Sunday free-for-all – September 7, 2014

OliveLucyIt’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.

{ 928 comments… read them below }

  1. Is This Legal

    What’s the easier way to transfer money online for free?
    I used to have Bank of America (BOA), which most of my friends also had and it was easier and instant.
    I just started using PayPal but I don’t like the idea of linking my bank account to get free transfer.
    Which ever method you use, how long does it take for the other person to receive money? BOA to BOA was instant

    1. Anon

      I have an account with wellsfargo; they also do instant via mobile app or next day via online banking or mobile app.

    2. Stephanie

      Re: PayPal
      http://honestslogans.com/post/15099052656/paypal

      My friend really likes Venmo. I can’t think of any online service that doesn’t have a nominal fee.

      I had to pay a former landlord via wire transfer (he covered the wire fee). He also wanted everyone’s rent pooled, so I’d have like $4500 (yay DC housing prices) I’d have to wire him (my bank had the lowest wiring fees) internationally. Now that was a headache. Don’t do that.

    3. Gene

      I’ve been using PayPal for close to twenty years with no problem. One year I probably churned $10,000 through them. I was selling racing harnesses for a particular car that weren’t available anywhere else.

      If you do anything online that concerns money, I would consider PayPal as safe as, and likely safer than, almost any other place.

      Transfers to and from my account typically take about 24 hours.

      1. C Average

        I first read this as “racing harnesses for a particular cat.” I wish I had the skills to convey the visual that came with to me as I read that sentence!

        But seriously, I’ve gotta second PayPal. I’ve used it for over a decade with no problems whatsoever. As one of the oldest and mostly widely used such services, they’re likely to have good security measures in place. Nothing’s guaranteed, of course, but they have a solid track record. I’ve found using PayPal to be utterly hassle-free, too.

    4. Josh S

      I use Google Wallet. Sending money to friends is free; so is receiving money.

      I think there’s a fee when you add money to the account, but I typically just leave a slush amount in there, and it passes around from person to person.

      Instant transfer, can use NFC for phone-to-phone transfer, or just type in their email.

      1. Audiophile

        +1 for Google Wallet. I regularly put money in it from my bank account and have transferred money from to my account, all for without a fee. There’s a fee if you want to send money using a credit or debit card.

        +1 for Paypal as well. I’ve had people send me money, as well as sending money to people.

    5. Al Lo

      Related question:

      Best cross-border online money transfer? I currently live in Canada, but my student loans are in the U.S., so I send myself money each month.

      I used to use Paypal, but that was a pain (two accounts; one linked to my U.S. bank account with a separate email address; longer processing times; higher fees). Right now, I use xe.com’s trade feature, which is pretty good — a lot faster, fairly reasonable exchange rate, no additional fee.

      But, always on the lookout for something that can do a better job for me. Anyone have any other suggestions?

      1. Lab Rat

        I don’t know who you bank with but I have a TD account in both countries (TD Canada Trust in Canada and TD Bank in US which is mostly limited to the east coast) and I have my accounts linked so I can easily transfer money between the two for free. I don’t know how their exchange rates compare to others but they seem okay and I don’t need to transfer money too frequently.

      2. duschamp

        I am in the same boat (UK to US), and have recently discovered TransferWise. I use their app & it has proven remarkably easy, cheap and reliable. You are given the exchange rate up front and there are no additional fees. It isn’t instantaneous, but when you make the transfer you are notified to the hour of when it will be in the recipient account (i.e. by 3pm on Wednesday) it’s roughly 2-3 working days. So far, the transfers have always been early – 6 to 24 hours early.

      3. Judy

        Don’t most banks allow you to transfer to another bank account in your own name for free? I’ve not tried it cross border, but I have the ability at two separate banks to transfer money to another one with online or phone in, if I’ve filled out the paperwork to link the accounts and signed (and they are both in my name).

      4. Anonymous

        We keep a Wells Fargo acct open exclusively because of its low rates for international transfers (I haven’t had great experiences with them otherwise). $5 per transaction for all originating in the US. Maybe if you linked to a US WF acct they would have similar fees to receive international transfers?

    6. azvlr

      Chase also has a Quick-Pay feature that you send money to anyone with an email address. It’s available from their website or the mobile app. I recently heard about Venmo, but I am concerned/curious to know what might happen if the company decides to take off while your money is in it’s system.

      1. Noah

        I’m a Chase bank customer and have used QuickPay many times. The only downside is that the other person must have a QuickPay account (doesn’t require them to have a Chase account) or be willing to set one up. According to my sister, the transfer will show up the next day.

    7. Aam Admi

      I use PayPal for transferring funds to individuals or entities that do not have a history of relationship with me. But I am not comfortable linking my bank account to PayPal and pay with my credit card.
      Me & my son both have accounts at the same bank. I have set him him up as a payee and am able to transfer money by going through the process used for paying bills online. The transfer is immediate.
      He works in the US and used to study in Canada. He has CAD & USD accounts at the same bank and does frequent transfers.

    8. Mephyle

      The answer depends on who, where, and how much. Are you transferring money internationally or within your country? That will make a difference. Are you transferring it to yourself, or paying someone else? Again, it makes a difference.
      And finally, different methods have a percentage fee (better for small amounts) or a fixed fee (better for large amounts).
      This probably doesn’t apply to you, but here’s a tip if you are transferring a medium-to-small amount (less than about $1000, say) from a first-world country to a third-world-country: look for services aimed at local workers who are sending remittance payments to their families back in the home country. If the market is fairly large, it is competitive and you are likely to find services that transfer money at rates much cheaper than regular bank transfers.

  2. Ali

    About to go to bed soon since I started my new work schedule this week and am trying to get more sleep.

    But good news! I’m almost done with the dentist for six months! I went the other day for my cleaning, and aside from the scraping part which felt like something torturous, it wasn’t really that bad at all. I need one more appointment to have an old filling fixed and another cavity filled and then that’s it until my next cleaning.

    Unfortunately, I do still need my wisdom teeth out and I found out my health insurance doesn’t cover that. :( I don’t know what I’m going to do but I have a consult with the oral surgeon on Tuesday to see what’s what. I hope my dental insurance can pick up some of it or I’ll be stuck with a huge bill.

    Oh well, though. I am trying not to think about it and instead prop myself up for getting over my dental fears and I am much happier with my teeth to boot.

    1. Stephanie

      If you’re near a dental school, that’s an option for cheaper dental work. I’m surprised your dental insurance won’t cover it–did you hit your maximum already? (My dental insurance limit was pretty low, like $1500, so it wasn’t hard to hit the maximum.)

      1. Ali

        Sorry…meant my medical doesn’t cover it. I already called the insurance company to be sure since one tooth is impacted and they said it doesn’t fall under their coverage. I have to see if my dental will pay anything toward it.

      2. Lamington

        Seconding Stephanie’s advise to visit a dental school. My sister is studying to be a dentist and they accept cases like yours. Even braces are cheaper. You can even get sedated there.

    2. nep

      Congratulations. Good for you for overcoming that apprehension and getting things rolling. Must be a huge relief for you.

    3. Hummingbird

      Double-check your insurance again. If you have impacted wisdom teeth, that is sometimes considered medical rather than dental. That’s what happened with one of mine.

      1. Rebecca

        This was the case with me. Normal wisdom tooth extraction wasn’t covered, but mine were impacted, so it was considered surgery, and the insurance company covered part of the bill and I had to pay a copay.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Good for you!
      Mine weren’t as bad as I had thought after several years with no dental visits. All I had to get were two fillings (one old one replaced). But I had to have periodontal therapy (dear God the SCRAPING). Which reminds me–I need to get a new electric toothbrush. I forgot to when I was out running around yesterday.

      1. Ali

        I need to get one too. My dentist had brochures for the Sonicare all over her office, but I didn’t purchase it there. Next paycheck this week, though, I will.

        The scraping feeling haunted me for a day or two after my cleaning, especially since my gums were tender afterward, but I think I’m finally putting it in the past.

  3. Stephanie

    Are you ready for some football? (I’m not.) I feel like the TV in the house has been on football or some sort of football-related programming since Thursday.

    1. Fruitfly

      I am not a football fan. I have never understand that sport. That might be shocking to some people, but I just don’t enthusiastic about football.

        1. Stephanie

          I should clarify–American football. But I haven’t been able to get into the other football, either. It is a tad sacrilegious to grow up in Texas and not be into football (Friday Night Lights is sort of a documentary, really). Being in high school band, I had to go to every game in high school and was just bored (my high school team was also bad, so that didn’t help things) until we had to go warmup and perform at halftime.

      1. en pointe

        I do not understand American football at all. There are so many stoppages, it takes like three hours to play a game. In Australia, we just stick a bunch of players on the field and get on with it. I’m a rugby league fan, but my boyfriend plays Aussie Rules. Their finals are on, so our conversations are battle of the football codes at the moment.

        I do love watching your Superbowl though, for the atmosphere, if nothing else. A sporting event doesn’t get much better than that.

        1. Dan

          Every major professional American sport (the big four — NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL) all take about three hours to play, so criticizing American football on its own for the length of play isn’t all that fair. They could change the duration of the game if they wanted to. After all, MLB has 9 innings and NHL has 3 periods. Only NBA and NFL have four quarters.

          Those sports have become so interwoven with TV and commercial breaks so much so that other sports that don’t have natural stoppages have a hard time getting on American TV.

          1. en pointe

            Ha, extend my criticism to all those American sports then! I love footy, but I wouldn’t sit around for three hours. I got shit to do.

          2. en pointe

            Speaking of the NBA, did anybody see the video this week of the USA basketball team seeing the Haka for the first time? It’s a great watch. Countries that play New Zealand in rugby union and rugby league see it all the time, so we’re used to it, but the American’s faces were gold.

              1. en pointe

                I loved the ending. They were like ‘wait, do we clap?’ No, you don’t clap. It’s a fucking warrior dance – they’re saying they want to crush you.

                I’m actually struggling to think of any former colonial nation that displays aspects of their indigenous culture on a national, (and in this case, international) level, and as national symbols, the way that NZ does. It’s an important thing.

          3. Anonymous

            Yeah, but of those three hours, only one is actual play time. Four 15-minute quarters. Most of the remaining two-plus hours is either commercials or fat guys jostling around. I am not a fan of football; can you tell? I also do not like baseball and think it drags on far too long. At least with basketball and hockey, there seems to be more time in plan and less time standing around.

        2. Apollo Warbucks

          Aussie rules is a great game and I loved going to the games when I lived in Austraila. I never got in to rugby league, coming from the south of England rugby Union is the only type of rugby played.

          The tactics in American football make it the closest thing in sport to chess, it’s an interesting game but I’ve never watched enough to understand it all.

          1. en pointe

            Ha, touche!

            I do love catching up on the cricket, but my watching is, admittedly, limited to highlights. Not because I don’t understand the rules, but because it, like gridiron, takes all bloody day.

        3. Noah

          I’m American, and that’s my big complaint too. Football just drags on and on, stopping constantly. I do enjoy hockey, because the game seems to actually move, even though as Dan pointed out they are about the same length in reality. I also enjoy going to a baseball game, but they are incredibly boring to watch on tv. My dad and sister are huge football fans though, so the tv is always switched on to it at family holidays.

      2. Vicki

        There are so many of us that many years ago I read an article that included an acronym for us: IRDCAF (I Really Don’t Care ABout Football).

    2. Ann Furthermore

      I *am* ready for some football! Die-hard Denver Broncos fan here. We have (mostly) put the horror of the Super Bowl behind us and are ready for another season. I think that game was cursed from the first snap. I really hope Petyon Manning can get one more Super Bowl ring before he hangs it up.

      1. Stephanie

        That was painful even by Super Bowl standards (it usually seems like it’s a low-scoring, defensive-heavy game, but watching a trouncing for three+ hours got old fast). However, I was rooting for the Seahawks (because I thought they had the cooler uniforms). Yup, I’m that friend you invite to the party who just snacks (I do bring very good snacks and beer) and tunes in during the commercials.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          That game was classic Broncos though, as awful as it was. When they are good, they are flawless. And when they are bad, it is just painful and appalling to watch.

          I work for a subsidiary of a Very Large Company based in Seattle (bet you can guess which one), so there was some friendly competition between the 2 companies. I have to hand it to them though — they painted a plane with the Seahawks logo, and had it fly in a huge number 12 (for the 12th man) over eastern Washington state. Pretty awesome.

      2. Too early

        Colts fan living in Denver… I grew up in Indianapolis, so I have a valid reason. I will still cheer for the Broncos, as long as they aren’t playing the Colts. Scared to leave my house tomorrow!

        1. Ann Furthermore

          My husband went to the Broncos season opener last year, and the guy sitting beside him was wearing a Ravens jersey — this after the Ravens beat the Broncos is the playoffs the year before. The season opener was a rematch. My husband told him, “Wow, it takes balls to show up in *this* stadium wearing *that* jersey!” He said the guy was pretty cool, he’d been in San Francisco on business the week before, and was able to get tickets to the game, so he stopped in Denver on his way home. The Broncos spanked the Ravens, and at about halftime, my husband was yanking the guy’s chain a little bit: “Can you feel it starting to slip away?” And the guy had to admit my husband was right. They had a good time razzing each other during the game.

      3. De Minimis

        I love college football, but have always been only a casual follower of the NFL. Generally don’t pay attention to it till the postseason.

        I’ve attended so many colleges that I have at least 3 teams to follow.

      4. SBL

        We actually attended that Superbowl as it was being held in our state. Poor Denver. The Seahawks fans were definitely louder!

        1. Anonymous

          That’s what happens when you really really want it. The Seahawks needed that win! Just time to repeat it :-)

    3. Kalliope's Mom

      My husband and I made a compromise about football, he can have the tv in the living room while I get the tv in the bedroom with netflix. Both of us are happy and I get to spend quality time with Kalliope watching older Disney movies. She usually goes back and forth between the two rooms and will wear a State shirt (looks adorable!)

    4. Dan

      Yes, but I don’t have cable or dish, and I hate the skins, so there’s not much to do except catch some stuff online.

      I found out that DirecTV is now selling the Sunday Ticket as an online streaming option; I would buy it, but this year it’s limited to NYC and SF, which kinda pisses me off. I’m not getting two years of DirecTV just to pay for Sunday Ticket on top of it.

      I joined a fantasy league for the first time in forever, and with the exception of a few star quarterbacks, I realized I had no idea who anybody else was. Crap.

      1. Stephanie

        Admittedly I was a transplant, but I never figured out the appeal of the Redskins the 3+ years I lived in DC. The team was never very good when I was there, the owner is a jackass, the stadium is horrible, the colors are fugly, the mascot is racist…is there something appealing I’m missing? My alma mater’s football team wasn’t great when I was there (but they’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve graduated). However, back when Kennedy was in office (yeah…) they could go toe-to-toe with Big State U’s football team. So you’d meet an alum from the class of ’64 and all he could talk about was Alma Mater Football. Did the Redskins just have some long-lost glory days like that?

        (Not entirely clueless about football. I understand the game and know some info…I just never found it very interesting to watch.)

        1. Dan

          Snyder was a client of mine at a previous job, so I can vouch for the jackass part.

          The skins had some glory days way back yonder (google the ‘first’ Joe Gibbs) but its been so long and this town is so transient that I’m a bit surprised there’s enough folks to hold on to that.

      2. The IT Manager

        I cannot begin to describe how annoyed I am that DirectTV has a monopoly on Sunday ticket. Very, very unfair. I am very happy with my Verizon FIOS which provides my internet too, and I do not want satellite which can be disrupted by weather. I would be willing to get my team on my TV every week, but I don’t want to get DirectTV to do it. As far as I am concerned it is an unfair monopoly.

    5. evilintraining

      Yes!!! Lifelong Pittsburgher and diehard Steelers fan!!! I hope my boys have a much better year. I still say Todd needs to pack his bags; the offensive line has looked like crap under him. But seriously, I just want to see some football, period!

      1. Stephanie

        My friend is a Pittsburgher and diehard Steelers fan. The one year the Cardinals made the Super Bowl, the Steelers were the opponent. She hosted a party. I had no real stake in the game, but wore scarlet and white just to see her reaction. I believe if I hadn’t brought snickerdoodles, she might have kicked me out. IIRC, it was a close game. One of her friends (also from Pittsburgh) was praying and muttering at one point. And then the Steelers won and someone pulled up “Here We Go” and there was singing and dancing. It was fascinating to watch. I met one of my best friends at that party–we both had no interest in the game and struck up a good conversation.

      2. Ann Furthermore

        I’m also a Steelers fan. I was born in Pittsburgh so I’ve always liked them. I always root for them unless they’re playing the Broncos.

    6. Rebecca

      This is the one thing I miss about not having cable TV. I dropped cable 2 years ago, and I sorely miss college football. Sometimes I watch a game at my parent’s house.

      1. De Minimis

        Yeah I’m in the same boat, sometimes I listen to games through an app on my phone. We might see about having cable again depending on where we live next. Not going to bother with it here.

      2. Anonylicious

        Yes, this. I hate the idea of getting cable when I only want it for football. I usually stream a radio station from back home that carries the games, but it’s not the same.

        1. De Minimis

          That was when I knew I needed to cut the cord, I realized that I left the TV off an entire week after the BCS Championship game.

        2. The IT Manager

          I try to listen to a web radio broadcast of my favorite team, but I cannot stay engaged like on tv. I have trouble picturing/understanding what’s going on.

    7. GrumpyBoss

      I was very ready, until I watched my team be systematically shut down on Thursday. Then I realized how it would be another long year of “just this close” with no accountability for anyone in the organization, from the GM to the medical staff.

      I wish it was February already. Then I’d switch my insane fandom and frustrations to the NHL.

      1. Windchime

        Sorry about that. I think it was my local team that shut yours down.

        We are hoping for a repeat up here in the great PNW. After so many years with crappy teams (I’m looking at you, Mariners), that win in February felt pretty good.

    8. Felicia

      i didn’t even realize it was football time . I don’t get the appeal :) Luckily as a Canadian, I’m not expected to care about it, though a lot of people here do love football. I also don’t care about hockey, which as a Canadian is basically blasphemy.

      1. Vancouver Reader

        I’m with you Felicia. Hockey, while vaguely interesting (if it’s on tv and I can walk in and out of the room and just catch glimpses) should not be talked about 365 days of the year. Soccer is way more interesting.

    9. Anonymous

      I’ve tried to get into football but I guess it’s just too slow for me and I don’t really understand it. I watch it once a year – Super Bowl.

      I’m just waiting for the NBA season to start.

    10. littlemoose

      Yes! Rams fan here. I love football and feels like forever since the last season. (Of course, our quarterback’s knee is busted again, so I dunno how long my excitement for this season will last. Not a fairweather fan but worried it could be a long season.)

    11. Elizabeth West

      You mean handegg? ;) Meh, I usually just ignore it. It’s time for the ISU Grand Prix–I’ll need to call DirecTV and re-up the Universal Sports channel. I cancelled it after the skating last year because I wasn’t watching it.

    12. MT

      Football season is where it’s at. I can usually crank out 2-3 hours of extra work while sitting on my couch watching football.

    13. C Average

      I don’t get football at all. Never have.

      If I’m with the right crowd (either at a game or while watching on TV), I can make appropriately enthusiastic noises when other people do and even summon genuine admiration for the insane feats of athleticism I’m witnessing. But I have no idea what the downs and penalties and other football minutia mean.

      Here is where I confess something embarrassingly shallow, but oh so true. For me, one of the great pleasures of watching professional sports is . . . how can I say this politically correctly? . . . the eye candy. It’s one of many reasons I adore watching soccer. It’s hard to get excited about football when the players are dressed in such a way that they all look the same, and they don’t look particularly human. I really enjoy being able to not just admire the players’ physiques (I’m married, not dead!), but to see on their faces the emotions related to the game: the effort, the triumph, the heartbreak, etc. All the sports I enjoy spectating (soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis) offer the spectator the chance to experience not just the action of the game, but the human drama they players are experiencing. Football just doesn’t have that component, and for that reason it’s less interesting to me.

      1. brightstar

        If it helps, I watch soccer for the same reason! Judging from Buzz Feed, a lot of people watch soccer for the hot players.

        1. Stephanie

          Yup, me too. I don’t even usually find crazy amounts of tattoos attractive, but something about soccer players…

    14. Lamington

      Nope, send DH to my in-laws house so I don’t have to watch/ hear it. Anyway his brothers will be there.

    15. Mints

      Me! I like football, and people are surprised, like all the time. My nerdy/quiet/secret punk seems to throw people off. Football is a complicated game, for sure, but that doesn’t stop nerds from playing D&D or Magic the Gathering.

      Good football fans root for the home team, always. Can I rant for a second though?

      In Northern California, we have two home teams, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders. Most people are 49er fans, and it drives me nuts how biased the local sports news guys are. When they’re going to talk about “all local teams” it ends up being like 20 minutes of 49ers analysis, interviews, predictions, and like five minutes of “The Raiders lost to the Jets.” You have to actively seek out Raiders shows to get more. It’s infuriating. (I realize the 49ers have had a few good seasons recently, but they used to be much worse.)

      The Raiders are always portrayed as the villains. (They have the hardest schedule in the league this year.) We never catch a break!

  4. Diary Inquiry

    Hi everyone,
    I have been writing a diary for seven years in order to improve on my writing and to record life events that I can reflect upon. So far neither has became a reality. For my writing improve, I will work on that by reading style guides; as for reflecting on my life, I think the problem comes from my hesitating to freely express myself.

    Sometimes I feel that it is hard to write down my exact thoughts and feelings because they can be controversial and off-putting.

    But I have always think that in order to start writing about something, it is better to write something you can connect with or that you can relate to. I dread the writing assignments that I have when I am at school, yet I can’t seem to write something that I feel might be helpful to write about. Writing your thoughts can be a good mental exercise. Plus, I like the idea that in the future either the “older me” or the later generations of my family can read about my experiences struggling, changing, and growing. But sometimes I am afraid to face my thoughts for the way they are.

    Has anyone had this trouble when they are writing a diary, journal, or memoir?

    1. Ruffingit

      I’ve only had trouble when I think about it as something others will read and I start to censor myself. My feeling is that if you’re going to write a journal or diary, then write it freely and openly as if no one else will ever read it. Likely future generations will, but if you really want them to understand you for who you are, be honest. No need to censor just because your thoughts may be off-putting or controversial. Be who you are and let those future generations see the real you.

        1. Anonymous

          Yikes. If worried about security of your diary [in the event of becoming famous, or for any other reason], seems to me a paper version is much better idea than electronic form. In electronic form there is always some (often small, but still nonzero) possibility of a person hacking in remotely to read it. If it is accessible only in hard copy a person has to be physically present where your diary is in order to read it.

          Thinking about this further…I guess this would depend on what you mean by electronic form and whether your device was connected to the internet or not during your updates or in between times. A memory stick that you plug into a computer without internet access I suppose would be similarly secure to a hardcopy journal.

          1. Audiophile

            I had a ton of online journals (lj, xanga, etc) that I kept, during my angsty high school years. And as I started cleaning up, so to speak, I exported them and deleted my accounts. None of them use my real name and I’m not too worried about people finding them. I’ve never had any security issues with any of them.

    2. PuppyKat

      Yes, at times I’ve felt the same way. Plus it’s a bit frustrating that when something incredible happens in my life, it also usually means I’m too busy to take the time to write it all down.

      But I keep plugging along. And although my writing doesn’t necessarily improve, it’s still amazing to go back and read about a day from one, two, or five years ago. At least for me, the writing is good enough to transport me back to what I was thinking and feeling at the time.

      Regarding facing your thoughts: When I’m having a hard time, sometimes I just have to force myself to write something down—as accurately as I can at that time. And I also forgive myself for those times when I can’t “go there.” Sometimes it’s good to let something sit in the background and percolate until I’ve processed it more thoroughly.

      Good luck with your writing—hope you keep it up!

    3. Waiting Patiently

      Have you tried to start with writing out just goals? I’ve been writing in journals for years and I don’t feel my writing has gotten any better either. I found that if I start with a couple of bullet points like goals or something that really impacted me that day – I write more freely without censoring myself. It also help me organize my thoughts. And i really don’t pay attention to how I’m writing as much as what I’m writing. I’d have to say good luck to anyone who tries to read through my journal because it’s not chronologically organized nor did i intend for it to be–I had become bored of the format.
      I organize my journal in large sections, according to work, school (when I was in school–might be returning), family and relationship, life goals and/or whatever goal made my big list for the year. I sort of “check in” with each section throughout the year(s). Make notes and adjustments. I guess i have more of a goal planner. Sometimes I chart stuff and make diagrams so I can visualize stuff better. (I know it’s a bit weird but I’m a visual person). I once drew out how i wanted to design my living room, years later i had all the pieces in the exact design. I also have pages where i just date and write especially if something really impacted me that day. Needless to say my journal is very interactive.
      Anyway if you want to improve your writing, how about focusing on one topic from the day’s event and dedicating the time to really focus on writing in a few descriptive sentences and build from there.
      I would love to be able to write and express myself as eloquently as some of the memoirs I have read ( because I love reading them) but alas that’s not my style.

    4. C Average

      I used to try to keep a journal, but it just felt like a lot of introspective drool and it honestly kind of bored me.

      I started instead to keep an observing-the-world notebook, the same way artists keep sketchbooks. I’d go sit in public places and write down descriptions of what I saw. Sometimes I’d see interesting people and speculate about their lives and thoughts. Sometimes I’d see an occurrence or catch a snippet of conversation that seemed interesting to me, and I’d use it as a launching point for more writing. It was interesting and fun and I liked it, and I felt like it did make me a better writer: I was seeing things and trying to write them in a way that would accurately convey them to someone else. I still do this kind of writing from time to time. Especially in airports! Airports are the best place for observing the world.

      If other people were to find it, they might find some of my observations strange and my tangents ridiculous, but no one would be insulted or hurt or think differently of me.

      (I still keep a really abbreviated version of a journal. On my calendar, every day gets a letter grade and, occasionally, a comment.)

    5. Diary Inquiry

      Thank you everyone for all your comments and suggestions. I prefer to keep my diary as a hard copy because I wanted to be someone that enjoys writing in paper as much as writing online. I also wanted to avoid staring at the computer screen for too long. I’ll keep my diary in a private drawer in my room.

      I have been thinking…in order to write my off-putting thoughts down in paper I might write a side note on the page stating that I understand my thoughts may anger a lot of people but I just need to vent really badly. Or I can state I know I needed to do this action…but I just can’t do it because of my nerves/shyness/etc. This is just a mental strategy to make myself less hesitant to write my thoughts. Plus, I can look back and see how I developed emotionally over the years.

      I also think that there were many times when I just couldn’t write all the significant things that happened during the week. Sometimes when I started writing, I feel like I needed everything that happened in one day. Maybe I could start by writing just one big event for whenever it happened without including too much of what others things happen on that day, unless background info is needed.

  5. Not Telling

    Looking for a little advice. My spouse assumes that the day an item reaches its “sell by” or “best by” date, it turns to poison and it drives me buggy! What drove me over the edge is this week she threw away an almost full pound of salt. A. Who knew salt had a “best by” date?, and B. It’s SALT! It’s a frickin’ rock!

    I absolutely hate throwing away perfectly healthy, tasty food. I work in hard science and logical discussions have changed nothing. Facts don’t seem to matter, it’s all emotion and squick. Info sheets from USDA – completely ignored. I have to restrain myself from yelling and calling her beliefs stupid, even though they are.

    Suggestions?

    1. Fruitfly

      For dried foods, such as chips, crackers, and cookies, I think that you can still eat it even one month after the sell by date.

      For pastries, I will still eat it if it is five days after the sell by date.

      For yogurt, I will eat it three days after the sell by date.

      For produce and refridgerated meat, I think I will throw it out.

      1. Dan

        To be clear, the OP wasn’t asking how long you think stuff keeps after the expiration date, but suggestions on how to deal with his wife before he kills her.

        1. Fruitfly

          I start setting up my expiration date eating rules after looking through what foods were given away in the food pantries in my community. Maybe the OP and his wife can volunteer at a food pantry and she could see how “expired” the foods are and yet they can still be given to the people. Maybe that could change her mind…or no…

      2. Gene

        I pretty much use the Alton Brown method, the “Three S’s” Stinky, Slimy and Sticky. If it’s not any of those three, it likely won’t kill you. It may not be at it’s peak, but it’s likely not dangerous.

      3. Rebecca

        I’ve found yogurt 2 months past date, or more, shoved to the back of the fridge, and if it looks good, and tastes good, I eat it. It’s already cultured!

    2. Alter_ego

      I have this argument with my roommate, but I’ve so far been unsuccessful. We don’t share food though, so as long as he doesn’t throw out my stuff, I can at least deal with it. Can you point out that, especially with sell by dates, the obviously don’t expect you to consume the whole thing immediately, so if it says “sell by”, there must be a few days at least where they expect you to be consuming it after it was sold? And “best by” literally means just that. Not “lethal after”, just that taste or freshness may be slightly diminished, if anything.

      I just use my nose. If it doesn’t smell off, and it isn’t stale or moldy, I figure I’m fine.

    3. Ann Furthermore

      I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing. I’m only freaky about a couple things. One is milk, and even that is fine a few days past the expiration date, although when it turns, it happens fast. Skim milk seems to keep longer, I assume because there’s less (or no) fat in it. The other is chicken. Even if I buy it at the store intending to use it the next day, I put it in the freezer and take it out the next morning to thaw. About a month ago, I made some chicken tikka masala (using some jarred sauce I found at the store), and when I cooked it I realized the chicken had been sitting out for much longer than I’d intended. I used it anyway, and later that evening I paid the price (or something in the sauce did not agree with me). Thankfully, it was just me, and the hubby and kids were fine.

      This seems to be something people either are nuts about, or don’t think is any big deal. Tossing salt is a new one on me though.

      1. Gene

        Odds are good it was either the sauce, or psychosomatic. I had a fellow sailor when in the Navy who couldn’t eat anything off base or ship when out of the US. He missed some great meals; but every time he would have “food poisoning”.

      2. fposte

        Apparently, milk spoils faster the *lower* fat that it is–the spoilage bacteria are about the carbs, not the fat.

        However, a complication is that some milk is ultra-pasteurized (a lot of chain organic milks are, for instance), and that stuff lasts for a long time even after it’s opened.

      3. KayDay

        Interesting – my experience has been that skim milk spoils faster. I don’t use much milk apart from coffee and occasionally baking things with it, so I actually switched to full-fat milk for my occasional milk purchases.

        Regarding chicken – I’m always really careful with chicken, because to me, it just never smells good. One time I had some chicken that had clearly (and very suddenly) gone bad. But I only noticed because it was sticky and slimy (ick!) but the smell wasn’t particularly noticeable.

        1. Red

          To take the stink out of meat, use a small amount of baking soda, apply to the meat (not ground meat! yikes) and let it sit for 5 – 15 minutes, then rinse. It will get rid of the stink AND tenderize the stuff. Small amount being 1/4 – 1/2 tsp.

    4. Nina

      As someone who gets very paranoid about food going bad, I empathize with you and your spouse. It drove my family crazy when I would pour out a whole gallon of milk because it had passed the expiration date. Very wasteful. Sometimes it hadn’t even been opened!

      I wonder if your spouse had a bad experience with food poisoning. I did as a child and it made me very nervous about food being fresh and whatnot.

      I’ve learned that most things are OK for a few days past the sell by/expiration date. I get a little leery when it comes to meat and dairy, especially when they’ve been at room temperature for too long. When I’m really in doubt, I throw it out. I also check this website called stilltasty.com. It’s very thorough and it gives me peace of mind before I throw something away. LOL.

      1. Nina

        Oops, the comment is in moderation because of the link, but google “Still Tasty” on the shelf-life for particular foods. Helps me a lot when I’m feeling paranoid.

      2. Dan

        I’ve got the worst food safety habits ever, and I never get sick.

        That said, your post is really mixing two very separate topics — how long food is safe after its “sell by date” while properly stored, and how long food is safe when NOT properly stored. When you leave stuff out at room temp, you shorten its life very very quickly.

        Dairy is interesting, because it all depends on the product and how much exposure to air it gets. For example, I’ve got a container of yogurt that I didn’t unseal until a month after its expiration date, and it’s as safe as can be. But if I leave a cup a milk at the bottom of the gallon carton, it will go bad fast.

        I try to freeze meat right away, that way if I don’t get to it before its sell by date, no big deal. If I keep it in the freezer too long, I run into quality issues long before I run into health issues.

        1. Treena Kravm

          Yes! Unopened dairy is good for months past the expiration date. I love skyr (an Icelandic yogurt-like soft cheese) and no one in my small city carries it. So I order it by the case and inevitably there are a few at the end that are 6,8,12 weeks past expiration date. They’re always still good!

        2. the gold digger

          I was a Peace Corps volunteer. Didn’t have a fridge in my first house. We had a big house party with volunteers from all over the country. Cooked a turkey and left it on the counter overnight, ate from it the next day. Nobody got sick. I also would leave yogurt out and never got sick from that.

          I have eaten at some dodgy places outside of the US and I don’t throw food away unless it smells bad or looks funny. The only times in my life I have gotten food poisoning have been at restaurants in the US. So I don’t worry too much about it.

          PS I also couldn’t wash my hands a lot when I was in the Peace Corps and guess what? I didn’t get sick.

    5. Dan

      Marriage counseling?

      I’m not kidding. At this point, you’re not arguing about throwing away food, you’ve got stuff way deeper than that.

      This isn’t a quirk for you to just deal with, you’re wasting money, and that’s a real legitimate thing to have concern about, particularly when you’re trying to use reason and facts. Besides, doesn’t she have any respect for your profession?

      If she brings in an income, you might be able to shift some more of the food cost towards her side of the budget. After all, if that’s an issue that she won’t budge on, it’s not fair for you to carry that burden. We all have to pay for what’s important to us.

      Oh, the funny thing with salt isn’t that it’s a rock, but it was used as preservative in other countries for many years.

      Or maybe you can take a sharpie and cross out the date so it’s not legible.

      1. Jen RO

        You mean it’s not used as a preservative in the US? *eyes her delicious pickled cucumbers in salt water*

    6. K

      Ask them what they think people did before sell-by dates were invented.

      Look at the food and smell it. If meat or dairy products smell bad, throw them away. Mold and large rotting spots on any type of food mean that you throw it away as well. You can also toss any foods when they go stale *but* you can make a nice bread pudding with stale bread.

        1. AdAgencyChick

          This sounds like a case of “emotions convince, facts justify.” I have a strong suspicion the OP will have better luck if he tries, in a completely nonjudgmental way, to understand the reasons for his spouse’s fear and then address those reasons. And by “reasons” I don’t mean necessarily that the spouse is giving factual reasons that can be rebutted. Maybe it’s that, when spouse was a kid, she got nasty food poisoning, and forever after will associate “past the sell-by date” with “puke” even though it may have been a freak occurrence. Or maybe growing up, her parents were equally strict about throwing out anything that’s past its sell-by date and she simply does not feel right keeping the food.

          Let’s say it’s the latter case — I wonder if approaching the situation more empathetically would lead to an agreeable compromise. “I totally get it — I know how hard it is to do things differently. When I was growing up, my parents would go ballistic if we wasted anything, which is why I get so frustrated when we throw out food that’s still edible.” This might lead to spouse giving in, or spouse agreeing that she won’t throw out food until a certain amount of time past the sell-by date as long as she doesn’t have to eat the expired food, etc. — but I don’t think it would lead to a complete stonewall because this is probably at least as much about feeling heard as it is about whether food is spoiled or not.

      1. Cath in Canada

        Mould on cheese means you cut the mouldy section off and eat the rest of it – I’ve done it all my life and I’m fine (although I am super paranoid about chicken after a 10-day bout of Campylobacter food poisoning that landed me in the hospital). But yeah, the sniff test is a much better judge for dairy products than the date is, and mouldy meat (not that i’ve ever seen any reach that stage!) should be thrown away immediately.

    7. QualityControlFreak

      Well, your one example of the waste of healthy, tasty food was a pound of salt. While I wouldn’t ever think of salt as spoiling, over time it can become compressed and stick together, at which point it’s more or less useless because, as you’ve observed, it’s a frickin’ rock. If that were the case, and my spouse flipped out on me for throwing it out, I think I’d probably ask sweetly if they wanted me to buy them a new pound of salt. Because really. How much money are we talking here? It’s salt.

      And this isn’t about salt, anyway. It’s about how much you are willing to compromise to get along. Your spouse has some habits around food safety that annoy you very much. But weight that appropriately. How much do you think it costs you in wasted food? Yelling and calling your spouse’s ideas stupid is a high-cost move in terms of getting along or building a stronger partnership. So weight that appropriately, too.

      1. Dan

        You’re right, this isn’t about food. She won’t reason with him or listen to logic, or for that matter read the FDA pamphlets that he brings her.

        Which is why my advice upthread is marriage counseling. She shouldn’t get to draw a line in the sand and tell him he has to deal on his own.

        1. Treena Kravm

          This. I don’t love all the advice of “she’s not going to change/suck it up.” I really believe that a big part of marriage is to make each other into healthier/better human beings. It’s clear that this is somewhere in the mental illness category, and she should get at the root of her issues in therapy, not having a loved one mask it for the next 30 years. Sure, it may take a looong time for anything to happen, but he shouldn’t resign himself to a lifetime of her phobias and of wasting food.

          My husband is the same way about hoarding. We have a stack up to my knee of that old paper they used in dot matrix printing, and he insists that we use it as scrap paper before recycling it. Well, sure. We have a giant 3 bedroom house and plenty of room. But in a year, we’ll be downsizing, putting things into storage and moving, so he knows it’s gotta go by then. Same with the printer (I kid you not) from 1992 that hasn’t worked in about a year. He knows he has to let go, he knows I’m making him let go. I’m compassionate about it, but there’s no way I’m going to let him wallow in useless junk for years. Because I love him.

          1. fposte

            I don’t think this is necessarily that big a psychological deal or anywhere near on a par with hoarding, and I think there’s a real marital risk when your definition of making your spouse healthier is making them agree with you.

            If she can’t let it go even if NT brings home a special treat for him/herself that the spouse wouldn’t have to ingest, or even if NT does all the cooking/shopping, that’s a broader issue. But using food quickly isn’t overall a bad thing, and it’s possible to shop with that in mind and thus avoid the food waste problem.

            1. Treena Kravm

              It’s funny you say that because I think this is a higher level than hoarding (or at least my husband’s level, which is super minor compared to those TV shows). From what NT says below, she’s throwing away a *lot* of food that isn’t even questionable. Eggs, bread, unopened milk, canned food?? That’s all really easy to tell whether it’s off or not. It sounds like they’re not able to use food within the sell-by date, because if I were in NT’s place, that’s the first thing I would try.

              Of course it’s not about making her agree with him, and it’s definitely not necessarily a full-blown mental illness, but her behavior is on one end of the extreme, and she won’t budge. So if she won’t compromise *at all,* which is what it sounds like, why is it that he has to compromise? He presents several possible solutions/compromises, and she gets to say no without offering up her own? If this is the only issue she refuses to compromise on, it’s probably rooted in something psychological.

              1. fposte

                Ultimately, it’s up to NT. But this isn’t a situation where he’s desperately longing for two-week old milk and can’t have it. It just bothers him ideologically, and the financial hit, which is pretty small, is easily avoidable by changing shopping habits.

                I mean, I agree that it’s no more incumbent on him to change than it is on her, but it’s also no more incumbent on her to change than him. So set aside the notion that this is about whose will counts more, and see what matters here for the people involved. In general, I think that comfort in one’s own house is pretty important, so if I, for instance, lived with Jamie, I would make an effort to be a lot less grossheedless about cleaning, because that’s important to her in a way that not leaving the toothbrushes out really isn’t to me.

      2. Not Telling

        The salt was just an example of something that literally doesn’t go bad (at least, not in our lifetimes). Yeah, it can cake and I can see getting some new for that; but this was free-flowing and completely fine.

        I could stock a small supermarket with the things that have been dumped. Unopened carton of milk? Down the sink. Bread? Trash. Canned foods? Opened, dumped in toilet or trash depending on consistency, can recycled (gotta be green, don’cha know). Eggs? Cracked into the toilet and trashed the shells. The condiments? Oh. My. Gods. The condiments that went in the trash and sewer. She threw out honey. They’ve recovered honey from the Pharaoh’s tombs and it was edible! I think you can get the idea. That date, no matter what it says, is sacrosanct.

        I’ll look at StillTasty. It won’t do any good, but I’l try.

        And while some of it is the money, it’s the sheer waste. I was raised to not waste food. Period. Not that “kids are starving in Bangladesh”, but you just don’t waste food. Dad hunted so we would have meat. I grew up on venison, wild turkey, and pronghorn; and you can bet that every edible part of those animals was eaten. Maybe that’s the answer, game! Deer don’t have expiration date tattooed on their rumps.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          I really hate wasting food also, which, given that I’m not a frugal person generally is odd, how upset I get when I throw out food. I think it’s because it feels so first world over privileged to throw out food. Or something.

          One of the things I do is refuse to replace food that’s been thrown out, for at least a couple of weeks. Another thing I do is keep an eye to dates and give warning to get this XYZ used up now before it goes out of date.

          I don’t believe the dates on eggs AT ALL, but my husband does, and it’s not worth a fight if I insist the eggs are perfectly fine. So instead it’s “three days left on these eggs, lets use them up now” (or, implied, I’m not buying any eggs for another couple weeks and we can all go eggless), and that seems to work out.

          We’re now on a salad greens ban, which is cutting off my nose to spite my face since I want them to eat more greens, not less, but I threw out smelly salad greens this weekend. Hopefully we all will miss salad enough to eat it all up the next time it arrives.

          1. Jazzy Red

            Re: eggs. Yesterday on America’s Test Kitchen, Christopher Kimball said that he found some eggs way back in his fridge with an expiration date of at least a month earlier. He cracked one open, it looked OK and it smelled OK, so he used the eggs in baking and cooking. No problems with that. I’m not going to worry about the egg carton date anymore, although we usually use them up quickly. Salads greens get slimey, so they get tossed without a second thought.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

              What I remember, and bear in mind sometimes I just make things up but what I remember is that when I was growing up/young adult, eggs were dated out much further than they are now (a month or more). Egg dating practices were changed to be much more conservative across the board after “whatever” scare. So, what I remember is that the same eggs that never killed me before are now arbitrarily dated to be bad.

              None of which flew with the husband. He’d rather go by the date on the package then whether things are actually bad so, eat em up now then mister, before they are out of date.

              1. fposte

                The US also commercially washes eggs in a way that removes the protective coating, so they don’t last as long.

                Egg rottenness is blindingly obvious, so I don’t pay any attention to dates but I do crack them in a separate dish first and have low expectations for the egg whites beating up if they’re old.

              2. HR Pro

                Wakeen, you’re probably right about the egg dates. I’m pretty sure that I’ve heard that various food sellers/manufacturers will artificially shorten the “sell by” or “best by” dates to make it so that people will by more product (because people throw them out thinking they’re past their usable life). I bet the salt is a good example of that — the salt sellers want you to throw out “old” salt sooner that you actually need to and buy more.

                I doubt this will help NT, because logic isn’t working in that situation, but if other people are curious they could do some internet searching about this.

            2. AdminAnon

              A great way to test eggs is by sticking one in a glass of water. If it sinks, it’s perfectly fine. If it sits in the middle, it’s ok to eat if it’s cooked (i.e. scrambled instead of over easy). If it floats, toss it. It has something to do with the gasses being released as they age. I have a really weak stomach, but I’ve never had a problem with eggs using this method.

              1. acmx

                Thanks for this! I usually only use eggs for baking and I rarely can use all 6 before the expiration date. I never want to crack open an old egg – I’m afraid of the results. Eggs kinda gross me out.

            1. Noah

              That’s totally what I do. I have a coworker that lives in a rural area and is always bringing cartons of eggs into the office to give away. They taste way better and they’re free. Some people are grossed out because she doesn’t wash the eggs, but she says that it makes them last longer even if they’re a bit ugly. I don’t mind rinsing them off first.

              1. Jen RO

                I’m a city girl, but I’ve spent a few summers in the countryside, and the idea of washing eggs is… odd. I mean OK, they obviously wash them for sale in supermarkets and such, because they look better… but it’s not like anyone’s gonna lick the egg, so what’s so gross about it?

                1. fposte

                  The US commercially washes its eggs, which is actually a little controversial–it strips them of protective coating that makes them last longer, for one thing–but it means to us “normal eggs” are very, very clean. Despite coming out of chicken butts.

              2. hermit crab

                She’s right. Eggs are apparently laid with a protective coating that makes them last a very long time if it’s not removed. I recently learned that this is why raw eggs stay good longer than hard-boiled eggs, which seems counter-intuitive to me — boiling destroys that coating.

          2. Ann Furthermore

            I hate wasting food too, and my biggest struggle is with leftovers. I have a heck of a time getting my husband to eat them.

            He’s a big dude, and has 3 brothers who are also big dudes. So in a house with 2 parents and 4 voracious boys, I think he grew up believing that leftovers were an urban myth, other than Thanksgiving. When we got married and I started cooking more, I couldn’t just make a smaller meal for the 2 of us. Because in addition to being a big dude with a big appetite (6’5″, 290 lbs), he never eats breakfast and sometimes skips lunch, so by the time dinner rolls around he is absolutely ravenous. So he’ll eat pretty big servings of stuff. There are usually leftovers, but I’m the only one that eats them. When I asked him what his hang-up about it was, he said he doesn’t like to eat the same thing 2 days in a row. No matter how many times I tell him that skipping meals like that causes wild blood sugar swings, he does it anyway.. Argh!

            Now, we have 2 kids and his mother-in-law living with us, so it’s not as much of a problem. Mostly because in our house Friday night is usually leftovers night. When he grumbles about that, I ask him if he likes what I cook. When he says yes, I say, “Then you have to freaking eat it!!” Otherwise it gets all nasty and gross in the fridge and it gets tossed, which just bugs the crap out of me.

            We are in the midst of a kitchen remodel and at the moment I’m unable to use the range. So last weekend, I had what I thought was a great idea. On Sunday I threw a big hunk of pork into the crock pot and made pulled pork, and on Monday I did the same thing with a big hunk of beef. Enough for us all to make do for dinner for the rest of the week. I told him this very clearly and said that we’re going to be dealing with leftovers for awhile. The next night, what did he ask me? “What’s for dinner?” And then was not pleased when I reminded him about the pork/beef options for the week. ARGH!!!

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

              You’d think with three men 6’1″ to 6’3″ in my house (2 grown sons), I wouldn’t have leftover problems, but all three of them are going to eat what they eat and they aren’t big on leftovers. I like to cook big batches of things but, I had to give it up. I’d freeze stuff and I was just making more stress for myself. If you freeze stuff consistently, you have to manage your freezer. I already have a day job.

              So, I try to not to create leftovers, OR, I intentionally create leftovers that I can use in my dog food. (thread from 6 weeks ago, make my own dog food. NO LEFTOVER PROBLEMS or complaints from the dogs!)

              Good luck with kitchen remodel! We were out of our kitchen for 6 months. oy. so much take out food.

        2. Colette

          I agree with Dan. Counselling is the way to go.

          This is something where your values differ. Your logic is fine, but you can’t win an emotional argument with logic.

        3. Treena Kravm

          I’m wondering if throwing food in the toilet is a thing many people do? To me that sounds really strange (especially the eggs). When I’m cleaning out the fridge, I toss everything non-liquid in the trash bag and take it out right away. I’m guessing it’s because she checks dates daily that she doesn’t want goo in the trash?

          1. Diet Coke Addict

            This is honest to God the first I’ve heard of throwing food in the toilet. I’ve always tossed liquids into the sink and washed them down with water, foods into the trash (or into the sink also if I have a garburetor), and be done with it.

            1. fposte

              I think it gets more common in dorm/communal/work situations, where the sink drain can’t really cope with the volume of solids.

            2. Gene

              If I have a stew or something liquidy but too chunky for the sink drain, I’ll toilet it. Speaking as a wastewater professional, ideally one should strain out the solids, skim the fats, out those in solid waste, the dump the liquid down the drain.

              Garbage disposals are evil. They are probably the largest source of grease to the sewer, and grease causes about 80% of sewer overflows. We have such problems downstream of apartment complexes that we are considering banning disposals in future multi-family construction.

              1. Stephanie

                When I was in my dorm room, I used to toss liquid/chunky food down the toilet (like soups).

                Gene, so is that why disposals aren’t allowed in New Jersey? (Or maybe it’s just certain parts. I could see the density there presenting some problems.) I was staying with my friend’s family in Northern NJ town and their municipality didn’t allow garbage disposals.

                1. fposte

                  Oh, I’d never heard of that–that’s fascinating! The Dirty Jobs episode at a wastewater plant did make me a lot more careful about what went in the water vs. the garbage; I’d genuinely never processed the fact that either I take the stuff out now or somebody else has to take the stuff out later.

              2. K

                You can still use a garbage disposal without adding more grease to the sewer. My parents put all grease in a can, the can went in the freezer, and when it was full it was disposed of properly.

          2. Cath in Canada

            My husband’s done it a few times, e.g. when getting rid of the dregs from a big pot of soup. Once he did it and then didn’t flush the loo, which gave me quite a shock when I walked into the bathroom!

        4. Zed

          To me, an obvious solution (read: compromise) is to work on reducing the amount of food you keep past the expiration date. For example, if you have an unopened, expired carton of milk, you are probably buying milk too often. Same with the bread.

        5. QualityControlFreak

          Waste bothers me too. A lot. So if your spouse is truly throwing away enough food to stock a small grocery store, let’s drill down to the root cause.

          Food comes into the house, food leaves the house. You want to make sure it leaves via being eaten rather than in the trash, so what can you do?

          It appears to me that you’re buying too much food. I mean, you’re eating enough of it to keep you alive, and she’s still throwing out this much? Whoever does the grocery shopping controls how much food comes into the house, and this is where changes can be made. If spouse does this task, I’d suggest you swap duties around. Take over the purchasing and stocking, using good storekeeping practices like “just in time” and “first in, first out” to ensure you are able to use food within the recommended timeframes.

          If you need to stockpile some food in case of emergency (we do), MREs or other emergency rations have a long shelf-life. You can rotate stock out as needed.

          And wild game – yum! But the family of hunters I grew up in still marked the packages of freezer-bound venison with the date of Bambi’s demise, and used the meat within a reasonable timeframe.

          Compromise is possible here. You can use food before the expiration date, and buy only what you will use. It takes some attention but it can be done.

          Honestly though, I still don’t think this is about food. To me, you sound angry, and righteous. You can be justified in both (not saying that I think you are, just that you can be) but it does nothing to fix your problem. You could also decide that you can’t live with this wasteful, illogical person, move on and reorder your life however you want it, with no need for discussion or compromise.

        6. Jenna

          I feel for you. Having a disagreement of this sort does not make for a cozy home life.
          I have a roommate who is recovering from living with a hoarder grandmother and dealing with the food that grandma thought was still ok to serve. Hint: sometimes it was not. So. I understand that my roommate has squick issues with some food having hung around too long. I am the main cook. I don’t cook huge amounts of anything and I monitor what gets used fast and what doesn’t. I’m lucky, she doesn’t care about salt, spices, condiments. It’s mostly opened things and leftovers that cause problems. I can plan around this, but, it does require planning.
          I had larger problems with someone I lived with before who wasn’t *quite* a hoarder, but, was definitely someone who didn’t want to throw anything away because, “we might need that!” He also bought food on impulse, and didn’t like my cooking. I ended up spending much more on eating out with him, because if I made something, then I was often the only one eating it, and who likes to cook when it isn’t appreciated?
          So. Maybe I have been on both sides? From your description, this has gone way WAY too far in the direction of tossing food. I see boundaries being trampled here, and I second the idea of counseling. Planning out food purchases to only cover what you will absolutely use by the sell-by date will help, but, there is more going on. Also, I can’t imagine a mismatch this severe that is also not impacting something else in the relationship. It looks like the most visible tip of an iceberg to me.
          Counseling!

        7. Celeste

          I don’t think she’s going to change. It sounds almost like an obsessive fear with her. Is she anxious about a lot of things, or just this?

          The only coping advice I have is to keep a much smaller pantry and refrigerator stash for what you will use this week, and go to the grocery more frequently! If it never gets allowed to get past the expiration date, it won’t be on her radar to toss it. It will cost more in time since there won’t be any stock-ups, and maybe you might eat out or get carryout more frequently. Maybe this is a way to meet in the middle, between her phobia about spoilage and your phobia about wasting food.

          I don’t think either one is ever going to become like the other. You’ve had all this time together which proves that each have your own camp.

    8. Josh S

      Here’s what the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service has to say:
      http://goo.gl/d7JMBv

      “Except for “use-by” dates, product dates don’t always pertain to home storage and use after purchase. “Use-by” dates usually refer to best quality and are not safety dates. Even if the date expires during home storage, a product should be safe, wholesome and of good quality if handled properly.”

      Basically, stuff is good to use until it spoils. The date on most food products is when the manufacturer wants you to throw it away by–either because they don’t want people stockpiling (the industry term is “pantry loading”) when stuff is on sale, or because they think it will hurt your perception of the brand if you eat stuff that is stale (ie a degradation in quality, not a decrease in safety).

      Tell your spouse to stop throwing good food away! Because someone who claimed to work for a major international manufacturer of food products (which I am) said so on the internet.

    9. Chloe

      I feel for you, my husband is the same and it drives me mad. The European Union is having some discussion about removing the best-before dates from certain foods – long-life foods such as rice, coffee, dry pasta, hard cheeses, jams and pickles.

      I wonder if she realises how much this upsets you, and if I were you, I’d sit down and have a very calm discussion where you explain that you understand her need to eat safe food, but that the best before dates are largely driven by the desire of the producers to make money – the quicker you throw it out, the sooner you’ll buy more. Explain the science (briefly), give her the info again, and ask whether she is willing to consider compromising on this. Maybe you can find some foods that she is comfortable to eat past the best before date, and you can find a middle ground. It sounds like she is entrenched in her position, and you’ll never get someone to change their mind in that situation by being emotional.

      Good luck.

    10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      My suggestions for a happy marriage? Was that what you were asking? :p

      Cost/benefit, cost/benefit, cost/benefit

      Salt costs like $1.00. Cost of throwing it out, $1.00, benefit, not fighting with your wife or proving her wrong or illogical over salt.

      :)

      1. Noah

        Agreed! It drives my girlfriend crazy that I spend $15 a week washing my car. She says it is unnecessary, I disagree. I finally asked her if spending $60 a month of my own money was something we should really be fighting over.

        1. fposte

          There’s nothing like being close to somebody to make you realize that what’s deeply important to your life’s contentment and order is just weird to other people, and vice versa. Kind of like when you went to a friend’s house in primary school and found that they Did Things Differently, and what the heck was that about?

    11. Another Teacher

      I sympathise with your spouse. Logically I know that best before dates aren’t really that important, but that doesn’t take away the sick churning in my stomach when I try to eat them. I grew up with parents who ignored use by dates etc entirely and I was often forced to eat out of date disgusting food so as not to “waste” it, so the sense memory of that over-rides any logic I try to apply. I just can’t enjoy food if I know it’s past the date printed on it. I’m happier just chucking food out and buying more, even if it means wasting it. For me that’s a small price to pay for feeling safe and happy with my meals. Luckily I’m single so I don’t have anyone trying to force me out of this.

      Maybe you can try to find out where your spouse’s aversion is coming from, and understand what is motivating them to do this. It might help you with the part where you are feeling the desire to yell at and call stupid someone you (presumably) love and respect. Therapy or marriage counselling might be useful in this, for one or both of you.

    12. evilintraining

      If you’ve gone as far as presenting USDA sheets without her budging, this is an unwinnable battle. I’ve been married for 20 years by letting certain things go. Buy smaller containers of stuff if you have to in order to keep food out of the trash. DH and I both make concessions to make it work; don’t sweat the small stuff.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Agree 100%.

        The husband changed his diet to reduce a lot of the bread he was eating. All of a sudden, the bread I was buying was going moldy before it was half eaten.

        Neither one of us like frozen bread, however, I could not keep throwing out bread, and nobody was going to sell me half a loaf. So I say, honey, I gotta start freezing this bread, I don’t have any choice. Okay with you? And he says, sure, I see your point.

        I split the loaf up the moment in comes in the house, half in the bread drawer, half in the freezer, and the next week we eat out of the freezer.

        If he’d insisted on fresh bread all the time, I would have had to tell him to buy the bread then because I just can’t keep throwing this stuff out and buying more. And we would have worked it out that way then.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          I do frozen bread, it doesn’t bother me. When I first got married, I couldn’t figure out where the hell all the bread was going. I’d buy some at the store, and it would be gone 3 days later. Then I realized that my husband would come home starving, and make himself 3 sandwiches to hold him over until dinner. I ranted about his eating habits above.

    13. Rebecca

      LOL my Mom is like this. She’s given me blocks of cheese, because the sell by date is the next day. Once I said “Oh, so you won’t eat spoiled cheese, but you expect me to eat it?” I got the Mom frowny face over that one. Explaining to my Mom that this is cheese, and most likely had a layer of mold on it before it was cut and shrink wrapped doesn’t work. So I take the free cheese, and when I get around to eating it, I do. If a little speck of mold appears on hard cheese, I hack it off and just eat the rest.

      Truly, I think we are very spoiled here. Things we consider garbage and not edible would be scarfed up and eaten by many people in the world.

    14. Jazzy Red

      First, realize that you are not going to change her. She is the way she is.

      Second, why not just do a sweep of your food every month, or every 3 months (or whenever), and pull out everything that has a date coming up soon. Use that food before taking out newer food.

      Third, don’t stock up on food that you won’t use within the next month or two, no matter what the price is or how good the sale is. If you’re throwing food away, you’re wasting the money you spent on it. Just buy what you’ll be able to use up within that time frame.

      Logic and reason are ineffective weapons again phobias. You can’t destroy the phobia, so you have to find ways around it. As Dr. Phil says, “do want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

    15. Treena Kravm

      How about having her put all the “throw-away” food on a specific shelf, in both the fridge and pantry. She doesn’t have to eat it, but it’s marked appropriately so she won’t accidentally consume it and you can instead. Put your foot down and argue it from a money/green perspective that you believe passionately in (even if you really don’t). If she throws something out, take it out of the trash (hopefully that’ll squick her out more so she’d rather just see you eat it).

    16. fposte

      You’ve likely seen the, um, raging discussions here about what is and isn’t disgusting. They’re not logic based. This is like telling your spouse that there’s logically nothing wrong with rat meat. Logically there isn’t, but it’s going to be too much of a hurdle to get over for people who are disgusted by the notion and have choices.
      And I’m not sure food waste is really the issue here–a bag of salt is under a buck, after all, and were you going to eat it to make sure it didn’t go to waste? I’d also be very careful that you’re not getting into the bad territory of dividing things into “the way she wants it” vs. “the logical way,” when the second is just a lofty term for “the way you want it” that makes it sound a lot more significant.

      I personally think that sell-by dates are manufacturer CYA and that I’m perfectly capable of making stuff last much longer, but I also think that this isn’t a big thing in the scheme of a marriage. If you find it so, then that’s a sign that it’s not just about the logic, and then maybe the marriage counseling idea isn’t a bad one.

      If she doesn’t think you’ll poison her, could you just take over the cooking and shopping?

      1. Dan

        Did you see the op’s second post further up thread? The salt was only an example. The overall behavior he describes sounds extreme, way past the “For only one extra dollar, you too can have a happy marriage.”

        Your general characterization of “her way/my way” is rather accurate. This is about both spouses finding a way to get their needs/views heard and valued in the marriage, which is why I’m not a big fan of the OP just caving in. If the gender roles were reversed, I’d still have the same opinion.

        1. fposte

          As would I, but I don’t think deciding that this isn’t a fight that’s important to you is “caving in.” In fact, I think if you can’t concede to your partner’s tastes now and then without construing it as caving in, it’s definitely time for marriage counseling.

          Compromise doesn’t have to be splitting every issue halfway.

          1. Dan

            Given the frustrations that the OP is expressing, it’s pretty clear (to me) that this is important to him — he’s already decided that. He asked advice on how to convince his wife to change her behavior. The answer is: Not going to happen. Taken to an extreme, what he really should ask himself is whether he’s willing to leave the marriage over “this.” (I use quotes, because “this” isn’t about food safety. It’s about other “stuff” for a professional to sort out.)

            If he’s willing to leave his marriage over this, then that’s one conversation that should be had. If he’s not, then yes, he’s got to figure out how to accept things for what they are. I guarantee you that if he doesn’t come to terms with “this” and won’t leave the marriage, then there will be another fight that sounds like something else, but in reality he’s reacting to her inability to budge on the food.

            You’re right, not every issue can be split half way. If one spouse wants to send their kid to a particular private school, and the other doesn’t, claiming it’s a waste of money, you’re not going to “compromise” and send the kid half day to the private school and half day to the public school.

            1. fposte

              I don’t disagree on this–if this is a dealbreaker for him, it’s a dealbreaker for him, and he gets to say. But “important” isn’t the same as a dealbreaker, and deciding it isn’t a dealbreaker isn’t the same as caving in.

              And I think it’s really normal as well as revealing that as NT kept posting the issue turned out not to be about logic or about money, but about him being raised with a different idea of what’s important in the kitchen than hers. They’re each seeing this as a referendum on the kind of person they are. And maybe it could, you know, not.

              1. Jenna

                Actually, it’s possible that the different raising and the way tossing the food makes him feel(I’d feel insecure) has only been brought up here. It wasn’t the first argument used. Most of the initial discussion was about the logic and expense of it. His spouse may actually respond better to a discussion about how it makes him feel when she tosses out food, and a shared discussion about family food habits and insecurities.
                I’m not actually saying that logic doesn’t matter, but, in some relationships one person often gets designated as the Logical one, and one as the Emotional one, and it can influence how arguments go. If only logical arguments are counted as real reasons, and one person gets to be the default logical person, the other can end up digging in their heels on things because the deck is stacked against them as the default emotional person.
                I have spent some time in relationships where only logical arguments and reasons counted, and emotional reasons were side eyed, and as a woman, stereotyped as more emotional to begin with, I started off behind. My reasons always had to be super researched and presented calmly and reasonably always, or they didn’t count. He, on the other hand, had the assumption of being logical to start on his side, even if his motivations were absolutely emotional. Yes. I did end up digging in my heels on some issues.
                I’m not saying this is what is happening here, but, it could have some aspect of this. Go ahead and let the emotional reasons count too, on both sides, and see if it helps?

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

          Yeah but caving in vs not caving in is the mindset to avoid.

          There’s a bunch of win/win options.

          Avoid the battle.

          1. fposte

            We are as one on this :-).

            Look, if this is emblematic–on either side–of a person who can’t deal with having anything but what s/he wants, and every restaurant outing and screen viewing choice is to that person’s preference, then there’s an imbalance that I think would be problematic to most of us. And if one resident’s preference is way out of the household budget, that’s also something to be negotiated.

            But absent information that suggests these situations apply here, this is more on a par with shoes on/shoes off in the house, towels in thirds/towels in half, pay by credit card/pay by cash. They’re all acceptable ways to live. So that’s when you start figuring how much the actual issue, not just the disagreement about the issue, matters to each of the participants, and whether that’s more important to both people than the relationship. But in general, a relationship mean accepting that you will often not have things the way you would do them if you were on your own, and realizing that your partner isn’t either, because you’re finding the benefits of togetherness to outweigh that.

          2. Dan

            It’s not for us to decide which battles are worth fighting over and what not. You say there’s a bunch of win/win options, but the OP has offered nothing to suggest that his wife has any interest in finding a solution that works for both of them.

            The only real option I’ve come across so far is to decrease the amount of food that gets brought into the house.

            1. fposte

              I don’t think every option does come with a win/win possibility, but I also think classifying as winning/losing means “time for marriage counseling” right there.

    17. kas

      I refuse to eat food that has expired but I think it’s pretty inconsiderate to throw it out when there’s other people in the house who have no problem with it. Why can’t she just ignore it and let you use/eat it? Salt needs to be purchased again anyway so she could easily leave the old salt for you and she could buy her own. Maybe try telling her that if you haven’t already done so? I don’t think you’ll get her to use/eat the expired food though, even with proof I don’t think I could bring myself to eat it.

      P.S. I had no idea salt had a “best by” date but it’s salt, what could be wrong with it other than possible clumping?

    18. Bea W

      I had the same container of salt for 10 years. I don’t think I’ve seen “sell by” on salt, and shame on brands who do that. It’s freakin salt!

      I’m mildly squicked out by food past sell by date. I know it’s in my head, but it totally messes with my perception of the taste and grossness of it. Ignorance is bliss in my case.

    19. Andrea

      I have a similar problem, except that it’s me who can’t handle discard by dates. I solved this initially by shopping more (trying to only buy what I needed for a few days at a time) and eventually by hugely reducing the amount of packaged food I buy. Since nearly everything is fresh (and I’m a vegetarian which I suppose is a factor) I don’t get hung up on the dates anymore and use other methods (smell, sight, the egg-in-water method) if I’m worried it’s been in the fridge too long.

    20. Elizabeth West

      I get your frustration–that would drive me buggy. I hate it when people disregard facts or won’t try to learn something.

      If she absolutely won’t listen, the only thing I can suggest is buying stuff in smaller quantities so the waste is less.

    21. Erika

      I think the real issue here has to do with the fact that this is an on-going argument at all, not that you’re arguing about the date at which food should be discarded. Aside from the topic, your post could absolutely have been written by either me or my husband. We’re both hard-headed and tend to have our largest arguments over fundamentally stupid things (we once got into a heated debate at the Air and Space Museum over exercise in zero-G, which has NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on our real lives. He’s an engineer, and I know now that he was right, but his arguing style and attitude made me dig in my heels).

      Logic hasn’t worked. You’ve seen that providing sources hasn’t worked. So it sounds like ultimately, you both have to make peace with the fact that you’re not going to agree on this and find a way to get along so that your marriage doesn’t continue to suffer over what (from the outside, at least) is a fairly trivial thing.

      We went through a period where we had too much food spoiling. We elected that I would be the Refrigerator Manager and make sure that as little food as possible went to waste. Ultimately, I discovered that we were buying too much food and cut way back. Perhaps this is an option?

      You’re not going to change your wife and she’s not going to change you, at least not like this. What you can change is the way you two interact and relate to each other, and it sounds like that’s the real problem here.

      Good luck.

    22. C Average

      Did she ever work in food services?

      In college and in my early twenties I held a lot of food services jobs, and these kinds of guidelines were bright lines in that world. As a result, use-by guidance is kind of hard-wired into me at this point. You can show me all the scientific evidence in the world to back up your claim that it’s fine to use stuff after the use-by date, but I’m never gonna do it. It squicks me out. My husband has come to reluctantly accept that, as the person who does the majority of the cooking in our house, I get veto power on this one, and we do not eat expired food, period.

      1. Dan

        To be clear, you mean that you don’t eat food past its labeled expiration date, right? This whole discussion is about how food is NOT expired for some non trivial period of time past the date stamped on the packaging.

        1. C Average

          That’s correct, I don’t eat food past its labeled expiration date.

          I’ve taken a lot of steps to make sure we don’t throw food away unnecessarily. We don’t buy perishables in bulk, we shop strategically for produce and meat, etc.

          But yeah, that date on the package is gospel to me. I’ve heard the arguments. I know some of them are valid. I don’t care. I’m not using expired food.

          1. C Average

            One other thing: I have a really weak sense of smell, so I don’t trust my own judgment in sniff-test situations. It’s one more reason I like and abide by the bright-line guidance of an expiration date.

    23. NatalieR

      I have two thoughts – first, since this is her issue perhaps it should also be her responsibility to make sure items are used or stored in a way to extend their life (freeze, pickle, cook and freeze, etc.) prior to their expiration date. I am the one in our household who prefers to avoid past-date items (though I usually rely on smell for most things). Therefore, I am the one that takes charge of making pickles before the veggies go off, cooking meat/making sauce or soup then freezing it, etc. I don’t throw away stuff I know my hubs will still eat, but he is nice enough to eat it up and not think I need to.

      The other idea is to track the expenses of throwing away as much as is tossed, then equate that to tangible items that matter to her. Three pounds of meat and a gallon of milk equal a dinner out or a nice bottle of bourbon. If nothing else, thinking about it in monetary terms at least keeps me from mindlessly buying in the first place. I really try not to purchase anything I know won’t be used in the coming week’s meals (I make a meal plan every Sunday prior to grocery shopping). I also try to take inventory of dry goods, condiments, etc. and work the ones that have been hanging around the longest into the week’s plan. It’s still not perfection, but we are able to use much more of what we buy.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        since this is her issue

        Actually, it’s not. It’s his issue as much as hers. He’s the one who can’t stand throwing out a $1.00 thing of salt so much he’s looking for as much evidence as he can to convince her she’s wrong.

        Best use dates on salt are years out.

        The issue belongs to both of them. In my house, I’m the one who can’t stand throwing out food so I proactively manage to things to make sure there’s as little food throw out as possible, including around a spouse who doesn’t have the same definition of bad as I do.

        The OP could do this and literally save the day, while eliciting cooperation from his wife while they work on it together.

        Seriously, this is how you stay married and get through the real stuff. Things like this are dress rehearsal for how you deal with bearing a handicapped child, taking care of parents in the last stages of life, coping with financial duress, taking care of a spouse who is critically ill, etc.

        This is the practice round. Work it out together.

        1. Dan

          The whole thing I keep coming back to is that the OP has not presented any evidence to suggest that there’s any “together” in this solution. It feels like she drew a line in the sand and told him how it’s going to be and he just has to deal.

          I have an ex-spouse who wanted everything her way, no matter what. Some things I didn’t care about (like whose family we saw for what holidays) and some things I did (like how much money got spent every month.) Her idea of compromise was telling me, “You make $X, why do you care how much I spend” Considering she wasn’t working, and we didn’t have kids, that stung a bit.

          Needless to say, between that battle and a few others, I was willing to take a hike. I can really sympathize with a spouse (of any gender) who says, “My spouse just told me to suck it up, whether I like it or not.” Sometimes, sucking it up means walking out the door and never coming back, and both spouses need to be prepared for that.

          If they can’t get this issue “resolved” (whatever that means) now, it’s going to be one in a longer line of issues that gets piled up to its breaking point. Which gets to your point of this being a practice round, but my point is I’m not seeing a whole lot of “together” on her part. To me, that a pretty BFD. It’s not on the OP’s shoulders alone to make this work.

          1. fposte

            The thing is, Dan, there are a lot of happy couples that have an issue that never gets resolved. They really don’t always balloon into a larger resentment that results in a breaking point. (Have a look at John Gottman for more on this, especially his work with people who are long-term happily married.) Tons of senior citizens in nursing homes can tell you about their decades long marriages with people who cannot ever be on freaking time, who won’t travel by air, who insist on washing the car every week (hat tip to Noah!), and who they would never want to be without. In a bad relationship, like yours was, there’s not enough to compensate for those issues; in an otherwise good one, people do accept these flaws because the package brings them so much–and usually, because they’re aware their partner is accepting something equally irritating.

            1. fposte

              Second thoughts: I also think you’re talking about an experience with somebody who’s genuinely disordered (which really sucks, and wow, I’m sorry that you went through that), and that’s different from the negotiations on things like this that every couple has to go through. Most people who aren’t disordered still have their weird thingies, but they’re not out to make everything about them 24/7, and if you treat them as if they are, that’s going to be relationship-harming in its own right.

              1. Dan

                Thanks. I was with someone that is highly likely to be genuinely disordered, but she wouldn’t allow me to talk with her therapists, so who knows what the truth is. My own shrink says that they can’t do third party evals, so it is what it is.

                I could list a bunch of examples, but what it comes down to is do couples communicate or they don’t. Is there any effort at all to comprise, or at least establish a mutual understanding of each other’s position? You’re right that not every issue has to get resolved, but if there’s a chronic lack of empathy, things are probably doomed. Like for me, if I were to stay in that relationship, i would have to accept that every time we had a major disagreement, that my position had no merit and wasn’t worth considering.

                And different things are deal breakers for different people. I do a lot of foreign travel, and much of it I’ve done a lot on my own. Its important to me that my next spouse at least be willing to accompany me on most trips. So for me, “no travel by air” is a deal breaker whereas for others it might not even register on the things people even notice about the other.

                1. fposte

                  You know, I admire the heck out of you, in this day and age when we assign total strangers headings from the DSM, for stating you don’t actually have this diagnostic information about your ex. That’s impressively mature.

                  I totally agree on the chronic lack of empathy thing. Why share your life with somebody who isn’t really concerned with your well-being? I think one of the challenges, especially when you’re really starting to get to know somebody, is assessing the implications of somebody’s behavior as well as the bearability. If the towels are huge to you, you get to end it over the towels. If the towels aren’t huge but it’s emblematic of somebody’s need to control everything, you get to end it over the control. I just think you also have to leave room for the possibility that the towels aren’t emblematic of a need to control and the towels themselves don’t matter as much once you figured that out.

          2. QualityControlFreak

            I think this is what I’m getting at. The issue isn’t food, it’s about individual values, goals and agendas and how those fit into a relationship. As Wakeen said, cost/benefit. If the benefits derived from the relationship outweigh the costs, you figure a way to make it work. If you are at all compatible, you can fine-tune your processes to respect both parties’ values and achieve mutual goals. If you’re unable or unwilling to do that, then, yes; maybe you’ve made a mistake and it’s time to cut your losses and walk.

        2. NatalieR

          I think my using the word “issue” was definitely not thought through. With my husband, when we get to an agree to disagree point on anything, the one it bothers more (organically) is the one who becomes more proactive. In reading your response, it does actually make more sense sense that he be the proactive one. I definitely think they need to work together on it, I was just trying to throw out ideas that totally got around him convincing her he was right and more thinking of other ways of framing the conversation – together – that would be more productive. Because I know if my husband was totally stuck on proving me wrong, I’d bail on wanting to help the situation.

    24. Not So NewReader

      There is a difference between sell by and best by. I would start with that.

      I understand your point about salt and I have never thrown salt out. BUT if she is buying standard salt be aware that they can put up to 20 specific things in salt and NOT have to mention those things on the label. For example they can put sugar in salt and not tell you. Great for diabetics, eh?

      You may not gain ground on this discussion. Consider refocusing efforts on the $$. Tell her that if she must absolutely throw things out by their dates then you both need to look for ways to buy what only what you need so that less is thrown away. Tell her you are concerned about money going into the garbage can. This is going to involve looking at portions and trying to more accurate predict consumption rates. It can be done.

    25. Momiitz

      Can you mark out the sell buy date / best if used by date so it cannot be read? Or transfer the product to a reusable Tupperware container?

    26. Patty

      Send her to a place for awhile that doing that is a luxury. I just spent half a year in Uganda and I will never think about food the same again. People there will work a week to buy the amount of salt she threw away.

      Even easier go help out at a soup kitchen maybe she will feel differently about food after that?

    27. Laura

      I get why you’re getting frustrated, but I think you need to understand that it isn’t a logic issue. I buy bottled water. I buy a single bottle then refill and reuse it for a couple of months or so until I lose it or something and then I buy another one. I could use a real bottle and wash it but I just feel like they’re never really clean. You can’t really get to the bottom to clean them, even with a bottle brush, and the ones with the pop-up tops can’t really be cleaned on the inside. Logically, I know they’re at least as clean as the bottle I reuse for months but for some reason, they just repel me. I’ve tried just having a reusable bottle filled with water for a few days so I’d have to drink from it. But I just didn’t drink water. It doesn’t make sense and it drives my husband crazy (he hates the idea of paying for water) but there you go. No amount of logic can change it because I understand the logic but I just can’t bring myself to use.

      No amount of logic will change it. You can try other things to get her to change but I doubt you’d have much of an impact. I’d suggest trying to use foods before their “best by” and trying to see if there’s a sort of compromise you can come to (such as you eat the food but she doesn’t, etc). Maybe you could give the food away to a friend or someone who would be happy to use it, so it’s not being wasted? Also, logically, the amount of food being wasted is not huge, in the grand scheme of things. I know it’s a waste, but it’s probably not worth continuing to stew about (easy to say from the outside, I know).

  6. Ann Furthermore

    The new tile in our kitchen is complete! My husband finished the grouting earlier today. He did a herring-bone pattern, which looks absolutely beautiful. Had I known how hard that was going to be I would have told him to do it in a standard brick pattern — he had laid out 2 options for me to choose from. But I’m glad I didn’t know, because it totally paid off.

    I was actually able to help a little bit last night — he grouted the breakfast nook while I scraped the mortar off the tiles in the kitchen. He was able to start the grouting first thing this morning. Tonight we got the range and fridge moved back into place, and I was able to get all my daughter’s toys into the breakfast nook (which we use as her toy room). And tomorrow, my husband will start hanging the cabinets. So excited!

    1. Newsie

      Jeez, herringbone looks so difficult when they do it on HGTV. Congrats to you and your husband! That must have been very time-consuming.

    2. EA

      We did our kitchen floor this spring. No herringbone, just a straight brick pattern, but it still looks much nicer than it did before. We paid to have it installed, a choice that I do not regret.

      With that said, we want to do our living room and foyer in hardwood, and I’ve said that I want to do the work myself. Anyone have any advice?

  7. Winkytink

    Hi! There was some interest last week in finding a place where users of this site could talk or meet up with one another outside the comments section, so I registered a chat room (IRC). I mentioned it in that thread last week, but it was recommended to me that I repost this weekend so more people could see it.

    The URL for accessing the chat room is https://kiwiirc.com/client/irc.rizon.net/askamanager. The Kiwi client is quick, clean, and easy to use and works really well through both PC and mobile. It is always open! If you log in and hang around, others are bound to drop in. We did have a handful of visitors (even Alison!) one at a time last week, but no one stayed very long because it was empty, so get on over there and get to know each other!

    If you don’t know how to use IRC or need help with commands, let me know–I’m always logged in as @Winkytink in the chat room, and so is my sidekick @halfsandwich (although I may not always be immediately available). You may also want to register your username (if it’s available on the network–some people may find their preferred username is already taken.) Alison, if you register yours, I can set up chanserv to auto-op you every time you drop by.

      1. Winkytink

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Relay_Chat_services#ChanServ

        It’s the service on the network that handles channel (room) operations. From things like who has access, what level of access, to what can and can’t be done within the chat room, etc.

        Auto-opping means when chanserv recognizes your login and you are in our chat room, you will automatically have operator status, which allows you certain powers to mute, kick, ban and make changes to things like the topic. Most of those perks probably wouldn’t be necessary among this lot, but it basically sets you apart as one of the “leaders” of the room and you’d have a @ symbol by your name.

    1. Jen RO

      Thanks for advertising it again! I set my Trillian to auto-join while I am at work, so I’ll be around during EU daytime.

  8. en pointe

    So this is kinda weird, but I was wondering what people think about the idea 0f respect. This came up in the comments on a post here maybe like a month ago? I can’t find the post anymore, but basically one commenter said you should respect everybody unless they give you a reason not to, to which another commenter was like ‘No, I don’t respect everyone. Respect is earned’ (paraphrasing here).

    I’ve been mulling over this pretty much since. I always thought that you should respect and be kind to everyone you meet. I mean, I certainly don’t admire everybody; that one’s earned, but I do respect their value and their rights, and even if they’re maybe not the nicest person in the world to me, I can still respect them and be kind to them and help them if they need and want it, because pretty much everyone will have ways in which their life will challenge them at some point, and sometimes it can be hard not to let that show through. I don’t stop respecting someone unless they do something really horrible.

    I don’t know why I care so much about this, but I kind of feel like something’s missing for me if we don’t have to respect everyone. Like this is super lame, but just being basically civil to everyone seems kind of cold. (P.S I’m not one of those super annoying people who goes around sticking their nose in everywhere and trying to be helpful to everyone, even when they’re not needed / wanted, I promise. I just realised this little ramble kind of makes me sound like I am. But if I have the capacity to help someone and they need / want my help, then I’m all in.)

    So yeah, what do others think? Do you respect everyone, or is respect earned?

    1. Kalliope's Mom

      I am going to quote my father “Respect is a two way street, you have to give it in order to earn it.” He taught me that there are times you are always respectful i.e. elders. But if that person disrespects you, you can stop being respectful or just ignore them.

    2. Ann Furthermore

      I think there are different kinds/levels of respect.

      There are people I’ve worked with who have really earned my respect over the years, due to their expertise, professionalism, and what have you. This has been true for people I’ve not cared for personally — if they know their stuff, then I respect that.

      Then there’s the respect that I think we owe each other just as human beings, although maybe “respect” isn’t the right word there. Perhaps “compassion” or “empathy” is better. A couple years ago, my husband and I went through a very long, unpleasant, drawn-out battle with his ex when my stepdaughter moved in with us. There was some drama, and she decided she’d had enough of living with her mom. This woman is extremely unstable and unpredictable, and things got very tense and ugly. At one point, my husband and I were concerned that she might try to hurt herself in a bid for attention and we talked about it. He agreed with me that even though he has zero love for this woman, she is still another human being, and on that level he was concerned about her mental health and well-being.

      1. Ruffingit

        I can see how your husband would be concerned for her mental health and well-being not just as a compassionate human being, but also because she’s the mother of his child. I think, regardless of how crappy you might think another human being is, if they are the other parent of your kid, your concern level goes up. At one point, you thought they were good enough to have a kid with, so even if they’re unstable, I think there is some degree there of caring what they do because you have a child with them and there is a ripple effect into your kid’s life and your own if they commit suicide or otherwise harm themselves.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Yes, it was along those lines. Their situation was unusual — they only dated for a short time before she got pregnant, and never got married. It’s a very long story. But we were mostly concerned about the effect it would have on my stepdaughter if her mom tried to hurt herself, even more so if she were successful.

      2. Dan

        “At one point, my husband and I were concerned that she might try to hurt herself in a bid for attention and we talked about it. He agreed with me that even though he has zero love for this woman, she is still another human being, and on that level he was concerned about her mental health and well-being.”

        But what does that actually *mean*? Let me say before that comes off too cold, that I’ve BTDT. My ex-spouse will get herself hospitalized in an effort to get attention. The last time she tried that was 6 weeks after we separated, and the only person she called from the hospital was *me* despite the fact she also had family in the area.

        While I 100% agree with the spirit of what you said, I keep my feelings at a distance. Based on the advice of my shrink (who’s quite good) I did not visit her in the hospital, send her flowers, or anything of the sort. She will stop at nothing to manipulate people into doing what she wants.

        1. Observer

          In your case, the issue was a bit different, I think. It’s not that you didn’t respect her humanity. It was the you recognized that your need for self preservation had to trump that. That’s always tricky, especially if people around you don’t realize that that’s what is at stake.

        2. Ann Furthermore

          I totally get what you’re saying. When we discussed this, it was in the context of what we would do, legally, to achieve the outcome we wanted. And we agreed that we wouldn’t do anything unnecessarily ruthless, because we simply didn’t know how she would react, and what the repercussions could be for my stepdaughter. And believe me, it would have been tempting, given all the crap this woman has pulled over the years, to really go for the jugular. But we didn’t.

          In the end, she ended up caving to all our demands minutes before we were scheduled to appear before a judge. I don’t think that she and her attorney thought my husband was really willing to go to court, and when they saw that he was standing firm, they lost their nerve.

      3. April

        Yes, Ann, I very much agree with you about there being two different ways we use the word “respect.” I’d even go further and say there’s three levels of respect. There’s the basic level of respect that everyone is owed because they are a human being (not giving this will earn you the objection “Hey, stop that – show some respect”). Then there is the “earned level” of respect where someone has shown themselves to be a really outstanding person in terms of something like character or virtue or skill and you treat them with a certain level (perhaps subtle) of extra deference or honor as a result, more than the baseline level of respect owed to them just as a human being.

        The third kind of respect that I think exists is a respect not for a person but for their office. This would be things like being using customary honorifics and formalities associated with certain positions even if the person in that position hasn’t earned extra respect. You aren’t really respecting them but the office itself, which is an honorable one whether or not it’s held by an honorable person.

      4. en pointe

        Yeah, I actually really agree with this as well. I think the different kinds of respect / distinctions between different ways of using the word is a big part of it, thanks Ann!

    3. A Teacher

      Not making this a work post, but the best way to explain my perspective comes from being a teacher. I don’t expect my students to respect me immediately, I have to earn it. I so expect them to respect the institution of school and the unwritten rules of politeness that seem to guide society.

    4. OOF

      Maybe this is a word-choice issue. I don’t have it in me to respect people automatically, but I feel it is absolutely necessary to be *polite* and *respectFUL. *

      In the words of the great George Costanza, we’re living in a society here!

    5. Chloe

      I get what you are saying. Maybe the response came from the responder’s personal opinion of what the word ‘respect’ means. You feel its different to ‘admire’, maybe the responder thinks its the same thing.

      To me, I guess I think you should be polite to everyone and try not to be judgemental or make assumptions about them. If you’re talking specifically about commenting on the internet (I don’t know if you are or not), I think often with anonymity people can be harsher and more judgemental than they otherwise would be.

      Respecting that people have a value and rights might fall short of ‘having respect’ for someone. I guess I’m saying that maybe you and the commentor are not actually miles apart in your views – or maybe you are, I don’t know – but it depends on what you mean by respect.

    6. Another Teacher

      I don’t see respecting someone’s “value and their rights” as being quite the same thing as respecting them as a person. The former is a generic thing, I respect everyone’s rights as human beings regardless of who they are. That’s me respecting the value of the human being regardless of individual identity or action. That means I won’t infringe on those rights, and I will treat people civilly as a result. It’s an abstract form of respect.

      But actually respecting the individual person? That has to be earned. That depends on who they are, how they act, etc. I will help people to the extent that I am able to do so, generally, but I will go a lot further and care a lot more for people whom I respect as individuals rather than simply as fellow humans. Likewise, I expect others to treat me with basic respect (civility, not infringing on my human rights, etc) because I am a person, but I don’t expect them to respect me as an individual unless I earn it through my actions and my attitude.

      1. Girasol

        Yes! We don’t respect the expert skills of a coworker until we’ve seen those skills consistently demonstrated. In that sense they must earn that respect. But to extend that logic to say, “The intern has not yet earned respect. I may, therefore, treat him disrespectfully,” is not reasonable. Civility demands a certain base level of respect. Extending further respect on credit to someone who has not yet demonstrated he deserves it – treating the intern, say, with more than the minimal civil level of respectfulness – can encourage a person to prove he deserves it. Respect is a pay-it-forward thing.

      2. Windchime

        Yes, this is how I feel. I try to always be courteous and polite to people; that doesn’t mean that I respect them. There is a person at work who has a terrible work ethic; s/he spends hours on the phone and doesn’t ever seem to actually produce anything of value. Am I polite and kind to him/her? Would I help this person if they needed a lift someplace or if their car needed a jump? Absolutely? Do I respect this person? Nope. Not even a little bit.

    7. James M

      I vaguely remember posting something about respect a while ago… anyways, here’s my spiel on respect.

      It breaks down into two aspects: awareness and expectation. You are aware of some of your own character traits, and understand that others have varied awareness of their own character traits. From this, you understand that people can choose to value certain traits within their own awareness (e.g: honesty, kindness, vanity, hatred, etc…).

      When someone’s awareness of their self is represented in my perception of that person, I then expect them to value, and exhibit, certain behavior (or nuances thereof). Uninformed expectations are akin to stereotypes, for example: a teacher may be stereotyped as self-sacrificing and kind; a firefighter may be stereotyped as decisive and brave. When my expectation of someone aligns with my own values, I say that I respect that person.

      This implies that I do not respect someone of whom I have insufficient perception to guess whether they are aware of the values they hold. Also, I do not respect someone whom I deem to have insufficient awareness of their own character. On top of that, I do not respect someone whom I believe has chosen to exemplify values that are not aligned with mine.

      Of course, since I do not value double standards, I don’t expect anyone to respect me. I do value taking ownership of one’s opinions, as I hope I have just demonstrated.

      tl;dr: I like to have a solid answer to the question “Why do you respect that person?”.

      In contrast, showing respect, courtesy, diplomacy, deference, etc… are all governed by culture.

    8. en pointe

      Thank you everyone who’s replied (and who replies after this) for sharing your perspectives. The post I wrote above is something I would never say IRL, not least because it sounds kind of holier-than-thou, so your thoughtful responses are giving me tons to think about!

    9. matcha123

      I try to be/act respectfully to everyone I encounter.
      I will then respect that person if they give me a reason to. If they are rude to me, I can still be polite and respectful without respecting them.

      To me the act of being respectful and the respect that you have in your heart are two different things. This may be totally different from how others treat “respect.”

      1. Tomato Frog

        This is the distinction I make. Your default should be to treat everyone with respect, but it’s not required for you to feel respect for anyone.

    10. Felicia

      I respect everyone until they give me a reason not to, but the reasons not to might vary from person to person. You may think my reason to stop respecting someone is wrong, or I might not understand your reason. Though automatic reasons to loose respect for someone that I hope everyone agrees on are if someone is racist, homophobic, sexist, basically bigoted in any way.

      Liking someone is different, and there are plenty of people I don’t like that I still respect. It’s also different than admiring . Liking or admiring someone has to be earned, but at least for me respect is automatic and an only be lost.

    11. vvondervvoman

      The problem I see in not respecting anyone until they respect you/having to give respect to deserve it yourself is that sometimes, people aren’t in a place in life where they’re able to do that. I work in a social services setting, and I’ve been disrespected so many times, but each time, all I do is pity that person. What kind of low self-worth must she have to have to try to act like she’s better than me? It’s a little easier to make those realizations with homeless people, but it’s helped me do it in everyday life. When one of my best friends showed up to my bridal shower in a white lace dress, I cringed internally and felt so bad for her. (She’d been with her boyfriend 2-3 years longer than me and marriage is her #1 goal, and he just won’t propose.) I could have easily turned that into her not respecting that I’m the bride and there are social conventions blah blah. But I knew the situation. And I assume that when I *don’t* know the situation, that there is one.

      I also think people confuse admiration with respect. You admire someone who works hard and is an amazing person etc. You respect every human being because they deserve the dignity of a fellow human respecting them. Even when they are dirty, or addicted to drugs, or violent criminals. They are still human beings and life happened to them in a way that led them here in front of you. You can’t ever know someone’s whole story, and those that think someone’s story shouldn’t excuse disrespectful behavior, they’re right. It doesn’t excuse it but there is a *reason* behind it. And it’s too complicated for us to understand. And that’s ok. We can just go ahead and respect every human being we interact with.

      1. en pointe

        I’m appreciating reading absolutely everyone’s perspectives, but as far as my perspective is concerned, this was the one where I was like ‘Yes! That right there! That’s what I mean!’. So thank you for articulating it a million times better than I could.

        As a sidenote, I think it’s really interesting that your perspective is shaped by working in social services and getting disrespected, rather than respected. When I first moved to the city, we lived in housos for a couple of years, and a huge proportion of people in Aussie social housos have mental health problems, with pretty much no services available. While only a smaller minority of those were horrible, I got disrespected all the time as well, often by people carrying heavy and sometimes invisible burdens, and I think that’s what shaped my perspective on this too. Which then, as you noted, translates to the everyday situations.

        1. vvondervvoman

          You’re welcome =) If you couldn’t tell, I’ve spent many years really perfecting that train of thought/explanation. It took a lot of self-reflection and really examining why I felt certain ways in certain situations. I’d say mental illness is the #1 reason why people are rude/disrespectful etc. so it’s interesting that being seemingly surrounded by it helped you get to a similar place. Maybe when it happens more frequently, it sort of forces you to notice a pattern and/or make you realize there is no pattern, whatever your bias was.

          Mental illness is actually my go-to in my head for the “reason” they’re behaving that way. That, or if they’re children, abuse. Both because they’re so incredibly common and untouched/not dealt with for so many people. It’s much, much easier to work with someone with true compassion if you remind yourself of the privilege you personally had/have.

          1. Bea W

            Having spent a great deal of time and lived amongst people with serious mental illness (back ward level illness), I tend to default to thinking people are jerky, having a bad day, or experiencing a typically human moment (cranky, young, old, from a different culture, ert). It depends on the conext and the level of rudeness. The crap some people dish out in no way resembles actual mental illness. This is a really terrible stigma that doesn’t help and is really damaging to people experiencing any kind of mental illness. I wish people would just stop it.

            1. en pointe

              I don’t think she’s saying that everybody who acts jerky is mental ill – that’s pretty obviously fallacious. Rather, that it’s very hard for us to know, particularly when mental illness is so stigmatised and often invisible, untreated or both. (And then, of course, there’s the invisible, non-mental health related burdens that people all around us carry every day, many of which we’ll probably never know. Like maybe they’re recovering from abuse, or their loved one is dying or whatever, or maybe just that they have really low self-esteem and their life challenges them in that way.)

              It depends on the context and the level of rudeness. The crap some people dish out in no way resembles actual mental illness.

              My problem with that statement is that it implies a kind of normative ‘this is what mental illness looks like’, and that’s one of the things that, in itself, can contribute to stigma around mental illness, and make it harder for people to seek help. Like, maybe for this particular person right in front of you, their ‘dishing out crap’ actually does resemble that person’s mental illness. I’m obviously not saying that’s true every time, or even close to most of the time, but we, as laypeople, don’t get to say what is and isn’t mental illness. That’s one of the things that’s been happening for years that’s contributed to the abysmal situation we have in most countries regarding mental health. Unless we’re in their shoes, we just can’t know, so to me, it’s the wrong default to just assume they’re a jerk or having a bad day or whatever.

              To be clear, I don’t go around spreading the word that jerkiness is synonymous with mental illness or anything; this is more in my head and is reflected in my treatment of people, but I do assume there are reasons people act in the ways that they do. I totally get that sometimes I’m going to be wrong and sometimes I’m going to be right. But if I’m wrong, and give a free pass and compassion and respect to someone who’s just being a jerk, then that’s on them. That’s their failing in decency and kindness, and that sucks for them.

              But if I’m right, then they deserve compassion and kindness and respect, (even if the situation just calls for it in terms of perception, rather than interaction). Even if it’s only one person out of every ten, and I assume they’re just a jerk or being a crankypants that day, when really they may be carrying an unimaginable burden, that’s what’s not okay for me. Not saying that’s what’s right for everyone – that’s why I asked this question; I really wanted to try and understand what’s right for different people – but that’s my perspective.

              1. James M

                In my experience, people don’t need a reason to act ungraciously (to put it mildly); I don’t see how mental illness fits into the bigger picture at all.

                I don’t take it upon myself to judge whether jerks have a good enough excuse; that sounds exhausting. Showing them courtesy and kindness will undermine the basis of their jerkiness; I believe people call that a “win-win”.

      2. Bea W

        Some of those people you feel disrespected by on the job are often thinking simikar things, “Why is she acting like she’s better me?” Not saying you are, but it’s a common venting theme of people seeking or receiving services. It may not even be you specifically but the umpteen snitty people they encountered along the way that set the expectations. I’ve both overheard and been the recipient of some really disrespectful comments and actions from people working in social services who really just should not be working in that field…or probably with the public at all.

    12. Elizabeth West

      Manners matter. Even if you don’t like or respect people, you should still treat them with politeness and dignity. This makes you a better person. Not superior to them, just better than you were five minutes ago. You are the standard by which you should measure yourself, not someone else.

      (Says the person who completely lost it the other day and told someone horrible just exactly what she thought of them. >_< Well, it's a reminder that I'm not perfect and an opportunity to be better today.)

    13. Cath in Canada

      It’s not a binary situation of respect vs. no respect.

      I would say that I start off assuming that everyone deserves a certain level of respect. I can then either raise or lower the level I think each individual deserves as I come to learn more about them. An increase from that initial level to what you might call true respect – as in, “this is a person I aspire to be like” – has to be earned; similarly, I will decrease the level of respect I have for someone if they give me a reason to do so. (Woman in my office who plays solitaire on her computer all day, I’m looking at you!)

    14. Not So NewReader

      A slightly different angle, here. My husband had heard and was curious about regional ideas regarding respect.

      He said that he read that people in the east (this includes my husband and me) tend to be more wary. Respect/trust/etc is earned not assumed. (This is talking in the general sense.) My husband said the writer’s believe was that people in the western part of the nation gave respect/trust/etc more freely but watch out if you abuse that gift, even once.

      This got me to thinking about the differences in people because of where they live. Something might be considered normal in the city but is considered disrespectful in the country.

      I am also fascinated by what is considered disrespectful in other cultures. But the part that interests me the most is how did this or that come to be considered disrespectful.

      For me to have little or no respect for a person is because of something huge, something that played out over a long period of time or has been happening repeatedly. Typically, I just move away from that person, if I can. As others mentioned above, I try to see it from the other person’s perspective. I don’t have to agree with them. But I feel I have to try to understand the why’s.

    15. Bea W

      I do believe everyone deserves basic respect and in we should try to treat others respectfully. Acting respectfully isn’t necessarily the same as being nice or letting people be nasty to you. Sometimes it is making the choice to point out and walk away from someone who is being jerky vs. stooping down to the same level of jerkiness. It’s easier said than done of course. To me it boils down to the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

      My mother did some terrible things to me as a kid when she had total control over my life. Some people asked me why I did not do the same things to her at the end of her life when the tables were turned or why be involved at all? (I handled all her affairs and was her health proxy.) I treated her the way I wanted to be treated or want any other person treated. It would have been no less wrong for me to turn around and treat anyone the same way I had been treated as a kid, and if I had felt I might go down that road then the respectful thing to do would have been to remove myself from it. Indeed, I drew lines!

      Treating someone with basic respect is not the same thing as feeling respect for someone or feeling respect for someone’s authority. That kind of respect is earned.

  9. Anonyby

    Hey everyone! I have a couple questions for you all. One is about food, and one’s not. lol

    1. I’ve been wanting to make mayo and yogurt lately… Yogurt is pretty straight-forward for how I would use it up (a year or so back I was on a kick for a while making yogurt and eating it daily with homemade jams/jellies/butters and honey). Mayo, on the other hand… I just can’t think of how I (as someone living alone) can use up a cup+ of mayo in a week! I normally have mayo on sandwiches (turkey, burgers, hotdogs), or the occasional guacamole. Any suggestions for uses beyond the traditional salads/salad dressings/deviled eggs?

    2. Those of you who regularly wear black… How do you keep it from fading? I used to love black bottoms for work, but they always fade quickly on me. About six months ago I bought a pair of black pants and I stopped wearing them after three months or so because they were noticeably faded. It wasn’t even like I was wearing them every day! More like every other week. I just can’t understand how people can have all- or mostly-black wardrobes without constantly replacing items due to fading.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      For the black clothing — I wash all my black clothes in cold water, and I don’t put them in the dryer. My mom has also told me that the Woolite Dark formula is awesome for darker clothes, but I haven’t tried that.

      1. Anonyby

        My clothes are already being washed cold. And I limit my hang-dry to clothes that have that on the care instructions–I just don’t have much space to hang-dry clothes (and zero space to lay stuff out to dry) and heavy fabrics get so STIFF. Not to mention in winter it takes even the thin rayon tops days to dry, so I can’t imagine what it would take heavier fabric!

        1. fposte

          Other possibilities: turning them inside out for the wash and dry, and taking them out of the dryer to hang after a few minutes. Front-loaders are supposed to be easier on clothes if you want a drastic fix :-).

          But ultimately, if it’s accessibly priced, dark, and washable we’re already achieving quite a miracle; it’s unlikely to be long-term durable as well.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            Another option is to run your dark stuff through the dryer, but on a very low setting, and let it get about halfway dry. Then you can hang it up to dry the rest of the way.

      2. Celeste

        Woolite Dark has a chlorine neutralizer in it. Some municipalities chlorinate more heavily than others so this could make a difference. However, it goes in the wash water only. You still have the rinse water being chlorinated. (sigh)

        Some fabrics hold dark dyes better. I think poly holds it better than cotton, if that helps you choose the clothing in the first place.

    2. Seal

      Put a half cup or so of vinegar in the rinse cycle – it helps get rid of detergent residue that can make black clothes look faded. Also, wash black clothes inside out and don’t put them in the dryer.

      1. Anonyby

        I use one of those downy fabric softener bottles and put vinegar in that. Much better than trying to remember to get out to the washer during the refill (half the time I forget to go out and move things around when they’re done, and that’s not as time-sensetive!).

        The pants I mentioned were always washed inside out. And while they were tossed in the dryer, I leave it on the lowest setting.

    3. Dan

      I make my own mayo too, and throw most of it out after a couple of days because I don’t use much of it. But you made me curious, so I googled it:

      “According to Sally Fallon, in “Nourishing Traditions”, if you stir a tablespoon of whey into your homemade mayonnaise, and leave it out of the fridge for about 7 hours, then refrigerate it, it will last for a couple of months.”

      1. Anonyby

        I bet it’s the acid in whey that’s causing the longevity… I use Alton Brown’s recipe as a base and he recommends leaving it out for 6-8 hours at room temp to allow the acid to kill any nasties lurking in it. I would be worried about taste when adding whey to mayo. The one I make has a very easily-disturbed taste. I had to switch from wine vinegar to distilled, switch the balance so that there’s more vinegar than lemon juice, and cut back on the mustard powder. (The first time I made it I followed Alton’s recipe exactly and it was just too strongly flavored in a way I didn’t like.)

      2. Celeste

        There is a recipe on Hellman’s (I think) for dredging chicken pieces in mayo, rather than beaten egg or milk, before breading and oven baking. I’ve also seen a recipe where you mayo the chicken and then roll it in crushed Ritz crackers (Ritzy Chicken) that is supposed to be pretty great.

        There is also a chocolate cake recipe that replaces either oil or butter with mayo. I haven’t tried it but I’ve always heard that people love it.

        I second the idea of dips or fry sauce to use it up. One of my sisters puts some in her guacamole to keep it green longer.

    4. Al Lo

      We use mayo as a base for just about every dip. Fries are way better dipped in mayo than in ketchup, and we usually mix in some Mrs. Dash garlic seasoning or some other kind of extra flavor. I mean, you can’t eat it with every meal, but just about everything we want to dip, we do in a mayo base.

      1. Anonyby

        Fries are pretty good in a mix of mayo and ketchup too. ;)

        I also don’t have much that I actively dip… I’m trying to cut back on fast food, which is my main source of fries… And I don’t have a lot of dippers outside of it.

      2. Tmarie

        I’ve been making the best dill dip lately:
        1 C Mayo
        1C Sour crem
        4t minced onions
        4t parsley
        1 1/2t beau monde
        1 1/2t dill

        yummy with veggies, chips, i’m thinking of using it the next time i make a white fish for a topping

    5. Rowan

      Use the mayo as hair conditioner once you won’t eat it? It’s brilliant for dry hair.

      The tumble dryer is incredibly hard on clothes, even on low. Unfortunate, but true.

      1. Anonyby

        I’ve heard that it’s good for hair, though I haven’t tried it. (Makes sense given that both eggs and oil are supposed to be good for hair…) I do coconut oil treatments in my hair (when I remember).

        Unfortunately, there’s not much choice if you don’t have the space/time to hang dry. Not to mention the texture heavier fabrics get… ugh.

        1. Cath in Canada

          Ugh, I tried the coconut oil thing recently, after a couple of friends recommended it. I didn’t even use that much, and it was fine the day of, but it attracted wasps, stained my clothes, and started to smell like stale cooking oil after a few hours. Oh, and it took forever to wash out. Never again!

          1. Anonyby

            Huh, odd! It almost doesn’t matter how much I stick in my hair, it still smells like coconut in the morning and barely takes anything to wash out. I do wear get-dirty tops when oiling my hair, then put it up in a shower cap and wrap the cap in one of those hair twist towels to keep it in place while I sleep. My hair is very dry, though, so it soaks up the oil like a sponge.

    6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Re: black clothes.
      Don’t buy natural fibers (cotton, linen). Only buy synthetics which basically do not fade (poly, viscose, pointelle, modal etc). Wool also does not fade, and is really breathable and not really that hot except in the heat of summer. I have a synthetic black top that is 17 years old (i dont normally keep clothes that long….sentimental value) and only slightly faded after hundreds of washes….and it’s from Old Navy. Granted, it’s got holes in it at this point so I only wear it when I paint, but it looked good for at least 5 years. Not all synthetics have to be dry cleaned, either. The synthetics also tend not to pill.

      If you do really like natural fibers, then buy some Rit dye for $3 at the grocery store and make your clothes black again. :-)

      1. Noah

        I was totally going to suggest Rit dye too. Airline uniforms fade horribly and dyeing them back to their original color has made them last through the year and stay looking nice until the next uniform allowance. I’m just thankful another employee told me to use half navy blue and half black Rit dye to get the color right because apparently navy blue looks really purple on its own.

      2. Anonyby

        Yeah, the natural fabrics is something I’m not compromising on. At least it’s the plastic-based synthetics (polyester, acrylic, etc.) that I’m working on eliminating. I need my clothes to breathe!

    7. Artemesia

      Now that I am retired (and actually pretty much beforehand to as I had a profession where somewhat casual dress e.g. dark black jeans with a blouse and jacket would work) my uniform most of the year is dark black jeans that read as black pants (no grommet detailing etc) and they do fade. I also wear basic black fitted ts most of the time and have several. Two tricks:

      1. always wash pants inside out and everything black on cold. Warm/hot wash does the most to fade black.

      2. for cottons and linens you can dye them occasionally. Dyes like Rit that you can get in the dimestore do not work. But something called procion dye which is a permanent commercial type dye that bonds to fiber does work. It is a bit of a production — you have to use washing soda and hot water and do it outside as the fumes are dangerous and then set it with vinegar when you rinse — BUT it does restore the jet black to faded black natural fibers. It bonds with the fiber itself. You can get it on line from craft stores (maybe in person at craft stores, I haven’t tried that). I got it from Paradise Fiber after someone in an online group recommended it to me. It really does work and at the cost of the clothes really saved me a bundle.

      1. Anonyby

        I’ve heard of procion dyes, thought about using them with yarn, but I just didn’t want the risk and the need for dedicated equipment. (I’ve dyed animal fiber yarns with just food coloring and vinegar and/or citric acid, and enjoyed that.)

    8. Waiting Patiently

      I was going to mention using as a hair conditioner but I’m not sure if it will still be beneficial after a week.
      Do you have friends or family to give some away?

      As for the black clothes that fade, pay attention to the fabrics. Natural fabrics fade. I really don’t like synthetic fabrics especially for bottoms. I rarely wear,buy & wash black pants and skirts. I did have one pair that I got rid of a few years ago. I still have one black interview skirt.

      1. Anonyby

        Yeah, I’m probably just going to have to accept the fact that blacks aren’t going to be a big part of my wardrobe…

    9. Not So NewReader

      Fading black pants. It could be your laundry detergent. Sometimes people don’t measure and they use way too much. Check the label to make sure you are on track. I know sometimes I used the wrong line inside the measuring lid. It could be the brand of detergent, some detergents are great at removing color.

      A while back I switched to organic laundry soaps. Currently, I buy the store brand of organic soap, am not sure how organic it is. However, I pick up stuff from second hand shops. I noticed that when I washed my new-to-me clothes in the organic soap the colors seemed to pop. The colors come back to life. As others mentioned above there could be a build up of soap, fabric softener and whatever else in the garment.

      If your clothes come out stiff-really stiff- you might want to check out the hardness of your water. (If you have hard water you would notice that it’s tough to scrub the tub/shower stall. And you would notice other odd things, too. Lift your toilet tank lid- you might see the mineral build up on the parts inside. ) If you do have hard water, you may want to add some baking soda to your wash. I used a washing soda- you can find that in the detergent aisle.
      Finally, we put in a water softener system which made it so much easier to keep the whole house clean.

      1. Anonyby

        Oh, I know my water is insanely hard. Far harder than what the already-hard water of the area is. I’m pretty sure my pipes are messed up and making the water worse, but there’s nothing I can do on that end.

        Earlier this year I switched to homemade laundry soap, and I add borax to that. I’ve looked high and low and can’t find washing soda in stores here (despite being a major metropolitan area!). And while it’s easy to make washing soda out of baking soda…I don’t have the needed appliance (oven).

        I don’t use any fabric softener–I’ve never used the liquid stuff, and ditched the sheets earlier this year in favor of just adding vinegar to the rinse cycle.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Washing soda is usually near the Borax.

          I think your answer is the hard water. That is why other people’s black clothes last longer than yours. If you are doing homemade soaps keep an eye peeled for something to add to your soap that might help.

          At least you know it’s not you and not something you’re doing. Hard water is a royal pain in the butt. And the amount of stuff that is impacted is incredible.

          1. Anonyby

            They carry borax (I’ve purchased it before), but none of them have washing soda. I’ve checked. I keep checking every store I go into. It’s a pain in the butt. It also makes it a good thing I use liquid soap instead of dry– all of the recipes for homemade powdered laundry soap call for washing soda. The liquid is pretty much pure liquid soap with some borax added as a buffer.

            I don’t even use the tap water for drinking/cooking, or for my cat’s water bowl. It’s used solely for cleaning because of the hassle in trying not to. When I get a house of my own, I’m getting a water softener system for it, that’s for sure.

    10. Mephyle

      Black clothing: we use laundry detergent for black clothes for all the black stuff, and wash and dry inside out.
      Actually everything should be washed and dried inside out.

    11. Natalie

      One thing I haven’t seen mentioned on the black clothes issue is the frequency of washing. Any garment is going to have a finite number of washes before the dye fades noticeably.

      I have some skirts that I was probably 4 times a year, unless I get food on it or wear it to a bonfire or something. I probably wash my jeans after an average of 5-6 wears, and work pants probably 3 wears or so.

  10. Fruitfly

    Does anyone know a good news website to browse at? I am very tired of looking at Yahoo News–their articles are very sloppy. I tried looking at BBC News and NY Times, but their website seems a bit cluttered.

      1. Fruitfly

        I looked at one of the articles in Slate, and it seems interesting. I think I’ll give Slate a try. Thanks.

    1. Ruffingit

      I like modvive.com and also just the standard news.google.com where I can make my own categories of news to browse.

    2. Anonyby

      I like looking at BBC for news, especially in US politics. They give a lot of background info that sometimes seems very basic to me, but other times gives me background to events that I didn’t pay attention to.

    3. littlemoose

      I read most of my news via Flipboard on my phone or iPad. It aggregates top news from a lot of reliable sources (the Guardian, NY Times, LA Times, Al-Jazeera, etc) and so you get a pretty diverse mix of news. I will say that it tends to be a little more international news, probably because of the aforementioned diversity of sources. But overall it’s fairly well-rounded. I also read our local paper’s website for the local news.

  11. Gene

    Today I started a week of getting essentially all my nutrition from Soylent http://www.soylent/me

    I’ve been having it for breakfast and sometimes afternoon snack for a couple of weeks now, time to try it full time. If nothing else, I should drop some weight, it’s only about 1500 kcal/day without the oil (2000 with), and fish oil and I don’t get along. I’ll chime in next week.

    Oh yeah, this week’s grocery bill was under $50! (not counting Soylent, that’s about $9/day.) For some reason, my wife thinks she should eat too. :)

    1. Jen RO

      I find it both funny and disturbing that the makers of this product decided to call it Soylent. (But they do acknowledge it on the first page.)

      1. Rebecca

        My thoughts exactly – I got the Soylent Green DVD from Netflix since I hadn’t seen the movie in years. It was much better on DVD, BTW.

      1. Gene

        For me, partially it’s trying to change my relationship with food, to treat it more as fuel on a day to day basis. I have sybarite tendencies and this is one way to combat that. Another part is I like supporting efforts like this.

        As far as taste goes, it’s a bit cereally, a bit sweet, but mostly pretty neutral. Much better cold than not. Texture is like a mostly melted milkshake with a touch of grit. Not too far different from what I remember Instant Breakfast tasting like in the 70s.

        I don’t see any problem with doing a week. I’ll probably go back to breakfast and lunch after this week. Time for eating lunch has been a problem at work since I started walking again. I can just have a glad of this at my desk.

  12. S

    Good morning everyone!

    I wrote in a few weeks ago just before I was due to leave for my first business trip to China asking for advice, and now I’m back! Happy to report that it was fantastic!! – the project I was working on over there was very interesting, and I got used to the working style very quickly (can’t go into much detail unfortunately). I also managed to squeeze in some sightseeing (Shanghai, and two vacation days in Beijing before I flew back). Overall, I’m deeply impressed! It was definitely a great experience. I feel so much closer to my colleagues over there now, and I expect that knowing them personally will have a huge impact on working with them in the future. The only downside: I caught a nasty cold on my last day, which made the flight very uncomfortable, as well as working last week… So I spent the weekend in bed recovering.
    Thank you all for your advice and encouragement! :) best business trip ever! :)

    1. C Average

      So glad it went well for you! Any must-see stuff on your list? I plan to get over there one of these days, probably for a work/fun trip.

      1. S

        The Great Wall!!! Most impressive thing I have ever seen! I recommend the Mutianyu section – much less crowded than Badaling.

        Also, the Pudong skyline at night – we decided on a river cruise to avoid the crowds roaming the Bund.

  13. Ruffingit

    Anyone see repeating patterns in their life sometimes? I ended a friendship two years ago with a woman I was very close to, but she was clingy, needy and desperate in many ways and I just couldn’t take the drama and what not anymore. I recently met someone else who wants to be a friend, but I recognize in her too many traits that old friend had and I thought to myself “This is a sign. You’ve seen this movie before, don’t bother buying another ticket.” It felt good to recognize that and know that I need not go down that road again. Anyone else have this happen? Situations repeat in life until you finally learn what you need to do with them?

    1. Lulubell

      This has been happening to me a lot with guys I date. It’s actually weird how much I’ve noticed it specifically in the last year or so. I’ve been taking it as either a sign to move on perhaps more quickly than I otherwise would, or handle a situation better/differently than I did the first time.

    2. Dan

      Well, at least if you buy a ticket, you know the lay of the land and can sneak in the snacks and drinks. Or wait til it comes out on blu ray.

      More to your question, yes. Things I used to rationalize, I now say “nu uh.” I know for my own mental health what I need to stay far away from, and do it. I’m trying to cut back on how often I see my shrink, not increase the frequency.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      For sure. I am pretty logical in my analysis of everything (to a fault) and often when I look for the single factor that causes an X to repeat, it’s me and my choices.

      Error cause removal. (heh, from a thread earlier this week)

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Yep. I have a rule that I don’t get too close to people who have a pattern of relationships that end with drama. I hate drama, and got burned too many times. I used to have to use this rule more than I do now, because high drama people used to find their way into my life more than they do now. I think the key is to realize that I’m always the common denominator in my relationships.

    4. GrumpyBoss

      Yes! This happens all the time to me! I go through a real self defeating cycle around it. Phase 1. I wonder why I’m such a magnet for damaged people and decide that I’m too open and welcoming. So I shut down. 2. I start to blame myself. Since it happens over and over, the problem must be me. Am I too sensitive? 3. No, I’m not too sensitive. I must be doing something to make them damaged.

      It all eventually spirals into an existential crisis for me. I take flawed relationships way more seriously than I should.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Well, you might be the common denominator, but that can be because of a positive quality of yours, not just a negative. But it sounds like you want to be more careful who you give the gift of your welcoming and open self to.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

        Well, I worked on my own boundaries, and that tends to chase away the kinds of people I used to accumulate. Damaged people need a lot of access and I when I don’t give it, they go knock on your door.

        Sorry about that.

      3. brightstar

        This happens to me to the point that all my friends and family comment on how I draw damaged people to me. I finally realized I needed to work on my boundaries and to walk away more quickly. And for me, it’s still a work in progress.

    5. BB

      Same here. I have been going through these patterns. I haven’t been very good at learning from it the first time. At least I’m noticing the pattern and will be making changes.

    6. C Average

      Yeah, for sure. For me, I think I get inveigled into relationships like that because I’m trying to be more like my mother. My mother is this infinitely energetic, giving, generous person who always seems to have a deep enough well of contentment that she can take on damaged, needy people and actually help them without losing herself in the process. I grew up watching her do this and admiring her ability to actually make a difference in people’s lives. I still marvel at it.

      But her life is different than mine, and her resources and needs are different than mine. I have to look for my own ways to reach out to others that are authentic to me.

      At times that means rejecting the overtures of people I know will drag me down without giving me anything in return. I think often of something I learned years ago in a Wilderness First Responder first aid course: “Never create a second victim.” Basically, this means never undertake to rescue someone if you’re putting yourself in significant danger by doing so. It’s not heroic. It’s dumb. That was a really key learning for me.

      1. Ruffingit

        I so agree with not creating a second victim. The friend I mentioned that I had been close to for five years sucked so much energy from me that I became a second victim. I didn’t even realize this until after I ended the friendship and for the first time found myself with emotional time and energy. I then used that time and energy on myself and my life changed drastically for the better. In the two years I’ve not been friends with her, things have improved so much that it’s almost like another life entirely. I was spending so much time and energy dealing with her stuff that I let my own stuff go. Not blaming her for that, it’s all on me to have made that decision. Just saying it’s amazing how things change when you don’t invite energy sucking demanding, damaged people into your realm.

        1. fposte

          Some of this is a life stages thing, too (I think a lot of people do friend resets in their twenties to thirties, for instance, as the friends of the wild years start palling in a different adult life). As a teenager, I was often the sane friend of the unstable people; as an adult, I recognize that’s not a really reciprocal enough relationship for me, and I can listen to them and get amusing stories without having to answer the phone at 3 a.m.

          1. C Average

            Yes! People with limited life experience often wind up in relationships that they later find unsatisfying, and they have to figure out how to unravel them.

            One thing I enjoy pondering is how literature (particularly YA literature) influences how teens see the world before they’ve actually had experiences. I think I was an extreme case of this because I was so very bookish, so very socially inept, and such a hopeless romantic. It was a brutal combination.

            In books, characters with a lot of drama tend to be presented as interesting and compelling. It took me a few years to realize that in real life, people with a lot of drama weren’t interesting or compelling. They were exhausting and often rather boring, and in friendships, they didn’t give back.

            My stepdaughter (12) reads a lot of YA books, and I often read them too so we can talk about them. We often discuss what it would be like to actually know protagonists who are difficult, moody, misunderstood, violent, etc., but are set up as sympathetic characters. I want to make sure she can enjoy these stories without glamorizing really crappy behavior.

            1. Ruffingit

              I love that you’re reading the books and discussing them with her because some of the books in the YA genre are seriously disturbing. I know there are some Twilight fans around here, but I just could not understand the appeal. Edward is a stalker and Belle the shrinking violet who just can’t seem to stop stumbling around and getting herself into situations from which Edward must rescue her. That is, when he’s not stalking her and watching her sleep. So yeah…just saying a lot of books perpetuate some scary ideas of romance and love.

              1. fposte

                Though that’s true of literature/media in general, of course; someone’s brought up Wuthering Heights over on Captain Awkward as an example just recently. YA has a double whammy, because not only is there the problem that contented stability doesn’t make for great literature, there’s the problem that most YA protagonists are YAs and YAs don’t have a lot of contented romantic stability anyway.

                Not that I disagree with you, and I may have even more problems with the “he is broken and my love will fix him” trope, which is also rampant in YA romance. But ultimately the stuff isn’t a how-to, and it’s there because people really really want to read it. I just go for the freedom of speech thing and point people to all the other great YA/middle school lit. (No rescue in The Kingdom of Little Wounds, that’s for damn sure.)

          2. Ruffingit

            I think a lot of it too has to do with feeling needed. Certainly that was some of it for me. I was needed to help this damaged person get their act together. I finally realized that I didn’t want to be needed in that way. Now, my relationships are all healthy, low-to-no drama (because some drama is just inevitable in life, but no one in my immediate circle tries to attract it).

    7. Stephanie

      Yes. I found myself getting in very close male friendships to the point where mutual friends would be like “Uh, so is there something between you and Wakeen?” Like I did Thanksgiving with a friend (didn’t have enough leave to go back home), met all kinds of aunts and grandmothers, and was thinking “Oh Geez. This is girlfriend territory.”

      Anyway, took a lot of self-examination as to why I kept ending up in that pattern. Next time I saw myself going down that path (I realized this was the case when people were like “Hey, where’s Apollo? You know?”), I just forced us to have The Talk. That was awkward, especially so since that friend just wanted to be friends. And then we just avoided each other for a couple of weeks. After that, it was fine. But! I was glad I at least put it out there and things just got strange.

      1. C Average

        Eh, when you’re a certain age, speculators gonna speculate, no matter how many times you reassure them that you and Wakeen are Just Friends. I know it’s annoying to have to deal with this. But people who are happily settled want everyone else to find luuuuuuurve too, plus good gossip is tasty to almost any palate. I look back on the guy friends who were my wingmen throughout my twenties and I think those were some of the best, most honest, most balanced relationships of my life.

        I took a lot of them home with me, not so they could meet my parents and we could all wedding-plan together, but because we were starving twentysomethings and my mom is a great cook. It was really, truly no big thing. This stuff doesn’t HAVE to be any big thing.

        The Talk is always tough, and awkwardness always ensues. The friendships worth keeping survive the awkwardness, and you get to laugh about the whole thing years later.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I am here to say that speculation never stops. I have a male friend, a buddy. People just ASSume. I just smile and go on with my life. They will figure it out in a year or ten. Whatever.
          But we have talked about a lot of stuff. And we are actually very opposite people, but as friends our skills and knowledge pools dovetail well. He wisely told a mutual friend that NSNR “can’t do his lifestyle”. Oh, boy. That nails it right there. We dropped a large tree in my yard yesterday. I have spent the whole weekend working on this tree. We. are. still. not. done. Today after tree work, I crawled into my house, turned on the AC and went to sleep for a few hours. I absolutely cannot do his lifestyle.

        2. Stephanie

          Yup, exactly. Among this group of friends, most are married or in serious relationships (aside from one guy who’s very much the Confirmed Bachelor type), so it’s like “Why not you two?” And yeah, Thanksgiving set off all kinds of gossip. I briefly contemplated joking and saying “Yup! We confessed our love for each other while running across an airport. The ‘love theme’ from Romeo and Juliet was playing.” Thing is, people are so invested in this gossip that they’d ignore my facetiousness and start planning a wedding.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Patterns in life. What a great topic. And so timely…

      I had a few people in my life that were good at taking. Okay, they were energy vampires. They depleted me… and I allowed it.
      We all have a definition of what sisterly/brotherly love looks like. But we never check to see if loving people in that way is actually hurting our own selves. Finally, I checked. It hurt. Time to reconfigure, and step number one is to change my definition of what sisterly love looks like. And I just cannot sink any more time into their stuff.
      One person touched base with me. I have a strong sense that not much has changed. It’s sad. But I feel that I am not the one to help, maybe someone else will. Maybe if I stay to the side someone else can get in and actually be an effective helper.
      This is very tough stuff, I so understand why people could have difficulty pulling back from it.

      1. C Average

        Do you think people like this are capable of changing?

        I’ve known a few people who exhibited these traits when they were pretty young (teens, early twenties) and then outgrew it, but I can’t think of anyone who was this way over, say, thirty and grew out of it.

        Those of us who deal with these folks see the patterns. Do you think they see the patterns, too?

        1. Ruffingit

          I think they sometimes see the patterns, but don’t know what to do about it and/or make excuses for it. I think people can change, but they have to be able to face some hard, rough, harsh truths about themselves to do it and, at least IME, few people are really able to do that in any meaningful way. Much of the desperation, needy, soul sucking behavior comes from a lifetime of abuse or other such trauma and being able to unpack and deal with that takes a lot of time and energy. Again, IME, a lot of people just don’t want to/are unable to (for whatever reason) give their time and energy to doing that kind of deep, intensive work. In some ways it’s like being a smoker, knowing it’s not a good thing for your health, knowing you turn to it in times of stress, and yet not quitting because the effort to do so is just too hard. Also, negative and unhealthy patterns work on some level. If they didn’t bring some sort of benefit, negative though it might be, people would stop sooner/more often.

        2. fposte

          I think some people like that can change, because some of them do. I think it’s often the result of an event–a tragedy, a special needs child, a something–that shakes their world up completely. My guess is that it also matters whether somebody really isn’t *capable* of empathy, as Dan and I were discussing above, or if somebody’s needle is just kind of stuck out of complacency or privilege. (I also think sometimes it’s fear that keeps that needle stuck, and I think fear is a lot harder to overcome.)

        3. Not So NewReader

          Oh, God, I so hope that people can change.

          But reality is if there is drugs or alcohol going on, that lessens the chances. Even some scripts will lock down a personality, change is not possible.

          Yeah, 30 seems to be a good turning point. They either decide to turn the corner or not.

          Oh these people-energy vampires- definitely see patterns. I think it’s how they frame the pattern that makes the difference.

          “Oh, I always have such rotten luck keeping an SO.”
          VS
          “I have to learn something more about relationships and how to pick someone to be with.”

          OR
          “I always pick crappy cars/doctors/contractors.”
          VS
          “I am not real sure about which car/doctor/contractor is for me so I am going to talk to my friends/family/coworkers and find out how they made their choices successfully.”

          I have a friend who used to be a real wild child. He decided to straighten up and fly right. To listen to him talk about his past and his choices is brutal. He really dropped the hammer down on himself and it’s painful to listen to his own self assessment and what he made himself do to get out of the black hole he fell into. His assessment of his actions is so candid it is unsettling to hear. But his assessment is correct. (Very seldom do we hear people talk this bluntly.) This is something deeper than “I am an AH and I need to stop.”

          I feel that his harshness with himself is what it took to make himself stop with the poor choices. And I think he has to talk it over sometimes because he is in the uncharted territory of being a non-AH.

          See, it’s easier to keep doing the same thing over and over than move to a new spot and go through the learning curve of the new spot. For example: Let’s say someone is a Negative Nancy. And Nancy decides “I am going to be more positive.” Since negativity has been Nancy’s go-to for a long time, being more positive is going to be a process/journey. The severity of the situation AND Nancy’s willingness to overcome the problem will dictate the outcome.

          I hope my person will change. I hope I know about it when it happens. I hope she will want me back in her life. (You get the idea. It’s not looking good here.) My person has all of the problems mentioned above. And she is older. So I just don’t know.
          As it stands now, I am the rotten person. No surprise there.

    9. Bea W

      Ugh yes. This is a huge part of why I don’t go looking to date, and it’s hard to know how to fix it. I end up with guys who are either like your friend or who are abusive. The good thing is that I will recognize it and get out. The bad part is I keep picking these guys!

  14. Josh S

    Argh. I am so pissed off at my condo board president right now. (A 3 unit building, where bylaws state that any action must be approved by 75% of the board members…so everything has to be unanimous.)

    Every request is a personal affront to her.
    “Budgeting? What’s that?”
    “Oh, I contracted these services because I deemed them necessary. So now here’s a $200 bill for your share. Payment ASAP. Thanks!”

    Good lord, I want her to leave.

    1. Gene

      Time for an attorney. If the bylaws say any expenditure needs 75% and she hands you a bill that wasn’t approved, you are probably well within your rights to tell her it’s on her. There should also be something in the bylaws to remove her. Of course, with three units, if she’s not the president, you or the other owner is.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Refuse payment of the bill, if the expense hasn’t been incurred properly in accordance with the rules of the condo board their is no legal or moral bases that you should pay.

      Treat the next item the president purchases without proper authority as a gift and I’m sure she won’t do it again.

      1. Bea W

        This worked for us. Condo member submitted an $800 bill. We agreed to pay only for the budgeted and pre-approved work. She was stuck with all the unapproved extras she told the contractor to do.

    3. Artemesia

      The 3 owners need to sit down in a room and work it out. Let her know that expenditures that are not approved will not be paid for by you, but be aware that in a small building usually one person does all the work and others are free riders so opposing her also means stepping up to run the building.

    4. GrumpyBoss

      Condo/home owner associations are the worst.

      As has been suggested, get a lawyer. I find that they are usually bullies who like to exert power and have not the stomach for litigation (especially when they are in the wrong).

      I just won an HOA battle that I spent more effort fighting than I would have fixing “the problem”, but it was worth it in principle. I have a black pipe used to discharge my sump pump. Why black? I don’t know, it is what the builder put in. I put a shrub in front of it so who cares. The HOA sent me a letter that it was “unsightly” and I had 30 days to change it. It was only visible if you went onto my property, opened the back gate, and got down on your hands and knees and looked under the shrub. I asked my neighbors and none of them even realized that there was a pipe behind the shrub. I ignored their request and received another threatening message. I set up a Go-Pro to capture on film who was trespassing in my yard to check the status of the pipe (HOA president’s wife, aka the neighborhood busybody). I asked the HOA if I was going to need to pursue the issue of trespassing with my attorney and law enforcement. Amazingly, “the problem” went away.

      TL;DR: Owner’s associations can be a pain.

      1. De Minimis

        My hoa has no contact info or activity other than sending invoices twice a year. Don’t even know for sure who the president is or what’s being done with the money.

      2. Noah

        When I owned a home I refused to join the HOA because it wasn’t required by the CC&Rs associated with the property. Instead it was just a group of neighborhood bullies who one day decided that they should be able to tell everyone else what color to paint their home. I will admit to doing dumb things to provoke them, like leaving Christmas lights up until mid-January or painting my house a dark green color I loved buy knew the HOA president would hate. In the end, I’m glad I sold the house and moved on.

        1. Windchime

          I live in a neighborhood that is ruled by HOA and there are definitely advantages as well as disadvantages. I don’t have to put up with cars on blocks or people bouncing basketballs all hours of the day and night. But I also had to go through a big damn ordeal so that I could put a trellis in my back yard.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            It is definitely a double-edged sword. We lived in a neighborhood without one for about 8 years, and it was fine until the real estate market collapsed and many of the houses flipped to rentals. Then it got very seedy, very quickly, and took on a serious hillbilly vibe that we did not like at all. The last straw was the guy, one street over, who put a freaking RECLINER out on his front porch. At first I thought maybe they were having carpet installed, or doing some remodeling, and just had to temporarily relocate all their furniture. A year later, it was still there.

            Miraculously, we sold that house — and even made a small profit — and moved to a neighborhood with a pretty strict HOA. We’ve only really had one dealing with them, when we got a letter at the beginning of the year telling us we needed to paint our house. We knew it was coming, but were hoping to let it ride for one more year, so we just went ahead and did it. Other than that, they’ve been pretty reasonable. No nightmare stories to share, at least so far.

            I think the obnoxiousness of an HOA really depends on your neighbors. If you’re neighbors are all pretty cool and laid back, chances are they won’t sic the HOA on you unless you do something truly egregious and are an a-hole about it. But if your neighbors are all busybodies and self-appointed HOA regulators, then the HOA will be in your face about every little thing.

        2. Stephanie

          I will admit to doing dumb things to provoke them, like leaving Christmas lights up until mid-January or painting my house a dark green color I loved buy knew the HOA president would hate. In the end, I’m glad I sold the house and moved on.

          My dad did something similar with an annoying HOA. The HOA ran a neighborhood holiday lights contest. Our street wanted everyone to use this snowflake light in their decorations (as part of a unifying theme). My dad hadn’t bothered with lights that year and got a call from the block captain like “Hi [Stephanie’s dad], you know the judging is tomorrow, yes? We don’t see your snowflake up!” My dad got fed up with the phone calls and strung lights on just one side of the front walkway and stuck the snowflake at the end.

          1. fposte

            Oh, God, my father would have made their life a living hell. He was a quiet-living guy, but he hated being told what to do about stupid things. I could see him putting a rusted pickup up on blocks in the front yard and sticking a snowflake on it.

    5. Bea W

      We have that neighbor in our 3 unit condo, but at least she’s not president or in control of the bank accounts. Sounds like they would make great roommates.

  15. stellanor

    Sort of about work but not really, but I took my dog to the office for the first time on Friday (dog-friendly office yay) and he was angelic. He just laid on my feet the entire time, except for when I stuffed him in his crate when I had meetings — then he just laid in his crate.

    Also he found and devoured every crumb that has ever fallen under my desk in the first half hour.

    1. Chloe

      Wish I could take my pooch to work! She is so cute and loves sleeping in her crate, it would be awesome to have her lurking around my feet. And a personal vacuum cleaner – also good.

  16. Gene

    Best – Worst thread

    Worst: Wednesday morning the office kitty didn’t show. Didn’t appear Thursday either. Out at the plant, a missing kitty usually means misadventure by coyote, owl, or eagle.

    Best: Friday morning he was sitting on the porch when the early person showed up! No worse for wear. Boss is going to take him to vet next week for a checkup, then home after his daughter goes back home with her cat-unfriendly dog.

    1. Kalliope's Mom

      Best – had an awesome training session for new job position that starts next week – so excited!!!

      Worst – still have not found a sitter to come in and take care of Kalliope for 20 hours a week. Not happy with a few of the applicants, they seemed too pushy on what they wanted to do rather than what is needed in this role. UGH!

    2. NylaW

      Best: I’ve lost 8 pounds so far on my diet by not doing anything other than not eating crap and soda.

      Worst: I’m 35 tomorrow.

      1. The Maple Teacup

        Best: I got a merit bonus at work. My supervisor said that I’m a high performing employee and she’s happy I’m on her caseload. Epic!

        Worst: Buying a new car. Though it’s cool having new wheels, the aquiring process was daunting. Anyone have an opinion on extended mechanical warranties? Lol

        1. danr

          Don’t fall for it. It’s a windfall for the issuers. Anything really serious in the first 5 years is usually part of a recall or part of regular warranty work. Also, they usually find a way to wiggle out of the warranty. … “You waited 2 miles past the recommended oil change one time, so the extended warranty is void” Never mind that the part covered is doesn’t use oil.

        2. Noah

          If you’re going to get an extended warranty, wait until just before the factory warranty expires and then purchase one offered directly by the car’s manufacturer. Think of it like insurance or a savings account, paying money now for the future. It worked out really well for me when the transmission on my Jeep had a major issue at 80k miles, and Chrysler even covered the rental car.

          Like danr mentioned though, you have to keep up with all required maintenance, including the more extensive and expensive besides basic oil changes.

      2. nep

        Congratulations on the weight loss / health gains. The secret is there is no secret.

        Turning 35 is ‘worst’ ? Really ?

      3. Yellow Flowers

        35 will be awesome! I was dreading 30, then 35, especially 39. I have to say, at 41, things are just getting better.

    3. GrumpyBoss

      Worst – I have to fire an employee tomorrow (sorry for this to creep into the free for all). It’s been hard to enjoy my weekend with this weighing on me.

      Best – had an enjoyable “date night” with my husband last night. We need to make time to do that more often.

      1. Ann Furthermore

        Oh, you have my sympathies. No matter what the circumstances are, firing someone is never an easy thing to do. I hope it goes OK for you.

    4. Elkay

      Best – I managed a PB on my run yesterday

      Worst – Today has been a disaster from the get-go. I drove 30 minutes to go to a store to find they didn’t stock what I wanted, I then spent another 30 minutes waiting to be served in another store only to be told they didn’t stock it either. After that I drove to my parents house to borrow some tools and pick some fruit. There was no fruit on the tree (not sure why my Dad asked if I was wanted to come over and get some…). The achieved the task we needed the tools for using two spoons and no tools. I broke the vacuum cleaner after it fell on me, this is the second vacuum cleaner I’ve broken in 9 months.

    5. littlemoose

      Best: had a great time with my best friend on Labor Day. We went to a baseball game and then got ice cream. It was nice to get so much time together.

      Worst: a former coworker died of cancer. We knew her prognosis was poor, but it was still so sad when it happened. She wasn’t even 30 yet, and was one of the sweetest and kindest people I’ve ever know. Cancer is the worst.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Aww. I am sorry for your loss. Some people are a privilege to meet and know, that is for sure.

    6. Waiting Patiently

      Best – I received a good performance review a work. I’m getting closer to running a mile nonstop–upto a half of a mile–baby steps. My ankles are doing much better. I’m not even having problems on uneven surfaces as much.

      Worst – despite a good review, I did not get my long over due raise. Now I see really what this place values. I’m going to increase my job-hunting.

    7. Mela

      Best: I found a recipe that perfectly duplicates chick-fil-a chicken nuggets, so I don’t have to go there ever again.

      Worst: my husband got a concussion at work on Wednesday, and his short term memory and sense of balance are hosed. I’m forcing him to rest and heal, but it’s hard work for him to do nothing.

          1. April

            Ooh, sounds yummy! Wonder if will work with gluten free flour? Haven’t been able to eat CFA since going off gluten and I really miss that taste.

            1. Jenna

              I’m celiac and my very favorite restaurant uses rice flour and corn starch to fry up their calamari. It is fabulous, and I can eat it. If you end up anywhere near Laguna Beach in Southern California look for 370 Common.
              I use rice flour in a lot of my baking now, and my next quest is a decent pie crust. There’s a recipe that uses rise flour, tapioca starch and potato starch that I have been meaning to try.

    8. Sascha

      Best: Today is week 12 of the pregnancy, so I’m entering the second trimester. Which means all sorts of wonderful things – risk of miscarriage is much lower, my all-day nausea is subsiding, I can have small amounts of caffeine, I start getting a cute little bump…very excited. But then I had a moment earlier today of “oh crap, only 6 more months until the nuggest is here!! OH CRAP!!! I’VE DONE NOTHING TO PREPARE!!!”

      Worst: Working on the weekend. Because my VP volunteered me to basically fix the screw ups of other departments. Yay…

    9. Elizabeth West

      Best–I went to the mall yesterday to try on clothes (UGH!) and found a pair of jeggings (don’t laugh, they looked fabulous) at New York & Company that 1) looked fabulous, and 2) the smaller size fit when I didn’t think it would. 0_0 I wanted two pair, but they only had one in the store, and I was able to order them for half off! Which was nice, because the weren’t cheap, argh. There was a dress too that I really liked, and it fit, but I wasn’t happy with how it looked. Maybe ten more pounds and I can get it. I might be able to wear it after I come back from my holiday. All that walking and smaller portions over there should be good for something. Plus, for all my trumpeting about how I’m going to stuff my face, I tend not to eat much when I travel.

      Worst–trying to clean my crumbling bathroom and realize how much it would cost to fix it up. I just need to get an estimate so I can stop awful-izing and see if I can find someone who will do it a bit at a time. This house is like an old car; it’s hard to keep up with it and I just don’t even want to try anymore.

    10. Stephanie

      Best: Went to Indianapolis last weekend for my friend’s wedding. It was a disorganized blast. It was a reunion with all my old friends from DC, so it was good to see everyone. Ceremony was like 10 minutes long, the father-daughter dance was to House of the Rising Sun (?! and after like 30 seconds they were like “We’re stopping. This is awkward”), and the DJ was predictably bad (the groom had originally made a playlist from his EDM/hipster rock until someone stopped him and said his grandmother didn’t want to dance to Kraftwerk). It was also a biergarten. No one thought to get any pictures when we were all still presentable-looking (because wedding at biergarten), so the pictures I have all are horrible selfies from the after-party. Indianapolis was more interesting than I would have guessed (hell, it has more of downtown than Phoenix does).

      Worst: Hmmm, nothing particularly egregious this week. Probably a tie between low-grade sinus stuff (dry weather’s just made my sinuses feel dry and inflamed all week) and feeling behind on my GRE studying (taking it in three weeks).

    11. C Average

      Best: Went to orientation for the evening MBA program I’m starting next week. I’m more excited than ever about the program, and my classmates seem like fun, interesting people with whom I’ll enjoy taking this journey.

      (By the way, Alison, if you are reading this, you and your blog are very much responsible for me going this direction. About a year ago I entered some cry for help like “I hate my job help” in the Google search bar and came across AAM. I became instantly addicted and have progressively gotten more and more interested in management-related topics, and now here I am doing a professional MBA program. Thank you!)

      Worst: Spent several very awkward days trying to undo the damage on a quasi-work-related mistake. Things are better now, but I think getting out of this job is becoming a mission-critical situation, and I’m not sure how to go about finding the right avenue out. I love my company and want to stay, but I haven’t had any luck with my attempts to move up, and my boss is obstructing my efforts to make a lateral move. (She says, variously, that I’d get bored or that I’d run into the same issues elsewhere that I currently have. The crux of it, though, is that I’d like to get away from HER. Obviously I can’t say that!)

        1. C Average

          Right? She is convinced that she has unique insights into the human psyche and that she knows me better than I know myself. I wish she’d leave the analysis to the professionals.

          Sure, on some levels “I’m struggling in this role and I’d like to pursue a change” really means “This job has evolved in a direction that both bores and confuses me and I no longer find it compelling, plus your perpetual drama and lack of boundaries make me uncomfortable.” Don’t force me to SAY it. That won’t go well for anyone.

          I feel like those politicians who say they’re stepping out of public life because they want to spend more time with their families. Who cares if it’s true or not? Let them make that decision. There’s no need to parse that statement for hidden meaning.

    12. Windchime

      Best: I attended an engagement party yesterday for my nephew. He has such nice friends! The venue was a beautiful home on a golf course and the hosts are such lovely people. It was a really good time.

      Worst: Family drama. Ugh.

  17. Chloe

    Can anyone give me tips on striking up conversations with strangers? I’m really not that good at it, which is a bummer because I’m always doing things like going along to functions on my own (it never occurs to me this could be a problem) and then finding when I’m there that I’ve got no-one to talk to and I feel awkward and end up going to the bathroom for 10 minutes before it the speech/whatever starts, then leaving as soon as it finishes.

    I also find parties with lots of new people difficult and tend to just talk to people I know, until I run out of conversation then I leave. I’m very chatty and confident with people I know, and I’m starting to realise that when I was younger and in these situations I just drank alcohol until I was comfortable. I don’t really want to start doing that again!

    Any tips/great convo starters?

    1. Stephanie

      I’m probably chatty to a fault, so I can help. :)

      If the person is wearing something I like, a compliment is a nice conversation starter.

      An acronym that helped me get through chit-chat:
      F – Family (self-explanatory)
      O – Occupation (last resort and I try to be like “Oh, it must be tough/interesting/challenging to be a Chocolate Teapot glazer”)
      R – Recreation (like hobbies)
      D – Dreams (I think of this as goals. Like I heard about one guy’s plan last weekend to open a brewery.)

      I also find asking the other person how he knows the party hosts/bride/whomever a good starting point.

      1. Stephanie

        Another one:
        A – Anchor. Just some observation.
        “These mozzarella sticks they have here are delicious.” (Yeah, don’t judge me too harshly.)
        R – Reveal. Your personal thoughts.
        “These mozzarella sticks are so much crisper than last year’s. And the marinara sauce is so flavorful.”
        E – Encourage. Ask them some related question.
        “So tell me, what’s your favorite deep-fried appetizer?”

      2. en pointe

        Yeah, this is a great list. Small talk comes pretty naturally to me, but at parties or events, I’m also one to ask how they know the host. Once you’ve got a conversation opener, you just go from there. Make a comment / ask another question that relates to whatever their answer was.

        I also do the compliment one, but only with women, now that I think about it. I have made a ridiculous amount of small talk with women, usually in the bathrooms of clubs, that starts something like ‘oh my god, your shoes are hot!’, but that’s usually after quite a bit of alcohol. If it’s a more normal situation, it’s less effusive and more just like ‘I love your skirt. Where did you get it?’ (Mean Girls, anyone?) Stephanie’s list is awesome. Good luck!

        1. Felicia

          Small talk comes so unnaturally to me, and I really struggle with it, but asking how they know the host is one that I always do. Hopefully that leads to a wider conversation…at least it often eventually does. Or I ask them if they’ve been to said person’s house before, or how long it takes to get there. Last party I went to I was wearing a Harry Potter shirt, which made people start conversations with me and made it much easier :D

          1. en pointe

            I would totally be gravitating your way :) I went to a barbie a while ago wearing my Sheldon Cooper’s Council of Ladies t-shirt, and it had a similar effect.

            1. Felicia

              I actually made a new friend about 3 months ago because the first time I met her she was wearing a Doctor Who shirt. If not I may not have talked to her as much (just because there were lots of people and I’m shy)

              1. Elizabeth West

                “Love that shirt” is always a good opener. And people who wear nerd shirts are usually pretty easy to talk to–they love to find people with whom to endlessly discuss their favorite shows/games/comics/anime/films.

          2. C Average

            I, too, am a fan of wearing a conversation piece of some sort. And I always like when other people do–makes it much easier to get the ball rolling.

            If I’m at a place where there’s anything artsy or bookish to situate myself near–a bookshelf at someone’s house, a painting on the wall in a public place, even a nice view out the window–I’ll sometimes hang out there and wait for another bookish introvert to drift my way, at which point I’ll make some Captain Obvious observation about the view or the lighting or the wonderful assortment of Shakespeare commentary, and then we’ll be off on a conversation.

        2. fposte

          I love random moments of bonding with strangers. One reason, I think, is it’s usually en passant, so neither of us are worried we’ll be stuck with this person we don’t actually know. But somebody should do a social study on the networks created through emergency tampon provision.

      3. the gold digger

        I’m laughing because I, too, have no problems talking to people. Indeed, I have written a sign and put it next to my computer at work: “No stories!” I have to remind myself that the people I work with aren’t necessarily interested in side conversation – they are there to work – whereas for me, the whole point of working in an office instead of from home is that you actually have people to talk to.

        1. C Average

          I LOVE stories! There are some senior people in my department who have been with my company since it was much, much smaller. They have amazing stories, and they love to talk. I will never blow them off, no matter how busy I might theoretically be. They can talk my ear off any old time they want.

    2. Perpetua

      I actually googled “how to make small talk” recently and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. :)

      I’d recommend reading the post about small talk at The Art of Manliness site (August 22nd 2012), I found it really understandable and practical.

      1. Noah

        The Art of Manliness site is awesome in general, and the guy that runs it (Brett) is pretty awesome in real life too.

    3. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      Are there other people there solo? There might be someone else who would like to be attached for the evening (in a friendly way)

    4. kas

      I struggle with this as well but I’m always the one people end up striking up conversations with. I have no idea why because I could be in a group of people and we’re all talking and someone will just come and speak to me only. I hate small talk but I think I’m getting better at it as I’ve been in a few situations lately (mostly at work) where I’ve had to meet/sit by people I don’t know.

      I like Stephanie’s suggestions though, I’m going to keep them in mind.

    5. fposte

      I find sometimes that it’s not about making small talk but about making small listening :-). What could this person tell you about? What are they experts on? I don’t mean leaping into a conversation with “Hi–can you list your favorite underrated TV series and explain why you think so?”, but it’s easy to pick up clues. “Hi, how do you know Bob?” “Oh, we’re in a LARP group.” “Oh, I always thought they sounded cool but have never done it. How did you get started, and what do you think a newbie might want to know?”

      The thing to avoid is the I’m-not-sure-I’m-really-in-this-group hover on the outskirts–that’s the worst, and it makes you feel the worst. Either stand alone, mysterious and proud and involved with your canapes, or stride up to a group and say “Hi, I’m Chloe, and I don’t know a soul. Who are you people? And where do you get those olives?”

      1. the gold digger

        bout making small listening

        Yes! Most people love to be around someone who will actually listen. All you have to do is ask a few questions and then the conversation takes care of itself.

    6. BB

      I’m in the same boat. If I have no one to go to the event with, I usually don’t go.
      And when it comes to guys….I’m even more at a loss, especially if the guy is a stranger and I’m at a public place. Sigh.

    7. Trixie

      I love all these suggestions. Like so many things, I think its get easier with practice whether its chatting with the cashier ringing you up, or the next customer in line, or someone at the gym. And also a matter of habit so keep it up!

    8. Schuyler

      Um, Chloe–you could have taken the words right out of my mouth, down to the wanting to have a drink to feel more comfortable! Great topic, thank you!

    9. Descent Into Chaos

      This one’s odd for me – I’m good at striking up conversations with people I don’t seem to have a lot in common with, but when there’s more common ground, I get intimidated. It’s fun and easy to spend an evening asking someone questions about a hobby I know little about. But when people have a lot in common, there’s often an undertone of competition or sizing each other up. How does one get around that?

  18. Carrie in Scotland

    I was off sick part of this last week with a cold that made my head dizzy but on the plus side I watched seasons 1 &2 of Girls and I loved it!! Any other Girls fans around? I also have S1 of Nashville to watch on recommendation from my friend.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      This show just didn’t do it for me, and I really tried because I’d heard such great things about it. I found all the characters to be very self-absorbed and unlikable. Granted, I’m in my mid-40’s, so I’m definitely not the target demographic for the show. Or maybe I’m just cantankerous and grumpy…I know plenty of people of varying ages that just love it.

      I’ve really enjoyed The Leftovers, but based on what I’ve read on message boards, I’m one of the few who has.

      1. C Average

        Same here.

        I’ve never been one for watching TV or movies with really unlikable characters, even if the script is well-written, it deals with important topics, etc. In real life, I go out of my way to avoid people I don’t like. My TV comes with a button that allows me to MAKE PEOPLE I DON’T LIKE GO AWAY! I’d be an idiot not to use that button, is how I figure it. It’s something on which my husband and I agree to disagree.

    2. Stephanie

      Oh, I love it. I didn’t want to love it (I was definitely devouring thinkpieces complaining about the lack of diversity on that show), but all the characters’ uncertainty definitely resonated with me. I also know that that’s a very specific subset of my age group, but I know all those types.

  19. Sandrine (France)

    Oh my, so much has changed in the past month! Wow!

    I made a HUGE mistake in my relationship. I was forgiven. Forgiven in a way that humbles me more than I ever thought I would be. Forgiven in a way that made me see how much I want to be with that man for a long while.

    So… we’re getting married. As in, actually getting married and planning and starting to gather necessary documents and thinking of the witnesses and all.

    *dances around half naked in her apartment*

    Also, on another note, I now officially do have my three cats. Marvin Cupcake (orange striped boy) , Flora Chocolat (she looks like my late Choco in some spots, sooo…) and the last one is a gray kitten that is named Daenerys Marshmallow.

    Yeah, they have those names… mostly because of the “baby” , one day I was cradling her in my arms and her belly was so fluffy and… fluuuuuuuuuuuuuufffy that I decided all of them would have second names :P .

      1. Jen RO

        Click Sandrine’s name, it’s a link to her FB page, with fluffy pics. The kitten is adorable! (As are the other cats. )

          1. Jen RO

            I looove grey cats, I’ve always wanted a Russian Blue-type-thing… but I ended up with two regular tabbies. They’re great, but I still drool over grey cats :P

            1. fposte

              My best friend has an amazing Russian Blue that I’m absolutely besotted with. That coat is absolutely amazing (and her personality is wonderful).

            2. C Average

              My parents have always had a Russian Blue named Spooky. When one Spooky dies, they wind up with another Spooky. The spooky ( . . . heh) part is that they’ve never deliberately acquired these animals. Two were given to them and one was a stray who arrived at their house–which is nowhere near ANYWHERE–and decided to stay. The current one is the best one yet. He’s about 12 now. I hope he’ll last a good long time and that his successor will be equally wonderful.

        1. Loose Seal

          I think everyone has at least a few instances where something they did puts a spot on their character. It’s how you learn from that, though, that defines your character for the future.

          Congrats and best wishes on the upcoming nuptials!

  20. Schmitt

    Hey Jen RO! I have one or more upcoming business trips to Cluj-Napoca in Romania. If you feel like being an ambassador … ;)

    1) How do I pronounce Cluj-Napoca?
    2) What’s the one food you’d recommend I try?

    1. Jen RO

      I am really bad at spelling things phonetically in English… it’s something like Klooj Nah-poh-kah (most people just call it Cluj, so you can just go with that).

      I think the most famous thing you can eat there is “varza a la Cluj” (cabbage Cluj-style). It’s basically boiled sauerkraut with pieces of meat in it (the cabbage isn’t always sour, but I prefer it like that). It’s not my favorite food ever, but it’s tasty. (Note: My favorite food ever is steak and fries, so I’m not exactly a gourmand.) The most famous traditional food is “sarmale” – cabbage rolls with minced meat, usually served with sour cream and polenta. (Yum.) If you like soups, try a “ciorba” – sour soup. (Just avoid “ciorba de burta” – tripe soup – if you’re not into weird stuff, it’s made out of cow stomach. I’ve never tried it, personally, too icky for me.)

      Google says that the “Casa Ardeleana” restaurant is your best bet for traditional food… I can’t recommend anything personally, because I haven’t been to Cluj in years and I don’t remember where I ate!

    2. C Average

      I’ve noticed that there’s not a universal understanding of what the “j” sound actually is.

      In English, it’s a soft-g sound, but in other languages, it’s more of a y sound (hard to explain). I learned this because as a teenager I tried to learn Russian from a book and many of the pronunciation instructions included a j, but then when I actually heard the words pronounced, I realized the author’s idea of a j sound was not my idea of a j sound.

      Does Cluj rhyme with Scrooge? Or does it rhyme with screwy?

        1. fposte

          Sort of, in loan words mostly (I hear it a lot in “liege,” for instance); I think it’s usually an allophone of our more common j, which involves an initial d. That’s why when Queer Eye started popularizing the word “zhuzh,” the spelling was such a strain–we didn’t have notation that clearly differentiated that sound from our more usual j.

        2. C Average

          I think in English we’d describe that pronunciation as “zh.” It’s the same sound as in “vision.” I don’t think that j exists in English, but it’s familiar to most English speakers as a component of foreign words like jete.

          1. fposte

            Oh, vision! Great example that people really do stick to that pronunciation on. (Whereas most English j pronunciation is like “smidgen.”)

  21. evilintraining

    Back to the ‘burgh after a week at our cottage and awaiting the Steeler kickoff!

    I have a question about reporting to ASPCA. The people next to our cottage are not summer people; they live in a rental. The landlord probably never comes around because they’ve made a real mess of the place. Their cat started trying to hang out with us on Thursday. It only took one ear scritch to realize that she’s completely infested with fleas. On top of that, I saw a scratch on her back (maybe a fight with a raccoon?). I talked to another permanent resident neighbor about reporting them, but he said they’ll just get a new one because they always do. But I feel awful for this cat. Should I report it anyway?

    1. Rebecca

      I would treat the cat for fleas with some Frontline or Advantage, on the QT. Can’t do much about the scratch, except make sure it’s not infected. You could report it, and maybe the cat will be taken away, but like you said – another one will take its place and receive little or no care.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

        Can u try talking to them about the fleas? Maybe take some flea stuff with you and tell them it was extra and offer to give it to them?

        If that didn’t work, I’d probably just treat the fleas, even though it’s overstepping a bit.

        That said, I used to have a cat who was SUPER allergic to all flea treatments, and all I could do was bathe him every few days….which was not terribly effective (but I was following the vets instructions), and I am not a neglectful cat owner.

    2. Graciosa

      I don’t think you should treat it yourself. This is not your animal, and making medical treatment decisions about other people’s animals is risky.

      I do think you should call the proper authorities and alert them to the situation. They have the legal right to take action directly (which you don’t).

      I do not think you let this animal suffer on the grounds that if you alleviate that suffering, the owners might get another animal. There is one right in front of you who needs help, and I don’t think that cat has to suffer to avoid the possibility – it’s not fair to this cat who needs your help now.

      1. The Maple Teacup

        +1 to Graciosa

        Plus, if enough complaints come in for enough animals, the law will ban them from owning pets. I’m a perpetual optimist.

        I’d talk to the owners first though. “Hey Sally, it looks like Mr. Muffins has a bad case of the fleas. Sneaky buggers aren’t they?” Hopefully the owners just haven’t noticed the injuries. If they’re dismissive, and you are willing, you can offer to take the kitty for medical treatment.

        1. Anon

          Yeah, I would try talking to them too. Reporting to ASPCA always scares me because I’m afraid it will end in euthanasia.

  22. Sheryl

    I am a teacher, and I always fantasize about having a job that requires travelling…..I know everyone who has to travel for work hates it, but I still think it would be fun!

    1. Jen RO

      I don’t think you start hating it until you do it for a while. I’ve only been on one business trip so far and I loved it – hope I get to go again!

    2. GrumpyBoss

      I am leaving for a trip in a couple of hours. I only travel moderately (this is the 12th trip I’m takin this year), but it wears you down. It isn’t the romantic adventure people who don’t travel think it will be.

      Watch Up in the Air with George Clooney. I think it really captures the monotony and loneliness of travel.

        1. GrumpyBoss

          I used to travel 75-90%, so in comparison, yes, 12 times in 9 months is a breeze to me. Everything in perspective! But still it is more than I like. Personal relationships suffer, housework doesn’t get done, i can’t grow a vegetable garden because I’m not home regularly enough to harvest things, etc.

          1. the gold digger

            You miss book club. You miss tennis lessons. You don’t get to hang out with your friends. You miss your regular class at the Y.

            When you are done with work, you can hang out in a hotel room or wander around a city where you know nobody. You don’t know where to eat. You have to go somewhere to eat, which is a pain, or you have to get room service, which is crazy expensive and isn’t very good.

            If you are in a hotel in Dubai, loud music will start at 10 p.m. and go on until 2 a.m. Your repeated calls to the front desk to ask them to do something will go unaddressed and then you will find out that there was a wedding there and well, how odd that you could hear it! If there is no wedding, someone in the room next to you will either have the TV blaring or be having loud sex.

            Your flight is always late. You are traveling on your time and don’t get OT and you don’t get comp time because hey, you’re salaried and the job has to be done.

            Nope. I don’t miss business travel at all.

    3. CC

      Nah, I don’t hate work travel. It loses its excitement after a while, but that’s because it’s no longer a novelty. It’s as fun as you make it… it’s not a vacation, but unless you’re working extra-long days on a trip, you have about the same amount of time to have fun as you do during the work week at home: evenings.

    4. nep

      I traveled for work for a long time. Loved it. Always a challenge and with a few negative aspects, but the positive always outweighed the negative.

    5. Monodon monoceros

      I started a new job about 18 months ago that requires a lot of travel (about a week a month, I know other people do more but to me this is a lot, bordering on too much). I like parts of it, like seeing new cities, getting out of the office, etc. But the 2 main parts that are not so fun for me are 1) eating out alone. I bring my kindle, and tell myself not to worry about what other people think, but the reality is that it is boring. So much more enjoyable to have someone to talk about the food, or whatever. And I don’t like small talk with strangers; 2) sitting in my hotel room alone. I live alone at home, but for some reason it is more lonely to be alone in the hotel room than sitting on my couch alone. Maybe it’s not having my dog and cat with me (this is also really hard, always having to line up petsitting and if it’s someone new, worrying that they are taking good enough care of them).

      There are other little effects, too. Like I’m always having to plan on what to have in the fridge that I can eat or freeze before my next trip. I found myself not buying fresh veggies for a while because I was a bad meal planner and they weren’t getting eaten, so then I wasn’t eating very well (and eating too much while travelling) so I was gaining weight. My travel season is ramping up again now (leaving on Weds for 3 weeks) and my goal this year is to eat better while travelling, and also while I’m at home.

      1. GrumpyBoss

        Wow, I would KILL to sit around in a hotel room alone while I travel. It always seems like I have to have a happy hour with someone, a dinner meeting with someone else, etc. it is a lot of time I spend being “on”. I’m pretty extroverted so if I go out alone, I tend to make conversation with those around me. Even that gets exhausting. So much human contact with no meaningful interaction is worse than being alone, IMHO.

        My dream business trip is back at the hotel by 6, in my PJs, under the covers eating room service while flipping through the same 15 channels in the hotel TV.

        1. fposte

          Oh, I love room service so much. I really like hotels where the food is good enough that it’s a treat in its own right, and then when you bring it right to me in my room? Bliss.

        2. Monodon monoceros

          It is nice for the first few days. Some trips there are other coworkers to go out with, but some I’m on my own. A lot of my trips are also 2 weeks or so long. That’s a long time to sit in the hotel room in the evenings.

        3. stellanor

          When I travel for work I usually end up pulling 60+ hours/week during the trip (we get shipped to remote locations to run research, and there’s an emphasis on doing it fast to keep costs down), so my favorite activity is sitting in my hotel room, ordering pizza hut, and watching crime show reruns. After a 10+ hour work day it is pretty sweet.

          1. C Average

            Yes, this!

            I always thought I was alone in my love of room service and crime show reruns, but I recently discovered that two of my friends (one from Idaho, one from Arizona) have the same tastes. We’ve agreed that someday the three of us are going to take a vacation to some flyover state metro area, stay in a hotel by the airport, and binge on room service food and crime shows. When we become disgusted by our own sloth after a day or two of this, we’ll go out exploring. I think it’s going to be a blast.

    6. fposte

      I’m a homebody, but I actually still kind of like traveling for work as long as the destination isn’t really offputting to me. I wouldn’t want to travel a lot more than I do–I have a colleague who’s gone more than he’s home, and I wouldn’t like that. But a handful of times a year keeps things interesting.

    7. Elizabeth West

      I don’t travel for my job, but many of the people I work with do, and they say it’s not all that great. You are working so you don’t have much time to sightsee or do anything fun. The one advantage I can see is that you rack up airline points, but those aren’t as valuable as they used to be (thanks a lot, stupid airlines).

      1. Jen RO

        On my one and only business trip I got sent to Paris, alongside a new coworker I really clicked with. We got home exhausted after a week, because we would leave work at 6-7, wander around the city until 10, sleep, wake up at 8 for the hotel breakfast, and start again.

        (I looooove hotel breakfasts….)

        1. stellanor

          My job is hopefully sending me to London for 4 weeks. We’ll be working hard but we’ll have weekends off. In London! For 4 weeks!

          I’m lucky that my responsibilities at home can all be left for 4 weeks (boyfriend who doesn’t mind being left for a month, dog who is BFFs with my parents’ dog and can stay with them) so I find the prospect incredibly appealing. When am I going to get a chance to do that again?

          On the other hand all of my other work trips have been like: Arrive in crappy city I don’t want to visit on Sunday, spend Sunday setting up study equipment, run studies for 50+ hours Monday-Friday, spend Friday evening/Saturday morning packing up study equipment, go home. Which… it’s sort of lucky I didn’t want to visit those cities because I had no opportunity to do any visiting.

            1. Windchime

              Maybe London is where you were meant to be, Elizabeth. I knew from the age of about 15 that Seattle was where I wanted to be. Whenever I came over to visit, I just felt some comfortable and “at home. Now I live about 30 miles north of there.

              I have an even stronger pull towards Maui. I am making my third trip there in a few months, and after each trip I always think, “How can I stay here and never leave?”. I’m sure that living on an island in the middle of the Pacific is a lot different than just visiting, but it is so strong that sometimes I wonder if I’m meant to be there.

              Anyway, you’ll have a good time on your trip and maybe you’ll figure out a way to be in the place where you feel you belong!

        2. Judy

          Wow. Every business trip I’ve been on has involved a driver from the hotel at about 7am, and returning to the hotel about 6pm. Even in countries where the work hours were 8-4. That’s just how they ran the shuttle service to our locations. We were always the first there and the last to leave daily. So all day in meeting rooms, and when the locals left, back to desks to handle our real job.

    8. Dan

      I once spent a month in suburban Chicago (actually at the airport) while I was working for an airline. I was ready to go home at the end of the month, that’s for sure. Yeah Chicago is great, but with the kind of hours I worked and being an hour from the loop, I never went in to town. Weekends I flew home.

      At my most recent job, I had coworkers who would fly to sydney for three days of meetings and then come straight home. In coach. No thanks.

      Another had to take a redeye into Toulouse France for meetings right after landing, and come home shortly thereafter. I’ll pass on that too.

      Be careful what you wish for.

    9. C Average

      I love traveling for work!

      Getting a hotel room to myself makes me feel like a bachelor girl again–all this SPACE! All this silence! All this cleanliness!

      I really enjoy being in a foreign place with an actual job to do. My days get filled up with work, my evenings are typically on my own. (I usually beg off dinner invitations by saying I have to be up early to connect with the home office during their hours, which is both true and convenient.) I get to form new relationships with colleagues in other geographies. It’s awesome. I’d do it more if I could.

    10. Noah

      I travel for work all the time and still love it. Earn a few “top tier” status with an airline and suddenly airline travel isn’t half bad. Same with rental car companies and hotels. Things just become easier once you know the rules and once the travel companies have all your information on file. For instance, I can have keys to a rental car in less than 20 seconds because they’re ready for me.

      I will admit that I prefer traveling with a coworker though. It is way more fun to experience things with someone else, even if you are not the best of friends. However, I always make sure to set the expectation that we don’t have to do everything together. I need some time alone everyday.

      I really only hate the packing and getting my home ready to travel. For instance, using up food, taking the dog to the family he stays with when I travel, forgetting about plants and killing them all the time, etc. Also, once you get home you have a ton of laundry to do and at least my travel is usually Monday-Friday, so your weekend gets stuck playing catch-up at home.

    11. Ann Furthermore

      I did consulting work for about 4 years, and was on the road every single week. Fly out Sunday night, fly home Thursday night. When I was single, it was kind of fun. New city, new things to see, and so on. Often I worked in cities where I had friends or family, so getting to see them for free was a nice perk. And, being a bit of a homebody, if I was not in the mood for sightseeing I was perfectly content to just hang out in my hotel room reading, surfing the internet, and watching TV. On one project I got a meal per diem of about $40 per day, so every Sunday night when I flew into town I would hit the Safeway on the way to the hotel (Marriott Residence Inn), spend $30 on groceries for the week, and then got to pocket the rest of the per diem. That project lasted over a year, and I paid for a vacation to Europe just from the extra per diem cash. Plus frequent flyer miles, hotel points, and all the rest of it. Pretty sweet.

      Then I met my husband, and when we got engaged, the travel became a real grind. It felt like my life was happening at home while I was killing time in some random hotel room every week. So I got a local job.

      Fast forward 10 years, and I’m still with the same company, but in a different department. The last 4 years have required quite a bit of travel, most of it to Europe (and possibly a trip to India sometime soon). Last year I made 6 trips to Europe. Most trips were for a week, which for me was perfect. I got my fix of alone time, got to do some sightseeing, and so on. Twice I was gone for 2 weeks, and that was hard. I made it until about Tuesday of week 2 before counting down the hours until it was time to go home.

      The only thing that makes this possible is my very supportive husband. He never gripes about having to be on single dad duty when I travel. Plus my mother-in-law lives with us and she helps out to with dinner, kid pickup/drop-off, and so on. Some of my colleagues get huge amounts of grief from their spouses when they travel. So I’m very, very lucky.

  23. pawnee goddess

    Does anyone else just feel completely out of the loop as far as current fashion/Pop culture is concerned?

    For example, I went to the mall yesterday to do some fall shopping and wandered into to the juniors area. (I’m petite and larger sizes in juniors still fit me pretty well). I struggled to find anything that I liked. I went to H&M ( where I can usually always find stuff) and was disappointed at what they had too. I just didn’t like anything. :(

    Until this point, I have considered myself pretty fashion – conscious. I was even a fashion writer in college and was featured in WWD. At 32, I just feel so out of the loop as far as today’s styles are concerned.

    1. Jen RO

      I tried shopping at Forever 21 in Austria, since I kept hearing about it but it doesn’t exist here. I was… well, let’s say I realized that I am definitely not 21 anymore! Crop tops everywhere! They were cute as hell, but not something I can wear at work sadly. And I don’t get those dress made of the thinnest fabric – you can see the outline of everything through them. Is that the point? Or are you supposed to go out without underwear?!

      H&M, on the other hand, seems to have all these retro collections in the past few years… which is just as bad for me.

      1. en pointe

        Ha yeah, I think the trends are moving toward a lot more risqué maybe? I don’t really ‘get’ most of the trends, but I follow them anyway, just because everyone else is. Last summer, my friends were all wearing as tops these ‘bralette’ things, which are essentially bras with like a little strip of extra lace underneath or a strappy back or something, depending on the design. I thought they were meant to be lingerie, but apparently not. Anyway, I think they’re pretty gross and by that, I mean I have three. Yeah… I’m a pretty bad sheep when it comes to fashion. I should probably work on that, but it’s just easier not to have to think for yourself sometimes. (Yes, I realise how pathetic that sounds.)

        1. Jen RO

          I can’t say I dislike this fashion – I loved to wear crop tops when I was 14, and I like them in magazines, on models. It’s just that those clothes would look ridiculous on a 30-year old woman who has a desk job, not a modeling job…

        2. Nina

          I think bralettes are cute, but I had no idea that people were wearing them by themselves as tops. The sheer look and lace definitely says “lingerie” to me.

      2. steve g

        Me too. That is because pop culture now sucks. There is no real good pop star as far as music goes, Beyonce and Taylor Swift are kind of boring and I find their music very predictable. As far fashion, living in nyc…haven’t seen anything groundbreaking in years either. A Lot of the girls clothes look like negligee at this point, but that doesn’t always mean it is interesting clothes.

        1. VintageLydia USA

          Huh, I don’t think the fashion isn’t any more risque than what I wore as a teen. In fact, it’s a bit more conservative. Girls are wearing leggings and opaque tights in outfits where my friends and I would’ve been bare legged. And I actually prefer the pop of today rather than the pop from when I was in high school. I didn’t listen to pop at all back then. Most heavier rock just shy of metal. Now I listen to pop all the time. Queen Bey for life.

      3. Lucylu

        I think those stores are catering to the younger market, though, which is not necessarily going to work for you in your 30’s. There are other places that take catwalk trends and translate them into pieces that are better quality and more suited in cut and style to someone who isn’t in their teens/early 20’s, while still being fashion-influenced. I think it’s a matter of finding the stores and labels that work for you now, rather than trying to wear the same ones you wore ten/twenty years ago. The fact that juniors stuff still fits doesn’t necessarily make it the best option for you (not that you can’t wear it if you like it, of course, but there are other places you can look for fashionable stuff that might suit you better).

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

      I have a petite friend who has good luck at LOFT. Their online petits selection is wider than the stores. And she always looks amazing.

      1. fposte

        That’s a good point in general–if you’re looking for petites, move online for real selection. Stores just don’t want to spend the brick and mortar money on extended sizing.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          Amazon is my friend. I’m 53, working and I wear junior sizes. Not petites; my arms and legs are too long. I can find stuff that will fit me in the juniors’ department. But stuff that I can wear to work? Not so much. I found that size 4 of brand X pants work for me, and I go look for it online. Tops are easier to find fit-wise and I usually go the brick and mortar route for them, mostly because I’m picky about color and material, but you can get them online too. And I do, because I really hate shopping.

          1. fposte

            To me online shopping is one of the great boons of our time. Shopping methodology is a real taste call, I understand that. But OMG, to me it is so much better to have a wide range of things that could well fit turn up at my very own doorstep than to plod through the mall and find A Thing that might fit if I altered it but still wouldn’t like very much.

        2. Nina

          I agree. I can never find the short sized pants in a store, they’re only sold online. Yet there are tons of regular, and even long versions. But never short.

    3. Artemesia

      I wandered by Zara the other day and they had tons of stuff in the windows that looked stylish and comfortable to work and while they are not cheap like H&M, they were not crazy expensive either.

    4. VintageLydia USA

      The fashion trends for teens and twenties aren’t really reflected in those of us a bit older than that. I mean, I like a lot of the clothes popular for that age bracket but none of them work for my body type and the quality is really terrible. I think for most women, as we get older, we’re more likely to gravitate to more mature cuts.

      1. fposte

        Agreed. I don’t think it’s simply about being on trend, though of course the advantage of teenagers is that you can sell ephemeral stuff over and over again as you get new ones entering the demographic, which I guess is “on trend” taken to a mania.

        I think even if it fits you, the juniors line isn’t, beyond staples, all that likely to suit a 30-something life. (H&M is also going to vary a lot from store to store, in my limited experience, so if you go to a more officey location you may find more suitable stuff.)

    5. A Teacher

      Reminders I’ve already given to my high school students:

      1. Crop tops aren’t new trends, no matter what you think.
      2. No one wants to see your belly button.
      3. Crop tops create muffin tops on too many of us and it’s just not a good look.
      4. Tights are not pants.
      5. If your pockets are longer than your shorts, it’s a problem.
      6. Sagging: why?
      7. Muscle shirts are for the gym.
      8. No one wants to stare at your boxers.
      9. Underwear isn’t optional.
      10. See through shirts, just no.

      I’m sure there are more, but we are only starting week 3.

    6. Waiting Patiently

      You might want to start checking out the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. Also I love American Eagle because they have really cute girly blouses and shirts that have exposed zippers in the back. Cute for dress pants and skirts. Luckily I also have some really good outlet and warehouse shopping near me that carries a lot of this stuff for up to 75% off.

      The last thing I bought out of forever 21 were these cute straight legged Aztec printed jean pants. I had eyed them a few times and i didn’t have the money to buy them. I’m a believer in if it’s meant for me, it will be there later when I have the money. Well my daughter wanted to go the big Forever 21 in NYC for part of her birthday and I found them on the clearance rack in my size. They fitted perfectly. I was so thrill because that store is a hit or miss for me. I wore those on one our dress down days with a sweater I believe I got from there or H & M and i got so many compliments.

    7. Elizabeth West

      YES.

      I have worn business casual boring and off work, jeans and t-shirts for so long that I have NO CLUE how to dress. I’ve been studying websites so I don’t look like a total idiot on holiday, and I’ve noticed that a lot of the things I do like to wear in autumn aren’t that far off (I prefer classic, simple stuff to trendy). So I’m learning about scarves and layering and stuff like that. I also discovered that a hairy rust-colored mohair cardigan I stole from my dad’s closet years ago is completely back in style, provided I belt it! I could use some tips, though, if anyone has any!

      I’ve noticed if I wear good shoes and a nice-looking top (even t-shirt as long as it’s not all faded and nerdy) into the mall that I get asked if I want to be helped right away instead of ignored. So sorry I can’t spend $230 on that lovely bag, though, nice salesclerk! :P

      1. Jen RO

        I keep seeing clothing items that would look good belted… but I have no idea how to do that! My coworkers make it look effortless. When I do it, I either look like a sausage or my top starts riding up and out of the belt. Ugh.

        1. stellanor

          I don’t have a waist. :/ I carry a lot of fat in my stomach, so my natural waist is also one of my fattest points! Belting clothing totally makes me look sausage-like, so I avoid it.

          In related news there is a special place in hell for drop-waist dresses, which make me look like someone put a sack over my head and tied it in the middle.

          1. fposte

            One weirdness of my spine problem is that I have tragically lost my butt. I have an actual butt, but my pelvis has tilted back so far that the spine’s a flat line. It’s one of those things that looks weird but you can’t quite figure out what’s wrong. Belting helps a little bit, but not much.

        2. C Average

          There are belt people and then there are . . . well, the rest of us.

          I hover between a size 0 and a size 2, so it’s not like I have weight issues, but I’m petite and busty and short-waisted, and man do I look awful in anything with a belt. I’m all about the cute little A-line dresses. They show off my toned legs and don’t draw attention to the fact that my waist is two inches below my boobs.

          1. fposte

            I’m really short-waisted and busty myself, so I find when I am belt-functional, I like closing belts at an angle (or using loop belts/ring closures rather than buckle closures) with a little more slack so that they hang in a V rather than straight across. Helps avoid the belt-in-the-armpits problem.

        3. Not So NewReader

          Google body types. Certain body types can wear belts. But a lot of body types cannot. My body type only lets me wear a couple of different cuts and that is it. Shopping is so much fun. NOT.
          But I found that looking at body types really helped me in picking out clothes. I have a better idea of what works and I waste less time.

          1. Jen RO

            The thing is, I should have the body type to pull most things off (fairly slim – US 4-6 -, 5’6″, with a waist that is not Dita von Tease, but does exist)… so I think it’s a matter of styling. I’ve gotten better at fashion by imitating people I admire… but I’m still nowhere near where I should be. Like Elizabeth, by usual casual clothes are jeans and t-shirts, I’ve only started dressing more business casual in the past 3-4 years (and my business casual is definitely someone else’s ‘casual casual’, because I still don’t do heels.)

            1. Not So NewReader

              I don’t do heels, either and at this point I have no plan on changing that!
              I pick stuff out, bring it home, and THEN decide “oh this is way too casual”. But I am stuck with it for the moment. You might be fine and maybe it is just a feeling that you have.

    8. C Average

      The styles this year are just objectively not very interesting. The silhouettes are really unforgiving, the colors aren’t visually interesting (at least to me), the fabrics aren’t of particularly high quality, and there’s nothing memorable or fun out there that I’ve seen. This is a real disappointment; I loved some of last year’s fashions, with the emphasis on classic lines with a splash of metallic or color or animal print.

      I’m shopping vintage and sticking to basics. This year’s fugly pencil skirts and weird leather-accents fetish will go the way of other years’ unfortunate trends. In the meantime, I’ll be over here in my LBD.

      I did hear that skinny jeans may finally be nearing the end of their reign. From my lips to God’s ears! I have never stopped wearing my straight-cuts (and even my one pair of boot-cuts, reserved for wearing with my red cowboy boots) and I never will!

      1. Stephanie

        Our long, national nightmare of the reign of skinny jeans might be over? *cues the Hallelujah chorus*

        I wanted them to work, but as someone who carries weight in midsection and butt, they were just horrible on me. I just stuck to straight-cut and boot-cut jeans myself and stayed unfashionable (but love handle-less).

        1. Nina

          Yeah, as a fellow woman with hips and butt, skinny jeans just do not work. They look so stretched out on me, like they’re just ready to fall apart. The only use I find for skinny jeans is that they fit well in a pair of boots.

          A style that I do welcome are high-waisted pants. Very seventies, but hey, no muffin top! Boot cuts are my favorite, but they’re becoming increasingly harder to find.

          1. the gold digger

            I picked up two pairs of Levi’s and one pair of Banana Republic boot-cut jeans at Goodwill for $7.50 each. I guess everyone who changed to skinny jeans sent their boot-cut jeans to Goodwill.

    9. skyline

      I’m totally out of the loop on pop culture (when I see the covers of People and US Weekly, my first reaction is inevitably, “Who are these people?”) but oddly enough, I have been enjoying fashion lately. I’ve also decided to buy fewer but more expensive clothes, and at higher price points, I tend to stick to classics. So maybe I am just not seeing the truly horrible stuff?

      The two style blogs I read are You Look Fab and The Vivienne Files. I don’t always prioritize fashion the way those bloggers and their readers do, but I have picked up some fun ideas/tips on how to assemble and style outfits.

  24. Rebecca

    Yesterday I drove the 1989 Firebird for the first time! There are still some things to be done; I need floor mats, the seats need to be cleaned, the radio isn’t reinstalled, WS6 wheel caps are missing (but I can pick them up in Carlisle in October), and the interior T Top panel is missing, – but all minor stuff! It runs great, brakes work perfectly, transmission shifts smoothly, so it’s probably good I didn’t have the radio anyway so I could listen for any odd noises. Oh, it was so much fun driving with the wind in my hair and the sun overhead! What a great day.

    1. fposte

      I don’t particularly enjoy actual cars, but I love a good car-joy narrative. Since you didn’t say the color, it defaults to red in my head :-).

      1. Jen RO

        And now I am imagining Christine – but I’m sure *your* car is not haunted, Rebecca!

        (And yeah, Christine was a Plymouth.)

  25. Vanilla

    WEdding question/rant:

    A friend of mine is getting married at the end of the month. Long story short, she started dating her fiance in May,they got engaged in the middle of July,and are getting married at the end of this month. This friend is a friend but not a close one.I assumed I had not been invited to the wedding because I hadn’t received an invitation or any sort of notification, which was fine because I believe it’s a small wedding and like I said, we aren’t that close.

    I got a text this week (yes, a text) asking if I could be in the wedding. I declined (going out of town that weekend). but this is the third time this year that I have been asked to be in the bridal party at very short notice. Earlier this summer, I had a family member also text me asking me to be in the wedding. IN January I had a friend call and asked if I would be in her wedding party as well. In those instances, I was already going to be at the wedding but in this most recent case, I had not been invited to the wedding, any of the showers, etc so I was a little put off by this request.

    I asked my boyfriend why he thought this keeps happening and he said he thinks it’s because I’m very dependable and that i always follow through. I’m sorry, but I think it’s pretty rude to a.) Ask someone at the last minute and b.) Do it over text or have someone ask instead of the bride.

    1. Jen RO

      I would be put off too. To me it sounds like she realized that not enough people were coming to the wedding and she wanted to boost up the numbers by inviting you.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Not that I have ever been a bridesmaid, but somebody once asked me to perform a song at their wedding. Well they didn’t, I heard it from a mutual friend.

        I declined, and then realised on the invitation that I wasn’t invited to the wedding reception, only the (lunchtime) service and the evening party, both of which were some distance away. So I arrived at the evening party, gift in hand, to have the Bride cheerfully announce to a small child in front of me “I asked Chocolate Teapot to perform at the wedding, and she said no, but you didn’t did you?”

        We are no longer in contact. Come to think of it, I never got a thank-you note for the gift.

        1. Vanilla

          Wow.

          I swear, some brides feel like just because they are getting married, they get a pass on acceptable behavior. I would have been tempted to turn around and go home – with my gift.

          Last month, my friend was in another friend’s (beth) wedding. at the reception, beth went up to my friend and told her that she ruined her wedding photos because she had gained a bunch of weight. My friend had flown in, spent a bunch of money, etc. She ended up sitting at one of the tables, bawling her eyes out.

            1. Ruffingit

              THIS. So very much this. Did I mention…THIS?!! God, that is horrid on so many levels, I just cannot even imagine. I hope your friend dumped Beth and that Beth gained a bunch of weight after the wedding and is now full of self-loathing. OK, so that last thing is harsh, but damn. How awful to make your friend feel badly about herself.

        2. Katie the Fed

          Small tangent on thank-you notes:

          I hear this a lot. In fact, there have been a couple where I never got one either (including one that had included on the actual invitation “cash gifts are appreciated” – the horror!).

          It’s not that hard. It’s really not. I have a little spreadsheet of all invited guests. When a gift comes in I update the spreadsheet and put the status of a thank you note. I do the note within 3-4 days (I have a stash of notes at work and do them during my lunch break), then update the status. Usually I type out the text of the note – 3-4 sentences, and I can make adjustments on the computer, and then hand-write.

          It’s NOT that hard and there’s really no excuse for not getting it done. If it’s a priority, you’ll do it.

          1. Ruffingit

            I tend to agree. I saw a pregnant woman once in my gynecologist’s office who was using the waiting time to do the thank you notes from her recent baby shower. I thought that was a smart use of time.

          2. Al Lo

            I used a couple of tricks: 1) At the shower, I had everyone address an envelope to themselves when they came in, both so that I had accurate addresses for everyone, and also so that I had an accurate list of who was there and which cards I still needed to write. If the envelope was empty, the card still needed to be written.

            That worked really well for a smaller, more contained group like a shower.

            2) For both the wedding and shower, I had a bridesmaid write the gift received on the back of the guest’s card to us, instead of in a notebook or something. That way, I didn’t have to worry that my friend who doesn’t know the family would attach the wrong name and relationship, for instance (*which* Uncle Doug was this from? [I have more than one]); and also, we kept our wedding cards in a box, and the record of gifts is now/always with them. For writing thank you notes, I just put the card away when the note was written, so my to-do pile was easy to keep track of.

            1. fposte

              I have to say, I’m not a big fan of having to buy a gift *and* having to address my own thank-you note; I like #2 a lot better.

        3. Not So NewReader

          To Chocolate Teapot’s former friend and Beth:

          It’s a wedding not a weapon.

          There is a difference.

      2. Ruffingit

        Yup, or a bridesmaid dropped out, now the numbers are uneven for bridesmaid and groomsmen and she’s scrambling to find someone. Either way, it’s rude.

    2. fposte

      Are you the reliable friend in a circle of flakes? That can happen, and it might be a cue to up your friend standards.

      But yeah, I think people are being pretty brazen there–somebody not the bride texted you to ask if you could be in the bride’s wedding at a late date? That doesn’t deserve anything but a laugh and an eyeroll.

      1. Vanilla

        My close friends are pretty reliable; the people that have asked me have been more of tier 2 friends. One of the people that asked me was my cousin. Her mother (my aunt) texted me the week of the wedding and asked if u would be in the bridal party. I said yes (only because it’s family). Needless to say, my mom was pissed and almost didn’t go to the wedding because of it.

        1. fposte

          Oh, relatives. Can’t live with ’em, can’t shove ’em down a well without risking awkward questions.

        2. Ruffingit

          THE WEEK OF THE WEDDING?? WHAT?? Wow, that is just…you have to have some serious cojones to do that because it’s clear you’re 3rd or 4th tier to those people at that point and they are simply desperate to have someone fill in.

    3. vvondervvoman

      Your boyfriend is right. You’re the dependable friend who won’t flake. Super rude and awful, but that’s it.

    4. C Average

      I don’t know if any of you saw this when it made the news a few months back: http://bridesmaidforhire.com.

      There was some hand-wringing over the fact that this exists, but honestly, I think it’s freaking brilliant. If all you really need in your wedding is a warm body in the right color of dress and the willingness to perform various services, JUST HIRE SOMEONE instead of alienating your friends and relatives and acquaintances. Sheesh.

    5. Noah

      OMG! I had the same thing just happen. I was asked to be a groomsman two weeks before the wedding. Apparently the bride added another bridesmaid and then freaked out because the two sides were not even. The thing is, I barely know the guy and had never met his fiance until I arrived in town for the wedding. The guy and I work for the same company and have pretty good camaraderie from just talking on the phone constantly and through Facebook. However, I have only met him twice in person, and both of those times have been work related.

      So, I said ok I’ll do it and it all turned out fine, if a bit awkward because I didn’t really know anyone. Also, thankfully we work for an airline, so the air travel portion was free and I had hotel points to use for that. I’m just not sure exactly how I made the cut to be asked to be in the wedding party. I was invited to the wedding, but I assumed he invited all of his work friends more as a way to announce the wedding.

  26. Rebecca

    Mama Cat Update: 3 weeks, and still no kitten sightings. She is very sly. I’ve seen her coming and going under the back porch, but I can’t see any kittens under there. There are no window wells, so that’s out. I’m making sure she has plenty of fresh food and water, and even cooked some beef trimmings for her. I thought the extra fat might be helpful.

    It’s like she knows I’m watching where she goes :) I really hope the kittens are OK. I talked to my vet the other day when I took the dog and 2 of my cats for shots, explained the situation, and they said she could be spayed when the kittens are weaned. He’s part of the county’s capture/spay or neuter/notch the ear and release program. We have so many cats here, the SPCA can’t handle them all, people are upset that they’re being put down, yet there aren’t enough people willing to adopt them, so we are trying this method instead. At least if they’re spayed or neutered, no additional kittens, and the population should reduce.

  27. nyxalinth

    Not a question, but i would like to celebrate that I FINALLY have a job!

    Let me tell you: it isn’t a ‘dream’ job. It isn’t even a ‘when I think of how I want my job to be I considered this for a few minutes” job. The commute is nearly 90 minutes one way by bus, the pay is crap (50 cents above Colorado minimum wage, or 8.50 an hour) the desks and chairs are not even remotely ergonomic (it’s a call center, we take calls from people wanting to donate clothing etc. to aa charity for veterans), and there’s no cubicles so it’s horribly loud (I have to wear an ear plug in the ear that my headset doesn’t cover to block distractions), and my boss already snapped at me for a minor mistake while clocking in one day. I’ve also heard he’s moody and will literally yell at you for making mistakes if he’s in the wrong mood, so I got off easy. Yay?

    But hey, it’s money, and after spending two years looking for what most folks here would consider a decent job and failing miserably, I feel lucky just to have it. I don’t intend to be here forever though. I’ll be using the time and money wisely to update my interview wardrobe (my one good suit was a ‘long over long’ look which looked professional on the hanger but made me look dumpy) and I’ll be making use of lynda.com to improve some rusty skills. So It’s more of a stepping stone, but at least I can put it to good use!

    1. steve g

      Are you in a rural area where it is hard to find jobs? That pay seems very low to have to deal with that commute and a moody boss.

      1. nyxalinth

        Nope I’m in Denver, but I was cursed with the old out of work too long plus relying on public transportation I could only work certain hours in certain areas, and ran into a lot of “Not quite enough experience but for some reason they interviewed me anyway” and also I seem to be typecast in call center work despite having other experience.

    2. fposte

      A bittersweet victory, nyx, but I think you’re absolutely right to look at it as a stepping stone, and I’m glad you’ll be getting some income.

    1. Rowan

      At least with a job like that, you’re under no obligation to stay for any longer than it takes you to find something else.

  28. Allison

    Ugh, guys, my old manager friended me and messaged me on facebook. I left the job three months ago. It was a really toxic work environment, with him foisting all his work on me while he went and drank at the bar during lunch, telling me I wasn’t qualified for my job (but offering me a promotion!), and manipulative. I have zero interest in being facebook friends with him, and I feel like I finally took control of an awful situation by getting a wonderful new job. But at the same time, I don’t want to lose him as a future work reference. Facebook’s privacy settings are so wacky that I don’t even want to add him as a friend. His message and request are languishing in my inbox. What should I do??

    1. Ruffingit

      If you don’t want to add him as a friend, don’t do so. I get the future reference situation, but honestly I wouldn’t worry too much about it in this case. Facebook friending (or lack thereof) is fraught with all kinds of emotional and professional impact sometimes, but end of the day my rule is that if I don’t want to friend you, I won’t do so. Also, given how this guy treated you, telling you that you weren’t qualified for your job, what kind of reference can you expect from him anyway? Who knows what he’d tell people about you if that’s how he treated you when you worked there. IOW, not sure you’d get a good reference from him anyway.

    2. Tomato Frog

      Sounds like the best thing you can do is nothing at all. Just ignore.

      If you do want to act in some way (or if he presses the point), you can message him back that you only friend personal connections on Facebook or, if he knows that isn’t true, you can say you have a policy of only friending peers, not managers.

    3. Malissa

      I completely dumped and blocked everybody from work off my facebook this week. It’s a wonderful feeling! Never ever friend people you don’t want too.

    4. Artemesia

      ignore and then if he gets more aggressive tell him ‘oh I appreciate the invitation but I don’t use facebook for business associates, just family’

    5. kas

      I would let the message and request sit there for eternity. I have coworkers who have sent me requests ages ago and their requests are still sitting there. I don’t have a problem with adding coworkers as a friend on Facebook but if we’re not close/if I barely speak to you, I don’t see why I should add you.

      1. Ruffingit

        I’m guessing that it’s not that she wants him as a reference, but that he might be called in the future should an employer do the calling recent employers thing as well as calling the provided references. Whatever the case though, I wouldn’t friend this guy.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Yes, but she can still get that without allowing him on her Facebook. She can ignore the request and if he asks about it later, just say “Oh, sorry, I’ve decided to leave off work people and just have that for family.”

          1. Ruffingit

            Yeah, but only if he asks about it later, which he might not do. He might just take her not accepting his request as an affront and never allow her to explain. Regardless though, I still wouldn’t accept his request.

            1. Allison

              Thanks, everyone! He was my manager for four years and we did part on professional terms (I did a lot of smiling and nodding) and he said he’d give me a good reference, which is why I didn’t want to burn the bridge if I didn’t have to. I would have happily added him on linkedin, but ugh – facebook is so personal. He comments on EVERYTHING anyone posts too – I’ve seen this on other former coworker’s facebook page. I think I’ll just leave it lingering.

              1. C Average

                I’d shoot him a LinkedIn request with a note saying something like “I got your Facebook friend request–thanks for that!–and thought it made more sense to connect with you here. Facebook is mostly a social outlet for me, and I prefer to keep it that way. LinkedIn is where I keep my professional network.”

    6. C Average

      I recently learned the hard way that it’s better not to accept Facebook friend requests from people you don’t actually regard as friends. (I attempted to fence some such people, including my boss, off in a group where they wouldn’t see my postings and I wouldn’t see theirs. I gave the group an unflattering name, which turned out to be visible to the people in it. Hurt feelings and drama ensued.)

      It’s your right to choose your social media friends. Don’t respond.

        1. C Average

          “Friends I Don’t Actually Like.”

          Yes, really.

          I cannot describe the amount of groveling I had to do to restore even a fragile degree of harmony at work.

          1. Kate

            Now I’m paranoid that the people I’ve placed in a facebook group called “Siberia” will somehow be able to see it. I can’t actually stand any of them so I don’t care TOO much, but yiiiiiiiiiikes. How on earth were they able to see it?

          2. Ruffingit

            Oh wow, yeah. I can see how that caused an issue. How on earth did they know they were in that group? How do they see the label of the group?

            1. C Average

              After what happened, I am never again touching the Groups feature with somebody else’s ten-foot pole! I don’t honestly know what determines whether your group is visible to others or not, but mine most decidedly was. So awkward.

              I deactivated my account and set up a new one with only my parents, sister, husband, and three best friends. I’m going to need a Facebook account as I begin this MBA adventure; it sounds like a lot of the social stuff is coordinated using a private page for our school, and I don’t want to be left out of the loop. But I’m going to be a social media hermit for a good long time after my recent fiasco.

            2. Persephone Mulberry

              Groups are different than Lists. A Group is intended to be a collection of like minded people who can converse/share around a common topic (we could have a FB AAM Group instead of just liking Alison’s page, for example.) When you create a Group and add someone to it, they get a notification about it.

              OTOH, A List is your own personal FB rolodex that allows you to set specific viewing privileges for certain groups (not Groups) of people, which is what C Average intended to do. You can see your Lists (some of which FB creates automatically) at the bottom of the left sidebar under the heading “Friends”.

  29. Felicia

    I found an apartment and am moving out of my parents’ house Oct 1! I’m so excited! 15 minute commute to work , and I get the space and independence I’ve craved for a long time!

    I’m not that nervous, but just a little. So I would love to hear about peoples’ moving out for the first time stories~! Any tips/things you wish you knew? I love my new neighbourhood, everything is easy to walk to and there’s a really nice library, and its quiet. Apparently my enthusiasm about the library down the street is what made the landlord choose me as a tenant.

    1. Ruffingit

      Things that were helpful to me:

      1. Buy some really nice towels, the good kind that hold up well. There’s nothing like fluffy bath towels.

      2. Get one of those household cleaner totes (can be found at Dollar Store places for cheap). Also, put one set of cleaners in the kitchen and one in the bathroom so you don’t have to carry them from place to place.

      3. Buy a few pairs of scissors and place in bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. That has been a handy thing for me to do. Amazing how often you need those for various things.

      4. Candles are a must :)

      5. Get your bed set up immediately and buy some new linens for it. Even if everything else is in boxes, having that bed set up so that at the end of moving day, you can lay down and comfortably sleep will make a huge difference.

      6. ENJOY the new found freedom!

      1. Felicia

        All of that is great advice, but the scissors thing was a big “wow I never even thought about that one!” thing,, which is awesome

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I have scissors in the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, guest room, basement, and one bathroom — which sounds excessive, but I am actually practically excited to have them right there every time I need them (which is weirdly a lot).

          1. stellanor

            I just keep buying scissors until I stop being like “WHERE ARE THE SCISSORS?” when I need a pair. When that finally stops happening I have accumulated enough scissors.

            (On Friday I discovered that my work scissors had jam on them. I do not recall cutting any jam. How does that even happen?)

            1. Noah

              What the hell happens to scissors exactly? I know I own at least 4 pairs, but I always scramble to find them when I need them. I live in a one bedroom apartment, so not like it should be that difficult to find something in 900 sq feet.

              1. skyline

                I have this problem with tape measures. I think I buy one every time I have a major move, which means I have 4-5 now floating around my 1-bedroom apartment.

      2. Artemesia

        WE always buy fancy new towels when we are selling a house so it looks fresh — and then are thrilled to have fancy new towels for our new place and promote the old towels to cleaning rags or pool use.

        It really makes you feel like it is YOUR home when you have luxurious towels and a nice set of bed linen — and the stuff really does last a very long time. I think our expensive high thread count bed linen is at least 6 years and going strong — it is such a pleasure to have nice linen. Same with kitchen towels. Get some high quality nice ones that are out. We have old small gym towels as rags for dirty tasks; bar mops that are nice looking for the usual kitchen cleanup (ours are black and white to go with the black/chrome counters and appliances) and then some really nice ones that hang out for quick hand dries.

        Revel in setting up your place to be just the way you want it. This is your turn to have a kitchen arranged just for you, closets organized just the way you want etc.

        Personalize with art — When we had our first apartment and no money we made the living room look great — second hand couch, cable spool table, inexpensive side chair, floor pillows and giant marimekko cloth framed wall print — not expensive, but it looked put together and so when you walked into our place it felt like grownups lived there. We also had nice towels so the bathroom/guestbath/only bath was presentable for visitors and again felt put together.

    2. brightstar

      Pack an overnight bag with what you’ll need immediately because everything will be topsy turvy and exhausting and you won’t want to have to search for your toothbrush, etc.

      In addition to Ruffingit’s suggestion of setting your bed up first, I’d put up the shower curtain next and get things ready so you can take a shower at the end of the day.

      1. Judy

        and toilet paper. You don’t want to have to search for that.

        I always keep a backpack with my things I need to know where they are – checkbook, notes on utility hookups, phone charger, jewelry. I make sure I know exactly where that is at all times.

      1. C Average

        This was really fun! How in the world did you wind up writing a piece like this and having it published a year into college? Was your job in journalism?

        I was chatting with my teenage nephew about college recently, and told him I thought the ideal distance between college and one’s parents’ house is between two and three hours: far enough away that they’re unlikely to drop in unannounced, close enough that you can bring your laundry home on the weekend.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I just … wrote it and sent it to them and asked if they wanted to publish it and they did. I’d actually sold them a piece a few years before, and sold them a couple after this too. I think technically that’s not how it usually works, but I didn’t know any better and it ended up working out!

          My dad was a journalist, so I think somewhere along the way I internalized the idea that you could write stuff and see if people wanted to print it.

      2. Not So NewReader

        This is great, I loved it.

        We almost need to rebel against our parents in some ways in order to launch ourselves. So, of course, we think “oh it’s not that hard” that helps us to walk out the door of our childhood homes. If we believed our parents, we might not leave.

    3. Katie the Fed

      Get yourself a book like The Idiots Guide To Home Maintenance so you can learn to do small projects on your own. Since you’re renting, a lot of that will be done by the management company, but it’s still good to be able to do some on your own (and someday you might find yourself marrying a guy who isn’t handy at all…not that I’d know anything about that).

      If you need kitchen basics, put the word out to friends/family – they might be upgrading their dishes or something and be happy to give you their old stuff. As I’ve been getting wedding gifts I pass along the old stuff to a friend who just moved here after the Peace Corps and needs new stuff.

      Put trash cans in each room, and have one by the door so you can sort and discard junk mail the second it comes in.

      Be relentless about getting rid of things you don’t use.

      If you can afford it, hire a cleaning service for once-a-month deep cleaning. It’s worth it.

      Set up auto bill pay so you don’t forget to pay your bills. For the scatterbrained among us, outsourcing things like that is a godsend.

      Enjoy! Congratulations! I loved living on my own so much!

    4. Gene

      Unless it’s something like your grandmother’s cast iron skillet, start with all new kitchen stuff. Search Amazon for “kitchen in a box”, IKEA has something similar. It’s not top tier stuff, but it’s likely better than family hand me downs.

      I second seeing up bed and shower first.

    5. EA

      Make sure you have a plunger for every toilet. Even though your landlord is technically responsible for maintenance, plunging a toilet is not something you want to wait for.

      One thing I never realized until I bought a house was how many trash cans I’d need.

      1. EA

        (and to clarify, “indoor trash cans”, like the one in a bathroom and office, not the big ones that get put out on the curb weekly)

    6. Lauren

      My grandfather gave each of his grandkids a toolbox when they moved out. It was especially sweet for my sister and I as we lived with them during high school for her (she moved out at 18), and I moved out at 26 after 12 years. The tool box is an avocado green with an S shaped metal bit that closes the box as it long ago lost its lock. He took tools from his work bench in the basement, and filled it up. Tape measure, flashlight, pliers, hammer, etc. all from decades ago. Stuff he had for years. He recently passed away, and I am very fortunate to have all these Papa tools that he picked out for me. I imagine him at his bench going through his drawers picking out random tools that I would need when I moved into my apartment. I miss him. Opening the tool box makes me think of how he gathered all these tools from the 50’s, 60’s, and on and how he used them all at one point or another. I think I will follow the tradition and give the box to my kid someday.

  30. Malissa

    So I find myself looking at getting a new commuter car. I’m looking at late model used ones. I’m heavily considering the Fiat 500 pop or a Nissan Sentra. But I am open to anything that has a four cylinder stick shift option. What do y’all recommend?

    1. littlemoose

      I bought my Sentra over a year ago and I love it. Good gas mileage and nice inside, with great features. The massive trunk is fantastic. And the backseat is big enough for adults to sit comfortably – nice for going to lunch with coworkers, etc.

      1. Malissa

        I actually sat in one last weekend and liked it more than I thought I would. I didn’t even think about the trunk space. That’s always a big plus.

        1. littlemoose

          My boyfriend and I fell in love with it last year after seeing it at the car show. I wasn’t looking for a car at that time, but I was in an accident three months later and totaled my old car (no worries, I was fine). We test-drove the Mazda 3 (2013, not the new model as it wasn’t out yet) and the Honda Civic as well, but we thought the Sentra was the nicest inside (I bought the SL). The trunk space is really impressive. I’ve had it for about 16 months now and we still love it. It has a backup camera and I generally get low 30s MPG doing mostly city driving.

      2. Diet Coke Addict

        My husband has a 2008 Sentra and loves it. It’s actually a replacement car after his Subaru was totalled by a semi on a winter night, and he didn’t care about it either way when he bought it. Turns out to have been an awesome pick. It’s comfortable to ride in and sit in, even in the back, even for his 6’2 brother. He needs a ton of trunk space and it’s great. Mileage doesn’t compare to my tiny Honda Fit, but still good. All around a good buy.

    2. Jen RO

      I just read a conversation on Reddit about the difference in size between American and European cars… I didn’t even think they sold Fiat 500s over there!

      1. Malissa

        Yes and they actually sit right for a shorty like me. They are also a very unique car in a landscape of cars that are starting to look all alike.

          1. Malissa

            Really? They’ve gotten great reviews over here. But then again they are competing against lessor cars in this market.

            1. Jen RO

              I don’t know much about cars, so I have no idea what they are compared against… and in the meantime, I’ve decided that I quite like the size of my car (a Ford Fiesta) and I probably want a similar one in the future.

              1. Malissa

                I don’t fit on a Ford fiesta really well. And the ones that have electric seats usually don’t have a manual transmission. sigh. But the focus is on my short list as well.

                1. Jen RO

                  It’s other way around here: finding a car with automatic transmission is difficult, and they are always more expensive.

          2. stellanor

            I seriously considered them before I got my mini cooper. They’re supposed to be quite nice for city driving but the non-turbo version is apparently kind of a dog acceleration-wise once you get over ~50mph. I have a freeway commute, and when I was looking the turbo wasn’t out yet, so I opted against it. (I didn’t want a manual for my daily driver so the Abarth was also out.)

            My mom wants a smaller car and I’m kind of railroading her toward a Fiat 500 turbo. She doesn’t drive a ton and if she needs a lot of cargo space she can borrow my dad’s SUV, so it seems perfect for her.

    3. Gene

      I test drove the Fiat and it felt tinny to me. Of course, I was comparing it to the MINI I had tested an hour before with its BMW build quality.

      Given the choice between those two, I’d go with the Nissan.

    4. Noah

      I love my Mazda 3, which replaced my Jeep as a daily commuter. I kept the Jeep for fun times and inclement weather. Fun to drive, great gas mileage, and I like the way it looks compared to most small cars. It might be a bit larger than you want though if you’re looking into the Fiat.

  31. fposte

    Unexpected internet encounters with AAM commenters? I was reading the archives of It’s a Dog Lick Baby World last week, and there was Kelly O commenting in the archives–I was annoyed that it was a two-year-old post so I couldn’t high-five her virtually. I’ve seen AAM on Query Shark, and there’s some Captain Awkward commenter crossover–anybody had “Hey, it’s an AAMer!” moments elsewhere on the internet?

    1. littlemoose

      Fposte did you previously comment on Consumerist? I feel like I recognize your username from somewhere.

      1. fposte

        I did! I think was the full floraposte there (it was several Consumerist reboots ago, so I don’t remember for sure); it was back in the days when they still had the other Chris, whose last name I don’t remember, on staff there; there were a ton of great posters whose names I half-remember, and I almost pulled off a meetup with Eyebrows McGee, who doesn’t live too far from me.

    2. Jen RO

      A lot of AAM readers also read Evil HR Lady and comment there, but I was expecting it and wasn’t surprised.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      A few years ago, I saw a then-frequent AAM commenter on Query Shark (Lab Rat) and said hi to her there — and then she never commented here again, ever. Apparently I should not do that.

    4. VintageLydia USA

      We had a huge crossover with Consumerist back when they had more commenting. When they first closed comments a bunch of us transitioned to another forum and there are about a half dozen of us who comment here frequently and another half dozen or so who read but don’t comment (though sometimes we’ll talk about posts from here over there. Especially some of the really crazy ones.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        First, that’s fascinating and I didn’t know that. Second, what happened with Consumerist’s commenting? I thought they had killed it entirely, but the other day I noticed it’s back, but way less robust than it used to be.

        1. VintageLydia USA

          They had some major security issues related to it so they shut them down. Now they have a beta version you have to invited to comment on but not very many people got the invitations. I don’t know the details and the editors are keeping mum about it, too, which is annoying. I have no idea when (if ever) they’ll be totally open again. Honestly I’d rather they do away with them entirely if they won’t be open.

        2. fposte

          It’s now some by-email-request-only privilege (plus a few people who were grandfathered in or reinvited or something). It’s been that way for a while, and it’s absolutely killed any conversation. Ironically, one of the earliest people back in the new comments was one of the more pot-stirring and uninformed commenters in my era, and I was like, “Really? That’s what you want in your new comment section?”

          It was an interesting site for the evolution of the comments section, I think. It got big, and then it developed a tendency to get contentious, and then it had a few different moderation iterations (oh, the glory of devoweling) that had mixed success. But I think they might as well have no comments allowed as the current form.

          1. VintageLydia USA

            No, no one was grandfathered in as far as I’m aware. I think even the editors in the beginning had to get “persission” to comment again IIRC. It really has killed the community. There are about 60ish of us elsewhere though…

            1. fposte

              Ah, okay–I thought I remembered something about receiving invitations, but it was all pretty murky. But yeah, it’s dead, and it used to be really interesting. Shame.

      1. C Average

        Yeah, I’m clover on TN. Tomato Nation’s not what it used to be. I’m happy Sarah’s had so much professional success and doesn’t have as much time for the blog, but . . . I’m sorry she doesn’t have much time for the blog. I think she’s one of the best writers on the internet and I’m always excited when there’s new material from her.

    5. EA

      I know its probably a rather common username, but there was a “danr” on a bbs i used long ago. Not sure if the danr on here is the same person. (does the term “grex” mean anything to you?)

      I don’t think I had actually seen that username anywhere else until I started reading the comments here.

  32. littlemoose

    ANTS. We have them – not swarms but definitely several per day. I have googled a lot of ant remedies but I was hoping somebody could share what has worked, and what hasn’t, for them? We have a dog and a cat (and a foster kitten downstairs, but that’s another story), so I have been leery of using pesticides and need a pet-friendly solution.

    1. Malissa

      Sevins powder is pet friendly. I’ve also herd that chalk around the house works. I’ve got Ant terribly bad on my property and we do an exterior spray once a month and just keep the animals inside for a few hours afterwards.

      1. fposte

        I’ve had really good results with the Terro liquid, though you have to be patient. You’ll probably also want to cat-proof your bait stations or put them in places where the cats won’t goof with them, but it won’t hurt the cats if they do–it’ll just annoy you.

        1. Elizabeth

          Another vote for Terro. We had problems both upstairs & downstairs, from a single colony. We got rid of them within 24 hours of putting out the liquid. We just had to threaten the cat with the squirt bottle once when he sniffed at it (he didn’t actually touch it, and we didn’t have to squirt him).

    2. Lisa

      Laundry spray. I keep Shout in the kitchen for ants – kills them dead instantly and while I wouldn’t feed it to the cats, I gotta think traces of it are less toxic than bug spray. Plus it wipes out their trails and smells better!

      1. fposte

        YMMV on the cinnamon. A friend told me about it and I did a test by ringing in an ant collective with the stuff. They happily strode through it to go in and out at will. I guess I have spice-loving ants.

    3. matcha123

      Ants would make a yearly appearance around the front door/kitchen of the place I grew up in.

      Ants leave little scent trails for their fellows to follow and they tend to stick to one place. We would put down ant traps, take out garbage religiously/fold down the garbage bag, up the vacuuming and mopping and the ants would usually give up. Sometimes they were gone within a week or two, sometimes a month.

      But we were able to keep them from spreading to other areas of the house.

      Once you see the first one, kill it and then wipe down the area you think it walked across. That makes it harder for other ants to follow its trail. Hope that helps.

    4. Waiting Patiently

      Chalk your doorways and also put cinnamon in your window sills. This will keep them away but its not going to help if they found goodies left out by rotten teenagers, who don’t believe you until they discover the infestation on their own before going to bed..ugh.
      We just went through our 3rd ant battle after my daughter left a piece of candy in her room. I instructed her how to get rid of them(“oh yeah you might want to bleach that area tonight and tomorrow i will make a bottle of that solution” -then I chalked, sprinkled cinnamon around my doorways and went back to sleep.

      The last solution I got which gets rid of them in 1 day is a solution of sugar, water and borax. Not safe for your pet, but if you can keep them away from it for at least a day..the problem will be gone. First don’t kill the ants, let them enjoy whatever they are feasting on. So much easier said than done. You mix the solution in a water bottle then poke holes in the bottom. Then put the bottle where they are feasting. They will eat whats in the bottle and take it back to their nest. This usually wipes them out in day. I usually just follow up by chalking the area they came through or sprinkling cinnamon there.

    5. Anonyby

      I have ants in my bathroom. Ugh. At least they haven’t found the kitchen yet this year (knock on wood).

      Glass cleaner (with ammonia) will also clean them, though you’ll still have to deal with the fellows that come afterwards. I second using a mixture of sugar and borax. If you can set up a bait station where the dog and cat don’t frequent, you can put it in a sealing container with a cut out “door”. The sugar attracts them, and the grab the borax along with the sugar and the borax kills them.

      1. Waiting Patiently

        We went away one summer and came back to big black ants in a line from the front door to the kitchen, up into my cabinet right into the sugar and anything else they could get into. I don’t buy sugar that often, after that I went years without buying sugar. I try to be critter friendly as possible but that was not cool to come. They had to go. That time the chalk and bleached worked.

    6. Windchime

      This might out me as a terrible housekeeper, but I’ll post it anyway in case it might help. In my old house, I had a terrible ant problem but they were in my living room, not my kitchen. It was very confusing. I’d be sitting on the sofa and all the sudden there would be a couple of ants on my arm. We finally got on the floor and followed there path, and it turns out that the sofa was their ultimate goal. They were going for all of the crumbs under the cushions! We took all the cushions off and vacuumed it thoroughly, and we also found a big nest outside and sprayed the heck out of it with some kind of bug spray. These steps didn’t totally eliminate all of the ants, but it made a huge difference.

      Long story short: Vacuum under your sofa cushions.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I have had good luck with ant traps.
      In my most recent ant invasion, there was a peony bush outside my kitchen window (which is over the sink, and the sink would have plenty of visitors). The peonies were loaded with ants and it took nothing for them to come into the house. I got rid of the peony bushes and that took care of 90% of the problem.
      If you have plants around your foundation check them for ant activity.

    8. NW Cat Lady

      I use the little mounded ant traps (I can’t remember the name) – they’re like little black domes that the ants walk through and take the poison back to the colony. I put them right in the middle of the ant trails, and the ants are usually gone within 48 hours. I also attach them to the floor/counter with a snip of double-sided tape so the cats can’t move them around.

    9. Girasol

      In California we had ants that were bothered by having their scent trails wiped with lemon ammonia. A quick swipe and they’d vanish for days. Then they’d reappear and we’d need to wipe them out again. This would go on for a few weeks before they’d give up altogether. In the Rockies we have tiny pale ants that don’t care about lemon ammonia or go for the baited traps either. But they’ll give up in a few days if I move anything they can eat (grease or sugar) far from their entry point and keep the counters spotless.

  33. Trixie

    Anyone experience with over treated, exhausted hair? My 66-year old mother’s hair is needing some TLC after too much coloring, hair drying, and the drying effects of minoxidil. I’m thinking of a microfiber towel, ion barrel hair brush, and maybe rollers? She’s already leaving in a dab of conditioner, VO-5 hot oil treatment, and I picked up an anchor-free spray to combat frizziness. Perhaps a mayo or avocado hair mask someone mentioned above?

    1. Malissa

      Does she wash it everyday? That is actually bad for dry hair. Also try some vitamin E supplements, does wonders for hair and nails.

      1. Trixie

        Not everyday but does rinse and condition. I do have some Vit E she could take. Looked at Biotin but she didn’t like the look of everything else it included.

        1. fposte

          That’s really frequent water and that’s likely to be part of the problem. Would she be willing to try dialing that back by steps? Even if you’re not a no-poo person, you’re not likely to be generating that much oil post-menopausally; if she’d be willing to live through an adjustment phase to just get that down to a once-a-week or so wash, that might help.

    2. fposte

      Go to a good salon for a treatment, for one thing. Would she be open to a shorter cut that didn’t need as much shaping, at least for a while? Getting a break from the drying and even the rollers might help the new stuff grow out more sturdily.

    3. nep

      I’ve heard coconut oil is great for hair. I’ve not used it on my hair, but use it in a lot of other ways and it’s been great.

    4. Andrea

      Coconut oil helped repair my hair after a bad dye job. I used it as a mask overnight and also used a teeny tiny amount (smaller than seems possible) as a leave in treatment. I also sometimes use olive oil too. As my hair grew out the new growth was stronger and shinier than I had before so I stopped dying it and kept up the oils. I also use sulphate/paraben free shampoo and conditioner.

      1. Anonyby

        I love coconut oil in my hair too!

        I wash my hair with a sulphate/silicone free conditioner (that includes some surfactants), and then do an acid rinse afterwards. My hair is naturally dry and the water running through the pipes is insanely hard and full of bad stuff, which I know is making my hair worse.

    5. LAMM

      My hair used to be really brittle from constant dying and styling. So on a whim I threw out my hair dryer. And curling iron. And flat iron.

      I switched to washing my hair at night and letting it air dry before going to bed. Its a lot less frizzy than it used to be and isn’t brittle either. I just had to accept that my hair was going to do its own thing and be ok with that

      It probably won’t work for everyone, but it might be worth a try giving up on the heat-dependent styles for a bit.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I was using Arbonne for a while. I loved it. It was the only thing that made my hair behave. I narrowed it down so that I just used the conditioner and I still got results. I bought my aunt a bottle of it for her chemo hair. She was in awe. They have changed their formula since then and I have not tried the new stuff. But if it is anything like the old stuff, it’s worth way more than what they are asking for it. I used to get a bottle for $28. I only needed what fit on a dime for each use. It worked out that it was cheaper to use this than use store bought stuff.

    7. Trixie

      Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. She had the most success with velcro rollers as far as smoothing out. I think between the humidity, hard water, the minoxidil treatments, and simply aging hair, its a lot to deal with. Hopefully she can eventually switch back to coloring at a salon which will be higher quality, continue with sulphate/alcohol-free products, and the MAGIC rollers.

  34. De Minimis

    Quiet Sunday reading the new Tom Rachman book and watching the dogs snooze. We’re having a preview of fall weather and it may start in earnest next weekend. Still a few 95 degree days to get through til then.

      1. Anonymous

        She’s traveling there for a second interview in a few weeks. Think her chances are good, so it may soon be my turn again to be the trailing spouse.

  35. Not a size 2

    Does anyone have a sugar addiction? I mean, a real, honest addiction to it?

    I have a pattern of addiction in my life (I used to have a drinking problem) and used to struggle with eating disorders too. My father was a drug addict and loved sugar as well.

    1. BRR

      I cut out caffeine really no problem. I stopped drinking most of the time no problem. I tried to cut out junk food a couple years ago (most of it having sugar) and I still haven’t been able to do it completely. The cravings are just too strong. I wouldn’t call it a full blown addiction but I definitely feel the pull into needing to go get something sweet including running out at night to buy something because I don’t feel I can go without it.

    2. Trixie

      I don’t know if I have an addiction but I do know I really, really, really like carbs, junk food, sweets, etc. My solution is to eat healthy 80%-95% of the day, and splurge 1-2 days a week. I tend to keep lots of healthy stuff around so if I’m going to eat, its good for me. Better to enjoy an apple (fiber) or banana (potassium) with almond butter, or a tart red grapefruit. Mostly, I know I just can’t have crap because once I start I can just keep going all day or week long. And while it can be tough the first few days or week, eating healthy gets easier pretty quickly and you feel so much better.

    3. Artemesia

      If I don’t eat sugar I get antsy and frantic until I do — I guess that is an addiction. And I find that something sweet or chocolate really makes me feel physically better especially after dinner. Every cell in my body is demanding candy — I think that must be how alcoholics feel about alcohol.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Yeah, I did. And it got really bad because of stress in my life. I got involved with alternative stuff and came down. Okay crash landed. Long story made very short- I was very shocked to see just how crappy and sick our food makes us. Not only that but some foods actually dumb us down- slow down our minds and our bodies.
      One person wrote that getting off of sugar can be as bad as coming down off coke for some people. I believe it now.

      I also learned that the more sugar you use the more you need to use salt. The two go hand-in-hand.

      If you decide to lessen the amount of sugar in your life- watermelon is your friend. It’s sweet and it will help clean up your system.

    5. Jill of all trades

      My dad is an alcoholic as is one of his sisters, and while they’ve been sober for ~30 years, they can both easily put away a pound of sugar a day and not blink. Sugar is actually an un-noticed contributor to alcohol problems because the body gets so used to processing it; when he went into treatment one of the things my mom was told to do for his return home was to load the house with sugary stuff to keep that part of the addition at bay while he was getting accustomed to a life without alcohol. There may be resources through substance programs that can help break the sugar cycle (I have no idea though, as my dad ate a seven pound Hershey bar within three days of getting it this Christmas, so he’s never been concerned enough to look for help with it). (He’s skinny too, which he did NOT pass along to me!)

  36. Katie the Fed

    Oh you guys, I just need to vent a bit.

    First, let me say I’m over the moon to be marrying my fiance – I couldn’t have designed someone more perfect for me if I’d tried. We’re really good together, bring out the best in each other, and I adore my future in laws.

    That being said…

    With 6 weeks until the wedding, I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m scatterbrained and forgetful, and have made some really dumb mistakes unrelated to the wedding. It’s like all my mental capacity for being organized (which does not come naturally) is going to the wedding and I’m just dumb in other areas right now.

    And people are driving me up a frikkin wall. Officially, both families are of the “whatever you want to do sounds great” but that doesn’t stop them from being good idea fairies for stupid little details that I just don’t care about. Like, have you thought about doing this (“this” being some silly twee detail they saw at a wedding once) and I really don’t care. If I said “if you really want to do it, by all means make it happen” then I’m bombarded with a bunch of questions about design and whatnot.

    Then there’s all the stuff I’ve ordered for guest bags and gifts have started showing up (yay!) and my living room is starting to feel like I’m playing Tetris.

    Just…sigh. This isn’t my scene. I’m not a wedding person. I just want to get married, not do all this.

    1. fposte

      I love the “good idea fairy” locution–that’s brilliant. But overall, I think that this is part of the “weddings are community events”–even the wedding prep has a certain public domain component that’s unavoidable. And a lot of marrieds-to-be enjoy this discussion, so it encourages participation even with those who don’t.

      And if you have kids, what you’re going through now is great training for the constant opinions you’ll be receiving about your parenting. And those people don’t even give you presents.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I actually said the exact same thing to my fiance – it’s good practice for unsolicited parenting advice. :)

        What bugs me too is that everyone assumes that because I have two X chromosomes I’m interested in this. I’m not. Why can’t you annoy my fiance about vases and flowers and favors?

        Oy. Time to start drinking!

        1. Malissa

          There’s a good reason why I eloped. My mom is still mad about that. 17 years later. I hate being involved in weddings. I love to go to them, but ask me to put on some drapery material travesty and be a bride’s maid? Never ever again.

          1. Katie the Fed

            I wanted to elope – but we thought our families would be too upset.

            We’re actually only having one attendant each – I’m too old to put my friends through being bridesmaids. They were all very happy with that decision :)

            1. Ruffingit

              That is what I did with my first wedding. We each had one attendant and that was that. Just not worth the hassle.

          2. C Average

            My mom eloped, and HER mom eloped. I semi-eloped (super-small family-only wedding in a faraway location). My mom actually encouraged me to elope, in part because she figured having never planned a wedding of her own, she’d be useless at helping me plan mine. If my stepdaughters ever get married, I plan to let them know elopement is a fine option worth considering.

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Why not actually say a version of that? “I’ve got my hands full, but maybe suggest it to Fiance?” (Although maybe that’s mean to Fiance. But there’s at least a 50% chance that they won’t bug him with it, I bet.)

    2. Trixie

      I dont’ suppose there’s a guest room or garage (or room outside on the patio?) for a wedding triage/staging area. (Or a neighbor you’re close to who spare some garage space.)

      1. Katie the Fed

        No – unfortunately our place is pretty small, which is a whole ‘other issue. It was my condo first, and I love it. It’s 2 bedrooms, one bath, and 1940’s-era construction so there is very little storage, a tiny kitchen, etc. We’ll probably move in a year or two – it’s clutter city in here.

    3. BRR

      I was at the bride’s parents house not too long ago for a wedding and there were all of these metal trees in front of the fire place. The parents have really good taste so I thought it was weird and then I finally realized it was center pieces for the reception. Later that night my SO goes, “Their house is beautiful but why did they put all of those trees in front of the fireplace?”

      Not sure how that’s going to read, maybe you needed to have been there.

    4. Malissa

      I will give you positive thoughts that you get through all of this with your sanity. Try to relax and enjoy the small things.

    5. Dan

      I got to the point where all I wanted to do was run to the JP and dint care about the wedding itself. It turned out great, but I certainly understand your pain.

    6. C Average

      This post made me laugh out loud, especially the thing about tiny twee details. At least you haven’t lost your sense of humor and your ability to write! Hang in there, remember that you only have to do this once, and when all else fails, drink some wine.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Ha, thank you. It’s everything I can do not to shout “what about me strikes you as someone who cares about aisle runners? I buy my underwear at Costco, FFS!”

        1. fposte

          I remember an open thread here where a bride-to-be was getting grief about her hair ornaments. Holy cow.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I feel your pain. The day I got told I had to pick out the precise ribbon color for the bouquets was the day I lost it. I have no interest in such microscopic detail.
      It does pass. And I think that everyone learns something about each other- their strengths and their limits.
      The day belongs to the two of you. Just keep holding each other’s hand.

  37. Katie the Fed

    OK, can you humor me with another wedding question?

    I didn’t think I was excited about gifts, until they started showing up. And now I have really nice knives and proper dishes and OMG I love it (I love to cook but have been using my cheap post-college-era stuff forever).

    Since I’m from the midwest, most people will probably do gifts vice money (which is awesome – I’m a sentimental type and love the idea of thinking 20 years from now “aww, this is the gravy boat your sister gave us”). I think we have a fairly good range of prices things, but I’m always looking for good ideas.

    What are the best things you registered for? What are the worst? Anything you wish you’d registered for now? I’m especially focused on kitchen things.

    1. Trixie

      I’ve always like the idea of registering at REI or your local favorite outdoor supply company, and then heading out for an adventure honeymoon with a little camping or paddling or hiking, etc.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I love that idea! We would register for matching kayaks if we had anywhere to store them. But we have added some tents and outdoorsy stuff to the registry.

    2. BRR

      Ooh great question!

      Best
      -Cast iron cookware
      -Nice glass tupperware, I included some bigger ones to help prepare meals during the week. It also satisfies my OCD to have my tupperware match
      -Seder plate, mostly because the people who bought it were pretty observant and were really happy to be able to gift something religious

      Worst (I’m borrowing from friends who are getting married soon)
      – Some friends registered for both a lemon press and a citrus juicer, they do the same thing and I know that they’ll never use either one
      -a set of 5 biscuit cutters, the couple who registered has possibly never baked in their life
      -a cookie decorating kit, same couple who has never baked

      1. Katie the Fed

        I find it funny/strange when people who never cook register for Le Creuset or similar. What do you plan to do with that, exactly?

        1. Stephanie

          LOL, exactly. My friend’s Williams-Sonoma registry could have outfitted a semi-professional kitchen. Her cooking tends to involve pasta + Trader Joe’s sauce + frozen meatballs (and her now-husband isn’t much better). I was scrolling through pages of Le Creuset and Silpats like “Er…what will she ACTUALLY use?”

    3. BB

      I’m not married but I am thinking crystal glassware would make a nice gift. It’s classy and elegant. I guess anything that would stand the test of time.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I agree. I actually have my grandma’s wedding crystal – she never used it in her lifetime and gave it to me when she was downsizing to move into her assisted living facility with instructions that I should use and enjoy them. And I do. They’re beautiful and delicate and I love them. I was sipping champagne out of the champagne bowl last night just because :)

        1. AcademicAnon

          I’ve got some old family pieces that I only break out for major holidays. And people still remember who had them and when they used them.

    4. Malissa

      The Kitchen Aid mixer seems to be a big thing for registries. I love mine. I would suggest a crockpot or two. If you are into baking, a good set pf aluminum cookie sheets are priceless. If you are into cooking a good set of frying pans. I’m a coffee addict, so a good coffee pot. Neutral color serving bowl, so that even if your kitchen decor changes the bowl will always match. A hand mixer and stick blender where you can change the attachments are two very used appliances in my house. A quality mandolin slicer is another thing.

      1. Dan

        I love mine too, but thought it to be a bit pricey for the Midwestern family we both had.

        KitchenAid attachments are pricey, but considering the space savings in DC housing, I like the convenience it offers. I have a high end blender as well. Between the two, I don’t need a food processor, which is awesome because I don’t have the space and would have to do a lot of shuffling around.

      2. Katie the Fed

        I’ve got the kitchenaid – bought it a few years ago – love it! I registered for a Vitamix – not sure it’s really necessary but people swear by it. The neutral serving bowl is a great idea – will add. I have a small mandoline, stick blender (best thing ever), and registered for a better hand mixer. Whew. I like my toys.

          1. Katie the Fed

            Yes on both. The stainless steel ones aren’t the nicest – they’re the basic Cuisinart set, but they’re perfectly fine. It would feel wasteful to upgrade to All Clad or copper or something else because they work just fine.

        1. Dan

          If you can find somebody to splurge on that, then lucky you. I have a blendtec and swear by it. If you like roebecks smoothies or whatever, you probably need a commercial grade blender to get that texture. It also doubles as an ice crusher, and strangely, will shred small amounts of meat.

          1. Katie the Fed

            Worst case I’ll go to Costco and get a Blendtec after the wedding. But I know some people like to go in together on big ticket items like that, so why not.

            1. HR Pro

              I love to try to find people to group together to get gifts (baby registries, too). It’s a perfect way to buy those big-ticket items that they do need (e.g. a whole set of cookware).

              And the opposite of that: I try not to buy a few low-priced items ($5-$15) and lump them together, unless it really makes sense to do so. I’d leave the low-priced items for someone who can’t afford more, or for a coworker who just wants to buy a token gift, or for the bride/mom-to-be to pick up after the event.

              Yes, I’ve put a lot of thought into registries ;)

      3. Anonyby

        The KA mixer was my best friend’s favorite wedding gift, hands-down. She knew she was getting one ahead of time, and several times and talked about it a lot. :)

        And I second a stick blender! I never wanted on, until I got one to use for soap making (it’s honestly the best tool for mixing soap batter). Now I wish I had one for everyday cooking!

    5. Stephanie

      Haven’t gotten married, but my friend had a nice tool set on her wedding registry. I thought that was super practical and something you usually wouldn’t pick out for yourself.

    6. Elsajeni

      Some of the best:
      1. A special picnic blanket. I know this sounds silly, but it’s designed specifically for picnicking — it’s soft and comfortable on one side, tough and water/dirt-resistant on the other side, and it folds up and zips closed into a little rectangle with a shoulder strap, so it’s easy to carry.
      2. A set of sealable kitchen canisters. They don’t look like much, but they’re SO USEFUL.
      3. A “universal knife block” — it’s a wooden frame surrounding a tightly-packed bunch of very thin plastic rods that can hold any size or shape of knife in place in any position, so your knives will fit no matter what size and shape they are, unlike with a traditional knife block with slots.

      The worst:
      1. A set of glasses that we picked mostly based on how great they looked, but that turned out to be really impractical — they were a weird size (too tall, too big) and the glass around the rim was very thin, so not only did we not use them much, but anytime we did use them we’d break one. We threw out the ones that were left when we moved.
      2. A few things, generally, that we picked out based on some idea of what we should get, or what the ideal versions of us would use, rather than what we’d actually use — fancy serving dishes even though we never host fancy dinners, that sort of thing. Aspirational wedding gifts.

      I do wish, even though it’s arguably in that “aspirational” category, that I had registered for one piece of Le Creuset. A mid-sized covered casserole, maybe. Because I long for it, but I’m too cheap to actually spend a hundred bucks on a casserole dish just because it’s a really really pretty orange color.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Thanks!

        Do you have a Le Creuset outlet near you? I went to one last weekend (labor day…shudder) and they had casseroles and cookware for a steal. It was everything I could do to talk myself down and wait until AFTER the wedding to buy some. The Williams Sonoma outlet also has great deals – last weekend the entire store was 40% off and there was another 20% off coupon available at the outlet mall’s main office.

        1. fposte

          My best find, in unpacking family stuff that had been in boxes for years, was a Le Creuset dutch oven. I have no recollection of this thing and no idea when anybody would have acquired it, but it made up for a lot of lovingly stored crap.

        2. VintageLydia USA

          I was just talking about those outlets with a chef friend of mine and we decided we need a trip to Leesburg stat.

          1. Katie the Fed

            take a fistful of xanax if you go on a big weekend like Labor Day. I was almost found curled in a fetal position, sobbing gently, last weekend.

        3. Vancouver Reader

          I find a lot of the Le Creuset stuff (at least in the regular stores, not the Le Creuset outlets) are made in China rather than France now. I’m not sure if it matters to you either way, but just thought I’d mention it.

          1. Katie the Fed

            I’m actually a Staub Girl, but I know people just love Le Creuset too. I’m trying to be practical and not get a bazillion Staub pieces, but I just love them.

        4. Dan

          Does Williams and Sonoma have a true outlet store in/near DC? There is a retail store front close to me, but I’ve never seen literally the whole store discounted 40%.

          1. Katie the Fed

            Yep! Leesburg Corner has a W&S Outlet. Go on a big sale weekend, like after thanksgiving. Sign up for Premium Outlets online and you can download a coupon for a free coupon book too – then stop by the main office (in the food court), get your coupon book, and get to work.

            I found so many of the things I had registered for – olive wood cooking utensils, Staub Cookware, other really nice things there for a fraction of the price. It’s literally the same exact stuff. It’s also right across from the Le Creuset outlet. I might try to go post-wedding after Thanksgiving with some gift money and round out everything. But….gulp. It’s insane.

            Seriously one of the best outlets.

      2. Malissa

        That knife block is the best! Especially if you buy knives al a carte. The new style even holds my 9″ butcher knife.

        1. Elsajeni

          I know, I love it! We also registered for a nice three-knife set, and we could have gotten a block that would just fit those — but this way we were able to keep some of our old, not-as-nice-but-perfectly-fine knives, too, and still have a nice place to store them. (Also, it’s just fun to stab the knives into the thing.)

    7. Vancouver Reader

      We didn’t register when we got married, but one of the gifts we got which I love to this day is a large popcorn bowl. It’s ceramic and has popcorn written on the side (in case you weren’t sure what it was meant for ;> ). In hindsight, I would’ve loved to have registered for Le Creuset things, but I wouldn’t have wanted my friends to feel obligated to spend an arm, a leg and their first born to get me a gift. Having said that, I love using my pasta maker and a second mixing bowl and paddle would also come in handy.

    8. Diet Coke Addict

      Getting a Good Set of Knives and a nice set of dishes were truly some of the best things about my wedding gifts. Mine weren’t crazy expensive, but it was so lovely to pick out my own dishes instead of the 1970s vintage hand-me-down Corel we’d been using since forever (which had taken to randomly exploding on the counters).

      We didn’t register for much, but most of it was kitchen and bath stuff. The dishes are wonderful, we got a knife set, I got a set of kitchen utensils and crock, we got a really wonderful set of sheets, and a full set of towels. The sheets and towels were especially nice, but the dishes–great. I didn’t want fine china, since when my parents pass away I’ll get my grandmother’s antique wedding china and I didn’t want two sets–but the stuff I have is perfect for everyday. I do wish I’d registered for a new set of pots and pans, but I’m thinking I’ll get those for Christmas this year instead.

      It’s easy when registering to fall into the trap of “Wouldn’t it be nice to have X?” when X is something cool, but you wouldn’t personally use. I.e.: We have a rice cooker because we eat rice almost every day. Lots of people comment on it when they come over–“oh, I’d love that! I love rice! I’d use it all the time!” but I always ask–how often do you really eat rice? Often enough to need a special appliance for it? Or would it gather dust except for the once-every-two-months you eat rice? Apply to all things to register for.

      1. Katie the Fed

        So you’re saying we DON’T need the $300 champagne-opening saber (yes, that’s right, a SABER) from Williams Sonoma?

          1. Katie the Fed

            This is a good point. For $300 it’s a good investment.

            Williams Sonoma cracks me up sometimes. There are such SPECIFIC products there.

    9. C Average

      My husband and his first wife registered, and when they split he bought her out and kept the house and all the crap in it, including lots of useless kitchen gadgets and schmancy dinner-party paraphernalia we’ll never use. I’m persuading him to divest of it an item or two at a time. I think we could probably keep only the following items and be perfectly happy:

      –cast-iron skillets and Dutch oven
      –enamel Dutch oven
      –French press
      –nesting bowls in both metal and plastic
      –glass Tupperware containers with lids
      –various sizes of strainer
      –wine glasses
      –regular drinking glasses
      –baking dishes
      –canisters for pantry staples
      –rice cooker
      –pressure cooker
      –knife block
      –lots of cutting boards
      –pizza stone
      –pizza peel

    10. Arjay

      We live near the beach, so our best, most-used gift, was a soft-sided cooler with wheels. It’s great for the beach, outdoor concerts, etc.

    11. HR Pro

      Cast iron cookware
      A $50 set of silver-colored (I’m sure they’re not real silver) serving utensils (4 matching pieces: a large slotted spoon, large serving spoon, large cake/pie server, & huge fork-like thing) from Crate & Barrel — we use them all the time. $50 seemed ridiculous to me at a time but I think all of the other sets were similarly priced and – like I said – we use them all the time.
      A nice cloth tablecloth & matching cloth napkins
      “Fancy” serving bowls large enough to hold enough to serve several people — you tend to need several if you’re hosting a party or dinner. And you still often need more than one if hosting a potluck.

      We didn’t register for a serving platter large enough to serve turkey at Thanksgiving because it seemed too impractical for our DC-area (small) condo. Plus we didn’t host Thanksgiving for a few years. I still haven’t bought one, but I have to ask a relative to bring one every time we host Thanksgiving. So you might consider registering for one of those.

    12. AcademicAnon

      Agreeing with the good set of knives. A set where the shaft goes all the end of the handle.

      The weirdest thing I asked for (and got) was an automatic litter box. I currently have 2 now, and both cats will still watch them go like they’ve never seen it before.

  38. BB

    Anyone here practice reiki? I just took a level 1 course yesterday. It was interesting. I had no idea what to expect.
    If you do practice it, how long have you been doing it? What tips or advice do you have for someone just starting out?
    I’d also love to hear any cool/interesting stories from your own experience treating clients.

    Thanks.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Not a practitioner. I have had reiki treatments and even brought my old dog for treatment.
      Make sure you understand how to discharge that energy. I am not sure if there are methods to prevent build up so that would be something to check into.
      I mention the dog because in the alternative med stuff I have done I see where beings can carry pain/emotions for each other. There is a strong connection between the patient and the beings that live with them. Look for opportunities to learn more about this. Learn about treating all kinds of beings.

    2. Reiki

      Hi BB,
      On the off chance you come back to this, I have some suggestions and questions for you.

      What made you decide to take the class? Of that/those thing/s, what has caught your attention this week?
      I recommend keeping a journal for this week and the next little while; what catches your attention, what makes you think of your reiki, are you paying a different kind of attention to anything in particular? How about your hands?

      I recommend paying attention to boundaries. I recommend reading the discussion of respect further upthread – and if you haven’t, have conversations about respect with other practitioners. I recommend joining a study group. Remember that the work needs to come from a generous place – not that you must give to anyone who asks, not everyone who comes to you will be your client – so it’s not something to expect to work well when you’re feeling put on the spot or overextended or irked by something.

      Remember that perception is individual, and that using reiki requires the use of your own perception. The experiences of others are useful, but in my experience more in how they open up your perception and help you interpret your own experiences. Practice with others; ideally in a study group with others of different amounts and kinds of experience. You will develop you own vocabulary of experience, which will evolve over time.

      That’s enough to start with, and I hope that you have a community of others with whom to have ongoing conversations and experiences over time.

  39. Elizabeth West

    Two-and-a-half weeks until my holiday! I am gobsmacked by how much I still have to do. Nothing big, just little things like print out confirmations, try on all my clothes, mock-pack, get my hair cut (scheduled), deep-clean the house (did not get that done on the Labor Day weekend, rats), find a nice tote that will hold my laptop (eh, maybe I’ll find one there), blah blah blah. It is now less time until I go than I will actually be gone. :D

    I’m really excited about it. I keep having that weird feeling of something big coming, but what it could be I have no clue. Maybe this trip will lead me to it. :)

    One thing I had become aware of at Consumerist and with the passing of a friend was to make a list of all my online information and send it to my brother in case anything happened to me, not only on vacation but any time. I have no one who would notify people if my plane crashes, I fall off the White Cliffs of Dover, or one of the idiots who NASCARs through the parking lot at work hits me. And someone would have to deactivate my accounts, etc. and let my blog readers and Twitter followers know. People probably think I’m being morbid, but no one in my family except my brother would know how to take care of those things, or be arsed to do so.

    And I forgot to put a best on Best/Worst of the week –I wrote a chapter for Secret Book that was so good it made me giddy. :3 I’m trying to get the bulk of it finished before I go, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s okay if I have to work a bit. I’ll be blogging too, anyway. :)

    1. Ruffingit

      Whenever I have traveled overseas, I leave a copy of my will and computer passwords with someone I trust. It’s not morbid, it’s just smart in my view. I also include in my will packet (it’s in a folder), a listing of all my financial accounts with phone numbers. If anyone needs to shut down my life on this mortal coil once I’ve shuffled off it, they can easily do so.

      1. Artemesia

        We have a spread sheet of our assets in our safe deposit box and our wills, living wills, car titles etc and my daughter is on our box and knows where the key is. My mother left things in such amazing order including pre-arranged cremation that it was just totally easy for my brother and me when she passed.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Banks used to lock down safety deposit boxes when a person passed away. This meant that it was not possible for loved ones to access the paper work without jumping through hoops. Do banks still do this?

      2. Elizabeth West

        I don’t have a will yet; I just made my wishes known. I don’t care what my family does with my stuff once I’m dead. I have no dependents except Psycho Kitty, and I gave my brother instructions for that. I told him that if I die in the UK, don’t waste money bringing me back. Just cremate me and scatter me someplace pretty. I wrote, “Do this or I will haunt you.” My auntie I’m visiting would of course notify my mother, but only my brother could deal with the computer stuff.

        But nothing is going to happen, and if it does, I wouldn’t be around to care anyway!

        1. Ruffingit

          Please do get a will. It’s a hassle for your relatives if you don’t have one. Makes it harder for them to dispose of your things even when you don’t have a lot.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I think in my state, it all goes to them if I died intestate anyway. And I really, truly don’t care what they do. They can sell it all and go to Disney World on the money (if there’s any left over after all the bills are paid). I don’t own anything that is worth a damn. Get a dumpster and chuck it all in!

            (I’ll get one one of these days– especially if I publish and have to deal with royalties. I just don’t have the money to go to a lawyer right now.)

            1. fposte

              Yeah, I know I should get a will done just for organization’s sake, but I’ve got POD/TOD on my financial assets and I don’t care if the rest of it causes people trouble :-).

              My father had a will, but it really didn’t matter; his real goods were so small that we didn’t even bother to probate, and the rest of it was all POD/TOD.

          2. Katie the Fed

            I have a will that includes specific instructions for my pets. Ha. My dog’s first owner died and she ended up at a shelter and very narrowly got out alive. I’ve made all the arrangements for my pets so they don’t end up scared and alone in a shelter.

          3. Not So NewReader

            Barebones make sure you have designated beneficiaries on everything. No need to give everything to the courts and lawyers.

    2. Malissa

      Have you made a scan of your passport and emailed it to yourself? Makes getting it replaced easier if you lose it. Also alert your credit card companies that you will traveling. I highly suggest figuring out which cards don’t charge foreign transactions fees and getting one if you don’t already have one.

      1. Elizabeth West

        All that is done. I’ve even gone to the bank and gotten some Brit money and a backup prepaid debit card I’ll probably use for most purchases (I tested it out last night by ordering a cheese pizza, LOL). I can’t get a credit card, so I’m out of luck there.

        1. fposte

          On the debit card–if your PIN is longer than four numbers, change it to a four number PIN before you go. A lot of points in the UK (and some in the US) won’t accept more than four numbers.

            1. fposte

              Hah–I should have guessed you’d be all prepared! I was with a friend who wasn’t once and had to lend her money.

        2. Colette

          Unsolicited advice – get a money belt that goes under your clothes to carry your passport & emergency source of money. You can also keep the contact info for your other cards/consulates/etc there. I was paranoid about that stuff before I was robbed in Italy, and I’m more so now.

          And call your bank to let them know you’ll be travelling so they don’t cancel your card on you.

  40. NatalieR

    Any ideas on what to do with beauty products that just didn’t work out? I am talking things that ended up being too fragrant, allergy triggers, the wrong color, didn’t work after a new hairstyle, etc. It is all stuff that is at least half full, most only used a few times. Most of the women’s shelters only want new/unopened stuff, so donating to them is out. I hate to throw it away, but I have no idea what to do with it. Thanks!

    1. Katie the Fed

      I have the same problem! I think probably many women are guilty of it.

      I thought about having some kind of swap meet with my friends – is that feasible?

    2. Stephanie

      I’ve done hair product swaps. For makeup, if you bought it at a higher end place (like a Sephora/MAC/Nordstrom), those places will take back opened items with the “it was the wrong shade/caused me to break out/smells bad” reason, provided you didn’t use up the entire vial. I try not to do that too often as apparently the Nordstrom clerks lose out on commission for returns.

    3. fposte

      I do throw it out. As somebody with hoarding tendencies, I find “somebody could still get use out of this” to be the great lie that fills closets. Maybe they could, but most of the time they don’t want to either (I’ve never heard anybody asking for slightly used makeup).

      I’d ID one or two methods you’d try–friend swap, freecycle offer–and if that doesn’t get it off your hands by a certain date, toss it. Do not clutter under the guise of “it has to have had more use than this before it can get thrown away.”

      1. Stephanie

        Also, makeup expires! Somewhere on the container, there’s a little vial symbol with a “12M” or “24M” or something. That number is the amount of months the makeup is still good. If it’s past that timeframe, throw it out.

    4. Jen RO

      I’d offer it to my coworkers first (I’m on a 90% female team), then Freecycle it if I couldn’t find any takers. I know many people are grossed out by opened makeup, but I have no issue whatsoever and I would take anything off your hands.

    5. Vancouver Reader

      There’s a place in our city which is a safe place for prostitutes and they take in lightly used makeup and such. Maybe you can check around your city and see if you have something similar?

    6. CoffeeLover

      If I can’t use it or return it, I throw it away. I’ve read too much on the cesspool of bacteria that is our makeup to try and give it away. Besides, makeup isn’t exactly a necessity so I don’t feel as bad about wasting it (vs. throwing away expired food).

    7. HR Pro

      Freecycle is perfect for this! There’s no problem if stuff is opened/partly used (just mention that in the ad). I’ve gotten rid of tons of stuff like that. Once it was a box of hair dye that I accidentally bought the wrong color and lost the receipt. I was surprised how many people wanted my pretty unusual color.

      1. RitaSkeeter

        From NatalieR’s comment: “Most of the women’s shelters only want new/unopened stuff, so donating to them is out.”

  41. brightstar

    I’m looking for laptop recommendations. A friend was working on my 4 year old laptop and ended up absolutely ruining it, so I have to save up for a new one. I don’t do a lot of gaming, so I need a basic one that will allow me to play on the internet and work on my book (once I retrieve it from the dead laptop). I’d prefer Windows 7 OS and around a 15 inch screen but that’s about it for what I’m looking for. Friends laugh because I also want it to have a DVD drive but I want that, too.

    1. fposte

      It might be time to replace anyway, after four years, but is it ruined like “dropped on concrete” or ruined like “needs an OS reinstall”?

      1. brightstar

        Ruined as in killed the motherboard by melting copper on it. I’d have to buy a new motherboard, which with that cost and installation would come to the price of a new laptop. Even used on Ebay, motherboards are $140 so I’ve decided to just get a new laptop after I save up money for one.

          1. brightstar

            I had a Gateway, and the power jack was going out. My friend used to own a computer repair shop and offered to fix it and that turned into a debacle. First, he told to buy the wrong kind of power jack because he didn’t know the jack was sautered to the mother board. Then his sautering iron went out and I bought him a new one. I didn’t know I needed to purchase a $300 sautering iron with temperature control and wouldn’t have bought one that expensive. Then, when he melted the power jack off the board, the copper pads it rested on also melted onto the board, killing it.

            This whole thing has taken place over four months and I’ve found frustrating.

    2. Elizabeth West

      I love my Toshiba Satellite. And they’re always on sale.

      Re the book–gah! Also buy a flash drive and back that sucker up constantly. In fact, I work on the flash drive and back stuff up on my laptop. (And another backup.)

      1. brightstar

        I thought I had backed it up onto a cloud drive but oops! Recently found out I didn’t. My friend lent me a Toshiba while he was repairing it and I like it, though one of my friends is like “Don’t buy any brand you see advertised on TV”.

        1. April

          My first laptop was a Toshiba and it wasn’t a good experience; a friend bought the exact same model same day. Ours both went out around the same time (less than a year later). Had mine replaced under warranty – new one broke down *again*. Had enough of that. Got an HP. Loved it. Gave more than five years of great use.

        1. Windchime

          Also, this is a really good time to be looking for laptops. The prices are usually pretty good around back-to-school time.

    3. stellanor

      What’s your budget?

      What kind of things are important to you? Weight? Battery life? Cost?

      Would you be open to using an external USB DVD drive, or is an internal DVD drive mandatory?

      1. brightstar

        I’m hoping to spend $500 maximum. I don’t care too much about weight since it mostly stays at home. Battery life and cost are the most important items on my list.

        1. stellanor

          Here is a nice review of budget laptops, including an argument for considering a Chromebook if it’s your second computer.

          Here is the laptop they recommend in your price range.

          I am a fan of Lenovo laptops as far as build quality. I used to have a Lenovo for work and it was a tank. I switched to a smaller laptop and they gave me a Dell, and it is terrible build-wise. Many of them have issues with the battery *just falling out* when the laptop is picked up, and you can feel them creak every time you touch them. Perhaps you might like a Lenovo Z40?

          A few thoughts:

          You’re going to have a hard time finding a laptop with Windows 7 currently. Windows 8.1 is decent and you can install Classic Shell to get a Win7-style start menu — that fixed most of the problems I had with win8.

          You also may have a hard time finding a laptop with a DVD drive. Many models have dumped them because it allows them to be thinner and lighter. For $30 you can get an external DVD drive that runs off the power from your USB port. I have last year’s version of that drive and it works great. All you have to do is plug it into the computer and it’s good to go.

          Finally, if you can stretch your budget to ~$700 you will get a lot more laptop for your money. Sub-$500 things can get a little tricky, and you end up making performance and/or build quality sacrifices in favor of price. This sort of smooths out in the $700-800 range. If you absolutely need to stay UNDER $500 and will always have internet access with the laptop I’d look hard at Chromebooks.

          1. Elizabeth West

            Finally, if you can stretch your budget to ~$700 you will get a lot more laptop for your money. Sub-$500 things can get a little tricky, and you end up making performance and/or build quality sacrifices in favor of price. This sort of smooths out in the $700-800 range.

            I second this. There are sales all the time–I got Littleun (my small Toshiba) on sale at Staples (they have a super short return period, though). And look for price matching too.

          2. brightstar

            I’m saving up for it, so I can go up to the $700 range, it’ll just take me longer. I’ve seen quite a few laptops online still running Windows 7, it just seems to raise the price a little.

        2. hermit crab

          I really recommend Lenovo’s laptops at that price range. I got a G510 a few months ago for about $500. It’s not a fancy computer, but it’s perfect for internetting, word processing, netflix, etc. It even has a CD/DVD drive! Lenovo has a good reputation for durable machines, in general, so it should physically last a while. Probably won’t stand up to melted copper though. :)

    4. Noah

      I bought a refurbed Lenovo ThinkPad on Woot last time to replace my broken HP Pavilion. In general, it seems that business oriented models last longer and have more durable construction, but are also more expensive. I chose to go with the refurb because it still had Windows 7 and after having a cheap laptop fall apart in two years (literally, plastic pieces were breaking off constantly the last few months until it died duct taped together) I wanted a more durable model.

    5. kas

      One brand I do not recommend is HP. Only had my HP for two years and just replaced it with a Mac. It was falling apart in a way that just does not make sense as I’ve never dropped it or anything like that. The battery is terrible and I wasn’t able to use it without having the charger plugged in since it would shut off even when it was charged. My sister bought a different HP model and had problems with her battery as well. HP’s warranty also sucks, they try and tell you it expired even though you’re still within the year. My sister only had hers for a few months and after several calls she gave up. No one would help her since “its been more than a year.” I know someone else who also had trouble getting assistance because HP claimed their 1 year warranty was up when it wasn’t.

      I had a Dell before my HP and don’t think I ever had any real issues with it, plus they’re reasonably priced.

        1. Waiting Patiently

          Yes, another HP laptop owner and it completely sucks. We purchased two from bestbuy for $700 a few months ago. I wish I would have just saved up for a Mac or Dell. Should have known since they were so cheap. My HP desktop from 2002, I absolutely love except for the fact it’s so old.

        2. stellanor

          I have an incredible vendetta against HP from like 15 years ago. I went to a liberal arts college and MANY students were basically computer illiterate. I was one of the only tech-savvy people in my year so I was often called upon to figure out why someone’s computer wasn’t working (frequently it was because they’d plugged the ethernet cable for the campus broadband into their dialup modem or something — I actually had a stash of cheap network cards I’d install for people for $20 at one point).

          The HPs were always the absolute worst! Something was always broken and the broken part was usually proprietary so I could never replace it. And they installed all kinds of garbage software that made the people’s computers crazy. Then half the time if they needed a network card the computer was built such that there wasn’t a slot for it or it physically would not fit in the case. WHY?!

        3. April

          Really? I’ve had very good experiences with mine. First one I bought lasted me more than five years of heavy use with no problems of any kind. (Dumb luck?)

      1. Noah

        Totally agree about HP. I don’t know about their business laptops (which are supposedly better) but their consumer ones absolutely suck. Mine fell apart, plastic pieces breaking off and everything, constantly. I had the hard drive replaced twice under warranty. It also got blazing hot on the bottom even when I used it on a desk or table. It was finally done when I closed it one day and heard a loud crunching sound that was apparently the hinge breaking, so then the screen didn’t sit straight and just put strain on the other hinge. I swear I never dropped this and it was usually on either my coffee table or desk at home. I bring my iPad on trips, so I didn’t even travel with it. I have never had a computer just fall apart like my HP did, it was strange.

        1. kas

          Same thing happened to mine with the hinge! The hinge that connected the screen to the bottom part was loose/weird. The laptop would not open all the way so I had to use it with the screen tilted down a bit and I couldn’t close it. Very strange and annoying …

        2. voluptuousfire

          That’s weird. I’ve had HP computers pretty much since I’ve had computers and I’ve never had an issue. I have an HP Pavilion myself since April 2011 and it’s been a workhorse. I screwed up the battery (I kept it plugged in way too often and the battery no longer holds a charge) but otherwise it’s been great! No issues.

          I guess I’ve been lucky.

    6. C Average

      Another vote for Lenovo. We use them at work and they seem tough and long-lasting. My husband works for Intel, where they have a pretty good idea of which computers are worth buying, and they use Lenovos, too.

      I’ve also been happy with my Asus. It’s about five years old now and trucking along nicely. I think it was about $600, and would’ve been $800 if I hadn’t gotten lucky and fallen in love with the floor model because it was a cool color!

    7. Stephanie

      My Toshiba Satellite’s been awesome. It’s about a 15.6″ and like 6-7 lbs, so I wouldn’t say it’s the most portable, but that wasn’t paramount to me (I just travel with an iPad if I need some sort of computing device).

      Prior to this, I had an HP, which was eh. The keyboard kept shorting out and it was going to be $300-400 plus labor to install it, so it wasn’t cost-effective to fix it.

      I also had a Lenovo, which was also great. Everyone asked if it was my work laptop (Lenovo’s strength is not in industrial design).

      I’ll echo everyone else in that you will probably get a bit more bang for your buck if you up your budget to the $700 range.

    8. cd

      I strongly recommend a Thinkpad, either new or refurbished. I’ve had bad experiences with Dell, HP, and even another Lenovo computer (an Ideapad netbook with horribly flimsy hinges). Thinkpads are tough, they have drainage holes below the keyboard (pretty sure that’s why this machine is still working after I poured a whole cup of water into it), and they’re easier to repair than a lot of laptops (though the X1 Carbon is less so – can’t make as many parts replaceable and still have it super thin). I’ve even started to appreciate the “any color so long as it’s black” aesthetic.

  42. Vanilla

    Condos vs. houses?

    I would like to buy in the next year or so. I have a steady job and a good income ($60,000+/year) in a metropolitan area that has a fairly low cost of living. I’m 32 and single, but have been dating someone seriously for the last couple of years and I hope we will get married within the next few years.

    I would rather have property that’s fairly new (20 years old or less) because I don’t want to spend a ton of money renovating/repairing stuff right off the bat. If I had a choice, I would prefer a house, just because I’ve living in apartments for over 10 years and I’m sick to death of sharing walls with people and I would also like a “real” garage. Plus, I’m not sure about dealing HOA.

    Thoughts?

    1. fposte

      House doesn’t necessarily get you out of HOA, especially in a newer build. Have you checked the area you’re looking in to see how common they are?

      And how do you feel about mowing/shoveling/gutter cleaning etc., or have you budgeted to outsource those?

      (I love my house, but I outsource just about all of those.)

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, I live in a house and still have an HOA so that’s no guarantee. I also pay someone to do my yard but fortunately we don’t get much snow here so I don’t have to pay for snow removal.

        I am very sensitive to neighbor noise so the shared walls in a condo wouldn’t work for me. I looked at a really, really pretty condo before I bought this house and the builder assured me that the walls were totally soundproof, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger because I hate neighbor noise that much. So I think a condo would be out for me, but that’s just me.

    2. Malissa

      My preference is no HOA ever. But living in a metropolitan area, they may be hard to avoid. And you may actually like them.
      Figure out your budget and down payment. Then put yourself in the hands of a great Realtor. They should be able to show you a ton of options.
      Also start looking at the market now to get a sense of what you can get in different price ranges.

    3. BRR

      If you’re hoping to get married in the next couple of years it might make sense to hold off on buying before that unless you’re already living together or would be buying together.

      Houses will typically have a longer maintenance list so you need to make sure you’re up to that. Also as others have said houses won’t necessarily get you out of an HOA.

      1. Katie the Fed

        At the very least, I would have a discussion of it with the boyfriend. You might get a better sense of timing. I wouldn’t recommend buying with him if you’re not married/engaged though.

        1. De Minimis

          Yes, I have a house and an HOA….

          Depending on the market, condos can be tougher to sell than houses, and that seems to often be the case when it’s a lower cost of living area.

  43. Cruciatus

    I’m bummed that the writer at one of my other favorite blogs was laid off from USA Today.com (Whitney Matheson for Pop Candy). I don’t like change. And it seems she didn’t know it was coming either. She posted something, said she she had an interview that day she’d post later and…that’s it. I wondered why she hadn’t updated for days…

    In happier news I’m on a mild cleaning kick. Nothing much, but I got rid of a stack of papers on my desk. I’m going to go tackle a box that I’ve been filling with random junk/papers/stuff in my bedroom in a bit. I need more storage space for things but I get so overwhelmed by all the choices (should I go shelves, or bookcase? Or those cube-y things you can get at IKEA (and everywhere now)? Or maybe side table, or coffee table?) that I just don’t make any choice and it all piles up again with no place really to go…

    And in still other news, I am enjoying #explainafilmplotbadly on twitter. Some people don’t seem to quite get it, but I enjoyed these ones:
    A) A man waits for a bus for 2 hours then finds out he could’ve walked to his destination
    And two from the same movie (I think):
    B) Girl is forced to change who she is, for a loser guy with no education. Car flies
    C) The leader of astonishingly benign ‘gang’ only realises he as overlooked his soulmate when she takes up smoking

    1. fposte

      Oh, I love that film plots thing! New York Magazine had contests with things like that, and I used to do them for book plots at work. I must go look for those.

      1. Cruciatus

        This is over at tumblr, which I understand even less than twitter, but you may also enjoy Pop Sonnets–modern songs that have been Shakespearized. A new one is posted every Thursday.
        For example, can you name this tune?: I stepp’d from ship onto the foreign docks with naught but fragile hope and heavy coat. I witness’d those in rich and frilly frocks and wanted for their confidences’ vote. My lack of courtly grace brought pangs of fear, a moment so imbued with doube and pain — ’til Night brought sweetest music to my ear and I was calm’d by my most loved refrain. I lifted up my hands to Heaven’s berth and felt my cowered courage swiftly steeled. My head and heart and hips all move with mirth — a fit of gaiety that will nto yield. — With fresh renewed resolve, I now declare a celebration in this country fair!

    1. fposte

      I am deeply admiring. I am an ultra-runner in my imagination. Ironically, the more physically incapacitated I get, the longer my imaginary runs. I also think the obstacle stuff/trail running stuff just sounds more interesting.

      1. Ali

        Congratulations! I am trying to be a runner, but don’t know if it’s ever going to click with me. Right now I prefer it as a compliment to other workouts rather than something I want to devote all my time to.

    2. C Average

      I so want to do this! Was it fun?

      I know I could do the running parts–I’ve run marathons and ultras–but I fear the non-running parts.

      1. Tinker

        I had a great time. It’s my second event, so I actually have signed up for a Tough Mudder knowing what I was in for. Ow. Also ow.

        I am not much of a runner, and actually fell behind a bit on being a non-running runner this year, so that was kind of the grim part for me, mostly. At least for the Colorado events, it ends up being a run/walk for many people because they hold the event in ski areas, and… yeah. It was mostly a walk for me this year. Oh well.

        Far as the obstacles go, there are some that are meant more for individuals (such as the crawling ones; a wise person would practice crawling and wear something covering the elbows and knees, which is not what I did) and some that are mostly meant to be done with the help of other people (although more athletic people need less help, and notably athletic people could do it on their own). People offer help freely — there was one obstacle I did, for instance, that involved climbing into and out of mud-filled pits and I eventually ended up settling on a pattern of “raise foot (someone will put their laced fingers under it), get boost, reach out hand (someone will grab it), be lifted out of pit while trying to find foothold for other foot, proceed to lift a couple people out of pit, drop down into next pit”.

        You can also skip obstacles. A lot of people seem to be greatly challenged by the “walk the plank” obstacle, which is effectively jumping off of a high dive, and skipping isn’t uncommon there. I skipped the Berlin Walls, which involves climbing over an 9-foot or so wall, and I was reasonably confident that I could eventually get up the wall but not sure I’d manage to get down, particularly as by that time I was starting to have issues with my wonky knee. Also skipped an obstacle from the “Mudder Legion” (repeat attendee) section that involved jumping out to grab a cargo net or miss it and land in the water, then climb up cargo net. I’ve found from experience that all obstacles of the form “Do task of upper body strength or land in water” end in my landing in water, usually instantly, and by that time (this was my second-to-last obstacle) I thought it likely that another dunk in cold water would cause my legs to seize up. Generally there are enough challenges that skipping a couple obstacles that are just not going to happen for whatever reason doesn’t detract much from one’s day.

        I did the thing this year with relatively little advance training (my training having kind of been derailed by buying a house and joining the LARP group) and a somewhat neglectful approach to logistics that resulted in my starting the run low on both water and fuel; it still worked out and I had a good time.

    3. Noah

      That’s awesome. Several in my office did a Warrior Dash together and it was a blast, but we certainly hurt the next day.

  44. Ali

    After asking last week about how to be more positive, I have tried being on Facebook less. I should be doing that anyway so I can better focus on work, but I figured it would be a good step. I feel a little bit better today than I did last week and know with two jobs now on my plate, I’ll hopefully be busy enough that I won’t have to look at FB as much.

    1. krisl

      One thing that can help with mood is to try to select stuff online and stuff on TV (after work, of course) that makes you feel good. I have a bunch of links to my favorite funny pages on line.

      I found it helps to really cut down on how much news I watch – news can be pretty depressing.

      Humor books can be great. In the library (oddly enough in the non-fiction section), there’s a whole section on humor, which is a great way to find out what authors are funny to you w/o having to spend any money.

    2. Descent Into Chaos

      I’ve drastically reduced my Facebook time too and it’s helped me to feel better. Other things that have helped: drinking less alcohol, eating more fruits and vegetables, getting more exercise, having creative outlets. Life has been really stressful for me lately, so it’s been hard. But I find that just being healthier in general makes a big difference.

  45. Large pores :(

    Has anyone actually found a way to treat large pores that made a big difference? I use nose strips once or twice a week and it helps a lot, but the pores are quite deep. I mean, they look like big holes on my face :( My derm said there’s nothing she can do, except chemical peels, and those scare me. They burn a layer of your skin to achieve it and that’s not my cup of tea.

    1. Katie the Fed

      There are some laser treatments that are supposed to help. Otherwise, good makeup can help – especially a good primer.

    2. Trixie

      I would google Makeup Artists Choice site. Outstanding products, well made, samples available to try. Specifically I’d look at their Mandelic products including serum (alternative to RA), toner and beginner chemical mask you can try at home. Overall, that has made a substantial difference for me. Also, a clean diet which for me is avoiding sugar/carbs. As soon as I splurge, it shows on my skin.

      1. Trixie

        And check out their blog, plenty of success stories on this. An at-home light chemical mask is nothing to take lightly but if you follow the directions easily something you can try at home. Directions, patch test, then proceed.

    3. Recently did some reading on this...

      Those strips remove sebaceous filaments, leaving the pores empty and seemingly huge. Apparently, SFs are a normal part of skin and pore strips contribute to loss of elasticity (stretching out the pore) compared to an adequate skin care regimen (which varies with each individual, making it even more confusing…).

      1. Large pores :(

        Wow…….that’s pretty depressing. I needed something strong but I guess the strips are too strong. Ugh. I can’t believe modern science hasn’t resolved this issue!

        1. Recently did some reading on this...

          Those alpha and beta hydroxy acids and gentle exfoliation help refine skin’s texture (slower peels), making the pores blend in better.

          Tell me about it… My husband and I recently used a pore strip and the stuff that came up on mine (ugh, his was almost empty…) caused a freak out until further research. I’m still sad about it.

    4. periwinkle

      Clarisonic! Okay, these things are flippin’ expensive, but a recent Googling for help combating my huge, perpetually clogged pores came up with a number of references to the Clarisonic oscillating brushes. I’ve been using a Clarisonic Mia 2 (list price $99) since July, and… yes, it helps. Your skin may be extra crappy at first (allegedly because the brush movement draws gunk up), as was mine, but things improved. My pores are still pretty clogged, but they’re definitely less visible.

      Between that and mineral foundation to even out my skin tone, I look almost respectable now!

    1. Elizabeth West

      Hmm.
      –A good hot cuppa. Earl Grey, please, milk, two sugars. :)

      –When Psycho Kitty actually WANTS to sit on my lap.

      –When I’m writing and whatever it is comes flowing out easily, like it did this week. OMG that actually made me feel high!

      –Laughing with people I care about (could be a honey, could be my friends).

    2. Stephanie

      Actual things:
      -These shorts: http://www.zappos.com/nike-tempo-short-fuchsia-force-bright-mango-deep-garnet-matte-silver. I have them in five colors/patterns. I love that they’re short enough that it doesn’t look like I’m a WNBA player, but long enough that my cheeks aren’t visible (this seems to be a trend with running shorts). Great for workouts and lounging around.
      -Grocery stores (all types, but fancy ones in particular). Weird, I know. But I really like to cook, so I just enter one like “Yes. Potential.”
      -Birkenstocks. Yeah, I gave up defending them. I found a few styles that are a little less clunky, but they’re the best.
      -A-line dresses. It was revelation a few years ago when I finally got into wearing dresses.
      -Carne asada burritos
      -Pretty scenery. I’m a sucker for a good botanical garden.

      Intangibles
      -Good writing, regardless of the topic
      -Like Elizabeth, sharing laughs

      1. StudentAffairsProfessional

        Stephanie, I am with you on the grocery store thing!!! I was in DC for a work conference last year, and I had a free morning. My entire plan was to get to Georgetown to go in fancy grocery store Dean and Deluca. I spent the whole blissful morning there (and then had a brief jaunt across the street to DC cupcakes). It was amazing!! I splurged on a D&D apron, a good bottle of red wine vinegar & olive oil, cookie mix and fancy microwave popcorn. Good grocery stores are just the best.