weekend free-for-all – June 27-28, 2015

2 of 3 foster kittens

2 of 3 foster kittens

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. 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:  Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems, by the magnificent, hilarious, gone-too-soon David Rakoff.

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

{ 797 comments… read them below }

  1. ITPuffNStuff*

    Hello Miss Green!

    so glad to see another picture of the foster kittens!

    you must have read my mind as i came here just to ask about them. how are they doing? is the shy sister coming out of her shell?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s been a tiny bit of progress, but it’s very, very slow going! She still won’t let me pet her, but she’s getting closer to me. Once she walked up and sniffed me but ran off as soon as I made eye contact. She’s willing to sit or play within a foot of me now though, which is a change. But when I try to get closer, she runs away.

      But I so want her to let me pet her — it’s been nearly two weeks, and I’m worried about her. I’m quite confident that in time she’ll come around, but I want that time to be soon, so that she’s still a highly adoptable kitten when it happens!

      Her two brothers (pictured) are basically fully socialized now though — they come up to me to be petted, purr all the time, and are happy kittens.

      1. danr*

        Have you tried the string trick? If she’ll stalk a piece of string, pull it closer and closer and see if she’ll follow it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Oh yes! I have lured her closer with string, a laser, and a ball-in-circuit toy that she finds hard to resist. But as soon as she notices she’s too close to me, she jumps back. I wish her brothers could convince her I am safe!

          Earlier today I tricked her into playing with my fingers by hiding them under a blanket. I think she knew she was touching me but she pretended obliviousness.

          1. FiveWheels*

            I once raised a feral kitten who remained almost completely resistant to human contact until she was about 19 years old (but lived a very happy life with our other, more socialised cats – including her sister).

            She only came round to me when her sister died. She lived another two years or so herself, to about 21, and in the end we had an amazing bond. She couldn’t have been adopted by anyone else, but there’s something magical about a cat who just refuses to compromise.

            1. Connie-Lynne*

              We adopted Jane Earl Jones when she was about six months old, and she was afraid of all humans. She was semi-feral and had been running in the hills where the dogpacks run.

              For the first week, she hid under the sink in the bathroom pretty much all the time. The next few weeks, she ran and hid there whenever a human walked into the room. Eventually, she’d deign to stand in the room while a human was there, but only if you didn’t, you know, do scary things like moving or breathing too loudly.

              After about six months she’d let me pet her if I was very still, and eventually she decided I was safe, and would even let me pick her up. It was two years before she really decided my husband was safe — now her nightly routine is to sleep on his chest for a while before she goes off on patrol. She still isn’t a fan of being around him or other humans when we are walking around quickly.

              She’s four and a half now, and it’s always extra-special when Janey decides to come down stairs, or into the media room, or to some other place that she previously found “too scary.”

              Anyway, your kitty will eventually warm up if you keep being non-threatening and feeding her. But, she may take a lot longer than you expect, and she may never be a huge fan of people.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Your last paragraph describes Psycho Kitty pretty well. She was never socialized as a kitten because her mother hid her, and the neighbors she belonged to couldn’t be arsed to look for her. They just fed the cats. I did talk the neighbor lady into getting her spayed, so by the time her nephew dumped the cat on me before they moved, I didn’t have to bother with it.

                She won’t let anyone come near her except my other neighbor, who feeds her once in a while. She is even scared of me when the following things happen:

                –I have taken her to the vet recently (she’s STILL freaked over the tail thing and we have to go in on Thursday for her yearly stuff)
                –I move anything on the patio while she is out there
                –I’m carrying the laundry basket outside
                –I’m wearing the wrong shoes (I am not making this up)
                –I try to go near her in the front yard or anywhere off the patio
                –I’ve brought her in the house (which usually only happens when there is a tornado warning)

                I don’t think she’ll ever be “cuddly,” though she does let me put her on my lap in colder weather. It’s sad because I can’t make her an inside kitty, and if I had to move I don’t know what I’d do with her. No one would take her.

              2. Elizabeth7*

                I so wish there were arrows for up voting or down voting on this site. But there aren’t so I’ll just sat +1 for Jane Earl Jones. Love it! Our newest is named Sister, just so I can say to the kids, “where’s your sister?”

      2. ITPuffNStuff*

        don’t give up! she will socialize. she just needs more time and patience than her brothers.

        pam johnson-bennett raised a feral cat which required her to lie on the floor without moving or making any sound for *hours* before he would even approach her, but he eventually came around and even napped with her. i have faith your little one will come around too, as long as she has enough time!

        i don’t know whether this helps or not, but feliway could be a useful tool to make the environment feel more safe and comfortable. if she has any food treats that she particularly likes, perhaps bring those out *only* when you are with her so that she learns to associate you with something positive (yummy treats!).

        i hope those suggestions are helpful, but you’re already giving her the most important things she needs; your time and love! keep it up and a huge “thank you!” for helping these fuzzy babies learn how to live in their future forever homes!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I am using Feliway — both the plug-in and the spray! I actually think it’s keeping the older cats calmer about the intruders too (I got a second plug-in for a part of the house where the kittens aren’t, in hopes that it would help with that).

      3. Elkay*

        One of our cats won’t go outside if we’re making eye contact with her. We have to stand at the bottom of the stairs and look at the wall as she creeps by, any other time she’s a total softie who wants to be our best friend.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          When my husband was originally teaching Olive to fetch (video here if you haven’t seen it; make sure to watch all the way to the end), you could not make eye contact with her while she was doing it. She would immediately drop the toy from her mouth if you met her eyes. It was hilarious and weird.

          1. Heather*

            You aren’t supposed to stare directly at a fearful cat. That’s challenging them and that’s why the cat will drop their eyes like that. You know how when your cat (your nonfearful cat) is content and curled up and they do that slow blinky thing at you? That’s what you need to be doing to a fearful cat. That signals that you are a not a threat and not challenging them.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Oh, I know! (I am blinking at these kittens constantly!) With Olive and the fetching though, it was like a split-second of accidental eye contact would totally throw her off her game.

              1. Heather*

                ha ha I would always forget and be “crap I stared at her!!!” lol and then more blinking.

                honestly I’m amazed at how far my cat has come considering how terrified she was. I thought she would NEVER come out from her hiding spot. But she did and now she’s great. :)

          2. GOG11*

            My middle cat fetches and if you pay attention to him, he won’t keep doing it. I have to pretend like I don’t know what he’s doing and just continue with whatever I’m doing. If I do that, he’ll play until he gets bored or until my younger cat beats him to whatever it is he’s retrieving. As long as I “ignore” him, he’ll come bring me his toy no matter where I am in the house.

      4. Heather*

        You will probably make more progress if you let her come to you instead of trying to touch her. If she likes treats I would try to entice her by leaving treats out near (not too close) you. By moving to touch her you are encroaching on her safe space that she is creating. Once she realizes that you are not a threat she will stop moving away from you. I’d say you are close now if she is attempting to get close to you. And don’t look at her! Or if you do make that slow blinky movement with your eyes that cats do. That shows her that you are not a threat or challenging her. That’s why she ran away when she was sniffing you. I would say two weeks is still a very short period of time. Mine took just over a week and she wasn’t feral (but terrified) so I’d say two weeks is not enough time. Once she starts feeling safe and comes to you with regularity you can start petting her and looking at her. You’ll know when it’s time.

          1. Heather*

            It’s so hard not to try to pet them tho! I was in agony for the first while with my cat because I would only pet her when she came to me and I just wanted to pet the kitty. But I think she came around faster because it was on her terms. Even after she was leaving her hidey spot. Now she sits on my lap and naps for hours! :)

          2. Gina*

            In a few weeks, I would also recommend trying to separate her out on her own into a different room for a week or two. Sometimes, once you get them all by themselves, they become a bit more open to human touch.

      5. Kathlynn*

        maybe not the best advice, but at one time my parents and I had a few outside cats, that were mostly feral. I was able to pet them when I fed them, but no other time. You could use food to get her comfortable with you. Good luck either way,

        1. ITPuffNStuff*

          i had a friend who used to always per her cat during feedings. now, the cat meows for petting every time food is added to her dish! hilarious and adorable!

      6. Pennalynn Lott*

        I have a two-year old cat, Violet, whom I got from a neighbor when they found her in their backyard. She was just three weeks old. She was a very fussy baby then, and she’s a very fussy baby now. She *hates* to be held, and will only tolerate being petted if there’s some freeze-dried chicken breast in it for her. But I’d call her fully socialized because she follows me everywhere, sits behind my laptop on my desk when I’m using the computer (she’d sit on the keyboard if I let her), and will let me rub her belly with my foot but not my hands (she looooooves stinky feet!). She’s very engaged (and engaging!), and is always getting up to something guaranteed to make me laugh. Sometimes you just gotta meet cats where they’re at and celebrate their individual personalities. Violet will never be a lap cat, or a purrer, or a snuggler, but I can’t imagine life without her. :-)

      7. Kitty O'Shea*

        Something that broke the ice with my feral cat was to talk “kitty talk” to her. We had been feeding her outside for months (she lived in our wood pile) and she would never deign to look at me. It was like, Just leave the food and go, please, I don’t speak to the help. One day, I meowed at her in greeting (meowmeowMEOW) and her mouth twitched in response. From then on, it was a gradual thawing, where I would meow and she would respond and look at me. It took 3 years for me to be able to touch her, but she ended up being the most loving, loyal cat I ever had. We lost her to skin cancer last Thanksgiving and I still miss her. Good luck, Alison!

      8. FieryCrayonElement*

        this is so late, but my husband and I are thinking of fostering, and we have a large walk-in closet that I was thinking of utilizing (after clearing it out!), so that the foster kittens would be separated from our two kitties. I’m just not sure if that would be enough space? I’d probably let them into our room once a day while keeping our cats out. Would you say it sounds like a good amount of space?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Very young kittens — up to 4-6 weeks, I’d say — actually do very well in relatively small spaces. But if they’re older than that, I think it’s probably too small (unless it’s a room-sized closet) — because they like to run and jump all over all day long and you wouldn’t want to stifle that. But you could talk to the shelter or rescue group that you’re fostering through and see what they think — they might have need for someone to foster really young kittens, where your space would work fine!

        2. AcademicAnon*

          Ask the shelter, but don’t forget about vertical space too. If you’re handy you can make some stuff and cover it in carpet or something like jute.

      9. Kristen*

        I have a lab that I got from a rescue and she was the same way for the first month or so that I had her. She would get close to me but if I got on the floor to play with her she would go across the room. I started sitting on the floor and putting her favorite chew toys just out of my reach so she would come over and play/chew on them and be close to me but I would just sit there and read a book or watch TV. After a few days I moved them closer, and then a few more days move them closer. After a couple of weeks I would hold the toy/chew bone and she would chew on it while I held it. After about a month she was laying next to me and I was rubbing her belly and giving her kisses :) We are now 12 years later and she sleeps with me, lays on the furniture and it a total pampered pet :) Patience is the name of the game with these things, but have faith your sweet kitty will be fine.

    2. SeeJane*

      Odd-sounding suggestion, but it worked great with my rescue kitties…try lying on your back on the floor with your eyes closed. For some reason, it’s like a cat magnet. Weird!

      1. GOG11*

        Or you could just try accomplishing something, especially if it involves small parts (like screws and computer parts) or food – stuff you don’t want lost or covered in cat hair. That generally piques the interest of my kitties.

  2. ThursdaysGeek*

    Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal

    Is there a complete difference between someone who considered themself the wrong gender and so changed it and someone who considered themself the wrong race and tried to change it? Other than one being more socially acceptable, and the other something one still has to hide?

    In other words, in 15 years will transracial be a normal thing, and Rachel will be considered one of the first to (unwillingly) come out?

    Or, is it completely different, not comparable in any way?

    1. LisaLee*

      Yes, it is different. Race is something that’s imposed on us from the outside based solely on where our (relatively recent) ancestors came from. Gender, however, is something we experience internally that might or might not line up with what society imagines our gender ought to be.

      Also, look at it this way–a black woman could never get away with pretending to be a white woman the way Dolezal pretended to be a black woman. It’s appropriation, not a true identity.

      To be fair, I think that there is something going on in Dolezal’s head beyond just a desire to take a position of power that should belong to a black woman, but it’s more along the lines of a pathological need for attention or a desire to distance herself from her birth family.

        1. LisaLee*

          Passing as white as a survival mechanism is not really the same as adopting the identity of a group you don’t belong to, imo.

        2. LisaLee*

          Also, I think I was unclear. Yes, some black people have passed as white, but no one’s invented a transracial identity to defend them when their race was revealed. The fact that Dolezal was able to do this and people are still trying to justify it after she was exposed shows how much she benefits from white price large even when attempting to assume another identity.

          1. ITPuffNStuff*

            hmmm, not sure a causal attribution to white privilege about a specific circumstance can be assumed without some fairly specific evidence supporting that conclusion.

            to be honest, i find the term offensive as it’s loaded with presumptions about people’s experiences based solely on their race — it seems incongruous to me to use racial bias to argue for racial equality. it’s also loaded with value judgment and the implication that not being marginalized is something white people should be ashamed of and/or feel guilty about. finally, it carries the implication that being white is some kind of magical force field against poverty, abuse, or victimization of any sort. while it’s fair to apply the term to the group of white people as a whole — the reality is that group is composed of a lot of individuals, and some of those individuals have suffered horribly. i find little more disingenuous than the presumption that because i’m white, my life has been fair and i could not possibly have experienced any real, long-term suffering.

            in any case, though i don’t love the term, i can acknowledge the existence of white privilege. it can be demonstrated through comparing aggregate data sets that, on a large scale, show a correlation between being white and having more money, lower exposure to prison, better access to employment, and myriad other advantages.

            where i think the casual attribution to race breaks down is trying to apply the term to specific circumstances. it’s something along the lines of “whatever specific positive thing you are experiencing right now is occurring because you are white”. aggregate data tends to correct for the variances in individual circumstances because while individual data points vary in entirely unpredictable ways, large groups of data create mostly the same variances for all groups, such that the only difference between the aggregate data for whites and the same data for minority groups is race.

            when you zoom in on an individual data point, such as dolezal’s situation, so many variables unrelated to race are brought into the picture that any causal attribution (whether to race or any other factor) requires a strong supporting case. simply pointing out that someone is white is not sufficient to causally attribute a specific set of experiences to white privilege.

            1. LisaLee*

              White privilege doesn’t mean that white people have easy lives or that they face no challenges. It just means that barriers exist for people of color that do not exist for white people, and you can look at this on an individual level in many cases.

              While I’m not aware of any other individuals like Dolezal (and really, that should tell us something right there) we do have many cases of people of color trying to pass for white to escape discrimination. We have numerous studies that show that this sort of passing has a real, negative effect on an individual’s mental health. We know that people usually go back to their identities when it’s safe to, and that if exposed, they face social and (historically) legal consequences. In short, their stories don’t play out like Dolezal’s. I do think her race protects her from some of the consequences of her actions, since people are a lot more willing to defend her as “transracial” or mentally ill. None of the historical cases of people of color passing for white show such defenses.

            2. Melissa*

              In addition to what LisaLee said, white privilege doesn’t mean that white people have to feel ashamed about it. It’s just something that they should be aware of. But it’s not racially biased to note that white people have historically been afforded privileges that people of color have not. It’s just…fact.

              1. ITPuffNStuff*

                hi melissa, thanks for contributing!

                i think we’re in agreement about the privileges that many white people have experienced, but i feel like the point that’s being missed here is the term triggers some negative feelings, and dismissing those feelings with the explanation “that’s not what this term means to me” is insensitive and communicates the message “your feelings don’t matter”.

                so when you encounter an example of a person receiving a benefit primarily tied to minority status, do you label that a “black, hispanic, or asian privilege”? i presume you can see how that term would hurt people’s feelings and cause offense. what’s not clear to me is why the same term is perfectly okay when the hurt feelings and offense are experienced by a white person.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think, though, that people often have that response when they don’t have a complete understanding of what privilege really means. If you haven’t already, I recommend reading “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” by Peggy McIntosh.

                  And then if you’re still willing, this will flesh that out further:

                  http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/explaining-white-privilege-to-a-broke-white-person-shesaid/

                  The idea of black, hispanic, or asian privilege doesn’t really work in the context of systemic oppression.

                2. Observer*

                  Allison, I totally get what “white privilege” is supposed to be about, and I think any reasonable person can agree that the phenomenon exists. However, it is also true that it is used in a very different way by many, and the very term is far more loaded than the explanation makes it sound.

                  Also, as with so many terms that describe wide ranging phenomena, it’s an easy out. By and large, these things should be used as a diagnosis of EXCLUSION – not a first guess. Obviously there are exceptions, but that’s the overall rule. (And before anyone asks, I use that rule for other issues, including anti-semitism, which I have personally suffered from. In other words, I’m not discounting an issue because it doesn’t affect me.)

                  In this case, I think it offers a way to easy out. Also, realistically speaking, what on earth was she trying to accomplish? That question is so glaring that it’s really hard to dismiss people’s puzzlement as “white privilege”.

                3. ITPuffNStuff*

                  Ms. Green, thank you for posting the resources above. They are fantastic and anyone interested in the topic should read them.

                  While awareness that my race conveys unearned advantages is not new to me, Ms. McIntosh’s list did make me think about ways those advantages express themselves that I had not given thought to before. With the above said, Ms. McIntosh’s essay does come across as attaching strong value judgments to receiving unearned privileges. She tiptoes up to the line of saying “… and you’re a bad person, and should be ashamed of yourself”, without quite crossing it.

                  Miss Crosley-Corcoran does a better job of talking about the problem without attaching counterproductive value judgments. She also acknowledges that many who enjoy the advantages of being white simultaneously suffer from substantial disadvantages in other areas, and sometimes those disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

                  In any case, these are all good arguments, complex situations, and not easily resolved, but I still feel the term “white privilege” is often (and deliberately) applied for the purpose of judging someone as opposed to pointing out the contents of the invisible knapsack.

                  I feel like the references to white privilege frame the situation something like “when white people suffer from poverty, abuse, health problems, or a myriad array of other chronic impairments, it could be worse. they could be suffering from all of those things *and* have to deal with racial bias on top of it.” And this is true. It *could* be much worse for whites, and the fact that it’s not *is* a privilege. The fact that privilege exists doesn’t make it okay to pretend a person’s suffering doesn’t exist simply because its effects are lessened by unearned privileges.

                  When presented with the suffering of racial minorities, I would never respond with something like “well okay, but try to be more conscious of your American privilege. after all, you were not born in Darfur and despite everything you’ve gone through, you’ve never had to live in the fear that the Air Force may drop a bomb on your your house while you’re asleep.” That would be an extremely callous thing to say, completely dismissing the person’s feelings about the real pain they have and continue to suffer. The fact that living in America conveys distinct privileges over living in Darfur would never serve as an excuse to dismiss a person’s feelings or ignore their pain simply because they are American. White privilege is real, factual, and likewise does not stand up as an excuse to dismiss a person’s feelings or ignore their pain simply because they are white.

        3. matcha123*

          I’m mixed, and I somewhat take offense to people saying there are some mixed people that “pass” as white. If you are half white or something, you’re not passing, you are being you.

          As a comparison, I am not Indian and yet I have a lot of Indian people asking me if I am from their country. I can “pass” for Indian because I am not, and never have been Indian. I cannot “pass” for white because I am half white and it is what I am. I know that these terms are popular to use, but I find it problematic that people easily assume that being half white or part white means “non white” by default and any person that is half-white and looks “full white” in inherently lying to themselves and society…

          1. Stephanie*

            Holdover from the one-drop rule, where any black ancestry (i.e., one drop of black blood) automatically made you black. It was a way to subjugate minorities.

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              When I was little my mother referred to a biracial friend of my as black and I corrected her, saying, “no, she’s biracial” and she actually cited the one-drop rule. She is/was from the deeeeeep south and grew up with that thinking front-of-mind. It was like she was explaining the water cycle, or some other fact of science. That was 30 years ago and after decades in a up-and-coming metropolitan city, I’m sure she’d see how racist and bizarre that is.

          2. matcha123*

            Not all mixed people are half-black :)

            And if someone self-identifies as monoracial then typically people will go with that.

      1. ITPuffNStuff*

        i would be careful with these kinds of value judgments. similar criticisms have been leveled against … well basically every marginalized group in history.

        it’s not uncommon for transgender people to invent fictional personal histories in which they present themselves as a cis gender member of whatever sex they present as. the underlying desire is to be accepted socially, and cis gender people have that social acceptance. i think most people are not above at least some level of dishonesty if that’s what it takes to gain the social acceptance that most cis gender people take for granted. so while my values mean i oppose dishonesty, i can understand why someone would fictionalize their past to gain acceptance in the present.

        so, while i’m not a fan of dolezal’s lies, one way to look at it may be that she felt a genuine need to be socially accepted not as an outsider, but as a member of the black community. that is acceptance she would never attain as a white woman. if she genuinely feels inside that this is her community, who am i to demand that she be alienated from it?

        at the same time, honesty is easy when there is no price to pay for it. when the truth really matters is when it costs us something. i guess i have mixed feelings on this. i think people should really tell the truth and accept whatever consequences that has, but i can’t really judge people for lying as a way to avoid rejection. fear of rejection is a powerful motivator, as is the need for acceptance.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          She alienated herself from the community by being a pathological liar. Any trust she’s built has been shattered by this victim complex that’s been revealed with all her false hate crimes and discrimination which takes away from everyone who’s actually experienced something like that. She has a twisted view of acceptance.

        2. LisaLee*

          Again, I think there’s a stark difference between pretending to be part of a majority group for survival (which often means hiding your true identity, and has actual mental health consequences) and pretending to be part of a marginalized group in order to assume a position of power within that group. I am totally okay with passing judgement on Rachel Dolezal.

        3. Today's anon*

          I disagree that transgender people fictionalize their past in order to gain acceptance – to me it is a question of safety. In most places, disclosing a trans past can get you at best ostracized and at worse, killed. I am all for telling the truth, but for transgender people, the truth can get you killed way too often (and even more dramatically if you are a transwoman of color).

          1. Today's anon*

            * edited: (and the odds increase even more dramatically if you are a transwoman of color).

          2. ITPuffNStuff*

            this is a very good point, and thank you for adding it. the need for safety does change the honesty question in an important way — some who may feel uncomfortable lying to gain acceptance would probably feel not only comfortable, but obligated, to lie to protect their physical safety.

            also, i feel we should represent the threat of violence against transgender people accurately. there are 14,000 murders, roughly, in the united states per year. that means roughly 6800 so far in 2015. of those, 9 were transgender victims. so that is slightly over 1/10th of 1% of violent crime. i want to be extra clear here that my point is *not* to trivialize violence against transgender people or to dismiss their fears. i also want to be clear that i understand these numbers are just 2 data points, and don’t remotely represent a complete data set or a round picture of all violence victimizing transgender people. my point is simply to present one fact that i feel helps present violence against transgender victims in proportion to other violent crime.

            source:
            http://www.advocate.com/crime/2015/06/19/alabama-teen-becomes-ninth-trans-woman-murdered-us-2015

            1. Today's anon*

              But I think the point of this is that they were murdered *because* they were trans, not because there was a robbery going on or something like that. Someone took offense that they are different and decided they should not exist. Trans people are a minority and I think proportionally, they get killed more often than other groups. There is also a lot written on how faulty the statistics are on trans people because people fail to disclose for various reasons and regularly people who may not be known as trans get misgendered at death because their family of origin doesn’t know or doesn’t approve.

              But also safety means having or keeping a job, having a home/being able to rent, not being harassed for using a particular bathroom, or shelter, being treated by a doctor, not be harassed walking in the street and so on. It’s about the many decisions you make every day that you have to think about – is it safe? will I stay safe? will this person turn against me if I do disclose?

              1. LBK*

                That’s a great point about the different levels of safety – something as fundamental as using the bathroom becomes complicated for a trans person because they don’t know if they’ll be judged, harassed, thrown out or banned, and none of those even rise to the level of being a reportable crime.

            2. LBK*

              I don’t think comparing hate crime murders to overall murder rates paints an accurate picture when assessing a given minority’s level of danger, though. I will say that look at hate crime statistics alone (based on the FBI’s numbers), gender identity-related hate crimes do make up a few small percentage of that, although I can’t seem to find a breakdown of their hate crime murder statistic by motivation – you can either sort by motivation or by type of crime but not the intersection of both. It would probably also be worth comparing the numbers to the relative sizes of their demographics – racially motivated hate crimes against black people make up the majority of the FBI’s number, but they’re also the second largest demographic that appears in the statistics (white people being the first, targeted in 20% of racially-motivated crime).

              There’s two other big factors I would say play into a trans person’s decision to hide their identity. The first being general cultural acceptance – I’d guess that trans people are far and away the least accepted minority in the US, with even a large sector of the LGB community not really being on board with the T that usually gets included. So while statistically you may not always be attacked for outing yourself as trans, there’s more uncertainty about the reaction. The other big factor is protection under the law, which is just outright shitty – there basically isn’t any. Even most states that have made updates to their discrimination-related laws regarding sexual orientation don’t have anything for gender identity, so there’s fear that if you are attacked, you may not be served justice.

            3. Melissa*

              The article states that these are 9 transgender women who have been murdered. It doesn’t include transgender people of other genders. And these are only 9 murders of trans* women that have been explicitly reported on. That doesn’t mean that they were the only 9 transgender people murdered in the U.S. The article you linked notes that many deaths are not reported or investigated (and I think there’s a case for arguing that transgender individual’s deaths are probably more likely to fall into those camps), and other individuals are misgendered or not regarded as trans* when investigations are done.

              So these numbers don’t really help to present violence against transgender victims in the U.S.

              There’s an article on Patheos that tries to get a handle on some reasonably accurate reflection of transgender violence and murder. A commonly cited statistic is that the risk of murder for transgender individuals is 1 in 12. It’s hard to tell how true that is; however, other statistics do make it clear that transgender individuals are at higher risk of violence and homicide (as well as other problems) than non-trans individuals.

              1. ITPuffNStuff*

                thank you so much for providing this! it was definitely an interesting read, and the author really did their homework.

                also, thank you for pointing out the article i linked was specifically about female transgender victims only. i had overlooked that point. it would not have changed much in that case, because including male victims would have (i presume) roughly doubled the statistic to around 2/10ths of 1%, which is an order of magnitude less than the 1/12 (8%) statistic mentioned above.

                after reading the patheos article, given how widely varying the different estimates were, my primary takeaway was ‘there isn’t sufficient data to accurately quantify this’. still, it was a very interesting read, and i appreciate you for sharing it!

                1. De (Germany)*

                  You’re comparing very different numbers. The 1 in 12 statistic is over the lifetime of a person of a certain group. Your number is a percentage for one year, out of all murders.

                  Basically, it’s the difference between “how likely are you to get violently killed if you wear a hat every day in public for the rest of your life” and “how many people getting killed in 2015 wore hats”. These numbers, by definition, are supposed to be very different, with the second number always being much smaller because it’s only for a year. If only 0.1 percent of the population wears hats, the second number will be really small, even if people with that characteristic are targeted specifically.

                  How many percent of the population even openly identity as transgender and could thus be targeted?

                2. ITPuffNStuff*

                  De (Germany) — mea culpa. i made an irrelevant comparison and thank you for pointing it out. my only defense is that i was somewhat tired and distracted when writing that reply.

                  did you read the patheos article? i thought it showed pretty well that estimates from various groups, and made with various measurement methods, were basically all over the place. i felt that showed the problem is not very well understood, and the data necessary to reduce that variance to a statistically reliable number do not exist today.

      2. Mints*

        Rachel Dolezal hasn’t said anything nuanced or has even used the word “transracial” as far as I’ve seen. The fact that she sued her old school for discrimination against white people is pretty bizarre if you’re buying the “I was always black” bit. And the fake dad shenanigans also haven’t been explained. Plus her history of fake hate crimes. She’s a lying liar as far as I’m concerned and doing it for her own selfish reasons, not a complicated identify.

        1. Sophia in the DM*

          Exactly. I don’t understand the comparison between Catilyn and Rachel, the latter has maliciously lied, made up hate crimes, told at least one Latina student that she could participate in a class activity bc she was too white and didn’t understand the plight of others.

      3. Anonsie*

        I think the history of appropriation is why our reactions are so different here, yeah. Historically we have some very, very different situations in which people would pass for or impersonate different races than we do for people passing for or impersonating different genders.

        But I also think gender is very imposed on the outside based on your body. It’s an internal experience to a degree but so race in its own way, they have similar places in our internal identity and they shape our experiences as well in how they project our identity outwards without our intent.

    2. VintageLydia USA*

      Completely different. I’m heading out the door so I can’t get into it right now, but “transracialism” IS a thing, but think of it more like adopted kids raised in one culture but is from a difference ethnic group. Or biracial people. It’s usually felt by POC who were raised by white parents and it could be something as simple as having no clue how to take care of their skin and hair because their white parents didn’t realize they needed to be treated differently (think Suzanne from Orange is the New Black) to facing discrimination they were never taught how to handle (like my husband’s young cousin who is biracial, but raised entirely in his large white family. He deals with a large amount of racism but until very recently he didn’t understand why because until high school, he wasn’t treated as an “other” by anyone he knew. It was something his mother and other family members never thought to even talk to him about.)

      The situation with Rachel is screwed up on multiple levels, from the religious fundamental extremism of her family to the depths she went to to hide her true identity. Especially if her goal was to work in black activism. White people have been in leadership roles of the NAACP since it’s inception. Race is as much as something you experience growing up as it is the culture you were raised in, not the actual color of your skin or the texture of your hair.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Ok, I see that point about transracialism. My little sister is Hispanic and adopted into our white family, so she was raised white. And really, she is white culturally. I had a high school friend who experienced discrimination because she was Hispanic, but because my sister had a white name, no-one considered her different, she never heard any racial slurs or saw any discrimination.

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      Not comparable. Transracial is already a normal thing when considering adoptions, multiracial issues, not some internal drive to experience life differently. It’s not the same as gender and even if it was the racial divide is too wide where cultural norms and experiences aren’t able to pass through as easily. As a biracial cisgender woman, I could present as male, I could never present as White.

    4. LBK*

      It seems to me that being transracial couldn’t exist in a vacuum where cultural associations based on skin color didn’t exist. When it occurs in situations like children raised by adoptive parents of a different race, it’s because they feel they’re part of an external culture that’s otherwise based around skin color. Transgender is an internal feeling that your body is wrong. It’s not about identifying more with the cultural standards of male or female, it’s about your brain chemistry not matching your physical appearance. It would exist whether we had cultural gender roles or not.

      1. Anonsie*

        It’s not about identifying more with the cultural standards of male or female, it’s about your brain chemistry not matching your physical appearance. It would exist whether we had cultural gender roles or not.

        See I really don’t think that’s the case for the vast majority of trans people, though. I’ve said many times that if we were really openly allowed to live life whatever way we wanted regardless of gender, I wouldn’t be. It’s entirely cultural in cause for me, I think, and the way I feel about my body and my appearance is because those things have been fetishized as the biggest determinant for how you’re allowed to live and behave.

    5. Anonsie*

      Gene Demby invited a discussion about this a few weeks ago where he said, you know, we obviously feel differently about these things. But why? Because the role of race and gender are both quite similar in the way they affect you and how they’re used socially.

      People had a lot of interesting ideas but by and large it was kind of a big shrug.

    6. JJ*

      The issue has nothing to do with considering oneself something other than what you are. The issue is Rachel Dolezal lied and said she was of African heritage and she isn’t. She told people that an African-American man she was pictured with was her father and he wasn’t. Then, got a job as head of the NAACP chapter after filling out an application and lying on it about her racial background. If she had just told the truth from the beginning and said she identified with the AA community and considered herself transracial, then it would have been a direct comparison to the Caitlyn Jenner case. And frankly, I don’t think alot of people would have given her half as much grief if she had just been honest in the first place.

    7. Observer*

      Rachel Dolezal is a puzzle. But, she’s also clearly a pathological liar. When trans people lie about their history, it’s generally to keep safe. Even when it’s about getting and keeping a job, it’s not as though they are lieing about something relevant to the position – and it’s something that shouldn’t even be asked.

      Rachel Dolezal created a whole web of lies. Many of them were not even necessary to keep up the charade. And some of them were just nasty. Calling the police to “solve” fictional hate crimes is simply outrageous.

  3. chai tea*

    Some friends and I are planning a trip to Brazil in October for a week. We’re interested in seeing Rio, Iguazu Falls, and possibly one more place (Florianopolis? Another beach town?). Any itinerary recommendations, must-sees, or must-avoids?

    1. Petrichor*

      That depends on a few things.
      1) Where are you coming from (how long is your trip to Brazil going to take/how jet-lagged are you going to be when you get there).
      2) How much of that 1 week is actually going to be spend inside of Brazil vs spent traveling to-from Brazil?
      3) How big is your group of friends and what is your demographic? What are your temperaments?
      I would recommend vastly different things depending on the answers to these questions. Especially on how you answer the first two I might recommend that you just stick to Rio and the Falls, as you might not even have enough time for anything else with just a week.

      1. chai tea*

        1. From Houston, so while the flight getting there will be long, I don’t think we’ll be too jet lagged because the time change isn’t bad.
        2. All of it, except for the flights getting there and back. It would be a Tuesday to a Tuesday.
        3. Three friends, mid-to-late 30s, all women. Frequent international travelers. One of the women has been to Brazil before for work. The other two have never been before. I’d say we’re all pretty practical, interested in culture, history, beaches. No one is going to be out clubbing until dawn. We’re active, early risers, and while we want to see beaches because we know Brazil’s beaches are beautiful, no one wants to sit on the beach all day.

        Does that help?

        1. Petrichor*

          I concur with Caitlin. You aren’t going to have enough time to enjoy yourselves if you push out much more then Rio and Iguaçu. Rio is a huge city and getting around takes a long time, there is traffic all hours of the day. I also agree that seeing both sides off Foz do Iguaçu is pretty special, most tourists don’t bother and I think that is really sad because it really is pretty cool. If you and your friends really do want to see more of Brazil, I would see if you could push your vacation to 10 or 12 days… it would make a world of difference then I would say adding a third destination to another international hub like Salvador, Recife, or Brasilia would be good choice. All of those cities are culturally interesting and significant and you don’t have to worry about going back to Rio to head home again. If you had more time I would recommend very different places.

          So your itinerary would look something like :
          Houston – > Miami – > Rio – > Foz -> Salvador – > Miami -> Houston

    2. Caitlin*

      If you only have a week I would stick to just Rio and Iguassu. Lots of great beaches in Rio…make sure you go to some of the quieter ones in addition to Copacabana and Ipanema (Ipanema is the better of the two, in my opinion). Also tons of great restaurants in Rio.

      Go to the Argentinian side of the falls in addition to the Brazilian side. And stay in one of the hotels in the actual national park (Belmond in Brazil or Sheraton in Argentina)…they are pricey but 100% worth it because you have access to the trails at sunrise and sunset, before and after the crowds and buses. Have fun!

    3. bo bessi*

      If you’re still reading, I have a couple Rio suggestions. We stayed in Ipanema – pretty beaches, close to the metro, safer area. The botanical gardens are really beautiful. If you want to see Christ the Redeemer, it’s pretty spectacular but very crowded. I would recommend going up the Sugarloaf instead if you only have time/money for one. We also used the metro quite a bit, but be prepared to walk or take a cab on either side of your stops. Have fun!

  4. The Other Dawn*

    I need to vent.

    We’re throwing a 50th anniversary surprise party for my in-laws. I sent out the invites (actual paper!) about three weeks ago with an RSVP date of today. I think I sent out over 20 paper invites (total invited was about 45 people, which includes a few Facebook/email invites). We’ll it’s almost 2:30 pm and I’d say 75% of the people have not responded. Two people I’ve asked directly on Facebook at least twice and they both ignored the question.

    I’m really annoyed. I’m also worried that these non-responders are going to show up anyway, or ONLY the people that responded will show up. In the former situation, I could be short on food. In the latter, my in-laws would be crushed at such a small turnout.

    Several people have told me to start calling around to check with people. I honestly feel that I shouldn’t have to do that. And I’m not going to do that. I feel that if you’re invited to an event, you have the responsibility to RSVP on time. Both my home and cell numbers were on the invites, along with my husband’s cell and both our email addresses. I didn’t get any mail returned and a few people have called, so it’s not like I have the wrong address or I wrote the wrong phone number.

    What say you, AAM community? Am I being a cranky bitch, or am I right? (I won’t be offended if it turns out I’m a cranky bitch.)

    1. BRR*

      People are incredibly rude about RSVPs. You’re going to have to hunt them down. I will say sometimes it’s an accident. We got a wedding invitation and the RSVP card was put on the desk because we weren’t filling it out right away. Well we ended up almost forgetting about it and barely made the RSVP date.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It is incredibly rude, but it’s also really common. I agree with BRR — you’re going to have to call them. You shouldn’t have to, but you’ll get a better outcome for yourself and your in-laws if you do, and ultimately that’s what you want.

    3. catsAreCool*

      I think you’re right; people should RSVP. But I’m not sure you’re going to get much of a turnout if you don’t call people. Sorry.

      It might be worthwhile calling the people you’d prefer to come first and stop at some point, since otherwise it would be a lot of people to call. Maybe tell them you need to figure out how much food to buy for the event?

    4. Pleiades*

      Agree with the others, sadly.

      RSVPs have definitely (and very unfortunately!) fallen by the wayside. And definitely so for non-wedding parties like the one you’re throwing.

      Think end game. Yes, it will suck to track everyone down, but if it means a better turn out for your in-laws, then so be it. The ends will justify the means.

      I would personally not be above deploying some guilt trips to get people there. “they’ll be so thrilled to see you!” “this is such a meaningful anniversary for them”, etc.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      No, you’re not being cranky. You’re running up against one of the unfortunate rudenesses of modern living. I went to a meetup a few weeks ago, I was the only one who showed up. I went to a free seminar this week, only 3 of us showed up. We were discussing it and it turned out that everyone who had registered via Meetup didn’t come, the three of us who did used a different service. The moderator noted that they got people who were more serious through the other service than through meetup.

      People make commitments all the time and blow them off — without the common courtesy of informing that their plans have changed, or don’t commit to the last minute (in case they get a better offer!) and no one thinks anything about it… until they try to host an event and then they get upset because they find themselves in the same position you’re in, wondering how to plan an event when they have no idea how much food to buy or how many people are coming. “Fashionably late” no longer seems to mean 5 or 10 minutes, but an hour. I’ve asked people who were going to X event when they were planning to show up and they say they can’t go until at least an hour after the start time, because no one will be there. It’s become an expectation that if the start time is 8pm, don’t bother showing until 9 and the party won’t really be going until 10. It’s like you would have to have a start time of 4pm to get people to show up at 8. SMH

      1. Nina*

        No-shows are really common with Meetups, too. One that I regularly attended eventually added fees because I think the no-shows were costing them money.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I was considering starting a Meetup group, it’s $10US per month to use the service. If your group is the kind that requires renting space or gets into deals with bars that guarantees X people will show up and purchase from them… yeah, I can see how that would sour things really quick.

      2. pony tailed wonder*

        I have noticed that people are sending out regrets via cell phone right as the event starts. One of my book clubs has people saying no at the last minute a lot of the time. Those people that do that are also the ones who have not read the book. But when you ask if they still want to be in the book club, they say tht they love being in the book club and we shouldn’t drop them. When they do show, they only want to hear other people’s opinions about the book and don’t contribute. I finally got a cell phone so maybe I won’t be the only one who shows up for book club any more. I was left waiting by myself in a restaurant for just under an hour waiting for my group and of course I had told the waiter that I would need a big table. I didn’t order because I didn’t want the food to all arrive at different times. Humiliation at it’s best. So now I have an expensive phone so perhaps when I am being stood up, I will at least know about it a heck of a lot sooner that I did before. I still have no one to discuss Me Before You by Jojo Moyes with (and it is fantastic).

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Ugh…that’s the worst. I am really lucky that my book club has three very reliable members (including me), so at least I know I’ll never be alone. But we have a Facebook group of…20 people? It’s ridiculous, but people get upset if you suggest they drop out, even if they haven’t attended a single meeting this year…

    6. ITPuffNStuff*

      would the food go to waste if you ordered enough for 45 people? perhaps that would work as a contingency plan, presuming that whatever isn’t eaten could be refrigerated and packed for lunches? i don’t know whether that would be practical or not; i guess it depends on what kind of food will be served at the party.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Actually, we’re doing it cookout-style; my husband’s family are mostly farmers and having a catered party isn’t really the norm (not my family either, really). I’m having the family picnic two weeks later so anything I don’t use on the 11th will be used on the 25th, like burgers and dogs that didn’t get cooked or canned water and soda that wasn’t consumed. Not salads and such, of course.

    7. YandO*

      Personally, I would follow up with all non-RSVPed folks via email and ask them to respond to that email with yay, yay+1, or nay.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I understand it’s an accident sometimes. Sometimes it’s not. I think what annoys me the most are the people I invited via Facebook (and sent a real paper invite). The reason being that it shows me that they looked at the message. And like I said, two of those people I asked directly at other times (during a messaging session!) and they ignored the question.

      1. YandO*

        are you missing something? is the chosen date the same time of someone’s bday? big game? rocket launch?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Not that I’m aware of. I did get a couple calls after I posted this, so that’s at least 4 more people. I’ll see what happens for the rest of the day and tomorrow. If nothing, then I guess I’ll have to call.

          1. It isn't you*

            This is just nonsense. I’m with you. “You want food, you need to reply.”
            But, I guess, since it’s for your in-laws, and since the food won’t be wasted, you could buy enough for the slackers and just take it home. But track them down- no way. If it were just for you, I’d say only feed the people who replied. Again, this is just my opinion- weigh everyone’s responses when deciding what works for you.

            Rant follows…
            I’ve been burned before, except it was one couple who simply would not respond at all to my Evite (click Y, N, or Maybe, people!) and direct FB requests. I was living on a limited+sporadic income with a tight schedule. I hate event planning and am a total introvert. But, I was still organizing and paying for a small number of invitees to go to a nice restaurant for a milestone birthday. I could only invite a few people, and the restaurant needed a number. Everyone but this couple replied, which left me in the lurch as far as inviting another couple who definitely would’ve come. I even had the guest of honor’s mother call the offending couple & still we did not get a definite Y or N by the day of the event.

            So, I figured it was a N and was annoyed, but OK, go ahead and serve the appetizers. Then Mr. Ignorant shows up without Mrs. Ignorant, complaining that she had to stay home because they couldn’t get a sitter (for a party planned months in advance… that I did not invite children to on purpose). These people made at least 10x what I did, and I guess guest of honor’s family cowtows to their rudeness because their jobs are oh so important. (The mother was like, “why didn’t you just bring kid?” “Because kid’s name was not on the invitation”. “Oh”. *Pointed look*.) At which point, I wanted to indicate the table full of adults with common interests and close age brackets that I’d carefully constructed out of my limited means just to give the guest a crowd that would mesh well together. These people gave their lifelong friend a ten dollar gift card on top of giving me tons of stress over something that was supposed to be a joyous occasion. I will never invite them again. In the words of Miss Rosa, “I don’t like rude.”

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              I’m righteously indignant on your behalf. Why do people not think about how much work it is to be a host and therefore respond graciously to invitations?

              1. It isn't you*

                Thank you! I try to keep this experience in mind when responding to other people’s invitations.

            2. The Other Dawn*

              That’s terrible! Don’t invite them again. Ever. I think I would have made a show of the fact that I had no idea he was coming since I didn’t hear anything back, etc. But that’s me.

              1. It isn't you*

                Thank you! Yes, in retrospect, that would’ve been warranted, I think. My silence was really more about keeping the piece since the guest of honor and her mother had no problem with it.

            3. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I would have said “Sorry, since you never responded to the RSVP, we did not plan on you coming, and so I invited someone else in your place. I wish you would have let me know you were coming, I would have loved to have included you in the plans.”

              1. It isn't you*

                That actually sounds perfect, and I wish I’d done it. I really missed having Courteous Couple around and obviously would’ve preferred them, but I had to go with friends of the family first.

                …All I can say is thank you for a good script that I hope I will not have to use in the future :)

                1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  Yay! Glad it’s helpful. I tend to err on the side of not offending, believe it or not. My advice often is more blunt yet civil because I know that’s the direction I need to take. I would hope to make the main message to people like this be that their place was not held since they did not respond, and if they see that as rude, then they should be careful not to let the portal come into contact with their derrieres as they egress. ;)

            4. the gold digger*

              (click Y, N, or Maybe, people!)

              I would limit it to Y or N, but I don’t think evite gives you that option. A “maybe” is not actionable. This is a binary status: either you are coming or you are not. How much food do I buy for “maybe?”

              1. It isn't you*

                You know what? You are right. I only gave the wiggle room bc I knew her friends were flaky- just not this flaky. If there ever is another next time, I will probably take your approach. Thanks :)

              2. The Cosmic Avenger*

                And the default should be set to “No”, so if they don’t click “Yes”, then they are not coming!

    9. Traveler*

      You have to call. That’s part of the host’s duties, unfortunately. It’s probably just rudeness, but sometimes there are legitimate reasons. I can think of a few off the top of my head that have happened to me – USPS delivering invitations incredibly late so I didn’t know if I was actually invited and an illness in the family.

      The party is very important to you, as it should be, but for other people it’s just a passing social engagement. Other things in life get in the way sometimes. That doesn’t make you a cranky bitch though, it’s still annoying to track people down.

    10. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve been much more conscientious about RSVPing quickly since planning my own wedding eight years ago. We had to hound some people for answers, including some close friends! I try to reply within a week now.

    11. TheLazyB*

      My 4 year old’s party is tomorrow. Quite a few of his invites didn’t turn up. I do believe this, because one of my friends knew to expect one and told me that it hadn’t turned up because she needed the time and place.

      We were using DS’s nursery to deliver them, not the post, but I would still say some might not have arrived :)

      Those who have ignored direct questions – yes it’s rude, but I would put it down to social awkwardness/anxiety OR having another invitation for the same day OR having a huge argument with their SO and not wanting to ask them about it…. basically the same way I make myself not-pissed-off when people are inconsiderate drivers. I make up stories so I’ve a reason to cut them some slack, so that I don’t get angry (and I kinda enjoy making up the stories). Because the anger only hurts me.

      Did I remember to do this when my son’s friends didn’t reply? I did not. I just pissed off and then I wrote notes to their parents. 100% of seven told me they didn’t get the original. They’re all coming.

      YMMV :)

    12. Carrie in Scotland*

      I agree it’s rude but also wonder if the fact that it isn’t until the 11th means that some think it’s too early to RSVP. To some a week’s notice is sufficient, even though your invite is for now.

    13. Melissa*

      I agree that you shouldn’t have to do that, and that it’s rude that people have not responded to your invitation. That’s a pet peeve of mine.

      However…what should happen is unfortunately very different from what does. So if you’re worried about your in-laws being crushed from low turn-out (or, conversely, not having enough food for everyone who does show up), you might have to start calling people and getting a firm response from them.

    14. Observer*

      Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective.

      People tend to be very stupid about this. Unless they’ve done this type of entertaining, they don’t get it. And, the tendency towards rudeness about invitations doesn’t help.

      Also, it’s possible that some of the paper invitations didn’t get to the invitee or didn’t get back to you. I’ve had invitations returned to me (not getting to the invitee) weeks after they went out. (Three weddings with paper only invitations.)

    15. Liz in a Library*

      Boo! I agree with everyone that the RSVP doesn’t come with the obligation to actually, you know, repondez, that it used to; I hate this trend so much. It’s so rude to the host to not RSVP and makes party-planning feel like a chore (why should I have to beg my friends to come to a party?!). I’m sorry you’re dealing with this headache.

    16. Erin*

      Oh God I *hate* people who don’t RSVP! It would be so so tempting to let those folks know upon arrival that there will not be a chair for them, or food. That’s unfortunately probably not the best, most realistic option.

  5. Pleiades*

    Loved that book, Alison! Now have the urge to re-read, but sadly lent it out and never got it back.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I love love love David Rakoff. What a loss when he died so young. Have you read Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish – a novel by? It’s all in rhyming couplets, and it’s astonishingly clever. My favourite was the seance / crayons rhyme. Overall I prefer his short essays to his fiction, but it was a pleasure to read something so witty and different!

      1. KB*

        Also a fan of Rakoff. Also can’t recommend Jon Ronson enough (his books are much more factual and journalistic, but so far everything he’s written probes into the truth-is-stranger sort of human absurdities).

  6. Burkleigh*

    Hi everyone–2 questions for the AAM collective wisdom:

    1. (I hope this counts as being non-work-related enough) I’ve been having a stressful time with dealing with my current job + looking for a new job — how do you get your mind off work? What are some good things to do to relax, have fun, and really enjoy my weekends? I tend to spend a lot of time in front of the TV or computer, so I’m trying to read more books and get outside more (especially now that the city pools are open and I can swim!) but I’m always looking for new ideas.

    2. Any advice for dealing with an agitated cat? I adopted my furry friend about 2 months ago. He is a 5 year old male, and he is part Bengal so he has lots of energy and is very noisy! Recently he’s become even more talkative and is always trying to sneak out the door when I go in or out. He actually escaped once and spent the night outside (I couldn’t find him in the dark) and was in no hurry to go back indoors when I found him the next morning. Any advice on helping my very loud, active kitty settle down a bit? I do take him out in a harness sometimes and he loves it, but he tries to slip out of his harness while he’s out. He also has lots of toys and I try to get some playtime with him every day. But he still spends lots of time meowing and galloping around indoors. I don’t usually mind it, but I wonder if he’s bored or unhappy at all?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      He might need a playmate! Some cats are a lot happier when there’s a second cat to play with.

      I’m also thinking more playtime — really active, getting him to run around chasing a laser or something — try to wear him out at least twice a day. He’ll get calmer as he gets older and won’t need it as much.

      1. Burkleigh*

        Unfortunately my landlord only allows one cat, but I’m open to the possibility of getting another cat if/when I move! I will try to find more playtime for him during the day (maybe try to rework my morning routine so I can play with him for a bit before work). The laser is a good idea too–I haven’t got him one of those yet. His current favorite toy is one of those feathers-on-a-string-at-the-end-of-a-stick things (kind of like a fishing pole)–he finally tore one of the feathers off today! I’d been wondering when that would happen–it was only a matter of time.

          1. pony tailed wonder*

            I got one of those for my boyfriend’s cat. He is a tuxedo cat and when I see him play with it, I think of James Bond at the roulette table. Unfortunately, he loves to play with it in the middle of the night the best and it is a bit loud so if you do get one, don’t put it in your bedroom.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      I’ve been catching episodes of My Cat From Hell recently and I would say that if your boy is part Bengal, you probably need another part Bengal to keep up with him (or a really active cat) — but that’s just my hunch. There was an episode about this yesterday where a couple’s Bengal cat was attacking the woman (and peeing under a window). The answer was to drain the cat’s energy with play/an obstacle course and take him outside for walks so he could sort of learn how to cat from other cats (which was the reason he was peeing under the windows, cats outside).

      Does he like to climb? Does he have a cat tree?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes! Bengal kitties need lots of playtime with the humans or other kitties in order to tire them out. They also need lots of things like cat trees and toys to keep themselves busy and interested.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Some friends of mine have two Bengals, and they take them camping with them and their dogs! They have photos of the cats relaxing on an inflatable mattress in the middle of the lake, or exploring the forest. My two cats would be traumatized by the drive to the ferry, let alone the ferry, the lake, the forest, and the dogs.

          1. Burkleigh*

            That’s amazing! I haven’t tried taking my cat on any trips yet, but I think he’d probably enjoy it–not so sure about a long car ride, but I bet he’d like to explore a new place.

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              I had a Bengal (who has sadly passed), and she *loved* going for walks outside on a leash/harness. The only thing is that after going outside for even a little bit, she would hang off the back door and howl to be let back out again. And I’d have to be careful to make sure she didn’t run outside whenever the door was opened.

              And, yes, she needed to have her furry butt worn out every day or she would get into all kinds of mischief. :-)

      2. Burkleigh*

        He LOVES jumping onto windowsills (and watching what’s going on outside), my bookshelf, and the kitchen counter. For some reason I hadn’t thought about getting a cat tree, but I’m sure he’d love one. Now I’ll probably spend my evening looking at cat trees… :)

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          If you can watch that show, they talk a lot about “cattifying” your living space, to the point of making high shelves as a sort of kitty highway near the ceiling. I’ve seen a few where people have turned spare rooms into nothing but shelves and cat trees/furniture. I love my cats, but praise be to FSM that they are “normal” somewhat lazy cats who get along within reasonable parameters of tolerance — because I would not go that far to make them happy. There’s enough cat junk all over this place already!

    3. YandO*

      #1 – I just bought a coloring book. I know sounds crazy, but it is mediating to me. Also, I watch tv-shows whenever I want to let my mind rest. A better option is exercise, but I am not a better person.

      #2 Bengals need a lot of exercise and activity. You need to have two 1-hour sessions of active play (think hunt, then some more hunt). Make sure he has areas that are uniquely his. I recommend a corner tree. Also put up shelves high above the ground and if you can make a kitty highways, that would work too.

      Make sure you have a routine for when you feed him when you play with him, when you groom him. Never give him treats without a reason. Put him on a raw diet, or if not possible, then no grain diet.

      A quiet cat is a happy cat is healthy well-played with cat. It’s a lot fo work no doubt, but bengals are a very demanding breed.

      1. Heather*

        I have a colouring book! I just finished doing some colouring! Which one do you have? I have Enchanted Forest and Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. I colour while listening to podcasts and music.

      2. Burkleigh*

        Coloring is a great idea! And it’s easy to do while listening to things (I love podcasts and audiobooks but I need to keep myself busy while listening to them so I don’t get bored). I remember my roommate gave me a coloring book (I think it was Dora the Explorer) for Christmas my freshman year of college. I bet I probably still have it somewhere! Thanks!

        I don’t have a cat tree yet, but I’ll look for a good one. He’s currently on regular cat food but I hope to switch him over to something better once this bag runs out. (I give him wet food twice a day and leave dry food out for him to snack on the rest of the day).

        BTW I love your comment: “A better option is exercise, but I am not a better person.” I have an indoor bike, and I find that watching TV makes exercise time go much faster.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I want to publish coloring books for grownups (with more intricate pictures, etc.) and sell them at hospital gift shops and airport book stores.

    4. Melissa*

      For me, it’s books. I’ve recently grown a love for television too, and I love watching really good series (especially if I have a couple of seasons to catch up on). But nothing really allows me to lose myself like a really good book does.

      Another thing that calms me and allows me to refocus is hiking/walking/biking/being outdoors. Having lived primarily in urban areas I had no idea how much I loved being outdoors until I moved to a small town with lots of state parks and outdoorsy stuff nearby. I’m now looking to relocate to a city where there’s an abundance of outdoorsy stuff to do because surprisingly, I love it so much. There’s a peace that comes from being outside in nature by yourself and using your bodily energy; running really helps me because I find that my mind kind of goes blank and I don’t think or obsess over anything. I just run.

      Another thing that I like(d) is early morning yoga. I don’t think the exact exercise really matters, although yoga is supposed to be good for centering the mind and focusing, but there’s something about stretching and breathing before my brain is fully awake and has had time to start worrying that makes it easier for me to focus and recenter.

    5. GOG11*

      I switch out my kitties’ toys every month, and I rearrange the cat furniture about that frequently, as well. If you have enough toys, maybe you could try rotating them so he doesn’t get bored with having the same ones all the time. I know when “Caturday” rolls around, my cats take a renewed interest in playing with their toys because they’ve got so many “new” and exciting things to play with.

      1. Caroline*

        What types of toys do you have? I love this idea, but besides the odd pencil or hair tie he finds (yes, I know the hair ties are dangerous and I try to take them away, but with multiple long haired people, there’s always more to find), the only toys my cat will play with are the feathers on a fishing pole or a laser pointer. He’s gotten bored with the feathers on a fishing pole recently.
        I’d love to rotate toys, I’m just not sure what else to get. We have little balls, catnip stuffed mice, balls with bells, and such, but he has no interest in them.

          1. Caroline*

            I’ve tried crumpling paper up for him, which I read about online, but he was uninsterested. I haven’t tried big toys to wrestle (although we have about 20 stuffed animals on our bed, so if he was inclined to play that way, I’d think he’s be stealing them).

        1. Burkleigh*

          I haven’t tried rotating toys but I will give it a try. My cat has his feather fishing pole, and a similar toy that has a long strip of fleece instead of feathers. He’ll chase both of those around for a while. I’ve bought a lot of little stuffed animals for him (mice and such) and occasionally he’ll bat those around on his own, but he doesn’t seem interested when I toss them around for him to chase. The shelter I adopted him from suggested plastic soda bottle caps, since they’re small and travel pretty far on wood or linoleum floors. The one toy I’ve seen him play with consistently on his own is a large catnip-stuffed carrot–he’ll hug it and try to kick it to death with his back paws.

        2. GOG11*

          Well, my one cat will play with anything. Tooth flossing picks (the plastic kind that are too large for him to swallow), bottle caps, the odd pretzel I dropped and didn’t notice while packing my lunch…ANYTHING small that moves. My middle one mostly plays with the youngest one (the one who loves everything), but will play with feather toys, stuff on strings, and things that make noise. The oldest will play with stuff on strings or feather toys and that’s it (he’s really old, though, and not super active anymore).

          They do make catnip blowing bubbles, and that held the attention of all three of my cats for hours. If your cat doesn’t like them or is afraid of them, catch a bubble on the wand and allow him/her to sniff it. I did that for one of my cats and he liked them after that.

          I also cut coil binding into smaller bits and they play with those. I get the large (probably 1 inch in diameter or larger) plastic kind. They’re great because they just folder over if you step on them – so no aching feet or broken toys.

    6. Buu*

      Perhaps he just an outdoor cat, he obviously wants to go outside and roam. If he’s five already and has been allowed out, you might be right and he may be bored. Have you tried hiding toys or treats around the house for him to find, or placing boxes and other things for him to explore and sniff?

      1. Expendable Redshirt*

        I have a full blooded Bengal… And oh she’s full of energy!

        I find that she likes playing with ice cubes floating in water.

      2. Burkleigh*

        He loves cardboard boxes, so I always have a few lying around for him to climb in. I haven’t tried hiding things, but that’s a great idea!

    7. Girasol*

      When I was looking for work I made job searching my half-time job and my other half-time job was morale officer for the family. Hikes and walks, visits to free local events, making fun stuff in the kitchen (crackers, jam, homemade pasta), family night at the movies ($2 tickets), movie events at home with popcorn and Christmas lights strung as theater lights were on the usual list. There were some fun volunteer opportunities too. I got to run the big camera at public TV’s telethon, woo! Once I started to make fun an important part of my job search it really helped me. I got a job when I finally shook off the desperation and interviewed as if I didn’t need a job, if that makes any sense.

      1. Burkleigh*

        That’s great that you were able to balance job searching and fun. I still need to find the right balance of full-time job, job searching, fun at home, and fun outdoors/with friends. It’s harder than it sounds! It’s too easy to just come home and watch TV and forget about job searching/having fun in more constructive ways.

    8. TootsNYC*

      relaxing & destressing: I think that there is some serious science related to “fibers under fingers” (petting a dog or cat lowers people’s blood pressure and helps their health in other ways; babies and others play with their hair as a self-soothing technique; etc.)

      So maybe knitting or crocheting–whichever you find easiest?

  7. Julia*

    Friday’s news that most affected me was Disney banning selfie sticks. Yeah!!!

    Let’s interact with our fellow humans. How hard is it to say “Can you take out picture?”

    When I am at a tourist destination and see a family/couple, I try to see if they want their picture taken.

    1. Elkay*

      I was thrilled to see this in advance of my trip later this year. I was worried I’d spend my entire visit dodging sticks.

      1. Traveler*

        Yep, this. I’m amazed by the number of people that ask me in public. I’m always happy to do it, but I always think do I just look particularly trustworthy or are you overly trusting? (Or alternatively, maybe I’m paranoid but I’d rather forego a picture than worry about a thief taking off with it at a tourist hot spot).

        1. Myrin*

          I, too, must look very trustworthy, something I don’t like at all in these kinds of circumstances as 90% of the time when someone asks me to take their picture, I’m super annoyed by them. I’m clearly otherwise occupied or concentrating on something (sometimes only in my head, which is admittedly less clear) and then someone interrupts because they need their photo taken now and I just completely lose the thread and always have a hard time picking it up again.

          (I’m also remarkabl< bad with smartphones and, to a lesser degree, fancy cameras, so as soon as people hand their device over to me I somehow suddenly end up somewhere that decidedly does not let me take photos and then the other person has to unfreeze their photo smile and trudge back to me and pull the menu up again and aaah, it's a pain.)

        2. salad fingers*

          I was chatting with a friend of mine about how I frequently get picked out of a crowd and asked for directions, and she countered that with, “oh, do you also get asked to take men’s daughters into the women’s bathroom a lot? I get that all the time.” My jaw dropped. Does that happen? I have never seen this and it would not occur to me that anyone would ask this of a stranger. She is an incredibly sweet and by my estimation trustworthy person, but what?

          1. TheLazyB*

            Oh yeah I’ve not heard of that recently, but I’ve deffo heard of it. I reckon Gavin de Becker would be in favour.

            Never been asked, fwiw.

          2. Melissa*

            Yes, it happens. I’ve been asked to do that before. I’m always willing to do it – I generally like kids – but it does strike me as kind of weird – you don’t know me!

            I’ve also been asked to “keep an eye” on kids while a parent of any gender runs in/to somewhere. Usually the kids are well-behaved and it’s only taken less than 5 minutes.

            Given that people frequently ask me to do these things, or pick me out to ask for directions (even if I clearly have headphones on), or ask me to watch their stuff, I have concluded that I must have a completely open and non-threatening face. LOL.

            1. Buu*

              In my late teens went to a Harry Potter midnight book launch and a lady asked me if it was the right line, she made small talk and then almost straight after asked me to watch her kid ( about 11 or 12).I barely had time to say ” Whaa” before she left. The kid was nice but I was really shocked. Once we got the books she still hadn’t come back so I had to let the kid use my phone. I was so scared I would have to deal with an abandoned child ( and I wanted to just go home and read).
              If it was now, I might have just spoken to the staff. I remember not wanting to ruin the book launch but man why would you do that?

      2. Mander*

        This is what I worry about. I mean, it’s not a huge deal because I have a cheap phone, but it would still suck to lose it!

      3. Elkay*

        Disney photographers will take your photo with your camera if you ask (in my experience).

      4. Natalie*

        Yup, the only time I handed my phone to a stranger on my last vacation were some champagne tours. We’re in an underground cavern five stories down; they’re not going to run away!

      5. Dynamic Beige*

        When I go on vacation, I offer to take people’s photos. Personally, I have no interest of a photo of myself in front of ________. I have a Canon semi-pro camera, so I guess people see that and think “there’s no way she’s taking my phone”… and it’s true, I have no interest in stealing someone else’s gear.

        1. Treena*

          Yes, this. I always ask people to take pictures of my husband and I, and I pick people in groups of 2-3 or someone with another expensive camera. Really most people aren’t going to steal your camera, and if they do that’s what renter’s/home insurance is for.

        2. Melissa*

          Maybe it’s my years in NYC that have made me cynical, but I would be even less inclined to take an offer from someone than I would to ask someone to take a pic of me. Most times I just go without pics.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            The weird thing was when I took that trip to China, we were “warned” in the information session before we left that Chinese people would want their pictures taken… with us. I just couldn’t see how that could be possible — you want photos of a white person? WTF? But it was completely true. There are maybe a dozen photos of me out there in China somewhere posing with complete strangers who either literally grabbed my arm, or kept trying to sneak their mother/someone close to me until I gave up and decided to just go with it. It was bizarre, like being a Z list celebrity.

      6. S*

        I do it, BUT I always pick people who are also holding smartphones of their own and taking pictures with– there’s less chance of them trying to run off with mine if they’re already holding and using their own.

      7. Melissa*

        Yeah, that’s me. I don’t like to ask other people I don’t know to take pictures of me because I don’t know who’s going to run off with my camera or cell phone. But people ask me to take pictures of them all the time – tourists in New York, mostly. It always surprises me, especially since a lot of tourists tend to regard New York as a den of iniquity.

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I will never understand why people are so up in arms about selfie sticks. I’m not handing off my smartphone or my camera to a total stranger. Selfie sticks aren’t exactly Apocalypse Now.

      1. Windchime*

        I guess I just think of people who use them as kind of….self-absorbed or something. I mean, they seriously need to carry around a stick to put their phone/camera on so that they can always be prepared to take pictures of themselves? People get so caught up in taking pictures of themselves that they aren’t even living in the moment; they are just documenting the moment for later.

        1. Perpetua*

          I agree with you that many people just document the moment without actually experiencing it (don’t get me started on all the smartphones that are constantly out during concerts – how many of them have actually watched those videos and blurry photos ever again?! I know that I haven’t, so I gave it up and decided to take a photo or two and then try to enjoy the experience fully), but the way I see it, they are already always prepared to take pictures of themselves (by simply using the smartphone), this way they just might want to get better photos. :)

          1. TheLazyB*

            Oh god I took a vid of Interpol playing The New in Newcastle a couple of years back from the front of the balcony and I’ve watched that loads. I put it on YouTube too as they don’t play it often and a fair few others have watched it too. But yeah generally it’s a waste.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            That’s one reason my photos suck–I just click and then go look at whatever I’m taking a picture of. I don’t take the time to frame it, put myself in, etc.

            I did let people take pics with my phone in London; people were nice and took a pic of us at the British Museum and of me at the Prime Meridian. I had no one else to do it. There were so many people around it would have been hard for them to run off with it.

        2. Mander*

          I guess I just think it’s their prerogative if they want to do that. I only get annoyed if there are a bunch of people holding up their phones taking videos at concerts and stuff because then their phones are blocking my view. I will admit that I have taken photos/videos at concerts but I generally only take one and try to do it in such a way that I’m not blocking anyone’s view.

      2. Elkay*

        My annoyance is the space they take up, if you want to take a selfie go for it but waving a camera around on the end of a stick feels like it poses a risk of hitting an innocent passer by.

    3. Anonsie*

      It’s easy to ask, but man most people just suck butt at taking photos. I’d wager like 1 in 10 photos someone else takes of me looks presentable.

      1. Bangs not Fringe*

        That’s why I always tell people I am going to take a couple so they have some to choose from. Inevitably someone will be closing their eyes or doing something awkward in one, so you need more than one to choose from. If only people would do the same for the rest of us.

  8. LisaLee*

    (Apologies if this is too work-related, I hope not!)

    Anyone have any advice for being more productive at hobbies?

    In my spare time I like to knit and write. I’ve had some minor success with fiction writing, and eventually I would like to bring in some income from it, but that requires being consistent with output. And for some reason, I’m much better at writing after the workday than I am on vacation or during slow periods. My job’s slow season is summer, so I’ve spent a lot of these past couple weeks twiddling my thumbs. And then I get home and…twiddle my thumbs some more. I haven’t knit or written anything since this slow period started. You would think I’d be *more* productive if I’m not using brainpower during the day, but I don’t work like that it seems.

    Anyone else experience this? How do you get home and start on hobbies if your day job sticks you in an internet-surfing rut?

    1. fposte*

      The internet is designed to suck us in. It’s the potato chips of intellectual existence. I’m having some luck with changing my house arrangements to elicit desired behavior. So is there anything you can do to make what you want to do easier? Can you put the current knitting project by a spot you naturally plop down at or next to the computer you’re messing around on, rather than requiring it to be pulled out? (You could put it in, as Houzz always calls it, a “pretty basket.”) Can you schedule a certain amount of time for thumb-twiddling, so you can satisfy the aimless-time urge and then move away from it? Can you put whatever you’re surfing on in a less comfortable spot or away in a cabinet so it’s not just sitting there waiting for you?

      1. LisaLee*

        Part of it is definitely that I use patterns off the internet and Google Docs, so the internet is just sitting there waiting for me. I probably need to invest in a better version of MS Word so I can turn the internet off.

      2. pandq*

        “It’s the potato chips of intellectual existence.”

        I am going to respectfully honor this perfect sentence by stealing it.

      3. Cam*

        I recommend “concentrate”. It’s a chrome extension that lets you block any website you choose for a certain amount of time. So if you need the internet for your knitting patterns, but you keep getting distracted by Facebook and Reddit, you can just block them for the next hour. I haven’t found anything exactly like that for phones, but for my Android I have ” Forest” which lets you block any app you want from opening (by killing an imaginary tree if you do). They both help me hey out of the internet browsing rut.

    2. Stitch*

      Oh, man, I know that feel…

      With knitting and crochet, it really helps me to have a good audio book. Wanting to get back to the story helps me start knitting that day again, too. (Similar to the concept of “temptation bundling” http://freakonomics.com/2015/03/13/when-willpower-isnt-enough-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/)

      But not all hobbies have such an obvious and easy temptation bundle. I am trying to meditate these days, and it’s sometimes really hard to find time to do it, even though all it takes is 20 minutes of quiet time. The times I’m most agitated are the hardest times to do it, yet the times I need it most! I find having built-in reminders helps a little bit, and making myself do it even if it means I can only do 5 minutes before bed – that 5 minutes is the difference between having a meditation practice or not having one. And making it easy to start. So for writing, I’d say try to set up a few times in which you think you could do half an hour or so of writing (after you get home? Before/after dinner? Brainstorm a few different times and if you miss one, try to make the next.) and at the very least, make a promise to yourself to do something small before you get ready for bed, as it will solidify your self-identification of being a writer who writes every day. (Alternatively, if you just want to put aside Saturdays or something for writing, you could adjust this to that.)

      1. Trixie*

        Have you tried Calm dot com? Great site, with meditations from 2-20 minutes and choice of guided or just background.

    3. Kay*

      I find that it’s all about momentum. Strangely, if I’ve had a good, busy day at work, then I have more energy to get things done once I am home. If I have a blah day, or one where I am not accomplishing anything despite running around, I just want to crash when I get home.

      So: can you find work to keep your brain engaged at work? or ways to keep your brain engaged on your writing at work, like keeping a slip of paper on your desk and jotting down ideas, character or plot points, things like that? I am a big list-maker and find that helps me keep momentum.

      Also I often write on my to do list “one blog post” or “20 minutes crocheting” or “1 hour wallpaper scraping” so that I am committed to a certain time and then get the satisfaction of crossing it off.

    4. Purr purr purr*

      Maybe you could try LeechBlock if going online for the patterns is proving to be a distraction. It’s basically an app you can install and you can use it to block or limit access to certain sites that you choose. It’s highly customisable so you can specify different days for things to be blocked, specify them to be blocked at certain times or after you’ve used the page for a certain amount of time, and you can also set it up so that you can’t change settings once a block is in effect. I spend too much time on Reddit so I set up the app to limit me to just 20 minutes a day and Netflix is fully blocked three days a week.

      As for the work thing, I write too and I find that the urge to write hits me when I’m at work. Once I’m at home, the urge has passed. I’m still only at 16,000 words of the first draft for my latest story because of this issue. Sometimes I just get out of the house and go elsewhere, like a laundrette, so that it forces me to write because there’s nothing else for me to do there.

        1. Melissa*

          LeechBlock is amazing. There’s a similar extension for pretty much every major browser. With Safari I use WasteNoTime. It really helped me be more productive at work – I’m a postdoc with few outside-imposed goals and entirely independently directed work, which is kind of a nightmare for me.

    5. Cath in Canada*

      I joined a Meetup group called Just Write. They have events all over the city on different days of the week; I work full time so I only go to the Saturday morning one, in a nearby coffee shop. We chat for the first 20-30 minutes, then all sit together in silence and write for however long we want. It’s a really nice group of people, and I find that having to set an alarm and get out of the house by a specific time really helps my productivity. I’d never do anything before noon on a Saturday otherwise. I suggesting looking for (or starting!) something like that :)

      1. Melissa*

        Good suggestion. I joined writing groups like this at various times in graduate school, including while I was writing my dissertation. It’s pretty great if you’re a person who responds to social pressure; the presence of other people working away keeps me on task. Some of the writing groups I’ve been in check in every hour or so to make sure everyone’s on task and producing.

        A related concept is joining a writer’s group/workshop that shops each other’s work in a roundtable format. So every week, a different person submits a piece for everyone to review/critique. It keeps you on a schedule because you need to have an at least semi-polished piece of work to give to the group to look at, so it imposes an artificial deadline that you have to meet. You do need the right group, though – people who are going to give friendly, constructive criticisms.

    6. Colette*

      Set an alarm for a specific time. When it goes off, you have to start the activity for at least X minutes. After that, you can stop if you want to.

      It sounds like your problem is getting started, at least in part.

      (For example, I set my oven timer for things like this, because I have to get up to turn it off.)

    7. NoCalHR*

      Try writing a set number of daily pages – 2 or 3 – on any topic. Even jotting down your ToDoToDay list will help establish and/or maintain the writing habit. I learned this from Julia Cameron (The Right to Write) and it truly helps!

  9. nicolefromqueens*

    Has anyone tried infusing vodka (or other spirits)? I tried infusing basil vodka twice but failed miserably. The second time I infused it for just over 2 days in a mason jar at room temperature, shook it every 12 hours or so, and ended up with a very brown, licorice-scented yuck. I might try it one more time, if I can find even more info/advice on it. If I succeed, I’ll try peanuts.

    1. LisaLee*

      I have done it twice, once with ginger and once with Jolly Ranchers (don’t judge). The watermelon Jolly Ranchers were delicious, the other flavors I would give a pass. The ginger one also turned out well, but I found that the ginger taste changed in the alcohol.

      This is the recipe I sort-of used:
      http://food52.com/recipes/2189-cardamom-ginger-infused-vodka

      I think it works best to use dried or hard things, since soft foods will muck up the spirit unless you strain super duper well.

      1. Violet Rose*

        I’ve used skittles, and yeah, they don’t strain out particularly well. I would have preferred to use jolly ranchers, but, fun fact: if you walk into a grocery store in the UK and ask for a “jolly rancher” you will get some REALLY weird looks. And when you tell your (predominantly gay) friends about it afterward, they will laugh themselves silly.

    2. fposte*

      I have two vanilla extracts a friend made, one in bourbon and one in vodka. They’re very nice. I think you may have started with the hardest one–I suspect leafy, highly perishable herbs like basil and cilantro are much harder than woodier stuff like thyme and rosemary, let alone vanilla beans and peanuts.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I make my own vanilla extract with vodka (thanks, corn allergy!), and it’s lovely. But I’ve never tried herbs.

    3. Yoshi*

      Maybe basil is just not the way to go here? I can see how steeping basil for too long could turn it brown/ too licorice tasting. Have you tried using fruit?

    4. Short and Stout*

      Often, mostly gin and vodka.

      One really easy vodka infusion to make is green tea: using about the same ratio of tea leaves to vodka as you would use for a cup of tea, leave to infuse for 24 hours or less then strain and add sugar to taste. Yum.

      There are also seasonal liqueurs I love to make. Two weeks ago I made elderflower gin and vodka, which I left to steep for a week. Forty heads of elderflower to 1 litre is a good ratio. In the autumn I make sloe gin — this takes two to three months to steep and requires turning the first few weeks to dissolve the sugar. Something like 300–500 g sloes to 1 L gin with 200–400 g sugar.

    5. Natalie*

      Tea works very well. I made some earl gray infused gin a while back that worked great.

    6. Elizabeth*

      I haven’t had luck with herbal infusions in vodka, but we’ve done serrano & jalapeno peppers (delicious martinis and amazing Bloody Marys), and I did a ginger & vanilla infusion with brandy and simple syrup to make ginger liqueur.

        1. Elizabeth*

          I realized I forgot the other one we did: black pepper. About a quarter cup of black peppercorns in a 750mL bottle, left to infuse for about 3 weeks. The color was close to chocolate vodka, but it had a really nice peppery zip. Unlike with the hot peppers, where we just shoved the peppers in the bottle & left them, we filtered the black pepper by running it through a coffee filter in a chinois after we finished the infusing, to get rid of the debris from the peppercorns.

    7. Steve G*

      What is the flavor you’re going for with the basil? Does it actually taste like basil or does the vodka morph it into some other kind of flavor?

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        Yes, it supposed to taste like whatever you infuse it with. Unfortunately, I failed twice.

  10. Anon87*

    The recent MLM question struck home for me, as my best friend had invited me over the other day and then had a lady from Immunotec come over to give me a presentation (without asking me if I wanted to!! So uncomfortable for me). According to her all you have to do is sign up new reps and you can sit back and rake in $10k a month (or $25k if you’re at executive level!)

    Anyone know anything of Immunotec/Immunocal, or stories of people who ‘work’ for Immunotec? I tried googling it but literally every result loops back to Immunotec’s main site.

    1. Thinking out loud*

      Okay, first, if you force people to get into it, they’ll be just add annoyed as you were. Second, you can’t just recruit people and have them recruit people and so on and sit back and make money. That’s not how the world works. At some point, the people who are recruited have to sell a lot of [whatever] for anybody to make money. Please don’t do that nonsense.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      http://www.immunotec.com/Irl/Public/en/pdfs/IncomeDisclosurestatement.pdf

      In 2013 there was a total of 62,902 Consultants who made a purchase of a minimum 180 (dollars, I think) of which 16,242 earned commission. “74% were considered customers.” (that means the vast majority who joined as consultants never made any money)

      The chart they have on the attached is for ACTIVE consultants. So 62,902 joined as consultants during 2013 (they paid money to join, from $249-$500). In the average month, only 5977 earned any commission, which, could be commission on their own purchases, but only 5977.

      Of the 5977, the average commission check per month was no more than $69 for 4339 of them or 73%.

      Summary:

      the vast majority of people who paid to join earned nothing. Of the people who did earn something, the vast majority earned little and there’s no evidence that they “earned” more than the money they paid to join.

      Just another MLM scam like all of them.

    3. Melissa*

      I don’t know anything about the company in particular, but I do have some experience with MLMs.

      It is patently false that all you have to do is sign up new reps and sit back. The left-out crucial detail is that those representatives have to be selling at high volume for you to make that much, and that you have to recruit enough new representatives that their volume is coming out to $10K or whatever. I remember once seeing a mathematical computation for MLMs that shows that there’s not enough people in the world for any significant number of people to make decent money from managing reps in an MLM. That’s not even taking into account the fact that

      1) you have to start off selling well in order to recruit new reps, because you have to show the reps that the endeavor is worthwhile;
      2) your reps have to all have the kind of personalities and likes that motivate them to sell things people don’t want to buy and probably don’t need, which means you can’t just tap all your friends;
      3) if you do recruit reps like that, your reps are eventually going to want to do what you want – basically, recruit enough reps so that THEY can sit back and rake in $10-25K a month by just managing people. So they’re going to turn at least some of their attention to recruiting people, which means less time spent selling, which means less money for you.

      The Wikipedia page on multilevel marketing is actually really informative and rife with information about MLMs in general. Basically, very few (usually less than 10%) of people participating in an MLM actually make any profit from it.

    4. Anon87*

      Yup so pretty much what I thought it was. No worries I would never get involved with anything like this! I hate anything that involves selling things.

      Pretty much anything that asks you to front a large sum of money ($499!) and promises to pay you back later, is automatically a scam to me.

      Now what to say to my friend when I see her again…. Eeeek.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Tell her you looked into it and you’re concerned because it seems to be a high investment for little return, which is generally the sign that something isn’t on the up and up. If you go, “OMG SCAM AAAAH” she might get defensive. (She might anyway.)

  11. Bed Buggy*

    Sorry for the wall of text!

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted that I was dealing with bed bugs and treatment. Good news: the exterminator came and treated the apartment the first time. They said they only found evidence of them in my mattress and no live bugs- we had caught them early and only had a light infestation. They treated the entire apartment and are coming on Monday for a second treatment (part of their package, but also good peace of mind for me). I can’t wait to be done with living out of bags and boxes!

    The second good-ish piece of news: to eradicate all the bugs/eggs/everything, you need to wash every article of clothing and anything that has a thread has to be treated in some way. When talking to my mom on the phone and telling her I needed to take another trip to the laundromat, she made a couple comments about how much time I’m spending at the laundromat. She also said, “You know, your grandmother could do the wash for 8 people in two hours at the laundromat back in the day.”

    After I got off the phone with her, I sent her a text saying that I felt frustrated about passive aggressive statements like that and she should only be supportive. It felt amazing to tell her how I felt, and she was incredibly receptive and apologetic. Instead of stewing, I said what I needed to say about my feelings and it really helped!

    1. fposte*

      Good for you on both fronts! I confess I’m mildly amused by your mother’s comment–sounds like she’s unintentionally admitting she couldn’t do that either.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My grandmother did not have laundry mats, so that part made me chuckle.

        @BB- Good for your for speaking up. It sounds like mom with think a little more before she speaks or add more words to clarify what she is saying. win-win.

    2. Nina*

      I’m so glad that the bedbug issue is being resolved. Hopefully once they do the second treatment you’ll be in the clear.

      Also glad about what you said to your mom. You handled that well; I probably would have blown up from the frustration.

  12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    My boyfriend’s mom got laid off last week at her senior teakettle managerial role, and he’s been busy helping her out. He’s also been super busy working full time and taking night masters classes. He’s coming over tonight–what can I do to help him out/cheer him up? I was going to take him to the movies, I have breakfast ready etc. Is there other stuff? (I mean, apart from lending a sympathetic ear and hugs as per usual)

    1. ITPuffNStuff*

      given how busy things sound, i’m guessing he’ll be super appreciative of just being able to defuse and not work for a while. any other suggestion i make would only reflect what *i* would appreciate, and he may hate what i like, so … perhaps ask him for suggestions?

    2. Thinking out loud*

      I like “do you want to talk about it or would you rather not think about it for a while?” And then respect his answer. Some people get a lot of stress relief from taking – others just get more stressed.

      1. Myrin*

        That’s the strategy I use for all kinds of topics, too, and it works very well! (People are usually pleasantly surprised by me not just steamrolling them with what I think is best.)

    3. Cam*

      When I am super stressed, I don’t want to make any decisions, even things like which movie to go see or what to eat. If he’s like me, you might need to be prepared to make all of the choices, even the fun ones.

    4. StudentA*

      Get some massage oil ready and give him a total body massage. Make him a decadent meal (or order in or to go) with dessert.

  13. Jill of All Trades*

    So Friday I had to go to the county courthouse to file suit against the company that rear ended me and refuses to cover any of the costs. How do these people sleep at night? Now even more of my life and health is being taken up by these people and their inattentive driver who crushed my car. It’s making me a nervous sick mess and I’m usually calm no matter what. But since I filed maybe now they’ll settle.

    BUT, when I walked out of the clerk’s office to the lobby I got to be a guest at the first legal same sex wedding in Cobb County! It was sweet and it felt really cool to get to be there.

    1. ITPuffNStuff*

      is there any possibility you can make claims against your own insurance policy rather than sue? you’ll have to pay your deductible, but that may be worth avoiding the stress and cost of a lawsuit. plus, presuming the other party was cited (i would hope so in a rear-end collision), your insurer will almost certainly subrogate against the other party’s insurance company (i’m presuming they had insurance?) or the company itself if they were uninsured or underinsured.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        They’re self insured. My insurance is subrogating for the car. My health insurance will get them for much of the medical costs. I’m going after them for personal expenses, wages, etc. they wouldn’t reimburse me for anything.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Would facebook-shaming the company that rear-ended you help? Maybe just a polite, dignified statement on their facebook page giving a carefully worded, factual description of the events?

          1. Jill of All Trades*

            They could just get a screenshot, delete it immediately from public view, and then use it against me in court (and counter sue for libel; being truthful won’t make my defense cheaper).

            1. Evan Þ*

              FWIW, in a lot of states, you could probably strike down the counter-suit quickly and get court costs paid by an Anti-SLAPP motion. Though, I completely understand if you don’t want to go through the stress of that.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Same here. I was looking at all the photos of happy couples on the internet yesterday and literally crying. It takes a lot to get me to cry sad tears, but I’m on a hair trigger for happy tears!

        1. Bekx*

          The first couple in my county to get married included a teacher from my High School! He was there when I was, but I didn’t have him. But yayy!

    2. Laura Beth*

      Yay for getting to be a witness at the wedding! That’s a great memory. So sorry to hear about your car accident, though.

      Are you an attorney? If not, do you mind me asking why you didn’t hire one? I represent people injured in accidents, and I am always curious when people handle claims like yours on their own.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        IANAL, I hired an idiot who dithered and became unresponsive and then told me Friday morning when I tracked him down that he wouldn’t be able to represent me because it was too close to the filing deadline. So to protect my rights it became DIY and now I’m looking for a new attorney.

        Are you in GA? Do you have a recommendation? The trial date is in September.

        1. Laura Beth*

          That’s horrible!!!! Truly unacceptable to treat a client that way. I’m so sorry that you were.

          I am not in GA, unfortunately, but I AM in a national plaintiff’s lawyer association, so I can give you a couple websites to check out. Hopefully one of them can help you. Even if none of them are in your area, give one of them a call/email – they can almost definitely give you the name of someone good who IS in your area.

          And if one of them turns out to be the lawyer that you hired, let me know!! I don’t want to refer anyone else to that person. I’ll leave some links in a separate comment.

          Good luck with your case!

    3. Lionness*

      That’s too bad that you had to be there but YAY for getting to be there for that.

    4. Steve G*

      Good luck I was in a hit and run 4 weeks ago and I would LOVE to find the person and bring them to justice, but apparently the NYPD had better things to do, so its not going to happen.

      My mom was in a more serious accident 2yrs ago – women drove into her while my mom was at a light because the woman said she was worried about her mom being in the hospital so she dazed out. The damage was substantial, and my mom needed physical therapy. She is suing the other lady’s insurance co to pay for the therapy. It’s a real s*** show because it’s obvious the day-dreaming-driver-driving-into-stopped-cars is at fault, so you’d think it would be a slam dunk case. No. The insurance company just doesn’t want to pay for therapy. All sorts of random stuff is coming up, for example, where did my mom work in the 70s and why did she leave (um, had 1st kid and got married moved 37+ years ago, why is that pertinent?). Or why did she leave her last nannie job. Um, she had the kids since they were small, and then she was a 60+ person not in good health, and most likely wouldn’t be able to have small kids again, let alone watch them til they were older? They make it sound like she just wants $$$.

  14. Yoshi*

    Maybe basil is just not the way to go here? I can see how steeping basil for too long could turn it brown/ too licorice tasting. Have you tried using fruit?

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Although “Maybe basil is just not the way to go here?” does sound pretty philosophical as a freestanding question. I may have contemplated it for a little while before reading that it was meant as a response up-thread. ;-)

        1. hermit crab*

          I’m making dinner at the moment. This seemed like an entirely reasonable point to me too!

  15. Elkay*

    I started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as recommended on here a little while ago and I’m really enjoying it, thanks for the recommendations Alison please keep feeding my dangerous book buying habit!

  16. thoughtAboutSexism*

    I’m a woman, and not long ago, I was talking to someone who had asked for my help, and when I answered him, instead of reacting to what I said, he just kept talking. He did this a couple of times and only stopped when I answered with a fair bit of “edge” to my voice. He also, after I made a different suggestion, said more or less what I had just said – at that point, I felt like he ignored me and was acting like my idea was his idea (it was not a unique idea; we could have easily had the same one).

    By the time we’d finished talking, I was more than a little annoyed, and it occurred to me that maybe he had been ignoring and talking over me because I’m a woman. I can’t describe the feelings of rage and helplessness I had when I thought that.

    And then I had a sudden thought: it doesn’t matter why he was doing that as much as it matters that I deal with it. He might have been talking so much from nervousness (I noticed later that he also talked while his supervisor, who is male, was talking) or maybe what I said wasn’t what he expected, so he didn’t really take it in.

    Thinking that what I do is the important part was oddly empowering. I have a couple of ideas of how to deal with it (interrupt him while he’s interrupting me and ask nicely if he heard what I said, roll my eyes and work on something else until he asks why I’m not responding, speak a little more loudly and slowly so that it’s harder to ignore me.

    It surprised me that I thought he might have been treating me that way because of sexism. I was brought up with the idea that I could do just about anything. I don’t remember my parents ever telling me or even implying that I couldn’t do something because I’m female. I’ve been good at math (well, usually) since I was a kid. I went to college in and work in a male dominated field and have worked really hard (both in college and at work) to do well, and I am used to be treated with respect by co-workers. I guess I was really blessed that way – good workplace and so on, but I also wonder how much possible sexism I didn’t even notice because I didn’t expect it.

    If someone treats me not so well, I figure something’s wrong with them. Unless I start noticing a pattern where someone regularly treats males differently than females, I don’t usually think of sexism.

    If someone underestimates me, I figure they don’t know me very well. I also thought it was a backhanded compliment on my looks in a way. I’m not gorgeous, but I think I’m kinda pretty but not in a way that looks smart. However, Reader’s Digest did a study that says people think good looking people look intelligent. Grrrr.

    I guess what I’m saying, if anyone’s still reading, is that I hadn’t realized how much emotional turmoil I have accidentally avoided so far in life by not expecting sexism, and I think this was mostly because I was raised without it. And maybe in the future, if someone does something that might be sexist, if I think about how to deal with it instead of how messed up this is, maybe I’ll feel better about it.

    I know that sexism exists and am not trying to say otherwise.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I think the only thing you can do is ask this guy why he interrupted you. He may not have even been aware he was doing it.

      I had a similar issue recently, but I don’t know if it’s sexism or this person just does not like me. I had noticed that he interrupted me a lot, but this one time it was too much. We were discussing something and I had been sitting with the person involved in the problem we were discussing when it happened the previous day. After he finished speaking, I was going to mention some of the things this person had told me… when he cut me off and started talking again. Five words hadn’t even left my mouth. I waited for him to finish again, and then I got four words out before he cut me off again. At which point I had had it, because that is just so, so rude. I jumped up out of my chair, turned my back to them and started doing something else. He got it that time and after he finished, he kindly (rolls eyes) asked me what I was going to say and I said, “nevermind, it’s not important.” The problem is that I haven’t really noticed if he does it to everyone or just me. If it’s everyone, then it’s not just my problem, if it’s just me, then it’s just his problem and I’ll have to ask about it… but I’m pretty sure I already know the answer.

      1. fposte*

        I have a friend who does this (she’s female, to confound the question), and I’m an interrupter but a ready floor-yielder, so conversations between us are interesting.

        And I think the floor-yielding thing might be interesting to consider here. It sounds like you stop when he interrupts you. You don’t have to stop. You can keep talking until you’ve said what you needed to. This isn’t a merging lane situation where there’s a wreck if nobody yields.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          That’s an excellent way of describing it. Plus, there’s a certain amount of satisfaction in continuing to talk with a conversation steamroller.

      2. ITPuffNStuff*

        this framing of the situation presents 2 possibilities:
        1. sexism
        2. this person just does not like me

        both possibilities presume the interrupting is something about you (in #1, your gender, in #2, whether the interrupter likes you). i’d like to present what i feel is the likelier 3rd option:
        3. the reason, whatever it is, has nothing to do with you. he’s an interrupter because of something about him.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          There are other reasons that I have the opinion I do, I’ve known this person for a while. That incident I described wasn’t the first time something like that has happened. And yes, I do stop talking because unfortunately I was taught that it’s disrespectful to keep talking and try to drown out the other person, not to mention that whole “respect your elders” thing, even if they’re being rude by interrupting you. My grandfather would get like that at dinners with his friends. One would start talking, then the other would talk louder over him, then the third would talk over them both and it was a spiral of noise and crazy. Even going outside you couldn’t get away from it.

          That’s why I said the next time I have to be around him, I’m going to be more observant about whether he does it to others or not. Because you could be right, and he’s just someone who rudely interrupts others willy-nilly.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, I think that’s a pretty common lesson for women, but I think it’s worth challenging now and then. If all anybody has to do to silence us is try to talk, we’re not going to get much out.

            1. anon attorney*

              Agreed. Plus, talking over the person isn’t the only option. I have had a lot of success with simply saying “Please let me finish”. I will cede the floor to, for example, a client who interrupts because s/he is too upset to get conversational cues, but I don’t see why someone who just isn’t listening/has no manners should get a pass.

              1. Girasol*

                I appreciate “please let me finish.” I’m a talk-over too, but I my problem is more of a poor sense of timing. I need to be told sometimes that someone was taking a breath and not wrapping up. The explicit signal really helps.

          2. pony tailed wonder*

            My boyfriend does that to me. I gradually just realized that if we haven’t seen each other for a while, he needs an hour or so to get ll his thoughts out. But if he has already had his hour and interrupts me, I get annoyed. He doesn’t realize that he does it and so catching him and calling him on it gets him to think about it. He never means to be rude, he just doesn’t think before he opens his mouth. However, giving him his time to get out all that he did from the last time he saw me solved a majority of the ills with the interrupting.

    2. ITPuffNStuff*

      just speculating here, but if he asked for help and just rambled on without listening to you … perhaps he didn’t actually want help (advice)? perhaps what he really wanted was just for someone to listen to him ramble (which can be cathartic even if it doesn’t address the problem). now, do you really want to be that person? probably not if the rambling exceeds how much time you want to spend on it. really your call.

      as far as the presumed motive of sexism is concerned, i feel like you’re overthinking this. whatever his motive, it very likely had nothing to do with you at all. i believe human nature is sort of inherently narcissistic, so when looking for motives, the safer presumption is that his motive was something about him rather than anything about you.

      with all of the above being said, perhaps the more important question than what he was thinking is what being talked over meant to you. you felt enraged and helpless. unpacking those feelings, understanding what is driving them, and finding coping strategies will be useful skills for the rest of your life (that won’t be the last time someone talks over you, or triggers the same feelings in some other way).

      1. thoughtAboutSexism*

        I appreciate your answer. Since then, I’ve noticed he does this to other people too, so I think it’s just a nervous habit he has. An annoying habit, but…

        Part of what I was trying to say is that I started realizing how much better I feel when I don’t assume that it’s sexism, and I start thinking about how to deal with it.

        1. ITPuffNStuff*

          thank you for replying! i caught the thrust about avoiding presumptions of sexism, and i apologize if my response derailed the conversation somewhat. certainly presuming sexism makes it more difficult to deal with, as it forces one to deal with sexism both where it is and is not present.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The one problem with jumping to the conclusion that something is based in sexism is that seems to be a dead end. People who are sexist chose to be and really do not want “fixing”. So the problem remains unresolved. I like to exhaust all other possibilities before deciding someone is sexist. Once I hit the explanation that the person is sexist, I feel that there is not much further I can do here.

      A family member said that wives should stay at home. I tried to look at the era the person grew up in (loooong ago). Looking at other things this person said I realized that much of this person’s thinking was antiquated. I just decided to go about my day/life and this person remained baffled by the fact that what he was seeing around him did not match up with what he believed. It was sad to watch him struggle, though.

      I have sections of family where interrupting is the only way to converse. Both men and women interrupt- constantly. It’s hard to deal with because I think conversations should be easy and enjoyable, definitely NOT a competition for loudness or speed. Once in a great while, I will stop a person and ask, “Are you privately afraid you will not be heard, is that why you interrupt a lot?” This usually gets them thinking.

    4. 8th circle, 5th bolgia, for a period not more than 2,500 years*


      I was talking to someone who had asked for my help, and when I answered him, instead of reacting to what I said, he just kept talking.

      So – did you interrupt him first? Ie, you “answered him” but “he just kept talking” can be interpreted as “he was talked, you attempted to interrupt him to answer him, but he talked over you.” Which could indicate that maybe he really hates getting interrupted, and it all just went downhill from there?

    5. TootsNYC*

      And then I had a sudden thought: it doesn’t matter why he was doing that as much as it matters that I deal with it. He might have been talking so much from nervousness (I noticed later that he also talked while his supervisor, who is male, was talking) or maybe what I said wasn’t what he expected, so he didn’t really take it in.

      Or, you know, maybe he’s a jerk?
      Or maybe he’s so insecure that he has to fill up the air with his own voice?

      You know, I think this is me:
      I guess I was really blessed that way – good workplace and so on, but I also wonder how much possible sexism I didn’t even notice because I didn’t expect it.

      And I think it can be powerful to just not notice.

  17. Monodon monoceros*

    My nine year old dog had 3 small cancerous skin tumours removed a few months back. The vet said that they think all of it was removed (the margins were good on the tissue samples) and that it wasn’t a type of cancer that often metastasized. I found another little tumour recently. I’m so torn about whether to have it removed. He had a rough recovery from the last anesthesia, so I’m worried about that. And it’s in an area that would be an annoying recovery (in his armpit, where it takes a long time to heal because of all of the movement). I want the cancer gone, of course, but I also don’t want to keep putting him through surgery. I’m tempted to let him have a fun summer of hiking and swimming, and then maybe have it removed this winter when it would be easier to have him go through a recovery period.

    Am I crazy to not get it removed right away? I know it is nearly impossible for this question to be answered, but just wondering what other people’s thoughts are.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      Personally, I’d be too anxious about it to wait that long. I just wouldn’t be able to relax until it was dealt with.

    2. fposte*

      Can you consult with the vet on this? “If I wait six months on this how great do you think the risk of metastasis is?”

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I do plan to talk with the vet, but I’m just not sure about how to take her advice. The most cautious thing is to take it off, of course, so I’m pretty sure she’ll just tell me to take it off. But I feel like the most cautious thing here doesn’t take into account the quality of life issue- he’ll have a sucky summer if I have it taken off now. But not taking it off could shorten his life if it does metastasize.

        I live in a very northern area, so fall/winter is actually only 2 months away. So it isn’t too long to wait.

        But yes I will suck it up and make an appt with the vet soon to discuss it.

        1. fposte*

          FWIW, I lean toward your way of thinking. A nine-year-old dog who doesn’t deal well with anesthesia means I’m going to want a gain equivalent to the burden on him if I’m doing a procedure, and that’s a higher bar than a two-year-old dog who bounces back right away. And to put it coldly, if there’s a chance of metastasis there’s a chance metastasis already has happened, and quality of life becomes really important in such a case. What I’d actually do would depend on a lot of things, including the pooch’s size and breed, but I think it’s really important, especially with older animals, to consider whether interventions bring enough value to outweigh the QOL negatives.

        2. catsAreCool*

          Different vets have different opinions about this kind of thing, too. Some lean toward “more is better”. Others are more balanced about quality of life and not overdoing the medicine type of thing.

          My Mom had a dog who was dying of cancer. One vet wanted to do a whole bunch of things. She asked if any of it would help. It would have told the vet more about what was going on, but it wouldn’t have actually helped the dog. She took the dog to another vet, who prescribed pain killers that worked. There was nothing that could be done medically to save the dog, but he lived out his final months happy and comfortable.

          I hope your dog has a great and long life.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      You’re not crazy to wait. My dogs are 12 and almost 13, and the quality of their lives is uppermost in my decisions about them. The 12 year old has tartar on her teeth, and of course, they want to do a cleaning, but I don’t want to have her put under unless it’s for a much more serious situation. The 13 year old has gingivitis, and I’m going to have the cleaning done for him. He is experiencing pain, and this little guy has had more than his share of pain in his life, so I’m willing to take the chance.

      I promised God that I would do what is best for these dogs. I think quality of life is what’s best.

    4. Chorizo*

      Your poor dog! Can your vet do a needle aspirate to see if it is cancerous? At least then you would know. Dr. Sue from the The Pet Cancer Vet podcast (she’s a board-certified veterinary oncologist) is not a fan of the watch-and-wait thing.

      1. TL -*

        Interesting. I don’t know about animals at all, but for people with common early stage cancers (melanomas, prostate, breast) the AMA, ect.. definitely are leaning more and more towards a “watch and wait” approach.

        Monodon monoceros, how bad does the mole look, in terms of size, coloration, border regularity? If it doesn’t look particularly awful, and if it’s not a type of cancer that metastasizes often, two months probably isn’t going to make much of a difference. I would keep an eye on it – if it grows or changes shape/color (take pictures now for comparison), you’ll want to get it checked out thoroughly.
        And consult with your vet, but if this is a common, less dangerous cancer, she’ll probably be okay with a wait-and-see for a few months.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Thanks for the input everyone. The nodule is about pea sized and regular borders, but has hardened in the few weeks since I’ve found it (yep, I’ve already waited a bit…some of it was denial, but I’m also really dreading putting him through surgery for it). It is behaving just like the first nodule I found, and is similar in size. So of course I can’t know for sure, but it is highly likely it’s the same type of cancer. I can’t actually see it since he has extremely thick, dense fur. The only time I’ve seen his skin is when he is shaved for some reason :)

          So I guess my plan now is to make an appointment but still not rush for surgery. I certainly want him to live a long life, but I want whatever time he has left to be happy…

  18. Mimmy*

    I am 6 episodes into the new season of Orange is The New Black (yeah, I’m not a binge-watcher, lol). So far….not sure. It’s starting to get good. Those watching, what do you think?

    Also: Has anyone read the book the show is based on, by Piper? Is it worth the read? I know it doesn’t exactly mirror the series–isn’t it more about the prison system? I’m actually into policy and systems issues, so I don’t mind if it’s not the actual story as depicted in the show.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I read the book and really liked it. It’s very, very different from the show, but good as a separate thing.

      I was mildly annoyed by how often she wrote that people were shocked — shocked! — to find an attractive, middle-class-presenting woman in jail. (And sometimes she seemed to be assuming that they felt this way, rather than citing anything they actually did or said. ) There are attractive people in jail; it felt like a weird thing to highlight more than once, and I felt like it might say more about her than them. But I did like it.

      1. Stephanie*

        I read it too and kind of agreed. I mean, isn’t that somewhat likely in a minimum security federal prison?

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I had the same, mildly annoyed reaction to an out-of-towner who asked me for directions following the Pride parade today. She was a middle-class-looking white woman wearing typical middle-class southern white-woman clothes, and she could not shut up that people were “Shocked — shocked” to see the rainbow headband she was wearing on her hat.

        As a fellow middle-ish class white woman who also wore a straw garden hat to the parade because the sun is hot, I can testify that no one was shocked.

      3. the gold digger*

        I was annoyed that she seemed to think that what she did was not that bad. I am all for legalizing drugs (all of them – if you want to take heroin or meth, knock yourself out, but don’t be surprised to see Child Protective Services at your door after I rat you out for not feeding your kids or changing their diapers), but for now, they are illegal and transporting money for a drug dealer is illegal. Honey, you broke the law in a big way. Own it.

    2. Stephanie*

      I watched it all. It was definitely better toward the end of the season. (I found it a little too kooky at the beginning.)

    3. Purr purr purr*

      I’ve watched all of it and I wasn’t really that unimpressed. Nothing really happened. Yawn.

    4. LBK*

      I liked season 3, but it’s certainly different from the last two. It’s a lot less plot-driven, which I personally don’t mind but I know a lot of people wanted a more solid driving arc like Vee’s last year. On some level it felt like a more Wire-esque thematic commentary on the prison system, motherhood and Corporate America, which I always find interesting through Jenji Kohan’s lens (although she’s pretty heavy handed when it comes to girl power).

      I really enjoyed the book. It’s very different, but good in its own right. One element of the show that does come straight from the book is Piper’s attitude – she’s very matter-of-fact about being a criminal. She’s not too self-pitying but also not too proud; she knew what she was doing, she knew her actions would probably have consequences and so she accepts having to live with those consequences. I think that attitude turns what could be a really preachy moral tale about thinking twice before you act into an almost zen guide for navigating tough times, particularly when part of what makes those times so tough is that you brought them on yourself.

    5. Melissa*

      I’m farther into it (near the end of season 2). I think it’s very good, but then again, I think it got very good early on – beginning to middle of season 1. I will say that the tone and focus does mutate a bit over time, and I hear that it does again further along in season 2 and into season 3 (which was just released recently).

      And you just reminded me that I wanted to get the book!

    6. 8th circle, 5th bolgia, for a period not more than 2,500 years*

      I like it – the premise lends itself to a wonderful, very natural narrative structure: everyone’s in prison, and they interact with each other daily (and have been doing so for years, in some cases), plus – everyone has an interesting back-story on how they came to be in prison. I find this a lot more interesting in the long run (versus some shows that just go full-bore “soap opera” that just crank out endless, mindless variations (“okay, it’s Gene’s turn to have an affair with Paula”)).

      If I had a criticism, it would be that they make women’s prison look like it might be more fun than working a day job and earning a living.

        1. Stephanie*

          Washington City Paper had a fun feature last year where an ex-con commented on the show. She pretty much said that the only accurate things were the food and the Pennsatucky character.

          I knew someone who did Healy’s job at Jessup (Maryland’s state prison) and she was like “Yeah, they don’t get that much freedom, even in minimum security.”

          http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/artsdesk/film/2014/06/11/where-the-fuck-are-all-the-guards-an-ex-con-reviews-orange-is-the-new-black/

      1. LBK*

        On some level I think that’s intentional because they want to keep the tone relatively light so it’s not a grueling, grim slog through each season (although season 3 was pretty depressing even so). I also think they don’t want to feel hamstrung by realism when it comes to writing new plotlines.

    7. Erin*

      I really enjoyed season three. Admittedly maybe not as much as the first two seasons, but that could just be because there are such high expectations with the show now.

      I also really enjoyed the book, but I’ve always found prison systems fascinating. I would highly recommend giving it a read. It is about her story too, some of which is mirrored in the show, but for the most part there’s significantly less drama.

      I just started to type out a few examples, but didn’t want to give any spoilers away. Just trust me and pick up the book. =0)

    1. fposte*

      One of my first thoughts was how glad I was that she was using appropriate safety gear. That is my kind of badass–take only necessary risks.

    2. BRR*

      I thought this was the best thing. I wish I had the courage to do something like. I didn’t know it went back up so fast though. I have no idea why people are supporting it so strongly (I really do have an idea but I just can’t fathom being a strong supporter of something like that).

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I don’t get it at all either. I really don’t understand the “it’s our heritage” argument. I can’t imagine Germany flying the Nazi flag and then saying “it’s our heritage.” On the contrary, when I was in Munich recently and went on a tour, the tour operator pointed out multiple buildings that had housed Nazi government offices, and the German government now has high security on those buildings to make sure they do NOT become monuments to neo-Nazis.

        I can see a place for the flag in historical contexts such as museums about the Civil War, and documentaries, but that’s about it.

        1. BRR*

          Germany is the perfect example of how to handle a shameful past. They don’t proclaim being a Nazi is part of their heritage.

        2. Myrin*

          As a German (near Munich, coincidentally – I hope you enjoyed your trip!) who doesn’t really have in-depth knowledge/understanding of many things in the US, I had no idea the Confederate flag could be compared to the Nazi flag. But since Charleston, I’ve actually seen that argument quite a few times which really helped me understand the gravity of the issue more deeply. You’re right, it would be absolutely unthinkable to have a Nazi flag out here anywhere (I actually think you can even get arrested for it? I’m not sure though, I’d have to look that up.) and the thought alone is utterly horrifying to me which makes me wonder how there is even a debate in regards to the Confederate flag.

          1. Lionness*

            It can compare. The Confederate flag was a battle flag of the Confederate Army when they rebelled and tried to secede. While there were many reasons for the secession attempt, overwhelmingly they all came back down to state’s rights and slavery. That flag is representative of a vile time in our country’s history and of the most base and deplorable act imaginable: the enslavement of fellow humans. Today, it is used by some to represent “Southern Pride” which is often code for “white pride” or “white supremacy.”

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This. Also, it’s been appropriated by groups who perpetuate that attitude, and it’s associated too heavily with them now, so there really isn’t any going back to any innocent meaning anymore.

          2. Tau*

            Another German and given our laws I’d be extremely surprised if you wouldn’t get arrested for flying a Nazi flag.

          3. Melissa*

            I went on a walking tour of Berlin that concentrated pretty heavily on WWII history, and the tour guide indicated that you could indeed get arrested for flying the Nazi flag in the U.S.

            And, I think it is comparable. The Confederacy in the Southern U.S. was established in large part to continue the system of chattel slavery that was in place in the U.S. at the time. Chattel slavery in the U.S. was terrible – an estimated two to four million Africans/African Americans died during the system, and Africans/African American slaves were experimented upon, whipped, beaten, separated from their families, maimed, disfigured, and forced to work all for the economic benefit of wealthy planters. That’s not even mentioning the systematic and generational effects its had on the place of African Americans currently in the U.S. today – things as simple as having no idea of our collective ancestry because of the kidnapping and destruction of family records to things more grave, like lower educational attainment and generational wealth because we weren’t allowed to have anything.

            Many contemporary Confederate leaders were very clear about the fact that the Confederacy was established to preserve slavery as an economic system. And the flag resurfaced in the 1960s as a response to the civil rights movement in the United States.

            And as a personal experience – I’m an African American woman myself, and the Confederate flag is a very visceral symbol of racial hatred to me – not in an abstract sense but a very real sense. I get nervous and panicky when I see it on people’s t-shirts or car bumpers because it at least in some sense indicates a system of thinking that devalues me as a person, and I’m not sure how people who are bold enough to wear that would react to me (violently? hostile? I don’t know!) I remember one time in Alabama I was with my family and we walked into a rest stop to get some snacks, and discovered that it was in part a Confederate memorabilia store. We RAN out of that place. We were scared.

            One more note: I’m offended by all of the folks who are trying to make this about Southern heritage and pride. I’m a Southerner myself – I’m from Atlanta, Georgia; my grandparents are from Virginia – and I’m also black. Saying that the flag is about Southern heritage is completely ignoring the feelings and history of all of the black Southerners who don’t have and don’t want that as part of our heritage at all. I don’t feel pride in my region when I see that flag. I feel fear and anger.

            1. Mander*

              “Saying that the flag is about Southern heritage is completely ignoring the feelings and history of all of the black Southerners who don’t have and don’t want that as part of our heritage at all. I don’t feel pride in my region when I see that flag. I feel fear and anger.”

              ^This.

              Also, I’m white and not a southerner, and every time I see someone with a Confederate flag on their cars or t-shirts or whatever, I get nervous, too. To me it’s just associated with violence and ignorance. Even if I’m unlikely to be target of that violence given my ethnicity I still find it threatening.

              1. Manderly*

                I’m a white Southerner* and the flag wearers give me the creeps. I see that flag and I instantly think that they’re racist, ignorant and potentially dangerous. I’ve never understood why the flag was still flown/shown anywhere outside of a museum.

                *Both sides of my family have been in the South since the 1750’s. We even came in via Charleston instead of through Ellis Island. There [unfortunately] were plantations and Civil War soldiers involved. And in NO way does that flag reflect my heritage.

              2. The IT Manager*

                Ran across a memorial stone yesterday marking the place where Jefferson Davis died. It calls him “a great American.” Huh? That’s a weird rewriting of history.

            2. catsAreCool*

              I’m white, and the Confederate flag on someone’s t-shirt or bumper sticker would make me nervous, too.

            3. Elizabeth West*

              When I had an online dating profile, I actually put in it, “I don’t care what you drive as long as it runs and it doesn’t have a Confederate flag on it anywhere.” Wonder if that’s why I didn’t get any responses? If so, bullets dodged! >:D

          4. Anonsie*

            I feel kind of weird making this comment at all because it sounds like “oh it’s not so bad!” but that’s obviously not what I mean, I hope. I’m just trying to explain where the disagreements come from, to be clear I’m not endorsing use of the flag or anyone who wants to use it.

            Its revived intent was pro-segregation. When moves were being made to integrate schools and public spaces, the flag was revived by people who were staunchly anti-integration. From there it moved to the heritage argument, which is some cross-pollination because heritage was a big justification people used for segregation and have always used for various discriminatory race-related policies.

            Someone using Nazi symbolism are almost definitely using it as a call to action and violence, if you saw it anywhere you would know that was the message. With the Confederate symbolism it’s murkier, and that’s where the argument is coming from. It’s always race-based, but what people are trying to do or say with it varies. There people who are essentially neo-Nazis who use it the same way, then the bulk are your old fashioned “they can be however they want as long as they do it over there where I don’t see them” type racists, and another portion are people who want to use it as Southern pride but are, necessarily, racist enough to not care about the connotations of that or who are totally into those connotations but don’t consciously realize that or how it’s problematic.

            So there’s the argument. You have people who, for obvious reasons, think it shouldn’t be waved around on government property or sold wherever. Then you have ignorant people who want to use it as a symbol of heritage who don’t think racism is a real problem, don’t believe they themselves are racist in any way, and therefore refuse to listen to anyone who tries to explain otherwise. Then you have people who are actually just straight up racist, know they are, and are playing dumb because they want to intimidate people with the flag. I think the bulk of its defenders fall into that second category: People who have really convinced themselves racism has nothing to do with it.

            So I don’t think it fits the same spot as the Nazi flag, not because the meaning is different but because a significant portion of its defenders genuinely believe they are not being racist in its use. Past that it seems a large part of the population is indifferent don’t think anything about it at all and wouldn’t even react to it. If everyone except neo-Nazis felt the same way about Confederate flags as everyone does about Nazi flags, it would have been gone long ago.

            1. Anonsie*

              tl;dr It has the same sort of background as Nazi symbolism but a lot of people don’t think it does, which is why there is an argument. A lot of Americans still really don’t believe racism is a problem and are very sure that a lot of very racist things are not, in fact, racist at all, and the Confederate flag is one of them. Then a lot of people are playing dumb as a front.

              I’m not eloquent in the middle of the night.

              1. Monodon monoceros*

                Interesting reading this. But if a lot of the people are just racists who don’t actually understand that they are, in fact, racist, then it’s time they understand that the flag is racist, and perhaps they are as well. The flag that is offensive to so many people shouldn’t stay up just because these people are ignorant (and I understand this isn’t what you are saying, I’m just making that point).

                1. Anonsie*

                  Yeah, this is a huge part of our overall problem. People being racist and refusing to believe the racist thing they’re doing is racist at all on top of it, and that point dominates rather than the severity of what’s at stake. It comes out in places like, to take another example that’s been talked about lately, with police (or even civilian shootings) of black people out of fear. People will claim race had nothing to do with it and it was because they feared for their life or safety, but they’ll also ignore that they are more likely to fear for their safety when dealing with black people. Darren Wilson’s testimony was like a textbook for this, and the people insisting race had nothing to do with it and that Michael Brown was a “thug” just refuse to believe that them calling Michael that or that Darren viewing and describing him the way he did is all entirely because Michael was black.

                  It’s an absurd roundabout where these people don’t believe they’re racist but also don’t think the feelings or experiences of black people are important enough to be considered, and they have no dissonance with both of those thoughts being in their head at the same time. You can’t educate someone who fundamentally believes you are not worth listening to while also believing that itself is not a problem.

                  That’s why, though this one got largely overlooked, the SCOTUS ruling this week that intent didn’t need to be present for someone to violate the Fair Housing Act was a big deal. Because intent is always the card people pull on these things: I’m not TRYING to be racist when I fly this flag, so you can’t take it that way! We don’t WANT the city to be segregated like this, it just happens that way, it’s not a big deal! The fact that the FHA is rarely enforced is a different issue, but at least the precedent is set somewhere that how racist you believe something to be is not relevant to its impact.

        3. Natalie*

          The heritage thing falls apart IMO given that no one was plastering it on statehouses and license plates until Brown v Board.

          1. Anonsie*

            Right? If anything about this was based on actual logic, the whole thing would have ended the first time someone pointed that out.

          2. Monodon monoceros*

            Yes, this is also a huge problem with the “heritage” argument. I can’t think of an argument that really works for me, but the heritage argument is so fundamentally flawed and I just don’t get how any rational person hears it and is like “oh, yeah, heritage, that’s why we should keep this flag that is so hurtful to so many people.”

    3. ITPuffNStuff*

      some reactions:
      1. she is indeed a badass

      2. there’s been a lot of fervor over the removal of a symbol. its removal is a positive step, but as others have pointed out, one can’t stamp out racism by removing its symbols. racism is a deeply embedded cultural artifact, and removing it requires cultural changes that are usually at least somewhat generational.

      3. if you enjoy some humor with your commentary, john oliver and jon stewart have both weighed in:
      john oliver — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L6GDynW4zU
      jon stewart — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHG0emW0-94

      1. nep*

        Agree w your comment on the flag / racism.
        Removal of a symbol — isn’t that sort of going after the low-hanging fruit?

        1. nep*

          Not to say it’s nothing, of course. Just that it’s a crucial part of a far deeper, tougher task at hand.

        2. Avocado*

          Think of it as going after a tangible goal that can reasonably be achieved.

          I doubt anyone trying to get the flag removed isn’t also invested in the bigger issues of changing a racist society, but sometimes you have to focus on the small thing that you can actually do. I think people are tired of calling for major systematic change after a horrible tragedy (like Sandy Hook) and having literally nothing change. Within this climate, getting something small but real done is a victory, because the likely alternative is no change at all.

          1. nep*

            Makes sense, yes. (And of course I’m in no position to comment on what that flag evokes for people.)

          2. Natalie*

            Plus, people have been trying to get it removed for decades. I can’t blame them for running the play when they can, nor for celebrating a success.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that’s where I’m leaning. It’s not the best possible result, but it’s a thing that needed to happen, so let’s make it happen.

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          I agree with others have said about making small steps, but also–of course people should want to remove something flying on government property that is a symbol of white supremacy. If you lived in that state and weren’t a white supremacist, why wouldn’t you feel shame, humiliation, anger, despair at seeing that, at knowing it’s there? It not just a small step; it’s a necessary one.

        4. catsAreCool*

          It would still be a good thing to have gone.

          Which reminds me for some reason, I was watching a Matlock rerun a few years ago, and in the court, next to a USA flag, was a flag that looked like it might be the confederate flag. Not sure because they weren’t unfurled, but I haven’t watched Matlock since. I know it was an old re-run, and maybe that was the state flag, but… yuck.

      2. catsAreCool*

        Maybe low-hanging fruit is a good place to get momentum.

        I’ve been reading that in department stores, minorities still get shadowed by security/sales people in a disproportional amount. I wonder if facebook shaming would work for that? In a state where recording this is legal, have one well-dressed adult who is a member of a minority shopping at the store and have someone else record if the person is being shadowed. Then blur out the faces and post it on the store’s facebook page. Let them know you’re not planning to shop there until they change their policy, and a lot of other people aren’t going to either.

      1. nep*

        (Ugh — the current use of the word is annoying right up there with current use of ‘incredibly’ and ‘literally’.)

        1. nep*

          (Don’t mean your comment is annoying (!) — just the stickler in me is dismayed at how these trends sort of beat up the language…)

            1. nep*

              Cool — thanks for the link. Look forward to watching it.
              Louis CK also has a funny bit about ‘awesome’.

    4. Anonsie*

      Oh my god, yes. I saw a photo of her smiling while she was being arrested and the police were digging through her bag, I got tears in my eyes.

    5. Liz in a Library*

      She is SO AWESOME!

      I’ll out myself slightly here. I’m a Columbia resident. I think it’s obvious from the video, but just in case it isn’t, it’s difficult to get up there and get that flag down. It’s meant to be difficult, because a few years back when they moved it from the dome to the stupid memorial it’s at now, people kept taking it down and stealing it. Now, it’s chained in place at the top of the flag pole. It takes some damned guts to get up there and get it down!

      I’m so glad she did it, and so bummed that it is back up. I hope very much that it doesn’t stay long, and I also hope that the current political climate makes it difficult to charge her with anything, because this was a fantastic act of civil disobedience.

  19. Applesauced*

    I’m taking a test (sort of for work) in about a month; I’ve gathered my materials, made myself a syllabus and I’m trying to do two hours of studying (50 minutes reading, 10 break) 4 times a week. But it’s so hard to make myself DO IT. Any tips for studying and study motivation?

    1. Trixie*

      Me too, although I have a little more time and my test involves more memorization. I think sitting down that first time will help set the tone, and taking those couple breaks. If 50 minutes is too long, maybe shoot for short block first couple times until you settle in. Also, try to keep distractions away from your immediate work area. I also like a little background noise whether it’s streaming music or news.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      a) It’s only for a month. Most people find sprints much easier than marathons. A month will fly by before you know it. Studying can feel like punishment, remind yourself that this will be over in a month.

      b) Remind yourself regularly, “when I pass X test I will then have Y. I will have actually achieved this goal. It will be complete.” Big picture focus. If you are thinking about how tired you are tonight and how will you get through the torture of yet another night of study you are going to feel crappy about it. Use a big picture focus, “After tonight’s study, I am one day closer to getting this DONE. I need to beef up on x and y tonight and make sure I have a good handle on that for the test.”

      c) I find that getting rest is just as important as studying. Do not give up sleep time to study. A funny thing happened to me, I found that I did actually forget to cover some stuff for my tests. BUT because I was rested, I was able to piece together an answer from what I did cover.I never thought of sleep as making a person smarter, but I am here to say it sure can make you feel differently about how you handled a test.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      I just remind myself of how awful I’ve felt in the past when I attempted something I was utterly unprepared for. Mind you, this technique didn’t work until I was in my late 30’s, when I’d collected enough personal data to be able to convince myself that waiting until the last minute really isn’t a good idea. Do you have any experiences in your past when not being fully prepared came back to bite you in the ass? (Failed tests, bad grades on papers that weren’t fully researched, a flubbed presentation, etc)?

      I also try to pretend that I have to take the test AND explain the answers to another human being a week before it’s actually due. If I can articulate the information to someone else, then I’m sure to do well on the test.

      Also, put studying time on your calendar and set alarms. :-)

    4. Mephyle*

      My suggestion is to just do it whether you are motivated or not. Don’t work at trying to ‘get in the mood’ or ‘feel like’ it, just do it whether you want to or not.
      Apart from that, 50-minute sessions are pretty long, could it work better for you to do two 25-minute sessions at a time? On the other hand, if you find you take a while to get into it, but once you are immersed, you get into the flow, then you might indeed be better off doing each session in a single take.
      Either way, an additional stimulus could be a mini-reward you indulge in after each session: for example, a nice scent (do you have some special lotion or incense?), some special music or a chapter from an audiobook that you have decided you will only listen to upon finishing the session, a short meditation, or an edible or drinkable treat that you only have at these times.

    5. TootsNYC*

      create something positive about it. Decide what will -feel- good when you’ve studied. You’ll feel smarter, more confident, less worried. You’ll feel calmer about your future.

      Hold that feeling in your brain. Hold it, amp it up, mentally. Then sit down to study.

  20. Persephone Mulberry*

    I am such a doorknob.

    My sister’s bridal shower was this morning (tip: if you ever get asked to throw a shower, do a Saturday morning brunch. I got a ton of compliments about how smart it was to not bog down the entire day by doing it after lunch like people typically do. Anyway…). I spent four hours last night making up three dozen jars of sugar scrub as favors, and then I forgot to give them out before people left.

    Fortunately, Sis has another shower at her work in two weeks, so the folks at that party will luck out.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I made currant jam and syrup last fall (late August-ish). Filled up about a dozen jars and bottles and meant to give them as gifts at Christmas. I found them all in my cupboard when I moved this April…

    2. Chocolate lover*

      Now I want to make my own sugar scrub. Did you use a particular recipe/method you’d be willing to share?

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Equal parts solid coconut oil and sugar and about 10ml (a tablespooon?) of essential oil or baking extract; blend together until its the texture of mashed potatoes. Easy peasy, although messy because coconut oil melts at the drop of a hat. If you don’t want to deal with the mess, you can use 1/2c of any liquid oil to 1c sugar.

        I was using a scaled-up recipe of 1-27oz jar of oil and 3.5c sugar to make about 12-4oz jars of scrub, so my above measure is based on other recipes I looked at before choosing this one. I used lemon extract and snipped in some fresh rosemary for both scent and color.

      2. TheLazyB*

        I had never heard of sugar scrub before and am now think of who I can make this for for Christmas (6 months away, peeps!!!). :)

  21. Lizzie*

    I’m heading to Chicago next week on my first ever visit to the US :) Anyone have recommendations on things to see/do in the city?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      A Chicago native recommended to me the architectural boat tour, and I loved it!

      I also really liked Eggy’s Diner… and the Art Institute.

    2. Applesauced*

      Architectural boat tour and Oak Park for Frank Lloyd Wright homes if that’s your thing. The museum of science and industry is great – mainly geared toward kids but still fun for adults. It’s also cool because it’s one of the few (maybe the only?) building from the Columbian Exhibition in the 1800s

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The Shedd Aquarium is the best I’ve ever seen. Also, wander around the Navy Pier for a while.

    4. salad fingers*

      Fun, so many possibilities! How long will you be here, and what types of things do you prioritize doing on vacation? Do you know what neighborhood you’ll be staying in?

      1. salad fingers*

        Also, several suggestions here —– https://www.askamanager.org/2014/07/sunday-free-for-all-july-27-2014.html#comment-520494

        A lot of these were specific to Audrey wanting to go to Oak Park and Wrigleyville, but other things were suggested as well.

        (I will also add that I mentioned that I hadn’t been to Three Dots and a Dash but heard it was great. I can confirm now that that’s a great spot to check out. Entrance hidden in an alley so be aware of that before venturing out, but otherwise, very accessible wrt most hotels.)

    5. LisaLee*

      My parents are from Chicago and I visit almost every year. Is there anything specific you’re looking for?

      Presuming you’re staying/visiting in the Loop:

      The Field Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago are amazing. The Oriental Institute is also cool, but in a less-great part of town. The Maxwell Street Market is also a thing to see if you’re around on a Sunday, especially if you like Latin American cuisine. Navy Pier is tons of fun on a warm day, but is probably a bit dull if it’s cold and drizzling.

      For food, Epic Burger is a great quickie lunch place, and there’s tons of good places if you travel a little further to the Little Vietnam neighborhood. Wildberry Cafe is right near Millennium Park and makes wonderful and affordable breakfast. Italian Village and Frontera Grill are delicious dinner places, but a bit pricier.

      1. fposte*

        Hey, Hyde Park (home of the Oriental Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry, plus the University of Chicago) is an awesome part of town! It’s a little far from downtown, but it’s gorgeous, and it’s more racially diverse than many Chicago neighborhoods.

        1. E*

          Agreed, it really frustrates me that people make such sweeping generalizations about the South Side – I promise, it’s not as bad as people claim! Obama lived in the same neighborhood as the Oriental Institute and Hyde Park is a great/beautiful neighborhood.

        2. LisaLee*

          I admit, I was last there about ten years ago, and I have heard it’s nicer! I may also be used to reassuring family who haven’t been out of a small town in their entire lives :)

    6. NYC Redhead*

      I second the suggestions of an architecture boat tour (several companies run them) and Wildberry Cafe. The Purple Pig is also great, as are loose meat sandwiches (Al’s Italian Beef on Taylor is good, but may be out of the way). There’a discount card called a City Pass that I found useful, as it had a lot of the major attractions and lets you skip the line.

      1. LisaLee*

        Oooh, yes, look into the City Pass. Might not be worth it if you’re only there for a night or two, but if you’re looking into multiple attractions it has a lot of discounts.

    7. Sabrina*

      Lou Malnati’s for pizza. Or Gino’s East. Skip Uno’s, not worth it. I’ve heard Kuma’s has a good burger, but I haven’t had time to check it out the last few times I’ve been home.

      1. Nicole*

        I second the Lou Malnati’s recommendation. I grew up in Chicago and still live nearby, so I’ve had all the pizza and didn’t discover Lou’s until a few years ago. It made Gino’s East and Giordano’s pale in comparison.

        And Smoque if you like BBQ (note they are closed on Mondays).

    8. SaraV*

      If you’re wanting to try a Chicago-style hot dog, the only ones I can personally vouch for is Portillo’s, which are quite yummy. Unfortunately, Hot Doug’s closed in the past year. I would have loved to try those.

      Let me be another person to suggest the Shedd Aquarium. Lots of fun.

    1. Stephanie*

      Right? One of my best friends lives in SF and I was texting him last night like “Leave work! You can bill hours later! Go celebrate for me!”

    2. BRR*

      I know right?!?! In addition to the thrill of having this right finally available to all same-sex partners, it’s such a relief to me personally because both my parents and in-laws live in states where our marriage wasn’t legal. I was terrified something would happen while visiting and I would have been considered nothing in the eyes of the law.

    3. MJ*

      In San Francisco at a library conference – Pride parade is tomorrow. Can’t wait! Also, one of our librarians left work on Thursday morning as soon as the news came through, and went to the courthouse and got married. So everyone at work is celebrating!

        1. MJ*

          Yep! Going to take my poor blistered feet down to Market Street in the morning for celebrations.

    4. Tara*

      Living in Canada, you wouldn’t think this would mean that much to me– but I’ve been teary for two days. There’s something about moments like these that just make me feel visible for once. You go to school, you go to work, you turn on the TV, and every comment that’s made and story you read is Girls Who Like Boys. And it’s not malicious when your teacher says “And girls, never date a boy who [x]” or when every discussion of sex is about P in V or when you mention your ex and people ask “Oh, what was he like?” Of course it’s not. But you add up years and years of it and you start to feel like you’re invisible– like nobody can even conceive of people like you. But then there’s times like these when everyone is talking about it and everyone’s picture is suddenly a rainbow and it feels like the whole world is acknowledging your existence, admitting that you’re real and equal and that your identity is worthy of being noticed and even celebrated. And for me, at least, it’s incredible.

      (I’m not even feeling particularly resentful about the girl who said “I don’t think I could be friends with a lesbian, she might try to hit on me!” making her icon a rainbow. Okay, maybe a little.)

      1. Nashira*

        Preach it. The invisibility field would be great if we could use it to our advantage, but instead it’s crushing.

    5. "Peekaboo." said Mink.*

      If you haven’t read it, Justice Scalia’s dissent is a hoot. There are many others more qualified than I to poke fun at it, but parts of it kinda blew my mind, like how he’s outraged to find that

      … my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.

      I guess there’s some technical sense in which this is a major “WTF?!” kind of notion, but then he goes on to note that the members of the court are not representative of the American people. Which is when I looked carefully at the bottom of my coffee cup to see if someone had snuck a square of blotter acid in there. Nope.

      Scalia is getting all of the press, but I personally found Alito’s dissent to be rather thoughtful, touching as it does on a some rather strongly held beliefs of my own regarding the right of people to think and say things:


      “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women … The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

      “Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. … We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

      1. Sandy*

        As a Canadian, I was actually appalled by Scalia’s dissent.

        Maybe it’s because there is a hugely different culture around the Canadian and U.S. Supreme Courts, but I found his dissent to be rude and unprofessional.

        I can’t imagine any Canadian Supreme Court Justice even *considering* writing things like “Ask a hippie” or some of the other comments he made.

        Roberts’ dissent made him sound angry, Scalia’s made him sound puerile.

      2. Nashira*

        Scalia is so awful that, as a progressive American, my rubric for whether or not I’m likely to agree with a SCOTUS decision is “Did Scalia dissent?” If yes, I almost certainly will like the decision.

      3. Steve G*

        When I read the “9 lawyers” things in the paper I was like, um, yeah, that’s the way it is with EVERY case!

        The only good point he made is that the point of the Supreme Court is to INTERPRET law not MAKE law. Also, he said marriage laws are under the state governments, not the federal government, so maybe he felt the other justices were stretching their authority into going into an issue that should be at the state level.

      4. Lore*

        I almost always disagree with both Scalia and Alito, but I have a hell of a lot more respect for Alito because he’s not constantly contemptuous of the other side.

        1. Lore*

          Though in this particular instance Alito’s wistful fear of being thought a bigot seems to be completely ignoring that the tangible real world consequences of being thought a bigot pale in comparison to being denied equal protection of the law.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I posted a comment on a Facebook post the other day—someone said “If I disagree then you all pile on me, but I have a right to my opinion.” She was correct, but what I said was something like, “You do have a right to your opinion, but you should know that people who disagree with it will challenge it. Also, those of us with friends and loved ones who are gay will be hurt by your remarks. Of course we’re going to be upset if you disparage them.” Or something like that.

        Grrr. Not everybody wants to HEAR your opinion, even if we concede you have a right to it.

    6. Violet Rose*

      Even London was celebrating! The U.S. Embassy had a float near the front of the parade, and there were one or two other smaller groups that had a lot of signs cheering on the Supreme Court.

      On that note, I hope that in at least one of is past Saturday’s many prides, there was at least one pair dressed as Ladies Justice and Liberty :D

      1. Mander*

        Oh man, I so wish I was in London yesterday. I just happened to come back up north on Thursday. I’ve been in my own little bubble and didn’t even realize that this decision was happening. If I had I might have changed my plans! I’ve been feeling really disillusioned with my country of origin lately but I would have gone to the Pride parade wearing my US flag t-shirt and feeling happy about it for a change!

  22. Gene*

    This week I did the radioactive treadmill and resting cardiac scans. Got a call from the cardiologist’s office telling me that the stress and rest EKGs and scans were normal, all the labs were normal, whatever was going on wasn’t cardiac and I didn’t need to come back to them.

    Now I need to see my primary care physician and go from here.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Well, that is good news. I hope they figure this out quickly. All these tests and waiting-waiting is NOT fun at all.

  23. MsChanandlerBong*

    Orange cats are just the best. I wish I could adopt that kitty on the left (although the one on the right is cute, too)!

  24. Shell*

    I don’t know if this is related to summer, but my calves are killing me because they’re so itchy. My skin isn’t dry or scaly, and I’m not shaving more often than normal (I shave maybe every two weeks or so), but they just itch! They’re not really red, either. Well, after I scratched at them really hard last night they started showing red dots like a rash of some sort, but normally (like right now) they’re not particularly red or irritated. They’re not super itchy all the time, but definitely more than usual and I often have a vague impression to just scratch at them, which makes them worse.

    I’ve tried lotion and jojoba oil. Do I need to use something hardcore, or do I just wait for this stupid heat wave to pass?

    1. fposte*

      Random question–have you had your thyroid levels tested recently? Hyperthyroidism can make you itchy, and my calves are where I felt it most. (Ah, the bliss of the hairbrush…)

      1. Shell*

        I don’t think so… General physicals aren’t covered under my insurance or the provincial health coverage, and typically my blood tests are to test for possible causes for whatever might be ailing me at the moment. I haven’t had an abnormal blood test in ages though, so if my physician had previously tested me for it it was fine. The last time I saw my physician was for some digestive issues, and I don’t know if that was included in the blood test.

        I just googled hyperthyroidism but I don’t think the symptoms fit.

        1. fposte*

          Then it’s probably just some skin thing, but I figured it was at least worth a mention.

    2. Tara*

      I get this problem, but only if I’m wearing shorts + exercising a bit (even if it’s just walking). It’s mostly my thighs, but my calves get itchy too. No idea what causes it, but it’s annoying.

      1. E*

        This happens to me too if I don’t work out for a while – when you don’t exercise for a while, your capillaries swell and it starts to itch.

    3. Jenn*

      If you are wearing shorts you might be getting exposed to airborn allergins such as cottonwood, grass clippings if your mowing, etc etc.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      How’s your water intake? Are you striving for a set amount each day?

      Have you tried some coconut oil on your skin?

    5. Oh Anon*

      My legs got really itchy a while back, every single time I shaved. It was even worse if I chose to wear pants afterwards. I just wanted to claw them off. Eventually, I found something that works for me….I have to shave only in the direction the hair grows, use cool water, a skin soothing shave gel, and a skin soothing lotion afterwards. This seems to help, at least so far.

    6. super anon*

      i’ve had this happen to me. not dry or anything, but these little red dots that showed up on only my calf and ended up being itchy, and that showed up after i scratched them for the first time. for me it turned out to be an allergic reaction to a lotion i was using to treat the itching because i thought it was from dry legs. i treated it at first by taking allergy pills which stopped the itching and made the little red bumps go away, and then when i figured out it was the lotion causing it i stopped using it completely. it hasn’t come back since i stopped using the lotion.

  25. Blue Anne*

    The new puppy has arrived and she is made of squish and lollop. So adorable. :D

    http://tinyurl.com/nm4e83k

    She arrived Tuesday and is already making a lot of progress, from being too scared to leave our study, to being awesome on walks and getting a fan club everywhere she goes.

    Unfortunately, in the worst timing ever, I’m travelling for work for the next three weeks, so my husband is going to get ALL the puppy time. I’m jealous.

    But awesomely, the queer community in my city is basically raising this dog. Hubbs and I both work (and my job is super long hours a lot of the time). But by coincidence we have various friends (ALL of them queer and many known through poly circles) staying with us pretty much from now through November, and they’re all around during the day for the pup. Any gaps are going to be filled in by my genderfluid friend Jess, who is currently unemployed and has very happily agreed to chill out with the puppy and continue our housebreaking etc. for a couple quid an hour, fridge stocked up with lunches and drinks, and unlimited internet.

    After having a falling out with one friend over the puppy before we got her, it’s kind of overwhelming how many people are enthusiastic about helping. I kind of feel like I’m reaping some good karma here. :)

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Totally love the photo!

      What is her name?

      And also, I read that as “she is all squish and lollipop!”

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Bartlett! As in, West Wing? Adorable name!

          You could legitimately say “let Bartlett be Bartlett” if so.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Yup! I thought her breed looks so presidential with the wrinkles, I was suggesting Roosevelt and such… and we’re such big West Wing fans…

            Hubby is already talking about what dogs the rest of the cast would be. He wants a Jack Russell for Josh and I want a Bassett Hound for Toby.

              1. Blue Anne*

                The problem is, you couldn’t pay me to get a Jack Russell. I went for the huge, super lazy dog for a reason.

                I could go for a Schnauzer named Leo, though.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my, she is beautiful. And it sounds like she is making great progress in good hands.

      It’s amazing how much nature abhors a vacuum. Your other friend so sucked and all these friends have pitched in to show you just how wrong your other friend was. I love watching this stuff- people come along and fill in the gaps for us.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yes, exactly that. It’s making me feel so good about my friends, which I really needed. :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I was told as a child, be careful the people you hang out with. I blew by that for whatever reason. But, oh my, that is profound advice with ramifications that can go into every single aspect of one’s life.

  26. Tara*

    So I just did day one of Couch to 5k, which I think I heard about on here at some point, so thanks! :)

    I didn’t find it at all challenging– I could have easily doubled the time of my running intervals. But I guess it’s nice to start off slow. I did discover that running in 25 degree weather is enough to make me sweat a bit. I’ve sweat enough to feel it maybe 8 or 9 times in my life– and two of them were in Belize. Even when I do, I can’t smell any kind of scent to it, and I don’t feel sticky at all. Do I just not notice?? Do I have some kind of weird phsyiology?? It’s very confusing.

    1. Treena*

      Some people just don’t sweat as much, and that means there won’t be much bacteria to make it smell. (It’s the bacteria that smells, not the liquid sweat) Lucky you!

    2. Melissa*

      I did Couch to 5K, and hold your judgment. I felt the same way about Days 1-3, and possibly even Days 4-6 (I was running 3 times a week). Around Day 7/week 3 is when the program took a sharp uptick and I found that much harder than the beginning.

      Also, some people just don’t sweat a lot. I’m one of those people – even after a session of running in summer weather I have a slight sheen, but I’m not dripping sweat or anything, and I can’t smell it (although I worry others can). I’ve never really needed a sweatband or a towel or anything.

    3. GiantPanda*

      I am currently doing Couch to 5k (finished Week 5 yesterday), and felt like this most days. While I was running I kept thinking “Is that all? No more today?” – but some hours later my legs started actually complaining. By the time of the next run the complaints were gone – so I guess the program is just right.
      The times that felt hard while running were usually the second leg after an increase of running intervals, but it was all doable so far. Keep at it!

    4. Mander*

      All I can say is that I wish I had your problem. The slightest temperature change makes me sweat buckets! It’s doubly embarrassing because I’m fat, so I feel like I’m just a walking stereotype of out-of-shape fat people all the time. :-(

      But on the other hand it’s good to hear a review of the C-2-5k thing. I’ve thought about doing it several times but can never seem to get my act together.

  27. TheLazyB*

    I miss myself.

    I love Nine Inch Nails and Sisters of Mercy and Placebo and music like that.

    But I had a child, and somehow none of my friends round here like my kinda music, and I don’t have anyone to go to rock nights with, and how the hell did that happen? Also, I miss the good old days when I would totally go clubbing alone, just for the music and the dancing.

    I never seem to have time without the kid around to listen to my music (and you can’t really listen to NIN in front of a four year old!). Every so often when my husband is out in a Saturday night I stick on NIN and dance round my kitchen (no curtains/blinds, Christ knows what the neighbours make of it) and I feel like myself again. I should do it every week. (Our flat is only small, it’s hard to listen to music when we’re both in unless we’re both cleaning or something. And he doesn’t really like NIN. Weirdo.

    I have a friend who lives about an hour away who loves the same stuff and has offered to take me dancing. (We both used to live in York and rocked the goth nights there, her DH was one of the DJs.) I am gonna contact her and take her up on it. And DH and I are booked to see Sisters of Mercy in October (haven’t seen them in 15 years man, last went just after we got together, we are SOOOOO EXCITED!).

    I think I need to build it into my life, to remember that I am Beth as well as mum. (There’s my name if you were curious.)

    But I am curious, does anyone else ever get this? It’s not just a youth thing, although being nearly-40 doesn’t help I’m sure. It’s a part of myself that I’ve let slip away.

    Tell me it’s not just me?

    Album just finished. Time for bed. I will reply to any comments in the morning. Before the kid’s birthday party. Which will not have good music, haha ;-p

      1. nep*

        Oooh a girl after me own heart — another entry to close the bracket. I send follow-up e-mails to do that if I miss one.

        1. TheLazyB*

          Hehe I usually just presume that people will forgive my non-fixable typos on here, but that one really bugged me!

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I would never think to go clubbing alone. But I have travelled alone and gone to concerts and people say “I could never do that” but for me, if I want to experience these things then I have to, otherwise I’d never go.

      As for children, although I don’t have any and this is mainly cobbled together from books (I’m sure AAM-ers who are parents know more than I) but I think it’s quite natural to feel this way after having a child. Your life is completely different. Having a job helps, as it gives you adult time/something for your brain to do. Put your music on an MP3 player and listen to it to/from work.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Well the clubbing alone was like 20 years ago when I was at uni :) but yeah my mum is always really surprised when I am totally unphased by travelling to London on business in my own. But… yeah. I guess she just never had the chance, and never would now.

        Yeah I need to make time for music. It’s visceral for me. Great music affects me physically. It’s funny, my husband loves music but he doesn’t react physically to it like I do.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Oh. Wow. And there is a Cure one too. Awesome.

        My DH thinks I am crazy but I think they’re ace. Yeah the kid’s a bit old for them as lullabies but seemed to quite like the samples…. and I think they’d make good music to work to. Thank you!

    2. On a misty Monday night*

      It’s not just you.

      I don’t have kids but at some point I buried myself in work. I’ve just recently emerged and have been wondering when I got so boring…

    3. "Peekaboo." said Mink.*

      Naw, it’s not just you. Wait a minute: The Sisters of Mercy are touring? I thought Andrew had OD’d years ago. Or maybe not. Not to be callous about it, but it’s not a real stretch.

      I was never into clubs, but I’ve always been very much into music, especially the kind that has something of an ‘edge’ to it, so yeah: NIN, Filter, King Crimson, Tool / A Perfect Circle, The Knife / Fever Ray, Amon Tobin, How to Destroy Angels (Mrs. Reznor has one of the most perfect voices in the biz, IMHO), Rob Zombie, Glitch Mob yadda yadda … although I really make it a point to try to listen to just about anything, ’cause deciding “I hate rap and hiphop and country music” means that one can potentially miss out on something really good.

      And I consciously tried to expose my kids to all kinds of music. Although I only did the loud, headbanging listening when I was alone in my car. But the kids – who are both excellent musicians – have certainly heard their fair share of Nine Inch Nails and all kinds of other stuff. Although predictably and ironically, they’re not musically adventurous at all, and are happy with whatever makes heavy rotation on the Spotify 100. Which usually (but not always) doesn’t work for me.

      The kids are both in college now, and since I’m often working at home alone, I’ve integrated a 150W sound system into my workstation. All of my music and video stuff is online on a 32TB NAS unit. I can access the contents of the NAS from outside of the house, but it usually doesn’t work well. But we’re supposed to get Google Fiber any day now …

      Every so often there will be an interesting music event here in town, and I’m in a similar situation in that I don’t know anyone else who likes the kind of music I like, and that goes triple for my wife and kids. So I have to push myself to go to some events alone. Which sometimes turns out well – it occurs to me that you might be the rare person who would appreciate that I met Alessandro Cortini last weekend – there’s a pic on my name link.

      One thing I’ve noticed in the past few years is that I’m relying more and more on television to acquire new music. I suspect it won’t be long before we can talk to our televisions and say “buy that song” and it’ll go out and purchase whatever is playing and add it to our music library.

      Anyway – apologies for being so chatty. But – all I can say is, no, you’re not alone.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Haha maybe he did OD but he’s still touring. Apparently if he wasn’t so stubborn he’d actually make an album but his recod company want to put out a greatest hits. He doesn’t.

        I am indeed impressed about Alessandro, wow!

        I had forgotten about HTDA must listen to them again. Would love to ask Trent what his kids make of his music :)

        I do sometimes go to concerts with DH, but it’s much harder these days. Also DH likes to sit and i like to stand!

        Thanks for chatting. Ive not heard of some of those bands, i’ll look em up.

        Sorry for typos its late and my battery is about to die :(

    4. Revanche*

      I think it’s really easy to lose the exclusively-you things when the kid comes along. I just realized the other day that due to our work and home arrangements, I hadn’t left the house on my own to go anywhere without the new one in nearly five months. So I ended up at the pharmacy at 9 am just because I needed my prescription and to get away for a minute.

      Are headphones an option for when you’re both home?

      1. TheLazyB*

        He’s quite demanding of my attention so not really :-/ they’re also not great for your hearing so i try not to overuse them if i can help it. I do it enough damage as it is hehe x

    5. Mander*

      I can identify. Somehow I married a man who doesn’t really share my taste in music at all, and neither does anyone else that I know. I’ve taken him along to a couple of shows but he was very bored, so I’ve just quit going unless it’s something I *really* want to see (that plus I can’t afford to go to them as much as I used to).

      I don’t mind going alone sometimes but it does get a bit lonely to be in a room full of people who are all interested in the same things as you but not interested in talking to you because they already have friends.

      Listening to my own music on my headphones helps. The other night I watched the Super Furry Animals live at Glastonbury online, sitting in a darkened room with the headphones on and the volume cranked up. It helped me *almost* feel like I was there.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Weren’t you also in the north east? But moving? I would have offered to meet up if you were staying here!

        1. Mander*

          I’m still here, sort of! I’m working on getting our house ready to sell so the moving process is taking forever. But I travel down south a lot.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            And oh! Could I join some sort of UK AAM meet up after I’ve moved? (I’m also going to London in Nov)

          2. TheLazyB*

            I’ll figure something out. It may involve seeing if Alison will sway our email addresses. Hi Alison!!!!! (Bats eyelashes)

    6. Steve G*

      I am so with you (btw Nine Inch Nails was my 2nd concert ever when I was 14, NKOTB was the 1st:-). I never moved on from the music I was listening to when I was a teenager (which other people seem to do), once I was 18 it was like that part of my brain closed. What is hard for me to find even here in NYC are good 80s or 90s dance nights. I’ve never been to a 90s night, but have been to an 80s night, and I kind of yawn when they play the same mainstream songs over and over (like I need to go to a club to hear Aha take on me?!). Fortunately people have been posting copious NYC KTU late night radio mixes from 1980-early 2000s to satisfy my brain’s need for certain types of music.

      On a side note, last night I went to Blondie/Morrissey concert. I was really, really happy, best concert I’ve probably been to. It started on time, ended just as soon as you were getting antsy, there were no boring songs thrown in, and the crowd was really good for NYC, no fighting, no pushing, no cursing….the only thing that perplexed me is that the place was maybe 1/2 empty for Blondie’s part. Maybe people didn’t know she was opening? I can’t believe that there would be so much of a difference in popularity.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Nkotb to nin seriously?! Wow that must have been a shock :)

        I’ve heard that you are always likely to love what you loved at 18 music-wise. You might like new things but you’re unlikely to start disliking it. If i remember i’ll find the link and post it next week.

        Glad you enjoyed Blondie, sounds great!

        1. Steve G*

          Well I was only 9 for NKOTB so even though it was only a 5 year difference it was the difference between finishing 3rd grade and starting 9th, so I thought I was an adult and so cool already:-)

  28. Rebecca*

    The first day of my staycation began with drenching rain here in PA, so I put on my rain poncho and walked a bit over 4 miles and got my 10K steps in for the day. I had intended to go biking, but not in this weather! Plus, a large tree fell and blocked the roadway sometime after I walked past it to go for my walk, and when I returned. Thankfully it didn’t decide to fall on me as I was walking by :)

    I’m so glad I got my bike. I didn’t get a padded seat yet, as I want to see if riding more lessens the butt to seat discomfort level. And I have set a goal for myself: our local rails to trails route is 65 miles long, and I want to work up to being able to bike the entire thing in 2 days. So, I am making it public! I don’t think I’ll be able to do it this year, but I’m up to 13 miles at a time now and hope to increase that to 20 miles in the next month or so.

    I also saw a coyote this morning, the first one I’ve ever seen in the wild. Not too thrilled about it, either. I warned the neighbors. I’ll make sure to keep an eye on the dog at night when he goes out before bed.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Hey, today is the first day of my staycation, also in PA! Fortunately, no coyotes here. I’ll probably hit my goal of 11,000 steps, barely, but I did have a slow start due to the rain…and then a nap in the afternoon (I mean, this kind of weather begs for it). I waited until a break in the rain to walk around the house and driveway. There’s actually a break right now so I was thinking of heading out again. I usually hit my goal every day so if I don’t I just have to tell myself it’s OK since I more often do than don’t. Hope you enjoy your time off!

    2. Trixie*

      65 miles sounds like an amazing trail, and at 13 miles you’re certainly on your way. I’m not sure padded seat is all that necessary but certainly the padded shorts and chamois butt’r others recommended, as well as standing up out of the saddle every so often for a breather.

      1. Rebecca*

        I’m trying to find padded shorts, but it’s proving difficult. I live in a rural area. The closest malls are 45 minutes to an hour away, and even those don’t have the A level stores. I need a women’s size 1X or 20W, and many stores, like my local Kohl’s (over 30 minutes away) doesn’t carry much in extra sizes. I looked on Amazon, and that’s dizzying to say the least. Not giving up on this, though!

        1. fposte*

          I got mine from Amazon. You just have make the search its own activity, with some music playing. I just looked for women’s padded bike shorts in the category to “Outdoor Recreation: Women’s Cycling Shorts,” and clicked on XL and 2XL in sizes, I got 109 results, many of which weren’t actually padded because Amazon’s search isn’t very discriminating; the top reviewed one that was actually padded was the Women’s Pro Bike Short Padded for Cycling from Aero Tech.

          And I have been deeply impressed with the way you have been kicking ass at this getting-out-and-doing stuff and sustaining it in the face of obstacles.

        2. Trixie*

          In addition to Amazon, maybe sites like Performance Bicycle and REI. It may take a little back and forth to figure which sizes in certain brands work for you but worth the time and investment.

        3. Trixie*

          With Kohl’s I’ll order various sizes and enough for free shipping , and whatever doesn’t work (often all of it) will be returned next time I’m at the store.

        4. LCL*

          You can easily find those sizes at Terry, Team Estrogen, REI and Aerotech designs. I have ordered that size from all of those shops. Team Estrogen has the biggest selection. Team Estrogen and Terry have really awesome customer service.

  29. Cath in Canada*

    I’m getting excited about watching England vs. Canada in the women’s world cup quarter finals – less than an hour to go!

    My birth nation playing my adopted nation is a win-win for me: I’ll definitely have someone to support in the semis! I supported England against Canada in the final of the women’s rugby world cup, and today’s game is here in Vancouver, so I’m going to support Canada today. It’s only fair! But I’ll be perfectly happy with an England win, too.

    I’m calling it “not so much dual citizenship as duel citizenship”

    Anyone else tuning in?

    1. Mander*

      OMG, I have duel citizenship. Especially on the 4th of July. Or when people complain about American spellings of words in BBC and Guardian news articles.

  30. Question for pet owners*

    When I was in elementary school my best friend at the time got kitten, it was her first pet and I’d never had a pet so we were both super-excited about it. One day I was over at her house and took a whole bunch of photos of that kitten being unbearably cute).

    This was almost two decades ago, and last Christmas while doing some organising I found those photos again. That friend and I aren’t exactly close anymore (no falling out or anything, just drifted apart like people do when they grow up, and we’ve both moved away from the city we grew up in). I’d heard that her cat died about a year ago (after a long and happy life) through a mutual friend.

    When I found the photos I thought about sending them to her, but didn’t know whether it’d be appropriate since it’s sort of a strange thing to send out of the blue. I’ve still never had a pet so it’s not a position I can really imagine. I haven’t thought about it again until coming here and finding al the cat lovers.

    So my question for cat owners here (or pet owners in general): would that be a strange thing to do? Would you find it inappropriate to receive something like this? Should I maybe send some sort of preamble first? Is there a protocol for something like this?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I would send a nice note along with the pictures. Talk about how much you really enjoyed being a part of the kitty’s life. Then let her know that you thought she might like to have some of the pictures to remember her baby. I’m a multiple-cat owner and I would love it if someone sent me “baby” pics of my kitties. I love looking through their pictures every once in awhile.

    2. the gold digger*

      I don’t think it’s strange and if it were me, I would love it.

      Sort of related – I learned recently that someone I had worked with – a good work friend who had become something of an outside work friend – had died last year. He was never much of an emailer, so when he didn’t answer my emails, I wasn’t so concerned. But his wife wrote to me after I mailed him a Christmas letter to give me the news.

      I had met her only once, when I had gone out to their farm about ten years ago. I had taken a bunch of photos of Don and his horses, so emailed them to his widow.

      She was so, so happy. She had never seen the photos before. She sent them to her kids and they were also happy.

      My point is that sending the photos would probably be really appreciated.

    3. Oh Anon*

      If I were her, it would make me cry, but I’d absolutely love it. Make sure you send her a note, explaining why you’re sending them, otherwise it may come across a little weird.

      1. Windchime*

        I would love to have baby pictures of my dearly departed cat. He died three years ago at the age of 19 and I would treasure some kitten pictures of him. I would send them with a note.

    4. Monodon monoceros*

      Definitely send the photos! I’ve unfortunately lost a few pets over the years, and I really wish I had more pictures of them, and kitten or puppy pictures would be awesome. My dog now is getting up there in years, and has had a few cancerous tumours removed, and the other day I morbidly starting making sure I find all of his puppy pics, even emailing a few friends asking if they had pics of him, and making sure I have lots of videos of him doing the silly things he still does.

      1. Trixie*

        Back up your digital files if you can. Many if not all of my phones are stuck on a fried Macbook.I’m handing on to it in case I have funds one day to recover them. And most if not all of my photos of beautiful Russian Blue boy are on that darn thing. Even worse, I took a few photos with my phone the night before he was put to sleep, and not too long after phone was stolen with the photos. Darn cat is still breaking my heart. Punk :)

        1. Marcela*

          Maybe it’s going so sound like shameless advertisement, but something that is helping me with that is Amazon Unlimited Photos (around US 13 yearly?). I installed it in my phone and as soon as I’m home, with my wifi, my photos go up to my cloud drive. As I take photos of absolutely everything, I have more than 50000 images from the last 8 years, so I do need them to be around forever, and I do not want to be worrying about the last time I made a backup.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      You should totally send them. Just write a little note explaining. “Hey, I know we haven’t talked much in a while, but I was cleaning out some old boxes and I found these photos of (kitty) from when you first got her. I thought you might like to have them. I remember how much fun we had playing with her when she was a kitten. Hope you’re doing well.”

    6. Lissajous*

      Even more so if they’re from twenty years ago – she won’t have as many photos of the cat when it was young, because digital cameras weren’t around.

      My parent’s cat* died a couple of days ago – we got him when I was 11, so he was just shy of 20. About the first thing I did when I finished bawling was start digging through the photos on my hard drive, to see how many I had of him, especially older ones. Of course I don’t have many of him when he was young, because we didn’t have a digital camera until he was 10 or so. They just didn’t exist yet, and then it took a while before the photos were any good anyway.
      Fortunately I know there’ll be several photos of the Feline as a Young Man at my parents’ place, because they were often taking photos even when it was film, it’s just a matter of finding them.

      But I know I’d love seeing any photos my friends had of him, especially ones I’d never seen, and especially with a little note. Often little things can mean a lot to someone else, and it’s nice to know people still think of you occosionally even if you’ve drifted apart.

      *Red Burmese (think pale ginger and cream colouring) named Mango, cocksure and playful and with a tendency to win his fights, and also one of the friendliest, happiest, and all around affectionate cats there was. I’m hugging my two cats for all their worth, but I’m going to miss that guy.

      1. Elkay*

        I snuck round to my parents house, scanned all their photos of the cats and made a photo book for them.

  31. Maxwell Edison*

    Is anyone going to San Diego Comic-Con next month? It’ll be my eighth year attending, and I’m excited! (Will be attending as a creative pro for the first time and will have a book on sale on the exhibitor floor.)

    1. CAA*

      How exciting to sell your own book there!

      I’m a local. Comic-con is not for me, but I’ll have the usual houseful of guests plus husband going back and forth to the convention center. So far I hear the Star Wars panel will be the big draw, but it’s highly disappointing that it’s late on Friday so DH has to camp out in Hall H through a lot of stuff he doesn’t care about to see it. Also it conflicts with the Bruce Campbell panel.

      … as you can probably tell, I’ve been hearing about it all day.

    2. Revanche*

      YES! Only for parts of it as our schedules are now dictated by baby naps but whatever, we’re still going for bits of it. What’s your booth#?

      1. Maxwell Edison*

        I won’t have my own booth (no way can I afford that) but a bookseller friend of mine will have the book at his booth: #5627 William Wu books. The book is a movie review book, titled A Nerd Girl’s Guide to Cinema. There’ll be free swag (postcards and bookmarks) too.

        So far I’m most excited about the panels for Con Man, Ash vs. Evil Dead, and The Hateful Eight. I have no plans for Star Wars, which is just as well – I cannot believe they put Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Star Wars into the same hall on the same day. It is going to be a madhouse.

        It’s going to be a bittersweet year, though, as it’ll be my first SDCC without one of my best friends, who passed away last year. He would have been so happy to see my book on the exhibitor floor.

        1. Revanche*

          Oh I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. We lost a dear friend + fellow Con attendee some years back and that first year back without him was definitely strange.

          Congrats on the book, I hope it does really well! And enjoy the rest of Con :)

          1. Maxwell Edison*

            Thank you! If I sell just one book, I’ll be happy.

            It will be strange without my friend, as the last time I saw him was at last year’s Con. He was a panelist (something he’d always dreamed of doing) and overjoyed about it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Nope, too crowded and I can’t afford it. I would like to go at least once, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen.
      What I’d REALLY like to do is go as an author. >:(

  32. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Spent last night in the emergency room.

    I had an optician appointment yesterday, because my vision’s changed a bit and I needed a new prescription. Totally routine. He looks at my eyes, asks if I’ve been having headaches. I have. He tells me there’s swelling behind my optic nerve(?) and he thinks I should see an ophthalmologist. Okay, sure, I can do that. He wants to ring one now, just to find out what I should do. Okay, sure, that’s fine. Ophthalmologist says I need to come into hospital OMGNOW. Did I mention this was 4pm on a Saturday afternoon?

    Nine out of ten times, the swelling isn’t caused by anything. Optometrist won’t tell me what the one out of ten times is. I’m freaking out.

    I get to the emergency room around 5pm to get poked and prodded by the on call Ophthalmology registrar. Anaesthetic drops in your eyes are a wholly unpleasant sensation, by the way. He wants to do a CT scan to rule out tumours etc. This is not helping the freaking out.

    I wait a couple of hours. Luckily hubby is with me, but some of the eyedrops I was given for the eye tests seriously dilated my pupils, so my eyes are too blurry to read. Hospitals are boring at the best of times, but especially when you can’t read.

    I finally get the CT scan. I’m claustrophobic and have a serious fear of being restrained. The contrast dye makes you feel like you’ve peed yourself. Luckily the tech warned me about that ahead of time.

    It’s 9:30pm and I haven’t eaten since midday. The CT scan comes back clear. I can go home. Final diagnosis: Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension. Doctor-speak for “we have no idea why your brain is swelling”. I have to see a neurologist and an ophthalmologist next week.

    Not the best way to spend a Saturday night.

    1. hermit crab*

      Ugh, how awful! I hope everything goes well with your appointments next week! Mostly I am writing to say that I’ve had that exact same contrast dye experience and I was also REALLY glad to be warned in advance about how it would feel. The second time I had it done, I was able to consider how it was actually a pretty interesting experience — though they were scanning my abdomen, so my head didn’t have to be inside of anything!

    2. "Peekaboo." said Mink.*

      I’m sorry to hear about this. I’ve had a thing called a “central serous retinopathy” a couple of times and it too is one of those “idiopathic” things. It happens, but nobody knows why.

      I’m not a doctor, but I think that opthalmologists get all cranked up over anything that could possibly be a detached retina, which is one of those things that needs to be treated immediately or else you could lose sight in the eye. Helpful hint: if you ever need to see an opthalmologist now, tell the nurse you think you might have a detached retina.

      Hang in there. Again, I’m not a doctor, I just read several pages Google dug up on the topic and I gather that if the CT scan was clean and the doctor actually gave you a diagnosis of IIH, then it’s most likely one of those things that happened for some random, unknown reason, and you may end up being told you have mild sleep apnea / need to lose a bit of weight / need to take meds to control your blood pressure or something along those lines. Getting old sucks.

    3. the gold digger*

      I had some weird thing in my eye that turned out to be because of some medication I was taking. It mimicked what (trying to remember details) could be a tumor, but was some kind of false read because of the drug. I am crossing my fingers that it is nothing for you.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Wow. Fingers crossed, good vibes and all that. Let us know how things go for you.

    5. Carrie in Scotland*

      I had iritus as a kid and I can attest that such things like the eyedrops are not fun (nor is having a whacking great needle in your eye).

      I have my fingers crossed it isn’t anything horrible and positive thoughts from me.

    6. Nashira*

      Good vibes for you and I’m glad the tech warned you. Contrast is the weirdest feeling!

    7. TheLazyB*

      I’ve had those eye drops. Yeah, they really suck don’t they?

      Hope all turns out to be well.

    8. StudentA*

      I hope everything turns out fine. I’m sorry you are going through this. Try to take it easy.

    9. L*

      OOOH. Hopefully you see this, but I have a very similar condition. Basically, I get swelling and increased pressure which causes terrible headaches. They put me on some meds and I drink all the water in the world these days as well as staying away from foods high in sodium. When I’m really good and eat a lot of veggies, I can even come off the meds. In some people, weightloss can help as well. I’ve had mine for 5 years and honestly other than the occasional crappy day, I’m pretty much good to go.

  33. Gingerbread*

    Any gift ideas for my parents 25th anniversary? They’re planning on going on a cruise, so treating them to a weekend getaway doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

    1. acmx*

      How about a gift basket for things to take on the cruise: sunscreen, lip balm, beach towels (if needed for off shore), books, magazines, motion sickness pills/bracelet/ginger candy, anti bacterial wipes, things for upset stomach, travel power strip, panchos in case of rain, waterproof bags for holding phone, credit cards etc,.

      Pay for an excursion or a nice dinner on the cruise.

      Photo album/book

    2. Treena*

      Can you talk to them and figure out what kind of excursions they are doing? Maybe you’ll find out that they were interested in X but are going to do Y instead because it’s cheaper and you can treat them to the more expensive option? Or maybe something travel-themed, like new luggage? Or if they’re flying to the port, can you buy them airport lounge passes? Or upgrade the flight?

    3. CAA*

      Cruise lines have gifts you can have delivered to their cabin — wine, flowers, chocolates. You can also purchase spa services or something like that for them.

      If you don’t want to do something related to their trip, a family portrait in a silver frame would be nice.

    4. BRR*

      My brother and I got our parents a picture frame from things remembered with 25 on it and it held their wedding picture and a recent one with the dates. It was silver of course.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      If they don’t have a nice camera, how about that? Or something like an iPad or Kindle to read while they’re there?

    6. Elkay*

      We bought silver candlesticks for my parents. Well silver coated because we were teenagers and didn’t have a lot of cash.

    7. TootsNYC*

      taking an idea from the person upstream on the “old cat photos” thread, and suggesting you round up photos, scan them and put them in a digital frame.

    1. ScarlettNZ*

      Best – have just arrived in Seattle where we will be spending a week before heading off on an Alaskan cruise.

      Worst – the hideously long flight(s) from New Zealand to get here!

      1. Elkay*

        Enjoy the cruise we did an Alaskan cruise this time last year and loved it. Don’t go to the totem park in Ketchikan it took two hours and we could have seen totems if we’d just walked around town. The lumberjack show was fun though.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Enjoy Seattle! This is pretty much the best time of year to be there. What are you going to do?

        1. Elkay*

          I missed that you were spending the week in Seattle, it’s a fabulous city. I loved the EMP museum but we also did a below street level tour which was good fun.

          1. LCL*

            EMP and Seattle center and Seattle science center
            Seattle pinball museum in conjunction with a visit to the International District
            Seattle Art museum (the downtown one) and Pike Place market is a tourist classic, plus Emerald City guitar and Bass Northwest
            Seattle Asian art museum on Capitol Hill plus Volunteer Park plus REI flagship store
            West Seattle: Alki drive and park and Lincoln Park, passenger ferry to
            downtown
            Magnolia part of town and Discovery Park
            Golden Gardens park plus Ballard Locks plus hipster Ballard and Totem House fish and chips
            Carkeek Park then Bick’s for dinner

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Best — “My” hummingbird came back! This requires some explanation… I started putting out a hummingbird feeder several years ago and quickly learned a bunch of stuff about hummingbird behaviour. Such as, they are very territorial and fight — a lot. But, they also aren’t easy to see so it’s hard to know when they’re back. Last year, I hadn’t put the feeder out yet and one day I had the front window open and I heard this “pip! pip!” noise. I looked up and there was a female hummingbird, hovering, looking in the window at me. I normally put a feeder at the front, but not that high off the ground, she was about 4′ higher than would be normal, there aren’t really any flowers at the front that would attract them, either. I was thinking last week that I hadn’t seen any birds and was wondering if they had come back yet, then on Tuesday was the “pip! pip!” looking at me in the window again. Whether it’s the same bird or a descendent, I don’t know, but I appreciate the head’s up.

      Worst — really having it sink in that I am burnt out and what am I going to do about it? :(