Sunday free-for-all – November 2, 2014

Olive with ipadIt’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.

{ 674 comments… read them below }

  1. Mister Pickle*

    Earlier this week, someone posted a link to this article on The Dunning-Kruger Effect, and it’s spot-on for AAM. I just got around to reading it today, and it’s really good stuff. A couple of choice excerpts:

    The American author and aphorist William Feather once wrote that being educated means “being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.” As it turns out, this simple ideal is extremely hard to achieve. Although what we know is often perceptible to us, even the broad outlines of what we don’t know are all too often completely invisible. To a great degree, we fail to recognize the frequency and scope of our ignorance.

    In 1997, Kim presented roughly 300 residents of Buffalo, New York, with a series of morally abhorrent workplace scenarios—for example, an employee is fired for reporting that a co-worker has been stealing from the company—that were nonetheless legal under the state’s “at-will” employment regime. Eighty to 90 percent of the Buffalonians incorrectly identified each of these distasteful scenarios as illegal, revealing how little they understood about how much freedom employers actually enjoy to fire employees.

    1. James M*

      My choice excerpt:

      For more than 20 years, I have researched people’s understanding of their own expertise… and the results have been consistently sobering, occasionally comical, and never dull.

      Dunning describes ignorance not as a lack of knowledge, but as having incorrect knowledge. I believe this is the ‘tl;dr’ of the article.

    2. Rebecca*

      There’s a man who lives in my township who feels that it’s his duty to point out to people that they are stupid because they don’t agree with him, or know as much as he does. He quotes the Dunning-Kruger Effect quite a bit. Our local newspaper had a lively commenting crew (subscribers are allowed to comment on articles and LTE’s), and I believe this man is the reason the commenting has all but stopped. He would quote this, say it’s his duty to point out the commenter is stupid, and then he would use Facebook and Twitter to make fun of people, call us rubes, say how backward we all are, etc. Needless to say, comments are few and far between, and when he does rear his head, people stop commenting and **crickets**.

      Just wanted to throw that out there.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Ouch. He sounds like a bully, using Dunning-Kruger as a club.

        Although – I don’t know what it’s like in your town, but the comments on the local news websites in my town are only a step or two above what I see on YouTube. Still, it’s unfortunate that one person is screwing things up for everyone else.

        If it’s a subscriber-only comment system, can’t the newspaper step in to try to police article comments?

        1. Rebecca*

          No need to police anything now. No one comments. I tried over the past few weeks to get a discussion going on local issues, but no dice. Plus, most of the really bad comments were done off site on Facebook and Twitter.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Interesting read, thanks for the share.

      I think in the future we will have more people that are overly confident. In part, because it is the reaction to the news media that tells us every day how the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. It almost requires one to be overly confident, just to roll out of bed in the morning. While I agree that having an inquiring mind and taking an inquisitive approach is good, our society encourages bold, decisive moves. I do believe that the people that make out the best in the long run will be the ones who can see an issue from more than one angle- those folks will be the peacemakers/negotiators. And the article cites examples of these persuaders at work toward the end of the article. This opens up a whole new can of worms, in the form of the topic of using one’s power of persuasion in an ethical manner.

      As an aside: I like to read about studies like this while thinking about “how does the tester’s word choice influence the participant’s response to the question asked?” Since the tester seems to “know” of Tonya and the Hardings, the participant might consider it rude to question the existence of the group or the participant might be confused with another group they heard of recently. This goes back to no study absolutely proves anything, it just shows a tendency. I had a prof that insisted we read the original studies and question every thing we read in the study. I will always thank her for that.

      I think that truly intelligent people realize there is always one more layer of complexity, there is always an unforeseen, there is always something new to learn AND they are not afraid of any of this. It’s okay not to know. The problem only comes in when we refuse to learn.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        As fun as those SXSW videos were, I too wondered if the more elaborate responses were the consequence of ‘mistaken identity’: someone may have partially overheard something in the recent past, and now they’re attempting to fill in the blanks. I’ve done this myself. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I discover I’ve got it completely wrong.

        Not to mention that many people at SXSW aren’t especially sober.

        I find the entire question of “what you know and what you don’t” to be fascinating. It can be amazingly difficult to honestly and accurately assess this. For instance, earlier this week AAM discussed an instance where someone used Reply-All to question the purchase of a gift for a corporate executive. And (it seems to me) appropriate use of Reply-All in this kind of situation hinges on the ability to accurately assess whether or not a) there is a ‘silent majority’ out there and b) your thinking is congruent with theirs.

        There’s a fellow named Charlie Munger who’s made something of a career out of how people make mistakes. It’s fascinating stuff.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      It looks like if a comment is held for moderation, if it is approved it gets posted at the time of submission, not the time of approval.

    1. Felicia*

      I am ! I got 1000 words ahead on day one so I hope to keep it up! And I like what I’ve written! Does anyone want to share their plot summary? Mine is “20 years after surviving a deadly subway crash, Morgan is trapped in a subway car with 6 very different strangers, and a dead woman. They need to work together if they ever want to get out, because no help is coming. The truth about the dead woman sharing the car with them might end up tearing them apart.”

      And I am ElphabaGalinda in the NaNoWriMo website, if anyone wants more writing buddies.

        1. Felicia*

          Thanks! I’m fairly confident i’ll get to 50,000 words this month , but I hope I’ll actually be able to finish the story this year, which is longer! I wish the continually update your wordcount thing was open for 2 months.

      1. Kay*

        Very cool.

        Mine is about 5 high school kids working on an English project together. There are various things that pull them apart and bring them together; essentially, throughout the novel, they learn that perfection isn’t possible or attainable and that’s okay.

        1. Melissa*

          I like this idea! Is it a YA novel? I have found that overachieving young adults (HS/college aged) really are not aware of this.

          1. Kay*

            Yeah, I think it will be YA, but mainstream enough for others to enjoy as well. I was a pretty high achiever and it took awhile to figure out that being “okay” was fine that I didn’t have to be the best at everything.

      2. Glor*

        Oooh, that sounds like a really cool story!

        What I currently have for a summary:
        “Werebears. Man, bear, and inbetween. Their lives, how they live, and how they die.”

        I’m there as gloraelin.

        1. Felicia*

          I love this! I love all were animals that aren’t wolves. The NaNo site seems to not be working tonight or i’d add you as a writing buddy

    2. Purr purr purr*

      I am! I got 8,043 words done yesterday to get some extra in the bank for days when I can’t write and now today I can’t face it. Serves me right! I’ll get it done but there’s some procrastination going on first…

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m SUPPOSED to be doing it, though not officially. :P

      Instead I’m half-heartedly straightening up the house and reading open thread, LOL. Lucky for me, I’ve already written 46% of the goal (see the widget on my blog). I’m using it to finish the first draft of Secret Book.

    4. Anonyby*

      I am, though I have too much on my plate as it is! Last night I only got halfway through the wordcount I should have, but I have two scenes completed. The furthest I’ve gotten in previous NaNos is an incomplete second scene, so this is a personal achievement! lol

    5. Shell*

      I’ll probably work on some short stories and hope it amounts to NaNo word counts instead of one huge novel. I swear I am psychologically incapable of plotting long novels, sigh.

      A bunch of my online RP group members are doing NaNo, so I expect my RP to be absolutely dead for the rest of the month…and possibly into the new year, since holidays doesn’t relate well to gaming (doubly so when a lot of them are students with final exams).

    6. Billy*

      I think we should all brainstorm and write a novel about AAM; if not, we can make a comic book series out of her, then pitch the concept to DC or Marvel.

  2. Gene*

    OK, Since we seem to have some World of Warcraft players here, let’s start an AAM guild. To that end I’ve created a Yahoo Group so we can get started. Join it at the below link. This is a Restricted Group, so all members need approval and the general public is limited on what they can see.

    The first decisions:
    PvE or PvP?
    Region?
    Which faction?

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AAMWoW/

      1. Bea W*

        Can you folks in Europe choose any of our servers (US/Oceanic/Latin America) or do you have have a different subscription? I know we had a couple people from England in one of the guilds I was in, but I am not sure how that worked.

        1. Sandrine (France)*

          Apparently I can choose… somehow. LOL. Languages and stuff… but I have the fiancé nearby to tell me whether I can/should when we start the game…

          Which would be good if my laptop hadn’t decided to crash *again* after 45 minutes of play. Ugh.

        2. Jen RO*

          You have to have another subscription to play on a NA realm (and possibly an entire NA client too).

    1. nyxalinth*

      I’m in! I play either faction, am in North America, and I would strongly prefer PvE. I hate getting ganked lol. Going to the link now. Funny timing, this. I was wanting to do the same!

    2. Bea W*

      The link give me a page not found also. I am active in a raiding guild, and that’s where all my time goes, but it would be fun to meet AAM people in game.

      The X-pac release timing is just super terribad for me. I kind of wish it were after Thanksgiving, or even better, the last couple weeks of December when we have company shutdown. :)

    3. nyxalinth*

      If we do form a guild I was thinking of names. You likely have your own ideas, but I thought of or .

    4. Gene*

      It appears overnight the link went gray on the Yahoogroups site. Let me investigate a bit. In the meantime you can send your email address to me at gene.d.bennett at the gmail thing and I’ll invite you. I’m thinking since this is a Restricted Group, it may not be visible to non-members.

      For the people in EU, can you get to the Oceanic Realms? We can always start a guild on one of them.

    5. Sabrina*

      I don’t want to take away from an AAM guild… but I do have a guild I’ve been trying to rebuild on Wyrmrest Accord-US, Horde side. Anyone is welcome. :) I just don’t want to reroll or change servers again. My Battle.net tag is Rhy#1399.

  3. Down from an elephant*

    What great timing. I have a question for y’all!

    Do you ever just find yourself on a completely different wavelength from your partner? I’ve begun to notice that this happens occasionally for me with my husband. Every little thing he does, regardless of intent, irks me and I read the worst motivations into his actions. And vice versa. Usually we are so close and in tune, so these situations are jarring and uncomfortable. Sometimes they last for a few weeks. I could sense this one coming on and I do my best to remind myself that we love and care about each other, but I just can’t pull myself out of this funk.

    Anyone have any suggestions other than just riding it out? They always end and they’re never serious enough to question the foundation of our relationship. But, man, I despise feeling like this!

    1. Kay*

      Ugh! I’ve been there. I find myself questioning things like, “Why didn’t he offer to make me a sandwich when he got himself one? Does he not care if I eat too?” It sounds ridiculous written or said out loud, but I seriously think things like that and get genuinely irritated. I think what helps me is to communicate with him about my moods and hope he communicates w/ me about his. I think if he knows I’m going through a funk, it can affect how he acts and vice versa. I’m always much more nurturing when I know he’s having a really hard time.

      I do think you need to “ride it out” in the sense that we all experience all kinds of different emotions and I believe it’s important to allow yourself to feel the ones that come up. Be kind to yourself (and to him) as best you can. Good luck!

      1. Down from an elephant*

        Thanks for your thoughts! Amazingly, I feel 10x better just knowing I’m not the only one who goes through this and that it actually seems fairly common.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      Is it possible you’re spending too much time together? I’ve actually never felt the way you described with my SO, but I have with others who I’ve spent too much time with. Maybe when you start feeling like that, take a bit of a break. I’m not saying stay at a hotel or anything, but maybe plan a girls night, go to the gym, do some solo shopping, etc. Have some “you” time to recoup emotionally. I have had days where I’m feeling off about my SO (just not my “100% happy with him” self I usually am). With that I do agree you just need to ride it out.

      1. Down from an elephant*

        A lot of great thoughts! I think you’re absolutely right–I just haven’t gotten my Me Time in enough lately. I’m hugely introverted and feel like, between work and all our other obligations, I just haven’t had time to recharge. Dreading going into the holidays probably isn’t helping either (we’re visiting BOTH families this year, driving about 2500 miles total to two different states).

        Perhaps a spa day next weekend is what’s necessary….

    3. Sophia*

      This isn’t the same thing at all and I am absolutely not implying that you’re pmsing but I know it’s about that time of the month for me when I start to get irritated by every little thing my boyfriend does. We’ve been dating for nearly 5 years so he’s learned to just ignore any fights I start at a certain time of the month.

      I think recognizing that it’s just a funk is the first part of the battle. I’m usually just very open with my partner and let him know that I’m going through an emotional funk and I’m very sensitive to stuff right now. He’s a good enough guy that he will never blame anything on my pmsing until I’ve said so first :D This makes it very easy to actually be honest with myself and him without feeling defensive.

      Anyway being really honest about my emotional state and recognizing that this isn’t an underlying relationship issue but a funk, helps us have a calmer conversation about what is bothering me and why. We both know that I feel more emotional about it than is really warranted, but it does matter enough for it to bother me.

      1. Calla*

        Agree with your last paragraph. I go through times like this, I think as a result of my depression (even tho I’m on meds) making me irritable. When this happens, since I’m aware it’s not normal, I can say “I’m so sorry, I know I’m being unreasonable and grumpy right now, please just ride this out with me.” And normally it results in some hugs and I feel better after a while.

        1. Natalie*

          Yeah, these sorts of funks can come from all kinds of places. I get hangry (hungry-angry), frequently before I feel especially hungry. Sometimes the only way I know I need to eat is a sudden, brief HULK SMASH moment.

      2. Jamie*

        I would never apply this to another soul, but when my PMS is bad I am so highly irritated and everything seems like a bfd that I don’t allow myself to make life decisions until things settle down hormonally. My husband knows and I try to keep my mouth shut and he doesn’t engage when we both know what’s going on. He can totally tell by the tone and quality of my bitching.

        Not in the same ballpark, but when super stressed at work on days where I’m dealing with people all day long I get super annoyed by my family. It’s not them it’s just that I don’t want to talk to anyone about anything – I just want to sit quietly and not have anyone need anything from me , even attention. Not proud of it and I try to remember to treat them like coworkers – which sounds shitty but unfortunately it’s easy to snap at family or be too terse or eye rolly because of the unconditional love. And that sucks that my default for the people I work with is more polite than those I would take a bullet for without hesitation.

        I’ll hide in the bathtub and play whatever show I’m watching loud and try to block them out until I’m myself again. But sometimes it takes more than that and I just need to ask for extra slack and some space.

        These disconnects and needing distance used to scare me, but I’ve come to realize marriage is a journey and sometimes we’re going to be on different pages. It’s just so important to make sure distance doesn’t become a habit – that’s when it’s dangrous.

        1. Anx*

          Oh I can related. I definitely do get moody when I have PMS, and since I went for years without any PMS symptoms I probably spent about a year pretty oblivious to the effect it has on me.

          That said, I really am not that irrational or ‘crazy.’ I am more irritable and far less patient. I do also tend to go into flight or fight mode pretty fast, too, and my relationship doubts magnified times ten. But my feelings usually aren’t unreasonable; their impact is just way disproportionate. Part of the issue is that I’m typically very patient, very considerate, polite, reserved, and agreeable (probably to a fault), so the change is pretty dramatic.

          Fortunately, my partner has never ‘you’re just pmsing’ me, because that would infuriate me. He does seem to think I become overly emotional, but also recognizes that the things that trigger these responses are actually significant issues and my BS filtration system is down.

      3. Monodon monoceros*

        I agree with the pms-ing. Sometimes just everything is super annoying- the dog pulls too hard on the leash, the cat’s neediness is super annoying, packages are too hard to open, no one can drive properly, and then I think, hmm, what time of the month is it? Oh yeah, that’s why nothing is going right.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am chuckling. Oh do I remember this one. Not fun, at all. However, I did find reference to a book about marriage. Someone here will probably fill in my gaps on this one. The author’s idea is that there are stages of marriage. In the beginning, it is so remarkable how much alike you are. It is almost as if you there is one brain shared between the two of you.
      Time passes and little things pop up here and there that can be jarring reminders that you are, indeed, two separate people with your own separate thoughts on things and so on.

      It has something to do with the relationship filling different needs at different stages of maturity. I hope I am making some sense here, let me try again: In a long term relationship, the partners need different things from the relationship as the years roll by. For example, a couple that has been together for 30 years would not go back to handling their relationship as if they were 19 again. Too much water has passed over the dam for that. They have learned too much about each other and had too many experiences together. The earlier behaviors/reactions/thinking are no longer appropriate.

      So what does this look like? It could look like this: One day you both are out some where and he gets himself a soda and never asks you if you want one. You reflect on when you first were dating he ALWAYS got you a soda, when he got one for himself. What’s up with this? Needs have changed. He knows that you can get your own soda and he has moved on to helping you with your ailing parent or your broken car or your dying dog. The soda that matter so much years ago, is not that important now. Needs have changed and relationship roles have changed. Instead of sharing one brain, you both have had to become independent thinkers in order to face/deal with all the things coming at you as a couple.

      YMMV, this is just food for thought. And it definitely will not explain everything that happens. I found these thoughts helpful for some stuff.

    5. Artemesia*

      I have been married to my second husband for over 40 years and just don’t feel like that. There are a handful of things he does that irritate me a bit — but if they really bug me I say something and he changes them and most I just ignore because I KNOW that I am at least if not more irritating. E.g. he puts dishes in the sink or on the counter during the day when the dishwasher is standing empty and he rarely takes out the garbage when he does dishes (which he does when I cook.) But on the other hand, I am very messy and leave stuff piling up everywhere around the spot where I use the computer and around the couch e.g.reading material and such. He likes it a lot neater than I do.

      I think part of the reason we don’t bug each other, even now that we live in a tiny flat after decades in a giant house where the messes could be zoned, is that from the very beginning of the relationship when we moved in together, we talked out how we would manage chores and such and so we have almost no conflict around any of that. He has always taken responsibility for his share of cooking, his laundry, doing the floors, his bathroom etc etc and I mine. We get out own breakfast and lunch and so him making me a sandwich would never come up and vice versa.

      If there is friction, I would think a good strategy would be to find a little more space and solitude if it is just a matter of too much togetherness. Or if something really bugs you, having a conversation not in that moment about to how to organize the household.

    6. Hcat*

      Yes! It comes in waves. I didn’t quite get it until I read The Female Brain by Louann Brisendine. I get it now and it’s easier to just ride out those moments.

    7. LoFlo*

      Two weeks after I got fired, I was chairing a peer conference. I was very hurt and upset about the job loss, but I had to remain professional and not vent about it at the conference. I had a conversation with an attendee who’s husband has MS. They were married for over 40 years, she related that their relationship has become very spiritual due to his illness. A light went off in my head about my 23 year relationship with my SO, and I just felt a whole other level love for my dude. I totally understood what she was saying about how caring and acceptance is fulfilling. We have been through so much together, but looking back we always supported each other even when one of us the cause or our own misery. So when I see dirty socks on the floor, I think about how that floor was provided by the guy who lets me be me and that there aren’t many people in life you get to have that with.

      1. Down from an elephant*

        Oh, my goodness. This made me all sniffly, and I don’t usually get sniffly. Thanks for this. I definitely try to keep the larger picture in mind and know that this is just a blip on the radar but it’s not always easy and it helps to have something bring me back to that place.

    8. Treena Kravm*

      The only time I ever feel that way is when I realize (a couple of days later) that I was actually bothered by X, but I’d been getting annoyed by ABDCEF, which usually don’t bother me. Normally, if X bothers me, we talk about it right then and work it all out and have our heart to heart. But sometimes, the circumstances don’t allow for that (we’re out with people, work schedules don’t give us time to talk for a while, etc.), the convo usually gets pushed if it’s a biggie, but if it’s a random thing, it may get “forgotten about.” That is, until I realize I’m snapping at him for every little thing and I go back and realize what I’m actually mad about. Cue heart to heart etc. This used to happen a lot more when we were dating, but now I’ve learned remind myself to table it, but not forget.

    9. Mister Pickle*

      Every little thing he does, regardless of intent, irks me and I read the worst motivations into his actions.

      I find myself on the receiving end of this occasionally. I always figured it was a consequence of me not being the easiest person to live with.

    10. Victoria, Please*

      I had a lovely colleague once with a darling wife, they’d been married for decades. One time, he was having a hard time at work, and she snored at night ;-) just enough to keep him awake, so he was very irritated. Then, he happened to talk to another person who had just lost his wife to an illness…and that night, when my friend’s wife snored again, it was the most wonderful sound he’d ever heard.

      I don’t tell this story to be sappy or suggest that irritation can be overcome by imagining the alternative…just it’s a story I rather treasure and try to remind my own self of, if I get pissy with my husband for no good reason. He’s a lot older than I am. I won’t have him for long enough to waste time being pissy. I do find that if I am irritable, just telling him so and assuring him that it’s not his fault, helps both of us.

      It sounds to me like — based on comments upstream including yours — you’re just tired out and need some private introvert time. Don’t worry, it will be all right.

    11. Student*

      I think one very important question to address with this is: is this an internal problem or an external problem? Basically, is this your problem or his problem? Or both?

      When I feel the way you are feeling, it is always an internal problem. My partner is not doing something differently; I am interpreting it differently. Then I identify why I am interpreting it differently, and that usually helps me stop almost immediately. For me, it’s usually triggered by an external event (unrelated to my partner) that has made me emotional, especially angry or sad. Then I say to myself, “I am angry because of event X. I am acting and thinking hostilely to Partner. Partner was not involved in event X, so he doesn’t deserve this treatment from me. I need to change my behavior and take out my anger on the correct person.”

      Sometimes I feel just as angry at my partner, but it’s due to an event he was part of. If I realize I am acting out at him extensively due to that event, I can usually identify that right away. I try to reign it in if I think I’m behaving disproportionally to whatever he’s actually done, and I try to make his role in my anger clear. “You did X, which made me feel Y. In the future, could you do Z instead?” I try to keep my focus on what the actual problem is, get angry for a short period, then move on, instead of letting my feelings bleed out into everything.

    12. Sarahnova*

      Everything I know about marriage indicates that this is pretty normal, and when you live with someone for years on end, you do cycle in and out of “phase” with them. I second those who said a) it helps to recognise it’s you who’s changed, not them, and b) to acknowledge that you are unfairly cranky, it will pass, and ask for indulgence in the meantime. Tell your partner what’s up, forgive yourself, get your alone-time in, and I’m prepared to bet you’ll feel much better soon.

    13. NaCSaCJack*

      Yes, very much so. Hold the laughter, but my partner and I are on different lunar cycles. He has noticed he gets annoyed with me around the full moon and I become annoyed with him around the half moon.

  4. Name*

    There’s a drama CD that hasn’t been translated by fandom yet and I’m getting impatient. Anyone ever buy translation services and got some recs? Price range?

    1. Buu*

      TBH no, I wish more CDs got licensed though. Years ago someone in a fandom related industry said I should look into that kind of thing. I had other priorities at the time, but now I do regret not pressing them for info.

  5. FD*

    Any recs for what to use when stringing pearls? I tried silk, but it frayed too much and the thread was too wide. Then I tried button thread, but it wouldn’t knot the way I wanted it to.

    Any beaders have suggestions?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Why am I remembering something about dental floss??? The narrow kind, not the wide floss.

      Craft stores have specialty thread for hand beading. You might want to ask there, too.

      1. TaylorCruz77*

        I used to string pearls for old job and I agree, silk thread is the best. I got mine from work but you can probably get yours from a regular craft store. Also, use flexible beading needles!

    2. Andrea*

      There is more than one thickness of silk thread and beading needles with collapsible holes. Try a higher-end beading or lapidary shop and take a pearl with you to test. The size of the pearl typically relates to the size of the thread/needle. The staff should be able to help you.

  6. nep*

    Anyone here work out with TRX? What have you liked / not liked about it? Did you do it on your own or work with a trainer?

    1. Stephanie*

      I tried once at a studio and thought it was fun! I liked that I could adjust the level of difficulty in each exercise.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I did TRX as part of a class-based gym I went to. There were parts of it I loved and parts I absolutely loathed. Anything that involved putting my feet in the loops was a disaster waiting to happen, but I really liked how it worked different muscle groups.

    3. Boats*

      The TRX is great. It’s very versatile, and it’s a great way to activate smaller muscle groups as well as the bigger ‘show’ muscles. I started out with a trainer & now I just google it when I want a new idea. I think the TRX is a great way to build a balanced strength program, but the disadvantage is that it’s not as easy to quantify your incremental gains as it is with free weights or machines. Also, I once had a foot injury, and with the TRX I could keep my feet off the floor and continue to do planks, pushups, etc. You might want to hire a trainer for a few sessions so that you can get comfortable with adjusting the straps & getting off the ground, and then if you like it you could work alone.

    4. A. D. Kay*

      I really loved it, but unfortunately it aggravated a shoulder problem and I had to stop. TRX is great if you really want to sweat and get your heart rate up, but can’t/don’t want to run.

    5. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      There’s a TRX room at my gym which I use fairly often. I find that it’s great for my rehab from hip surgery. I do a lot of stabilization exercises on it, and I feel like it’s made a difference in my recovery. Particularly, I like doing ab stuff on it (planks with my feet in the TRX, etc.), and I feel like it’s a great way to target your abs/core without doing a ton of reps. I haven’t found TRX to be particularly useful for the upper body though, as I feel like I can’t get the intensity of a workout with weights. But if you don’t lift much the TRX may be fine.

      1. nep*

        I find the upper body exercises to be quite effective, once you find the right position with respect to the anchor point. Agree — the core stuff is great. Planks, mountain climbers, pikes, etc with feet in the straps — intense.

  7. Stringing the Wrong Sentence*

    Ever since I was a child, I have never been a talkative person. Ever since starting elementary school, I have always made slip-ups when I talked. The slip-ups embarrass me a lot, and sometimes it made me present myself in a not-so-good light. I am so worried about my slip-ups that I sometimes feel that I do not want to talk to anyone. But I know I can’t feel that way for long, I obviously need to communicate with others. Talking less perpetuates the slip-ups, for being less talkative actually made me less skillful in speech.

    Just the other day, a coworker asked me if I know an alternative bus that could get to district ABC, which is where another division of our organization is located and is also where my aunt works. I know where district ABC is, but I have not taken public transportation there in six years. I also haven’t gone to district ABC for since last August; during that time, I usually went to district ABC by carpool. So I responded to my coworker by saying that I do not know which bus goes to district ABC and I haven’t been to that place in a while. I feel that it was not a good response because I could have said “I don’t know which bus goes the district ABC, I usually go to the district by car.” How I responded might make me sound as if I have never been there for a very long time, and it will sound strange or contradictory since I said I know about what the organization does through visiting and job-shadowing my aunt working in the organizations’ district ABC division.

    I have been debating if I should just let it go or make an additional statement when I get a chance to meet the coworker at work next week. I am leaning towards letting it go, since I think if I speak I will end up having more split-ups. There probably won’t be any fuss or snickering about what I said the other day, for it might make the coworker look unprofessional.

    However, I do wish that someday I can reduce my incidences of slip-ups. It has crippled me a lot in social situations, arguments, and helping others. It also makes me nervous a lot, since for some slip-ups I tend to toss-and-turn over on how much of my reputation will be impacted by my slip-up.

    1. Aam Admi*

      My experience is almost identical to yours and complicated by the fact that I think in my mother tongue but need to deliver the message in English. I end up saying the wrong thing, wonder afterwords if I should go back and correct the message and like you keep worrying how this is impacting my reputation. Since joining Toastmasters three years ago, I have seen some improvement but it is slow since I do not get a chance to answer Table Topics (impromptu questions) at every meeting.
      I do not have any problems with writing. In fact, native English speakers tell me that my writing is way better than theirs.

      1. Stringing the Wrong Sentence*

        I am also a non-native English speaker, but unlike you, I am no longer good in my non-English languages. I think and communicate more effectively in English. My shy and nontalkative nature has make it hard for me to retain language skills in general–no matter what the language is. I also do not have a lot of friends who I can speak to. I wonder if there is a way to improve my speaking skills without having a lot of peers to talk to?

        I am tired of always saying the wrong thing.

        1. B*

          I AM a native English speaker and I make ridiculous mistakes all the time.

          For me, lack of sleep and high stress levels make it much worse. Might you be able to identify your triggers?

          Most people wouldn’t care anyway, and if it’s clear English is not your native language will allow for that anyway. Most people wouldn’t change their professional reputation of you based on this. And I don’t honestly know why you think you needed to say more than ‘No, sorry!’ to that question. It’s really unlikely that anyone would think anything of your response, but the more information you give, the more people may think about it. The only thing I might add if you wanted to be really helpful is where they might be able to find out – IF you know. They don’t need to know the whys and wherefores, but if you can point them towards the right answer that will help.

          I will also bet that your slip-ups have not crippled you socially, in arguments, etc. *Your reaction* to them, on the other hand, will do so I am sure.

          I have tons of sympathy with you, I hope that is coming through! But honestly, give yourself a break. This is not the handicap you have made it into :)

    2. Cristina in England*

      Like me, you might be both an over-thinker and also someone who gives more information than necessary when answering questions. You could have also said “sorry I don’t know” and that would have been fine too, not rude or anything. I am sure that the very smart AAM readership will have good suggestions about how to lessen your anxiety about this issue, but I just wanted to say that you’re not alone and that your coworkers are probably not thinking about you in the negative way you are worried about. The person who asked you about the bus probably is not thinking about your answer anymore.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I am definitely an over-thinker. I have to remind myself about that when I’m obsessing and losing sleep about something I think I’ve said weirdly. The times when I’ve actually said something to the person later, they didn’t even remember what I was talking about!

    3. Colette*

      I don’t see anything wrong with what you said – conversation is not an efficiency test. I also think you’re harder on yourself than anyone else would be.

      I like the Toastmasters suggestion, but you also might want to talk with a therapist a couple of times to work on ways to revise your internal monologue so that you can gone kinder to yourself.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Let it go. As the previous poster said, this person is no longer thinking about it.

      My suggestion is to watch other people handle their slips ups. Watch them handle their own stuttering, forgotten words, derailed train of thought. mispronunciations, etc. Pick people you admire and just watch them. This could be a coworker, a friend, a radio announcer, a news reporter or anyone that you think has it together.

      My next suggestion may feel counter-intuitive. Just own your mistakes. If you mispronounce someone’s name or mispronounce a word, just apologize or say “excuse me” right in the moment. Deal with it the second it happens- don’t carry it around with you for days. It’s not worth it- no one around you cares that much, honest!

      As far as over-talking or over-explaining, learn to tell yourself to “answer the question as it is posed”. This means do not assume that it is a much larger question that you hear being asked. Someone who asks “what time is it?”, is not inquiring about the history of time keeping devices, for example. They just want to know what time it is.

      And finally, when you stop micromanaging yourself, this whole thing will get easier. I think you have set expectations for yourself that no human being could ever attain. Learn to forgive yourself.

    5. Crow*

      An odd thing I deal with when talking is that I want to talk quickly, and tend to stumble over words when I do. If I force myself to slow down, I tend to have fewer verbal slip ups. But then I get worried that I am boring my audience, who wants the info I have right now.

      Something that helped me was to listen to some professional storytellers. They speak slower, take pauses when necessary between sentences or even words, and the audience doesn’t run away during the silences. I try to incorporate some of those ideas when I talk. Good ideas and words said a bit slowly and clearly will not bore your listeners.

    6. Artemesia*

      Unless the ‘error’ and I am not seeing much error here would actually impact the person you spoke to just let it go and forget about it. If I ask you about the bus to ABC and you tell me the wrong bus, then absolutely I want you to come back with ‘Oh Artemesia, I misspoke, the ABC bus is the 12 and not the 14.’ But I don’t care if you have been to ABC recently or how you got there. The only think I care about in your statement is that, you don’t know the answer I need so I must get it somewhere else.

      No one else cares about the mistakes and if they do come back with ‘Oh I thought you hadn’t been to ABC’ when it becomes apparent you have, then you say ‘Oh, I meant by public transport and so I didn’t know the correct bus.’

      Truly no one cares about this kind of minutia that doesn’t affect them and to mention it to clarify would make you look odd rather than ‘correct.’ We always notice our own small inaccuracies much more than anyone else does — after all they are obsessed with themselves just as we are with ourselves.

      1. Stringing the Wrong Sentence*

        Thank you. Yes, I am definitely going to let this one go. I will answer questions more slowly next time and maybe make a pause to think if I need to add an additional statement after my answer.

        1. Artemesia*

          I’m guessing LESS not more clarification. No one is parsing your every word — of if you have someone in your life who actually does this, well avoid him or her.

    7. Emily*

      It sounds like you’re overthinking this particular interaction. I’m prone to this, too – worrying about the minutiae of my conversations with other people – but I think it’s very unlikely that your coworker was bothered by your apparent contradiction and even less likely that they’re still thinking about this conversation.

      Other commenters have some good suggestions for dealing with your slip-ups. I’d just like to add that sometimes when I’m being hard on myself, I try to think about how I react to other people making minor speech mistakes. Usually I’ll think about it for a few seconds at most, and then move on with my day! Presumably most other people are the same way.

    8. Mister Pickle*

      I’m a native English speaker, and I do that kind of thing all the time. I wish I didn’t. I also have a touch of ADHD, so I also overthink whether or not I should try to explain my words. In general, unless I told them something that is flat-out wrong that is going to make a concrete difference to someone, I’ll just try to forget it and move on.

      I find I’m better at communicating via text – something about forcing my thoughts into words on a page (or screen) seems to help. Also, I’m sure that the ability to do small, quick edits helps a lot, too.

      It can be interesting to listen carefully to people who are speaking live and hear all of the “umm”s and pauses and ‘real-time corrections’ (“… the orange errr yellow car”). Being a good extemporaneous public speaker – like Conan O’Brien or Jay Leno – requires a lot of work and practice and, I think, something of a different way of thinking. I think that one of the reasons Ronald Reagan was known as The Great Communicator is because he approached public speaking from an acting background (that, and he also had some killer speech-writing talent behind him). Reagan is one of my least-favorite Presidents, but the man knew how to talk to people. Which is related to why I don’t think Obama is a good President: as a public speaker, he pretty much sucks.

      Speech in general is an error-prone system of communication, and it sometimes amazes me that the human race has done as well as it has with it.

    9. Clever Name*

      The purpose of speech is to communicate with others. Your coworker asked a question, and you answered it. I honestly doubt that your coworker cares that your answer didn’t perfectly reflect your thoughts. They only cared about figuring out which bus to get on, and that you didn’t know, so they moved on. No biggie. :)

      I agree with the others that you are being way too hard on yourself. If you’re still concerned, I think it wouldn’t hurt to ask someone you trust if they have a hard time understanding you. I bet you’ll find that people understand what you’re saying just fine, even if what you say wasn’t exactly what you thought it should be.

    10. Fucshia*

      Do you have a pet, or even a plant? You can practice telling them about your day or whatever just to get practice talking.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I think your response was fine. You didn’t know and you said so.

      I think you’re over-thinking it–I do the same thing, though I tend to do it before I say anything and not after. Then it doesn’t come out the way I wanted.

    12. Treena Kravm*

      I agree with everyone saying you are being too hard on yourself–this was barely an error. But I do think it would be beneficial to see a doctor and explain what you wrote out here because, to me at least, this sounds like it could be mild anxiety. I think talking to a doctor about how frequent this is and how often you feel like you shouldn’t be talking will trigger a screening to at least rule it out. Good luck!

  8. Scotto*

    Good: Fall is beautiful up here in the Midwest!

    Bad: I’m not ready for it to be cold already! I’m not over last winter yet.

    Good: Voting! I always love to vote. Every time I vote, I get a sense of pride and, dare I say, power.

    1. Nina*

      Yeah, I was actually looking forward to fall this year. The colors are beautiful. Plus, honeycrisp apples!

      But I’ve also heard that this year’s winter is supposed to the same as last year’s. I really hope that’s just a rumor.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Yes, in the Midwest also, and went to a night football game last night.

        Best: my new “polar vortex-ready” coat performed like a champ (the North Face Miss Metro)
        Worst: I should have dug out my insulated boots. Smartwool socks and regular leather boots weren’t cutting it!

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I had the same problem at a game yesterday afternoon. Coat rocked; should have worn better socks/boots.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      Good: I finished Ben H. Winters’ The Last Policeman and it was amazingly good. Like: maybe the best book I’ve read this year (and I’ve read some good ones this year, too). My guess is that this will be a movie or an HBO miniseries soon. Oddly, it reminds me a bit of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choirboys (although much, much shorter) in that it’s funny, but parts of it brought tears to my eyes, and the characters and their motivations are very, very human.

      Gooder: I received email from a company that I’ve long admired; they want to know if I’m interested in talking to them about a local opportunity.

      A Matter Of Opinion: I will soon be the proud owner of a Linnstrument and a MIKU STOMP! (Please don’t tell my wife).

      Bad: I recently received correspondence from a company I can’t name – a leading manufacturer of fermented deli treats, military optics, and adult toys – which insists that I cease and desist labeling my name with a trademark, as it dilutes the branding on their line of kosher dill pickles, as well as several lines of adult novelty items and a highly classified component of the Aegis Combat System. They assure me that if I remove the trademark character, I shall be in good standing WRT their company.

      Alas, my hopes and plans to market myself and the Mister Pickle brand of bespoke advice and questionable commentary are now dashed upon the jagged rocks that lie at the foot of the cliffs of despair.

      1. Lore*

        You probably know this, but just in case: The Last Policeman is book 1 in a trilogy. The second one is almost but not quite as good; I haven’t read the third yet, but it’s definitely out. So you can keep spending time with these characters!

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Thanks! Yes, I’ve already stocked up with books 2 and 3; I’m about 1/4 way through with the 2nd book. It always makes me nervous when a good book is the first in a trilogy (or has sequels) – sometimes they’re just plain bad, and they retroactively ruin some of my enjoyment of the first book (Rama II comes to mind).

          But so far, the 2nd book is going well.

    3. Elkay*

      Good: I took part in my first 10k race and got a PB

      Bad: Gorgeous weather all week, woke up to wind and rain the morning of the race.

    4. Shell*

      Best: my friends and I seemed to have found the perfect B&B for our upcoming roadtrip at a significantly cheaper cost than any hotel, and we’d be all staying in the same house but with our own bedrooms. SOLD!

      Also, slept in until 10 am today. This is a best, especially in contrast with the below…

      Worst: Hahaha, Friday was a doozy. Started with me cutting work in the middle of the day due to emergency dental appointment (turned out to be a cracked filling/tooth, and then the dentist fixed up some other things while he was there). Missed/skipped dinner due to mouth being sore. Missed haunted house because some other friends had a meeting which ran late…so we went out for coffee…and on the way back, got flagged by a road check and the car got towed because friend’s insurance had lapsed.

      Then, after finally crawling into bed at 2 am or so after getting the towing and rides and whatnot sorted out (which took a while)…my brother’s COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY (by his own admission) ALARM woke me up at 6:30 am on Saturday. And the alarm went on for two hours. Was seriously contemplating fratricide…

    1. Stephanie*

      I think I can recite one of the local attack ads by heart at this point. Thing is, this congresswoman isn’t even in my metro area.

      1. Artemesia*

        The glories of the DVR — we almost NEVER watch TV live anymore and if by chance we do it is with the mute button at hand.

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I am sick to death of the attack ads and can’t wait until voting day has passed. So I’m recording almost everything and then zipping past the annoying political ads.

      2. Liz in a Library*

        I had to stop listening to Pandora until after Tuesday. One really vitriolic attack ad in my area is playing on repeat during the commercial breaks. Blech!

    2. en pointe*

      Voting’s not mandatory for you guys is it? I always find that so weird, coming from a country where it is. Though I think Australia is by far the one in the minority there.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          The trouble is…ALL of them are “them”. There is not one candidate I would vote FOR. I would have to pick only one to vote against. They make me sick.

          1. Bea W*

            Sometimes there will be a candidate I really like, but they are always 3rd party, and don’t have a chance. So whenever an election is really close, I end up voting for whichever of the two major party candidates I find least objectionable.

            1. en pointe*

              I’ve only voted once but I voted minor party. I don’t know a whole lot about the US system but in my country’s two major party system, minor parties or independents can actually have considerable influence by winning just a few seats in the senate.

              The balance of power in the Australian senate is currently held by a morbidly obese mining billionaire, who spends half the time living under a rock the size of his mansion, and the other half going on rants about how he’s going to sue China. (I WISH I was joking.) But you’ve got to laugh because the conservative coalition can’t get anything partisan through without wooing this absolutely ridiculous man. He’s practically running our country.

              1. Bea W*

                Winning a few seats in the US Senate won’t do you much good, especially now where things are so polarized, but it’s a toe in the door of sorts. Right now we have 2 Independants in the Senate, and the House is Dems and Repubs. When we do get non-major party representation in either branch, they will choose to caucus with one of the two major parties. You can’t really have a caucus of two and be very effective. :)

              2. Melissa*

                Our minor party and independent candidates actually don’t have very good chances of winning seats in the Senate or House, honestly. Our 100-person Senate has 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans and 2 independents who both caucus with the Democrats. Our 435-member House of Representatives has 201 Democrats and 234 Republicans. We’ve had 1 or 2 independents in the House in the 1990s and early 2000s, but the last time we had a third party candidate in the House was 1951.

      1. Jean*

        First I regret that voting is not mandatory. Then I start wondering whether we’d have to live through a period of electing less-than-100%-dedicated-to-the-public-welfare officials until a critical mass of citizens learned now to recieve attack ads critically and otherwise stay well informed. But finally I decide that our system is way, way, way better than trying to live under a dictatorship–even if not everybody gets off the couch to go VOTE.

        1. en pointe*

          Yeah, I find that to be a really interesting conundrum actually; whether or not it should be mandatory. Google tells me it’s mandatory in 20 countries, only 11 of which enforce it, which seemed to me really low. Like how legitimate can a result be if it doesn’t represent the wishes of the whole electorate? Particularly when you start getting into the proportions of different demographics that vote voluntarily, and whether or not they’re getting represented properly. But then if you want to take a more libertarian stance on the exercise of civil liberties, shouldn’t the right to vote mean you also have the corresponding right not to vote? So I dunno – on the fence I guess.

          Plus, to your second point, I don’t know if that period of “electing less-than-100%-dedicated-to-the-public-welfare officials until a critical mass of citizens learns now to recieve attack ads critically and otherwise stay well informed” ever really ends, to be honest. Certainly in Australia, we have lots of people just voting a certain way because they always have, or the opposite; huge numbers of swing voters who don’t really have any loyalty, who politicians try to win by chucking serious issues around as political footballs every election – and making we want to take a shower.

          So I don’t think introducing mandatory voting necessarily means lots more people will think critically about politics and keep informed. But aside from all that, do you really believe you’re electing 100%-dedicated-to-the-public-welfare officials either way? I mean, we both live in capitalist democracies and capitalist democracies don’t exactly place the most importance on the public welfare. They place the most importance on money and capital; that’s why they’re called CAPITAList. But like you said, still beats a dictatorship.

          tl;dr I’ve got not f*cking clue what I think, so that probably wasn’t worth reading anyway.

        2. catsAreCool*

          I don’t like the idea of voting being mandatory. If everyone has to vote, how many more people are going to make uninformed decisions? The way I figure, I don’t have to agree with t he way someone votes, but at least put a little thought into it.

      2. Bea W*

        Likewise, people in the US find mandatory voting weird. We have a pitiful turn-out even in the most contested national level elections. Coming from a country that is supposed to be the bastion of democracy, it’s embarrassing. I think the political landscape in the US would look very different if people did not take the free election system for granted by not bothering to vote.

      3. Artemesia*

        It is not only not mandatory but one political party with the aid of the Supreme Court is doing its best to disenfranchise people likely to vote for the opposite party e.g. minorities and women. A 90+ man who had voted all his life in Texas was not allowed to vote the other day because his driver’s license had expired although he had lots of other picture ID (but not the few accepted — and of course an expired drivers license means your identity has also expired)

        In Indian last election cycle, elderly nuns who had voted for decades were not allowed to vote because they didn’t have the exact ID required (driver’s licenses, I think). This had never been demanded before the new restrictive laws went into effect.

        The goal now of many in power is to prevent Americans from voting.

        1. en pointe*

          Wow.

          I also saw that thing from Fox News recently where they were telling young women to go back to being hot and carefree on Tinder, and refrain from voting because they don’t ‘get it’, and the older you are the more likely you are to be conservative. And I loved how it was targeted solely at women. Like heaven forbid a young woman be both on Tinder AND informed enough to make an educated decision in her country’s election. Though I’ve kind of learnt to put just about anything from Fox News in the head-desk pile so whatever.

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            Many of us here call it by its true name: Faux News. Remember; they’re actually an entertainment organization, not a news organization, and are therefore allowed to just make things up. As per the court decision. I don’t think they advertise themselves that way though…..

            1. en pointe*

              I feel like half the news organisations make shit up too…

              Speaking of, I have a rec for you guys, if anyone’s interested. I’m obsessed with this site called The Conversation and they just launched the US version a week or two ago. It’s a collaboration between academics and editors – actual fact-checked news; in depth analysis of current affairs and research findings that, unlike a lot of stuff from academics, is actually concise and clearly written. Super interesting and refreshing, compared to the mainstream media. Don’t know how good the US one is yet because it’s new, but it’ll probably get better as they get more academics on board.

              http://theconversation.com/us

              1. QualityControlFreak*

                I think you have to try to gather as much information from as many different sources as possible. And you look at the motivations of those sources. The phrase “follow the money” springs to mind. Inform your own decisions with as much and as diverse data as possible. My spouse is our resident media expert, who collects information from a wide range of sources daily and keeps us updated. I’ll pass on this link – thanks.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  It is also good to remember that a news story is one person’s perspective from where they are standing. Someone across the street, for example, might tell a totally different story.

            2. Artemesia*

              They are a propaganda arm. They were created by a political operative. And they have been enormously successful. They are particularly successful with elderly people with reduced cognitive power who sit and watch all day, just getting out to vote.

          2. Anx*

            Also apparently Say Yes to the Dress is one of my favorite shows.

            I mean, I’ve watched it as background noise when cooking or doing laundry since one of my actual favorite shows requires too much of my attention….but…

        2. Melissa*

          And the new registration forms do not inform people that they are required to bring ID to the polling place or what kind of ID. My state (PA) tried to pass a voter ID law back in 2012; it was challenged and struck down this May. But first-time voters are still required to show ID, so I have to bring ID with me to the polls (not a problem for me, but could be for some).

      4. NaCSaCJack*

        How does the govt or the powers that be know if you didn’t vote? And what do they do if you don’t vote? Sounds like forced democracy.

    3. Rebecca*

      I will be so glad when election day is over. The daily flyers in the mail, calls on the answering machine, and radio ads need to stop. Now. I don’t have cable, so I’m spared those ads.

      Did you notice they’re all the same format? Sad, minor toned music, black and white…JOE SMITH WANTS TO KILL PUPPIES AND STRANGLE KITTENS! Then happy music, pretty colors, but SAM JONES WILL SAVE PUPPIES AND KITTENS, AND PROTECT UNICORNS TOO!

      Ugh. I just feel like “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. I don’t even know why I vote any longer.

      1. Ludo*

        You vote because you hope that one day there will be someone different. At least that is why I vote. And, because when I’m honest, it is because I do see a difference between the parties. They are not the polar opposites some like to pretend, but on some issues there are very large differences and those tend to be issues that matter to me.

        1. Bea W*

          The differences that do exist matter a lot to me too, and probably a lot of other people who actually go out and vote. That is why when an election is close I will ignore other candidates and choose the one that aligns with my positions on the issues that matter most to me. That’s what I’ll be doing in the MA gov race this year.

          I vote out of civic duty, and because participatory government only works when people actually participate. Sometimes I feel like it’s a losing battle though, especially when we have turnouts that are maybe 1/3 of registered voters (not even a 1/3 of all people eligible to vote!). It warms my heart when I get to the polls and there’s a line snaking all the way out of the parking lot though to be honest I’m not sure if it’s a good turn out or an understaffing of polls in minority majority precincts. I never had that experience at any of my previous addresses.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I think voting is a waste of time, no matter who I vote for the government still gets in and there’s nothing to chose between the three main parties in the UK.

        Although in UK at the moment theres a really nasty right wing party called UKIP that are gaining ground which is pretty alarming so I’m more likely to go and vote the 2015 election to make sure my apathy doesn’t help some bigots.

        I was shocked to see the turn out for the Scottish independence referendum was 85%. It blows my mind that there are 15% of the registered voters who did not care about the sovereignty of their country, the news was full of reports that the turn out was really high.

        1. en pointe*

          Everything I’ve read about UKIP makes me want to vom. But you have to admit, Nigel Farage is scarily charismatic. He reminds me so much of this woman named Pauline Hanson who founded an Australian party called One Nation in the 90’s. We learnt about her in school growing up and she had some pretty sinister anti-multiculturalism ideas as well. But she gained traction pretty fast and got a not-insignificant part of the vote in 1997; I think like 7 or 8%. It’s kind of scary the impact a bigoted populist party with a charismatic leader can have. Even in 2014, in the case of UKIP.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            It is scary but the number of gaffs made by UKIP party members is pretty funny mostly racist, but they throw in a lot of sexist and homophobic remarks for good measure, most people will see them for what they are, but there’s a row brewing with the EU at the moment they just sent the UK a €2 billion bill if that gets paid at the end of this year none of the major parties are going to look good come the election in May next year and that could seems swing in votes to UKIP.

        2. Carrie in Scotland*

          I know people that didn’t vote. It was because they weren’t registered due to a house move…but yeah, not sure why people who were registered didn’t.

        3. Sarahnova*

          Some people really do struggle to vote, though. If you are living on the poverty line and every minute is filled with elder- or childcare, all the extended voting hours in the world are still not going to make it easy to get to a ballot box. 85% is damned good.

      3. Nina*

        I know what you mean. I’m definitely voting, but I am so sick of these flyers in the mail cluttering up my mailbox every day.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          It’s true about UKIP. What seems to be scary is that they seem to be gaining ground with people who are fed up with the main parties.

      4. Melissa*

        Our governor’s race is interesting because the incumbent is projected to lose, but I’ve noticed his ads have done the smearing while leaving out the “vote for me” part. It’s super weird, especially since his argument against his competitor was “voting for Tom Wolf would be like voting for Obama to be governor of PA!” to which I was like “…and?”

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is my first time living in a divided state where I feel like my vote actually matters. That part is exciting, but these ads are making me nuts. My very favorite is the one where one guy is going after his opponent by focusing on the fact that her husband is a lobbyist, complete with an actor playing a sinister lobbyist with a villainous laugh. It would be much funnier if I knew no one would fall for it. “Gasp! Her husband is a WASHINGTON INSIDER! I cannot vote for HER! They will try to take over THE WORLD together!”

      I also like the one where one guy is going after his opponent by saying, “She AGREES WITH OBAMA,” like that’s the biggest sin any politician could commit.

      Wednesday will be a very good day around here, unless my people lose big time.

      1. Stephanie*

        There was one ad here that implied the candidate wanted to let ISIS in at the U.S.-Mexico border because she didn’t pass some spending bill, complete with images of ISIS coupled with the border. “Families” were mentioned of course. It made me laugh until I realized people would take that seriously.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Greg Abbott has been running an ad like that here in Texas; he’s running for Governor against Wendy Davis. The first time I saw the ad I had to rewind it – “he said what?

          Wendy’s definitely got my vote, even though everyone tells me that she’ll almost certainly lose. Which sucks, but on the plus side, we’ll be rid of Rick Perry.

        2. Bea W*

          One of the candidates in a neighboring state is implying similar things about his opponent regarding ISIS, terrorists, and our “insecure borders”. I don’t know anything about the other candidate because it’s not my state, but I still roll my eyes. All of the ads are ludicrous and occasionally make me want to vomit. I can’t wait until Tuesday. I don’t think I’ve seen a normal TV commercial for weeks, maybe months.

    5. Jen RO*

      We are voting in the first round of preidential elections today in Romania. The process (especially for Romanians living outside Romania) was embarassingly ill-managed, probably on purpose, since most of those people are not voting for the ‘right’ candidate (the current prime minister). In many big cities like Munich, London, Paris, hundreds or even thousands of people stood in line for 2-5 hours, and some (many) won’t even get to vote before the polls close.

      1. Ludo*

        How interesting. We have laws here in the States that say if you are in line before the polls close you must be permitted to vote. And I don’t think our expats go to physical polls, but are mailed ballots. My state actually doesn’t have any physical polling places. Everyone is mailed a ballot about 3 weeks before the election. You fill it out, sign it and drop it off in a secured drop box or mail it back in. It makes voting very easy.

        Good luck with your Presidential election. I love learning about how other voting systems work.

        1. Jen RO*

          Yeah, this is so stupid honestly. But of course, the ex-communists will never let a law for mailed ballots pass, because then it would be even more difficult to stop people from voting against them…

  9. Stephanie*

    Just got back from Key West! Key West was lovely. My mom and I did get trapped in a gaggle of Parrotheads at one point. The water was so blue!

    Since I know there a lot of cat fanatics on here, here’s a picture of one of the polydactyl cats from the Hemingway Museum: http://instagram.com/p/uyifqwgWvy/

    1. Nina*

      Glad you had a great time! Key West looks glorious.

      And the cat is a cutie. Although I initially read that as “pterodactyl cat” which was pretty odd. LOL.

  10. Eeek*

    So. I’ve gained 40lb over the last 2 years and really need to start trying to get it off, problem is….I’m so unfit and a picky eater who isn’t huge on salad/fruit. Any tips on how to get started? Google doesn’t seem to understand just how unfit I am….I can’t run a mile in the first week!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      A couple of tips that may help (your mileage may vary):

      1. Instead of trying to eat “healthy” foods, just keep eating the same foods you already eat, but slightly smaller portions. The focus should be on slightly. If you want to be effective, don’t expect a huge change in your diet—otherwise, you’ll just get really hungry and likely end up gorging yourself later to make up for it.

      2. No need to run a mile in the first week. If you do plan on running instead of walking, run as long as you can without stopping (even if it’s only 100 meters) and time yourself while doing it. The next day, run ten seconds longer. The day after, run ten more seconds longer (so twenty seconds over the first day). Keep doing that and slowly, but surely, you’ll work your way up to a mile or even more.

      That said, no need to run. You can walk. Walk a half hour a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very good for your body.

      Best of luck!

      1. en pointe*

        If Eeek’s current diet is unhealthy, I don’t think they’re really going to lose weight just by eating slightly smaller portions of unhealthy food. I would definitely look to cut down on processed foods as much as possible. You could also try roasted vegetables, or there’s these noodles some of my friends eat that are supposed to have no or very few calories, so you can eat heaps. I can’t remember what they’re called but you could probably Google it. If it’s an option for you, I’d also consider booking an appointment with a nutritionist. They would be able to help you figure out a diet plan around some options that work with your tastes and budget. Also, I know it sounds basic, but always carry a bottle of water! I eat way less when I’m drinking water all day, and it’s good for you as well.

        As for fitness, I second everybody else. You want to go with interval training, where you rotate short periods of high intensity with longer periods of lower intensity. As your fitness increases, you can start shifting the balance toward longer periods at the higher intensity, and gradually up that intensity as well. Good luck!

        1. bkanon*

          You can. Portion sizes and the perceptions of them are really out of whack for so many people. I lost fifty pounds last year without changing what I ate. I just had less of it. I still went to McDonalds, but I got one fish sandwich instead of two. I still had ice cream, but I got a little bowl instead of a big one. Still have twenty, thirty pounds to go and winter holidays are going to make it hard on my willpower (family dinners and homemade yeast rolls. My Waterloo.) but I just remember to think smaller. I’ll have the Oreo pie, but a spoonful is usually all I really want.

          1. hungry girl*

            Just goes to show how every body is different. I’d kill to lose 50 lbs just by eating less but in order to do that I’d really have to eat almost nothing….

            my problem isn’t that I hate unhealthy foods but that…I love EVERYTHING. Sweets, meat/chicken, fried stuff and carbs…..oh lovely lovely carbs, etc. I can find subs, but sometimes all you want is the real thing…and limiting myself is the hard part.

          2. Bea W*

            Use smaller plates. There have been some studies that show plate size matters. If you have a small portion on a large plate, there is a perception that it isn’t enough food, but put a small portion on a smaller plate and you’re mind thinks it’s enough food.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, don’t underestimate the power of walking. I managed to lose about 20 lbs over a semester in college solely by watching portions, doing some simple resistance exercises, and walking a 3-mi path on campus nearly daily. If you’re going to walk, just be sure to do it long enough or briskly enough.

    2. Powerpuff*

      If you want to get fit by running, I’d recommend a program like Couch to 5K (C25K). Its designed to get you from zero fitness to running for long periods. Week 1 asks you to to alternate 60 seconds of slow jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes. If you can’t manage that, create your own Week zero with running for 30 seconds, or whatever you can manage, and work up to week 1. When I started the program, I could barely run a minute at a time, now I manage 20 minutes like it is nothing!

      Although, I would add that, if you are not eating healthily, it is nearly impossible to lose weight through exercise alone. Broadly speaking, exercise controls fitness and diet controls weight.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I’d also like to emphasize specifically the “slow jogging” part of that! I had a conversation with some friends recently about how, because we were “unathletic” kids growing up, we didn’t get as much instruction about how to be active/athletic as our friends who were involved in sports and actively being coached — so, for instance, several of us shared the experience of having thought we were pathologically incapable of throwing a ball accurately, then (as adults) having someone show us actual throwing technique and discovering that we were perfectly capable, we just hadn’t known how. But the reason I bring it up is that, almost universally, we had all shared the mistaken impression as kids that “running” meant “running as fast as you can,” which only made us perform worse at things like trying to run a mile (because we were trying to sprint for the entire mile, which obviously we couldn’t do), which reinforced our idea of ourselves as Pathetically Unathletic People, which made us less inclined to seek out coaching or try to improve, which… etc. Of course I have no idea if any of this applies to Eeek, but I feel like it’s a fairly common experience among people who describe themselves as “totally unfit,” so. Slow jogging! Jogging counts as running! For reals!

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        You don’t even have to do C25K with running at first. A few years ago I used it to go from fast/slow intervals of just walking and did the whole program, and then when I was done, started it over with jogging/walking to build up to the whole 5K. Ultimately I had to give up running (joints– I have terrible biomechanics) but I am still a very long and fast walker! I used a smartphone app that made it very easy to go fast/go slow.

        I second everyone’s advice about weight loss, though — diet in terms of what you are eating and the amounts you are eating are the most important factors. I just find working out is a motivator for living more healthily in general.

      3. the gold digger*

        it is nearly impossible to lose weight through exercise alone

        Unfortunately, this is true. I started a new job in August. The job isn’t on the bus route and we have just one car, so I decided I would ride my bike the ten miles to work. For two months, I rode 100 miles a week, which was completely new physical activity, and I did not lose an ounce. NOT ONE.

        I am a little bit bitter about this.

        1. hungry girl*

          Did you notice any difference though in your shape or any lost inches? IFrom my experience, when you exercise the pounds may not change as much but appearance and inches may still change…..

          1. Kay*

            Yeah, this surprises me as well. Muscle weighs more than fat, so while you do burn fat exercising, you’ll also gain muscle. You may not lose “weight”, but your body can become more toned/muscular.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Just do what you can, if you run for 30 seconds and have to walk for 2 minuets to catch your breath then start with that. Gradually you’ll see the balance shift and be able to run longer and walk less. Try and stick to a pattern of excersing 3 times a week and you’ll be amazed how fast you improve.

      Try having a look for couch to 5k training plans that’s a good starting point

      1. skyline*

        +1. The wonderful thing about running is that there’s a fast improvement curve. I started running again this spring after a long break from it, and I am already up to running for over an hour without stopping. When I first started running a few years ago, I did Couch to 5K and found it totally empowering. I could hardly run for one minute when I started! That said, as much as I enjoy running, I always find the first 10 minutes miserable, and I’ve kind of accepted that’s how it is.

        That said, even some modest walking and portion control will go a long way. You can also cut back on portions/calories gradually to make the transition easier. I’ve lost 25 lbs this year, but that’s been over the course of 8 months. Slow and steady is the way to go!

    4. nep*

      As the other commenter said, no need to ‘run a mile in the first week’. Slow and steady does it when it comes to beginning regular exercise. Too much too soon is one of the main reason people drop out.
      Also correct that it’s mostly going to be about what you eat. You say you’re a picky eater — what do you mean? What are you eating? Stating the obvious here — if you drink soda, swap it out for water; and eat little to no processed foods.
      Above all, you’ve got to go into this knowing that you can lose weight and become more physically fit.

    5. Wonkette*

      Regarding food: I think that small things matter. Try cooking most of your meals instead of eating packaged foods or restaurant meals. Cut out the soda and juice. Try cuisines that make veggies delicious without making you feel like you’re on a diet (I’m a huge fan of Asian food like Indian, Korean, Japanese, etc.).

      1. nep*

        Yes — ‘diets’ don’t work anyway. The steps and changes have to be doable and sustainable. If it’s about deprivation and drudgery, it won’t last for long-term better health. Hear, hear — cutting out packaged ‘food-like substances’ and eating out (or take-out). That will go a long way.

      2. cuppa*

        One thing that works for me immediately is cutting back on white flours and switching to 100% whole grain. The white flour slope is one I can slide down really fast, but it always helps when I get back on track.

    6. Rebecca*

      Walking! I can walk almost 7 miles now, but running? LOL that’s not going to happen.

      I would analyze what you’re eating, and how much. I did this, and was shocked to see how many calories there really are in a bowl of cereal. The serving size on the box might be 3/4 cup and 150 calories, as an example, but my Jethro sized cereal bowl holds 2 cups – and that’s level! – so in just a bowl of cereal I was eating about 400 calories, not counting milk and sugar. Coffee creamer was another big problem of mine. I use fat free half and half now instead of flavored creamers…yes I miss them…but the one I was using had 35 calories per tablespoon, and I was going through about 8 tablespoons a day just dumping it into my coffee without measuring. There’s another 350 calories, and this was before lunch!

      I used a little notebook and just jotted down the things I ate every day, how much, and then made substitutions, ate smaller portions, etc. It really does work, and it takes a while. I also added walking and purchased a Fitbit to keep me motivated.

      Good luck!

      1. en pointe*

        I think this is great. Eeek, I agree that it’s important to work out how many calories you should be consuming, as well as how many you are now. I don’t advocate calorie counting to people indefinitely, only because for me it’s been, in many ways, an unhealthy, obsessive thing that I’m currently working on stopping, but I totally think you should do it just for a while. I think it would help you to understand how many calories you’re consuming in surplus of what you actually need, as well as what meals, ingredients etc. in your diet are really contributing to that, so you can make the right modifications. Good luck!

    7. Waiting Patiently*

      I think the first step is listening to your body and setting your goals base on that. I definitely took me longer than a week to run a mile. I have a football/track field not too far from my house, so I used the bleachers to help build my stamina. I hit a few mental blocks along the way but I kept increasing the time/ distance in really small increments. And soon those mental blocks were gone.
      No tips for eating as I found my fruits and vegetables I like. My problem is ice cream which is just part of my DNA :)
      I love creamy stuff–I just try to eat it in moderation.
      Oh my only tip is ‘just get started’
      Best wishes!

    8. Lola*

      I bought a FitBit about three months ago and find it very motivating to know how far I’ve walked every day. I use the software to monitor my food intake also but not fanatically. I’m up from about 7500 steps a day to 12000 and seeing an improvement in fitness as well as a small weight loss. By the way – FitBit customer service is awesome. I lost mine after about 10 days and they replaced at no cost – v. impressed!

    9. BRR*

      Write down everything you eat or drink for a week. It can help discover trends. I found at least I drank enough water but there were far too many handfuls of snacks.

      Echoing everybody else on running. Try to take the stairs wherever you go.

    10. louise*

      My twin. I’d happily eat a Reese’s pumpkin in solidarity.

      Restorative yoga has been my first step (and so far, the only step I’ve taken) toward getting fit. Feeling more flexible but without the difficulties of a true workout makes me feel like I can take on a walk, or bound up the stairs just a little brisker. I guess I mean that it makes me feel not quite so old and it definitely makes me feel enabled rather than incapable. I highly recommend restorative yoga.

      Sadly it’s done nothing for weight loss despite >6 months. But this is because I love pizza, burgers, and candy on a nearly daily basis. Alas.

    11. fposte*

      People are offering good ideas–may I throw in a slightly off the wall suggestion, which is get smaller serving plates, bowls, and cups and use them? Let the container limit your serving size rather than relying on your willpower. If you get fast food, unpack it onto your salad plate, and put away what doesn’t fit into the fridge for a later meal; pour your drink into a shot glass and shove the rest out of sight. A lot of us eat until external forces stop us, so this is a way to make those external forces stricter.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, smaller plates totally works. I bought only salad plates and found I automatically ate less.

        1. Zillah*

          Agreed. And smaller plates/glasses doesn’t mean you can’t go back for seconds if you’re truly still hungry – it just helps stop you from continuing to eat when you’re not.

      2. skyline*

        Yes, this works! I was into packing bento lunches for a while, and the traditional bento containers are quite small. It made me learn a lot about portion control and size.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I did the same thing, and I loved it! I’m not particularly artsy, but there’s something deeply satisfying about a bunch of different things neatly arrayed in a box.

          1. skyline*

            While I did not make cutesy food designs, I did try to adopt the bento practice of having lots of different color food. It made me think about the variety of foods that I was eating–and to get certain colors, you generally need to eat fruits and vegetables.

      3. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Also — ALWAYS put (single) servings of things, especially snack-type things, on plates, in bowls, etc. Never take the bag/box/whole damn pizza to the couch or the computer! At least if you want to get seconds, you have to get up and walk for it. It’s a stupid little trick, but these stupid little tricks add up.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is true–and I find that I often don’t want to go get more.

          Oh, another tip—EAT SLOWER. Gobbling won’t trip your stomach to register that it’s full before you’ve stuffed it with far too many delicious things.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I just discovered this secret! Tiny plates FTW!! That way I’m less tempted to fill it up with pasta or stir-fry or vindaloo. And even if I do, it’s not as much.

      5. Lore*

        Brian Wansink’s book Mindless Eating is full of studies showing the psychology behind tricks like these. He runs (or did at the time) the food lab at Cornell, and they have a restaurant where they do things like set up a bowl of soup that keeps refilling itself as you eat, to see when people reach a satiation point without visible cues (almost never). It’s a good read, as well as really eye-opening about how thoughtless eating contributes to creeping gradual weight gain, and how to reset your mental habits. You may not lose weight using his tips alone, but it’s extremely helpful to learn how to be more conscious of the quantities you’re eating. (I’d gradually put on 30 pounds over about 10 years as I went from my thirties to forties, and 2013 was about trying to inch that back without major dieting, which I have little patience for. But trying to make sure I exercised every day, and trying to snack less and eat better lunches–my office cafeteria specializes in the unhealthy, it seems!–got me there, and about 25 of the 30 have stayed off for almost a year now.)

      6. Libby*

        Brian Wansink’s books Mindless Eating and Slim By Design have been great for me. He’s been studying the environmental cues that shape our eating behavior (like plate size) and has figured out all sorts of doable ways to whittle down food intake.

      7. Artemesia*

        We mostly use small plates. I noticed that when I use the pasta bowls I always serve way too much food so have to really watch it.

    12. TL -*

      40 lbs over 2 yrs is enough that it’s worth mentioning to your dr to check for underlying causes, especially if there have been no major lifestyle changes and if your weight has been pretty steady before this. (if you already have, though, ignore me!)
      (I gained 7 lbs in a year – highly unusual for me as my weight never varied- and found I had hypothyroidism.)
      As for losing it – it is really all about diet, but make smaller changes slowly, and don’t cut out everything you love, just learn to enjoy them in moderation.

      1. wonkette*

        I have a similar story. I gained alot of weight within a 6 month period, which is totally unlike me. I later found out I had a fibroid and underwent surgery to get it removed. I think I lost 20 lbs right afterwards.

        1. TL -*

          Yup. About a week after I got on meds I started dropping the weight (and starting bouncing off the walls and being way more my normal overly-hyper energetic self, much to shock of some of my newer friends!)

    13. Purr purr purr*

      I gained 30lb in six months after having to move back in with my parents and eating what they ate. I’m losing it now and have just 15lb to go. I’ve tried numerous diets over the years and worked out with Beachbody programmes, Jillian Michaels, etc and the thing that worked best for me was a ketosis diet. It’s low carb and high fat and I also eat grain-free for other health issues. I get to eat everything I’ve always enjoyed, such as bread and pizza, but I make them myself and from different ingredients. As an example, you can make pizza bases from cauliflower and it tastes the same! I’m having a chicken curry tonight but with grated cauliflower as ‘rice.’ I started following that diet over a year ago and, before I had to move back in with my parents, had lost 20lb effortlessly with no exercise or calorie counting to get me down into the 120’s. I can’t recommend it enough! The Wheat Belly Cookbook is a great introduction to it.

      As for the running, most people couldn’t run a mile without preparation work beforehand. When I first started out as a runner years ago, I wrote my own programme that I knew I could do. I started off with just 20 minutes, alternating 1 minute of walking and 1 minute of jogging. I gradually increased it to 30 minutes of 1-1 and then 30 minutes of 2-2, 30 minutes of 3-3, 30 minutes of 3 minutes jogging, 1 walking, etc. and eventually ran a 5k without stopping. The best beginner training programme will be the one that you write because you know your base level of fitness better than anyone. Also, most people new to running start off way too fast but they don’t have the endurance to maintain that speed and become discouraged when they’re out of breath with a stitch after 200m; it’s OK to just jog slowly because you can work on speed later once you have a base level of endurance.

      1. nep*

        How long have you been able to go low carb? Everything we do needs carbs so I can’t see it being sustainable. What percentage of your calorie intake is carbs? I’m interested in hearing how this goes — keep us posted.

        1. Purr purr purr*

          The longest I went is 6 months and the only reason I stopped was due to lack of money because I couldn’t afford to buy any food at all hence moving back in with my parents. Carbs are actually the only macro that aren’t needed and the whole point to ketosis is that the body burns ketones for fuel instead of relying on glycogen. In practise, I limit my carbs to below 50g per day, usually around 20g, and <10% of total calorie intake but I no longer need to keep an eye on that stuff because I was doing it for so long. The only carbs I'm eating are those that happen to be found in vegetables, nuts, etc. I have many friends who follow a ketosis lifestyle, some of whom have been doing it for more than two years, and I find it easy to stick to and sustainable.

          1. nep*

            So you’re eating healthy / complex carbs. That’s super healthy, indeed. (Where does that information come from ‘carbs are the only macro that aren’t needed’ ? What do you mean?)

            1. Purr purr purr*

              The info about carbs being the only macro that aren’t needed come from various nutritional journals. A person has to eat proteins and fats to survive – they’re absolutely essential to life – but carbohydates aren’t essential because the body can use alternative fuel sources for energy. If a person consumes a lot of fat then the body can use the ketones as fuel and if a person consumes a lot of protein then the body can create glucose from gluconeogenesis. If you’re interested, Phinney and Volek are arguably the world’s leading experts on low carb lifestyles and they have two books. I’ve got the one on Low Carb Performance and found it really interesting.

    14. Artemesia*

      My husband dropped 40 about 25 years ago and has kept it off. He has done two things. First he does work out every morning — he uses an eliptical trainer, but a very brisk walk is also a start if you don’t have equipment or can’t do this or that. You might not be able to run a mile but I bet you could powerwalk 2.

      The second thing is he targeted a few things to drop in his diet. The goal was to burn 400 calories extra a day and to drop 400 calories. He didn’t really change his diet so much as identify a few things he could drop that equalled his calories target. e.g. if you have a soft drink, just drop that out for 140. If you use butter or whole milk, cut that out and substitute skim. Or maybe identify portions that could be cut in half. You don’t have to so much change the food as cut the amounts. (avoid diet soda and sweeteners as there is evidence that they actually increase weight by messing with your metabolism)

      If you do this, you lose about a pound a week which seems like little, but slow and steady really does win this race. And it is easier to keep off when you are steady rather than diet in a burst of deprivation.

      Of course taking a good look at the diet for improving its healthiness is also important generally. I can’t really eat salads either, but steamed veggies are tasty and fruit is a good snack.

      when I am cutting back I realize that is MUST have a snack at 4 pm or I want to devour everything in the kitchen, so I make sure a satisfying snack is part of the day and when I have that at 4 pm then I am less hungry at dinner. It also helps to have that stack of celery and carrots in the icebox since for me at least just munching on something is important and those are basically free of calories.

      1. Natalie*

        “If you use butter or whole milk, cut that out and substitute skim.”

        YMMV, but I personally find that I consume fewer calories overall if I keep the rich things I like, and just reduce portion sizes.

    15. RubyJackson*

      Do not eat anything, not one morsel, after 7pm. One of the biggest factors to weight gain and weight retention is eating too late to properly digest. And, no carbs after 3pm.

    16. Calla*

      I’ve gained over 20 in the last year or so due to a medication, so I feel you. Definitely if you haven’t mentioned this to your doctor, do that. Other things that have helped me lose weight/get in shape:

      1. Cut out soda (and other carbonated drinks) if you drink it.
      2. Cut down on your meats. These first two–when I went vegetarian 13 years ago, I also cut out soda, and lost about 15lbs just because of that.
      3. If you’re a snacker, find alternatives or things that last longer. You’re not big on fruit, which is fine, but how about a trail mix with like nuts and dried cranberries? And when I have a craving for candy, I try to pick one thing that lasts a while, like a jolly rancher, rather than something that will be gone in two bites like a twix, even though I love those!
      4. Walk during breaks you have. If you walk a lot, it actually really does work, you don’t have to run miles. I agree with getting FitBit or downloading the app. I’ve done that and it’s really motivating to see my “steps” count go up! You can also log what you eat there (or with MyFitnessPal) which helps you see if something you thought wasn’t so bad is actually junk, if you’re eating a particular thing more than you thought, etc.

      Good luck!

      1. the gold digger*

        I would respectfully disagree with some of your points, Calla. I have found that eating lean meat (and eggs, which I think can be part of a vegetarian diet) helps me feel full and keeps me from getting hungry for a long time.

        I would also suggest that nuts and dried fruit are not great snacks, as they are very high in calories. True, they are better than a candy bar – at least they have some nutritional value – but they are not low calories.

        I definitely agree on the soda, though. My sister gave me a makeover once and said, “You are so easy. You don’t do anything, so it’s really easy to make you look decent with just a little makeup. You are the makeup and hair equivalent of the person who drinks two liters of Coke a day and then wants to know why she can’t lose weight.”

        1. Calla*

          I’m not saying Eeek needs to cut out *all* meat–but (and maybe I should have added this qualifier) if she’s someone who eats a lot of it, two out of three meals every day, it is usually a good idea to cut down on it. And I think the other thing is that it’s usually cutting down on red meat specifically that helps.

          1. Artemesia*

            cutting red meat may make you healthier but it won’t make you thinner. meat is one of the most satisfying foods that wards off hunger — cutting carbs works — but cutting meat is counter productive.

              1. Calla*

                Whoops, just realized my last link is through my school so I don’t know if you’ll be able to access it–abstract is:
                “Reducing energy density (ED) of the diet is an important strategy for controlling obesity. This 1-year, randomized clinical trial examined the effect of substituting mushrooms for red meat (‘mushroom diet’), compared to a standard diet (‘meat diet’), on weight loss and maintenance among 73 obese adults (64 women, 9 men). The subjects completed anthropometric measurements and 7-day food records four times during a standardized weight loss and maintenance regimen. At the end of the 1-year trial, compared to participants on the standard diet, participants on the mushroom diet (n = 36) reported lower intakes of energy (mean ± [SE] = −123 ± 113 kcals) and fat (−4.25 ± 6.88 g), lost more pounds and percentage body weight (−7.03 ± 3.34 lbs, 3.6%), achieved lower body mass index (−1.53 ± 0.36), waist circumference (−2.6 ± 3.5 in.) and percent total body fat (−0.85 ± 0.53), and had lower systolic and diastolic pressure (−7.9 and −2.5 mmHg); their lipid profile and inflammatory markers also improved. After initial weight loss, subjects following the mushroom diet maintained that loss well. Those who completed the full 12-month trial still weighed a mean of 7 lbs less than baseline. Thus, encouraging adults to substitute mushrooms for red meat was a useful strategy for enhancing weight loss, weight maintenance, and health parameters.”

    17. neversawthatb4*

      If it is within your budget, Weightwatchers really does work. Especially if you go in person to the meetings (instead of the online only program).

      I also second what others have said about seeing your doctor to make sure you don’t have any underlying medical issues.

    18. Anonyby*

      I feel your pain as a fellow picky eater trying to eat healthier!

      I would take a look at any veggies you do like and try to incorporate them more. Maybe try to find some ways to make ‘meh’ veggies palatable (I have to do this with salad–I need something to drown out the taste, so it often ends up being shell-less taco salads with hot salsa, or chana masala and rice on salad greens, etc). Also leaner proteins, more plant-based proteins (legumes), whole grains where possible…

      Also, go easy at first on the exercise, but don’t give up. Last year when I first started biking again after several years, I could make barely any headway without needing to stop to catch my breath, and I ended up only going 2-3 miles in 30 minutes. It only took a week or two before I could go that far without stopping at all!

    19. V. Meadowsweet*

      walking is amazingly good for you. heck, we’re kinda purpose-built for it.
      if you have some physical thing you enjoy doing, try to make time to do it one more time a week than you are currently.
      if you have a videogame system that they make Dance Dance Revolution (or any game like that) for and you enjoy that kind of game at all (or are curious), it’s fun and easy to hop on for a couple of songs (this was how I started – I had an old PS2 and picked up DDR with a mat on sale – and it’s made a huge difference to my general fitness :) )

      try some or any of:
      – smaller portions of what you currently eat
      – foods that you haven’t tried before or haven’t tried in years – tastes can change
      – eat organic if you can (all else aside, it generally has more flavour, and flavour is important)
      – cook things in different ways (roasting is under-rated, if you’re in a climate where it makes sense to have the oven on).
      – avoid things with high-fructose corn syrup
      – eat fewer processed foods
      – jot down what you eat in a day and when you eat it. (I found I get really hungry around 3:30, and if I haven’t brought something with me I’ll forage for whatever’s out there)
      – note your cravings. sometimes they’re indicators of traces missing from your diet and sometimes they’re indicators of foods you’re allergic to
      – lower your consumption of alcohol (if you drink)

      If you miss whatever exercise you choose for a day or a week, or if you eat a dozen donuts or 6 steaks it doesn’t mean you failed. It means that you didn’t manage to meet your goal that day, but tomorrow you’ll try again. No makeup tests and no punishments, just be as supportive of yourself as you would be of a dear friend.

    20. CPE*

      I have lost 10 Lbs over last couple of months. I have 15 more to go.

      I lost the weight primarily by dieting. I worked out very hard for a couple of months (45 – 50 mins HIIT 5 days a week) and lost just a couple of pounds which I gained back within two weeks because I hurt by knee and couldn’t work out. Then I decided diet is the way to go. I don’t want to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to fit in a work out when I was seeing such poor results.

      Following are the modifications I did:
      1. I used to eat a slice of whole wheat bread, almond butter spread and jelly and half glass milk with protein powder (no sugar) for breakfast. I eliminated bread, almond butter and jelly from breakfast. I increased milk from half glass to 3/4 of a glass. Instead of having breakfast at 8 AM, I have this at 9 AM which helps me tolerate hunger till 12:00 PM. I felt hungry for first couple of days, but I don’t feel that hunger any more.

      2. Every afternoon, I eat soup. I make soup at home alternate days with lots of vegetables, beans and greens. I don’t add any cream or fat. But I do make potato leek soup, butternut squash soup etc but without cream or cheese. This has helped me tremendously. I can eat till I am satisfied as it is basically vegetables.

      3. I eat fruits for snacks in the evening. If I am feeling very hungry, I may eat a slice of bread too or half glass milk.

      4. I eat one bowl of soup for dinner before I eat actual dinner. My husband and I are Indians. So I make rice and lentils (dal) and a vegetable curry or egg everyday. But I am eating very less rice. I am eating rice just to give company to my husband. I don’t want to eat drastically different when I eat with him.

      5. I have asked my husband to keep snacks in opaque containers and out of my sight, like in his closet. That has helped with mindless snacking.

      I am very happy with the results. I don’t feel I am on a diet at all. I am not hungry all the time. I don’t have to wake up early in the morning. I want to add 30mins of brisk walking to my diet though. I like soup better than salad because you can spice up the soup and make it so much flavorful than a salad and a bowl of hot soup is so comforting.

  11. Cristina in England*

    My toddler is confused about “you” and “me”. She thinks that “you” is always her and “me” is always me. When she wants something, she points to herself and says “you”, and when she sees a picture of me she says “me”. It is impossible to explain the concept because I end up saying things like “sometimes you are me and I am you” and “when you are talking to me, I am you” so I end up creating little skits with other adults where we say “you” and “me” a lot but those haven’t worked. Anyone else have any toddlerisms (past or present)?

    1. Colette*

      When my niece was about three, she liked cheese grilled sandwiches and backhorse riding. There was absolutely no way to convince her she had the terms backward.

    2. matcha123*

      You don’t need to do anything. Just talk to her as you normally do. This is a perfectly normal linguistic development and she’ll get the hang of the “correct” way of saying things in due time.

      She uses “you” and “me” that way because, unless she’s around a lot of other people and kids, you are most likely saying things like, “Do you want this?,” or “Give it to me.” “You” has become a second name for her and “me” has become your second name.

      Please don’t worry about it and don’t stress over it. It’s just one of the ways she is figuring out how language works.

    3. FX-ensis*

      I don’t have children, but then it may be normal development at your daughter’s age.

      It would be a concern when she is older, but now it doesn’t seem serious.

    4. CAA*

      Relax, and speak normally. No need to teach this. It’s a normal development stage for language. I always thought it was cute when my daughter would say “pick you up” instead of “pick me up” when she wanted to be carried.

    5. FamilyofRobot*

      Agree with the above. You don’t need to do anything. Just keep talking to her like normal. She will figure it out. I have a 2 1/2 year old and she’s say something about wanting more playdoh and I’ll tell her that she doesn’t need more. Her response is then “I am need more playdoh!” She uses the word “am” like that all the time. I don’t worry about it. She will outgrow it.

      She also calls me daddy a lot and then corrects herself and calls me “da-mmy” and then she’ll finally say “mommy”.

      1. B*

        My 3 year old calls us both daddy-mummy. Or mummy-daddy. He knows who is who but I think he think it’s helpful to have a name for both of us at once :)

    6. louise*

      Totally normal. Just enjoy the cuteness of it. She will change on her own as long as she hears you using words correctly.

      At that same age, my brother grasped the you-and-me concept, but totally misapplied it. He kept asking my mom about “yourami.” It took her a little while, but then she realized she’d been talking about going to Miami. :)

    7. Artemesia*

      Kids do this as they learn language. You don’t have to ‘teach her’ you just have to speak correctly around her and offer her lots of chances to see you and me in action. And go read ‘Whos on first’ to put it in perspective.

    8. INTP*

      This is completely normal, btw. Toddlers acquire language over time and grammar isn’t something you can just explain to them and have them get it right. (Just like I couldn’t have perfect grammar in Spanish by having someone explain all the rules to me one time!)

      A few I have:
      -My little brother would always say “Leave me my lone!” instead of “Leave me alone!” And then he would get so angry when we laughed because it was cute, hah.
      -My little cousin had a pretty complex use for the word “my” – something like “I want to” or “I want to be the one to…” She would frequently say “My do it!” “My eat the ice cream!” “My hold the baby!”
      -My autistic brother (not a toddler, but with limited language abilities) has always called YouTube “MeTube.”

    9. Student*

      You could try teaching her about sentence structure more formally. It will fix itself on its own, but if you start using the correct terminology it will help your child out more in the future. Note that this probably won’t speed up the specific linguistic improvement, but it might give her a boost in English later on.

      I’d start with the concept of verbs and nouns before tackling the pronoun problem directly. Then explain pronouns. Instead of using your confusing sentences like “Sometimes I am You”, explain the concept of first person, second person, third person. Explain plural and singular. Ask her to come up with examples during normal play activities to apply the knowledge. If you read stories to her, you can talk about whether the story is told in first person by a character or third person by a narrator. If you watch TV together, do the same thing. Further down the line, you can tackle linguistic sticking points like good vs well, your vs you’re, its and it’s, and other creative constructions that your kid develops.

      You can learn language with no real formal instruction whatsoever. The formal instruction helps when your child wades into new territory outside of what she was raised with.

    1. Artemesia*

      I live in a city with a lot of gang violence. I really shook my head at the number of big lumbering teen boys out for Halloween as terrorists or in military kit and weapons. We shoot enough kids in this town without creating a situation that might provoke it.

      On the bright side, I saw two fabulous ‘Ebola monkey’ costumes inspired by the film ‘Outbreak’ I assume.

  12. Anonsie*

    Curious to see if anyone has any ideas for something filling one can drink in the morning that is make-ahead and is NOT a smoothie. I have some health issues that impacts my mobility/dexterity in the morning (so I’m regularly running out of time fumbling with something and having to rush) but I can’t eat on transit to work/class or for while I’m there in the morning. Drinks only.

    I’ve been trying to come up with something Carnation instant breakfast style that I can make up on the weekends and just grab out of the fridge in the morning, but ideas are slim. I do the actual Carnation brand stuff or other protein shake/meal replacement things but they’re expensive and I feel like it’s not worth the cost. I keep seeing make-ahead refrigerator oatmeal, chia shakes, stuff that’s a little too thick for a “drink” but I wonder if there’s a better option?

    And before anyone starts: No really, no “it only takes a minute in the morning” I mean literally zero time or effort in the morning can be required because it won’t happen. People never believe me on this point since I guess it’s simple for most folks.

    1. Chuchundra*

      On busy mornings I usually make a shake with 8oz 1% milk, 8oz ice coffee, two packets of Splenda and a scoop of Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Double Chocolate.

      Mix it up in a shaker cup and you’re good to go.

    2. Buu*

      Have you tried Miso Soup? You can buy packets of Miso paste some of which also have a little bit of tofu and nori (sea weed in), you might also then be able to add some stuff in your thermos to bulk it out.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        I also like Instant Miso (which is liquid in a bottle — I can get it in my supermarket) -it tastes better to me than the packets. But same idea — boiling water, instant miso, tofu and scallions cut up the night before in a thermos, and you are good to go.

        It’s not really make-ahead, though — still requires boiling water in the morning or at time of eating. But I think probably everything else could be made ahead and refrigerated.

    3. FamilyofRobot*

      You could try making a oatmeal chia shake thinner adding something like coconut or almond milk.

      Take a look at this link: http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/coconut-banana-oats-bowl-crunchy-black-sesame-quinoa-cereal-mango/

      Ignore the cereal part. There is a recipe for what she calls a smoothie and I know you said no smoothies, but it’s made of oats, chia seeds, vanilla, and coconut milk, which made me think you might enjoy it based on your comment. There is also a banana but I’m sure you could leave it out and still be delicious.

      I have made the whole recipe, including the cereal, and it’s incredible.

    4. Mister Pickle*

      Bloody Mary’s have always worked well for me :)

      More seriously: I rarely drink alcohol, but I’ll occasionally whip up a batch of Bloody Mary mix and pour a Virgin Mary.

      I think the people who mentioned soups might be on the right track. There’s a a near infinite number of soups (potato soup, broccoli soup, potato and leek soup, and so on) that are good when chilled; they might require a bit of dilution with some kind of vegetable or chicken broth to be more of a drink.

      I’m told that Pho is a popular breakfast food in Vietnam. The noodles and stuff probably won’t work for you, but perhaps just the broth?i

      I’ve noticed that there really don’t seem to be many savory drinks. I’m not sure why this is – I get tired of everything being sweet.

      How about mixing up a pitcher of coffee with cream and sugar, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and then pouring a tall cup in the morning?

      Finally: I know this does not match your zero-time requirement, but I recently got a Keurig coffee maker and have found that it really simplifies getting that first precious cup to my lips.

      1. Anonsie*

        Yah that’s the big thing with the meal replacement shakes. They’re all sweet in the exact same way and I just get so sick of them after a while.

        I’ve done cold brew coffee for a week before but it doesn’t really make up for eating when it’s cold. I admit I hadn’t considered blended soups, though, that will probably be the next thing I try!

        1. saro*

          Skinnytaste.com had a filling oatmeal drink that you can make ahead that I loved when I was pregnant. I’m on my phone or I would link it directly.

    5. Another library director*

      There are some new cold soups on the soup aisle of the grocery store (US). They tend to come in tetra packs, though some are cans/bottles. You might make a soup that could be drunk cold.

    6. Artemesia*

      My morning breakfast drink to which I add a muffin or piece of toast if I am inclined is a big glass of orange juice with soluble fiber added and with about half the glass being Kefir i.e.liquid yogurt. Fiber goes in, Orange juice goes in, Kefir goes in — stir with a spoon and that is it. It is faster than instant breakfast. It mixes quickly with a spoon stir — no blender or other effort required.

    7. Jade*

      Tea, black/green/herbal/spiced or coffee all made double strength added to hot milk with an egg stirred/beaten in. Sugar or honey if needed. You could cook it longer if you’re worried about the egg. Egg drop soup would be good too. Of course these could be drunk cold or you could pour them into a very well insulated container the night before.

        1. Jade*

          Depends on how long you cook it or how well you stir it. Just stirring it into a hot liquid it usually won’t cook into little pieces. If you blend/stick blend and then more thoroughly cook it, it’ll stay fairly smooth but you might have a thicker foamy cooked bit if it doesn’t have time to settle before cooking. Some people are not going to like that; others won’t care. You could always re-blend it after cooking if you’re one of the former…

          Basically, if you want it cooked completely and want it smooth, cook it like a pudding with only egg/s for thickening.

    8. INTP*

      It’s not ideal because it covers only one food group, but I find kefir very filling. Trader Joe’s has the best price on it that I’ve seen, and I mix the plain with the pomegranate flavor to have good taste but lower the sugar content per serving.

    9. Mephyle*

      We can offer better suggestions if you clarify why not a smoothie. Because some of these suggestions have things in common with smoothies, but it might be the right thing or the wrong thing. Smoothies have too many ingredients? You don’t have a blender? You don’t eat fruit? Or something else?

      1. Anonsie*

        Ah sorry, that was probably relevant. Partially it’s that they are crummy to make ahead because the texture gets weird if they sit overnight (I’ve tried it a few times) so it’s not my favorite thing to do.

        The other part is that I know I can make a smoothie and I know plenty of smoothie varieties, so I don’t really need more smoothie ideas. I asked this question somewhere else recently and got 23492347239 smoothie permutations so I thought I’d specify I’m looking for other ideas this time.

        1. Mephyle*

          OK, that makes it clear. Well here’s something that works for me (sorry, it is a smoothie idea), and solves the prep time vs texture problem: Get all the ingredients assembled and chopped, and put them together in a container in the fridge overnight. The next morning, dump it all in the blender and process.

  13. Al Lo*

    This is sort of work-ish, since it was an event I worked on, but one of my groups had their album release party tonight, and I’m so proud of them and the product they put out, and proud to have my name on it.

    If anyone out here likes cool a cappella music (Pentatonix style), can I leave a link here for you to check out this album? They’re pretty fabulous, and I may be a little biased, but I still think it’s true.

    https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/oncue/id929744207

    1. Rich*

      My wife discovered them on The Sing-Off the year that they won it. She couldn’t wait to show me shows that she recorded and I immediately fell in love with them. In my opinion PTX is one of the most underrated bands out there. Sure, they don’t use instruments, but just by listening to the, you probably coun’t tell it.

      I could go on about their song structures and how smart they are when it comes to who sings what and when, but then I would be showing my ture music-geekness.

  14. Aloe Vera*

    How much did you spend on your wedding?

    I just got engaged and am super excited. But I get a little terrified when I look at wedding websites and see the “average” cost of a wedding.

    Could you share when you got married, where and how many guests you had? I’m hoping numbers from more typical people will be more accurate than those folks who frequent wedding websites. Thank you!

    1. cuppa*

      I got married five years ago, in a Midwestern metropolitan area (not Chicago). I spent about $12,000 for 120 people. That includes my dress, accessories, decorations, favors, ceremony, and reception (not honeymoon).

      1. Julie*

        Another midwest metro bride and I think I got about $12K for 130 guests. I could have cut costs on my dress and the invites but could have spent more on photos if I had to do it again. This does not include a honeymoon but does include a buffet with full open bar.

    2. ZSD*

      We had about 100 guests in southern Indiana, and the wedding probably cost my parents about $12k in 2010. My husband’s parents may have spent about $1000 on the rehearsal dinner, though I’m really not sure.

      I’ve always wondered whether those so-called average costs might factor in costs for people other than the bridal couple and their parents. If you added in what our wedding party spent on dresses and tuxes, plus the cost of the presents people got us, plus the plane tickets and hotel costs for the guests, then you’d probably hit the “average” wedding cost.

      1. cuppa*

        That’s a good point. I’ve seen some budgets include engagement rings, honeymoon, etc. which I think really inflate the costs and aren’t necessarily something that I would include in my estimate.

    3. Windchime*

      I didn’t get married recently, but my son did. They did it on the cheap, but it was still a really fun and beautiful wedding. They got the venue for free, because a relative runs the venue and waived the fee but that would have been less than $500 if they’d paid for it. The bride borrowed her dress, the groom wore a suit that he already owned, parents and relatives volunteer to provide the buffet lunch, a bartender friend donated a keg. The bride bought a bunch of wine at Trader Joes’s. I think that the only services that the bride and groom paid for was the DJ and the photographer. I am guessing they spent less than $2k on the wedding itself.

      They chose to have a really inexpensive (but fun!) wedding, and then spent around $3k for the honey moon to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.

    4. Jubilance*

      I’m engaged & getting married 3/14/15 in Minneapolis. Our budget is $15k for 125 people – it allows us to have a gorgeous venue with awesome food, but we are definitely cutting back in other areas. There are tons of resources on how to have a wedding on a smaller budget – my favorite is Broke-Ass Bride (and this is a shameless plug since I’m currently writing for them as a Real Bride).

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      1983. In a friend’s back yard. 30-ish guests. Paid $80 for the dress, picked a flower for my hair. Don’t remember what the license cost, I think the minister charged $50. Then we went to my parents’ house and ate clams and homemade chili. Yeah, I was young and poor, but I had people I loved there with me. And it’s worked out pretty well in the long run. ;)

    6. louise*

      About $2500, over 250 guests. We were so broke so did a cake/punch only reception. My husband worked for a church so both wedding and a gym for the reception were free. At the time, we had so many ministers in our life that we actually hurt a few feelings when we chose who’d perform the ceremony. There were almost no decorations because I hate being crafty.

      (I didn’t really like our wedding very well, certainly don’t wish I could go back and relive the day or anything, but eight years later, we’re more happily married than anyone I know. That’s worth more than a picture perfect day.)

    7. Lamington*

      Hi! I got married year ago and spend 12k on wedding in Conroe, Texas. The hotel had a package at the time so food, drinks, cake, linens and flowers were included. We had 75 people and my husband cousin took the photos for free.

    8. Blue_eyes*

      We got married in NYC (Manhattan) last fall. We spent about $33,000 for just over 100 guests. While it certainly wasn’t cheap, the average wedding in NYC supposedly costs $60,000, so at least we spent way less than that.

      Not that you asked, but you should check out the website/blog A Practical Wedding. They have excellent content and super smart commenters, so you’ll probably like APW if you like AAM.

    9. Gene*

      We got married in Vegas in 97 with ~60 guests, total budget, not including travel, ~$2000. Reasons for Vegas? We both have family and friends coast to coast and travel to there is relatively inexpensive, we didn’t have to arrange to entertain anyone, and everyone could choose their level of accommodation. I have not attended weddings where the only place to stay within an hour drive is outrageously priced. We had everyone tell us what hotel they were staying in for later use, they were in places from Wynn to The 4 Queens.

      We rented the Unitarian Universalist meeting space for the reception and catered it all from Costco, picnic style spread, breads, meats, cheeses, chips, dips, salads, etc; beer and wine, all on disposable serving stuff. We chartered a bus and I picked everyone up at their hotels in it while my lovely bride was getting ready, she drove the car with a trunk full of reception stuff to A Little White Wedding Chapel. We did the paperwork (we got the license the day before) and had the minister come onto the bus, bride walked up the aisle while the guests hummed the Wedding March. Then we had the bus driver do a little scenic route while we drove to the UU place to finish setting up. The receiving line was as everyone was getting off the bus.

      After the reception, the bus driver delivered everyone back to their hotels, so there was no chance of drunk driving. Everyone had a great time, it was reasonably low stress, and we just celebrated our 17th anniversary.

    10. Sabrina*

      2005 far north suburbs of Chicago and spent $12K for around 150 people. Most of the estimates you see include the honeymoon. We didn’t have one. Most of the budget was the reception $45 – $55 a head depending on the food option, full open bar.

    11. Clever Name*

      14 years ago

      I think it was like $5-7k
      150 guests
      Heavy appetizers
      We got a lot of discounts because my mom is so amazing and knows everyone in my mid-sized Midwestern city hometown. :)

      1. Clever Name*

        Also, I got married before The Knot and Pinterest existed, so it didn’t occur to me to do a lot of the things brides do these days. We didn’t do anything fancy for the cake. Just went to our neighborhood bakery. A family friend made candied pansies to put on it. Another family friend volunteered to make tulle whatever’s for the church pews. My mom grew impatiens in pots all summer to put on the tables. It was pretty low key.

    12. Kay*

      Congratulations!

      I got married last June (2013) and we ended up spending about $20k… I know that’s spendy, but my parents are reasonably well off and offered us that as a budget. Because they were being generous, I splurged on some things a little more than I otherwise would have.

      I got married in the Houston area, about 80-100 guests. That included ceremony & reception venues, dress, invitations (which cost much more than I thought paper should cost to get what I wanted), photography, DJ, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember right now.

      I can’t tell you how invaluable Offbeat Bride was to me as I planned. They have a forum for only brides, and a blog with TONS of ideas. People do all kinds of things for weddings and it can be really expensive, or very thrifty. Good luck as you plan!!!

    13. the gold digger*

      We got married in a large city in the midwest. Immediate family only – my mom, sister, and brother, my husband’s parents, his brother, and his two stepdaughters. We had a small ceremony at my husband’s church. Had to pay for the church – about $400, I think. Dinner for everyone at a nice restaurant where we decided on the menu beforehand and brought our own wine so as to control my husband’s parents’ intake. They still found a way to get drunk, though – rather than go with us to take photos after the wedding and before dinner, they went back to our house and had their customer 10 oz of bourbon. So they were on their way to being smashed when dinner started.

      Dinner, with tax and tip, was about $1,000, I think. We got rings only because my husband wanted them – I never wear mine. I don’t like wearing rings.

      So it can be done very inexpensively. One of the nicest weddings I’ve ever attended was in a city park with supper catered from a German restaurant. Another nice reception was in the back yard of the groom’s parents’ house with potluck. I think potluck would be a great way to do a wedding. All that really matters is that your friends and family are there.

    14. Anonsie*

      I always wonder about wedding costs, because if I poured my entire life savings into a wedding I might maaaybe be able to get an ok venue and food for my family. My standards are not high but the prices are nuts. Several friends got married this year, looking at venues and catering– oh my god, you can’t get under $120 a head for food and that’s before you consider alcohol. The venues around here are upwards of $7k for weekends for the smaller ones. How does anyone afford a typical wedding?

    15. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      We spent around $12,000 for 70 people, in rural-but-coastal ($$) Maine in 2011.

      That included: Space rentals, catering, alcohol (we bought our own liquor and my brother-in-law tended bar), cakes and pies (we had a variety of normal-sized, unfancy cakes and pies instead of a wedding cake), a DJ, a five-piece brass band for the ceremony, my dress, half the cost of my bridesmaids’ dresses, tuxedo rental for my husband, a very inexpensive photographer, flowers from the farmers’ market and arranged by my aunts, wedding rings and 5 hotel room nights (we paid for hotel rooms for a few guests who we knew couldn’t cover it – that was actually the biggest line item of the whole wedding).

      It did NOT cover: engagement ring, honeymoon, and anything “extra.” We didn’t have any decorations, the flowers were from the farmers’ market, we didn’t have a fancy wedding cake, I wore shoes and jewelry I already owned, etc. etc. etc.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Oh, and that included invitations. My husband’s cousins own a print shop, so we got a discount on the invitations, but they were still expensive as hell. If we hadn’t had that print shop connection we would actually have spent less, I think – we would have done something ourselves, less fancy.

    16. NaCSaCJack*

      My question to the above is how do you pay for it? No one has $20G-$60G laying around. Friends of mine just got married and they were complaining about the cost and I kept thinking, “How’d you pay for all of it?”

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        $20-60K is crazy if you don’t have the money available (and much more beyond that, so you’re not draining your savings). But some people do, or their parents do and are willing to pay. Other people go into debt to do it, which is insane and as contrary to the spirit of starting a life together as I can imagine.

        But loads of people do nice weddings for $3-5K too, or even less. You absolutely don’t need to spend $10K+.

    17. Melly*

      Mine was upstate NY, summer 2012. Around $13000 for 125 people. I can’t remember all the details.

      But my favorite wedding planning site is A Practical Wedding. They have LOTS of different approaches to wedding planning and budgets and styles, etc. I highly recommend you go over there and poke around!

    18. NowProwl*

      2012. 10-15 folks at City Hall, with a cousin doing the important parts. Cost around $500 for clothes, licenses + fees, and dinner after. Worth it. :)

  15. Nordic*

    I am looking at buying my first dslr and hoping to get some recommendations from any photographers out there. Currently I have a panasonic dmc-fz200.

    I like to travel and I like to shoot landscapes but also wildlife. What would people recommend for body and also what lenses given I’d prefer not to lug around too much, but want good zoom capability?

    1. Sandy*

      Given what you prefer to shoot (similar to me), I would suggest foregoing a DSLR and going for a micro 4/3 camera.

      I use an Olympus, and I find that the body is much smaller (better for travelling) and you can still buy interchangeable lenses, making wildlife zoom photography way easier. My preferred lens is the 40-150 mm.

    2. matcha123*

      What’s your price range?

      I have an Olympus Pen-Lite, the first one, that my boyfriend got for me used.
      I use the original lens and also an adapter so that I can use the lenses from my film camera, too.

      If you are able to pick up an older DSLR and some used lenses, I would recommend that.
      Olympus, Canon, Ricoh seem to be pretty good.

    3. TL -*

      I have a Canon Rebel T3i (click on my name and it’ll take you to my blog where you can see pictures) and a variety of lens. With landscapes and wildlife (and keeping the whole thing under $1000), you could probably get away with an entry-level dSLR, kit lens and an extra zoom lens for far away. You won’t be able to get much in the way of bokeh or nightime shots but it doesn’t sound like you need those anyway. I like my Canon – and Canon and Nikon have the most to offer, if you think you’ll want to upgrade one day – but Sony or Olympus also have good products and you don’t have to pay as much for the name.

      1. TL -*

        forgot to mention – if you’re shooting wildlife and shooting from a great distance., I would just buy the longest zoom lens I could afford. Keeping it in your price range means there’s not going to be a lot of variation in quality in the lenses offered, so I would stress more about specs than quality.

    4. Purr purr purr*

      There are so many good DSLRs that I won’t even touch on that but I think a full-frame DSLR would be better but also more expensive. For lenses, I love travelling and shooting landscapes and wildlife too so I usually find my 18-105mm is permanently attached to my camera. I have quite a few other lenses but the 18-105mm is my work horse lens that conveniently came with the camera. There are other lenses with a greater zoom range but of course they’re going to be heavier as well. Do you have a good camera shop near you? It might be worth renting some equipment to give it a try for a weekend. I did that with a 70-300mm f2.4 (I think) that I wanted to buy to replace my current 70-300mm f5.something but the lens was super-heavy, was expensive and ultimately I decided that the photo quality (and exposure times, etc) wasn’t good enough to justify purchasing it. Renting can be relatively expensive but it can also save you a lot of wasted money!

      1. TL -*

        Renting is a great idea! Actually, it can be relatively cheap for lenses if you only go for a day or two, which can be plenty to really use the lens.
        Nordie, you could blow your budget on a full-frame dSLR but then just rent lens if you’re an excursion photographer and not a day-to-day one.

    5. Jade*

      Most anything you buy will do a very good job. You really need to try them in hand to see what feels comfortable and like something you’ll be happy to use. And check out Fuji – nearly as small as the Oly 4/3 but with the larger APS-C sensor. Sony, too. Ex: not a DSLR, but some pros love the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10.

    6. FatBigot*

      I have been very happy with my Panasonic bridge cameras, first the DMC-FZ8, then the DMC-FZ48 (no affiliation with Panasonic).

      Have you considered their new bridge camera, the DMC-FZ1000 ? I would be interested in your views on it. At £740 it probably is within your budget, and you keep the “all-in-one” convenience of the bridge camera.

  16. Megan*

    I was going to email Alison for advice and as I was formulating my question my mind automatically said, I know the answer and suddenly I had it, AAM-style. Alison, I recommend your blog to everyone I know. I absolutely love it! Thank you for devoting so much time and energy to it. It’s very much appreciated and I know I speak on behalf of almost everyone when I say what an enormous affect you have on our working (and personal!) lives. I was on this other website last week and a commenter was seeking advice on a personal matter. I replied and gave her a script on what she could say – AAM style. I got so many upvotes and one commenter even asked if I could be their personal speech writer! I replied and said it was all thanks to AAM and what I said is AAM style & what Alison would say. Thank you, you are brilliant and provide a fantastic service.

    1. en pointe*

      I totally second this! I’m really inexperienced so am sometimes unsure of myself at work, and I’m always like ‘What Would AAM Do?’ We should get t-shirts.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The other day, my mother didn’t like some piece of advice I was giving her and she said, “No, pretend you’re answering this on your blog. What would you say then?” (Answer: the same thing. She just thought it would be different/better, apparently.)

    3. Jamie*

      Totally. If Alison knew how often I bring her with me to all kinds of work situations for all the advice she gives me in my head she should sue me for theft of services…my WWAD is autopilot for me at this point.

      And when I’m super pissed and need to be very reasonable and calm I pretend I’m fposte. She’s so good at holding her ground while the other party is completely wrong without ever losing the air that it’s civilized discourse over a cup of tea. When I’m pissed enough that I can hear the unspoken word “dumbass” tacked on to the end of my sentences role playing her sometimes helps.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        I so seriously do this. And I feel vaguely guilty as if I am appearing/sounding way more awesome than I actually am. :p

        1. Megan*

          So true! Which is why I was quick to credit alison/AAM when I received so much praise about my awesome advice.

      2. Shell*

        Co-signed. Actually I try to channel so many of the regular posters here (not just Alison) even when I’m discussing things and giving advice to friends. Frankly since being “me” wouldn’t work anywhere near as well my goal should be less roleplay and more integrate that into my own personality, but I’ll go with whatever works for now.

  17. nyxalinth*

    Thanks everyone for your kind remarks on Friday’s open thread. It really helped me a lot,and I am never going to rush into something out of desperation again. On the upside, I was able to get some beautiful interview and work clothes, so it hasn’t been a complete waste!

    Which brings me to this. If there’s anyone here who sells crafts on ebay/etsy, which do you like better, and why?

    1. Sandrine (France)*

      I haven’t sold much on etsy, but I think I like it better, mostly because it feels just… more “professional” so to speak. Less cluttered as ebay. But maybe that’s just my mind playing tricks on me!

    2. Clever Name*

      As a buyer, I’m more likely to go to Etsy for handmade items. I tend to use eBay out of desperation. Like when I had to have some discontinued target curtains.

  18. Sandrine (France)*

    Okay, now that is a quite bizarre post, but bear with me. I’m feeling rather down at the moment (many issues, trying to determine your goals in life, work wise and relationship wise, being rather exhausting mentally for me) and I am trying to work on a few projects. One of them is two Youtube channels (one in English, one in French) that I first started because I thought it was funny to see my face out there. Then it was also about showing people that heyyyyy loooooooooook I speak English just fine weeeeeeeeeee!

    But I’m actually thinking this is something I want to pursue. I don’t care if I don’t have millions of views, but I want to do something more serious. I thought about doing something that some others do (“talk about stuff”) and also eventually do something like an “advice column” except in video format (like if AAM did Youtube instead of posting here, except I would just do general questions and stuff) .

    Does that seem stupid ? Foolish ? Far-fetched ? So far, what I have up there isn’t that much (but if you want to see my kitten Daenerys purring, by all means, go look xD) but I really want to go at it.

    Advice ? Opinions ? I’m kinda lost. There’s a part of me that is ready, and another that is actually panicking!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think you should keep following this idea. Think about what you would like to talk about and present to others.

      Just a personal philosophy of mine- keep following a strong idea until it proves out that I should not follow it anymore. Sometimes I find a better idea that I would not have found any other way. Sometimes the original idea stays with me and becomes a part of my life. Just roll with it.

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        Thank you. I have lots of ideas, actually… but that doesn’t amount to much when you can develop them while talking to yourself in the bathroom instead of filming them :P .

        I think I may have to start writing things down, just to keep track.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          I say go for it. I do some of my best thinking in the shower.

          (I think it’s because the water helps to remove excess heat from my brain).

            1. Sandrine (France)*

              My bathroom has all the needed things in there. Ahem.

              TMI alert: nope, I wasn’t talking about the shower. I don’t even sing in the shower anymore. Much funnier to crank up the volume on the laptop and sing in the living room to annoy the annoying neighbors :p .

          1. Windchime*

            I do some of my best thinking in the shower as well. I think it’s because the act of massaging shampoo into my scalp loosens up all the ideas. Or something.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        Follow your dream. Susan Boyle is the best example of a no-longer-so-young person taking that chance to pursue a dream, and hit the big time. I can’t wait to get her new album. She is so inspiring!

        It doesn’t really matter if you “fail” or “succeed” by others’ standards. Doing it is what counts.

    2. Jamie*

      I’m a huge fan of YouTube for videos where people teach me stuff. Just yesterday due to some Good Samaritan being nice enough to post a series of 5 videos on how to DIY a repair of a common problem with our model fridge he saved me easy $500 and we got to cancel the service call scheduled.

      I’ve used it for a ton of IT things from learning to cap CAT5s back in the day to how to replace well hidden cooling fans in laptops. Also when I bought a new brand of mascara YouTube showed me I didn’t have to toss it and there was a trick to applying it without clumping. ASMR you tubers are responsible for helping me sleep within 5 min of hitting the pillow…those artists are powerful.

      So if you don’t care about hits or popularity you should do whatever moves you – but a lot of people who do get the huge hits (and patrons, etc.) fill a niche where they have some knowledge or expertise and look at others doing well to see what works with the target audience and what they can bring to the table in that mode, but with their spin/style.

  19. FamilyofRobot*

    Anyone know of any good meal planning services? I’m super bad at planning and always over shop and things never get cooked, then we end up with lots of waste. I want to stop that! I’m looking for a service that would give me a menu once a week and I would just shop and cook from that. Very little thinking involved.

    I also want really easy meals. Nothing with 10,000 ingredients. I’d prefer 5 ingredient meals, but 10 and under would be acceptable.

    Does anyone here use one of these? Suggestions?

    1. Judy*

      I don’t use one, but I have taken “Cooking Light” at times, and the last time I did, they had menus in the back from the recipes along with the “Dinner Tonight” column. I also have a pretty good cookbook called “Healthy Calendar Diabetic Cooking” that gives shopping lists and has 5 seasonal recipes a month.

      I know there’s something I’ve seen online ads for that even ships the food to you, I’ve never tried it.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Buzzfeed has a great food section, and they often do something called, “7 Dinners to Make This Week” or similar. It lists ingredients and focuses on meals that take about 30 minutes to prepare. They also do lists of meals that take 30 minutes or less. I like a lot of the recipes, but we have a vegetarian household so they don’t work for us. Search “dinner recipes” on Buzzfeed right now and you’ll find a link to “23 Easy Five-Ingredient Dinners”.

    3. Zillah*

      I’m not sure if this would work for you, but if the grocery store is one your/another family member’s way home, you could try stopping there every couple days rather than just going once a week. Obviously you’d stock up on staples once every couple weeks – there’s no reason you can’t just have pasta, rice, cans, etc in your pantry – but for fresh food, I’ve found it’s easier to plan if I’m just thinking about tonight and tomorrow, rather than later in the week. Inevitably, my plans for Wednesday or Thursday go array because I’m too exhausted to cook or worked late or whatever, and then the food just sits there and I forget about it.

      If I just pick up the broccoli/cauliflower/spinach/whatever I think I’ll be using for the next two days, though, that’s a lot less likely to happen.

      I suggested this below (or above? I’m not sure), but I’ve also found that it’s super helpful to wash/chop things up as you get them. It helps them last for longer, and it makes it much easier during the week if you don’t have to spend as much time doing that. It doesn’t work for everything, obviously, but it’s a good strategy in general.

      1. Artemesia*

        Part of our exercise routine is that we shop on foot and shop often as a result since we have to carry the stuff. We have the staples stocked up to a degree, but we shop for the dinner meal every couple of days. This has hugely cut down on waste as we just don’t buy stuff that we don’t plan to eat in the next couple of days.

        1. FamilyofRobot*

          This is a great idea to make it part of your exercise routine! I really wish I could do this. Unfortunately, I don’t live in an area where I can walk to the store. The closest grocery to me is a 10 minute drive away and the roads are narrow, with no sidewalks and people drive crazy around here. There have been about 5 pedestrians killed by hit and run drivers in the past 3 months. The drivers in my area are out of control. I’m just not willing to risk it for groceries.

          1. Artemesia*

            We lived in a big southern city before moving to a big northern city. It was like that in the south — I lived a mile from the gym but had to drive or be killed on the road. Same with the grocery store. Here I live in the city and we chose our place with walkability in mind so we can literally walk to everything we need. It is a great luxury; we love it.

            I was always surprised at how rural kids in the south were so overweight — I visited a middle school through my work and at least 90 per cent of the kids were overweight with about a third being seriously obese. And yet this was a small rural school where I would have though outdoor life would have been easy and common. But apparently everyone drives everywhere and when they aren’t driving they are on motorized vehicles of various sorts — few bicycles for example. We make it hard for our kids to walk and get exercise just as a part of daily living.

            1. Zillah*

              That actually makes a lot of sense to me – in cities, I think that you’re more likely to walk places, because walking will actually get you somewhere, and that five blocks here, six blocks there really starts to add up. In rural areas, on the other hand, things are more likely to be too spread out for (easy) access via walking or even biking, so it’s harder to build it into your daily routine – and that’s where it’s most likely to continue.

              It’s also worth pointing out obesity is a serious issue in impoverished areas in particular, which (IIRC) are a big problem in the south. People tend to not connect hunger with obesity, but there’s actually a very strong link – eating healthy isn’t cheap, and when your budget is really limited, you need to get as much for your money as you can, even if it’s not healthy.

              1. FamilyofRobot*

                Absolutely! You can get a family meal from McDonalds that includes 2 big macs, 2 medium fries, a 20 piece nugget, and 2 medium sodas for $15. It’s easily enough for a family of 4. It might be cheaper to cook something in the grocery store but if you’re working two jobs just to make ends meet and taking care of two kids, you hardly have the time. In my area a cheap 2 bedroom apartment runs about $1700 per month. A minimum wage job doesn’t even cover that. Half of my husbands gross income goes towards rent. It makes it incredibly difficult to eat healthy.

            2. FamilyofRobot*

              This is so true. I’ve lived in both the south and a city and this is definitely what I experienced. I got a lot more exercise in the city. I have a 2 1/2 year old and I worry about this. She is extremely active right and and even though we live in a little apartment I try to let her run wild in it because I don’t want to squash the urge.

      2. FamilyofRobot*

        Yeah, I think this is the best solution in terms of eliminating waste, but I still have issues with WHAT to cook. If I had a plan, this would probably work well.

        I did a lot of the prep work right when I got home when I got things over the summer with our CSA. It depends on what it is as to whether it lasts longer this way. But it’s definitely helpful when you can do it.

            1. eliz*

              no prob! I haven’t been doing a full week’s menu, but I have been going to that page when I need a menu or meal idea, and it has been very helpful. good luck!

    4. Artemesia*

      If you google ‘seven day meal plan’ or similar phrases you will come up with lots of on line sites that do this.

  20. Rebecca*

    First World Problem Whine Ahead!

    I bought an HP laptop nearly 2 years ago. I hate it. Of course, it has the Windows 8 OS, as well as a pile of HP bloatware programs for various things I will never use. I downloaded the update to Win8 so I can boot to desktop, and have eradicated most of the HP bloatware, but I still hate it. In fact, if I’ve used it 10 times since I got it, that would probably be stretching it.

    I don’t need tiles, apps, etc. I need a laptop I can use for simple things! What is so wrong about that? Seriously, why should I spend time updating “apps” that I never, ever use? Answer – I shouldn’t, that’s why they’re gone. Every single time I turn it on, it’s a struggle.

    So today I dusted it off, plugged it in (battery is completely dead – it hasn’t been on for at least 5 months), and I’m going to try to get all the updates done and work at it some more. I just wish I could have Windows 7 back. At least that made sense to me and I know how it works. I tried and tried to like Windows 8, but I don’t. I loathe it. And what’s worse is this is the future of computing. I can’t even imagine having to use this nightmare at work, but I know that’s coming too. I think it would be a great OS for a touch device, like a tablet, but for my laptop it really sucks.

    I remember the first version of Windows – what an improvement over DOS! And my first mouse. Wow. And not having to enter printer strings and the computer actually remembering there was a printer hooked up to it! I’m not adverse to new technology, I just want new technology that works for me or the ability to use a prior OS that suits my needs. Not everyone wants or needs a metro interface.

        1. Jamie*

          Replace Win 8’s “bad” with OMG WTF? And I’m with you.

          Server 2013 is based on 8 and I don’t know one IT that isn’t pissed that they based the server GUI on something optimized for touchscreens.

          Heard good things about 10.. Here’s hoping.

          1. Bea W*

            Seriously? Who the feck thought that was a good idea? WTF? People who design this stuff clearly do not use it in real life settings EVER.

        2. Stephanie*

          I’m neutral on Windows 8. I do concede that I have a touchscreen laptop. It’s definitely designed for a touchscreen device. I find it runs faster, boots up faster, and a bit more stable than Windows 7 (just my personal experience), but the apps and bloatware are annoying. I bypass the Start screen 95% of the time.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Or new fix new fix.

        It’s all about growing their business, not making things work better. I have a basic phone, and a laptop (that I have never liked). OP is right – the first Windows was the best.

    1. Bea W*

      I have both of my Win 8 machines (custom build desktop and an HP laptop) configured so that you can’t really tell it’s Win 8. I never see the tiles. I never have to use the stupid start screen. I brought the start button and some other things back with a free program called Classic Shell which you can find at http://www.classicshell.net/. That provided the boot to desktop functionality that didn’t exist before 8.1, disabled all the hot corners and charms, etc. I uninstalled all the apps I never use. It’s like Win 7 but faster.

      I feel the same way as you about Win 8. The developers have created a good tablet / smartphone OS for home users and given desktop/laptop, business, and power users the finger. The Metro UI really sucks it in these instances, and is virtually useless. That’s why I got rid of or hid everything about it and use only the Win 7 desktop UI.

      The first thing I did when I ended up with Win 8 was google for instructions on how to fix it for normal deskstop/laptop non-touchscreen use. There are a lot of good guides out there. I was going to try to post links for people, but it’s been a couple years since I looked for this info and they are buried in my bookmarks.

      1. Rebecca*

        I managed to stop all the swiping/swooping/snapping whatever they call it! It boots to the desktop now. I still have to hit escape and type a password to get in each time, but I guess that’s OK for now. It was so frustrating. I have large hands, so I’d accidentally hit a spot on the touch pad and *zoom* whatever I was looking at flew away, or went half screen, whatever. Will definitely check out the Classic Shell program. While I was updating Firefox, another window popped up and said that I have apps that allow me to look at websites. Uh, really? Now I have to track down that stupid nanny feature and disable it.

    2. FamilyofRobot*

      Ok, I know this is going to make me sound like an Apple fanboy (fangirl? do they say that?), but get a Mac. Seriously. You will not have these issues. You will be able to turn it on and have it work in seconds. They are virtually no maintenance. The computer will notify you when you need and update and you can choose if you want to do it right then or not. If not, it’ll keep on working just fine. If you do want to do it, its so simple and usually quick. It will update any apps you do have during the update process. If you don’t have any, no issue there. The batteries work for a long time and the computers are solid.

      I know they are more expensive but you can mitigate the cost by getting a refurbished model or an older model on sale. Plus if you weigh the cost against the number of PCs you end up replacing over the years, it’s actually cheaper. My husband is using a mac that is 7 years old and still functions fine. I just replaced an 8 year old mac, which I only did because it was at the point where I couldn’t update to the newest OS, but otherwise worked great. I have a 1st gen iMac that still works. Old as hell, but it turns on and works with no issues at all. They are also really sturdy. I dropped my last computer several times and while the body got a dent, the functionality never suffered.

      Now I will say that when Macs do fail, they fail spectacularly. It’s all or nothing. Usually its a total hard drive failure. So if you go this route get AppleCare and keep your computer backed up. This doesn’t happen often. I’d say once during the life of any computer. Apple is great about replacing the hard drive though. I personally feel like this is a small worry compared to the daily hassle of owning a PC.

      Before I bought my current Mac I actually did go out and buy an HP. I was trying to save money and I thought maybe things had improved. Also, I am not so diehard Apple that I refuse to acknowledge other technology could compare. However, it really didn’t compare. The first day I owned it I struggled with updates and errors from the moment I opened it until I gave up and went to sleep, then continued the next day. It was constantly glitching and freezing on my and it was NEW. I hadn’t even installed software on it. I tried it for 2 weeks and gave up. My new Mac required about 1 hour of updates and they installed themselves with no effort from me. It’s been working fine ever since and I have had it about 2 months. No issues. I also bought a refurbished model.

      Go to an Apple store and check them out, ask some questions. I think you will find it a good solution.

      1. Artemesia*

        We have owned about a dozen MACs over the years and would never own anything else. We have never once had a problem with any of them and back in the day our then 8 year old daughter was happily using the old SE within half an hour — building her hypercard stacks. The same weekend we got the SE, my husband’s business partner’s 11 year old son had crashed their new IBM machine several times.

        The software is intuitive. It is stable. And the devices are esthetically pleasing. My Macair is a full scale computer that I use for all my needs, but it light enough to easily travel with. (I haven’t gone with notebooks yet as I like a keyboard)

      2. Hope*

        Just to offer another perspective, I would never have a Mac computer. The so-called “intuitive” software makes zero sense to me, and I can’t figure out how anything works. I had one at work for a year once, and everything took me three times as long to achieve. When I was offered the chance to swap to a PC, I jumped at it.

        Macs look great, but you really have to be sure you can use them for it you’ve worth it. Also, you are paying a considerable extra amount for the name and the look, so make sure you are happy with that.

        I have an iPhone and an iPad and love them, but my actual computer will never be a Mac.

        1. Hope*

          Also, I have had Windows laptops for the last 10-12 years, and they have been great – each has lasted several years, I haven’t had any major hardware issues and updates are quick and easy. And they have cost me FAR less over that time than even the cheapest Mac option would have been.

          Macs may be the answer for you, I don’t know. But they are not the answer for everyone, and I wish the Mac devotees would accept that.

          1. Rebecca*

            I’ve been using Windows since it replaced DOS. I am actively looking for a used Windows 7 desktop to replace my old XP desktop and to use in addition to the second hand Vista desktop. I just know Windows 10 or whatever they call it is going to suck swamp water too, unless they give the option to use a normal interface rather than the metro interface.

              1. FamilyofRobot*

                Microsoft just ended support for Windows 7, which is unfortunate. It doesn’t seem like it even came out that long ago. I don’t know if I would buy a brand new computer with an OS that isn’t supported anymore.

                1. Observer*

                  No, they have ended support for Windows XP, and Windows 7 without SP1. They have also stopped boxed sales of Windows 7, and sales with new computers of 7 Home, Premium and Ultimate, but are selling 7 Pro. That will receive support till the end of 2019. If you keep your computers for more than 5 years, this could be an issue. Otherwise, go for it.

            1. FamilyofRobot*

              What about looking for just a copy of the Windows 7 OS and wiping your current computer and reinstalling that? Then you can get a new battery. It might be significantly less expensive. I don’t think you are experiencing hardware issues as much as software issues.

              1. Bea W*

                That’s what I did recently for someone. Took an old computer that had XP, tossed some more RAM in it and installed Win 7 using a license I had purchased a long time ago (to replace Vista) and was no longer using.

            2. Observer*

              Your best bet is to go with a business class computer, as they are still being sold with a Windows 7 “downgrade” – but it’s generally Windows Pro, which is why you are seeing it in the business lines. I also find that those lines tend to have much less bloatware. For instance on HP, their business desktops have only their security stuff and a PDF writer on there. The PDF writer is horrible (I use a different one), so I delete it, but it takes seconds. Depending on the setup, I don’t even bother to uninstall the security stuff all the time, although I do take a minute or two to disable it, so I can put my preferred security solution(s) in place.

          2. TL -*

            A thousand times to this. I can work Macs just find, but I hate, hate, hate the interface; I loathe the lack of a good substitution for the Office suite (I don’t blame Microsoft for not making their Mac Office as good as their Windows one, but I hate being so limited in Excel); and frankly, people I know who own Macs have their computers crap out just as often as high-end Windows computers (both my brother and I have Windows that have lasted 5+ years) – but the customer service at Apple is uniformly excellent, from everything I’ve heard.
            It’s a matter of taste, not of one OS being superior to another.

            1. FamilyofRobot*

              I prefer the Apple version of a word processor, but I have to agree that there is no substitution for Excel. Numbers is neat in many ways, but hardly compares. It’s just not as powerful.

              It’s not that a Windows computer will completely crap out more than a Mac, its that you have the rail issues like Rebecca was complaining about with Windows. Those issues you simply don’t have with the Mac OS.

              But I agree it’s a matter of taste. If you don’t like the interface there isn’t really anything you can do about that.

              1. TL -*

                Eh. My experience with Macs is people have just as many, albeit different, problems with them as most people do with Windows – hard drives burning out, programs not working for no discernable reason, computer getting very slow after X years, battery dying, random spinny wheel of death.
                I will say with Macs, you absolutely get a more consistent product, but you can stick with a specific brand of PC and have the same experience. And Macs are better if you know absolutely nothing about computers and want to keep it that way – I would generally rather google and fix something than call a helpline for my computer, but it is so very easy for most people to walk into an Apple store.
                (And my windows updates tend to be the same experience as what you describe, unless I’m fixing a very specific problem, which has only happened once after I accidentally deleted a file that should not have been deleted.)

                1. FamilyofRobot*

                  I’m sure everyone has different experiences with both computers. My personal experiences with PCs have always been sort of hellish. Though, I did have a Lenovo at one of my jobs for a while and it was better than most other PCs I’ve had. I have just hardly ever had to google and fix anything with my Mac. The biggest problems I have has with PCs is lag and freezing. Freezing.All.The.Time. For me, it’s worth the premium price to not have to deal with that on a daily basis. I like that I can rely on my computer just working all the time, with virtually no waiting for anything.

                2. Bea W*

                  Hardware is hardware on either OS. Sometimes it craps out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Windows computers aren’t limited to being made by one company, so variation in quality is all over the place, or can vary depending on the individual components even within the same brand. When you buy and Apple, you’re getting a something that is standard across the brand. With other computer makers, they offer a much wider range of products and variations.

                  I’m a google and fix person myself. I’ve built my own computer. I upgrade and replace my own hardware. I like to tweak my OS and software configuration just so. All that makes Apple’s model is just unappealing to me. The business model is unappealing to me as well because it makes me feel like I have no choices as a consumer, even if some of the products are great. I just don’t like the idea of being tied to one company/source for everything.

          3. FamilyofRobot*

            I never suggested that they were the answer for everyone. Rebecca mentioned issues with her PC that a Mac would solve. She asked for suggestions and I gave her one. Is that a problem?

            I said in my initial post that I tried an HP myself recently and that “I am not so diehard Apple that I refuse to acknowledge other technology could compare.” Not everyone who prefers Macs and suggests them think they are the answer for everyone. I wish PC users would accept that.

            I get this kind of response all the time. It’s like if you like a mac and actually voice that, anyone who owns a PC gets super defensive and starts going off about how Macs aren’t for everyone.

            1. TL -*

              After your third or fourth lecture on why Macs are inherently superior to Windows, and how you’re an idiot for continuing to purchase a PC, it kinda becomes reflex. After the tenth or so lecture, you just start auto-replying anytime you here “you should consider a Mac!”
              (Especially when the lectures start coming from people who can barely work their computers, much less the programs you utilize on a frequent basis.)

              Sorry!

              1. FamilyofRobot*

                No. No need to apologize. My response was actually to above you where Hope said “Macs may be the answer for you, I don’t know. But they are not the answer for everyone, and I wish the Mac devotees would accept that.” But I can see your point.

                There are definitely Mac users who are like that. It’s why I initially prefaced my response with I know it will make me seem like an Apple Fanboy. I get how Apple people can be. But it can also be frustrating to be a fan of a product and any time you mention it people jump all over you like you’re trying to shove it down their throats. I hardly ever bring it up, unless someone asks for a suggestion. I don’t go around telling PC people to switch computers randomly or implying they are idiots. I think that is rude and I don’t believe they are idiots.

                I do believe Macs are superior to PCs and that belief is based on my experience with them. But I understand that others have different experiences and they believe PCs are superior for their own reasons. And then there are people who believe they are fairly interchangeable. You’ll find this with any product of course. I just wish we (generally speaking) could share opinions and have a debate without feeling like the other side is automatically implying you are stupid or a jerk for it.

              2. FamilyofRobot*

                When I first started reading this response I thought “I didn’t do that! Did I?” I apologize if I did. I just meant to offer an opinion.

                1. TL -*

                  You absolutely didn’t! I thought your response was fair and reasonable and representative of your experiences. I was just explaining why the rest of us were kneejerking.

                  I am definitely of the opinion that they’re pretty much equal products, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference (but when it comes to something you need to use every day, personal preference is huge and not to be discounted.)

                2. FamilyofRobot*

                  Ok, glad I didn’t come off that way! I agree with you about personal preference. Something like not enjoying the interface of something can get real annoying real fast. It’s definitely important to think about that.

        2. FamilyofRobot*

          Sure, this may be an issue for some people, but I don’t think it’s the majority. I won’t say I never heard this complaint before but I will say it’s rare. Mac OS is definitely different and you do have to take a little time to learn it, but overall it is simpler.

          For example, on a PC, in order to uninstall a program you have to click start, select control panel, find add/remove programs, then go through the uninstallation process. On a Mac, you find the program icon and simply drag it to the trash can. That’s it. This is what Apple means by “intuitive”. You want to get rid of something? Put it in the trash can. They don’t mean that someone switching over to a Mac should just know how to do it. If you make the switch, you also have to switch your mind from thinking about a computer working the way a PC does. It’s different, but overall simpler once you get to know it. I find that everything on a PC takes several more clicks than it does on a Mac.

          I recognize that Mac OS is not for everyone. People like different things. Which is why I suggested Rebecca go down to an Apple store and check them out and ask questions. The issues she is describing will be solved with a Mac and will persist with another Windows 8 purchase. The problem is the OS, not her HP.

        3. Stephanie*

          I debate every time I get a new computer. I still can’t justify the cost of a Mac for what I need. And I’ve seen friends’ Macs flame out spectacularly as well. I think some of the Macs are better conclusions result from apples-to-oranges comparisons (ie, comparing a $399 Dell to a $1500 MacBook Air).

          I think I am hard on laptops in general. When I feel a little more situated, I will probably just get a desktop. (I hate, hate traveling with a laptop.)

          1. FamilyofRobot*

            Yeah, you are right. You can’t compare a $400 PC to a $1500 computer of any kind. They just aren’t the same.

          2. Observer*

            It goes in both directions. I’m not a Apple person at all, but it makes me a bit nuts when people say things like “Oh, Apple is so much more expensive. I got a perfectly good desktop for $500 and an iMac costs twice that. Yes, it does, but it’s not a comparable machine. For comparison look at machines that are comparable in cost and see what you get, or comparable in specs and see what you pay.

        4. catsAreCool*

          I went to an Apple store a while ago, to shop, and the software wasn’t intuitive to me either!

      3. Mister Pickle*

        At my house, we’re about 50/50 on Apple vs Intel computers[1]. But I’m the only one who uses OS X. Within a month, the kids both installed Windows on their MacBook Pros; my daughter has a minimal OS X partition, but my son went 100% Windows. My wife actively hates OS X. I recently got her a Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 that runs Win 8.1 and she loves it. For me, it’s mostly a matter of what I need to do. There are some things (like native app development) that you can only do on a Mac running OS X. There are some applications that are either exclusive to OS X or Windows, or that are markedly superior on one OS or the other. MS Office is, surprise, much better under Windows. Many software developers prefer OS X because of its roots in Linux.

        Having said that, I’ve found Apple and Lenovo (especially the Thinkpad line) hardware to be consistently high quality; Dell and Sony and HP, less so.

        [1] Not counting phones and tablets and “stuff that doesn’t have a keyboard.”

        1. TL -*

          My experience (from college, so about 3 years ago) is that Macs tend to attract people who know a great deal about computers, people who do serious graphic design work and know a lot about, say, the adobe suite, and people who know absolutely nothing about computers.

          Windows tends to get more people who are in-between – can do basic work in most programs, and knows a small, but notable, amount about computers. (Not necessarily programming, but basic bug-fixing, ect…)

          1. Mister Pickle*

            I would respectfully disagree about the Adobe software. Many years ago, Adobe Photoshop was primarily targeted at the Mac, but over time their focus shifted and it seems like the best ‘experience’ for the Adobe tools has been Windows for a number of years.

            Having said that, I won’t argue that the “black turtleneck sweater” crowd does tend to want to swing Apple. I tend to think this is more of a matter of aesthetics than of logic.

      4. kas*

        I just purchased a Mac 2 months ago and I love it. I had an HP laptop before and I could go on and on about how much I hate HP. I had chosen HP over Apple two years ago but with all of the issues my laptop had, I decided to just suck it up and go with Apple to avoid having to purchase another laptop in 2 years.

        It didn’t take long to get use to the system and everything so if you’re willing to splurge, I’d also recommend buying a Mac.

      5. Clever Name*

        I have an older hp laptop, and I’ll probably replace it with a MacBook I have an iPhone and iPad, and I love them! Microsoft tries to reinvent the wheel too often and it doesn’t work. And I even say this as a Microsoft shareholder.

    3. Calla*

      Right now I have a macbook and love it, but if you just need something for the basics, have you looked at Chromebook? I had that for a while and it’s really great if you only need limited things. You can get one for $200, it boots up fast, and it comes with Chrome, so you’ve got your internet taken care of there. The one downside is you can’t download programs, but Chrome offers a lot of options in its store (for free)–for example, for photo editing, I was able to get Autodesk’s Pixlr, which is similar to Photoshop.

    4. LoFlo*

      I only need internet browsing and the ability to create simple documents, so I got an inexpensive Chrome book. Chrome syncs with my phone’s Android apps, and I don’t have to worry about viruses and updates.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I just read that Windows 10 is going back to the Start button, and it may actually possibly (don’t know for sure yet) be a free upgrade, because they pissed off so many people with Windows 8. I’m hanging on to my Win 7 lappy as long as I possibly can–both at home and at work.

      So try to wait it out. I think it might be better the next go-round.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I’m holding onto my windows 7 too. I have a pink dell which I totally love but have replaced the screen frame, the battery and the charger because I don’t want to buy a new one!

    6. Rebecca*

      Thank you all for your input :) I don’t think a MAC would be right for me, cost wise, but I wouldn’t be averse to trying it. I think the last time I tried to use a MacIntosh was oh, maybe in the 1980’s when they first came out for home use! I’ve been an IBM/PC/Intel gal ever since.

      I really appreciate all the comments and suggestions – that’s why I posted this on AAM – I knew everyone would have useful input!!

      Oh, and since I posted this earlier today, I’ve suffered through all the Windows updates, restarts, updated Java, Adobe Flash, my anti virus program, gotten rid of yet another bloatware program, updated Firefox, and managed to print two coupons for Oreo cookies. Yay!

    7. V. Meadowsweet*

      heh, I only left XP because they stopped supporting it…got a Windows 8 laptop and quite literally say ‘I hate Windows 8’ every time I use it. Who thought the apps stuff was a good idea? When I’m on the computer I need at least 6 windows open and easily accessible (and forcing me to change between full-screen windows is not easily accessible)
      ClassicShell mentioned below made it usable, along with disabling everything I could get my hands on and using a mouse rather than the touchpad (no accidental swipes with a mouse!)

      is it weird to be nostalgic over Windows 3.1?

      1. Bea W*

        There are settings in Windows somewhere (I’m don’t recall off hand and am not on my laptop) that allow you to disable the swiping and such on the touch pad. I feel like there is a setting that actually tells it to work the touchpad like a touchscreen, but I also know I had to go digging to fix some other touchpad annoyances.

        When things annoy me, I get right quick to googling them for solutions. I have no patience for technology that doesn’t do what I want it to do!

    8. Observer*

      I haven’t seen the responses, but I think that Windows 10 should be a significant improvement, based on what I have seen.

      If you are eligible for the upgrade, and your hardware supports it, I would go for it.

  21. Bea W*

    I posted about glasses last week. I was browsing Woot! this morning, and grabbed a couple of the Cosmo frames they had on sale. I figure at $14.99 it would be hard to go horribly wrong. If I am not totally in love with the way they look on my face, I’m not out a lot of money and they’ll be good for back-ups.

    1. Artemesia*

      The thing about glasses is that they sit there on your face. They are the first impression you make on people. You wear them every day. I think it is worth getting a pair that you are ‘totally in love with the way they look on your face.’

  22. Zillah*

    Oooh, I have one. It’s tangentially work-related, but only tangentially, so I hope it’ll be okay.

    My partner and I both finished grad school in the spring, and now we’re both working. Which in most ways is good.

    However, I’m feeling like we’re starting to lose our relationship (and ourselves, to a more limited extent) in the minutiae of life. Money is stressful, particularly for him – he actually earns more than I do, but he doesn’t have anywhere near as much in savings, and I think he feels he’s not being compensated enough for how difficult his job is (he teaches in an NYC public high school) – and between chores and work, it feels like we never have real time to ourselves.

    We live together, so it’s not like we don’t see each other, but it seems like it’s rare for both of us to have the energy to go out and do something, and when we’re home, we often fall into doing our own thing or watching a movie.

    Does anyone have any tips for how to strike a better work/life balance, especially early on and if you don’t have that much disposable income? We’re planning to go away for the New Year, but while that will be nice, it doesn’t really solve the problem, you know?

    1. BRR*

      My fiance and I were going through something similar. We adjusted our tight budget so the extra money went to together things. It also has involved saying to hell with it sometimes like so we can go out to eat together or we bought a video game we could play together.

      You just kind of have to force yourself to do stuff. Going out on a weekend night is tough but very rewarding. You should schedule what times are for cleaning, what times are for together activities, and what time is for personal decompression. When it just blends together you have polluted time and you will never feel as fulfilled

      We also make sure to have some no technology time.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have sooooo been there. If it’s at all possible, plan outings and “together time” on weekdays, which leaves the weekends for lazy recharging. My boyfriend and I lived together in NYC for 3 years (I lived alone before that, and we recently moved to a much slower-paced place) and rarely went out on Saturday nights– too much pressure to go crazy and spend money and stay out way too late. He would meet me after work, we would grab a quick (often cheap) bite, and go home together. Public transportation is great for relationships– no one has to drive, so you can focus on each other. Alternatively, we always tried to have dinner together. It didn’t always work when he started working evenings, but by that point we had settled into a comfortable routine and we rarely felt like we didn’t have time together.

    3. Artemesia*

      When we both worked hard jobs and had kids, we were in danger of this. For us the key was to plan ahead for quality time together and also quality time apart (but that is a bigger issue with kids) We always went out Saturday night; we had a standing babysitter. Perhaps without kids it is easier for you to just slide through a weekend. (we are retired now and I have to plan our social life or we would just slide boringly through the week as well.)

      Start small. Make a specific happy plan for some time on the weekend — maybe you do movies Saturday afternoon with dinner after or you make sure you have concert tickets, play tickets, a set time to go bowling, a time for the art or science museum — but always build in a piece where you just sit and talk e.g. go to play, have a drink afterwards somewhere.

      We are retired so don’t have the work thing so I joined book clubs, my husband writes for a political blog and reads incredible amounts of serious books related to his topic and he also joined a local singing group. And every week we have at least a couple of nights out with friends or failing that with each other. Getting out of the house where you can sit and talk in a new atmosphere is really important. Plan it when you have energy and then do it.

      And yes your BF does have an incredibly hard job and isn’t paid nearly enough. Been there — hardest job I ever had.

    4. INTP*

      Okay, this one is meant as an actual reply :)

      I am single, so I don’t have a relationship to protect, just my sanity! But I think both thrive on pleasant, unstructured downtime and fun activities so maybe this will be helpful.

      Anyways, I do my absolute best to structure my week so that Sunday is a “free day” with nothing un-fun to do. Typically, I don’t quite hit that goal but can manage to leave only my more pleasant chores for Sunday (i.e. cooking or food prep while watching TV instead of scrubbing toilets and grocery shopping) which I can accomplish in the morning. There is sacrifice involved – I never go out on weeknights, in fact I have no social life at all because the people in my social circle are other grad students who usually don’t go out until 8pm on weeknights or 10 on weekends (so I can’t just have something that fits in my schedule like a 30 minute happy hour). However, having that day completely off from schoolwork, and anything mentally demanding or tiring, is much more restorative for me than the same amount of time broken up into chunks on weeknights. It’s actually pretty doable – in my experience my fellow students who claim not to be able to take a day off are staying out late on weeknights and stuff, and they wind up feeling very overwhelmed and like they have no control over their time and get no time off.

    5. Anx*

      I don’t have many tips, but I can commisserate.

      We don’t have kids or anything, and we manage to spend a lot of actual time together, but I get very frustrated by not having dedicated time together.

      One of the biggest thorns in our relationship is that I don’t appreciate being backburnered. Every time something comes up, I think about how we can’t afford to turn down a networking opportunity or otherwise slack off with work and school, but then a few weeks later I’m very tense and angry.

      In fact, I pretty much bombed a school assignment in part because I was having a lot of anxiety about it and never really had a chance to talk to my partner about our goals for the semester. I had been trying to get him to talk to me about it for 2 months at that point. And yes, we had plenty of opportunities on the sofa or in the car, but I really need set time aside to talk about things and he doesn’t understand why we can’t have heart-to-hearts during commercial breaks (he’s not wired the way I am).

  23. Tenley*

    When I’m dieting I suddenly find myself spending tons of time looking at pictures of and recipes and reviews of usually baked goods like maple fudge or peppermint cookies but also comfort foods like tuna noodle casseroles or things I’ve either never made and never will or have only made once in my life.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      You might want to look at Evernote, which is *made* for this kind of thing. You can clip recipes and pictures off of websites, save them, re-arrange them, etc.

      Re cooking: what really made it “happen” for me was a) a good set of sharp knives and b) a collection of small cheap cutting boards. Once I got past trying to dice onions on a dinner plate with a steak knife I ‘borrowed’ from Olive Garden 4 years ago, I found myself actually capable of making real food.

      1. Zillah*

        Also, it helps to wash/chop/etc things when you get them! It’s a time commitment on the day, but it’s a lot easier through the week if your kale/lettuce/whatever if it’s already washed (and you can even cut some stuff, too! You can totally cut up broccoli, cauliflower, etc ahead of time – just store it in a zip-lock bag with a paper towel).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          THIS THIS THIS THIS

          I keep onions and peppers (red, yellow and green-I buy them in a package all together) cut up and frozen. I can grab a handful and throw them in whatever. It makes cooking sooooo much easier. And prepping stuff like this ahead of time makes it more likely that I’ll actually cook (which is healthier) than just stick salami on a cracker and nom that.

          Okay, it was rye crispbread, not a cracker per se–that’s a little healthier, RIGHT??? :)

          1. Rebecca*

            If I don’t do these things, I’ll just eat Lucky Charms for supper. Yummy, but not the best nutritional value.

  24. ECH*

    My dad passed away on Friday. He was 95 (I am 33). He had been blind for the past several years and had slowly gone downhill over that time (he retired from his job as the director of a college chemistry stockroom at age 84 when he began to have difficulty with his vision. My mom (66 y.o.) had been caring for him around the clock even as he got so incapacitated he couldn’t get out of bed. She was able to figure out he was dying in time for me to get home from work and be there his last hour and a half of life. He didn’t really say much (unless you called him on the phone!!) over the last few months so I didn’t think I’d really notice when he was gone but I do. So it’s just kind of weird. I am thankful for supportive colleagues, though, and friends have been kind in their comments in response to my Facebook post announcing his death. My parents didn’t want to have a visitation or service so I guess that’s the best we’ll have. I thought about posting something here because I had stepped away from his bedside to the nearby couch in order to send something in to work when he actually passed away. But I’m glad I was able to be there, and that my sister and brother were able to be in the weekend before, and show they cared while he was still alive. Sorry if I’m rambling a little, I’m just kind of in the twilight zone.

    1. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, ECH. Even if you’re ready for it, it’s a bigger change than I think you expect, and it takes a while for you to find equilibrium again.

    2. Nina*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is devastating, and the “twilight zone” feeling is normal. You and your family are in my thoughts.

    3. Forrest Rhodes*

      My condolences, too, ECH. Even knowing it’s coming, knowing that the person you love won’t be with you for much longer, doesn’t make it easier to accept when it happens. A friend once told me, “This isn’t something you’ll get OVER, but it’s something you’ll get PAST.” He was right.

      And now, after a while, what’s stayed with me is vivid memories of the best and silliest and dumbest and most intense times I had with the person who died, as if those things happened just yesterday. In some cases it’s been years since my family, friends, more than friends, went on ahead, and the things about them that I loved and that made me smile … well, I still love them, and they still make me smile.

      I’m glad your dad was with you for so long, and I know how hard it is to see him leave. My heartfelt good wishes are with you.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry for your loss. Yep, the world looks different with out our dad or mom. As you are saying here, there are good things and sad things all at the same time- kind of gives us a mixed bag of emotions. That’s okay, too. Just keep respecting your own emotions as they come up.

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s perfectly understandable to feel distracted and out of focus right now. Give yourself some time.

    6. Jamie*

      I am so sorry for your loss. You’re never prepared – I don’t think its possible to emotionally prepare for this.

      Be kind to yourself and make sure you take the time to grieve. And when you feel better and it wells up again that’s normal. The grief of losing a loved one isn’t a continuous curve – it spikes.

      I’m so sorry.

    7. Aunt Vixen*

      I’m very sorry for your loss. I was in the twilight zone for a couple of months. Hang in there.

    8. Clever Name*

      I’m so sorry. I know your parents didn’t want a service, but if you think it will help you, I bet they’d be okay with taking a few close friends to the grave and just remembering him. Even if your dad isn’t with you on Earth, he’s still with you.

    9. Steve G*

      Sorry about this. I am your age (and my mom is your age) and I think it’s too young to lose a parent.

      My grandma couldn’t talk much in her last few years either, and during her last 8 or 9 months she had a chalk board to write stuff on. One time in the dead of winter I was driving hours through the mountains of upstate NY and the song Left Behind by Candlebox came on and it bought back a ton of memories from that time. As an adult, I felt guilty that I should have been there more or put more effort into getting in to where she lived, and been more patient as she tried to talk. Well, at least I know how to handle the next time it happens to someone around me.

      Hope you feel better.

    10. Liane*

      I am so sorry about your loss. As others have said, it doesn’t matter how old your parent–or any other loved one–was or how expected their passing, it still hurts. Take care of yourself, and let those who offer take care of you. It will take time, but the hurt does lessen & come less often. And you will come to a time when you can remember without tearing up–or however you do sadness.

    11. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m so sorry! My dad was the biology stockroom guy at a college, so I bet you have some great stories to tell about him and his work.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have any ideas on how I can get my screen display back to normal? I have a 22″ monitor with a max resolution of 1920 x 1080, Windows Vista, and a Radeon 9250 display adapter.

    A few weeks ago my screen display was suddenly huge and stretched out, with some icons flowing off the screen. I fooled around with the display settings and got it back to normal. I then had to reboot for whatever reason and it changed back to the huge, stretched out display. I can get it close to normal by using 1600 x 1200, but it still looks a little stretched. No matter what I do I can’t get it to go back to normal.

    I’ve tried looking for a new driver, uninstalling and reinstalling the driver, and fooling around with the display settings. Any ideas? I’ve had no issues at all with this until the last few weeks.

    1. Jamie*

      Are you using windows display settings in control panel or does your vid card have its own app? (Vista? :))

    2. Bea W*

      Check your monitor driver. Many people don’t realize there are monitor driver filers. It sounds like it’s not properly recognizing your monitor and then guessing. If you are in your hardware profile, you can uninstall your monitor, then reboot. When you are in the display settings, what kind of monitor does it think you have?

      Anything change in the last few weeks? Updates? Updates to anything? Do you have your Windows updates set to auto-install? I wonder if something auto-installed and totally hosed things.

  26. Mister Pickle*

    I’m sorry for your loss, ECH. I lost my father at the end of 2011. You’ll come to deal with his absence, but you’ll never truly forget him. But that’s a good thing in this case.

    This is just me: my father had had a long life and had done many interesting and public-spirited things. When I gave his eulogy, I focused on the pride I had in him and the things he’d done. It made it easier for me and my sister, and I’m pretty sure it’s what my father would have preferred (versus endless sadness and tears over his loss).

  27. EmeraldMCards*

    Does anyone have advice on starting a small side business? I’ve always loved making cards and am just now thinking about how to turn my passion into a side source of revenue. What do you wish you had known when you first started?

    1. Kali*

      Read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. A lot of it probably won’t apply, but it definitely helped me with understanding the difference between being the “Technician,” the “Manager,” and the “Entrepreneur.” Obviously, a lot of your decisions will depend on what you want your business to be: do you eventually want it to be full time or is it just for some spending/savings money on the side? And be honest about this, because it matters how you set up your business from the beginning. If you have this small dream that maybe, one day, you’ll make all or most of your money making cards or something similar, plan like this will be the case.

      And a quote from my photographer husband: “I never expected that I would be spending the majority of my time NOT doing photography.” (But again, this is a large source of income for us, rather than play money.)

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      The E-Myth is great.
      As for the greeting card business itself, look up Kate Harper – her blog is good. I enrolled in her Skillshare class when I had a promo code, and there was some helpful info there, too (but not enough that I would’ve paid full price for it).

  28. Annette in Milwaukee*

    Hi Jamie – just in case your LinkedIn isn’t working again, yes, Wednesday would be great!

      1. Jamie*

        Me too and the resentment towards my real life from hijacking my Sunday’s with you guys …its not measurable.

        (Not a fan of fall colors, hate orange and brown so skipping straight to winter. I think it’s allowed since we have freaking sideways sleet/hail on Friday!)

      2. Lamington*

        Elizabeth I finally caught up woth your blog and your UK adventures. sounds like a fun trip,specially the ghost tour.

      3. Jamie*

        As long as were all off topic, can you only see pics on your blog if you subscribe? Or is it because I’m on an iPad? I see the captions but no picutres? Tried to ask you over there but it won’t let me comment.

        Welcome back, btw!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thanks! Wish I were still there, though.

          You don’t need to subscribe–they should show up. It might be your browser settings on your iPad–I don’t know anything about those devices. I don’t have any restrictions on it. (It’s on WordPress, btw, if that helps at all.)

          1. Windchime*

            I visited your blog right after you reminded me about it, and the pics showed up fine for me. I’m on a Mac, not an iPad. I didn’t read the whole thing but it looks like you had a fabulous time!

  29. Audiophile*

    No power due to high winds. Using a mycharge to charge my phone and do little internet reading. Car is low on gas and laundry isn’t done and I’m working later. More proof that I need to stop procrastinating.

    I’m finally feeling better after a really crappy week, ate a bagel on Monday that didn’t agree with me and missed work Tuesday because I was vomiting, forgot how much I hate vomiting.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Gah! I can’t stand it when the power goes out. Take away my internet and I kick and scream like a sleep-deprived toddler.

      Glad you’re feeling better. Vomiting is the WORST.

    2. Jamie*

      I have a little tip for the power thing – we were out for 5 days over fourth of July week home (5 days) work (3.)

      Power inverters. I got a decent one, Stanley, for about $60 I think and you run it off a car battery. Mine had 6 outlets and worked like a giant power strip, but running off the battery. Kept the phones and laptop up and running and various external chargers for the phones. i posted before about some fabulous ones I use. Like $8, also awesome flashlights, hold full charge for iPhone/pad works well with all phones. Always had one charging for each phone.

      I know they can run of batteries not attached to the car, but my DH just hooked it up to whatever car was in the drive and ran a wicked long extension cord I to the window into the house.

      If we coudnt reach with a cord from our driveway we’d have tried the standalone battery. The kind of thing they use on boats and motor homes. I have neither so didn’t find these until desperate for power.

  30. Cool Beans*

    Thank you to everyone for the apartment hunting advice! Excited to tell you that I found a great place and I’m moving!!

    Any packing advice? :)

    1. Aloe Vera*

      1) Purge, purge, purge! Get rid of as much as you can. Be ruthless.
      2) Buy more boxes than you think you’ll need.
      3) Pack from the outside in. Start putting your filled boxes along the walls instead of the middle of the room or near the doorway (seems like duh-worthy advice, but I made this mistake once and packing was a nightmare).
      4) Do a little at a time every day.

      Good luck!!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      LABEL THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING. Pack and label by room–kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. That way when you move, kitchen boxes go in the kitchen, etc. Seriously, I didn’t label boxes and it took forever to find what went where. Also, don’t wait until the last minute.

      Another thing is to not feel bad about tossing stuff you don’t use. Makes packing and actually moving much easier.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Have the stuff you need for your first night at the top of the pile, so you know where it is.

      When we moved here, I got the bed set up, found some towels and got enough out to have breakfast in the morning. That was a full day right there.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Yes, this. Do not do what my ex did during one move, and pack all the bedding in an unlabeled box that ended up at the very bottom of a huge stack.

      2. periwinkle*

        A thousand times this. Pack a “first night” box with basics you will need right away – dish soap, hand soap, basic hygiene stuff, breakfast stuff, towels and sheets, etc. Don’t just label the box, but make it extra-distinctive somehow so you can identify it immediately. Scribbling all over it with crayons or highlighters works, as does covering it with festive stickers from the dollar store.

        And make sure you have the essentials in there. I made sure that mine included the Aeropress, ground coffee, and a mug. Everything else was optional…

        1. Windchime*

          I did this, too. TP, toiletries, medication, teabags with sugar and a mug, PJs and clean undies and sheets. I had help moving and they set up my bed for me, then I made the bed. It was nice, because I could just fall into it when I got tired that first night. And because I had packed my box, I could wash my face and have a cup of tea as well!

    4. Jillociraptor*

      Yay for a great new place!

      Here’s my best advice on packing, as someone who has moved to 5 cities in 5 years: pay your movers to do it. Seriously. I will never go back to packing my own stuff. It is amazingly cheap: I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $500 on packing my entire place and usually it’s more like $300. Unpacking on the other end is about the same price and also super worth it, especially the kitchen.

      1. Aam*

        I totally agree with Jillociraptor. I have moved long distance three times in the last 5 years and used movers to do everything. It saved me a lot of headache as I live alone and would have had to wait till my son visited to set up the furniture and bed. The movers did all the take down and set-up at the other end, which allowed me to settled down quickly and start working the next day.

        1. Gene*

          If you do use a mover to pack, and you have anything unusual (200 gallon aquarium, giant moose head, etc) make sure you get someone to come and give you an estimate in person, not over the phone. A friend was moving and when she called them for packing, she said, “We have lots of books.” When the packer (singular) arrived and looked around he got on the phone and told dispatch to send him another truck of boxes and three more guys. They had LOTS of books.

          Luckily, this was a DoD-paid move and the cost wasn’t on them.

    5. acmx*

      I use suitcases/bags to pack things in.
      -use towels, sheets, t shirts to wrap fragiles
      -if it’s a local move, I leave clothes in the drawers and just pull out the drawers to make the dresser lighter and then reinsert (might have done this with long distance).
      -I use wardrobe boxes and leave clothes on the hangar
      -purge!

      1. Jamie*

        Totally consign wrapping fragile stuff in clothes/linens. Saves room, less garbage on the other end. Make sure everyone knows though, so they don’t start grabbing for towels not knowning your good creamer pitcher is wrapped in one. (Lesson learned.)

        And yes, label, label, label. And ruthlessly purge before you go. I always ended up packing and moving stuff I ended throwing out later. It’s the best opportunity to evaluate what you have. If you love it, use it, it fits, looks good on ya…keep it. I had 4 boxes: keep, toss, donate, decide later. When one got filled act on it. Pack it, toss it, make a trip to Good Will, or decide.

    6. Diet Coke Addict*

      Make yourself a Right Now box and don’t seal it up. Pack these things: Toilet paper, band-aids, scissors/knife, packing tape, paper towels, shower curtain and rings (if you need them), a set of sheets, a change of clothes, a towel, Tylenol or something like it, a plate and fork/knife/spoon and bowl, and a spare cell phone charger.

      Take this box over first and set up your shower and make your bed as soon as you can–don’t wait until it’s 11pm and you’re exhausted to do it! Pretty much every move will result in some minor injuries or headaches, or you’ll need an emergency stash of band-aids or something. Paper towels are a must. And nothing will ever feel so good as taking a hot shower after a gross, long day of moving!

      1. Mephyle*

        And pack a suitcase/knapsack with the clothes and toiletries you would need if you were going on a trip of a few days, so you can dress yourself for the first, say, 3 or 4 days whether you have unpacked your clothes and other essentials or not.

  31. Elizabeth West*

    OMG you’ll never believe what happened yesterday.

    I went out to the garage to get a box in which to put stuff I don’t want anymore. The cold had made the tape peel back a bit, and there was a baby garter snake stuck to the tape!!!!!

    His little mouth was stuck (lower jaw), and all the way up to where is chest would be (if he had a chest!) and the rest of him was squirming around frantically. I carried the box into the kitchen and googled “how to un-stick a reptile from tape.” Someone had posted about un-sticking tape from a lizard. So I got some vegetable oil and cotton buds and oiled up the tape so he couldn’t stick the rest of himself and went to work.

    It took probably twenty minutes to get him unstuck. I was so afraid he would die on me before I got him loose, but he didn’t. The worst thing was his little jaw–I had to get a plastic spoon and very gently poke at the oily tape around the edges until his head was free and he could close his mouth. He was so tiny, it was hard to see what I was doing. His chest (?) was really stuck but I got him loose. Once he was off the tape, I held him and wiped the oil off him as best I could with tissue. He wasn’t too happy with that–he thrashed around quite a bit, but I guess all that energy meant he was all right. I took him outside and let him go in the grass.

    Poor little guy!

    Of course, later I thought about it and wondered how he got in there in the first place. Maybe a mama garter snake had babies in my garage. GAH!

    1. fposte*

      Wow, I’d have had no idea what to do–I’m amazed that even this didn’t stump the internet. Poor little guy!

      1. Anonsie*

        Actually, tape is a common way to catch an escaped pet snake. You’re supposed to use tape with light adhesive (like regular scotch or masking tape) though, but I guess that might not work on a larger snake? May be better to stick them to packing tape and have to carefully remove them than to Lowe them completely?

        If your snake escapes from it tank you might have a day or two before it gets out of the house entirely, and if it’s nocturnal you’re unlikely to find it during the day. So you put tape sticky side up all along the edges of furniture and along the walls and check in the morning to see if it’s been caught somewhere, then caaaarefully remove the tape.

    2. neversawthatb4*

      Great thinking to research, made sure you didn’t injure him. Don’t know if I would have thought that through!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The last time I saw babies and a mom, the mom was surprising large. She had to be at least 30 inches long. Probably longer. The babies were skinnier than pencils but about 14 inches long.
      I guess I am saying, I am glad you did not see mom.

      More recently, I saw a snake “run”. I did not know they could move like that. Picture a snake moving through the ocean water, humping up in the middle to propel itself forward. That is what she did but it was through tall grass. Man, she moved fast.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve seen that before. And yes, garter snakes can get really big. But they’re harmless. I’m not afraid of them and didn’t mind handling it. I’ve picked them up when mowing before back when I mowed my own yard, and I used gloves, because they can bite.

        I haven’t seen many snakes in the yard lately; I think Psycho Kitty either chased them away or killed them. My neighbor said he saw her messing with one in the yard one day when I was at work.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Ah, garter snake bites don’t hurt. But the snakes stink. Still, I’m glad you were successful. I had to unstick a lizard from some painted car parts once, and those tiny little toes were a challenge. Poor critters.

    4. cuppa*

      Good for you!
      I don’t know what I would do if this happened to me. Snakes (yes, even the harmless garter ones) freak me out.

    5. HR Manager*

      Awww, thank you for saving him. I’m weird in that I like snakes (or don’t mind them), and I know snake-phobia is quite common. So glad you helped him!

  32. Cruciatus*

    I’m a little freaked out because my doctor (D.O.) wants me to get an X-ray to see if my left hip is arthritic. I feel like this isn’t the problem but it’s the first thing he and others have suggested so I guess I’ll do it…eventually. I realize I could still have an arthritic hip even without the X-ray but I’m just not too motivated to find out. I’m 33 and the possibility of having an arthritic hip terrifies me because you can’t do much to fix it. And if it’s already arthritic now, what’s life at 40 going to be like? 50? 60? I’m not a perfect exerciser, but I’ve been getting at least 11,000 steps and usually at least 30 active minutes a day (at least according to Fitbit). My back/leg problems actually started up about 7-8 months after I had been trying to reach these goals daily (and now it’s been about 11 months since I first saw someone about it). I keep needing manipulations/treatment to get my left butt to stop being achy (though I do my piriformis exercise every day) but the one thing that hasn’t been fixed is my upper left leg joint area. It’s OK sometimes then others annoying. Never painful but it’s rare to have a whole day where I don’t think about the discomfort while walking at some point. So I don’t want it to be arthritis, but then if it’s not arthritis what’s the next step? If a D.O. isn’t able to do much about it, who will? Sigh… Just a medical issue vent today.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, bodies can be so frustrating. I’m sorry. But it’s not like a DO is the be all and end all of treatment, or any individual with any particular degree is, though. Have you seen a good trainer/PT? One possibility is that you’ve got weakness in an area you could strengthen (glutes, especially medius, are quite commonly really weak, for instance), and that would help a lot in protecting a problem joint, whether it’s arthritis or something else. Your narrative sounds like you were raising activity and focusing a lot on forward movement, so it could quite easily have revealed some dysfunctional patterning that was protecting some weak muscling.

      I had some glute-focused training this year, before my pain was diagnosed as spinal stenosis; what’s interesting to me is how much strengthening the glutes helped (even if not enough, ultimately) even though the spine issue was the same. That’s why it’s on my mind, but it does seem to be pretty common, especially in new runners. I’ll put a link in a followup post for some self-assessment in case you’re interested.

      1. fposte*

        Here’s a glute self-assessment from The Gait Guys–I love them, and it was one of them who gave me the very specific exercises that allowed me to strengthen enough to almost overcome the spine problem. If you’re interested at all in mechanics, there’s a lot of good stuff to browse through on their site in general.

        http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/48305438569/one-simple-hip-screen-that-gives-you-lots-of

        One thing that I’ve learned this year is that bones are not the whole story; the whole body gets in on the narrative, and you have a lot of ability to shape it.

        1. Cruciatus*

          Thanks for the tip. I do know D.O.s don’t know everything, but it’s only that I work at a D.O. school so there are plenty around to ask. And the first thing they all suggest is “arthritis.” One did recommend maybe trying a sports medicine doctor and I think that practice is affiliated with my workplace so I may try to get into there as well, though I will probably get the X-ray done first just so that step is done.

    2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      Go to an orthopedist. I’m 25 and had hip surgery to fix a labral tear in January of this year. It sucks, and I’m sorry. I went from being very fit, working out 5x/week heavily to dialing back to swimming only. But it’s getting better. Get an opinion from an orthopedist now, and fix what damage you have before it gets worse.

    3. Saucy Minx*

      Would you mind telling me what that exercise for the piriformis is? For the past 20+ years, thanks to a car wreck I was in, I have done exercises every night & every morning for the lower back & the hip joints, but that piriformis muscle is so inaccessible.

      The physiotherapists impressed upon me that I needed to do these exercises faithfully if I didn’t want a hip replacement, I & have done them, but will add in any other helpful moves you can provide.

      1. fposte*

        Are you looking to strengthen it or release it? Usually it needs releasing more than strengthening–you’re familiar with the evil wonders of the tennis ball, I presume?

        1. Saucy Minx*

          No, but I did experience the doctor manipulating it internally, & I burst into tears, surprising both of us. Please supply info on the tennis ball exercise.

          1. fposte*

            The fancy term is that you’re employing body weight for self-massage. More simply, you’re sitting on a tennis ball. Put it on a hard floor and put your tush on it; roll it and you around until you’ve found the areas that seem to be most rewarding–you’ll know where that is–and move around a little to get at it from different directions. Apply as much pressure as seems likely to be useful–start slow, since it sounds like you’re pretty sensitive.

            What’s great is that you can keep one in the car, at the office, wherever for a quick release.

            1. Saucy Minx*

              Thanks so much! I’ll go buy a tennis ball today & see if I can cause myself less anguish than the doctor did.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Sorry, I haven’t been able to respond until now–though I will be trying the tennis ball trick fposte mentioned! The exercise my doctor has me do is this: Sit on the floor or bed with your legs out in front of you. Leave one leg straight and bend the other leg and place that leg’s foot on the outside part of the straight leg’s knee/thigh (depending on how flexible you are). Your bent leg’s foot should be flat on the floor. I hope that made sense so far! Then pull your bent leg toward your chest but push against it with your leg. Sometimes I mix it up and use my leg to push toward my chest but push against it with my hands. And since I can be like Mr. Monk, I need to do it on both sides so that it’s “even.”

    4. Anonsie*

      As someone who has had arthritis since she was 21, I highly recommend you start looking into this soon because it can take an exceptionally long time to find the actual issue and a regimen (be it drugs or exercise or PT or whatever) that consistently helps. It can also take a long time to find a doctor you actually like, and doing that when your issues are mild is a lot less stressful.

      Sorry that isn’t very comforting. I know what you mean about wondering how it will get worse, I think about that all the time.

    5. HigherEd Admin*

      I don’t have much advice, just sympathy! I was 24 when I got arthritis in my knee and it took me a couple of years before I really came to terms with it. I found an orthopedist who, while I didn’t like his personality, I trusted in his competency. I learned what triggered my arthritis (usually the weather) and what helped relieve it (usually a chiropractor). It was a lot of trial and error and there are still a few days every year that I get really down about it. You’ll figure out what helps you and how to overcome it. Good luck!

  33. Teacher Recruiter*

    So we had a great Halloween, until we saw the Uber receipt! Has anyone else struggled with understanding their surge charges? I’m a completely new Uber user – I’d only used it once before and it was super easy and great! And then on Friday, we took three Uber cars – the first showed a charge of $38 for a 5-mile ride (later we found out it was $68 but a promo code we didn’t think went through actually did. This is key as if we’d known that, we would’ve found alternatives the rest of the night).

    The second ride was about one mile and only cost $5. Fast forward three hours later and what do you know – we ordered the last Uber for the evening for an 8-mile ride that we were charged $102 for!!! I did some googling and now have a clear understanding of the surge charges, but it’s definitely not clear from the app. It also appears they don’t typically refund or even acknowledge when things like this happen. $102 is way out of hand for a 10-min. cab ride. I wrote them a letter anyways, but geesh! Tough lesson to learn I guess.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Funny (not ha-ha, but in a coincidental kind of way) I was just reading an article about a woman who got charged $362 due to a 9x surcharge on Halloween. I’ve never used Uber and don’t know that much about how it works, but I’m kinda thinking I’m going to steer clear of it after these stories.

    2. Stephanie*

      Oh yeah, I’ve heard complaints before about the surcharges on holidays. It’s crazy.

      I used it a few times in DC. It was great when I needed to hail a cab as I could pay with a stored credit card (a lot of DC cabs didn’t take credit cards or would only take them if you had nothing else). DC cabs were really bad when I lived there (maybe they’ve gotten better in the last year and a half?), so Uber was (an expensive) God send.

      I looked into driving for either them or Lyft once for extra cash. They wanted really high liability limits for my insurance–$1 million, which was crazy given my limited assets.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I saw that article about the $362 charge too. Surge pricing is insane, especially the way they do it. Would I pay a flat fee for a ride at a busy time? Sure. But this “8.7x the fare” crap sucks. I never, ever used Uber in NYC– I have very strong feelings against it, especially since I lived in a neighborhood full of cab drivers– but I use it here all the time and I love it. We don’t get surge pricing here, though (medium-sized Southeastern city). Some of their practices are complete bs, and honestly, I think they take major advantage (price-wise) of tipsy/drunk people, and that is Not OK.

    4. Sunflower*

      Late to this but wanted to add you MUST MUST MUST use the fare estimate before booking the ride. However the button isn’t really easy to find and they should change the layout of the app so it’s easier to find and tap. This is the biggest complain about uber I have!!!! Maybe they hide the button on purpose? I rarely use uber in philly but it’s big in Chicago. Using the fare estimate button, it was drizzling and I was inform the fare would be 1.5x regular rate because of the rain. Checked 1 minute later and it was back to normal. Very weird but the fare estimate does let you know about pricing- I can’t speak to the extreme price hikes as I’ve only seen it at 2x normal rate.

  34. INTP*

    Renters, when your landlord or management company gives you notice that they intend to enter your apartment, how and when do they usually do it? I’m wondering if I’m right to be annoyed by mine. They tend to leave pieces of paper outside the door around 8pm the day before saying that they will enter between 8am and 5pm the next day. I am usually locked inside for the night so I don’t see it until I’m leaving for work the next day. These aren’t for emergency things, they are for things that are planned in advance. It’s almost like they don’t care if we have any notice or even don’t want us to. (In my state, only 12 hours notice is required and there are no laws about whether the tenant even has to see the notice, so this is legal, just annoying and inconsiderate in my opinion.)

    I had a bit of an embarrassing moment last week due to people coming in on Tuesday after I had spent the end of the week before and the weekend very sick, and then Monday was my birthday plus I had some lingering sickness so I did some cooking but no cleaning up. I had dirty dishes piled on my kitchen trolley, and boxes of groceries and a pile of clean laundry on my living room floor because I didn’t have the energy to put them away. (I live alone in a small apartment so it really makes no difference to me if those things are in the living room or kitchen/bedroom). Maybe they’ve realized the issues with their method of giving notice because when the landlord asked me to clean up before the next inspection, I explained that I literally had zero notice because I didn’t see the paper until I was leaving for work the next day. Today the notice paper was slipped under my door, so I did see it – however, they did know about this inspection already AND come by the building on Thursday (the landlord spoke to me then), yet didn’t bother giving out the notice papers until Sunday morning.

    1. BRR*

      You have a right to be annoyed. They should give more notice. With individual landlords who have owned m rentals as investment properties I have gotten more notice. This is because I have a dog so they have all preferred someone be there even though the dog is away. With larger management companies I have only gotten short notice. Have you tried asking for more notice or by a different method? Honestly if it’s a large apt complex you’re probably SOL on getting more notice.

      1. INTP*

        It’s a small complex, but managed by a company that owns many complexes rather than a single landlord. (For the sake of simplification I just call “the guy at the property management company who handles my particular building most of the time” the landlord.) He’s kind of a jerk and always exudes that “I’m annoyed to be dealing with you” attitude when I have requests. I’m hoping the fact that the paper was at least under my door today means that my explanation that getting the notice outside my door means I don’t see it in time to clean up was heard. If it keeps happening, I’ll complain.

        1. BRR*

          From my own experience this likely won’t change. The fact they put it under your door would count as a win in my book but you likely won’t get much more. Corporate owned complexes are typically not concerned with quality.

          1. INTP*

            Yeah, I can deal with the notices being consistently left under my door instead of outside. That way, at the latest I’m going to see it when I wake up in the morning, and unless it’s an insanely hectic morning I’ll have at least 5 minutes to take care of major stuff. I still find it a little inconsiderate to give only the legally required amount of notice when they know about things several days beforehand, but the main issue is things being left outside my door at an hour when I’m in for the night and being expected to have things ready by 8 the next morning. If you’re going to give the minimum legal notice, at least do it in a way that you can expect people to receive the notice fairly quickly.

    2. TL -*

      Your apartment doesn’t sound that bad – and you should tell your landlord to stick it. You can’t be expected to keep your apartment company ready all the time and frankly, that mess is nothing. My dad is a landlord and the amount of disgusting we’ve had to deal with is amazing. A pile of clothes, dishes in the sink, and some groceries (presumably non-perishables) out on the floor is nothing to be ashamed of.

      1. INTP*

        I think the issue was that I had stuff in the way of the things they needed to access for repairs. But the landlord is pretty overreactive about messes. Once I had several grocery-size bags of recycling piled up (I had done a massive cleaning post-finals), mostly paper and cardboard but with some thoroughly washed food containers, and he told me I needed to take them out immediately or they would attract rodents.

        1. TL -*

          Well, that should be included in the request, yah? (We will be entering your apartment from X-X time. Please make sure we have access to Y, Z, and W for repairs.)

          1. INTP*

            The issue in this case was that I didn’t see the request until I was leaving for work because it had been left at 8pm after I was in for the evening. If I’d actually gotten a 12 hour notice, I would have taken some time to move things out of the way. That morning I was already running late for work so though I knew what they needed access to, I didn’t have time to even hide my dirty underwear, let alone ensure access to everything.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          That sounds reasonable. Maybe the delivery of the message was lacking. But I can see a landlord being very concerned about pests. I live on the edge of a field (not my field) it took over ten years to seal up the house successfully. Once the critters get in, it is a major project getting them out.

          However, the landlord should realize that this is part of the job and curb any hostility in his message. It would just make his life easier.
          Your place really does not sound that bad at all. If they included in their message what they would be working on, you could just make sure those areas were free of stuff, so the work could be done quickly.

          1. INTP*

            They usually do include what they’re working on, and if I have time I clear stuff out of the way. The problem is that when they leave notes outside my door at 8pm, I don’t see them until the next morning when I leave for work. If I don’t have to be at work right on time that day, I’ll take 10 minutes to prepare as best I can. The particular morning in question, my apartment was much messier than usual AND I had a tight deadline at work that morning. I couldn’t have prepared without running late for work, and at that point I felt like it was their problem to deal with since there were many ways that they could have made sure I received the notice in time but they didn’t bother. (They could have sent an email, taken the time to put the papers under the doors instead of on the floor outside, left the notices sometime during the business day instead of in the evening, etc.)

    3. Episkey*

      Hmmm, I am trying to remember…I lived in an apartment complex in Phoenix for a year, and I think they did give us a few days notice with a piece of paper rolled up in our door handle. I also had a dog, and the maintenance crew was very nice & polite, but they were all foreign (Romanian, I believe) and the apartment admins were quick to tell me they were all afraid of dogs. Now, I’m not sure if it was actually fear or they just didn’t care for dogs and the admins felt it was less offensive to say “afraid” rather than “dislike” — but they always wanted me to either be at home because of the dog, or crate her. They would not enter the apartment if I was not present and my dog was uncrated. This didn’t bother me at all, since my dog is very good about being crated — but I did need the notice before I left for work on the day that they were scheduled so I knew to crate her.

    4. Nina*

      My property manager does the same thing; they slip notices under the door to inform me when they’re doing inspections, or when the parking lot is closed for repairs, etc. While I’m not crazy about anyone being in my apartment when I’m not there, it bothers me more that they rarely stick to the day they actually schedule the visit. They’ll say the inspection is on a Tuesday, and I’ll have the apartment ready…and they don’t show. Two weeks later, my apartment is a mess again, and guess who knocks on the door? Happens all the time. :(

      It’s worse when I need repairs. They never show up on the right day.

    5. Sabrina*

      We just moved out of an apartment, and we’d get 24 hours notice. They would put the notice on the door in the afternoon. I guess yours are following the law, but that’s kind of a dick move if you ask me.

    6. Liane*

      Read the earlier replies & it seems like 1 day is pretty common–& now I feel we’re lucky. Both our current complex & the one we lived in right after we moved here gave 2 or 3 days’ notice for inspections & I think a day or so for pest control. Maybe there’s a longer required notice period here, or maybe we just have slightly nicer management companies. I would be surprised if it’s the former *only* because this is the 1 state in the USA where failure to pay rent is a crime, rather than only a civil law issue. (Although our pastor, who really is also a lawyer, says in reality that it seldom leads to charges.)
      But I find 2-3 days not enough time for inspections, partly because we’ll get the notice on a weekday & then there’s work & school. (And these never happen during or just before school breaks when Husband & I could bribe/order/beg/demand teens deal with it.)

      1. Liane*

        Addendum: When my husband was working nights, this complex was good about not disturbing him unless really necessary. He had a note on our bedroom door, “Daytime Sleeper. ” If we requested something be fixed, we’d remind them when we called it in & ask that they try to come by late in the afternoon, if it wasn’t an emergency.
        AFAIK, they didn’t make a lot of noise during inspections, and probably figured the master suite was better-kept than the Teens’ bedrooms & bath.

    7. Treena Kravm*

      They’re actually probably thinking the later notice is better for folks to remember. Most people if they get a notice 3+ days in advance might forget about it. But the night before? they’re in a cleaning frenzy.

  35. salad fingers*

    Anyone in Chicago going to see Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk today? Anyone watching it on TV? I sort of want to because, yknow, historical importance and stuff, but also on the fence (pun intended) because vicarious anxiety. I walked past the buildings last night and just looking at the rope setup made me want to yak a little.

    1. Jamie*

      I can’t even watch when they show roller coasters on travel channel because my stomach flip flops – no way could I watch this.

      1. salad fingers*

        I thought it was pretty rich that his press conference was on Friday, ei – the ridiculously windy first day of Chicago snow… ;:[. Today seems nice though, hoping for the best.

            1. Jamie*

              Yeah – even with the hood she’s freezing.

              I need a new winter coat. I love the old fashioned swing coats, but I haven’t seen them in a couple of years. Maybe I should take a page out of kitty’s book and get cloak with a regal hood (faux fur lined of course.). That wouldn’t be ostentatious at all.

                1. fposte*

                  No, the bottom one is just described by someone who doesn’t know what the term means.

                  I know so few fashion terms that I’m determined to be dogmatic about the few I do. Can’t have a tight waist and be a “swing coat.” I think the describer just got excited about the flared shape (or maybe wanted to keyword spam).

                2. Jamie*

                  It’s the cape shape – I don’t love the cowl neck – but there are all kinds of necklines.

                  I just love how flowy and feminine they are. If you have to wear a winter coat, and being in Chicago it’s prudent, I’d like to not feel like Dick Butkus in full padded uniform. :)

  36. Billy*

    101 fever ,and decided to try out apple cider tea. The lexicon of words cannot describe the decadence after every sip.

    1. Jamie*

      That sucks that you’re sick, feel better soon. ITA on apple cider tea – I’m not a fan of tea (I’ve tried because they sound awesome in theory) but apple I love. For a cinimon stick in there makes me feel all folksy and it’s yummy – also brown sugar rather than regular.

  37. ZSD*

    Long story short: A friend has been ignoring me for several months, and I’ve been upset. I want to send him an email proposing that we start over, i.e., focus on the future rather than rehashing the past. However, I would like to ask for an apology from him (and I want the chance to apologize for the parts that are my fault as well).
    Is it legitimate to both propose to start over and ask for an apology? Or do I have to forgo the request for an apology if I’m saying that we should focus on the future?

    1. Jamie*

      I’m a firm believer in apologizing when I feel I should, and never wanting one unless they sincerely feel the same. Someone apologizing to me because I think they owe me one is too much like telling me what I want to hear so my lips will stop moving at them. I appreciate an apology from the heart when she one is truly sorry, but I never understood why some people need one almost a a reset button. If you did something horrible to me and arent sorry – I want to know that about you. (Universal you.)

      So if it were me I’d just own my part and propose moving forward and proceed based on their response.

      Obviously I don’t know you’re situation, but reasonable people can honestly disagree about some things. If someone felt I owed them an apology and I truly didn’t – but the issue was something we could otherwise get past it would be a shame to lose a friendship over it.

    2. fposte*

      In general, I advise against asking people for apologies. If there’s something that needs to be addressed from the past, talk about what you feel, not about what you require them to do. “It really hurt me when you stopped answering my texts” is something that gives people an option to meet you halfway; “I want you to apologize” is making their obedience a condition of friendship. I don’t think anybody ever gets the answer they want to that one.

      In this case, I think you’ve caught the additional problem–you can’t really say “I’d like us to start fresh” with the condition of “as long as you admit you were wrong.” That’s a sign that maybe you’re not as ready to start over as you think, I’d say; maybe let this one sit for a little while longer to see if the pleasures of the friendship have started to seem bigger to you than what you want an apology for.

    3. Shell*

      I’ve had a friendship that spectacularly blew up (haven’t we all), and…like fposte and Jamie said, asking for an apology seems a bad path to go down. It makes it seem like you’re calling the shots (we can be friends again so long as you do X, where X is apologize). Friendship should be a two-way street; you can initialize but not dictate the terms.

      If you want to apologize for your share, do it. It leaves the door open if they want to reconcile. But sometimes despite knowing that they themselves had a share of the blame, some people just flat-out aren’t interested in reconciling or apologizing. An apology from both ends is probably a requirement to reconcile, but stating outright that it’s a condition isn’t likely to go over well.

      I say that if you want to apologize, contact them in whatever way you think is good and apologize for your sure. If they want to apologize for their share, if they want to pick it up again…ball is in their court then. You’d have done your part.

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I have to be blunt – if someone owes me an apology but won’t supply it – that’s typically the end of the relationship.

      I guess this sounds harsh, but I’m fairly confident of my ability to know when an apology is called for. And I’m talking about Big Stuff here – not “you bumped into me”. I’ll discuss the situation with the person, and I’ll apologize first if I owe it to them. But if they’ve wronged me, yet are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for what they did – to me that says the relationship is broken. I’m not interested in being friends with someone who feels that it’s okay to abuse me with no consequences or even acknowledgement of what they’ve done.

      If they someday come to their senses, the door is always open.

  38. Windchime*

    I just finished a really good, post-apocolyptic novel called Station Eleven. It was one of the best things I’ve read in a long, long time. The author is Emily St. John Mandel. The way that the “normal” world ended was particularly ordinary and, therefore, particularly scary.

    1. Rebecca*

      Thanks for the tip! I added it to my Amazon wish list so I won’t forget this. I’m reading Hugh Howey’s Silo series now; I read Wool, then Shift, and now I’m reading Dust. I got all of them from the Kindle owner’s free library (1 per month).

    2. RandomName*

      Have you read or seen the movie The Road? If so, is the book you read as dark and disturbing?

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve read “The Road” and it was more disturbing than Station Eleven. But Station Eleven was just as good (in a different way). It just felt a little more hopeful than “The Road”.

  39. Jamie*

    Is it weird to start a personal blog if you don’t care about reaching strangers and totally not work related. I am being thoroughly mocked by my kids because I’m too wordy for facebook – apparently you’re supposed to keep it short there and so I’m doing facebook wrong because brevity isn’t my strong suit and I’m not writing it for anyone else – just bored and getting stuff out of my head through my fingers. Like I do here.

    I don’t post anything I’d care if strangers read – I’m very aware of what im sharing (usually) but Facebook has the privacy settings thing (and I know they change, hence the not posting anything I wouldn’t care if a future employer or whomever read) but is it as easy to stay out of searches if it’s a blog. Do they have privacy features, too? And I know lmgtfy, but I’m just musing and need to get up and do laundry and looking up blog rules would get in the way of clean clothes.

    I’m just weirdly communicative lately which my daughter finds hysterical and says I should attempt to speak to a real life person one of these days. I think that’s a little extreme.

    1. INTP*

      That’s totally normal in my opinion. Back in the olden days tons of people used Livejournal for this exact thing (and it’s why I kept using that site years after the masses deemed it obsolete – actually, maybe I should go see if my account is still active). You can set things as private or friends-only and it’s geared towards longer posts and blogs that are personal rather than public-facing.

      1. Jamie*

        I’m going to totally date myself, but I had an account on diaryland. Back when I had a geocities website I believe!

        I was totally anonymous at the time and way too personally revealing, but the one thing I remember is I could see what searches brought people to the site. I had done a post about how one of my boys had taken a space gun from an action figure (mine – KISS action figures came with accessories) and stuck it in the grape jelly jar. So I jokingly said I sucked it off and threw it in the dishwasher. And one of the searches from some random stranger included the words sucking off, toy, dishwasher safe, and sex (but sex was crossed out as not found.). I still find that hysterical and I cant imagine how disappointed that person must’ve been since I don’t offer Hints from Heloise for cleaning martial aides. :)

        Rambling – how did I get on this topic…see? I’m not going to be successful in a forum that requires succinctness. And this is why I don’t Twitter.

        1. INTP*

          So funny, I had a diaryland and a geocities webzine too! IIRC, I made the diaryland back when LJ was invite-only. I never knew you could look at your google searches, though, but that may have been interesting. I also struggle with being succinct (my comments on this site are usually far wordier than other people’s and that’s after I try to edit them down to half the original length). I miss that style of blogging, I seriously need to see if any of those style sites are still around.

    2. TL -*

      Haha! I would totally read your blog, but – as long as you don’t attach your name to it (maybe make a throwaway email account?) it should remain relatively private. At least, no one has ever found my blog and asked me about it.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      On wordpress at least (probably blogger, too), you can either set the entire blog or individual posts to private (need a password to access).

      I’m probably too wordy for Facebook, too, but blogs aren’t interactive enough for me (AAM Open threads aside). I don’t have the patience to build up the kind of following/friendships that I already have through FB.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      Does it need to be read by anyone? Do you want feedback/validation/interaction about what you write about? If not, it seems like you’re describing a journal. If you’d rather type than handwrite, you could keep it in a Word or Google document. It sounds like you just want to write to get out your thoughts through writing, which is exactly the point of keeping a journal.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I write a blog. For my dog. Yes, seriously. Actually, it’s intended to keep our friends updated on life in our new city, and writing in the dog’s “voice” makes it a fun exercise for me. Apparently, I have a few readers in Poland. It’s totally public, but it contains some personal information, like the dog’s name, where we live (the city, not the address), places we like to shop, etc. It’s more of a journal than anything, and it’s been a great way for me to keep the writing flowing.

    6. V. Meadowsweet*

      nope, not weird at all – it’s why I’m on livejournal :) Other blogging platforms have more cachet but I find LJ homier, if that makes sense? less like I have to write something meaningful and more like I can just write whatever comes to mind.
      I will say I’ve been very pleased with the privacy controls there – you can make it private (you only), available to your friends (either all or a custom sub-list), or available publicly (which is still not terribly public if you set all the ‘don’t index me’ settings).

  40. INTP*

    I touched on this in the Friday thread, but I’m wondering if anyone else has dealt with something similar.

    I’ve discovered that I am MUCH MUCH more mentally relaxed and productive when I just leave my computer off while I’m not using it. Part of my ADHD is awful impulse control and a tendency to get sucked into things, and I’m just not going to not waste a lot of time if my computer is on and right there. I have leechblock, but sometimes I just cheat by opening up Internet Explorer (which I keep on my computer for the few outdated websites that can be glitchy on Firefox but work perfectly on IE like the inexcusably terrible healthcare.gov – love obamacare, hate the site). I left it off almost all day yesterday and got SO MUCH done.

    However, the problem is that I often have to leave it on due to
    1) For my job, I get work via an online project claiming system. Projects disappear in seconds after being posted so I will literally lose out on many hours of work just by putting the computer on hibernate and having to start it up after I get a notification on my phone. (I discussed this on Friday’s thread.) For this reason I really need to leave it on from about 8am to 8pm.
    2) I do much of my TV watching (which is actually a nice way to unwind in the evenings for me and hasn’t entered the realm of time suck) via Plex on my Roku and my computer has to be on to run as the server.

    Anyone have genius insight on how I can make it as though my computer is off while actually leaving it on? My current plan is to plug it in at my desk, which is far less comfortable than my couch and generally out of the way of everything (so I can’t just reach over and turn it on while eating dinner or watching TV). It’s a laptop so in moments of weakness I can just carry it wherever I want to sit, but maybe this will help somewhat.

    1. TL -*

      I have an iPad and it really helps with leaving the computer alone. The iPad doesn’t allow me to have multiple windows open, so if something’s open (Netflix, email, ect…) I don’t get into the time-sink of riffing through multiple pages while Netflix is playing in the background and jumping back and forth. It also makes it easier to drop quickly, it’s not as comfortable to hold or use for long periods of time, and it is very much a “fun” mental space for me, meaning that I’m less likely to get into a time-suck spiral.
      That way, when I get my laptop out, I know it’s work time.

      1. TL -*

        tl;dr: I am much more likely to pull my ipad out for only one episode on Netflix, or for 5 minutes of web browsing and then put it up, than I am to restrict my time on my laptop.

      2. INTP*

        Yeah, in an ideal world I just have my kindle and phone on (which I don’t get sucked into as much because I’m too lazy to type a lot on them). But unfortunately, my work’s project claiming site doesn’t work well on mobile devices, so on weekdays I have to leave the actual laptop on or miss out on potential work :( (I’m part-time so I only get as many hours as I can claim projects from that site.)

    2. Jamie*

      If you want to put an obstacle to you picking it up and carrying it with you to comfy zones, buy a locking dock. They have some with keys – keep the key in another area. So it’s actual work to unlock it – so it could limit you to doing it when you really want to rather than just on impulse.

      I do admit that I do t understand the impulse to distance oneself from ones portal to the world … But I get the ADHD thing and put obstacles in my own way all the time.

      Case in point shopping for holiday/birthday gifts I always get cash out and won’t allow myself to hit a card. So if I want to go over my limit I can – but I have to go find an ATM, get cash, etc. Doable and not like climbing a mountain, but keeps me from just picking up cute thing after cute thing witbout subtotalling in my head.

      1. INTP*

        I do almost all of my shopping online (I need petite sizes and live in a city with terrible shopping), but I used to have a block by not saving my credit card numbers. Then I accidentally memorized them from using them too much, lol. Now I only buy from stores with free returns and I just return most of it after trying it on and thinking about it. (To be fair, I’m not abusing the return policies terribly because sizing is so inconsistent and things look differently in person than on the models, so I’d need to return most of it after trying it on anyways.)

      1. INTP*

        It’s a laptop, so you can’t separately turn off the screen. It does dim itself, but the advantage to leaving it off entirely is that I’m much more likely to resist the impulse to “just check one thing” (and wind up getting lost for an hour) if it requires waiting a few minutes for my computer to boot up than if it can be done immediately. But I need to have immediate access so that I can claim projects for work (which are claimed by other people within seconds) so it’s a catch-22.

        1. JMW*

          On my laptop Fn+F6 blacks the screen. Pressing any key brings it back up. You might find yours has a keyboard shortcut for this.

    3. Anx*

      No advice, just commisseration. I love leaving my computer off, but then I get lazy about signing into my email. And sometimes I forget hw if I don’t use my calendar. I’m more efficient, but also more prone to forgetting things if I don’t use my computer all day.

    4. Mister Pickle*

      WRT #2, I run PLEX on a Synology NAS device so that I don’t have to turn on a computer to watch television.

      The Synology runs Linux, and there are a variety of packages available for it (or you could roll your own). But I don’t really understand #1 so I don’t know if this would help you with that.

    5. Nina*

      What about using a screensaver or use it to play music? That way, your computer is on, without you actually having to “use” it or be distracted by it. I get easily distracted by the computer and the TV as well.

  41. Jamie*

    Anyone watching Top Chef? This is one of those shows that historically has done great things for some contestants careers so it really is a showcase for the cheftestants more than a game show. So with that in mind I’m always surprised when people are so unprofessional knowing it’s going to be broadcast.

    The whole thing with Aaron and Keriann last week left such a bad taste in my mouth all I could think is that if I were in the position to hire chefs I would round file their resumes immediately no matter how otherwise talented they are. Who wants to work with petulant children?

    Just surprises me when people are being watched by tptb in their field and blow it with attitude.

    And if anyone here is a producer over there kudos on brining Richard Blais on as judge – I’ll watch him all day long. A little Hugh Atchinson goes a long way but Ricahrd is charming and fun. And if you can’t replace Padma with Nigella Lawson can you pleas limit the amount of words she’s allowed to say? Coherent expression of thought isn’t her wheelhouse. (She has to have some seriously weird pics of a suit at Bravo to be so entrenched in this gig – blackmail is the only explanation I can think of for why they allow her on camera.)

    Based on last two weeks I want to see Stacy take the whole thing.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m the only person in the world who seems to like Padma (although after reading in Joseph Anton about how Salmon Rushdie portrayed his marriage to her, I like her less).

      I haven’t been watching this season though. I feel like the Las Vegas season (with Kevin, Jen, and the Voltaggio brothers) was the high point, and it’s never been that good since, which disappoints me since I used to love it.

      1. Jamie*

        I have been looking for that season, but ondemand will play an old season every now and then it’s never that one. Netflix and amazon prime are no help. I may have to break down and buy the ones I haven’t seen.

        I haven’t read anything about her personal life, but I imagine she has to have some redeeming qualities for Gail Simmons to be as cool with her as she appears to be and Gail rocks.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Hulu Plus has all seasons

          I marathoned ALL 11 seasons (OCD about doing a series start to at least current finish). That was a serious amount of fun.

          Hulu Plus is $7.99 for a month, without the any new viewer deals I’m sure they are running. I have mine set up on my Roku so it’s all on my teevee, just like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              If you get Hulu for a month or two for Top Chef, do yourself a mini Jimmy Fallon marathon. It’s the best way to watch him. One of my favorite things now.

      2. Sophia*

        I like Padma and love Hugh (see his most recent bravo blog!) but do not like Richard. He was ok on his original run but since then, in each subsequent appearance, I cannot stand him. And Aaron (I think that’s his name) is one of the most misogynistic contestants to date.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      AHMAHGAH, I hate Blais! HATE HIM. My bf loves him. I mostly hate him because he talks about his season like he should have won and he completely discounts Stephanie’s success and talent. I love Stephanie. I just effing hate Richard.

      I also haaaate Padma. I was neutral about her until I read Joseph Anton. I think she’s snotty and often rude. But I’m weird in that I love Gail. I would hang out with Gail all damn day.

      The Aaron and Keriann thing left a bad taste in my mouth too, and I hate the way Aaron talked about Katie, denigrating her because she teaches culinary school. I am very reluctant to say this about anyone, but I think he’s a sexist assnut. Keriann sucks too, but his fighting is super gender-based and I don’t like it.

      This season I like James and Gregory, and Adam is growing on me very quickly. But that’s it. Mei is cool too.

      Alison, Vegas was one of the best seasons in my opinion, and it went downhill from there, though Texas was pretty good (Snow White and the Huntsman challenge was amazeballs). But I am Top Chef’s bitch and I will watch it always, even in (especially in) reruns. Which air as a marathon every Monday on Esquire Network, starting at noon (why yes, I work from home).

      1. Jamie*

        Texas was good – Nyesha going home because her partner whiffed the venison is what I remember most – my heart broke for her. What ruined Texas for me was Sarah – cannot stand. Watching her was like chewing on tin foil and the OTT mean girl thing she had going on with Heather was appalling.

        I liked New Orleans, too. I know people had issues with Nick but every time he’d get stressed I totally related because he deals with pressure emotionally similar to me (at least from what we can see from the editing.) and I thought it was absolute BS that anyone gave him crap for not offering to go home when he had a bad night even though he had immunity. Friends my ass, none of them would have done it for him and isn’t the point of immunity that it saves you if you need it? Hypocrites – everyone who gave him the side eye for that although I still like stephanie cmar – I chalk it up to ugliness due to pressure.

        Have you all seen Antonia Lofasa on that horrible show Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network? Her hair stylist HATES her – she must be contractually obligated to go onscreen in the 19th century schoolmarm bun because I refuse to believe she would do that of her own volition. I can’t even listen when she speaks, it’s that distracting.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          A shame, because I love Antonia. I just love her. Possibly irrationally, I don’t know, but I think she’s super talented and cool. But yes, I agree that her hair sucks. Also? I always appreciated how she talked about her daughter’s father and how he supported her and they got along… then I found out the man in question was none other than Heavy D. Cool.

          Totally agree on Sarah and Heather during Texas– hated them. Nyesha was robbed.

      2. Jamie*

        Meant to add – interesting thoughts on his motivations for being such a douche. It didn’t come off sexist to me, but absolutely classist. He has a huge chip on his shoulder for anyone who went to culinary school, had parents, or who wasn’t raised in poverty. He stressed so hard all of what he endured to get where he was (which was a very tough road) but he has crushing disdain for everyone who didn’t have it as hard. He could easily have issues with women which I missed due to the other issues lit up in neon and waving flags.

        I know how rampant sexism is in the field though – so I’ll look for it. Reality shows are nothing if not a sociological study as well and comfort TV.

    3. HR Manager*

      I love Top Chef, and they’re in my ‘hood this season! Yes, Aaron comes off as a total douche – ugh, he grates on me, because he has to rant and be negative towards pretty much everyone. So far, he hasn’t exactly backed up his assertions of superiority with any wins.

      I don’t mind Padma, so I don’t understand all the hate at her. She does comes across a little stiff sometimes, but I appreciate how she is not afraid to speak her mind about a dish. I like Hugh Acheson (Mr. Unibrow!) as judge too, but I admit to missing Anthony Bourdain. He was sometimes cuckoo in his feedback as a judge, but I loved it.

  42. Shell*

    So I have a four day road trip to Portland, Oregon coming up! We’ll be there December 20-24.

    What should we do there? I’ve never been there, but my friends who I’m going with have. So they probably have restaurants covered…but if you think of anything spectacular, let me know!

    I hear Portland’s weather is pretty mild, so I probably won’t bring anything too much warmer/colder than what I usually wear (I’m from Vancouver BC).

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Powell’s is amazing. I know the Powells and they are awesome people (as you would expect). Whatever you usually wear in Vancouver at that time of year will be about right for Portland (it is further from the ocean, so it does tend to get a bit colder than Vancouver or Seattle, but not much).

        Go to Chinatown for dim sum. Check out the food trucks downtown. Go for a walk along the river or in one of the many parks.

        1. Saucy Minx*

          If you like mysteries, go to Murder by the Book on SW Hawthorn — ALL mysteries! Hardcovers & paperbacks, new & used.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve bought stuff online from there–I would love to see that in person. My poor duffel ended up stuffed with books coming back from the UK. I’m incapable of not hitting up bookstores when traveling.

      3. catsAreCool*

        Yeah, Powell’s! You can get lost in that store. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of people who work there who can give you directions.

        The Oregon Zoo is great, although this time of year, it might be a bit cold and rainy.

        The Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden are great.

      4. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’m visiting Portland right now, and we just came from Powell’s. That’s the best way to spend a birthday (and spend we did!)

    1. Episkey*

      My husband & I went in September and we did the Rose Gardens (free & doesn’t take long), and the Japanese Gardens ($10 admission/per person, takes maybe 1-2 hours) — we only had an afternoon, so these were good options for us because they weren’t too time-consuming.

    2. V. Meadowsweet*

      +100, Powell’s is awesome :)
      if you’re a gamer – roleplaying or board – Guardian Games is very good (lots of selection, both new & used)
      if you’re there in time and it’s running over the winter, the Saturday Market is fun :) I think parts of it also run Sunday too.
      …there are museums and parks that I’ve heard good things of, but I’ve never quite made it there because I always end up spending my time with books and food :)

      I don’t know where you’ll be staying, but the downtown area is very walkable, which is really nice, and seems mostly pretty safe. I tend to keep an eye out and avoid the even-slightly-sketchy areas, but I’m generally alone (and I will say I’ve walked back from a bar at 1am more than once with no troubles)

      I’ve never had a bad meal in Portland, so probably anywhere your friends choose is going to be good :)
      and yep, the weather is pretty similar to Vancouver :)

    3. Annie*

      If you’re into beer, Brewvana does an excellent 4 brewery tour. Different themes depending on the day, but you’ll get to go to big and small breweries. I highly recommend it. If you don’t have time for the tour, go to Laurelwood Brewery. They have good food and really good beer.

      I love Mother’s for brunch. If you want donuts, but don’t want to wait in line at Voodoo, go to Blue Star (near Powell’s). They have similarly fun donuts that are better than Voodoo.

      Oregon Zoo is really nice.

    4. Kyrielle*

      Powell’s.

      The Japanese Garden is gorgeous, if you even remotely like things of that sort. (Yes, even in winter.)

      Multnomah Falls, if the weather is not so bad as to make the Gorge a bad idea – it’s a beautiful drive out there, and a beautiful falls.

      The Zoo, and ZooLights, if you like that sort of thing.

  43. Carrie in Scotland*

    This work week is only 4 days long because I’m on holiday :)

    It’s my birthday on Friday and I’ve made a list (I love a list) of 30 things to do before I’m 30 (which is next year). I might not get most of them done but it is nice to have goals to aim for. The main goal of the next year is to sell my current flat and buy another one in a much better city.

    Anyway next week I will be in London, at the tennis and then onto Bruges for a few days. Happy times!

    1. Jamie*

      That sounds fabulous! I love lists, too, but I don’t do long term lists because I’m never that ambitious. I’m envious that you know what exciting things you want to do. I would love some excitement and adventure, but I keep waiting for it to happen to me. My list for the next year, if I’m to be honest:

      1. Not have anything catastrophic happen to anyone I love.
      2. Either see what else is out there workwise or stop wondering and complaining in my head.
      3. Figure out what to do with my hair.
      4. Find more TV shows to watch.

      Sad but true. You have the far superior outlook!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Well, I’ve done these sorts of things (the lists/goals) quite a few times over the years and none of them have stuck but this one is hopefully more manageable, given it’s only 30 things and most of them are do-able (things like go to the theatre, move, learn microsoft programmes, buy a decent handbag or pair of shoes, cook 5 new things and so on)

        Ah TV, I love TV. I’m starting to wonder if I should netflix instead of borrowing box sets from the library :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Those sound totally doable. And yes, Netflix is terrific, though I hear UK Netflix might not have as much stuff as US Netflix.
          But you have BBC iPlayer, which I cannot get. Rawr.

    2. Clever Name*

      The “bucket list” idea sounds fun! Do you mind sharing what’s on it?

      I actually really enjoyed my 30th birthday. I’m a very introspective person by nature, and I spent probably 6 months leading up to my actual birthday reflecting on my life. Thinking about where I was, how I got there, and where I wanted to be. It was really satisfying, as I learned a lot about myself (like why I felt so different growing up), and I decided I was pretty darn proud of my life and accomplishments.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Clever Name, I’ve been going through that as well for various reasons, I think I’m getting ahead on the freaking out over turning 30! :)
        And basically I’ve decided that I don’t much like where I am at the moment so am taking steps to change this.

        I’m at work so can’t recall everything on the list but it includes: going to the theatre
        learning to cook 5 meals
        baking something different every month
        learning how to wrap presents
        selling my flat
        learn how to put makeup on

    3. Chelsea*

      Late to the party, but I’m turning 29 on Friday too! Thank you for the idea of making a list, that is definitely something I will be doing this week! Happy early birthday!

  44. Jamie*

    Dinner – what’s everyone doing? Kids all working so just dh and me a doing cod filets in jazzed up meuniere sauce (adding shallots, a hit of white wine, and a little garlic), asparagus (a touch of olive oil and sea salt), roasted fingerling potatoes.

    Just between us I’d rather open a can of spaghettios or break out some Count Chocula and be done with it, but it’s his birthday weekend and he doesn’t want to eat like a couple of toddlers who discovered the pantry while mom is napping. Compromising is a ridiculous amount of work.

    1. cuppa*

      Frozen pizza — because I absolutely feel like eating like a child today, too. :)
      I’m trying to come up with some better choices for the rest of the week.

    2. Shell*

      Um, I’ve polished off three boxes of Pocky (almond crunch!) in the last hour, so perhaps I shouldn’t be giving food advice :)

      Being an adult is hard.

    3. Rebecca*

      I made two salads, and I fried up some steak in my cast iron pan. Eating steak salad now, and will have steak salad tomorrow after work!

    4. Diet Coke Addict*

      Beef stew–started it this morning and cooked it all day, and it was excellent. My vegetables were a little overdone, but the biscuits made up for them. I did a batch of spicy stir-fried noodles for lunch. I made a failed curry last night, so I was in need of something to make me feel like I’m not a totally incompetent cook.

      I think the week’s menus will include a quiche, salmon with maple-soy glaze, pork tenderloin with a chili rub, chicken stir-fry with the rest of the garlic dying in the fridge, and probably some takeout pho to round out the week.

    5. Lore*

      I made dinner for the boyfriend last night so I have leftovers (chorizo/sweet potato/kale soup and a nice salad and good bread). I’ll no doubt be heartily sick of the soup by Tuesday, but since I’m fighting a cold, spicy soup sounds like just about the best thing ever today.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      Just made (and ate) a pretty tasty spinach mushroom pasta casserole using a recipe from the cookbook Herbivoracious.