weekend free-for-all – March 14-15, 2015

olive oil

Zingerman’s olive oil sale!

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.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by BJ Novak, who is also known to you as Ryan from The Office. It turns out he’s a fantastic writer. His short story about a woman on a date with a warlord is my favorite, but the whole collection is worthwhile: funny, quirky, and insightful.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 855 comments… read them below }

    1. AnonForThis*

      Act One is a story that I partially dealt with at my last job. Mr. Anderson was falsely charged with a different crime this past year but just recently all charges were dropped since police had clearly messed up. While he fully admits he did the first crime I fear he’ll be forever targeted by police and prosecutors.

    2. Anonymish*

      I’m so glad this book was recommended here! I keep picking it up, reading the back, and putting it down again. Evidently I should be taking it home and reading it instead.

    3. Not Ryan*

      It turns out he’s a fantastic writer.

      B.J Novak also wrote for The Office for seven years.

  1. Cristina in England*

    I am starting to do my taxes and as an American abroad, ugh is all I have to say.

      1. esra*

        I didn’t realize Americans had to file taxes abroad either, but apparently it’s a giant pain. One of the women in our office has been living in Canada for five years and still has to file American taxes. They also want to know about her husband’s info, even though he’s European/never lived in the states. So invasive.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            My parents left the US to come back to Canada when I was in diapers. When I found out that I was supposed to be filing taxes to the US (because it’s not like anyone has ever shown up on my doorstep with a list of laws I was supposed to follow) I thought the person who told me that was yanking my chain. If I had had children here, they would also be considered US citizens. It’s completely insane and totally invasive, you have to file papers that list the largest amount held over the course of a calendar year of all bank accounts you have access to. There are only 3 countries in the world who do taxation by citizenship, one of them is Eritrea and the US refuses to recognise that law applies to Eritrean citizens living in the US. I’ve got to stop now or my blood pressure will go up.

            1. fposte*

              Though other countries have their own weirdnesses–male infant immigrants and even adoptees from South Korea can be drafted into the military if they travel back to the country as adults.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                Just on vacation? Or to live permanently?

                In Japan, you are not considered a citizen if you’re born there to foreign nationals. The sister of someone I knew went there with her family to teach english and she had 1 of her children there, but right off the start the baby was considered Canadian due to the parents, it was even on the birth certificate. So yeah, kind of weird. But at least that kid isn’t going to have the Japanese government coming after them later for something or the other.

              2. JB*

                Are you sure about that? I thought that those who immigrated to other countries had to serve the mandatory military service, but not most adoptees.

                1. quick reply*

                  Immigrants from Korea to other countries, like the US, who give up their Korean citizenship before turning 22 (I think), do not need to serve in the military.
                  They have to serve in the military if they are over 22 and want to go to Korea. After serving, they can then give up Korean citizenship if they wish.

                  With Korean-Americans or other Koreans born overseas, with non-Korean nationality, some people get “caught” in immigration because well-meaning relatives in Korea registered their births on family registries, automatically giving them Korean citizenship through their parents without their knowledge.

                  Adoptees probably wouldn’t have to go through the military, but I think that depends on the age they were adopted and whether or not their names were on a family registry in Korea.

                2. JB*

                  @quick reply Thanks for the info. That’s what I was thinking when I said “most” adoptees–the ones who did not have their names added to a family registry.

                  And about those who give up their Korean citizenship before turning 22, I seem to remember reading something about their being an unintended consequence from the wording of the law that meant that a small number of people *cannot* give up their citizenship. Is that right? It had to do with the law that was passed to keep those with dual citizenship from avoiding mandatory military service. I thought I read that on klawguru but now I can’t find it, so I wouldn’t count on me being right about that.

      2. Cristina in England*

        Yeah, it’s a pain, the US has global taxation of its citizens. The Mayor of London, born in the US (and lived there until he was 5) has just renounced his American citizenship, ostensibly because the IRS wanted five or six figures in capital gains tax when he sold a property (in the UK). The UK wasn’t even looking to collect tax on this sale since it doesn’t levy capital gains taxes on the sale of first homes. Some say that he was just renouncing his citizenship because he wants to be Prime Minister, but jeez, that’s a lot of money being demanded by a country he left when he was 5.

          1. Cristina in England*

            And finally, before I go to bed, (sorry for the multiple short posts) I am apparently the first person American abroad to ever do any freelance work via oDesk. They can’t release my payment because the system is only set up for Americans in America or non-Americans outside of America. The detail is boring, but it seems like oDesk also did not know that Americans have to pay tax globally. My “I cannot get paid” urgent support ticket is almost a week old and all they have said is that they’re working on it.

        1. quick reply*

          The US doesn’t tax me. I live abroad and pay taxes to Japan. I file taxes with the US to exclude my foreign income. The exclusion counts up to $95,000USD, so I’d have to make a lot of money to be taxed by the US government. To the US, I make $0. It’s so that Americans abroad are not double-taxed.

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      Despite having never lived in the us, I also have to do American taxes due to my American citizenship that comes from having an American mother. I was born in England and have never lived anywhere else but they still reckon I’m an American living abroad… I also only found out about this for the first time last year. Pain in the ass.

      1. Noah*

        I would renounce my citizenship for sure. The IRS is one of the worst parts of being a US citizen.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Yes- Boris Johnson the London Mayor got caught like this very recently! It was a news story here in the UK and can be Googled.

        2. jhhj*

          You (officially) can only renounce it once your taxes are paid up. I know Canadians living long-term in the US, married to Americans, who refuse to get citizenship for this reason.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Not to mention it’s not that easy. There is a fee to pay to enter into the system to renounce. There are interviews, which take time depending on your country/area. If they think you’re doing it to evade paying taxes, they will refuse it. I’ve also heard that if you’re elderly, they will refuse you as they would rather wait until you die so they have claims on your estate. If your net worth is over a certain amount, you have to pay a percentage of it as an exit tax. Last I heard (they keep moving the goalposts on everything, it used to be under $500 to apply, now it’s over $2500), you had to be worth less than $650K to not have to pay anything to be let go… provided you pass all the interviews. I think that if you are over that amount, it’s 10% of your assets. And then I heard that after that Facebook guy handed in his green card a few days before the IPO, there was a bill working its way through the government to go after people like that retroactively.

    2. matcha123*

      I’ve heard that we (abroad) don’t need to fill in the stuff about “Obamacare” if our income is $0 under 2555EZ and we had insurance. I always wait until August to file mine because it’s easier than thinking about April (and because I met the “full year abroad” in August).

  2. OhNo*

    Has anyone here traveled to London before? I’m going over for a short vacation in a few weeks and would love recommendations of things to see or places to visit.

    I’m on a budget, so if you know of any free things, I’d definitely be interested in hearing about them. Also, if anyone has any advice on booking hotels, I’d love some tips on that, too. I usually just call the hotel I’d like to stay at, but that’s been proving difficult to do with the time difference.

    1. Cristina in England*

      London is super expensive, but if you are happy to use the public transit system, you can get around on the subway and buses and stay in a slightly less expensive neighborhood. I usually use laterooms.com, hotels.com, booking.com, and tripadvisor.co.uk for hotels. What’s most important to you? Food, being close to everything, the hotel itself, museums, interesting walks? I am sure the commentariat here could give you excellent suggestions but it would help to narrow it down to the type of things you like. :-)

      1. Cristina in England*

        St. Pancras International train station is lovely, with great shops and cafes inside. It’s where you get the Eurostar to France, so if you want a little side-trip to Paris while you’re in London, that’s totally do-able.

      2. Clever Clogs*

        My second favourite web browse is a UK site called MoneySavingExpert that has individual forums on just about everything and anything and the community sharing is just as great as here :O) I would suggest you have a look at their UK Holidays and Days Out Section and the Shopping and Freebies section.


        Members update special offers as and when they see them including last minute hotel and travel deals. I paid 29GBP per night for my room at PremierLodge last year using the site and I booked about a month ahead. They also have a reverse air fare checker on site whereby you pump in your date and see the cheapest bargain flights available. We went to Germany for the day for 20GBP return. I love a bargain!

        I would suggest getting an Oyster Card for the Tube, it works out cheaper than paying for individual tickets.

        And one of my favourite tourist things was the Emirates Cable Car over the Thames. I believe it was 6GBP and the best value for money. You can take the cable car from Greenwich to the O2 Arena which in itself is worth a visit and you can use your Oyster card for payment.

        The Olympic Village is also interesting if you are into Sports, that’s in East London.

        Here’s another good site that may help you see what’s on


        Now I want to go back! Have a great time.

      3. OhNo*

        Thanks for the suggestions! I don’t really have a preference, but interesting walks sound like something that would be fun. It’s my first vacation by myself, so I’m looking forward to spending some time alone and exploring!

        1. Clever Clogs*

          You will love it. I would suggest you take a hop on hop off tour early in your visit to get a real feel for what you want to explore further. If you get a ticket with the Thames river boat included, you can tour the city, hop off the bus by Tower Bridge (if I remember properly) and then take the river boat back up to the London Eye and Big Ben area then you can meet another bus and keep touring.

          Tesco is a UK supermarket that sells everything under the sun very reasonable priced and they have Tesco Metro mini supermarkets all over London. They do a 3 item lunch special that is priced far better than most chains and the food is really fresh.

          Most UK restaurants don’t offer water by the glass (water is a metered utility so rarely offered, same with ice) and coffee tea etc don’t usually have free refills so you may want to buy bottled water at Tesco or similar.

          You can see Buckingham Palace in Central London but if you are interested in the Monarchy I really recommend taking a day to visit Windsor, it’s a short train trip from London and the train takes you directly to the centre of Windsor and it’s a 5 minute walk to the Castle. You can explore the grounds and cathedrals and it’s very quaint and green (have a look online for unlike London which is very much a vibrant big city.


          And if you are a walker, you can also take in The Long Walk in Windsor, it’s stunning.


          1. Ruth (UK)*

            Don’t know what you’re talking about with the water. They will always give you free tap water if you ask and I always have free water in pubs or restaurants. You’re right about lack of free refills. Assume you don’t get refills unless it specifically says you do. It’ll call it bottomless and the only places I can think of that does it is Nandos and pizza hut. Its also a bit harder to ask for substitutions or customizations to a meal order and if you send it back there better be a specific issue.

            Good news is we don’t tip so you don’t need to worry about that. Even when you get a place that says service not included, they will not notice much if you don’t unless there was a big group of you or something. I worked in food retail and if an American came in and tried to tip, I and other staff would kind of not know what to do and end up having to ask the manager what to do with the money. Till needed to balance and we weren’t allowed to have cash on us.

            London has gone very cashless. For buses and tubes etc you need an oyster card or contactless payment unless you have some sort of daily pass etc.

            I don’t live there so can’t offer site seeing tips. Go to Norwich, except don’t because it’s 3 hours away by train and nothing to see here.

            1. Ruth (UK)*

              Additionally, you can almost always drink the water in the taps here except in some public toilets. Unless it is labelled with ‘not drinking water’, assume it is fine. No reason to ever buy bottled water in England.

            2. Elkay*

              Just to add that restaurants legally have to give you tap water for free but you have to specifically ask for tap water, otherwise they may bring you (and charge you for) bottled water.

              I normally tip roughly 10% in a sit down restaurant, i.e. where someone has served me at my table not where I’ve ordered at the counter and sat down.

              1. Merry and Bright*

                Yes, I like to tip too, also about 10%. It goes a long way and most hospitality staff are on the minimum wage so it is even better when you can check that the staff are going to get the gratuity direct. Not tipping is a shame and I know we Brits sometimes have a reputation overseas for being mean like this.

          2. Clever Clogs*

            *I meant chapel when referring to Windsor, I have no idea why I wrote cathedral when I meant St George’s Chapel. Windsor is a great day out :O)

    2. Elkay*

      Most museums are free (some special exhibits cost to get into), off the top of my head free museums:
      Tate Modern
      National Gallery
      National Portrait Gallery
      Science Museum
      Natural History Museum

      The London Eye is worth doing, you can normally find 2-for-1 vouchers if you’re travelling with someone else. Leicester Square has a half-price ticket booth if you want to go to the theatre.

      If you want cheap and cheerful hotels check out Premier Inn, they’re my go-to when I’m staying somewhere I just need a bed.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Also, Travelodge for only-need-a-bed hotels. Their mattresses are really comfortable, even though it is a complete step down from a Premier Inn in price and in style!

    3. AnotherFed*

      Lots of the neat markets and parks are free – things like Greenwich, the Columbia road flower market, Brick lane market, and the London canals (complete with swans) are all neat and free to enter. If you like architecture, the Royal Courts of Justice are open to the public for free, Westminster Abbey is free if you go for services (but charges admission to just visit it), and there’s tons of free walking tours of various neighborhoods.

    4. Sheep*

      London is my favourite place! I’m jealous!
      – The parks. Hampstead Heath is my favourite (and the village itself is really nice). Regents’ Park is great too, and not to forget Hyde Park.. Primrose Hill has great views and some cute little shops and restaurants.
      -Brick Lane – lots of yummy Indian food. And bagels.
      – Camden Market, Portobello Market, Columbia Flower Market, Borough Market (fave)..
      -Canary Wharf (has a very different feel to it), but nice to stroll around, and there are some good cafes there too.
      -South Bank

      Just so much love for the place..

      1. OhNo*

        I’ve heard good things about Hyde Park. Apparently there’s a Peter Pan statue there that I should go see? I never thought of the markets, I’m definitely going to have to take a look at those!

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Hyde Park is great! You can find the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens.

          St James’s Park (close by Buckingham Palace) is a favourite of mine. It is a smaller park but very pretty. Tip: to get in I advise crossing the road in Birdcage Walk as if you try to cross by the Palace you can take your life in your hands with the traffic free-for-all there!

    5. Natalie*

      Do they have airbnb in London? My cousin and I just booked one for Paris and it can be cheaper than a hotel since you have kitchen access and can cook some meals at home.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

        They do! I recommend someone named Alix who advertises apartments in Little Venice/Maida Vale, I’ve stayed there a few times and had a great experience.

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      Also paging Elizabeth West! :)

      I love Portobello Market.
      Get the cable car return trip as it doesn’t really go anywhere.
      If you like good burgers, go to either Ed’s Diner or Byron burgers.
      Carnaby Street and look at the clock
      Liberty, Harrods and Selfridges (because why not?)
      British Library
      If you like books, go and find a Daunt bookshop or the book barge.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It was on Buzzfeed that I found Word on the Water–also Hatchards, which is the oldest bookshop in London (next to Fortnum and Mason). Both opened in the eighteenth century!

          Soo many books, sooo little luggage space….

          1. Merry and Bright*

            Also, if tea is one of your things, a treat from the Fortnum and Mason tea floor is the way to go.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yes! Their Earl Grey Classic is lovely and smells so good. I had a giant cuppa just today. :) Need more….
              I like that such an expensive store has things I can afford. ;) Also, it’s just about the only place left on earth that sells actual tea cosies.

      1. Elkay*

        Seconding Byrons, they’re all over London. Also Wahaca, Mexican tapas style food. If you want cheap-ish lunches and you’re near somewhere you can sit out lots of places do cheap meal deals (£3-4 for sandwich/salad, drink and a snack), Boots (which is a chemist but does really good sandwiches), Tesco, Sainsburys and Greggs are all worth checking out.

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        I find hotels expensive, so I stay in hostels – I highly recommend the St. Christopher’s Inn chain (can get quite small, female/male only dorms – smallest is 4? beds, a room I think) or Clink Hostels (smaller rooms than St. Christopher’s)

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            I’ve stayed in several St. Christopher’s – Paris, Edinburgh and Belgium. Haven’t actually stayed in a London one but am sure they’d be just as nice (there’s several of them around). Best one so far has been the Paris one (pod beds = more privacy).

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Oh that’s really annoying–they have rooms in Prague, where I WISH I had money to go because there is an event there while I’m in London but I can’t afford to do both! Arrgghh!!

                1. Carrie in Scotland*

                  One day, I’ll also get to Prague.
                  And Switzerland.
                  And Vienna.

                  I don’t think they have an age restriction, I think Clink do though.

                2. Steve G*

                  eeerrr rain is bad again so I left pub b/c was soaked by the time I got there…need better weather…..

                  anyways…I urge you to get yourself to Prague, either now or as a separate trip. Czech Rep is my favorite place in the world. I went there once and thought that I had to live there, so moved there after college, for 3 years….so it’s hard to remember exactly what attracted me to it, but I do remember so many of the little, everyday things about Prague interesting me and fascinating me in the beginning. The language looks/sounds nice. In fact, alot of tourist get obsessed with the subway announcement that says “vystup a nastup, dvere se zaviraji” which sounds cool when you hear it, but mean “finishing getting on or off, the doors are gonna close.” They usually kind of laugh when they hear what the lovely sounding announcement means. Anyway….the availability of really good espresso and wine is impressive. The people are generally nice, and its a great city to people watch. Czech women are known for being beautiful, but Prague also attracts tourists from all of Europe, I remember when I was first there often getting a perch at a café or wine shop on a busy street and going into a total day-dream state people watching….

                  From a practical standpoint, the main part of the city is compact and walkable (or travelable by tram or subway), but its compact without being crowded. I used to live near Prague Castle, and at off hours, I swear I was the only person wandering the place. No security, no roped off areas, because Prague has so little crime. A lot of other cities are too crowded to give you that experience.

                  And the architecture is great, lots of good photo ops. Many multicolored buildings with red-tiled roofs and castle-like structures……..

                  I also love Czech food and drink, and one of the pluses about Czech eateries (at least coming from a NY perspective) is that they don’t rush you out like here, you can sit and mull over a glass of wine for an hour and the waiter is totally fine with that.

                  I had been to Vienna and London at that point and though they are both awesome, Prague just really hit a certain spot. Vienna is too spread out to give you the exciting, vibrant city feeling, London is great, but was pretty much exactly what I expected……but Prague was really cool.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  @Steve G:

                  I have a chat room/Facebook friend from the Czech Republic–she posts lovely pictures all the time! People from the music site I belong to go to soundtrack concerts, mostly in Europe. There’s one in Prague during the time I’ll be in London for the one there (so close yet so far!) but I can’t afford go to Prague this trip, both in terms of time and money. :(

      3. Elizabeth West*

        YES! Do go to the book barge–Word on the Water (I think they’re in Hackney currently but I could be wrong). You can follow them on Facebook and they post where they are. They’re lovely. I’ve been quite involved in supporting their bid for a permanent mooring at Paddington, which the Canal and River Trust foolishly decided that British Land deserved instead. Boo! >:(

      4. Elizabeth West*

        I NEED to go to the British Library this time. I missed it last time.

        Besides the events I’m attending, I have research to do. And this will be the third visit–if I don’t get into the East End, the city will probably disown me. :P I must try pie and mash and liquor. :)

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          One of the best pies I’ve had in London is in the basement/ground floor in Covent Garden – which is also a great and pretty place to visit.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL, I’m going to have to be careful not to get sucked into doing a bunch of stuff and not getting anything done. That’s what happened last trip (but I was on holiday, so it doesn’t count).

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Okay, can’t give you much advice about hotels, because I stay with family, but I second the advice about getting an Oyster card. Wait until you get there to get one. You can buy it at tube stations or any newsagent.

      Cheap and free things:
      Walks: http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseypippin/16-breathtaking-walks-to-take-in-london#.dimEpZxag
      This should help some: http://budgettravel.about.com/od/destinationsavings/tp/london_budget.htm

      Greggs (they’re everywhere) sells a sandwich and a drink for £3. You can also get sandwiches really cheap at Marks & Spencer toward the end of the day. Think ready-made, but loads better than those nasty petrol station sandwiches in the US.
      Lunch out is often cheaper than dinner , so if you’re staying in a rental or a hostel where you can cook dinner that will save you money.
      I bookmarked this for future reference: http://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/eat-in-london-for-under-ps10#.jgNvkbNm3

      Getting around:
      Bus is cheaper than the tube and you can see more, but it is slower. http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/how-to-take-the-bus-in-london/
      Remember you can walk between a lot of tube stations and save money that way: http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2013/04/17/is-it-quicker-to-walk-a-realistic-tube-map/

      If you click on my name and go to my blog and find the category Britain 2014, you can find information in my posts about buses, trains, etc. Also this post: http://aelizabethwest.com/2014/06/06/london-links/

      Have fun! :D

      1. OhNo*

        So many helpful links! Thanks, Elizabeth West! I’m definitely going to have to check these places out, especially that list of cheap restaurants (yum!).

        I’ve already bought a visitor’s oyster card online (because I wasn’t paying for it, so I had to do it in advance), so I should be good to go on that score. I also bought my train ticket in advance, since a friend recommended getting it early to save some $$.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          That was good advice from your friend. You can buy most train tickets up to 3 months in advance and save a ton of cash.
          Also, I see somebody here has recommended the London Pass. Once you have this many attractions are then “free” as in you don’t pay again. Just as good is that you then don’t need to queue either! You can order the ticket beforehand or have it shipped out to you if there is time, according to the website. I was looking up prices for a friend the other day – it is short notice now but there is a 10% discount off the price until 17 March.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Oh yes, great advice on the train tickets. The Man in Seat 61 website recommended that also. I saved a bundle on my train tickets to Cardiff and Inverness on trainline.com by buying them early.

    8. V. Meadowsweet*

      I’m a huge fan of the Hop-On/Hop-Off tours – they’re wonderful for getting a bit familiar with a city and where things are in relation to other things. The tickets are good for 24 hours, so you can go all the way around and then back to the bits you want to see or do it the next day :) Take one of the tours with a live guide, they often have interesting little tidbits (and terrible jokes :) )

      I’ve had good luck with booking.com too. The National Gallery is amazing, also the British Museum :)

      (I’m totally going to be taking notes from this thread – hoping to visit London again one day :) )

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes! We always try to do those our first time in a new city, usually staying on for a full circuit unless something really catches our eye. (Also, if your first activity off the plane isn’t sleeping, you’re often tired, so sitting and watching is extra appealing.) Then, once we get a feel for the city we do the hop on/hop off whatever.

    9. Merry and Bright*

      A couple of London’s best kept secrets (which I would only share with the AAM community!):

      Check out St John’s Bakery online – their doughnuts are probably the best in London. But they tend to sell out by mid-late morning so be warned!!

      If you want a burger for lunch you can’t do better than the Real Food Market at the South Bank. Jacob’s Ladder comes to mind. Proper, organic pastured beef or lamb. Definitely not junk food. This place Spoils you for most other burgers.

      Borough Market has been mentioned already and I can’t agree enough. Awesome food stalls as well as cafes etc.

      A short walk from Borough Market (near London Bridge) is Terminus Spa (another London secret). Look up online.

      For coffee one of my favourites is the Monmouth Coffee Shop.

    10. Andraste*

      Enjoy your trip! The museums I’d definitely recommend are Tate Modern (modern art) and the British Museum (world art). The British Museum is FREE and amazing, huge collection that it will be very hard to see all of in one go! It has lots of things you’ve heard about your whole life that you can see in person, like the Rosetta Stone. The National History Museum was not all that impressive to me and isn’t one I’d recommend, although it may have been updated by now (I was there about 5 years ago).

      Another free thing that I really enjoyed was going to a choral service at Westminster Abbey. I went to an evensong service and it was really lovely. I’m not religious but I do enjoy the music and it was moving to witness something that was a very old tradition.

      As far as saving money, other people have given good advice about getting cheap sandwiches at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, etc. They are everywhere, so it won’t be hard to find one! Pret A Manger is another ready made food chain that is fairly ubiquitous around London and inexpensive. When I am *REALLY* trying to travel on a budget, usually I’ll keep peanut butter & jelly, bread, and a bag of apples in my hotel and pack my lunch before I go out in the morning. Not spending any money on lunch saves me money to spend on a nicer dinner, so that might be something to try as well if money is really tight.

    11. Holly Day*

      One of my favorite hidden spots in London is St. Dunstan in the East, a beautiful church built around 1100, damaged in the fire of 1666 then repaired, and damaged again during World War II. They decided not to repair it again, but instead turned it into a beautiful garden among the ruins. It’s a peaceful and beautiful spot to enjoy a few quiet moments before venturing back out to the city.

      The Tate Modern is great not just for the art, but for the view — there’s a balcony a few stories up that has one of those guides to the skyline to help you pick out what you’re looking at across the city — for free! Borough market is nearby for some food and a wander, then as you cross the Millennium Bridge be sure to look down, there’s an artist who paints little creatures on the discarded gum, it’s easy to miss and kinda fun (if you can get past the whole chewed gum grossness!) 

  3. TL -*

    Sunshine in Boston all week! (And then a rainy weekend but rainy is better than just gloomy, I feel. At least the weather is doing something.)

    Spring is just around the corner!

    1. YWD*

      It was a great week, I agree! It’s funny that I still have over two feet of snow in my yard but it was almost warm enough for shorts a few days.

    2. Amethyst*

      Such a relief! Today was gross, but I’m just relieved the sidewalks are so much more clear than they were last week.

    3. Lizzie*

      This week was glorious! I wore non-boot shoes, I got to go outside for recess (oh yeah, the kids did too!), I loved it!

    1. onnellinen*

      If you don’t have ovulation prediction strips yet, I highly recommend getting them online. So much cheaper than the drugstore! They are worth trying for a few months, in my opinion – I was relying primarily on a period-tracker to figure out the right window, but it turned out my body is a bit off of what the formula predicts.

    2. dragonzflame*

      Oooh, snap! And in NZ too! We aren’t planning to actually try for three months (we’re doing up our old kitchen so want to make sure we’re clear of any lead paint residue that still lurks) but I went to the doctor last week anyway and got the blood tests and a folic acid script. It’s all a bit weird – I’ve spent the last, what, 14 years trying to avoid babies and my brain is having to do a complete 180.

      I’m thinking of trying out temperature charting, but I don’t fully get it. I understand that you take your temperature first thing when you wake up and how to do all that, but what if it’s a hot night or you wake up freezing because you’ve kicked off the covers? Would that not skew your results? Anyone have any wisdom on that?

      1. saro*

        Well, sometimes that happens but you’re really looking at the overall pattern. I found it confusing too but just start charting and things making sense after few weeks.

  4. Elkay*

    Most museums are free (some special exhibits cost to get into), off the top of my head free museums:
    Tate Modern
    National Gallery
    National Portrait Gallery
    Science Museum
    Natural History Museum

    The London Eye is worth doing, you can normally find 2-for-1 vouchers if you’re travelling with someone else. Leicester Square has a half-price ticket booth if you want to go to the theatre.

    If you want cheap and cheerful hotels check out Premier Inn, they’re my go-to when I’m staying somewhere I just need a bed.

  5. Mimmy*

    S-l-o-w-l-y making our way through House of Cards, just finished 3 episodes and will probably start a 4th in a little bit. I’d seen here on previous open threads that this season isn’t as good as the first two, but was hoping I’d still like it. Well….it’s definitely falling short of expectations so far. Please tell me it picks up soon!!!

    1. C Average*

      Personally, I totally dug it. Just finished the last episode last night and enjoyed every second. I wouldn’t say it’s the best season, but it was definitely enjoyable watching. The first couple seasons set the bar REALLY high.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve heard it isn’t as good as the first 2 seasons either, which is disappointing. I’m going to be travelling for work in a couple weeks, and since I need to be there for 2 weeks, I’m going to stay through the weekend. I’m planning to spend all day Sunday holed up in my hotel room binge-watching season 3.

      1. Paul*

        I watched most of season three over the weekend it was first released. I would agree that it’s not as good as season 1/2, but that it is still quite good. Having consumed it all so quickly, I am now anxiously awaiting season 4… but it so far away!

    3. Windchime*

      Season three wasn’t as good, in my opinion. I still watched the whole thing and there was still some of the horrible behavior that we’ve come to expect from the Underwoods, but I have to admit that seeing them cheat and kill their way up to the Presidency was a lot more exciting than seeing them trying to maintain the office. (America Works legislation? Zzzzzzz)

      1. Mimmy*

        From what I’ve seen so far (4 episodes in), the jobs legislation is just so over the top yet boring at the same time. You make a good point about how it now vs when the Underwoods were wreaking havoc on their way to the top.

    4. asteramella*

      I really disliked the way season 3 sidelined virtually all the female characters. Even Claire got short shrift!

  6. JAL*

    I had spinal surgery this past Tuesday and I’m pretty much incapacitated in bed 90% of the day.

    What are some good movies or TV shows to watch on Amazon Prime Instant Watch and Netflix?

    Book suggestions are also welcome as these are the activities that consume my time in bed :)

    1. Elkay*

      The Vikings is good, that’s Amazon. As for Netflix, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul, Comic Book Men (reality show set in Kevin Smith’s comic book store in New Jersey), Gilmore Girls, Friends.

      Mitch Albom books are engaging and he’s written a good mix of fiction and non-fiction. Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris is one of my favourite books. CJ Samsom’s Dominion is interesting, it’s set in 1950s Britain imagining that the British surrendered to Germany in 1940.

      Most importantly, get well soon!

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes! Yes! Yes! I watched the first six episodes of season 3 this week. Intense! Exciting! Morally ambiguous (or maybe totally immoral but they have you invested in rooting for the bad guys)!

    2. Cristina in England*

      We have different things available on our Netflix here, but I watched all of Arrested Development and Community recently. I have also been watching Jerry Seinfeld’s series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Youtube (not on an official channel, it’s just some guy’s uploads). If you are a Seinfeld fan (or better, if you weren’t), watch the one with Larry David. It will suddenly become clear where that entire show came from.

      1. Elkay*

        Season 6 of Community is coming onto Sony TV channel this week, if you have Sky or Virgin. I’m currently catching up on seasons 3-5 via Netflix.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I discovered this show last year, and really enjoyed the first 2 seasons. I’m reserving judgement on the season 2 cliffhanger until season 3 starts…I’m still not sure how I feel about how they ended it. Nice and cryptic, huh?? Sorry about that…don’t want to spoil anything.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (If you liked 30 Rock, The Office or Parks and Rec you’ll probably like it).
      Gilmore Girls. (Not everyone’s taste, but there’s lots of episodes).

      Can you work with with your hands without pain from the surgery? You could knit, crochet, or do needlework. Even if you don’t know how, there are tons of online tutorials, or books if you can get someone to bring them to you.

      1. JAL*

        I already plowed through Kimmy Schmidt. It was hilarious. And I’ve seen every Gilmore Girls episode 3 times. Lorelai is my spirit animal.

        I’m thinking of doing some SkillShare classes. If you haven’t checked that site out, I highly recommend it .

        1. Blue_eyes*

          More shows you might like (aka shows that I liked):
          The Top of the Lake (murder mystery featuring Elizabeth Moss)
          Call the Midwife (midwives in post-WWII London)
          Bomb Girls (WWII era drama)
          Land Girls (other WWII era drama)
          The Paradise (historical drama about a department store)

        2. American in London*

          Podcasts may be something to pass the time as well. If you love Gilmore Girls try Gilmore Guys podcast, I think they are currently talking about season 3 episodes.

    4. Florida*

      Book recommendations:

      Room by Emma Donoghue
      I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl by Kelle Groom
      The Secret Life of Bees (someone on AAM recommended this recently. Thank you! I just read it, and it was great.)
      One True Thing by Anna Quindlen
      Water for Elephants (never seen the movie, but the book is fantastic)

      I hope you get better soon.

        1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

          I loved that book (I’m a goner for any good time-travel book). I’ve heard they’re making the movie.

        2. JAL*

          My mom loves that book and I’ve been meaning to read it. I guess it’s time to ask to borrow it.

          1. ace*

            Netflix series with James Franco, I think I heard. Casting kinda throws me for a loop, and will be interesting to see whether they try go fit whole series into one season, or draw it out over multiples.

      1. Andraste*

        Room is incredible and I nearly read that whole book in one sitting, but I will caveat that rec with massive trigger warnings that it deals with heavy topics like rape and abuse so if that’s not the headspace you’re in, maybe save it.

    5. fposte*

      I went DVDs so I’m no help, but good wishes to my sister in spine surgery for a speedy recovery!

    6. YWD*

      Amazon Prime – Justified
      Netflix – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange is the New Black, and for oldies – Gilmore Girls and Friends

      Hope your recovery is an easy one!

    7. Carrie in Scotland*

      I just finished ‘The Girl on the Train’ – if you liked ‘Gone Girl’ you’ll probably like this.
      I also recommend ‘The first fifteen lives of Harry August’

      TV – Gilmore Girls, Spiral (French crime drama), Broadchurch (British crime drama).

    8. Revanche*

      Netflix: I’m doing a complete rewatch of Psych right now, and have also been watching the BBC Sherlock, Leverage, Supernatural, Agents of SHIELD.

      Good luck with recovery!

    9. hermit crab*

      My TV show recommendation is Lost, if you haven’t seen it yet. I watched the entire series while recuperating from an injury a few years ago. You definitely need some suspension of disbelief, but in my experience it draws you in enough to distract you from pretty much anything!

      1. Natalie*

        Getting invested with the characters rather than the mystery is key to enjoying Lost, IMO. The mythology gets changed around a lot and can get frustrating, but the characters are great.

        1. soitgoes*

          It’s helpful to view the Hanso Foundation as having a 300-ish year history of trying to get to the island and monetize the stuff that happens there. Richard’s arrival and the whole of the DHARMA Initiative aren’t really significant beyond being two of those efforts (though I adore Richard).

          1. Natalie*

            Yeah, having watched it once already I can find that stuff interesting, but it was SO FRUSTRATING when I was watching the first time. It reminds me of HIMYM, when they were killing time and telling us things were important, only to drop it when they got renewed for another season.

            1. soitgoes*

              There was a palpable sense of time being wasted, especially when we’d get flashback episodes for certain characters. I know a lot of people loved Charlie and Claire, but I hated their episodes because I knew that they’d tell us nothing new about the central mythology. Plus I hated the Juliet character (I’ve never liked that actress, which is a totally personal bias, but it meant that I didn’t get anything out of Sawyer’s romantic redemption) and I hated how she was portrayed as being this saintly heroine despite treading further into infidelity than Kate ever did. I ended up deciding that people from every major global culture had gotten stranded on the island at one point. That’s why there was all that Egyptian stuff there, and how Jacob and his brother were descendants of the ancient Romans, and how Jack & co were just next in line. The hieroglyphics were an attempt to identify something mysterious – it was a major misdirect to make us think for five minutes that the smoke was an actual Egyptian monster or whatever.

              Though I give Lost a lot of credit for flipping the script when it comes to how these long-form fantasy/sci-fi shows are plotted. Lost is the reason why a show like the X-Files seems so dated today from a basic writing perspective. It’s also why you can watch Game of Thrones and think, “It’s about time for the first wave of villains is defeated.” Lost taught us how to look for those puppet strings.

              1. OriginalEmma*

                I was never a big fan of Juliet either, even after learning the reasoning behind her travel to the island (her sister and all that). She always struck me as shady and manipulative (on par with, or even more so, than Ben Linus). I didn’t like Kate (did anyone? She was an immature, meddling character) but loved me some Sun/Jin and Desmond/Penny.

              2. EvilQueenRegina*

                Jack’s tattoos! That was the point when it was clear he had too many centric episodes.

    10. soitgoes*

      The X-Files if you never watched it (make sure to watch the first movie after season 5). Millennium if you like the X-Files.

      1. Rene in UK*

        Oooh, I love that series….the costumes are to die for.
        I also love Poirot and Miss Marple and, of course, Sherlock.

        If you like science fiction/fantasy, Firefly is great and there are miniseries of Terry Pratchett(RIP) books Hogfather and Going Postal. The Dicworld books are great to read, too–there are a lot of them, and many are pretty light-hearted.

        Have you thought of audiobooks? I like those if I’m not able to focus on a screen, like if I have a migraine or if I’m sick.
        Hope it heals quickly and well!

        1. Soupspoon McGee*

          I would kill for those clothes!

          I haven’t seen Going Postal, but I’ve loved all the others. And I’ve been a Whovian since before it was cool (like bowties).

    11. Calla*

      I just went through post-surgery bed-ridden convalescence myself! Some of my favorite shows on netflix:

      – My Name is Earl
      – Psych
      – Criminal Minds
      – Salem
      – Once Upon a Time (I haven’t watched since season 2 iirc, but I liked it that far)

      If you want totally mindless hilari-bad, a bunch of Lifetime movies have recently been added to Netflix!

      1. JAL*

        Oh God! I didn’t realize My Name Is Earl was on there! I loved watching that show when I was in high school when they played the reruns early in the morning.

        I just realized that they put on 3rd Rock from the Sun on Netflix as of midnight!

        1. Elkay*

          If you like My Name Is Earl check out Raising Hope which was on Netflix last time I checked.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, someone here suggested it to me (maybe Alison?) and I really, really liked it. It’s like The Killing only even darker/scarier, and with several super-sexy Irish guys. Yum.

    12. Ella*

      Documentaries: The Thin Blue Line and The Imposter. You will get totally sucked in, they are so good!

      1. JAL*

        Those are two of my favorites! There’s actually a fictional movie based on The Imposter. I’m pretty sure it’s called The Chameleon.

    13. Sunflower*

      Netflix- Friday Night Lights, Rescue Me, Greys Anatomy, Freaks and Geeks, The Blacklist. There are also a ton of ESPN 30 for 30’s on there which are documentaries featured around important events and figures in sports. There are ton of really really great ones (Benji is one of my favs, Broke is also really interesting)

    14. danr*

      Can’t help with the movies, as I’m an addicted reader. I tend towards hard SF, some fantasy and history. As a fellow spinal surgery patient I wish you a speedy recovery.

    15. Windchime*

      Netflix/Amazon streaming:
      House of Cards
      Parenthood (I was surprised that I liked this as much as I did)
      The Killing (very dark murder mystery)
      The Fall (even darker, if you can get past Gillian Anderson’s ridiculous accent)
      Call the Midwife (a 1950’s era drama)
      Battlestar Galactica (don’t judge)
      Breaking Bad , if you haven’t already watched it

    16. BeckyDaTechie*

      We’re nerds in our house. Husband and I just finished all 5 seasons of “Warehouse 13”, free with Prime except for the last season, which was $10. “Burn Notice” is another one we’re enjoying, on Netflix.

    17. anonima in tejas*

      alpha dog (it’s the comedy/goofy version of house of cards– and stars John Goodman)
      queer as folk
      sons of anarchy
      orphan black
      mozart in the jungle

  7. Elkay*

    Anyone else watching Better Call Saul? I’m impressed so far. It’s getting me over my Gilmore Girls withdrawl symptoms.

        1. C Average*

          I’ve read 71 of them. There are a bunch more that I’ve mostly read but sort of skimmed in parts–I only counted the ones of which I’ve read literally every word.

          I like that “Roman Fever” is on the list. It is my favorite short story ever! An absolutely delicious piece of writing.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Oh, I can count Roman Fever, then! . . . I’ve read the short story, but I’ve been confused as tho whether there is a novel by the same name. So whenever I count books that I’ve read, I never count Roman Fever because I’m not sure

            1. C Average*

              Nope, not a novel. Just a perfect, perfect short story. I read it whenever I want to get inspired about my own writing. It’s so beautifully paced, and there’s not a single superfluous word. And no matter how many times I read it, I find the last paragraph just delicious.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I got 77, as well. I didn’t count volumes of short stories, poems, or anthologies if I didn’t read the whole thing, or novels if I didn’t finish them. Apparently I have plenty of unfinished business. I don’t know why, but I never could finish Vanity Fair, despite starting it several times. I still don’t give up, though! One of these times, I’ll pick it up and it will draw me in.

          1. C Average*

            Yeah, this is how I counted, too.

            I finished “Vanity Fair.” It’s not that great.

            1. Merry and Bright*

              It is not a favourite of mine either though I am very keen on 19th century English literature. I have a theory that this is to do with its being a novel without heroes as Thackeray described it. It seems to neutralize it somehow.

              1. C Average*

                Yeah, I remember this and think you’re onto something. I read “Vanity Fair” for extra credit in high school and remember writing a paper about it and “Anna Karenina,” one of my other extra-credit books for the semester. I focused on the fact that both books, unlike most other books, had no particularly sympathetic characters: the nice characters were shallow and dull, the mean characters were somewhat interesting but impossible to root for, and the characters who exhibited repeated poor judgment were just tedious. Twenty-some years later, I’ve re-read both books and stand by this assessment.

            2. Treena Kravm*

              Vanity Fair is the equivalent of The Real Housewives of Victorian England. Reading it with that lens, I managed it in less than a week. Still didn’t love it, but oh well.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Well now, thanks to C Average and Christina’s input, I’m granting myself permission not to finish Vanity Fair (and also, in the same vein and inspired by C Average’s comments downthread, to not read The Goldfinch).

            1. Merry and Bright*

              I tell myself that there are so many great books that life is too short to struggle through a book I really don’t like. I am way past the time of school reading lists.

              1. C Average*

                Plus lots.

                Of all the books I’ve forced myself to slog through when they stopped being interesting to me, very few proved gratifying in the end. A notable exception: “A Tale of Two Cities.” A hundred pages of dreary but completely necessary exposition, followed by a few hundred very compelling pages. I’m very glad I stuck with that one!

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I’ve had books that didn’t catch me on the first few tries, but really hooked me years later if I tried them again. I started Jayne Eyre numerous times and never got pulled in. Then this year, I picked it up again, and WHAM I was instantly immersed! I wanted to call in sick to work a couple of times from how late I stayed up reading it. Vanity Fair, though — I think I just don’t like it.

    1. Stephanie*

      Is there a way to get it on demand? I miss it live due to my work schedule. Is it worth forking over the money for the AppleTV season pass?

      1. Elkay*

        If you watch Netflix on your computer you can make your Netflix account to think it’s in the UK using the Hola add-on. We get it the day after it airs in the US.

    2. stars (undergoing significant induced mass-loss or sequence-position alteration) - 6*

      I’ve been watching Better Call Saul but – and it seriously pains me to say this – it’s just not been very good so far. I’m willing to give it a long time to get rolling, but – Breaking Bad started off with a single, compelling narrative and then ran with it. Saul is just kinda wandering around. My hope is that it all comes together soon.

      Anybody been watching Battle Creek? It took me by surprise and I’ve been finding it quite enjoyable. Note that it’s produced by Vince Gilligan and David Shore (House) and Bryan Singer is involved as well. Kal Penn is in it, too, and he basically plays “what if Kumar was a cop?” It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s quite engaging.

      1. Elkay*

        See, I like the fact that it’s jumping around. We already know the characters so we don’t need the typical intro, it makes sense to me for it to be a bit less linear and build their back stories.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I love Jonathan Banks, so I thought last week’s episode was great!

          The show is kind of slow, but it’s interesting to see how he morphed from Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman. Not quite as dramatic as Walt White into Heisenberg-the-psycho.

    3. Audiophile*

      Yes! I’m really enjoying it. I was a little skeptical at first, because other shows have tried similar things and it didn’t work at all. ( Looking at you Joey.)

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m really enjoying it. The last episode, where we finally learned Mike’s backstory, was riveting.

    5. Windchime*

      I’m a Breaking Bad devotee, so that’s a really high bar. The first few episodes were really, really slow for me and I almost gave up, and then we got to the most recent episode that started giving us Mike’s back story. That one was good to me and I felt the old magic coming back, so I’ll keep going for awhile.

      I have to admit, it was interesting to see how “Saul” first met Tuco Salamanca.

    6. Cath in Canada*

      I’m enjoying it. It’s not Breaking Bad, but then, what is? Having Mike in it too is key, I think – his back story is really compelling.

      Writing a prequel must be pretty challenging – you’re restricted in that you have to end up with the characters in a known configuration, and you don’t have the tension inherent to shows like GoT and Walking Dead where your favourite character could be killed off at any moment. But I think they’re doing a good job so far.

  8. Deep Throat ain't got nothin' on me*

    So is there a word or phrase that describes a person (or the actions of a person) who has finally “made it” (ie, tenure, or a promotion, or a country club membership, etc) who then turns around and makes it even more difficult for the people who would like to follow and achieve the same goal?

    I have to be more anonymous than usual for this.

    I’m serving on a board that evaluates candidates for promotion to the lofty title of B.M.T.

    This is not the kind of promotion you see on television, where Darren Stevens does a last-minute impromptu pitch and saves the Zuckerman account, and his boss says “I’m promoting you to VP of Production!”. No, this is a promotion where the candidate, backed by a sponsor (typically their manager), has to assemble something more like a legal case with several presentations, details of what they’ve worked on for their entire career, awards publications, patents, letters of recommendation, and more.

    This week was the first of several evaluation sessions, and it was brutal. Keep in mind that everyone on this board has been on the other side of it. But most of the board members seem to have little sense that if they had been judged as harshly as they are currently judging this new batch of candidates, there is no way they could have made it.

    Granted, B.M.T. Is not supposed to be an easy, ‘time-in-grade’ promotion. B.M.T.s are supposed to be top technical talent, the Creme de la STEM, so to speak, so there is cause to be uncompromising about certain things. But I’m definitely deep inside of The Sausage Works, and it ain’t pretty.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I’m sure there is a word for it, but it is escaping me at the moment. It reminds me of the rise of guilds, though, because their purposes were to keep quality high, to keep some people out, and limit competition somewhat. (I may be simplifying here)

    2. Steve G*

      They so need a word for this!

      This isn’t just limited to your situation, this goes on all over the place. There have been these people at my last 3 jobs (luckily not at any of the ones before that). We had a director who had gotten a few promotions more because the division needed a person to fill new xyz role, definitely not because she worked hard. She got lots of raises along with this. But when it came to the professional development of his people? Nilch. They all came in at lower-than-usual salaries and had to fight for tiny raises. My other two examples are people who grew their roles as the companies grew, and then hoarded all the power. And very similar to what you write, if they had to apply to the same jobs today, they’d be up against some very stiff competition – so they seriously needed to lighten up when it came to dealing with other people! “Being here the longest” is only an asset if you use it for some good.

      1. C Average*

        I wish there were a word for this, too. Meanwhile, I’m stealing “nilch,” which is awesome.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        There are people like this at my company too…not so much people who hoard power, but people who have been there forever and would never get their jobs today if they had to apply for them. They only got them in the first place because they’ve been there forever and got promoted because that was the next step in the management chain. I’ve never worked anywhere more top-heavy with directors. And more get promoted to that level all the time. Then there’s tons of hand-wringing about how to control costs.

    3. Cristina in England*

      You know, I’ve read about this phenomenon with immigrant groups too. Let’s say there’s a wave of immigrants from Country A to someplace, then 10-15 years later there is a wave of immigrants from Country B to that same place. Apparently it is very common for recently-settled immigrants from Country A to be among the most vociferous opponents of “too much immigration” from Country B.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I’ve heard this as well, especially in the context of diversity in the workplace, that we (as women, as LGBT persons, as whoever) can’t pull up the ladder behind us if we want to really make a difference, etc.

      2. ace*

        That’s the phrase I’ve seen too. See it sometimes with powerful female partners at law firms. Attitude seems to be “I made it without [flex time/whatever benefit/etc.], and I’m not gonna help anyone else have it any easier than I did.”

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      Ooooh, I see this at work. The designated mentors are the cruelest and harshest of all to the newbies. It’s like they’ve forgotten what it’s like to be new to a place and even this field, learning systems, procedures, and preferences.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      Hazing describes the process; the mindset is “If I had to do x, so do you,” rather than “They made me do x, it was brutal, it did not benefit anyone, and I’m not allowing it to happen to another person.”

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I think they’re being obstructionist because they want it to appear that whatever special qualities got them to where they are, are in rarer supply than they actually are. Like they think that enlarging the pool of people who have reached their level of achievement diminishes their own prestige.

    6. Apollo Warbucks*

      All I. An think of is either “I’m all right, Jack” or “pull the ladder up”

    7. matcha123*

      I’ve heard “like crabs in a bucket,” where (apparently) crabs in a bucket will crawl on top of each other to reach the top and keep pushing other ones down.
      I don’t really spend time with crabs, so I can’t say if it’s true or not, but I’ve heard this phrase used before.

    8. AnonAcademic*

      I am in a science Ph.D. program (finishing in May hopefully!) and another student in my lab is in a sister program. The sister program hazes people just like you described, at every level – prospective students, 1st years taking their comps, dissertation proposals, job talks, you name it. Even the new faculty get it. They have serious issues retaining talent! Many students have burnt out and left (maybe 6 in the last 2 years? Whereas my department lost 1 in the same period). During their last hiring round the top candidate asked so many probing questions about “department culture” that my labmate was 99% sure he’d reject an offer based on the unsatisfactory answers.

      I have no advice, but it seems to be a department culture thing and if the chair or other senior faculty don’t take a stand, it won’t change. In my department our grad director is a bit like this, but there is an active plan to oust and replace him before he does any more damage…

  9. Gene*

    RIP Sir Terry Pratchett.

    My favorite author of all time, and a Hell of a guy to boot. I met him at several Cons and signings and sat down and had beers with him one late night in the hotel bar at AussieCon3 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on August 4, 1999 (yes, I remember the date.) I believe there is one, and possibly two, novel in the works. It will probably be the highest selling book of all time in England. Now, the hunt starts to finish my hardback collection.

    I’ll miss his unmistakeable voice.

    1. TL -*

      I’ll miss him too, but their announcement of his death was the most perfect thing ever.

      I really love his work.

    2. BritCred*

      It definitely has left a large fandom in mourning. Great guy and he’s left a legacy that will take a very long time to be forgotten!

      As TL has said the announcements that Rob posted once he had passed were very moving as were many of the tributes written about him. :(

    3. Amethyst*

      I was very sad to learn of his passing, I am still processing it. His writing was very important to me in a difficult part of my life. Everything that people have been writing about him/the meaning of his work to them has been very moving.

    4. Liane*

      I too was saddened by his passing. All 4 of us read at least a few of his Discworld novels & enjoyed them. We also loved every live & animated movie or miniseries we could check out from the library system here.

    5. Revanche*

      RIP Sir Terry.
      *gulp* I spent the whole day after the announcement avoiding tribute posts because I couldn’t afford to be steeped in the sadness. He and his writing will be so missed.

    6. Jen RO*

      I teared up when I read the announcement and I cried reading redditors’ fond memories. And I’ve already got a few ‘new’ books of his to read…

      As an aside, sort of, is Raising Steam as bad as the Amazon reviews make it out to be? I was this close to buying it, but I don’t want to be disappointed. (If it matters, I enjoyed all the newer Discworld books and also Dodger.)

      1. TL -*

        I’m having trouble finishing it. The writing is good, but it’s much more wordy with tons of dialogue and missing the hilarious quippy observations that make Pratchett so funny.

          1. TL -*

            I didn’t read any of the reviews either but I’ve been struggling with it. I think it’s still a good book, just not what I’ve come to expect.

    7. 22dncr*

      Gene – I was wondering if you’d seen. Very sad for me as his next book in the Disc series almost always came out around my b’day and it was my gift to myself. Makes me want to go back and re-read them all from the beginning – I have them all. Loved his humor.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        His is a name I’d always heard of but never read (since I was devoted to finishing Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones). What Discworld book would you recommend to start? I’ve heard Guards! Guards! is the best starter.

        1. Cupcake Destroyer*

          Where to start can depend on where your genre preferences lie, and there are standalone books as well.
          I have Mark Reads bookmarked because he’s reading through the books in publication order (he’s up to book #9, Eric at the moment), and there are people on his site reading through them with him.

          A quick google search for ‘discworld reading order’ might help.

          In honor of Terry, I’ll be cosplaying as one of his characters at Supanova in a month’s time. I had debated cosplaying this character before, but his passing prompted me to take action. I never met him, but thanks to his books, I hear his voice, and it has affected how I see the world.

          1. Cupcake Destroyer*

            Just realised I didn’t even say who I wanted to cosplay as.
            It’s Anoia, goddess of things that get stuck in drawers. She’s the one you’re ‘praying to’ when you rattle a drawer and swear because it won’t open.

          1. Gene*

            Also, while all the books and stories can really stand alone, the characters do develop through the series.

  10. Stephanie*

    So I’m thinking of taking an intro programming class at the community college. Not necessarily doing it for a job (I did a teeny bit in college and learned then that I didn’t want a role that required lots of programming), but I’d at least like to get a better working knowledge than I have now. And I need an intellectual challenge. I tried some self-paced courses, but I realized I need the fire under my ass of a structured course.

    Is there a language that’s particularly good for a beginner? Most of my experience has been in more script-type things like MATLAB.

    1. stars (undergoing significant induced mass-loss or sequence-position alteration) - 6*

      It’s kind of a cliche, but the best way to learn a programming language is to have a project in mind, and then learn the language and attack the problem at the same time.

      One issue that you sometimes have with learning to program is that, while the language itself is relatively simple, the schemes used to input and output data can be very awkward.

      The first language I learned was BASIC, and it was good for that. The thing is, it’s not “fancy” – bare BASIC will basically take input from the keyboard, and then write letters and numbers back to the screen. If you’re okay with that, then there are a number of BASIC interpreters out on the ‘net.

      If you’re up for something a bit more challenging, but that will also produce nice-looking results, you might want to look at Processing, which is basically Java with a nice graphics sandbox for you to draw in. Let’s say you wanted to write a program that made Spirograph patterns – Processing would be great for that.

      I’ll put some URLs in a response for you. If you have a specific project that you’re targeting, please tell us; it might help.

    2. Audiophile*

      I took two programming classes at two different colleges. (My attempt to convince myself that I wanted get a Masters in Computer Science.)

      The first class was C++ and I hated it. And it showed, because I just couldn’t get it down. I finally got a bit of an understanding of C++, but flunked the test because I just couldn’t remember all the steps required when I had to write it out by hand.

      The second class was Python and I enjoyed that a lot more. It was easier for me to understand and get a handle on.

      I would definitely suggest Python.

        1. Audiophile*

          This school/program did not agree. There were a bunch of people taking it and quite a few struggled.

          1. stars (undergoing significant induced mass-loss or sequence-position alteration) - 6*

            For years I’ve been seeing “intro to programming” classes advertise that they use C++, and it’s never been clear to me if they’re really just teaching C (with perhaps a small select set of C++ function) or if they’re really going and trying to push balls-out C++ with full OO and multiple inheritance and polymorphism on the poor kids.

            I hope it’s the former – C by itself is fairly simply. But C++ has been a big steaming pile for years and years, and I feel sorry for anyone who has to use it for anything real.

        2. Windchime*

          C++ was the first language that I learned at it was really difficult. I’m not sure why the school I went to chose that language as something to start beginners on. Before moving to my current job, I did most of my programming in C#. I’m not sure that’s much better as a beginner language, to be honest. I’ve never done Python so I can’t really say which is easier.

  11. BritCred*

    OK, indulgence of a foodie moment! Cooked a friend a nice simple meal and he loved it so I’ll post it here. ;)

    Chicken breast wrapped in bacon, add some seasonings or fried down veg (pepper and onion tonight) cut really small. Put in oven at around 180 for 20 minutes in a oven dish. Then add enough gravy to coat the chicken to the dish, cook for another 20 minutes.

    Do your potatoes and veg to match for dish up time and serve! Produces a nice rich, juicy chicken with lots of flavour and for not too much work, :)

    1. Steve G*

      Yum. On a food note, I cooked Cornish game hen w/ chunks of garlic recently and it is the best tasting meat I ever had….I roasted thin strips of golden potatoes and last minute threw them in with the hen and some broth, and it had a reaaallllyyyy strong flavor. Made any Thanksgiving turkey taste like stale white bread in comparison…..I highly recommend Cornish game hen…

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Do people really eat the bones?

          I saw that in the movie Gigi, and it put me off small game birds forever.

    2. Elizabeth West*


      I made something good–I cut up beef kielbasa and cooked it in a skillet with frozen peppers and onions (I buy them and cut them up and freeze them). In the water from the frozen veggies and the juices from the sausage, I put red pepper flakes, white pepper, paprika, and toward the end, I threw in some minced garlic to make a kind of sauce. DELICIOUS. I had it by itself one time and the other time I had it over three-color quinoa. :)

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I wish I could get it together to buy that stuff in advance and then chop and freeze. As it is now I always have a couple bags of frozen onions and frozen mirepoix blend (onions, carrots, and celery) in the freezer. They’re super cheap, and a huge time saver on busy weeknights. Usually, I don’t mind taking the time to chop, but if it’s swimming lessons night, or soccer night, etc, every little bit helps.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I buy the pre-chopped stuff sometimes too, if I can find it on sale. I like the little diced pieces and I’m too lazy to do more than a quick chop so my pieces are always too big.

  12. salad fingers*

    Chicago is a sea of green right now — yuck. Was out for less than a half an hour and have seen all of the usual St Patrick’s Day things — children being pushed over by drunk people, screaming fights, so many people almost getting hit by cars and of course and of course, the green puking. I feel like such a debbie downer but I really don’t enjoy this stuff. Kind of afraid to bike home with all of the inevitable drunk driving.

    How is St. Pat’s day where you are?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hate St. Patrick’s Day, but I think that’s because I used to work in Times Square. Every St. Patrick’s Day meant leaving work at lunch and to go home and sidestepping puke and drunk people. Screaming drunk people, for that matter. In Hoboken, NJ, they celebrate St. Patrick’s Day two weeks early, and THAT means a lot of drunk people, a lot of beer, and a lot of puke on the train. I hear you on the feeling like a pill, because me too, I hate it.

      There was one nice tradition I will miss– one of the departments down the hall at my old job used to put out coffee, Bailey’s, Jameson, and homemade soda bread in the morning. You were expected to come by several times a day for a piece of soda bread and a shot of something. It was very pleasant, it felt decadent, and dammit, I love treats.

      I live somewhere else now and I have no idea what St. Patrick’s Day will be like. Doesn’t really matter, since I have work and then rehearsal, but I will be relieved to be away from the stumbling drunk people and the rivers of booze.

      1. Stephanie*

        OMG, I was in NYC one year during St Patrick’s Day Weekend and remember being around 5th Avenue. It was madness.

        1. Steve G*

          When I used to commute to NYC from LI on the LIRR, St. Pat’s was the worst. A lot of people who never went to the city or drank much decided to do both in one day. Too much beer can make you sick even if you are used to drinking. It was always gross.

          St. Pat’s is fun as long as you are around other people who celebrate being Irish, or partially Irish. I went to Ireland for the first time in 2012 and I loved it a lot more than I would except, it was really nice. So even if you are only 20% Irish, put on a damn green shirt and smile

          1. salad fingers*

            I have red hair and freckles, I feel I represent my Irish roots sufficiently all day, everyday :-)

          2. Cristina in England*

            “Too much beer can make you sick even if you are used to drinking.”
            In Glasgow that’s called Saturday. Do not miss that for one damn second.

          3. BRR*

            I took the train in during Santa Con once, never again. I might just try and avoid the city from Thanksgiving until November 1st this year. It’s always interesting to see people come in to shop but then they go to the stores that are in NJ/CT/Long Island.

            1. salad fingers*

              Whoa, Santa Con actually looks kind of awesome. I’d like to see the reaction to the horde from children who still believe.

              1. BRR*

                I felt bad for the family with young children standing next to the Ms. Claus throwing up in a trash can in penn station.

                1. Stephanie*

                  I’m a horrible person at laughed at that image (I think Penn Station was what did it for me). But yeah…poor kids.

            2. Steve G*

              It is funny…..you see people who come here to go to Macys, like that is some crazy, NY specific store. Not to mention that you can get the stuff they sell there in so many places.

              1. Treena Kravm*

                I thought that too (I’m from NY) but then I moved to a smaller city on the west coast, and we don’t even *have* a Macy’s. And the one closest to us (1.5 hours away) in a medium-large city, is TINY compared to the tri-state area ones (think less than half the size of a normal department store, and a quarter the size of the Manhattan one).

                I didn’t care the first year, and then I realized I had to actually buy clothes. I literally couldn’t figure it out–where do people buy basics? All the shops in my city are boutiques with unique stuff, and no business clothes. Finally my co-worker took pity on me and explained you have to go to the bigger cities and just shop for the whole day to make the long drive worth it.

                1. Stephanie*

                  Yeah, I ran into someone at Trader Joe’s who says she drives 60 mi into our area to shop there (I assume she goes elsewhere while she’s in town).

                2. Anx*

                  That’s too funny!

                  I also don’t know how to shop in my current town. The entire town is shopping mall plaza after shopping mall plaza, but I there’s maybe 5 stores I can find things that seem to fit (and I’m not a hard to fit size). Everything is off brand after off brand except for a few nice stores that target women a few decades older than I am.

                  I used to wonder where everyone was able to find their clothes, until I realized that the other people whose fashion sense I share seem to also be transient or transplanted.

                  I also don’t have a Macy’s.

                3. Al Lo*

                  I drive 8 hours to Trader Joe’s. There aren’t any in Canada, so once or twice a year, we drive to Spokane (the closest TJ’s to Calgary), stay with my husband’s cousins for a weekend, and stock up on stuff we can’t get here. Although with the Canadian dollar tanking lately, it’s not quite as economical as it had been for the past few years.

              2. Stephanie*

                Yeah, that reminds me of tourists at Pentagon City Mall in Arlington. It’s swarmed with middle school tourist groups and it’s like “You came to DC to come to a shopping mall in the suburb across the river?” Practically speaking, I’m guessing it’s just a good place that doesn’t require tons of chaperoning to leave the students for a couple of hours.

                1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

                  My eighth grade class went to DC and we definitely spent some time at a mall at some point–it was 100% a “I’m tired of dealing with these kids–we’re going to let them loose at the food court for an hour and let them figure out their own food situations while the teachers kvetch and regroup for a bit.” I can’t imagine dealing with 25 13-year-olds for three straight days.

                2. Natalie*

                  Derp, hit submit on my phone by accident. We get the same thing here with the Mall of America, which has all the same mall stores, just bigger. The only advantage is that we don’t have sales tax on clothes.

                3. Dmented Kitty*

                  @Natalie – we live five minutes away from the MoA, and we rarely go there. Can’t stand the people who don’t know how to window shop without walking side-by-side blocking everyone’s way and then stop without warning.

                  On the brighter side, though, IKEA’s practically in our back yard so we can get our Swedish meatball and princess cake anytime :) Although my husband has now learned to make awesome Swedish meatballs at home and we grab lingonberry preserves from Ingebretsons (I can’t remember the correct spelling).

              3. nona*

                Until I was 19, I had only been to H&M on a trip to NYC. I think Macy’s came to my city around the same time. We just don’t have the same stores in smaller cities (or the south). I wouldn’t make the whole trip for shopping, of course!

                1. Stephanie*

                  Now that I think about it, I insisted on going to Uniqlo during NYC visits. I think they’ve since expanded, but they’re still not in my area. It wasn’t the only thing I wanted to do, but it was a plus about heading there. Their pants sizing is completely different from US sizing, but their basic shirts are awesome and seem not to get misshapen like some others. (I’ve been burned by shirts that fit me at the start of the day and then stretch out into an unflattering boxy shape.)

    2. Tris Prior*

      I was just coming here to vent about this myself. I have errands to run but I don’t dare go south of where I am (off Lawrence Ave) on the CTA for fear of having to wade through a sea of drunk a-holes. Boyfriend just came back from Clark/Belmont, where he had a necessary errand to run and looks completely shellshocked. No thank you.

      I’m sure the nice weather isn’t helping matters.

      1. salad fingers*

        Yikes, I’m in the Gold Coast right now and it’s a total shit storm but Clark and Belmont is probably worse. My boyfriend, who tends to be totally oblivious to stuff like this, just insisted that we go to Music Box to see a movie tonight. D: Wrigleyville = not happening.

        My thoughts are with you.

        1. Tris Prior*

          Can I just rant that I am SO pissed that I can’t do what I need to get done because the drunk a-holes presently own the streets and the CTA??

          And good lord, no, do NOT go to the Music Box. There’s that big Irish pub right near there; you’ll be wading through vomit!

          1. salad fingers*

            You can absolutely rant about it. I was forever turned off by the American incarnation of this holiday a couple of years ago when I saw a guy do that drunk tip over, dead weight, tiiiiimber thing onto a woman holding her baby, knocking them both over, at noon on the red line. I haven’t ever really been into the frat party drinking culture but when it’s confined to certain areas and nighttime, it’s whatever. Noon on public trans makes me really annoyed.

            Boyfriend is really sticking to his guns right now re: movie. Looks like a quiet evening alone for this lady.

    3. IrishGirl*

      Irish person here; the North American version is unrecognisable from the way at home in my experience.

      Firstly, I cannot describe how much it irritates me when people call it St Patty’s Day. Just no. St Patrick’s Day or Paddy’s Day are most commonly said, St Paddy’s Day is unusual but fine. St Patty’s Day is something that regularly appears on lists of how to greatly annoy an Irish person.

      Secondly, the dressing up and decorating everywhere in green isnt something that’s that common at home. I’ve seen far more St Patrick’s Day memorabilia since moving to Canada than I ever did at home.

      TL:DR North American St Patrick’s Day hasn’t much of a resemblance to the Irish one.

      1. Tris Prior*

        This doesn’t surprise me one bit. I am not Irish at all but I’ve often thought that this has to be really offensive to people of actual Irish heritage.

      2. salad fingers*

        This matches what I’ve heard from some of the real deal Irish people I’ve met. Only positive thing I’ve heard is from an Irish bartender at a pub down the street who enjoys making exceptional tips for a weekend, even if he finds the whole thing a ridiculous.

        Thanks for the clarification on nicknames and apologies if St. Pat’s Day is also super annoying!

      3. jade*

        as an American living in Ireland, I have to say that American representations of Europe (Ireland in particular) are mortifying.

        1. jade*

          however, the shops (in Dublin anyway) are full of paraphernalia – red/orange wigs, leprechaun hats, green everything. It seems mostly geared towards kids though.

          temple bar, though, rivals NY or Boston in messiness after the celebration. i blame the tourists. :)

      4. Steve G*

        It is interesting to read your comment….I am 4th generation American more Irish descent than anything else…..and “we” wear green to show everyone else we are proud of where we came from. It’s not about being authentic Irish or not. It’s about the fact that the Irish were discriminated against back in the day in the US when they first started coming.

        What saddens/annoys me about American St. Patrick’s Day is that a lot of Irish Americans don’t wear green or do anything for it. I’ve known quite a few 1/2 or 1/3 or mostly-Irish Americans over the years that just ignore it. I’ve known many people who are 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Irish (I am from NY after all) who just say “I’m Italian,” as if they Irish part doesn’t matter or exist. A lot of tough guys who think being Italian makes them cool….

        1. blackcat*

          While I’m verifiably 1/8th Irish, I look *incredibly* Irish. In reality, I’m mostly some variety of British-Isles mutt. My name is a mix of English and Scottish (pointing towards the mutt origins).

          It bothers me when people feel like I should feel some sort of pride about where I “came from,” and this happens A LOT around St. Patrick’s day. The thing is, I’m 3 generations removed from my European ancestry on the closest side (that happens to be the Irish branch). One branch of my family has been here for 12 generations. I feel no connection to the countries where my genes come from. It doesn’t matter that I have red hair and other “Irish” features–I’m two generations removed from facing any discrimination based on my appearance. I am also 4 generations removed from my plantation and slave owning ancestors. The descendants of the people my ancestors *owned* still do face discrimination based on their appearance. So I find it inappropriate to celebrate my whiteness in any form.

          You can feel as much Irish pride as you want, but getting annoyed at people who don’t isn’t cool. We have our reasons.

          1. Steve G*

            I think you missed my point, you have to read on to the end of the 2nd paragraph……I’m from LI and there are a lot of people that are 1/2 Irish and 1/2 Italian (or some combination thereof) and they choose to be proud to be Italian, forgetting the Irish part. I know where I went to school, a large portion of the in-crowd was Italian American. They all got super tan as soon as you could and dressed ala’ Jersey Shore, thinking that that was what it meant to be “Italian.” I’m not even knocking that, it’s just that some of those people I remember from HS were just as Irish as they were Italian, but being Irish wasn’t cool, I guess. I remember one guy who’s name was Kelly for God’s sake, but if you asked him where he was from, he said “Italian.”

            I totally get Americans not feeling a connection to the countries their ancestors came from, but if you are gonna be proud, don’t be fake and pretend to be something you’re not, or pretend not to be something you are

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t know, I think people feel connected or not connected to different parts of their heritage for different reasons. My husband is half Mexican and half Spanish but identifies as Mexican because he grew up with that side of the family, Mexican traditions, etc. Different pieces speak to people differently.

              1. Steve G*

                I guess so…it’s just something that stuck out to me in HS and the few years after living in my hometown.

                Have a good night am finally leaving my hovel now that rain finally ended!

              2. Treena Kravm*

                I was going to say a similar thing. I’ve noticed that people tend to identify with whatever their mother or the person that mostly raises them is, largely because of the food/religion. Both my husband and I identify mostly with our mother’s heritage, because that’s the food we cook.

                My name is very different and comes from a tiny, specific country but I don’t know anything about it because it’s where my paternal grandfather came from. My Dad literally makes one dish, that’s all I’ve inherited about that country besides my name. But when people want to know about where my name comes from, they want to have all sorts of conversations about my “heritage” and it’s ughhh I have no idea what you’re talking about, I’m barely X.

            2. OriginalEmma*

              It probably depends on the in group dynamics. I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting LI is way more Italian than Irish. If you had grown up in Woodlawn in the Bronx or Rockland County, NY, the Irish side of your friends would probably have been better represented.

        2. TL -*

          Eh, for a lot of Americans their backgrounds don’t matter.

          I can tell you I’m European of many flavors (and my last name is Irish) but I actually don’t feel any attachment to where my family came from; we’ve been in the USA a long, long time and none too particular about who we married, so we’re a hodgepodge of European ancestries (and a little non-European too.)

          Honestly, people never asked me what my ethnic background was until I came to the NE anyways.

          1. Noah*

            I was thinking the same thing. I never thought about the fact that I was 1/2 Greek 1/2 Irish until I moved to Boston and people made a big deal about it. Where I grew up in Phoenix you were white and that was it unless you were part of a minority group. If pressed I would say I was Greek because we grew up around my mom’s family and they were immigrants and we attended the Greek Orthodox Church. My dad’s family was a couple generations removed and I cannot tell you a single thing about Irish culture.

        3. Anx*

          I am from an area with a lot of Irish-Italian Americans. I am one myself (although not exclusively).

          In some areas, Irish Americans became ‘white’ or part of the dominant culture first. Or perhaps their Italian heritage has more recent immigration.

          Perhaps that’s part of it?

      5. Cath in Canada*

        GAAH “St. Patty” drives me nutes too! I like to point out that Patty is a woman’s name, as in Peppermint Patty. St. Patricia’s day is in August.

    4. Natalie*

      My first day at my job was St Patrick’s Day, and at the time we had an Irish pub it our building. It was awful.

      St. Pat’s, Halloween, and NYE are days I avoid all bars. It’s nonstop amateur hour.

      1. salad fingers*

        Second all of those blackout dates (pun sort of intended), although I also avoid bars on Fridays and Saturdays :-)

    5. fposte*

      Yeah, things I don’t miss about Chicago, right there. (Plus the river is really gross in green.) I remember in San Francisco one of the main Irish pubs shut down on St. Patrick’s Day–it was just too much of a horrorshow for them to want to deal with it. I thought that should have been a big cultural sign to a certain kind of celebrant, but I guess not.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Gahhhhh. Trying to explain to my elderly mother, who does not have Internet, that if she wants to return something I bought for her online at her request, she needs to pay the return shipping. Yes, even if the product sucks. No, I cannot “fight for her” – because of course *I* have to be the one to contact customer service as that is too much for her – to try and get them to eat it. No, they’re not going to make an exception because she is a senior citizen. Because that is how internet shopping WORKS.

        headdesk. headdesk. headdesk.

    6. hermit crab*

      We have an Irish pub here called the Four Courts, and every year around St Patrick’s Day they sponsor a four-mile race around the neighborhood. Except this year, the road closure near my house said “Four Quarts Four Miler” instead of “Four Courts Four Miler.” I’m assuming this was an intentional reference to the amount of beer the participants consume after they are finished running.

    7. Carrie in Scotland*

      I think the St. Patrick’s day festivities were drowned out rather by the England-Scotland rugby match….looks like Scotland will be handed the wooden spoon! :(

    8. Sunflower*

      I’m in Philly and March is a month long St. Paddys celeration. We do a thing called the Erin Express and it happens every Saturday of March(both in and outside the city) but this weekend was the biggest one. It’s a bus that takes you from bar to bar. Not everyone does it, a lot of people just drink all day at the bars. I went out yesterday and it was fun. I didn’t dress up, more just like a day out. The bar we were at was putting green food dye in beer and my friend couldn’t even drink it- reminded me of college so gross. I stayed away from the main bars so it was a good time. There’s also a parade today so I’m sure people will be out

      In Philly we have Running of the Santas, Erin Express and a New Years Day Parade (Jan. 1st is probably the biggest drinking day of the year here). In my experience, most of us young kids live for weekends at the shore in the summer so we’ll do anything we can to get through the winter. aka come up with any reason to day drink.

      1. Tris Prior*

        We have the 12 Bars of Xmas here and that’s a similar disaster. (though the costumes are a little more entertaining; I had the misfortune of getting caught in that one while holiday shopping and the drunk dude in Ralphie’s pink bunny suit was amusing.) When it’s cold out, the puke freezes to the snow and stays there for months until we get a thaw. Ask me how I know this?!

    9. Dmented Kitty*

      One of my relative-in-laws who lived in New Orleans said that if you think Mardi Gras is crazy, St Patrick’s day is even worse.

      I don’t enjoy barf-riddled mayhem either.

  13. Dynamic Beige*

    I was just going to post about that! I got one of these when I was in London a few years ago, they have several versions so there should be one that works for you OP. Some have transit passes, which will also save you money compared to paying per trip. I bought mine in a tourist office when I got there, and also booked a day bus trip that went out to Stonehenge and Bath. I was there for 4 days and after a few days walking around, it was nice to have a reason to sit for a day. I was also extremely fortunate in the weather, it was warm that October and didn’t rain one day, you might not be so lucky so be sure to plan for some indoor things just in case. I chose a hotel through http://www.hostelworld.com/ that was close to the National Museum and went to that the last morning. I was able to leave my luggage at the hotel until my afternoon flight, which was very useful.

    Honestly, there is so much to do, it all depends on what you’re most interested in and how much money/time you’ve got.

      1. jamlady*

        Haha well I saw it, but hopefully the OP sees it. I seriously loved that thing. I was way too poor to travel to London when I did and that thing saved my life. I also added the travel and Bath/Stonehenge trip and ended up out there on the only gloomy day during my entire 7 day trip. It was lovely.

  14. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    How should three people, two of whom are in a couple, share the expense of an AirBnB on vacation? 1/3 each? Couple pays 1/2, single pays 1/2? Something in between? I can see strong arguments in many directions.

    1. BRR*

      I think fair is 3 ways. If I was in the couple part of this I would feel like I was taking advantage of the single person.

      But it should be factored in if the accommodations are different quality. Like if the couple is in a bigger bedroom with attached bathroom with a huge jetted tub and the 3rd person is in a twin bed in a tiny bedroom or something.

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I’ve always found 60% couple, 40% single to be a relatively fair way of doing it. You’re splitting the common areas into thirds, but the couple are taking up more or less the same bedroom space as the single person.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I think splitting it three ways is the fairest. Most package vacations have a price based on double person occupancy — if you’re a single you then have to pay the supplement price, which depends on the price of the trip and I hate that. I get that the company isn’t making as much as with two people but grr… just bugs me. But, since this isn’t a package, there are no such constraints or rules, unless this couple wants to use what companies do as a guideline. If the shoe was on the other foot and one of them were the single, I think they would want a three-way split as well.

    4. Christy*

      The way I’d do rent in this situation is to add up bedroom square footage and common area square footage, then split common area (and utilities, but that’s not relevant) 3 ways and bedrooms so single person pays for her room and the couple pays for their room. So it would depend on the ratio of common space to private space.

    5. Treena Kravm*

      I think it really depends on the place you’re renting. A 2 bedroom apartment and the bedrooms are identical? Split it 50-50. But if the couple has their own bathroom, or the room is bigger/nicer, do it by person.

    6. soitgoes*

      I’d split it evenly. There’s no need for the single person to pay more just because he or she doesn’t have a partner.

      1. class factotum*

        And if you are going to make the single person sleep in the loft off one of the bedrooms where a married couple will be sleeping – and not indiscreetly not sleeping ifyouknowwhatImean – perhaps that single person who has to climb up a ladder on the wall to get to the tiny loft that is completely open to the bedroom with the -romantic – married couple should get a discount.

        1. soitgoes*

          Haha, I’m picking up what you’re putting down. My take on Airbnb stuff is that, unless the single person opts for a wholly separate room, you split the cost of the one room evenly. Even if the single person doesn’t have a lot of angst about being single, it starts to nag when the couple starts using their couple status to skimp on costs. I’ve been single for 800 years, and I understand the subtext here: no, I’m not paying more than each one of you just because you’re sharing one bed. You’re trying to pull one over on me and I’m aware of that.

          1. LisaS*

            I’m single & travel with couples – friends I travel with regularly. We split costs per person but I am generally the one in the smallest bedroom or in the bedroom with the twin beds. So it all works out…

  15. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I know a few of you out there are watching Empire (looking at you, Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd!), and I want to take a minute to pay tribute to Queen Cookie. Besides the fact that the character is nuanced and interesting and Taraji P. Henson is INCREDIBLE in the role, Cookie wears the best clothes ever. They are not always tasteful, they are not always on trend, but they look amazing on her. The best part of her look is that Taraji P. Henson is not teeny and toned (though she is probably quite small), and I enjoy seeing a woman with a belly and a butt in such great clothes on my TV. Mostly because I covet the kimono-like-fabric dress she was wearing this week and my boyfriend said, “You could rock that dress.” I intend to go on a dress finding mission very shortly (and if any of you know where I can find that gorgeous piece, please share).

    Who are your current style icons?

    1. Stephanie*

      I have not seen Empire, but I just Googled Cookie’s outfits and am in love.

      In terms of fictional characters:
      -Claire Underwood (although a lot of her stuff would look terrible on me, but I love the way she pulls it off)
      -Olivia Pope (especially the coats!)
      -Ilana from Broad City (I don’t want to emulate her style, but I love the creativity and IDGAF attitude about it)
      -Abbi from Broad City (I actually could see myself in many of her outfits)

    2. JAL*

      I really don’t have any style icons, but if you love playing around with clothes and trying different styles, I highly recommend checking out the site Polyvore I’m totally addicted to it and I may have made it to the front page the other day.

  16. The Other Dawn*

    Update on the tenant situation: court is in two weeks!! But now I’m so nervous that the judge is going to believe her lies over our truth. I’ve had a couple sleepless nights. I’m going to get all my ducks in a row this week: get a copy of the transaction history for the oil company, print out the electronic messages from her containing all the lies, etc. I’m going armed!

    Three tenants didn’t answer the summons at all so I get a default judgment for that, but the woman did file an answer for herself. She agreed to the statements, but then replied with a claim that she offered money before the eviction notice was served…and she used the wrong date. So, that’s good for me. Wants to stay until the end of next month. Um, no. You owe me 5k. I don’t think so. Pay everything owed, I’ll give ya 30 days. Otherwise, Hell no.

    1. BRR*

      I hope this nightmare comes to an end for you soon. I’m so interested to see how this turns out.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Good luck.

      I bet the judge will see straight through the lies and bullshit, they must have a good radar for it.

    3. Amethyst*

      I hope that it all goes quickly and smoothly. People who can’t keep things straight in their own papers shouldn’t be able to fool the judge.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks everyone! I am so worried about the outcome. All I can think is she’s somehow going to convince the judge to let her stay and I’ll never get her out. Live ever. I know that’s crazy but I’ve seen she’s manipulative and loves to cry a sob story; she’s still texting my SIL but SIL doesn’t answer.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Judges are more used to manipulative people with sob stories than we are. In some instances, all the people have to do is say their first one or two sentences and the judge has it figured out.

    5. acmx*

      Truthfully, I probably wouldn’t give another 30 days if they did pay up. It might start it all over again.

      How many people are living in your house?

      Hope you got your taxes figured out, too.

      Good luck!

        1. acmx*

          Ugh between four people they can’t pay the rent? Wait, they can just won’t.

          I hope the judge is very sympathetic to you. Four people, they shouldn’t get much sympathy. Fingers crossed.

    6. Observer*

      New York is very tenant friendly. But, refusing an offer od some money would never cause a problem for you, even here. In fact, the reverse is true – taking any money from them might cause you to have the clock reset. And, judges respect this – they don’t hold it against you that you didn’t take an offer of partial payment.

    7. StateRegulator*

      Are all four tenants named and signed the lease? Are the all jointly responsible for the rent owed? How much of a security deposit did they pay?

      All the best in court. Leave your emotions at the door and answer only the question asked. You will be fine.

    1. Liane*

      I don’t know if it’s the same one but early February, I had a really nasty one. Very sick the whole weekend & went into the clinic on Monday because I was still so weak & had no appetite at all. It was the next weekend before I started feeling completely well physically, & I also couldn’t focus mentally very well.
      If you’re sick with any of the ones going around, my sympathies.

    2. Kai*

      Not a stomach bug, but my husband and I have both been knocked flat this week with a bad cold. Hope you feel better soon.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, I got knocked out of commission for a solid week with a terrible cold. I’m not usually one to catch colds, but this one was a doozy.

    3. blackcat*

      Oh dear god yes.

      Two weeks ago.

      It was THE WORST. SO BAD. So gross, it shall not be described any further.

      Like Liane, it was full week before I felt back to normal. I was so weak for days, and I couldn’t focus mentally for just as long. I am so sorry for you! I would not wish my fate on anyone.

    4. nep*

      Thanks, all. A couple of my relatives had quite severe cases — poor things. Somehow mine has been far milder, thank goodness. Glad you’re feeling better, Liane and blackcat — and best wishes to those still down with illness. Take care.

    5. Mimmy*

      Thankfully no illness in my house, but my poor cousin and his family–wife and two young children–all had the stomach bug at the same time this week.

    6. Lizzie*

      Not me personally, but it’s going around at work. Lots of teachers out, lots of kids in the nurse’s office. Fingers crossed it doesn’t make it to my house!

  17. Florida*

    Happy Pi Day to all the nerds of the world. This year is 3.1415

    Not a math fan, but I like dorky stuff, and Pi Day is somewhat dorky.

    1. Anonyby*

      Happy Pi Day to you too!

      My group’s monthly board game night is tonight, and we’re having an extra Pi Challenge on top of it. Most of us are bringing at least Tau (2Pi). I made my grandmother’s chocolate cream pie (first time making it!), and an experimental ginger beer pumpkin pie.

      1. Anonyby*

        There ended up being 4 savory pies and 9 sweet pies (at least, 9 pie recipies. One sweet “pie” was a set of mini pies). And though we tried, there were still leftovers.

    2. fposte*

      And a shout-out to commenter Jubilance, who is getting married today and having pie at her reception! Enjoy it all, Jubilance.

      1. Jubilance*

        Thank you! Our Pi Day wedding was AMAZING – it was 70 degrees in Minneapolis, the day went fantastic, and we were surrounded by love. I keep looking at my husband and saying “we’re married!” lol. Thank you everyone for your well wishes, we are estastic.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We’re celebrating with a Pi day pie: banana cream. I wanted cherry, but I let the kids pick, so banana cream it is!

    4. Cath in Canada*

      We had apple, blueberry, and strawberry rhubarb pie provided for us at work on Friday. People actually mocked me for saying that strawberry rhubarb is the best! Oh well, more for me.

  18. Ali*

    My grandmother’s viewing and funeral were Thursday and yesterday, respectively. It was a long week, and I was drained yesterday but not tired. Today has felt a little more normal, though I’ve still struggled to focus at times.

    For those of you that have lost someone, how do you find it in yourself to go on after the funeral is wrapped up and life returns to “normal”? (e.g. out-of-town relatives go home and so forth) I have been helped so far by going back to work today and talking with a close colleague, watching non-serious TV and even doing my laundry and straightening up my room yesterday. But I still feel a little sad at certain times about things. My sister and I cried last night b/c we both wish we had been around my grandmother more. I also even felt upset that I was single because unlike my mom and sisters, I didn’t have the support of an SO at the funeral, and I think it would’ve been easier if I had. Even though I have good friends and family, having a boyfriend would’ve made a huge difference in terms of support.

    Do the irrational feelings kind of go away after a while? I have plenty planned in the upcoming days and weeks, so I’m hoping to be OK, but one of my friends expressed concern about me, saying, “You need to grieve!” I would just rather have things laid out than sitting around moping and weeping.

    Although, on a positive note, this has led me to consider telling someone I know that they’ve become a good friend to me over the last couple of months and I really appreciate their friendship. So hopefully when I get past the nerves to tell him (yeah, yeah I know, but no I don’t think of him as anymore than a friend) that’ll be something good I can take away.

    1. Audiophile*

      Sorry for your loss.

      When my grandmother passed away last year, it was a definitely a long week. Everything had to be postponed because of snow. She passed away on a Monday, but we didn’t hold services until Thursday and Friday. It was additionally stressful, because I have an hourly job and missed a week of work and my bosses weren’t exactly understanding in the beginning. But to answer your question, we talked about it as a family which helped and when I went back to work, coworkers were good about asking general questions but not delving too deeply.
      Ultimately, in private, I did what did/are doing. Tried to focus on other things (TV, hobbies, etc).

      And definitely tell that person that their friendship is important to you. That’s always nice to hear.

    2. A non y*

      If I may, if you really only feel “a little sad at times”, you’re doing pretty well. When I lost a parent, I felt like I was being stabbed with a knife in the gut for months. Still do, years on.

      Having a boyfriend wouldn’t make a whit of difference.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        God, yes, for the parent loss thing.
        Having a boyfriend at the time made it worse due to lack of support.

      2. Stephanie*

        Plenty of people aren’t good with funerals/grief/dying. My dad is bad at them–just can’t deal with that in general, so I don’t think my mom really relies on him for support in that capacity.

    3. Revanche*

      My condolences.

      I suppose the feelings do go away eventually but my mom died four years ago and I still have them, they just come and go. They’re much worse this year now that I’m a new mom because this was always something we thought we’d share and I never imagined having a kid without her support. The feelings aren’t irrational, they’re just part of how we process things. For the longest time I couldn’t be in a grocery store for more than two minutes because that’s something I used to do with my mom as a child and one of our happier things we shared. I would run out of a shop, crying, without fail, for months. But at work? I was an automaton. I competed for a promotion, ran a department, managed a hundred people without ever sharing how I really felt. Not that I would have admitted that I felt anything because I simply wasn’t ready. Eventually I spent a lot of time crying, alone. Having my husband’s support was good but at the same time, it didn’t touch the desolation, if you know what I mean. I was hurting so much at the funeral I actually almost resented having to be around anyone or taking anyone else into consideration at all.

      If being busy helps you or doesn’t hurt you, then go for it. We all grieve in our own ways, moping at home alone isn’t the only “right” way.

      Like you, her loss motivated me to be open about my appreciation for the people who mean a lot to me. So there was that.

    4. stars (undergoing significant induced mass-loss or sequence-position alteration) - 6*

      My father passed at the end of 2011. He was 86 years old. He battled (and beat) cancer twice, and he was in generally good shape – lived by himself (which is how he wanted it), could drive well … But we all knew it was only a matter of time.

      When he died – just a few minutes before midnight on 31 December – I was sad and shaken. But as I drove back to his house, where I was staying, a strange thing happened to me: I was sad, but I was overcome with pride for my father. He’d lived a long life and had done a lot of good things for his family and friends and his country. He died surrounded by family and friends, and whatever awaited him on the other side, he had no cause to fear it.

      The church was packed the day he was laid to rest. I gave a eulogy that I think my father would have approved of. I didn’t get all sad and weepy. I focused on the good things my father had done, and how proud I was of him, and how we would miss him, but we’d all remember him for the things he did. I told a few stories about things he’d done, people in the church were laughing and crying at the same time … I don’t go to many funerals, but I think my Dad would have approved. I talked to people afterwards and they were sad but also energized, remembering the good things may father had done.

      Anyway, my point is that it will be different for everyone, but yes you will get past the bad feelings – although they will never completely leave you, you’ll be trimming a tree or something and think of them – and all of this is good and normal.

      Don’t let other people tell you how to grieve. Maybe I’ll sound like a jerk, but I spent very little time “grieving” in the conventional sense. It’s different for everyone.

    5. NR*

      Are you actually grieving her loss or do you only think you’re supposed to be grieving? You don’t sound like you’re that shaken up by her death, which can be normal with grandparents, especially when they led long lives.

      Turning this into a reason to dwell again on not having a boyfriend leaves a bad taste in my mouth, to be honest.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I felt that way about my grandfather and your take makes me feel a little better. It’s not that I wasn’t sad, but it wasn’t an earth-shattering event since he had been ill and lead a long life.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel when you feel it (even if you don’t feel very sad). There is no one way to grieve or one path to follow. In my experience, grief will come in waves. Sometimes you’ll feel pretty normal, and then it will hit you like a punch to the gut. Over time the more intense feelings will fade and come less frequently.

      1. Ali*

        Thanks guys. My grandmother had various health ailments during the final years of her life (last 2-3), but before she got sick, she was very independent and aged well otherwise.

        I guess when I pictured my friend saying “You need to grieve,” I think she got taken aback that I was already back at work and thinking about normal activities. However, I have a fairly busy life, so while I suppose I could just sit around being sad and moping, all my obligations would still be waiting for me when all was said and done. Under normal circumstances, thinking about how I have so much to do for X and Y can be stressful, so I feel resuming a normal routine, or even close to one, is good for me because then I won’t sit around thinking about what has to be done. I can make small steps to get back on track and then dive back in once I feel fully ready.

        I think the thing about me not having an SO was kind of an irrational thought during the funeral, but I hadn’t really been dwelling on that during this past week otherwise. Just to clarify any misplaced intentions.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I was married when my father died. My “irrational” thought was about not having siblings to fight with. Things were just so messy, that I thought if I could yell at a sibling, it would be better somehow. The thought lasted for -oh- a minute maybe. But I thought that was pretty odd. Actually, these thoughts are pretty normal stuff. A mind that is in grief or around grieving people tends to wander all around thinking about all kinds of stuff.

          1. Jean*

            Yes, a grieving mind can wander in many unexpected directions. Also the grief journey can be very personal–even if one happens to belong to a community that follows a prescribed set of traditional behaviors for mourning. Being part of a couple may or may not help because people bring their own approaches or baggage to the experience. Being single, at least one isn’t stuck feeling alone in a relationship that’s (temporarily or en route to permanently) not working. As others have observed, being unhappily paired can be worse than being involuntarily single. This may be scant comfort to people who long for a partner (just like reflecting that “at least I haven’t had children for whom I could not care!” doesn’t comfort someone who longs for children) but there’s no point in being endlessly unhappy at one’s life circumstances. It takes away energy that could be used for happier purposes. FWIW I write as someone married (mostly happily but not without hard times),for more than 20 years, with one child (never expected to have an “only” but here we are), moderate professional success, moderate-at-best financial security, a passionate avocational interest that doesn’t generally produce income, but also many sustaining interests and friendships. File me under one more example of “you don’t get everything in life.”

            Gah. Having just written an autobiography I now have to run to the hardware store. AAM community, you are a good bunch of people.

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          I think anyone who thinks they can tell you how you should feel or think is way off base. Everyone does things differently, especially when it comes to how they react after the loss of a loved one. You do what works for you and when the time comes for your friend to lose a family member, then she can react to it the way she wants.

        3. catsAreCool*

          Different people grieve in different ways. Some people might need more time off right away; others need to jump back into life. For one thing, doing things is a distraction. You may have done some of your grieving earlier, knowing it was coming. Sometimes grief hits at odd times.

    7. StillHealing*

      Everyone grieves differently. I just want to encourage you to cry when you feel tears come and not fight it. Emotions ebb and flow. It has always taken me awhile to feel like doing normal things again. There is always a period of time were it feels weird to see life continue around you when it feels a bit like yours stopped the day the person died. In time, normalcy returns. I found talking with a good friend of mine who really got a kick out of my grandmother, really helped to remember the good and funny times.

      My condolences. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    8. Jean*

      I’m sorry for your loss, Ali. There’s lots of good advice here. All I can add is give yourself time and space to mourn when it feels appropriate, and remember that everyone grieves differently (and also can grieve differently at different times, in reaction to different deaths of people at various ages, under various circumstances). I like your approach of acting on positive values such as telling someone when he’s become a good friend. IMHO it’s a very life-affirming way to perpetuate the good parts of your relationship with the person who died. That person is gone, but you can remember happy shared experiences and continue to express shared values (friendship, activities, hobbies, causes, pastimes…whatever).

    9. danr*

      I’m sorry for your loss. Everyone grieves differently. Do the stuff that you planned to to. Just take some time to think of your grandmother when the feeling comes over you, and it’s not ‘irrational’.

    10. Sunflower*

      You can’t make yourself grieve. Grief is different for everyone. When someone dies, I find myself grieving mostly for the people close to them.

      When my grandfather died, I didn’t cry until a couple days after the funeral. Just let it come naturally. If you don’t feel like crying, don’t force it. And when you do feel like it, just let it happen. I don’t know much about grief but I think there are some good books that should be able to help you out. Maybe someone has a suggestion?

    11. brightstar*

      My grandmother died a decade ago. I still miss her and feel sad at times. I found getting back to “normal” life was a big help.

      In general, feel what you feel. It takes everyone different times to adjust to something like that and to deal with grief.

  19. Cruciatus*

    I’ve just started “The Bone Clocks”. Has anyone read this? I keep picking popular books that I end up really disliking (see: “The Goldfinch”). I’m hoping this is many steps above that one!

    1. Lore*

      The thing about The Bone Clocks is that each section is pretty much a different book–same or overlapping characters but totally different style and genre. I think there are 5 parts and I disliked one of them–but I liked the others enough to make up for it.

      1. Cruciatus*

        Hmm. The different sections part makes me nervous as it’s one thing I really disliked about Goldfinch (see below!) but I just disliked that entire book in general. I’m enjoying this more so far at this point so that’s at least a good start.

      2. Newsie*

        Agreed! It’s a tiny bit inconsistent, but I really liked the “The Bone Clocks.” But I also love David Mitchell’s works, so there you go.

    2. C Average*

      EVERYONE has been encouraging me to read “The Goldfinch” and, so far, I’ve held off because the only Donna Tartt I’ve read was the highly-recommended “The Secret History,” which I actually quite disliked. Why didn’t you like “The Goldfinch?”

      1. Cruciatus*

        God, where to start… the first 50 pages or so I was really interested, but then the book is broken up into different sections/locales and I just really disliked a lot of the characters our main character met along the way at that point. And The0 (the main character) made so many stupid decisions, some of them to nice characters, for seemingly no good reason except to see if he could get away with it. And it just never ended. I’d read 50 pages and feel like I was getting nowhere. And then there’s a twist that made me just want to throw the book out the window. And the entire time I was worried about the fate of the dog! The book just made me anxious, sad, annoyed. When you’re wishing certain characters (who are teenagers!) would just die it’s probably not going well.

        1. Cruciatus*

          And if you want to read more reviews, I find the people at goodreads who also disliked the book disliked it for the same reasons I did. I felt validated reading their reviews because I could not at all understand why this book was a bestseller and on every recommendation list.

          1. C Average*

            Thank you! I am granting myself permission to not read “The Goldfinch.”

            All the people who have recommended it to me tend to prefer novels that are a little more edgy, high-concept, self-conscious, and just look-how-clever-I-am than I like. So I was already taking these recommendations with a grain of salt. I like a good story well-told. If the writing is technically sound, the characters are believable, and the pacing is even, I really don’t need much more than that. (And it’s so hard to find that trifecta!)

            1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

              I feel that way about “Life After Life” – high-concept, indeed, but also couldn’t get through the dull, dull domestic scenarios and twee names like “Mrs. Pennyfeather” or whatever. I gave up a few chapters in. Life is short. Don’t you think in general books are overhyped? It makes me so suspicious when something takes off — I’m reluctant to read Wild, for example. I was not that thrilled by Gone Girl. And I think Jennifer Egan is okay but nowhere near the to-the-skies praise heaped on her. I guess it’s the world we live in, where everything is awesome and amazing and so everyone’s reaching for more dazzling words even if they’re not warranted, just to cut through the noise.

              1. C Average*

                . . . and yet. Sometimes you pick up a book at the airport because the cover caught your eye and it turns out to be this perfect, understated gem of a book.

                A book I read about a year ago that has stuck with me and stuck with me is Elizabeth Strout’s “Abide With Me.” I bought it at the Goodwill knowing nothing about it, other than that the author had won the Pulitzer for one of her other books, so she was a Serious Author and I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed to be seen reading the book. It turned out to be this heartbreaking, beautiful, sensitively-written book about ordinary people with ordinary lives and problems.

                One of my other favorite books ever is one I pulled off my great-aunt’s shelf as a teenager. It was written by an author who was popular in the 1950s, Elizabeth Goudge, but I’d never heard of the book or the author. I was just bored and wanted something to read. The book, “Green Dolphin Street,” is still one of my top-three books. Nothing fancy, nothing trying-too-hard, just a really freaking good story.

                I don’t want an author to show me how clever he or she is. I want the author to tell a story so compellingly that I forget there IS a storyteller.

                Of course, if a phenomenal writer uses a high concept effectively, the results can be amazing. I still sometimes pull out “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and reread that intro. It’s ridiculous how good it is. No other author could start a book that way and pull it off. It makes me simultaneously want to write my book NOW (because I’m inspired just by knowing such writing is possible) and to give up writing altogether (because I’ll never write anything like THAT).

                Sigh. I have been giving an awful lot of thought lately to what makes the good books good, and why there are so many mediocre books that get praised as good.

              2. C Average*

                And also, I had a feeling “Life After Life” was that kind of book. Which makes me sad, because while I wouldn’t call Kate Atkinson a capital-G Great Writer, I’ve really enjoyed her other work. She has a wonderful style and has a knack for creating flawed, interesting characters I wish I could meet in real life.

                1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

                  Agree, high concept can be stupendous if it feels authentic and organic, and not gimmicky. I say keep writing, and let Marquez inspire you to write from love. When he died last year I pulled out Love in the Time of Cholera and out fell a postcard from my great love, the one who got away and whom I never got over. I cried and cried.

                2. C Average*

                  Oh, man. That’s a great little vignette.

                  (Didn’t something kind of like that happen in a movie or novel from the last few years? I think a character wrote down her phone number, stuck it in that book, and gave it as a gift to someone she’d just met cute, or something along those lines. Then some years later the other character found it, the music swelled, etc.)

              3. TL -*

                I’ll put in a vote for reading wild. I really enjoyed it and I don’t like the dear sugar column.

                It’s a fast read, too, so you aren’t risking too much, time wise

        1. C Average*

          That’s what I thought, too. Plus it didn’t seem terribly original. Being the aficionado of trashy YA lit that I have always been, I’d encountered more than a few angsty bluebloods with dark secrets committing shenanigans in Ivy League settings. Hell, “Gossip Girl” covered that territory more compellingly than “The Secret History.” (I am not ashamed to admit I still miss “Gossip Girl.” It was my favorite guilty pleasure on television.)

          1. Lore*

            Well, but “The Secret History” is from 1992, so it could be seen more as one of the precursors to “Gossip Girl.” (As, I might argue, is “Less Than Zero,” which gets a bad rap because the movie is so trashy.) But also, I loved “Life After Life,” so, personal tastes obviously vary. Though I did find “The Goldfinch” annoying. Liked the first part a lot, got thoroughly bored in the second half.

  20. Audiophile*

    Has anyone seen “Married at First Sight”? I vaguely remembering hearing about the show but didn’t watch it.
    It’s being run as a marathon in the lead up to the new season, additionally, there is a spin off that follows the couples in their first year of marriage. It’s quite interesting. I’ve come to the determination, that despite all of Eharmony’s boasting, I don’t think science can take all the credit for couples falling in love and staying together. You had 4 “scientist” match up these couples and they had a difficult road in their first six weeks.

    1. esra*

      I’ve seen some of those Eharmony commercials where they boast about marriage and couples they’ve put together. The numbers kind of fall apart under scrutiny.

      1. Audiophile*

        Exactly. And the show kept spouting the same type of “numbers” as eHarmony does. “45% of couples live together before marriage. 50% of those couples end up divorced.”. What??
        They’re basically saying, if you don’t let our scientists match you up, your marriage is DOOMED.

  21. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

    Really tough week!
    Book: Still reading The Heart of Everything That Is, about Red Cloud and the Plains Indians. It’s a great read and a terribly sad but exciting story. I love the history of the American West — Empire of the Summer Moon was also tremendously good.
    TV: My favorite show, The Americans, had a stellar episode this week, and I had to buy Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album the next morning so I could listen to “The Chain” over and over.
    Food: Nothing is appealing. My stressful, not-going-well new job has me rapidly gaining weight, which is not helping the situation be less depressing and disappointing, but my schedule is so out of whack I can’t get into an exercise groove at all.
    Art: This is the worst thing of all to admit, but I’m not finding time for that either.
    Big new moon/eclipse/solstice coming up!! Maybe the stars will move things along.
    AAM: Still loving this forum and this site. Thank you all.

    1. nep*

      Thanks for that great round-up.
      Here’s hoping things that aren’t going so well for you will turn around. Something’s gotta give, right?
      All the best.

      1. Mimmy*

        Believe me, I’m jealous of the UK-ers right now! I’d love to see a good eclipse again in my lifetime.

        The last good eclipse I remember was about 30 years ago, though I think it was a cloudy day. I remember looking up from my desk and looking out the classroom window to see how dark it’d gotten and thinking how cool it was (I was in 5th or 6th grade). There was another one about 10 years later when I was in college, but it wasn’t as extreme. And it was cloudy. Again.

      2. Cristina in England*

        Whoops, I appear to have missed it! It was really cloudy here yesterday morning, although I was outside the entire time it was going on so I might have caught a glimpse of it had I been looking. :-/

  22. Katie the Fed*

    Well, like I mentioned last week, I’ve had a big medical situation but I’m on the mend. I’m doing better mentally and it looks like I’ll be able to return to work in a couple weeks, which makes me really happy. My mental outlook is definitely a lot better than it was a week ago, which was just about the worst I’ve ever felt.

    This week I’ll try to focus on record keeping, insurance stuff, all that kind of stuff. I spent much of one day this week unsubscribing myself from junk emails, which made me feel productive. And I’ve got a few projects to work on and keep my mind busy.

    Thanks for all the love and support last week! This is hard and it’s still a long, LONG road ahead but it’s going to get better.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Get well wishes, Katie and hope the mending continues.

      I shredded a whole load of old documents this week so I know how the junk email unsubscribing feels :)

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Get well! When I have a lot of time I like to clear out my email inbox, deleting and filing old emails and reading things I left in my inbox but never got around to.

    3. Mimmy*

      I was hoping you’d stop by, glad to see things are starting to look up for you. Are you home?

      Continuing to keep you in my thoughts.

    4. fposte*

      I’m glad to hear you’re on the mend, Katie. Sounds like you’re finding good ways to keep your morale up. I’m glad you’ll be well enough to be back at work soon.

    5. StillHealing*

      Sounds like you are on the mend! That is great news. Rest up well and don’t push yourself too hard.

    6. Jean*

      Nice to read! Way to go! Hurrah that you get to go back to work sooner than you originally expected! Continue to feel better. In spare time you can fantasize about starting an “unsubscribe from junk email and snail mail” service for other people. This would really be a blessing for people still stacked up to the eyeballs with incoming junk information.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Keep your eyes on the goal. Lots to be said about envisioning the destination. It’s times like this where it is really easy to think about all that is wrong with us, right down to our own crappy thinking. Be sure to put in time each day cherishing the things that you have done right in life that make you strong, right now. Don’t take what is in place and right for granted. Yes, more positive thinking type stuff. You have done a lot right with your life and that will help you through this. I’m a big believer that our life experiences draw on our previous experiences, something like the adult version of building blocks.

    8. Windchime*

      I”m so glad that you are feeling better this week. Hang in there; sounds like you will be on the mend soon.

    9. brightstar*

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re on the mend! We’ll be cheering you on as you tackle this!

    10. cuppa*

      Get well soon, Katie! I came to the open thread too late to comment last week, but I’ve been thinking about you this week!

    11. GOG11*

      I missed your post last week, but, regardless, I’m glad you’re doing better now than you were before. I hope you have as smooth a recovery as possible.

    12. Katie the Fed*

      I’m sorry, I now feel like the most selfish person ever since I didn’t have a chance to reply to everyone individually or pay attention to other posts – I got really absorbed in a book – oops :(

      Thank you all for the love and well-wishes – it really does mean a lot!

  23. C Average*

    I’m putting the finishing touches on my stepdaughter’s tallit, and I have to say it’s turning out really beautiful.

    The central motif is a pieced applique of a Star of David with a rose in the middle. It’s adapted from a picture of a stained-glass synagogue window I found online. I’ve pieced it in blue and white silk, with embroidery and beadwork. Some of the pieces are from a wedding dress that belonged to her great-grandmother; my mother-in-law gave it to me for this project.

    The woman who made the dress was quite incredible. She came to the States from Poland as a teenaged governess, and was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. She married young, had one kid (my mother-in-law), and was widowed while still in her twenties. She set up shop in Boston as a dressmaker and went on to be really successful. There’s a hallway in my in-laws’ house full of pictures of happy brides in dresses designed and created by her.

    I find myself thinking about her a lot as I’m sewing. She’s everything I want my stepkids to be: tough, smart, resourceful, creative. A true force of nature! We missed meeting each other by a few years, unfortunately, but I love hearing stories about her.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Cool! I remember you mentioning this tallit before – what a lovely gift for your stepdaughter. I can only imagine it will mean a lot to her to have a tallit with so much love and history sewn into it.

      1. Jean*

        + 18,000 (to puzzled readers, 18 is the sum of the numerical value of the Hebrew letters in the word “chai” or “life”). This is a wonderful fusion of textiles, handcraft, and family history.

    2. Today*

      I found an airbnb tiny apartment that was considerably cheaper than a hotel and not a hostel. It was close to 2 subway lines so it made it easy to move around and it was near

  24. Carrie in Scotland*

    Life updates:

    It’s a long way til payday….

    BUT I have bought tickets to the tennis at the 02 in London for November – 2 whole days of tennis! Super excited.

    I have also managed to paint 3 of my 4 radiators in my flat white and replace my bath plug by myself.

    I and 2 friends went to a vintage ladies night yesterday – afternoon tea, had our makeup and hair done – I was so in love with my hair do I slept in it and went about my Saturday with posh hair. It’s the little things :) if only I could do the hair do myself….

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ha ha, I love doing errands and going about with posh hair. I always feel so good when my hair looks good. Can you go back and ask the stylist to give you a lesson? I did that with mine–she showed me how to curl my hair with the flatiron like she did, and it’s SO easy and looks totally red-carpet ready.

      I also learned a ‘do from a coworker yesterday–you take a thin head band and put it on your head on top of your hair. Then you twist your hair in and around it like a roll, and sleep on it, and it comes out all curly/wavy. Since my hair is long layers like hers, I’m trying this–maybe tonight!

  25. Revanche*

    It’s been a seriously rough mental and physical health week (couple of weeks actually) at our household. I’ve been home alone most days with the baby and it’s taken a serious toll on me, as the chronic pain and fatigue combined kick my ass, and add in the lack of sleep with an infant… sigh. We’ve been rather desperately leaning on a friend to help with the nanny search and worrying about affording it. The baby is just too young for me to feel comfortable putting hir in daycare which already costs about a mortgage, a fulltime nanny costs more than that! I’d been setting aside daycare money since partway through pregnancy but it’s still shocking how much we’re looking at spending. But given my physical health, quitting to stay home simply isn’t an option so we’re locked into needing some kind of childcare.
    I’m doing my best to stave off the anxiety and depression caused by the endless pain and fatigue, exacerbated by recovering from childbirth. Have been trying stretching, staying hydrated and reasonably fed (a challenge with the constant nausea), showers (but short ones because of the CA drought). Anxiety/depression aren’t things I’ve had a lot of experience with managing, so if you have any useful tactics, I’d welcome them.

    1. nep*

      So sorry you’re having such a tough time. It’s great hear you’re making that effort to stretch and to hydrate yourself; so important to make time for things that bring you some relief.
      Wishing you peace and healing.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Not much advice, just hugs. *hug* It’s hard but my friends with kids say it does get easier. The stretching, eating right (as best you can) and hydrating are good. Remember that this will pass. Try to get some sunshine every day too, if you can, even if it’s just going out onto the patio, balcony, or porch for a few minutes. Now that spring is here, it can be enormously cheering.

      If you start having really black thoughts or it gets worse, please see your doctor ASAP.

      1. Revanche*

        Thanks. Everyone says it gets easier and my overtaxed self cries “can it be NOW”? I honestly just need at least a short break once in a while to keep perspective. Also yes, the sun. I’ve not ventured out at all, so I will try.

        1. GOG11*

          Knowing that it does get better can help give a sense of hope (which, for some, can relieve symptoms in the now), but you’re getting at a very valid point/challenge: until later (when circumstances are better), how can I cope with now?

          I think the self care you’re employing now definitely helps. Give yourself permission, as much as you can, to take advantage of things that soothe you or that recharge you. I struggle with anxiety periodically and had a really hard time recently. My mom and a friend did some errands for/with me, helped me around the house and just generally allowed me to take a short mental break. I sort of mentally reset and, while it was definitely challenging, I started to work my way back into feeling like life is manageable again.

          This is a fantastic community to get advice, support and encouragement from. Please check in, rant, lament, worry, and consult us/them as you need to.

          I am sending warm thoughts your way.

          1. Revanche*

            Thanks so much for your thoughts! I’ve greatly appreciated that this community has been an unexpected resource for this support <3

    3. Ruffingit*

      Build in some alone time into the day even if only 5-10 minutes to walk around the block. You need some quiet time to just breathe. When husband gets home from work, tell him you’re going to need some time to get out for a few minutes.

      Call on your friends. Is there one you trust to come and stay with the baby during the day or at night when you’re home so you can nap and/or shower? I had a friend who did this for a mutual friend of ours and it was a God send to the poor woman. The friend came over during the day and stayed for a few hours so mom could nap for an hour or two, take a shower, and just generally feel more human than a newborn allows one to feel most of the time. You can also have a friend set up a meal delivery thing with other friends so you don’t have to cook so much.

      Do some deep breathing exercises throughout the day where you stop for a few minutes and just take in a few really deep breaths. Get some oxygen moving and just give yourself that time to clear your head. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have found this helpful in conjunction with medication. Sometimes I realize I’m moving so fast through my day that I’m not taking time to just breathe. A few minutes of deep breaths and just clearing my head does wonders.

      Hang in there. This is a really hard time, but it will get better.

      1. Revanche*

        Belatedly, TYVM for sharing. Unfortunately our only friends have to travel hundreds of miles to get to us but some dear friends have been willing to so we cherish those occasional visits.

    4. TL -*

      Can you hire someone to be a mother’s helper while you’re at home, like a teenager or a college student? They can provide part time help with cooking/chores/baby care while you’re still in the house and available, so you’ll get a break but can still be present with the baby. Cheaper, too, from what I’ve heard.

      1. Revanche*

        We’re looking for all kinds of possible help, turns out the mother’s helper sorts in this area charge just as much as the more pro nannies though :/

    5. BeckyDaTechie*

      *hugs from a former au pair* Lavender and chamomile sachet in your pillow so that when you *can* sleep, it’s more relaxing?

  26. Blue_eyes*

    Anyone have suggestions for workout tops for large-chested women? I like wearing tank tops (not tee-shirts) when I exercise, but I don’t feel a need to show off my cleavage at the gym. A lot of tops that are fine on some women end up looking very revealing on me because I’m not too tall and have a large chest. What workout tops do other well-endowed ladies like? (I’m in NYC so I have access to pretty much any major US stores, online is great too).

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Thanks! Good bottoms that stay up on bigger bellies are always useful! I always try stuff on, but sometimes it looks fine in a dressing room, and then 10 minutes into kick boxing class, it’s a different story.

    1. blackcat*

      Not a top, but I LOVE my Panache sports bras. Google and you’ll find it.

      Because the coverage is so good in that, I can wear any top I want. And my boobs do not move. At all. It is a feat of engineering.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I’ll have to look a those next time I need sports bras! My current favorites are ones by Anita and Glamorise.

        1. asteramella*

          You might also like Freya’s sports bras. They’re underwired but very full coverage and keep everything under wraps pretty well.

      2. Paul*

        My wife recently bought two panache sports bras and loved them so much she went back to get two more. And they come in fun colors.

    2. jamlady*

      I’m 5’3″ and similarly “lucky” (ugh). I’m always ending up in sports bras that are a million sizes too small and wearing 2 tank tops to make sure I have full coverage. I’m too poor for the fancy sports bras that may actually work, but I love tanks, so I just layer and layer with thin spaghetti traps and then throw a loose fitting racerback over everything.

    3. TL -*

      You can cut old shirts into tanks if you’re the crafts-y type.

      My brother does this with his old stuff and I borrow his clothes when I’m visiting and they cover everything. You can also check the men’s section, though they tend to have huge arm holes, so your sports bra will show.

      (These are not particularly elegant solutions but they work.)

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Hmm…That reminds me of something I pinned a while ago about all kinds of ways to modify plain tee-shirts. I may have to go back and look at that.

    4. V. Meadowsweet*

      Both Panache and Freya have a sports tank fitted to bra-size. I haven’t used either, but have read good reviews on both…

    5. Lauren*

      No suggestions, sorry, but I know the problem. I’m not particularly large-chested but I have this thing (silly, I know!) about wearing supportive sports bras and tops that actually cover them. It’s not at all easy to achieve, especially on a budget. Seriously, what is up with these workout tops with spaghetti straps?

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I know, right? I don’t even think I’m actually showing that much skin (like, I don’t think other gym-goers are noticing or thinking “whoa, that lady is really letting it all hang out”). The supportive bras almost make it worse at times because in order to be supportive they end up pushing everything together and up like a push-up bra, and then I need a top with extra good coverage.

        1. blackcat*

          This is why I love the panache bra. It separates and covers to support. No cleavage! No awkward between boob sweat!

          (I swear I am unaffiliated with panache. But that sports bra changed my exercise life.)

    6. Sunflower*

      I’m chesty and small. I stay away from any of those workout tops that are form fitting. I just bought some cool neon flowy racerback tanks from Walmart.

      I usually cut my short sleeves into tanks. I cut the sleeves off and cut down the side a little bit. Then I cut the collar to whatever makes me feel comfortable.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I think I may have to start cutting up tee-shirts. Or go back to wearing men’s sleeveless undershirts, which is what I did in college. It’s nice because you can get a multi-pack for cheap.

    7. Leslie Knope's Waffle*

      I’ve been wearing Shock Absorber sports bras for about three years and swear by them. I’m 5’2″, have a larger chest (DD) and they work like a charm. I do a lot of high impact sports (running, skating) and there’s no “bounce.” They last a long time, too. They run between $50-70 online. I’ve bought them at Bare Necessities and Amazon.

  27. Pleiades*

    Here’s a riveting weekend post comment: I just got a new vacuum!

    Splurged on a Miele S2181 and I’m thrilled.

    This was not a minor purchase for me, but I can already tell the results are soooo much better than the big heavy bagless upright machine I’ve been hating using for ages that I got from a big box store. (And no more gross cloud of grimy dust floating up when I empty the canister!) The Miele was from a small locally owned mom-and-pop shop that I feel really good about supporting.

    I was inspired by a Reddit AMA with a vacuum repair technician, which made for some amusing reading if you want to know more about vacuums. It was strangely entertaining.

    1. jamlady*

      We just invested in a veeeery expensive vacuum. We saved for it outside of our normal savings. We have 2 cats and my husband was having mental breakdowns because our original vacuum just wasn’t cutting it. My allergies have been way better! It took a lot of convincing (I’m the cheapest person alive), but I’m so glad we bought it.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      We asked for a vacuum as an anniversary gift from my in laws. They thought it was funny, but we love our new vacuum! We got a Dyson Animal. It’s great for our 1 bedroom apartment and being cordless makes it so much easier for one person to do the vacuuming alone!

    3. class factotum*

      My husband just got us a new vacuum and he is all excited about it. (Like I had to blog about his excitement excitement.) I want him to stay excited because I hate vacuuming. And so does Laverne. Shirley, the other cat, loves it.

    4. Anx*

      That’s awesome. I don’t have carpet, but if I did….a top-of-the-line vacuum would be on my shortlist of things I want to buy.

    5. skyline*

      Ooh, I have a Miele vacuum, too. One of the low-end models, but still a splurge for me. I have two cats, so it’s totally worth it to deal with the scattered litter and cat hair tumbleweeds.

  28. Perpetua*

    So, my ex-boyfriend (I initiated the breakup 2 months ago, but I’ve been having second thoughts, whereas he has expressed the desire and intention to move on) might be coming to work at my company. We wouldn’t be working that closely together (I’m in HR, he’s…not), but there’s not that many of us and our offices would probably be right next to each other.
    I don’t even know what to think of it, except that things are going to get pretty complicated and just…ugh.

    1. Ruffingit*

      It doesn’t have to get complicated. Emotionally it might feel a little weird, but you’ll quickly move on from that. Treat him as you would any other colleague and be thankful you’re not going to be working that closely together.

    2. brightstar*

      That sounds super awkward, but if things have been amicable hopefully you can both just continue to be professional and polite to one another.

  29. Soupspoon McGee*

    I’m supposed to be studying for two finals, and I am having a very hard time staying focussed. Obviously. Since I’m here posting.

    Any tips? I mean, I know all of the things I’m supposed to do. I just can’t sustain them for very long. Internet blocker. Calming background music. Coffee and green tea but not too much. Relatively quiet space. Study materials organized. Big table to spread out and organize. Lots of visuals to look at and make.

    Context is I’m changing careers, have done school and grad school before in liberal arts, am going back for a health care focus, and should be old enough to know better but ADD (diagnosis and everything, but insurance will only pay for the short-term Adderall, not the extended-release stuff that works), and and and . . . . my brain is bouncing between “I’ve got this! All of this studying can be accomplished!” to “There’s so much to know!”

    Anyway, thank you for being distraction #417. Carry on.

    1. TL -*

      Timers? Do 20/10s or 30/10s or whatever – 20 minutes on, then a set 5-10 minute break with a timer and when the timer goes off, you go back to what you’re doing. Use a real timer, though, so the noise breaks through and gives you a moment to reset.
      Or have a friend text and scold you – I do this. It helps. :P

      1. Windchime*

        I have to say that the “20 minutes work, 5 minute break” thing sounded really dumb to me. How can I get anything done in such short blocks??

        Well, I tried it last week when I was working at home and having trouble concentrating and I have to say that it was GREAT. I just forced myself to stick with it for a couple of hours and I got a lot of work done PLUS got my kitchen totally cleaned up (that’s what I did in the 5 minute breaks). So maybe give that a try. It doesn’t sound like it would work but it really did, at least for me.

        1. TL -*

          Yeah for me getting started is generally the problem – I actually don’t use the breaks but telling myself I only have to do something for X minutes is always helpful for a dressed task.

    2. Lizzie*

      Lists kept me on track in grad school – I literally printed out lists of what was due and when and went through and crossed things off as I did them. (I find a lot of satisfaction in using a pen to physically cross things off a piece of paper. I tried a timer (and a timer/To-Do-List app) but didn’t have a lot of success with that, personally, but I also mostly had final papers and assignments in grad school as opposed to cumulative exams, so there was a more clearly defined end point for my work.

      In any case, good luck!

    3. BeckyDaTechie*

      Break it into bits and do something active between. Read for 20 minutes, then put laundry in, come back at the reading, or review chapter highlights for half an hour, then do a quick run or walk the dog.

  30. Stephanie*

    Ok, our neighbor just dropped off a grocery bag full of lemons. Give me ideas on what to do with them. Chess pie is already in the works.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Lemonade and lemon pie. Also, use the rinds to freshen up the garbage disposal. Put them in there, let them sit for an hour or so, pour some boiling water and turn on the disposal. Really refreshes it and makes it smell great.

      Oh also drink some warm lemon water every morning. I feel better when I do that.

      1. cuppa*

        Yes! I didn’t really think I would like warm lemon water at all, but I love it! I drink it at night sometimes when I want a hot beverage but no caffeine.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Yes! Warm lemon water first thing in the morning is great. I’ve been doing that for over a year now and having it made with real lemons and not RealLemon… can really taste the difference. I squeeze a bunch in the juicer and keep it in a sealed jar, lasts for a few weeks.

        1. Natalie*

          When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and then throw it in the face of the person who gave you the lemons until they give you the oranges you originally asked for.

    2. Natalie*

      You can freeze lemon juice and zest. If you like preserved lemons they’re easy to make and you can find recipes online. If you drink, limoncello is delicious and not hard to make either.

    3. OfficePrincess*

      Soak the peels in vinegar for a couple weeks then strain it and mix it 50/50 with water. It makes an excellent cleaner and smells great.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I used lemon juice and sunlight to get pet stains off the floor. This worked for me because I did not care that the lemon juice removed the finish. And I had to wait until the time of day when the sunlight was streaming in, remove the curtains, etc. When I got done, I could not tell there was a stain there earlier.

        If you have stubborn stains in something- google to see if lemon juice would work.

    4. Rene in UK*

      Lemon curd is wonderful. Lemon marmalade. And…my favorite….Moroccan preserved lemons. Basically, scrub the lemons and cut them into wedges, salt the cuts well and wedge them firmly into a jar. Top with more lemon juice. Tighten the lid and put on the counter for several weeks, turning over or shaking every day or so. You end up with a delicious sharp, lemony pickle that is great in currys, Moroccan food and hummus, among other things.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      Make limoncello. Make your own lemony scented all purpose cleaner. Look on the website thekitchn, they have posted lots of ideas for things to do with lemons.

      1. cuppa*

        My neighbor made us some limoncello for Christmas and it was AMAZING. Like drinking lemon meringue pie.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      You could try making preserved lemons (I think that’s what it’s called…saw it on Martha Stewart) if you like to bake. Or, check out Pinterest for lemon facial/hand/foot scrubs.

    7. soitgoes*

      If you get tired of using the actual fruit, focus on recipes that call for lemon zest (grating a bit of the rind as a dry ingredient). It can feel a bit wasteful, but if you get sick of lemons anyway, it’s a good way to at least get something out of them.

      Try a lemon curd recipe too. It’s sort of pinterest-y. Basically it’s just a lemony pudding. Try googling some cookie recipes too. You can give them to your coworkers if you don’t want them.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Preserved lemons! Take 5 or 6 of them (or more), cut them in quarters almost all the way through (I hope that makes sense), rub the insides with kosher salt. Put about an inch of salt in the bottom of a pickling jar. Stuff those lemons in there, squeezing as you go to release juice. When they’re stuffed in nice and tight, cover with lemon juice and another inch or so of salt. Seal the jar, let them sit in the fridge for 2 weeks. Every couple of days during those 2 weeks, flip the jar over so the juice and salt distribute.

      I cut these up and use them in salads and Middle Eastern dishes. I use the juice for salads too and anywhere I need lemon juice and salt.

    1. nep*

      Bests: The temps finally climbing/snow finally melting; another fantastic session in a music class I’m taking.
      Worst: Seeing relatives suffer the stomach bug.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Best: I took the day off today and did a whole lot of nothing. Really needed that.

        Worst: My boss has become seriously passive-aggressive and that makes for a difficult working environment.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I should clarify that I don’t work on Saturday. I took the day off in terms of not doing any of the usual run around and get things done errands that take up my weekends. I laid in bed for most of the day, played on the computer, and did nothing productive. It was awesome :)

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: Vintage ladies night and my pictures look amazing! (I rarely take a good photo)

      Worst: Still feel pretty rubbish…

    3. Aussie Teacher*

      Best: applied for my first job after 5 years at home with 3 small children. Excited and nervous all at once!

      Worst: I think I have tonsillitis. Horrid sore throat and feeling weak/trembly. Hot/cold chills as well.

    4. Natalie*

      Y’all, it is so freaking nice out!!! My boy and I are sitting on some church steps and watching all the people come and go.

      I love spring. I basically don’t need coffee for a couple of weeks in March.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Best: Set up 6 showings of rentals in next two days. With any luck, I can return from my house hunting trip early because …. arrgggg

      Worst: I move in less than three weeks and even though I know there’s tons of stuff (clothes, paperwork, knickknacks) I should get rid of before moving haven’t made any real progress on that. Also should definitely do taxes before move, but so much stuff to do like watch 6 episodes of The Americans before I return my DVR.

    6. OfficePrincess*

      Best: I found out I won’t need surgery.
      Worst: I’m frustrated with the slow pace I’m healing at and taking it out on my husband. I hate feeling useless.

    7. jamlady*

      Best: receiving mounds of good news for a job I’m up for.
      Worst: realizing I am having more than just a “hard time” getting out of the stress eating and sitting around phase I entered into when I was finishing my thesis and I’m that just way too heavy for comfort.

    8. Wannebe EdTech*

      Best: Two Interviews!
      Worst: I got whatever has been going around at my volunteer job and having a fever and terrible cough is not fun.

    9. C Average*

      Best: I gave my month’s notice at work!
      Worst: April 15 is still a WHOLE MONTH month away.

    10. Lizzie*

      Best: One of my kiddos had AMAZING results on his most recent reading progress assessment. He’s made over a year’s worth of growth in reading since September. I want to shout from the rooftops about how hard he’s working and how well he’s doing.

      Worst: I didn’t have time to make pie today. (Yeah, that’s literally all I’ve got. It was a pretty fantastic week.)

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I’m starting to hate seeing this because nothing ever changes.

      Best: the weather is warming up! All the snow is gone!

      Worst: nothing ever changes no matter what I do.

      1. C Average*

        “Nothing ever changes no matter what I do.”

        Man, those words say it all. I’ve spent a LOT of time in that space. I don’t know what it is you’d like to change, but I hope it happens for you.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m so ready to gallop on out, if only something would open! Everything is in stasis right now! Nothing is moving and I can’t force it!
          That’s really hard for someone as pushy as I am, LOLOLOL.

    12. Newsie*

      Best: Got to the gym three times, did some laundry, figured out how to do my hair. (I’m vain, and I’m okay with that)
      Worst: I stayed very very late at work the day before an all-staff meeting bright and early the next morning. Got 3.5 hours of sleep. The meeting was a “where we stand” meeting – I could have called in.

      1. Christy*

        I’m vain too! My second best this week was deciding to get laser hair removal. (My best was a potential boss saying he was gonna try to create a position for me and thinking I was two or three ranks higher than j actually am.)

        Worst: cleaning up cat poop.

      2. TL -*

        I got a hair cut a week or so ago and my hair finally looked right…my stylist got a very emotional thank you and huge tip.
        Nothing wrong with liking to look good!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am sorry to hear about your friend’s sister. I hope your friend finds peaceful reassurances as she processes her loss.

        1. class factotum*

          Thank you, Not So NewReader. I hope so, too.

          I went to the funeral yesterday and had a hard time finding parking – there were so many people who loved this woman. It is such a sad, sad story.

    13. Shortie*

      Best: Took an unplanned day off, which really helped reduce stress levels
      Worst: Had to work all day Saturday to make up for it because I am so far behind, bringing stress levels back up (everyone at my company is working what should be 2 jobs, and it’s ridiculous)

    14. Ann Furthermore*

      Best: The weather here this weekend is absolutely incredible and I sat outside for a couple hours today soaking up the sunshine and reading a book while my daughter ran around with the neighbor kids.

      Worst: The project I’m on at work is driving me insane, and there’s still 6 weeks to go until we drag the users kicking and screaming across the finish line.

    15. Colleen*

      BEST: Did what I hope is the final interview for a promotion I really, really want.
      WORST: Gastrointestinal thing that laid me out for three days and had me all face-sweaty when I went to said interview.

    16. soitgoes*

      Best part was finishing up my pay period – I have the millennial/post-recession fear of being fired, so I’m always excited when I finish a pay period and can expect a full paycheck the next Wednesday. Also, I met a cute guy. He said he’ll call! LOL we’ll see. But it’s nice to know that I’m not yet a monster in public.

      Worst part is just a culmination of always running into people I don’t want to see (read: guys) when my friends haven’t shown up yet and I’m awkward and alone.

    17. Jen RO*

      Best: Traveled to another city for my friend’s baby’s baptism.

      Worst: Lots of things to solve at work, and I am behind on everything.

    18. Windchime*

      Worst: I had a terrible cold last week that pretty much knocked me on my butt.

      Best: It’s almost noon and it’s raining and gloomy outside, so I am sitting here in my PJs and drinking tea and alternating between AAM Weekend thread and looking at knitting patterns. This may be the most ambitious thing I do all day and I’m loving it.

    19. Elkay*

      Best: on track for my training for the run I’m doing next month

      Worst: worrying I’ve offended a friend. Other general relationship crap.

    20. GOG11*

      Best: I found a pair of new work shoes that fit well, are stylish and that I could afford.
      Worst: Basement drains backed up with sewage water. I still can’t use any water in my house. UGHGH

    21. BeckyDaTechie*

      Best: Job offer for an awesome place… and my gentle negotiation tactics *worked* so I don’t have to start at minimum wage even though I don’t have a lot of experience in gerontology.

      Worst: still trying to come to terms with my anxiety and how much my husband’s temper scares me. I’m not sure my reactions are completely rational, but I really *don’t* do well when he curses under his breath, slams things, and breaks stuff. Now that I have a new job, we can find a professional to help us talk through it, but it’s a bad feeling to worry that his temper flaring might hurt someone accidentally. (I should specify, he’s not violent toward me or the pets, but he’s hurt himself more than once.)

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’ve been waiting since then end of the last season for it to start again. I was up at some ungodly hour this morning to watch the race.

    2. JMW*

      YES!! Except the McLarens trolling around at the back is a tad disappointing. Everyone in our family roots for someone different, and Alonso has always been my favorite since his Renault days, but I may have to split allegiances this year. One of my kids is doing an internship at COTA right now – very cool!

      1. Mike C.*

        That is really sweet!.

        And holy crap, McLaren is a complete mess right now! Honda had a year to copy the Mercedes, er, design their own engine and note I’m reading that certain parts had to be turned off to ensure it would make it through the race. And I thought the Renault engines were bad last year…

  31. PoorDecisions101*

    Don’t eat frozen fish best before 2011. I was too lazy to clean up my kitchen on Thursday and the fish was the only really no effort option. I was fine on Friday so I thought all good. Not so great on the weekend though…

    1. TL -*

      That sucks but I’ve totally been there – mine was a frozen Oreo pie years ago that came with the plastic cover not attached. I thought it just must have bounced around in the car.
      Nope. I got sick as a dog.

    2. Stephanie*

      Mine was from a Mexican seafood restaurant that we went to on my birthday last year. Now we had been to two of their other locations without issue. I never get food poisoning. I have an iron stomach and usually get a mild queasiness or diarrhea at best. But something did not agree with me and I spent the rest of the weekend doing a loop between the bathroom, the kitchen for Gatorade and saltines, and the couch.

    3. fposte*

      Mine was canned tomatoes–not out of date, but I believe it had a dent. When I opened it, it gave a weird little spatter, and I couldn’t decide if it was because I’d moved my hand and jostled it or not. I thought to myself laughingly, “Well, I guess I’ll know in a few hours!”

      I knew in a few hours. Suppose I should be glad it wasn’t botulism.

    4. Mimmy*

      I have such a phobia about expired food, even if it’s just a “best by x”. Never been affected, but still. Although my husband has gotten sick from likely-tainted food. One time he’d eaten bad sushi, and he got so sick that it caused a blood vessel in his eye to burst.

  32. jamlady*

    Removed because job-search-related; this thread is work-only. (Sorry! If I’m not vigilant about it, it takes over the thread.)

  33. Jessica*

    For those of you who moved away from your hometown, how did you decide where to go? I live about an hour and half from where I grew up, and I like where I live most of the time, but I’m ready for a change. Last year, two friends moved to Montana and Chicago and last month, another friend just moved to Georgia. It sounds so exciting. I want to move too, haha! I work in Development/Fundraising in higher ed, so I could move and work pretty much anywhere. But I’m having a hard time deciding what area of the country to move to. It also scares me to move away from the only part of the country I’m familiar with and the actual work of moving far away sounds daunting.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Think about what you like about where you are now, and what you would change if you could. See if you can find somewhere that has those qualities. Or just look for a job that you want, and move to wherever it is. It sort of sounds like you really just want some adventure and novelty. The actual moving part will be hard, but don’t let that stop you – lots of things that are hard are totally worth it afterwards.

    2. OfficePrincess*

      I went out of state for college and then stayed. I chose the school for a specific program, overall size, and it’s distance from my hometown – driveable, but I can’t just run home for dinner. I’m about six hours by car from my hometown, but the difference is pretty huge. I went from a 1 stoplight town to a mid-size city. I like the convenience of having things nearby, but live slightly in the suburbs so it’s not a complete culture shock. There are also a ton more job opportunities and from here there are several major cities easily accessible.

    3. BRR*

      First do you actually want to move? I’m not entirely sold that you want

      Do you want to move to be near any of those friends, if so I would look for development jobs in those cities.

      First I would consider climate, then you can eliminate some parts of the country. Do you want a bigger or smaller city? What things in a city are important such as arts, public transit, beaches, mountains etc. And one things that will help is what jobs are available (that’s how I ended up where I am but I loved many other things about the area).

    4. class factotum*

      I have moved only because I have had to – either my dad’s job (military) took us someplace new or my needing a job and not being able to get one where I was made me move.

      I am not a big fan of moving. It takes a long time to build community and to make friends. It’s very hard to start over from zero. It is lonely. And the act of moving itself is a pain in the neck, even when your new employer is moving you.

      (But I can understand wanting adventure. Still, I would recommend staying away from anyplace with cold winters. I never knew it was possible to hate snow and cold so much, probably because I had never had to be so cold.)

      1. Lizzie*

        “I am not a big fan of moving. It takes a long time to build community and to make friends. It’s very hard to start over from zero. It is lonely.”

        My thoughts exactly. My move (Midwest to East Coast) has brought a lot of good things, but even after almost two years here, I don’t have anything remotely resembling the social/support network I had back home – and for me, personally, that’s serious enough to outweigh most of the good stuff. If I could go back and make the decision to move all over again, I’d probably stay closer to home or to where I went to college (~6 hours away from home).

    5. Christy*

      My girlfriend and I are planning to move to Kansas City MO. I’m from Baltimore, she’s from Northern California, and we live near DC. We chose it because it’s halfway(ish) between our families, it’s a medium size city with low cost of living, and it’s got a lot of technology development, including a city data program and lots of tech companies. Plus it’s a federal government center so lots of job options for me the fed. And neither of us has ever lived in the Midwest so it’ll be an adventure.

      1. Sunday*

        Hi Christy,
        I used to live two hours due east of KC. There are some advantages to living on the border, explore both sides. Turns out I have a fair amount to say.

        If either of you is at all interested in outdoorsy stuff, I highly recommend 3 programs:

        Missouri Master Naturalist program. (“Master” is such a misnomer…)
        (I see that KS has one now too, but know zip about it beyond its existence; when I lived there folks who lived on the KS side were welcome into the MO program.) Lots of great ways to be out and about while learning new things and supporting the environment. I helped collect prairie seeds, and later helped with seeding. I helped with setting up and maintaining “rain gardens” including at an elementary school. Our chapter had monthly programs plus business meetings, and we got to learn a lot – and often had the opportunity to explore more with presenters who were increasingly interested in the support of the volunteer community. We were “vetted” by virtue of being the program. Loads and loads of fun, and it all felt useful, too. Interesting crop of folks participating from rocket scientists (literally) to avid birders (the state ornithologist asked one for her opinion when he didn’t know the answer – she generally did) to folks who all but lived outdoors and were looking for ways to contribute to the state conservation lands to people like me who hadn’t been outdoors for much in years. Initial training course was around $50, super cheap for the indoor and field training. Annual conference is really fun, and an opportunity for more training.

        Missouri Stream Team
        Heard about this through the Master Naturalist program, and went to check it out. If you had told me what a great time I’d have searching for and identifying (and releasing) macro invertebrates in stream beds and reporting findings to the state database… So much fun. And they keep adding more training options – one day and weekend classes of different types – in part thru the Stream Team Academy. They have a terrific library on their website, have a look. Missouri River Relief is an interesting outfit, too.

        Association of Missouri Interpreters (interpreter as in historical/cultural/naturalist presentations)
        A member of the National Association of Interpreters. They have an annual conference that provides both presenter training and field trips to learn about cool local stuff. Also lets you connect with the larger organization for additional stuff. Annual membership used to be about $20. Weighted heavily to naturalist training rather than the cultural or historical work, but that too is present.

        Lots of “Grow Native” endeavors, to help restore the native plants in gardens and fields and to support other wildlife.

        And, please do me a favor. On MDC (MO Dept of Conservation) lands there are a lot of big green signs (highway sign size) that say in all caps, HUNTERS MUST USE NON LETHAL SHOT.
        The favor is to politely ask for explanations of the sign from all uniformed staff you encounter. I liked ask about the State’s decision to protect wildlife by not letting hunters kill any…
        (Turns out the sign is supposed to mean that hunters must use LEAD-FREE shot, so that loose shot doesn’t poison the waterways. Not exactly what the signs say. Always glad to know that others make some interesting word choices in life. )

        Know that the summers are hotter than in DC, and the winters colder, though snow’s about the same. Tornadoes are for real. Cool geographically to be at the crossing point from east to west, and north to south. The land really shows it. And be prepared for wind.

        Visit the interesting places – be sure to see the Ozarks, check out the cave systems, spend time on the river! Make time to go to the confluence when you get to St Louis. There’s a park off by itself West of St Louis, you’ll see the signs off I70. Pat Jones Conservation Area/Confluence Park or something like that. It’s a bit of a hike (maybe 30 min from I70) but so well worth it to see the Missouri pour into the Mississippi. Made the hair on my arms stand straight up. Bring a snack and a beverage, there’s nowhere to buy any. It’s just a spit of land, some explanatory stuff, a bench or two, and the astonishing rivers.

        Didn’t live in the KC area, so don’t have much to offer about that area, but found the state-wide programs remarkably rich. And since you’re in the DC area, MO is the only place I’ve lived where when folks tell you they’re “liberal” they mean liberal republican, democrats will say democrat.

        Hope it’s a wonderful move for you two.

    6. Anonymous This Evening*

      I picked a city once because it was down to the final three, and one of them had a place where I could crash rent free until I found a job (friends’ empty vacation cottage).

      A lot of the other suggestions upthread went into narrowing it down to the final three (city size, climate, employment opportunities, etc.) but the final choice was just practical.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      The last move I made I wanted to be away from so much commercialism and the 24 hour shopping experience. I felt that by living in a more rural area, I could focus better on things I actually wanted to do. That worked out so-so. Now I think if I move again it will be to a little more populous area with more services/businesses but not as big as the place I moved from previously. It could be a phase- but right now college towns appeal to me.

    8. Sunflower*

      I know a lot of people who moved to SoCal because it seemed like the perfect place to live. While some people really like it, I know a lot of people who were not into it. The cost of living and difficulty of meeting people there was tough. I think it depends a lot on where you grew up and what’s important to you. I grew up in the suburbs of Philly and live in the city now. Philly is pretty big and I’m not sure I could live somewhere smaller. There’s other people who could never live here because it’s too big. I could never live in LA or Orange County(at least right now, being young and childless) because I would hate having to drive everywhere. There’s also a difference between places you like visiting and places you’d like to live. I love visiting California and Chicago but I’m not sure I’d ever want to live there- I really love the East Coast, not sure I could or would ever want to leave.

      If you’re really ready for a change, don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. I would take trips to some parts of the country you think you’d like to live in and see how you like it.

      1. abby*

        I live in SoCal and really don’t like it. Cost of living: be prepared to pay well over half a million for an old house that needs work in a semi-sketchy neighborhood. The crowds: rush hour is all day long, on freeways and streets. Meeting people: can be tough unless you have real specific interests and the time to devote to them, or have kids and like to hang out with their friends’ parents. Car culture: have to drive everywhere and because it’s so crowded, driving takes up more and more time. Weather: not so great anymore. Too warm (was 96 degrees yesterday) and increasingly humid while becoming more hot.

        Yeah, looking to leave. We might be stuck here for a few more years, but the plan is in motion.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      Grew up on the East Coast, as did my spouse. We wanted an adventure in our early 20s and figured to spend 3 years out in California and then “settle down” back east near family, but we ended up just loving California and staying.

      If you’re young enough, move somewhere and make an adventure of it. If you want to return home, it was an adventure and then over. But you might surprise yourself and stay!

    10. Windchime*

      I visited the Seattle area as a teenager and really loved it. Something about it felt like home to me, despite the rain. My hometown is several hours east, on the sunny side of the state. Every time I came to Seattle, it felt familiar and comfortable and I loved it.

      I didn’t actually move over here until my kids were adults and out of college. An opportunity came up and I seized it. I transferred into an office where I already knew a lot of people and I have family over here, so it wasn’t really a tough transition at all.

    11. Cath in Canada*

      I visited Vancouver on vacation and it was love at first sight. I “just knew”. It took me four years to get back here, but I’ve never regretted it!