writer, but I am not sure that a writer should be deciding what another person needs to think about or needs to ignore. However, I can see where a writer could decide that a particular point is distracting from the main story line that the writer wants to share.
        It sounds like an interesting read overall. I am looking forward to it.

      3. Jen RO*

        This sounds really interesting. I’ll have to remember it for 2 more days – it’s released on Sept 30 in Europe, it seems, and I hope I can get a Kindle sample.

        1. Eva*

          I think the hardcover version is released September 30 everywhere, but it was released in early September for Kindle. I’m also in Europe and I was able to buy it three weeks ago. Perhaps there is just no Kindle sample? :/

  2. ThursdaysGeek*

    Here’s some printing/cursive frustration: My FIL died last fall, and we’re trying to get some money from the VA that should come to the family. Right now, the holdup is that my spouse’s signature isn’t in cursive, and they require a signature in cursive. Ah bureaucrats! Never mind that he’s been using a printed signature for nearly 50 years, to write checks, get insurance, buy houses, get a federal clearance, and more.

    1. acmx*

      Can he just fake a cursive signature? Otherwise, maybe have a note notarized saying that his signature is printed.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Well, he could, and he’s thinking of doing so. But it wouldn’t be his signature. Getting money from the government used a fake signature seems to also have some disadvantages.

        I was told one way was to get a copy of the signature on his driver’s license notarized, and sending that to the VA.

        Most other peoples’ signatures aren’t cursive either: several vertical curlicues followed by a horizontal squiggle doesn’t make it cursive!

    2. Jeanne*

      You have to love the government. He must have used cursive for his name at some point in 3rd grade. Time to try again. Government peons aren’t allowed to break from the script.

    3. Shell*

      I’d be very curious as to how many of those government bureaucrats could write cursive themselves (or even read it).

      1. Andrew*

        Maybe just have him join the letters together with a line from the bottom of the previous letter, so it looks more like cursive.

        1. Stephanie*

          I think it’s being phased out a lot of curricula. I don’t write in cursive as much anymore, but I did have people comment on a page of my cursive like “Wow, it’s pretty, but I can’t quite read it.”

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            We both learned it, decades ago. But I’ve completely forgotten how to make any capital letter in cursive (and how to read some of them). In high school and college (long before keyboards were in common use), I decided there were cursive people and printing people, and the printing people were divided into the all caps printing and the upper and lower case printing. My dad is an all caps printing person, I’m a lower case printing person, and my mum is a cursive person.

        2. Shell*

          It was part of the school curriculum when I was in elementary school, but no one I know can read true cursive easily (if at all). And I’m including people older than me on that list.

          When I was on my first co-op placement, I actually tried writing in cursive as an experiment. Basically no one could read my benchsheets, from same-age-peers to older coworkers. I went back to my italic-print-with-occasional-joined-letters pretty soon after that.

        3. Observer*

          In theory, yes. In practice, not so much. Even people who can read cursive can’t always read people’s handwriting. This is such a common problem (and has been for far longer than computers have been common) that forms have been requiring that responses are PRINTED for decades. The only thing that is NOT required to be printed is the signature.

    4. Andrea*

      May I ask why he prints his name? I’m curious to be truthful, but also if it’s for a reason maybe the bank will wave the requirement. I have trouble writing sometimes because of my dyslexia and I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble getting accommodation.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        He’s just not a cursive person. He learned it, decided it didn’t need to be part of his life, and went back to printing. His signature is NOT the same as when he prints his name. Both do look like they’re done by a third grader, and when I fake his signature, I use my left hand. He can tell, but at a quick glance others can’t. It’s not anything official needing accommodation, just what it is.

        1. Andrea*

          Thanks for replying! That’s so interesting to me, and of course totally frustrating for you all. I’m sorry that you are hitting administrative road blocks especially during such a trying time, it sounds frustrating.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I find this jaw-dropping. I think of all the signatures I have had to accept for various things at work that are no more than a squiggle and a line. Currently, I have an individual who regular signs legal documents with a circle and a line. The signature its self is probably 1.5 inches… and it is basically a line with a circle at the start. I have seen other signatures that look more like a reading off a heart monitor than a signature.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This, so much. My stepfather’s signature is basically a squiggle, and it’s been accepted for 70 years. The whole point of a signature is that it’s identifiable as yours– and wouldn’t that hold true for anything, whether it’s a squiggle, a printed name, or a mark? I sometimes have “bad signature days” when my hand cramps up and I have trouble signing the way I usually do, but anyone can look at any two of my signatures and know they came from the same person. The cursive requirement just strikes me as weird.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            You know what’s so weird? I absolutely cannot forge my stepfather’s signature. Don’t get me wrong– I’ve never tried in an official capacity! I’m talking greeting cards and such. Bizarre. It’s just a squiggle!

        1. Artemesia*

          A printed signature is easy to imitate which is why the typical i.e. cursive signature is required. That squiggle is hard to imitate.

        2. Mister Pickle*

          Yeah, it’s kind of fascinating how the human brain does pattern matching. My “signature” has been an illegible scrawl for as long as I can remember – but I can always tell if someone has tried to fake it (which came up a couple times when I was grading papers in grad school).

        3. De Minimis*

          I know at least under some legal guidelines a signature can be any kind of marking as long as the person has authorized it.

          I am another who discarded cursive early on. Even my printed writing is barely legible. I’m so thankful for the computer age, though sometimes I do have to write things down for others at work and I always hate that my handwriting is so poor, but I don’t know if there’s any way to improve it. Sometimes if I slow down and laboriously write out each letter it is okay, though there are other times when I’ve done the same and it’s been a mess.

      2. Artemesia*

        my signature is illegible (that is why forms have people print their name below their signature) but it is a signature — the whole point is that it is an identifier. printing is hard to identify as specific to an individual whereas a signature is unique and can be identified as belonging to the individual. a printed ‘signature’ is not a signature; it is more like an X used when people can’t write. but if this guy ALWAYS uses this printed signature then that is ‘his signature’ and should be the one of record at the bank. but I’d just do a cursive signature and be done with it in your husband’s shoes.

    6. Liane*

      So sorry about the loss of your FIL.
      I hated dealing with them during my dad’s last years.* I suggest calling up the local office of your US Representative or Senator. These staffers help constituents with problems just like yours. Dad once had a problem with Medicare not replacing checks they sent to a wrong address (hospital clerical error, right street, wrong town), which were cashed instead of being given back to the post office as misdirected. Took 1 phone call to the local Representative’s office and he had checks in a week or so.

      *The non-medical that is. The VA doctors, nurses, etc. were amazing in so many ways. And I truly appreciate that my husband has care at the local hospital when he needs it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I wasn’t too impressed with the medical VA people too, although perhaps if they’d actually got around to treating him, I’d have a different opinion. But like all institutions, there are good sections and not so good, good experiences and not so good, sometimes from the same group. My neighbor has gotten much good value from the local VA.

  3. chai tea*

    A friend and I want to take a road trip from Chicago to Wisconsin next month. We’d like to drive no more than 3/3.5 hours, and we want to go somewhere quaint and small, ideally with good antique shops/breweries/cheese shops. Beyond that, we’re open. Any ideas on good places in WI that fit this description?

    1. WI Cheesehead*

      You could try New Glarus. It’s in the southern part of the state and has a brewery that has tours. (Spotted Cow?) Don’t know absolutely for sure, but there are most likely some cheese shops around. I have no idea about antiques there, but I have heard that Cambridge has some good antique stores (very small town though).

      1. Jam Wheel*

        Second for New Glarus due to the very small brewery there and the general quaintness of the area. Yes, its Spotted Cow, but they usually have a seasonal for fall that is pretty good. You also aren’t far from Madison if you want to go a little further (though that is only about 2 hours from Chicago). Hotel options weren’t great, but it is a nice area.

        Alternatively you could try the Port Washington – Manitowoc area along the lake. Kohler (my hometown) is more touristy with the golf resorts and spa, but no breweries and for antique shopping you would have to go out towards Plymouth/Elkhart Lake or hit a Gibson Girl sale weekend (look them up – high quality estate sales) in the area. Port Washington is extremely cute along the lake and I think they have some antique shops on the tiny drag downtown (try Smith Brothers for lunch and/or coffee and hit up Fireworks Popcorn for, well, popcorn). Elkhart Lake does have some good restaurants (Lola’s on the Lake is always a great choice) and some antique shops and would be absolutely GORGEOUS if you go for fall. It is also a small, old-style resort town, so you could stay at the Osthoff right on the lake.

        Have a great time and thanks for spending tourist dollars in WI! :D

          1. bassclefchick*

            Oops, I was mistaken. I grew up in Port Washington, so the Smith Brothers as I knew it does not exist any more. But there is still a coffee shop.

    2. Dan*

      I grew up six hours north of Chicago, so I guess I can’t help you there. Like seriously, one county away from the Michigan border.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Check out the Baraboo/Devil’s Lake area. If you love weird stuff or are a Neil Gaiman fan, you should visit The House on The Rock. (The House on The Rock is featured in Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods).

      1. bassclefchick*

        Well, you really aren’t very far from a cheese shop anywhere you go in Wisconsin! I currently live in Madison, and of course there’s plenty to do here. The Farmer’s Market around the Capitol building goes through late October/early November. I agree with Baraboo or House on the Rock. You could also try the Port Washington area. Many bed and breakfasts in Ozaukee County. Cedarburg has a winery and a really good antique mall. Plenty of choices – have a fun trip!

        1. Boats*

          I second Cedarburg. It’s a picturesque little town with plentiful antiques. We like to have lunch at The Anvil on the river, and if you like chocolate/caramel/peanut/candy apples, check out Amy’s.

    4. butterbeans*

      I grew up in southeast WI! I’ll second the recommendation for Cedarburg: lots of cute little shops, and Cedar Creek Winery is very nice. As breweries go around there go, I’d check out Lakefront (fun, interactive tour) or Milwaukee Brewing Co (makes fun of Lakefront, serves more beer) in the Milwaukee area, if you’re up for the city. New Glarus has only a self-guided tour which I’m told is just okay. But, they have nice beer. My favorite antiques were actually just over the border in Richmond, IL–not the cheapest but some really exceptional things. Lake Geneva also has lots of cute shops and antiques, too. You could hit up Mars Cheese Castle on I-94 on your way back to Chicago (the old version was better, the new one feels more commercialized, but they still have lots of samples and good cheese to take home with you).

      If you go out by New Glarus, it may be worth your while to go up to Madison, which has some great restaurants downtown, and a cheese shop called Fromagination. There is also a Mustard Museum in Middleton if you’re up for something kind of weird and unique, and a little further west is the Cave of the Mounds, which is a very nice tour of a natural limestone cave.

      I totally miss my old state. Have fun!

    5. SuzyQ*

      I would recommend Monroe, WI. You could probably do that and New Glarus in a day or stretch it into two. Monroe is home to Minhas Brewing, check Groupon for deals on tours. They have a couple cheese shops in town and a great bar/restaurant called Baumgartner’s. I’m pretty sure Madison has a couple great brewpubs, but bigger city so ymmv.

  4. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Had Lasik today! Eyes are still super scratchy and uncomfortable. Couldn’t fall asleep afterwards like you’re supposed to, so had several excruciating hours that most people apparently sleep through. It’s getting better now though, and I CAN SEE.

    1. Stephanie*

      Oooh! If you don’t mind me asking, how bad was your vision? I’ve thought about it tons of times, I think I might just be on the cusp of what most doctors feel comfortable correcting (I’m -8.00D and -.7.50D in my eyes with astigmatism).

      1. Al Lo*

        I’m not Alison, obviously, but I was -7.50 and -7.00, with no astigmatism. One clinic was comfortable recommending LASIK; the other one I had a consult at recommended a lens implant, because I was also on the cusp. I chose to go with LASIK, but the other option (the actual name of which I can’t remember off the top of my head right now) was one that was open to more people than LASIK can sometimes be.

        When I had my consultations, I had one at a LASIK-only clinic, and one at an eye centre that does LASIK and other corrective surgery, but also deals with glaucoma, blindness, and other eye issues (my 90-year-old great-uncle goes there for his eyes). The consultation there gave me more thorough information on more options, just because of the kind of clinic they are, and it was really helpful in making my final decision.

      2. Rowan*

        You’d want to make sure you were getting a good surgeon, but there’s no reason you wouldn’t be eligible for some kind of refractive vision correction surgery. If you’re in the UK, I know some people.

      3. Cath in Canada*

        I have a friend whose vision was officially deemed too bad for Lasik, but his optometrist recommended it anyway. It didn’t take him to perfect vision, but it took him to a much milder prescription – I want to say -3 or something like that – that made his life much easier. He was able to wear contacts instead of super-thick glasses for example.

        My optometrist has told me not to bother – I’m -2 in both eyes and she says that’s enough to delay the onset of long-sightedness for a couple of years without causing me too many problems right now.

        1. Lore*

          Yeah, I didn’t get long term correction to 20/20, largely due to now developing cataracts, and my astigmatism returned ten years later. But even with now declining vision I’m somewhere around -2.5 instead of -8, and I’ll take it.

    2. Al Lo*

      So exciting for you! Getting LASIK is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (although right at the moment, the cold that’s making my nose run is also making my eyes dry, so they’re not the most comfortable).

      It was the most amazing thing to walk out of the clinic and realize that my blurry vision was so much better than it had ever been before, and was only getting better from there.

    3. nina t.*

      And you’re okay to use a computer already? After I had custom scan lasik I slept about 3 days before I could focus on or do anything screen related. Luckily all that sleep came easy so don’t remember any pain. Husband had PRK done and his recovery was much worse IE days of pain.

      It still sometimes freaks me out waking in middle of night and realizing I can actually see the alarm clock without squinting. Or getting to go swimming without worrying about contacts. But best money spent on myself.

    4. Mister Pickle*


      Please keep us posted. I’ve recently been considering it for myself, so I’m very interested in people’s experiences. Especially where I know the people in question a) have a decent head on their shoulders and b) aren’t astro-turfing.

    5. Dan*

      I am not compatible with LASIK, so congratulations. I did have some experimental surgery done overseas, so can commiserate on the excruciating pain part. Had about two weeks of the greatest pain and misery I’ve ever had in my life. Sucked ass.

    6. Just tea for me, thanks*

      That’s great! I had Lasik done years ago: best decision ever! I couldn’t wear my contact lenses anymore, so it wat Lasik or glasses. Chose the Lasik: amazing. I felt a bit tired afterwards, but it was so wonderful waking up the next morning and being able to see everything right away. I could see perfectly right after surgery, I really recommend it. It was painless and not scary at all.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats! I have heard so many good things about this procedure. I am sure it is a wise investment of your time/money/pain.
      You have to let us know how it is going along for you.

    8. Graciosa*

      I’m glad it’s getting better, and enjoy your vision. You reminded me what a pleasure it was (and is) to just look at the world.

    9. Mimmy*

      Oh how wonderful! I remember you were contemplating having it done. Glad you’re happy with it! I don’t have lenses to correct, so I’m actually a little envious of those who get LASIK and liked it.

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Had the procedure Saturday morning (posted the original comment late Saturday night), and just came back from my Sunday morning follow-up appointment. My vision is 20/20! My vision was 20/400 before yesterday.

      One of my eyes is terribly scratchy though, although they say that’s normal and will go away. Currently it’s quite uncomfortable, but a walk in the park compared to yesterday — I couldn’t fall asleep afterward the procedure like you’re supposed to, so was wide awake for 4 excruciating hours after the numbness wore off, and had what felt like sharp, shooting scratches coming and going throughout my eyes. I called them to ask if I should be alarmed since they’d made it sound like it would be minimal discomfort, and they said, “Oh yeah, that happens to some people.” So that sucked, but it’s making today’s scratchiness feel better in comparison.

      1. Ruth*

        Hope it stops irritating soon. Seems like a good time for podcasts or listening to articles on Umano and resting your eyes. We set my mum up with audio books when she had her eyes done.

      2. Stachington*

        Eye drops, eye drops, eye drops! Even if they don’t feel dry, keep them very lubricated, it will help with all the symptoms. That’s what helped me, anyway.

        1. Newbie*

          I second this. Eye drops help so much.

          One note: I stocked up on eye drops that didn’t have a preservative, because the preservative can actually increase dryness. Bizarre, but true. The other drops were slightly more expensive, but totally worth it. I had Lasik in 2008 and I’ve never been sorry.

    11. HR Manager*

      I did Lasik (technically PRK) two years ago, and I am kicking myself for not getting it done sooner. I have loved being glasses-free, and not worry about fogging up on my glasses on cold days, losing them, etc. The only kicker is I did it in my right eye only (which was about -3.75) and my left eye was barely myopic at -1.25.

      I sometimes wonder if I should have gotten the other one done, because when I’m tired I notice the difference in my eyes more and it can be a little disorienting.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Happy Birthday! Having another birthday is a sign you’re still alive. Scientists have proven that people who have more birthdays tend to live longer.

    2. Luxe in Canada*

      All birthdays can be fun birthdays! Skip the cake and go for a different dessert each night of your birthday week… A little tart one night, a piece of baklava the next, followed by cupcake or baby cheesecake… And nobody is saying it cannot be a perfectly ripe peach or a little wedge of nice cheese instead if that’s how you roll.

      Happy birthday!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I totally get what you are saying. Can you jazz up your day a little bit? Even just setting some short term goals can help you feel like you are celebrating.

    4. C Average*

      You’re never too old to do something you love in honor of marking one more year on this quaint little planet.

      On my birthdays, I always go for a long walk by myself, do lunch at a place I like, and read Dylan Thomas’s “Poem in October.” And eat cake.

      What do you love to do that’s accessible and affordable? Go do it.

      Happy birthday!

      1. JAL*

        My mom said she’d buy me subs from my favorite place for dinner and a cheesecake from one our favorite markets. That is more than enough for me :) And thank you!

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      My birthdays have been grand since I decided to have a big, expensive party every year for it. :) Totally worth it. I recommend it! Happy birthday, and I hope you have a good time, regardless of how you celebrate!

    6. Phyllis*

      Happy Birthday!! Hope your day has been great!!! Make somebody get you a party hat, and one of those things we used to use at birthday parties, I don’t know what they’re called, you blow into them, and paper streams out and makes a noise. (Streamers?) If that doesn’t make you feel young, nothing will.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      1. I just finished Ian Tregillis’s Something More Than Night and thought it to be an exceptionally fine novel. I’m kind’ve a sucker for urban fantasy that involves angels and demons interacting with the Earthly plane – I’d love some suggestions. (But please no Twilight-with-Angels YA stuff, thanks though).

      2. I don’t remember what got me onto it, but I re-read the 2004 paper “Chains of Affection: The Structure of Adolescent Romantic and Sexual Networks”. It’s still a great paper, and an awesome example of how good data visualization can provide very real insights.

      1. Alice*

        You’ve read Good Omens from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, right? Its wonderful and wonderfully funny.
        Also, Neverwhere from N.G. Not angels, but kind of around-the-corner alternate reality and moving back and forth between them.

    2. Jen RO*

      No notable online readings, but offline I have:
      * Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (for the company book club)
      * Alison’s book (because I got promoted and I need some help)
      * IT by Stephen King (re-“read”, audiobook for the commute)

    3. Sam Fujiyama*

      1. I am reading a book about Petra by Auge, Christian since I have a trip to Jordan booked for November.
      2. I read an entry on the “Mothers in Medicine” blog about an absolutely horrible moving experience.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Rise of the Warrior Cop is on my to-read list. I’m really interested in what you think of it.

    5. saro*

      I just finished binge reading Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed and Mind of my Mind. I am on Clay Ark now and don’t like it as much. I love Octavia Butler!

      I’m not affiliated with them but I just signed up with Oyster (Netflix for books). I’m excited since I’m moving overseas and don’t have good access to books in English there.

      1. Nashira*

        Octavia Butler is the best. She was a major influence on me, leading me to be the intersectionality-aware feminist I am today.

        I do think the Lilith books are my favorite, though. Those and Kindred.

          1. saro*

            I’m really looking forward to reading her other stuff and am irrationally mad myself for not reading her sooner. I’m also uncharacteristically not reading her other books right away so I can think about the issues of governance, ownership, race and gender that came up in the books.

    6. Audiophile*

      1. Gone Girl and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I want to finish GG by next week when the movie comes out.
      2. Does Thrillist count? I read a couple of those articles.

    7. C Average*

      1. “The Intel Trinity,” “Deliverance,” and a couple of management books for my MBA program. (I like having several books going at once. “Deliverance” is an old favorite–it’s wonderfully well-written and NOT what you’d expect if you’ve only seen the movie!–and I’m reading it aloud to my husband.)
      2. Can I admit the only things I read these days online are AAM and Seth Godin’s blog? I find my time online is limited and I want it to be quality, and all the news is just sad information about things beyond my control and understanding, so I’m sitting out the news right now.

    8. fposte*

      I just read William Langewiesche on the Air France 447 disaster. It’s a viewpoint, not a period on the incident, but it’s a fascinating take that goes back to the issue of Crew Resource Management and also explores the problem of a realm where automation has made things infinitely safer but also reduced pilots’ ability to deal with situations where automation ceases. Which I think are relevant points for a lot of things, not just flying.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I had to keep taking breaks while reading the AF piece as the tension mounted. I generally find Langewiesche a compelling read–he did another really good VF piece a few years back on the mid-air collision over Brazil, too. He’s got a way of separating out the layers in Swiss-cheese-hole disasters that I find really absorbing.

          1. Audrey*

            Earlier this year I read Richard de Crespigny’s book QF32. RdC was the captain of Qantas flight 32, an Airbus A380 with 469 people on board, which suffered an uncontained engine explosion not long after takeoff. Shrapnel tore through the wing and fuselage and most of the computer controlled systems failed. Fuel was leaking all over the place. He focused on the few systems that were still working – he called it his Cessna – and two hours later managed to land safely due to his many years of flying and training. Even knowing the outcome it was gripping to read. And his recounting of the after effects – post traumatic stress – was interesting too.

            I must look up the Air France piece – I think William Langewiesche is an excellent writer.

            1. fposte*

              I’ve seen references to writing about that flight–thanks for identifying the book! Sounds like it’s right up my alley.

    9. Treena Kravm*

      1. Not That Kind of Girl. I’m not reading it yet, but I’m super excited for Lena Dunham’s new book coming out in a couple of days. Only found out about it through this adorable Youtube advice channel that is so perfect. My favorite non-advice part is that in the dance intro of each video, the first shot is zoomed in on her stomach bending over. Love. It.

      2. Came across this article summing up a TED talk from a guy who went from dealing drugs to becoming a neuroscientist studying addiction and violence. He’s basically saying that drugs aren’t the problem, it’s the poverty. But in a really interesting and new way that will make you rethink a lot of your assumption.

      1. Trixie*

        Great tip on Lena’s channel, seeing it for the first time and loving it. That plus Bad Yogi may be new two favorite Youtube channels.

    10. salad fingers*

      Currently reading Sweetness #9 by Steven Eirik Clarke. My boyfriend and I listened to an interview with the author while doing one of those looonng drinking while cooking an elaborate meal and then drinking while eating long and elaborate meal and then bam, when I woke up the next morning apparently I had purchased the Kindle version of the book? ‘: ) Anyway, it’s really good so far, so no regrets, would recommend, etc.

      As far as reading the internet goes, nothing really noteworthy to link, but I’ve been sort of following the youtubers/sexual abuse stuff that’s being written about right now. Youtube is really weird and I’ve been kind of obsessed with the dynamics of the community for a while now. Sad there isn’t more substantive stuff written about this stuff and stuff, and least not stuff I’ve found. If anyone knows of any interesting stuff please share said stuff

        1. salad fingers*

          Don’t remember where but something I was reading compared this to past allegations of sexual assault from really young fangirls by older youtubers as well. Nothing incredibly interesting written yet about the Sam Pepper/sexual assault stuff or a lot of youtube stuff generally, as mentioned. A shame considering the impact the industry has on young people, marketing towards young people, entertainment, etc.

    11. Cath in Canada*

      1) The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden. It’s set in the time when missionaries were first making contact with Canadian First Nations peoples. I’m at a very early stage, but it’s great so far.
      2) Everything recommended by Ed Yong in his weekly links round-up: I’m still working my way through all the tabs I opened; the best article I’ve read so far was the article about the 5 biggest mistakes in the Ebola outbreak (so far)

    12. Cruciatus*

      1) I just finished reading a short novel, Nevermore, this morning. It’s about a woman who fights in the guise of a man during the Civil War, leaving her husband at home to tend for their homestead. It was interesting and there are tons of 5 star reviews out there, but at the end I just asked “What was the point of any of that?” But I suppose I can see why people like it (I’d give it 3.5 stars). Took a few chapters to get used to the author’s particular writing style for this story (less grammatical, more stream-of-consciousness).

      2) The best thing I read online was probably at TV Guide. I thought Thursdays Daily Show was fantastic all around from Jon’s “F*uck You and your fake patriotism” to airing a controversial clip where Washington Redskins fans met up with actual Native Americans. Anyway, TV Guide provided a short article including a few more facts about that segment that just made the whole thing more interesting:

      1. De Minimis*

        Still working on THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT POWERS, but I’ve now gotten distracted by GILEAD by Marilyn Robinson.

        I know I’ve read some neat stuff online this week but can’t remember what it was….

    13. PuppyKat*

      1) “The Third Angel” by Alice Hoffman (my current favorite author).
      2) Other than this blog, nothing. (Unfortunately)

  5. steve G*

    Has anyone else ever gone to see the preacher Joyce Meyers?
    My question is – what are the logistics of these events. I am nervous because I am going to drive up really early in the morning to see her, because they don’t sell tickets, it’s first come, first serve…………does anyone know if they regularly run out of tickets? If they kick people out? If yes, how long before the start time does this usually happen? How early did you get there to get a seat?

    Any info would help! Don’t know any other Catholics, unfortunately, let alone people who have gone to see Joyce Meyers……

    1. Starbux*

      I went to see her a few years ago. We got there a little early but didn’t have a problem getting a seat. Enjoy yourself!

    2. Waiting Patiently*

      She came to my church (pretty big non-denominational) a few years ago. I guess depending on the size of facility it could require lots of logistics. They had to use a nearby warehouse store parking lot to accommodate additional parking. Shuttling was provided. The overflow crowd viewed from different areas within the building. I came late, like really late anyway the shuttle driver radioed that he needed one seat, and the ushers found a pretty good seat for me inside sanctuary, like 4 rows from the stage. I guess, i was lucky it was just me and they needed to fill in gaps. But it was a really well organized. I also think because of our size, they kept it kind of low key but word of mouth travels fast. Since this was hosted my the church, she came on after a welcome address and a few rounds of worship songs. There wasn’t any security checkpoints or her being followed by a trail of security. She and her husband sat on the front row, with the pastor and his wife and other members. I’m sure she had some type of security arrangement but it wasn’t stand-off ish obvious–if that makes sense…

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have never gone to one of these events before but my friends go. I think that you will find it is a pretty orderly crowd- probably mostly middle-aged with some having their elderly parents in tow. I would try to call the box office or email them to find out what to expect and when to arrive. Just explain that you are coming a long way and you want to be sure to get a seat. You can ask them if they expect to sell out and turn people away.

      Not sure why they would kick people out. I think that they would just stop selling tickets once they reach capacity. I think you will really enjoy this.

      1. steve G*

        Thanks for the comments…was asking precisely because they don’t sell tickets, I have no clue whether more people than can fit in the stadium/theaters/whatever come, or show up hours early to get a seat, or whatever, just to get in. It always looks so crowded on TV

  6. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Currently on holiday (belated honeymoon) in Melbourne, and poor hubby had to have an abscessed tooth drained today :(

    1. Sidra*

      I hope you have a lovely honeymoon! I hope to visit Melbourne someday!

      My husband and I want to travel to NZ soon, actually. We want to rent a camper van and drive around the north island for 12 days! As a Kiwi, what would your top recommendations be for places to visit?

        1. Sidra*

          I only have 12 days, sadly. I would like to see both but am told that wouldn’t be nearly enough time. Do you disagree?

          Thanks for the tips and site!

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        Oooh ooh okay! Well… in terms of a drive-around tour I would actually recommend the south island above the north island. It’s prettier, it’s far far easier to drive around, and there are a lot more sights. (I grew up in the south island; I may be slightly biased.)

        That said! If you want to do the north island there are a couple of must-sees:
        -The Bay of Islands right in the north is stunning.
        -Rotorua. Thermal pools. Don’t worry about the fact that the entire town smells like eggs — that’s the sulphur ;) Amazing, natural hot pools that are so relaxing and awesome.
        -If you’re into this sort of thing, there’s a Hawke’s Bay to Wellington “wine trail” you can follow. We make some pretty fantastic wine!
        -Our capital city, Wellington, at the bottom of the north island is very cool. Parliament buildings are always worth a tour, Te Papa is our national museum where you can learn a LOT about indigenous culture and our history, the Cable Car takes you up a hill where you get an awesome view of the city, and heaps more :D

        1. Sidra*

          Wine is one of the reasons I want to visit NZ! Thank you for the tips!

          After this and other comments though, maybe I should do the south island instead. I only have 12 days, and am told that’s not enough time to do both. I figured I’d do the north island since I’ll fly into Auckland… Maybe I need to rethink this though!

          1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

            People are definitely right, it’s not enough time to do both. South Island needs the better part of two weeks, North Island needs at least 7-10 days.

            That said, if you do decide to do the South Island instead, it’s about 1.5 hours to fly from Auckland to Christchurch. Or if you want to do it more scenically, fly Auckland-Wellington (1 hour) and then take the ferry from Wellington to Picton (top of the South Island).

            And if you come through Paraparaumu (about an hour north of Wellington), I will take you to the local pub for sure! :D

            1. Sidra*

              I have a lot of rethinking to do about this trip! Maybe I should just try to take a longer one :)

              I’ll let you know if I end up in Paraparaumu, as I do love a good pub! :D

      2. Ravioli*

        I’m also in NZ, and I’d recommend the long train rides you can take around both the north and south islands.

        I’ve done two in the south island – one goes down the east coast and the other goes across the mountains. Both show you amazing scenery while you sit in a comfy seat and the porter brings you tea. Glorious!

      3. WanderingAnon*

        I went last year –

        Auckland is super for a city stay – there’s lots to do and ferries to islands. (Go to Waiheke for a wine tour if you’re inclined.) I spent most of my time on the south island (going by car and train), and loved it.

        I flew from Auckland to Christchurch, and took a train over the mountains to Greymouth. I picked up a car in Greymouth and drove south to Hokitika (old gold mining town). The glaciers are a must see on the west coast. I didn’t make it to Queenstown or Dunedin – I heard both were fantastic, but I did drive up around the north end of the south island. Golden Bay and the town of Takaka was worth the trip over Takaka Hill.

        There’s an awesome hostel called the Lazy Cow in Murchison on the way to the north end of the south island..

        And Kaikoura is not to be missed! So. much. fun. Such a great country. Things are expensive, but it’s possible to find places that allow you to cook your meals to save a little money. Traveling with others can help split the travel and room costs (especially cars/camper vans).

        1. Sidra*

          There will be two of us to split costs/driving, but I have heard NZ is expensive. We do want a more authentic vacation this time, where we cook for ourselves and do “normal” stuff and meet people. Our last vacation was to Costa Rica where we only really interacted with resort staff and tour guides- it was lovely, but I am looking forward to a less “pampered” vacation!

      4. Artemesia*

        My daughter spent a couple of months bicycling the south island on her wedding trip and tells me it is the most beautiful place in the world — and she is well traveled.

    2. Audrey*

      Commiserations on the tooth, I do hope you can both enjoy the rest of your honeymoon. And I hope you knew in advance that Saturday was Grand Final day? Melbourne is a bit crazy this weekend every year :)

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        Ha, we actually didn’t! But a friend lives in Port Melbourne and rescued us for the day to sit on her balcony and drink wine and look at the beach :D

    3. C Average*

      Ahhh, Melbourne! Have fun. And I hope your husband heals well.

      I spent ten days in Melbourne a number of years ago, having flown down for a dear old friend’s wedding. I had this loooong list of scenic sights and cultural attractions I was planning to visit. I made it to exactly none of them. I spent the whole time playing cricket on the beach and drinking beer with locals. It was the best vacation I have ever had.

  7. Sandrine (France)*

    Mad at myself… We went to a restaurant yesterday and I got horribly sick on the way home… Fiancé was scared as heck. He thinks my allergies/intolerances are coming back :/ .

    On the other hand though, we had been to his favorite second hand video games store beforehand, and I managed to get my hand on Need For Speed : Most Wanted for te PS2, which makes me happy.

    So now we get to get up and clean as much as we can since MIL is coming to visit and does not know about the wedding yet.

      1. Stephanie*

        The restaurant I picked for my birthday this past year gave me Bd my dad food poisoning (and I have a pretty iron stomach usually). My mom got a little sick as well. Only my sister left unscathed, but I think that was because she found the obligatory chicken tenders and fries on the menu (this was a Mexican seafood place). I felt guilty, even if it wasn’t my fault.

      2. Sandrine (France)*

        Nep, it’s mostly because I have no problem spending $$$ on things (like my wedding dress and my wedding shoes) but for some reason wasting 4o USD worth of food makes me mad.

        Yeah. I have a weird relationship with food. Last July I had my phone stolen without seeing it because I was defending my meal from a beggar :/ .

        1. Beyonce Pad Thai*

          Wait, someone tried to take your food and meanwhile someone else stole your phone? What a crappy day.

  8. Nervous Accountant*

    Friends came out 20 years ago this month….I’ve been watching reruns, seeing it for the first time after the show ended a while back and no matter how many times i watch an episode I crack up. And the most interesting stuff to me are their career/work issues….Ross becoming a professor….Rachel going from waitress (and a pretty crappy one at that) to corporate at Bloomingdales….I know this is the non work related thread but it’s also TV? so idk if we can talk about it……? \

    1. Treena Kravm*

      I’d say we can talk about it because it’s not about a real workplace. Ever since reading this blog, I’m always hyper aware of character’s careers. It’s usually either they’re young and working a low-wage job or they’re already wildly successful. Or, like in New Girl, she was moderately successful, had a period of being lost career-wise, and then she’s a Vice Principal our of nowhere. No Master’s degree in educational administration needed for that promotion! In what we can only assume is LA Unified School District….riiight.

    2. Stephanie*

      A friend’s sister was an underemployed fashion school grad who went from point-of-service retail to Gucci. I could maybe see Rachel’s trajectory. Maybe. In addition to unrealistic careers, I always love seeing TV workplace attire. I watched House of Lies and the women’s attire on there made me laugh (short, tight suits, lots of cleavage, etc).

      1. BB*

        Those kinds of trajectories are more common than people think. It has to do with going after opportunities and lots of self-confidence.

      2. Trixie*

        While a lot of it wouldn’t fly between too much skin or $$$, I do like a lot of what I see in Good Wife, Suits, House of Cards. The clean lines, colors, bags, choice of jewelry. And as a pixie cut myself, I love, love, love Robin Wright’s haircut on HOC.

    3. SherryD*

      TV characters go through way more career changes than a real life person.

      And way more boyfriends/girlfriends, too! For a group of people supposedly unlucky in love, those Friends characters went on a ton of dates! Same with New Girl, actually…

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Ah, what a great show. I’m just a few years younger than the characters, so I grew up seeing the stages in their lives just before I hit those stages myself. When we moved into our first shared apartment during undergrad we must have made about a hundred references to how it was just like on Friends!

      In science geek circles, the concept of having a fictional character who’s a scientist and it’s just because that’s their job, rather than a mad genius / saving the world from a virus focal plot point, is called the Ross Geller phenomenon. It’s kind of a big deal :D

    5. Anx*

      Workplace comedies seem more realistic than workplace dramas to me, and are also a little more realistic than the ensemble comedies where everyone is successful except for the token slacker.

      I would love more programming where people struggle even if they are plucky or educated and don’t blow off their interviews, etc.

    6. nycredhead*

      My favorite line was when Rachel got her first paycheck and saw all the deductions: “Who’s this guy FICA and why is he getting all my money?”

    7. Beyonce Pad Thai*

      I recently re-watched the episodes where Rachel finally has her first “career” job (Ralph Lauren, maybe?) and Ross keeps trying to screw it up for her? Like bringing a picnic INTO her office while she’s on a deadline and being a baby about her not having time to picnic. Oh, I hated Ross.

  9. Anonyby*

    What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done doing housework? I’ve had a rather bad week, and could use some commiserating.

    On Tuesday, I was chipping paint off of closet door hinges near the ceiling when I overbalanced and fell off the ladder. Luckily I’m mostly alright, though I went to the ER to make sure I didn’t have a concussion (I seem to be lucky enough to not get them the couple of times I’ve taken bad hits to the head). That was followed by a bad fight with my Dad on Friday.

    Also, any tips for getting thick gloppy paint off of old hinges without using harsh chemical removers? I tried heating them in a crock pot on high with water and a tiny bit of detergent. It got off the top coat, but the primer is stubbornly sticking.

    Okay, third thing. Any tips on finding a lot of matching hardware? With all of the furniture I want to put into the room I’m redoing, I want to using matching hardware to pull it together. It’ll end up being 20 knobs, 5 2.5″ pulls, and 6 2″ pulls. The pulls are what’s giving me fits to find-I can’t seem to find any under 3″.

    1. Rowan*

      I think you’ll only have luck with chemicals, as you’ve already tried boiling them with detergent. I used acetone on mine (because they needed to be removed, oh, RIGHT NOW and the only stuff I had around was nail polish remover) and that did a great job of softening up the paint so I could scrape it off.

      1. Anonyby*

        I have a few days to get them clean, luckily. I still have patching/sanding/painting to do before the doors get reinstalled.

    2. evilintraining*

      My husband paints for a living. His suggestions are to try a heat gun, which might not work if there’s a lot of it and it’s old, or to break it down chemically.

      1. Anonyby*

        I’ll have to try it. We do have a heat gun already… It is decently old, going back to when the house was first painted (they installed the closet doors before painting, so the hinges got painted over in the exact same coat as what was on the surrounding frame and the inside of the door).

        1. LadyB*

          If you’re using a heat gun or sanding old paint, make sure that you’re in a well ventilated area, or using a decent face mask (or both). Old paint often has a frighteningly high lead content which you do not want to be breathing in.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      re: paint on hinges. I got this trick from This Old House. Get a crock pot liner and put it in your crock pot, fill with water & dish soap, crank it up and soak them in it for a few hours. Paint will slide right off. You can use a wire brush to get the rest of it off.

        1. Anonyby*

          Yeah, that’s what I did. The outer layer bubbled up on the flat surfaces, but the primer coat was still sticking (and everything was sticking in the hard-to-get places).

          1. fposte*

            Can you run it through again? I know when relatives were stripping and had to use low-impact removal methods because of pets, they found duration was key–they actually just sealed the stuff in with organic stripper for like a week, but you don’t have a week, so slow-cooking it for longer might be the closest thing.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Depending on the paint type you might be able to get it off with peppermint soap. Dr Bronners seems to be the high end, but around here we have Dr Wood’s peppermint soap which is more affordable.
      This stuff won’t go to waste, I use it as a pesticide (through a sprayer). I use it to get chemical stains off my hands and laundry. I had a nasty black scuff mark on my metal front door that nothing would touch. The peppermint soap took it right off. I have also washed my dog in it with the idea that the peppermint residue might help keep bugs away from him. I have also had it work on items where the colors had run in the washing process. It got rid of the streaks. Peppermint oils seem to remove loose, excess chemicals.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Whoops, wanted to add:

      The stupidest thing I have ever done while cleaning was rip out my big toe nail. TWICE. I was vacuuming with bare feet and my nail caught on a piece of furniture. The second time was the most annoying because I should have known better from the first time. Now I always wear shoes.

      Hardware. I would try restoration places. Around here there are also businesses that buy up old hardware and doors from old houses. You might look around for one of those places. And you can try online. Just now, I put in restoration hardware and came up with a number of hits. One was VanDyke’s, which I have heard of before. There are also companies that do reproductions.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Whoops, posted too fast. Just put the hardware in a full strength bowl of Murphy’s oil and leave for a couple of days. Don’t heat or dilute. My original comment is in moderation for a link, so this may look weird…

      1. Artemesia*

        it took me 4 rounds of broken toes in 5 years to finally commit to ALWAYS wearing shoes in the house. need a creative way to break your toe? I have several.

    6. C Average*

      My father-in-law fancies himself a handyman, and he’s decidedly NOT. (I love the man dearly and am not slagging on him. It’s just the truth.)

      A few years back he was visiting us and decided to do some work on a light fixture. He was up on a free-standing ladder and lost his balance and fell back against a wall behind him. He was fine and didn’t fall, but he crashed into the wall with enough force that his butt made a hole in the wall.

      There’s still a slight scar in the wall. We call it the Ass Hole.

    7. Just me*

      I just redid my girls room and part of our remodel was to strip and repaint an antique dresser for the second time. They “hated” the hardware and the color and wanted to buy a whole new dresser because of it. I thought it would be a good opportunity to teach them about reuse and recycle… Until it came to replacing the hardware. It’s very difficult to find dresser pulls in a size smaller than 3″ and the ones I found were in the $3 range. It would have been cheaper to buy a new ikea dresser than to replace 12 pull handles. I finally found some modern looking aluminum handles on eBay for $1 each. They came from Japan so the next issue was finding proper metric screws to install them since the hardware they sent was too short for the thickness of the wood. Finally finished and it looks great and the kids love it. Mission accomplished.

      1. Anonyby*

        Yeah, I’m trying to reuse what I can, but with the variety of styles and colors, it really needs some color and hardware to pull it together. I’ve been looking at ebay, but I haven’t been able to find anything under 3″ there either. :( Even trying to do things on the cheap, it’s looking like it’s going to cost a lot…

    8. FX-ensis*


      – Put my phone in my pocket whilst washing dishes, forgot about it, spent half an hour looking for it, only to find it again…

      – Washed $100 in the washing machine

      1. Anonyby*

        Oh man, I lose my phone all the time! And usually by the time I go looking, the battery has gone dead. :) I also wash money on a regular basis, though not usually that much…

    9. HR Manager*

      I had to move the cat condo to clean up some dust bunnies and dragged the thing about 3 feet away. Left a lovely groove in my newly finished and re-stained hard wood floors. *clap clap clap*

      1. Schmitt*

        A lot of the food has Hungarian influences, but our host claimed that polenta with cheese and pork cracklings is uniquely Romanian. Either way it was tasty! And I need to find a recipe for the eggplant dip.

    1. Jen RO*

      Awesome, what did you have? I just came back from a barbecue with mici (super popular meatballs with a particular blend of spices) for my boyfriend’s birthday!

      1. Schmitt*

        I followed our hosts’ lead and had pork steaks in beer marinade with delicious fried-ish potatoes and crazy garlicky sauce for lunch, for dinner we shared a cold plate of appetizers and a hot plate of same – the eggplant dip was out of this world, and pork cracklings/rind with soft cheese, and sausage slices, and and and. Yum.

        I’ll be back for a convention at the end of October, looking forward to more!

  10. nep*

    What are you looking forward to 1) Today 2) This week ?

    Today: Buying a musical instrument I’ve been wanting to get for a long time.
    This week: Seeing my six-month-old great niece again. I watch her part of the time her mom’s at work; her mom had Friday off so it’s been three long days.

    1. Waiting Patiently*

      Today: Nothing too exciting. Maybe catching up on a few on xfinity on demand
      This week: I’m really looking forward to my paycheck this week :)
      Actually I need to purchase tickets for a zombie run. I don’t know how I let my coworker talk me into this…

    2. Felicia*

      Today: Global Launch day of the Sunday Assembly I’ve been a part of for a few months!
      This week: Moving out of my parents house into my own apartment on Tuesday!

    3. Liane*

      1-going to church & singing in choir, followed by just being lazy for the rest of the day. Except for the 1/2 hour I spend on the gym bike. Which still counts as lazy since I will be reading the whole time.

      2-lots of Star Wars gaming fun Friday night. With me running the session. How many things will my players do that I never thought of as they try to rescue a Rebel from an Imperial Garrison? Just what I need to de-stress after a week of work: Lightfights With Friends.

    4. Mimmy*

      Today – Nothing
      This week: Celebrating our anniversary in the city on Thursday and seeing Les Miserables (it was revived, I think, earlier this year)

    5. Canadamber*

      Today: nothing, really. Work, I guess?

      This week: My parents bought me a used car and it’s coming on Monday!!! :D Blue 2005 Subaru Impreza, and I’m disappointed that it’s an automatic transmission because I usually just drive manual but, oh well, I’ll live.

    6. C Average*

      Today: Studying with a couple of classmates from my MBA program. Not only will it help my understanding of data analysis (I hope), but I think I’m making some friends through this program. It’s been decades since I had school friends!

      This week: Finding out if I got the job I interviewed for last week.

    7. Stephanie*

      Today: Eating banana bread I made (I put whiskey in the batter :D) last night and heading on a bike ride.

      Later this week: I planned to head to a state park yesterday that’s this combination nature trail and archaeological site, but it rained heavily statewide yesterday. Planning to head there later this week.

    8. saro*

      Today: Going out to dinner with my family
      This week: Traveling overseas to see my husband and introduce our son to my in-laws!!

      1. Aam Admi*

        Today and rest of the week:
        put away the t-shirts & shorts
        move all the sweaters to the front of the closet
        make sure every coat has a pair of gloves in the pocket
        buy snow boots
        stow the all-seasons and get snow tires on the car
        open the hood and pull out the block heater cable
        Winter is here!

    9. Cath in Canada*

      Today: sushi for dinner! (it’s a boring chores day)
      This week: one of my best friends from the UK is coming for a short visit on Friday-Sunday! She’s going to a conference in Seattle and was able to make a side-trip up to Vancouver. Super excited to see her

    10. Trixie*

      Today: Unpacking and relaxing after a week of housesitting. Nice dinner tonight then alternating Good Wife with a little organizing during commercials.

      This week: Practicing for new yoga launch class, gearing up for first time subbing for dance cardio (!),and another housesitting job next weekend.

      1. nep*

        Nice. It would be great to hear next Sunday how subbing dance cardio went.
        Yoga class — you’re taking or teaching?

        1. Trixie*

          Teaching, for all of 6 weeks now. Its part of a fusion class which includes a lot of yoga/pilates. I’m channeling my favorite instructors and have received a lot of positive feedback. The upside to dance cardio is not much talking–just really loud music.

    11. JAL*

      1. Today: My birthday dinner of subs from one of my favorite places, and cheesecake for dessert (dessert makes everything worthwhile)
      2. This Week: Actually diving into my new job and getting to do the work. Last week was all training and observation.

    12. louise*

      1) a nap :)
      2) we picked out a dog at the humane society yesterday! Supposed to find out this week how soon she can come home to us. Has some rounds of medication they want her to finish up first.

  11. Chocolate Teapot*

    As is traditional on a Sunday, the Washing Line Hogger has put in an appearance in my building. To make matters worse, their idea of drying a shirt is to drape it on the line along the back, which takes up a lot of room. And why they need a whole line just for socks I have no idea. Especially when you can buy something like this:

    1. Jean*

      I feel your pain, but I’m trying to devise a strategy that encourages the offender to change his/her ways rather than simply communicating the aggravation felt by others who want to hang up THEIR clothes ALSO.

      Can the entire building take up a collection to buy the Washing Line Enthusiast several of those IKEA gizmos, a bag of clothespins, and a folding laundry rack to encourage him/her to conserve space along the collective clotheslines (by hanging socks on the gizmo, shirts by the shoulders, and a certain number of fairly-easy-to-dry-indoors items _indoors_? Then:
      1) get the building manager, or whomever the Hogger trusts and respects, to deliver the gifts.
      2) Rather than send the message of “Stop monopolizing the clotheslines already!” communicate the more positive idea that other residents are impressed by, envious of, and desirous of imitating the WLE’s great example of Living Green by Hanging Out the Wash….
      3) Hence this twofold message:
      i) here are some gadgets to help you be even more Awesomely Green…
      ii)…and also to free up a bit of space so that all of your neighbors can also be Awesomely Green.
      4) Hopefully the WLE will be bowled over with your praise and enthusiasm and then you can all agree that one more way to conserve the collective hanging-up space outside will be to mutually agree to dry one’s underwear and socks indoors.

    2. INTP*

      That might be me in my building :/ Though I’ve never walked into our laundry room and seen ALL lines full, and I’ve never left all of the lines full, just 2-3 of the 5 lines. I wouldn’t be shocked if they got full someday, but only because other people tend to leave their stuff up for days, not just until it gets dry.

      I don’t see it as my fault though. Our machines only get anything dry in one cycle if they’re set on high. I’ll put my pajamas and t-shirts in there but anything remotely fragile, workout tech-y fabric, expensive jeans, has to go on the line. I don’t have the space to hang it all up in my apartment.

      1. fposte*

        Which raises the interesting question–what is the etiquette rule here? My view is that the longer somebody is using the communal space, the less of it they should be using (you can leave stuff in a corner of the lobby for days, but you have to get out of a communal bathroom in under an hour). But drying takes both time and space, so that’s an inherent problem with a community drying line unless there’s only like two people in the building. I think it’s a situation that calls for a rota, that stuff being on there longer than 24 hours means other people get to move it, and that prime weekend time should be rotated between the users.

        1. INTP*

          Yeah, I’ve never had people move my stuff before (there are about 15 units and we have 5 drying lines, so they really don’t tend to get full), but if it had been there for over 24 hours, I would not blame someone for moving my stuff as long as they put it somewhere clean, just like if I don’t make it back to the drier before it stops running. There’s also a first come, first serve factor – I always do my laundry pretty early if I do it on a high demand day. I feel like if someone really needs a good amount of line space, it’s their job not to do their laundry at 6pm on a Sunday when they know it’s going to be the most crowded time.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’m not using a shared area, but I only dry my shirts and pants for about 10 minutes on low, then put them on hangers, and let them air dry. I have room in my closet now, but in the past I also used the shower curtain rod. Sometimes I’ll take them outside in the sun, sometimes I just make sure they have some space between them in the closet. I’ll turn the pants over after a day, to let the rest dry. Or does that only work in an area where we get 6-8 inches of rain in a good year (and are at half of normal right now)?

        1. fposte*

          I’m hoping our traveling Elizabeth West is having a wonderful time in the UK. UKers, please be nice to all American visitors in case they’re Elizabeth!

          1. fposte*

            Seriously? I deleted and refreshed and had no “cancel reply” option and it still stuck this in the wrong place? Bah.

          2. Elizabeth West*


            I forgot about the Open Thread because I was farking around in Cardiff Castle and at the Cardiff County Fair on the castle grounds on Sunday. Everyone in Wales is super nice and people in London in the tube station were nice too. I forgot how to tube, but it came back to me pretty quickly with a little polite Londoner help. :)

            My legs are falling off, but I’m having fun.

  12. evilintraining*

    Anyone ever use italki to learn a language? I want to learn Nepali, but it’s not offered through the most well-known sources, like Rosetta Stone.

    1. Sue*

      You might want to try a book, Teach Yourself Nepali. I have the one for Hindi, and it’s been very helpful. It comes with a CD so you can work on pronunciation.

      1. Sevda*

        Totally seconding the Teach Yourself series! I always thought I just wasn’t a “language person” but was able to learn a pretty solid foundation of Turkish with their book and am now fluent. I’ve used a lot of other resources since then, but their method definitely made the most sense to me when I was starting out.

    2. Waiting Patiently*

      Never heard of italki. I just Googled it, seems really personalized.
      I’ve used Mango to learn Tamil and to brush up on Spanish. I’m by no means fluent in either yet but the lessons are really easy and it’s so much better than the way I learned Spanish and Latin in school. Also it let’s you record your voice and you can see if it matches the proper pronunciations. I’m able to access it for through my local library website.

    3. ET*

      I started using it for French lessons this year. I tried three different tutors and I stuck with my favourite. I originally found the site through reading “How To be Fluent in 3 months” by Benny Lewis, who also has a blog on the topic.

      I found the lessons useful but the lessons from my favourite tutor the best. He had worksheets to send me, and cool exercises and we talked about interesting topics. Other tutors didn’t have as much prepared stuff or seemed a bit off to me. Definitely try it!

    4. IAmOP*

      Thanks, everyone! Sue, unfortunately a book won’t work for me. WP, I will also check out Mango. ET, great to hear from someone who has tried italki. I only saw three people on there who know the language, and it’s a secondary one for all. That worried me a bit, but one is currently living in Nepal, and she seems promising.

  13. nyxalinth*

    Anyone else have a chatty cat? I was told mine is a talker when I got her–and she is–but she has no indoor voice. she’s almost always max volume :P

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I had a Balinese that had running commentary on everything. Currently, I have a part malamute that has taken up the job of constant remarks. I had the cat and dog for a while (she passed a year ago) and she would start “talking” to the chatty dog. That was interesting, a house full of chatter. For whatever reason the dog would remain quiet when she was talking. That may in part be because I made it clear to him that he had to be gentle with her as he is 60 pounds and she was about 10 pounds.
      My previous dog would tattle-tale. “Mom, the cat is on top of the refrigerator, again!” The scowl on that cat’s face… too funny.

    2. RR*

      One of my guys is a tabby/russian blue cross. Russian blues are apparently supposed to be quiet, so it must be the tabby side as he is a super chatty cat. He has an opinion on everything!

      1. Trixie*

        My best boy was a Russian blue, handed down from a previous roommate years ago. His name was Indica and hailed from the streets of New Orleans. Aggressive street punk to the end. If I ever fall for a female Russian blue, her name will be Indigo.

    3. the gold digger*

      We have two Lynxpoint Siamese. I thought that meant I was getting talkative non-shedders, but it really meant we were getting super loud shedders – the worst of both breeds. Cat #1 never shuts up – she has her own soundtrack and everything she does has to be accompanied by self commentary. Cat #2 speaks less frequently, but when she does talk, she yowls disconsolately.

      But they are my kitties and I love them.

    4. Alicia*

      I have a grey cat (looks Russian Blue but I know they’re rare, so not actually)… he is super chatty. I thought grey cats were supposed to be big personalities. Every one I’ve known (10+) have been very talkative. Talks all the time, and has a sweet voice. It sounds like he says “yes” and “no” sometimes even.

    5. Name (Required)*

      I think it must be because we talk to them all the time, but all of ours (all seven of them) are talkers. One even blesses us when we sneeze. :3

    6. Seal*

      My now deceased boys were quiet talkative. One was part Siamese and he was very loud. He was also very smart. Early on he figured out that I always put on my glasses when I got up in the morning to feed them, so he would knock my glasses and other things on the floor to get my attention. The other was a sweet, pudgy polydactyl who I think talked because his Siamese brother-from-another-mother did.

      The 3 young cats I have now are nowhere near as chatty, but they have their moments. My girl kitty talks to her toys when she carries them around. The one boy I took in when the neighbors abandoned him talks when I’m putting his food dish down. My other boy – the alpha cat and resident troublemaker – is generally the strong, silent type. Earlier this year he snuck outside and went missing for almost 3 weeks. When he finally came home he had a LOT to say about his adventures – took him several weeks to get it out of his system.

    7. Clerica*

      Well, this thread made me feel better. I thought my cat was just weird. She will. Not. Shut. Up. It’s not even meowing, it’s like these “Unh? UNH? Urr. Uuuuuh?” noises. She is immune to shouting, banging, etc. Two in the morning she’s under my bed UNHing and no matter how many times I bang my heels or slap the side of the bed, she just responds with an even louder UNH. It’s like living with the cavemen from Night at the Museum.

      She also likes to make that “heat” noise after using the litter box. It’s like “Mom! MOM! I used the–MOOOOM! I was in the litter box! Hey! HEY! MOMMYMOMMYMOMMY it STINKS in there! MAH-MEEEEEE!”

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was worried when we ended up with a siamese tabby kitten, but she doesn’t talk much at all. When she does, it’s a hoarse little mew. If I could guarantee that for the next, I would definitely get another siamese: she’s my pillow pet!

    9. Windchime*

      Mine is part Siamese and he goes through chatty spells, mostly when he wants something specific (like for me to wave the feather toy around). The funniest thing he does is talk to the ice maker in the fridge. It makes a little noise after I get ice out of it and for some reason that’s really intriguing to him, so he goes over and stands on his hind legs, looking at the ice dispenser and talking to it.

    10. Diet Coke Addict*

      I have one quiet cat and one cat that talks about EVERYTHING at top volume, all the time. She yells when you get home, yells if you’re not paying attention to her, yells if she wants pets, yells if she wants you to stop petting her, yells when we’re feeding her, when we’re NOT feeding her, when she uses the litterbox, when she is lonely and/or scared (she’ll wander into another room and then cry because she’s lost, so….not too bright, either).

      1. the gold digger*

        Cat #2 does this! She will go into the basement after dinner, then yowl! If one of us goes down to check on her, she will bound over to us, soooo happy for company. But it does not occur to her to come back upstairs where we and Cat #1.

        She is also not so bright – she tried to open a cupboard door from the hinge side once.

  14. Ruffingit*

    Husband and I have been binge watching Hoarders this weekend. I’ve seen many of the episodes before, but there are some I’ve not yet seen. I introduced him to the show a couple of days ago. I understand the psychology behind it and all that, but it still amazes me that people live that way. A few years back, I met a new friend and the first time I went into her home, I realized she was a hoarder. She asked for some help in getting the place cleaned up so I offered to assist but she really wasn’t ready to do it. No longer in touch with her, always wondered what happened to her and the apartment.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I used to watch hoarder shows. It made me want to clean more. Yeah, no one can do anything for a person until they decide they need to do something differently. I have a hard time watching their pain as they sort through their lives and their mess. These folks are in pure agony.

      I have several hoarder friends. If they do not deliberately decide to improve then they only get worse. (Sorry, can’t elaborate with examples- it might be identifying.)

      I had an interesting experience. There were things here that I kept because I was told by family that “you should keep these things”. But-but-but. Finally, I decided that some of these things were downers, I did not enjoy them and they did not hold fond memories. I sold them. I took the money and put into repairing antiques/furniture that I would keep. I got rid of several 30 gal garbage bags of old photos that I had inherited. And I made some similar difficult choices. What happened next was amazing. My memories came back. I can remember stuff more clearly now that I have let go of these things than when I held on to them under the pretext of keeping the memory alive. (Our parents unloaded their houses in a short time frame, we got buried with “stuff”. It became a sorting process that evolved into me learning about my likes/dislikes, my on-going interests vs. my passing interest and so on.)

      I really feel for people with the OCD for hoarding. I think it’s a pit that almost anyone could fall into. It has very little to do with the material items surrounding them and more to do with how they take in life.

      1. JAL*

        I have mild OCD, and I can really feel for these people. Mine’s the health-related type, but I can still really feel for them. I couldn’t imagine if mine were worse and how much of a toll it would take on me, because having it mildly is hard enough.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      An interesting hoarder story is Tetanusburger. She’s cleaning up her father’s hoards, which included dozens of cars in various stages of decay (rusted hunks of rusty rust). She hasn’t posted lately, but there are posts back to 2010. It had me fascinated.

      1. De Minimis*

        I got sucked into that website….man, that could have so easily been my wife and me if my father-in-law had lived longer and if his health had not prevented him from getting around. As it was, we [mainly her] spent most of a year cleaning out his house and I think we used at least 5-6 of those giant dumpsters. His house definitely could have been on HOARDERS.

        It seems like most of the time people only stop if something else prevents them from doing it, or at least limits them. My father-in-law lost his driver’s license when he turned 70 [couldn’t pass the vision test] and that slowed him down a little. He also moved in with us and that limited him somewhat, although he did have a “hoard room.” We still have at least one storage unit full of his stuff.

    3. KCS*


      Did any of you buy a home without a realtor? If so, how did that go?

      I have direct access to MLS, but I’m still contemplating retaining a realtor.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is decades ago, but we did not have our own realtor representing us as buyers. The seller’s realtor remarked that it made things very awkward for her. Fortunately for us she was an extremely ethical person and she handled the situation well. There were a couple of times I had trouble following the procedure but for the most part it seemed to go okay.

        I can only recommend this if you are low key about things. People who fret about details and have a list of things the seller needs to fix probably will want their own realtor to assist in the process.(ie: if you need to negotiate and negotiation is not your strength) We bought an old-old house and we were prepared for “as is, where is”. We had also looked at A LOT of houses so we had a basis to compare what we had been seeing in the price range with this house.
        One thing I will caution about- the person who does the home inspection is not your advocate. Do not rely on what he/she says in your final decision to buy the house. Inspectors sometimes miss things or they consider things unimportant that are a big deal in your eyes. If you want a true advocate bring in someone you have hired or a respected friend/family member. My father went to see one house we were considering. He went into the basement and picked up a nail. He pushed the nail ALL the way into a big beam with his THUMB. “Do not buy this house”, he said. We didn’t.

    4. fposte*

      I’m not going back to the show these days, but as a borderline/low-level hoarder I found it really helpful for understanding how I thought about stuff and finding ways to loosen my grip on it. I generally scoff at the notion that the pseudo-therapeutic reality shows actually achieve any therapeutic ends, but this one (okay, this one and the other one, because A&E had one too) kind of worked for me.

      But if they’re not ready, it is kind of like offering to take somebody’s kids to foster care for them. That’s about the level of emotional turmoil we’re talking.

      1. De Minimis*

        I am more of a “disorganized/overwhelmed” hoarder. I fully intend to throw stuff away, but it gets away from me, and then I don’t know where to start. I don’t believe I’m to the point where I assign value to things that aren’t really valuable.

        I watched that move NEBRASKA last night, it really reminded me of my father-in-law.

    5. IAmOP*

      I feel the same way. The thing that blows my mind the most is actual garbage: food packaging and scraps, etc. Watching makes me throw things out.

    6. Anonyby*

      I can’t watch those shows. They hit far too close to home.

      When we were clearing out my paternal grandfather’s house to sell it, it became clear that he was a med-low level hoarder. And both my Dad and I have inherited it from him. I’m struggling to fight against it, but it’s not easy. Dad doesn’t even seem to realize that he’s hoarding.

      1. Phyllis*

        I haven’t watched the show (would much rather read AAM :-) but when my dad passed away, and I cleaned out his house, I was amazed at the stuff he had hoarded. (He was a hoarder, but a neat one.) He had been in and out hospitals for a while, so he had things like packets of sugar, salt, ketchup, ect. Threw out the ketchup packets because didn’t think they would be good any longer; but didn’t have to buy sugar, salt, or pepper for almost a year. Also had change (rolled) that equaled quite a bit, as well as other things. The thing about the change is; if he had used it for himself, his quality of life would have been so much better.

        1. Anonyby*

          Dad and I are the kind that can’t throw anything out, because what if we need it later! (And when we do find a use for the random junk we have, it only reinforces the impulse to save.) I’m trying to fight it… but it’s hard. I also want to have what I do keep neat and organized, where as right now there’s just crap piled up everywhere.

          A lot of what Dad’s kept is just pure crap. Old magazines that are literally falling apart. Containers from various things he’s bought. Random junk that doesn’t have a purpose or home. Also equipment from hobbies that he hasn’t used in years.

    7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Watching the show makes me want to throw everything in my house out. We (the family) has a high tolerance for clutter and we like our stuff. While throwing out garbage is a habit O.o, we’re clutter accumulators.

      Give me a couple of eps of Hoarders and I’m running around with bags and boxes and yelling about how everything must go.

      Looking around the house atm, I’m thinking I need a good Hoarders binge.

  15. Mimmy*

    Well this sure has been quite the week! I’m working on a data analysis paper for school–and have gotten nowhere because the professor’s instructions are unclear and he has not responded to anyone’s calls for help. I really want to like this class, and I do in several ways, but he is just so dang clueless about the fact that some students do work. We have so many assignments on top of the readings, it’s crazy. I’m glad I have the time, but gahhhh!! If only he would clarify this data analysis thing, things will go a little more smoothly.

    Then, we were supposed to have the floor re-finished on Friday. The guy was a no-show. When hubby called, he claimed he’d been to the hospital the day prior and didn’t get a chance to reschedule. Luckily, he was able to send his guys yesterday. But holy crap there is dust EVERYWHERE!! (from the sanding process). We probably should’ve thought to get everything out of the kitchen, but we’re also surprised the guys didn’t warn us to get our stuff out of the kitchen. Guess what we’re doing today!! :/

    1. C Average*

      Ugh, I’m sorry! What kinds of stuff are you working on in your class? We’re doing probability and sampling. It’s cool stuff, but the math is crazy and the concepts are just . . . often over my head. I find that I can best make sense of them by working through the real-life examples, whether I’m assigned to or not. Our book has exercises at the end of the chapters and I find I can sometimes sort of work through to an answer. I’m meeting with some classmates today to work on the assignment together. I’m hoping that will help.

      This stuff is, objectively, quite hard for people who are new to it. I hope you and your classmates can get across to your professor that he needs to explain things at a level that works for his students.

      1. Mimmy*

        Actually, the worst part is, our assignment is WAY simpler than what you’re describing.

        We have to choose an existing “data set” from a small list of websites, most of which compiles statistics from various government sources, such as the American Community Survey or the Census Bureau. So, I could pick….for example….the % of people with disabilities who are competitively employed in one state and compare that with another state. Or compare the rate of employment for one disability group and compare that with another.

        Then, we have to write a 5-page analysis off of that. Yes, 5 pages for a simple analysis of an simple data set! Really?! Our professor did lay out some questions to consider as a guideline, but it feels so thrown together. We’re not even sure if we’re supposed to just do our own analysis or if we can use outside sources to help back up our findings.

        1. C Average*

          Can you look at the methodology and talk about why it was chosen, and maybe express the data through a different kind of analysis that yields different results? Can you talk about whether you think the methodology was chosen to accurately express the data, to prove a point, or both?

          Here’s a real-life example we’ve been talking about in my class. The program I’m in keeps statistics on the average salaries of grads. One year, a cohort included a guy who had his own business and was able to use what he learned in class to really grow his business aggressively. So the cohort salary data included a big cluster of salaries within a fairly normal range and then one huge outlier. We went through all the ways that data set could be expressed and why, while all of them were legitimate analysis methods, some of them yielded misleading results.

          Do the sources you’re allowed to use talk about sampling methods, analysis methods, and stuff like that, or is it pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get deal?

          1. Mimmy*

            It does talk a bit about sampling methods, yes. The thing is, this is not a research course–it’s just an overview of the field I’m studying. This assignment is part of one unit that encompasses “definitions and demographics”. So yes there are readings about how statistics in the field are collected and the strengths and weaknesses of instruments and methods used. Now that I think about it, those will be helpful–hopefully it’s enough because there were no assigned readings on HOW to perform data analysis.

            Although knowing me, I’m probably making it much harder than it needs to be :) Our professor did admit that this is a difficult assignment because people in the social service field (a target audience of this program) aren’t used to dealing with data. He’s just lucky I took a couple of research courses during my MSW program and am somewhat familiar with human services statistics from my grant reviewing gigs, so I do have a tiny idea of what I’m dealing with. Can’t say about the other students though.

            Thanks for your insights!

        2. Aardvark*

          No data set is that simple :)

          A clear structure for your paper such as intro (why we care), methods, results/discussion, conclusion) makes writing faster, and makes the argument easier to follow. You don’t need to leave the headers in if you think the instructor would find them awkward. I don’t know if that’s an appropriate format for your class, but you could look at and extrapolate the format from course readings (for this or other courses) or any business review publications you can access. I always use the same format anytime I have to provide a more-than-cursory data analysis for school or work and it means I can crank something out in a day, rather than agonizing over it for a long time. The structure guides my research process and makes it easier to write and edit my final product.

          I just finished a course in analytics, and one of the things we touched on was contextualizing your data–so, once you’ve compared groups, what other evidence (either from other numbers in the set, or further research) tells you what it means or why it matters? (i.e., “While the disability employment rate in State A is larger than State B, State A’s population is half that of State B’s, and more urban. This means that people who may not otherwise be able to drive can get to work…”)

          Graphs and tables can be helpful if you choose them correctly…and they take up space :) Google Docs can do a geographical chart (Insert –> Charts –> Map –> (choose type) –> Customize –> Regions –> State) and Excel has gotten less awful and fairly customizable over the years if you don’t have an analysis program. Plus, then you have something to focus your discussion.
          (“Region X has a relatively low rate of employment for those with visible disabilities:
          [See chart]
          Region Y also shares these low rates–and these states are also predoiminantly rural…Discussion of rural vs urban poverty rates auxilary and more cursory analysis goes here”)

          Never underestimate a conclusions section either–if you deepen your previous statements (“If there were funding in State B for commuter trains the non-driving population of State B, including those with disabilities, may be able to find more work”) and/or contextualize them (“As discussed in the findings section above, higher employment rates in rural states across the board lead to higher employment rates for persons with disabilities”) that gives value to your analysis and ties together all the results–in text, graphic, or numeric form. It takes a little more work but it makes the data pop.

          1. Mimmy*

            It’s too bad I already decided what I’m going to focus on because I LOVE your example! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! (I was going to look at educational attainment–I’ve always been interested in students with disabilities in higher education).

  16. Liane*

    To go with the Looking Forward to Thread–which I like very much–Best & Worst of Last Week.

    Best: Celebrating our daughter’s 17th birthday! Daddy took us all to Jason’s Deli, a local place he had heard good things about–and it was very good. And it made Birthday Teen very happy. Especially the FREE! soft-serve ice cream machine. The back of the menu said, “…Because everyone deserves dessert.”
    For the record, this was on top of the devil’s food cake we dropped off at school play practice a few hours earlier. Which was also a hit as she has a “birthday twin” (person who shares birthday) in the cast. Which made me happy too.

    Worst: Husband has a tooth problem, broken filling. He got an appointment but is close to 2 weeks off. He takes Plavix, an anti-clotting drug, and must be off that for at least 10 days before the dentist can work on him. And no dental insurance until next year. (Yay for becoming F/T!)

    1. Ruffingit*

      Best: Didn’t have to work this weekend so was able to relax for two whole days, which I desperately needed.

      Worst: Family stress that has been ongoing, but I hope will soon be resolved.

    2. Elkay*

      Best: A good weekend last weekend with my Girl Scout troop
      Worst: I totally flaked on my exercise class on Thursday and didn’t come close to hitting my target for my run yesterday.

      1. Colette*

        My Pathfinders (12-15 year old Girl Guides, which is the Canadian equivalent of Girl Scouts) planned and ran a camp for themselves this weekend. They did a great job! It’s amazing seeing how much they’ve learned since last year.

    3. Livin' in a Box*

      Best: Bowled a 99 this week, so basically, I’m ready to go pro. (I know that score is awful but it’s my best ever!)

      Worst: A huge wolf spider crawled on my arm at work yesterday. I screamed. I got in trouble for screaming. The spider crawled away and is still on the loose.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So I had to google wolf spider. It said they are approximately 1 inch. BUT the picture shows a spider almost as big as the palm of a man’s hand! ick-ick. It looks like it is fuzzy- I think I might scream, too.

      2. QualityControlFreak*

        Okay, that bites. Who WOULDN’T a scream if a giant freaking arachnid climbed on their arm? Your work sucks if they penalize you for having a normal human reaction.

      3. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        In trouble for screaming about a gigantic hairy spider that is still in the building? I’d be suing (ha!) for extreme mental distress.

      4. Mister Pickle*

        You got in trouble for screaming?!

        I’m not advising this, but my thoughts are

        1. Get thick gloves
        2. Find and detain spider
        3. Find person who gave you “trouble”
        4. Say “hey, that spider that freaked me out? Here it is.” And throw it on them.

        (But please try not to hurt the spider).

      5. Phyllis*

        That reminds me of when I was a telephone operator; I was assisting a caller and a HUGE roach fell from the ceiling on to my arm. I screamed bloody murder and knocked it off. The supervisor on duty came over and said “What the hell is going on?” (She was not someone to soft-petal her words) when I explained, she said, “Well Damn, it probably died from cardiac arrest by now!!!” Don’t know what my caller thought, I had already disconnected him. BTW, I am not afraid of roaches, (mice, that’s a different story) but having one fall on me out of nowhere was startling, to say the least.

    4. C Average*

      Best: Survived our two-week global summit, and it’s OVER! So glad to be back to normal routines and done with all-day meetings.

      Worst: Catching up on all the stuff that wasn’t getting done during all-day meetings. Laundry, house cleaning, homework, work-work.

    5. Xay*

      Best: Went to the Outkast concert Friday night and relived my youth.

      Worst: Saturday morning when I realized that I don’t recover from concerts like I did in my early 20s.

      1. Elkay*

        Outkast remind me of staying up until 4am while at university, now if it gets past midnight I feel like I’m living life on the edge…

    6. WanderingAnon*

      Best: Ironed out a problem with one vendor at work that had been going on for 3 weeks, had the most wonderful warm cinnamon-sugar doughnut for breakfast Friday, and I have help this morning to fix my porch roof.

      Worst: My dog passed away yesterday at the age of 12. He was happy little guy and I miss him.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Oh … That’s awful about your dog! I really don’t know what to say, except – maybe I’ll take my dog to the park today. As sad as it makes me to hear of your loss, it’s also a kick in my ass to make me appreciate what I’ve got.

    7. Stephanie*

      Best: I went to Verizon to check on something on my account and found I was eligible for phone upgrade earlier than I thought. So yay for shiny new iPhone that actually has enough space for all my media. I had no clue how sluggish the firmware had gotten on my old iPhone and how comparatively heavy it was. I also got credit for trading in my old phone. It’s in the form of a Visa gift card (eh, I would have preferred cash or a bill discount), but I’ll happily take the gift card,

      Worst: My sourdough starter was accidentally tossed. I had that brewing for nearly a year!

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Argh! I hate VISA gift cards! I once got stuck with one – what I did was use it to purchase an Amazon Gift Card, which had a lot fewer restrictions on it.

        1. Liane*

          I hate the Visa gift cards, too. The other credit card company gift cards work like–well–gift cards when your total is more than the card balance. The website/register subtracts card balance from the total, then you pay the remainder with another tender. But Visa treats theirs like a credit card purchase above the credit limit and rejects the card. Since stores can’t query the balance, even if the card was sold there, the cashier cannot split the tender, unless the user keeps track of his/her balance. I haven’t been given many of them, but I often deal with Very Unhappy Customers when this happens to them, and there is nothing I can do to help them. :( So they are just as much a pain to the person on the other side of the counter.

    8. Daisy*

      Best – The temperatures are finally falling to a somewhat comfortable level in Texas at night. I am trying to save money so I decided that this would be the year that I would go without air conditioning. My electricity bills for my small one bedroom are now about $30 a month.

      Worst – The structure of one of my part time jobs is all screwy. There is a constant change over in managers and some of them do well with supervising and schedule making and others do not. I have one full time job and two part time jobs and I just don’t think I can do it much longer with the current management at one of the part time jobs. I need the money since an ex left me broke so this is a tough pill to swallow. I need to replenish my retirement funds. I have enough to get by and then some but I still remember an elderly great aunt whose husband didn’t provide for her in her old age after telling her that everything would be all right. So I am trying my hardest to get a bigger cushion to rely upon. No tv, no a/c, library instead of bookstore, you get the picture.

      1. Trixie*

        I’m in the southeast and since investing in a few twin window box fans, haven’t used A/C for two years now. Air circulation does wonders, and when that doesn’t’ work, I hit the library, gym, mall, McD’s, etc.

    9. Gene*

      Worst – It seems the office kitty is gone for good. We haven’t seen him in two weeks.

      Best – Went to a major Ingress Helios Anomaly event in Tacoma yesterday with ~1200 of my closest friends. Walked 5+ miles, up hill and down.

    10. Windchime*

      Best: My son got married last Saturday! The wedding went off without a hitch and the reception was, bar none, the most fun I have ever had at a wedding reception. It was just a big, fun outdoor party with music and dancing and pie and hula-hoops. Yes, you read that right. I thought it was a goofy idea but they were a huge hit and lots of people had fun hula-hooping to the music.

      Worst: Family drama that never seems to end. I’m worried about a sibling that is mentally ill and seems to be getting worse.

  17. CRB*

    I’m being a cranky brat today I guess. I don’t know, I’ve had a really bad past few weeks and my friends are not being supportive, at all. I was job hunting and had a few really promising prospects, and then my father, with whom I was very close, passed away very suddenly. I ended up putting in my notice at work immediately and going home to take care of my mother who has been having a very hard time adjusting. The total lack of support I received from my SO during that really painful time led to the ending of that relationship. I had to pack up and move almost clear across the country to come home. Shortly after, most of those job prospects (which were for the general area I moved to, I’d been wanting to come here for some time now) pretty much disintegrated without explanation. So now I’m just stressed, hurt, and have had to say goodbye and let go of a lot of things very suddenly with nothing specific in my future.

    In general I am doing okay right now. My family is very close and I am very fortunate to have their support. Being near 30 and moving back into my childhood home was not a dream of mine, but under the circumstances I’m glad to be doing it and confident that something will eventually fall into place I have enough savings to comfortably live off for a while.

    But last week we were sending out the thank you notes for everyone who sent us things, even just cards or anything, during our loss, and I realized that not. one. of my dearest and oldest friends had sent anything. It then dawned on me that most of the ones I told hadn’t even responded to the message I sent about it. The last I’d heard from any of them is a bride whose wedding I am supposed to be in this June who wanted to know if I had ordered my dress yet. Dresses need to be ordered by JANUARY and she’s on me, while I am unemployed, about where my dress is during a major time of crisis for me and my family. Now I don’t want to have much to do with her or her gd wedding at all. I’m still going to do it, because I know that’s an extreme reaction, but seriously. I don’t want to use what little energy and time I have supporting someone who isn’t going to support me in return.

    So the last two days I’ve just been really negative about all these people. I know a lot of them probably have reasons for not being as vocal or checking in with me, but these were really good, close friends who have leaned on me and I’ve been able to lean on in the past and I’m just really shocked and hurt right now that no one has shown any concern for what has been going on for the past month. And I have no one to complain about it to since they’re all being flaky. So open thread here I am. Someone kvetch with me?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m really sorry you’re going through all this crap, especially since it’s all hitting at once. Crisis times are when we see some of the best and worst in our friends. I think your friends who didn’t send anything or even SAY anything are pretty seriously crappy– the not sending something wouldn’t bother me too much, but if you sent them notes to tell them your dad died and they SAID nothing? Death is hard, and people get uncomfortable about it, but I honestly stopped giving passes for stuff like that after I turned 25. And if it’s hard to say “I’m sorry for your loss,” it’s not that hard to send a $5 donation somewhere in someone’s honor.

      I don’t have much else to add, except this: tell your bride friend that the wedding is too much for you right now and you’d rather attend as a guest. There is no shame in this. It also makes things easier for both of you– she doesn’t have to hound you about anything, and you don’t have to feel pressured. Things are tough financially and emotionally, and it’s perfectly fine to just say that. Don’t let the resentment build up until it completely destroys the friendship. If she is a good friend and a reasonable person, she’d rather know now, and she should understand. I detest (oh, so much) the whole, “But it’s what the bride waaaaaaants” mentality; the bride should want the people standing up with her to be there happily and without hardship.

    2. Elkay*

      I wish I could say something helpful but I’m pretty useless at this stuff so I’ll say this instead: those people suck. I’m sorry they suck and I’m sorry you have to deal with them. Not having any close friends I don’t know if this would work but what would happen if you replied to the bride and said “Hey, my focus is on dealing with what’s happening in my family right now, it’s actually kind of insensitive of you to be on me about this at the moment when really what I need is your support”?

    3. Just me, Vee*

      I’m sorry about your friends and their neglect of you! I don’t care how busy someone is, a phone call, or even a text message to let you know they are thinking of you is not too much to ask.

    4. fposte*

      I’ll kvetch with you, and I’m so sorry about the loss of your father. I also am deeply impressed that you’re going old school and handwriting your thanks.

      Sometimes it’s worth not writing people off over a single thing, even if it’s a big single thing, so I also agree with your continuing as planned with the wedding, etc. But you can absolutely complain.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Yes, definitely say something! I’ll never forget when a friend’s grandfather died, another friend and I went over to her house. She had brought a card and I was like oops is that a thing? And I was all freaked out that my lack of card would signal that I cared less. Well, we get in and she’s sitting at the table sorting through cards and telling us that the cards are stupid and it doesn’t make anything better and why do people send them?? Yea, my friend’s card did not leave her purse.

        All that to say, some people have very strong feelings about death and grieving. They may be reacting the way they’d want people to react to a loss of theirs and not thinking about how that feels to you. Or they felt super uncomfortable about it and it came out as silence. Insensitive? Yep, but worth a “Hey, I didn’t hear from you and could have used your support.”

    5. C Average*

      I’m so sorry. This sounds awful.

      If this were me, I’d back out of the wedding. Your friend has time to recruit a replacement, if numbers are important. Just tell her that due to the many changes in your circumstances, it’s a commitment you simply won’t be able to keep and that you’re happy for her and will gladly attend as a guest if she’d like you to be there.

    6. saro*

      WTF. That’s all terrible and I’m SO SORRY. Kvetch away. I’m mad on your behalf too.

      A related story: My friend recently lost her dad and she’s had a similar experience as you. She just wants to vent and talk about herself (in person – and I don’t live close to her). Each time she gets together with her friends, they go on and on about themselves. To the point where she’s exhausted (I’m talking 5-6 hour vent sessions where she doesn’t get a word in at all). My friend is a loving, caring person and ugh, I’m mad that they don’t offer her the same compassion she shows us in our time of need. I want to call each of her friends and cuss them out.

    7. matcha123*

      I can’t add much more to what others have said aside from the suckiness of your friends.

      Maybe they don’t know how to respond and are staying silent or something, but some type of response is not much to ask. I wouldn’t fault you for taking leave of that “friend’s” wedding.
      I find that some people like to pretend like they’re never on facebook, but will pop on to “like” or comment on things that pertain to their bubble…

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Father, job,SO, friends. That a lot of losses in a short time. I am so very sorry.

      I lost my mother when I was 23 and my father at 34. One thing that worked for me was talking to older people. Not a slam against any age bracket, I promise. I had to look around for people who had similar experiences. Looking quickly, it was the older people that popped up. Stick with the people who do “get it”, regardless of age. And watch, because people will reach out to you, so be sure to take their offers or ask for a rain check. “Gee, I have an appointment on Wednesday, can we go Thursday?” These people will only ask once or twice so be sure to notice them.
      I lost my mother first and as you are saying here it turned my world upside down. Most of my friends fell by the wayside, probably a number of reasons for that and no one single reason. We were all in our early 20s. It landed okay. It took a while for it all to play out but it landed in an okay place.
      As far as the wedding, I am amazed that you would even go as a guest. I think if that is what you want to do then that is what you should do. If later you decided not to go at all that would totally make sense to me, too.

    9. krisl*

      That sounds so awful. I’m sorry.

      Your friends might be having a hard time knowing what to do as far as sending sympathy. If you reach out to a few of them, how do they act?

      For the bride-to-be, hopefully she’s in some temporary bridezilla phase, but it might be easier for both of you if you just came as a guest.

    10. Trixie*

      You’re a very loving daughter to move home and be near family right now. Other things will pick-up again and work will always be there, but this time with your family is so needed to help everyone begin to heal while slowly moving forward.

      I think your experience is a good reminder to the rest of us the important of showing kindness to others. We have no idea what people are going through in their own lives, and when we do, too often don’t’ take the time to just be there for someone. Whether dropping off a card or dish, visiting them in the hospital or home when you know they don’t’ have family in town, or chatting with seniors who may not have family.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss.

    11. Mister Pickle*

      Wow. I recall reading somewhere that the three biggest stressors an average person needs to deal with are loss of a loved one, losing a job, and moving. It sounds like you’re getting hit with *4* of those at once.

      You have a right to be “cranky”.

      Despite all of the bad stuff, it sounds like you’ve got a place to stay, good family, and some money to get by on.

      If you don’t mind advice from a random internet stranger, I’d suggest that you go easy on yourself for a month or two or three. Maybe target 2015 as the time when you once again take on the world – but until then be nice to yourself, spend time with your family and re-affirm old bonds, stuff like that. Oh – based on my personal experience – stay away from alcohol.

      Re your uncommunicative friends: part of me wants to say “better you find out now than later”. Another part of me wonders if your friends are young, inexperienced, geographically remote, and going through a “self-involved” phase in their life. I’m not trying to excuse their behavior, but: you might want to pick one or two of your friends and *call* them, and talk to them, and see if they are better friends when they’re confronted with your voice live on the telephone. And don’t be shy about calling late in the evening: in circumstances like these, that is your right and privilege.

      As for your friend who’s getting married? Fuck her. Or perhaps better, just tell her “my father died and I’m not even going to *think* about your wedding until next year.”

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah, I was thinking that youth and not knowing what to say might account for your absent friends. On the other hand, is it really that hard so send an email offering sympathies? Have they not lost a grandparent to other relative to know that you send flowers or stop by with a casserole?

        That said, I’m so sorry for your loss, and I don’t think you’ll regret putting family first. My greatest regret was putting myself before family (learned that at the ripe old age of 17) and I’ll never make that mistake again. Hang in there, and you’ll find yourself and land on your feet.

    12. Observer*

      That’s a lot on your plate. As others have said, you have a right to be cranky.

      Tell our bride friend that you will let her know at the end of December what you plan to do about the wedding – it’s enough time for you to order the dress if you decide you want to do this, and enough time for her to find someone else if you don’t (and if she has a hard time with the dress, oh well.) Explain – briefly (for your own sake) that right now you need to deal with the sudden loss of your father along with unemployment and the abrupt ending of your (serious, you thought) relationship. Her response should be very informative.

      As for the rest of your friends, you could, if you wanted, broadcast a message (not a group message but the same message sent to a bunch of people saying something like “I’m having a rough time. A bit of support and sympathy from someone I thought was a good friend would be nice.” Again, responses should tell you a lot.

    13. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m so sorry about your dad. It’s often hard to know what to say (even more so to an internet stranger), but I’m learning that saying something is really, really important. People do care about you, although they aren’t always the ones you expect. And your dad raised a responsible adult, who is willing to sacrifice to help family — that’s an honor to him.

    14. CRB*

      Thank you so much for your kind replies. I was starting to feel like I was completely overreacting and I don’t know, with everything else going on it just feel nice to know that I’m not being out of line by feeling this way. I probably should consider talking to the bride about what are and are not realistic expectations of me right now, and see what that conversation takes us. I have a good amount of savings stowed away, but depending on what she is looking for from us I’m not really willing to drain those for her life event if she;s going to insist on things being done so much earlier than necessary.

  18. DeadQuoteOlympics*

    Best: My son went to his first “ask a date” dance. They looked adorable. Next time, however, I’m handing out a “dance preparation” timeline and checklist that includes things like “if it is now de rigueur to have your shirt and tie match your date’s dress, do not tell your mother the day before the dance” and “When to make a dinner reservation for the night of homecoming.”

    Worst: logistics wrangling with a bunch of non-driving teenagers at the last minute. YOU ARE ALL GETTING THE CHECKLIST.

  19. Treena Kravm*

    Anyone applying to grad school? I’m getting ready to start the process and I’m dreading it. The essays are killing me. How much can I talk about myself before I’m bored to death?! And I’m only applying to two schools and two fellowships, so I imagine it’s much worse for others who are doing more apps.

    Any advice on essays, recommendations, anything else that comes to mind?

    1. Stephanie*

      YES! It is a bit overwhelming. Rec letters are challenging me right now (like who to ask and how to ask in the least awkward way possible). Main idea I’ve picked up is that your application package needs to demonstrate what a competent professional you’ll be and that being well-rounded isn’t necessarily a plus (I’m assuming you’re applying to academic grad school versus a professional program like an MBA). For example, you’d only want to list relevant extracurriculars.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I am applying to a professional program (MPH) but either way, I’m not well-rounded hah. I’ve had a pretty solid path for the past 4 years.

  20. Ali*

    Can someone make a suggestion for a good mattress to ease back pain? My pain has now gotten to the point where I’m maybe asleep 2-3 hours before I wake up with muscle spasms and then have to stretch and take Motrin before going back to bed. And then I wake up stiff and am usually sore throughout the morning. My current mattress is extra firm and the one in the guest room is “cushion firm.” I am in pain on both kinds, and I have tried memory foam toppers because everyone raves about them, but they haven’t helped either. Neither have the typical techniques of pillows between my knees or under my legs.

    This didn’t start until a couple months ago, and I’m tired of being woken in the middle of the night and dragging during the day, especially since I work atypical hours. I’ve gotten suggestions for pillow top and latex mattresses, and I’m starting there, but was wondering if anyone else has dealt with the same problem and had suggestions.

    1. GH in SoCAl*

      A Latex Mattress worked wonders for me. I got mine at Ikea. But everyone’s back pain is different, so you might also want to see a Chiropractor or a Physiotherapist to untweak whatever’s getting tweaked at night. Physio plus acupuncture are what did it for me when I had a pinched nerve in my neck.

    2. FMLW*

      Hi Ali,

      After an injury, I started having severe hip pain at night and my mattress was really adding to the problem. The solution was to get an air mattress like a sleep number bed. I experimented with various settings until I found the right one.

      It’s pricy, but the mattress can be adjusted depending on your condition. I started with a fairly soft setting and that fixed the hip problem. A few years later a new back problem was better served by a firmer mattress, so I just adjusted the setting and that problem is now solved. Good Luck!

    3. JAL*

      I have back problems, and I actually discussed this with my spine specialist. He told me a medium-firm mattress is a good route to go, and if you can tolerate it, a memory foam mattress is optimal (I can’t deal with it – it feels so uncomfortable to me and makes it worse). Mine’s being delivered next week, so we will see how that goes.

      Someone also suggested a heated mattress pad to me. I just got one today, but it’s too hot to sleep with it still. Hopefully it’ll cool down enough when I get the new mattress so I can try it out.

    4. fposte*

      If it didn’t start until a couple of months ago, it sounds like the problem might not be the bed. It might be worth having a trainer or physical therapist have a look to see what you’re doing with your body that might be taking a nighttime toll.

      1. Ali*

        I appreciate it. I might be going to a chiropractor soon (my mom is going to one and will refer him to me if she likes him), but the problem doesn’t always last all day. I was fine on Friday but again got woken up in pain on Saturday. I have two jobs right now and spend a lot of time on the computer, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find out if that’s related.

        1. Observer*

          That’s a third thing. Get a good chair. The really good ones aren’t cheap, but they are far less than they were when I got mine- but it’s been worth every penny.

          1. fposte*

            And also, don’t just sit in it, however good it is. Move around–stand up, go to the bathroom, sit in different positions.

    5. Observer*

      Two things:

      Firm is not your friend. You want a mattress that allows your spine to curve properly if you are sleeping on your back, and keeps you spine level if you are sleeping on your side. That doesn’t happen with firm mattresses. So that’s your starting point. (Consumer reports actually has a piece in this month on choosing a mattress – it might be worth looking at it.)

      Get yourself to an orthopedist and a physical therapist. The orthopedist should be able to check what’s going on, just in case something out of the ordinary is going on. For most people, though, a good physical therapist is the difference between getting by and really getting past the pain.

      1. Nashira*

        And unlike a chiropractor, a physical therapist can teach you to fix yourself. That way you avoid the steady pocketbook drain.

    6. Gwen Soul*

      Lost Cities is a 2 player game I really enjoy. Elder Sign can actaully be played by yourself or with others.

  21. Elkay*

    I’m feeling grumpy that there are too many board games (not tabletop games) which require four people. I don’t have any friends so four people is out of the question. It’s crappy because I love board games.

    1. ClaireS*

      I also love board games! Here are some to check out that you can play with 2 people: Monopoly Deal (it’s a card game version of monopoly that is faster and way better than the original, IMO), scrabble, carcasonne (this one is better with more people but I have played very successfully with 2).

      1. Elkay*

        I have Carcasonne, I enjoy it but my husband always wins due to my inability to spot when he’s stealing my farms…

        We play a lot of Trivial Pursuit too. I was hanging around in the games section of department store yesterday scouting for Christmas present ideas which is what sparked this annoyance.

        1. ClaireS*

          Ha! I also am usually the loser at carcasonne. I am very much into “instant gratification” while my partner always has a long game. And yet, it shocks me when he wins, all the time!!!

    2. BB*

      Have you joined Meetup? When I looked through the meetups in my area, I saw a few that were for board gamers (it’s usually for a certain board game). If you don’t find one that you like, you could always start your own meetup.

      1. Elkay*

        I’ve tried meet up but it seems that only table top games are fashionable where I am plus I’m a big scaredy cat about joining anything because it reminds me of my isolation.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          How about playing online? Try – they have a pretty good range of games, and you can play with real people. Just watch out for people who’ve figured out how to get the computer to give them crazy favourable trades in Monopoly.

          1. Elkay*

            I’d like to play with real people, I spend too much time online as it is. I’m a bit of a viscious circle to myself unfortunately. I wouldn’t be so annoyed if all the games designers would come up with games for two people!

            1. GH in SoCAl*

              I like tapletop games too! I enjoy Settlers of Catan with just 2 people. 3 is ideal, and I think 4 is too many. Dominion is another game that works well with 2 players.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      Are there any board game meet up groups in your area? I went to a couple near me (because I love board games and my Vancouver friends do not), and it was kinda fun, although apparently board games aren’t as much fun when you have to be polite to complete strangers instead of mocking your friends and family.

      BUT THEN someone started a monthly after-work board game club that meets in our lunch room from 5-8pm, and it is SO MUCH FUN! On Friday we played a card-based game called Saboteur that I’d never heard of, and it was great. I met some new people from other departments, and apparently now have a reputation as a ruthless vicious competitor :D

    4. Anonyby*

      Maybe try going to a dedicated gaming store and asking the workers there? They tend to get a lot more variety of play styles than big box stores and the workers will have played at least some of them.

      For instance, a couple of friends and I tried our store’s copy of a game called “Small World Underground”, where it was designed for a variable number of players.

      1. Elkay*

        The dedicated game store only sells the games I’m trying to avoid. I’m talking about the games you can pick up in a department store e.g. pictionary, Clue

    5. GeekChick603*

      Not sure where you live, but check out events at local book stores and libraries. I know in my area there is a board game night once a week in one of the larger bookstores. Where my mom lives, they have a weekly Majong game group that plays on Saturdays at the library. If there isn’t one in your town, there may be one a town or two away.

    6. Aardvark*

      My husband and I did a quick check of our game shelf and these are some of the two-person games on it:
      — Battle-Con (I’ve never played)
      — Dominion
      — Forbidden Island
      — Pandemic
      — Shadow Rift
      — Small World
      — Castle Panic
      — Race for the Galaxy (which has a single-player expansion, if you’re like me and sometimes just want complete isolation, too.)

      A lot of these are cooperative, so your husband won’t always win. Or if he does, so do you! We play a lot of co-op games in my household because of my husband’s uncanny ability to win at games.

      You might also try searching BoardGameGeek for 2-player games? They also have regional forums, which might be more targeted than a Meetup group?

    7. JAL*

      I play Cards Against Humanity with a bunch of random people on the Internet. It’s good to anonymously get into some inappropriate shenanigans once and a while without the fear of getting judged.

    8. JamieG*

      My husband and I recently picked up one called Red Dragon Inn. It’s for 2-4 players (more with expansions), but it plays really well with just 2.

    9. Gene*


      It’s a board/strategy game more along the line of chess than Chutes and Ladders, but is designed for two players.

    10. Clever Name*

      So chess or othello are out of the question? I’m not sure what your distinction is. I’m a fairly crappy chess player (my 7yo beats me every time) but I adore othello. Hmmm, I think I’ll teach my 7 yo to play it. Mancala is awesome, but probably a tabletop game too.

    11. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Forgive the extremely late reply to this, but have you considered Magic: the Gathering? It’s super fun with two people, the games are fairly short so it’s easy to fit them in, and game play is a nice balance of strategy and chance, much like a lot of traditional board games.

    12. Gwen Soul*

      Lost Cities is a 2 player game I really enjoy. Elder Sign can actaully be played by yourself or with others.

  22. Victoria, Please*

    Oh heavens, I just got the first “holiday shopping” promotional email from my local giftie shop. Really, it’s that time again? What are you all thinking of getting people for Christmas, Hannukah, Saturnalia, solstice, or just the fun of it? I’m so out of good ideas.

    1. Perpetua*

      I’m not sure what I’ll be getting people, but last year I decided that I want to have all of my Christmas shopping done by Dec 20th. Now I’m thinking that Dec 1st might be an even better goal. ;) My boyfriend’s birthday is mid-December, so I have to come up with a double idea for him…

      I like personalized gifts (shirts, mugs + coffee or tea paraphernalia, pillows, things like that), so that’s always an option. I’ve gotten good ideas simply by browsing www notonthehighstreet com.

      Also, popular psychology books have been hits with my people (I can recommend 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman, “A psychologist and best-selling author gives us a myth-busting response to the self-help movement, with tips and tricks to improve your life that come straight from the scientific community.”).

    2. Mister Pickle*

      My secret vice is bargain-hunting on Amazon. Two things I’ve noticed recently: CREE LED flashlights seem to have dropped in price (probably due to Chinese production). And there are some good deals on binoculars out there. Also: I’ve found that nice flashlights and nice binoculars are great gifts for just about anyone; they’re things that everyone needs now and again, but they aren’t likely to buy for themselves, and whatever they’ve already got is likely old and perhaps non-functional.

      Also, if you have a budding electronic musician on your list, the Korg Volca line is really inexpensive (~$150 per unit) and has been getting rave reviews.

      Finally: if you’ve got a “tool person” to buy for, take a look at this:

      I have a set of them and they’re awesome and extremely high quality. No-one will believe they cost $17.00.

      The Usual Disclaimers, etc.

  23. C Average*

    Does anyone else still dress up for Halloween?

    I *love* Halloween. Always have. One of my favorite things about having stepkids is that I get to help make their costumes and take them trick-or-treating.

    This year, I am making myself a sock-monkey costume out of old sweaters, socks, and other odds and ends. It’s gonna be awesome. My older stepdaughter is dressing as some X-Men character. (I don’t know X-Men at all, but the character wears cool clothes and has pink streaks in her hair, so it’ll be a fun look to create.) The younger one changes her mind daily; I’ve told her as of October 1, she needs to make a final decision.

    Are you dressing up? Are your kids dressing up? What is everyone going to be?

    1. matcha123*

      I love Halloween and I love dressing up. But I live in a country where knowledge of Halloween is limited to jack o’lanterns, witches and kids dressing up.

      I’d love to wear a costume to work, but I’d probably be fired.

      With that said, I do have two kigurumi costumes that I will wear at night…if someone else dresses up with me.
      I love trick-or-treating, too. I went up until my first year of university, after that no one was willing to go out with me :(

    2. ClaireS*

      I love Halloween but have no ideas this year! Last year I was “on safari” complete with pith helmet and stuffed monkey strapped to my arm, two years ago I was Rosie the Riveter (got to teach some history lessons that day). I’ve also successfully turned my moms 70s prom dress into a saloon girl outfit, created a hermione outfit and been a bird from that game where you shoot birds at pigs (my brain is dead on the name).

      My partner likes to purchase random costume pieces that “you’ll never know when we could use.” He’s the one that found the pith helmet and I also have an LA police helmet with riot shield to work with.

      Suggestions are welcome!!

    3. Stephanie*

      I am so not creative. I keep recycling my 50s housewife costume, which is just basically an amalgamation of things I already own: pattern apron, oven mitt, A-line dress/skirt, heels, pearls. Depending on how sardonic I’m feeling, I’ll turn it into a drunken housewife costume and carry a wine bottle or martini glass around.

      Another last-minute, I-need-SOMETHING costume was a hipster. Again, amalgamation of things I already owned: Converse, I made Bermuda shorts out a pair of old jeans, borrowed a friend’s flannel and trucker cap, and my regular Rx glasses were horn-rimmed frames.

      1. Henrietta Gondorf*

        I have a similar costume but I carry a pill bottle and a martini glass and call myself the feminine mystique.

        1. Stephanie*

          HA. Next time I roll that costume out (because I’m sure there’ll be a next time), I’ll call it that.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Yes, and I need some inspiration for this year – I was just going to wear my ThinkGeek Princess Leia hoodie because we were just supposed to be going to a friend’s house, but now apparently we’re going to a big fancy party in a hotel and I need to step up my game. I usually go for semi-home made, with some pre-bought components.

      My previous efforts include a fly, the missing link (my favourite), crazy cat lady, and an incompetent ninja turtle

      My friend came to one of our parties as a vegetarian Lady Gaga, which was brilliant: (I was the Pied Piper in that photo – not one of my best efforts)

    5. evilintraining*

      I love Halloween, too!! Unfortunately, we no longer get trick-or-treaters where we live, and we can’t dress up at work. But we’ll probably put out bowls of candy in the cafeteria, and we can at least decorate our offices. :)

    6. Colette*

      If I get my act together, I will be Ursula the sea witch from the Little Mermaid.

      Last year I was Miss Piggy. I wore it to the gym and my instructor almost fell over.

    7. JAL*

      I am going as the grammar police this year. It’s a nice, cheap easy costume that is so fitting to my personality. I think I have cop stuff in my mom’s attic from when I was a kid, and all I need to do is buy the Grammar Police t-shirt from Zazzle.

    8. Liane*

      Probably something Star Wars, since I have those. But possibly a “beta” version of one of the new characters, if I have the spare cash & time to do a quick version out of broadcloth.
      Assuming we can dress up at work again this year, which we may not be able to.
      Or I may ask Husband to help me pull together Stargate, I know he has the parts.

    9. LiteralGirl*

      I have two daughters who love Halloween. My 11 year old is currently planning on dressing up as Curt Cobain. She was going to be Elsa from Frozen, but my older girl talked her into Curt. She’s got the right hair, a flannel shirt, ripped jeans, a guitar. The elder isn’t sure yet; two years ago she made herself a dalek costume out of a laundry basket and other things we had laying around the house and last year she was Sandy from Grease (the one we affectionately call Slut Sandy).

      My husband and I don’t dress up usually. We once went to a Halloween party at my brother’s and hubby didn’t want to dress up, so I went as his mini-me (I’m a foot shorter than he). We won the prize for most disturbing.;-)

    10. Felicia*

      I love dressing up! I’m going to be a TARDIS, though I just bought a TARDIS dress from Hot Topic and the TARDIS lamp headband, and that’ll be it. I go to the local theatre to see the Rocky Horror Picture show every year, and everyone dresses up there

  24. matcha123*

    I feel somewhat foolish, but I find myself feeling more and more annoyed by people from these middle class families where everyone seems available to help each other out.

    The thread about the teen working part-time really hit me. I started working young because there wasn’t enough money for me to buy the toys I wanted and allowance was just not something my family did. The comments about just quitting a job if it’s not for you brought back memories of my high school classmates who casually got part-time jobs over the summer to pad their university applications…and then quit in the fall to “Focus on my studies.” While they were off spending their money on fun things, I had to be serious and committed to my job and school work and think about what money was needed to pay bills.

    I want to scream whenever someone suggests, “Just move back home,” “Just ask your family for XYZ,” “Don’t think about money because happiness is more important, just travel,” etc. It’s just such a financially secure/stable response that assumes so much. I feel like my feelings are overblown and I shouldn’t care, but I can’t help but care.

    1. C Average*

      matcha123, I can relate to this so much.

      I was just telling a friend yesterday how weird it was to marry into a family where everyone appears to have a linear career path. My husband, like his siblings and his parents, went to a great school on his parents’ dime, got a good job (his first real job–he’d only ever had grad-assistant type jobs previously) in his field straight out of grad school, and climbed steadily up the corporate ladder to the privileged position he occupies now.

      I’ve had a job pretty much steadily since age 16, went to the crappy state school on scholarship and worked to pay my own rent with a little help from my folks, and then took whatever paid employment I could find wherever I could find it. I’ve made lattes, cleaned meat departments, piled brush, answered phones, swept floors, etc. I’ve debated which bills to pay which month. It took so long to get a real job with predictable hours, a 401k, a desk, and some stability and respectability. When I married into the upper class, I’d just barely clawed my way into the middle class, and it’s jarring the things my spouse, his family, and his friends take utterly for granted.

      It’s a whole ‘nother worldview, that’s for sure.

      1. matcha123*

        That’s true. I also have a difficult time explaining the hows and whys of my relationship with money and work. It’s just so complicated, and I always get the feeling they really can’t and don’t want to understand where I’m coming from -_-

        “But now you’re…” *sigh*

    2. Stephanie*

      I am one of those people, but I can empathize. I knew I was lucky to be able to not have to work my way through HS and college (like my cousins did).

      The other day, an acquaintance announced on Facebook that she was leaving her job to figure out her next steps and volunteer. This elicited a giant eye roll (as in, do you really need to quit a job to do that?). But who knows, maybe she has a specific plan for this, has enough money, and is planning to head to grad school next fall anyway (so the gap year wouldn’t matter).

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, it just came across as really self-righteous and like she wanted to be patted on the back for being so selfless. Just ick.

    3. Shell*

      Yeah, that comment about money always pissed me off. Sure, money can’t buy you everything, but money can buy you freedom so that you can pursue other important things. And I say this as one of the people whose family paid for my entire undergrad (though I did not get a good job immediately upon graduation).

      1. Windchime*

        Exactly. People say “money can’t buy happiness”, but I know that I’m sure a lot happier now that I can afford to pay the electric bill.

    4. Arjay*

      I can relate as well. I’m very risk-averse financially because I don’t have a family safety net that’s going to be able to rescue me if I lose my job, have a medical crisis, etc. I have a friend who owned and lost a business, owned and lost a home, and was bailed out of both situations by her family. She’s living in her parents’ million dollar home and wants to know why I haven’t bought a house yet. Well, if I get foreclosed on, I’m going to absolutely be homeless, unless *her* parents let me move in too.

    5. JCC*

      Many of those families’ children are downwardly mobile; “Don’t think about money because happiness is more important, just travel”, and similar phrases bring up a lot of bitterness among them — many middle-class parents don’t have the network to buoy their kids into a career track in today’s climate, and without that networking edge, “do what you love” is more often than not career poison. A lot of the high demand skill-sets honestly have little value to an individual — I’ve yet to meet anyone who learned stuff like logistics or Six Sigma for personal enrichment, because those skills don’t scale downwards to an individual level.

      To be fair, a lot of times this advice is simply the advice their own parents and older siblings gave them — the corporate lifer of the 50s and 60s was often desperately unhappy; that’s why works that explored that unhappiness like The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit were so popular.

    6. tea*

      Those comments aren’t meant for nor they do apply to every person. There is never such an advice that does. Instead of letting those comments that don’t apply to you, bother you, you should look at the positives. Having to work at such an early age has made you more responsible than your friends who were able to rely on their families. You ended up with more work experience before you turned 21 which is always a positive. Imagine those kids who graduate from college with little or no work experience. It’s hard for them to get a job because they didn’t need to go to work while they were in high school.

    7. Waiting Patiently*

      It irks me too, while I’m ok–pay 2 paychecks away from being broke. I do give an eye roll to certain people who act as if they have worked hard to get somewhere — especially when it’s more of privileged access. For instance, it took my oldest two twice as long to find jobs. As a parent, i could see clearly in my town how you get a job even in the local grocery store. I almost wanted to say something to a particular place when my son tried to get a job there. He received contradicting information. He filled out an app on line, when he called to check the status–they said it was better to come into the store. When he went to the store, they said they weren’t hiring. Even though week after week new kids were hired. Needless to say, I stopped shopping there.
      Then I have some fb friends brag about how their child works, play sports, and go to school/college. And when you look at where they are working family owned or through whom they know, it really ruffle my feathers. Yeah it sucks. Luckily my kids were able to get jobs for the summer. I talk to my kids all the time about hard work paying off but it really gets me,when you know there are some places that allow nepotism to prevail–because their family member needs to work extra hours to send their kids to college. I’m sorry just a mini vent.

    8. Mister Pickle*

      Not everyone is like that – did you ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book _Nickled and Dimed_?

      Regarding the recent thread: I don’t mean this in a negative way, but I think that AAM kinda “self-selects” a readership that is middle-class or higher that has certain expectations about work, life, and career that may seem “privileged” to some. Although I personally see it as “parents who have worked hard all their lives and who want their children to succeed”.

      1. Ezri*

        I’m late to the game, but I wanted to second the ‘Nicked and Dimed’ mention. There are some negative reviews out there for it because the author comes off as very privileged, but that’s kind of the point (she makes really off-base assumptions about how people on minimum wage exist, such as access to healthcare and fair hours / workload, that she realizes aren’t guaranteed). Her perspective was very interesting to me, even if I didn’t agree with everything she said and did.

    9. Artemesia*

      One of my hot buttons is ‘why don’t they just . . .’ followed by usually ignorant advise. The phrase ‘just’ always implies that it is so easy — so easy to get out of an abusive relationship, or move to a new home big enough for the family, or (other hard thing) It is sort of a badge of failure to empathize.

      My other obscure hot button is the phrase ‘fix him a plate’ as in women are expected to ‘fix their husbands a plate’ at buffets etc. It sort of encapsulates all of the patriarchal crap I have observed in my long life. (for the record I have only fixed my husband a plate and vice versa when serving dinner from the kitchen as we do now that we are two again or when he was otherwise occupied e.g. feeding one of the babies or something)

      1. matcha123*

        If things were so easy, anyone would be able to do them.
        But the same people with simple answers to everything want more thoughtful answers to their problems…

    10. JAL*

      I’m middle class, but my parents made me work even though I didn’t necessarily have to. People annoy me to death who don’t have a sense of work ethic – such as one of my friends. She complains to me how I work too much (I just started a full time job) and it bothers me. I feel like telling her to get her butt off the couch and go get a job or go to school. She thinks her boyfriend is going to pay her way through life.

    11. Clever Name*

      Thank you for saying this. I admit it- I’m definitely more from the “haves” end of the spectrum, and reading this confirms that I’m correct in being circumspect about certain aspects of my life that reflect my privilege (weekend plans come to mind) when talking to coworkers or acquaintances.

      1. matcha123*

        I can’t speak for every person, but I don’t mind hearing that someone is going away for the weekend or buying something nice. I have some friends who had immigrant parents that worked hard to provide for them, and now that my friends have great jobs, they take their parents on trips, buy cars, etc. I wish I could do the same, but I don’t begrudge their lifestyles. I also know that if I was in a tight spot, they would at least let me sleep on their sofa.

        An example of a well-off friend who was totally oblivious was the friend who was going to let me stand outside in -10 degree weather after her dad came to pick her up because, “She said she’s going to take the bus home.” As long as you’re not making light of a situation with flippant phrases, I don’t think you have anything to worry about :)

    12. Anonsie*

      I know the feeling. I hate to admit it, but I’ve built up a lot of resentment for the people I know who come from comfortable & supportive backgrounds and cannot wrap their heads around the fact that I did not. I’ve been phasing out a lot of friends over it.

      1. matcha123*

        I am doing the same. Luckily, I haven’t met much of those types since graduating university, but when I do it’s just a major headache…

    1. fposte*

      What standard knowledge do you feel you’re lacking? Or is the problem that you can’t even specify, you just feel like you’re running to catch up?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not sure where you are targeting but I like to read advice columns for general inputs. As specific topics occur to me I google. I like anything that offers explanations, diagrams, or step-by-step guides.
      I brought home a part-malamute pup. Did not think twice about my choice. Months later, I was sitting here googling and googling. I thought I knew about dogs. This pup showed me I did not. Why did everyone else know about malamutes and not me??? What’s up with that?
      Sometimes people will be talking about something on here and I have to stop and google to find out more.

      One thing I do see is that standard knowledge is not so standard. Some people know about laundry, some people know about food or cars or clothing. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be. we live in a time where everything is moving fast, what is standard today is over/done/gone tomorrow.
      Watch out for those who use the dismissive statement “well, that is just common knowledge”. Usually that person is the one most lacking in common knowledge.

      1. FX-ensis*

        No, just basic life knowledge, which all others have be design….i kind of get the impression it pisses people off that I seek it, but then I don’t get it, people should mind their business..

        1. fposte*

          I doubt that everybody else by design has some knowledge you don’t, though; you’re probably asking a question that somebody else is thinking but not asking.

          1. FX-ensis*

            I disagree…I don’t simply get the issue, if all others have it, then so can I….the crux is this offends people, I don’t need to care if it does..

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Common knowledge is a huge category and can mean many things to different people. Do you want the meaning of life, no one knows but everyone can speculate on the topic. Do you want to know about relationships- there is another can of worms, because people are constantly learning new things about what goes into a relationship. Do you want to know about the work world, well keep reading AAM. You’ll learn lots. If you want to learn about finances and financial planning there is plenty of material out there to be had.

              You can have any knowledge you wish. But no one is going to hand it to you on a platter. It takes time, patience and a commitment to learning. It’s not instant that is for sure. You sound frustrated and that is understandable. But until you describe what types of common knowledge you are seeking, people are going to have a tough time answering that question. Slow down. Think. What do you want to learn more about?

              1. fposte*

                Though looking at comments below, I see FX-ensis is in the UK and is posting at close to midnight there–she therefore may just be tired and need to get to bed.

            2. fposte*

              Not sure where you’re going there, but it sounds like you’re getting frustrated with people who are trying to help you now. If so, I’m sorry–our intent hasn’t been to frustrate you.

    3. C Average*

      Check out a book called “Adulting.” It’s a great little intro to all the basic getting-by stuff that you don’t know you don’t know, if you know what I mean!

      1. FX-ensis*

        I don’t believe I should read a book, but just have it as it was given to all others….we’ll have to agree to disagree…

        1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          How do you expect to “just have it”, though? If it wasn’t something that was taught to you as a child, then you’re going to have to put some effort into learning it, yes?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No one “just has it.” They pick it up from places — some people from their parents and other role models, and other people learn it as adults when they realize that they need to. No one is just born knowing things. If you’re finding there’s knowledge that you don’t have and would like to have, then you need to set out deliberately to obtain it. If you will go into more detail about specifically what types of knowledge you’re talking about, people here may be able to point you in the right direction to acquire it.

              If you don’t want to do that and instead just want to magically have it … well, that’s not how it works for anyone. Or, if you instead want to share frustration that certain things weren’t imparted to you earlier on, I think you’ll find many people are sympathetic to that — but you will need to be clearer about exactly what types of things you’re talking about. So far it’s been very vague, and you’re coming across as adversarial when people try to engage with you about it.

              1. FX-ensis*

                With respect (as this is your website after all), I disagree….. I genuinely believe all others “got it” long ago. If this seems irrational, so be it. It’s just how I think/perceive.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          OP, sorry, but the rest of us had to read, too. And we still do, we have to keep reading.
          And we had to talk things over with other people and ask questions. If we did not do these things we would have been stuck.

        3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Didn’t you originally ask what you need to do to get this knowledge? Reading the book seems like a reasonable response to that question. (I’ve found it super helpful!)

          1. FX-ensis*

            It’s clear others had some kind of tuition to obtain it…if there is a reason why I cannot have it also, then so be it…if not, I will pursue.

        4. C Average*

          Sure, we can agree to disagree.

          I realized at some point that there were certain things that seemed to be self-evident to other people but weren’t self-evident to me. Maybe it’s because I’m dense, maybe it’s because I learn differently from other people, maybe it’s because I grew up out in the sticks with lots of books and no TV and not very many friends and hippies for parents.

          I dunno. Anyway, I wanted to fill the gaps, and this book helped me, so I recommend it to others. This blog (AAM) helps me in a lot of the same ways, so I recommend it to others, too.

          Good luck with your quest.

          1. FX-ensis*

            erm…..never mind……

            I’m over it now….just I want the basic life knowledge all others got…if this threatens others, I don’t really care…(despite what anybody else says, it’s not good to ever feel threatened…)

            1. C Average*

              Apologies if this sounds harsh, but your thinking about all of this seems a little messed up. A comment section might not be the place to work on that. If you haven’t already, you might consider working with a therapist. Talking to a non-judgmental third party who’s trained to help people think more clearly is invaluable; I do it, and I know plenty of others here do as well.

              Yes, it’s absolutely not good to feel threatened by a perceived difference in basic knowledge and awareness between yourself and other people. And if you feel you should’ve gotten this knowledge earlier in life by people entrusted with teaching you–parents, teachers, other role models–but didn’t, it makes sense to feel bitter and angry about the fact that you didn’t.

              But while those feelings are totally legit, it’s up to you what to DO with them. Do you want to stay mad and continue lacking in the knowledge you’d like to have? Or do you want that knowledge?

              If you want that knowledge, you’re going to have to go out and get it. You’re not going to get a do-over with your parents and your teachers and your other formative influences. If you perceive gaps in your basic life education and want to fix them, you’re going to have to go where basic life education is available. That might be classes, might be books, might be the right trusted mentor, might be a community of nonthreatening strangers on the internet.

              But you’re going to have to think about which knowledge you’d like to have and make a plan to get it, unless you want to stay ignorant, angry, and threatened. That seems like no way to live. That seems, honestly, like a way to compound the damage that’s already been done by the people who failed to teach you what you needed to know to succeed.

              Most of us here didn’t get spoon-fed what we know. We’ve all had to figure out a lot for ourselves, using all different kinds of resources. We learn and get better. That’s not threatening. It’s wonderful–it means our upbringing doesn’t have to define and limit us.

              1. FX-ensis*

                No….I’m saying people are threatened by me having what others have by design..I don’t care if they are, nor is there a reason why….

                meh, i won’t post about this again…

            2. nep*

              It’s not about something ‘threatening’ others. The phrase ‘basic life knowledge’ is just far too vague. I was trying to get at just what it meant.

              1. FX-ensis*

                erm…to me, this is the crux…i don’t if it does threaten others….is there a reason I must care? this is my last posting on this topic at hand…i mean it now..

                1. fposte*

                  I’m with C Average–I think there’s more going on here than we can do much to help with.

                  You started by asking about ways to acquire knowledge, but then you seemed really to focus on your conviction that other people don’t want you to acquire this knowledge, and you were unhappy when people here tried to give you ways to learn what you wanted. It made me think that you seemed angry about feeling excluded from this information but also that it was a part of your identity (it is absolutely guaranteed that you are not the only person on the planet without this information, but you really pushed that idea away). Anger like that can feel very reassuring and powerful, but it can also block you from changing your life; if you’d really like things to be different, I encourage you to talk to somebody in person about this concern, because it sounds like it’s really not making you happy and that you’ve felt like that for a while.

  25. Cath in Canada*

    So I’ve been losing weight really, really, really gradually since New Year – my resolutions were three very minor changes that I knew would be easy to stick to – and it’s suddenly all paying off! A few weeks ago a couple of different people commented that I looked slimmer, last week I realized that two pairs of pants were now too big for me, and when I went shopping yesterday I confirmed that I have now officially dropped to a smaller size. So there is definitely evidence that very minor changes can add up to a noticeable difference if you give it enough time. Drastic measures have never worked long-term for me (although a short-term regime for my wedding did work), so I’m really happy to have found something that does.

    The three changes I made:
    – Low-carb lunches (I roast a bunch of veggies on Monday mornings, separate them into four portions, and eat them Mon-Thurs at work, with a small amount of cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds. On Fridays I treat myself to a healthy take-out lunch);
    – Always take the stairs at work (I’m on the 5th floor, but we have really high lab ceilings so it’s higher than some 5th floors. I take the stairs at least once a day, usually twice, and occasionally up to seven times depending on how many meetings I have on the ground floor);
    – No alcoholic beverages with dinner if we’re just at home on a weeknight. Drinks out with friends are still allowed, as is a glass of wine or a beer with dinner if we stay home on a weekend evening, but no Monday night beers just because.

    Nothing has felt difficult or like a deprivation at all, with the exception of the day I had to take the stairs seven times. The rest has been easy and I love my new lunches!

    Hang in there, if you’re in the same boat, it really does all pay off :)

    1. INTP*

      Thanks for posting these ideas! I’m frustrated because I lost a lot of weight pretty effortlessly years ago (I went from a super unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one and also dealt with some severe sleep issues), gained a little with my desk job, lost a little when I started grad school, and now I’ve gained nearly 10 lbs in 3.5 months with my new desk job and it doesn’t seem to be stopping even though I am taking more and more steps to reverse it. Though I’m sitting longer, my fitbit shows a similar total step count, and I’ve cut back on food (less desserts, I’ve eliminated my green smoothie which was a few hundred calories due to banana and juice). I think that your no M-Th alcohol is the next rule I will have to incorporate. Maybe I’ll start experimenting with iced herbal teas so I still feel like I’m getting a treat beverage.

      1. Stephanie*

        Hisbiscus and carob teas are both naturally sweet if you want a sweet beverage without the added sweeteners. Celestial Seasonings makes a good Bengal Spice tea that doesn’t need sweetener (imo).

        1. Rebecca*

          I’m a fan of Stash Tea Superfriuts Sampler. I get a 6 pack of boxes from Amazon, and I make refrigerator iced tea each day at work to enjoy mid afternoon. Great tastes, nearly zero calories, and no sugar.

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        If it seems related to more sitting at your new job, can you ask for (or just rig up) a standing desk? There is an ikea hack for one, there are some that hook on to a regular desk and slide up and down, and then there are super expensive stand-alone desks that also are adjustable. Maybe just standing for an hour or so extra per day might help. Since the workplace health panic du jour seems to be that sitting is going to kill us all….

        Or have you tried an app like myfitnesspal? Logging even for a month or so, as long as you are consistent and thorough, might show you where you’ve added calories without knowing it.

        1. INTP*

          Things like MFP are complicated because I have a restrictive eating disorder history, from about ages 9-19, so I am not supposed to do restrictive diets or count calories. For the past few years I’ve been hovering around the higher side of healthy without problems but it’s kind of like a recovering alcoholic trying to drink socially – my history has shown that I like to control the numbers a little too much, so I have to be careful. It’s better for me to rely on more general rules and extra exercise. I do think it would be good if I started logging my foods without measurements or calories, though, and I think I can do that on my fitbit account.

          No one else has a standing desk and I’m super new so I don’t feel comfortable asking for one, but I did download an app that gives you an exercise to do at intervals you select. I’m going to start using that as a reminder to walk up and down the halls or stand for a few minutes at my regular desk every half hour.

          1. Rowan*

            I also have a history with disordered thinking around food, and I’ve started telling myself that I’m not changing what I eat or making any rules, but I am going to start every meal or snack with a portion of fruit or vegetables. I’m just adding something new. Obviously, that means I fill up more quickly and eat less overall, but that’s what works for my brain.

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Drink a lot of water– fill up a 32-oz water bottle/cup and drink constantly. Besides being good for you, the water has the added “bonus” of making you get up and go to the bathroom more often than you can ever imagine.

          3. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            Oh, that makes sense about the food logging, and not wanting to ask about standing desks quite yet. But the “stand up every hour” is a good idea. Good luck.

    2. FX-ensis*

      I’m same :)

      I’ve spent the year on a diet, and I do NOT miss the following:

      – Burger King
      – KFC
      – Subway (the WORST of all global fast food chains IMHO!)
      – Wendy’s
      – local UK food like fish and chips, bacon and eggs, etc.

      I MAY have a gyro from time to time, and yes these aren’t healthy. However, I generally just buy fruit or bags of nuts when out…..I also do yoga from time to time, as well as jog, and I’ve seen the benefits…and the benefits are more than just physical…in the bedroom too, but not the time and place to say lol..

    3. Artemesia*

      That is so heartening since I am trying to pull off a few pounds without actually suffering. I am increasing exercise — working out in the gym downstairs for half an hour every day instead of a couple of times a week and doing a lot more walking. And am trying to reduce carbs and calories overall. Glad to hear that it is working for you in increments.

      I was one of those skinny people who never had to give it a thought until I was into my 50s and still can’t get used to the idea that I can’t eat everything I want to nibble on without paying for it. I used to be able to monitor the weight and then pull back on calories etc if I noticed I was inching up — but now it is just hard.

    4. JAL*

      Good tips, but I am still restricted from unnecessary physical activity because of a disc herniation in my back. Stairs are generally a no go unless I have no other options. I have to wait until November to see if I’m cleared but does anyone have any other suggestions in the mean time?

      1. fposte*

        If you’re really restricted on physical activity, it’s very hard to lose weight without throwing yourself into serious deprivation–I would just try to avoid gaining while you’re sidelined, which will mean cutting back right there.

        Do you have access to anything like water aerobics? Water exercises are much likelier to be okay for back backs, because the weight-bearing is so much less.

      2. nep*

        Water aerobics sounds like a good option — have you tried it?
        Can you do the recumbent bike?

        Indeed, losing weight is mostly about what we eat. Exercise is an important component, particularly in maintenance; but mostly it’s about what we eat. But I don’t agree it’s very hard to lose weight without ‘serious deprivation’. That kind of approach is not sustainable. And we want sustainable. Weight can easily creep back on when we simply can’t continue the restriction and deprivation. Helps to look at it as ‘crowding out’ as opposed to ‘cutting out’; crowd out bad stuff (calorie-dense foods) with good (nutrient-dense).

        And jeeeez — don’t be so afraid of carbs, folks. They fuel our brains and bodies. We need them.

        All this said, of course every body is different and you’ll see what works best for you. Wishing you all the best.

        1. fposte*

          I didn’t say it takes serious deprivation to lose weight. I said it takes serious deprivation to lose weight *if your physical activity is really restricted for something as significant as a back problem,* and I’m standing by that. I’m sidelined from a back problem right now and I’m probably only burning 1000-1200 calories most days. To restrict for weight loss in a situation like that–especially given that health is already compromised–is very difficult. I think you do it in conjunction with a docot’s guidance or, in a situation like JAL’s where she may be off limitations in a few weeks, you wait until you’re off the limitations to put the plan in motion.

    5. nep*

      Words of wisdom here. Cath in Canada has shown and seen for herself what many people don’t seem to want to acknowledge: Quick fixes are not the answer when it comes to losing weight and getting in shape. Slow and steady is best. And yes — seemingly small changes can go a long way in improving our health and helping us get to a healthy weight.

  26. BB*

    I need fashion advice. I just bought a pair of heels and there is just enough room in the back that my feet slip out of them. How do I prevent this from happening if I’m wearing stockings? I’ve done an internet search and a lot of the tips are only useful if not wearing any hosiery.


    1. INTP*

      I have narrow heels so this problem is the bane of my existence. I recommend getting those stick-on heel pads, the thicker the better. If that doesn’t work, then return the shoes, they will only bring you pain.

    2. JAL*

      Dr. Scholl’s has inserts for heels to prevent problems like these. That being said, I don’t know if they work well if you have hosiery on.

    3. Artemesia*

      There are sort of wings with adhesive you can put in the backs of shoes to snug them up. Putting in heel or full inserts like gels also makes them fit snugger.

    4. Lore*

      This can get expensive if they’re shoes you wear a lot, but for the fancy dress shoes I wore to weddings etc for years, my trick was a little dab of double-sided fabric tape right at the top of the shoe.

  27. Annie O. Mouse*

    I just started graduate school (an MFA in creative writing) this past summer. It’s a low-residency program, and much of it is done online. I’m having a very difficult time adjusting to being back in school again (I am 50 and got my BA when I was 36). I work full time and the program is considered full time.

    Any thoughts/advice on getting back into the groove? What I’m especially having issues with is a lot of anxiety when work is due. I end up panicky, or sometimes crying a lot. Almost dropped out a couple of weeks ago due to this.


    1. BRR*

      I was working full-time and taking classes online this year. The rules that helped me succeed were setting specific times to do my work, no I’ll do it when I feel like it, and trying to complete my work as soon as possible.

      Do you know why you’re getting anxious?

      1. Manda*

        Maybe you need to keep at it little and often and work out early on what you’re going to need to hand in; have whatever you need with you so you can read or make notes. I worked best in the nearby university library – the rest of the world stops and it has a nice cafe – it felt like ‘me’ time. Good luck!

        1. fposte*

          Yes, try setting up your own internal deadlines for steps of the assignment. Even with creative stuff, you can still subdivide progress, and that’s often part of the useful education you can get from an MFA.

      2. Anx*

        I know everyone says to work a little bit everyday, and I think that really is the best general advice.

        I myself am a marathoner. I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you ARE a marathoner and find it too difficult to get into a weekly routine, I would suggest devoting a 3 hour block to your MFA work once a week. In that block, you can only work on your writing (and a few chores during study breaks). If that is successful, try 4 hours.

        You may start off ‘wasting’ a lot of time in the beginning, since you can’t work on other things while you’re procrastinating. But it helps me out a lot.

        Other than that, I would recommend the classic ‘back track’ from due dates. If you have an assignment due on Friday, write it the due date. Then write in the ‘finish by’ time and date (so you can proofread, edit, remember to actually submit it). So what will the finished product be? Okay, write that by ____. How do I make writing easier? A rough draft? When do I need that done by so that I have enough time to write, etc.

    2. INTP*

      I do the same thing, it’s due to procrastination. I also have ADHD so sometimes I really can’t think straight until I have that adrenaline rush and then I’m miserable the whole time I’m working on a project that could have been enjoyable.

      The best thing for me (not that I am consistent with doing it 100% of the time) is to have a schedule that keeps me doing the work well before it’s due. If my discussion post is due on Thursday and my assignments on Sunday, I’ll try to do the reading on Monday-Tuesday, post on Wednesday, and assignments on Thursday-Friday. It makes everything feel much more under control, and if you do have a setback and get behind schedule, you aren’t totally screwed (but do need to put in extra time to get back ahead of schedule or else you’re back in that anxiety cycle again).

    3. Mimmy*

      I just started my first online course this month and I too have had trouble adjusting. It’s easy to get into a groove when it goes by a consistent weekly schedule as “INTP” explained above. But the past couple of weeks, our schedule has been a bit screwy due to the Jewish holidays.

      Man I sure do miss the traditional classroom setup! At least with that, you’d just not go to class if the regular meeting time falls on a day the school is on break, then it’s back to normal the following week.

      Sorry, I know my post isn’t very helpful :(

    4. JAL*

      Make a ton of schedules. Use calendars and planners and colored pens to break down your work. Try not to stress yourself out too much, because if you do, you usually preform worse. Utilize free time at work to look over your notes, and break down your assignments into chunks.

    5. Artemesia*

      I have written a couple of books while working full time and also did my masters when working full time. And I am also a terrible procrastinator. What reduces anxiety for me is to map out clearly what is needed, and then immediately chip away at all the easy stuff — aim to get reading, outlining and drafting that is easier done very early in the cycle. Have a list of stuff that needs done and keep doing the things you can do most easily; there is something about the success of small things and also having a lot of small things out of the way that makes doing the tougher stuff easier. I have always found that lots of easy and routine things take up much more time than you would think, so by churning those out first wherever possible, you have reduced the pile to manageable size.

      1. Annie O. Mouse*

        Thank you, everyone! I’m definitely going to work at “baby steps. The reason I get so anxious is that I’m kind of a nervous student. Even as an undergrad/nontraditional student, I would be a nervous wreck that I was going to fail the class. It’s not really possible to fail an MFA (unless you don’t turn any work in). I’m a bit uncomfortable giving feedback to my classmates, mostly because I’m hung up on getting the “right answer” and being able to apply what I’ve learned in “just the right way.” I think I need to loosen up!

    1. Alternative*

      Roomate – Pros: Saves money. Can be nice to have someone around to chat with, watch tv with, cook with. Cons: Having to deal with another person, with different habits, cleaning standards, noise tolerances, sleeping habits, social preferences, etc. can be very difficult and frustrating. If you like being alone sometimes, it can feel exhausting to come home from work and have a roommate there.

      Living Alone – Is the best. Thing. Ever. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, wearing anything you want.

      1. Colette*

        But if you live alone, there’s no one to help if you hurt yourself or to help you do something you can’t do alone, like move something heavy. Not that roommates have to do things like that, but there are advantages of having someone around.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. The first year I was on my own here I had to make a plan for almost. every.single. stupid. thing. It got tedious. But some stuff once you figure out a plan, you don’t have to figure out the plan again. And I put labels on things because I never remember where the main water shut off is or which breaker goes to the furnace, etc.
          But I missed having someone to bounce ideas off of.

        2. Anonsie*

          This is kind of a foreign concept to me, honestly. I can’t say there’s ever been a time when I lived alone where I thought “oh no, I need someone to help me with x and no one is here.”

          1. Colette*

            I lived alone for a lot of years, and the vast majority of time it was great, but there were times when I was assembling furniture or cut myself or something when it would have been good to have someone around.

      2. Dan*

        On top of that, you won’t have to deal with community purchasing decisions you don’t agree with, ie what cable package to get, what size TV to buy, etc.

        Living alone is *so* the best thing ever. It is my place to do what I want with, goddamit.

    2. Trixie*

      My last apt was cheap enough I felt I could justify living alone. I would be paying about the same rent to share a larger place. At this point, I have enough debt I would absolutely consider a roommate to help pay off debt.And the situation was a good one where I enjoyed the roommate, house/apt, etc, would consider it more long-term. Schedule and personal habits are important but often can be worked out or end up not being as important if you really like living with that person.

      The ultimate upside of roommate situation is you can always try it and unless you’re stuck to a lease, cut out early if its not working out.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      I always loved living alone. But it’s not always possible. I’m stating the obvious, but the secret of living happily with a roommate is finding a good roommate. Alas, I don’t have much advice to give there, except a) I’ve found that living with a good friend is usually a recipe for disaster (this might just be me), and b) when interviewing a potential roommate, pretend you’re Sherlock Holmes and pay close attention: do they smell like smoke, even though they say they’re a non-smoker? Do they abuse drugs or alcohol? Do they have a job? What kind of job? What hours do they keep? Do they tell you they can’t pay until next week? Do they have an SO who will be spending considerable time at the apartment? Do they have pets? What’s your ‘gut feeling’? Also c) it’s a good idea to have a written list of “house rules” (ie, cost of cable/Internet service is divided evenly between all roommates, etc) and to go over them and make sure everyone agrees. I know Sheldon on _Big Bang Theory_ kinda gave this practice a bad name, and such things are not legally enforceable contracts. But at least you’re working from the high road if an issue occurs later on.

      1. Clerica*

        I’m a fan of the gut feeling, but as to the rest, people lie so hard I’m surprised it doesn’t get stuck in their throat. Like this guy my landlord rented to who totally loves to cook (yeah, PBJ and chips while playing WoW is cooking)–not that I care, it’s just that he had to lie about something stupid–“goes to bed early” (if you call coming in anytime between 10 at night and 3 in the morning yapping on your phone and slamming around like a rhino “going to bed early,” sure), never has people over overnight (which is true only because she said no, because two weeks after he moved in he was pestering her about it), “hardly ever drinks” but always seems to have a six-pack in his hand when I run into him in the driveway…gah. You just don’t know.

    4. FD*

      I’ve only had a roommate (who ended up turning into my girlfriend), but here’s for what it’s worth.

      The biggest advantages I see are the monetary ones–half the rent on a two-bedroom place is usually cheaper than the rent of a one-bedroom place. Half the utilities for two people still tend to be less than paying all the utilities for one person (for example, you don’t end up using up much more heat to keep two people warm instead of one).

      However, if you choose a roommate, it’s important to keep a few things in mind!

      The biggest one is figure out what you can and can’t tolerate! I choose my roommate because we both need alone time–neither of us are offended if the other wants to stay in her room for the whole night because they just don’t feel like being social. Neither of us could have stood living with someone who needed to be social all the time.

      Also, with a roommate, it’s important to be able to talk frankly. If you don’t feel like you could tell your prospective roommate ‘Hey, would you mind putting a new roll of toilet paper on when you finish the last one off?’ (to their face, and not via passive aggressive notes), you shouldn’t live with them.

      Finally, expect that with a roommate, you’ll have to make compromises. I always end up cleaning the bathroom. My roommate usually ends up doing the dishes. I always vacuum and she always sweeps. Some things we’ve asked the other to do/not do because it’s a petty annoyance we really cannot stand; other things, we just suck it up and tolerate it.

    5. JAL*

      The only person I would ever roommate with is my best friend, because she’s pretty much me and she wouldn’t get pissed at me for my ways and tendencies (we joke we’re like a married couple…we’ve known each other so long that we’re able to read each other’s minds and that we have picked up on each other’s habits).

      That being said, I don’t know if I would be able to move into an apartment on my salary alone, unless I want to live in a crappy neighborhood, which creeps me out. And I live in a generally affordable area compared to most of the country.

    6. nep*

      Largely depends on the person, no? I’ve lived alone since after college (many, many years) and wouldn’t have it any other way. Love my solitude, space, ability to do what I want when I want in my home. Others can’t stand living alone — need to have someone around. I reckon some can go either way.
      Where do you come down?

  28. NerdPatrol*

    I was so angry with my husband and didn’t talk to him for at least a week. He still hasn’t apologized, or even understands what he did wrong even though I told him. He says I’m overreacting.
    I don’t share a lot of my work day with the family because it’s not very interesting and I’m sure they’d only hear it as me complaining. I get to handle the problems at work, mop up the messes, if you will. I’ve generally been the only female manager and I try not to focus too much on the gender dynamics.
    But on this day I finally vented to my husbands and daughters how frustrating it was that men continually assume I don’t know how to do things or even go so far as to try to explain certain aspects of my job to me; despite the fact that I am the subject matter expert, the one hired to the position because of my experience… So anyway, not 1/2 hour later I’m taking out a built in closet in my kids room and the husband, who has had no interest or input on the room reno, decides he needs to come in and show me how to use a certain tool. I about blew up.
    He didn’t ask if I was having difficulty, or if there was anything I might need help with, he just assumed I wouldn’t know what I was doing or how to do it. I said “are you kidding me? You just did the exact thing I was telling you that people do to me at work, and how much it bothers me.” He didn’t even get it, and this man is the parent at home raising my three daughters. So frustrating.

    1. Anonyby*

      *hugs* I’m sorry. I’m dealing with the same kind of patronizing behavior from my Dad. I wish I knew what to say to make it understandable that how he’s behaving is Not Okay. The truth is, people in positions of privilege (such as men in our society) often have trouble seeing the full extent and hurt of their privilege.

    2. fposte*

      Wow, that sounds really frustrating. Plus it’s foolish to antagonize somebody holding a power tool :-).

      But I’m a little worried about the not talking to him for a week–unless you’re being hyperbolic, that’s a pretty intense response, and it make me think maybe you’re angry about more than that. It might be worth finding somebody via an EAP or therapy if so, because that’s a lot to carry that’s no good for anybody in the family.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, I happen to agree. I was about to say that whatever is going on at this point is no longer about the husband assuming she couldn’t do some reno work.

        Any time this stuff happens, there are really three responses: change it, accept it, or walk away. Usually two of them are either not feasible or not practical.

      2. Nerd patrol*

        You’re right, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. Were (I am) consistently feeling he doesn’t listen to me so for him to do this exact thing that I had opened up to him to tell him was really bothering me just made me furious. And when I pointed it out he still didn’t get it. You are right though, I’ve been considering the EAP, maybe this is the push I need to go through with it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s one thing when this crap happens at work.

      It’s a whole new ball game when this stuff goes on at home. Yeah, I can see where all the anger meant for at work people could come out at home. Once it cuts loose, it can be a deluge.

      And it makes matters worse when the other half does not get it. It almost is like throwing gas on a fire.

      You may not be able to make him understand. There were some points my husband was never going to wrap his mind around. One thought that helped me was that maybe I was the only one who actually needed to understand the severity of my problem. Maybe the point was not for HIM to understand but for ME to understand. “yeah, this is baaad. I need to take action.”

      I know this isn’t a work forum right now, I hope I don’t get deleted. But it might be worthwhile to look at your work setting. You could be in need of a new job. Or you could need to stand up to the folks at work, maybe your boss should jump in here. I don’t know. I hope you post on next Friday’s forum about your work setting. Don’t let yourself walk through this crap at work alone, talk with people.

    4. Observer*

      Having had the same experience as you at work, I TOTALLY get it. This happens to me a lot, and I see it happen to others as well, so I know it’s not my gauche presentation, and I realize that it’s not because you come off as a ditz or something.

      But, you know what? Your husband is right. Your behavior is out of line. It’s not his fault that your co-workers are idiots. Unless you’ve been doing renovation work of this sort for years, what he did is NOT the same as what your co-workers have been doing, even though I understand why you it upset you. Even if it were, though, why is it ok to take your frustration about your work situation out on your husband? (That’s clearly what you are doing, you know.) On the other hand, if you are going to to compare your husband to your co-workers, why doesn’t he get at least 2/3 of the tolerance you have for your idiot co-workers?

      Which leads to my last point. It sounds like you need to change the work dynamic. And perhaps, sharing a bit more with your family would be useful as well. Expecting people to be mind readers (which is actually what you have been doing here) never ends well. None of this is easy, I realize. But you are clearly reaching the limits of your ability to just swallow this kind of nonsense. Something needs to give, it would be a shame if it turned out to be your marriage, your health or your job (unless you WANT to leave your job and have some options in place.)

      I’m not trying to be judgmental.

      1. Observer*

        Ack. I posted before I was done.

        I meant to say that I’m not trying to judge you hear. You are dealing with a very real problem. However, when you wind up with a week of silent treatment, it’s time to step back and really think about what’s going on.

        And, I realize that there may be other problems in you marriage. On the other hand, guys with very rigid gender stereotypes rarely are willing (or able) to be a stay at home dad, which seems to be what you are describing.

    5. Student*

      I make an effort to call out my husband whenever he does this to me. I tell him point blank to knock it off and go away.

      I interrupt the patronizing explanations, immediately. It helps a lot to cut them down. If you listen politely and then tell him to stuff it, it’s much less effective than interrupting, telling him you know what you’re doing, and immediately escorting him out of the way. This is one of those spots where you have to be merciless, rude, and extremely direct. If you feel guilty about it, remind yourself how rude he’s being to you.

      Remind him that if you need his help or want his input, you’ll ask for it. Follow through on that, and try to make sure you get his input on things that are important to him or that affect him.

      At work, I find it a bit more tricky, but I do a mildly more polite version of what I do to my husband. I interrupt immediately, explain that I know what I’m doing, and I try to find a polite variant of, “I’ll consult with you if I have trouble with it, thanks”. If the person (guy) is significantly more senior to me, though, I tend to let him explain things to me anyway. Sometimes, if you listen to the senior guys when you don’t need to, they’ll be more willing to give you advice when you do need it.

    6. Gene*

      I know this will be classified as a typical, clueless male question, but…

      Were you using the tool properly and the proper tool for the job? Many tools, power and hand, can injure you seriously or be damaged if not used properly or not as intended. My wife has been forbidden from going into the tool cabinet after using a $50 wood chisel as a pry bar.

      1. Observer*

        Well, in many households, it’s the MEN who are forbidden to use the power tools, or any expensive tools.

        The problem with your question is NOT that it is a “typical male” question – it most definitely is NOT. What it IS, is clueless and sexist. What basis do you have to make the assumption that the OP probably does NOT know how to use her tools, whereas her husband DOES – other than the fact that we’re talking about a he and a she? None!

        These assumptions are offensive. I am VERY well aware of the dangers posed by tools, so I do understand the husband a bit. But, based on what we’ve been told, for you to assume that he was actually probably *right* (rather than having made an understandable mistake) is astounding – and is probably a perfect example of the kind of garbage she gets at work, too.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I saw an ad – was it someone here that linked to it?
          It was about a girl, and it showed her at various stages of life. Her father or whoever telling her “nooo, you’ll get your hands dirty.” Or “no that power tool is not for you.” I found the most obnoxious part was that the men in the video did not think the girl was capable of learning these things even after she expressed an interest. They just took the stuff away from her, as if she was too stupid to learn. Disturbing.

        2. Nerd patrol*

          This! Exactly. Gene, this is what I get on a constant basis. People *assume* I don’t know, because why? The only reason why I can assume is because in Female. I have clearly and frequently demonstrated my abilities in my job and with power tools. I have no problem asking for help when I need it, or even admitting I may have made a wrong decision. All I ask, is that someone ask first if I might need assistance. Just a simple “how are things going, is there anything I can do to help or support you?” Is so much more respectful. Isn’t this what you’d do if a guy were using the tool?

          1. Gene*

            I did not assume that Nerd Patrol did not know how to use the tool, I would have asked exactly the same question if the gender roles were reversed. Nor did I assume the HE was right.

            I asked a simple, non-gender specific question that I knew would be jumped on as sexist, thus my lead-in statement.

            Nerd Patrol just stated that she has demonstrated her abilities with power tools, so in this case, I agree – husband was out of line.

  29. Friendless & Hurt*

    So I have this “friend” that basically is only my friend when it fits her schedule and it’s really hurtful. Last week I found out she was visiting a town an hour away from where I live and never even told me :( (i found out via social media) that was the last straw and just unfriended/unfollowed her from everything. My sister even called me yesterday and asked me why I wasn’t with her this weekend :(

    In 3 months she’ll probably figure out what I did and I guess I’ll have to deal with it. I’m just so hurt and tired of being treated badly by friends. I’m really lonely and haven’t had much luck finding local friends so it’s just been a hard couple of days./months/years.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t see “visiting a place near you and not telling you” as a slight, necessarily. It’s disappointing for you, absolutely, but she doesn’t need to keep you informed, especially if she had plans for her time there.

      I think it’s far more important that she responds when she knows you’re going through a rough time, and that she initiates contact instead of relying on you to do it.

      It’s hard to keep a friendship going when you live a distance apart, and perhaps you’ve just grown apart.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you for saying that, because as The Friend Who Moved Away, I struggle with this. We were back in town for a family thing and stayed with a friend, and I only had so much time and energy to see a few select people, not all of them. No one said anything negative to me at all, yet I still felt super guilty about not rushing around to see everyone.

        For Friendless… you’ve probably just grown apart, but if something similar happens with someone else, I suggest a softer response. If your friend posts on social media that she’s in town or nearby, contact her. Text her or call her or email her and say you’d love to see her while she’s in town, does she have some time for a quick hello. Maybe she doesn’t, which is why she didn’t contact you in the first place, but don’t put it all on her. Travelling can be a whirlwind of planning and obligations.

        1. Colette*

          Yeah, I moved away, too, and I know the feeling of trying to get together with everyone – it just doesn’t work unless you’re there for a long time.

    2. fposte*

      Sounds like you might be in a friend-shift phase. Those can be tough, but they do happen, and I think you’re right to bring the flag down on a friendship that isn’t bringing you good things.

      1. Friendless & Hurt*

        Yeah she’ll tell me her jobs stressful or she’s busy and all I ask is for her to respond to my text messages :( I’m not dumb I know she’s on her phone all the time….

        I guess I only get to see her once a year at the most and feel that it would have been nice to see her for an hour over lunch.

        We’ve been friends on and off since birth. It’s just hard b/c I have like no friends in real life they are all on the internet or long distance and nothing I’ve done IRL has amounted to anything. I’ve gone to tons of clubs and meetings and everyone already knows each other or is 50 years older than me. BLAH.

        1. fposte*

          Sounds like she doesn’t feel as close to you as you do to her. She’s allowed to do that, but it does hurt to be on the receiving end. It also sounds like you’ve got a lot going on that isn’t just about this friendship; I’m sorry.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, agreeing with fposte on all counts here. When you have to ask a friend to respond to a text or whatever that is a clue that the friendship has shifted to the back burner. A true friend you don’t have to ask for basics, basics are in place.

          And yeah, it really hurts.
          And I also agree that the pain will be doubled or tripled because of feeling like you have no other friends in real life. All your eggs are in one basket.

          My suggestion is to find one or two clubs as opposed to tons of clubs. Stick with the group for a year or longer. I believe that is how long it takes for a group to get to know the new person and weave the new person into the group. Lower your expectations, decide that if someone in the new group even remembers your name you are having success. Likewise, learn their names. Yes, this all sounds like statements of the obvious and baby steps, I understand that. But I also understand that you need to be gentle with YOU and ease yourself into a new setting with new people. Decide it is time for a change and take manageable steps toward that change. You deserve to have real friends.

    3. C Average*

      I sometimes fear I am other people’s version of this friend, and I sincerely wish I didn’t disappoint the many lovely people I know who have a bigger appetite for friendship than I do.

      There have been, without question, times in my life when I was a better friend than I’m capable of being now. I had a more open schedule. I had an easier job. I hadn’t yet taken up a couple of difficult and time-consuming hobbies I’ve chosen to pursue at a pretty serious level. I wasn’t married with stepkids. I lived closer to many of the people I knew than I do now. I was just plain younger and had more energy.

      Now, because of some life choices I’ve made (which I genuinely believe are GOOD choices and the right choices for me), I have diminished capacity for friendships. I ask almost nothing of my friends, and the friends I’ve kept through the years ask almost nothing of me. We don’t see each other often, we don’t call to chat for no reason, we frequently forget each other’s birthdays, we don’t go to happy hour together, we don’t attend each other’s kids’ birthday parties. We occasionally send each other for-no-reason presents, we occasionally call to catch up, we occasionally get together when it works for everyone–and when we do, we pick up right where we left off and I’m reminded why I love them and am glad they’re in my life.

      But the truth is that at this point, my friendships have to fit around my life, which is a crazy life at times. And even when it’s not crazy, I really value my solitude and protect it fiercely. I’m an internet extrovert; I’d rather jump on AAM for an hour or two than try to set up a time to see a real-life friend. I don’t nurture friendships with people who are clearly looking for more than I have on offer. It’ll only stress me out and disappoint them.

      On behalf of all the other people out there who want friendships that are convenient and on their own terms, I’m sorry we’re like this, but we’re unlikely to change. Take what we have to offer, and try not to be too angry with us if it’s not enough. Sometimes it’s all we have. If you need more, you might be better off letting the old friendship fade out and finding a new one that fits both parties a bit better.

  30. Anx*

    Does anyone here have a high suspicion of neurodevelopment disorders or learning disabilities that are undiagnosed?

    A therapist I saw believed I may have ADHD PI. I fit the profile of an undiagnosed woman almost to a T: sleep issues, perfectionism and procrastination, did well in school when it was about learning but floundered when it was about regimen, probable ‘twice exceptional,’ anxiety, hyperfocus, etc. My issues could also just be my personality, a lack of personal responsibility, a lack of being good enough to just do things that people should be able to do, or mild dyscalculia. My working memory and auditory processing aren’t very good.

    I am currently a student and have not told any of my instructors about this, but I don’t know how much longer I can mask my issues. My program has small classes so I can’t blend in easily. When I’m in lab, I’m always behind because I have to read the procedures even if the instructor just told us so that I can really process what I’m doing. Otherwise I’m just going through the motions. I feel behind in lectures as well.

    I’m doing very well in all of my classes (except for maybe one — I just earned a 0 on an assignment because I forgot to do the quiz even though it was open in my browser so I’m not sure if I can bounce back from that). But with 20 credits and working a part-time job that requires me to work outside of my hours if I want to excel, I’m starting to feel the heat of everything piling up.

    I have no diagnosis nor the money for one. So I’m not expecting accommodations. But I’m starting to really think I could get so much more out of my education if I could just tell my instructor I need an extra minute or that I can’t listen to her modifying the directions about a part of the procedure I’m not on yet without having to divert my attention to what I’m currently doing.

    My fear is that it’ll slip out that I might have an issue, and these instructors may be critical to my finding internships to other connections. I’m wondering if they would feel I could ever be a good worker with these issues (I have the same concerns, but I’m going to have to work somewhere regardless).

    1. fposte*

      Are there offices at your school that you can check with further about this? I know at my school instructors don’t necessarily need a doctor’s diagnosis for accommodations, and I’ve provided some small changes for students who’ve mentioned ADHD. One more minute on a timed exam I might not be prepared to do without a more official justification, but I might be able to provide modified directions in text/email in addition to orally, for instance.

      I think instructors are likely to have seen more ADHD and worry less about it than you, but obviously there are no guarantees. I personally would have a much stronger recommendation for a student who requests some pretty easy modifications and performs demonstrably better as a result than a student who performs less well without my knowing the reason.

      1. Nona*

        “I personally would have a much stronger recommendation for a student who requests some pretty easy modifications and performs demonstrably better as a result than a student who performs less well without my knowing the reason.”

        Good point.

      2. JAL*

        I wish most professors were logical like you.
        I did have accommodations and written letters from the office of disability services, but I still was given a hard time about simple things like allowing me to use my computer to take notes, and being able to take my tests in a separate location, free from distractions. You would think people would be nice about it, but nope. This is why I have vowed to never tell an employer about my disability unless I am really struggling to get by. I’ve learned to self-accommodate in most situations and that’s a horrible thing sometimes.

      3. Anx*

        I did look into the disability office at my comm coll to see if they had any resources for exercising working memory, but they could not offer much. I don’t think a diagnosis would have helped.

    2. BRR*

      I’m not sure what your school has to offer but most have an office of something (differs by school) that will let you take a test with accommodations such as more time and in an environment with less distractions.

      At my university the same office also helped with treatment for my ADHD and was included in the fees I was already paying.

    3. JAL*

      I suggest researching your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Explain to them your concerns, and they may have available funding to help you get the proper diagnoses and testing. I have a whole host of diagnosed learning disabilities and neurodevelopmental conditions (I’m extremely underdiagnosed – but that’s another story), so I know how hard it is navigating through school with them. The best part, is once you are diagnosed, no one has to know other than a select few people, and even then, you get to choose if you tell them. It gets slightly easier once you are diagnosed, and you get the proper supports in place.

      1. Anx*

        I will consider that in the future! Thanks. I wonder if that’s how some people are getting tested.

        It’s truly amazing how much better off you are being ‘caught’ with an issue as a child when insurance and public schools are more willing to intervene.

    4. Nona*

      I can relate to a lot of this. I’m “twice exceptional” and I have an ADHD diagnosis.

      It sounds like you might be a full-time student. Does your school have a health or counseling center? You could be able to see someone for testing or diagnosis there. It’s often free or inexpensive for students.

      You know your teachers better than I do, so I won’t tell you that talking to them about it is absolutely the best thing to do. But telling teachers why I was struggling was always helpful. It’s helped friends, too. You definitely won’t be the first student to come to them with those issues.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        This, esp re the school health center.

        I am but a single datapoint, but I was diagnosed as ADHD as an adult, got on meds, and life is just way lots better now.

        I guess I’m just suggesting that you investigate if your school can help you with the cost of diagnosis and treatment.

    5. INTP*

      I have ADHD PI (I do have impulsivity but zero hyperactivity). I was diagnosed in college; all through my k-12 years, I had just been considered an underachiever, so I internalized that perception. Even though I would go into my more boring classes and try as hard as possible to pay attention and not zone out, I thought that the reason I was failing was that deep down I just didn’t care enough.

      This is actually extremely common for women, especially women without hyperactivity. In my clinical psych classes in college, we were taught that girls are often not diagnosed until their college years. They aren’t causing disruptions in the classroom so their schools don’t get involved, and the heavy structure of teenage life keeps them more or less functional (class at specific hours and then a parent telling them to do their homework and chores). When we go into college, or graduate college and go into the real world, we don’t adapt to the sudden reduction of structure and everything kind of falls apart. Further compounding the issue is the fact that many aspects of college life, like substance use and irregular sleep patterns, make ADHD worse – and if you have an impulsive component, that leads to more bad decisions about sleep and substances.

      Professors at my school are not allowed to give accommodations that might result in accusations of grade unfairness, like extended due dates or test times or allowing you to take your test in another room, without a disability center pass, and to get that pass you have to have neuropsych testing, which insurance doesn’t pay for because it’s clinically pointless. That sucks. However, the one time I had a concern about a class, I emailed the professor early in the semester to say that I have ADHD and I might need X accommodation if we’re required to do Y, and we didn’t need to do Y, but she was supportive and sent emails to check up when we did something similar to it. I think that if your struggles are really showing to other people, it may be worth sending an email explaining that you know they can’t give grade accommodations but you want to give them a heads up that you will need to double-read instructions in lab, etc, and you just want to make sure they understand that you aren’t just not paying attention. But if you can’t back it up with documentation if they ask you to, you do risk looking like someone making it up or self-diagnosing from the internet because most don’t understand how many expensive hoops you have to jump through to get ADHD institutionally recognized. Basically, knowing whether to disclose ADHD requires you to make a guess about whether the people around you will be more judgmental about ADHD itself or the symptoms you show without having a context for them.

      I don’t know if it’s a financial option for you, but you may want to look into medication. A not-school-affiliated psychiatrist might prescribe it without the expensive neuropsych testing, and the medications that come in generic forms are not terribly expensive. My philosophy on medication is that it is no substitute for lifestyle factors, like regular and sufficient sleep and exercise, or controlling your responsibilities to a manageable level when you can, but it’s nice to have then circumstances beyond your control mean you have more on your plate than you feel comfortable with. It was truly a godsend when I was taking a full courseload and 50% teaching assistantship (which usually goes with 50% class load). I take a tiny dose so that I don’t feel very altered, but at the end of the day I realize I’ve gotten more done than normal and feel less tired than usual.

      1. Anx*

        Wow, that’s for all of that insight.

        I have a script for anxiety/depression medication that I never took because I think deep down, I knew that ADHD was a possibility. Plus, I didn’t really feel anxiety or depression, but many of the associated symptoms (my chief complaint was brain fog and an inability to concentrate on anything).

        I think what really tripped me up this semester was that I started off unemployed, so I loaded up on credits. Now I’m starting a new job in the middle of the semester, right when I was living out of a suitcase for a week (home repairs) and I could not wrangle my partner down for a single evening to just organize our home and schedules. I feel like I’m still waiting for the semester to start.

  31. ZSD*

    I live in southern California, and there’s a trend here for people with pet dogs to get them registered as service dogs, even though the owners don’t have any disabilities. This allows them to bring their “service” dogs into the grocery store and get their disgusting dogness all over the fruits and vegetables I might buy, and I just learned that it also lets them bring their dogs into nominally pet-free hotel rooms, getting their disgusting dogness all over the supposedly clean, pet-free hotel rooms I might rent.
    If I were a grocery store owner, I’d start a policy of not allowing any animals, *including* service animals into the store. People who actually need service animals could ask one of my employees to help them with their shopping.
    1. To people who do this: Please show some consideration for those of us who like to lead sanitary lives, and leave your dogs at home!
    2. Is this just a California thing, or is it country-wide now? When I move out of CA, will I escape this?

    1. fposte*

      Unfortunately, if you were a grocery store who banned service animals, you’d be breaking Federal law and you’d get in almighty trouble toute de suite. The merchant has absolutely no choice on this.

      I’ve heard of this trend to recategorize pets as service animals, which sucks for everybody, but I think it’s more a big-city thing; it doesn’t happen a lot around here.

    2. Bye Felicia*

      “If I were a grocery store owner, I’d start a policy of not allowing any animals, *including* service animals into the store. People who actually need service animals could ask one of my employees to help them with their shopping.”

      Odds are you wouldn’t because you’d be violating the ADA. I don’t like animals all that much either, but if I see someone with a service dog – they need it. Might be a helpful frame to adopt. because you can’t always see a disability.

      1. ZSD*

        I didn’t realize that was breaking federal law. Then I wish someone would make a law that service animals can only be registered to people who actually need them! And I’ve directly heard people admit that they’ve gotten their dogs registered as service dogs just so that they can take them along places, not because they actually need service animals. I think this is really gross.
        I have no problem with people who actually need service dogs bringing them places, but people who do that just because they can’t stand to be away from their pet for an hour are abusing the system and being selfish. And really weirdly attached to an animal.

        1. JAL*

          The thing is you don’t know. The person may be downplaying the situation, because believe me, I know it’s hard to get anything disability related and it’s equally embarrassing to admit you have an invisible disability because of all the misnomers out there.

        2. Nona*

          Well, yes, banning service dogs from a store or business would be effectively banning the people who need to use them.

          How do you know who really needs a service dog and who doesn’t?

    3. JAL*

      As someone with an invisible illness, I find this extremely offensive. For all you know, the person has epilepsy and can have a seizure at any moment and the dog alerts someone, or the person is schizophrenic and the dog prevents their owner from going into a paranoid rage. I have had it up to here with the ignorance from the general population about invisible illnesses and disabilities. Believe me, going through the process to get any disability service is a huge pain in the butt. They would NOT just hand something out like that without investigation or cause. ADA is here to make our lives slightly easier and accessible to the world, and protects us from the ignorance, like you are so obviously spewing.

      1. fposte*

        I agree with your point about invisible disabilities, but there’s no “disability service” in claiming your pet as a service animal–there’s no certification or registration process required for either your disability or the animal’s training. That’s why this isn’t hard to do falsely.

      2. INTP*

        I don’t think the OP is talking about invisible disabilities, just people with *no* disabilities. Maybe this hasn’t left California yet based on the way people (here and elsewhere) react to the topic. In CA, there are definitely people who don’t need their animals to function and just register them because they want to be allowed to take their pets to work, restaurants, etc. I’m not assuming this because I see people with service animals and no visible disabilities. I *know* it because people *talk* about it and openly admit to getting a doctor’s note about anxiety so they can register their pet as an emotional support animal and bring it to work.

        The animals are “emotional support animals” which are a different classification from real service animals, but given ADA laws, it’s difficult for business owners to differentiate them and turn them away, and employers often fear lawsuits if they don’t allow them at work.

        1. BRR*

          I second this. The op is not saying if it’s not visible it doesn’t exists. It’s people who abuse the system by making up symptoms for a false diagnosis in order to bring their pet anywhere. I’ve also heard many people say they lied about it in order to bring their pets everywhere. It’s flat out disgusting as it sours the name of people with anxiety, depression, PTDS, etc as well as the real service animals when the fake service animals couldn’t pass a basic obedience class.

    4. BRR*

      I have seen an increase in people claiming animals as “service animals” which I find very aggravating because they’re clearly not trained at all. It’s ruining it for people who really need them and when they have proper service animals. Depending on where you move it might be less prevalent but I’m not sure where.

        1. fposte*

          It makes properly trained service animals a lot less welcome if people have had a bad experience with a pet whose only service was to get the owner into an otherwise pet-free apartment.

          1. INTP*

            Exactly. I hate dogs but have never minded actual service animals, as long as they aren’t in my workplace or somewhere else that I have to spend long periods of time (because of my allergies), because they are generally very well-trained and I’ve never had one try to sniff or paw at me. But when people have experiences with “service dogs” that are basically poorly trained, spoiled family pets, possibly aggressive, barky, wanting to “play” aka jump on people who don’t want them to, they’re going to be a lot less friendly and accommodating with *all* of the service dogs they have to deal with. And they’re probably going to start pushing for legislation that will make things more difficult for the people who really need their dogs.

        2. BRR*

          Basically what fposte said. If you get a dog and call it a service dog to bring it with you but it’s not trained people are going to be a lot less welcoming to all service animals. As INTP mentions below service animals go through a lot of training and if they end up being service animals are very well behaved. But if people only see the dog you bring with that barks at everything and snarls at children they’re not going to be welcoming to the actual service animals who help their owners.

    5. Dan*

      Have you heard the expression that you catch more bees with honey than vinegar? I have to be honest and say that if you were to confront me with that same intensity that you display here, I would politely ignore you.

    6. INTP*

      I believe that it’s mainly a California thing, because when I’ve talked about it, people basically thought that I was a monster who disapproves of the use of real service dogs. And when you say “emotional support animal” people picture one helping someone who genuinely can’t function in society without the help, like an autistic child or vet with PTSD, not some entitled jerk who wants to be able to put their chihuahua on the booth right next to you in a coffee shop.

      I think it’s a huge problem. For one, those dogs aren’t trained. Actual service dogs go through many thousands of dollars worth of training and I have *never* seen one bark or even be reactive to people in public. Support animals are family pets and you can’t trust them not to bite, poop on the floor, and the like the same way you can trust actual service animals. Also, you’re imposing on people who have issues just as severe as the “anxiety” or whatever of the people with the support dog. What if their coworker is allergic to dogs? What if the child at the next table has a dog phobia or dog-related PTSD? Where is their certificate that says “I’m entitled not to have a dog’s presence forced on me”?

      IMO, there should be laws allowing store owners to require you to show registration of your service dogs (surprisingly, currently they have to just trust your word, legally) and it should only be available to people who can prove that their functioning in the world is significantly impaired by the absence of a service dog, and they should only be available for animals that have gone through the extensive training.

      1. JAL*

        Banning emotional support dogs would create a whole host of different problems. Currently, Section 8 requires apartments to allow emotional support dogs, if there is a letter furnished by a doctor or mental health professional. You know, those people who are qualified to assess someone’s mental health. And by the way, you are not qualified to judge someone’s anxiety, especially if you have never lived with it. As a lifelong sufferer, people have zero clue when I’m having a panic attack, because I internalize it. I’m not saying people don’t abuse their power, but there is still valid ground for emotional support animals.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think INTP was proposing banning emotional support animals, though; her point is that that’s usually what people who are falsely claiming pets as service animals call their pets.

        2. INTP*

          I feel qualified to judge someone’s anxiety when they are laughing about how they gamed the system to get to bring their dog to work by having their doctor write a note about anxiety for that specific purpose. Maybe this is inconvenient for some people’s political opinions but there are many, many ESA owners who just want to take their pets everywhere. I don’t know this because I am independently judging whether people need their dogs, I know this because they SAY so publicly.

          Like I said, I think they should be allowed when the dog is as fully trained as the average disability service dog (because it is dangerous when they aren’t) and the person can demonstrate significant impairment in daily living. I don’t care if that’s because of blindness, panic attacks, whatever. I would think that people who really need their dogs to function would agree with this, because the fake ESA people are going to make their lives more difficult.

    7. FD*

      This is very frustrating in the hotel world.

      To be fair, there are many disabilities that are not visible. However, one thing that real service animals (by which I am using the official definition of “A service animal is an animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability”) absolutely all have in common is that they are well trained working animals. Conversely, people will often put service animal vests on pets, who are often poorly trained and (speaking from experience) will cause damage to hotel rooms, bark constantly, etc.–something that a trained service animal will not do!

      The thing that infuriates me about it is that it’s basically people who aren’t disabled taking advantage of an accommodation meant to be provided for people who already have a bunch of disadvantages in society–and in many cases, using it to get away with causing disruption or damage. To me, it’s exactly as morally bankrupt as people who fake having a disability to avoid lines at Disneyland/world.

      It’s also infuriating because it makes life even harder for people who do have legitimate service animals–especially those who may not have visible disabilities (such as dogs trained to detect seizures, etc.)–because it casts a pall of suspicion on them.

      It’s entitled bullcrap IMO and I would seriously like to ream out everyone who pulls this kind of stunt.

      1. Nerd patrol*

        I agree, and I’m from Southern California and I’ve seen this a lot. I have allergies so when I travel I request a pet free room. I was very upset that at one chain their pet free room was not, I immediately smelled the pet odor cleaner they had used and started getting congested. Now I request pet free and upper level because I’m told most pets are given the bottom floor. I know pet lovers consider them their children, but we don’t all love your pet as much as you do. Real service dogs excluded.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Grocery store owners pretty much have their hands tied. I have seen people in stores with their service animal in the seat part of the grocery cart. The animal does not look like it is working. But management cannot say a word.
      On the other side of the story, Kmart would not let a service animal in their store and all heck broke loose.

      Sadly, when owners leave their pets in a hot car in the parking lot, management does not do anything about that either.

      The over all trend is to let the customer do whatever. One customer came in with the f word all over a tee shirt. Management asked her to leave. She came back with the tee shirt AND her father. Management decided it was not worth making a scene.
      My point is the thing with the dogs is just part of an over all trend.

    9. Student*

      I suggest strongly that you do serious research on cleanliness and immune system response.

      I can understand an aversion to dogs. I can understand a desire for cleanliness. But you’re wrong about the connection between the two.

      There is tons and tons of research out there on cleanliness in many different settings. Basics are – humans are really pretty gross. Hotel rooms are also very gross, and the cost/appearance of a hotel room does not correlate well with actual bacteria/insect/body fluid status of the hotel room. Groceries are gross. The humans in that grocery store, even your very nice upscale looks-great grocery store, are getting more germs around your food than the dogs are, by miles. Most people don’t wash their hands well (many don’t do so at all after using the restroom). The check-out counter is gross. The handles of your grocery carts are gross. The food sitting out is gross. Sometimes, over-cleaning gets gross when cleaning chemicals get on your food products. Even before the food reached your grocery store, odds are that it was handled poorly unless it’s disinfected and sealed well at the factory (which excludes lots of organic stuff, or raw produce).

      The good news is, there are a couple very simple things you can do to get rid of nearly all the gross stuff that happens to your food.
      Wash your hands. Wash before cooking, wash before eating. Wash raw food off before preparing it. Water is very good at removing bacteria and undesirable chemicals. Water with soap is better, when viable.
      Avoid raw food – especially meat, sprouts, and vegetables that are difficult to rinse thoroughly. Vegetables are grown in animal feces (fertilizer). Fruits and vegetables are more susceptible to bacteria that is difficult to combat (or pesticide residue) if they have softer skins.
      Freeze and refrigerate things promptly. This inhibits bacteria growth, so you’re only fighting a few bacteria instead of large colonies of bacteria.
      Cook it properly – this is especially important with raw meat. It can help with some of the more hazardous raw vegetables. Cooking kills bacteria. Boil it, bake it, steam it, whatever. More heat and longer heat are better than less heat, but anything is better than nothing.
      Use other preservation methods – pickle, ferment, can. These preservation methods are all basically killing bacteria. A pickle has less germs than a raw cucumber. Canned vegetables have less bacteria than raw vegetables.

      Finally, back food irradiation plants. Nearly all commercial spice is irradiated! If we started using it more widely, we could eliminate deaths from supply-side food poisoning sources (most of them; won’t eliminate problems at your local grocery or restaurant, though). It also prolongs food shelf-lives. It’s a safe technology that’s been around for years and is demonstrably NOT going to inflict anything bad, radiation-wise, on humans. It destroys all the bacteria (and even viruses) on food that passes through, with some very low degradation of food nutrition, and no risk of getting radiation into your food. We don’t use it widely in the US because people freak out at the mere mention of radiation near their food, but it can be safely used on meat products, vegetables, anything edible.

      1. Co anon*

        Especially the couple who brought their, obviously untrained, dog to a cirque du soleil performance in loveland. The poor dog was in panic mode, pretty dangerous foe performers wandering through the audience!

    10. ZSD*

      I just checked this for the first time since yesterday morning and have caught up on all these replies.
      First, I want to apologize if anyone thought I was suggesting that people who actually need service dogs shouldn’t be allowed to use them. That isn’t at all what I think, and I’m sorry for not explaining myself more clearly. I was in high dudgeon and just expressed myself too vehemently. I truly apologize for offending people. I absolutely do realize that some people need service animals, and they should certainly be allowed to have them.
      Second, I’m glad that some people think the tendency to game the system is largely focused in southern California. Maybe when I move away I’ll go back to just seeing real service animals, and then I won’t have to get indignant and end up offending people!

  32. Aloe Vera*

    Apologies in advance if this is totally inappropriate and non-PC…

    There are a group of women at my workplace who always flush the toilet before using it. I’ve recently realized that the only folks who do it are Asian.

    Is this a cultural difference? I am very intrigued and honestly curious. I wonder if this is only a public restroom thing or if they do it at home too.

    1. Rowan*

      Asia is an extremely large place covering an enormous amount of norms and cultures. Bathroom noises are more taboo in some cultures than others. Perhaps your co-workers are uncomfortable with knowing other people can hear them use the toilet? I have known white people who did this, as well as others who refused to poop at work, ever, because the toilets weren’t individual rooms and were just cubicles.

    2. FX-ensis*

      It could be. Though which Asian culture? Asia as a continent is as culturally diverse as Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

    3. quick reply*

      In Japan, women flush the toilet to mask the sound of them using it.
      There’s also a button to press called the Otohime which plays a flushing sound so that you can use the bathroom without being afraid of others hearing you.

      I hated it at first, but now I use it a lot.
      I’ll assume the women at your workplace are Japanese.

      And if the toilet seat had a lid, they would definitely put it down…
      It’s supposed to be polite, but annoys me so much!

      1. Cynthia*

        I’ve noticed some Indian to this as well. They’ll flush whenever there is any kind of a noise … which is a waste of water IMO. It’s a bathroom. It’s not going to be flowers. :)

    4. Anonsie*

      When I lived (briefly) in a girl’s dorm in Japan, the girls would flush when they sat down so no one could hear them actually using the toilet.

      There are toilets in Japan where the tank does not refill until you sit on the seat, which creates a nice masking sound for whoever is using it. Our dorm didn’t have them, though.

  33. FX-ensis*

    I want to visit Puerto Rico….and maybe US proper (Miami…) and practice my Spanish on the way lol..

    But bar San Juan, where are the best places to visit? Hay las playas buenas en Puerto Rico? :D What about rainforest walks/hikes?

    I’m also looking to make some business contacts there, as I do freelance marketing. Voy a trabajar y jugar lol….

    1. Cath in Canada*

      We went to Rincon (surf town on the West coast), El Yunque (rainforest), and Vieques (smaller island off the east coast). It was all great but Vieques was the best. We did a night-time kayak in a bioluminescent bay, which was amazing, and the beaches were phenomenal.

  34. JAL*

    I have a suggestion to Allison – I’d LOVE it if you would do another Ask Me Anything post, like you did a few months ago. I recently graduated college and started my first job and I would love to participate this time around now I am in the workforce.

  35. Clerica*

    I wonder if anyone here has experience with scholarly articles. For my own amusement (because odd things amuse me), I wrote an essay on a classic I had finished reading, because I HAD OPINIONZ. I got a coworker hooked on the novel, she then wanted to see the essay, showed it to her husband who’s an English professor…and told me he said I should “submit it to a journal.”

    I…have literally no idea how that works, but don’t you have to be at least a graduate student to do that? They don’t want some random person’s essay, right? I’ll probably be starting grad school in the spring, but not in a related major. Her husband probably assumed I was a student, because who else would punch out an essay. I don’t like to ask him what journal he thinks would be a good fit only to have him be all “ONES WHO DOES NOT HAVE GRAD SCHOOL CAN’T GO IN (and how dare you impersonate a scholar).”

    1. fposte*

      You don’t have to be a grad student. For some, you might be supposed to be a member of the association if it’s an association’s journal, but membership is usually not restricted to people who are grad students or professors. Journals are also highly variable, even within the peer-reviewed realm; there are broad-topic old-guard journals that are besieged with submissions, and more specialized journals, online-only journals, journals more interested in shaking things up, etc.

      Now that doesn’t mean they’ll publish whatever you submit, of course, and even if they are interested, there’s often a lot of rewriting demands (and of course you get no money out of it). But it could be an interesting process, and I’d see if your co-worker’s husband had any particular journals in mind.

      1. Clerica*

        Thanks, I’ll ask him. I feel better now. I mean, I wouldn’t care if it got rejected as not being a good fit or whatever. I would have just been so embarrassed if I sent it off and heard the equivalent of “Do you even go here?” :)

        1. fposte*

          They should all have submission criteria available on their websites or in the journal. If one of them is “We don’t accept from the likes of you,” well, then, you’ll know :-).

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            .. and if they reply that way, take your talents and work elsewhere.

            That’s one of the beauties of the Internet. It comes with a risk, because it’s a wild jungle. On the other hand, it permits those without the “pedigree” to establish themselves as journalists.

            To wit = the two largest news stories in the 2oth century, in the United States, came from unlikely, but aggressive sources.

            Watergate – yes, the Washington Post. But the two writers were city desk reporters, relatively new to the news game. Their names were Woodward and Bernstein. They explored a break-in at a hotel / office suite. Although it originally was nothing more than a botched burglary by some over-enthusiastic Republican operatives, the events that followed led to the only Presidential resignation in history.

            Monica Lewinsky – the issue was unfurled by an internet blogger named Matt Drudge. He reported that a story on the Lewinsky-Clinton involvement had been spiked by another journal.

            ANYBODY is allowed to write – so long as they do so factually and responsibly. You have – The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to thank for that. No license or pedigree is required.

    2. Anonsie*

      Ask him what journals he thinks would publish your paper, and then look up their requirements for submission and follow them. It’s very simple!

      But also be prepared for them to send it back with critiques and they are often brutal.

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      No, you do not need a master’s to write for a professional association.

      I don’t have a master’s – and I have been published over 25 times in professional journals through the years. In fact, there are some that don’t have any COLLEGE who publish in those same journals!

      And YES, they are of high caliber content. Professional journals look for CONTENT. Not glitz. Not necessarily a known name.

  36. Stephanie*

    I’m cleaning out my closets and drawers. So, what do y’all do with old bras? Donate them? Toss them? I’ve usually just tossed them as I didn’t think Goodwill, et al would take lingerie. But given how much bras cost and that some are still in decent condition, is there somewhere I should take them?

    1. fposte*

      I’d toss ’em, but you might first call whatever local equivalent you have of the Dress for Success-type organizations that equip low-income women who are transitioning into the workforce.

    2. Rebecca*

      I think if they’re in decent shape, you could donate them. My Goodwill store has a whole rack of just bras. I know I’d be grateful to find one there!

    3. Anx*

      Old bras:
      I cut out the hooks so I have back ups to repair broken ones. Same with straps (if they are the kind that can be switched from bra to bra). The cups become knee pads for scrubbing the tub. I just did this today because one of my bras got tiny dots of mildew inside the cup and I had it hanging on my door knob for two months because I couldn’t bear to throw it out but there was no way I was going to wear it again.

      Ones that just don’t fit:
      Women’s shelters and Goodwill will take them around here. I once saw a bin at a med school for a bra drive in a random hallway when I was looking for a bathroom.

    4. Andrea*

      Sometimes women’s shelters take items like partially used shampoo bottles and bras that are in good condition because some of the women truly have nothing.

      1. Daisy*

        I know that women’s shelters also like to take the bags that come with gifts with purchase. And if you haven’t used the make up mini’s that come with those, they are also grateful for those as well. So if you just get make up at any time and would like to make an easy donation to a shelter, try getting the make up when there is a lagniappe so you can take that to donate.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Personally, I’d toss them; however, if they still have the tags on them or are used and look like new, I think a women’s shelter would be a good place to donate to.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have also seen bras at Salvation Army and church clothing outlets. But the bras are in near mint condition, very little visible wear. I would wash the good ones, dry them and then put them in clear plastic baggies before I donated them. Maybe write the size on the baggie. Keep looking because someone will take them.

      I have also cut up a few to save the hooks and loops so I can repair other bras in the future.

    7. Stephanie*

      One in particular is like new, the underwire just popped after wear number two (I think I may have bought a too-small band). That was one I was on the fence about donating or tossing.

      1. Student*

        If the underwire is no longer in the bra, or it’d take effort/sewing to repair, please toss it. You don’t donate ripped or damaged clothing, as a rule.

        1. Stephanie*

          That was my inclination (to toss it), but I just wanted to make sure before I tossed something someone could use.

  37. Trixie*

    Its been a few weeks since I’ve taken on instructing a yoga fusion class, and so far so good. I’m glad someone suggested I look into it, and even more glad I didn’t lean away from it out of fear. Now I’ve been asked to sub a couple dance cardio classes. (Think Zumba but more hiphop and less latin.) Again, not something I would see out but not only a good opportunity to help someone else out but another good opportunity to push my own boundaries. It’s just going to classes I was already going to but clocking in first. If this became more regular, it’s a little more gas/grocery money as well as practice dealing with large groups while getting a great workout.

    Its really not a tough situation to find myself in. Thank you, universe :)

  38. acmx*

    I’m considering a trip to Bali and also considering adding on another destination since I’ll already be on the other side of the world (east coast US). I’m leaning towards Sydney. Whichever place I go to, it would only be for probably 4 days. I haven’t looked at flights but a consideration would be one of the layover cities. I know some airlines even offer free layovers in their hub cities.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Dan*

      It’s a six hour flight from Bali to Sydney, then 15 hours more back to LAX.

      Good (and easy) layover cities are going to be hong Kong and Tokyo. It’s really easy to get from hong Kong airport to the city; narita airport in Tokyo is much farther outside the city. You might try Singapore as well. Consider doing your layover trip on the front end of your trip, your going to be dog tired at the end of it.

      How long are you going? If its less than two weeks, consider just staying in Bali. Is a real diverse island. I’ve been there twice. Thailand is worth some time, although it won’t technically be a layover city for general routes from the us.

      1. acmx*

        I knew it was a 6 hour flight but now I’m ambivalent ha! Probably because it’s 230 am. I think time in a stopover city like HK or SG is better (which I knew, I was trying to add in SYD since we were relatively close. Oceania isn’t a priority place for me).

        1. CoffeeLover*

          Let me know if you decide to go to SG and have any questions. I lived there for a while. Just post in one of the open threads. I’m a regular lurker and occasional poster ;).

  39. Carrie in Scotland*

    I just started watching “the Newsroom” (I’m on S1, ep 5) and because I love watching”Law & Order” (all of them!) I’m finding it bizarre to see Sam Waterston aka Jack McCoy scream and shout and swear!!

    On a related note, favourite L & O characters/actors?
    I’d have to go for: Dt, Briscoe (it was never the same after he died), Dt Goren and McCoy.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Ooh, I started Newsroom recently too. It’s a bit problematic at times, and I’m sick of certain “will they or won’t they?”‘s, but overall I’m really enjoying it!

    2. Mimmy*

      Love Newsroom! Season 1 was awesome–just really exciting and quick-witted and incorporated a lot of familiar news stories. Season 2 was disappointing, too much on the political stuff.

      Season 3 FINALLY starts in November…hope it’s better than S2.

    3. nina t.*

      I like the Newsroom. But sometimes I feel like Aaron Sorkin goes a bit overboard with proselytizing his politics. That said, I like Sloan Sabbith.

      For L&O, I agree that Lenny Briscoe was the best. My other favorite characters are Capt Cragen, EADA Cutter, and (long suffering partner of Goren) Det Eames.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Definitely Detective Briscoe. His sarcastic wisecracks made the show … as did his relationship with “Ed Green” – Jesse L. Martin. That cast was the best.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Forgot to mention I’m starting a karate class this week! I lost a ton of weight and have decided to try something I always wanted to do. They had a Groupon for 70% off. Anyone else take karate? Do you like it? It is hard?

      1. Trixie*

        Not official karate but kind of a hybrid mix in Les Mills Body Combat. A couple of the instructors have black belts so I always feel like we’re getting a quality workout/instruction. Martial arts has done more for my upper body than a lot of other stuff, kicks for the lower body, and balance control helped my yoga. This sounds a little OCD but you might take a couple selfies as you’re starting, and then as you progress. The toning alone is amazing. Have fun!

      2. Trixie*

        Not official karate but kind of a hybrid mix in Les Mills Body Combat. A couple of the instructors have black belts so I always feel like we’re getting a quality workout/instruction. Martial arts has done more for my upper body than a lot of other stuff, kicks for the lower body, and balance control helped my yoga. This sounds a little OCD but you might take a couple selfies as you’re starting, and then as you progress. The toning alone is amazing. Have fun!

      3. Another comment on the situation*

        I have taken karate for several years now and I love it. I am currently taking a semester off due to knee pain but I will be back. There is one thing that I would like to warn you about just in case you are anything like me. If you think you have broken a bone, stop the fight immediately. I broke a toe in a fight and I couldn’t tell if I had deeply bruised it or not and kept on fighting. You just can’t concentrate with the pain even though it isn’t as intense as you would think it is. I am in my mid 40’s and it is one of the best things I have tried in a long time.

  40. C Average*

    Have to share a little warmth and fuzziness with y’all.

    Yesterday I was out running and found an ID badge by the side of the road that belonged to a teacher from a nearby elementary school. I picked it up, found her email address on the school’s website, and shot her a quick note to let her know I had it and that we should coordinate to get it back to her.

    She called me today and we made arrangements to meet up at a nearby Starbucks, with me running there to deliver it. (It’s all about the run.)

    As I was getting ready to leave, my younger stepdaughter asked me what I was doing with the badge. “I’m taking it to the teacher it belongs to,” I told her.

    “How’d you find her?”

    “I looked up her email on the school website. It’s laid out just like the site for your school, so it was easy for me to find her, just like it’s easy for me to find your teachers when I want to email them.”

    “You email my teachers? What for? Is it about me?”

    “No, nothing like that. It’s just to thank them and tell them they’re doing a good job.”

    Long pause.

    “You email my teachers just to tell them they’re doing a good job?”

    “Yeah, why not? They like hearing that. Everybody does.”

    Another long pause.

    “Oh. You should email Mr. Porter. He’s awesome. Tell him thank you for reading us good books and being funny.”

    So I ran out the door with a big dumb grin on my face thinking about all the really excellent teachers in our district and how lucky we are and how my stepkids are growing up to be such positive people, and that I get to help teach them gratitude.

    The teacher was appreciative and gave me a much-too-generous Starbucks gift card, which I’ll happily blow on a pound of Anniversary Blend.

    Then I was running home and waiting at a red light, and was just kind of idly people-watching. In this car right in front of me, a little kid in a Spiderman mask started waving at me, which made me crack up, and then his parents noticed me cracking up at their kid, and then THEY cracked up, and we all had this great little laugh-fest at a random red light out in the burbs.

    Some days it really is the little things. I hope you’ve all had some nice little things this weekend. If you have, I’d love to hear about them.

    1. Jean*

      Yesterday I took my son to a friends’ house for a birthday party. It was very low-key: the kids hung out together while some I sat chatting with the hosts and one set of grandparents visiting from another country. Afterwards we met my husband (who is also son’s dad) at the home of friends for a long, lively Jewish New Year’s dinner of spaghetti, corn, apples and honey, challah and honey, salad, and apple crisp and vanilla ice cream. I feel very fortunate for having good friends and food and for living in a country that is at peace so that we can enjoy these kinds of gatherings. (Sorry to be gloomy! These days I read the news like a goundhog: poke my head up briefly, than duck back down.)
      Would be more eloquent and/or grammatically correct, but I’m trying to comment quickly before heading for bed.
      Thanks for raising this subject. There are a lot of problems in life. It’s nice to take a break to focus on the small but happy things.

      1. Jean*

        P.S. Forgot to add this: I’d also love to hear from other folks about this subject, even if I end up reading their comments not tonight but very early tomorrow morning.

        1. nep*

          It’s really a choice to focus on the positive amid the negative. It doesn’t have to be the exception; it can be a way of life.

  41. Liane*

    Update, sort of, for last week’s thread on TV shows people are looking forward to.
    Originally the show I was so eager for, Star Wars Rebels, was scheduled to be available tomorrow, 9/29, on the website for people who had cable subscriptions. But TV Karma & The Force were with me. :D Last night, I clicked on an article about the show and found out they’d moved the date up & we could watch it right now if we wanted! So Husband & I did. It was just what I hoped– a fun story with the flavor of the original movie & some great new heroes & villains.

  42. Ask a Manager* Post author

    My eyes are recovering! I’ve been off the computer most of the weekend since the Lasik, which has been driving me crazy because of course all I’ve wanted to do is read about other people’s Lasik experiences and tips for making my eyes feel better, and I’ve been deprived of my primary information source … but they’re starting to feel better and for the first time I’m able to enjoy the fact that holy crap I have perfect vision! I don’t think I’ve EVER had perfect vision before, even as a small kid. It’s pretty amazing.

    1. Not So NewReader*


      I had a coworker that had this done and I kind of teased him by saying “So have you stopped looking for your glasses yet?” It had been weeks, he said he still got up in the morning and tried to find his glasses. He laughed. He had worn glasses almost all his life.

      I am so happy for you and your new comfort.

    2. HR Manager*

      What was key to recovery for me, and this was not easy, was to stop when my eyes started to get blurry from being tired. You just have to pull yourself away from looking at the computer or tv screen. It’s hard but is very helpful to rest when your eyes are saying “nooooo!”. And someone already said this, but drops all the time. If you feel a little bit scratchy, put drops in.

      What I’m looking forward to this week? For this damn case of shingles to be over with. I”m so done with them.

      1. Mimmy*

        Yikes….feel better!!

        And amen on it being hard to stay away from the computer or TV screen!!

        Alison – I am loving your giddiness over being able to see!

  43. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    It’s interesting, people have been encouraging me to get it. I’m an old man – 63 – and I had been squinting for many years until I began wearing glasses.

    Please let us know how that all transpires. I guess good luck is in order, so is “congratulations” on it.

  44. Anonsie*

    I’m trying to buy a very cheap car I can commute with and it is completely insane. I hate car shopping more than anything in the whole world.

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