weekend free-for-all – August 1-2, 2015

Eve on ledgeThis 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: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. It’s not a book; it’s a short and hilarious musical from Joss Whedon (of Buffy fame), starring Neil Patrick Harris as the evil yet lovesick villain and the fantastic Nathan Fillion (of Firefly) as the self-absorbed hero Captain Hammer. It is awesome.

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

{ 966 comments… read them below }

      1. We do the weird stuff!*

        Yes! Aside from just being awesome in its own right, the DVD is notable for actually having worthwhile supplemental material, like the singing commentary, or the video applications to the Evil League of Evil.

        Rumors continue to circulate about a sequel.

        Also, if you like this, you night like The Guild, which also has Felicia Day in it. It’s different, it’s not a musical, but it has a similar “feel” for reasons I find difficult to elaborate upon.

        And if you need more NPH – I highly recommend the first two Harold and Kumar movies.

        1. Revanche*

          I heard this recently and deeply regret paying money to only get the digital version and missing out all these years on the commentary. Egad I love this.

        2. Jen RO*

          Hey, I actually get your name for once!

          And I watched The Guild as well – I am not a big fan of Felicia Day, I think she’s kinda overrated, but the series was fun, especially since I was playing WoW at the time.

          (And they did put out three music videos!)

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            “I’m the One That’s Cool” remains one of my favorite songs ever, and also I really want to know where she got those tights. I’ve found similar, but not those exact ones.

    1. hayling*

      Yes! I may watch it again. Some good stuff came out of the writer’s strike.

      Although I’m not really into Shakespeare, I also liked Joss Whedon’s version of Much Ado About Nothing. He filmed it at his own house in less than 2 weeks!

    2. Persehone Mulberry*

      One of my many short-lived attempts at blogging was titled “Crazy Random Happenstance.”

      And I’ve seriously considered changing my AAM handle to Four Sweatervests.

      Basically, I love everything about Dr. Horrible.

    3. anonymous daisy*

      My local library just got in Joss Whedon’s autobiography and I can’t wait to finish up some books so I can have time to read it.

      1. Audiophile*

        There’s an autobiography on him?

        I was always fascinated to find out his dad wrote for “The Golden Girls.”

      1. Sunday*

        Glad to see Olive’s tutelage is so good for Eve. She’s grown so much.
        What a lovely girl. And you two take such a great photos, she looks close enough to pet.

    1. Anonyby*

      She’s adorable! I just want to kiss her. lol I think she’d object, though. (I know my kittygirl does…)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Psycho Kitty lets me sometimes, when it’s cool enough outside that she’ll sit on my lap. And only if she’s kind of sleepy or really relaxed. Otherwise, I’m a bit afraid to put my face near her, to be honest.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              No, I just call her that because she’s scared of everything and freaks out a lot. Her mum hid her as a kitten and the neighbor who owned them never bothered to look for her and socialize her. I’m the one who tamed her down, but she ‘s still scared of even me. If I go outside in different shoes, or move anything on her patio (yes, it’s hers), she acts like aliens are coming to take her away.

              Though she has grown to like being brushed. I go out and sit down and tap the brush on the patio and she comes over and flops down (always on the same side) and I brush her until she gets too excited and bites me. :P

        2. Anonyby*

          Cleo allows it sometimes, but she at least gives me dirty looks to emphasize her displeasure. :) And if she’s really not in the mood to put up with me, she’ll get up and leave.

  1. The Other Dawn*

    So, I went to my first formal event post-weight loss surgery and went sleeveless for the first time EVER in my life! I felt naked and exposed at first, but then realized I’m no longer 343 pounds and got over it. I built up my confidence over the course of the night and didn’t wear the little lace jacket I bought as a crutch. We had a good time and I actually didn’t want to take my dress off when we got home. But I had to, since I’d look pretty ridiculous sleeping in a little black dress.

    Click my name if you want to see pics. :)

    1. Jean*

      You look lovely in the dress!

      Thanks also for blogging about your cats and sharing the pictures of blissed-out felines after catnip. They look utterly happy. Those of us who are tightly-wound by nature (sigh) could take a few lessons from them re the benefits of Chilling Out.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, Dawn, it’s beautiful and you look absolutely lovely in it. There’s something especially nice about the way your curly hair texturally echoes the lace straps.

    3. the OP aka cajun2core*

      You look great! Congrats on the weight loss and I wish you continued success!

    4. Persehone Mulberry*

      Beautiful dress! We briefly considered a similar style for the beidesaid dresses for my sister’s wedding.

      And good for you for embracing some newfound body confidence. You look awesome!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats, this is very cool- weight loss, dress, confidence… the whole thing.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks again! I just wish I had more events to go to that would warrant me wearing it more often. :) Not only do I love it, but it’s actually comfortable!

  2. hermit crab*

    My office has an unofficial take-a-book-leave-a-book shelf in the kitchen, and someone left a beat-up copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s “Answers to Today’s Etiquette Questions” (copyright 1952). I’m getting married soon so I sat down and read all the engagement/wedding entries. There’s LOTS of advice about hats, gloves, and formal announcements, but I think this one is my favorite:

    Q: My boy friend and I work together in this city, but we are going to my home, several states distant, to be married. Is it all right for us to travel together in the train without a chaperone? It is an overnight trip. –R.W., Cleveland, Ohio
    A: Yes, but preferably you occupy quarters in separate cars, and of course you observe all proprieties. The other people in the train are now considered proper chaperones to you.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I LOVE old etiquette books. I’m a big fan of rules, advice columns, and history, so those books are perfection to me. Enjoy!

      1. hermit crab*

        The advice is an interesting mix of being laughably outdated and surprisingly progressive. There’s one about how a 35-year-old bride should absolutely not “try to be a blushing bride” but then there’s one about how it’s still a 100% legit engagement even if you don’t have a ring. There’s a whole section about “courtesies of everyday living” that I’m going to read next!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          The older stuff is even better. Have you read the Ask the Past blog? She has a book out, now, too.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Oh, I would snatch that book off the free shelf and never ever ever bring it back. I LOVE old etiquette books!

    3. Cindy Lou Who*

      The other people in the train are now considered proper chaperones to you.

      Well, I’m sure they’re thrilled. This made me think of those people who leave their kids at the library or in the toy section of a department store and expect the employees to watch them.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ha, I believe that just means “you cannot engage in unseemly physical contact as there are witnesses.”

        I adore old etiquette books too. I have a whole shelf devoted to them.

    4. Algae*

      Do you ever read the Smart Bitches Trashy Bitches blog? There’s a great review of Miss Leslie’s etiquette books (which was CivilWar era).

  3. Stephanie*

    I’m having pretty awful cramps today. (I’ve spent a lot of quality time with the couch and the heating pad.) Tried Midol with no luck. Any suggestions from the hive?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Drink a lot of water is all I got for you. Sometimes they’re just really, really bad, and you have my sympathies! Stay in bed, curl up in a fetal position, and watch something funny on Netflix.

    2. Sandy*

      Magnesium. Found in bananas, avocados, and leafy greens. Or you could just take a multivitamin.

      Probably won’t work immediately, but it’s really useful for staving off the next round.

    3. Lizzie*

      Aleve, if that’s something you can take. I honestly never got a moment’s help from Midol but for whatever reason, Aleve does the trick for cramping pain.

      Scaling back on caffeine helps sometimes too, although I can’t really tell you why that is either.

    4. notfunny.*

      Walk around a bit? Do some errands or something that gets you moving around a bit – that takes the mind off of discomfort (and sometimes it helps me to be able to nap later if I do something active). Also popsicles.

      1. Noelle*

        Walking or stretching a bit helps me too. Part of it is mental, but I think stretching the muscles in that area help more than being curled in the fetal position (although obviously that’s a lot more tempting). Hot mint tea helps me too.

      2. Observer*

        This is not “discomfort”, but serious pain. when basic analgesia doesn’t work, it’s generally past the point of “taking your mind off it.” And in my experience (with myself and most of the females in my family) at this point, physical activity is generally NOT a useful idea.

        1. Stephanie*

          Ugh, yeah. Sometimes that’s ok, but this time involved puking. Mostly better today, minus some mild cramping and a persistent headache.

          (Yeah…I’ll head to the doctor once I get past the waiting period for insurance at work.)

    5. jhhj*

      Orgasms can help, surprisingly enough.

      Hot baths help me, too, and extra-strength ibuprofen. I know some people swear by Aleve though.

        1. jhhj*

          Orgasm during hot bath can solve that sort of problem.

          (Actually I usually am not in the mood and just use ibuprofen.)

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, AAM period sync?

        I’ve been there (miserable and at work). I’m sure my coworkers were wondering why I ate 5 bananas for lunch.

    6. Delyssia*

      Midol is based on acetaminophen, which doesn’t do much for cramps. Well, it might help cover up the pain a little bit, but NSAIDs are better, because they actually stop the cramping. So Aleve, Advil, even aspirin, is much more likely to help.

      Non-medicinally, in addition to some of the options others have already mentioned, I’ve found cramp bark to be quite helpful. I get it in herbal tea format (specifically, moon ease tea), but I think you can also get tinctures or other formulations.

      Hope you find something that helps!

      1. Artemesia*

        For me if Ibuprofen doesn’t do it, nothing will. Midol does zip all. I have always believed Tylenol was a placebo because it never touched any pain I ever had.

    7. Meadowsweet*

      Robax! (in whichever form has your preferred painkiller)
      And sometimes cold rather than heat

    8. GOG11*

      Someone recommended raspberry leaf tea, and it seemed to help me, though it could be placebo effect because I wanted the stabbing sensation in my abdomen to stop… I hope you get some relief soon.

      1. DaBlonde*

        I have had good luck with raspberry leaf tea as well.
        For me it eases mild cramps and the back aches that go with them.

    9. Mimmy*

      Advil Liqui-gels usually work pretty well. Hot baths are helpful too. I used to get cramps REALLY bad, sometimes to the point where I’m crying, when I was younger, so you definitely have my sympathies!

        1. GOG11*

          thirded. I’m in physical therapy right now and told the PTA that I had been using heat at home (they use heat as part of my sessions). They asked if it was moist heat, and I said no. Apparently moist heat penetrates deeper somehow? I asked for an explanation, but she wasn’t able to give a very articulate answer. The moist heat does seem to do a better job for me, though.

    10. The IT Manager*

      I find a large dose of ibuprofen works – not right away but about 30 minutes or so after I take it the cramps get better. I do have a to take a lot though.

      1. Liane*

        Yes, I have to all but overdose on ibuprofen, as in double what they say is the recommended maximum over-the-counter dose.
        But it is necessary for everyone’s safety. Not to mention my sanity – everyone else can avoid me but I can’t.

    11. hayling*

      Thermacares are the *best*. They’re disposable heating pads that last 8 hours. The menstrual ones are designed to stick on the inside of your underwear. If you can’t find those, the wrist/neck ones should work fine. They’re a bit pricey, but worth it (don’t buy generic they’re not as good).

      1. Nina*

        I wouldn’t have gotten through high school without Thermacare wraps. They really are a godsend.

    12. nep*

      Second the lots of water and moving around a bit. Some yoga stretches can help. You’ll have to see what works best for you — lying immobile or moving around, or a mix. (I, too, have found that orgasm brings some relief.)
      For what it’s worth — I used to get awful, awful premenstrual pain. Ever since I stopped eating processed foods and animal products, the only way I know my period’s due is by the calendar. It’s amazing. Granted, our bodies change over time and the cycles vary, but the relief coincided with the changes in eating habits.
      (I’m seeing a lot of suggestions for ibuprofen products — It was quite something seeing the recent reports about stronger heart attack/stroke warnings on those products. Yikes.)

    13. Anonyby*

      What I do (which may not be the most medically sound advice) is take both Tylenol (same active ingredient as Midol) and Motrin (ibuprofen) at the same time, and I double up the Motrin (while doubling the timing, so as not to go over the pills/day recommendation). That combo is the only thing that will touch my cramps outside of prescribed painkillers, and it doesn’t leave me with the same side effects as prescribed stuff. Even then it doesn’t completely help when they get really bad…

    14. schnapps*

      Oh goody. Lady parts conversations.

      Hard Exercise, believe it or not. I’ve been doing the 21 day fix and although one day was awful (my hips did not appreciate the sumo squats) the next day was awesome – no cramps or back pain at all, and I usually have 3-4 days of that. If it’s an ongoing thing, naproxen (an anti-inflammatory) is often prescribed here in Soviet Canuckistan. I understand it’s the same active ingredient in the US version of Aleve (but not the Canadian one).

      Also, alternating wine with the water is helpful in the short term anyways (and if it’s not, who cares? :))

    15. the gold digger*

      I used to take RX ibuprofen – 800 mg – but had to start two days before my period. Sorry you are so miserable. If I were there, I would take you some vicodin (it couldn’t hurt, right?) and some chocolate.

    16. Merry and Bright*

      My go-to medicine for this is Feminax. I can’t remember the key ingredient but it has something to ease the cramps, as well as having a painkiller.

    17. Observer*

      In my experience, midol is close to useless. Advil or naproxene. The sooner you start, the better it works. Actually, even aspirin works better than midol, because aspirin is far more effective than tylenol for this stuff. But, from what you say, you want to start with advil, at least.

      1. Marcela*

        I second naproxene. It was the only thing that kept me sane and functional before I was diagnosed with endo. I was so afraid I could not get it in the US (my friend could not tell me if it was, since she is -as I call her- the mythical unicorn-woman without menstrual pain), that I brought 8 boxes with me from Spain.

    18. Observer*

      A few other thoughts:

      One thing that seems to help some people is regular exercise – not in the moment, but on an ongoing basis. The same seems to be true for some nutritional things – magnesium, calcium, b complex and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) . I tried Black Currant oil (this was YEARS ago), but there are more sources available today. It was one of the few things that were good both on the overall picture and to help a little on the spot. Another thing that’s worth checking out is Vitamin D – ask your doctor to check your levels, as it’s a simple blood test. A surprising number of women don’t have / get enough vitamin d, and it sometimes has this effect.

      In the longer term, things that could be causing or exacerbating your problem: Thyroid issues, PCOS, endometriosis.

      Lots of luck with this. It really does stink.

      1. Stephanie*

        You know…I might be Vitamin D deficient. I’ve had this before (there’s some irony to that given that I live in the desert, but my PCP said Vitamin D deficiencies are apparently common in darker complexioned people).

        I do exercise regularly, but I switched jobs at work. I was walking 4-6 miles a night in my last role and am now down to more desk work with the occasional jaunt out to the floor. I’m wondering if losing all that walking also impacted things.

        1. Observer*

          Well, both could be playing into this. Often enough, it’s not just ONE thing that’s causing problems. Finding some way to walk again certainly couldn’t hurt.

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh, I run regularly. Just lost the built-in backup. :) It’s definitely something genetic–my mom had the same issue pre-menopause and my sister also gets sick.

      1. Stephanie*

        I am! Thanks for asking. Some nausea and mild cramps when I woke up. And I had a headache and mild stomachache that wouldn’t go away earlier, but I’m realizing now that that may have been due to the heat (as they’re both gone now that I’m in the dark and in air-conditioning).

    19. Bangs not Fringe*

      It wont help on the day of, but eating yogurt for the couple days prior has really worked. I read it somewhere and thought, “hey, why not give it a shot!” And it has actually improved the symptoms.

      On the day of, if at home… aleve/motrin and a hot bath, hot water bottle, or heating pad. And seconding using thermacare when at work or being out is necessary makes the day bearable.

  4. Sandy*

    Massive heat wave in the Middle East this week/weekend. Some places in Iran felt like 73C! (That’s 163F for the Americans)

    We’re not quite that hot where I am, but no one in the household can sleep even with the AC units going full blast (my wallet hurts just thinking about it)

    1. Jen RO*

      Oh my, that sounds unlivable! It reached about 38C (100F) this week and going out to lunch (5 minutes from the office building to the restaurant) felt like swimming in hot water…

      1. schnapps*

        Yeah, we hit that hot yesterday and were pretty close today. At least my kid had a birthday party and there was a pool involved.

    2. Hellanon*

      It’s something on the order of 104 F in the desert where my parents live, and while that’s not unusual, the fact that a small tornado touched down on their street Thursday is. Their mesquite trees sustained some damage, but the landscape guy thinks he can save them. (Seriously, mesquite trees? Not built for tornadoes. Go home, weather, you’re drunk.)

    3. Mimmy*

      Some places in Iran felt like 73C! (That’s 163F for the Americans)

      Yiiiiiikes….I hope that’s the heat index, not the actual temperature!!!!

      1. Mephyle*

        Yes, it was the heat index! I just finished reading that story before coming here. The temperature was reported as 115 ºF (46 ºC) and something else was 90. Two different news reports that I saw said 1) 90% humidity, or 2) dewpoint temperature of 90 ºF. Either way, hot, hot, hot.

    4. Liane*

      And I have been complaining about 101F/38.3C with heat index (what it feels like) of 110F/43.3C

      1. Aam Admi*

        46degC was common in summer where I lived in India. We had no electricity during the day time. Rivers used to dry up so power and water supply had to be rationed until the monsoons arrived. Plus I grew up in a small town and had no air conditioned malls or libraries to escape to. Comparatively, my life now in Canada seems like a luxury and I do not complain about the snow or the -46degC wind chills.

  5. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We leave for our vacation tomorrow! Yay! In the last 5 years, I’ve traveled a bunch and have even seen some great places, but there was always something to DO– chorus tours, with concerts and rehearsals (and I love my chorus friends, don’t get me wrong), family visits, friends’ weddings, stuff like that. But I haven’t been on an honest-to-goodness, make-my-own-plans vacation since a quick solo trip to Bermuda in February 2011. This is our Nova Scotia and New Brunswick trip. The flights, hotels and ferry rides are booked, everything else is up to our daily whims. I am SO excited.

    I will miss our buddy, though. We just dropped him off at his daycare for the week, and of course I cried. They love him there and he loves them, so of course he’ll be fine. I just like having my silly furry boy around. (Yes, I am talking about a dog, not a child.)

    Anyway, besides all that– any last-minute recommendations for the area are more than welcome! We’ll be in Halifax for a night, then we’ll drive to Wolfville. Two nights in Wolfville/Annapolis Valley, then on to Saint John, NB. BRING IT.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      Peggy’s Cove! One of those places that looks like it was built just to sell postcards. It’s not far from Halifax.

      Have fun, eat some lobster for me!

    2. manomanon*

      Digby! You should be in time for the scallop festival plus like most portions of the Maritime Provinces, it looks like a postcard!

    3. Jazzy Red*

      Re: missing your buddy – I’m going to have to board my 2 dogs for a whole week when I go on vacation, and I’m already missing them. We have never been separated that long, so it’s going to be h-a-r-d (for me, not so much for them. Everyone at the vet’s office loves my dogs and I know they’ll be very well taken care of.)

      Have a great time on your vacation to Canada!

  6. Cath in Canada*

    I’ve just finished a fun but exhausting months-long writing project (of which more on a future Friday thread – not quite ready to share details yet), on top of working full time, so this is my first full day completely off since April. Trying to remember what normal people do with their free time. So far I’ve achieved watching a TED talk and reading a bunch of pointless Buzzfeed articles while lying on my sofa with the fan blowing on me. I was going to clean the house, but so far all I’ve managed is to move the Roomba onto its charging station.

  7. TheLazyB (UK)*

    Does anyone here fly kites?

    My mum got my son and his cousin kites for their birthdays and my bro-in-law showed me how to fly one last weekend. I’ve never flown a kite before and I LOOOOOVED it.

    And now I wanna a) buy another kite b) go to the beach every weekend to fly it c) find out more about safety (I know about power lines and trees but I’m sure there’s more to consider) – so does anyone here fly kites/know of any good website resources?

    I am terribly bad at incorporating fun into my life. Recently I googled how to have fun. That’s pretty sad, no? Kite-flying seems to fit the bill beautifully, fun+joyful+no stress+that whole ‘flow’ thing where you’re just focussed and in the moment….

    My husband thinks I am mad, but my 4 yo is very excited :) it’s possible that I snuck out with his kite before and flew it for five minutes. Maybe ;)

    1. Amber Rose*

      I love kites! Big fields are best, if you have like public parks with room for sports events.

      I find its also best to go small. You can buy some really huge, complicated kites of like, pirate ships and stuff, but they’re hard to fly and more work than fun. A little triangle one will go up fast and stay up.

    2. Clever Name*

      I love kite flying! The wind is pretty gusty, rather than steady, where I live, so I haven’t had much success lately.

      Another thing you can do to incorporate fun in your life is getting a hula hoop. I smile the entire time I do it. You can buy adult-sized ones or you can make them from irrigation tubing and duct tape.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I LOVE HULA HOOPING. Good call. I discovered it while on maternity leave. I don’t have space inside though and feel weird doing it in my garden! Maybe I should take it to the park too :)

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            There have been a few events recently where at fairs/festivals someone’s just brought a load of hula hoops so I’ve just picked one up and gone fer it :)

            Or two. But I can’t do three. Yet :)

    3. Nashira*

      Soccer fields can be brilliant places to fly kites. Big open areas that often catch wind, no overhanging trees or powerlines…

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I used to do this as a kid–just the regular two sticks and a string kind. An open field is best, and the wind can’t be blowing too hard, or else your kite will get ripped up. A steady breeze works pretty well. I always liked to get the kite up and then lie down in the grass and just make it bob and swoop.

      I bought a kite on impulse at the store one day—I need to get it out and find a place to go fly it. :)

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Ooooh last night I thought wouldn’t it be cool to get it going then lie down! Glad it’s a thing :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Heh heh, when I was a kid in the summer, if you wanted to find me, all you had to do was look for the kite and then follow the string down into the field. That, or wait for me to come back from the creek in the woods.

    5. Catherine from Canada*

      Late to this, but still. I had the BEST TIME OF MY LIFE with a kite and a life-jacket. It was a very windy day, so I swam the kite out into the middle of the lake and managed to launch it from water level.

  8. Shiarah*

    I first read about the Kindly Brontosaurus here a few weeks back. Has anyone here used that strategy while negotiating on a car or other major purchase? I’m looking at possibly car shopping sometime in the next couple of months and am thinking ahead–I’ve never negotiated solo or even just with my husband before (we’ve always had parents insist on going along) and I am determined to Be a Grown Up and Buy My Own Damn Car this time. Tips and anecdotes are most welcome!

    1. manomanon*

      I haven’t used it but I’ve had others use it on me- it tends to make me less willing to be helpful. That said this may just be me- and I’m not usually in positions where negotiating is acceptable.
      Negotiating a car is a different scenario.
      On a note that might be helpful- I used a lot of tips that are used for negotiating salary. Particularly, being ok with silence while they think etc.

      1. manomanon*

        My first part sounded snarkier than I meant it to-I was trying to make the point that it doesn’t always work as well as you would like since there are lots of people like me who react poorly to the looming etc. This strategy runs the same risk since it’s written about so much.

        1. Shiarah*

          No worries, I get what you’re saying. I’m fairly small and physically unimposing, so hopefully wouldn’t seem to be looming if I even did try the Kindly Brontosaurus, which I’m not sure about (hence asking here!). I definitely need to work on stating my case and then shutting up/letting the silence do the work.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I just decide on the make, model, and options I want, then I start calling and emailing dealerships asking for their best price, and I let them know that I’m ready to buy from whoever has the lowest price as soon as I get a few quotes. Some will try to bullshit you, so I just stick to the script.

      “OK, but I am ready to buy, and I’m not calling back, so if you can’t give me a price I’ll just cross you off the list.”
      “So that’s your best price, correct? I’d be buying by the end of the week/month.”

      That said, in doing this I’ve found a few dealerships that will show you their manufacturer’s invoice, and tell you their set markup (usually a few hundred dollars to a thousand). Those are the ones I’ll probably go back to the next time I’m in the market, and just bypass all the calling around.

    3. Lizzie*

      I had to Google this, and I feel like I’d feel ridiculous doing it to anyone … but that’s the best name for anything I have ever seen in my entire life. More things should be named after polite dinosaurs.


    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve never used it, but it seems to me that a less intense version of it might work better. It seems too intimidating and manipulative the way the article I read described it.

      1. Shiarah*

        Right? I feel like the basic premise is good: maintain a pleasant demeanor, use positive language, state your case and then wait, don’t fill the silence. But the body language recommended seems a bit over the top to me; I don’t think I could pull that off.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Never tried the KB. My best defense is to make a list of features I MUST have. I make a second list of features that are nice to have.

      I went into one place with my husband. They had x car for y dollars. Okay, I wanted to see that car. It was an hour and five people later and I still had not seen the car. I had not looked at any cars. I sat in a little room the whole time. They kept mentioning other cars. I said where did the first one go? I never found out, but I did find out if I asked that question the person would leave the room and a different person would come in.

      On exiting the building, I told the people I passed, that were coming into the building, to “RUN!”.

      1. Shiarah*

        Oh man, this is my nightmare. I’ve had the fast-talkers and the numbers shell game played on me before, but nothing this egregious. Sorry you experienced that!

        If I do end up buying, I’ve narrowed down the exact model, trim, color and options package I’d want. It’s just a matter of finding that exact car in stock somewhere and then getting a good price on it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          We did leave. But for a bit there was a morbid fascination, what stupid thing will they do next? Kind of like staring at an accident scene, also, where you cannot believe this is happening in front of you.

    6. Tammy*

      I just bought a used vehicle on 12-01-15. It was the first time I did not use the dealer’s financing. It felt good.

      I had a few minor credit dings about 5 years ago, so I was not sure what rate I could get. The best thing I did was go to my credit union. I gave them the info on the vehicle & they told me what they would loan on the (used) vehicle I was looking at (and my rate!). I went to the dealer and said I would pay out the door – including taxes & such. They took the deal. Kept trying to get me to go with their financing, but I love my credit union.

      If you have a credit union or bank, talk to them first. The dealer had my car priced at $18,000. I paid $15,100 for it. My credit union was great thru the whole process.

  9. Amber Rose*

    Part 4 (I think) of the ongoing saga of my stupid hurt ankle: they booked me an MRI appointment… in February. On my birthday. At 10:30 at night.

    So I said f**k it and paid for one out of pocket. My mother in law, probably one of the greatest women on this planet, got me a 50% discount. It was still my entire savings (MRIs are hideously expensive), but it only took two days to get in. So now I just follow up with the doctor and hopefully get treatment. It’s been two months since that first appointment.

    In more interesting news, I’m hosting a party tonight. I’m trying to clean up, but I keep getting distracted by books. It turns out that I do have a floor, but there’s at least three layers of books first. I found my copies of Never Learn Anything From History and Hark! A Vagrant! that I had the author sign and that wasted most of my morning.

    1. Mimmy*

      February??? That’s just criminal! Glad you got a MUCH SOONER appointment! Good luck with the follow-up.

    2. KitCroupier*

      Can you submit that to be reimbursed for the MRI appointment to get some of that money back?

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m going to try, but since it would have been free if I’d waited there’s a good chance I’ll be rejected.

        1. Clever Name*

          You never know. I paid out of pocket to have a mole removed on my face. Technically it was for cosmetic reasons, but I’d been encouraged by my amazing dentist to have it removed as a preventative measure (it was on the large side and stuck out, and she thought it may get ‘weird’ later on) Months later, I get a refund check from my insurance company. No explanation given.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Tell them you couldn’t wait to February. And if you did the bills to the insurance company would be much, much larger.

          Am shaking my head. 10:30 at night, in February. That’s insane.

    3. Shell*

      Are you American? I’m Canadian and that timeline for MRI sounds completely normal (alas) to me. I had always thought American health system was a little more expedient on these things since y’all’s prices are insane.

      I paid for an MRI out-of-pocket once too rather than wait the eons it would take to get it on the public health system. My sympathies, they hurt the wallet quite a bit.

      1. KarenT*

        Agreed. I booked one in April for September. If it were for a more serious condition I would drive down to Buffalo and pay for one out of pocket.

  10. Steve G*

    AAM community – what is your take on all of the craziness this week? Should Planned Parenthood lose federal funding? What are your thoughts on the cameo of celebs speaking pro-Iran nuclear deal? What are your thoughts on the coming-up presidential nominees? Do you think Hillary will be the Dem candidate? From what I saw, Hillary and Bernie Sanders say the big issue is income inequality – is that an issue that you can actually run for president based on? What would your actual solution be? I think there are very limited circumstances (such as home nurses and fast food) where more rules are needed, but not overall. I’d rather they talk about new job creation via infrastructure projects and disincentives to outsource jobs. I also am afraid that none of the candidates are addressing the most important issues according to voters (according to gallup) – and I quote – the economy in general, moral/ethic decline, the government!, immigration, and jobs (not income inequality)

      1. LisaLee*

        Agreed. I think a lot of people don’t realize that the vast majority of PP’s services have nothing to do with abortion and they’re often the only organization providing free/low-cost healthcare in rural or otherwise underserved areas.

        Cutting access to preventative healthcare for thousands of people because of some ill-chosen remarks by a few employees just isn’t going to help anyone.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Definitely will watch. Politics hasn’t been this entertaining (or contentious) since the Council Wars of Chicago in the 1980s.

      1. mookitty*

        Umm, no it should not lose funding over a cherry picked ultra editted biased propaganda piece.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      So many questions, but this is the kind of discussion I love!

      I don’t think Planned Parenthood should have funding. They have behaved reprehensibly, and they should no longer be funded by taxpayers.

      My favorite candidate thus far is Rand Paul. To me it seems too early for the fatalistic attitude that we will just be choosing between Bush and Clinton again. Too much of the narrative is being distracted by Trump right now.

      Running a campaign on the issue of income inequality strikes me as really looking down on the voters. It seems to be an attempt to change the focus from finding solutions to pointing fingers.

      As for solutions, I don’t really have any. I tend to lean Libertarian, so I think the government needs to back off and let some things play out naturally.

      I’m looking forward to seeing other responses!

      1. Lionness*

        I’m truly curious: what did they do that you find reprehensible? Do you realize hospitals do this with organs donated for research purposes? Are you aware that it is legal?

        1. Steve G*

          To answer your question, some people find abortion flat out wrong. Not going into that here, there is plenty of material elsewhere. What specifically was reprehensible here to us was the way they were discussing the body parts so nonchalantly in the videos. America is becoming more liberal, but I think we need to decide how far that goes, and this is a good case to start and set some boundaries. If you’ve ever held a baby, you’re natural instincts really kick in to protect it, and you feel that their little bodies are just miracles of nature. Discussing selling or reimbursing expenses or ever how you want to word it really crosses a line of grossness for many, because we don’t see much of a difference between a born and an unborn baby.

          As per their use in research, I would venture to say that there are others like me who don’t see medical research as the loftiest of social arenas, though it is somewhat lofty. It’s not a carte blanche to do whatever you want to do, regardless of whether it is legal or not (I’m also very against animals in research).

          1. Lionness*

            So your issue is with the people in the video…so one bad employee (if we are going to say it was bad) means an entire organization is unworthy? If you find abortion reprehensible (I will agree it would be great to have less abortion) how can you not support an organization that does more than any other organization to limit the number of abortions by advocating to provide free and open contraception to women and men?

            And if we are going to outlaw the use of human tissue in research we can say goodbye to every single modern medical advancement. We can go back to dying by 40 due to treatable diseases. That is incredibly shortsighted.

            1. Steve G*

              I don’t pretend to know everything so I don’t have an answer to the first part. I don’t know if it is a group of people or only a few, and I’m not sure how that would change my view on their receiving federal funding. I need more information…

              As per human tissue, aren’t there other sources of it besides aborted fetuses? And I don’t think it is as drastic as “dying at 40 due to treatable diseases. We already have immunizations to the big infectious diseases. Now we are trying to cure cancer, etc. Many people still die of “old age,” not of a specific disease being researched.

              1. Lionness*

                There are other sources of human tissue, and that is used. But some research does need fetal tissue in the same way that some veterinary research needs brain tissue from a puppy as opposed to an adult dog. It is due to property differences that impact the ability to research.

                And yes, we have those vaccines and they came from human and animal research. But vaccines need to be constantly adapted with each new generation or they stop working and we certainly would go back to dying at 40 in a very short amount of time.

                1. Steve G*

                  What about stem cells? I thought we were supposed to use them to manufacture tissues? I haven’t heard a peep about them in a few years…

                2. TL -*

                  Growing tissues from stem cells is quite different from using stem cells for research, though. And fetal tissue is used as a source of stem cells, both true stem cells and the more developed kind, like bone marrow stem cells.

                3. TL -*

                  (Also they haven’t been in the news because when science gets really controversial, scientists stop talking about it. They don’t stop doing it, but they do stop sharing their results with the public.)

                4. Lionness*

                  You haven’t heard about it, because Bush vetoed a bill that would have made fetal stem cell research legal. Fetal stem cell research would be phenomenal, but Republicans have blocked every attempt to legalize it.

                  I know this is a hard and ugly thing to discuss. It was hard for me when I first began learning about it. But it really is necessary.

                5. Cath in Canada*

                  There’s tons of stem cell research still going on! Google “induced pluripotent stem cells”. The first clinical trial (for macular degeneration) started in Japan last year. The big thing in this field right now is trying to balance the ability of the stem cells to divide to create healthy new cells and tissues, and their propensity to divide too much and thus become cancerous.

                  A lot of the groundwork was done using embryonic stem cells. iPS cells are produced from other types of cell, but we wouldn’t be where we are now if we hadn’t been working with ES cells first.

          2. Lionness*

            Also, I hope you have issue with the people that made the video. They outright lied to the public and the government by claiming they were a non profit medical research organization. They’ve now changed their label, but that sort of thing is pretty reprehensible in my book. Soliciting donations while lying about your mission is gross.

            1. Steve G*

              I don’t have an issue with the people making the video. It reminds me of the people who work in factory farms and wear hidden cameras. There is no other way to get information. A factory farm is not going to say “we love to abuse animals,” and planned parenthood apparently has something to hide if it sued in 2 states yesterday to ban release of the other videos.

              1. Lionness*

                I’m not saying that they made the video was wrong. I am fine with deception to get facts. But this organization, for years, lied to the public and to their donors about what their goal was (researching disease) when, in fact, their goal was to attack PP. They held fundraisers, they had websites, etc. They lied to the IRS and received tax breaks. A lot of people who would not have otherwise supported their mission were duped into giving them money. Would you be okay with a pro choice group claiming to be pro life in order to get you to donate?

                1. Steve G*

                  Mmmm…I wasn’t aware of that, I need to look into that. No I wouldn’t be OK with that (though I think the end justified the means in this case). I give $$$$ to NEAVS and PETA expecting them to do undercover work on animal welfare. I would be mad if 10 years later it came out, IDK, that they were using my $$$ to fund dog breeding or something. I “only” have $500-600 per year to give so I can only give selectively so want transparency as to where my $ goes.

                  We don’t agree on everything but you are very informed, I like it

                2. Lionness*

                  Steve, we don’t have to agree on everything. But I am dismayed at how many people are unaware of that group’s tactics.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                It’s trying to stop what is happening because people who swallow the Center for Medical Progress’s claptrap are hurting people. They are hurting patients who depend on PP for their healthcare.

                It makes me sick—there are real problems in this country that need attention. The economy, the infrastructure, etc. But no, people are still fighting over something that doesn’t affect them and isn’t any of their business. And these folks that call themselves pro-life are the same folks who call for cuts in social programs like WIC that benefit all these babies they think should be conceived and born no matter what. Once the kids are here, they stop caring.

                Women are not containers for fetuses. Once we become pregnant, we do not and should not lose our personhood and our rights as viable humans.

                1. Steve G*

                  I concur. The problem with this particular story is that I’ve never seen a media outlet actually describe what PP does. Yes, some people think everyone should know, but when you have a couple of hundred different issues coming up (sanctuary cities, Iran deal, Hamas, comprehensive immigration reform, obamacare……etc etc) we can’t all magically be experts in all of them.

                  I also agree with no more superficial, non-crucial “issues,” but on both sides of the fence. No “deflategate” or whatever they called it, no obsessing for over a week on each comment Donald Trump makes on every single station…

          3. Cath in Canada*

            OK, so I haven’t been following this story specifically, but re: “the way they were discussing the body parts so nonchalantly”:

            I work in cancer research. I’ve had people criticize me when they hear that we aren’t 100% serious all the time at work, as if I think cancer’s a big joke because I was joking around with my colleagues in the lab or office (not even about cancer – just general silliness). I *know* it’s not a big joke; that’s why I took a pay cut to come back to this field after working in the private sector for a couple of years. But c’mon, if you work on something day in day out – even something really serious and/or controversial – it just becomes part of your working day. It’s not that you lose your focus on what your organization’s overall goals are, or how important those goals are – it’s just that if you didn’t become somewhat desensitised, you’d burn out or become depressed or something.

            1. Mike C.*

              Yeah, I can only imagine the sorts of joke defence lawyers, morticians and others make to blow off steam.

          4. TL -*

            But when you deal with that stuff every day, you get a rather different perspective on it. And your attitude may shift in private, specific situations – as they assumed they were – because you’re distancing yourself from something that is hard, even if it’s good. For instance, ever been among a group of doctors talking amongst themselves? They have black, black senses of humor and will be completely blase about a patient dying sometimes. But in front of the patient or public, they’re much more kind and sensitive. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good people; just that what they do is hard and they have to distance themselves sometimes.

            1. Nashira*

              Many chronically ill people end up with the black humor too. (lol medical puns.) It’s a coping mechanism. You cannot cry all the time or else you break and then there’s no one left. Demanding that researchers abandon their coping skills is demanding that research stop, and that’s short-sighted and foolish, you know?

          5. matcha123*

            To be fair, I’ve held plenty of babies throughout my life. The only “instinct” I had was to be careful because I didn’t want to get in trouble for breaking it.

            1. GOG11*

              Word. I feel no more strongly about babies than I do any other old human being. To me, babies are just unripened adults.

          6. LisaLee*

            I guess what it comes down to for me is that ending PP’s funding is not going to end abortion. The abortions will still happen as long as we don’t live in a utopia, so it’s better for fetal tissue to be used to help others rather than just discarded.

            Also, I think this case really shows how private and public remarks can be so different. A lot of people use black humor about serious topics in private (even more so when it’s your job and you’ve got to deal with it every day) and I don’t necessarily think that the employee’s remarks say much about how PP actually treats the issue of medical research and fetal tissue.

          7. Elizabeth West*

            You do realize that those videos were heavily edited, right? This was not some candid expose–it was a smear campaign.

            Everything Planned Parenthood does with the donations is legal (DONATIONS–the decision is up to the patients). They’ve been a scapegoat from strident religious control freaks on the far right for way too long. PP provides some of the only healthcare many women ever get. I got healthcare from PP when I had no other access to any kind of doctor or clinic. Abortion is about 3% of what they do. And women have healthcare needs that men flat out do not have. In this particular ThunderDome, I will fight you to the death to protect my right to take care of my own body, my own tissues, and my own life. How I care for my body is between me and my healthcare provider and no one else.

            FWIW, I myself would not have an abortion unless it were medically necessary, but it’s good to know that if I needed one and didn’t have any insurance or my insurance wouldn’t cover it because some insane religious idiots had to control everybody else’s lives, I could take care of myself. If I had to, I would donate the tissue because I would want some good to come out of a very difficult thing.

            1. ActCasual*

              YES. Thank you for articulating this in a much better way than I could, and for being such a strong person with strong values. + infinity.

            2. Mander*

              Indeed. I agree with you 100%. When I was working as a waitress after college I had zero benefits, and PP was the only place I could go to get adorable treatment for a chronic medical condition. I wasn’t even sexually active at the time so it had nothing to do with abortion or any other potentially immoral activity.

              Maybe I’m inherently crass but I don’t find the use of fetal tissues for research at all problematic, except of course if they are taken without the consent of the mother. As far as I’m concerned, when I die my body becomes spare parts and anyone is welcome to use my tissues for research, transplants, whatever. If I had to have an abortion then I would absolutely donate the fetus for research.

              1. hermit crab*

                I agree with all of this and have nothing to add except that your “adorable treatment” typo made me smile. :)

            3. Steve G*

              This is edited (too?)? Urgh. I barely have time most of the time to follow all of the issue, and then you have to follow what was edited/biased. Its quite a chore. For example, I recently found out that the Michael Zimmerman 911 call was edited to delete the 911 dispatcher asking what race the person was. WTF would they do that, unless they wanted to continue inciting race issues? And how are news followers supposed to anticipate stuff like that?

              1. Treena*

                You’re supposed to get info from 2-3 very different sources, to get a bigger picture. I recommend Washington Post, NY Times, and The Young Turks (video). If you must, maybe MSNBC or CNN, but definitely never Fox News or the NY Post.

              2. Lionness*

                Yea, it was pretty heavily edited. This is the problem with a lot of exposes…on both sides. They are made to fit a preconceived narrative.

                I think you mean well, Steve, which is more than I can say for some people. I recommend that you look into multiple news sources (and read articles from outside the country, if you can). Al Jazeera news is great for presenting multiple sides of the story.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Yes, I agree with this. Media has become notoriously unreliable–in the rush to get clicks or views, journalists don’t often fact-check information. Even the BBC, which prides itself on verifying at least two independent sources (I have this straight from the lion’s mouth), sometimes screws up. Always consider the source of information.

                2. Treena*

                  Yes, I do appreciate how Steve is willing to hear additional information! And I totally forgot about Al Jazeera, and BBC, but yes, foreign media is a great option for domestic news.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Al Jazeera is absolutely amazing in so many different areas. Their scientific reporting is really, really top notch. They actually allow a researchers to speak at length on the research of the day, including the specific limitations of the experiment in question. That way you don’t end up with some idiot science reporter telling us that red wine is bad for us yesterday, and then it’s good for us tomorrow.

                  PBS Newshour is great, NPR* is a staple, BBC World, Al Jazeera English/America, CBC, Voice of America and so on. The local stations or even conventional cable channels I really, really cannot stand. Too much BS, too much pandering to the lowest common denominator, and I end up learning nothing about the complex situations we face in the world today.

                  *Note, NPR is a huge mishmash of various local, regional, national and international producers. Judge the specific show rather than “NPR” as a whole.

      2. Steve G*

        First I must say I appreciate the AAM community because you CAN have discussions here, maybe people pile on sometimes, but that is a heck of a lot better than other forums where people throw really nasty words at you for no reason. I am sick of being called the A word, jerk, ignorant, etc. on other sites for saying quite simple, commonly accepted things!

        I still don’t have a favorite candidate. I have to give Trump props for saying what he thinks about immigration (though I found his safety fears going to the border a tad dramatic, given that he lives in NYC). Agree, don’t agree, most Americans don’t have time to decipher what candidates think. At least he tells you.
        Hillary seems like a nice person, but I think she spends a bit too much time talking in generalities about “progress” and “change” and she needs to be more specific about how she is going to change things without increasing the budget. I’m also a bit concerned about her judgment, given the deleting-emails incidents (she should know better). I’m also concerned that there might be conflict of interest issues with the Clinton foundation.

        Also, I have really been thinking about the income inequality thing as an actionable platform. Yes, we can regulate wages at the very low end of the spectrum. But what about jobs that pay $40K but used to pay $50K when adjusted for COLI. Can the government really go through the salary histories of companies and dictate those sorts of adjustments that are needed?

      3. Steve G*

        I’ve also been thinking about your “looking down on voters” thing recently as well. I thought that today when I saw that Jeb Bush doing an interview on Telumundo. I wondered if anyone who spoke Spanish found that to be condescending. Certainly there are more Hispanics who speak better English than he does Spanish. Or maybe his Spanish is superb? IDK. There are just so many technical words when you discuss politics that I can’t imagine he knows every single one in a foreign language.

        As per the income inequality thing, I found last night’s Bill O’Reilly to be a refreshing reminder on the topic yesterday. Not that his speech covered all or even the majority of situations, but he said flat out – in order to get the sort of income you need to be successful in America – you need a skill. You can no longer support yourself without specific skills. Etc. etc. etc. I know that is common sense to most of us, but when a candidate keeps discussing inequality and injustice, I also think that they need to also mention avenues for people to get income growth and career paths – computer programming, learning plumbing, car repairs, whatever. Especially younger people. To just make it sound like America is this big unfair place without mentioning the opportunity is quite one-sided.

        1. Lionness*

          As for income equality, unfortunately the path to those skills is also unequal. People growing up in poverty are far more likely to attend poor schools and receive a poor education, far less likely to go to college or even learn a trade and far less likely to gain the skills needed to be successful. And if they do go to school and get these skills, they are far more likely to be mired in excessive student loan debt that they be far more likely to never get out from under.

          But let’s not let facts get in the way of blaming poor people for not improving their own life.

          ….Said the girl that grew up incredibly poor and is now living a very comfortable middle class life. Yes, I did it. Yes, I know I am exceptionally lucky and yes, I know my situation is rare.

          1. Steve G*

            I am not trying to do the situation in your 2nd paragraph, I’m asking – how viable is that as a main tenet of a presidential campaign? What are you going to do to fix it? Regulate specific items? Minimum wages for certain professions? Limiting the factor by which management salaries can exceed the lowest level employees? Or go at it at the macro level – start denying work visas for white-collar jobs (especially tech ones in Silicon Valley)? Start regulating the costs of schools, so that is less of a barrier?

            I can’t think of a way they are going to do it.

            Also, my comment about Bill O’Reilly is that…you get it, I get it…but what is you are 15 know, and ever since you remember you have certain politicians discussing inequality without “disclaimers.” We don’t need them as adults, but a kid hearing only about the inequalities part is only getting 1/2 a story. How does that help them? Are politicians giving constructive enough information on equality to actually help younger people make informed decisions?

            1. Treena*

              I’m not going to get into the specifics of individual candidates, but there are plenty of really simple policy changes that would *drastically* help with income inequality.

              Minimum wage ramps up to $10-15 within the next 10-15 years
              Change how public K-12 schools are funded (not by property taxes, but by the number of students)
              All public schools must have Pre-K starting at age 3 (helps poor kids with their literacy)
              Government-sponsored childcare for 0-5 children
              Real maternity leave (paid, 6 months-year)
              Very low interest loans for college provided by the government
              Obama’s free community college initiative
              Reducing mandatory minimums for prison

              None of those are “easy” and that’s why they haven’t been done before. Fixing “income inequality” isn’t something that can get fixed with one policy. It’s intersectional (race, gender, geography, sexuality, etc.) But if we implemented even 3 of the above, it would radically change things for those living in poverty.

              1. hmm*

                The thing with some of your points, though, is that they have to be high-quality to do anything. Putting pre-K in public schools won’t do anything if the quality of pre-K is poor. The K-12 system isn’t all that great right now, so I’d venture to say it’s unlikely the quality of pre-K would be much higher if it was just tacked onto the K-12 system. Same with childcare – if it’s poor quality child care, it might actually be a net negative for the children. Don’t even get me started on higher education.

                I do agree with some of your points, so this isn’t really to criticize you – I’m just saying let’s think more about whether federal involvement would definitely help before we spend tons of money to do it.

                Also, I’m not sure how maternity leave addresses income inequality, though I agree it’d be great to have – can someone explain the link?

                1. Treena*

                  Oh of course I have a preference as to the order, but I’m not going to say nope, can’t do this until all our ducks are in a row because they never will be. For instance, of course I would want good quality pre-K but even crappy pre-K gets every 3 year old exposed to books, gets them out of potentially violent/neglectful situations at home and into the eyes of mandated reporters. (Most of the damage done to children’s brains impacting how they learn is done very early in life–we think that we need to “protect” older children from trauma at home and think nothing of screaming in front of an infant, but really it’s the other way around. Older children can conceptualize and process trauma, whereas an infant’s brain changes permanently). But does that help when Children’s Services is so impacted? Maybe, but not as much as a well-funded one with social workers who don’t get burned out within 3 years. (Also easily fixable in theory)

                  Any great solution would have to be intersectional. For instance, the free/subsidized child-care. First, you could only use that money at licensed day-cares. There aren’t enough of those. So you need to incentivize being a licensed day-care owner. There are two kinds. People who have been unlicensed need to be able to take some sort of test or course to register themselves. But there also needs to be better university-level child development programs to create college grads how to care for little ones. It all works together and in 20 years or so, we’ll see the difference. But no politician really cares about in 20 years, they want to get re-elected and make their party look good today.

                2. Treena*

                  Oh, and the vast majority of single mothers live in poverty and have few options as to what to do with a child if they don’t have support and need to go back to work.

                  Men make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force than women (53%-47%). But among those who earn the minimum wage or less, 62% are women and 38% are men. (Pew Research numbers). So women are on average more poor and more likely to be working in jobs that probably don’t provide maternity leave (like office jobs) and would benefit more from a mandated leave that other, richer women get at their jobs.

                  Also, if we have parental leave, it would be more plausible for dads to stay home and make it more likely for greater numbers of women to become the higher-earners.

                3. Anonny*

                  “But there also needs to be better university-level child development programs to create college grads how to care for little ones.”

                  Or even programs that train high school graduates (similar to plumbing or carpentry apprenticeships) to do so. I don’t see a reason why a college degree is necessary, and a training program would likely provide more hands-on experience than a college of education. That’s not to say that the coursework is unimportant, just that I think there might be a better way.

    2. Lionness*

      They are doing nothing illegal, nor immoral. This is absolutely no different than organ donation. And hospitals are, often reimbursed for costs when organs are donated for research. And no one freaks out about that even though selling organs is also illegal. But again: being reimbursed for expenses does not equal selling.

      1. Steve G*

        I disagree with the “not immoral” part but address it above. I’m also not sure that it is the same thing as organ donation, as someone volunteers to donate their own organs.

        1. Lionness*

          Not always. Someone with medical power of attorney, or next of kin, can authorize organ donation if the deceased chose not to, or was unable to, make that decision. In that case it is exactly like organ donation because a fetus is (for oh so many reasons) unable to make the consent…not the least of which is because it isn’t alive. Your moral argument seems to be conflating a fetus with a baby. They aren’t the same.

          1. fposte*

            And you can, in fact, authorize organ donation if you suffer the terrible loss of your young child. When Nicholas Green’s parents authorized the donation of his organs, it made organ donation considerably more accepted in Italy.

      2. Nashira*

        Ayup. Planned Parenthood is a vital health organization, and I’m sick and tired of these conservative hit organizations trying to kill their federal funding. But what do I know? I’m just someone who’s depended on them for healthcare before.

        1. Lionness*

          I shudder to think how different my life would be if it were not for the free check ups, gyno exams and birth control I got from planned parenthood. But hey, let’s all pretend humans won’t have sex if they don’t have access to health screenings and birth control. Because that is reality, right?

        2. Emily*

          Yes, this. When I was living in a new city last year and needed to use some of their (non-abortion) services, they treated me very well and helped me sign up for a state-sponsored program that would cover the entire cost of my appointment.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Absolutely Planned Parenthood should keep funding. To yank it would be CRIMINAL. And any woman who thinks so is not someone I want to spend my time with. They were my only healthcare for a long time. There was no ACA then–you either had insurance through your job, or you didn’t. I didn’t. I only made $5.50 an hour when I lived in Santa Cruz (the minimum wage in CA then), and I couldn’t have afforded Obamacare anyway, and I wasn’t eligible for Medicaid.

      With PP, I got a checkup every year and got monthly BC pills for a reduced cost. Without the BC every month, I could not have kept a job at all because no one lets you call out sick for two or three days with cramps.

      As for the rest, I haven’t made up my mind yet.

      1. Steve G*

        They actually offered comprehensive medical insurance? Or is it “just” a doctor you could visit? If the latter, could you go to them with any issue?

        1. Lionness*

          I can’t speak to that PP, but when I was in my early 20s and without insurance, my local PP office had general doctors that I could see for any issue for very, very cheap (under $10 a visit) in addition to their womens health clinic.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            Mine, too. The one near me was the place that finally diagnosed a totally unrelated chronic illness that’s plagued me my whole life, during a time when I was too poor and uninsured to visit a specialist.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It wasn’t insurance–they had a sliding fee scale for exams, etc. So I could afford to go in and pay out of pocket, whereas if I went to a doctor’s office or clinic, there is no way I could have afforded it.

          I never had to use them for anything other than my exams (which included reproductive stuff like pap smears, etc.) because I was pretty healthy at the time. My thyroid issues didn’t start until later. But they gave me a general yearly exam when I got my birth control pills.

        3. hermit crab*

          Also, keep in mind that for many women, your gyno *is* your primary care provider. So if you have insurance and a “regular” doctor, you’d be getting the same type of visit as someone going to PP. Obviously you shouldn’t go there if you have a broken leg, but for common internal medicine issues like nonspecific abdominal pain, mental health concerns, a weird lump, absolutely. The doctors/nurses/CNMs at PP can and do give you medical care and referrals just like any other provider.

      2. Lionness*

        Right, let’s not forget that not all women take BC exclusively for contraception. Some have debilitating menstrual issues and their only source for low cost birth control might be Planned Parenthood. You take their funding and these women lose this option…and likely their jobs…

        Until you want to guarantee every single person in this country can have health care regardless of their ability to pay, don’t you dare take away the only option for millions of women.

        1. Steve G*

          I think you won the argument on the funding part. It is more complicated than they make it sound when they mention it in news clips as either a fund-it or don’t-fund-it type argument.

          I am still against what is going on, but we discussed that already full above…

          1. Lionness*

            It is fine to be against it.

            Trust me when I tell you I would love a world in which abortion was not necessary. And in that world, no one would object to Planned Parenthood. But the same people that lose it over abortion, often lose it over providing contraception. And I just don’t get that. But that’s an arguement for another Sunday thread :)

            It was nice discussing this with you.

          2. Nashira*

            Thank you for being willing to consider other points of view. That’s very rare in discussions about highly politicized topics.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yes, this.
              And thank you, Lioness, for your calm and thoughtful debate. I lose it when people attack PP because they helped me so much. Plus, I live in Jesusville Bible-Thumper Central, and I get really sick of trying to be logical.

            2. Steve G*

              That’s because I never felt “skin in the game” about being right about these things. I never got people who pretend to know it all, especially on political issues, and especially with biased media outlets and presumably a lot of political issues going on behind closed doors. You probably have to live to 200 and work as a time as a lawyer in DC to really understand it all

              1. Lionness*


                We can’t all be expected to have a complete understanding of every issue. But we can be expected to listen with an open mind and reconsider our stance when new information comes to light. You should be commended for doing that – while it should be expected, it is not common.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  But we can be expected to listen with an open mind and reconsider our stance when new information comes to light.

                  If more people did this, then the world would probably be a much more pleasant and tolerant place to live.

      3. M.*

        Planned Parenthood has been a lifesaver. The guy I’m seeing and I were both told we were sterile so we figured that since we were both clean, let’s not use protection. We later decided that I should at least be on the pill (we decided against condoms for personal reasons). There was no way I could afford a doctor’s appointment for the birth control, and knowing my PCP, I wasn’t going to get too far with her (turned out I was right in this assessment, had to see her about something else and got a half hour long lecture on how it was MY body and I have RIGHTS and to use condoms and if a guy says he doesn’t want to its ABUSE — no matter that I didn’t want to use them in the first place, I was being brainwashed apparently). Anyway, PP saw me for FREE, gave me three months of pills for FREE, and was the only clinic I’ve been to where someone worked tirelessly for days to try to get me health insurance (we couldn’t make it work, but no one, not even my PCP had tried that hard).

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I think income inequality is a very reasonable thing to run on, and I like a lot of the proposed solutions (free college, higher taxes on higher incomes and corporations…) I think it’s resonating. I think it’s also fantastic that the Black Lives Matter movement is really impacting the policies being discussed nationally. I’m a Bernie fan personally, but I think in general the electorate is actually moving to the left for the first time in maybe decades.

  11. Miki*

    Did anyone experience weight gain during workout? I started doing more strenuous workout 3 months ago (3 times a week, which involved 70 minute exercise: running in the first 20 minutes, then usual: push ups, abs, kettle bell exercise, body bar, TRX, balance ball, drills and skills… you name it I had to do it) as part of this study and in addition to my climbing thing. I noticed I gained around 7 lbs in this period but I don’t see any changes in clothing size (which is good), my food intake has stayed the same (I think I even started eating less than usual). To clarify: always been on a skinny side (around 115-117), very low body fat (around 12%) for a female, and these extra pounds are bugging me, especially because of my high level of physical activity. Any advice? What is going on??

    1. Amber Rose*

      You’re putting on muscle. Since you don’t have much body fat initially to convert to muscle, my guess would be the increased activity is making your body store extra rather than burning it all off.

      Consider consulting a dietician to make sure you’re getting enough calories to support your extra exercise.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Maybe. TBH most people who start working out don’t really gain weight because of increased muscles, but Miki sounds like an unusual case so a doctor, nutritionist, or knowledgeable trainer is a good idea.

        1. nep*

          I don’t know about that — many people put on pounds from increasing muscle mass. It’s the very goal of training for some.

        2. CoffeeLover*

          My boyfriend loses weight when he doesn’t exercise and gains it back when he does. It’s all muscle.

      1. Anon1234*

        One pound = one pound. Muscle is denser than fat, so one pound of muscle takes up less space than one pound of fat.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I read an article once where the supposed expert claimed that a pound of muscle weighed more than a pound of fat.

          I wanted to ask him if he knew the answer to the riddle my parents asked me when I was a kid: which weighs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of lead?

          1. nep*

            Yup. My parents too. What weighs more — a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers.
            As the other commenter said, it’s about density, not weight.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              It’s a trick question because lead is actually weighed by a different system, too…

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This. We had a health fair at work last year and they had a five-pound thing of fake fat and one of fake muscle. I lost four and a half pounds going up and down the stairs. I didn’t think it was that much, until I remembered how huge the five pounds of fat looked.

    2. blackcat*

      My body works this way–I have a certain amount of fat that will never, ever go away, though I am still quite petite & thin.

      I did get a bit of a winter pooch on my belly this year, which I noticed because my pants got tighter. After getting much more active, I got rid of the belly pooch and now have very muscular thighs… so my pants don’t fit in a new and different way!

      You’re mostly doing stuff that will build muscle, so that’s what’s happening. It’s not bad! I always feel better when I weight a bit more but have more muscle.

    3. BRR*

      I think you have to watch more than your weight. Watch how your clothes fit, how you feel, progress in what you can do etc.

    4. nep*

      Don’t concern yourself with a number on the scale — particularly if a) you feel healthy and are getting fitter and stronger, and 2) your clothes aren’t feeling tighter.
      Keep paying attention to how your clothes are fitting, as well as to your strength gains and cardiovascular fitness.

      1. Miki*

        Hi guys, thanks for weighing in!
        I feel great, I am as fit as I can be, and clothes fit the same as they always did. The only difference might be the thighs from all the squats I did: some of my shorts get a bit tight when I try to make a step, but that’s it. I always had toned biceps muscles, these do look more pronounced now.

        1. nep*

          Sounds like you’re doing great. Congratulations on your fitness gains. (You might want to read up on the pump people tend to get after some workouts — I was just reading yesterday about women whose jeans are a lot tighter for a while after ‘leg day’.)
          Keep up the great work. All the best.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Years ago, I cut out the carbs trying to improve my health. I could afford to lose weight so weight loss was not a big deal. I lost 3 sizes in two weeks. I jumped on the scale. I only lost four pounds. Four pounds = 3 sizes??? who’d thunk. Hello, muscles.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Usually for me, just losing or gaining weight with no change to muscle mass, a clothing size equals ten to twelve pounds. I would like to get really toned up, though. I need to watch Linda Hamilton in the Terminator again. Or else Barbra Streisand in The Mirror Has Two Faces; that one always gets me inspired toward my fitness goals.

    6. matcha123*

      I have had something similar happen, though mine was more temporary. What I read was that after some intense exercise, your muscles get little tears that cause your body to retain fluids while they repair. That fluid is most likely the source of your weight gain.

  12. Soupspoon McGee*

    I love Dr. Horrible!

    In other news, I just submitted my application to physician assistant school. Nervous, terrified, excited . . . Some of this could be from too much coffee.

    I’m especially nervous because only one of the three people who said they’d provide an evaluation / letter of support have done so yet, and I need at least two done so my application can be processed. It’s hard to nag people who are doing me a favor (but I’m doing it).

    The application essay is probably some of my best writing ever. This is a mid-life career change for me; most PA students are in their 20’s, have close to straight-A’s, have a few years of direct clinical experience, and have buffed up their resumes through volunteering. When I realized this is my path, I left my job, got my nursing assistant certification and started working, and took all of the prerequisites I needed to get into my favorite program (but the bare minimum required, so . . . ).

    1. NDQ*

      Good for you! That’s pretty exciting to start a new career. Keep on your references and consider asking another person so that you increase the odds of getting the minimum number submitted.


  13. OfficePrincess*

    I always thought I was horrendously unartistic (and I have the K-12 art grades to prove it), but now I’m starting to think I may actually be good at graphic design. I did the programs, table numbers, and seating chart for our wedding as well as two sets of business cards for my husband. I swatted him away from trying to do a price list for an event he’s selling his music at next week and created something I’m pretty happy with in under half an hour. I definitely wouldn’t want to take this any farther than a hobby any time soon, but how does a person improve their skills in that area? I can’t really come up with ideas for what to do for sample projects to play with, it’s more of a we need X, let me see if I can pull something together. Any ideas?

    1. GOG11*

      I’m the same way in that I have learned most of my design skills by working on things that need done (rather than by deciding I’m going to use X feature today). In the past, I’ve imagined an event or something like that and decided to design an invitation for it. I’m not sure if that’s the type of thing you’re referring to as having difficulty with, though :/

    2. Lllll*

      I recently bought Graphic Design for Non-Designers (or something close to that!) and I haven’t finished it yet but it helped me identify some basics strategies/principles of design with lots of examples. If you can explain to yourself what principles you’re already using intuitively, and which your went to improve, it could help you be a better teacher to yourself.

    3. Aknownymous*

      I would say it comes down to time, exposure, and practice. The more you do it, the better you get, and you also get better at seeing what you can improve. A lot of it is technical skill and knowledge, and a lot of it is training your eyes. Some ideas for improvement:

      – read as much as you can about typography, color theory, layout principles, retouching, lighting, perspective, conceptual thinking etc.
      – read about art history, movements, and influential figures
      – look at art of all kinds – paintings, sculptures, posters, ads – and think about what you like about them and specifically why
      – follow along with tutorials on reputable websites like psdtuts (or equivalent)
      – redo designs for anything that catches your eye
      – solicit constructive feedback from professional designers if you are able to (even though it will hurt, the harsher they are the better it will be for you)
      – learn the program/s you are using in-depth – all features, options, abilities
      – most importantly, don’t get discouraged if/when you get stuck – it’s a stage that virtually all designers have gone through at some point, and the most signicant improvement lies just on the other side of what feels as an impasse

      This is based on my experience as a professional graphic designer, and mirrors what most of my peers have gone through as well. It takes time to develop your skills, and it’s very frustrating at times, but it really is a fun and challenging-in-a-good-way profession :)

    4. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

      In the past I’ve taken something that was/looked horribly designed and redesigned it for myself. It could be an article layout from a magazine, an ad, brochure, a menu…there’s lots of stuff out there. Also take a look at creativepro.com. They have lots of interesting articles on all sorts of stuff.

    5. We do the weird stuff!*

      Somewhere, some time I read something that talked about the difference between “arts” and “crafts”: to get good at an art (they maintained), one needs to have a certain amount of innate talent. But a craft is something one can learn. In this modern age when we have our friend Mr. Computer to help us, the line that differentiates an artist from everyone else can be a little fuzzy. But that said, two notable crafts are “writing” and “design”. You can learn them – if you practice and study, you can improve your ability. Back in the mid-90’s I went from pretty much zero to charging $5000 to build a website in the course of two years. (Note: I’m not sure how well or even if this would work today – the web biz has changed).

      How to improve? One simple way is to look at what other people are doing. There are books on “the best business cards of 2012”, or just do a google image search. Your husband is selling music? Lots of opportunity there for CD design and t-shirt design. And LP records are making a comeback in certain circles, too.

      I’ll often joke about “stealing”, but what I mean is, if you’re looking for inspiration, find a design someone else did that you like, and try to implement it. It’s pretty much a 100% thing that, along the way, you’ll find aspects that you might not feel like duplicating – instead, you might prefer to do them your own way. Go for it. Depending on the material, if you add enough of your own tweaks, you may end up with something totally unlike the design your are “stealing”. Or you may decide to start from scratch on a wholly new design based on things you learned tweaking.

      Oh – if you don’t know how to use Photoshop, you definitely need to learn to use it. They’ve made it harder to pirate[1] but the monthly subscription thing they have going now makes the price a bit easier to bear. Photoshop has “a steep learning curve” but there are so many tutorials out there (Youtube videos, etc) – its a bit easier now. Or – just take a class – sometimes it’s easiest to watch another person show you how they do something.

      One final comment: if you want to go one step beyond Photoshop, Adobe AfterEffects would be a good thing to know. And if you want to go past that, getting into full 3D with something like Maya would be pretty awesome. Although be prepared to put some time and money into it. Helpful hint: the academic versions of a lot of this software are way cheaper than the business version. (You don’t have to agree with me, but I don’t think one should have to drop $3000 for a license of some software that they may or may not successfully learn to use).

      [1] in the early years, Adobe was fairly lax on Photoshop copy protection, and it was not uncommon for people to start out doing web-dev (or whatever) with a pirated version of Photoshop. This led to a LOT people knowing how to use Photoshop, and when these people went legit and started to make money, or got a legit job at a design firm, Photoshop – a genuine paid-for version – was their software of choice. This is how they became the industry leader.

    6. OfficePrincess*

      Thanks for all the ideas. I’m going to see what I can find to read about over the next few days and then sign up for a free photoshop trial to experiment more. Hopefully I’ll have an update in a couple weeks!

  14. EvilQueenRegina*

    Holiday is finally upon me, 10 sleeps until I go to Germany (flying into Munich, also got some time in Austria and possibly the Czech republic.) Anyone who knows the areas got any recommendations?

    1. Cath in Canada*

      The German Alps are one of my favourite places. The area around Berchtesgaden is simply stunning.

      If you’re up for it, a visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich is a hell of an experience. Depressing as hell, obviously, but I’m really glad I went and saw it. Just, make sure you plan something nice for afterwards, so you don’t end up just sitting in your hotel room in silence like we did…

    2. bassclefchick*

      Prague was my favorite city ever!!! MUST see! Also, Innsbruck, Austria was beautiful. I got a t-shirt there with a kangaroo crossing sign that reads “no kangaroos in Austria” – adorable! (took my friend’s children quite a long time to understand the joke!). I haven’t been there in over a decade, so it’s probably all changed, but hope you have a great time!

    3. Steve G*

      Czech Republic is my favorite country in the world! I lived there for 3 years. I’ve been to Vienna and it is very nice and clean (don’t know if its changed in the past 13 years, but I doubt it), but it did feel slightly antiseptic to me, only because it is sooooo spread out and the sidewalks so wide that you never got into heavy street traffic and tight streets with lots of lights and stores like you do in NY or Dublin or Budapest or other big cities.

      I can’t think of anything in particular that I’d recommend in Prague, I just think it’s a cool city to wander by foot/tram and eat a lot in…but if you do think you’re going and have specific questions, post them here! Or if you want to run a hotel choice by me or neighborhood…(but then again, Czech Rep is special in that it’s one of the safest countries in the world in terms of its lack of crime, so even if you stay in a “bad” area, its not going to necessarily be unsafe).

        1. Steve G*

          It used to have a cheap exchange rate and COL, the women there are pretty known for being amongst the most beautiful in the world (think Karolina Kurkova, Daniela Pestova, and Petra Nemcova types), its centrally located so easy I guess to transport crews, etc. back and forth from western Europe, and it is overwhelmingly atheist (the communists did their # on church ideology there), and its closest neighbors with similar physical types of “Actors” – Slovakia and Poland – are overwhelmingly Catholic, so they’d probably have a harder time finding “actors.”

    4. Mephyle*

      I “discovered” Austria last year. We went to a lake in the Salzkammergut (south of Salzburg) and to the city of Graz (an couple hours south of Vienna). Also, near Graz is the Zotter chocolate factory which is fabulously set up for a visitor experience. It is out in the country, so you’d need a car, but well worth it.

      In the Salzkammergut, there are many beautiful lakes; we were at Wolfgangsee. There is a mountain there called Schafberg that you can either hike up or take a miniature train to the top. The view is out of this world. The lakes themselves are clean and clear with charming villages all around them and beautiful beaches.

      I only saw these small samples of Austria, but they were fabulous.

    5. Book Person*

      I just landed this morning after a two week holiday in Vienna! Theres so much to see that it’s hard to make recommendations, but the city is absolutely beautiful and well worth a visit. I’m not much one for big tourist sites, so I wandered around admiring the architecture and attempting with my local friend to find the best croissant and cappuccino at a cafe. The winner ended up being outside of Austria, actually; the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, is an hour trip down the Danube or by train from Vienna. Absolutely gorgeous, charming, inexpensive, and home to life-changing pastries.

      1. Steve G*

        I love Slovakia because I am part Slovak, but if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t recommend it to a traveler, there just isn’t enough to do there. It’s a lovely city, language, beautiful people, good food, but for someone who doesn’t have an affinity for that particular country, I’d recommend someone go the extra 1 1/2-2 hours to Budapest. Budapest is one of the awesomest places on Earth and I love the mystery of Hungarian culture, where there is the clash between the mainstream version of their history where they are related to the Finnish language group, and the alternative theory that they came from all of the waves of people that came out of ancient Sumer (which is evidenced mostly by the fact that the two languages are very odd but similar to eachother, and Finish-Hungarian don’t really share that many words).

    6. Apollo Warbucks*

      Prague is amazingm watch out for scammers asking to change money on the street, my friend ended up with some Russian or Belarusian Rubles that not only weren’t legal current in the Czech Republic but weren’t worth anyhing.

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      I went to Germany on vacation with a friend about 12 years ago, and we spent quite a bit of time in that same area. I loved Salzburg, which is the birthplace of Mozart. Really beautiful city.

      We were travelling with a friend who has lived there for many years, so he took us to all kinds of cool, out of the way places. Of course I can’t remember any of them. Our friend had asked us if we wanted to see anything related to WWII, and so we talked about it before we went there. We didn’t really want to see any of that stuff, just because of the obviously very sad and horrible history, but kind of felt like it would be disrespectful if we didn’t, as if we’d be ignoring history, as if all those terrible things never happened, if that makes sense. Anyway — when I watched Band of Brothers years ago, one of the last episodes took place at the Eagle’s Nest, which was Hitler’s lavish and ostentatious retreat in the Alps. It is on the very top of a mountain, and accessible only by bus or on foot, and is open to the public. We thought that would be interesting, but we were there in March, and at the time it was only open from May to November.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Or Schokolade Teekanne for this post!

        Vienna is probably my favourite city, and I find just wandering around the best way to enjoy it. The tourist office on Albertinaplatz, at the back of the Opera house, is really helpful for brochures, maps and guided walking tours, so there is something for everyone. Salzburg is lovely, but in a completely different way and I have always been very fond of Budapest, and think the swimming pool at the Hotel Gellert is one of the most attractive in the world.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        The Eagle’s Nest is in an absolutely amazing setting. The drive up is incredible (we took the bus so my Dad could see it too!), all hairpin turns with steep drop-offs, and mountains on all sides. There’s a display of photos and artefacts related to Hitler, but it’s actually pretty low-key for the most part. I enjoyed imagining how pissed off ol’ Adolf would have been by the ethnic diversity of the tourists traipsing through his private mountain retreat :) Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area

  15. Anon4This*

    So I have a topic that I think could be a really interesting discussion. It could also veer into a work-related discussion, so I’ll ask that anyone who wishes to engage try not to take it in that direction, or Alison to delete this post if necessary.

    I’ve been reading in the news about data privacy in schools (e.g., the whole thing with InBloom) and it got me thinking, as someone who is not that far removed from K-12 schooling and does want kids someday. As parents and/or citizens, what sorts of security do you expect for the data collected on minors at school – and how much should we be collecting? Is this debate really even necessary, or should we just stop trying to track attendance through Cloud-based systems and go back to Excel sheets or paper and pen?

    (Admittedly, this is a pretty random topic, and if no one has thoughts they want to share, that’s fine too. But I thought it had the potential to be a good conversation starter, at least.)

    1. AnotherFed*

      I think we’re collecting excessive amounts of data on kids, much of which probably doesn’t need to be collected. Is there really a good reason to keep track of the fact that Johnny Smith arrived at school at 8:17 on 21 March 2007?

      There are some things schools can’t not have, like student names and addresses, names and contact info for parents/guardians, grades/transcripts, and any special needs or accommodations (anything from peanut allergies to special education requirements). Those things should absolutely be secured, and done so at least as well as other government storage of personal info (which is sort of a joke given the recent OPM scandal, but shouldn’t have been if they’d done a decent job of following their own policies). That said, I’ve heard plenty of anecdotes of kids getting into their school grading system and changing things – one of my classmates did it just to see if he could, though he limited himself to changing everyone’s names rather than their grades – so maybe it should be more heavily secured!

      1. amanda2*

        Schools keep track of when students arrive for truancy reasons. When Johnny Smith chronically arrives at 8:17 and school starts at 7am and misses math during that time, schools need to have a record of that so that it can be addressed with parents.

      2. Observer*

        There are actually a number of good reasons to track stuff like attendance and time(s) of arrival. amanda2 gives a good example of some of the issues. Others are broader. This kind of information (not just attendance, of course) can be crucial in figuring out if policies are working, and providing pointers to possible reasons why something is / is not working.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      There’s so much data collected and I don’t think enough thought goes into the potential impact of sharing the data.

      My sisters school wanted to collect fingerprints to use in the canteen and library which I thought was to much. The UK government wanted to introduce ID cards with a connected database which thankfully was scrapped, the NHS keeps wanting to introduce data collecting and sharing schemes.

      I found this book fascinating, it’s about the impact of longevity of data that’s published online:

      This site was set up to oppose the introduction of ID cards and the database state, I’ve not read it in ages but there’s some interesting stuff on there:

      I keep meaning to buy this book but haven’t got round to it, the book looks at the part that computers and technology played in the rise of Nazi Germany:

      1. Anon4This*

        That last book looks absolutely fascinating – I’m definitely adding it to my reading list! I’ll check out the others as well. Thanks for sharing!

      2. Sydney Bristow*

        If you’re interested in other books on the subject of online privacy, I recommend the book Future Crimes. It’s long but interesting.

        Or for a fiction suggestion, check out The Circle by Dave Eggers.

    3. Phyllis*

      The bigger concern, to me anyway, is the amount of student data 3rd parties have access to. Particularly Pearson, if you are in a Pearson product-tested state.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      I’m actually totally fine with data collection for third parties. It’s aggregate data at a higher level used to improve products. It’s for our benefit and the benefit of our kids in the future. It’s like standardized testing to determine quality of education at schools (and yes, I agree standardized testing has it’s problems). How can schools/producers improve education/products without knowing there’s something wrong and where they can improve? Ultimately, I don’t find it an invasion of privacy since individual statistics aren’t looked at and it’s for my own benefit; I want better products.

      1. AnotherFed*

        At least the InBeam data included things like full names and addresses, according to the NY state literature about why many schools wanted to opt out. That’s totally different from anonymized or aggregate data.

      2. Anon4This*

        I’ve never thought about student data collection in terms of similarity to standardized testing, but it’s a really interesting frame of reference. Thanks so much for sharing!

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      I can’t say how much should or shouldn’t be collected but I will say this: as someone who fairly recently had to prove I hadn’t been living in another country for the past 40+ years (please don’t ask, because the whole thing upsets me) I had to go back to the schools I attended and get transcripts. This turned out to be impossible to do earlier than my last year of high school because computers were not being used. There was a manila folder with my name on it and every 7 years the school board had gone through them (I saw the filing cabinets) and removed all the documentation inside, sent it to be shredded. On the folder was a handwritten list of what years I had attended what schools and that was pretty much it. There was something else in there about the amount of French I had studied and that was it. It was kind of sad in a way. All those years of school and all that was left was a manila folder with one piece of paper in it. Bizarrely enough, I had kept my 6th grade report card (one of my favourite teachers) but beyond that, all gone. My mother was not the sentimental sort and had saved nothing. Now I’m not saying that my situation is typical, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But finding out that I had no real way to prove residency as a minor was somewhat deflating.

      Having said that, I think that whatever data a school collects should be stored with the highest level of security possible. It annoys me greatly that whenever there’s a store who has been hacked, or my bank has, and I have to get a new credit/debit card “as a security precaution” that they won’t tell me which store it was. I want to know. If it’s StoreXYZ and I choose to shop there in the future, I may decide to just use cash instead of a card. I’m not saying that all students are capable of hacking their school and changing their grades or attendance records like Ferris Bueller, but there would be things in there that various kinds of BadPeople could want, such as addresses or emergency contact numbers.

      1. Observer*

        Your situation is not so unique – people need information from school surprisingly often, sometimes for stupid reasons and sometimes for more decent reasons. But, in either case, it’s far more reasonable to expect a school to keep records for many years on computer than on paper – paper just takes up too much space. And, it also tends to be a fire hazard. On the other hand a even a couple of terabytes of storage doesn’t take up that much space, and doesn’t present any sort of safety hazard. And the technical challenge of keeping old data somewhat separate from current data is not more difficult (and less of an issue, I would think) than doing the same for paper. So, I’m with you on this.

    6. Observer*

      I think the issue of how much data to collect is over-rated. The reality is that schools really need to keep a lot of data to do their jobs well. The bigger issue, imo, is what is done with it and who it is shared with. Aggregate, anonymized data? Share all you want. Anonymized data? Handle with great care. Data with PII? I can see very few scenarios where sharing that data en mass is legitimate.

      There are some fairly strict regulations about the security that is SUPPOSED to surround student data. My sense is that most schools (and other child care / educational organizations) don’t come close to complying completely. And that is a HUGE problem.

  16. Catiquette question*

    Earlier today, I took my cats outside in a kennel I have set up for them to walk around in, sniff stuff, watch the birds, etc. Normally, they explore for an hour or two with relaxed curiosity. Today, my neighbors came over to the side of the kennel (the chain-link fence I use as part of the kennel is near the edge of our property) and talked for a few minutes.

    My normally docile cats went a bit nuts – one started pacing up and down the far length of the kennel, trying to climb it or go under it to find a way out, another got all puffed up and tried to get out by going through one of the diamonds in the chain-link and got his head stuck in it (thank goodness I was able to get it out, but it wasn’t easy). Even my obnoxiously sociable cat was crouched low and slinking around.

    I attempted to calm them (petting, slow, soft voice, covering my one cat’s eyes – he puts his head against stuff and seems to find it relaxing), but I couldn’t get them to relax. Once the neighbors left (after about 5 minutes) I ended up taking them back inside so they could calm down.

    I plan to build a “dog” house that they can escape to if they need to (the kennel is currently empty so there’s nothing to hide behind/under). Does anyone else take their cats outside or have a cat kennel or catio? How do you calm them if they get upset? I am afraid that one of them might hurt themselves or figure out a way to escape if they get riled up enough.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Clearly your neighbors are ghosts. You should call the Ghostbusters.

      In seriousness, cat stress levels go way down if they have a hidey hole, even if it doesn’t really hide them. See: cats in very tiny boxes. Until you build something more permanent, maybe a couple big cardboard boxes or one of those nylon tunnel things would be good to have out there.

      1. Catiquette question*

        I guess so!!! My boyfriend and I had a party with about 10 guests last night and all three cats were lounging around, chasing a feather toy one of our guests was playing with them with, and letting people pet their bellies (they’re weird and love belly rubs…). Not a single visit to any of their favorite hiding spots, and then this morning two of them were willing to try to squeeze through a 3 by 3 inch hole rather than stick around my neighbors (only one succeeded in getting his head through the fence, thank goodness).

        I did have their carriers out in the pen, but that just didn’t cut it for some reason. I’ll round up some boxes and take their tunnel toy out with me next time we go. Thank you for the tips :)

          1. Catiquette question*

            I had thought of this, but dismissed it because they’ve been out loads of times before, in the kennel and on leash, and they’ve never been anything but brave little explorers. But, this is the first time they encountered strangers while outdoors, so I’m thinking you’re right.

        1. schnapps*

          I am a firm believer that cats are generally excellent judges of character. I don’t know how well you know your neighbours, but if you don’t know them well, you may want to keep your cats’ behaviours in mind (unless your cats are feral or semi-feral)

    2. Clever Name*

      We are unethical cat owners and allow ours to roam. Well, one roams, and the other one just hangs in the yard. We don’t really monitor them when they go out, but they definitely like hiding in hides spots. Under patio furniture or in the bushes. One cat likes to sit in the small dog house left by the previous owner (which of course means we’re keeping it)

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        We have an enclosed backyard and one cat will hop the fence once in a while to chase bunnies or squirrels if the hunting is slim in our backyard. Having them outside helps keep the unwanted rodent population down, but they aren’t very good at hunting so there are a couple of rabbits living in relative peace behind our garage.

        When they get freaked out by something, they come running inside through the pet door.

    3. Catiquette question*

      So I took my three cats back outside this evening. The one who is particularly fond of the outdoors kept getting in his crate and meowing at me as if to say, “I’m ready now! What are you waiting for?!”

      The one who got his head stuck in the fence was a bit shaky and puffed up initially, but I petted him and he calmed down and was fine the rest of the time he was outside. I put their carriers together and draped a towel across them so they had a little space to retreat to in case they got nervous. The one who is particularly outdoorsy ran to them a couple of times, but didn’t pace or try to scale the fence, so I think them having this sort of space to go into did the trick.

      I’m going to continue to provide that as a hidey-hole from now on, along with gathering up some boxes and tunnels so they can retreat into them as needed. I didn’t want to put anything in the kennel because it’s not very big, but after reading everyone’s comments, I’m thinking sacrificing a few feet of space is well worth it. Thanks for the tips, everyone!

  17. Cath in Canada*

    So, I’ve pretty much given up on True Detective this season. It’s just… meh. It’s so disappointing after the last season was so good, so fresh and different – I loved all those long, lazy shots of the landscape. Police corruption in LA is not exactly a fresh story. Plus the dialogue is atrocious – Vince Vaughn’s “it’s like having blue balls, in your heart” line was a hilarious stand-out – and they’ve made some really strange choices with things like music, like in the big dramatic raid scene in the last episode, which had a jaunty retro soundtrack for some reason.

    The Brink is pretty good though, and I’m also enjoying The Strain (cheesy old-school vampire apocalypse, none of that sparkly business) and Zoo (although I’m a couple of episodes behind on the latter).

    And it’s John Stewart’s last week on the Daily Show coming up! I don’t watch every episode, but it’s a consistently good option for a random weeknight. I’ll definitely watch every episode this coming week. Sob.

    1. Steve G*

      Granted I’ve only watched three episodes of True Detective (because my partner had it on), and I thought the same thing, that it isn’t an original story, and it also clashes with my quintessential American ideal that if you are unhappy, change. All of the adults on that show seem woefully unhappy and watching that with no progress is kind of depressing to me. I guess it was progress that VV made up with his girlfriend and they discussed kids again, but the progress is too slow for me.

    2. Hattie McDoogal*

      The jaunty retro soundtrack during the raid was one of the few things I actually have liked this season! It gave the whole thing this sort of uncomfortable, dream-like swoony quality and I found it much more interesting than something like, say, a minimalist electronic score, which is what I would have expected for that scene. But Vaughn is such a damn weak link. He’s okay when he’s being a sleazy gangster but every scene where he’s being all Deep and Tortured just sucks all the energy out of the show. The speech about being locked in the basement was a season low for me.

    3. LBK*

      I loved the music during the party scene! Between that and the shot choices the whole thing was extremely Hitchcockian, I thought it was one of the best moments of the whole season and on par with some of my favorites from season 1.

    4. Camster*

      I don’t watch True Detective – I’ve been streaming Orange is the New Black (on Season 2!) – however, so sad that this is Jon Stewart’s last week! I’ve been watching The Daily Show for years!

    5. Mike C.*

      Mr. Robot has been absolutely amazing. The advertising campaign for it has been absolutely terrible but I would say it’s one of the best shows of the summer.

      1. Windchime*

        I haven’t watched True Detective this season (yet). I liked Season 1 but found it a little confusing.

        Mr. Robot is fantastic. I binged watched 5 episodes today and will do episode 6 tomorrow. Highly recommended.

  18. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Less than two weeks until we go to the cabin by the lake. I’m so looking forward to it, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to enjoy it. My dad is still recovering from having part of his esophagus removed. I’m glad that the surgery is finally over with, because that took a long time, but he’s not bouncing back that quickly, and I’m worried about leaving. I actually had a cousin tell me “He’s lucky he has you. You’re all he has.” Great. I guess I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m getting burned out. And he’s not well, but he’s completely with-it and able to make all his own decisions. He’s actually paying his bills from his hospital room, even.

    I guess I need to give myself permission to 1) go away, and 2) relax and try not to worry about him for a week or so. But I’m feeling like a jerk just wanting that, even though I was really stressed and having difficulty coping the last time I went to see him. (He’s in another state.)

    1. fposte*

      Can’t be a rescuer if you go down with the ship, Cosmic. I’m happy to give you external permission and even strong recommendation, if it helps, for taking a break.

      I hope your dad starts to feel better soon.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Can I give you my mum’s phone number so you can call and tell her that about my nana??? :(

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing here. I went through stuff with my father. I left him in the hospital. They did not send him to rehab like they would now. So he went home. Fortunately, family member came and stayed with him for weeks and weeks.

        My take away on all this. My turn will probably come. I might be on my own to take care of me and whatever illness they think I have.

        From another angle: If I had stayed, I could not inhale/exhale for him. I could not eat his food for him. I could not ingest his medications for him. He had to work at that himself. When he was in the hospital and recuperating at home, he was about as safe as can be expected in this world. There were plenty of people watching him.

        The second time he got sick it was clear he was not going to make it. By then he had moved closer to me and I could go to the hospital every day. And I did, after working all day, running my own house, helping inlaws, etc.
        I got so run down that it took me years to get my health back.

        So there are two sides to that coin. Just because you are there does not mean it will be better. And just because you aren’t there does not mean it will be worse. Try really hard to not get caught up in that stinkin’ thinkin’. It’s a road to nowhere. And it’s not real, it’s an illusion.
        Just do what you can as you can. And know that you are a good daughter to your dad.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Thanks everyone. The validation helps more than I thought it would. It’s funny that you mention rescuers, fposte, because a primary rule I was taught as a first responder is “Don’t become another patient”, meaning it’s about getting it done, not being a hero. And I’m sorry about your dad, NSNR.

      I think I’ll try to re-read this part of this thread every day, at least for a while.

      1. anon attorney*

        N-thing the whole “put your own oxygen mask on first” thing. I have struggled with this as the main caregiver to my partner, so I understand where you’re coming from, but we absolutely are allowed to take the respite we need to keep ourselves going. It’s not selfish (though I would argue that it would still be OK if it was), its necessary for us to be able to continue. I hope your vacation is restorative, and your father continues to improve.

      2. Sunday*

        Your love for your dad comes through in all your reports on him.
        As a first responder, you have some experience with how much real breaks help in coming back to work rested, refreshed, and able to provide quality care.
        Now sounds like a good time for a vacation, he’s been through the esophageal surgery and is in close care. Can you set a way to be reached if something significant changes? Can you figure out the best way to get to him from the lake if you feel you must, before you go? Both of those are things that would ease my mind, might they yours, too?
        Enjoy the lake, and the time with your wife. And keep us posted.

    3. Revanche*

      Please let yourself have a break lest it break you somewhere down the line.

      I was the primary breadwinner in the family and secondary caregiver for my mom for ten years as her health declined and stayed home to be near to help navigate all the family turmoil. Not only did I not save anyone, I about destroyed my health trying to tough it out. Had screaming nightmares for years after, too.

    4. Rebecca*

      It’s OK to go on vacation. You need down time and you need to relax before you become a patient yourself. I’ve seen this several times. My friend’s dad is still having health problems 9 months after his wife passed away. She had dementia, and he cared for her, in their home, for almost 10 years, and only in the last 2 years or so did he get any help from the outside. He’s exhausted and still stressed, but he felt it was his duty. Ditto another woman I know, tried to care for her husband, same disease, and ended up in a nursing home herself for a while recovering from surgery after she hurt her back trying to lift her husband. He’s in a secure home now, and she’s still recovering from trying to do it all.

      You mentioned a cousin – is it possible you could call on this person to be available if anything comes up while you’re on vacation? Or the local Office of the Aging might be able to help. There’s also respite care (here at least).

      We can’t be all things to all people 100% of the time. And it’s OK. And you’re not a jerk because it is stressful when parents or family members are sick.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, Rebecca. I think he’ll be fine without me…or as fine as he would be with me there. Although sometimes I’m the only one who can give him a needed attitude adjustment. I think I am feeling guilty and reluctant because I have been taking my usual low-key approach and my “burnout” is really more of being stressed more than usual to the point where it’s affecting my mood, so it’s not like I’m in danger of having issues like others have mentioned. At least not yet.

    5. Observer*

      Does your cabin have some sort of decent connectivity? If it does it might ease your mind to be able to be in regular contact.

      Enjoy your break and take lots of great pictures for you father. I’m sure he’ll enjoy them – and taking them for him will ease your mind.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, I just checked, and I not only have coverage, I have 4G LTE coverage, so I could get a hot spot plan if I wanted to!

        Yeah, he loves looking at the family pictures and videos I show him, so I’ll probably take the good camera. (Even though the phone camera would probably be fine.)

  19. Trans anon*

    I am so disappointed and sad and angry at a favorite great-uncle (who is more like an uncle) and his wife. I transitioned over 15 years ago and they still make pronoun mistakes (and no one would ever think I was anything than born male at this point). I brought it up again after we talked last week and his response was “well we try but it’s hard”; he did not even apologize for the mistakes during our conversation (I wrote an email saying how hurtful I found their pronoun mistakes). A part of me is so hurt and angry I just want to write an angry email, another part of me wants to just cut him off and the better part of me wants to write something that tells him how hurt and angry I am but also that I don’t want to communicate anymore (or go visit for his grandchild’s bar-mitzvah, which was the reason for the call). But I can’t find the words quite yet and I’m just sitting here with this pain.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m really sorry. I can’t imagine how much that hurts. For what it’s worth, my stepsister transitioned about 15 or 16 years ago, and even her crotchety, mean old grandparents managed to adjust (which, to be honest, SHOCKED me– but I certainly appreciated the effort).

      In your place, I would write the email (or, better yet, a longhand letter) but not send it. Here’s why: people who are that stubborn are not going to change. The power here is all yours. If you want to keep them in your life, you don’t have to accept the hurtful things they say, but you can get to a point where you roll your eyes and move on. The more you call them on it, the more frustrated you’ll get. If you want to cut them off, DO– it will be very hard for a while, but eventually you’ll get to a place where the happy memories are the dominant ones.

      In our family, my stepsister’s transition wasn’t smooth (there were many, many complicating factors). Even in the most open-minded and supportive families, there’s bound to be some confusion and adjustment, and I think there needs to be some sensitivity on both sides. But 15 years is long damn enough to learn to address someone the way he or she wants to be addressed, and the lack of apology (at any point!) is disgraceful.

    2. anonymous daisy*

      I had a relative who changed their name. Neither my parents or me can be consistent with the ‘new’ name that is about 30 years old now. We still love the relative the same but cannot seem to cement the new name in place.

      1. Lionness*

        I really do not think that is the same thing at all. While it is slightly related in that the OP likely goes by a new name, as well, pronouns are based on the gender of the person. When you look at him and call him “she” you are essentially saying you think of him as a her. That is offensive and wrong.

        OP, I am sorry you are dealing with this. I hope the rest of your family is less horrid.

        1. anonymous daisy*

          Sorry – I apologize. I thought it would be similar.

          OP – I am sorry you are going through this.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I certainly see how the name thing is not the same, but I was thinking of that as well. My uncle changed his name from what he used when a child. My mother (his sister) has a really hard time using the new name. But it’s not because she doesn’t respect his choices. It’s because he’s calling himself by the name of his father, the man who allegedly raped their mother and who definitely molested his sister (my mother). That name is really hard for her to say.

        I don’t see how a pronoun could be hard to say, but there might be something else going on in the uncle’s life. Sometimes we only see our own struggles, and are blind to the struggles of others. Maybe that’s where your uncle is.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      That sucks, it’s a pretty simple concept, address people how they have asked to be addressed it’s just that easy. Especially after you’ve spelt it out to them.

      What you can do about it I don’t know, do you think your uncle and his wife are being intentionally disrepectful or are they just ignorant of the upset it causes you? If they are just ignorant they might be some hope of educating them if that’s something had the patient inclination to try.

      I’d shy away from writing an angry email as justified and satisfying as it might be, it won’t help in the long run.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Hmm. Why is this person your favorite uncle? (not snark, I promise, bear with me). It’s been 15 years. That is a long time.
      Maybe he was your favorite uncle growing up. Sometimes people cannot mature/progress with us like we think they should do. Sometimes people seem pretty cool when we are kids but when we grow we start to realize things about them that we did not see/understand when we were younger.

      I had a family member tell me point blank, “you will outgrow me”. I was too young to understand. Now I understand. It took fresh eyes to finally see. Maybe you could look at him with fresh eyes and see what there is to see.

      I don’t recommend the angry letter. When you reach a point where you can say, “Remember when you did X, did you ever know how much that meant to me? And you also did a, b and c. Do you realize how good you made me feel? You became my favorite uncle because of these things and so much more. Did you know that your my fav?” Then go into it “hurts when you say X. Are you willing to stop? Are you willing to remember that I still love you and you are my favorite uncle and put that above everything else?”

      That’s an outline. You get the gist of it, here. Appeal to the common bond, the shared history, the shared family- that is a lot to toss away over something that can be easily remedied.

      This stuff sucks. I am sorry you are going through this. Life is hard enough without people making it harder.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I love “You will outgrow me.” It doesn’t retroactively devalue what the person was to you previously, but it’s clear that not everybody is important forever.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime. We just assume everyone will be with us for our entire lives… and then, whoops, they are gone from our lives.
          It could be that OP’s uncle has served his purpose in OP’s life and now is the time to move on. Fortunately, many partings are not under such terrible circumstances. Some people just fade out.
          I have a relative that said some pretty rotten things. It can be confusing to look back and remember some of the good things she did. I had some great times because of her. Not only did the magic go away with what she thought of to say, so did the relationship. She walked with me as far as she could and then it was time for us to part.

          Parting is not all bad. Sometimes we need to part, in order to get that push to find new peeps that round out our lives in different ways.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, I’m sorry you are going through this, OP. You are allowed to cut people off when they repeatedly violate boundaries, no matter how close you feel to them. If they were addicted to heroin and stealing from you, you would cut them loose; instead, they’re addicted to your old identity and keep trying to steal the current one you’ve established for yourself. You can cut them off with a clear conscience until they can respect this one non-negotiable boundary. It hurts profoundly when they do that, and you don’t have to pretend like it doesn’t.

    5. We do the weird stuff!*

      How often do you see and speak and interact with these people? And: how old are they? If they are older and/or they don’t see you often, then I can see them making mistakes. (My cousin married a woman named Tina back in the 1970s. They split up, and my cousin remarried a woman named Lisa (and they’ve been married for like 30 years now). But it took my mom years to get the name “Tina” out of her head).

      That said, while I’m very sympathetic to the entire trans cause (one of my idols came out back in 1979), I’m less sympathetic to people complaining about pronouns. Yes, your gender transition has been a struggle, but – this does not give you the right or the power to force other people to act or speak in ways you approve of. Your gender transition is a huge part of your life – but your uncle may not have ever given it more than a shallow thought: “she’s a he now? Really? Okay.”

      Finally – a somewhat ticklish topic but I’ve known many, many, many people who claimed to be “trans” and discovered that “trans” was often a state of mind, ie, some people liked to occasionally cross-dress; others took hormones and lived and dressed according to what they felt was their true gender; and others had gone through full gender-reassignment surgery. Like it or not, something I observed was that a lot of people did not accept a person as “fully trans” until they underwent the full surgery.

      So, when you say you “transitioned” 15 years ago, are you saying you underwent gender-reassignment surgery at that time? My point being that some people are not going to really, truly, viscerally *feel* your transitioned gender until you do the surgery. I appreciate that it’s not a minor effort to dress, act, and live like one’s “true” gender. But a lot of people aren’t really going to accept you / think of you as ‘male’ on that basis.

      1. Caro*

        Other people don’t get go decide the validity of someone’s gender identity. If someone asks you to refer to them as ‘he,’ it is disrespectful to do anything else. You don’t get to vote on it.

        I also ask you to reflect on your statement about forcing people to act in ways you approve of. Please weigh the relative effort and struggle of a trans person feeling unable to present as their identified gender and the effort of calling someone by a different pronoun. To me, one of those is a priority and the other is mildly inconvenient at worst.

        1. We do the weird stuff!*

          Other people don’t get [to] decide the validity of someone’s gender identity.

          You can hold that opinion if you like, but the truth is that people are free to choose whether they want to think of a person as male or female. And that is the crux of the point I made above: whether OP likes it or not, someone may choose to not consider OP to be male.

          Both OP’s note and your reply are full of telling people what they have to do and how they need to behave. Sure, you can do that. But no-one has to agree, and no-one has to follow your rules.

          1. To*

            Are you saying then that someone could decide to think of you and address you in the gender you are not and that is their prerogative and it’s ok with you because people can believe as they wish and no one has to follow your rules?

            1. We do the weird stuff!*

              Perhaps think of it as Royalty. I am the Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, the Emperor of the Known Universe. My home is my castle, and it contains my throne, and I dress and act as a proper Padishah Emperor should. Everyone who knows me knows that I am to be addressed as “Your Majesty” or “His Majesty”.

              But I sometimes encounter people who refuse to acknowledge my royal status. The checkout persons at the local H.E.B., for instance. When they refuse to address me properly, I will have my elite Sardaukar guards cast them into the pain amplifier in the basement. I mean, I will as soon as I can find them, they’re always wandering off.

              But as I was saying: Other people don’t get go decide the validity of my royalty. It is disrespectful to address me as anything but “Majesty”. You don’t get to vote on it.

              But seriously: if someone is sad because their uncle won’t refer to them as male – well, that sadness is a perfectly valid feeling. But just because you declare yourself as “male”, other people are under no obligation to agree. They might do it because they want to make you happy. They might try to do it but get it wrong sometimes because, hey, the whole trans-gender thing simply isn’t a part of their world. And – like it or not – if your ‘transition’ involves dressing and acting like you’re male (ie, no ‘bits’ getting surgically reconstructed, no tailored virus going through and modding all of your XX chromosones into XY ala one of the options in Delaney’s Triton, etc), a fair number of people are not going to simply accept you as male. I’m sorry.

            2. We do the weird stuff!*

              Are you saying then that someone could decide to think of you and address you in the gender you are not and that is their prerogative and it’s ok with you

              You will never understand why I think this is hilarious, but in fact this used to happen to me all the time. I didn’t mind it at all.

          2. Apollo Warbucks*

            In the OPs case 15 years has passed its inherently disprectful to him for his uncle to still be getting it wrong.

            Using the pronouns that match a persons gender identity is such an easy thing to do, it’s a matter of basic respect and decency especially when they have explained that it is hurtful and upsetting to have the wrong pronons used.

            When you say:

            A lot of people did not accept a person as “fully trans” until they underwent the full surgery. So, when you say you “transitioned” 15 years ago, are you saying you underwent gender-reassignment surgery at that time? My point being that some people are not going to really, truly, viscerally *feel* your transitioned gender until you do the surgery. I appreciate that it’s not a minor effort to dress, act, and live like one’s “true” gender. But a lot of people aren’t really going to accept you / think of you as ‘male’ on that basis.

            You absoultly don’t need to have a conversation about someone’s genitals or medical history before deciding to accept their gender identity, no matter what stage of transition someone is at showing some respect and consideration towards them shouldn’t be optional.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Hypothetically speaking, if a person chooses to ignore which gender another person identifies as, then, in turn, that other person can also chose to move away from the ignoring party.

            We cannot control what others do, we can only control our reaction to it. While I will agree that people can chose whatever they wish, those choices do not come without some effect- as in cause and effect.

            My husband used to say if you yank on a chain you cannot blame the chain for moving. Cause and effect situations fascinate me. If I do x then y will happen. Do I want y, or no? In this case, does the uncle want to lose this family member, is that what he wants?

            A relative took in a person who was going through a sex change. Parents had kicked the kid out. My relative’s thought: This is a PERSON, first and foremost! There are people out there who get the bigger picture.

          4. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Cyclatrol, it sounds to me like you’re trying to emphasize that 1) we don’t get to dictate other peoples’ behavior, just how we react to it, and 2) that it is probably not an intentional insult. I agree with both of these premises, but this is a habit of theirs that should be relatively very easy to break, and more importantly, attacks the base of a very hard-fought identity that the OP has claimed and probably has to fight for constantly.

            IMO, it’s like smoking around an asthmatic relative — sure, you may REALLY want to violate that boundary, you may even find yourself starting to do so without thinking about it, but it is really harmful to someone you love, and you need to be responsible for avoiding that harm if you care about them.

          5. LBK*

            People are more than welcome to make asshole choices as long as they’re fine with being assholes.

          6. Liz in a Library*

            “And that is the crux of the point I made above: whether OP likes it or not, someone may choose to not consider OP to be male.”

            Yes, someone might choose not to consider OP to be male. But that person would be wrong. If my neighbor decides that, because he doesn’t like aspects of my self and personality, that he doesn’t deem me human…I don’t suddenly stop being human.

            That person is, at best, woefully ill-informed on trans issues and exceptionally thoughtless. At worst…yeesh.

        2. We do the weird stuff!*

          Other people don’t get go decide the validity of someone’s gender identity.

          Interestingly enough, some states (Texas and Florida, and I believe at least one other state) are currently attempting to get legislation passed to make it illegal for someone to use the “wrong” restroom. For instance, OP could get arrested for using the men’s room. And in fact this has happened in various places in past years. Honestly, I think this is bullshit. But it goes to show that yes, there are indeed times when other people do get to decide the validity of someone’s gender identity. Like a cop who doesn’t think someone is “manly” enough to use the Men’s Room.

          I guess restrooms are a rather sticky wicket when it comes to transgender: I know of a case some years ago of a person who was openly transitioning while working for a large company here in town. In short, the women didn’t want the person in the Women’s Restroom, and the men didn’t want the person in the Men’s Restroom. The company ended up giving the person their own private restroom (in secret – it was always locked and said “Out Of Order” on the door).

      2. Marcela*

        Nobody get to decide who I am. The fact that who or the characteristics of that who are different along time does not change anything. It would be very disrespectful if somebody started calling me he/him, since I am not a male. Does it matter why I’m saying I’m not a male? No. For whatever reason, _I_ have decide I am female, therefore a respectful person would treat me as such.

        It’s “sadly funny” when people do not agree with my choices, don’t respect me (and them), and then claim I am trying to “force other people to act or speak in ways you approve of”. It’s very obvious they don’t think I deserve the respect, since I am only asking them to change in ways related to me. For me ultimately is about love(?). I love my mother, so although I don’t agree with her decision to go back to church full time, I do not say anything. She does the same thing with some other stuff with me. I don’t really understand how some family members say they love me, but they don’t care if they are hurting me. I can’t do that unless I’m furious.

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      I agree with not sending the angry letter. Or writing it and then burning it.

      One of my neighbours was like having another aunt (or perhaps I should say AN aunt). She had looked after us after school when we were small. She could bake any kind of cookie under the sun. But, she had a terrible memory for names. After all those years of knowing me, of watching me grow up, she very rarely could address me by my name on the first try. She would call me by one of her kid’s names or by my sister’s name and it hurt. I’m not special enough to you that you can remember my name? But eventually, I had to let it go because she wasn’t doing it on purpose to hurt me, it was just her way and she was elderly (and didn’t have the best education) so she wasn’t going to change. She also wasn’t going to be around forever and has been gone for over 10 years now. I stopped getting hurt and correcting her and just let her go on because in the Great Scheme of Things, it didn’t really matter whether she could always remember my name, but that we cared about each other.

      So, having said that, is your favourite uncle doing this intentionally to hurt you because he’s made it clear that what you’ve done with your life and your body is all kinds of wrong and unacceptable to him? Or is he just older and that circuit is a little stuck, remembering who you used to be as a default setting? If you don’t see him very often, if you’re not constantly exchanging photos so he’s constantly reminded that you are New, he may just not remember right away that he should be using different pronouns. You get old, you get set in your ways. Some people fight that, others don’t even realise it’s happening. Also, could it be possible that he’s becoming senile or has Alzheimer’s/some other age related memory deficit? That’s the one thing people always say about dealing with that, how painful it is to watch their parent/loved one just slip away and not recognise them at all or remember things really clearly that happened when they were young, but not from their later years at all.

      1. mdv*

        I’m going to echo the sentiments from various folks above — all of this depends greatly on the relative age of your uncle.

        A “name thing” is absolutely not comparable, but it echoes my feelings about it: I can’t stand it when random people call me by the wrong name, or deliberately butcher it (if they know me). But my great-aunt got a not-quite-right version of it stuck in her head when I was little, and she was basically the only person I never ever corrected about it.

        BUT, that said, it is clearly bothering you! I think that you can write him a note (paper or email) and explain how hurtful you find it, even if it is “stuck” in their heads. Then, decide where you go from there — if this uncle is still your favorite uncle in spite of this one flaw, there must be a reason for that!

        This leads me to a question: Does your uncle support your transition in every other way but this one? That would lead me to think that this is something he just keeps flubbing up on, not doing it to deliberately hurt you.

  20. KitCroupier*

    A tooth that’s been bothering me for a while finally put me over the edge. I’d had a root canal, but lost the cap during a stretch of time when I didn’t have benefits and I just let it go for longer than I should have (mildly dentist phobic).

    Upside is the office I went to was very kind and understanding, gave me scripts for antibiotics and pain killers along with referrals for oral surgeons because there is so little of the tooth left they can’t pull it. Downside, the pain meds are making me drowsy AND nauseated so I’ve had to call off of work for the weekend, which sucks because I’d been attempting to build up my PTO. Oh well.

    Consult with the oral oral surgeon is Monday, hopefully I’ll be able to get the damn thing pulled sooner rather than later.

    1. nep*

      Even with all the pain and inconvenience, there is nothing quite like the relief of finally, finally getting to a dentist when one is overdue to have something taken care of. Good for you for getting it done. Wishing you all the best.

    2. Rena*

      Ouch, I feel you. I just had a tooth pulled that would have been an easy fill and fix … 7 years ago. I didn’t get in to the dentist until the tooth was half gone. Thankfully I found a dentist with a no shame policy, whose philosophy is “We’ll meet you where you are and figure out where to go from there. No point scolding.” Her entire staff is also incredibly friendly and helpful. With that plus nitrous, I think I’ve managed to kick my dentist phobia.

      Good luck! It’s so much better when you’re able to stop worrying about it. I had no idea how much mental energy I was spending on not going to the dentist.

      1. nep*

        We need more dentists/staffs like that. Wow — they sound great.
        You are so right — it’s amazing how much energy we spend, when those dental problems are crying out for attention and we’re avoiding making that appointment.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Yes, we do! My husband had a dentist phobia, but he managed to go to an appointment several years ago nevertheless. Then they made him feel so much like crap about how long it had been and the condition of his teeth that he hasn’t been back since. His problem started with a jackass dentist when he was a kid who threatened to drill a home in his lip if he didn’t cooperate.

          1. nep*

            Dentists and staff must be more sensitive in such cases — One never knows what’s behind it. And anyway, even if it’s just plain stupid neglect, how does shaming help anything?
            I’ve got lots and lots of problems with my teeth. Addressing it little by little as I can afford it. I’m glad I found people who were decent about it. And now that they all know me and how bad my mouth is, it’s not *quite as* horrible going there and exposing myself when it’s time for a cleaning or more work.
            My dental problems stem from a period in my life when I was regularly having suicidal thoughts; I was not attending to many normal adult things like dental hygiene as one should; I was not giving a damn; I was erasing myself. Somehow I came through it all. That was a long time back. When I finally got to a dentist to deal with the results of all that neglect (and show my teeth to another human – UGH), it was a bit of a consolation thinking that I was here to deal with it only because I didn’t take that ultimate step back in those dark days.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Ugh, you have my sympathies. I had a root canal a couple weeks ago. It was painful, but such a relief to finally get it taken care of.

      1. the gold digger*

        And on the other side – I had a root canal and it was not painful at all. The worst thing about it was having my mouth open for so long. I had it done at the dental college and the guy had to keep getting his professor.

        I have had five gum grafts, one dental implant, and one root canal. I have never had pain or severe discomfort. It is uncomfortable but not painful. After each of the gum grafts, I have gone home and worked the rest of the day. I hope your procedure goes easily.

        1. We do the weird stuff!*

          +28 (lower right) This! Root canals used to be the Boogeymen of Dentistry. But I had o get one a couple of years ago and I was amazed at how painless it was. I’m sure there could be complications and other stuff that might make it more of a challenge, but the mainstream procedure was fast and, frankly, the most painful part was the bill.

  21. K*

    Little bit ranty:

    I’m feeling pretty freaked out because I logged into my Verizon account to see why I hadn’t got my e-bill this month and my e-mail address on file had ~disappeared~. Long story short, some other weird things resulted of trying to get that fixed, but I can’t tell if this is fraud or just Verizon being incompetent.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Could be some union shenanigans. Like someone trying to make it look like the union is messing with accounts or something?

    2. Futurelibrarian*

      Hanlon’s razor! “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity”.

      Computer systems are notoriously obnoxious, unfortunately.

      1. K*

        Haha I like it. I had a friend whose e-mail signature was “To err is human, but to really mess things up one needs a computer.”

    3. Mander*

      Something vaguely similar happened to me last month when I applied for income based repayment of my student loans. I’ve used the same email address for that account ever since I opened it, and every time I log in it takes me to a screen to verify contact details. Suddenly after I made the application the email address changed to a long-defunct one that I’m certain I never gave them, and they sent all the documents in the mail to my parents’ house. I have no clue how they got that email address.

      1. K*

        That’s weird! At least it my case the contact info was changed back to the original info when I first opened the account, so they did at one point have those addresses, I just have no idea why it suddenly reverted (and neither did the Verizon employee on the live chat).

  22. Cruciatus*

    I hope this isn’t considered work related. It’s through work, but effects my life. How do you pick which insurance to use? I’m single, 34, have managed high blood pressure (go to the doc every 6 months or so to make sure all is OK–it has been so far). Sometimes get back adjustments (especially since they were free through current employer since I was using on site faculty (D.O.s). But other than that, I don’t have much history of going to the doctor for much. My prescriptions include a very cheap blood pressure med and BC.

    There’s a PPO Blue Plan that will cost 1.81% of my salary:
    $250 individual/$500 family in-network deductible
    10% coinsurance/90% paid by plan up to coinsurance out-of-pocket maximum
    copays: $10 primary care, $20 specialist, $100 ER
    value based benefit design (VBBD) to help members maintain high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes

    And there’s a PPO Savings Plan that will cost 0.52% of my salary:
    $1300 individual/$2600 family in-network deductible
    10% coinsurance/90% paid by plan up to coinsurance out-of-pocket maximum
    No copays, all services, including prescriptions, will apply to the deductible and coinsurance out-of-pocket maximum
    automatic enrollment in a health savings plan

    I get that I pay more upfront for the first plan, but if something does happen I won’t have as much to pay. It’s the one I’m leaving toward, but maybe the 2nd plan would work too since I’ve been relatively healthy–but then you never know what’s around the corner! I can’t decide if the health insurance companies have effectively brainwashed me or not…

    1. BRR*

      I can’t do the math but also consider if you’re getting a better deal with putting money in a flex account.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would go with the first plan. I would SO much rather pay a co-pay than, essentially, out-of-pocket for a doctor’s appointment. My co-worker has a plan like the second one and pays $130 every time she goes to the doc. I try to see my doctors regularly for physicals, skin checks– all kinds of preventive care– and I would SO much rather pay a higher premium and co-pays. It may not even make the most financial sense, but it’s easier for me to swallow!

    3. Stephanie*

      Wait, is the second an HDHP? Sounds like it. I think those are best if you’re generally healthy and only go to the doctor for an annual physical or have a chronic condition and will quickly hit the deductible.

      How do you use healthcare? If you’re the type to go to the doctor for a lingering cold (no judgment meant by that) or a minor problem, I’d go with the first plan as those visits can get pricey if you haven’t hit your deductible.

    4. MLT*

      The math depends a bit on how much your salary is and whether each plan has the same out-of-pocket maximum. If you make $50K, plan 1 costs you about $900 per year plus $10 for each doctor visit during a healthy year. Plan 2 will cost you about $250 plus the full cost of each doctor visit (2 visits @ about $65?). In an unhealthy year (you need a surgery of some kind), Plan 1 still costs $900, then you’ll the first pay $250 of the surgery, then you’ll pay 10% of the surgery up to the max required. Plan 2 has you paying $250 for the plan, plus the next $1300, then the 10%. If the max is the same, Plan 1 costs you a lot more in a healthy year and saves you a little bit in a surgery year.

      The lower your salary, the more negligible the difference. 10% coinsurance is quite good and those deductibles are quite low.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, I was going to write the same thing.

        The real question is, if you get sick, how much will the cheap plan wipe you out?

        1. Treena*

          Right, do you have an emergency fund and if you don’t, are you able to put the difference between the two plans into one every month until you’ve banked the deductible, should you ever need it?

    5. GOG11*

      I went with the low premium/high deductible/health savings plan option with my employer and it has worked out well for me. I was afraid of the risk I associated with it, but, due to a couple of chronic conditions, I hit the deductible a few months in and have been enjoying the better coverage since. I did the math with both plans and found that I came out ahead with this option, so that helped put me at ease and feel like I was doing the right decision.

      In a personal finance course in college the prof suggested opting for high deductible/low premium options and then work on saving the amount you’d need to pay the deductible. If you get sick and need it, you’ve got it, but if you don’t, you’ve got some money set aside for whatever else you want to use it for. It’s not always feasible, but I figured I’d throw it out there in case it’s something that would work for you.

    6. Lionness*

      I had to answer this same question. Here was my equation – mind you, I am single with no kids

      Option 1: $42 per pay day. $500 deductible. Company pays $250 into HRA. $15 co pay for any office visit, rest is 80/20 split

      Option 2: $6 per pay day $2000 deductible. Company enrolls you into HSA and pays $1000. Everything applies to deductible but after deducible is met, everything else is paid at 100 percent, no copay or coinsurance.

      I am young, fairly healthy and tend to see the doctor 1-2 times per year. I decided that Option 1 would cost me $1092 per year in premiums but nothing in my 2 visits a year since the company funded HRA would cover that. Option 2 would cost me $156 a year in premiums and, again, nothing for the two visits since the company funded HSA would cover it.

      I went with option 2 but to hedge my bets, I contributed the premium difference to the HSA. Within a week of the plan starting, I injured my back and had to begin physical therapy and chiro 3x per week to the tune of $300/week. I hit my deductible a month and a half.

      It has been a full year (still seeing the same docs 3x a week) and this is how it worked out:

      Option 1 would have cost me $1092 in premiums $250 for the first five visits before I hit my deductible and $1,510 for the remaining 151 visits, plus $150 for the two other doctors visits, equaling $3002 for the year.

      Option 2 cost me $156 in premiums, $936 in HSA contributions, another $64 in chiro/phys therap visits, and nothing for the other two doctors visits making it $1156. In fact, it comes out even better since the contributions were pre tax but even had I not utilized contributions to the HSA, plan 2 was better for me.

      Now, I’m not saying that will always be the case. There could be a year when it makes sense to be on plan 1 instead of 2. But now that I’m almost done with the chiro and phs. therapy, I plan on upping my contributions to my HSA and heavily funding that to the max while keeping the lower cost plan because it saved me almost $2000 in a year where I had serious health issues.

    7. NDQ*

      I have changed to a high deductible plan because it allows me to have a Health Savings Account instead of a Flexible Savings Account. An HSA is an investment account that you can park in growth funds just like an IRA, whereas an FSA is the “use it or lose it” account. The HSA is one part of my overall investment plan to build wealth and retire in six more years (well before the usual retirement age). Aside from the investment advantages, having this money moved out of my payroll pre-tax lowers my taxes and my Adjusted Gross Income, which is the key to qualifying for other tax breaks.

      You may want to discuss with a tax professional to see if this would be a benefit for you. You can read more about HSAs on IRS.gov.

    8. Cruciatus*

      Thanks everyone. Looks like I still have some thinking to do. My salary is still pretty low, so over the course of a year I would pay $534 for the first plan, about $44.50 a month. Right now that doesn’t seem too bad. The other plan would be about $13 a month. Obviously I like that number more, but I don’t quite get the spending account stuff and how much my employer will add to that (it said “either $400 or $800.” Well, which is it!?) But just that stuff right there is a difference of $380 a year. I looked at the full cost of some of the doctor visits I had over the course of a year. Saw one 3 times that was $128 each time. That was just for my back and I could see a cheaper chiropractor in the future (it was free to go at my current employer), but that already exceeds the difference. Let alone adding my primary care physician, and routine preventative stuff, etc. I haven’t needed to go to the doctor too much for things besides routine and maintenance stuff, but even 3-4 times a year is probably more than the difference between plans. Just need to learn more about the health spending account stuff. I’ve never had these options before. My current employer pays for our insurance, which is nice and pretty unheard of around here apparently, but we only have one option so I’ve never had to think about it.

      1. abby*

        Spending account: I am guessing your employer contributes $400 to employees with single plans and the $1300 deductible; $800 would go to employees with family plans and the $2600 deductible.

        Costs: If your plan is an ACA-compliant plan, certain preventive services are covered in full by the insurance company. You can check federal websites to see what those are. And even if you are paying 100% of fees up to your deductible, that is the insurance negotiated price, which can be a lot lower. (For example, my husband had a visit to the ER this year. We are on a high deductible plan. The original bill was over $7,000, but after the insurance company applied the discounts, it came down to $2,200. This was the full bill, no sharing with the insurance company, so huge costs savings by using a network provider).

        I personally like high deductible plans as long as they can be paired with a health savings account. There are some tax benefits associated with health savings account. If you can contribute enough to cover your annual deductible (assume $900), I’d go that route. Especially if you can do it pre-tax through payroll deductions. Because it seems your two plan options are the same once you hit the deductible. Disclaimer: You don’t state the out-of-pocket max, which could make a difference.

      2. LCL*

        Also, if you think this might be in your future, compare both plans’ maternity coverage. I am told that varies widely between different policies.

    9. skyline*

      I tried a HDHP for a couple years. My plan was to use my HSA to help cover my out-of-pocket vision costs (always big), and at the time, I did not have a history of going to the doctor often. Alas, I ended up needing more doctor’s visits those years than I had in previous years, and never was able to save anything in the HSA–it all went toward deductibles. After the second year, I went back to the regular plan during open enrollment. Haven’t regretted it, and it’s continued to be the right choice.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      I will put $100 (that I don’t have) that that’s an autocorrect fail, not Alison.

  23. BRR*

    I saw fun home today and it was so good. I love experiencing something that’s so artistically satisfying. It’s like a really good meal.

  24. AnotherFed*

    Anyone try Blue Apron after Alison’s post last week? If so, how’d you like it?

    We tried the 2 person plan and have made two of the three meals so far. The portion size is a little smaller than I expected, but that just means no leftovers. Everything’s been tasty and fairly easy to do – surprisingly so. I never expected onion rings to be that easy!

    My only gripe is all the packaging – it’s not even conveniently reusable, except for the ice packs. I saw that in comments earlier, but there’s just something about seeing the whole pile of it in my kitchen that makes it hit home!

    1. Steve G*

      I really want to try but the packaging really is an issue. It is freakin’ 2015. I see alternatives to plastic in some delis in NY and in the Pret a’ Mange chain (though they reverted back to thick plastic for their salads, urgh!). Pret a Mange still uses lots of ½ plastic/1/2 paper or different styles of (waxed) paper containers though. A place near me uses only Styrofoam containers. I simply stopped going. I don’t have energy for that BS anymore. I’m not participating in a compost program, reusing cups from dunkin donuts until they crack, and repairing lamps and clothes and other things that break so I can bring home piles of Styrofoam and plastic. So hopefully they get more sustainable with the packaging to attract more customers…

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, I just emailed the local chain Moby Dick to tell them that I haven’t had one of their delicious kebab platters for a while now because they still use styrofoam. Luckily for me, most of the places around here either only use recyclable plastic and/or compostable takeout containers, or offer them for an additional charge. I just can’t understand why they wouldn’t buy them and ask for an extra 25 cents each, they can’t cost more than a few cents each.

        1. Stephanie*

          My parents have a Keurig and those plastic containers drive me bonkers. I’m always throwing them away.

    2. Delyssia*

      I haven’t actually tried Blue Apron or any of its competitors, at least not yet. So I’m going on what I’ve heard here, but I think Hello Fresh is supposed to be better in terms of the packaging. I think they use frozen bottles of water instead of gel packs, and they generally try to minimize packaging, make what packaging there is recyclable, etc. It might be worth looking into.

      1. AnotherFed*

        To be fair to Blue Apron, it is all recyclable! I just like to reuse plastic containers instead of buying them when I’m perpetually unable to find matching tupperware tops and tubs in the drawer (why do we always have so many square containers and round lids?!?!?! Who breaks into my house and leaves unmatched tupperware pieces?!?!), so would have liked fewer bags and more tubs.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It’s the same person that takes ONE sock out of the washer or dryer and hides it.

  25. anonymous please*

    I asked someone to marry me this week and they said no. I just don’t know how to get over the sadness. I am trying to get over the disappointment and shock but it is slow going.

    1. NDQ*

      This may take awhile. Give yourself time and do take care of yourself.
      I am so sorry. This is heartbreaking.


    2. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I am so sorry for your heart break. Allow yourself the time that you need to regroup. Take care

    3. Dan*

      Sucks. Get out with friends and be around people. Do stuff on your own that your significant other doesn’t like. Take a vacation to some place you’ve wanted to go but couldn’t. Take things one day at a time.

      I got divorced this year. While the day it happens is a shell shocker, you eventually pull yourself up. I lived my life for me for awhile, and it was really enjoyable.

      1. Dan*

        While this isn’t much help now, be thankful that your former so was able to say no now and keep you guys out of something that would be much more difficult to undo later.

        You now can pursue others who may be a better match and a better partner for both of you.

        1. anonymous please*

          We are still going to date. We even went out this morning. It was pretty difficult but I got through the weirdness. They kept trying to reassure me that I am the love of their life but that they would never get married, it is them, not me, etc.. I just wish I could get over the grayness of life right now a bit better.

          1. Dan*

            Do *you* want to get married, I mean, in general? If so, you have some really tough choices.

            May I suggest dating other people as well at the moment? That will help bring clarity to the grayness.

            It sounds to me like you two need to talk about what the future looks like, for both of you.

            1. fposte*

              I’m inclined to agree. I know, anon, that you’re mourning a big loss right now and may not want to face the loss of this person in your life; it’s also really hard to walk away when that person really wants you there, and you love them.

              But they don’t want what you want. Now if you can genuinely decide that marriage or whatever other commitment you’re not getting isn’t as important to you as you thought, that’s fine. But if you stay because it’s perfect except for this one thing and maybe they’ll change their mind, they won’t; believe what they told you, and don’t wait around in hope that it might be a lie.

            2. anonymous please*

              I do want to get married but only to him. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But I am not going to give an ultimatum or leave or play games, I need to realize that my dreams aren’t his. I am a better me with him and I need to be happy with how reality is. Although I did think about walking away from him but I think I am going to see how it goes. He has been married twice before and I have not. He said he cannot do it again. I did have the stray thought that I could get a shirt that says third time is a charm but that would be childish.

              1. Dan*

                How old are you? How old is he? What are the genders involved? How long have you known each other? How many people have you dated before him?

                I have to think that if you know him well enough to be so in love with him, you would have known how he felt about marriage. If you didn’t know that part of him, how do you that you know him well enough to say that he’s the only person you’d want to marry?

                You don’t have to answer that here, but you should answer that for yourself. I’ve been in relationships where I’ve had to settle for what the other person was willing to give, and it sucked. The truth is, you don’t know if you can’t find someone who meets all of your needs if you don’t take the time to look for it.

                1. anonymous please*

                  Male and female. In our fifties. Dating for six years. He had said in fly away comments phrases like ‘once we are married’ and then quickly sped up the conversation once those words were out of his mouth so I had gotten the feeling that the words were accidently said too early. I think I haven’t dated as many people as others at my age due to a lot of long term monogamous relationships. So my ‘number’ is low but almost every one was good but not like this good. I just want to wake up with him. I want to see his face across the dinner table each night. I want to retire with him and grow old with him. I didn’t put in that I am female at first because some of my friends said that guys have to be the ones to ask, which I think is nonsense.

                2. fposte*

                  I confess my feelings on the issue are a little different now that I know you’re my age, that I know more about your feelings, and there isn’t child-planning in the offing. Would a long-term partnership that isn’t a marriage be good for you? Is that something he’d be on-board with, or is he resisting not just the word but the long-term commitment?

                  There are a lot of shades of meaning in marriage, and some of them can be met outside of it. I hope whatever you end up doing brings you joy.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreeing with fposte but there is no reply button.

                  If you can, take the bold step of asking what is doable for him. It sounds like he is worth the effort. I am not saying “do anything to keep him”. I am saying gently ask what he would like. Then mull that over to see if it is doable for you.

                4. NacSacJack*

                  Hello. Given your answer I would say based on a lot of Dear Abby, men in their 50s just do not tend to get remarried. They just feel they dont need to do so. They dont feel the need for the security of a home. They have reached their secured place in life. Height of their career, looking forward to retiring. That being saidf, unless you want to always be “on the side”, I’d move on.

          2. S*

            If they truly don’t want to get married, ever, and you do (it sounds like you do!) then it’s time to have a serious conversation about the future and what that future looks like to both of you. Yes, it may end in heartbreak, but it’s far better to have that conversation now than to be stuck in a relationship where eventually, you will resent each other.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Not just marriage, but what about the other stuff like having children? If he’s been married twice and you have never, if he’s older and already has X children/doesn’t want more but you have none and want them, he may be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to you, but there is a very deep incompatibility there with regards to long-term life goals.

              Maybe he’s been a part of your life to show you what is possible and teach you the kind of treatment you need and deserve from a partner? But not be the partner for your life.

          3. my story*

            Don’t know if this will help, but –

            I was the one who said no once. I’d thought we’d marry once some things had settled but then nothing was said by either of us for a year or more, and then: the question. I said no; I’d been married for a -long- time before and somehow now got used to not being married. Nothing changed between us; we still live together (10+years). Neither of us have any intention of leaving. I’ve been told should I change my mind to just say so. Legally marriage would probably be for the best but I just can’t do it. Nothing against marriage but I think I’m done. Not being married hasn’t changed our commitment.
            None of this may apply. But maybe some of this is where your SO is at.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I had been married for 20 plus years. I have my own version of this, so I understand how a person might come to this conclusion.

              But at the same time, OP, I can tell you that I had a little sad pang in my heart when I read your post. I like seeing people paired up, who want to be paired up.

          4. mdv*

            You definitely need to evaluate your own wants and desires! In my experience, even being the love of my life was not enough overcome differing goals for our lives. If it is important to you to BE married, and they “would never” get married, that is a fundamental difference, and one that you ask yourself: is this person worth ‘giving up’ all the things about being married that are important to you.

            That said, if your SO is trying to reassure you with comments such as these, do your best to believe them. Even if everything seems gray, it sounds like they do love you, if you’re still going to date, and that is a positive.

    4. Clever Name*

      Ouch. :( I’m so sorry. It’s so painful now, but you’ll get through it. Someone pretty wonderful is waiting in the wings.

    5. Victoria, Please*

      I’m so sorry. This has happened to me as well (when I was considerably younger). It burns like hell. Happened to my mother, too, and I watched her spend 15 years dangling after a good man who was very nice to her but Would Not Marry Her. She died a few years ago and I have always wished that she had dumped him and gone on to find someone who would give her what she really wanted.

      Please take care of YOURSELF.

  26. LizB*

    Well, we were supposed to be leaving on vacation today, but traffic was outrageous and we missed our flight (even after leaving what we thought was plenty of extra time). Whose bright idea was it to shut down ALL the highways for road construction, anyway? *grumbles* We have a new flight tomorrow morning, and we had built a free day into our plan, so the vacation isn’t ruined, but I’m super mad at myself for not somehow psychically knowing it was going to take an hour and a half to drive ten miles. I should be at home cuddling my parents’ new puppy right now, damn it!

    1. GOG11*

      Oh, this is the type of stuff I have nightmares about :( I hope the rest of your vacation goes more smoothly.

    2. danr*

      That’s awful. Hope the rest of the trip is good.
      But, does your town, county or state do email construction notices for highways and bridges? Our’s does and it works about 90% of the time.

      1. LizB*

        I knew the construction was happening, but underestimated how many people would be trying to use the alternate route I picked… and once I was on it, it wasn’t possible to get off and try another way. :(

    3. Treena*

      That sucks! I’ve always wondered though, is unreal traffic still an excuse for the airlines? Did you have to pay for a new flight? When I first started traveling 10+ years ago, my Dad told me that if you could somehow prove there was a horrific accident or something and it was impossible for you to get to the airport, they have to give you a new ticket. 1/ I wonder if that was ever true, and 2/ if it was, is it still is true?

      1. LizB*

        We didn’t have to pay to switch our tickets, although that may not be normal. For one thing, we called the airline before the flight was finished boarding to say we were stuck and wouldn’t make it; I bet if we had shown up 20 minutes after it left, we might have had to pay. Also, we were on a tiny, locally-based airline that I’ve always had excellent experiences with, so maybe it was just them being nice. We paid a little bit to get decent seats on our new flight, but didn’t have to buy new tickets.

    4. Observer*

      My sympathies. It stinks.

      A couple of thoughts for anyone reading this post – for you it’s water under the bridge…

      Most major metropolitan areas to have web sites that let you know about road closings.

      Google Maps is actually surprisingly good at warning about traffic delays. But, when you are looking at accidents or road closings, it pays to add on a significant amount of time to what it says. This is especially true of rush hour and weekends when going to vacation spots or the airport.

  27. Lionness*

    My birthday is this week. I do not like birthdays. I haven’t since I was an early teenager and my family began their tradition of forgetting mine. My mother has not remembered my birthday in 15 years, my grandparents in about the same. My aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings…all the same. Mind you, they remember other family birthdays and celebrations. My friends don’t even remember unless they are on facebook and that reminds them.

    I know it sounds petty and childish. I don’t need presents or even cards. But a call or a text would be nice. Every year I resolve to just enjoy myself, do something I want to do, focus on me. But every year I end up devastated that no one even bothered to call. And every year, a few days later someone will mention that they forgot it and “oh sorry, haha I’ll try to do better next year!”

    I hate birthdays.

    1. Sherm*

      That sucks :( I hope you find non-flaky friends who make it a point to remember your milestones, and that you deal with your family as little as you want.

    2. Lizh*

      I am sorry that you are not remembered on your birthday. I hope you can do something nice for yourself or find a way to treat yourself , even if it is something small.
      I am wishing you a wonderful day, and a wonderful year.

    3. Steve G*

      I took my BDAY off of facebook this year and it was much more relaxed than getting a bunch of forced “Happy Birthday!!!!!!” things from people from HS or relatives that don’t talk to me otherwise. It made the fewer messages I got more meaningful. My aunt that has estranged herself even texted back and forth, which was nice. I was surprised that a neighbor from where we lived until I was one in 1982 remembered and emailed me!!! That was a nice surprise!

    4. anonymous daisy*

      My birthday gets forgotten a lot as well. I usually celebrate it by myself. It was forgotten three years in a row when I was in high school. One year, I asked my parents why they forgot that year and they said that they had just been too stressed out with the car purchase for my brothers birthday the week before (and no, I didn’t get a car until he had been through three and even his girlfriends would comment on the situation to my parents), I then got a belated card and $20 of guilt money for that year. So I feel where you are coming from and you have my sympathy. I learned an important lesson though, never rely on other people for your happiness or self esteem. My family complains to me that I am distant to them but I’m not buying tickets for that attempt for a guilt trip. Also, as an adult, I tell people ahead of time that my birthday is coming up and what I expect will happen if I want to do things with them on that day. It’s bossy but I can’t rely on people guessing what will make me happy, I explain my needs and wants.

      1. anonymous daisy*

        And p.s. This is totally passive aggressive but after your birthday, when your family calls, feel free to rave about the great time you had with your friends and how wonderful they are to you on your birthday and how sad you were to not be home for their birthday phone call. Also, it helps to go to YouTube and watch Judy Garland sing and dance her way through a song called “I don’t care!”, which I think is just a classy 1940’s way of saying f you. It steels you with an attitude that will get you through trying times with difficult people.

        1. Aam Admi*

          The Judy Garland song is great. I have bookmarked it – thanks for the reference ‘anonymous daisy’.

    5. TheLazyB (UK)*

      I am so sorry, that sounds so painful :( Hope you can make plans to make yourself feel nurtured.

    6. Merry and Bright*

      This sucks, but do something to treat yourself. It’s still “your” day so be kind to yourself.

      It’s my birthday next weekend and I am taking a 4 day weekend to have a spa day, visit the beach, read and generally chill out. Time to myself in the summer. Bliss.

      Take even a few hours to do something you enjoy :)

    1. Lizzie*

      I don’t feed my cat raw, but I have known many people who have fed their dogs a raw diet. Based on what I saw of their experience I would not recommend it, and neither would the ASPCA or the American Veterinary Medical Association. There are alternatives if you don’t want to put them on a commercial food diet (speak to your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to make sure your alternative is safe and balanced — I’m not sure what’s in it totally but my supervisor feeds her little guy ground turkey and some veggies which she cooks as a mince kind of deal and he’s very happy and healthy), but feeding raw diets can create dangerous nutrient deficiencies AND excesses that are dangerous to your furry friend, and expose them to E. coli and Salmonella, among other things. Raw bones can also injure your dog’s gastrointestinal tract or damage their teeth.

    2. AnotherFed*

      We looked into it as an option for our dogs when trying to balance what to do for them. We have one dog who needs to lose weight, one who has some issues that make it hard to keep weight on, and one who is supposed to be on a grain free diet, and the older dogs have been free fed all their lives (so changing to strict schedule feeding to control fat dog’s portions more strictly would take some major adjustment for them). We ultimately ruled it out for a couple of reasons:
      1. It’s a lot of work to make sure they get all their essential vitamins and minerals without toxic levels of some. The vet recommended rotating different pre-made flavors and brands to balance out some of the issues in each.
      2. It’s 3-5 times as expensive as even high quality, grain free kibble.
      3. Bones and raw meat can cause serious health issues themselves – you have to be careful of bone splinters (way less than with cooked bones, but it’s still possible), and with raw meat there’s a higher risk of infection and parasites.

      We ended up going with grain-free kibble (the furballs like Whole Earth chicken flavor and Southern States whtie fish best) and it seems to be working out pretty well for all three.

      1. Brydon*

        We have fed raw to all of our pack for a long time. In the beginning it is difficult and worrisome to balance everything but after almost 20 years. it is second nature. Ours are on a premium kibble right now as i deal with health problems because we normally butcher a lot of deer and it can be really intense physically to obtain and butcher enough carcasses to feed seven large dogs. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

        1. AnotherFed*

          Wow! That’s got to be 15-20 deer a year to feed 7 large dogs – no kidding that’s a lot of work to do in hunting season!

    3. Nashira*

      We used to, but it’s not got good scientific evidence, it’s very expensive, and it’s god awful messy. Our cat is on a prescription food now for reasons, but did well on Nature’s Variety’s kibble for a while. My in-laws’ cats also does well on NV.

    4. not alex*

      I looked into it for my dog when I first got him but decided nay– a decision my vet wholeheartedly agreed with. Raw for dogs is too risky, to me, because of bones, bacteria, and nutritional deficits.

      We have loved, loved, loved Orijen dry dog food, all varieties, for 8.5 years (got the recommendation from friends who are great dog owners)– $$ but top notch in terms of quality.

    5. Meadowsweet*

      my Mum used to for both a dog and a cat – both had health problems that were helped by it. I don’t know the exact mix, but I remember she started with ground horse meat (you could get frozen blocks) and mixed from there.

    6. Jen RO*

      I have a friend who feeds raw meat (+ minerals etc) to her cats, and I considered doing it as well, but honestly I’m too lazy to cook for myself, let alone the cats. I found some high-quality cat food and they seem to be happy.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I am skeptical of raw food for a dog. It presumes our food is good and it’s not always, you just don’t know what bacteria are present. I do use home cooked foods though, plus I give him vitamins and minerals. My last dog went 14 years this way and my current dog has been doing this for six years. For the most part, I have very few heavy vet bills and both dogs seemed happy/content.

    8. abby*

      We raw feed our cats on the advice of our veterinarian. Yes, a veterinarian advised this specifically for our male cat who was suffering from severe intestinal issues. We tried a variety of kibble and canned foods, and he had various problems with all. Kibble alone is too dehydrating for cats and caused severe constipation in our cat. And he seems to have a sensitivity to the binders and gums in canned food, which increased his hairball frequency and caused frequent vomiting and diarrhea and gave him asthma. He also has issues with foods that are too high in fat.

      We worked closely with the veterinarian to create a feeding plan that involves several commercial raw brands, all of which are tested and/or treated for pathogens and balanced according to AAFCO guidelines. The brands we selected are also transparent about their food sources. The male has been eating raw for one year now and we have seen remarkable improvements. The female continues to eat some canned, but loves some of the raw varieties, so she eats a mix. We feed high-quality kibble on occasion as a snack.

      What others have said is potentially true. Raw feeding can be potentially dangerous if you do not do it right. You cannot just buy ground beef or chicken wings from the store. Animals need organs and some bone, or at least the minerals that come from bone; crushed egg shell works. Because of the male’s intestinal history, I feed products with either egg shell or low bone content. Feeding commercial raw costs just as much as feeding premium canned and much more than feeding premium kibble. I know people who purchase raw meat from reputable sources and mix in their own supplements and save money that way. I don’t have the nerve to do that yet, though our veterinarian has given us recipes to ensure the food is properly balanced for cats in case we decide to try that.

      Would I recommend it? I would want to know why you are considering it. It was last resort for us, as I did not want my young cat to live out his life on multiple medications and constant vet visits. He’s drug free and healthy now. He still has a sensitive tummy, but we are able to manage with diet. We are testing different proteins and brands; so far, we have been able to expand his protein range to include rabbit, turkey, pork, duck, and goose. Are you prepared to purchase reputable brands of properly balanced raw foods? Or do you have knowledge to create a recipe that is balanced and will not harm your pet’s health? Do you have the support of your veterinarian and/or an animal nutritionist? My recommendation would depend on your answers to these questions, as raw feeding is not to be taken lightly.

  28. Come On Eileen*

    Has anyone gotten so frustrated with a crappy cell phone that you upgraded to a better one even though it might be a hefty fee? I’m getting really exasperated with my Samsung Galaxy 4 and am wishing I never switched from my iPhone. I’d like to return to Apple and the iPhone 6 looks awesome. But I’m only about 15 months into a two year contract so im sure I’d have to pay hundreds to bail and get an iPhone. Is it a matter of putting a dollar amount to my frustration and deciding it’s worth my sanity in the long run? Since I got this phone in April of 2014, it’s had 1) a screen that would wake itself out of sleep mode every minute and therefore drain the battery down in a few hours 2) a SD card that randomly reformatted itself and lost all my photos and other things stored on it, and now 3) a constant error message that the SIM card can’t be found, forcing a restart. Half the time it restarts,bit says the SIM card isn’t there — and well, I’ve checked and it’s totally there.

    I appreciate that Apple products just work. All the time.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Could you swap your phone for a new one under warranty to see of that helps? Personally I wouldn’t buy myself I of a contract, but I don’t use my phone much.

      I love my iPhone but the 6 has come in for some criticism for bending to easily, also the iPhone 7 might be released in the next few months so it might be worth holding off so you can get a cheaper 6 or a brand new model.

    2. schnapps*

      Ugh. Ever since the original Galaxy S, Samsung’s been on the downhill slide. My S3 sucked donkey balls – it wouldn’t connect to Kies at all, and I couldn’t do any sort of system upgrade. It was “factory unlocked” and wouldn’t work on our new service provider here (we switched from Telus to WIND). It was just weird.

      I highly recommend the Sony Xperia Z series. I have a Z2 and it is 50 kinds of awesome (except for the feeble back plate, but at least replacements are cheap).

      Or if you can get an invite for the one plus two that might work. My husband-type has the one plus one and it is also awesome.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      As someone who loves Apple products (and supports them professionally), I’m going to have to disagree with your statement that Apple products just work. All the time. They don’t. They break and are super buggy as all hell. That’s why there’s Apple Care. That’s why there are bug fixes in software updates.

      I think if you want to go back to iPhone, though, you should sell your Samsung Galaxy S4 and then use that money to offset what you’d have to pay to get the iPhone 6. Or, better yet, if money is an issue for you, get an iPhone 5S, which will be cheaper now that the iPhone 6 is out and the newest iPhone is on the horizon, just months away.

      That said, if you don’t have anything against Android phones, I’d highly recommend the Moto X, which is hands-down the best phone I’ve ever seen and used.

      1. Delyssia*

        I LOVE my Moto X. Love it. The size is great, it has a great feel to it, and I’ve had zero problems with it.

        My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which made me swear that I will never own another Samsung phone again. The GNex was the worst phone I’ve ever had. It was generally okay for smartphone stuff, but it was complete trash as a calling and texting device, which I still consider pretty important for, you know, a PHONE.

        That said, Come On Eileen likes iPhones, so I’m not convinced that’s not the way to go. I’ve only ever had Android smart phones, so I kind of can’t imagine switching to an iPhone. So, if you know you like iPhones, why not go with that?

        I don’t think you’re out anything for checking into your options. Maybe your carrier will offer you a deal of some sort. If you’re willing to switch carriers, I keep hearing ads where they offer to pay any ETF fees with your current carrier (in the US).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          No, I fully agree. If Come On Eileen likes iPhones, she should get one.

          I just get a little irritated when people say Apple products “just work” or “work all the time.” Apple makes great products, but those products are made by humans, and humans make products that fail sometimes.

          What I’ve generally found is that if Apple products fail people, they tend to react with “Oh, doesn’t this suck? I have to go to the Apple Store. I hope it’s not going to cost me much to repair,” and if non-Apple products fail people, they tend to react with “Maybe I should just get an Apple product, since these non-Apple products are so bothersome.” Not singling out Come On Eileen specifically–I see it a lot amongst friends and acquaintances. Steve Jobs is a marketing genius, even beyond the grave…

          I use regularly a MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, and iPad Mini, so I’m not anti-Apple. I just am anti-“Apple makes the best products by far, and those products never fail.”

      2. ActCasual*

        Ugh.. I’ve had nothing but problems with my work-issued Moto X. I have no illusions the iPhone is perfect, but I like it SO much more. I’ve basically forwarded my work phone to my personal iPhone so I don’t have to deal with the Moto X.

    4. BRR*

      You might be able to buy yourself an early upgrade. My phone fell out of my (velcro) pocket on a roller coaster one year into a two year contract. For $100 I was able to buy myself out. So instead of the full price of a phone I spent $100 to buy myself out then $100 for a new phone.

    5. Revanche*

      I’ve not done it out of contract but I have paid out of pocket for an unsubsidized phone which I was happy with for a few years. Seems like I should have gotten more years out of it but I think this one is trying to die.

      Must say my experience with Apple doesn’t give me the confidence you have. I had my first iPhone replaced three times in the first year because AppleCare couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working and it was easier for them to replace it than puzzle out why.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      Ug. I was thinking of going the opposite direction, from my iPhone 5 with the battery that dies constantly to a Samsung or other smart phone. I feel like iPhone quality has gotten shoddy (this is the second 5 because the case on the first was not intact). I’ve been an enthusiastic Apple customer for 15 years, but this is getting ridiculous.

      So . . . no to the Samsung, eh? :-)

    7. Mander*

      It really sounds like your phone is faulty. Is there any way to exchange it for a new one first?

      Failing that you might check out the Moto E or G as an inexpensive replacement. I have the Moto E and while it’s definitely a budget phone it’s pretty damn impressive for less than £100. Phone networks are a bit different on this side of the pond but mine was SIM free out of the box and could be used with any network.

    8. amanda2*

      No advice for you, just empathizing. I have the Galaxy S4 and I hate it. Communicating with people who have iPhones is extremely challenging. I don’t receive all texts, some calls don’t come in, and sometimes in group chats I will randomly not be able to see any texts from one person or another. I’ve been around and around with customer service about this (Apple and Samsung) and nothing has been able to help.

    9. Treena*

      I’ve never had an iPhone on contract in my life, and I buy them used so I can get any phone I want when I want (rarely, that is! I usually keep them for 3-4 years). Right now I use swappa dot com. Its a website originally for cellphone store workers (they get the newest phone every month to use personally so they can sell it to customers) to sell their barely used phones. I got a perfect condition iPhone 5s for $300 last time.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, thanks for the rec–I think this may be the year I join the rest of the world on smart phones.

      2. Treena*

        I should add that I paid more because it was an unlocked phone and you can sell your device on there easily as well. My husband had a Verizon iphone 4s and he sold it and bought an unlocked iPhone 4s really easily. And it’s so much more official than craigslist or whatever because the website will take your complaints if you get a different condition product etc.

    10. Observer*

      Three thoughts:

      1. I agree that “apple products just work. all the time” simply isn’t true. That said, the iPhone is a really nice product, and if that’s what you decide to go with, enjoy!

      2. Yes, just put a dollar figure to your frustration and see if you can get an upgrade / change within that range.

      3. Consider selling your phone and bailing on the contract altogether. Get the phone you want / can afford and then bring it to your carrier. There are a number of low cost carriers where you can do that – or buy a phone that is locked to them, so you pay a bit less, but you either pay the full price up front or you pay it out on a monthly plan. More often than not, you wind up saving a significant amount of money on the deal in the long term. The exceptions tend to be at the really high end. If you are on AT&T, look at their Next plan / BYOD pricing or move to one of their prepaid plans and either get a phone that way (prices are just ok) or bring your own phone as well. Verizon has something similar, so if your with them and like your service, you should check that out.

  29. Rin*

    Tried posting this on yesterday’s open thread, but it didn’t show up:

    To any authors out there, what do you put in/how do you frame your queries? I’ve had friends look over mine, and I’ve changed it a bunch, and I can’t seem to get a lot of interest. Thanks for your help!

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Random, unless the comment went to moderation for some reason, it used to tell you the comment was waiting moderation but now it just doesn’t show until it’s rleased.

          1. fposte*

            Yup. If, when the page reloads, it takes you back to the top, it’s a sign your post went to moderation.

    1. fposte*

      Are you querying agents for books? Then have a look at the Query Shark blog. She hasn’t updated in a while, but it’s hugely informative–she takes sample queries and breaks them down to show the submitter and the audience where it works and where it doesn’t.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know. I’m not getting anywhere either, so I went back to Anne Mini’s Querypalooza on her blog, Author! Author! I learned how to format a manuscript from her and people have said it looks pretty good.

      I can’t help but feel that I’m really really close; I just need ONE TINY THING to tip me over the edge of the dock into the publication boat. Right now, I have a story in review process with a hard-to-get-into literary mag, and I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that they pick it please please please. It’s one of my best shorts, and the placement would make a good credit. *pleasepleasepleaseplease* They haven’t rejected it yet….*please please please please please*

        1. Elizabeth West*


          My dream is to write something that everyone loves in both US and UK so I can sit in Hatchards on Piccadilly Street in London and have a queue of autograph seekers out the door. Heh heh. And then travel round to bookshops throughout the land!

          Except I can’t go into Hatchards without buying something. So there goes all my profit.

  30. CoffeeLover*

    I want to see if any of you have some opinions on stay-at-home moms. I was talking to a woman from Europe about a friend of mine that’s planning to have a few kids and be a stay-at-home mom. The European said women don’t have to do that in her country because they have social services available to them. I replied that my friend could choose to go back to work as well (I’m in Canada), but that she didn’t want to; she wanted to raise her kids. I personally believe stay-at-home parents are selfless and respect their commitment to raising the kids they brought into this world. I’m not a stay-at-home parent, nor have I ever been and I doubt I will ever be, but I fully respect people that are willing/wanting to make that sacrifice. The way the Swedish woman spoke about it though, it felt like “stay-at-home mom” was a dirty word. While I understand historically it has been a role women were forced to take (a role of suppression), I believe now, in some places of the world anyway, women who want to stay at home to raise their kids are judged negatively. Feminism gone wrong if you will. What do you think of the subject?

    1. schnapps*

      Ok, so here’s the thing. It’s not really feminism.

      Those obscure Scandinavian countries are somewhat xenophobic. So when you lose a generation of men, say in WWII, and you’re kind of xenophobic and are not fond of immigrants, what do you do to make sure the jobs that need to be done are done? Well, you make it possible for women to work.

      You put in long maternity leaves, lots of social and medical supports, and you basically let women know that yes, you can be a mother and work at the same time. It’s not feminism by any stretch – it’s the state :) And the idea that women must go out and work has become part of the culture.

      1. Another Swedish Woman*

        Schnapps, just wanted to let you know that your comment made me extremely sad. Men and women in Sweden have access to generous parental leave because (people) feminists have worked hard to create a more equal society. Also, could you please not call an entire population xenophobic?

        Coffee lover, there are barely any stay-at-home mums in Sweden and most people assume that you will not quit your job if you have kids. If I had kids I would try to continue working because I think that being financially independent is extremely important and I would worry that I would not be able to support myself if something happened to my partner. Another aspect to consider is that if one parent stays at home full time then the other parent will most likely have to work very long hours and that would prevent the kids from spending time with that parent. I would also want to show my kids (and other kids) that women are capable of doing whatever they want. Feminism is about choice though and I think that you should respect stay-at-home parents.

        1. schnapps*

          My apologies for any personal offence my comment caused you.

          As to the xenophobia comment, I guess I should have said that up until certain policies were changed to allow them to join the EU, many of those Scandinavian countries had policies that were somewhat xenophobic and dissuaded immigration. When a generation of men was lost, the natural answer within those policies was to enable women to work. And they did this by implementing “feminist” ideas of generous family benefits.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          If I had kids I would try to continue working because I think that being financially independent is extremely important and I would worry that I would not be able to support myself if something happened to my partner.

          This. So much this.

          When my mother graduated from high school in the early 60’s, she wanted to go to university but her parents weren’t willing to “waste” the money (which, to be honest, they didn’t have anyway) because she would get married and that would be it. So at my grandma’s urging, she went to Nursing School — which paid you to go in those days — and hated it. She worked for a while as a nurse and was apparently quite good at it, even as a surgical nurse for a time. She worked for the first few years of marriage to my father until I was born and… that was it. No more choice about working or not and let’s just say she was not suited for motherhood. Flash forward 6 more years and another kid, she now finds herself without a husband (who left her for another woman), without an education, without work history/experience. It is only by the grace of the 70’s not being all about how much education you had before you could get a job and that she was wicked smart that she was able to get a job and build a career.

          So growing up in that, along with the first wave of feminism in the 70’s, there was no question I would grow up and work. My grandma had, my mother had, I would (and do). Some people are just not fit to be a stay at home parent. Others are born for it, I think. There are two women on my street who are stay at home parents and while their husbands both make good money, I can’t help but feel uneasy about what they would do if something happened to their husband. The one doesn’t really seem to have any ambition for a career at all that I’ve ever heard or seen. I’m not saying that’s good or bad/right or wrong, but I do send up a thought now and then that her marriage is the true ’til death do we part kind and they’ll dance the funky chicken on their 50th anniversary.

        3. CoffeeLover*

          If I had kids, I would also continue to work (as I mentioned above, though maybe not clearly). I guess the reason I had issue with the conversation I had was because it was almost as if deciding to not work was a disservice to women everywhere. If women are capable of doing whatever they want, then why shouldn’t be judged if they stay at home if they want. Similarly, they shouldn’t be judged for working either. Basically, I think women should have the freedom to decide either way without being judged for it. As someone mentioned below though, I suppose women are indeed judged no matter what they do.

      2. Merry and Bright*

        Not sure about writing Scandinavian countries off as “obscure”. Sweden has a reputation for welcoming people from other countries and other cultures. Nowhere is perfect but when it comes to European xenophobia the Scandinavian countries aren’t the first to come to mind.

        I’m not Scandinavian by the way and have no axe to grind.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t like to label people as “selfless” just based on whether they are stay-at-home parents or not… or parents at all. The “selfish” and “selfless” labels don’t apply to such broad categories.

      I know people who are stay-at-home parents who are selfless, and I know people who are stay-at-home parents who are selfish.

      Just as I know people who are parents who are selfless and people who are parents are selfish.

      And I know child-free couples who are selfless and childfree couples who are selfish.

      Your status as a parent or stay-at-home parent gives me absolutely no useful indication as to whether you are selfish or selfless… and, honestly, most people are a mix of the two.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Fair enough. I have my reasons for using that word. It stems from my long-winded view on the psychology of childbearing, but I don’t really want to get into that debate since that’s not really my question. I was asking if people are seeing a shift in women being judged for staying at home now, as they were judged before for working.

        1. Call Me Maybe*

          Women get judged whatever they decide to do.

          As is evidenced by your judgement on the “selflessness” of stay at home parents. Ick.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I don’t think it matters what personal choices a family make about how best to raise their kids.

      A friend of mine has young kids and is a stay at home mum, it suites her well and she enjoys it, she wouldn’t be happy leaving them in day care and working. My supervisor at work also has young kids and she was so glad to get back to work after maternity leave. My best friends mum went out to work while his dad stayed at home to look after him and his brothers. My mum was a single parent with who was working full time which left me and my sister to look after my younger sister before or after school depending on the shift our mum was working. A guy I work with is a single parent with a 5 year old.

      There all sorts of family situations and all sorts of ways people balance family life with working and I can’t see why anyone should be judged for the personal choices they make

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      P.S. Women get judged no matter what they do. Stay at home? You’re lazy and backwards. Stay working full time outside the home? You don’t care about your kids. You’re neglecting them. I never judge people for working or not working. Each family has to decide what’s right for it.

    5. nep*

      I think it’s fantastic for a woman to choose to be at home to raise children — absolutely. I see nothing negative in that whatsoever.

    6. AnotherFed*

      I don’t think a stay at home mom or dad is anymore selfless or selfish than a working mom or dad. I think when we assign a value judgement to any parent’s choice on whether to stay home or go back to the working world, we’re either stuck on stereotypes (or the rejection of them) or applying our own situation/opinion to someone else’s life for them. Each family’s choice is presumably what works best for them, within the bounds of their financial and family constraints. It took me a while to realize that just because I would never be able to cut it as a stay at home parent and would be much happier at work didn’t mean people who chose to SAH were setting themselves up for a life of boredom and drudgery – some of them even had that opinion of my career!

      1. nep*

        Well said. Absolutely — no judgement either way. It’s about a choice and what works for that parent / that family.

    7. fposte*

      Do you want it to be okay, or do you want it to be considered noble and better? You describe not working as “selfless” and talk about stay at home parents as “raising the kids”–you know us kids of working parents didn’t grow up feral, right :-)?

      I’m with Anonymous Educator in that women get judged whatever they do (note you’re asking only about moms, not about moms and dads) and that there’s nothing inherently selfless about not working any more than there is about working. I think if you put it in those terms, you end up perpetuating the competition I think you’re trying to end.

      It’s just a thing people do. It doesn’t make their kids any better, but it may mean the parents get more of a chance to enjoy them (though I suppose it may also mean that their kids have more opportunities to participate in activities because a parent can handle transportation). I think ultimately it’s more about what the adult wants from his/her life. I suspect 40 hours weekly and generous and flexible vacation/sick leave vs. 60-80 hours without is a bigger difference than 40 hours vs. no hours.

      1. Cindy Lou Who*

        Not to mention that many people can’t afford to support kids if both parents aren’t working. It would be selfish of them to stay home.

        I find from the conversations at work that most people do just want their way to be better. The ones who have young kids want it to be better that they’re working, and the ones who only came to work after the kids were older want that to be the lofty standard. It’s rare to find someone who’s just cool with their own decision and others’ different decisions too. But I suspect that’s precisely because women are used to being judged negatively and figure we need to fend off the comments before they start by informing everyone that whatever we did was the “right” thing.

        1. fposte*

          I totally agree–wanting to be better is really just wanting to justify something that you’ve been given the impression needs to be justified. And it really doesn’t. There are a long list of life choices that don’t need to be justified, and the ones around childbirth and childrearing are likely the biggest–and, of course, the ones you’re most likely to be asked to justify. But usually not by anybody who needs answering to, so don’t waste your time.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I’m pretty sure my brother grew up feral, but that was more about him than our working parent.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Both my parents worked (rare in my neighborhood), but when they were home, they both parented. That’s what’s important. (In fact, my mother was known for getting the brattiest kid to behave. Her trick: having rules and enforcing them. Who’d have thought?)

            And because my dad was home during the days due to his work schedule, he volunteered to do stuff at my grade school. I think there were kids who knew my dad better than their own fathers…

      3. Jen RO*

        Just a note that transportation is not really a problem in many countries :) My parents worked when I was young, my grandma took care of me and she didn’t drive, but we could take the bus pretty much anywhere.

        1. Colette*

          But that’s because you were being looked after by a family member – daycare staff is less likely to ferry a child to outside activities.

          1. doreen*

            Whether transportation is an issue depends on where you are- although my mother took care of my kids , she didn’t ferry them to any activities. For the most part, their activities took place either after 6 or on weekends because that was when the Scout leaders, coaches, meeting rooms/gym were available. The very few activities that took place earlier were either school-based and would pick-up/drop off from the after-school program or were immediately after-school and for kids old enough to get home on their own.

          2. fposte*

            Yes, this is obviously really variable. But it’s also pretty common in the US to have a schedule of kids’ afterschool activities, which means you’re not seeing the kid until 5 or 6 pm anyway if you’re not doing transport, and which means you’re mostly seeing them in your rear-view mirror if you are.

            It’s probably also worth remembering that stay-at-home parent isn’t a term in isolation. If you’re staying home a year after the child is born, you’d be called a stay-at-home parent in the US and somebody on parental leave in Sweden.

      4. JC*

        Yes. Most stay-at-home parents do it because they get joy out of it. I don’t think many people would last as stay-at-home parents if they thought it was 100% sacrifice and desperately would rather be working outside the home. I similarly don’t view being a parent in general as noble or selfless, because again, people generally become parents because they WANT to become parents and because being a parent is something they thought would make them happy.

    8. Clever Name*

      Well, being a parent is hard. Period. I stayed home with my son for 2 years and I worked part time and now I’m working full time. Several of my friends are stay at home moms. I can see how attitudes would be different in different countries, but I really believe that each family chooses what is best for their family. And each family is different.

    9. Jader*

      The brand of feminism I subscribe to is all about choice. Want to be a stay at home Mom? Rock it. Want to be a woman who has a career outside of the home and raises kids? More power to you. At the end of the day you are still a Mom and I know equally crappy parents on both sides of the equation. I’m struggling with infertility and read a lot of parenting stuff. The amount of judgement thrown at parents both disgusts me and freaks me out. Breastfeeding vs formula, stay at home vs working outside the home, cry it out vs attachment parenting blah blah blah. The battle is so gross to me.

    10. BRR*

      I think feminism is not judging women or men for staying home or working. I think insisting it’s only a woman’s choice is not feminist (even though it’s historically been mostly women who need to make this choice) and that saying one way is selfless makes the other sound negative. I also don’t think people should have to make huge sacrifices in the name of having children. My personal situation is my dad earned a lot more than my mom so it would have been really tough for us if he stayed home and my mom loves working (she’s a teacher and was really made for it) so she didn’t want to stay home.

      One way is not better than the other and there are a lot of factors that go into this decision with finances being able to overrule preference (working to support a household when you want to stay home or situations like my sister-in-law’s family where it was cheaper to not pay for childcare for their three kids so one parent stayed home and watched other children as well).

      I know someone who is a stay at home parent because they don’t want to have to work in an office. They hate the idea of others making rules they have to follow and being told what to do. Having children was an excuse for them to not have to get an office job.

    11. matcha123*

      Without reading the other replies, my take is that stay-at-home parents, especially moms, are not making some grand selfless stand. My mom couldn’t find employment and was a quasi stay-at-home mom. That, I’m certain, contributed to her depression.

      Growing up, most of my friends parents worked. There were no celebrations around staying home. Two working parents was the norm. And in my circle of classmates, parents were doctors, lawyers, teachers and such and so on.

      Personally, if it was proven without a shadow of a doubt, that the children of stay-at-home parents grew up to be smarter, more sensitive, polite, upstanding citizens, then I would rethink my opinion. Especially if these kinds of discussions included stay-at-home dads.

      A kid does not need a mom baking cookies to know that they are loved.

    12. Revanche*

      Women get negatively judged no matter what choice they make with and for their families. Both parents should make the call on whether they’ll both work or one will stay home but for some reason it is socially acceptable to judge them for the choices they and their family made regardless of whether it was the responsible thing to do, whether they actually had a choice, etc.

      It’d actually be wonderful if people would respect the fact that, barring abuse, they aren’t in any position to judge the quality of someone else’s choices in raising their family. And even more wonderful if we’d stop policing mothers, particularly women of color.

      I don’t think stay at home parents are selfless for that choice any more than parents who have to or choose to work are selfish for working. That’s not what defines selfishness or selflessness. And being either a stay at home or working parent doesn’t, by itself, determine the quality of childcare the kids receive. And to widen the net a little, people who choose or don’t choose to have children should do so at will without outsiders weighing in on those choices as well.

    13. Jen RO*

      While intellectually I think that both choices are equally valid (and neither is more selfish or more selfless), my emotional response is that staying home for years is irresponsible because your career stagnates and you would be put in a horrible situation if you get divorced/widowed…

      But I am also childfree, so I don’t really think my opinions should count. I also come from a country where maternity leave is at least a year, with the possibility to extend for two, so most women here do get to spend more time with their babies than in the US.

    14. We do the weird stuff!*

      I think it is wrong – or at least damned nervy – for others to judge the kinds of choices that a mother and father make in raising their child.

      I alluded to this earlier: when our kids arrived, I worked my day job plus did website development at night. I’d build the sites, and then pass them off to my wife, who would maintain the sites (at $50/hr). She could work from home or wherever, and had a lot of freedom and flexibility in her schedule so she could spend time with the kids.

      The downsides were that I couldn’t spend as much time with the kids (although I was hardly an absent father, and I’d tell them a story at bedtime every night, etc), plus I could only do this for so long before my health took a hit. And also, eventually my full-time job began to take off and it didn’t make financial sense to build websites anymore. As it happened, my wife still managed to make $$$ for about 5 years from the sites I’d built previously.

      Anyway – my point is that there are a lot of ways to handle new parenthood. It took a lot of hard work, but also my wife and I were lucky that the times could support a small business like ours. But I’ll bet there are similar opportunities today.

    15. DaBlonde*

      I believe, that if finances are not an issue, the decision to stay at home with the children or return to work should be based on what the parents are comfortable doing.
      I ran an in-home daycare when my daughter was an infant and loved every minute of it. Put me in a room with a bunch of two-year-olds and we will make playdough and sing “Five Little Monkeys” all day long and I will be as happy as can be.
      To some other people that would be pure torture. If you are the type of parent that can provide attention and enrichment with a smile, stay home. If you would be going crazy by the second week, go back to work.

      1. Windchime*

        I will confess that I found being a stay at home mom to be extremely boring and it just wasn’t for me. I loved my kids when they were little (and I still love them now that they are big!), but I just wasn’t cut out for 24/7 parenting.

  31. Hummingbird*

    Hey, I just wanted to thank those who put their input in on last week’s thread regarding a potential mission trip for me in Ethiopia. While I didn’t respond due to working a lot, I did read through them. I actually spoke with the coworker yesterday about more details, and he brought up pictures on Facebook from his page as well as others. I also asked about logistics a bit. It’s sounds very interesting to me, and I would like to see a trip like this in action. I’m going to be doing some research; the organization isn’t really going to start planning or talking about the trip in full gear until the fall. A friend of mine I was telling this to is also interested which will be good. For those of you who might have asked, I have been to foreign countries before – all European – so I have been exposed to being in countries where the language is very different (and only knew pleasantries). I have always traveled for pleasure – to see friends in Europe or to see new places.

    I have been reading that a trip like this can be a bit controversial. I have already seen it in my family where my mother’s aunt has put down this trip because she says I could be doing this type of work home here. I have also read that volunteerism like this takes away from the local population. I do know the church the organization works out of works with a same denomination church over there; there is that connection. Some medical work is done and work on construction projects (for example, they put down a cement floor for a school the last time). I’m researching and will be looking forward to any meetings that happen once the organization has a plan.

    If I decide to go, then I’d have to talk with my supervisor at my summer job. I can see her saying both yes and no for various reasons. But that’s neither here or there right now – especially on this type of open thread – and so I will save that conversation for the fall on a Friday open work thread.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I found a response to the “problems here” argument that I really liked. We are supposed to work on several levels- family, community, area and globally. We should pick something for each level. Maybe some people can donate money for an organization overseas but they cannot travel there. This is fine. If everyone traveled to that country there would be too many people, anyway. And these organizations do need money, not just strong backs and tireless workers.

      OTH, just because a person does an overseas stint does not preclude them from doing something locally later on. It is not a mutually exclusive choice. And that is my punchline, just because a person volunteers in a far off land does not mean they cannot do something here later. The argument of “help is needed here, locally” seems to assume that your volunteering is a one shot deal. And I highly doubt this is the case.

    1. Jader*

      Best- Had a great time at the horse races with my sister, Mom and Mother In-Law. I also got a second job I can do from home and the stress relief is so nice!

      Worst- started fertility meds (which is exciting) but the side effects are kicking my butt! So tired I can barely function, heartburn and major mood swings/anger. Supposed to be trying to procreate but if my Husband breathes too hard I want to end him!

    2. Trixie*

      Best: Studying for group fitness test and found some great online resources including poke a muscle and ACE test prep blog.

      Worst: My procrastination skills were on fire this month. Submitted one freelance piece instead of five which is lost income. Silver lining is I have same potential this month so I’ve already start all five pieces and set dates for myself to get them in.

    3. Natalie*

      I got engaged (see below)! That’s the best, of course.

      Worst is that I dowsed my phone and have no internet. I’m trying to keep up on my man’s droid, which I don’t like.

    4. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Celebrated a friend’s 30th birthday. Her husband planned a surprise party for it so it was a ton of fun. There was also a bounce house for the adults. So awesome :)

      WORST: Sprained ankle badly a month ago. Still hurts. Saw doctor Wednesday, keeping a close eye on the pain level before going with X-ray, MRI, etc.

    5. StillHealing*

      BEST: Junk haulers I hired came today and removed all the stuff my soon to be ex-husband left piled up on the patio. He was supposed to take care of it before he moved back east to live with his affair partner. It feels really good to have that crap of his hauled away!

      WORST: Nothing too bad this week. It’s hot again and I want the rain to return. Other than that, quiet week.

      1. Elkay*

        Well done! Do you think he’ll come crying to you when he realises you didn’t hang onto all his crap?

        1. StillHealing*

          That’s why I held on to it for as long as I did. Worried that he might want me to send him something from it. Lots of gadgets,cords, a small camcorder with nice leather case,tools,all the neat storage boxes he had everything in. Then there was just a bunch of junk and stuff for cars. It was a “third” of the Junk Truck full when it was loaded up. So far he hasn’t asked me to send him anything. If he ever returns to this state, which I seriously doubt, I’ll have no problem telling him to “take a hike – I gave it all away!”

    6. Shell*

      Best: back and hips feel SO MUCH BETTER after I installed that keyboard tray at work.

      Second best: Bug infestation seems to be under control; I’ve spotted a few dead bugs, but no live ones for a few days. *crossing fingers*

      Worst: …certain people who share this household with me ARE NOT BEING HELPFUL AT ALL.

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      Worst: Worked 77 hours this week supporting the month-end close on this project I’ve spent the last year and a half on. This project has been a nightmare, and tonight they were making noise about me coming back next month. I sent an email to my boss and project manager literally begging them not to make me do that. I could go on ranting, but it’s too work related.

      Best: Staying in a pretty nice hotel, and was able to have the sinfully decadent and delicious chipotle macaroni and cheese for dinner at the restaurant last night.

    8. Jen RO*

      Best: My office had a pixel art competition and I spent 2 days putting post-its on walls! It was very fun and worth the evenings I’ll spend making up for the lost productivity.

      Worst: Some annoying health stuff.

    9. Elkay*

      Best: I had a really productive day working from home, including the exciting realisation that I could wear my scruffy old fleece to keep warm because no-one would know!

      Worst: Ongoing saga of trying to fix my holiday, the company has been really unresponsive and I’m just biding my time before sending an email of complaint. I feel bad because the CSRs on the phone have been really nice but they weren’t able to sort the issues out for me.

    10. Mander*

      Worst: the supervisor on the project I’ve been on for the last three weeks told me off for doing things wrong (I’m a trainee) and made me cry every day this week.

      Best: the project ended Friday and I got an unexpected contact extension. After his outbursts last week I thought I’d be let go. And my new project will be working on excavations at a major London landmark, without the mean supervisor.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      BEST: We saw Jay Pharaoh on Friday night and he was AMAZING. Good comedy is good for the soul, but watching this relatively young guy kill it in such a great way was tremendous.

      Second best: we leave on vacation in 32 minutes!

      WORST: I had to spend most of this week at work running errands and setting up our new office space. It was effing hot and I did it all myself. I know my boss appreciated it, but I also know it fell to me because I was in pre-vacation prep mode (read: no new projects), and at one point it felt like a punishment.

    12. Mimmy*

      BEST: Rode down to a meeting with my council’s coordinator – she can get a little verbose, but I’ve always felt enlightened by our conversations.

      WORST: Nothing really – other than the meeting, it was a very boring week.

      1. Raia*

        Best: I bought two shirts that are modest, nice enough to be professional, and SUPER comfy. (recent graduate, so I’m still building a professional-wardrobe)

        Worst: WORK!!! Crisis management sucks, even if I don’t have to be the one making decisions.

  32. Delyssia*

    Does anyone have any insight into living on a houseboat? Or maybe liveaboard is the preferred terminology…

    I’m kind of in love with this idea right now. I’m going to an open house tomorrow, though I don’t think I’m ready to pull the trigger right away. I’m in the process of getting my finances into order and decluttering my messy home into something a lot more organized and, maybe, dare I say, somewhat minimalist.

    This is the latest idea I’ve fixated on as part of my ongoing midlife crisis (I’m 38). It may well pass, but I’m in information-gathering mode right now, so I thought I’d see if anyone here has any expertise, warnings, thoughts, or other input. So far, I’ve discussed it with a few friends. One of them is now looking into houseboats as well, and the others have all said that they want to come to any parties I throw on-board.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, when I lived in San Francisco I was besotted with liveaboards, especially the houseboat community in Sausalito. No advice, but please add my name to the party list.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Woooooowwww if 38 is midlife, then what am I? :P

      Do you know where you want to be anchored (or whatever)? I know little about this but I’m interested to see what others say.

      1. Delyssia*

        I was resisting classifying myself as going through a mid-life crisis, but then I found myself texting friends around the same age something to the effect of, “This is not a midlife crisis. We’re all too young for that! …crap, that level of response probably means it IS a mid-life crisis, doesn’t it?” So I’ve kind of accepted it.

        There’s a small liveaboard community here in DC. It’s in a cool neighborhood and the marina seems to have a great sense of community. And even with the slip fees, a houseboat could well work out cheaper than a condo.

    3. HR Caligula*

      Is it an actual vessel (boat) or a barge with a stick frame house aboard? If it’s an actual vessel the key point to be aware of is costs. Marine grade maintenance, repairs, fuels are much more expensive. Some of these costs crossover to the barge scenario too.
      Also, if you were to purchase you have to consider very little, if any appreciation in value.

      If you are interested I’d suggest renting.

      1. Delyssia*

        I would consider either an actual boat or a floating house. Since I’m just looking at options right now, I can’t really rule out one or the other.

        Maintenance costs are definitely a significant consideration. And, yeah, unlike real estate, this wouldn’t really be an investment. Well, it’s investing in a place to live, but it’s a (generally) depreciating asset.

        Unfortunately, my understanding is that the local marina doesn’t allow renting.

        1. Alston*

          I love houseboats and floating homes and plan to buy one in the next couple of years. It’ll depend on how houseboats in DC work, is it like Portland and Seattle where they’re all hooked up to city water? Or is it more like Boston or NYC where you have to pump in water, and pump out your black water?

          Wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me, but it’s something to consider. You sound like you’d really like the idea, and I personally think it’s an awesome one. Most places I’ve seen really do have a community with the liveaboards, and there’s nothing like seeing water out your windows.

          Have you ever stayed on one? Might be a good idea to Air BnB one for a weekend. Great way to get a taste.

          Good ones won’t be damp. And floating homes as opposed to straight up houseboats (especially well maintained/stylish ones) are more likely to hold their value than a houseboat.

          Good luck, get a survey, if you’re looking at boats check out the manufacturer’s price sheet and info.

          Also if you’re willing I’d love to see the listing so I can drool over it!

          1. Delyssia*

            At this marina, they have to pump out the septic every 2-3 weeks. Fees for that are included in either the HOA or the slip fees (I can’t remember which covers what).

            This is the one I checked out at its open house today: https://www.redfin.com/DC/Washington/600-Water-St-SW-20024/unit-B-11/home/90753154

            I think they want too much money for it, but at the same time, they may very well get asking price, so maybe it’s not too much. It just seems really high for a 43 year old boat. The engines have been removed, so there’s no engine maintenance to worry about. Despite the fact that I think they want too much money, it really is beautiful and I could see myself living there.

            1. Alston*

              That does seem a little steep, I’d google around and see if you can find any other recent houseboat sales in the area. That said I looked at a boat like this last year https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/boa/5109310715.html And it’s less than half the sq footage, so in Boston that boat would probably go for as much as they’re listing it. What are slip fees like in DC? Is that in an easy area to get around?

              But…it is so cute! I love that the wheel is still there. And I fully support you going for it. You thinking you might?

    4. Short and Stout*

      I guess it depends on the houseboat.

      My friend used to live on one in London — only place he could live cheaply — and it was not very nice living experience. He had to climb over several other boats to get home. Tiny kitchen, weird bathroom, no secure outdoor space for bike parking etc. Damp.

      1. Delyssia*

        Climb over? Like, he was physically stepping on and/or touching other boats? Yeesh, that doesn’t sound nice.

        They’re definitely small spaces, and from what I’ve seen, some of them feel very much like RVs/caravans/what-have-you, and some of them are more homey. I don’t have a bike, but I know the slip rental includes one parking space at the marina, and there’s a bikeshare station very near by.

        Damp does not sound good. I’d want to make sure the space is pretty tight, so it’s not any more damp than the rest of the city (it’s very humid here in the summer).

        1. Gene*

          “Tight” is exactly the wrong way to go about it. Ventilation and moving air is your friend in this case.

          While that looks like a former houseboat, with the engines removed and the setup there, it’s closer to a floating home. I think the bit about being looked down upon probably doesn’t apply to this area because of that.

      2. fposte*

        Yeah, I’ve seen them sitting on mud there, which is just not nice. Something to do with the whole tidal river thing, maybe?

      3. Elizabeth West*

        That’s a thing. I see a lot of houseboats on the river and the canal and they are not well maintained in some cases.

        It’s not that cheap either, once you consider all the maintenance and stuff. Word on the Water (the London Book Barge) got a permanent tender (FINALLY!) at Granary Square near King’s Cross, and now they are trying to raise enough to pay the costs they’ll need to settle in. (They have an Indiegogo, if anyone is interested in helping.) I’m not sure I could do it. It’s definitely a different sort of life.

    5. Treena*

      When I was 19, I was enamored with the idea of living on a boat (not a houseboat, just a boat with a galley kitchen, bench and table, and a tiny bedroom). I read two books on the subject in my information-gathering mode and learned a lot about selecting a vessel, a slip, the required maintenance, etc. Obviously I was 19 so in no position to buy a boat, but it’s definitely one of my life’s dreams to do so one day. Definitely go to open houses because I think everyone’s first reaction is to how small the spaces are. You’re either ok with it or not, so it’s best to figure that out now before diving too deep.

      1. Delyssia*

        You know, for all of my random poking around on the internet on this topic, I haven’t looked up any books. That might be rather a good idea. :)

        Yeah, I agree that it’s key for me to check out the options in person. I logically realize they’re small, and I *think* I get what that means, but it’s always different to actually stand in a space.

        I know friends of friends who lived on a boat for a while (a year, maybe two). I know they had some major maintenance issues, and it was a significant adjustment to get used to the smaller space, but at least when I heard them talking about it at parties, they seemed pretty happy with the experience.

    6. Cordelia Longfellow*

      My grandparents lived on a houseboat in Canada, and it was tiny and lovely, though it was moored in a tidal slough, so things were often lopsided.

      Elodieunderglass (a frequent poster at Captain Awkward) lives on a houseboat in the UK and has lots of thinky thoughts on the subject. She’s got a website as well as a Tumblr.

      1. Delyssia*

        Excellent, thank you! I’m a fan of CA, so I’ve definitely heard of Elodieunderglass (I adore her CA post on breaking the low mood cycle), but I either didn’t realize or had forgotten that she lives on a houseboat.

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      Not a houseboat, but a friend of mine and her spouse retired early and are now living on a sailboat in the Caribbean. She was going to write a blog for a while, and I encouraged her to do so, but hasn’t gotten around to it yet — she probably won’t do it. She had to learn everything, not being from a sailing (or shellback) family and was 50(?) when they left. The plan was to get down then and then get small jobs working as crew for other people, but I don’t think that’s happened so far, it’s only been a couple of years at this point.

      I think it was Peter Fonda who supposedly lived on a boat at one point and the reason was that you don’t pay property taxes when you live on a boat.

    8. Gene*

      There’s living on a houseboat, a boat designed more for living than seaworthiness http://www.houseboating.org/media/44-Foot-Blue-Gill-Houseboat-Media-8-800×600.jpg ;
      there’s living aboard a boat that’s actually a useful tool for navigation (with subsets of sail or power); then there’s living in a floating home, a stick-built house on a barge (see: Sleepless In Seattle). I’ve had friends who have done each of the above.

      For the first two, you will likely be living in a marina. Make sure the marina specifically allows liveaboards, most that do will have a surcharge on the normal moorage fees. If the marina prohibits liveaboards, there may be some unofficial ones, but doing so risks eviction, from either your boat or from the marina. For the last, you will likely be living in a floating home community, essentially a condo situation with communally owned dock with water, sewer, and electricity.

      I’ll move on to the boat-based living in a marina, that’s what I have the most knowledge of. Space will be an issue, unless you can afford something 50’+; and sailboats tend to have less space than powerboats of an equal length. Two feet of length can make a huge difference in useable space. If you plan on using the boat as an actual, you know, boat, everything will have to be stored in such a manner so it can’t move around – especially a sailboat, because they heel when sailing (except multihulls don’t heel a s much). Some marinas will require that you demonstrate that the vessel can actually navigate, you’ll have to leave your slip under your own propulsion for a time. Dampness is always there; you will become intimately acquainted with mildew and its prevention/treatment/avoidance. If you are moored in salt or brackish water, corrosion of everything you own not made of gold or platinum will be a problem. Maintenance is never-ending, if you are someone who says, “I’ll get to that later”, you shouldn’t live on a boat; that little seep on a fitting that you put off may end with you waking up to 2 feet of water in the bilge as you are sinking. AC power systems in marinas are notoriously flaky; I wouldn’t plug an electronic device into a boat on shorepower without an isolating UPS. Most marinas don’t have sewer connections at the slips, you will either have to use the shore facilities, regularly take your boat to the pump-out station, or hire a honey-bucket provider to come pump out your holding tank on a scheduled basis. And marine heads are finicky beasts, they aren’t flush and forget; you’ll learn how to take yours apart and put it back together sometime in the first year.

      If you want to live on an anchored out boat, all of the above applies (except the shorepower – you won’t have that), plus worries about your ground tackle, making your own electricity, how to get water, how to dispose of your sewage, maintaining your dinghy so it can reliably get you to shore, weather, and so many other things you don’t think about when you can walk out the door and go somewhere on a whim.

      I’m not saying it can’t be done successfully and enjoyably. I knew a couple who lived on a 19-foot sailboat and loved it. Liveaboard communities are usually close-knit and watch out for each other. But, and this is a big but, most places liveaboards are looked down on and treated as “the other”. Choose your liveaboard community carefully, many are full of fine, upstanding citizens; others … aren’t – especially the anchor-outs.

      1. Delyssia*

        I just knew someone in the AAM community would have some experience here! Thank you, this is a lot of good stuff to think about.

        I would be looking at being a liveaboard in a marina, as part of the appeal is the location of the marina. They do allow liveaboards, though the number is limited and is roughly a third of the total slips they have available. Beyond that, you’ve definitely given me food for thought, particularly in the aspect of liveaboards commonly being looked down on. I haven’t seen that regarding the marina I’m looking at, but it’s good to be aware of and keep an eye out for–especially to see if there are reasons for that (beyond the class difference between the liveaboards and those renting a parking space for their yacht).

  33. meowy mcmouserson*

    So…I’ve got a potential neighbor problem. :/

    I live in a nice, quiet apartment complex. Several of us have liver here for years and I know a lot of my neighbors. A few months ago, a new guy moved next door to me – let’s call him “Tim.” I immediately got a creepy vibe from him. I’ve had similar vibes in the past and every time, the guys have been rapists, child molesters, or violent, so needless to say, I trust my gut feelings.

    I gave him the benefit of the doubt and always been polite. I’ve noticed that he has said some passive aggressive things to me and my neighbors, and yesterday, he went off on our maintenance crew. I also learned that he has sexually harassed a staff member of our management team recently. Basically, he has some anger management issues.

    I’m a little nervous, just because I live next door and don’t know if he is going to “go off” or not.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Geez, that sucks. Trust your gut. Since the rest of you and your neighbors are so tight, maybe you can get one of those security devices that makes a huge racket if a button is pressed, like a panic button. I know they have those for hotel rooms, where you hang it on the doorknob and, if it’s jostled, it sounds the alarm. It sounds like you can count on your neighbors to not hide in their apartments if they hear something. I hope you don’t have shift work, where you’re coming and going at really odd hours. If you do, maybe arrange something with someone you’re really close to where you can stay on the phone with them as you come and go.

      I know this all seems like a bit much, so maybe it isn’t all necessary, but personally, I’d rather overprepare than underprepare.

      I found some for under $20 by searching Amazon for “panic button”, “personal alarm”, or “emergency alarm”, BTW.

    2. We do the weird stuff!*

      If they are legal in your state, get a couple of “stun guns”. Keep one hanging / charging by your front door. Keep the other one charged and with you whenever you go out. These are weapons of last resort – you don’t want to ever have to use them.

      Also, get a whistle. A really loud one.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        The stun gun is a good idea, although I think that they hold a charge just fine until they’re used. As for the whistle, I think an alarm triggered by pushing a button or pulling a pin would be more reliable, as they can be ready to go immediately, whereas a whistle takes a second and your intent is being broadcast.

        BTW cyclatrol (can I call you cyclatrol?), I love the references you’ve been using.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s funny, as soon as the OP talked about instincts I thought of The Gift of Fear, that’s why I said they should trust their gut!

      2. NDQ*

        What a great book! I think it was recommended here and I borrowed it free with the Amazon Prime lending library. I’ve also seen it at the public library.


  34. fposte*

    Ew, Google. “Don’t be evil” is a pretty low bar–could you reach for “don’t be creepy”?

    I’m sure this isn’t new, but for the first time I was confronted with a subsequent ad based on info in a personal email I’d sent to somebody via gmail–like I mentioned to her something about quarterly taxes and got an ad for that exact service when I went to Amazon or something. It’s like having a salesman eavesdropping on your personal calls. Blech.

      1. fposte*

        It was on my tablet–probably why this was news to me. (There isn’t any adblocker for Safari on tablets, is there?)

        1. Mander*

          There are options on iPad but you have to jail break it. It was a simple process when I did it but I might now be a bit behind on iOS updates.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      I was suspicious that this had happened once, but wasn’t sure. The ubiquity of Google really unsettles me, I feel like I’m watching the creation of that secretly-evil super powerful corporation they have in all the scifi movies. I use Firefox and DuckDuckGo and try to remember to log out of my GMail when I’m browsing.

  35. Nashira*

    Today, my partner and I (and a friend) helped host an Ingress “First Saturday” event in our town – the first one ever done here. It’s basically a community