weekend free-for-all – April 18-19, 2015

Olive smallThis 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:: Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing. Journalist Ted Conover worked undercover as a prison guard at Sing Sing for a year and wrote about daily life for both guards and prisoners. Totally fascinating, and disturbing. If your favorite psychological experiment is the Stanford Prison Experiment (as it is mine), you will like this book.

{ 892 comments… read them below }

  1. Charity

    For those of you who donate to charity, how did you choose which organization to donate to? How do you vet them to make sure they aren’t overly inefficient or shady like the Susan Komen foundation?

    The background is I’m thinking of releasing seeing free software/games that I’ve developed, and instead of having a donate button to me, I was thinking I could encourage people who liked the program to click a button and donate to a charity. But I’m having trouble choosing one.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?

    1. the gold digger

      We pick one or two issues – for the past few years, it has been hunger and homelessness – and find good local organizations dedicated to that. With local groups, I know enough people in the nonprofit community that I can ask around and get good information.

      1. Bea W

        This is similar to what I do. I have a couple issues I pick, and I prefer local organizations because it is easy to ask around or even talk to volunteers and I feel like the donations would have the most impact to the community.

      2. Sara

        Same. I tend to keep my donations local, and often I’ll donate to charities that have been highlighted by people I know. Last year, I donated to a women’s shelter where one of my coworkers used to work and to a food bank that has a partnership with my school. This year, I’ll probably give to a particular social services agency that an acquaintance of mine from college is heavily involved in fundraising for.

    2. Coffee, Please

      You can check an organization and search to find orgd that match interests at Charity Navigator.
      Personally I donate to organizations I volunteer with, nonprofits my friends lead or serve at, as well as a few that are tackling important issues to me. I always check out their tax filings before I set up recurring donations .

    3. thisisit

      I think it depends on what you value in a charity. What do you want them to do and how? What are some dealbreakers (ie, $$ on advertising, merchandise, salary; level of transparency; political involvement; etc)?

      You can check out Guidestar, Charity Navigator, etc, to get some ratings.

      A lot of people like to donate locally because they can see the impact of the org more easily.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I donate to the local food bank (Capitol Area Food Bank), Not For Sale, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Edesia monthly. I usually do a cursory Google search, and I also check out the website to ensure it’s not affiliated with any religion or basing it’s mission and values on any religious ideals.

      I might occasionally look them up specifically on Charity Navigator or a similar site, but their criteria for what makes a good and bad charity isn’t generally stuff that aligns to my values, so it’s usually just to confirm that they’re a “real” organization and have a 501(c) status.

      I highly recommend Edesia, by the way. They’re a charity that provides emergency nutrition to people in disaster, war-torn or emergency areas. They sell the products, but charitable giving subsidizes those prices to allow them to get the food to more places.

      I’ll probably do more work to look at how charities function internally and what results they’re getting when I’m rich and starting to give major gifts, but until then, I’ve been satisfied with my cursory research.

    5. Amber Rose

      I donate to anything without an advertising budget. Or at least, doesn’t take their advertising budget from donations. If they have big, fancy ads on TV I’m distrustful right off.

      Personally I basically just donate to the MS Society of Canada for all the miracle work they’ve done for my dad.

      1. Merry and Bright

        I am with you on advertising, Amber Rose. Quite a few years ago I made a donation to one of the large UK cancer charities. I forgot to tick the box for no junk mail and for a few years I got so much advertsing and reminder letters (pre-internet) telling me that I had not donated lately that I got fed up. They had spent most of my money on ads and stuff rather than research and treatment. I give still but anonymously. But some charities spent millions of pounds a year (no hyperbole) on management consultants so WTF. Some charities are much less corporate than others. I now donate to my local breast cancer treatment unit and my local foodbank each month. I also help raise money for a children’s reading project. I also donate to major disaster projects and the BBC’s Childen in Need charity. Also I will give ad hoc to street collections if I like the cause.

        1. Observer

          Just because a charity sends you a LOT of mailings does not mean that they are spending a large proportion of their donations on advertising.

          Also, although I understand the visceral reaction against advertising, it places organizations in a real catch 22. Many of the same people who complain about advertising won’t give to organizations that don’t advertise. It’s not a conscious thing – in fact they often don’t realize that this is what is happening.

    6. Florida

      Do NOT NOT NOT depend on the watchdog websites that rate an organization by overhead ratio. The overhead ratio is a total red herring. Here’s why… let’s say you have an organization that is trying to end polio, so they give out free polio shots. Org 1 gives out 2000 polio shots at $10 a piece ($20,000) plus they have $5,000 in overhead expenses, so their total budget is $25,000 and their overhead ratio is 20% ($5,000/$25,000). Org 2 also gives out 2000 polio shots, but they were able to get the shots from a different supplier for $5 a piece ($10,000). They have the same $5,000 in overhead. So the overhead ratio for Org 2 is 33% ($5000/$15,000).

      If you depended only on one of those charity watchdog organizations, you would think Org 1 is better, but
      actually Org 2 is better (based only on this information). If someone has very high overhead, ask them why. They might have a very legitimate reason.

      Also, the overhead ratio is not hat people think it is. When the American Cancer Society (or any nonprofit) sends you a solicitation letter, they count part of that expense as program expense (not fundraising expense) because the letter included information about how to do a self-exam for breast cancer, so it’s education (a program expense). This is perfectly legal. They are doing nothing wrong. But most people think it’s all fundraising expense. In other words, the overhead ratio that they tell you is probably not describing what you think it is.

      Be sure the organization does what you think it does. There are many national health organizations that do good work, but many are not helping people who currently have the disease. They are doing research that will help people in the future who have the disease, or maybe even prevent the disease entirely. I’m not saying research is bad, not at all, but if you want to help people who currently have the disease, your best bet is an organization that provides direct services, not a research organization. But if you are more of a long-term person, go for the research organization. Obviously we need both – research and direct service – but I see people all the time who want to help people in the short-term and do it by donating to a long-term type of organization.

      There are several things to consider. Some people prefer to give to local organizations. Others prefer to give to large national or international organizations. If your software will be distributed nationally or internationally, I would pick a few large well-known organizations. If I’m in Florida and you ask me to donate to the Oklahoma Symphony, I’m probably not going to. I’m sure it’s a great symphony, but I’ll probably never hear them play.

      You can look at an organizations tax forms (called Form 990) on http://www.guidestar.org. The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to interpret. Many large organizations have the main organization, several chapters (which may or may not be separate entities), a PAC, maybe a separate foundation where the fundraising and marketing is housed. The finances are useful, but as I mentioned previously, it’s not the whole story.

      For national organizations, I think the best research is google. You will be able to find any news articles about any scandals. Be sure to read articles from both sides of the story and make a decision. You can find articles and opinion pieces that say Susan G. Komen is great and ones that say it’s terrible. Read both sides before you come to a conclusion. This is twice as important if the organization is a controversial one (I’m thinking of something like Planned Parenthood). For your purposes, it’s probably better to pick a mainstream cause that pretty much anyone would think is important.

      For local organizations, as gold digger mentioned, I talk to other people, then I talk to the charity. It’s a lot like finding a new doctor. If you ask enough people, you will find someone with a good recommendation.

      Maybe you should pick something that is related to your software or to the target audience of the software.

      1. BRR

        You did a fantastic job explaining it. Also people shouldn’t judge so harshly on salaries. People are only willing to work out of the goodness of their heart so much, for good talent you often need to pay more money.

        1. Florida

          Thank you. Agree about the salaries. It’s not just salaries, though. It’s marketing, staff training, technology, and all of the other things that make companies great. If you as a donor are not willing to pay for these things, don’t be surprised when your nonprofit fails at their mission.

          1. Observer

            Yes. Also “transparency” costs money. So does regulatory compliance. These are all considered “overhead.” So what is an organization supposed to do?

            Also, it’s just not practical to try to run an organization on “poverty” salaries and volunteers. I know the standard line about paying people based on the market and value to the organization. But, when the people you need by and large can’t afford to take minimum wage jobs, etc. that’s part of the market. You don’t have to be “greedy” to want to be able to pay of your (often HUGE) student loans, have a family and life decently without worrying each month how you are going to make to the end of the month.

            Same for equipment, etc. If you want people to take umpteen calls a day, then you need a decent phone system, especially if you don’t want to pay for the “overhead” of someone who does little other than answering calls. If you want people to process umpteen service requests a day quickly and correctly, or you want your service providers to keep extensive case notes but you don’t want them to spend a lot of time on the note taking, they need to have decent computers attached to a decent system. 5 year old computers using an Access database cobbled together by one of your social workers who happens to be “good with computers” and is maintained by virtual spit and duct tape over sneaker net, just won’t let you do the job. Especially since any effective director is going to need to see regular reports, and most non-profits are also required by to submit all sorts of detailed reports that required lots of data.

          2. Jessica

            100% agree. I worked for a nonprofit and a board member tried to convince our ED that my job (fundraising, grant writing, and administrative tasks) should be a volunteer position, to cut down on overhead. He insisted that no one would ever donate to the organization if they knew any of that money would go to my salary. It was frustrating and humiliating to be at the conference table during that conversation.

        1. Chartreuse

          Just watched it. It’s very interesting. I need to think about it to decide if I entirely agree with all of it, but I do think he makes some excellent points. Thanks for the link!

        2. Formica Dinette

          I’m so glad you linked to that! I’ve heard part of it on the radio, liked what I heard, and keep meaning to listen to the rest.

      2. Elizabeth West

        This is good information, thanks!

        I tend to donate goods–I put food out for the Stamp Out Hunger thing, and when the tornado hit Joplin, I bought a huge bag of things like personal care items, a pillow, etc. and gave it to a friend whose church was helping out at the disaster site and where the shelters were. I like direct help. We do have opportunities to donate at work as well, and we have pancake/biscuit and gravy breakfasts often where the minimum is $5 and all of it goes to a local charity.

      3. Barbara in Swampeast

        As someone who helps local nonprofits with their computer problems, I get twitchy when “overhead” is mentioned. Everything that does not directly deliver whatever the aim of the organization is, is labeled “overhead” even though the organization could not do what it does without computers or other technology! So many good organizations don’t have the technology and tech support they need to be truly efficient because it is labeled “overhead.”

      4. Chartreuse

        I agree that overhead ratio by itself isn’t everything; you also want to look at other things, such as number of clients served, quality of the service, etc. But the ratio is not as unimportant a number as your example would imply. The example just sort of assumes the total budget shrinks if the expense of the services shrinks. Whereas, what seems more likely to me is that Org 2 having saved money on the cost of the shots is going to have extra funds they then have to decide what to do with. Are they going to buy and give away twice as many shots? Are they going to give certain lucky staff member(s) huge bonus(es)? If they do the former, their ratio would appear the same as Org 1’s (but they will have served more clients). But if they do the latter, their ratio will look (deservedly) much worse than Org 1’s.

        1. Observer

          What typically happens in a well run organization when something like that comes up is that the money is put towards a larger project that needs to be done but no one knew how to fund. There are a lot of good reasons why an organization won’t just significantly jack up the number of service units they provide. And on the other hand, more often than not, this is the only or most cost effective way to get some important things done.

          If the budget here is is not tied to this particular project, then odds are that this budget WILL shrink, because (aside from the issue of big projects), most organizations will just shift the money into another area as often as not. But the overhead is going to stay the same. It might shrink a bit, but quite likely not by much because some of the “overhead” is actually tied to the particular program, which is not being shrunk, even though the budget is. And, if the budget IS tied to the particular project it could be the the funder of the project will require them to turn the money back. (yes, this really happens.)

          1. Chartreuse

            Going towards some other project that benefits clients is a great way to handle the excess, and while then yes, the overhead ratio for the polio shots project would be the worse, but the org’s overall ratio wouldn’t suffer, I wouldn’t think. And isn’t the example about an org’s overall overhead ratio, not just overhead ratio for one particular project? Since it’s offered with reference to evaluations on watchdog sites (I was under the impression those were usually looking at org as a whole, not just a particular program).

            Now that’s really interesting about excess being handed back if it’s earmarked funds. That is something I hadn’t thought about and would make @Florida’s original example make more sense. Thanks!

            1. Florida

              Just so you know, yes, the watchdog sites refer to the overhead ratio and everything else they measure for the overall organization budget. That’s what I was referring to in my example.

              But Observer’s reference to specific project is because if a funder is funding Project X, they are most interested in the money you spent on Project X. If you said you were going to spend money on Project X, but that didn’t quite work out, then you might have to refund the money. Usually people don’t break down the overhead ratio for a specific project, unless a funder requires it. And even then it is very nebulous. I could estimate that 5% of our utility bill because we have to air-condition the classroom that we are using for this program, but really we would have to air-condition the classroom anyway because it’s shares the A/C with a room when use for something else.

              It’s almost like if you have a family of 5 people, and you have to determine how much of the household budget each person uses. If you dropped it to four people, your food bill would go down, but the mortgage stays the same. The utility bill would go down, but not by 20%. That’s what it’s like to try to separate the budget by different programs – it’s just a guess.

        2. Florida

          If Org 1 and Org 2 have the same budget, as you suggest, then Org 2 would have 40% of their budget to spend on something. You suggest they could serve twice as many people or give one staff member a big bonus. What if they decided to invest that 40% back into fundraising? Then their overhead ratio would be worse than Org 1, but in the future they would be able to serve more people than Org 1. Is that a bad choice? The rating groups would say yes. What if they decided to spread the 40% out in salaries, not to one individual, but to several individuals, thereby increasing employee satisfaction and reducing turnover. Turnover in nonprofits is a HUGE expense that is not reported on 990s, therefore not considered by ratings groups, but it has been studied extensively. But if Org 2 did that, they would lower their ratings with the watchdog organizations, even though they might be doing what is more cost effective for the organization in the long-run.

          Also, to go back to your example that if we give a huge bonus to one person, it would lower their ratio, as it should. Actually, it might not lower their ratio. It might improve their ratio. If that one individual was a scientist or doctor (assuming we are using the polio example), it would improve their ratio. Even if that one individual was the president, they might count a large portion of his salary toward programs, not overhead. That’s fair if he is managing the programs, overseeing the programs, etc. So even though it probably isn’t fair for one person to get that large a bonus, it might actually benefit the organization in terms of ratings.

          Because people have become fixated on the overhead ratio, charities have become more creative in their accounting. More than 40% of large charities report no fundraising costs. Seriously, you have an organization that is raising 8-9 figure budgets and they don’t spend any money to do that? It just happens by magic? According to their 990, it does.

          You hear people say all the time that nonprofits need to run more like businesses, but when a nonprofit tries to run more like a business (investing in staff, infrastructure, marketing), they are punished.

          1. Chartreuse

            Thanks for the additional information, @Florida! This is all really interesting and like other commenters have said, I’m really glad you are posting these comments.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale

      I generally donate to non-profits that have touched me personally, like our dog rescue and the school I went to growing up (private, gives a ton of scholarships). When I go wider, it’s usually a health charity to which I have some kind of connection, like the cancer center in my hometown that a family friend built and where a cousin was treated. I recently gave to Malaria No More– a friend works on their efforts in West Africa. I tend not to give to anything with ribbons or recognizable pins, because I know they get a lot of support on a regular basis, and sometimes they’re just way too big.

      Even if strangers “buy” your software, I don’t think they’d object too much if they gave to a local charity that’s close to your heart– unless they fundamentally object to its mission, but that’s their prerogative and they just don’t get the goods.

      1. Ella

        This is more or less how my dad works. His brother died from complications of diabetes, one of his nephews survived childhood cancer, and his daughter (my sister) has Down syndrome. So he donates to the American Diabetic Association, St Jude’s Hospital (where my cousin was treated), and a local charity that provides support for individuals with Down syndrome and their family members and who helped my family out a lot immediately after my sister was born. I’m sure he donates to others as well (he’s that sort of person), but those are the ones I know about and that are in his will.

    8. fposte

      I don’t know if I have a huge logical justification for my donation habits. I’ve been donating to the US Fund for Unicef and Doctors without Borders for years; they both score well on Charity Navigator et al., and they’re also easily available for donations through work, which is how I give to them. I also usually give to a couple of universities and to local Habitat (a friend’s been on the board) and/or the regional food bank. So I guess it’s globally through work auto-contribute and locally through my independent initiative.

      If you don’t have a strong commitment to any single agency or cause for this, I might go for something that does pretty basic and broadly beneficial work, like disaster or hunger relief, since presumably your users will be coming from all over; another possibility is to make it somewhat thematic by choosing an organization devoted to literacy or education in some way.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        Oh, I like Doctors without Borders, too! They’re a great choice for something like this.

    9. Stephanie

      I usually donate time, so I’ll pick charities that are doing projects or work that sounds of interest to me.

    10. JB (not in Houston)

      I don’t know that my system is very effective or a wise use of your resources, but here’s what I do for ones I can’t bring myself to choose among to the exclusion of others. I donate monthly to a local food bank and a local homeless organization. Other than that, when I get a solicitation, I do a check to see if they seem legit. If so, they go in the back of a folder of solicitations. When it’s time to make my monthly donations, I take one or two from the front of the folder and donate to them. That way everyone gets a turn.

    11. The Cosmic Avenger

      Interesting, I meant to ask people about charitable donations in this Open Thread myself! See, last year we gave less than the year before, and I realized that, of course, we needed a plan (and possibly a spreadsheet) to better coordinate our charitable giving! Ours is based on what is important to us, so we paid for a membership at the National Zoo, and will be donating to NPR, our local PBS station, animal rescue groups, organizations that help those who are hungry and/or homeless, especially at-risk (runaway and/or LGBT) teens, and most friends who participate in fundraisers.

      The “plan” I implemented is an automatic monthly funds transfer to a new savings account I’ve entitled “Charitable giving fund”, and every org. and fundraiser that we want to support will probably get $100-$500 this year. The main drawback is that I have to ration the donations throughout the year, which makes it harder to plan. Maybe next year I’ll try to build up the cash so we can have all of it at the beginning of the year, then ration it out throughout the year.

      Am I overplanning again, or does anyone else try to do something similar?

      1. Florida

        It’s better to plan. If you don’t plan, you end up giving money to whichever organization sends you a letter or email. You might give more to something you are only half interested in, but skip one that you really care about. So I applaud you for planning.

      2. it happens

        Plan – yes yes yes. You’ve already created your charitable giving budget – and most of the organizations you want to give to. One great benefit of a plan, you can say no to anything not in the plan without the slightest twinge of guilt – you know you’re giving to charity already. One part of my plan, a little set-aside to take care of the charities that I wouldn’t normally support, but my friends are doing walks/bikes/whatever for and ask for sponsorship.

      3. Graciosa

        I save the appeals I get throughout the year and make my donation decisions in December. I use many of the resources others have mentioned to evaluate the charities, and think about what’s important to me. This helps me make thoughtful decisions about my real priorities rather than responding to every request that comes along during the year.

        Doing it in December has other benefits – I know I’m really embracing the spirit of giving in that season.

    12. it happens

      That’s a wonderful idea. It really depends on what’s important to you. As others have asked, is there a cause that’s important to you (or in some way tangentially linked to your games?) Or are you interested in the most effective charities? You’ve already gotten very good advice on evaluating charities, I will put one more site out there, givewell.org, that evaluates programs to identify those that are the most cost-effective in serving the global poor. Not surprisingly, giving $1 to malaria control in Africa saves more lives than $1 to a disease charity in the US (not to say that the US charity doesn’t do good work or adds value.) You can also check out where the Gates Foundation is making grants to follow the smart money.
      Personally, most of my charitable giving is to my library and local food bank, both of which serve anyone who shows up.
      Good luck with your philanthropy – and don’t forget to post links to the charity’s twitter feed and facebook and encourage givers to do the same – good for the charity and good for your game;)

      1. Florida

        Of all the charity watchdog websites, givewell is the best one. They actually focus on impact, not just finances. (Charity Navigator has said they will start focusing on impact, but they haven’t figured it out yet.)

        In 1997, Physicians for Human Rights had $1.3 million in revenue. They spent 58% on programs. They would have failed all of the major charity watchdog guidelines. That same year, they won the Nobel Peace Prize. Focus on impact, as that is what really matters.

        Charity Navigator reviews only 5000 of the 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in America. So if an organization is not rated, do not hold it against the charity. In fact, even if they are rated, do not hold it against them. Harvard University has a 3-star rating (our of 4 stars). But I don’t know anyone that considers Harvard to be a second-tier university. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (if you like classical music, you know how good these people are) has a two-star rating. I won’t bore you with a bunch of other ratings. My point is that the rating has nothing to do with the quality of work they are doing.

        Charity Watch is another watchdog website. For them, in-kind donations have no value (even though the IRS and GAAP require the charity to report that as income). So an organization, like a food bank, that receives a lot of their income in the form of in-kind donations, is going to look worse. If the organization spends $5 to bring in $1,000 worth of food, most people think that’s pretty good. Charity Watch says they spent $5 and have nothing show for it.

        I’m sorry I keep posting long comments about this. I have spent a lot of time researching,thinking and discussing this topic.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Don’t apologize, I’ve found your posts on charity analysis really, really helpful!

        2. fposte

          Please don’t be sorry. It’s really valuable information, much of which I hadn’t encountered before.

          1. Florida

            Thank you. I get very excited about this topic because I think that philanthropy is one of the few ways we can really determine the direction we want society to go. I think it is as important as voting.

            1. Kimberlee, Esq.

              Probably more important, because a new organization with fresh ideas actually has a chance to make a difference, unlike with political candidates (can you tell I’ve lost all faith in the electoral process?).

              1. Florida

                I agree that in many cases it is more powerful than voting. In my area, we have a very rich and generous person who has chosen several elementary schools that are in lower income areas and told those kids that he will pay for any of them to go to college. There are no limits – it’s not like it’s only the top ten kids. He commits to pay for the education of any kid from those elementary schools who eventually gets into college – any college. He has changed the neighborhood and the schools in a way that politicians never could. It’s pretty neat.

        3. Steve G

          Thank you for this comment, tip about GiveWell.

          Personally, I give to NEAVS (The NE Anti-Vivessection Society), PETA, ASPCA, the Animal Defense Fund (fight animal rights lawsuits), and a few farms for abandoned animals. I see all doing ALOT of work so I never questioned whether they were worth it or not. Kudos to all of them, really……..

        4. thisisit

          I love your posts! I think it is so important that people not just take a rating or some simple determination of an org’s worth as gospel. My grad school advisor was a founding member of PHR. :)

          And really, it extends to other areas too. I used to just take the “fair trade” or “eco/sustainable” thing at face value, until I saw the factories/plantations. You definitely have to do more research into things.

    13. Charity

      Thanks everyone for your input! A lot of really helpful resources, and suggestions for donations as well. The main reason I asked is because there really isn’t a cause that’s personal to me, so it was hard for me to even get started thinking about what area of nonprofits I’m interested in donating to. The only thought I had was that a charity with a wider reach than local ones would appeal more to the general public if that’s who I’m trying to appeal to for donations. It sounds like a charity that works broadly on issues like education, hunger, or disaster relief might be what I’m looking for.

    14. Tanya

      Would it possible for them to just donate to a charity of their choice? Different people care about different causes. So while you might choose a charity that works with homelessness, for example, someone else would maybe rather their money go to an organization that works with animals. Same with choosing a local org or a national one. Most of my donations go to local orgs because I like to see the effect of it. However, local isn’t the same place for everyone. If it’s not possible to let the user choose, I would consider going with an organization that has a large effect across multiple areas. Something like United Way, where at least that covers 3 of the top 5 categories of causes (Education, Income, and Health) (Animals and the Environment being the other 2).

      Either way, the suggestions of looking at GuideStar, Charity Navigator, etc are all good ones. Reputable nonprofits should have of their financial data on their website, as well as their annual reports, board member list, etc. Transparency is key. If an org isn’t transparent about all of that, it’s definitely a red flag.

    15. fposte

      Oh, I forgot! I almost always donate to Donors Choose, usually during the Tomato Nation challenge or reminder. That might be a way of allowing people to direct their donation locally, if they prefer, while still going through a single entity.

      1. Spiky Plant

        I can see the appeal of Donor’s Choose, but in practice the times I’ve gone to their website to donate, I wasn’t able to find any projects I wanted to fund. It seems like 90% of them were “Help this classroom buy 100 tablets.” I love tablets, don’t get me wrong, but at a time when we keep hearing about teachers buying basic classroom supplies out of pocket and being dramatically underpaid for their level of required education, I feel like tablets are the biggest issue in education right now.

        It feels to me, a bit, like one of those charities that tries to be happy and fluffy, and as a result gets a lot of money and doesn’t do a ton of good with it (other than kids having greater tablet access).

    16. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      We give to seven organizations.

      Two are organizations we have personally benefitted from – we were on the receiving end of their services and now that we’re in a position to give, we want to make sure that the organizations can keep providing the support we recieved.

      Two are organizations I’ve worked for and believe in. I know them and out, which means I know the ways in which they are successful and the ways in which they are wasteful or ineffective. I also believe deeply in and care about the people running them.

      Two are organizations whose missions we believe in. We knew what kind of work we wanted to support and did a little research to find out who does that work in our community. I don’t really care about the stuff that lots of people care about (overhead, % spent on programming, etc.) – I’ve spent my career in the nonprofit sector and know that the pursuit of those metrics is dangerous for organizations. That being said, this was our first year giving to both of these orgs and I’m frankly not that impressed we’ll be reconsidering next year.

      The last is our place of worship.

    17. ThatLibTech

      Right now I’m donating to those closest to work, as I work in an end of town that struggles with unemployment, drug abuse, crime, etc., and there are a lot of amazing people in this area doing a lot of grassroots work in working with the community, and are always looking for donations (money and items), volunteers, etc. So that’s pretty specific I guess to my situation, but I tend more towards organizations and charities that generally don’t receive a lot of press, I know of them through my own work or by others, and are run by smaller groups of people in local areas.

    18. Blue_eyes

      Everyone else has already given great advice on how to vet a charity. I would add, you probably want to pick a charity/cause that is not controversial, since this will be seen by (hopefully) lots of people who don’t know you (and who you don’t know). Charities that work with homelessness, hunger, education tend to be causes most people can get behind. Some charities like PETA or Autism Speaks have quite a bit of controversy around them and I would think are less likely to get donations from the general public who will be using your software/games.

    19. Artemesia

      We give large amounts to a handful of usually local charities and then I research them. For example we have given to the local homeless shelter in both cities we have lived in and are able to view their budgets and know that they do good work in delivering goods and services. The local food banks, same.

      We never give to the ‘cancer research’ or similar national organizations. The government has spent 100s of billions of cancer research; the failure to ‘find a cure’ is not due to lack of funds. But many of the charities that raise money for this and similar causes are vehicles for sinecures for those who run them and in some cases founded them. I don’t find it money well spent. There was a ‘save the children’ type charity in Nashville that primarily functioned to provide 6 figure incomes to the founder, his wife, his daughters and sons and DILs and SILs. Almost nothing went to ‘the children.’ There are lots of charities like this. So we only give where we KNOW there is a lot of service provided.

      We also give to cultural organizations we support e.g. education programs of local museums and also to the local opera. Again, many of the larger cultural organizations have access to money from big donors so we tend to single out those where our donations might actually matter e.g. the Chicago OPera Theater rather than the Lyric.

      But never the national organizations that raise money for various causes as there is little evidence that these organizations do much good except for those who found them or work for them. The Susan Komen scandal was a lesson on where your money goes when you give to these type organizations; I am not making personal sacrifices to give so that grifters can fly first class.

      1. TL -

        Woah, there’s plenty of good reasons to donate to cancer research – it’s grossly underfunded by the government currently and the money spent previously has lead to huge improvements in treatment and outcomes for many cancers.

        It’s fine not to donate, but cancer research can be a cause well worth supporting. That being said, I am not super impressed by the most well known of these organizations.

      2. Nashira

        The failure to “find a cure” can absolutely be due to lack of funds, especially if it’s a particularly rare cancer that only affects a few people. While the US government has spent billions to fund cancer treatment research, cancer is many many different diseases. Even “breast cancer”, which is treated as a monolithic entity, comes in many varieties with different underlying causes. There is no singular cure, and deriding the value of cancer research simply reveals that you don’t actually understand anything about what’s going on. That’s like saying that too much money has been spent on childhood disease research, because we haven’t cured them all yet.

        1. Observer

          Yes.

          I remember when cancer was an almost certain death sentence. Today, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Some cancers still have an insanely high mortality rate, but for many others, early detection has really started to make a difference.

          1. TL -

            Early detection is its own kettle of fish, but advances in treatment/detection/understanding of cancer have certainly helped many common cancers.

            1. Observer

              Sure, it is. But the point I was making is that in the past ignorance really WAS bliss, because you couldn’t do anything anyway. But today, of you get a diagnosis, there is actually something you can do other than get on the worry train.

    20. Sunday

      Is there a place that supports or supports platforms for open source software & games that needs donations to keep providing them?

    21. EduNerd

      I’m not sure this is helpful in the context of your situation, but here’s what I do.

      – I don’t currently have any recurring monthly donations of funds. I want to get that started, but I am trying to build myself a bit more of a safety net first and haven’t done enough research.
      – I do donate a fairly large amount every year to a scholarship fund for an extracurricular program I did in HS (not through my school) that had a huge impact on my life.
      – I make sure to use the app “Charity Miles” on my smartphone when I’m walking or running decently far in order to donate to organizations that are important to me at no cost. They have tons of organizations to choose from and you can choose a new one each time if you’re indecisive ;)
      – I clip a lot of coupons to help pay for my groceries. Whenever I see a coupon deal that allows me to get something free (that’s a useful donation item), I always buy it and donate it to the food bank. For example, today I got some bar soap 3-packs free at CVS. And for any coupons that I have and don’t use/that expire, I mail them to military families overseas (they can use expired coupons for up to 6 months past the expiration date).

      It’s not a lot, but I like to think that it helps someone out there a little.

    22. Student

      I suggest you consider Child’s Play as an option, since you’re a video game developer. It’s something that your user base will connect with – and you have to seriously consider what your user base will want to donate to if you want this to be successful. It’s a charity founded by the Penny Arcade guys, and it primarily goes to providing entertainment stuff for children’s hospitals. Giving kids with horrible diseases a book, or a PlayStation, or whatnot. They are extremely transparent about funds.

      I’ve only ever donated as an individual, so I don’t know how it’d work for someone in your situation with a cash flow. However, for individual donors, you get to pick items directly off of a participating children’s hospital Amazon wish list, so you know exactly what the hospital is getting and that it goes directly there. The only real overhead for your donations is the shipping charge.

      If you are looking for other charity suggestions, look at the Humble Bundle charity options. Or maybe just try to get your games into Humble Bundle. They’ve been reasonably successful at this same idea.

    23. ECH

      One of my favorites is Honor Flight, which gives World War II veterans free day trips to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial. We have a local chapter that I like to support but I believe it is a national organization. I also am a major donor to our local United Way, and designate for a particular organization in our community that I think does a good job.

  2. Yoshi

    New kitten??
    Also, we’re having beautiful weather in my neck of the woods! I’m sitting in the sun and absorbing some much needed vitamin D! Hope everyone is having an equally fabulous Saturday!

    1. Trixie

      Amazing sales at Home Depot today, stocked up on herbs/veggies/flowers and may go back for ferns. Want to make a proper welcome for butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

      1. The Bookworm

        I don’t know what part of the country you are in, but Spanish Lavender grows well in Texas and the bees love it.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      The name of the image file is “Olive-small”, so I’m assuming it’s a throwback-Caturday pic.

    3. blackcat

      I’ve been doing the same! Though my cat is old…

      Also, I got a lesson about vitamin D. During the long, hard, winter, I decided to try taking a vitamin D supplement, thinking “What’s the worst that could happen?” Apparently, the answer is being deathly allergic to something in the supplement, and ending up with a rather huge ambulance/ER bill. Whoops. For now, I am still waiting on seeing a specialist (because WTF was in that pill?!) and getting all the vitamin D I can naturally!

      1. Shell

        Ouch. I hope you kept the label on that bottle of vitamin D so the specialist can figure out which of the excipients you were allergic to!

        1. danr

          Or, it might have stuff that’s not on the label. There is no testing for OTC supplements unless they submit it to testing orgs them selves.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            Exactly–something that people with food allergies often have to find out the hard way!

            1. blackcat

              Which I had done… I take another supplement from the same company (iron) under a doctor’s direction without issue. I thought I was safe with fancy, preservative free stuff. Nope. Good news is that it is a type that certifies its ingredients, so hopefully I will get an answer soon.

      2. Marcela

        If you like mushrooms, I watched a BBC documentary the other day where it was said that you can get them to produce vitamin D by just putting them directly under sunlight for about one hour. They can do the same thing as us, produce vitamin D using something on/under the skin, and that vitamin does not disappear afterwards when you put them in the fridge.

    4. steve g

      I concur, I’ve been outside half of the day.

      I’m completely scandalized by my tenants with kids who’ve been home with the windows closed and all blinds drawn all day!

      1. Samantha

        I’m currently nursing a few bruised ribs so that’s me today. Blinds drawn so I can’t see what I’m missing.

    5. Tau

      Your neck of the woods may be my neck of the woods, because I’ve rarely seen the weather this gorgeous! I took the opportunity to cycle ~50 miles with a friend today, I am pretty much dead right now and tomorrow is going to be so, so painful but it was absolutely worth it. Sun! Warmth! Pretty landscapes! Lovely cycle paths!

      1. Artemesia

        We are in that lovely time of the year where it is sunny and pleasant but there is a chilly tang in the air — I hate hot weather — I love these moments in fall and spring when it is gorgeous and I can walk by the lake or in the parks etc and not feel weighted down by heat and humidity but also not be cold.

    6. Elizabeth West

      Mine wasn’t too bad. It rained this morning, but I went out later and looked for pants and spring/summer shirts. I found no pants, one shirt (I actually found two but Target charges WAY too much for some of their stuff), and some earrings at the department store remainder place. All the shirts there were either ugly or had those goddamn cap sleeves, which I despise. The forecast for the next ten days in London is sunny for a few days and then cold and rainy! So I guess I’ll pack basically what I wore in autumn and leave room to hit up Primark. I do plan to go there for scarves. £3 GBP/$6 USD beats Target’s $15 any day.

      Tonight I have to write a blog post and tomorrow I am cleaning the hell out of the house. I paid the pet sitter half up front like we did last time (he gave me a discount, woo hoo!) and the yard guy got the lawn mowed. I can’t spend any more money or I won’t have any when I get there!

        1. fposte

          Huh. I’d have thought that Walmart was likely to eat them alive. I’ll be interested to see how they position themselves.

          1. Merry and Bright

            I read the other day that the first stores are likely to be in New York state and New Jersey. Apparently they are renting space from Sears.

      1. Short and Stout

        The weather has been so nice here in the South East UK that yesterday I began to worry about getting sunburned :)

      2. Merry and Bright

        Typical weather. At least there are loads of museums and The British Library for wet days.

        Have a great trip :)

    7. Mints

      I think I get spoiled living where the weather is generally nice, because I complained all day yesterday about how hot it was and when I went outside it was so bright I felt like a vampire. (I’m exaggerating just a little)

  3. Trixie

    Car question. When I switch from heater to a/c, I think the vents get stuck because the air flow won’t’ alternate properly when I direct it towards me or towards my feet. Once they’re on defrost/windshield, it seems like they easily get stuck there. I thought if I left them on heat first, then tried switching direction I’d have better luck before switching to a/c. Anyone else experience this?

    1. Amber Rose

      Had that problem in my Chrysler a lot. It tended to work better at higher speeds… for some reason.

      I say mess around with it until you find a solution. Cars can be so quirky.

    2. Anon333

      Had an issue similar to this in a nissan we had. there was a little pin broken inside the dial you had to turn to select which vent you wanted.

    3. Gene

      Could be a vacuum leak in the air motors (if your car has them), could be fixed with a little lubrication, could be a stretched cable, could be warped air doors, could be corrosion.

      Once it’s diagnosed, the fix will probably be easy.

    4. Trixie

      The vents aren’t as fussy when its cold enough to use the heater, as in today so I was able to adjust. Each time I use the heater, I just need to remember to switch the flow direction back to the front. I will ask about this next time the car goes in.

  4. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)

    Anyone have a home elliptical machine they like or would recommend? Or done any shopping for one lately?

    1. it happens

      For New Year’s I got the Best Fitness E1 elliptical trainer. My sister had done the research two years ago – it’s the smallest one on the market – only 48″ x 30″ footprint. It works very well for me. It was $1,149, free shipping from Amazon, and took two hours to put together, by myself.

    2. Sparrow

      We got a Nordic Track from Sears. We tested it out in the store to decide what model we wanted. They delivered and assembled it. I don’t remember if that cost extra, but it was worth it.

      It has some pre-programmed workouts that I use, but my husband prefers to just control things himself.

      We also paid for the service plan. I think it’s for three years and they come out and do an inspection to make sure everything is working.

  5. The Cosmic Avenger

    We got a new (to us) kitty today! He’s nine years old, and he’s very sweet. And vocal. But he’s getting used to it.

    I’m OK with moderation if I get to post a kitty pic: http://imgur.com/a9jgDYP

        1. EvaR

          If you breed another cat with a siamese, you will usually get a black cat. My current cats have a siamese ancestor, and most of their relatives are pure black.

        2. HR Generalist

          I can’t see the photo but we have Orientals. They’re like the cousins of Siamese- same face/body type but they come in so many different colours. We have two, a long hair and a shorthair. On Instagram they’re “Puccini.and.roku”

          1. Sunday

            When I saw “Puccini.and ro..” my brain filled in Rossini.
            Maybe that’s because I had a coloratura cat at one point… :)

            Your two sure are cute.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yes, I have an orange tabby mix that clearly has some sort of Siamese or similar breed in him. He is so so so chatty. It honestly drives me a little crazy sometimes (like, say, at 4 in the morning). But he is also the sweetest cat I’ve ever had.

        1. GOG11

          2 of my 3 orange tabbies are very chatty. The third, my youngest, chirps all the time, but never makes a sound other than that.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            Oh, how cute!

            I know my guy has some sort of oriental in him by his face shape, but I guess it’s a double whammy if marmies are generally very chatty.

          2. Windchime

            I have a kitty that is Siamese-colored but is in reality a mutt from the shelter. He chirps all the time. Very little meowing; lots of chirping.

    1. Sparrow

      He’s so handsome! My big tabby boy is quite a chatterbox. Not my favorite when he wakes me up in the morning, but I love when he answers when I talk to him.

    2. the gold digger

      Thank you for posting your photo! I love looking at cat photos. My husband is out of town and I have been sending him photos of our cats all day because he needs something cute to look at. Cat photos make the day better.

    3. Mints

      I’m not super interested in cat breeds. Both of mine are mutts from the Humane Society and I say one of them is Siamesey because of his shapes and whining. I’d call your cat black and Siamesey too :)
      The whining is sometimes annoying but it’s super cute when you call his name and he comes running and meowing for petting from the other room.

  6. fposte

    iOS games–I’m trawling for recommendations of a specific sort. I absolutely loved Monument Valley–that’s exactly my kind of thing, quietly weird and interesting and rewarding to look at, and it made perfect sense to me when I found it that the developer was a big fan of Windosill and Tiny Wings, both of which I also liked a lot. So I’m looking for recommendations for games that similarly create a non-cartoony, non-garish interesting world and aren’t filled with loud audio, either. It doesn’t have to be quite as Zen as Windosill, but overall I’m more interested in flow and experience than zapping things or racking up points (there are no points at all in Monument Valley or Windosill). Any recommendations? Any secret information about new levels coming in Monument Valley? I do have all the VectorPark apps and am looking at the other ustwo apps.

    1. Buu

      Hmm off the top of my head:
      The Room – Puzzle game set all in one room where you’re trying to open a mysterious puzzle box
      Mountain – Not really a game in a typical sense but something to poke around with
      80 Days – Interactive text fiction you have to help Fogg travel around the world in 80 days picking his route and what you buy etc.
      Sword and Sorcery Ep – it’s a little bit hipster but has a cool female main character, does have a strong use of music so I’m not sure if it’s quite what you’re looking for.

    2. Alistair

      I’ve got a few recommendations. The Room and it’s sequel, The Room 2 are first person perspective puzzles. Generally, you have an object (or several) that you puzzle through opening, moving things onscreen in a variety of ways. Gorgeous, smart but not super hard, and very atmospheric and creepy. No jump scares that I recall, but some very weird and creepy scares. I don’t think the scares are very triggery, but I’m also very bad at recognizing such things.

      Waking Mars is a brainy slow moving puzzler, where you play an astronaut on Mars who discovers this entire biosystem under Mars, which you go about waking up and investigating. Well voiced, very pretty, and very forgiving. Not something you can just pick up, play, and put back down. I had to go out of town for work, left the Ipad at home, and completely lost my mental track of where I was and what I was doing.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Room and Room 2 are both amazing. If you like puzzle games, give one of them a try.

        Having now looked at Monument Valley, I agree that you might like Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. There is also one called Edge where you navigate a cube through various 3D environments, it does require you to really have some skills to balance the cube for certain of the puzzles, which I found hard.

    3. fposte

      I’m looking through all these recommendations on the app store, and they’re looking really interesting–thanks for the ideas!

    4. littlemoose

      Not exactly what you mentioned here, but one I think you would like: Red Herring. It’s a word/puzzle game with three levels of difficulty and free daily puzzles, plus very reasonably priced puzzle packs. Good for quick distractions.

      1. fposte

        Well guessed–I already have Red Herring :-). I think I may have gotten it from a recommendation here, in fact. Maybe it was yours.

    5. Myrin

      Oooh, Monument Valley! I don’t have it myself since my phone is super old, but a youtuber I follow made two “Let’s play” kind-of videos of it and I loved it! Also, she played four (?) new levels three months ago but I don’t know how “new” these really are and you probably know of them already but anyway, throwing that out there.

    6. Mints

      This game is a lot more simple, no interesting worlds, but it’s a challenging puzzle game with a nice aesthetic: Triples (AntsApps). It’s based on the card game Set. You try to get a set of three cards that are all the same or all different in each category (shapes colors number and fill). It does get easier as your play more.

  7. Shell

    I’ve been measuring my blood pressure and heart rate semi-regularly, and I’m happy to say that my ambient heart rate has been dropping! Yay!

    Although I bet my results will be even better if I remember to hydrate myself more. I just barely remember to drink about 1500 mL of fluid (not water, fluid) every day, and that’s with a tracking app that reminds me. :\ I just tend to ignore the reminders.

    1. Amber Rose

      Are there benefits to a lower heart rate?

      I only ask because I don’t know what mine is. Every attempt to measure it causes it to spike.

      1. Shell

        It’s a rough measure to heart health. Of course various things affect heart rate so it’s not be-all and end-all, but if your heart is stronger, it will generally beat less frequently because it can move the same volume of blood with less work–i.e. the stroke volume would increase. Regular exercise strengthens the heart and over time will tend to lead to lower heart rates.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Dehydration will do a whole, long list of things, including blood pressure problems and heart rate problems. Not all fluids hydrate the body, matter of fact some fluids deplete the body of water, such as coffee.
      My boss had a good idea, no fun drinks until the water quota for the day has been filled. That makes a lot of sense to me.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Yay!

      My blood pressure went way down with regular exercise. When I went to the doctor about my knee the other day, they measured it at 101/something.

      The water is important–I get a headache if I don’t drink enough, and I read somewhere your brain needs it.

    4. catsAreCool

      I have a couple of those water containers people take in cars – I keep one in the fridge with filtered water, chilling and one at my desk so that I can take sips of water every so often. It’s a lot easier to remember when the water’s right there.

    5. Jen RO

      I recently found out I had hypertension… I’m still getting tested, so I don’t have the ‘why’, but at least the pills seem to be working, because my blood pressure’s gone down. (Not that I ever felt any symptoms, except for that one time which prompted me to see a doctor…) I usually forget to drink enough water… so thanks for tge the reminder!

      1. fposte

        That’s hypertension, though–it usually doesn’t have any symptoms at all (US med circles dub it the “silent killer”), so you were lucky that you had one that sent you to a doctor. Glad the pills seem to be helping!

  8. Amber Rose

    So the advice I got last week was spot on. There is a different sword training class that costs just a little more monthly but no start up fee, and is twice a week. They have one free class I’ll be checking out next week.

    In other news, I bought a new dress corset in teal for my steam punk costume and I look FABULOUS. Plus my back doesn’t hurt for a change.

      1. Amber Rose

        Mostly very, very geeky. :D
        The comic expo is running this weekend so I took the chance to pick up some new gear. Next year I hope to be part of the sword fighting demo.

    1. JB (not in Houston)

      I missed this last week–what kind of sword training are you doing? I’ve wanted to do it for a long time but I don’t know where to start.

      1. Amber Rose

        Ah, last week I was asking about what a good class looks like, since we have a kenjitsu place that looked neat. But it was a $350 start up fee and only had classes twice a month. Kind of a rip off in hindsight.

        But I was at our comic expo and some guys had a booth for theirs and it’s a much better deal. They teach Kage Ryo, which is long sword, and Iaido, which is staff art.

        The best place to start is Google and then just go places and see if you like them.

        1. Finny

          Do you mind if I ask what dojo? The husband and I are both in Calgary, though we couldn’t afford the expo this year, and we’re looking to get back into martial arts. The husband in particular is interested in staff work, though I am more fond of dual sticks.

  9. V.V.

    Speaking of books, I just checked out Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook from the library, when I spied it yesterday, (couldn’t resist.) Any other wacky cookbooks out there?

    1. Florida

      There is a children’s cookbook called Cooking With Pooh. It’s a Winnie the Pooh book. I don’t know if it’s a wacky cookbook or not. I just think the title is a little unfortunate.

    2. Gene

      “To Serve Man, a cookbook for people” by Karl Wurf.

      Texas Chili starts with, “Meat of 1 reasonably well-muscled Cowboy, ground coarsely”.

        1. V.V.

          Almanzo’s Buckwheat pancakes! Made them once like 24 years ago at Grandma’s house. Though they were yum, I decided then and there I never wanted to invest that much effort into making a dish ever again.

    3. Sunday

      This is more cooking than I’ll do, but it’s fun (and I’m a fan of the stories)
      The Nero Wolfe Cookbook
      by Rex Stout
      A one-of-its-kind, high-cuisine cookbook that reproduces authentic recipes for many of the fine dishes mentioned in Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries. Spiced with quotes from memorable Nero Wolfe whodunits and photos that recall New York in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.

      NB: text from Goodreads

    4. Kali

      I doubt it’s commercially available, but one of my brothers got me the “Cooking with OJ” cookbook from an antique store for Christmas one year. The chapters include “Investigation and Arrest (Breakfast and Brunch), “Closing Arguments (Desserts),” and The Appeal (Late Night Snacks and Early Morning Wake-ups).”

      My favorite recipe:

      The Bronco Chaser, from Pre-trial Motions (cocktails). “The perfect way to get you going quickly with this no-stops combo of OJ, 7-up and plenty of fizz. Even better if you can get some across-the-border tequila.”

    5. Lizabeth

      White Trash cookbook. I actually bought it and was surprised beyond the pack of peanuts in the bottle of Coke. Did make some of the recipes but it wasn’t a cookbook that I kept when I narrowed down the cookbooks.

      The other type I love to look at is the self- published types by the women’s clubs and church groups.

      Or the booklets from the 50’s are a hoot.

    6. Lizabeth

      And this just hit me: Brian Jacques Redwall series has a cookbook that I haven’t looked at BUT I’ve always drooled through the books when they talk about the food.

  10. steve g

    We’re going to Blondie / Morrisey at Madison Square Garden in June!

    Blondie is the first record I remember (even though it was five years old by the time I got to it) and has been one of my favorite groups of my life. She came up in my youtube and I thought “let me see if she still does shows” and I saw the nyc one…and even though it was midnight I got three other people mobilized and good tickets bought within 15 min!

      1. Steve G

        Super excited to go with my sister too. She is a concert fanatic but we’ve only been to a few concerts together, I ALWAYS reject her invitations because our tastes are so different. We did Moby in 1999 and Tori Amos in 1997ish and Marilyn Manson/Lunachicks in 1996. That was it. So being able to jam out with her for the first time since college? Priceless!

  11. Computer Guy Eli

    I’m not sure what my last post was, but for those of you that remember what I was going through, everything’s perfect. Dad makes 2k a month on disability, I make 1400 a month working security, and we’re just playing catch-up on bills. This leads me to my question.

    If anyone I know asks me, I’ll say I came home from college to help my parents out when dad lost his job. That’s partially true. The whole story is, I was overwhelmed with college and this resulted in me jumping at the opportunity to get out in any way possible. I -was- going towards a degree in computer science, and I technically have a years worth of credits for it. I’m eyeing up going back to school, but I’m trying to better gauge my strengths. I suck at math, I suck at the hard sciences, and I excel at learning concepts. I was captain of my debate team, star student in all of my government classes, and I think you can tell where I’m going with this.

    [B] TL;DR, I’m planning on going back to college for law after washing out the first time, because I like every aspect of a law degree more than computer science.[/B]

    My question is, how should I go about this? I make 750$ every two weeks, I have free room and board where I am, I have a 2500$ loan for my computer, a 10,000$ loan for my car, 1800$ remaining in student loans, and I just got told by my shift supervisor (Third in command of the plant) that the higher-ups had their eyes on me for a utility position(22$ an hour with a very real chance to move into operations and make 100,000$ a year) This leads me to a few possible options I can take.

    1. Apply for FAFSA, kill all my bills, and head to college this fall.
    2.Apply for FAFSA, Kill all my bills, and head to college this spring with some money in my pocket.
    3.Kill all my bills, save a years worth of pay, potentially move into the plant for Utility, Apply for FAFSA next year, and head to college next fall.
    4.Kill all my bills, take as many classes I can online this coming semester, save up some money and head off to campus this spring/next fall.
    5. Scrap the idea and forfeit myself to a life of financial stability, but fulfilling work.

    I’m counting on you guys to kick the “Honeymoon phase” of this out of my head, so give me your thoughts!

      1. Computer Guy Eli

        Use the money I’m making from my current job to make it so I have nothing I need to pay when I start college.

        (My bad, I could’ve made that clearer)

        1. Treena Kravm

          This is the best/smartest part of your plan. I’ve had interns who skip class to pick up an extra shift because they have credit cards, rent, a car payment, and an assortment of other financial obligations. It impacts students a LOT and anything you can do to reduce that aspect is your best bet.

    1. Treena Kravm

      I’m going to ignore the law school aspect of this, because I’m sure others will chime in and explain the risks of that.

      But going back to school in general? Good idea. Even if the utility and operations jobs works out perfectly, there’s no harm in having some education as well. Even if you make good money and go with the operations career, you’ll probably want to move out of it at some point if it’s not fulfilling (I’m assuming that line was a typo, but correct me if I’m wrong!). And then if it doesn’t work out, you’re ahead of the game in terms of preparing for another career.

      So I’m liking 4, but also 1 or 2. But this is strongly dependent on how much debt you would acquire to finish your degree and how much you could do online before having to move back to campus. Also, apply for FAFSA right now no matter what–the earlier the better and applying doesn’t lock you in to going to school.

      1. Computer Guy Eli

        *Not fulfilling* Yes, nice catch.

        My problem is, the closest campus from where I’m at is a five hour drive away, so I’m pretty sure that if I went to college I’d be throwing away my potential career here.

        1. Treena Kravm

          How much time can you spend doing classes online? Maybe 2-3? When do you think the utilities/operation jobs may work out? I would try to work towards both simultaneously and as time goes by, one will become more promising/exciting to you.

          Is an online degree something you’d be interested in? Or do you want to be on a campus with other people? I know an online degree + living in a rural area can sort of leave you with not much of a social life.

          1. Computer Guy Eli

            I have a schedule of seven days of 12 hour shifts, and seven days off. During my shifts I’m basically a secretary at a very slow motel. I could spend eight of my twelve hours each shift studying, and no one would mind, including my boss. I have my application for Utility in now and from the way my current boss is talking, I’m going to be in plant within a couple of months.

            My biggest concern with the online degree is that it will be seen as a lesser achievement when/if I move on to applying for law school. If I were to go with online schooling, it would only be for as long as I need to get my finances in a position where I could at least get through college. I want to go on campus, but I don’t want money to be a problem when I’m in such a privileged position now.

            1. law grad

              Why not get your first year done online? Fact is, many general ed courses are so large that you are not missing much by not taking them in person. Or do you have a local community college for these general ed classes? Law schools will look at your entire academic history, but are more likely to care about your degree-granting institution. You can take online courses while still at home and working, and you can always transfer later. Just make sure you take courses that will transfer!

            2. Pennalynn Lott

              I’ve recently gone back to school and half my classes are lecture / on-campus, and the other half are online. All from the same, fully accredited, well-respected “brick-and-mortar” school. You could fairly easily knock out your first two years taking only online courses from a regular college or university (not an “online-only” school). Your transcript will look exactly the same as if you’d attended class in person.

              1. Blue_eyes

                I think this is a good plan. You could take one or two years online, then transfer to a university (or you may not even have to transfer if you’re online courses are part of the university system) and finish your degree there. Your degree will be from the university and law schools won’t know that you started online. It seems like another year or two being able to live at home and keep working would mean a lot of extra income for you, and probably help you stay out of debt.

    2. Yoshi

      Well, you should submit your Fafsa anyways- its free and it takes a total of about 3o minutes of your time (i actually just submitted mine this morning). As far as school goes, do you have a local community college you can go to and finish off your GE credits? Or are those all completed? Completing one year of college level computer science coursework is a great start, could you turn it into a minor?

      Also, as a general note, undergraduate pre law degrees don’t get you anywhere, I’d suggest you consider other undergraduate degrees that might be more useful across the board. Maybe management/business if you’re interested in operations? Law schools don’t look for any specific major, if you do decide to continue on to law school. But even then, I’d highly suggest you do a ton of research- law school isn’t the golden ticket it used to be, and law graduates are having an increasingly difficult time finding work, and are often doing it with six figures of student loan debt. I’m just saying- make sure its for you, and you’re in it for the long haul.

      1. Computer Guy Eli

        The thing is, I almost completely botched my first year of college. I got all low C’s because I had never had to study before then and I gave up pretty soon into my second semester. I don’t really want that on my record, so I was planning on starting over, the right way.

        I honestly don’t want to be the “Super rich lawyer guy”, I’m thinking law because everything about the legal system intrigues me, and I feel that since I’m actually interested in the study and not the degree, which was my last mistake, (Kind of like how I wanted a computer science degree but I hated math and science) I feel like I could succeed this time. I can cross the bridge of employment when I get there, eight years is too far in the future for my crystal ball!

        1. Treena Kravm

          Unfortunately, you’re stuck with those grades. If you transfer schools, your new school will evaluate them and give you credit. But if you were to apply to grad/law school, they require you to submit all transcripts from all schools attended. You could just not submit them, but then you’re susceptible to fraud and they can yank your degree/kick you out the program etc.

            1. Aunt Vixen

              In my experience, those grades are not the voice of doom forever. You’ll always have to submit all your transcripts when you apply to law school or grad school, but you’ll also have to submit your subsequent transcripts that show you doing better at something else. An admissions department will see a false start and a ton of improvement. Not to fret.

              What you can’t do is pretend it never happened, which is what Treena was saying. That way lies destruction.

              1. law grad

                Yeah, I forgot to add that I had a similar start. Even though they averaged all of my undergraduate grades, there was clear progression from my first year. You are given opportunities to explain things on your application. But be aware, you must be completely honest. Failure to disclose anything relevant will be reported to your state’s bar examiner, who may decide to not admit you.

            2. fposte

              It’s not the end of the world, though; different programs have different strengths and emphases, and you’re not the only person to have needed a redirect post-freshman year. You don’t need to be a whole different person and eradicate the Eli of freshman year, who was a decent guy struggling to learn important stuff in a short amount of time. I don’t know about law school per se, but there are definitely graduate programs who will be more interested in a narrative about you maturing, coming back, and excelling in your remaining years than they’ll be worried about what freshman grades do to your GPA.

              I think poli sci is an interesting major that might lead you in various non-law ways, too, which you don’t have to decide right now.

              1. Computer Guy Eli

                The problem is, everything I’m interested in is seemingly saturated. PolSci has an unemployment rate of 11%. I’m terrible at chemistry and math, (Or they’re at least so painful for me to learn that I don’t want to pursue a career where I do them) so that basically blocks me off from any lucrative degree.

                1. law grad

                  My advice to you: Because you are, essentially, starting over, do not commit to anything yet (meaning, do not declare a major yet). Go for the most variety you can get in your first year or so (making sure it counts towards most degree programs!) and see what grabs you and/or what you do well in. Keep an open mind, as you might become aware of a field of study and career path you never knew existed. If you’re too focused on a specific goal, you may miss fantastic opportunities.

                2. Pennalynn Lott

                  Let me throw in a plug for accounting! It’s what I’m going back to school for. There are so many specialties in accounting, like forensic accounting, that are very similar to what I imagine some aspects of law are like. And I haven’t yet heard of a glut of accountants driving down wages and job opportunities. Every business in the world needs them, and needs different variations of them. (Accounting isn’t just doing taxes). And the math involved is pretty much just advanced arithmetic. No geometry, no calculus, no matrices, no Gauss-Jordan elimination, no logarithms, no asymptotes, or any of the other crazy stuff I’ve had to learn this semester in my required math class.

                3. LAI

                  I just want to point out that averages like this don’t mean anything. Just because Pol Sci majors have an unemployment rate of 11% doesn’t mean that YOU would have an 11% chance of being unemployed. Your particular chances will depend on what you do both in and outside the classroom to be prepared for the job market. A Pol Sci major who gets good grades and has a couple of internships with strong references probably has a much lower chance of being unemployed than a Pol Sci major who earns mediocre grades and has no work experience, right?

                4. AshleyH

                  I’m a poli sco degree holder, a mediocre college student (I think I graduated with a 2.8- I went to a big state school and preferred parties to the library), and I’ve been gainfully employed since two days after I graduated. I work in HR. My husband is also a poli sci graduate and is also employed (in retail store operations at a corporate level). Poli sci doesn’t necessarily mean unemployed, it just means people love to try to get you involved in political debates :)

            3. Elsajeni

              Hey, C’s aren’t failures! They’re mediocre grades, sure, but they’re not failures. You got credit for those classes, and you learned the material. And an early semester or year of mediocre grades is hardly a catastrophe — if you recover and do better in future semesters, your GPA will recover pretty quickly, and, maybe more importantly, you’ll have
              1) a great narrative about how you struggled starting out but worked hard and pulled through, and
              2) some practice recovering from failure, which I’m guessing, since you mentioned that college was the first time you really had to study, that you haven’t really had to do so far.

              I dropped out of college after my second year, and ended up taking most of a year off and then transferring to another school. My situation wasn’t exactly the same as yours, but I had similar issues with having to study and work hard for my grades for the first time, and ended up failing about half my classes in order to do well in the rest. (This is totally worse than pulling off middling grades in all your classes, so you’re a step ahead of me already.) What worked really well for me was staying close to home, going back part-time at first and starting with low-stakes, easy courses (but ones that counted towards my degree requirements! I had a list of all the courses I needed to take, from day 1, because I knew I was already looking at a 5th year and I didn’t want to waste time taking courses that wouldn’t get me out with a degree), and developing study skills as I worked my way back up to carrying a full course load of stuff that was actually challenging for me. I know the close-to-home and part-time parts of that might not be achievable, depending on where you live and whether you need to be full-time to get financial aid, but if nothing else, I really recommend that you sit down with your degree plan, sort things by how easy you think they’ll be for you, and make a plan to start with the easier stuff and keep yourself from getting overwhelmed.

              1. Stephanie

                If I remember correctly, you started at my alma mater and yeah…I struggled when I got there, too. I went from being one of the smartest kids at my high school to being pretty middling there. I worked hard in high school, but I kind of underestimated how much extra work I’d need to do to get an A there.

                1. Elsajeni

                  Yep! I am a member of a proud fraternity of Those Who Couldn’t Hack It At [owl mascot]. (And honestly, my lack of study skills was a big contributing factor, but the biggest thing was that “tiny, enclosed campus” just wasn’t the right fit for me — I transferred to a huge state school and it was like a miracle. I could walk across campus or go to the library and not see anyone who was in all my classes and wanted to have an anxious conversation about the paper I was trying to take a break from!)

                2. Stephanie

                  @ElsaJeni Ha, that’s why I sometimes went to Commuter School Across the Freeway’s library to study. It helped not to be in the one campus library where everyone else was anxious about the problem set, too. I also went to the business school library sometimes, but they started cracking down on non-MBA students using it (it was so empty, new, and shiny!).

                  In a weird way, it’s sort of conforming hearing you struggled. Not the flunking out part, that probably was a blow even if the school was a poor fit. It just sometimes felt like everyone was acting like they were pulling 4.0s with ease there.

              2. Not So NewReader

                When I transferred my credits the grades did not transfer, just the credits. It was like having a fresh start.

            4. Pennalynn Lott

              I flopped on a couple of my classes the first time around. So I just retook them. Yes, it still shows that 27 years ago I got a “C” in Principles of Accounting, but that is negated/neutralized by the “A” I got in the same course last semester. At least now I have proven that I can (and have) mastered the material.

        2. law grad

          Exactly what Treena said. Even if you start over, you will have to report everything; failure to do so is fraud. Of course, if you start over and do well, you will theoretically have more *good* grades, and the impact of your low grades will be less. Law schools will, essentially, average all of your undergraduate grades together to come up with one GPA (at least that’s what they did when I applied).

          Don’t be fooled by the image of lawyers. Your utility ops possibility might actually pay more. A very small percentage of law school grads make it into the big firms with six-figure salaries. They come from elite law schools or the very top 1-2% of good schools. Most lawyers fall squarely in the mid to upper five figures. The work may or may not be fulfilling. Make sure you research law schools and the reality of a career in law.

          But by all means, however, go back to school! You may still want to go into law, or you may find another profession that fits your abilities. Having a degree will not hurt, especially if you can figure out a way to get some good, practical work experience.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            Yes, exactly. And while I’m not encouraging you to go for science and math classes, I will say that both of those classes became less painful for me when I figured out (1) I don’t learn the way that they teach me, and (2) how to teach it to myself. Then I actually liked the classes.

            As for career options, I have two suggestions. One, do something like Start With Why (you don’t have to pay for the course, you might could get the course from the library). It doesn’t tell you something specific like ‘be an accountant,’ but it talks about what makes good leaders, that kind of thing. It might help you recognize qualities in yourself you didn’t know you had.
            Second, if you really don’t know where to start, why not try reading something like the Occupational Outlook Handbook? It’s available on the website of the bureau of labor statistics. I mention it only because it has a very long list of occupations. You might learn about jobs you didn’t know were out there. It also talks about things like education required, job outlook, median salary, etc. I don’t know how accurate the statistics are, but it’s somewhere to start. Personally, I think it’s interesting to look at all the different kinds of jobs out there, but that’s just me.

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              Whenever this topic pops up, Programming is something that always pops into my head because every career I can think of boils down to this; I want a career where I can prove my mastery of the topic by showing progress faster/better than my peers. I would love to be a programmer so I could be empirically faster than my coworkers, but that math would kill me.

              I think I’ll look into that handbook, it sounds helpful!

              1. catsAreCool

                I do software development, and I don’t deal with math much, but there was a fair bit of math in college.

              2. Treena Kravm

                I don’t want to speak for my husband, but the beginning of his career story sounds so much like yours!

                He was a music major in college and the highest math he took was Pre-Calculus. He graduated and ended up in retail for 3 years. He knew he had to do something different, so he saved every penny, and then decided on his path/goals. He lived off his savings while he focused–he taught himself programming and got into an open-source community, where he learned a lot from others. He did a lot of free/cheap work and low-wage, basic coding contracts. He built a portfolio of websites he created and after 2 years got a FT junior developer role at a start-up (not in a tech hub at all!). After the start-up went belly up, he found his current job as a developer and was promoted to the lead senior developer after 3 years. He now is the person teaching newbies at the open source meet-ups and has spoken quite a few times at conferences. He says he uses a few math concepts over and over, but nothing advanced.

                He works very long hours and still struggles with things that don’t come easily to him, but he pushes through it because he genuinely enjoys it. He says it’s fun to figure out how to build something a certain way. If that’s at all how you feel, I would strongly encourage you to pursue computer science, but maybe not via college. I just asked him to confirm (to make sure I wasn’t steering you in the wrong direction!) and he said he absolutely would have gotten mostly C’s in a college level computer science program. Some people are just not meant for school, but can absolutely do the job.

                One note about programming: you’ll probably never be a true master of say, a programming language. Things move way too quickly for that to be likely. But you could be a master of figuring out how to integrate the new stuff or a tiny niche field. Just wanted to put that out there.

              3. Schmitt

                Look into a “computer information systems” degree. I had to take exactly one math class – statistics – which was cool and awesome and I hate math.

                It’s important to understand math concepts but you don’t need the really hard math for a wide swath of programming jobs.

              4. Clever Name

                Look into computer science as a major. My husband as a degree in computer engineering, which is very math heavy, but he’s a programmer, and he works alongside people who majored in computer science.

              5. Nashira

                I am doing a computer information systems degree, which is pretty heavy on the programming and pretty light on the math. I haven’t needed more than basic algebra for any of the programming yet, and don’t really expect to need it in the future, not for the sorts of job I am looking for. My parents both worked as software engineers for decades and neither of them used the boatloads of calculus that their 1970s comp sci degrees made them take, either.

                Weirdly, if I could find a comp sci degree that fit with my needs (local-to-me evening classes with an online component for many of them), I would love to be doing that instead. I loves me some math.

              6. NacSacJack

                Hi Eli – From what you describe, you like learning and describing concepts as well as programming. I would suggest getting a major in Communications with a minor in computer science or computer information systems. That said, I’m not sure you want to take a full time position if you intend to quit within the year. How about taking a two-three year gap time, pay off your bills, get some job experience within yourself, stabilize, and then go back to school. I shot myself in the foot when I talked about going back to school full time in the fall when I took a full time job in the summer to cover someone’s maternity leave. Turns out they expected me to take the job perm while she came back to another position.

        3. law grad

          Based on your second paragraph, I am not sure you would find working as a lawyer fulfilling. In many firms, it’s very much a focus on billing and productivity and getting more business, without a lot of time for research, analysis, and contemplation. You need to dig into what intrigues you. You are just starting out, you have time.

          Depending on your specific interest, as law is very general (I deal with employment, civil rights, contracts, and public agency stuff for the most part, for example), you might consider policy work, which does not require a law degree, or you might be able to find fulfilling work as a lawyer in certain non-profit organizations. But the pay might not be good. Depending on your interests, there are potentially many rewarding career paths that do not require an additional three years of school and six-figures of tuition.

          Go back to college. Keep an open mind. Pay attention to those things that grab your attention. Also pay attention to those things that you do well, but do not necessarily grab your attention. My experience is that the study of things in school is often very different than the application of them in real life. But pay attention to where you are strong or seem to have an aptitude, because you will enjoy your work more if you are not struggling constantly.

        4. Anon for this

          Don’t let a bad start discourage you. I nearly flunked out my first quarter of college (bad choice of major, and a horrible advisor that let me take a full slate of hard math and science courses all at once – I ended up in a A. Dean’s office and her eyes almost bugged out when she saw my schedule.) I switched majors, and started a trajectory that led me to graduate school at Yale, then the University of Chicago, and a bunch of fellowships/awards including a Fulbright. Don’t despair! There is a lot of good advice in this thread about what to do next. Early C’s are nothing to stress too much about, so don’t!

    3. Stephanie

      Law’s saturated. Don’t do it. If you do want to do anything relating to law, go talk to practicing lawyers and have them give you an accurate picture of the legal market.

      I’m not sure what you mean by an undergrad degree in law, either. It is something along the lines of criminal justice? Usually you major in something else at the undergrad level and then go to law school.

      1. Reluctant Lawyer

        100% agree with Stephanie. Do NOT go to law school. The market is absolutely saturated. The only thing worse than being unemployed is having six figures in law school debt and being unemployed.

        As for undergrad major, you can pursue anything prior to law school – I’ve seen everything from chemistry to psychology. But, please, do not go to law school. I cannot stress this enough.

        1. danr

          Law has something that other professions don’t have… the chance to be independent. Pass the Bar and start your own practice. It’s hard, but it can be done.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            I think you’re understating it, though. It can be done if you’re good at marketing, and good at running a business, and you have the time to do both those things plus do the lawyer parts, and especially if you have sources of referrals. It’s not very practical for a lot of people, though.

            1. Stephanie

              That, plus based on what a couple of close friends told me, they left law school having little idea on how to actually practice law. Both did attend very elite law schools that probably had a more scholarly approach to learning law. They both said the last year was useless and that they didn’t pick up on the actual practice of law until their first jobs (one at a big firm, the other at an insurance company).

              1. Computer Guy Eli

                I’ll have to do more looking into it. It seems to me I’m running out of career paths that interest me that would warrant going to college over. “Greek Era Historian” or “Medieval Armor Expert” would interest me, but wouldn’t pay off the debt.

                1. JB (not in Houston)

                  If you can get a scholarship to law school–and one not contingent on keeping your GPA at a certain level–I would still go for it. But otherwise, it’s a risky investment.

                  But going to college can open your eyes to career paths you didn’t know existed or didn’t know you’d like, so if you can do that without drowning in debt, college is not a bad proposition. Plus, *if* you aren’t buried in debt when you leave school, you’ll probably wind up making more money over your lifetime with a college degree than you would without–unless you have a good, well-paying job that doesn’t need one.

                2. themmases

                  If you’re not sure what viable career you want, why not wait a while and decide before going back to school? It sounds like you have a stable career path ahead of you that doesn’t require you to go back to school right away, so I’d recommend you just not pressure yourself to choose. Speaking from experience (my own, but also seeing the paths my partner and friends have taken), nothing will clarify what you want to do with your career like actually working. At a minimum, it will help you figure out what you *don’t* want to do or what just isn’t feasible.

                  You might never have to get a degree in your field if you don’t want to, or you might reach a point where you “need” one but it’s really just checking a box. You might reach a point that you’re not interested in advancing any farther in your field, but with more experience and a higher-level view of what’s available, it’s a lot clearer what to do next. It would be a shame if you reached that point and had spent money, effort, and time out of work on a mismatched degree for which there wasn’t really any urgency.

                  If you want to dip your toe in, lots of schools now offer some classes online to all students. You don’t need to be admitted to an online-specific program to take them, and in my experience they don’t look any different on your record. Both my community college and my grad school do this.

                  Lastly, there are ways to work in tech without necessarily being a developer. My partner sounds like he has really similar hobbies to you, majored in history, and wanted to go to law school or library school (both genuinely horrible choices, job-wise, right now, and I’m glad he didn’t go). He landed an entry-level tech support job at a growing software company, built up a ton of knowledge of the product and a great reputation, moved into management, and now is moving over and getting paid to be trained as a database administrator– his now-dream job that he didn’t even know existed before he started down this path.

                3. Sara

                  I think that what @themmases is saying is good advice – I have a very favorable outlook towards college, but it sounds like you might want to start off slow, maybe with a couple of online-based gen ed classes to see what piques your interest. I picked my undergraduate major (international studies) because it interested me, but as I went through my 4 years I discovered that a lot of the career options available (or rather, the career options that the career center presented to people in my major) either didn’t interest me (law) or were so vague as to be almost meaningless (“work for a non-profit”). With grad school, I did a better job of planning – instead of jumping into a degree that seemed intriguing at the time, I spent some time working and actually doing non-school things, and so when I finally figured out what career I wanted to have, I could say for sure that I needed to go back to school for it, and that while I was in school I wanted to do X and Y to put myself in a strong position to get a job after graduation.

                  I’d say take at least a semester to get yourself back into the swing of things, take a reasonable class load, and keep an open mind. If you stumble onto something that interests you in one of your classes, investigate it further in terms of what kind of courses you might expect to take later on, what career options and prospects are like, etc. As I said, I think you should go back to school (and it sounds like you think you should, too, based on what you’ve posted here), but I caution you against rushing into it.

              2. JB (not in Houston)

                That’s pretty much true. Some law schools have some more practical aspects to them (and elite law schools have a reputation for teaching theory classes that are only helpful if you’re going to teach law), but it really is something you have to learn by doing. Law school teaches you the basics of law, how to learn the law you don’t know, and how to apply what you’ve learned from one case to another. But how to do “being a lawyer” is something that is very difficult to learn in law school.

                1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)

                  If I had a skill where I could make very good money and then spend all my spare time studying and doing things I love, I would consider that a very good life.

          2. Pennalynn Lott

            Accounting offers that, too. My plan is to get my CPA and the go hustle for clients among local small businesses. I will not be working for an accounting firm or be a full-time staff accountant.

    4. danr

      What do you mean by “law degree”? Lawyer? Paralegal? Law librarian? All of them are different paths.

        1. danr

          Law Grad above has good suggestions. And don’t listen to the naysayers. By the time you’ll be applying things will be different. You’ll probably be on the up side of the pendulum.

    5. TeapotCounsel

      #3 or #5 is my vote.
      Do not undersestimate how soul-crushing and freedom-denying debt is. Debt makes you a slave to others, having to take jobs and work hours you wouldn’t otherwise do just so you can pay somebody else. I can say this with authority because I made the terrible mistake of getting into too much debt. Currently I live on 1/3 of my six figure salary and spend the other 2/3 on debt. It sucks. It’s like a prison sentence. If I had no debt, I would have all kinds of additional freedom.
      Also, the operations job at Utility sounds promising. Pursue that. You can always pick up a law degree in a few years, if you really want that.

    6. Traveler

      Do #3 or #5. If you have a real chance making $22/hr and don’t hate your current career, don’t go back to school. Especially do not go back to school if you have to borrow money and don’t have a very firm plan as far as what you want to do. You may only end up making $22/hr (or less) after you have your BA/BS and then have large loans with interest hanging over your head for some time to come. I would wait and see what pans out with work before rushing back to school. Take a year, make sure its what you want, nail down what you want to do – be sure that taking out the loans makes financial sense for what you’ll be making when you get out, save up some money – preferably the amount you need to pay for school, and then go back.

      1. Sunshine Brite

        Yes, I’m 6 years out from undergrad, 3 from my social work master’s. Don’t take on debt that’s not going to pay off for you. I hit the job market when things sucked for new grads. When I was looking at schools, people were hiring seniors from my undergrad well before graduation with sweet deals lined up and by the time I was graduating, most of my class was scrambling to put something together. We were hit with the student loan debt in a way that was crushing and somewhat unexpected because we thought our earning power would be higher.

        I know where I live they’re eliminating one of the top law schools through a merger and the other top law school slashed their admissions a significant percent a few years ago because the market is overly saturated in every way. Here would not necessarily be the place to get a law degree in the next few years.

    7. LCL

      Utility work has been very very good to me. I had to get an AA degree to get hired, but I would have skipped it if I could have got in without it. The one big negative of utility work is shift work. The big problem with shift work is you can’t count on being able to get schedule accommodations to take classes. I had a fantasy of becoming a lawyer specializing in labor law, but it was impossible with the shift work.

      If you have always been fascinated with infrastructure, how all the systems that allow modern society to function work, and you have a door into the utility, grab it! You will make enough money to buy whatever books you want, and be able to afford going to cons, and music lessons & etc.

    8. Artemesia

      Law skill requires a BA first does it not? And I know a lot of people with law degrees and no jobs and huge loans to pay off. There is a huge surplus of lawyers so unless you have an inside track with a particular practitioner who wants to hire you, you may find it rough going with a law degree. The plum jobs and clerkships go to those from the top law schools or who are at the very top of the class in flagship state schools — mostly the former. Given your situation I’d look into one of the local night law school options and work during the day, attend law school at night and work hard to network locally as frequently government law jobs or local practices do draw from local grads with connections.

    9. Ask a Manager Post author

      Somehow we’ve ended up with a massive work conversation in the middle of the no-work open thread! Not anyone’s fault, but it makes me realize that I probably need to direct school talk over to the Friday thread too in the instructions for future weekend threads!

    10. salad fingers

      Sounds like this conversation needs to continue on a Friday thread, but I hope it’s okay to say, “Hi, fellow former high school debater!” What kind of debate? Policy? Lincoln Douglas? Public Forum? Something specific to Montana (that’s where you live, right?)?

    11. Sunday

      It’s great to hear that things have turned around for you and your family, that’s terrific news.

      Team Kill-the-debt has my support. Beyond that, in thinking about school I’m all for it. If memory serves, there’s a state university there with an online component. Depending on how it’s organized, you might find online courses mesh with your current work schedule. Depending too on price, I’d look at one the first semester, and see how that goes. If it goes well, you could try more the next. Clearing debt and having some money in the bank while gaining practical work skills sounds like solid preparation for college and making course choices. I’m also one for allowing room to discover something that really engages you rather than focusing on only one thing in school. Also, “classics” has also been a good undergraduate background for law school, in addition to English and poli sci. Organizational management has some of what you describe as interesting, too. You’re obviously bright, so it’s a question of figuring out what fits rather than whether you “can” do it.

      How would you describe what interests you? I see that you’ve named Greek mythology and medieval armor listed as areas of some mastery, and that you excelled at debate team and government classes. If you described what it is about these things that engages you, what would you say? Going on what you’ve said here (this thread and others), I’ll hypothesize to give examples: Narrative/story. Process. Tools. Personally, I see a lot of overlap in those three, which tells you something about how I think. Where do those things overlap, and inform each other? For me, that opens my thinking past individual job titles or subject areas. Follows is some amplification of what I mean by narrative, process, and tools for this purpose. If it’s of no interest, skip it.

      Narrative: what happened to get to the end of the story/current state. How did this get shaped and work (or not) itself out thus far? Where might it go from here? Mythology: stories of how things worked (and didn’t), how the world is ordered and the ways in which individual personalities shape it. Stories: how organizations were created and how they have evolved and why; how cultural and governmental systems developed, were influenced, and the places they have succeeded or not so much, the ways in which they move forward. Eg, I find it fascinating that one piece of the woman’s rights movement in the 1800s was the recognition of the role of women and the balance of responsibilities in local native (or Amerindian) culture. As the Euroamerican learned more about their native neighbors they did the human thing of drawing on the pieces of that culture that appealed to them to buttress their own lives. That supported a significant portion of the voting rights work, which has had a significant role in the evolution of contemporary society in the US.

      Process: these are the kinds of things that go into the narratives, the ways in which choices are made, the context in which they are made, and where the process serves or doesn’t serve the goal/s. What are the cultural and physical tools that are used, how and why are the related choices made and what are the ramifications? What does and doesn’t work, and what does and doesn’t give the result you want (not necessarily the same as what works)? Eg, the telephone surveys that predicted Dewey over Truman: telephones were not ubiquitous, so the criteria for telephone ownership should have been included in the decision to use telephones as a political poll tool.

      Tools: What are the tools available and how are they used? This can be physical tools, like utility lines and equipment, and intellectual tools like understanding how electricity works, availability of fossil fuels, governmental systems eg the electoral college in our US democracy; software and hardware.

      Keep asking good questions. You’ve got a lot of us pulling for you.

  12. AvonLady Barksdale

    I have a strange question about online reviews. I am usually very quick to offer my opinion, positive and negative, in person, but… say it, forget it, post it, regret it, I guess. Anyway. I recently stayed in an AirBnB during a business trip– my first. The apartment was very pleasant and clean and beautifully appointed, with most amenities… but the shower didn’t work. When I first arrived, there was a note saying the detachable shower head doesn’t detach, please don’t touch, etc., but when I went to take a shower, the shower head was wrapped with tape and while it technically worked, the angle was terrible and I basically had to stand flat against the wall to catch any water. A good hot shower was impossible.

    Here’s the thing, though– I didn’t say anything about the shower while I was there. Is it fair to mention it in my review? Part of me feels like it’s not fair that I didn’t give her the chance to rectify it while I was there, but part of me is saying… it’s AirBnB. Not a hotel with a maintenance staff that can come in at any time. This should have been fixed before I got there, especially since it appears that she uses this apartment ONLY as an AirBnB.

    Sigh. I’m a wimp.

    1. Computer Guy Eli

      Everyone’s anonymous on the internet. This is a service issue she should’ve fixed before she started taking money for you staying there. It’s the same with video games, bugs on launch are inexcusable because you were the one that decided when to start taking money for it.

    2. BRR

      Normally I believe that you should mention it to put it in a review but in this case they knew the shower was broken. I think it’s fair game to point it out.

      1. Bea W

        Totally fair. It is easy and inexpensive to replace a shower head. There isn’t much excuse for the tape, even if she is doesn’t live there. She knew about it, and could have either dealt with it herself, or called someone to fix it. A working shower is kind of important to people!

    3. Treena Kravm

      I’d never thought of it this way until recently. I reviewed a restaurant 3/5 stars primarily because I loved the concept (game meats) but the item I got had very little of the game meat (to the point where I couldn’t taste it at all). I also mentioned that service was slow despite there not being a lot of customers. The owner replied back and said it wasn’t fair to not say anything while we were there and that if we had he would have rectified the situation and offered us a free meal the next time we come in. At first I felt bad, but I’m not sure I should.

      I’ve complained in person exactly three times in my life. Once, there was a produce sticker in my tomato-based dish, another time there was a screw in my husband’s dish, and another time I ordered quail and it was raw in the center. Each time it was clear this is not acceptable/the norm, and it was a clear error. But in the situation above, slow service without being busy and dishes that didn’t include a lot of meat seemed a matter of course. In my opinion, people reading reviews want to know what to expect. So no, a review telling them about screws in the food won’t help, because it was an anomaly. But if it seemed totally normal to serve a dish with barely any meat in it, I would want to know ahead of time. In general, you shouldn’t have to complain to get decent product/service.

      As for AirBnB, you really should have complained in person, mostly because you had crappy showers the whole time! But you’re also an AirBnB newbie, so there’s a little slack in that. But really, you can call and complain about anything and they should fix it. Once, a hot tub’s jets weren’t working, and hours later a pool guy came to fix it. You’re paying for the amenity, plus it’s in their interest to have it fixed/working.

      As for what to say now? You can certainly say in your review the showerhead is broken and there was a note telling you not to detach it. That doesn’t sound like something she is going to fix, hence the note. You can give it 3-4 stars and describe a crappy problem within the text of the review. That’s the compromise I’ve used at times.

      1. Nicole

        “In general, you shouldn’t have to complain to get decent product/service.” I like this, because it’s so spot on. I hope that’s what you told the manager when he tried to make you feel guilty for not complaining in person.

          1. Treena Kravm

            It was more damage control. I didn’t even think to look if I was allowed to reply, but I wouldn’t have either way. It looked like he had just bought the business and revamped it, so he was struggling a lot with negative critique. Actually, now that I think about it, I probably should have written him back and let him know that letting his 9-year old relative (I assume) be the waitress’ shadow and “helping” was probably what slowed her down. I just don’t think it’s my business to tell someone how to run their restaurant. If they want to let 9 and 6 year olds hang out at the bar and ask customers if they need anything else (what am I going to say? yes, please, more beer?), then they’ll figure out sooner or later why that’s a terrible idea.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Wow. Yep, someone will explain it to him–health code, labor board– someone will explain it to him.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I agree, but I can kind of see the other side. You are publicly complaining, and so now it isn’t just you who thinks less of the place. And you never gave the manager a chance to fix it before broadcasting it to the world.

          I guess I’m biased though because I do some appellate work in my legal career, and the rule there is that you generally can’t complain to the appeals court about something if you didn’t bring it up in the trial court to give them a chance to fix it.

          I do think you should mention it in a review if something went wrong, but give the manager a chance to fix it so that you can say that, too. If everyone did this, then if there were a pattern of bad service some place, then people would see that.

          1. JB (not in Houston)

            I should say though that this situation is different–the person already knew there was a problem.

          2. Treena Kravm

            Well, I guess I just don’t think of a review on Yelp quite as dramatically as a court case. I’m just leaving some feedback about my experience, which was overall good, so I left 3 stars. In terms of the service, I didn’t notice until we left how long it took. We weren’t in a rush, but we spent a solid 2 hours in there. As for the food, I praised everything else we ate. But the problem dish was a ravioli, so there was literally nothing that he could have done to put more meat into the ravioli (this was definitely a frozen ravioli type of place).

            1. fposte

              And I think it can go the other way, too–if you’d mentioned the slow service and other issues at the restaurant, he could have responded that you were a complainy customer who moaned while she was at the restaurant, too.

              Honestly, while I see the point of the owner that says “Hey, why didn’t you say something at the time,” I think you’re right that that’s not a universal, and that sometimes what owners mean isn’t “Why didn’t you give us a chance to to correct it” but “Why didn’t you say something privately where nobody else could hear rather than publicly, because now we look bad.”

            2. JB (not in Houston)

              Court cases aren’t usually dramatic, but that’s not what I meant anyway. I just meant that sometimes it doesn’t seem fair to complain about something without giving anyone a chance to fix it, especially when it’s a complaint that’s going out where the whole world can see it, but maybe it’s just my background. I thought I made it pretty clear that the reason I mentioned court cases was to explain that it might make me biased and not to say that Yelp reviews have the same level of seriousness. And in your case, they couldn’t have fixed the ravioli, but they could have comped it, and then you could have said that in your review. Obviously whether to complain is a judgment call, and if you’ll notice, I actually agreed with you, but I added that I could see the other side.

    4. Yoshi

      Fair game! If there was a note, the owner knows that its an issue. Also-changing a shower head is fairly inexpensive and something that can be easily done by the average homeowner.

    5. thisisit

      everyone’s not anonymous on AirBnb though. yeah, you should have mentioned it before, but I think it’s fair to mention it in the review. you can soften it if you’d like by saying “X, Y, Z was great! Blah Blah Blah… the only downside was the shower head was broken and I couldn’t get a good shower, but hopefully that will be fixed soon.”

      Or something to that effect. Hosts have the option of responding to your review too, so you give her the opening to say she’s getting it fixed ASAP.

      You can also send hosts private messages, and you can also send AirBnB private messages too. But I would just put it in the review in nice terms, like an FYI.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        That’s what I was thinking, if I do include it. The stay was great except for that one thing.

    6. salad fingers

      I would probably call and complain to the host, and decide how to write a review based on how she received my complaint. Do air bnb hosts have any ability to partially refund or give credit or anything? That, or more likely just an honest recognition that a broken shower in this situation is really bad, and an indication that it has been fixed would be enough. I probably would decide not to include it in the review, or mention the issue but also how it was handled well after the fact.

    7. EvaR

      I would post it exactly the way you did here. Mention that she did a great job with everything else and that you didn’t really discuss it further with her. A shower is kind of a basic amenity.

    8. Traveler

      Just be careful. I don’t know how ubiquitous it is but there have been a rash of lawsuits making the news for business owners suing commenters for bad reviews because it “negatively impacted their business”. I don’t think any of them were successful yet (I could be wrong?). I’d look into that before reviewing, and probably say something to the host first before you post your review to see what they say/do in response to it.

    9. Sara

      I think it’s fair to point it out. You paid for the rental with the expectation that you’d be able to shower (presumably in a shower that worked reasonably well). You weren’t able to do that. That reflects badly on the owner and is the kind of thing that future renters would want to know about.

    10. themmases

      I think it is fair because, as a few other people point out, the owner put a note in the shower rather than fixing it. They clearly did know there was a problem, didn’t fix it before you got there, and it sounds like they didn’t communicate directly with you either. How hard would it be for them to say, “We found out about this problem too last-minute to fix before your arrival, and we think we’ve got it working but please let us know if it’s really bothering you”?

      I’ll also just add that people can read your review for themselves and decide whether this would be a problem for them. I read a *lot* of hotel reviews before a trip to London last year, and it was really eye-opening to how different people’s standards are and ways of dealing when they’re not happy. People would post pictures of showers attached to their negative review where I couldn’t even see the problem! I would see other reviews complaining about the amenities at the very reasonably-priced– even cheap, in London!– place I stayed literally across the street from the British Museum. But I’m so glad those people wrote out their reviews, so I could see for myself that only people with different priorities than mine were rating this place less than 4 stars. I think it’s normal to use the numeric rating as a rough guide to a place and then read the reviews to see whether there is a pattern of problems that would bother you personally. From there, people who need their morning shower to function can opt out and people who can’t believe you didn’t just call the landlord (which I wouldn’t have wanted to either) can decide to ignore you.

  13. Bekx

    I arrived late last week with a story about getting my ass kicked in martial arts by a bully. Here’s the update for anyone who helped me.

    I spoke with my sensei and told him that the guy was out of line. He disagreed. I told him I was creeped out by the guy, he’s condescending to me, and he acts inappropriate around the younger girls. To that, he said that the guy had a hard life. His mom abandoned him, dad came at him with a knife and he’s socially inept. Sensei is working with him to improve his social skills and whatever.

    I didn’t like that answer. My hand is still pretty sore and I can’t put my entire weight on it still. The black eye is gone and the general arm bruising has gone down but I don’t think I should be this beat up a week later. I got my higher belt, but frankly I’m really considering ending my contract after that talk. I don’t feel supported and while I can definitely agree the guy is socially inept, it feels like a cop out.

    Thanks to everyone who responded and told me to go talk to my sensei. It’s a shame I don’t feel satisfied with the answer but it’s good I know what to expect.

    1. fposte

      Boo, but I’m glad you spoke up. (Since when does “The guy has had a hard life” make it okay to hurt people? And I’m kind of curious to know how hard a life buys you how much “get out of responsibility free” card–if his dad had come at him with a gun, could he have punched you in the crotch?)

      I think it’s at least worth exploring the possibility of other dojos. I’d like to think you have access to one that is going to consider your avoiding unnecessary injury a priority.

      1. Bekx

        Yeah I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes when sensei was telling me all of this. (also…WHY was he telling me this? Seems sorta personal!).

        For now I’m going to see how things go. I’m moving in the next year, so I won’t be signing another year long contract. I’ll see how things progress.

        Sensei did thank me for coming to him with my concerns and was really glad I did that. For what that’s worth.

        1. anonymous daisy

          I was in a martial arts class where someone who I had repeated bad encounters with at work (to the point of calling the police). He saw me, stayed for the rest of the class and then I never saw him again in class. I would have dropped out but he solved the problem for me. If you do drop out, tell your sensei why. They need to know the consequences of their non-actions.

      2. the gold digger

        Since when does “The guy has had a hard life” make it okay to hurt people? And I’m kind of curious to know how hard a life buys you how much “get out of responsibility free” card–if his dad had come at him with a gun, could he have punched you in the crotch?

        Exactly what I was thinking. People suffer. They have crummy childhoods and they do not deserve it. It does not get them a free pass to treat other people badly.

    2. Stephanie

      Ugh, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’ve started taking some martial arts classes and accidents happen, but that level of injury is crazy. The dojo should be teaching you guys how to spar without that level of injury as well as humility (as in, they should tell you to stop once you’ve gotten the correct hold or whatever).

      I’d start looking around. It doesn’t sound like the owner will take your complaints seriously until he loses your enrollment fee.

    3. Florida

      I’m glad to hear you spoke to the sensei. I agree that his response was a cop out. I agree with fposte that I’d explore other dojos. You could do some of both. For example, if you currently go twice a week, start going once a week to your current dojo and once a week to a different dojo.

      I hope your hand starts to feel better soon.

    4. Not So NewReader

      It’s good that the owner has a heart and wants to help this guy.
      But it is not fair to the people PAYING to go there to MAKE them help out, also. Now, how has this guy learned something from his interaction with you? I do not see any learning going on there.
      Customers did not sign on to help this guy, they signed on to learn a skill.
      I understand people what to use their business to help others and that is wonderful. But you do not do that at the expense of your customer. And you should not do at the expense of your employees, either.

      Sadly, I do not see how this is therapeutic for this man. Does the owner have a degree in social work or a mental health field type of degree? Probably not. He lacks the quals to do rehabing, which is what he is trying to do here. The saddest part here is that this business owner might actually be doing more harm than good for this man.

      None of this is yours to solve, of course. But do understand that trained, degreed people would have to be careful here. Helping a person with problems like this requires skills. The owner is probably not trained, nor degreed so he needs to exercise more care for both his friend and his customers. This situation kind of ticks me off because it is so unfair to you and unfair to this man. You are aware of the unfairness, but the man is not. Yes, leave. Move on. I would not stay there, either. I am sorry this happened to you, but I am glad that people were able to chime in to let you know this whole thing is not right.

      1. Florida

        Ooooh. You make some good points that I hadn’t thought of. The sensei is not qualified (to our knowledge) to be a therapist to this guy. Plus Bekx is paying to learn martial arts, not to help Mr. Bully overcome his hard life. Very well put.

        Good luck with it, Bekx.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        I was thinking about this and yes, it is nice that the owner wants to help this guy. But, if he wants to do that, beyond whether or not he’s got the training to do that, then Owner needs to be within 10′ of this guy at all times as much as possible to observe and correct Guy’s behaviour. If Guy knows or suspects he’s a pet project of Owner, he might assume that that means he’s untouchable or has more leeway to do as he wishes, because Owner is all soft for him. If Guy is socially awkward, he’s not going to learn how to fix that if he’s not being called out on it by someone he respects — and he’s already shown how much respect he’s got for women.

        Also Bekx, if you have any rapport with any of the younger female students, I would suggest that you have a quick word with them before you go. Not in a “this guy is a whole lot of trouble” way (because beyond being really rough with you, there is no evidence that he’s a total psycho — yet) but in a “If you feel threatened or are threatened by anyone here, report it to sensei. Trust your intuition. This is supposed to be a place of respect and learning and if you feel you are constantly being disrespected or that you’re afraid for your physical safety — tell sensei. If sensei won’t do anything or dismisses your concerns, tell your parents you want to switch dojos and why.” Because one of the hardest parts of transitioning between child and adult can be getting rid of the “do as you’re told, I’m the adult here” thing — just the other day there was a discussion here about sexual harassment of teens at their first job and how they just take it because they don’t know any better or what to do about it. I can see some of the younger students might find Guy creepy but he’s an adult, they’re just kids, what can they do about it? And just default to the standard denying it’s happening, trying to avoid him wherever possible, thinking it’s just happening to them, that no one will believe them if they say anything.

    5. Bea W

      That answer would have been totally unacceptable to me. Having a “hard life” does not make his behavior acceptable, and the guy sure as heck is not going to learn to behave differently if sensei makes excuses for it and doesn’t call him on it. Not cool! I don’t blame you for wanting to end your contract.

    6. Soupspoon McGee

      This bullying behavior, and the failure to acknowledge and stop it, goes against the code of any martial art I can think of . As I understand it, most martial arts studios are affiliated with larger organizations. Is there a governing body you could contact to report this?

      I used to kickbox (Muay Thai), and that kind of behavior was unacceptable, period. One of my friends had been sparring, practicing for his blackbelt, and ended up with a spiral fracture on his leg because a much bigger but less skilled guy was trying to show off. The owner clamped down, fast, and really limited who and how that big guy could spar with–while also managing to mentor him. No excuses.

    7. Observer

      The guy acts inappropriate around the younger girls, and all the Sensie had to say was “poor boy, I’m working on his social skills”?!?!?

      I think you that finding another place is a great idea. And let them know why you are not renewing your contract.

  14. Ghost Pepper

    Anyone ever have an intense crush on a coworker? How did you get over it?

    I know Alison has discussed this before. I’m interested in stories and resolution!

    1. Natalie

      Also probably not helpful, but mine ended when my ex and I finally pulled the plug on our dead relationship.

    2. Computer Guy Eli

      I had a good crush on one of the janitors that I saw daily here at the office. I got to know her well enough that I understood every reason why I wouldn’t want to date her.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yeah, that’s what I would recommend–figure out what their flaws are and focus on them. Picture how annoying they would be in someone you didn’t like, and tell yourself that’s how annoying those flaws would be if you would around them all the time. Or severely cut down on any contact with them to the extent you can. Or both.

        1. EvilQueenRegina

          I know I am replying late but I wanted to thank JB and Computer Guy Eli for this suggestion. I tried to think of flaws of my on-off crush and it suddenly dawned on me (can’t believe it’s taken me so long) that there are a couple of things that have happened that are similar to things that happened with my ex. And I don’t want to go down THAT road again. So I think I may have dodged a bullet there.

    3. Cautionary tail

      29 years ago I had a crush on a coworker and we just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. I still have a crush on her. :)

      1. law grad

        Are you my husband? We just celebrated 25 years of marriage, and met almost 29 years ago.

        In any event, congrats!

      2. Kimmy Gibbler

        I too had a crush on a coworker (back in college, which was 25 years ago) and we’ve now been married for 22+ years. :)

    4. Shell

      As a fun crush that makes me smile? Nothing, I just ride it out. But I have a good poker face.

      Anything deeper than that? I repeat to myself all the horror stories I’ve heard about dating in the workplace and that I value a paycheque and financial security a lot more than a would-be theoretical relationship. And if I was really, really convinced that this person was it, that I cannot find someone else better suited via any other method of meeting people, I’d find another job first.

    5. No name person

      I came to the realization that some of his habits which I discussed with him and found interesting would bug the living daylights out of me if this person was my significant other.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger

      I try to tell my wife about my social interactions with any coworkers that I find myself even a little infatuated with, to keep myself from having something to hide. But my “crushes” tend to be people I’m very good friends with first. If you find yourself developing crushes on people you hardly know, it’s probably just an idealized fantasy, and examining that might help.

    7. nona

      When you work with people long enough, you learn all of their annoying little habits. And you find out if they’re always late or inconsiderate or gossipy or something.

      Working with someone I had a crush on in college killed it.

    8. Elizabeth West

      Yes, at Exjob, and I forced myself to get over it. It wasn’t difficult–I did get to know him a little and he was nice, but kind of a yokel. I don’t want a yokel. The moment that did it was when he was telling a story about his girlfriend in the lunchroom, and how they were watching a movie that made her cry and he said, “I looked over and she’s cryin. I said, ‘F*ck’s wrong with you?'” DONE.

      There’s a guy at work I think is cute, but I don’t really want to take a dip in the company pool. Besides, I doubt he’d be interested in me anyway. For now, I’ll just enjoy the view. :)

    9. Elsajeni

      Last time, it was my manager at a retail job, and I did a combination of “get to know him better and discover all the things that would drive you crazy if you actually dated” and “what the hell, just enjoy the fantasy”. Then he decided to grow a beard and that pretty much took care of it.

    10. matcha123

      I just let it run its course. Be nice to them, enjoy the time at work together, but put a rein on anything that would cross a line.

    11. Sara

      It wasn’t that intense, but focusing on his (many, many) flaws put that idea out of my head pretty quickly. I could brush off idiotic comments or overlook displays of irresponsibility because as a coworker, his behavior had a limited impact on me; if he’d been my boyfriend…well, he wouldn’t have been for long, not if he kept acting like that, anyway. He also grew a beard (fine), but then refused to commit to maintaining it (gross).

      Also, one of our more annoying coworkers was very interested in being our matchmaker. She was single after having been divorced twice and engaged two additional times (neither of which worked out). Fine, her life and all, but it occurred to me that she may not have been a great judge of character, and if someone who wasn’t a great judge of character thought that this guy and I were perfect for each other, then we probably weren’t.

      Apparently after I left that job he got involved in an insane cheating/secret rebound relationship/general backstabbing situation involving three other coworkers, started getting sloppy drunk on a regular basis when employees would go to happy hour together, and eventually got fired for repeated no-call no-shows. I dodged the biggest bullet EVER.

    12. themmases

      I tell my partner. Having it be a secret just gives me one more reason to think about it.

      I actively look for and dwell on their flaws (easier if you don’t have to work really closely with someone), or try to imagine how behaviors of theirs that are fine as a coworker would be unpleasant if I lived with them.

      The last couple of people I’ve had crushes on have been definitely senior to me, and I remind myself how gross and conflicting I would find that if it actually worked out– like a former student dating her former professor.

      I seek out other sources of validation of my work besides their approval. A little approval can be really intoxicating, especially if it’s of something challenging or under-appreciated that you do. It’s definitely been at the heart of some of my crushes on colleagues. So I stop getting their opinion on my work unless I can’t move forward without it. I focus on other forms of feedback or seek out more feedback or collaboration from someone else.

    13. Regina Phalange

      I got over it over time. It just sort of happened. Also the coworker started dating someone in addition to being kind of a jerk to me. All helpful!

  15. Ella

    Does JB check the weekend free-for-alls? She (and other commenters) recommended I get a saline solution (and other things, but that was the most do-able) to squirt into my nose after I mentioned in a non-free-for-all thread a few weeks ago about having both asthma and allergies. I’m trying the saline thing, and I gotta say, I breathe much better, and like not having to deal with neti-potting. Thanks to whoever threw out suggestions to me on that issue!

    1. JB (not in Houston)

      yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve been checking the threads to see if you’ve updated (and to see if you were still alive!). I’m so glad you are trying the saline spray. I think somebody else mentioned them and I seconded them. Side note: they are great on airplanes if you tend to get dried out in the air like I do. I have some at work, in my purse, and at my bedside.

      I was thinking about you the other day and wondering if you’d tried it. I kept thinking to myself, “you can’t get people to try things they don’t want to, even if you think it would be helpful, so don’t bring it up, but boy I hope she tries it.”

      1. fposte

        I haven’t heard anybody this excited about something you put up your nose since the ’80s.

      2. Ella

        Yay! Yeah I actually got some at my next trip to the grocery, but I hardly ever manage to get to open threads before they have 300+ comments on them. I just remember you voicing the most concern about me. Thanks again. :)

  16. Kimberlee, Esq.

    Hey all! Question: what goods or services around job hunting or career development do you *wish* were out there, but aren’t? Or perhaps someone is doing it, but they’re doing it badly or in a totally scammy way? What is the biggest hole in this market that isn’t being filled in a helpful way to you?

  17. Natalie

    Ha ha, it’s 11 pm where I am right now. No wonder the Europeans are never around when these are posted during the U.S. day.

    My cousin and I are in France for a bit (another week from today) seeing Paris and visiting a friend in Blois. The weather is perfect, my feet are killing me of course, and I’m not broke like last time I was here. I can afford to pay €17 to change a train ticket! My French accent has improved slightly! I know at least a dozen more French words than I thought! Hurray!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Well, the morning posts are up around 6 am UK time and Friday Open Thread/2nd post around 4 pm.

      The Weekend Open Thread is up around 7/8 pm I think?

      Glad you’re enjoying Paris! I have great memories of my trips there :)

    2. Elizabeth West

      Yay! Sounds fun. One of these days I’ll make it across the Channel, LOL.

      LOL we have the same thing in my chat room (real time). I only get to talk to the Europeans in the morning.

      1. Jen RO

        I did it the other way around (I was staying in Paris and took the Eurostar to London) and it was great. Very expensive, considering I paid 200 EUR for basically half a day in London, but it was an adventure! And I got to meet some online friends!

  18. thisisit

    I have a friend who is over her head in debt (it’s a terribly sad story), and I’m wondering if she might benefit from credit counseling? I know there are a lot of predatory “counselors” out there, so does anyone have a suggestion for a good one? She’s local to the DMV if that helps. And what can and can’t they do for her?

    1. Rebecca

      Does she have an EAP where she works? They would be able to recommend a reputable firm and other resources. One thing – you have to be ready to stop spending money, live frugally, and be very committed to putting this behind you. It’s not something that can be done easily.

      1. thisisit

        no, she works as a contractor/independently, so not really any access to those kinds of services. the budgeting side of things i think she’s got under control but i think she needs an advocate to support her with making a plan to pay off the debt, maybe get some debt relief, or whatever else they can do for her.

        1. De Minimis

          Look for the consumer credit counselling agencies that are affiliated with United Way.

          The debt management plans can really be helpful. I’ve considered using their services myself. What happens is they work with your creditors and can often get them to lower their interest rates. You pay the agency one payment a month which they apply to your debt. I think the average person can get their debt paid off in something like 3-4 years. I believe it does show on your credit that you are paying through a debt management plan, so that should be considered.

          It’s a great tool for people who have a lot of debt and are just not making any headway even if they are being frugal and managing to pay everything on time. But you’re right to be wary of the ones that aren’t legit…

          1. thisisit

            yes, this is what she needs. will suggest she check out the United Way. she’s in that place where it all seems overwhelming, and since i did my own debt pay-off journey a few years ago (though wasn’t nearly as bad as she is), i offered to look around for resources (i’m not in the location she is). thanks!

    2. fposte

      No specific recommendations, but here’s some info:

      Consumer Reports says: People who are deep in debt should first talk with each creditor to see if it has a plan for hardship cases that might allow them to reduce their payments. If collection agencies are calling, try to negotiate a reduction in principal, which is what a debt-resolution company promises to do. If you’re successful, you may have to pay taxes on the total that was forgiven. If you can’t handle negotiating with creditors on your own, find a nonprofit credit counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, at nfcc.org, or by calling 800-388-2227.

      The FTC has some guidelines about using a credit counselor at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0153-choosing-credit-counselor

    3. fposte

      Just alerting you that I have a comment in moderation with links from Consumer Reports and the FTC.

    4. BRR

      I know there is The National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). You can check both of their websites for info.

    5. Miki

      Look at local colleges/universities: we have a program called Money Mentors and they pair you up with someone who works with you one on one (after you fill out the online questionnaire) Here is the link to one : http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/moneymentors/ and it has very useful articles on all financial matters. Also this is a Money Smart week, and they have another batch of workshops throughout my state (IL) http://www.moneysmartweek.org this website also has plenty of resources for her to use (until she gets a mentor/counselor) Good Luck!

    6. The Cosmic Avenger

      To avoid moderation, I’ll say that if you Google “Credit Counseling Services”, you can get a list of them approved by the Justice Department, and there’s a National Foundation for Credit Counseling whose members are all nonprofits.

      I’d also recommend that you recommend to her Michelle Singletary’s personal finance columns and chats on the Washington Post website. She’s got a lot of good advice on that very subject.

    7. anonymous daisy

      She can go to her local public library and look into books by Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, or other authors in that section and see if any of their programs and outlooks suit her needs. It is quick and easy way to evaluate all the systems.

      1. TeapotCounsel

        Another vote for Dave Ramsey. Very effective program, worth doing/reading. His Total Money Makeover is very good and changed how I (mis)handled money. The only issue with Ramsey, for me, was that he’s pretty religious and proselytizes somewhat in his program. But, I can overlook that, because it’s not at all relevant to his money/debt management methods, and his money/debt management methods are spot-on.

        1. De Minimis

          I like Orman way more. Don’t like Ramsey’s ideology or politics, and I don’t care about the psychological benefit of paying off the smallest debts first…if you aren’t attacking the highest interest debt first, you’re going to pay more in the long run.

          1. fposte

            I’ll also add with Ramsey that he’s good with debt, but he’s *terrible* about investing. So if you do follow Ramsey, switch gurus once you start putting your money away.

            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Orman is wrong about a some stuff in terms of investments and estate planning, but she’s a good place to start for money management.

          2. JB (not in Houston)

            I think it’s something that different from person to person. Psychological benefit aside, I found paying off the smallest debts first worked for me on my student loans.

          3. Audiophile

            I think the smallest debt recommendation (I’ve seen this before) is really to get the feeling of having accomplished something. So while I agree that interest is certainly a burden, I think if you have a large balance and a high interest rate, you’ll feel less accomplished if you’re attacking that first and paying minimums on really small balances.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I have come to the conclusion that there are two approaches to money. There is the approach you use when things are going okay and you are making ends meet.
              And there is a different approach when you are facing a crisis.

              Generally, folks who are using this step-stone process of paying off the smaller debt first, are folks who are in trouble. It’s more of an emergency bail out plan rather than a way of life plan. I tend to think of this method as a crisis intervention method. Personally, I like it. I like the idea that people can start to feel relief quickly. But it’s not the thing for everyone.

          4. Artemesia

            It is like weight loss — success keeps you going. Most people quit programs — this helps get them moving.

          5. Observer

            Except that for a lot of people the psychological effect is really important to making the plan work. This is especially true if someone is at a point where everything seems overwhelming.

            Even if the larger debt has higher interest, paying off the smaller items frees up more money for larger payments, so, if you continue to be very disciplined and spend the same amount of money on debt eduction, you don’t always pay as much of a premium. But, the most important thing is that a plan is sustainable and what makes a plan sustainable is not just the numbers.

    8. thisisit

      thanks, everyone, this is super helpful. I’ll pass on all the links and suggestions. Where I am, people can avail themselves of a counselor or advocate (oftentimes free) to help them with this sort of thing. I’m trying to find something similar for my friend in the US.

      I think the whole situation (beyond the debt) has also caused a lot of trauma, and I think the debt bit is so overwhelming, it’s paralyzing, hence why I’m trying to find her someone who can advise her and go to bat for her where necessary.

      Also, I love Suze Orman – I took a lot of her advice for my own get-out-of-debt journey. Ramsay seems to really motivate people too, but I didn’t like the pay off small debts first bit either.

      1. TeapotCounsel

        Reconsider the anti-small debt strategy. In a numbers sense, it’s not that big a difference, but psychologically it is huge.

        1. thisisit

          I’ll leave that up to my friend and whatever she works out with the counselor. I’m debt-free today (yay!), though I did knock out the bigger ones first, because my psychological boost comes from efficiency.

    9. Artemesia

      I find Dave Ramsey’s religious proseletyzing and his political views appalling but his financial advice is really good for people in your friend’s situation. There are classes which are probably a good idea for someone who is in this big a mess –but there are also books with the steps laid out like ‘Financial Peace’.

      What he preaches is common sense but it is not all that common alas. And he has very specific strategic advice for digging oneself out of debt and moving forward.

      If there is one of his classes near you (churches sometimes run them) giving her the gift of attending would be a great thing if she is interested. He also has a radio call in program where he advises individuals on air.

    10. CRC anon

      If she belongs to a local credit union or bank they often offer these services to member for free.

  19. Stephanie

    Ticket booked to head to San Francisco next month! Unfortunately, due to my work schedule…I’m going for literally 48 hours. Any time I would take off would be unpaid and I’d have to find coverage out of a pool of like two people (and I already asked someone to cover for me a couple of weeks ago and don’t want to annoy her again).

    But excited! I also will be prepared this time to pack pants (unlike last time when I learned how chilly SF is).

    1. LAMM

      I made the same mistake when I went out there a few years ago… I had to pick up a SF hoodie at a drugstore out there.

      1. Stephanie

        I getting really annoying about buying leggings. That became the focus of that afternoon. I also remember my friend being like “I have a roof deck on my building! Come look at the view!” I made about 5 minutes with that wind before I asked to go back in.

        1. LAI

          I live outside of SF and I own about 20 pairs of black leggings. I can’t remember the last time I wore a skirt or dress without leggings.

    2. Audiophile

      Nice!

      It sucks that you have to make your trip so short. I’ve been there. A few years ago, I went to FL for about 3 days. Left NY on a Thursday evening after work, arrived in FL on Friday morning, and left FL on Sunday midday. It was not relaxing at all. I enjoyed it, but it was stressful. And I was exhausted the rest of the week, because I worked that Monday I came back.

      Where are you working now?

      1. Stephanie

        Underemployed, unfortunately (well, it’s money). I’m at one of the shippers (the brown one). It’s not too bad for underemployment since I have set hours, sane bosses and coworkers, no one cares if I show up at 5:02 instead of 5, and there’s a possibility of it turning into full-time more relevant employment (waiting to hear back about a full-time role there). I work swing shift, which is why I’m flying out early morning.

        1. Audiophile

          I’m underemployed too. I’m always job hunting. I remember you posting about looking for jobs and interviewing when you were unemployed.

          I sometimes do 2nd shift at my job but I’m desperately trying to get it back to 1st shift completely.

          How early are you flying out?

            1. Audiophile

              Ouch that’s an early flight!

              My end times vary too, but I’ve gotten scheduled to work until midnight a few times and then got stuck because someone was late. Not fun, since I had to be back at 7:30 am the next day.

              I don’t really love 2nd shift since for a while there was a high likelihood that the 3rd shift person would call out or be late.

    3. Windchime

      Oh man, yes, SF is chilly. In fact, as I was eating in restaurants and walking around, it was difficult for me to remember that I wasn’t in Seattle because everyone was wearing the exact same clothes–basically, everyone looked like they shopped at REI, just like in Seattle (lots of North Face and wool).

  20. Sunflower

    Does anyone have mixed feelings about commitment and wanting kids?

    I’m 26, a lot of my friends are looking to get engaged and have kids soon. I’m…not. It would be awesome if I met someone I got along with enough to want to be with them but I don’t see marriage in my near future. So kids would be in my far future at this point. I always figured one day I’d want kids but I’m just not getting there at all. What’s holding me back is that I love having no commitments- probably the same thing holding me back from a relationship. I love going to the bar with my friends every weekend and being able to make decisions without consulting anyone. I know eventually I’ll want to settle down with someone but kids brings on a whole nother commitment that right now I can’t imagine wanting.

    But when I think about my future, I see a husband, kids and being a family. I can’t picture a life without these things. i keep waiting for this feeling of ‘yes that’s what I want’ to hit but it’s just not happening. Anyone have feelings like this?

    1. thisisit

      that was me all through my 20s. i’m 37 now, married my partner last year, and we’re thinking about kids now. i’m still ambivalent – if it happens, great, if not, great. but until i met him, i hadn’t even thought about marriage (and certainly not kids).
      so i guess it happens when it happens, but maybe mostly when you find the person you want it to happen with.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I feel the same way. It’s very odd, because I always thought I’d want kids, but at 36, I’m still on the fence and leaning towards no. I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost four years, he is my partner, we’ll get married at some point. But the older I get, the less I want kids. I think I’ve been waiting for my biological clock to start ticking, but it never has. I definitely had doggy fever, so I adopted a dog. No baby fever to speak of.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I’m extremely dedicated to never having kids, but one thing that I think might ease your mixed emotions is to know that you’re never really out of options. You could fall in love tomorrow, be married in a month and ready to start a family right away (it happens!). You might also never find someone you really want to be with for the rest of your life, but decide you want to adopt or foster or artificially inseminate. Those are all options, and no matter where you are in life, you’ll always have options. So don’t get discouraged! You have plenty of time to explore the world the way you want to explore it.

    3. nep

      It would be a shame to let concerns about any of this negatively affect your NOW.
      Second Kimberlee, Esq’s comments.

    4. GOG11

      I have no desire to have children and I doubt I ever will. A huge part of it is that I simply am not fond of children, and the other part is that all the work that goes into child rearing – including not having nearly as much ownership over your time, money, etc. – just doesn’t seem worth it. I am 25 and I do have a house/mortgage, a steady, live-in boyfriend, and 3 kitties (which have to be fed twice a day, lest they, when they finally do get to eat, inhale it all and then hurl all over the carpet…), but it doesn’t feel at all like the independence I give up for those things is too much.

      I think it’s perfectly okay to guard your independence and only give it up for something that feels worth it to you.

      1. Sara

        ” all the work that goes into child rearing – including not having nearly as much ownership over your time, money, etc. – just doesn’t seem worth it.”

        Yeah, this is how I feel, too. I know that tons of people DO feel it’s worth it – good for them! – but I really like the way my life is now (or at least the trajectory it’s on), and I don’t see adding kids to the equation as something that’s going to increase my happiness.

    5. nona

      Yeah, I have mixed feelings about it. I always wanted to adopt. Now it turns out that I might not be able to have biological children, and if I did, I would risk passing a chronic illness on to them. I thought I would be fine with that, but I’m surprisingly upset about it.

      Not enough to change my plans, which are years away anyway, but enough to wonder what’s going on with me. I’m not as sure about what I want as I thought I was.

      I think maybe a lot of people are ambivalent and confused about this, but because it’s such a big, life-changing thing, we think we should know what we want. Maybe that’s it?

    6. Stephanie

      Yup, not just you. I can imagine all that in the abstract, but I’m not wedded to the idea. I’d need the right person.

    7. Tiffany

      My family seems to want me to do the relationship and kids thing way more than I want to. I was originally going to relocate to another city after graduation next month, so I could put off their comments by saying “what’s the point if I’m leaving in just a few months.” Two days after I decided to stay where I’m at, my mom started those conversations again. I’m 27, so I guess I get it. I’m happy though, I figure that’s what matters. I honestly don’t know if I want to be in a long-term commitment with someone. The thought is mildly terrifying to me. I’ve never had someone in my life that I like well enough to picture that.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I really hate when family puts on pressure like that. My dad did that to me several years ago–he kept saying, “I want grandchildren!” He finally stopped nagging me when I reminded him that he has three!

        Tell your mum, “I’m not ready now; believe me, I’ll let you know when I am.”

        1. Tiffany

          I think my mom has accepted the fact that me and kids aren’t going to happen and if she wants more than the 2 she has, she needs to talk to my brother. So at least that statement finally worked for me, lol.

          I think for me it’s just an awkward conversation to have with her. We don’t have that sort of mother-daughter relationship where we talk about everything. So anytime she tries, it’s just weird. I’ve gotten pretty good at changing the subject though.

      2. Sunflower

        The closest I’ve come to a relationship was a couple years ago. It was a summer fling, we had a ton of fun and got along great. At the end of the summer it hit me that we were going to have to make a decision about what we were. To say I freaked out would be an understatement. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out if he just wasn’t the right guy for me or if it was the fear of commitment that stopped me. I think it was a little bit of both.

        I think what freaks me out is that I still haven’t accepted that I’m at an age where getting married and having kids is normal. Around me, early twenties is young to be married. It’s a weird feeling that couple years ago, it was weird to be married or having kids but 2 years later, everyone is getting the itch to do just that?

      3. EduNerd

        “I’ve never had someone in my life that I like well enough to picture that.”

        I couldn’t have said this better myself. My family hasn’t started to pressure me yet, but I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone I like enough for it. Which sounds really sad and lonely, except that I think I do want 1 or 2 kids, so who knows how that all will work out.

        I try to just let it play out by thinking about all the things I could’ve never predicted – I never would’ve predicted what college I went to during my freshman year of HS, for example. In elementary school, I would’ve never predicted that the sport I hated then would be my main extracurricular and my biggest passion in HS. I can only assume that finding a partner/having kids will be similarly unpredictable.

    8. Elizabeth West

      I felt that way in my twenties–I knew I wanted to get married eventually, but back then, I just wanted to have adventures. :) It started to change when I hit my thirties and I began looking in earnest. Now, there is NO ambiguity–I want it and I want it NAOW!

      My advice is just enjoy the time you are having now for what it is. You’re not in any hurry, and at your age, it isn’t necessary.

    9. Steve G

      These comments are very interesting, and now I am happy there is a weekend free-for-all. We argue about work things during the week, and this is a reminder that you all are real people, not just “handles” (did I use that word right?) on some blog.

      I am 34, my SO is 41, and we are both gay males, and plan to adopt. My clock has been ticking since my sister had my niece when I was 26, and I started watching her on weekends when my sister worked. I loved the 3-4 year old phase when she was learning to talk and be independent (but still had puffy cheeks and the baby voice). I have been having a few heating arguments w/ my SO that we need to prioritize this (which is mostly my fault).

      The media is lying to us that everyone is young forever!!! There are so many articles on the net that you can look great and be in perfect health and live great until 90. Well, it doesn’t work out that way for most people. I feel pressure to do this while I’m still young. I don’t want a 40 year difference between me and my child.

      As per your question, I have mixed feelings because I am an obsessive nurturer, so have been waiting for thinks to calm down so I can focus on a kid, but have always had a million things going on – work, exercise classes, housework, etc. etc. like all of us, and I’ve been waiting for a perfect time to have a kid. It ain’t going to happen I’m realizing. I need to just do it and adapt afterwards, I guess. That, and hire a nanny!

    10. Kyrielle

      For many years, I did not want kids because I didn’t want to give up that freedom, take on that responsibility.

      For a variety of reasons, I then decided I was ready and did want kids, and my husband (who had been accepting of my not wanting them, but likes kids and kind of wanted them some day) was certainly willing to go along also. So my boys were born when I was 34 and 36. I have less energy now than I did when I was younger, but more patience and wisdom, I think. I could have done it then – but I don’t know, if I had, whether I would have been happy with the choice. I’m happy now. Whether this was the best choice, it was *a* good choice for me. And I’m far from the oldest woman to become a mother – I wasn’t even old enough for age to factor in the “is this a high risk pregnancy” equation either time.

      What I’m trying to say is, you can’t see what would happen if and then pick from the alternatives. (I wish we could, sometimes!) But you’ve got a lot of time ahead of you for things to shift (either way – maybe you decide you really don’t ever want kids after all, maybe you settle down and have several!), and that’s ignoring other options such as adoption, fostering, etc.

      You can only choose what’s right for you to the best of your ability, you can’t do it with perfect knowledge. If you don’t like what you’re choosing for reasons other than a vague “what if”, then maybe reevaluate, but if you’re happy and comfortable and it’s just your friends settling down that is pushing on you…I would say be yourself, and don’t worry about it.

      (DO be aware that when your friends have kids, if you don’t, you will see less of them, most likely. Kids are draining. This isn’t true with every parent, but with most, and moreso if the childless friend doesn’t want to at least occasionally hear about the kids. But how central kids become to life, and how much energy they use, depends on the parent and the kid individually – I’m just noting a trend.)

    11. Ruffingit

      I never wanted children. All through my 20s people kept telling me I’d change my mind. Now, on the cusp of 40, people no longer say that. My husband and I love our freedom. We love being able to go and do things on the spur of the moment and plan travel without worrying about what to do with the kids. Because I’m sorry, but having kids along is not really a vacation. I’ve gone on some “vacations” with friends and their children. I’d rather stick a fork through my eye and remove my brain with it than do that again because it is not relaxing and restful.

      There’s nothing wrong with not wanting children. Or marriage. Or both. My feeling is that if you are unsure, don’t have children. You can change your mind about having them, but you can’t change your mind once they’re here. When in doubt, do nothing. You’ll eventually come to a decision you feel good about.

      1. Jen RO

        Aw. You just ruined my happiness a bit. Boyfriend and I are going on vacation with his friends + their daughter. Last time we did that she was 4 and she was the best birth control ever – after spending 3 hours in a car with her crying, we got out, looked at each other, and said “NEVER!”. She is now 7 or 8 and we have our own rented car… so I hope this will not be painful!
        (Truth be told, vacation no. 1 was gorgeous and the crying kid didn’t ruin it much… so I hope we get lucky with vacation no. 2 as well.)

        1. Ruffingit

          Some of my disdain for vacations with kids comes from their behavior, but a good portion of it is just logistics as well. With kids, you have to make sure they eat, they’ve packed all their stuff, they’ve showered. You have to consider what types of activities they might like. With adults, everyone takes care of themselves and if you don’t eat until dinner because you’re out exploring or whatever, it’s OK.

          1. Jen RO

            Haha, I am worse than kids when eating is concerned! I get very, very grumpy if not fed. These friends in particular have been good at planning things that the daughter and the adults could all enjoy, so I hope this vacation goes well too.

    12. AnnieNonymous

      You don’t have to be desperately tracking the seconds on your biological clock to be aware of the fact that, regardless of where your feelings fall, eventually certain options are taken away from you.

    13. Jen RO

      I always thought I’d get married and have kids, because that’s what everyone *did*… even though at age 12 I tried to get my best friend to promise to raise my future kids until they were at least 3. I just always assumed that the “biological clock” will start ticking – I’m 31 and it hasn’t.

      It might sound stupid, but what gave me peace of mine was /r/childfree. I honestly had no idea there were so many people who didn’t want kids, who didn’t have kids, and who led perfectly happy and fulfilling lives! My only worry is old age, but I am hoping that the support system for the elderly will improve in the next 30 or so years. (I’m not in the US and the situation is pretty horrible, the average pensioner lives in poverty if they don’t have family support.)

    14. matcha123

      No, I’ve never felt that way. When I picture my future, I picture myself as single and without children.
      I know that marriage and kids = happy life is something that our culture promotes and I know that a lot of women, especially, feel like they want that. It’s just something I’ve never felt for myself, so I can’t really sympathize with you there.

      You should ask yourself what having these things means to you. Having a husband means that you and him have to work on a lot of give and take. Having a kid means navigating differing views on child-rearing, schooling, and other things. It’s definitely not a walk in the park. Personally, I feel like major decisions like these are not things to take lightly. And if you want them “because everyone else does/I always thought…/etc,” for me, that’s just not good enough of an answer.

      I also have been taking care of others for over half of my life. Another reason why I don’t want to add more responsibilities to my plate and why I value the little freedom I have.
      To wrap up, who cares if other people are having kids or getting married?

    15. Blue_eyes

      It actually sounds like you’re in a really good place right now. You’re young and single, and you like having no commitments. I would just live your life the way you want to, until you decide you want something else. Also, while living your life, you may meet someone who you like enough to commit to. If it’s the right person, it probably won’t feel like you are giving up your commitment-free life, because you will gain so much more by having them in your life. You have time, enjoy where you’re at right now.

      (FWIW, my sister-in-law is about your age, broke up with a long term boyfriend a while back, and is freaking out about how she’ll be alone forever. She’s even started planning to have kids on her own at 30(!) if she hasn’t found the right guy by then. Don’t stress yourself out about this!)

    16. Sara

      I did in my mid-20s for sure. I was single when I graduated from college (in part because I didn’t want to limit myself to where I lived or what I did right out of the gate), but a good number of my close friends from high school and college weren’t. One of my roommates got married three months after we graduated; I stood up in her wedding, made appropriate comments about how wonderful it all was, and then promptly hightailed it into the Peace Corps. While I was there, everyone back home got married. (Seriously. I missed, like, 7 weddings. Also, the aforementioned roommate’s divorce.) On some level, perhaps this normalized relationships for me a little, but I think it was mostly meeting my current boyfriend (going on 3 years) that made me change from “Relationship? Meh.” to “Yes, I’ll take one of those, please.”

      Now we’re going through the phase of Peace Corps and grad school weddings, and good for those people, but it’s not making me want to rush down the aisle any time soon. (If anything, it’s confirmed for me that I’d prefer a quick civil ceremony followed by a round of beers to some huge affair where I have to pick out centerpieces and pose for hours of photos.) And both my Facebook feed and the lunchtime conversations at work are dominated by people’s babies and toddlers, and I’m like…no. I’ve long been fairly certain that I didn’t want kids, but since I was single for so much of my mid-20s, I didn’t see a compelling reason to make a firm decision on that matter. If seeing my friends get married convinced me that relationships were okay, seeing them reproduce has definitely swayed me the other way. All that’s to say that you may very well get that sudden moment where you realize “This is what I want!” (whatever it is that you want), but it also could be a slower journey where you just take in everything around you and eventually you get to one decision or another.

    17. Kat M

      Funny, I am turning 26 and am married-nearly two years-and I did not ever think I would get married as young as I did. Howeer, I have noticed that people equate getting married with being ready to buy a house and have children, and to me, it is not like that at all. We enjoy living in the city and being able to travel. Even if you end up with one of these things, you don’t have to do it all at once. You do it as you want to and are ready to.

      My second piece is-the only reason I did get married in my twenties is that I met a person who completely knocked my socks off in every way. It wasn’t even in an I want to be married sense, but in the, I can’t imagine my life without you sense. Essentially, it just happened. I certainly wasn’t planning for it. But I wanted to be with him more than I wanted anything else in life and he wanted the same with me. I think that’s how it has to happen. As for kids, I feel the same way. I do want them some day, but I feel like I should want them more than life by the time that I have them.

      I hope that this makes sense!

  21. Kimberlee, Esq.

    Is there a place online where I can find people who rent their houses for parties? I’m looking for a venue for my big November birthday, and I’d prefer it to be a private home for a variety of reasons (privacy, ability to buy and bring my own booze and food among them). There’d probably be 50-80 people. Any ideas where to look? AirBnb tends to specify that you’re not allowed to have parties (I’m totally willing to pay a cleaning fee/arrange for professional cleaning the next day). Thanks!

    1. VintageLydia USA

      I grew up in a resort city so this option isn’t available everywhere, but beach cottages, mountain cabins or other similar vacation rentals are perfect for this sort of thing. I went to a wedding with at least that many people (and what’s a wedding if not a big party?)

    2. Calla

      have you looked at VRBO? I know people use that to rent places for weddings, so at least some of them must allow parties :)

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        Thank you for this suggestion! There’s one that I’d love to take but it’s like $1200 a night… but I guess like Biz Markie lived there? Anyway, enjoying the fantasy of holding my party there. :)

    3. Sparrow

      Some apartment complexes may have a club house or “party house” that you could rent out. It’s been years, but a friends of my parents did that for an anniversary party. I don’t think they lived at the apartment complex either. Again, it’s been a while so maybe policies have changed.

      In the town where some of my in-laws live, there is a community building that can be rented. My nieces and nephews had their graduation parties there and they brought their own food. I’m not sure about alcohol restrictions for something like that.

      Or maybe check with local event planning companies to see if they have info on any venues for something like this.

  22. Audiophile

    A little work related – I spent the entire day in a “mandatory” training session. UGH. I desperately tried to get out of it (because they’ve neglected to pay OT as they’re supposed to), but got scheduled to work.

    I made it through the day and now have two consecutive days off. I’m going to try to get some writing done, which I haven’t done in a while.

  23. Tiffany

    Recommendations for restaurants in Chicago? Giordano’s is in the plans, but other than that, I could use some suggestions. I like to get ideas from locals instead of something like trip advisor…

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I’m not a local, but I’ve visited in-laws there a lot. I recommend Frontera Grill for dinner, then XOCO around the corner for dessert one night, Portillo’s (for both hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches) at least a few times, and try Pizzeria Due and compare it with Giordano’s.

    2. the gold digger

      Eataly is super fun with several options. It’s this giant gourmet Italian grocery store with embedded restaurants and a Nutella bar. And an espresso bar. And a bakery. The food is fab – I go there every time I go to Chicago. It is a few blocks west of Michigan Ave on Ohio, I think.

      There is a Spanish restaurant east of there – Emilio’s Tapas. Have eaten there several times as well and it is delicious.

    3. Calla

      I’m not a local (only been once in my life!), but my department just had a bunch of people go to Chicago for an event and I had to book restaurants for client dinners. Brass Monkey looked pretty cool to me online, and received RAVE reviews from everyone who went.

      The one time I did go myself I really liked The Chicago Diner, which is a vegetarian place.

      1. Tiffany

        I love The Chicago Diner! I was in Chicago last summer for a week, but I did a really bad job of checking out different places. I did go to that diner though and it was wonderful. This time around my mom is going with me, and she would not like it though. I might have to go there when she’s taking a nap or something.

    4. Kai

      Pequod’s, if you’re into the Chicago pizza concept! I prefer them over Giordano’s, personally. If you’re a beer nerd, try Hopleaf in Andersonville.

      1. salad fingers

        Cosigning both – good suggestions! Also visiting either of these will take you a little bit out of the loop, which is really nice if you want to start to get a sense of what Chicago neighborhoods are like.

      1. Tiffany

        I tend to stick to either American, Italian, or Mexican…just my preference. I’m super picky. I live in Texas though, and in a college town, where we have an abundance of authentic Mexican options that are wonderful. So it’s hard to find a Mexican restaurant elsewhere that is good enough, so I don’t even try most of the time.

        My mom sent me a bunch of screen shots the other day of places she found on Trip Advisor…Mike Ditka’s restaurant (I think it’s out of my price range, but she’s decided we’ll eat at one nice place while we are there)…Donut Valut, Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe, Honky Tonk BBQ, The Pasta Bowl.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Oh, if you like Mexican, definitely try a Rick Bayless restaurant (Frontera Grill, Topolobompo, or XOCO).

        2. salad fingers

          Agree about Rick Bayless, and want to add that if you decide to go to Honky Tonk, which is a great idea, consider checking out Punch House/Dusek’s/Thalia Hall for an after dinner drink and maybe a show if you enjoy that sort of thing. Punch House has a super tranquil fish tank behind the bar and tasty punch and a really surprisingly diverse crowd. You might even find a wild salad fingers there :-)

    5. Nicole

      If you’re into deep dish pizza I really feel like Lou Malnatis blows Gino’s East and Giordanos out of the water. Getting them to make it with butter crust is just icing on the cake!

      I’ll also second the Portillos recommendation assuming you’ll truly be in the city but if you happen to be out in the western burbs there’s a place called The Beef Shack that trumps Portillos beef. They have two locations.

      Finally, if you like BBQ, I highly recommend a place called Smoque (in the city but not downtown). Note – they’re not open on Mondays.

      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Tiffany

        I’m actually not into Deep Dish Pizza usually, but when I was there last summer there was a Girodano’s around the corner from my hostel and a bunch of people had recommended it, so I went and loved it. I’m definitely open to trying other places though!

      2. Tomato Frog

        I was going to say Smoque barbecue.

        Also, Chicago has a disproportionate number of good taco places, though names escape me. Yelp can probably guide you.

    6. S

      I’ve visited before (not a local) but oh man, Elly’s Pancake House… A+. And there’s a great place I loved in Wicker Park that had a killer skillet dish, but I can’t remember the name right now!

    7. Random Reader

      I would say Big &Littles for tacos and Bad Apple for amazing beer and burgers. Big Star has pretty decent tacos but a great outdoor seating area and atmosphere- lots of hipsters and great for people watching. Cheesies is great for fatteningly amazing grilled cheese (they usually have Groupons for this. They also might have a Groupon for Big & Littles, I’m not sure).

    8. themmases

      I love this question! I’ve lived in Chicago since 2009.

      When you’re downtown, Sayat Nova (Armenian food), Local Root (bakery/new American), and Emilio’s Tapas are all great places to go right off Michigan Ave. For lunch, I highly recommend going to Naf Naf which is an excellent pita place. There are also several great Italian places in that neighborhood including Coco Pazzo Cafe, Tre Soldi, and Bar Toma.

      You can get great thin crust pizza in Chicago too! We don’t just eat deep dish all the time, that would be nuts. I like Pizzeria Aroma but there is tons of good thin crust pizza here. Even a lot of the famous for deep dish places make it and IMO it is every bit as authentic, if not more so, since people who actually live here eat that more.

      I live in Lakeview/Boystown which is well worth coming up to. We have Chicago Diner, which is famous and great, but actually we have tons of good diners and fancier breakfast places. I recommend Nookie’s (which is a BYOB diner if you want to order a carafe of orange juice and make mimosas… I have), Wishbone (Southern, with locations in West Loop and Lakeview), and Rice n’ Bread (Formerly Hamburger King). Rice n’ Bread is special. It was a Japanese-American diner that has since been bought by Koreans and has a blend of the old and new menu. I basically live for the soup. There are also several locations of Ann Sather’s, which is a Swedish breakfast place with heavenly cinnamon rolls you can get on the side with anything. Do not go to Clarke’s.

      We have many great places to get banh mi! There are several in my neighborhood but if you want to explore, definitely go to the neighborhood around the Argyle Red Line stop. My favorite in that area is Ba Le Bakery.

      If you want to try a brew pub, you could go to Goose Island but you could also go to Revolution Brewing or to Dry Hop. Dry Hop opened recently in my neighborhood and, with a couple of exceptions, they make all their beers only once– when it’s gone, it’s gone. But they sell growlers you can take away if you really like something. Hopleaf, Fountainhead, and Sheffield’s are all great places to try a bunch of different beers. There are a million places for fancy cocktails if you go out at night but off the top of my head I like Motel Bar, Barrelhouse Flat, and Watershed.

      Have fun!

      1. salad fingers

        Ooh, yes, Watershed is another one I recommend to guests coming in from out of town. I feel like either Watershed or Pop’s for Champagne is going to appeal to most groups, so if you end up hating the cocktails in dad’s Wisconsin basement vibe, you can just hop upstairs to Pop’s. Also, it’s sort of like an off menu hidden bonus spot, and very different from most Gold Coast bars, very accessible, etc.

    9. Jackie

      Devon Seafood Grill is excellent. Their signature cheddar peppercorn biscuits with whipped butter and maple syrup with a dash of sea salt that are served while you are waiting for your meal are perfect for the taste buds.

    10. Lizabeth

      How about any of the places that Diners, Drive- ins and Dives have visited? We hit a couple when my nephew got married – the bacon candy will forever be tasted on my tongue….

  24. GOG11

    My boyfriend is starting a new job in a more senior level role next Monday and we are going to go shopping to get some new clothes for him as the ones he has now all fit pretty poorly. Any recommendations for tall, lean/thin men’s clothing, especially button-down shirts and slacks? He’s 6’5″ and it’s been really difficult for him to find clothes in the past which has been pretty frustrating. I’d really like to help make this trip successful for him, both so he can have some great new professional clothes and so it can be a celebration of his new job rather than a terrible chore.

    1. BRR

      I am 6’3 but not lean, I have had good luck with Jcrew’s tall line for button downs with them being long enough in the arms and torso (my height is largely in my torso) but I’ve only bought them online, not sure about their availability in stores. Besides that I’ve only found great fitting shirts at large department stores but it’s a gamble if they have my large neck size and large sleeve size.

    2. hermit crab

      My SO is 6’4″ and almost exclusively buys shirts from Lands End. It’s not super hip, but their “tall” size for shirts fits him great.

    3. Spring has Sprung!

      My husband’s not that tall, but he’s had a hard time finding shirts that are both tall *and* slim available here in the States – there’s the underlying assumption that all tall guys are big. We’ve spend a lot of money at the tailors getting the sides and arm-width taken in, but it’s made such a difference in how he feels and looks in his shirts.

    4. Alice

      Just posting a little comment, because my boyfriend is also tall and lean, and I’d love to be able to buy him some shirts that actually fit him. (Luckily he can go to his engineering job in jeans and a tshirt).
      So i’m just seeing what other’s suggest!

      1. GOG11

        There’s a Reddit thread that you can google for (“Tall skinny guys of reddit” should bring it up) that has quite a few suggestions. Many of the options aren’t available where we are, but maybe some of them would work for you and your boyfriend. BF and I are going this Saturday and I’ll try to remember to report back what we find.

  25. The Cosmic Avenger

    Oh, and everyone wish me luck tomorrow….I’ve got to get up at 5am for the minion’s sporting event, and we probably won’t get home until at least 12 hours later. O.O

    1. GOG11

      If I ever have children (though I doubt I ever will), I hope they dislike organized sports specifically because I don’t want to drive to and from and sit through sportsing events. Kudos to you for being so supportive!!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I asked for and received as a present a camp chair with a sun shade for these particular (outdoor) sporting events, and it’s supposed to be pretty nice here tomorrow. Thanks!

        At least I usually top 10K steps for the day when we do one of these!

        1. Not So NewReader

          The daughter is a better person than me, also. I just can’t see me, as a kid, spending 9 hours at any competition.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        You know it, Liz! One problem — Starbucks doesn’t open until 6am on Sundays. D:

        Luckily, I have a Contigo. \o/

  26. Cath in Canada

    My husband just left to go on a camping trip with some buddies from work. I can’t go because I have an all-day conference tomorrow. What a shame! I’ll just have to hang out in a quiet house all night, eating* and watching** whatever I want, and sleeping diagonally across the bed without earplugs in for once. I don’t know how I shall cope.

    *omelette for dinner, baby! He’s mystified, so it’s become my go-to dinner when he’s away. With a baked potato. Yum!
    **probably the NHL playoffs, but muted so I can have a This American Life marathon at the same time, followed by the next couple of episodes of the BBC’s Bleak House, which I’m finally getting around to watching.

    1. TeapotCounsel

      Earplugs??
      Does he have a CPAP? If not, look into that. Not only will it benefit your sleep, but his, too. Sleep apnea has, long term, a serious health detriment.

    2. the gold digger

      My husband is out of town. We were supposed to have friends over for dinner last night and I had to cancel. (He had to make an emergency trip to his mom and dad’s.) My friends asked if I wanted to get together anyhow so I wouldn’t be lonely.

      “They don’t understand you at all, do they?” my husband asked.

    3. DeadQuoteOlympics

      “Sleeping diagonally across the bed” oh yessssssss. I live in two places — my family is about 2.5 hours away (kid in school), but when I took my current job I got an apartment in the city. For three years I have steadfastly kept to my side of the bed even though I could hog it for the 5 days out of 7 that I sleep alone, just because I’m afraid to get into the habit. Otherwise I would sleep diagonally all the time.

  27. hermit crab

    My best friend sent me a jar of mustard in the mail for my birthday. That is why he is my best friend.

    1. the gold digger

      That is a great gift! Some friends brought us a jar of bacon grease as a hostess gift once. (Another time, they brought a trunkful of the Good Kitty Litty from Fleet Farm, which is nowhere near where we live but right by them.)

    1. Nicole

      I just saw some Pop vinyl Orphan Black characters at the mall today and wondered what the heck that was. And then I see your post! So I looked it up on IMDB and it sounds interesting. So thank you for mentioning it as I’m going to start watching!

    2. Nina

      Season 2 was a letdown, so I’m hoping they get back to basics and have the clones interacting again. And no more new plots!

      1. Jen RO

        I I saw the episode, and wow Tatiana Maslany playing a clone playing another clone and interacting with herself playing a clone playing another clone!

  28. nona

    I got new art supplies! Okay, they’ll come in the mail next week. They’re for quilling.

    What kinds of crafts or art do you all do?

    1. Elizabeth West

      Ooh, I have a friend who does that!

      I used to do counted cross stitch, but I sort of stopped. I need to finish this one thing I’ve been working on intermittently for nigh on twenty years now….I’m also learning to knit. Last night, I hung out with a friend who knits and she helped me. For the first time, I did some rows on the washcloth I’ve been using as a newbie project and didn’t have to rip the whole thing out!

      My back room is full of miniatures too, which I also haven’t worked on. Dang it, there are not enough hours in the day.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        I love counted cross stitch, too. I have a gorgeous Christmas tree skirt kit stashed away that I will probably never do because I can’t bear the thought of actually using it (we have cats, ’nuff said). And I’ve been eyeballing the embroidery section every time I go into Joann’s or Michael’s lately for something that’s a little smaller and more approachable.

        I would love to learn how to knit or crochet – I like the idea of having something to do with my hands while I’m watching TV.

            1. Colette

              Knitting uses two needles – you move the wool back and forth between them. Crochet has one hook, and you use it to pull the wool through the last loop you’ve made.

              Arm knitting is relatively easy, if you want to try it without too much effort. (There is one step I found tricky, but after that it’s not bad.)

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        I’ve been learning to crochet. So far, I’ve done several coaster-sized squares just to practice the stitches, and now I’ve graduated to a simple pattern called the “fabulous facecloth” :-) My mom used to always try to teach me to knit and crochet when I was a kid, but I never stayed interested long enough to learn more than a simple chain. Now, lo these many years later, I’m dying to learn!

    2. Oh Anon

      I crochet on the road and when home, I paint. I also do photography, mostly flowers/landscape. I would love to make jewelry, but haven’t started due to storage constraints & lack of work space.

    3. LAI

      I used to do counted cross stitch but I’ve fallen out of the habit lately. My house is full of half-finished cross stitches. Lately, I’ve been really into knitting. It’s pretty easy to just sit and knit while watching tv, and I’m having fun teaching myself new stitches via youtube.

    4. Emily

      I haven’t done much recently, but I like to draw (pencil on paper, mostly), make “friendship bracelets” out of embroidery floss (it’s a good mindless activity), and make felt softies (like little plushy-type animals and things).

      One crafty thing that I like doing is making handmade thank-you cards for people. It’s fun for me and hopefully nice for them, since I put a lot of effort into making the cards look pretty (and obviously try to say nice things in the actual writing part of the card, too).

    5. Blue_eyes

      Fun! I’ve never tried quilling. I knit, crochet, and sew. In fact, I spent all day yesterday with my sewing machine (took a kind of ugly shirt I got at a clothing swap and made it much less frumpy/more stylish). Today I’m going to try dying fabric for the first time to continue the improvement of yesterday’s shirt. I’ve also been teaching art to a 5th grade home school student this year so I’ve gotten to do a lot of drawing, painting, printmaking, etc. with him. I never seem to make time to make art like that on my own, but I love doing it and love the results.

      1. Blue_eyes

        Any tips/tricks/tutorials for starting quilting? I’ve been sewing for a few years now and I want to start quilting but just can’t seem to get myself to start. Something about cutting the pieces precisely and sewing them together just right seems intimidating.

          1. Blue_eyes

            Thanks! I’ve done some small stuff like place mats and napkins and some larger things like curtains, but quilting just seems scarier somehow.

          2. Blue_eyes

            Just read your blog post – I can’t believe you did all that in 5 hours! I spent at least 3.5 hours yesterday just making some changes to one blouse (fairly significant changes and a bunch of hemming, but still).

            1. Colette

              Well, when I first started, something like that would have taken weeks. I’ve gotten faster over time.

              I don’t make clothing (except for kids or Halloween) – it’s too exact for me. I like things that are more flexible. And really, most of quilting is just sewing straight lines.

    6. Windchime

      I do knitting, crocheting and quilting. I kind of go in phases; right now, I’m in a knitting phase. I’ll get tired of that at some point, and then I’ll go back to quilting I imagine. The last time I made a quilt, I ended up with 4 stitches due to a rotary cutter accident so I’m still a little gun-shy over that.

      If anyone doesn’t know what a rotary cutter is, imagine a small pizza cutter where the blade is a circular razor blade. It cuts through many layers of fabric as well as fingers.

  29. Stephanie

    Also, I’ll have to check out that book! Sounds interesting. My (female) boss used to work as a prison guard at our state’s maximum security facilities and we’ve had some interesting chats about it. She said she preferred working with the male prisoners to the female prisoners, actually.

      1. Stephanie

        She said the female prisoners tended to be more manipulative. Also, there were more things like gossiping and cliques that were a lot harder to deal with from a CO perspective. The men just got in fights.

        That being said, she said the majority of the prisoners were compliant and just wanted to serve their time. She said what did help was not getting on a power trip with the prisoners. Most people knew just being there was punishment without her turning into some sadistic guard on top of it.

        1. Clever Name

          Heh, the men versus the women makes me think of my son’s 2nd grade class. (Well, the boys actually seem to get along)

    1. Merry and Bright

      Last year I was on the admin team for a prisoner rehab programme in London prisons in the UK. Some of the prison officers said the long-term prisoners on in the men’s prisons were keener on education and training than the women. The main reason apparently was it was somehow easier to get them to overcome peer pressure in the long term.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      I’ll have to check out this book, too. I read another memoir not too long ago, “Running the Books”, about a young man’s experience as a prison librarian. He was not, himself, ever a prisoner. He responded to a job ad during a time when he was wrestling with his faith (I think he had suspended his lifelong plan to become a rabbi) and just sort of fell into it.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        The interesting parts were the letters he would intercept between prisoners (they used the library books to hide “kites” in), and those that he chose not tho intercept. He wound up in a position of shaky loyalties between his professional obligations and boundaries and the sympathy he felt for some of the inmates.

  30. ThursdaysGeek

    I was commenting on a friend’s FB a few days ago: he had mentioned possibly teaching English in Japan, and I made some comments about his language skills (he’s learned several languages). In the conversation, I had forgotten completely that he is half Chinese. I worked with a guy for nearly a year once before realizing he was Asian. And I’m wondering if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Do I completely ignore ethnicity because I am part of the majority? I’m Caucasian in a very white area. Do people who are minorities in a society always remember, and forgetting race is part of the privilege of being the majority?

    1. Clever Name

      I’m pretty sure forgetting about race is a privilege of being in the racial majority. I’ve done the same thing….

      1. Jazzy Red

        I remember the first time I was aware that I was the only white person in the room. I was among friends, so it wasn’t a bad thing, but it was a “first” thing for me.

        1. blackcat

          I took a survey of african american literature in college, and I was the only white person in the class. It was definitely a first, and overall, I’m grateful for the experience.

          1. blackcat

            (my moniker is in honor of my very black cat, who was sitting next to me the first time I commented)

        2. Stephanie

          That reminds me of when a white friend went to a mostly black wedding: “Huh, there was all this music I had never heard like ‘The Wobble’ and the bride and groom jumped the broom. I sort of get what you mean when you talk about being outside the majority.”

    2. Tara

      I constantly forget that I’m a quarter Chinese. But to be fair, I look almost entirely white and my Chinese grandfather died before I was born. But in general, I would say that yes people who are minorities are pretty much always aware of it, especially when it’s a ‘visible’ minority.

    3. Jen RO

      Coming from a country that is 99% white*, I don’t even understand how you could forget someone is Asian. Do you mean you forgot he is second-generation American (and assumed he is 100% culturally American)? Or do you mean you stopped seeing the Asian features on his face? If it’s the second one, it’s so fascinating.

      *Just for some context, which I think is hard to understand for some Americans: I saw two black guys in a bar on Saturday night… and another black guy like a month before that? I saw an Asian woman yesterday, and another probably 2 weeks ago…

      1. Jazzy Red

        Jen, when race is not a personal bias to someone (not necessarily good or bad, just something they are very aware of), then it’s easy for them to start thinking of people they get to know as just certain individuals. Not as Tootie-who-is-Asian, or Natalie-who-is-Black, or Blair-who-is-Indian, or Jo-who-is-Hispanic. You just think of them as Tootie, Natalie, Blair and Jo.

        1. Jill of All Trades

          +1 for “Facts of Life” references.

          Jen, I’m a white American who doesn’t notice facial features or skin tone in an ethnic category way (if that makes sense). I see their features, but it all registers in my brain as “nice eyes”, “gorgeous smile”, “crooked nose”, “super tall”, etc. None of the physical features will cause anything to register as “she’s Asian” or “he’s Samoan”. As I said below, I don’t particularly understand it or the implications, but I hope this helps make sense of it for you.

          1. Jen RO

            This is super interesting, thank you for explaining!

            One reason why I would love to visit the US is that you can actually meet someone who is Asian or Samoan and it being just a normal thing – I meet a lot of people online who come from different backgrounds and countries, but very rarely in real life.

        2. Jill of All Trades

          Oh yeah, building on what Jazzy Red said, I actually do this at the beginning of knowing someone. They’re Natalie and Tootie at the beginning, and as time goes on more of their personality traits build on to who they are in my mind, but I skip the Natalie-who-is-Black part. Looks like YMMV depending on who you ask.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah, I stopped seeing the Asian features on his face. I was thinking “black hair, he should fit in pretty well if he does go,” and nothing about his Chinese dad that I see every week and have known for 30 years. (Although Chinese is not Japanese, and they don’t look the same!)

        And for my former co-worker, it wasn’t until he said something about where he was born that I noticed the Asian features on his face.

        Here in the northwest part of the US, we do a lot of mixing. We’re still a lot white, but nothing like east coast where there are still groups that are mostly all Italian, Irish, or from another country several generations back.

    4. thisisit

      not having to think about race or skin color all the time is a part of white privilege, but i think it’s more accurate to say that not having to think about how race *affects your life* is a part of white privilege.

      1. The IT Manager

        I agree. I think not being conscious of your own race and how it affects interactions is white/majority privilege. Not being conscious of others’ races doesn’t strike me as majority privilege. It’s thinking of someone as my friend, full stop versus my friend the half Japanese.

    5. Sunshine Brite

      It’s not necessarily good/bad but definitely an example of privilege. I’m mulitracial and strangely have a ton of multiracial friends and most secretly hate how people pigeonhole them automatically because they “forgot” or they “just don’t see color.” It’s pretty invalidating to lived experiences sometimes.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I think it’s weird to “forget” about race or “not see color”. I have wonderful friends and several of us belong to a minority of some sort, and yes, they are absolutely individuals– but I could never forget or ignore their ethnic makeups, because that’s part of who they are. It’s not all we talk about, though my friends and I tend to have very candid conversations about race because we like to talk about such things, and I certainly don’t have friends who I see as only, say, “my Chinese friend” or “my Venezuelan friend”, but race, background and ethnicity are all part of them. Just like being Jewish is part of me. To be frank, the times I’ve heard people say things like, “I don’t notice your race/religion/ethnicity” have always been after someone has said something kinda racist because they “forgot” they were at a table or outing with someone of color.

      2. Mints

        Yeah, the short answer is it’s a privilege to not notice, but the long answer is that there’s a lot of subtlety.
        Some people would prefer to never talk about it, especially if they’re like fourth generation and culturally just American, which I think is the case with the South in general. But if someone still identifies as Chinese-American or Argentinian or Chicano etc etc, it feels like erasing an important part of self when people are “color blind.”

        Generally, people of color vary a lot in how much they want to discuss race and who to discuss it with. There aren’t any hard rules about this

      3. Observer

        most secretly hate how people pigeonhole them automatically because they “forgot” or they “just don’t see color.”
        I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean. I get that you have when people pigeonhole you. And I also get that you don’t like when people ignore real issues because “they don’t see color.” And I think it’s fairly obvious why these things are galling. But, they don’t tend to go together in my experience. Even when they do, the two are not linked – other, perhaps, than by the denial of reality that both require.

        1. Sunshine Brite

          I was trying to be more concise and clearly left a lot on the table, but there are so many that just assume a person’s experience in my area without inquiring before speaking Spanish to me (I unfortunately do not know the language) or other subtle things that I could avoid with blonde hair/blue eyes in my area. Made to feel “exotic” at times. The denial of reality is so prevalent in my area. So much “not in my neighborhood” code speak trying to ignore the growing diversity throughout the state.

    6. matcha123

      I’m multiracial and one thing that really stood out to me after moving to Japan is how important race is in America.

      With regards to your friend, he’s mixed! Are you saying you worked with a different guy, who was Asian, and you didn’t realize? Or are you saying you worked with a guy who is half-white and half-Asian and didn’t realize he was “Asian?”
      If you’re talking about a multiracial person, you didn’t ignore anything. If he’s half-white and half-Asian, it’s not strange at all.

      In my case, I remember my friends’ ethnicities, races and/or nationalities because I believe it’s important to them. If my friend, who was adopted from Korea and raised by a white family opens up about this part of herself to me, it’d be rude of me to make a quip about China, because China and Korea are totally different countries.

      I will just add that as a multiracial person who is half-white, I prefer to be identified as “mixed” or “multiracial” and not as a monoracial member of one of the minority groups I’m mixed with. I find it very frustrating that people will always identify multiracial people as monoracial. There’s a lot of history that’s too much to go into here, but suffice it to say many people do not fit neatly into monoracial categories.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        I don’t know if the co-worker is mixed or not. He said he was born in Hong Kong, and before he said that, I hadn’t noticed any Asian facial features. After he said that, they were obvious. Maybe I’m just really unobservant.

        I agree with you about putting people in a monoracial box when they are multiracial. But as we mix more and more, perhaps the categories will be broadened.

    7. Jill of All Trades

      I do that as well. I grew up in the American South and it’s weird to me how someone’s race never registers with me unless it’s specifically brought up in conversation. I see people for who they are, instead of what they look like. One of my classmates in grad school was raised in New Orleans so he has a southern accent and the same pop culture references as me. To me he’s Carl who eats more than any human should be able to and hikes alot and is funny as hell. At the end of our 18 month program we were all in China and someone asked how he was doing with remembering Chinese, and it suddenly clicked that his parents are from China, and holy cow, Carl’s Chinese. It never occurred to me. I still don’t think of him as Chinese – he’s my funny, super smart friend with an enviable metabolism. Have I been taking something away from him by not remembering his ethnicity when we’re talking? Does he remember or consider my ethnicity when we’re talking, or am I just Jill who once launched a car “Dukes of Hazzard” style (and, ahem, landed it perfectly I’d like to add)?
      I don’t know why, and I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, or a sign of privilege, or a lack of awareness, or some weird result of growing up in an area with very difficult race relations past/present. It also never occurs to me that someone is white. So I’m curious about this myself now.

      1. Nan

        If you literally mean that you don’t recognize what race people are and could not tell a friend whether a different friend was white or black if asked, that’s very, very odd. Do you think you have a facial recognition disorder or something like that?

        But for other people (not you) who like to claim that they are “color blind” about race (eye roll), I always want to yell at them, “That’s not even the right goal! The goal is to understand what people’s experiences have been in the culture we live in and race is usually a significant part of that.”

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          If I had any needlepoint skills, I would take that statement and put it on a sampler.

        2. thisisit

          yeah as a person of color, if someone said to me that they don’t see me as person of ethnicity X, i’d be annoyed. it’s not that that ethnicity is a huge part of my identity, but it absolutely colors the way i am perceived, and *i* am aware of that.

          that being said, it’s also important not to “tokenize” anyone either. it’s like, i’m your funny, smart person who is of ethnicity X. but, not your “X friend”.

          1. Jill of All Trades

            I’m genuinely curious about this, so I hope you don’t mind follow up questions. If you gathered 4 groups of people together (family, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers) and had them describe you based on whatever is available to them, would you hope that your ethnicity would be on the lists (except maybe family)? If my list described you accurately and positively, but made no mention of your ethnicity or how I perceive your ethnicity, would that change your perception of me? As a stranger I would note if you seem confident, appear happy, wear bright colors, have great hair or a beautiful bone structure, but it would not include ethnicity X. As a friend or acquaintance the list would be fleshed out with personality traits and favorite memories, but still no ethnicity.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I won’t speak for thisisit, but I think the issue is that when most people say things like “I don’t see color,” they mean “I’m above race and it’s not a factor in how I interact with people,” which flies in the face of everything we know about implicit bias and how people are impacted by structural racism. It can feel dismissive of or oblivious to the very real ramifications of race in people’s lives … and there’s a reason that you pretty much only ever hear it said by white people.

              (I’m not directing that at you; I just want to explain how I think it usually comes across to people.)

            2. Observer

              In addition to what Allison said, I think it’s also an issue of understanding background and its potential impacts on a person’s experiences past and present. “His parents are Chinese immigrants” is at least as important as “he’s from new Orleans” in describing who he is, and for much the same reasons. In addition to the cultural issues, if he looks Chinese that affects him in the here and now, in terms of his experiences, and his parentage almost certainly affected things like his schooling and even health care.

              1. Jill of All Trades

                Ok, but he’s welcome to tell me about any of his experiences, which I think would be better than trying to make presumptions based on how I perceive any of his experiences. Why would it be ok for me to make assumptions about his schooling or health care when he can just tell me if he wants. For instance, the conversation in China where I realized he’s Chinese opened up a fascinating conversation about how his parents and grandparents emigrated, how he was raised, and how his relationship with them is now. Like I said below, I don’t do this on purpose, but I do know I prefer that what I know about him came from him and not some other persons experience.

                1. Observer

                  Ok, but he’s welcome to tell me about any of his experiences, which I think would be better than trying to make presumptions based on how I perceive any of his experiences. Why would it be ok for me to make assumptions about his schooling or health care when he can just tell me if he wants.
                  This, I think, is privilege speaking. Somehow, it’s ok for you to make assumptions about a person because he is from a particular city in the US, but when it comes to his ethnic roots he has to tell you all about it. Why is that?

                  but I do know I prefer that what I know about him came from him and not some other persons experience.

                  If this were true about EVERYTHING you think about a person and the assumptions you make, that would still raise some issues. But, considering that it’s clearly not the case, it presents a potentially huge issue.

                  Let’s take a hypothetical Josh Smith, who is a tall, fit young black man from the Bronx. When you meet him, there are a lot of assumptions you should NOT make. Don’t make assumptions about his family structure; educational level; competency; taste in sports, art, music and culture; his political and social leanings, etc. In fact, you should not even assume that he has been stopped by the police for a “stop and frisk” situation. Nevertheless, does it really make sense to ignore this background when dealing with relevant issues? Should he really have to get into his experiences coming of age as a young black male in the heart and at the height of “stop and frisk” for you to consider the real possibility that some typical “dog whistles” would irk him while a lot of white people would never even notice that they had been used, or that he may be likely to approach dealing with the police from a different angle than you do?

        3. Marcela

          I don’t really get that. I’d love if people can see me the way Jill of All Trades sees her friends. My race is not a significant part of who I am. It’s just the color of my skin or the shape of my bones. I don’t care if people notice or not, because it doesn’t define me (there is no reason to think I share life experiences or even culture with people with the same physical characteristics). My culture could be an important part of my life, because that’s what I know and experience, but I want to be known as me, Marcela, not as a person of my culture. I don’t even like many aspects of my culture and refuse to be tagged with them.

        4. Jill of All Trades

          I don’t think it’s a facial recognition problem and it was certainly never a goal, nor do I consider it an achievement or something to brag about. It’s just how my brain does or does not register physical characteristics. I notice and remember what their eyes and smile are like, whether they wear glasses or have long hair, etc. and I can definitely recognize them in the future (and, perhaps weirdly, I can also often look at a childhood photo of them with a bunch of similar children and pick out which child is my now-adult friend; facial features often don’t change that much over time). If asked, I probably could come up with a race for some people I’ve met in person even though it never consciously registered.

          So, throwing this out to anyone, is it better if I’m a blank slate and you are free to tell me how you identify, or would it be preferable if I consciously recognize and register your ethnicity as I look at your features, where you’re still free to tell me how you identify? It’s a genuine question; I don’t know if I can do anything about how I recognize features but I’m open to trying.

        5. ThursdaysGeek

          I can recognize my friends, but I have often said that if I were a victim of a mugging, I’d probably be able to tell the police if the mugger was male or female, and white or not-white. Now, I’m not even sure of the second. I know I won’t notice their hair color, height, clothing, facial hair, glasses, or any of those other useful identification markers. I would know my mother anywhere, but I would not be able to describe her so that someone could draw a picture of her. I’m not trying to be color-blind, and I can describe someone (and see super obvious racial features) when I am looking at a person.

    8. LAI

      As a fourth-generation Asian American, I always notice what race or ethnicity a person is. I don’t really understand how you could not. When you see someone, you notice if they are tall or short, or blond or dark-haired, if they have crooked teeth and you notice what race or ethnicity they are. I do think that once you get to know someone and have learned a lot more about them as an individual, their race or ethnicity becomes just once piece of knowledge you have about them, probably not the most important piece and therefore not something you think about all the time. But I wouldn’t call this forgetting.

      From talking to people who are in the majority, I think the biggest difference is just how often you have to think about race. For example, I am almost always conscious of how many other Asian people are in a group. I am often the only one and I am perfectly comfortable with that, but I’m still aware of it. It’s not usually something that I deliberately think about or have concerns about, but if you later asked me how many Asian people were in that meeting or were at that party, I’d be able to tell you.

    9. catsAreCool

      In his “I have a dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

      Sounds to me that’s what C Average is doing – paying more attention to who her friend is than where his ancestors came from.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        That’s completely missing the point (not Dr. King’s point– the point several of us are making here). Recognizing race and ethnic background is not about judgement but about understanding a person’s experience. It can be very simple. Let me put it this way: a (former) friend of mine, who claims “not to see race”, once asked me why on earth I would take a tour of Jewish sites in the city we were visiting, because that was separating myself and we were all one people, so calling attention to being Jewish or seeking out something related to Jewish heritage was wrong. He wanted to ignore that I was different, and as a result, he came off looking like an asshole.

        I have also been involved in very uncomfortable conversations where a couple of my Black girlfriends were complaining that a White guy we knew was fetishizing them (he asked out every Black woman in our group, even though they looked nothing alike and had very little in common, personality-wise), and a White girlfriend of ours was baffled. “But that’s his type! What’s wrong with that?” The fact that she couldn’t see it from the perspective of someone being sought out because of stereotypes was disheartening and sad.

        Like I said, my friends and I talk about this stuff a lot. Sometimes I wonder what people think when they pass by our tables in restaurants.

        1. Jill of All Trades

          Both of those people are putting their assumptions and experiences on you instead of being open to you and your experiences. That’s different. So are the asshats that wave not “seeing the world through that lens” as an attempt to cover a slur or as some badge of honor. I probably would have been surprised to find out that you’re Jewish, but I’d have asked if I could come along so I could learn more with you. I can’t really understand what it’s like to be Jewish or fetishized, but I can listen to your experience and grow in what understanding I do have.

  31. A Dispatcher

    Oh my god Newjack! That brings back such memories of undergrad (poli sci and criminology). Agree with Alison that I would highly recommend this book.

  32. Sourire

    Online dating…

    So I work a job with long, weird hours including overnights and weekends/holidays and I’ve been finding it hard to meet men outside of work. I really would prefer not to date someone I work with (even tangentially – we work with a lot of outside agencies), and haven’t had much luck finding anyone offline – so I recently started a match.com profile. Granted, It’s only been a few days, but I’m a little disappointed. I looked at a lot of online guides/tips for how to make a good profile and one of the best (imo) takeaways was to give the other person something to respond to or ask about in your profile so you can not only avoid the generic mass response, but also as a way of giving the other person a sort of easy open in case they like you but aren’t quite sure what to say. So far, nothing but generic responses that mention absolutely nothing about the sender themselves, nor my profile, and especially no hits on my question bait. :/

    What are everyone else’s experiences with online dating. Did it just take a while to get to the good ones? Is there something you said or did in your profile or in your searching activities that you think worked? How long did you find it was appropriate to chat before setting up a real date?

    Also, Alison if you’re reading – I remember a bit ago you put up bits of an old dating advice column you used to have. I would LOVE to see those reposted on here as I’m sure many others would. For nostalgia value and fun, but also because we so value your advice professionally that I’m sure there are many gems in the personal advice as well.

    1. BRR

      It took me a while and I met so many horrible, terrible people. Technically it took me years, two cities, and multiple sites to get any relationship out of it (and it’s now my husband). I think most people end up being disappointed at first, my advice is just to be patient and don’t have high expectations.

    2. Bekx

      I have had pretty meh luck online dating. I’ve mostly done the free sites (pof, okcupid) but I also did match. Maybe it’s my area but I’ve had a hell of a time trying to find someone who meets my standards (they aren’t crazy! I swear!). A lot of the people I saw on match I saw on okcupid as well, and it might be worth it to open up the free accounts too just because sometimes some sites are more popular than others in your area.

      I haven’t really had many dates. People seem to fade pretty quickly when I tried, or they were so offensive to me that I blocked them.

    3. Steve G

      I usually would be too shy to discuss but since I got personal above, here it is.

      I’ve used match extensively pre-2010, but I understand it has even more features for filtering, blocking, tracking people. Everyone I met was a nice, normal, goodlooking, settled person, no bad experiences, some mediocre ones, but that was it. I actually met better looking and smart and more motivated people on match because the people I met in person at bars? Nice, but um….functioning alcoholics at best….no thanks

      My only advice – from experience – would be to be overly positive, like in a job interview. Yeah, it isn’t the real you, but to many of the real good catches, they won’t see your overt positivism as overly positive, they will just see it as a normal, nice person. Keep any trace of issues, hangups, or even specifics such as favorite band/movie out of your profile. It has to be like a dating resume. Attract as many as you can, reject later if you don’t click…….but don’t make your self-description so restrictive that people don’t respond from the get-go.

      1. Katie the Fed

        This is good advice. The worst are the profiles like “don’t bother contacting me if you’re a vapid, selfish, golddigger woman who uses men and then spits them out, and doesn’t recognize a nice guy when you see one.”

        Um. Issues much?

        1. Blue_eyes

          Also, does anyone actually identify as a “vapid, selfish, golddigger”? “Oh darn, that’s me, I’d better not contact this guy…”

          1. Sourire

            You know, I’m not so sure there aren’t those who do. Perhaps not quite in those words, but I did some searching through women’s profiles to see what my “competition” was like, and ran across quite a few who very explicitly wanted to be treated like a queen, spoiled, etc.

            1. Blue_eyes

              Interesting. Maybe my ex-boyfriend found one of them (he always wanted to do everything for me and called me “perfect” which drove me nuts). It takes all types, I suppose.

        2. Windchime

          Issues for sure. And there is the flip side of that coin, a guy who wants someone 10 years (minimum) younger than himself, and who is “equally comfortable in jeans or a little black dress.”

          I don’t own a little black dress, and I’m sure as hell not going to force myself into a pair of nylons for you. Finally, if you find someone 10 years or more younger than you, be aware that she is going to be thinking how similar you are to her Dad when she views your profile.

        3. Steve G

          I know! It was so like job interviewing…..trim off all of the negative stuff and save it for after you get the job:-)

      2. Treena Kravm

        Yes, this! But feel free to play with it a little bit. I initially attracted my husband by listing a particular music thing in my preferences, and on our second date he realized I *actually* listened to it. But since then, I’ve been attracting a lot of music-is-my-life types (which there’s nothing wrong with, I only have the energy for one though-my husband!). So to filter them out, I tried saying, “I don’t like music” in my profile. The serious musicians get turned off and have been ignoring me, while everyone else thinks it’s really funny. So even though it’s not particularly positive, this one works for me.

    4. LAI

      I had a pretty good experience with match. I think I was on there for about a month before I met up with anyone in person. The first person I met was nice and everything, but no chemistry. The second one worked out, and we ended up dating for over a year. Still didn’t work out in the long run but I definitely felt like it was a success story.

      The only thing I’ll say is that it was a much bigger time commitment than I expected! Reading and responding to all those messages, reading the other profiles – I was spending an a hour or two a day. I did update my profile a few times, and always seemed to get a new rush of messages right after updating, if that helps. But yeah, most of the initial messages were terrible and I just had to be patient and wait for the good ones.

    5. Dynamic Beige

      was to give the other person something to respond to or ask about in your profile so you can not only avoid the generic mass response

      *giggles* You cannot avoid the generic mass copy/paste response. You could have no photo and “this is my personal ad” as your only copy and someone, somewhere is going to e-mail you “Sup? UR soooo cute! U lik teh seks?” You can say whatever you don’t want, no matter how reasonable, but that won’t stop someone from thinking it doesn’t apply to them. You will be using the delete key a lot.

      You may want to find a friend (or an online site if you wish to retain anonymity) to review your profile to see if there’s any language that might not be what you intended, just for an outside perspective. When a friend of mine did it years ago, she used the word “adventurous” meaning that she likes to try new kinds of foods, just get in the car and go somewhere she’s never been… but she wound up getting a lot of guys just looking to hook up. She removed that word, those type of responses went down substantially. You may want to consider that instead of waiting for them, you message the guys you are interested in as it would put some degree of control of the process in your hands. But, you may not be comfortable with that. A lot of men complain that women have “so much choice” and they never get messaged, or responses, after sending out hundreds of e-mails — so there’s that.

      As for when is the right time, there isn’t any rule of thumb. But it’s better to meet for coffee sooner than later to avoid building up expectations too high on either side. After some messaging, the phone call might stop it cold and meeting up wouldn’t be necessary. You’ll just have to trust your gut and be safe.

      1. Valar M.

        “But it’s better to meet for coffee sooner than later to avoid building up expectations too high on either side.”

        This is a really good tip. Not just the sooner than later part, but the coffee part. If you don’t like the person or red flags come up, getting coffee and getting out is a lot easier than getting dinner or a movie and getting out. I only made this mistake a couple of times before using coffee as my go-to.

        1. Satsuma

          Agreed. If you’ve exchanged a few messages and are interested, then just meet. Coffee is good. I met my partner in a British pub. Same principle.

        2. Dynamic Beige

          Yes, the ability to bail quickly is a good thing. It’s easy to say “it was nice to meet you” and get the hell out, rather than having to go through the whole “OK, we’re supposed to be at the restaurant for 7, so you call me between 7:15 and 7:30 and if it’s going well, I’ll let it go to voice mail but if it’s not, I’ll pick up and we’ll pretend there’s been an emergency so I can leave” with a friend. Because the other person could walk in the door and be shorter/older/heavier than they have advertised themselves to be and you really don’t want to be there any more. If coffee is going well, easy enough to suggest dinner, a movie, drinks, walk through the park, [insert activity here] if you have the time and don’t want the date to end just yet. Meeting for drinks, well, there’s alcohol involved and for some people, that’s no big deal but for others, it gets them into trouble they don’t want to be in.

          And if you don’t drink coffee, most chains like Starbucks have tea, hot chocolate, cider (in season), juices and pastries, there are other alternatives. It’s also cheap compared to a full dinner. If he insists on paying, a few bucks for coffee isn’t so bad. Only a total maroon would be “I bought you coffee, now you owe me [this sex act]” If Starbucks really isn’t your thing, do some research for an independent coffee place/bakery and make the suggestion as an alternative. Just don’t pick somewhere that’s close to your home/where everyone knows your name because it’s easy or convenient. No matter how long you text/message/talk on the phone, this person is a stranger and unknown quantity. Most people you meet online aren’t stalkers, but no one walks around with a t-shirt on that tells you exactly who they are and what they’re capable of.

          1. Valar M.

            “It’s also cheap compared to a full dinner. If he insists on paying, a few bucks for coffee isn’t so bad.”

            Yes! And, pay your own way unless he insists. Its just better for everyone around. The guy doesn’t feel like he’s an ATM on all these dates he goes on, and you don’t have to feel guilty or like you owe the other person.

          2. Sourire

            Awesome advice from both of your posts, thanks! :)

            And I had to LOL at your giggles over my avoid the general response comment. I worded it badly I suppose. I of course knew going in I would get plenty, but thought giving an opener would help with it somewhat at least. So far, not so much.

            It’s like the job interviews are like dating thing we come across on this site so often, but in reverse. I feel like one of those companies who puts very specific instructions in their application materials and am now getting insight into who can follow directions/who has real interest versus generic resume (or in this case dating email) spammers.

        3. Sunflower

          Yes this is the *most* important part of online dating IMO. My roommate was talking to a guy a while back. Chatted for a month or two before they met. She came back from the date and was in love. When she went to make plans again, he said he really liked her but he just didn’t feel the chemistry. She was heartbroken.

    6. Gene

      The last site I used probably doesn’t exist any more.

      Back in 96 after my first wife died, I signed up on AOL Netgirl and met a few women. I married one of them in 97 and she’s sitting here kibitzing.

      Humor is your friend. The first message to my wife was after she had posted, “I just turned 40, what now?” I saw she is two days younger than me and I replied, “I’m two days ahead of you, it’s all downhill from here.” She was near San Diego, I near Seattle. The first photo of me I sent her (snail mail, those 64k modems choked on anything more than text) was of me in lycra, standing next to my bike, halfway through the Seattle To Portland ride with the caption, “See, I’m not hiding anything.” She moved up here about 6 months later.

        1. Gene

          I met some nice women, a couple of nut jobs, and one stalkerish. Early meeting is great advice.

          Back then, meeting a mate online was cutting edge; now it’s almost expected that a couple met online.

    7. Valar M.

      I did a lot of online dating. I had some pretty crazy encounters and also met my husband that way. I’ve found that luck/experience can be very skewed. The women I knew all found a lot of crazy people. Some just weird or awkward and others that were to the point of being frightening. The men I’ve known that have tried it have had so-so experiences in that the women they met were all perfectly normal but just often not for them.

      Online dating is different than other dating in that it’s quick turnover. You chat, you go out on one date, they don’t fit, you try again. There were times when I was “dating” 3-4 people at a time because in reality all you’re doing is meeting people at first. The dating part comes after a few meets. A lot of them turn out to be duds. Sometimes they fib in their profile. Sometimes they are very good in email or on the phone but are completely different in person. Sometimes it will quickly become apparent that they think online dating is a personal little black book. Sometimes they’re perfectly nice people but there is just zero chemistry. You have to kiss a lot of frogs and be patient.

      As far as tips: Be as transparent as possible. Don’t get invested too soon.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I had a tough time deciding what a realistic search radius was. I had nice midway date with a guy who was four hours away, and I think we liked each other enough that we would have at least tried a few more dates if we had lived in the same town, but you have to have a hell of a rush at first sight to inspire an eight-hour round trip.

        1. fposte

          Sorry, should have clarified that I, like Elizabeth, live a ways away from any major conurbations.

    8. nona

      My experience was on OkC. It was bad. I also saw a lot of girls I went to high school with (but not guys), strangely. I don’t know how to go about talking to someone who saw my weeaboo phase!

      I’d like to try another site, but I don’t know of any that are as LGBT-friendly/safe as OkC. I know Match has some filtering options – can you at least hide your profile from straight people?

    9. Natalie

      Are you messaging people you’re interested in, or just waiting for people to message you?

      And as someone else said, you can’t prevent those generic messages. Think of them like spam – you don’t get mad or frustrated that you receive it, you just delete and forget about it.

    10. Satsuma

      I signed up for a site. At first, I chatted with some people, but never met up with anyone. I’d actually never been on a data at that point, and I think I wasn’t actually ready for a relationship.

      Then a few years later I logged back in. Exchanged messages with 2 or 3 people, and met up with just one. We clicked instantly, moved in together soon after and 7 years later are planning to start a family.

      I don’t know if being really picky helped, or was just dumb luck. One thing I will say, is that we didn’t meet through a general website like OKCupid. It was through the dating site of a national newspaper (the UK Guardian) . This may have been an important factor in our success, as it obviously pre-selected for someone who shared my world view on a lot of important issues.

    11. Katie the Fed

      OK! So, I met my husband on Match and we’re very happy :)

      I was fairly new to it but he’d been on before.

      Here’s my advice. I did a lot of reading about online dating, and I learned a couple things. There are underloved populations of the online dating world. For my case, I learned that a lot of women want tall guys and assume most guys lie within a couple inches anyway, so most women don’t give much attention to guys 5’8 and under. Seriously. Also, most men in general get far fewer responses than women.

      So, me being someone who doesn’t care at all about height (and being a bit vertically challenged myself), I set my search parameters for 5’8″ and under. I figured these were guys who probably didn’t have a lot of women initiating contact. I did some keyword searches on travel stuff too. And then I made first contact (I know, damn the rules!).

      My now-husband sent me the most hilarious, nerdy, detailed reply imaginable to my message. And he’d clearly read my profile and asked me some great questions. And that was that. We met for brunch a week later and were engaged within the year. I like to think if he was two inches taller (he’s 5’7″ I might have never found him).

      So, that was my strategy. There are underloved segments of the online dating community – if you target those you might find your odds are better.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I think a lot of your success also comes from being realistic and knowing what you want. As in, do you want a good partner for yourself or the stereotypical Big Man On Campus that is held up as the societal ideal of what you’re supposed to/told to want? I have heard very short women say that they want a tall man so their kids aren’t short. OK, but is someone 6’5″ really going to be the best partner for you based on height alone? There can be a “laundry list” mentality that happens, if they aren’t A, B, C (all the way through to S) physical characteristics, then I don’t want them — so they dismiss someone for not matching up to the fantasy person in their head. With so many profiles, there becomes the belief that there’s limitless supply and all you have to do is keep trying and Perfect will show up. Meanwhile, they’re passing up people who could be fine partners for them, but it could be argued that such a person isn’t really ready for a genuine relationship anyway.

      2. Valar M.

        Haha. Yes. As a tall woman I had hangups about men being shorter than me. My insecurity, not theirs. When my friends who were like 5’1 insisted they needed a guy who was 6’3+ I just wanted to be like okay…now it’s not just about you having someone taller than you, now you’re being greedy! Get out of my wading pool!

        Obviously, I realized I was being petty. But there are awesome guys that are shorter than me. Good looking, funny, intelligent fantastic guys. If I didn’t have my hangup or had been 5’1 I would have grabbed them up!

      3. Sourire

        Oooh I like this! What do you think some of the other underloved categories might be? I’m tall myself (5’10”) so I’ve actually never really bothered to screen for height since a lot of men I meet are indeed my height or shorter. I’d be seriously limiting my options there.

        And LOL Valar M. My sister is muuuuch shorter than me and has always dated men 6’+, whereas I rarely if ever have. I always joke with her that she and “her kind” (in a joking way of course) need to stop stealing our men ;)

        1. Katie the Fed

          Well, from my reading, here’s what I think some of the “underloved” ones are. A big disclaimer: THESE ARE NOT MY OPINIONS. But these are the men who might not be reached out to as much. And as you get older, the supply of never-married, tall, employed, fit, etc men starts to dwindle. I have a guy friend 10 years old than me who is also on match, and he was getting emails from women about every 10 minutes. I’m not kidding – we were out for drinks and his email was buzzing constantly. He was 44, gainfully employed, decent looking, never married, well-traveled, etc. There aren’t that many of them :)

          So, back to the underloveds – I’m thinking divorcees, men with kids, overweight, ethnic minorities. Again, none of those are dealbreakers to me, so I’m happy to cast a wide net :). Err, I was. I found my short nerd.

          1. Sourire

            Ah, that makes sense. The only hangup I really have is kids, which is getting difficult now that I’m in my late 20s. Most men I do meet either have some or are pretty quickly looking to start a family and I’m just not there right now :/ I wouldn’t totally rule someone out for already having kids, but I’m sure they’d be just as worried about me being not a kid person as I would be apprehensive about them.

            1. Gene

              Yeah, I only had three musts; female, no children living at home, and non-smoker. The more musts you have, the bigger the holes in your net.

      4. Steve G

        Men and height….I am a true, barefoot, not stretching my neck 5’10 and 1/2 and I am taller than or = to like 90% of the guys I see, and I am in NYC, so it’s not like I’m not around people.

        I have known guys that say they are 6′, 6’1, and we look eye to eye, and our shoulders are equal, etc, but they still say they are taller than me. I don’t get how some guys get away with the lying!!!

        So, I don’t consider 5’8 short at all, if the person is a real 5’8………….

    12. Soupspoon McGee

      I met my fiance on OK Cupid. I liked it much better than match or any of the other paid sites that hid promising-looking people behind paywall (and they were usually duds).

      This was five years ago, so the world may have changed, but I found that I got better responses to a profile that was not too long and analytical (because I tend to be wordy) and had some meaningful and amusing tidbits about things I liked that are not cliches (cardamom is good in coffee / I always bring cloth bags to the grocery store but forget them in the car / I’m vegetarian and write bad poetry). I also liked that site because you could answer short questions about what you value (everything from politics and religion to introversion to wanting kids or long-term commitment), then search for people who match you a particular amount. It was a good screening tool.

    13. Sunflower

      It’s not that the people online are worse or weird, you’re just getting a lot more chances to meet someone weird. Remember online dating gives you access to a large amount of people. It would be impossible to come across that many potential matches IRL. So there’s just that many more chances you’re going to strike out.

      Try to not be generic. I only use Tinder which you can’t search but so many profiles say the same thing ‘I like to travel and do fun things. Looking for a funny, laid-back girl’. Give someone something legit to go off of. I went to Penn State and we are known for being proud alumni so I have that in my profile.

      Keep everything positive and don’t put your insecurities out there. Just last night I came across a profile that said ‘What’s more important- being with a great guy who makes you laugh or being with a tall guy (i’m 5’8). 5’8 isn’t that short but obviously he’s really insecure about it. Don’t do that.

      I would suggest meeting as soon as possible. Don’t chat for too long and get your expectations up only to meet and realize you have no chemistry.

      1. Sourire

        I hate that the travel thing is so cliche because it truly is a very big part of my life. It’s important to me to find someone who wants to collect passport stamps with me and see the world. I have read so many place though that a lot of people just include it because it makes them sound fun/worldly/adventurous, etc etc. And I’ve also read it can be a turn off to men because they see it as expensive and a sign of a materialistic girl looking to be TAKEN on trips versus someone looking for a travel partner. Yikes! Then again, the latter I’m taking with more than a few grains of salt because a lot of the other stuff being spouted by these same people is anti-feminism, traditional gender role malarkey. If what I’m saying turns those types off, good for me!

        1. Sunflower

          People will make A LOT of assumptions based on your profile. I just realized I have alcohol in my all pictures and all of my pics were taken in a bar- but I’m far from an alcoholic and only go out once a week. My feeling is if they are someone who is gonna judge me that harshly based off of a profile, I wouldn’t be able to handle dating them anyway.

          I can only speak as a woman who browses men’s profiles. Once you go through enough profiles, you can start to see who is really being himself and who is just trying to make himself seem desirable. Men want women to see them and think ‘financially stable, intelligent, well-rounded’. You’ll see a lot of guys write ‘I own my house’ which is just kind of funny. I think it’s fine to include that you like to travel but maybe add on to it- some people write places they’ve been recently or places they want to go next.

    14. Sourire

      Wow, what a response! Thank you so much to everyone.

      I did actually get a lovely email from someone earlier today but unfortunately I don’t think we’re really at the same place in life right now (he has three children who live with him – I have none and am not entirely sure I even want one let alone three right now). Hopefully I will eventually get more nice replies like his.

      Nothing too creepy yet, just a few muuuch older men, like 40 years older. Next week maybe it would be fun to do your funniest/creepiest online dating experience in the open thread!

    15. Sweetheart of the Rodeo

      I’ve never signed up for online dating but years ago I saw a newspaper dating ad — just a couple of lines — that I’ve never forgotten. It said some standard stuff and then the last phrase was “hooked on phonics.” Any boomer who remembers Hooked on Phonics had to get a great laugh out of that. I should have called him!

  33. Cruciatus

    Just discovered my friends think I’m weird because I slice open bottles of lotion/sunblock/toothpaste/whatever to get the last drop of product (that I paid for!). One even called me a major cheapskate–but you’d be amazed at how much product is left in there even after you’ve turned it upside-down and jammed your pinky finger up there trying to scrape it out! I can often get 2 weeks or more out of something. Why am I weird and “a cheapskate” for not throwing out useful product!? It takes 30 seconds of effort to slice or cut a bottle open. Please tell me there are others out there who do this!?

    1. Traveler

      I don’t do this, but I’ve known people that do. I don’t think they’re cheapskates. Personally, by the time I hit the end of a product (with the exception of things like toothpaste) I’ve usually had it long enough, I just figure I should replace it anyway. I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t do it though. There usually is a good bit of stuff that gets wasted and some packaging is notorious for this. I’m pretty sure the companies do it on purpose to force us to repurchase early.

    2. Colleen

      My dad warms up his almost-empty lotion containers in warm water baths and pours them into tupperware containers to use later. You are not alone.

    3. Sparrow

      I do the same thing! And so does my husband. In fact, some of his fancy products cost more than mine so I’m glad he gets the most for the money. I don’t think it’s a cheapskate thing. It just feels like a waste to get rid of perfectly good product.

    4. StillHealing

      I do this too! Especially with hand lotion. The straw part of the pump leaves off about an inch from the bottom so I cut off most of the bottle. I then keep a Ziploc baggie over the top of it. That last inch of lotion lasts a couple weeks!

      You’re not alone. Ignore people who call you a cheapskate.

    5. A Dispatcher

      You should see the lengths I go to to get every last drop out of my urban decay primer potion. I swear by the stuff and it’s liquid gold, but it has a price tag to match and I’m certainly not wasting any.

    6. Jazzy Red

      I had never thought to do this until I read this tip somewhere, and I was amazed to see how much lotion was still in the bottle. I believe in “waste not, want not” and try to use up everything. You are not weird or a cheapskate for doing this. What would be weird is separating 2-ply toilet paper to try to make it last longer.

      We pay good money for our products, and using all of it is the only sensible thing to do.

    7. the gold digger

      Your friend is so, so wrong, and when you are retired at 62, basking on the sand in front of your beach vacation home, and he is still going to work every day because he can’t retire until he’s 80 because he THREW MONEY AWAY, you will have the last laugh.

      PS I re-use ziplock bags. They are not cheap and they are still good after one using.

      1. Cruciatus

        My mom always did/does the same for Ziplocks. I was in middle school when I, again, found this wasn’t normal. I’m in my early 30s, but my parents were born 10 years after the Great Depression, so their parents were adults that lived through it and the habits my parents learned were passed on to me. We CAN throw things out but if it’s still good and useful, why toss it? My mom often laments that we just throw shoes away these days… “When I was a girl, we’d take them to the cobbler…” Yes, mom, I know!

        I used to be embarrassed about my mom’s use of coupons and sales. I think I thought it meant we couldn’t afford things. Then I lived on my own. Why wouldn’t I use a coupon for things I use anyway!? It’s free money! And my mom made the point once that all that saving paid for my multiple trips to Europe and college and this and that. She had a point. So, you’re right, I hope I’m comfortably retired at 62 based on what I think are truly simple money saving techniques!

        1. the gold digger

          A friend once lamented that she would have to throw her new boots away because they were scuffed. I said, “Wow. That’s a pretty bad scuff if you couldn’t polish it out.”

          She had no idea what I was talking about. She had never polished her shoes.

          Another friend (a rich kid) was sad that he had a hole in the sole of his expensive shoes and was going to have to throw them away. “The cobbler couldn’t re-sole them?” I asked.

          He gasped. “You can DO that?” he asked.

          I shook my head and said something about Rich Kids Who Just Throw Things Away.

          1. Blue_eyes

            My best friend’s family was amazed to learn that you can sharpen knives. My dad bought them a few good knives and now he hones them whenever he’s at their house.

            1. the gold digger

              My husband’s parents have awful knives, so in our own interests, we bought them some good knives for when we were there. My husband’s brother, a chef, was over and cooking. Husband’s dad said, “Use these knives – we got them as a wedding present.” (And had not sharpened since.)

              Chef brother took them, but as soon as dad left the kitchen, reverted to the good knife. Dull knives are dangerous!

          2. Bea W

            I remember going to the cobbler as a kid. My mother would take shoes to be re-soled or repaired. We’d get them back good as new! Now it is so hard to find any of these shops still open. People just buy new shoes. It would never occur to me not to polish my shoes and boots, especially good expensive shoes. I have had one pair of Docs for 20 years. The soles last forever, and I just polish the uppers and occasionally replace the laces.

        2. Jen RO

          It’s always interesting to me that The Great Depression seems to have instilled in your grandparents the same behaviors that communism instilled in my parents. I lost many of the habits, but I still have my ‘bag of bags’ and I feel guilty when I throw away a ziploc bag.

          1. salad fingers

            For me, it’s hard to tell at this point if the throwing away ziploc bag guilt is more about passed down frugality or the environment. I feel really guilty about a lot of excessive packaging waste :/

          2. Bea W

            I have a “bag of bags” for plastic shopping bags just because I hate the thought of just tossing away perfectly good usable plastic bags to some landfill where they will sit forever. I reuse them mostly as small garbage can liners for places like the bathroom or grab some when it is raining so that I can put my soaking wet umbrella somewhere while I ride the train. I also keep some at work. You’d be amazed how many people ask around looking for a plastic bag they can use to carry something extra home or to wrap something they want to put in their bag.

            1. catsAreCool

              I ended up buying Chico Bags, which fold up small and can be attached to a purse, can be put through the washing machine, and are even kind of cute. With those, I almost never need additional grocery bags, but on the rare times when I do, I keep them so I can reuse them for something.

              1. Bea W

                I have bags and so far have not been successful in training myself to use them consistently. People say put them in the car. The problem is I take them back in the house full of groceries and then don’t actually drive again for 4-7 days. I even places them on the door knob and forgot them. :/

                1. Cruciatus

                  If I’m trying to remember to take them to the car, I leave them where I normally leave my keys, only I put my keys IN the bags so that I have to touch them. This reminds me that I want to take them to the car.

        3. Bea W

          My grandmother would rinse off paper plates and plastic utensils. She was born in 1917 and lived through the Great Depression. Her father lost his business and attempted suicide. She left school in the 8th grade to work in factories to help support the family. She was a single mother and was always poor even after the Depression ended. I told her she wasn’t supposed to wash paper plates and plastic forks and such. She could just throw them out, because that is how they are meant to be used. That’s when she explained how people her age lived through the Great Depression and learned how important it was not to waste anything. If she could reuse it, she would not throw it out.

          This is actually very smart no matter how well off people are, not just because of money it saves, but for the environment.

          1. Not So NewReader

            My dad was a depression kid. He was visiting one day and decided he would like some toast and coffee. So I put toast in the toaster oven and plugged in the coffee machine. We got to talking and I forgot the toast. When I finally checked it – it was on fire. I grabbed the toast and my father said, “Just blow the flames out, it’s fine. Butter it, I will eat it.”
            Should have seen the look on his face when I threw it in the sink and covered the flames with water. He and I had a chat about toast fires, then and now.

      2. Bea W

        My neighbor does this. I pack my pets’ meals in ziplock bags for her to distribute while I am away. I come home to a neat pile of bags I can reuse. I didn’t think of doing that with food storage until she started pet sitting for me. I have reused them if I haven’t put food in them, but you can easily rinse out and leave them to dry.

    8. Jen RO

      I do it too, especially when the packaging is so obviously ripping you off! It’s a matter of principle, not a matter of not affording a new one.

    9. fposte

      So what knives are you using? You don’t want to wreck your good kitchen knives, but most of these containers are seriously tough. If I were going to start doing this, what would be my necessary tool?

      1. Cruciatus

        I use a utility knife most of the time. The kind where you slide out the amount of razor you want. Sometimes they are thin enough for our hardcore scissors.

    10. matcha123

      I think you’re smart for doing that.
      I tend to squeeze the toothpaste to the last drop and other things to get the last bits out.
      No shame. I paid for it and I would prefer not to toss what I can still use.

    11. Tris Prior

      I’ve done this before. Not every time, but sometimes.

      I guess my bigger question is, why do people care that you do this? I mean, unless you’re taking a knife to THEIR products in their home, or calling them wasteful for not doing so (which it does not sound like you are doing)? I don’t see why some people get so offended by money-saving tricks that do not affect them. But that’s probably a separate rant.

      1. fposte

        I can see it they’re visiting and they’re forced to use, say, composite soap from slivers. But otherwise, yeah, who cares?*

        *Exemption for family, because annoying family members is the chief purpose of a family.

      2. Cruciatus

        They don’t care in the sense that they hate me or something. Most just find it a bit amusing or me just being me (aka: quirky) but a couple do seem almost…offended I do this. It’s not the right word. But they don’t know why I’m putting “so much effort” into it. It’s literally 30 seconds to a minute to get 2 weeks+ more of product! I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember so it’s not a new idea to me–but it must be to them. Maybe the idea makes them feel like they’d be slumming it or something and/or they think I’m judging them for being wasteful (which I’ve never said they were, but by bringing up how much product I save it could implicitly suggest that)). Thinking back, this has happened to me a few times as an adult. I do stuff the way I like (practical, efficient, economical) and people feel like I’m judging them though I never say anything about they way they do it as long as it’s not hurting me. Shrug.

    12. Bea W

      I am totally with you. There is a ton of product still in there. It is a huge waste to toss the bottle out. I don’t think it’s cheap at all. It’s just not being wasteful. I haven’t done this, because I have not thought of it, but I will store near empty bottles upside down so that gravity takes care of it (this works pretty well but not 100% ), and I flatten the heck out of toothpaste tubes using a pen or pencil. When the pump no longer brings up lotion, I will take it off and get it out that way. Those are a bit harder to store upside down. Thank you for saying you cut the bottles open. I don’t know why this has never occurred to me.

      I suspect your friends have no idea just how much product they are throwing away. Maybe you should demonstrate. We’re not talking just a day or two worth. Tossing out 2 or more weeks worth of product – you may as well just set your wallet on fire. Many of these products are not inexpensive to begin with, especially facial moisturizer. Don’t even get me started on facial moisturizer!

    13. Mephyle

      I usually drip in just enough water to rinse out the product. When that’s used up and no more flows out, I repeat. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunblock…

    14. catsAreCool

      I don’t do that (afraid I’ll cut myself doing something like that), but I think you’re being environmental – using all of it.

      Sometimes with hair conditioner, I add water to it so I can get more of the last of it out.

    15. Not So NewReader

      You are wise. When I first married money was tight. I struggled to keep the grocery bill down. Finally, I decided to watch what I use and to make sure the container was empty. My grocery bill dropped by $5 per week. Now that would be more like 10-15 per week.

      Someone just mentioned it to me recently that commercials STILL show a great big glob of tooth paste on the brush. She said, “we have known for a while now that you only need about a quarter of that, but hey, it sells tooth paste.” But there are many opportunities to reduce costs. Shampoo is a good one, I was spilling out whatever amount and not paying attention. Same deal with dish soap, dump some out and didn’t think about quantity. I started thinking about what I was doing and my costs went down a little bit. Next I started thinking about the products that I buy and looking for redundancies. Do I really need two sizes of mailing envelops? How about baggies, do I really need baggies when I have all these plastic containers for food? It does help because you end up with more of the things you want and less of the things you have to store for “use at a later point”.

    16. Nicole

      I’m all about being frugal so I love this! I keep banging on the old lotion bottle over the new one to get the rest of it, but cutting it open would be much quicker and would really get every last drop. I’d probably cut myself though; luckily when I mentioned your idea to my husband he offered to do it for me, so thanks!

      FWIW – it bugs me that one of your friends called you a major cheapskate. They are a major rude person, if you ask me. But oh well, you keep being smart and frugal and you’ll be comfortable for the rest of your life whereas the wasteful people might end up wishing they had been less careless with their money.

    17. Windchime

      I don’t slice open the bottle of lotion but I do take off the pump top, put on a screw top (the tops of bottled water fit perfectly), and then store the bottle upside down. There is usually at least another 1/2 cup of lotion in the bottom of the bottle that the pump can’t reach!

    18. Phlox

      I am the official plastic bag washer in my house. Growing up my mom always washed the bags so I always thought it was just what you did, but the housemates aren’t into it. But ziplocs aren’t free!
      On the opposite side of this trend, I have been dutifully using up this large bottle of shampoo for months now that I really should have thrown out. It made my hair feel all weird, scent was off but I forgot about how much I dislike the brand because the price per ounce is so good. I finally used the darned thing up and am back using regular stuff and my hair feels normal! Erps, lesson learned hopefully.

  34. S

    I live in San Francisco, on the foggy side of town. Today, I spent a wonderful afternoon in East Bay wine country (not as well-known as Napa but excellent in its own right), it was sunny and warm and beautiful, and then I drove back into the fog.

    The whole point of this post, I guess, is to say that I really miss the sun, and I am very glad to be moving to LA in a week.

    1. Jillociraptor

      Do you mind saying where? I’m in the East Bay, and we’ve been meaning to go to Napa but if there’s a great place even nearer by for a super short weekend getaway, I would be VERY interested.

      1. S

        Livermore! Wente Vineyards is probably their most well-known one, and there’s also a pretty good craft brewery out there too.

        1. Jillociraptor

          I’ll look into it. Thank you! Glad you had a fun trip and good luck with your move!

      1. S

        I’m from LA too! I love it so much; the five years I’ve spent away from it have killed my soul, quite honestly, and that was part of the reasoning why I felt the need to start job-searching there.

  35. StudentA

    The ads with the commercials play all by themselves. Sometimes it scares me, because I don’t who is talking until I realize it’s an ad. It is also super annoying, because I am usually on this blog as I listen to music or watching something.

    Is this happening with anyone else, or is there something wrong with my computer?

    1. Tara

      Alison’s worked with her ad company quite a bit to try to stop the autoplay vids; I believe she’s said that there’s no way of getting rid of them entirely.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Right. There’s no way for me to get rid of them entirely. Readers can use an ad blocker — although I hope people won’t since ads are how the site pays for itself (and the costs are not insubstantial). That said, if they become overly obnoxious, I can certainly understand choosing to do that…

          1. Bea W

            I use Flashblock, which prevents videos from playing automatically which I totally hate whether they are ads or not. You have to click on a button to play the video. That way it is possible to whitelist the ads on certain sites but still avoid the annoying video ads.

        2. Claire (Scotland)

          AdBlocker is awesome. I turned it off for this site previously (generally, if a site I visit regularly has unobtrusive ads I’ll turn it off), but since the new ad network came along I’ve had to turn it back on. I refuse to deal with auto-playing ads anywhere, for anyone. Sorry, Alison.

          1. Mimmy

            Oh god, my biggest pet peeve is when ads on websites actually disrupt my visit to a website (pop-up, redirects, moves the text while I’m trying to read).

            I know people don’t like ads on websites at all, but I’m fine with it as long as they’re not disruptive, as I’ve just described above. I support Alison’s choice to use ads because for me, they are generally not disruptive (I’m mostly on a desktop computer). Sure, there are occasional hiccups, but it seems like she’s done the best she can :)

            1. Bea W

              I really hate ads on websites because I find the extra irrelevant content on the page distracting, and as someone who has ADHD and has a lot of trouble when it comes to focusing in reading in particular, the best solution in most cases for me is to block all ads. Animated gif and video ads are the worst in that regard. A text or unobtrusive image may be okay, but having something play in an endless loop in my field of vision makes it impossible for me to read the actual content on a website. The flashing ads are super horrible, and those seem to be popular for use on free mobile apps. I had to root my phone to block them, and that isn’t 100% effective. I will pay for apps to lose the ads, but developers don’t always offer a paid version.

          2. Maisie

            I’ve had to turn it back on too, otherwise there’s a Cillit Bang ad that screams at me – “I’M BARRY SCOTT, AND THIS IS NEW CILLIT BANG!”

    2. Traveler

      It happens to me as well. Not the whole ad usually but halfway through or so it’ll just jolt in a word here or there. I’ve just found the best thing is to mute my computer when I get on this site.

    3. AnnieNonymous

      The ads are not being very kind to my computer lately. I would never be so dramatic as to turn it into a THING (I wouldn’t expect Alison to adjust her whole business model to suit me), but I’m considering dropping this site from my daily web surfing because the ads are constantly crashing my browsers. :/

      1. VintageLydia USA

        The same happens to! I’ve been avoiding getting an ad blocker but at this point its necessary :(

    4. BRR

      I have set my browser to disable auto play with flash videos. It’s mildly annoying to have to click to play things but it beat out autoplay things.

    5. salad fingers

      Can I just add to this conversation that I stumbled into this guy’s website a couple of days ago while researching the pain meds I’ve been taking for the ‘ole appendectomy, and upon browsing found this little time capsule of a page about AdSense: http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/internet/adsense-adventure.htm

      I don’t fully understand, but thought I’d share. This is now my second favorite accidentally found webpage, after http://www.compmike19.com, which was found while searching for a Zombies Ate My Neighbors ROM and emulator. Lots of old games and more importantly, this super ill advised page about a bunch of the employees and patrons at the Denny’s he manages (managed?) –> http://www.compmike19.com/id149.htm

      Should also add that the adsense bit is not posted to make any comment on Alison’s ad choices here. I support her right to make a living, especially given the quality of her advice and the awesome community she’s hosts and fosters.

  36. Come On Eileen

    Any advice on if and how to reach out to your friendship circle, a few months after a breakup, and say something like “hey friends, remember me? I’m still hurting. I know I appear to have lots of good days but I still have a bunch of crummy ones, and I’d really love it if you’d make an effort to check in on me every so often.”

    I’m sitting here tonight, immensely sad (he and I were together ten years, engaged,etc.) and I kinda feel like my friends have forgotten that I could still need their check-ins and support. I’ve reached out to a few, trying to schedule time to get together, and nobody is free. I don’t know if I’m feeling sorry for myself, or if people just get too caught up in their own lives and just assume I’m fine, or something else. All I know is I feel let down by my friends and feel like I need to Use My Words better to ask for support.

    1. KarenT

      Do you have a friend you’re especially close with? You could try reaching out to that person and just telling them you’re struggling with the break up and could use some friend time.

      I hope you feel better soon. Break ups truly are the worst.

    2. StillHealing

      Keep trying to reach out but at the same time do something new and different. Meet new people and create new and different memories. Take a class or join a group. I’m going through a divorce and though my friends are being wonderful and supportive, I’m finding that making and meeting new friends helps me to keep conversations light and fun. I’m making fun, new memories with both old friends and new.

    3. Katie the Fed

      It sounds like it’s time to make some new friends. Your friends may just be at a different place in their life. I found my married friends could no longer really commiserate with the recently-broken up.

      Honestly though, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sending an email out like “hi all – I’m going through a rough time right now and still having a hard time getting through the breakup. I really need some company right now – would you please consider inviting me out for things or reaching out from time to time? I need you right now.”

      I had a friend who did just that once and we all stepped into action, inviting her over for dinner, finding things to do. It’s nice when people ask for help and specify what kind of help is useful.

    4. matcha123

      I’m the type of person that never reaches out to anyone. It’s not that I don’t care, but I feel like if they wanted to tell me something, they would. I rely on them to tell me when they need a pick-me-up.

      It might work for you to tell them that you’re feeling down and would like to go out to eat or whatever to distract yourself. I have a few people around me who do ask a lot and I try to accomodate them, but I feel bad when I can’t. I am awfully busy as it is and I need a lot of down-time. If a friend of mine went through a tough break-up, I probably wouldn’t say or do anything unless they asked because I wouldn’t want to overstep my bounds…

    5. Blue_eyes

      I would reach out and say pretty much what you’ve said here to a few friends individually. Is there a particular friend who has provided emotional support before that you could ask? I know that I often reach out to see friends less often than I mean to, but if a friend told me what you’ve just said, I would be sure to make more of an effort to see that person. I think you’re instincts to use your words to ask for support are exactly right. You can’t expect your friends to always guess how you’re feeling, but you can expect true friends to support you when you ask for it.

    6. Sweetheart of the Rodeo

      It’s that really difficult kind of grief — they call it inconclusive grief or something like that — when the person is still walking around in the world, you don’t get the support you need, but it feels so huge to you. I get it and I’ve been there, and it takes just as long as it takes to heal. I would talk to only a few close friends that you can trust if you’re asking them to reach out to you. Putting yourself out there as wounded or sad makes you vulnerable. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true. Do find a good therapist and a few friends you can be with in ways that feel okay, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It sucks, and I’m sorry, and I hope at least a few of your friends can show up for you in a way that feels real and supportive. You deserve to be happy and you will be.

    7. TheLazyB

      Completely different situation, but – after I had a bereavement I had to askmy friends and family to do this. It sucked, but I needed the support, and it was worth emailing people to ask for it.

      All I’d say is a) email people individually and b) be choosy about who you ask for support, because it sucks when people take this as you being whiny :(

      Thinking of you x

    8. Sunflower

      I think you can either send an email to individuals or talk to one trusted friend and have them spread the word. I know when my friend’s mom died, she was really worried about what would happen in a couple months when the support slowed down a bit. She told her best friend and she kind of relayed the message to us.

      I also think you should consider talking to a therapist if you aren’t already. Break-ups can be hard on friendships and sometimes it’s nice to have someone who has to listen to you vent.

    9. Come On Eileen

      Thanks everyone, this is truly helpful to me. Especially the need to find and talk to a therapist,come thing I’ve done in the past for other issues but have been putting off for some reason. When we split up, He asked if he could “keep” our couples counselor and I said of course because I was so happy to see he wanted to keep up that outlet. But at the same time, it means I can’t really keep seeing our counselor on my own and need to find one of my own. Will start the hunt this week.

      You guys really rock.

  37. Traveler

    I am sorry to hear you’re really sad. I know its rough when you’ve been together a long time and thought you’d have a future together. I have been there. I think there is a certain element of people being caught up in their own lives. I make efforts to check in on my friends when I know they’ve gone through a rough breakup, but especially when they start to seem okay, I assume they are. I also assume they will reach out to me when they need help, so I don’t really do “check-ins”. I’m here when they need me though. I think on the nights when you need the extra help you just call or text and say exactly what you said here.

    Is there another outlet to talk through things? A therapist or family or another circle of friends? Also, I know this will sound a little cliche and I hated having it suggested to me when I was in the situation so, take it for what its worth but… have you considered finding other things to fill your time when you’re sad like this? Rewatching a movie you love? Starting a new hobby? Playing a game? Maybe (if you’re ready?) start very casually dating? At first these things didn’t work for me, but once I found myself in new routines and meeting new people I eventually woke up one day and realized I wasn’t sad anymore.

  38. Tara

    Fantasy books! Tell me your favourites, what you look for, what bothers you, etc. I loved fantasy as a kid and ASOIAF has rekindled my taste for it!

    I’m rereading The Kingkiller Chronicle right now, and it’s basically everything I love in fantasy: super readable (I despise wading through prose that I have to read twice to understand), compelling characters, interesting magic, the conflicts are a mix between fantastical and real world issues… And cheesy though it may be, I love meaningful, well-written friendships. I’m meh on the romance part of it, and I think his female characters could use some work, but overall one of my faves. I’m going to reread some David Eddings when I’m done and see if it’s as good as I remember!

    1. S

      Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Suzanna Clarke. I read it in 9th grade and it’s been my favorite book ever since. Sass and a Victorian-era world where magic is the norm? I’m sold!

    2. ThatLibTech

      The Kushiel Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey is by far my favourite, but it’s much more alternative history fantasy than “true” fantasy. Features BDSM elements, but probably less intensely packed than 50 Shades, and a heck of a lot of consensual and loving, and with less awkward British anachronisms. Also has fantastical/religious elements, as the gods of the people the main character belongs to feature heavily in their lives, especially one of them, as the main character is a devotee of two of them. They are also really lengthy reads, so its good if you want something meaty to read for a long while rather than having to quickly find something new to read again. It technically extends to nine books now, but the latter three are a “new” trilogy set several hundred (I think) years after the first six.

      Quite a few characters are introduced in the first book, which I found to be confusing at times (so having the Dramatis Peronsae was useful!), but it was easy to follow along after a while. Queer characters are relationships are treated pretty well in this series, which is awesome! Although, quite a few die, so it can fall into some tropes about that pretty easily. Romance does figure heavily into it in later books, but it’s not the main focus?

    3. thisisit

      i read a recent series by kate elliott (I can’t think of what it is called, but i want to say the first book is called Cold Magic?). i loved it – LOVED the main character.

      lately, i’ve been branching out to women of color (think in the vein of Octavia Butler), but they tend to be more post-apocalyptic or just generally less light-hearted.

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      The Night Threads series by Ru Emerson. Three modern day (early 90s) Los Angelenos get sucked into another world that is technologically backward but has magic instead. There are 6 books, but the first three are better than the second three.

      They may be out of print, but you can probably find them used on Amazon.

    5. Jen RO

      The Mythago Cycle by Robert Holdstock is among my favorites. The books are connected, but
      most of them can be read stand-along too. I recommend reading them in publication order. The main idea is that there is a wood where archetypes in our subconscious can come to life, and the main characters both create and interact with these mythagos. I found it utterly fascinating 15 years ago when I first read the novella that spawned the series, and it’s stayed with him through the years and 4-5 re-reads. (However, I don’t think it is anything near what you describe in your post… so it’s very possible that you will not like it. It’s introspective and not very epic or adventurey.)

      For an even older favorite of mine – anything by Roger Zelazny. Even his sci-fi is still fantasy-ish. I would start with the Amber Chronicles – 10 books, but in total just about the size of a GRRM :)

      In modern fantasy, Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora series (3 books so far) is so, so fun – both in the sense of Adventure! and in the sense that Lynch’s writing is funny.

    6. Mints

      My nerds! Embassytown is a super unusual book that if you read and you like, you’ll try to evangelize all your friends to read because there’s so much discussion begging. People who didn’t like it said the plot was muddled, which I get, but it’s still amazing.

      Two urban fantasy series: Mercy Thompso by Patricia Briggs, and Peter Grant by Ben Aaronovitch.
      Peter Grant is so so funny and the main character is a huge nerd he becomes a wizard late in life. He makes LOTR and D&D references. It’s set in modern London. There’s four books and the last ends on kind of a cliff hanger, so you’ve been warned.
      Mercy Thompson is action packed and exciting. She’s kicking ass all over town. There are so many great secondary characters as well. This is set in modern Oregon. There are nine books, and there will probably be more, but it ends okay.

    7. Jill of All Trades

      I liked the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I think someone here recommended it a while back which is how I heard of it. She’s a literary detective in an alternate 1980’s England who has a father who can stop time. I don’t want to give away too much but I looked at book characters differently for a while.

    8. V. Meadowsweet

      off the top of my head because I’m either currently reading or waiting for a new book:
      Bazil Broketail (Christopher Rowley)
      most anything by Andre Norton (I don’t know that everything stands up well, but she was a gateway for me :) )
      Iron Druid Chronicles (Keven Hearne)
      The Deed of Paksenarrion (Elizabeth Moon)
      Black Jewels series, Others series (Anne Bishop)

      I’ll have a think and see what else pops up!

    9. Short and Stout

      Everything in Ian M. Banks’ Culture Series. Look to Windward is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

      1. Puffle

        I know I’m late here, but I’ve been reading the Culture series for the first time recently and it is SO GOOD! I’m genuinely sad that I’m on the last book (just read the prologue to The Hydrogen Sonata). I love Look to Windward and Surface Detail.

    10. CV

      I’ve been enjoying Amanda Downum’s Necromancer Chronicles – the second in the series, The Drowning City, is a particular standout. (And while the series has the same main character, each book stands alone). The books are worth a read just for the diversity of characters and avoidance of the old tropes that can plague fantasy.
      Also worth a read is Harry Connely’s A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark. This fits into more urban fantasy, but has an older woman as the main character (with whom I am in love and hope to read more about!)

  39. ThatLibTech

    How does one motivate themselves to unpack boxes after a move? Almost all of the essentials/things we “need” have been unpacked, so a lot sitting around is stuff we don’t need at the moment, or will just be shelved, or is possibly stuff that will end up being donated in the end. Is it a matter of setting yourself a goal of a box per day or week? Clean up one area of a very packed spare bedroom or basement? Hire tiny minions to do the work for you?

    1. Jillociraptor

      We hired people to unpack our boxes. Especially the kitchen. Unpacking a kitchen is the absolute worst. It was actually pretty reasonable (I think we paid by the box, maybe a total of $300 for our 700 sq ft apartment?). Even though they only take the things out of the box and place them on a surface, it’s a really good motivator to put stuff away.

    2. thisisit

      you are supposed to unpack them? :D

      i read somewhere that if you don’t touch any of the things in a box for a year, you should just get rid of the box.
      one box a week sounds like a reasonable plan though?

      1. the gold digger

        In my funeral plans for my husband, who is not dead and should not be dead for a while, the first thing I do after he is buried/burned/whatever, or maybe even before, is throw away all his boxes in the basement that have been there since we moved into the house eight years ago and have never opened once. Not even once.

        1. Blue_eyes

          My dad has been cleaning out the basement in recent years and his criteria is “Will blue_eyes have to throw this away when I die? If yes, then toss.”

          1. Catherine in Canada

            After slogging through my m-i-l’s piles and boxes and envelopes and bags and loose stuff and furniture and clothing and (obviously 10 years isn’t enough time to have calmed down…) I decided “if my executor doesn’t know why I am keeping this, why AM I keeping it?”

            1. the gold digger

              Catherine, I am dreading the cleanup of my husband’s parents’ house. His refrain when I ask him to get rid of junk is to tell me that he is not as bad as his parents, which is true, as he did not move a bag of regular old newspapers halfway across the country, but he is setting the bar very low. If it were up to me, when we have to do the task, I would take it all to the dump and set it on fire, but he is going to want to go through everything and evaluate every single piece of tchotkes on its merits, even though I have stated categorically that I want NOTHING from their house in ours.

    3. Satsuma

      I love unpacking. Putting everything in its new home. I think it is a nesting ritual for a new home. When I was small, I would unpack everything for my siblings’ rooms once I ran out of my own boxes to unpack.

      I do hate packing though.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I’m the same way. I hate packing (HAAAAATE), but I love to unpack and put things in new places. However, I almost always end up with a couple of boxes that I just don’t want to touch for some reason. I lose my mojo. We’ve lived here 8 months and there’s still a cardboard box of DVDs sitting in our living room, but I blame my boyfriend for that.

        I’d go with minions. Or tell yourself you’ll unpack for 15 minutes, then do that, do it again later or the next day, keep going until it’s done.

        1. thisisit

          dvds!? that’s a box that can go straight to goodwill.

          disclaimer: my husband still has boxes of cassette tapes. it makes me cry.

          1. Persephone Mulberry

            We have over 500 CDs in our garage. They are all ripped to itunes, but DH refuses to get rid of them because what if the computer crashes and he has to rip them all over again? I’m sure there must be a way to back it up, but he loves that kind of mindless project.

              1. fposte

                Not for your private stuff, as far as I can tell; that’s just for stuff purchased through iTunes. And I’m keeping my CDs because iTunes tends to mess with the tracks over time. (Sorry, Penelope; you don’t have to pass that on to your husband.)

                1. thisisit

                  oh that’s annoying. s you have to back up on an external drive or something? this is why i just use spotify. :D

            1. V. Meadowsweet

              well, and the whole ‘you can legally have the ripped files because you own the physical media’ thing… :)

          2. Katie the Fed

            My dad used to faithfully record every episode of Prairie Home Companion on cassette tape and carefully index them. I think he was still carting around that box around the time of my parent’s last move and my mom finally made him ditch it :)

            1. Windchime

              Listening to Pairie Home Companion is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s just such good, simple, corny fun.

    4. Jazzy Red

      Unpacking boxes and finding new homes for your things is a lot of work. I think your best bet is do one box at a time. If at all possible, have the unpacked boxes out of sight (if you can’t move them somewhere else, throw a bedsheet over them. You just don’t want to keep seeing them and feeling like you have ALL THIS STUFF to put away.)

      Then take one box and set up your work area. Have a trash bag ready and an empty box to for things you don’t really need or want. You can make a fancy label for it, or just write “donations” on it. Just having it there might help you weed out excess items that are still good enough for other people to use. Take the trash out and get the donations out as soon as you fill the box. This will prevent you from “donating” the stuff back to yourself.

      Don’t beat yourself up for taking your time with these, but do set yourself a deadline – maybe Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving…it doesn’t matter what your deadline is. Just having one will help you keep going.

      Reward yourself for each box you unpack, and enjoy your new home!

    5. Graciosa

      Do a manageable amount every day – for example, two 20:10s or one 45:15 (work:break ration from the unf***yourhabitat site). Use a timer and be very disciplined about your breaks. This is like dieting or exercise – consistent smaller efforts produce better results than inconsistent large (marathon-cleaning) ones.

      As far as what to tackle first, do whatever will make you feel you’re accomplishing something. That may mean focusing on one area, or one type of box (get all the off-season clothes / archived records / tools put away) but the important thing is taking satisfaction in small signs of progress.

      And I too vote for as many minions as your budget allows –

      1. Katie the Fed

        My husband and I for a while made ourselves clean up for only 15 minutes a day – it made a huge difference.

        …then we got lazy again.

    6. Katie the Fed

      I hate unpacking suitcases! I will leave them for WEEKS if I can. And then it gets to the point of “where is that thing? UGH it’s under all my smelly clothes! dammit!”

      So now I just dump all the contents smack in the middle of the floor when I get home. Boxes similar – I just unpack and put the stuff on the counter – then I have to put it away.

      I’m in the midst of packing right now – trying to do a couple boxes a day so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

      1. thisisit

        i never unpack suitcases because i just have to pack them again next month anyway!

        dumping things out in a big pile never worked for me, because i will literally just work around, sleep under, sit on top of the piles. it’s almost pathological how i can’t just put stuff away.

        1. Tomato Frog

          Yep. There’s a pile of clothes sitting in the middle of my living room floor right now. Been there since I got back from my trip two weeks ago. It’s getting smaller, though, so there’s that.

          1. fposte

            I try for the “do five” approach. I can usually pick up five things. Plus doing it numerically forces me to acknowledge those “invisible” items that have been sitting on the table needlessly forever.

            1. DMented Kitty

              Oh god, my husband leaves things on every available surface — bills/paperwork/spam/dead batteries on the dining table, nail clippers/nail file/charging cables/bottle caps on the coffee table by the basement, dirty laundry on the floor — wherever. He schedules times when he would pick up some of these things and put them away, but the only time every surface is completely clean is when there are guests coming by and he absolutely has to make the place look less embarrassingly dorm room.

              I, on the other hand, am quite anal — I do not like stuff sitting on any surface for more than a day. Drives me bonkers. If there’s any unwashed dishes by the sink for more than 12 hours, I either wash them or put them in the dishwasher. Heck, when I’m cooking something, I wash the used equipment almost immediately. Usually by the time the food’s ready, the counters have been cleared and wiped down. Chef Ramsay would be proud. My husband tries hard to clear up the sink/kitchen while cooking (otherwise he can’t use the same measuring cup for another ingredient), but sometimes when I take a glance while he’s working I feel like a food fight just happened. Onion skins on the floor, sauces on every surface… it looks overwhelming.

              But that’s how we complement each other, I guess — I thrive in order, he thrives in chaos.

    7. Treena Kravm

      What I do is I set a goal of at least opening one box/day. I usually start in the kitchen, then the living spaces, then the bedrooms, then all the leftover “stuff” boxes. While unpacking, I only take the stuff out of the box that I have a real place for. I don’t just empty a box just to say it’s empty. I’ll then combine boxes with leftover stuff. Once all the sealed boxes have been opened up, I’ll try one more time to find everything a home, but then after that, they get tossed. If you’re not a daily person, tell yourself you’re going to donate all the boxes in 1-2 months sight unseen, so you better start unpacking!

    8. Sourire

      I moved into my house last January and the guest bedroom is still a staging area… it’s more than a little embarrassing. *hangs head in shame* On the plus side, it’s saved me lots of money on having to furnish that room, right? I keep telling myself that…

      At at rate, I think I need to adopt the, if I haven’t wanted it/used it yet, clearly I don’t need it mantra and just go ahead and donate whatever is left in there. And I need to make my lazy bum fold up and recycle all of the cardboard boxes and get rid of all the packing material. What an enourmous waste it all seems like. I did save all of the boxes dishes came in, as well as nicer/sturdier packing materials for the next move, but there’s still a lot of trash. Am I the only one who really hates that part – not the unpacking, but the dealing with the mess afterward?

    9. Not So NewReader

      Seriously think about “do I even want this stuff?”. It could be that you do not need it or want it.
      Sometimes our actions show us what we really think. If you are going to donate it in 3 months or 3 years, why not donate it now? Why put yourself through a prolonged agony when you can detach now.I would get some empties from somewhere and pack up the stuff to donate right as you go along. Try to find an easy to access place to donate them so it becomes reasonable to have two or three boxes in your car for the next time you happen to go by that place. Near your favorite grocery store or near your work place is ideal. For serious motivation I would watch one of those hoarder shows. That would get me up and moving. I could see me piling stuff up, not because I so attached to the items but because I don’t care about stuff piling up. Not caring is pretty scary, too.

    10. Al Lo

      I plan to host something within a couple weeks, max, of moving in. That at least gets the bulk of the house in order. Whether it’s a house-warming open house, a family dinner, or just some friends for dinner, we always aim to have our first company over soon.

    1. S

      Best: 2 things! #1, the event that my coworker and I planned went off really well! The stressful thing is that neither of us were hired to do this job; we’re holding down the fort while waiting for the hiring process to work its magic. So it was a relief to see it go well. #2, I got to see Mr. Brandon Flowers of The Killers play a show to 200 people in a sweaty club. I’ve loved The Killers for more than a decade, but never saw them live, so this was a special treat.

      Worst: Besides this killer stomachache I have? Getting harassed by 2 drunk men after the event. It got to the point where when 1 coworker (male) and I (female) called an Uber, we walked laps around the block instead of staying put in one place while waiting for the car.

    2. Miss Pronounced

      Best: Enjoying my first roommate free night at my new place. Silence! Not dealing with a dirty kitchen! OMG undisturbed sleep possibilities! No more obnoxious animals/significant others (btw, those are both separate creatures)!
      Worst: Having my “me” time compromised by parties mentioned above…and me allowing my situation to go on for too long which affected me personally/professionally somewhat.

    3. StillHealing

      Best: Wonderful relaxing week of vacation to visit bff who recently had a life changing surgery. We met up with other bff’s from High School. Quality girl friend time. Got lots of sun everyday.

      Worst: Can’t think of anything. Still got my vacation buzz going after flying back home today.

    4. Carrie in Scotland

      Worst: going to work when it was warm and sunny outside made worse by not actually having any work to do.

      Hmm: I have a crush but I suspect it’s one-sided.

      Best: 3 day weekend from work and I heard the most incredible singer in a cathedral. She was singing in a concert for her 16th birthday. How amazing is that? And also, good conversation with the crush (who said my friends & I are going to see this girl play. Want to come?)

    5. thisisit

      best: i got a new job! with an AMAZING offer package.

      worst: in the last stages of getting a report done and i am so tired of it! but it’s standing between me and a lot of free time (to pack, find a new apt, explore my city, etc, etc).

    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      Best: Our outdoor furniture arrived! And my boyfriend put it together all by himself and unasked! Then we went to the wine store, and they were having a sale, and I finally splurged on a case that included 6 bottles of my very favorite dry German Riesling. Feels very summery around here!

      Worst: I had a rough work trip and didn’t get enough done, so I have to work today. Only for a couple of hours, but BLECH.

    7. Jen RO

      Best: All my meetings with my boss went well. This *never* happens, he always wants more spreadsheets out of me or my ideas are “good, but…”. This week he agreed with everything, he OK’ed my slides for an important presentation, and he didn’t want me to make a plan for making a plan!

      I also went out with a former coworker, who moved to a different country and was visiting for a few days. We went dancing and drinking and even though we were probably 10 years older than anyone in the bar, it was super fun.

      Worst: The list of things to do at work never ends…

    8. danr

      Best: Lovely spring weather and warm days.
      Worst: Lovely spring weather and warm days and unbearable pollen. The cedar pollen is the worst.

      1. Windchime

        My car was covered with pollen the other day when I went outside after work. I had to use my washer and wipers so I could see. The allergist at work said that this is the worst pollen year in 19 years in the Seattle area. Ugh.

    9. Mimmy

      Best:
      1) Beautiful spring weather yesterday
      2) seeing my nephew in a high school adaptation of “Anything Goes”. His part was smaller than originally planned (long, ugly story…not his fault), but the play itself was fun.

      Worst:
      1) My class is really starting to lose the worth of what I paid to take it – thank god for my awesome classmate, who shares my frustrations
      2) Inching closer to diabetes :( Must. Not. Let. That. Happen.

    10. neversawthatb4

      Best: Attended President’s reception for employees celebrating their 25th Anniversary with the organization.

      Worst: The sink full of dirty dishes in my kitchen.

    11. Mints

      Best: I went to a con yesterday, and wore my first costume from last year again (my only cosplay so far). I had the same experience yesterday as I did a year ago, when as I’m putting on the pieces of the costume, seeing it all come together made me so damn excited.

      Worst: I have approximately 500 ideas for costumes for the con next month. And my legs are tired and it’s 11 and I’ve done nothing today. The apartment is a mess. Post con, in general.

    12. Trixie

      Best: New blogging project looks to proceed, which provide new experience and much needed additional income. Trial period to start followed by longer contract that go move with me wherever I live.

      Worst: Rejected by Whole Foods for PT position. Think this is one of those things I should really go in and casually chat up the staff or manager, and then inquire about hours.

    13. Windchime

      Best: I’m over the bronchitis, yay!
      Worst: Had to go to the walk-in clinic today for the mother of all migraines.

      I will be SO GLAD when April is over.

      1. De Minimis

        Best…got through the ordeal of moving my wife and the dogs cross country….ended up with TWO U-hauls that we drove in a convoy along with my dad driving our car.

        Worst—having to come back here and try to pack up what’s left in this house. But I’m thinking I’ll be over there with her in maybe six weeks or so.

  40. CoffeeLover

    I just booked a last minute trip flying in and out of Paris! I’m flying in on the 22 and back on the 29 (so that’s a full 7 days). I’d like to spend a few days in Paris and then travel around a bit. Any recommendations on where I can go/what to do? I’m on a tight budget so I’m looking for cool places to walk around and sight see with a possible day at the beach.

    1. Katie the Fed

      What’s your budget?

      I don’t know if you’re a history buff, but I highly recommend Normandy for a trip outside of Paris. It’s closer than Provence and full of charming little towns full of people who actually like Americans (seriously!) and is beautiful with lots of history. Obviously you’ve got the WWII stuff – I highly recommend a visit to the American cemetery and the D-Day beaches, and places like St. Mere Eglise – I don’t think you can really appreciate what the allied forces accomplished until you actually see the terrain. And then you can explore little towns and drink calvados (French firewater) – it’s a nice change of pace from Paris and people are lovely. There are beaches but they’re going to be cold this time of year – I went in April and it was quite chilly.

      Have a lovely trip! I really enjoy France. I would recommend the south but I’m not sure you have enough time this trip to make it worthwhile. You don’t want to be too rushed.

      1. CoffeeLover

        I’ll definitely check out Normandy. I’m not a huge history buff, but I feel like that one’s a must see. Plus from the way you describe it, it sounds like a nice break from Paris regardless.

        Thank you :).

    2. the gold digger

      The Sewer Museum is really cool. Really!

      I second Normandy. It is heartbreaking to look at those rows and rows of crosses and Stars of David.

      There is also a German war dead ossuary near Mont St Michel with mementos from the soldiers. I still remember the letter home from the 17 year old soldier who asked about his dog. Just as heartbreaking as the American cemetery.

        1. Jackie

          Another vote for Normandy! And if you are on a budget, look into the site “covoiturage”. It is a carpool site and often much cheaper than taking a train. I’ve used it several times and have never had any problems.

          1. CoffeeLover

            Ooo I’ve never heard of that and will check it out. Train tickets are pretty pricy in Europe (note: I fairly recently travelled SE Asia where everything is dirt cheap… I’m suffering from sticker shock.)

        2. CoffeeLover

          Haha I don’t know if I have too many museum trips left in me (Amsterdam, anyone?). Maybe some cool, specialty ones might be interesting though. I think I’m in for a few days of rain anyway so maybe I’ll save the sewer and police museums for then. Thank you!

    3. Yoshi

      There is a high speed train that goes from Paris to Marsailles- I think my friend said it was 3.5 hours each way. I’ve never done it but she lives in Paris and does it regularly enough and enjoys it.

      Is it your first trip to Paris? There is more than enough to do in Paris for seven days, and I’d recommend a day trip to Versailles (easy train trip on the RER). Giverny is also a hit, but I’m unsure of whether the train goes there.

      1. Jen RO

        I would honestly not recommend Marseilles… the port is very nice, but you will see it in 3 hours tops, and I don’t think there’s really anything else that is a must-see. I ended up in some neighborhoods where I did not feel safe… If you do go to the Marseille area, you would probably be better off taking a train further on, to the Cote d’Azur, which is gorgeous.

        1. blackcat

          I’ll ditto this. Cassis is a beautiful small town close to Marseille with great hiking (if that’s your thing). If you want to a south of france trip on a budget, there are some good, safe, and cheap small hotels in Nice. From there, there are cheap busses to places like Monaco and Cannes.

          In high school, I did an exchange where I stayed in a Rouen suburb. Rouen is great, and less crowded. If you want to go north and still see some ocean, Honfleur is quite nice.

    4. Jen RO

      Go to a park! Or multiple parks! I particularly like the Jardin de Luxembourg.

      Last time I was there I went on one of the free tours (with the Discover Walks company). They are not *really* free, in that you are expected to tip, but I felt that was 12 euro well spent. (I went to the Marais neighborhood, but if it’s your first time in Paris you should probably go somewhere more touristy.)

      1. Dynamic Beige

        The only problem with parks and such in Paris is they all smell of cat piss. They’re beautiful, but ew, you do have to kind of hold your nose and get used to it. The cemeteries are free and very interesting if you like architecture. Pere Lachaise has a lot of famous graves in it, including Jim Morrison’s. But it’s not like a North American cemetery — there are amazing buildings and sculptures over most of the graves, the more modern ones are just a simple granite/marble slab. There’s one from the 1800’s of a guy who was a balloonist that’s very tall and has descriptions on it of the adventures he took. There’s a pyramid, I forget who for, that you can see into if you have a flashlight and is lined with an entire family (I assume). There were lots of niches covering all the interior walls. Even many of the smaller ones have prie-dieu over them.

        Versailles is a full day trip out of town, it’s huge so you will need either really good shoes or to splurge on renting a bicycle or the tram ticket (if it’s running in April). The first time I went, all I could think was “OK, now I get why the peasants revolted”

        I’m not sure how often they do this, or how the weather has to be for it to happen but one day I tried to go to the Jardin des Plantes, a medicinal herb garden. One of the things about Paris is that everything closes early, compared to what I am used to here (seriously, research and plan it out what’s open late at night if you’re not going to relax in your room and don’t want to club). So, by the time I got there it was too late to really see it. I went out had some dinner and decided to walk along the park next to the Seine, there was a sculpture garden and I heard music. There are these half moon shapes carved out along the river there and people dance in them. It’s like a block party. One was full of people tangoing, another had some kind of folk dance. I think someone just shows up with a boom box and a generator and people come out and dance, it was pretty neat.

        1. Katie the Fed

          I kind of feel like Versailles isn’t worth the time, unless you REALLY like looking at old palaces. I felt kind of “meh” about it. I’ve seen better :D

        2. Jackie

          I’ve got to disagree about the parks in Paris smelling . . . . And if the weather is as nice as it’s been lately, I would definitely recommend picnicking ! It’s a cheap and delicious way to eat. :)

        3. Yoshi

          It took me about 4-5 hours to get through Versailles, although we only did a tour of the main palace and a nice long stroll around the gardens. None of the smaller structures, but I definitely feel like I’ve seen it.

          Also, I kind of think all cities smell like piss. Paris, London, NYC, LA, DC…. yeah. Thats just what cities smell like. I was in Paris the second week of March, and we got lucky and had beautiful weather. I spent many gloriously lazy afternoons in the park– man! I’d go back tonight if I could. Whatever you decide to do- ENJOY!!

          1. Dynamic Beige

            True, all cities do smell. I just remember the shock of it — ooo! pretty park! Ugh, what’s that smell? After the initial “oh geez, that’s ripe” it starts to fade as I remember that yes, this is a city and they do smell. I live in a rural area, so it’s also mainly my bias. The air is pretty clean out here, and I just naturally associate green grass and trees with not smelling that way.

            If cemeteries are your thing, CoffeeLover, there’s also one that’s partially under an elevated road way in Montmartre. And there is some sort of underground crypt tour that you can do somewhere, I’m sure you could find it with little trouble.

            I get you about being a night owl and having problems with mornings, but for this trip, you may have to bite the bullet and unlearn that for the week, especially with the time change. One of the big mistakes we made the first time there was that breakfast was free at our hotel, but it ended at 9:30am. There were some surly staff as we got there at 9:15. Also, things like if you want to climb the towers of Notre Dame, get there early as, depending on the season and how many tourists there are, there can be a big line. There’s also an amazing ice cream shop right near by, I can never remember which is right or left bank, if you’re looking right at the front of ND, it’s to the left (over the bridge and a couple hundred meters up, you’ll looking at the back end of ND from across the river, IIRC). One thing I also did one day is right on the tip of that island furthest away from ND is a small park. Sitting there, it’s like being in a boat as the river flows past you on both sides, which was kind of a neat place to grab a quick bite. Also, if you run out of reading material, Shakespeare and Co. is right near by ND, very famous bookstore that sells English titles.

          2. Felicia

            I live in a very big city, and have been to many other big cities, and Paris is the only one I ever thought smelled like piss. I never noticed it in my home city, which is the 4th biggest in North America, or any of the other like 3 big cities I’ve been to. Only Paris. I still loved it. It just smelled differently and worse than other big cities.

        4. CoffeeLover

          It’s like you know me! I love sleuthing around cemeteries. I’ll try and check out Pere Lachaise.
          I’ll have to be careful with closing times. I’m not planning to party that much while there, but I’m a natural night owl and tend to sleep in late.

      2. CoffeeLover

        Maybe a nice trip to the park can replace a day at the beach (seems you all are saying the weather isn’t quite up to it yet… wishful thinking on my part after a long winter I suppose). I’ll definitely try to check out a walking tour. I had a great experience with one in Warsaw recently.

        Thank you for the tips!

    5. thisisit

      mont martre (in paris) and the cheateaux of the loire valley. maybe even a vineyard?

      beach visit – not sure about the weather?

    6. Carrie in Scotland

      Oh, Paris! I’m only a little jealous!

      I’ll agree with not going to Versailles unless you’re very much into that sort of thing, it’s also very busy.

      I’d recommend going up something e.g. Arc de triomphe for the view.

      la promenade plantee is a park on a disused railway line.

      I strongly suggest going to an ice cream parlour on the smaller island in the seine (not the one with Notre Dame, but it’s connected to it) called Berthillon.

      If you like books visit Shakespeare & Company, it’s fabulous! (also near Notre Dame)

      1. CoffeeLover

        Maybe the Arc de Triomphe would be a good alternative for the Eiffel Tower because I have no intention of standing in that line. Ya, I’m on the fence with Versailles, but I’ll look into the other places you mentioned as well. Thank you!

  41. Jazzy Red

    My dog protected our backyard from an invader this morning! It wasn’t quite light out yet when she went outside, and she started barking like crazy. She wouldn’t come in when I called her, so I went and got some shoes on, and started hiking across the yard. She “treed” a possum on top of the privacy fence. I know that they can be fierce and that they have very sharp teeth, and I was scared of it. I ran back in the house and got my dog’s leash, and started beating the clasp end on the fence to scare it off. Apparently, possums aren’t much afraid of barking dogs or women shouting “get out of my yard” and brandishing a dog leash, so I started beating the damn critter with the heavy clasp end of the leash until it left.

    I’ve been watching Cesar Millan on TV and knew that the only way to calm my dog was to calm myself first. No easy task, that. I’m a city girl and I would not have been more scared if that possum had been a mountain lion. However, once it was gone I was able to get a grip on myself and started praising my dog for being such a good protector (she sees that as her job anyway).

    This is the day that the Lord has made. I’ll be sure to thank Him for it at church later.

    1. Katie the Fed

      Possums are so gross with their beady little eyes and those nasty tails. ((shudder))

      1. Tris Prior

        ew. ew. ew. ew. I hate possums. When I was little, a possum laid down between the wheel of my parents’ car and the curb when it was parked in front of my house. And died there. With its beady little eyes open. Completely freaked me out. To this day I cannot stand those things.

    2. class factotum

      Our cat attacked a baby possum. We heard her crying her “I have caught something! Come tell me what a good hunter I am!” cry and went outside only to find a very angry but very injured baby possum. I was worried Mama Possum might be around. We faced the moral dilemma of what do you do with an animal that is clearly suffering and probably dying? Story following.

    3. Rebecca

      I really dislike possums. I chase them away with my broom, yes, you can picture it – a woman chasing a possum by hitting it with a broom across the yard. One wouldn’t take the hint last year, and it had to be dispatched. I just wish they’d stay away, but I’m in the country, and they’re just trying to make a living too.

      1. chump with a degree

        I like possums-they eat the slugs and snails that would eat my garden. Raccoons, though, nasty little hands. Ugh.

  42. CrazyCatLady

    I found out this weekend that my cat has chronic kidney disease (stage 2 of 4). The vet assured me it could be controlled with diet but I’m kind of freaking out. My cat is 9 and she’s been the one constant in my life over the past 9 years. I don’t have children, so she’s like a child to me. :(

    1. The Other Dawn

      I’m so sorry to hear that! I have 12 cats and no children, but my husband and I feel the same way; they’re our babies. I have no advice other than to say make sure you stick to the diet the vet prescribes. And I have lots of empathy; it’s so hard when our babies have health issues.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      It will be okay! One of our cats developed really bad urine crystals on regular food, to the point that he may have minor kidney damage (he went from fine to death’s door over a weekend – talk about scary!). So he is on prescription food for the rest of his life. He is absolutely THRIVING on his “new” (it’s been about two years now) diet.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Same thing happened to one of my cats. It’s a scary thing. All I could think about was the pain he must have been in from not being able to relieve himself. He did really well on the prescription diet, though, and was fine once he started that.

    3. Sunday

      Aww, poor you and kitty. My 17 year old girl has had kidney and bladder issues for 5 years. Did end up with surgery to remove bladder stones (and got my girl with her pain free personality back). Am feeding her more expensive food and making sure there’s more liquid in her diet. So yes, you’ll need to pay attention to it but no it’s not a disaster. Found a wet food she’d eat, and make sure she has fresh water daily, and she’s been stable for years. Finding the wet food she’d eat was a challenge, so don’t give up easily if she’s picky. (She won’t eat canned food or baby food, nor would she eat the really expensive fresh or raw frozen foods; she does eat a poultry pieces in a “gravy” [which I dilute with water] that comes in bpa free pouches.)

      Apparently this is a common issue for cats who’ve had high kibble diets. My girl was an indoor/outdoor cat for 7 years, before becoming an indoor cat. When she supplemented her kibble with hunting, she did better than converting to just kibble. She loves her wet food now, with kibble on the side and is holding her own. My vet wanted her on a low protein diet so wasn’t happy about the pouches at first, but she wouldn’t eat the expensive kidney diet kibble and the pet food store pointed out that the wet food and the grain free kibble had the same percent protein than the kidney diet kibble. Now the vet says steady as she goes.

      Hugs to you both.

    4. catsAreCool

      Cats are family. At least it can be controlled with diet. I had a kitty who was on a couple of different good-for-the-kidneys diet for around 7 years. She lived to be almost 16. There are usually a few different food brands and types that will work. It’s a good idea to try a few to find out which one your kitty likes. I didn’t know this, and for a few years, my kitty would look at the food bowl and then give me this look that clearly meant “This isn’t the good stuff.” I switched to a different brand (vet’s recommendation), and she liked it.

    5. Windchime

      Your cat can have more happy, healthy years on the new diet. My old guy died at the age of 18 or 19 but was first diagnosed with kidney disease in his very early teens. I put him on the special diet and really encouraged the water drinking and I think that helped. Also, be sure to have her teeth checked; having healthy teeth will help her overall health.

  43. The Other Dawn

    When I started my “eat through the kitchen” challenge over a month ago, I discovered a large onion and garlic seasoned pork loin roast, which was vacuum-packed. The problem? It’s dated February 2012. Is this safe to eat, or is it just a matter of taste/texture? I hate to toss it since it was a 20.00 roast, but….I’m a little afraid. So, what say you? Eat or toss?

    And, yes, I still have meat in my freezer! Although it’s all chicken at this point. Getting to the end, though.

    1. Katie the Fed

      I just checked on the USDA page and they seem to think it’s ok. The only issue with freezing is the quality, not bacteria. But give it the sniff test after you thaw it – if anything seems off I’d toss it.

    2. CoffeeLover

      I found a few articles online that say uncooked roast is good up to a year if kept in the freezer. That being said… how good is your sense of smell? I can always smell when meat has gone bad. I would defrost it and give it a good sniff. So if you want to play it safe: throw it away. If you’re up for some risk: defrost and smell test. :P

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      Does it look freezer burnt at all? I don’t know much about vacuum sealing. I’m sure it’s SAFE to eat as long as it hadn’t been thawed and refrozen, but yeah, not sure about the quality. I’d throw it in the slow cooker rather than the oven, but I wouldn’t let it go to waste. I pretty much only throw out frozen stuff that looks like it’s unsalvageably freezer burnt.

    4. Bea W

      It’s Apr 2015 :) I would toss that unless desperately hungry. Even if it is safe. It will probably taste like freezer.

      1. Bea W

        If it passes the sniff/texture test after thawing you could always cook it. Worst case scenario is it tastes like sweaty butt and you toss it out, which is your other alternative anyway.

    5. Cruciatus

      Tough call. My family eats outdated stuff all the time and we’re all still alive (and no food poisoning issues that I know of). My mom buys too much for the freezer when stuff is on sale (and won’t let me keep an inventory chart) so she’s constantly finding food from years ago. Be prepared for the worst when opening it/defrosting it and throw it away if it looks or smells weird. Otherwise, as long as you cook it properly, the worst will probably be that the texture is off (probably a bit tougher) and that may not even be an issue.

    6. class factotum

      Trying to do that myself – we bought a deep freezer a few years ago so we could accommodate the yearly bestowing of the venison bratwurst from my uncle the butcher and the buying of the ground llama and the porterhouse steaks from the butcher in my mom and dad’s hometown whose building used to be the garage where my grandfather started his auto repair business.

      Our meat accumulation plus the Grandchildren of the Depression mentality that both my husband and I hold, which means we see stuff on sale and buy it because we might never see that price again, means we have a lot of stuff.

      So the meat is easy – what should I do with the 18-month old masa left over from the tamalada at my friend Christina’s mom’s house? Senora B taught me to make tamales and sent me home with a ton of masa, but now that I know what is involved in making tamales, I don’t want to do it any more.

    7. hermit crab

      In my experienced but definitely-not-a-medical-professional opinion, I’d say it’s definitely safe as long as it’s been frozen the entire time and you cook it properly. Taste/texture is a different story, though. Also, if you are grossed out by it (and/or will give yourself a psychosomatic stomach ache from eating it, which is something I absolutely do), then I think it’s not worth it!

    8. The Other Dawn

      Yes, it’s been frozen the whole time, vacuum-sealed by the vendor, and doesn’t show any freezer burn. It’s one of those preseasoned garlic and onion pork roasts. It’s huge and I’d hate for it to go to waste. I think I’ll defrost on Thursday and see what happens.

      This whole “eat through the kitchen” thing has really opened my eyes to the amount of unnecessary grocery shopping I used to do. NOw when I go to the store I try to buy only what I need (veggies, dairy, some staples) in order to make a few meals with the meat I already have. I haven’t bought any meat other than some hot dogs and hamburgers in about two months. It’s really testing my willpower, but I’ve saved some money, which is important right now.

      Oh, and only 9 days until Awful Tenant leaves!!!!!! So happy!

      1. Cruciatus

        Hmm, if the roast doesn’t work out, perhaps you could give it to them as a goodbye gift…

  44. Bea W

    After a long hard winter without a car (I was hit right before all of the storms started. My car was totaled) I finally replaced it. That’s one less thing I have to spend energy working around. I can finally get back to a regular schedule and getting back to making important medical appointments regularly. Now that I can do that, and don’t have to worry about planning routine errands as carefully and as far in advance, that’s a huge relief. I feel much better – physically and mentally. I was also unable to get to church mostly due to the weather being too cold to make the trip on the bus which was totally hosed much of the winter. I made it ONCE between mid-Jan and Apr.

    Normally not having a car wouldn’t have been that awful. It was the combo of a horrible winter, the breakdown of public transit, AND not having a car that came together to do me in. I can walk to stores normally, but not easily with 7 feet of snow on the ground and temps that aggravate medical conditions. Other places I go are accessible on public transit, but not when public transit goes tits up. I spent a lot of money on Uber and relied on the charity of friends. I had to repeatedly cancel and reschedule medical appointments. I occasionally used ZipCar but the closest cars to my house are 1 mile away, not so bad in good weather (but still problematic due to needing to schedule additional time away from work to get to appointments if I was driving), but it may as well have been 10 miles in this winter’s conditions. So glad its over.

    Allergy season came fast and hard immediately after the last snow though…so can’t entirely catch a break, but at least the transportation works now.

    1. fposte

      Congratulations on the return to normal ops! It always feels so good to be able to get back to the regular schedule again. You have more reason than most of us (aside from the allergies) to celebrate the return of spring.

  45. Katie the Fed

    Some happy news! We found our house! We’re under contract and move in a couple months. We thought we wanted a beautiful old colonial, but the more we looked the more we realized that we’d prefer a big yard and more open floor plans. So we found a nice place that’s been thoroughly redone on the inside, with an amazing kitchen (swoon) and a huge yard. We love it. I won’t say we both knew right away, but the more we thought about it the more we kept coming back to that place.

    I’m really happy – I can pictures us there for many years :D

    1. fposte

      Congratulations, Katie! My house is the best toy I’ve ever had; I hope you enjoy yours as much.

      1. Katie the Fed

        yes! I’m already planning a possible extension before we have kids. Since we want to be there for the long haul we can focus on adapting it for our needs. :)

    2. Mimmy

      Congratulations Katie!! I remember the relief when we finally found our house, which we’ve lived in now for over 12 years.

      1. Katie the Fed

        thank you! I want it to be the house we raise our kids in :) Plus, I’m really sick of moving!

    3. The Other Dawn

      That’s exactly how we felt when we found our new house. It’s a REALLY old one, though. I sent the listing to my husband as a joke (he loves old houses and I don’t). We kept looking at the listing and decided to go to the open house. We weren’t sure about it after the open house, but the more we thought about it, the more we liked it. So we went for a private showing and decided to go for it. I love it! I feel like I can breathe here and feel good in my skin. Know what I mean?

      Congrats!!

      1. Katie the Fed

        I thought I wanted an old house, but what it turned out I wanted was the shell of an old house that’s been completely re-done inside :)

        This one isn’t that old – 1950s, nothing grand from the outside but the inside is beautiful.

        1. The IT Manager

          That sounds like me. I am imagine I want an older house, but I’ve lived in an old house, and it was drafty and kind of dingy and I’ve discovered that I’m not willing to put up with that. Plus I’m very found of central air and open floor plans.

          1. Katie the Fed

            Yes! It turned out we like the idea of a old house far more than old houses. We looked at one in Old Town Alexandria, a beautiful old colonial, absolutely gorgeous and well-kept. But plaster walls and tiny bathrooms and a tiny kitchen and no closets and no parking and ehhh, not for us. We decided we’d love to know people who live there, but it would drive us nuts.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Congrats! It’s amazing how once we see something we can suddenly realize that no- this is not what we want at all! I am sure you will never regret your choice. Homes accommodate a life style. If your home does not fit your life style, it does not matter how pretty/old/ornate it it is. Better to focus on how you will use the space. Have fun and enjoy!

  46. Katie the Fed

    Question for the married people – do you do just your own laundry or do you do your spouse’s as well? We actually still do seperate laundry and I’ve been happy with it that way. I’ll occasionally do a load of his if he’s really busy with work, or ask him to do a load of mine, but generally we do our own.

    Do other people combine?

    1. Ruffingit

      My husband does all the laundry in our house. I work and he is at home helping to care for my mother so he pretty much does all the household chores.

      1. Katie the Fed

        Did you have to…relax your standards? When I was dealing with my medical issues, my husband had to take over all the household chores and it was a constant challenge not to be all “WTF ARE YOU DOING WASHING THOSE ON HOT? WHY DO YOU NOT SEPARATE THINGS?!” You don’t want to criticize someone who’s helping but laundry and dishwasher loading are those things people have very strong personal preferences on :)

        1. danr

          Make a rule… never wash clothes on HOT. Modern detergents work just fine on warm and cold. Plus, if you wash on cold, you never have to worry about dyes running. As for separating, calmly go over the rationale, talk about it, then see if it really makes sense (and “that’s the way I’ve always done it” is not allowed [grin]).

          1. fposte

            Good point on the “that’s the way I’ve always done it” :-). And yeah, I wash all my clothes in cold.

            But on the separating issue, that’s where Former Diet Coke Addict’s notion of different laundry hampers saves a lot of trouble, if you have room to do that. I am *not* a laundry separator (I can muster energy to separate or do laundry but not both), but I can toss different things in different baskets as I go.

          2. Bea W

            My mother was doing my laundry for a short period. I didn’t have laundry in my building and she had moved into a house with laundry and offered. I was pretty broke, so any money I didn’t have to spend at the laundromat was welcome. I ended up buying a sorter that would hold two laundry bags, and labeling one bag “WARM” and one bag “COLD”. I would used that as my hamper, and when I’d hand them off to mom, they would already be pre-sorted and labeled. My mother never washed things in cold water. It was important to train her, both to save my clothing and my sanity.

        2. Ruffingit

          Nope, no relaxing of standards. My husband and I married when we were both 37 years old so he already knew how to do laundry, cook, take care of household things, etc. He loads the dishwasher differently than I do, but the thing is…that’s OK. It’s not a relaxing of my standards, it’s an acceptance that we each have different ways of doing things and the dishes come out clean so that works for me. And truthfully, he’s way better at doing a lot of household things than I am. I can keep a clean house and cook some things, but he does a great job at both and he enjoys it.

      2. the gold digger

        My husband is on a sabbatical and I am working, so he is now in charge of all the household chores. We have always combined laundry – it seems so much more efficient – and I have no qualms about his doing it because he is a gajillion times more picky than I am.

        He is at his mom and dad’s and wrote that he was putting away several weeks’ worth of clean clothes. (Sly and Doris have a cleaning lady who washes clothes.) Sly had put away his own clothes but you know, the rest of it wasn’t about him, so he didn’t bother with Doris’ stuff or the towels or dishcloths.

    2. DeadQuoteOlympics

      I do my own; I will do loads of his if I have time, and both of us do the household laundry. But he and my son are forbidden to touch my laundry because I have too many special rules about sorting, cold water, NO DRYER (which is the one test they always fail), etc.

      1. hermit crab

        Someone here on AAM recommended separating clothes not on darks vs. lights, but rather on dryer vs. no dryer. I forget who it was, but this has absolutely revolutionized our laundry system. And by that I mean I can trust my SO to do my laundry now!

        1. Bea W

          I would totally do this if someone else were doing my laundry. I don’t have enough non-dryer things to make it worth it when doing my own laundry. I just pull them out as I am switching from the washer to the dryer.

          I don’t separate lights and darks, not in a cold water wash. I do separate things I am washing in one temp vs. another temp. I also don’t do sheets with clothing, just because when you toss it all in the dryer together, the clothing tends to get balled up in the sheets.

        2. Lady Bug

          I separate by darks, lights, whites, delicates (basically sports jerseys, work clothes, and bras), jeans and hoodies, sheets, towels, and bath mats. And I do as many people’s laundry as it takes to fill the washer because I hate using a half empty washer even though I have an energy efficient one. I feel a little crazy now…….

    3. thisisit

      i grew up with combined laundry (i was doing it for the family by the time i was 12 or so), but my husband and i do ours separately because i need a separate detergent. i do put the sheets, towels, etc together. and by “i” i mean my husband because actually he cleans pretty much everything while i make the messes. :D

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      We have an elaborate system of laundry that involves about four different baskets, but we combine lots of stuff. He doesn’t ever do my work clothes (things that required hang-drying or special treatment), but if we’re doing regular jeans-and-sweats wash we just throw in whatever is convenient from the other’s basket to make a full load. The final basket is for sheets and towels, and for whoever manages to get to it first.

      My husband is really good about keeping on top of the laundry (and other chores) so they’re not a point of contention in our house.

      1. the gold digger

        OK. Your “keeping on top of it” line made me think of the Crazy Laundry People who lived above Primo’s apartment before we got married. They were just two people but they did laundry twice a day, every day. We still can’t figure out what they might have been washing.

        One day, Primo finally went upstairs to politely ask them to wait until after 8 a.m. on the weekends to wash clothes, as the washing machine was pretty loud and would wake him up. They took the plate of Please Stop Making Noise Chocolate Cookies and almost slammed the door, saying, “You have to keep on top of it!”

        (Full story and my very mature reaction here: http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2010/03/in-which-primo-and-i-get-into-huge.html)

        1. variety

          I knew a guy in college who would only sleep on clean sheets. He expected his wife to wash the every day. I always wondered 1) if he did truly this when he lived alone and 2) did he ever find a 2nd wife who would do this for him. (yes, wife no. 1 ‘t last too long)

          1. Ruffingit

            That is ridiculous, I cannot even imagine. Sheets get washed once every week around here, sometimes once every three or four days if we’ve sweated a lot (had some weird hot/cold/hot/cold weather here) or something, but every day? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

            1. Catherine in Canada

              I went to school with a girl who’s mother washed AND IRONED the entire family’s sheets every day. And she seemed such a sane woman.

    5. Jen RO

      I’m not married, but I live with my boyfriend and we’ve always done it combined… meaning that I do it :) (Actually, it’s Sunday evening and I should start actually washing some things because we’re going on holiday next Thursday!) That’s how we do everything actually – he cooks for both, I wash for both, he does the dishes, I take care of the cats, and so on.

    6. LAMM

      We combine and share laundry duty… he is in charge of getting it washed and dried… and I put it away.

      I have finally gotten him to stop drying things on high heat. He just couldn’t figure out why his shirts kept shrinking… but after he shrunk/ruined my favorite sweater, he caught on quick.

    7. danr

      We do our own, and have for the whole time we’ve been married. And we help out the spouse when needed.

    8. Treena Kravm

      I do the laundry for both of us (he works 2x the hours and makes 3x the money). Originally, I took over laundry really quickly because he was putting his button ups in the dryer and I wanted to extend their life. Now, if I leave for work and the laundry hasn’t finished, I’ll ask him to flip it to the dryer on occasion. I have a lot of delicates/work clothes that need to be hung to dry, so I’m slowly teaching him how to do that. If I do ask him to throw a load in, he’s usually very careful about getting specific instructions when he’s not sure, esp. if it’s not just towels or jeans/sweatshirts. He knows I spend a lot of money on the clothes I have but that I hate shopping and don’t shop frequently, so ruining a whole load would crush me mostly emotionally and a little bit financially.

    9. Katie the Fed

      My gift to him today is doing all of his laundry :) He wants/needs so little – this is my thank you for him taking such good care of me. This and a kickass dinner.

      1. Mimmy

        Katie – I’m just loving how wonderfully you and your husband care for each other. I know it should go without saying, but not all marriages are perfect. Yet, it’s so refreshing to read about a couple who seem to truly take their wedding vows to heart.

        /end embarrassingly cheesy comment :)

        1. Katie the Fed

          Aww thanks! I should say we’ve been married less than a year though – in another 3 we might be flinging dirty clothes at each other :D

          1. Ruffingit

            We’ve been together 3.5 years and married 2 years in August and we’re still just as caring and sweet toward each other. That’s the way it should be. I’m glad to hear you have that too Katie the Fed because I have, recently in fact, been witness to several marriages among my friends that are horror shows of selfish behavior and it’s so sad.

            1. Treena Kravm

              Yep, same thing–married 2 years, together for 5. To us, that’s the whole point of being married, going out of our way taking care of each other.

    10. Mimmy

      It’s just me and my husband, so we typically combine with bigger loads. Sometimes I like to do my own when I have gentles or bright colors.

      Funny story: I once ruined hubby’s white polo shirt when I combined it with a blue polo shirt. Trust me, he was NOT happy!

    11. Christy

      My girlfriend and I combine, but we share tank tops, tights, and sweaters, so we basically have to. She would wash and dry everything at the same level, so I always have to sort (based on dryer temp, everything is washed on cold) and we’ll generally trade off going to the laundry room in our complex. I always fold and she always hangs.

    12. Sara

      We’re not married, but we combine it – in part this is a practical adjustment, though, since our apartment building doesn’t have laundry facilities. He goes to the laundromat every other week and does all our clothes, since he works much closer to our place and has a more flexible start time than I do. Hopefully we will be moving to a place with laundry (my #1 priority) over the summer; if that happens, we may start separating our stuff a little more since he believes everything that’s not a delicate should be washed on hot…

    13. Clever Name

      We combine our laundry. Our son’s is separate though, mostly due to hamper locations, but son is 8, and his stuff gets super dirty, so it’s good to do a heavy duty wash on his stuff and normal on DH’s and my stuff. We take turns doing laundry each week, and we each fold our own stuff. Son is responsible for folding and putting away his laundry, but he just shoves his stuff in his drawers. I don’t care as long as I don’t have to do it. :)

    14. Tris Prior

      We mostly do ours separately, unless one of us is really swamped, working lots of OT, etc. Sometimes if one of us is running low on clothing we’ll ask the other if it’s OK to toss a couple shirts or a pair of jeans in with the other’s load.

    15. The Other Dawn

      Separate. That started when we first moved in together. He worked at a quick oil change place and his clothes were always pretty disgusting when he got home. Plus, I worked two jobs at the time.

      We still do it separately for the most part, but I do combine more often now.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Older people used to look at me like I had 5 heads when I said I don’t do my husband’s laundry and would occassionally act very shocked, but I don’t care what they think anymore.

    16. Elkay

      We combine, separating would be too much work, we barely get the washing done as it is as we only do washing at weekends.

    17. Ask a Manager Post author

      We do our own laundry. It feels like a personal task to me, the same way I wouldn’t, I don’t know, reorganize his bathroom medicine cabinet for him (although actually, I would like to do that one).

      Maybe this is a result of marrying in our 40s. I think there are a lot of things we do for ourselves simply because we’d had so much time to establish our own ways of doing things as individuals before getting married.

      1. edj3

        Interesting–but I was 43 when we married and I do the laundry, all of it together. We’ve sorted out the chores so that neither of us does anything we find truly onerous. So he scoops the cat litter (we have three cats so that’s saying something), does the grocery shopping and I do the laundry and clean the toilets. The rest, although that wasn’t part of the question, we do as needed.

    18. Satsuma

      We do it separately. Neither of us bother with separating different colors/types of clothes, hanging things up to dry (we have a tumble dryer), or ironing. To be honest, the clean laundry doesn’t always make it back into a wardrobe, but just gets worn right back out of the clean laundry basket. Because we are so lazy with our laundry, the effort of separating our clothes back out at the other end would significantly add to the overall effort of laundry. Hence – separate laundry loads.

    19. Maxwell Edison

      I do whatever laundry is in the hamper on the weekends. Sometimes the spouse’s laundry is in there, and sometimes it isn’t. If it isn’t in there, I don’t wash it.

    20. Blue_eyes

      We combine all our laundry. We both do the laundry, usually depending on who is busier. When we first moved in together I was working full time and going to grad school, so he did all the laundry because he was home more and he generated more laundry (undershirt + dress shirt from each work day). I have some hand wash only items, so I do all of those myself.

    21. Anonyby

      Growing up everyone combined clothes into one hamper pile. Since moving back in with my dad I keep mine separate. One, it’s easier location-wise (the hamper growing up was centrally-located, now they’re at opposite ends of the hallway). Two, I’ve changed laundry habits and products, and don’t want the super-stinky stuff he uses all over my clothes.

      (It’s amazing how much I’ve come to hate the scented laundry stuff on the market after switching to scentless-everything.)

    22. CrazyCatLady

      We do all the laundry together. We don’t consciously take turns doing it but it seems like it just happens that way- sometimes be does it, sometimes I do.

    23. JPixel

      My husband does most of the laundry for both of us. I have some delicates that I’ll put in a separate laundry pile and do myself so that I can control the temperature and whether or not to dry. But otherwise, he does it all and he likes it! My job is supposed to be cleaning the bathrooms, but I will admit that I clean them much less frequently than he does laundry. (Separate bathrooms = happy marriage! Our apartment is less than 1000 square feet but has 2 bathrooms and it’s AWESOME.)

    24. ZSD

      We do ours together, and I’d honestly never considered the alternative. We kind of work together to get the laundry done. I have to do all the ironing, though, because my husband just doesn’t understand the concept. Somehow, a wrinkly shirt and an ironed one look identical to him.

    25. Oh Anon

      We travel for my husband’s work and most of the time I am a “homemaker,” so I do all of our laundry. Prior to traveling, we did it together and if he travels without me, we obviously each do our own.

    26. themmases

      I live with my partner and normally we each do our own. I asked him when he moved in if he wanted to combine because it sounded more convenient somehow and he said no– I think it feels like an adult thing to him to do his own and I get that. When I was growing up my family mostly combined because we had a laundry chute. But my sister and I had our own hampers so a lot of time we’d just bring down our things and pull just enough family stuff out of the chute to fill up a load.

      We do throw in items for each other if only one person is doing laundry, and we share the units in our building so I’ll let him know when I’m going to get my stuff out of the washer if he wants to come with and put his laundry in right after me. And we almost always share a single suitcase when we travel and we don’t try to separate the laundry from that.

  47. Trixie

    Gardeners, have you tried one of those Topsy Turvy tomato or strawberry planters that hangs upside down? I’m curious how well they do and was thinking to DIY myself.

    1. Clever Name

      My friend used one for tomatoes, and she said she liked it. As a decorating/design snob, I will sat that if you keep it on the patio, it won’t enhance the beauty of your outdoor space….

    2. Anonyby

      My grandma bought one to use, and we didn’t like it. The roots kept drying out, any time we’d water it, dirty water would drip down the plant itself, the plant was never really happy.

    1. Jean

      Can you repost this next weekend, perhaps with an explanation? I’m guessing that you mean a place sufficiently free of light pollution to be good for stargazing, but I’d like to hear more.

  48. Elkay

    I just got back from an overnight camp and am reminded of the fact that I am very much a fair-weather camper. We luckily had good weather but oh my goodness the midges, I have lots of tiny red marks on my legs. Also, it was pure torture to see that the campsite had started to install hot water taps but they weren’t up and running yet, I hate cold water hand washing.

  49. Jbean

    I just got back from a dive vacation and, surprise, have developed a thing for the dive lead. We have emailed dive pictures. I’m wondering if I should keep the conversation going because 1) I think he’s interesting and would like to get to know him better, and 2) We clicked. It would be an international thing, but not impossible, given my job. Any thoughts on how to move this forward or if to try and move it forward?

    1. Katie the Fed

      I think it’s going to be hard to develop it into something more unless you know you’re going to see him again. I would wait until you’re going to be back in the area and tell him you’ll be there and ask if he’d like to get a drink.

    2. nep

      Sounds like you’ve had some good exchanges thus far…Go with the flow, stay in contact. Who knows…

    3. Ruffingit

      Stay in contact, but keep it light and date other people where you are. I’m a diver too and I can honestly say dive masters tend to click with a lot of people (not romantically necessarily) because it’s part of their job to be caretakers and good leaders of their divers. So keep the conversation going, but keep the expectations low.

  50. CrazyCatLady

    I want to start camping and backpacking but have never done it before! We have a tent but for some reason, the idea of going the first time without having any idea what we’re doing seems so daunting. Any tips or suggestions?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Have you never been camping at all before, or just not backpacking?

      If you’re starting totally from scratch, I’d recommend a state/provincial park with campgrounds that have bathroom/water access. This is a nice way to get your feet wet without the scariness of backpacking into the unknown! Usually these type of campgrounds are set up for car camping or RVs, and may have electrical outlets as well. Google “[your state] park camping” for ideas. Other campgrounds like it may be “hike-in” from anywhere to 30 meters to….well, sky’s the limit, I suppose!

      How rough do you want to rough it, and how long do you want to go for? If you don’t mind sleeping on the ground, you can go with a sleeping mat (like a corrugated yoga mat) and sleeping bag. An air mattress will be heavier and take up more space, but an OK choice if you want to sleep in some comfort for a number of nights. And as for food, there’s a few ways you can go! You could eat all cold food that doesn’t require heating up (think jerky and granola, etc.), you can bring along a Coleman propane stove with a couple of burners and a couple pots/pans to heat up soup/stew, etc., you can experiment with cooking over a fire (Google is really handy here for “campfire recipes”), or you could drive into town and eat at restaurants the whole time.

      Your first time is probably going to be a comedy of errors. This is normal! You’ll want to have a groundsheet for your tent so the damp won’t seep into it, pitch your tent on relatively flat and higher ground (in the event of rain, don’t be at the bottom of the hill), and bring some essentials with you–a pocket knife and axe will almost always come in handy, a mallet for hammering tent stakes, etc. Maybe for your first time you go only for a night or two, get the feel of it first?

      Camping is really, really, REALLY fun but it’s really, really not for everyone, either, and there is no shame in that! And everyone does it differently–there is a lot of judgment and sneering in the camping world for people who are “taking it easy” or “trying too hard,” so maybe stay away from the hardcore camping sites until you’ve got your feet wet. I’ve been camping since I was about six months old (I don’t know what possessed my parents to go camping with a 6-month old…) and have a wealth of awesome stories from it. Camp however you like–don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong–enjoy yourself, and remember the campers’ credo of “take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

      1. Colette

        These are all good suggestions. I’d add that you should prioritize the food – figure out what it’s reasonable to cook and how you will cook it. Without regular meals, people get really cranky.

      2. CrazyCatLady

        Thanks for the great suggestions. I’d like to do backpacking because we do some really long day hikes and I usually want to continue! But I’d be willing to start with just car camping till I get the hang of it. Cooking is actually my main concern, as I have a whole bunch of food allergies but I think I can manage. Do you absolutely need one of those frame backpacks for backpacking?

        1. Easy-peasy

          Not too much to add, since the above advice is so good. I have food allergies galore too, and I had not been camping since I was a kid. So, we did a state park that had showers, bathrooms, potable water, and was 15 minutes from civilization. It’s not really that well-maintained, but it was a good start & we stuck with it for convenience. Maybe do a little research to find a great place for your first time.

          We got an excellent cooler and we made fresh food either on the grill or the firepit. My partner is an experienced camper and that helped a ton. Once I’d done it, I started developing preferences, & fronted the cost for the “creature comforts”. But, I’d hold off on that until you know what works for you.

        2. Former Diet Coke Addict

          Day hiking and backpacking can be two very different animals! The tent and sleeping gear makes a LOT of difference when you’re hauling them on your back all day. Generally speaking a frame backpack is going to give you a lot more space than a regular canvas daypack (they’re called day packs since they’re really only designed to outfit you for a day). Food and shelter are going to be your big kahunas in the land of backpacking, so be sure you have a tent that’s light enough you won’t mind hauling it all day, and a sleeping bag that is also lightweight and collapses down to about nothing. The frame packs really do give you more space, but I suppose if you had a sufficiently big daypack you could cram some more stuff into it. The issue there is going to be that it doesn’t distribute the weight evenly and might be hurting you by the end of the day if it’s too heavy or poorly-packed.

          As for food, if food allergies are a big concern, you may be better off starting with car camping, as it’ll give you more space to pack foods that you know won’t be an issue for you, and you can carry a cooler as well. If you’re going to go with any prepacked food, read labels CAREFULLY, as they can pack a whole lot of stuff into those freeze-dried and dehydrated packets. But I’m sure you already knew that! You can go quite a while on cold foods that don’t need refrigeration, but it’s a little depressing to not have a hot meal at the end of a long day outdoors, which is something to keep in mind.

          One idea is that in lots of state parks, they have campgrounds as well as terrific hiking. You could set up a “base camp” with your car, food, etc., and then explore hikes that would take up just about the full day. That way you get to hike all day long for days, then camp at night without having to worry about lugging your stuff and setting up/breaking down every night, especially as novices.

          1. CrazyCatLady

            Oh, your suggestion about setting up a base camping and doing long day hikes during the day is probably a great start for me. I’ll still get the experience of multi day hiking and camping without having to buy new gear (yet) and haul it around all day.

            I honestly wouldn’t eat any of the packaged backpacking food just because none of it is really safe and I’d rather not have to use an epipen in the wilderness. My food strategy will be the hardest part I think!

            Thanks for all the wonderful tips!

        3. blackcat

          It also depends on where you’ll be hiking.

          I’ve done a lot of high country backpacking on 3 continents. For high country stuff, I need a 0 degree sleeping bag (I get cold easily, so if it’s going to get down to ~20, I need the 0 degree bag), fleece pants, one midweight fleece top and one heavyweight one, along with hats/gloves/etc. Because this is how I started backpacking, I was always used to having a very full, very massive pack (mostly very big in comparison to me, since I’m tiny). While all of these articles of clothing were very light, they take up a large volume in a bag. I also would carry enough first aid supplies that I looked like an army medic, but that would be for 2 week trips into the back country. When help would be 24-36 hours away, you want to be prepared. Staying closer to civilization makes that not an issue.

          Then I met my husband and we started doing east coast, summer backpacking. And I didn’t need most of the clothing that I packed, and I can get away with a smaller, lighter sleeping bag. I learned to only bring first aid essentials (mole skin, bandaids, alcohol wipes, and an ace bandage), because we were never that remote.

          tl;dr, you don’t need a huge pack if you are doing mild-weather hiking within 5-10 miles of civilization (by that I mean a range station, road, anywhere with people).

          Always, always bring rain gear. It’s light, and not having it makes life very sad.

          For food, the NOLS cookery is a great backpacking cook book. You could get it, find some recipes that suit your needs.

      3. Steve G

        I used to camp a lot (in campsite where there was a water spicket and toilet within walking distance)…..totally forgot about the tarp-under-the-tent for dampness trick!

        Also, put things in plastic bags, especially matches….learn how to start/maintain/put out a fire beforehand….bring along lots of bug spray and calamine lotion in case you get bitten/step in something itchy…..bring lots of socks because you’re feet will sweat a lot….dress in layers because you’ll be hot/warm/cold/warm/hot….bring a bucket for the fire + general washing….bring a propane lamp in addition to flashlights + fire….

  51. Quant Suff!

    We’ve been binging on Mr. Selfridge this weekend, and I’m liking it lots. Even more than Downton Abbey: the characters are more subtly drawn, the cinematography and composition are exceptional – we’re in the middle of season 2 and I’m noticing that almost every scene has a kind of David Fincher thing going on. The costuming is amazing – I don’t know if it’s accurate, but everyone looks *great*. And you can call me a chauvinist pig if you like, but Rose Selfridge (Frances O’Connor) and Lady Loxley (Katherine Kelly) are supernaturally beautiful every time they appear on-screen.

    (I’d love to see this same crew attempt some kind of steampunk drama. Or – it will never happen, but it amuses me to think of it – an adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time).

    1. Clever Name

      I completely agree. The Lemony Snicket movie is kinda goth/steampunk. I liked watching it just for that aspect alone, which is funny because I don’t consider myself to be part of either subculture other than the fact that I have a lot of black/grey clothing (a lot) and I can’t bring myself to wearing white.

      1. Quant Suff!

        I hear ya. I’m not really a steampunk-er either. Whether it’s steampunk or whatever, there are many movies that I’ve watched and enjoyed purely for the production design (Oblivion from a couple of years ago, for example: overall, it was not a good movie. Too long, cringeworthy script, etc. But visually, it was stunning)(the audio production was really good, too).

        Now that you mention it, I’m going to go find a copy of Lemony Snicket and check it out again.

  52. The IT Manager

    Your dream house – is it one story or two? I know lot size can be a factor, but if it wasn’t what would you prefer and why.

    1. Jill of All Trades

      Mine is one story in part because it makes it harder for my dogs to kill me. Also, I never have to lug anything up or down steps, which after living in a third floor apartment is of high value to me. Amongst my circle, I am the only one with this preference – the cheese stands alone.

    2. Blue_eyes

      Hmm. Most homes that I like the look of on the outside are two-story, but after having lived in an elevator building for the last 6 years, I definitely appreciate not having to do stairs. Just the thought of carrying laundry or (future) children up and downstairs makes my knees hurt.

    3. Katie the Fed

      I definitely prefer two stories, although the house we’re buying is one. I like having the bedrooms upstairs – not sure why but I just prefer it that way.

      Although, I recently went through a big injury and found my mobility severely impaired, and I had to move out of my current house because I literally couldn’t manage the stairs. And then there were weeks of butt scooting up and down. It wasn’t fun. I never thought about mobility issues when I bought my current place, but it’s something to keep in mind especially if you want to grow old in your house. I like the one we bought because I feel like I can get around even if I have mobility problems again.

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, when I had mobility issues I got pretty darn tired of crawling up the stairs/scooting down the stairs. Mine was only 6 weeks but it felt like a lifetime, especially if I left something on the wrong level of the house.

        My dream house would be one level for the main living area, but I would also like a huge room to be my sewing/craft/office room. Right now I have four bedrooms (a lot for a single person!), but the three non-master bedrooms are all really small so my sewing/office stuff is crammed in.