weekend free-for-all – August 22-23, 2015

olive and eveThis 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: Travels with Alice, by Calvin Trillin, whose amusing stories of traveling (and eating — so much eating) with his wife and daughters will make you want to be part of his family. If you like this kind of thing and you like curmudgeons, you may then want to then move on to The Tummy Trilogy, which contains three of his similar books.

{ 908 comments… read them below }

        1. Myrin

          Oh my, that is beyond cute, how absolutely adorable!

          (My rabbits used to groom each other but my cat would probably take a chunk out of another feline trying to get a good lick at him.)

          1. Karen Nola

            This is called ‘allogrooming” -it’s a means for animals to strengthen their bonds, and in the case of cats,steal a bit of their friend’s vitamin D. Cats get their vitamin D by sitting in the sunlight and is absorbed through the fur. So wee Olive is a sneaky thief, too. So cute!

    1. Myrin

      I lovelovelove the Olive-Eve relationship! (Especially since my cat hates every other cat – especially our direct neighbour’s cat – and would eat them for breakfast if he could.)

      Also, does Eve also have some brown in her fur? I thought from the older pictures that she was pure grey but that doesn’t seem to be the case? She also got bigger, didn’t she?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        She has cream and a very pale peach mixed in with the grey. She’s a “cream tortoiseshell” or “diluted tortoiseshell” (which I learned here — thank you, Dawn!). And yes, she got bigger! The perspective in this photo makes her look almost Olive-sized, which she definitely is not; Olive is still more than twice her size, but Eve is very much growing.

        And she continues to be a delight — unusually happy and affectionate (which is all the more fulfilling after her early history as a terrified foster). And last night she taught herself to fetch!

        1. Jessica (tc)

          I’m amazed at how much her coloring makes her look just like our own muted/diluted tortie! I love calling mine a “cream tortie” now that you gave me that term a few weeks ago, because it makes so much sense with her colors. I’ve been calling the peach color a washed-out rust, but peach makes a lot more sense!

        2. Seal

          My female cat is a medium-haired dilute tortiseshell with a long fluffy tail; her coloring is very similar to Eve’s. She and my 2 boy kitties (one black, one orange) are constantly grooming each other. Sometimes it starts as or evolves into wrestling, but it generally ends in snuggling up together and sleeping.

          Is Eve talktative? My girl chirps and chats quite a bit, not as much as my late Siamese mix did but far more than the other 2 combined. She particularly likes carrying around toys – crinkly Mylar balls are her favorite – and meowing at them. Very sweet.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            She is crazy loud when she wants food, but other than that, not hugely vocal … so far. Olive was very quiet in the beginning but has turned into a constant murmurer and triller.

        3. Barefoot Librarian

          I have a cream tortoiseshell also, though I never knew what the name of her coloration was until just now. I haven’t run into any other cats who look quite like her (until now!). She’s also pretty dainty, though that might be in part due to being the runt of the litter.

    2. Cath in Canada

      My two used to groom each other for hours, but now there’s usually 2-3 minutes of ear licking followed by a smack in the face and a prolonged wrestling match. Too bad, because it was so cute when they’d snuggle up like that for hours – but if I was made to spend my whole life in the same house as my sister, we’d probably be wrestling and smacking each other too.

      1. Sparky

        Yeah, I had hoped my two cats would groom each other. They do like each other, and play together, but the only grooming is lick-lick-lick-BITE! And then the play fighting is on!

  1. Beth

    What’s with people texting while driving? Grrrrr. I’m so old I remember when you had to get to the house to get messages.

    1. Mimmy

      People these days are just glued to their phones…it’s insane. Plus, it’s incredibly dangerous if you’re walking or driving and your eyes are on your phone, not where you’re going!!

      1. BRR

        A person walked into me because they were on their phone then yelled that I didn’t move. I yelled back :).

        1. RG

          I’m imagining them yelling “WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU” and you just respond with “AHHHHHHHH!”

        2. Artemesia

          I am becoming an old jerk. so many people walk towards you on a sidewalk sometimes several across and then don’t yield. I always jog a bit to make room and expect the other people to similarly make room. So many oblivious people (and alas often young people) just bull their way along not making room for anyone else. I am beginning to set myself to take a shoulder and give it back.

          1. StillHealing

            I’ve noticed this a lot too. Did no one ever teach them what “single file” means ? I’ve moved myself over as much as I can on sidewalks and taken an unexpected shoulder. I have joint and muscle issues and chronic pain so now I step off the sidewalk and wait for people to walk past me.

            1. Artemesia

              We live in a very walkable community but sidewalks are sometimes narrow and even where wide people will lag along 4 abreast. When I walk with my husband I automatically single file when approaching people and most older couples do the same, but I am finding lots of younger couples just continue 2 to 4 abreast and just expect us to make way. Not gonna do it anymore.

              Tourists do this abroad as well. I remember knocking into a woman who was part of a four abreast phalanx who was deeply offended although I had moved a couple of feet to avoid her, if she had also dropped back. I just pretended I was German and berated her as a boorish American tourist when she protested.

          2. BRR

            Same here. My neighborhood is a giant loop. What’s so difficult to understand about you each get half of the sidewalk and move to the right. Carrying a bag of dog poop in my left hand has helped the situation.

            1. Artemesia

              Reason to get a dog right there. I have taken to carrying my umbrella there so I can give as good as I get.

              1. Ariadne Oliver

                I should start carrying my cane with me when I go for a walk. I can start swinging it when I approach people and maybe they’ll move over.

                I don’t need a cane to walk 95% of the time, but when I do, it’s a lifesaver!

          3. Candy

            I always hold my ground and assert my right to 1/3 of the sidewalk, instead of stepping onto the grass. It’s amazing how many people WON’T MOVE and will bump right into me! If you are walking with your friends 3 abreast, I’m sorry, but one of you needs to move when someone’s coming in the other direction!

            1. Charlotte Collins

              I also love it when there is nowhere to go if the oncoming people don’t adjust. Do they think I’m going to walk into a hedge or brick wall because they don’t move over? Because that ain’t happening. I’m a small woman, but I still need to take up some space!

          4. fposte

            The secret is to stop in your tracks and stand still. For some reason the change of physics makes people veer around you then, when they’d have walked right into you if you’d kept walking.

            1. Charlotte Collins

              I’ve done this when possible. Also, I think seeing a very short person with a disapproving expression surprises them. (Since I look like a friendly, nurturing kind of person, I think this really surprises people.)

      2. nep

        Saw a young woman walking her head down, eyes glued to the phone. She quite nearly got hit by a truck — truck driver had a green light, she a red. Yes, she was doing that while crossing a very busy intersection. Some people consistently fail to apply any common sense.
        It’s truly ridiculous how people are so glued to their phones. Think I once mentioned this in the past — a funny (ridiculous) image is the one of people at a die-in / protest…80 percent of them looking at their phones.

        1. I mean...

          You can’t hits pedestrian just for being in the crosswalk when they shouldn’t be, though.

        2. SystemsLady

          What I don’t get are the people who are texting and driving…while tailgating you. If you’re going to do it at all (don’t), at the very least don’t do it when you’re in a busy area or like a foot away from another car!

          1. Charlotte Collins

            I’ve seen more than one person texting while biking. Which seems especially unsafe to me.

            Both are illegal in my state, because texting while driving is illegal, and bikes on the road are considered motorized vehicles. However, that memo has not gotten to most bikers…

        3. Anna

          The funniest thing I ever saw was a guy walking down the sidewalk staring down at his phone while pushing an empty stroller. I just delighted in the possible story there.

      3. nep

        Saw this on line: ‘Dance like nobody’s watching. Everyone’s looking at a phone. So nobody’s watching.’

      4. well . . . hmm

        I didn’t buy a Kia because the sales team kept going back to how easy it was to set up my phone in the Soul. I told them three times that I didn’t even have a cell phone (I have one now though) and that I was against people using their phones while driving. They were tone deaf and kept insisting that I would change my mind about it. Nope, hasn’t happened. I put my purse down in the passenger side of the car and ignore it until I get to my destination. I was also put off by the five different sales people asking me what my favorite color was. Scripted nonsense, just talk to me about how the car performs.

        1. Audiophile

          As someone who looked at a Soul, a Sportage, and a Forte, I think, I just wasn’t impressed with the cars. I ended up buying an Elantra from Hyundai. I love the BT feature. I don’t often talk in the car, but it is essential sometimes. And in my car, it’s just easy to set up. So if I need to call someone, I can hit the button and say “call Mom” and I’m done. My mom just bought a Forester and I went with her, the Bluetooth feature was so complicated and I can’t even figure out why they bothered to offer it.

          1. De Minimis

            Whenever we do get a new car, I definitely want a Bluetooth option. Not so much for using the phone, but because I want to listen to podcasts!

            1. Kate R. Pillar

              I just got BT in my old car by exchanging the radio. I love it!
              (Just to say, you may not have to wait for a new car…)
              I discovered that I will use it more for podcasts than for making calls, though:
              I got the feeling that I am more distracted by a phone call than by a conversation with someone in the car – people who are in the car automatically make pauses when the traffic situation requires more concentration. Whoever’s on the other end of the phone will not.

        2. Larold

          To each his own… I have a Soul and love it. I used the Bluetooth for awhile and stopped because I do mostly highway driving and people were telling me that the sound quality wasn’t great. Bluetooth is incredibly common in new cars, but you don’t have to connect your phone to it.

          1. Beth

            I too have a Soul. His name is Sammy. My hubby always remarks how good the sound is and that he cannot hear any road noise when I’m driving and talking to him.
            I Love My Sammy Soul!

    2. BRR

      I saw somebody this week texting and smoking while driving. My bar is low for common sense but I would think you would realize you need at least one hand to drive.

      1. Myrin

        I hope they accidentally tried to text with their cigarette and pushed a nice hole into their screen! >:|

    3. nep

      Don’t get me started. It’s beyond stupid. It’s like driving blindfolded. People seem to think they are somehow magically exempt from the horrific damage that can easily come from texting (or emailing or whatever on the phone) and driving — and not just to the offenders but to innocent drivers/passengers/pedestrians/bikers around them.
      Get over yourselves, people. You’re not that important that you’ve got to text or check a message while driving. Pull the hell over.
      (See? I’ve got a few thoughts and feelings on this.)
      Beyond. Stupid.
      What are the laws on phone use while driving where you live? And — more importantly — how firmly are they enforced?

      1. Could be anyone

        PA – It is illegal in Pennsylvania to use your cell phone while driving to send or receive texts, emails, or messages of any kind. Anything else is okay.
        I don’t hear about any enforcement but the reality is that it is very difficult to catch but an investigation after an accident should find any illegal uses.

        1. danr

          In NJ it is illegal to use a cell phone in a hand-held mode while driving. It’s a primary offense and, yes there is enforcement. I was in one line of traffic where the police were just on the side of the road and could see what people were doing. There was a line of cars that had been waved over for tickets.

          1. nep

            Good to hear it’s enforced in some places.
            While I’m driving, seriously, nine out of 10 drivers I see are looking at their phones.

      2. CIVICSGRATE

        > It’s beyond stupid.

        I totally hear you. I don’t even talk on the phone when I’m driving.

        I think most states have laws against “distracted driving”. There’s been at least one attempt here in Texas to pass a state law specifically against texting and driving, but I don’t think it passed. Austin (and other cities) have local ordinances against it. I can’t comment about enforcement. It probably doesn’t help that cop cars have all kinds of techno-shit in them and sometimes they’re the ones who’re driving like idiots.

        I love gadgets and stuff, but the last time I went car-shopping, I was seriously annoyed at how much extraneous display and control crap there is in many new cars. Some of which is intended to make it easier for the driver to deal with voice and text messaging (ie, incoming texts are read aloud, and the system tries to do some kind of voice recognition to allow you to speak a text response) – I’m not at all convinced this stuff is helping to fight the problem, though.

        Pet peeve: rental cars. I travel on business occasionally, and I’ll get a rental car, and I’ve watched as the control panels get denser and harder to navigate. A couple of weeks ago I got a Ford Fusion that had me sitting in the lot for 20 freaking minutes trying to figure out how to make my phone talk to it (I use a phone app for navigation). The scary part is that I’m fairly sure many people don’t take the time to set all of this crap up before they drive away – instead, they’re punching buttons and fiddling with their phone while they’re doing 60mph on an unfamiliar highway.

        1. nep

          I don’t talk on the phone when driving either. Yeah, yeah — walk and chew gum and all that…There is no way one is as focused on traffic as one needs to be when holding a conversation.
          You’re right about all the gadgets.
          The other day I was talking with a friend who’s a cop about texting and driving. This woman jumped in to the conversation and actually said something like ‘They should find ways to make it easier for people to text and do other things while driving’. She was serious. Then she made a lame attempt at humour — ‘Hey what if phones could be transparent, we could be texting and still seeing in front of us’. She was making light of it. I think most people do. It’s all fun and games until someone gets killed by a texting driver.

          1. Kristen

            I honestly think people don’t realize how bad they drive while using their phone (for talking or texting). When I see someone suddenly slowing down after driving fast or driving a bit on the shoulder (or something else that tells me they have their mind on something else), I check to see if they’re on their phone. Much of the time they are. I think people tell themselves, “oh, other people can’t talk on the phone and drive well, but I can do it, no problem. I’m good at it actually.” I can’t imagine someone after seeing how crappy their driving is while on the phone, would continue to do so. Well, I hope they’d cease the behavior anyway.
            I’m a hypocrite really. I talk on the phone occasionally (with a headset not that that’s better) while driving. In Minnesota, we have a law against text while driving, but I am 100% for a complete ban on the use of handheld devices behind the wheel.

            1. nep

              I think you’re right — People who text and drive don’t think about how impaired their driving is. And they probably have got this attitude that they’re ‘coordinated’ enough to pull it off…’nothing will happen to me’. That’s if they think about it at all; I reckon they don’t give it a second thought they just do it.

            2. Mephyle

              I think there’s a big difference between talking on your phone while driving and looking at your phone while driving. Talking on your phone is not that much different from talking to a passenger. I know there are studies that say different, but I’m not convinced. I think the danger in using the phone while driving is when you look at it. Which you do while talking on the phone when dialing or answering.
              I mean, doesn’t it make sense? When you’re looking at the phone, your eyes are not on the road at all. As for texting, you might as well be reading a book while driving.

              1. fposte

                Talking on your phone (even on hands-free) is *really* distracting conceptually; there’s some good research on how bad it is. People tend to think the problem is about what you’re looking at, and it’s about what you’re *thinking* about. It really is a lot like being somewhat intoxicated–your brain just can’t focus on what it needs to focus on while you’re talking.

                Passengers can be distracting too, but they’re less likely to be because talking to people in person works different cognitively; additionally, passengers can see the traffic situation and offer some guidance and warnings, and it’s better than having them in a separate car, so there’s compensatory benefit.

                1. CIVICSGRATE

                  All of this. I’ll accept that maybe hands-free phone calls are less of a problem, but when I’m holding a phone to my ear, I’m typically concentrating and focusing pretty hard on the conversation. Arguably this might just be me and how my brain has learned to deal with phone calls.

                  And – there are different kinds of phone calls. Chatting with a friend about “stuff” is less of a cognitive load than some kind of work/technical conversation. And, in theory, a hands-free phone conversation should be just like talking to someone in the car – but it’s not. I’ve noticed that I’ll pause/stop talking if the traffic situation gets too complex. If I’m talking with a passenger in the car, that works okay – I assume the passenger gets cues as per fposte mentions about the traffic, as well as body-language cues from me about where my attention is focused. On a phone call – there’s none of that. You can say it’s my own fault, but – I’ve found there’s still a part of my brain that wants to focus on the call and obeying the conversational conventions, when I should just be paying attention to my driving.

                  One other thing to consider, if you’re talking via cellphone to someone who is driving: I’m not at all convinced that they’re really participating deeply in the conversation. Practically speaking, if you ask a question, their answer may not be especially trustworthy.

        2. asteramella

          Yes, the TX texting while driving ban died in the state Senate.

          The Austin ordinance is loosely enforced, to say the least. I see people texting and driving all the time. Once on the highway I saw someone steering with his elbows while holding his phone up in front of the wheel to watch a video–traffic was “only” about 40 mph so why not hop on to YouTube, right?

          I always honk when I see people texting and driving and it usually makes people put the phone down, at least for a minute.

          1. Windchime

            This one takes the cake. I’ve seen lots of people texting and talking on the phone with their handsets, and I even once saw a woman reading a book that was propped up on her steering wheel in stop-and-go traffic. Haven’t seen anyone watching a movie on their phone yet, though!

            1. danr

              Here’s another good one … when I was driving to work, I saw a man practicing conducting. We were in a traffic jam, crawling along. He had a score propped up on the steering wheel and was waving his hands. That’s what attracted my attention in the first place.

          2. CIVICSGRATE

            > the TX texting while driving ban died in the state Senate.

            Not surprising.

            It’s probably mostly a good thing, but years ago my wife and I had a job to set up a website to track bills as they made their way through the Texas legislature, and (call me naive) I was surprised at the tremendous number of bills at the beginning of the session, versus the tiny number that actually made their way into law.

        3. Anx

          If I was rich, I’d probably hoard a bunch of cars now while they are still available. I love power windows and steering and an automatic transmission, but I really detest having so many computers in my car. I find it distracting plus they are always such expensive repairs.

        1. Anon the Great and Powerful

          I’m in Ontario and I know a bunch of people who’ve gotten $500 tickets for texting and driving. The fines need to be higher, though, because they’re all still texting and driving.

      3. snuck

        Illegal in Australia (national road laws here).

        Can use a mobile for voice calls if you are using it with a handsfree kit… the law is fuzzy on *how* you initiate that call as far as I can tell – you aren’t allowed to play with the handset, but there’s nothing that says you can’t dial using your dash controls….

        If caught handling a mobile while in control of a vehicle it’s a fine of a few hundred dollars and ?one? demerit point (you get 12 demerits for 3yrs, if you lose any they don’t come back for 3yrs, long weekends and other high crash risk times are double points lost but the fines remain the same). You don’t have to be making a call to be fined, just handling it.

      4. Artemesia

        Not long ago I was in a car coming into town where two freeways sort of came together and it was congested and there was complicated merging involved. I looked over and the guy in the next car had his head buried in a phone while driving in this congested stop and start complicated mess. I have seen people reading books on the wheel on the freeways — and we just try to steer clear when we notice idiots like that — but in a complicated traffic situation, it is just insane.

      5. Not So NewReader

        In NY, the law is “If you have an electronic device in your hand…”. The law does not care if you were using the device or not- that is irrelevant. People try to say, “Oh it fell of the console and I picked it up. ” An unthinking thing to say because it’s an admission that you had it in your hand which is illegal.

        It’s five points on your license, get one more point and you just lost your license in NY. Since most states have reciprocity with NY, then you can’t drive there either.

        The fines increase for each offense even if you are able to plea them down. Some judges do not allow plea agreements on cell tickets. A person would have to request a trial.

        From what I am reading the number of deaths caused by cell phone usage is higher than the number of DWI related deaths. We have found something worse than drunk driving, in terms of how many of us are doing it and how many of us refuse to stop doing it. At least with drinking and driving most people stopped. I would guess that with most cars I pass, I see someone using their phone. I have two friends that it took me months of “nagging” to get them to stop using their cells while driving. “I can handle it.” Does not matter if you feel you can handle it, the fines are steep if you are caught.

        1. fposte

          I try really hard not to call people when they’re driving, too, even if it’s legal/handsfree. I just feel like I’m pouring us out drinks while we’re in the car.

          I think this is going to be even harder to beat than drunk driving, because there’s so much reward from the human contact on the phone and it’s so much of a daily life habit now.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            I remember when I assumed that someone driving erratically was drunk. Now I just assume that they’re on the phone…

            Unless it’s late Friday or Saturday night, then it’s probably both.

        2. Lady Bug

          That’s frustrating as I fast forward through my ipod, which does nothing but play music, cause even though I made the playlist I don’t want to hear the next 50 songs. I don’t look at it and it’s just as distracting as when I run through radio stations on my dash for 3 minutes trying to find a song, maybe less so since I don’t need to lean forward.

        3. LibLady

          Yes! This! Read “A Deadly Wandering: A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation And the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age” by Matt Richtel. Its a look at one of the first fatalities by texting interwoven with looking at the science of how our brains are distracted while texting. Fascinating, and it scared the pants off me. Texting is worse than drunk driving in terms of being distracted.

    4. AcidMeFlux

      I almost got hit by a car a few years ago by a woman talking and driving (on a narrow, downtown street in the European city I live in.) She stopped short just before she hit me, held up her phone and shouted out the window, “I’m a lawyer!!” and drove off.

        1. AcidMeFlux

          We were just outside one of the major police stations in the city so I imagine she was on some important mission and got distracted and maybe that’s what she wanted to say, and then realized it was…dumb to say it. Still, she almost ran me down.

    5. Noah

      I’m guilty of this myself. I’ve started putting my cell phone in my messenger bag and leaving it in the backseat while I drive to/from work. That way I can’t easily reach the phone while at a stop light and start looking at email, texts, or Instagram.

      We have laws against distracted driving where I live, and that’s usually what they will ticket you for if they find out you were using the phone and it contributed to an accident. I think the issue really is distracted driving though, not just texting while driving. It is just as dangerous in some cases for people to eat while driving, apply makeup while driving, figure out a new car’s stereo system while driving, or deal with screaming children while driving.

      One final annoyance. AT&T’s hold messages are always about not texting while driving. It really gets under my skin for some reason. I don’t need to be told what to do by a company that I pay nearly $100 a month to for cell phone service.

      1. nep

        Agreed. Dangerous distraction while driving can come in many forms — texting or checking messages or other things on the cell phone just being a particularly bad one. I’ve seen women putting on makeup while driving. Really, people?
        Nice try with that PSA, AT&T. But I highly doubt it will deter anyone who’s into texting and driving from doing it.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I wonder if that is an attempt to mitigate some unforeseen liability that might crop up in a court sometime in the future. A parallel example is commercials for alcoholic beverages- “drink responsibly.”

        Unfortunately, there are people who do need to be told, because they haven’t gotten the memo yet. The rest of us have to put up with it.

        1. nep

          I don’t see there’s even a need for ‘the memo’ here. Seriously. It’s pretty much a no-brainer, no? Some just don’t think and don’t care.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            I work with someone who didn’t understand why her father got so mad when people were glued to their phones. Once I explained that I love crossword puzzles, but anywhere/anytime it was inappropriate for me to do one would also be when it was inappropriate for people to play with their phone, she had an “aha” moment.

      3. fposte

        I’m in the camp that says it’s still reasonable to restrict major contributors to accidents even if we don’t get them all–after all, people can be more impaired by talking on the phone than by being buzzed, but that’s hardly a viable argument for driving intoxicated to be okay. So I’m fine if they want to expand the laws to distraction beyond phones (though eating really isn’t as cognitively distracting as talking on the phone), but phones and mind-altering substance, legal and otherwise, are the biggies.

    6. Stitch

      Disney was trying for a while (still might be?) to get #x to catch on. The idea was that if you were about to drive, you could just text #x to your friend and they’d know why you couldn’t respond.

      I like the idea because it not only makes it really easy to end a conversation before you start driving, but it also starts a conversation about how serious texting and driving is – which, new teenage drivers especially, might not understand why it’s such a big deal.

      1. nep

        People for a long, long, long time were just fine not being in constant contact every waking second. Just because the technologies exist for us to be in contact and responding every waking second no matter what, that doesn’t mean we’ve got to do so. If one does not respond to a text or a call, well, one is occupied with something else. Period.

        1. Artemesia

          As old foggie, I raised kids and lived most of my life without a cell phone — and was a very late adopter. Many people seem to have lost the art of walking and chewing gum without constant strokes. Someone on TA was asking how to buy a walkie talkie to have in Europe in case the cell network went down. We traveled in Europe for 35 years before we got cell phones. It is fairly simple to organize yourself to meet up or to follow x protocol if you get separated. But for the constantly reinforced generation, I am sure this seems odd. I would feel so intruded upon and crowded if a boyfriend had had to hear from me every few minutes — it feels like a leash. Having aps and gps at your fingertips is handy — having to respond to texts constantly is claustrophobic. (but at least if people are texting you don’t have to hear conversations like ‘hey guess, where I am?’ ‘yeah, right here in the quiet car on the train’ )

          1. Not So NewReader

            a leash…. You know to me cell phones feel like a leash. “you should answer your phone, how come you did not answer your phone, you have to answer your phone.” Uhh, NO.

            1. De Minimis

              I view my phone more as an entertainment/information device than as a communication device.

          2. SystemsLady

            It’s not so much “this generation”, but the availability of texting (kind of like how the growing availability of airplanes killed the art of the road trip). There was actually a study that found that adults, not teenagers, were the worst offenders: 82% of adults 25-39, 72% of adults 40-59, and 58% of younger drivers.

            1. SystemsLady

              Not that it makes texting while driving acceptable, or that all of those people do it all day every day, it is just a disturbing statistic that indirectly shows that older generations have really picked up on texting as well.

            2. asteramella

              Not that this is super related, but another recent study shows that adults (all the way to 80 years old!!) engage in sexting. Lots of the new behaviors that get blown up in the media as millennial/teen problems are common in older adults too.

      2. Tara

        Every teenage driver I know thinks that texting and driving is a cardinal sin. It’s the 30+ crowd that seems to think it’s no big deal.

        1. manomanon

          This has been my experience as well. 3 of my siblings are in hs/college and they all know someone who was killed, maimed, badly injured, etc. because of a crash caused by someone texting or talking while driving. Anectadata it may be but they and their friends are big on no phones being used by the driver.
          People in their 20s are iffy and 30 plus don’t believe it could be a problem.

          1. nep

            These two comments are somewhat encouraging — I didn’t know that was the trend. So get with it, 20- and 30-year-olds.

          2. Charlotte Collins

            I think this is like the drinking and driving thing. GenX knows that it’s bad – we had it drilled into our heads, but baby boomers are sometimes more on the fence about it. I’ve also learned it’s a regional thing. I now live somewhere where drunk driving is more common than anywhere I’ve ever lived. Is texting while driving the same?

    7. Rebecca

      I’m fed up with it. These idiots are going to kill someone, and I don’t want it to be me! Friday afternoon on the way home from work I had to wait at a light. On my right was a young woman texting or posting or scrolling on her phone, with a cigarette in her other hand. She was driving with her wrist. I watched her, and when the light changed, she barely looked up from her phone, and continued to drive, head down.

      I vote that other drivers be allowed to shoot the other driver’s car with a paint ball. The state can decide which color, and use the stuff they use in bank dye packs so if the driver somehow cleans it off, you can still see it under an ALS. Then the police could issue tickets. I wish.

      But in all seriousness, here in PA it seems like people don’t get stopped and ticketed, but all the investigating goes on after an accident. I see this all the time when I’m walking – people driving with the phone propped up on the top of the steering wheel, probably trying to find a signal, and they are not looking at where they’re going. Besides people like me, walking or biking, we have deer and bear, and other smaller animals they could hit. I think the punishment needs to include forfeiture of the phone for 30 days. It goes in a locked drawer at the police station, and that’s it. You come by on day 31 to retrieve it. If it happens again, 60 days. After the 3rd time, then start banning people from having a phone at all. Enough is enough.

      1. nep

        +1
        It’s revolting.
        (I’d call for a stiffer punishment than that — offenders would just get another phone.)

      2. Artemesia

        My daughter’s family uses bikes to get everywhere in the city and have a side car for the baby — I live in terror that one of these yutz’s will rear end them at a light and kill them. And unfortunately it happens a lot. Several experienced bikers have been killed in our city in the last year by drivers who weren’t paying attention.

      3. Forrest Rhodes

        Didn’t George Carlin have a riff about Dummy Darts? His idea was that drivers be issued a little dartgun that shoots rubber-tipped, self-adhesive darts; at the other end of each dart is a small day-glo yellow flag. Every time you see a driver do something stupid (like the stories described here), you shoot a Dummy Dart that attaches to the rear of their vehicle. The police are allowed to pull over and ticket the driver of any vehicle that’s sporting three or more Dummy Darts (I think the charge was “felonious stupidity”).
        I may not have all these details precisely correct, but I always liked the idea.
        Dang, I miss George.

        1. nep

          Sorry — Carlin gets charged with ‘felonious stupidity’ for joking about rape. I could never look at the guy again after I heard that bit a long time back.

      4. Not So NewReader

        A friend was talking on the phone with his buddy who was driving. Buddy was driving verrry fast and yakking away. Suddenly, Buddy said, “I have lost control of my car.” The phone got buzzy/noisy and then went dead. Friend rushed to the scene, got there before anyone else and saw Buddy laying dead in the inverted car. Friend has to live with that memory for the rest of his life. I cannot imagine what that is like.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I’ve seen people on scooters doing that. Strangely, never motorcycles, but motorcycle safety is really big where I live. (Possibly due to the lack of helmet laws.)

    8. Ariadne Oliver

      I would vote for anyone who made texting while driving as illegal as drinking while driving. I would vote twice if they also abolished Daylight Savings Time. (And this includes Hilary, Jeb, and Donald. Dear God, please send us a candidate that will actually SERVE our country.)

  2. Carrie in Scotland

    I moved today!

    Super early start (6.30 am) but I’ve moved, yey! And my cat is here too. It’s only been a week but I missed her so much.

    Now just the unpacking to do.
    And the fact that I can only get limited tv reception. And internet only on my phone.

    But I have moved! To a big city!

    1. AcidMeFlux

      Congratulations! Is it your first time living in a big city? I was born in one and couldn’t live anywhere else.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I lived in a small one in the area I grew up in – so everything/where was familar to me.

  3. FluffyKitty

    I’m going anonymous for this one today. This one is long….

    My spouse and I are in very deep debt. We bought a house last year and we rent out the old one. We were in debt before that, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I’d guess we had the standard amount of debt that most people have. Ever since we bought the house we’ve gone deeper and deeper in debt. So many things have happened that caused us to pretty much max out every card we have and get a couple more and max those out. (We didn’t spend frivolously. It was all for the house, bills (robbing Peter to pay Paul!), etc.) We also have an installment loan that we have a little over a year left on which to pay. We don’t have car loans; mine was paid off a few years ago and is about 9 years old and my spouse drives an old Saturn. Also, we owe the IRS and state about 7,000.00 (we’re on a payment plan). Our oil budget plan payment doubled because they underestimated how much oil we’d use (house is very old and heating isn’t very efficient). We also had unexpected vet and medical bills. So basically we got killed this year with expenses.

    Unfortunately we were notified recently that BOTH mortgage payments are increasing due to higher taxes and insurance. One went up 100.00 a month, which is normal. Well, the other one – on the old house – is going up 100.00 a month PLUS another 200.00 a month for the next 12 months because there is a 2,000.00 escrow shortage on top of the usual increase. It wouldn’t be a problem if we were getting in rent the full amount of the mortgage. As it is now, we kick in a few hundred every month on that mortgage. Due to the really crappy location of the old house, we can’t get enough to cover the mortgage. (We were one of the people that refinanced when home values were through the roof.) Unfortunately, we don’t have the 2,000.00 to pay in one shot so we’re stuck with paying the extra money each month for the next year.

    The question I have first is whether there is any way for us to get rid of the old house soon and where do we start. We owe 175,000.00 and it’s worth maybe 170,000.00, but would realistically sell for about 160,000.00 due to the awful location. Plus it needs a roof in the near future. We don’t have the money to bridge the gap between what we owe and what the house might sell for. We’re not able to get a higher rent. If my spouse’s job wouldn’t be in jeopardy (government clearance needed) we’d just say screw it and walk away from it. I’m wondering if it’s possible to get a loan that would bridge that gap. We don’t have equity in that house and we definitely don’t in the new house yet, so it would have to be an installment loan. That would be tough, though. Our credit scores are in the low 600s due to our very high balances. (We’re not delinquent on anything and never have been.) And ss far as I know, we wouldn’t be able to prove hardship or anything in order to do a short sale, or any other options that are out there.
    My second question is in regards to paying down our debt. In two months our oil budget plan will decrease to half what it is now, so there’s some breathing room there. The state taxes will be paid off when we file the next taxes, since they will take any refund we might get. The IRS will be close to paid off, since they too will take any refund we might get. The installment loan will be paid off in November of 2016, so that gives us 300.00 a month. Also, my spouse’s 401k loan will be paid off a month after that, which is another 300.00 a month. So, where do we start? Higher interest cards? The cards with really small balances so we can say they’re paid (then close them!!)? The installment loan because it would give us 300.00 a month extra?

    I’m hoping someone has some good tips. We just don’t know where to start, because the debt, and trying to dump the old house, just seems insurmountable. We’re able to pay everything, and also feed ourselves and our cats, but if something happened to one of the cars, or the well pump, or something like that, we’d be totally screwed.

    And, please, no one tell me how stupid we were to get into debt, or how could we get ourselves into this, etc. We feel crappy as it is and it’s causing us to lose sleep. Everything was going fine when we got the new house and we had everything covered. But so many things have come along in the last year and we just feel like we’re treading water with no light at the end of the tunnel for a very long time.

    1. AcidMeFlux

      I don’t mean this at all snarkily – and crowdsourcing anecdotal, experience-based advice from people wh0 have really been there can be incredibly useful – but try to get advice from a professional (or more than one.) There are NGOs and public agencies to help people manage debt. I’d start there. And get more than one opinion. And don’t feel like you’re bad or stupid for ending up in this position. The last 15 years have been very weird all over the world. I live in Southern Europe (I’m from the US) and many millions of people here are in the same boat. Frankly the governments and the European banking agencies pretty much admit that in the early 00′ years people were encouraged to borrow, buy, leverage, borrow and spend some more, because it would all work out. Sure….

    2. Colette

      Thoughts:
      – talk to your bank about getting a loan for the difference between the sale price and the amount you’d get. If they’ll do it, pursue selling the old place,.
      – can you sell the new place and rent? Even if rent = mortgage, you wouldn’t have to pay maintenance. And if you can rent a smaller place, you might be able to rent for less.
      – can one or both of you get a second job or find some other way to make more money?
      – mathematically, pay off the highest interest debt first, but i suspect you’re better off maying the lowest balance first just so that it feels like you’re making progress. But before you do that, save up some money ($500? $1000?) so that a minor crisis won’t become a huge disaster.

      I know it’s overwhelming, but you’ll figure this out.

      1. Window specialist

        I can recommend a book called Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey, it’s an easy read and will give you more than enough ideas about how to decrease your debt. I also have to agree with Colette on all her statements, primarily in that you both get a second job until you get the debt down to a level that you can handle with just your primary jobs. The first thing you might want to consider is cutting up the cards, but if you read that book that will be clearly stated and backed with reasons to do so.

        When I lost my job and had just purchased a house 6 months before I was in the same sort of position. The big thing that helped me was I had to part with several things that I wanted to keep but needed the cash, so I had to sell them and suffer the loss or lose my home because I wanted to hold on to things that really didn’t matter that much to me in the long run. I hated going thru it but it made me much wiser in my purchases in the future, and I’m really greatful for having gone thru it now, hurt like hell then, but I lived thru it.

        I can’t stress hard enough about the book, it can change your life for the best. Good luck with this, I hope it works out well for you.

        1. Artemesia

          I hate Ramsey’s politics and the way he rams his religion down everyone’s throat but his financial advice is really great. The OP couldn’t afford the house they bought and now are being strangled by it. This book does give great advice about digging out. And one principle is that if you are in over your head you sell for what you can get rather than being slowly smothered.

          1. Kirsten

            Agreed about Dave Ramsey. I tend to fast forward my pod cast app when he starts talking politics or religion. I love his financial advice and like his personality but with he would cut the religion and politics down a bit.

      2. Meg Danger

        Yes, it makes a lot of sense to pay off high interest rate loans first, but sometimes for your peace of mind/motivation you need to see actual progress (eliminating smaller debts for example). If you do pay off your smaller balance cards first… do not close the accounts. Cut up your cards or whatever you need to do to resist the urge to use them, but if you leave them open it will work in your favor while you rebuild your credit score. Without going into too much detail, the less percentage of your total credit limit that you are currently using, the better… so if you close your accounts as you pay them off your credit limit goes down, and you risk using a higher percentage of your limit and potentially hurting your score (counter-intuitive, right?). Another factor if the longevity of your credit accounts. Older accounts are better for your credit score than younger accounts (if they show that you are not missing payments).

        Anyways… lots of luck and lots of love. Your situation sounds really stressful, and I hope that things turn around for you when you get some more wiggle room.

    3. BRR

      I’m sorry all of this is happening. It can happen so quickly. So now for the advice, I’m not a financial advisor but here are my thoughts:

      I would try to pursue a short sale. Don’t say reject your own short sale, let the bank say no, but you have to ask first. The fact you own another home might disqualify you but if you’ve had hardships the bank might approve it. Ask about a short sale though before trying to bridge the difference. Also your house is only worth what somebody will pay for it, so if people will only pay $160K then it’s worth $160K.

      The two thoughts with paying off debt is the one that gives you more money (paying higher interest things first) or the snowball method (paying the smallest amount because it feels good). I would try and build up a small emergency fund first. If you pay down your cards and they close them (which they can do) you’re SOL. Save some cash so if something happens you can pay cash. I would pay the higher interest rates first and I’d only close accounts once more things are paid off. You need access in case.

      Also, don’t rescue any more animals.

    4. Alicia

      No expert here, but I’ll give it a kick at the can. Also, the Personal Finance community on reddit (and blogs – I’m a debt PF blogger) is very helpful. Might want to bounce it off a few people there as well, since they’re inclined that way.

      Sell the rental. Even if you lose the $15k or so in equity, you’ll be freeing up money in your budget that you’ve been feeding in there to cover the mortgage. Easier said than done as some advice from a stranger, but I do know the situation (currently have a rental because we couldnt sell without a huge knock – thankfully our rental breaks even). Try to get a LOC or installment loan to cover it. There’s also be 0% balance transfer cards out there that might be worth it if they deposit to a chequing account. I know advising taking on more revolving debt isn’t great, but if you get a game plan and are determined, it’s are means to an end.

      As for how to pay down the debt, there’s two schools of thought on paying down debt: the math answer, and the psychological answer. Math says pay down the one with the highest interest rate first because you’re paying more to that. Psychologically, it’s nice to get it down to a few pots rather than owing to ten different people/institutions, so it leans towards paying off the small pots first, regardless of interest rate. Once the smaller pots are done, you can move to the big chug on the larger debt.

      If you owe anyone money personally (I owed a few thousand to my parents) I’d suggest writing out postdated cheques and do that at the same time. Sure, they might be giving you a good rate, but owing money to a friend is a way different feeling than owing money you a financial institution. It can mess up relationships, and makes people you owe money to think they have a say in your finances (“oh, you just bought a coffee when you owe me $X…!” – I’ve been on both sides, and it isn’t fun either way).

      The first step you need to do (and I think you have it done because you know when loans are ended, etc) is to make a spreadsheet, or just write it all down, and see what the carrying costs are with minimum payments to keep every source of debt current. Personally, I would see if there are are any small pots that you could clear out in one month or two after your minimum payments are covered. If so, knock them out. Then once those are gone, I’d hit the high interest debt, regardless of size. If you have credit cards, hit those hard because the interest rates suck so much.

      It’s a grind, but so worth it. I owed $33k two years ago, and now it’s down to about $5k. I cannot wait for it to be done. Remember to leave a bit of money in the budget so you don’t burn out, because it takes awhile, depending on your disposable income level. And I hope you and your partner are on the same page, because it makes debt paydown so much easier :) I’m not quite there yet, but I can already tell how much better it will feel to have that financial burden gone. Good luck with it.

    5. danr

      If you have IRAs or 401k’s or equivalents, you can borrow against them. There are special rules about borrowing against the 401k though. If you have them, talk to someone at the firms that hold them as to how you do this.

      1. KerryOwl

        It sounds like they already did that, and are just paying it back: my spouse’s 401k loan will be paid off a month after that, which is another 300.00 a month.

        1. FluffyKitty

          Yes, we did. It was necessary at the time. My spouse’s plan does not allow more than one loan at a time. I think the payoff is around $4,000.00 right now.

    6. onnellinen

      First, I am really sorry to hear you are in this situation. It sounds like it is really stressful, try and take care of yourself. There’s really no sense in feeling like crap – lots of people end up in similar situations, for really similar reasons, and it doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Sometimes stuff just happens.

      I have no advice on the house(s) – but if I were in your position, I would take a good look at what it is costing to carry the old house, and try to decide if it is worth it. Even if you sell it at a loss, it might be better than the constant cost of owning and maintaining.

      For managing the rest of the debt, I am a big subscriber to Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s approach to managing money. I’ll follow this with a link or two. To me, what it really boils down to, is identifying your priorities (paying down your debt), and using a budget as a tool to make sure you are spending your money according to your priorities, while being realistic about the other things you need to spend on (food, car loans, etc.). I have slipped back into using my credit card more often, but I went about a year using cash for all of my regular expenses, and it was so easy to stay within my budget – once the cash was spent, no more until I went to the bank next week.

      One common way to deal with the debt you have ‘snowballing’ – pay the minimum on all of your cards/loans, and throw everything else available at the highest interest card. Once that one is paid off, you can redirect those payments to the next highest, and so on.

      Another option might be to call the credit card companies, and see if you can negotiate a lower rate, which will help with how much you are paying.

      Putting it all together is probably the hardest part, but will really help you to see where your money is going now, and have a clear path forward on getting out of debt. Good luck!

    7. fposte

      First, yes, definitely talk to a real debt counselor. I’ll post a URL on finding one after this.

      But I’m with Colette–look into selling the new house. I think you have, financially speaking, a blanket too small for your bed, and you need to stop yanking the blanket around to try to cover things and just get a smaller bed. Additionally, I’d check into what put the escrow up–is it property taxes (my bet)? Have you appealed them, if so? I would do it just for the heck of it–it doesn’t take a lot of work and some counties are pretty willing to grant appeals to people who bother to do the homework.

      In general, the best financial decision is to pay off higher-interest loans first. You are paying them money to deal with you on top of the money you borrowed; that’s money you need. However, there can be psychological value (not much value as far as your loanworthiness, though) in paying off the smallest stuff and getting the number of payees down; you know better than I do which is going to sustain you the best.

      Sorry for your troubles, and I hope they ease up.

    8. FluffyKitty

      Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.

      I really feel that dumping the old house is what needs to happen. I’m not willing to get rid of the new house, because when we strongly feel this is our forever home. I can’t describe it. It was just a feeling of being “home” when we saw it. Obviously, if we got into very serious financial trouble we would sell it. But we’re not there yet.

      As for pets, no I won’t be rescuing any more cats. We’re happy with the ones we have. We can feed them and we can take them to Petco for low-cost vaccinations (actually, I did that before the financial issues, too, because it’s so much cheaper). The unexpected vet bills cropped up for things that don’t typically happen to cats.

      I’m thinking we will start with the small balances, because that will give us the momentum to move forward. I will also call the credit card companies and see if they can lower the interest rate; some of them are really high.

      You know what gets me? With the money my spouse and I make, we could each be driving a German luxury car (not that we want one–they’re just expensive status symbols to us) and have a ton of disposable income, AND go on vacation every year. So depressing.

      1. BRR

        It really sucks, I’m sorry. It sounds like a ton of unexpected things came up. In addition to fposte’s link, I would check out the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. I’m not entirely sure what they have to offer but hopefully there might be some good advice there.

      2. fposte

        Presumably there was a reason for having two houses made sense to you as the priority last year, though. Not many people can afford two houses *and* a luxury car and vacations.

        I’m afraid I think you’re in worse financial shape than you do–the kind of things that are pushing you over the edge, from what you say, are the usual unusual things, like vet bills and expensive oil use, that will happen just about every year. I would aggressively pursue either a short sale to stop the bleeding (it’ll hit your credit hard, but hopefully you won’t be using your credit for a few years now anyway) or accept that the world is full of forever homes, sell this one, and buy again in a few years when your debt is under control. Remember, everything you pay for on the credit card costs 18% or whatever the interest rate is above the sticker price for you right now. Somebody rear-ends the Saturn and it needs $600 of work? It basically costs you $700 to fix it.

        Also, if you haven’t, pare your budgets to the bone. Never mind the latte cliché–the area where I see most people getting benefits from cutting are phones (and other tech) and gym memberships. See what you can cut there–if you can trim your phone costs from $1k a year to $100 a year (prepaid phone will do that pretty easily), that’s $900–that’ll make a significant dent in one of your credit card bills, and maybe now’s the time to lose cable TV if you have it. If you have a gym membership, consider quitting and taking up walking or bodyweight or something free; that would get you something like $600 a year if it’s average.

        I’m not saying you have to live like a monk because you have debt, but you’re posting because your debt distresses you; I don’t know the full details of your life, but here are the things I’m thinking that I’d hope to get you out of that distress sooner.

        1. FluffyKitty

          To be clear, we haven’t been on vacation in 3 years, so the money isn’t going there. No luxury cars either–I have a Pontiac and the spouse has an old Saturn. And we kept the old house because didn’t want to take the huge hit at that time.

          I plan to call next week the bank that holds the mortgage and see what the options are. I’ll also see if I can lower some credit cards rates. I just finished doing our bills and recorded all the rates and balances in my monthly spreadsheet.

          Oh, something I noticed while doing the bills: Care Credit raised our credit limit by 1,000.00! We didn’t even ask. It happened to my spouse last month with TWO credit cards. Just out of the blue they raised the limits. Considering our current credit scores, that’s really scary.

          1. danr

            Yes, it is. They’re getting back to the bad old ways. On the other hand, if you don’t use the extra credit that you got, your credit score will go up.

          2. fposte

            Of course they raised your credit limit–you’re a very lucrative customer. They want you to pay them more money, after all, and this is how they’ll make it possible.

            I wasn’t meaning that you were living the life of Reilly or anything, but yeah, you pretty much bought a house instead of having vacations. It’s not a moral judgment–a lot of people who buy houses do the same thing–but I think I’m just a little surprised that you’re surprised.

      3. Paulina

        Thus all sounds super-stressful, I’m sorry you’re going through this.

        That said, I’m as wary of “forever home” as I am of “dream job”. (And this “forever home” is partially responsible for making your lives miserable!)

    9. Noah

      It sounds like you already know what you should do, sell the rental house. You might get the bank to agree to a short sell if you can twist their arm a bit and make them see their options are either that or foreclosure in the future.

      Also, have you considered Chapter 13 bankruptcy? It sounds like you’ve hit a run of bad luck, combined with maybe a lack of savings or forethought about emergencies, when you purchased the new house. Reorganizing and coming up with a repayment plan that works within your budget for both the secured and unsecured debts might give you some breathing room.

      1. FluffyKitty

        We thought about bankruptcy, but that could put my spouse’s job in jeopardy big time. I’d rather see what we can do to stop the hemorrhaging and just deal with it. But if things got very serious, I’d certainly entertain the idea.

        We actually had some savings when we first moved in, but a huge number of emergencies totally depleted us. We’ve always been the type of people where nothing ever happens to us. For a long time I kept thinking, “When is the bomb going to drop?” Well, it did. Big time. And just keeps coming.

        1. NDQ

          Congrats on realizing you have a problem and want to fix it. It will take time and you will take some hits to your credit. But you’ll sleep better once you get this under control and build an emergency fund.

          Financial stability depends less on what you earn and more on what you keep.

          All the best. You can do this.

          NDQ

        2. LibbyG

          I don’t have any additional ideas to offer, just sympathies. It must all feel so defeating. It sounds like you’re poised to make a good plan and stick to it. I hope you get that energizing sense of progress soon!

        3. De Minimis

          I’ve heard that bankruptcy is actually not frowned upon that much for security clearances, since it eliminates a lot of the debt pressure and shows that steps have been taken to address it.

          I know what you mean as far as the emergencies—vet bills really depleted a lot of our resources over the past few years.

    10. Kirsten

      Do you have a really tight budget? Anywhere else you can cut like cable, gym? Shopping at cheaper grocery stores? Cutting everything else that is not crucial to surviving like eating out / buying clothes / birthday gifts etc… Can you sell anything at all like old furniture or one of the cars? Clothing on ebay? Can either of you pick up a side job for a few hours a week? Can you take your oil off the budget plan for now while it’s still warm so you have a few months with no oil bill? I would also definitely not take out anymore credit cards and close the ones you have so you stop using them. Perhaps if you can catch up a bit over the next few months you can come up with enough money to cover the gap in the old house when it sells.

      Do you know of Dave Ramsey? I listen to his show (on podcast) every day and he gets calls like this daily and offers really solid advice. Funny enough he is the complete opposite of me in almost every way (southern, republican, religious) but I still love him and think his advice really helps.

      You’ll get through this! Good luck!

      1. FluffyKitty

        Actually, we barely eat out now. Maybe twice a month at the diner, but we can cut that. No gym memberships. As for cable, we’re still in the promo period (new service when we moved in) and I believe they charge some kind of fee for that. As for the oil, we just signed the new contract. The payment will be reduced by half in another two months, so we can survive until then. I’m checking around this weekend to see what I can sell. Not much, really. We got rid of a lot when we moved. Selling our cars isn’t an option since my spouse works 50 miles away and there’s no train service in that direction.

        I just paid the bills and I’m happy to say I paid off one store credit card. It was only a 68.00 balance, but it felt good to do it. :) And I paid double on another card. Only a 50.00 payment, but better than paying the minimum of 25.00.

        1. danr

          Yes, paying off the small amounts really helps your state of mind. As for eating out. Keep going out about once a month, it’s also good for the psyche.

    11. Sparky

      Could you get a roommate? If you can’t get someone to pay rent, do you know anyone who could do work on your home in exchange for living with you for a while? Like, they could start insulating the place and they could pay a third of the utilities. I know a couple who got a paper route to pay off their debt. They did that in the very early hours and then went to their regular jobs. And came home and went to bed really early. But they made enough money to pay off some old debt and then to start saving.

    12. Clever Name

      You’ve gotten great advice so far. You mentioned a not energy efficient house and expensive heating oil. Maybe you can look into getting a free home energy audit through your electrical company. Ours was really thorough and there are cheap things you can do, like caulking around windows and doors and using those Saran-wrap like things on your windows to keep the heat in. You can do those things without an energy audit, of course, but they have a ton of specific recommendations.

    13. Observer

      I haven’t read the responses yet, but a few things:

      1. Advice from a professional
      2. Think about what important but not strictly necessary expenses you can cut or eliminate, even for a few months to put towards paying down debt.
      3. Small and high interest loans are probably the best place to start, if you have something to put towards paying down. The cost of the interest is part of what’s killing you, so get rid of that as soon as you can. Getting rid of loans feels good, and you can use that. Fewer loans might also do you credit score some good. And it allows you to focus more on each of the bigger loans, more effectively.
      4. Given what you say about the house being under water but not being able to walk away, I wouldn’t focus on selling it at this point. Right now, you are pulling out money every month, but at least you have the prospect of getting equity down the road. But, if you take a loan and sell,you will still be pulling out money for quite a while and not getting anything out of it. And, while it’s possible that you might be able to get something on your taxes for expenses of the house (check with a good tax accountant), you won’t get anything on a loan to make up the shortfall. Keep in mind that your loan is not likely to be just the difference between your sale price and the mortgage.

      1. Observer

        I just want to add one thing. What I said about the house is only if you really cannot walk away from it. But, I agree with the ones who say talk to your bank. If you can walk away without having to take another loan, I would say to take the loss and walk.

    14. Adaire

      Do you or your spouse have any skills you can monetize? Cooking, home repair, clothing alterations, pet sitting, anything at all like that?
      Have you looked into carpooling to one or both jobs?
      Once when I was short of cash, I made a little game of using up grocery items from my pantry & freezer.
      You’ve probably already thought of these, I’m just brainstorming.

    15. YandO

      Two things:

      1. Don’t close credit cards. Pay them off and let them be. Closing credit cards messes with your credit score in big or small ways depending on a number of factors.
      2. Call your credit company and ask for 0% APR rate on all new purchases (discover did this to me twice). Then transfer the high rate balance to the 0% APR card (just make sure this rate will apply to balance transfers).

      1. NacSacJack

        Re: #1 – I would disagree with this advice. I dont know the impact on my credit score yet, but I just closed a certain caveman credit card that I havent used in 5 months, had horrible experience with them long ago, and had a low credit limit. My reason? They were about to charge me my annual fee to have the credit card. Why pay someone to have a credit card? That being said, if the increases in the other credit cards make up for the credit limit of the smaller card, you wouldn’t lose your credit availability by dumping one of the smaller limit credit cards.

    16. azvlr

      Find out what the tax advantages are to renting the house, then document every penny that you put into it. I believe you can deduct depreciation, and also renting at a loss has some tax advantages as well. It’s been a long time since I was a landlord, but I remember the tax advantages being the one thing that made it less scary to charge rent that was less than the mortgage.

      1. De Minimis

        Yes, you can deduct depreciation and insurance. Also, if the property were sold at a loss that would also be deductible [depending on certain things, I believe….]

        But the thing about tax advantages is that they don’t really do much to help with the everyday financial picture.

    17. Not So NewReader

      Oh gosh, I am so sorry all this is happening to you. Everyone has offered good suggestions. The one idea that I thought of is regarding your oil heat. I live in an almost 200 y/o school house- they built it with whatever they had laying around. They used bricks in the walls as insulation. You open up a wall and there are stack and stacks of loose bricks. My kitchen is 55 degrees in the winter, it does not get warmer than that.

      So I was talking to my oil company and the owner/repair guy told me a story that you might find useful. He has the same thing with his house- very old and stacks of bricks in the walls. He said the only thing he has had time to do for his house was put insulation in the ceiling. With that he said the amount of oil he used per year dropped by 50%. So as time goes on and a little money gets freed up, please consider this investment in ceiling insulation to reduce your oil bill. I found insulation at garage sales, going out of business sales, etc., at very cheap prices.

      A theory that I have been working with is to decide to make it a life habit to look for ways to cut regular bills. Bills only go up, so this is probably a good plan anyway. I like this way of looking at things because it helps me to keep things in perspective as in- “I am not doing this just because money is tight right now, I am doing this because it is now my life habit that will serve me well even in good times.”

    18. danr

      You might look at GoFundMe for some money. Someone I know used it to get some breathing space on rent. They set a goal of $4,000 and raised $6,000. It sounds weird, but it might help at least pay down some of the debts.

    19. Kirsten

      I had one more thought, would you be open to looking for a higher paying job? Or are you in a position where you could ask for a raise?

      1. FluffyKitty

        Actually I’ve been in my job less than a year and already make great money. Annual reviews are in February and bonuses are in March. When I get the bonus I’ll be throwing all that to bills. The company is very profitable and they have fantastic benefits and the bonus is across the board for everyone that gets a good review.

        1. kirsten

          That’s great! Feb/March are only 6 months away at this point so it will hopefully come up quickly!

    20. FluffyKitty

      Thanks for your thoughts everyone. It’s helped me start with a plan. I shopped for new homeowners and car insurance today. It’s made me realize nationwide is very expensive.

    21. You are not alone.

      Jerrold (Jerry) Mundis has a small paperback book that is good.

      Boiled down: Take on no NEW debt. Do whatever you have to, to “not debt.” He uses the word debt as a verb.
      Barter. Monetize hobbies, etc.

      For example:
      Trade roofing work for bookkeeping. Trade firewood for meals at a small locally-owned restaurant.

      I love old houses. Income property might be good to keep.
      Get a notebook and a pencil to write down what you actually spend. For starters, ATM fees are usually a shocker when you add them all up.
      Mary Hunt is another good source.
      I paid off $10,000 in debt, years ago when I worked as a secretary. I shopped at thrift stores.

      Yes, I have a little debt now.

    22. FluffyKitty

      I don’t know if anyone is still reading, but just in case…

      I shopped for new homeowner’s and auto insurance yesterday. Bottom line is I have the cheapest for homeowner’s. Due to the age of my house my options are limited. Everyone I checked yesterday is double what I pay now. On the auto side, most places are cheaper than what I have now. But if I unbundle the two insurances, any savings I would have on the auto side go towards the increase on the homeowner’s. So, today I called my agent and found out I was able to drop one car (old car we don’t use and are trying to sell) that I didn’t realize we were still insuring. I then dropped my husband’s car down to just liability; it’s an old car and not really worth it to fix if something major happened. So I saved a total of 50.00 a month. Not spectacular, but better than nothing.

      I called my credit cards and they won’t budge on the interest rate. I’m stuck, unfortunately. Given my crappy credit score, it’s highly unlikely I’d be able to get any new cards with rates lower than what I have.

  4. SandrineSmiles (France)

    Remember the friend Nelly that I dropped last month ?

    On Monday, while I was still on vacation, she sent me a message being “Hey, wanna hang out this week ?” and I went “Wait, whut ?” in my head.

    Well, turns out she had one last trick up her sleeve xD . See, her shtick usually was “argument, Sandrine is nice, forgives, and we start as if nothing happened” . Since it had been a month, apparently she assumed everything was fine and thought we could just start it all again.

    I will admit it, my brain went “Wait, what if…” and then went “Hell NO.” so I said that I maintain my decision, that she’d done it too many times (and in the back of my head I was yelling “And at least I have the decency not to ghost you!”) .

    I’m just smiling at the nerve.

    On another note, I went on vacation, everything was fine, and life is good. WOoooo!

    1. EvilQueenRegina

      Cheek! Right decision not to go back and hang out though. I have had those same “what if” moments with the person I posted about in last week’s open thread, but have been strong and resisted.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)

        Last laugh and last convo (adapted – this is happening on Viber, I am 32 she is 28):

        before my comment here:

        me : I had the courtesy of replying to you but I have decided to confirm my decision.

        Her : what ? (Diatribe about friendship and about how I’d forgive if I loved her)

        Me : To me, friendship does not work that way. I “forgave” too many times. So I won’t change.

        Her: so, decision taken ?

        Me: (internal groan) Yes, decision taken.

        The Kicker this morning:

        her : so we’re not friends anymore ?

        ……

        I am not going to reply to that one. I am amused that she gave me so much ammo to confirm my decision.

        :)

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yep. She is just proving to you that you made the right choice. Not easy, but you had to go this route.

          1. SandrineSmiles (France)

            Just needed some trigger…

            Told the story to a dear friend of mine, who’d usually shut me up as soon as he heard “Ne” cause he knew it would end with “lly” . When I told him I’d been laughing all week, he applauded.

            (I HAD to throw her name in the conversation after he’d sent me a picture of his tapas from a dinner on vacation in Spain)

            *dances around playing World of Warcraft*

  5. the gold digger

    Hi everyone – here is the current Diary of A Gold Digger (should that be one word?) blog status.

    Still closed.

    Waiting for the cache for the website where I was outed to clear out. Last time site was cached was Aug 5. I don’t know why it’s taking so long. I have been posting blank comments to trigger a refresh, but nothing has happened.

    In the meantime, just send me an email at anitamke aaaaat hotmail etc and I will send you an invitation to the blog.

    Thanks to everyone who has commented and asked. Primo and I are fine. There is a lot of drama, but nothing we can’t handle and nothing that won’t be written about.

      1. the gold digger

        It’s the cached page for the website where I was outed. This is the message I get when I click on the cached version: “It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Aug 5, 2015.” So I think it is out of my control, but I would be delighted to be wrong. If anyone can enlighten me, please do.

        (The offending comment was still on the page on Aug 5. It is not there now in the regular view, but I am worried that someone in Primo’s family would look at the cached page.)

    1. danr

      Try posting nonsense comments to clear the cache. If you post empty messages there is nothing to trigger a refresh.

    2. louise

      I’m so, so glad to see this! I told my husband just this morning that I was going to try to contact you on the open thread to see if I could get an invite. I was to like 2013 in the archives and have been so sad to have been cut off for so long!

    3. bassclefchick

      And now, my vulgar curiosity is getting the better of me and I want to start reading your blog!! LOL

      1. bassclefchick

        And yes, I just bookmarked your blog. You’re a very good writer. I’m sorry your outlaws have given you so much to write about!

      2. Persephone Mulberry

        Late to the party, but yay! I just opted to follow via email, now I need to go back and read the archives.

  6. nep

    Anyone else find bridges fascinating pieces of engineering and architecture?
    What’s the most interesting bridge you’ve seen?

    1. the gold digger

      I like Isambard Kingdom Brumel’s bridge in Bristol because it was such an amazing feat of engineering and he was so amazing. And because he has such a cool name.

      1. Elkay

        We walked across that bridge last month, it’s a fabulous bridge but looking down from it is scary if you don’t like heights.

        1. Short and Stout

          I saw the New Year in from the Clifton Suspension Bridge and it was indeed excellent.

    2. Myrin

      I love the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge) in Regensburg! Apart from it being the oldest bridge in Germany it’s not actually super special, but I went to Regensburg on a school trip eight or nine years ago and crossing the bridge had me feeling mighty majestic.

      (It also has this guy on one of its pillars and I just read that apparently someone broke his arm off in 2012? Who even does that?!

      1. Hattie McDoogal

        Cool! Old bridges like that are great (and I just sort of fell down a Wikipedia rabbit hole of old bridges, especially Roman ones).

    3. Could be anyone

      Husband’s career is in the design of bridges.
      While I don’t have a most interesting bridge I have one I’m fond of. There’s a truss bridge over the Potomac River from Maryland to Virginia (Route 15). Used to cross that one regularly to visit family.

        1. Could be anyone

          Reality is designing bridges is just like any other job. And has all the issues that come up on this site.
          But the results can be magnificent.

    4. bassclefchick

      We have a lot of old, covered bridges in my home state that are beautiful. I also enjoy the Mackinac bridge and the Hoan bridge.

    5. Stephanie

      I always thought the span of I-10 in Louisiana that runs through swamps for like 100 mi is really cool.

    6. Elizabeth West

      I don’t care for them if they’re over water and high. Low bridges over water are fine, but only if I’m walking on them. I had no trouble in London, even driving over Tower Bridge in the bus, so perhaps that particular phobia is beginning to pass. Or maybe it was because I was too busy looking for the Gherkin. :) I’m convinced I had a bad experience in another life, perhaps falling off a bridge or other high place into water (Titanic? a cliff?).

      They are nice looking, though. Golden Gate Bridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Hammersmith Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge; all lovely. One of my favorite poems:

      I went to San Francisco.
      I saw the bridges high
      Spun across the water
      Like cobwebs in the sky.

      –Langston Hughes

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        Oh oh oh!!!! There’s a bridge called the Runcorn-Widnes bridge that i was TERRIFIED of as a kid, couldn’t watch as we went over as i was totally convinced it would collapse in front of us (interestingly i never thought it would collapse *under* us). And there’s a short high bridge over water near my parents house which i have the same fear of. I’ll drive over it but i hate it. But most bridges are OK. Isnt it weird what triggers irrational fears?

        The Runcorn-widnes bridge has featured in a cheese ad since, which i loved. I am weird.

      2. CIVICSGRATE

        Elizabeth – check out the Millau Viaduct in France. It’s a bit on the “high” side (343m) but – it’s (mostly) over land. *grin*

        (Seriously, I’ve seen various stories on the news over all the time it’s taken to build it and it’s like if you took the very best and the very worst of skyscraper construction and bridge construction and mushed them together into a single thing – this is what you get).

    7. V.V.

      The Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni Japan. Known as the “Brocade Sash Bridge”. All wood, no nails, and they rebuild it every twenty years so that the knowledge of the craftsmanship can be passed on to the next generation.

      Article:

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/08/30/travel/kintaikyo-bridge-reincarnated-troubled-waters/#.Vdne332M4ud

      Cool picture of Kimono clad ladies crossing the bridge:

      http://jto.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/p16-powell-iwakuni-d-20140831.jpg

      1. Panda Bandit

        That’s awesome. I love their way of passing along the bridge-building knowledge. Too many things get lost in time.

    1. Not So NewReader

      The babies are adorable. Someone was commenting that it’s unusual for bears to have quints like that. I watched the video a couple times, because each one of them is doing their own thing. Mom has her paws full.

  7. HauteButBroke

    How do you get over “house envy?”

    I’ve been saving for a down payment for a house for the last couple of years. I’ve been living within my means and don’t have any debt. I make an okay salary but am always looking/applying/interviewing for a better-paying job.

    It’s summer and seems like all of my friends are moving into new, big, beautiful homes. Some of them are married (so they are a two-income family) but some are single. Even though it’s none of my business and I never ask, sometimes they will share details with me about their finances (i.e. parents are helping them out each month, got a bigger salary, etc.) and in a lot of cases, it doesn’t seem like they can really afford the homes they’re buying.

    Meanwhile, it seems like I have to scrimp and save to have what I do have. I don’t go on vacations, I shop at discount grocers, etc. I’m trying really hard, but it just seems like I’ll NEVER get that 20% I’ve been working towards and be able to buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood. It’s discouraging. I hate that I have “house envy” and really wish that I didn’t.

    1. BRR

      Ugh I feel you. In our area I don’t think we’ll ever be able to afford anything and I don’t want to buy a condo. My current plan is for a long lost rich relative to pass away.

    2. danr

      Comfort yourself with the thought that some of them may be taking shortcuts on financing. I’ve seen that 5 year ARMs are back at low introductory rates for 3 years, then the higher rates kick in. Most folks don’t bank the difference between what they’re paying and what they will be paying and have problems. It’s also harder to refinance since you’re not building up equity as fast. Keep on plugging with what you’re doing.

      1. NacSacJack

        +1 – I got caught in the rise over run of this from 2002-2005. Imagine starting out at a nice comfortable amount, then suddenly roommate loses job, mort+taxes go up $100 per month every year for three years straight and raises only increase paycheck by $25 per paycheck. Actually due to taxes and insurance it seems my mort goes up 100 every year now and I just found out I’m maxed out in my payband. Ugghhhh.

    3. AcidMeFlux

      Find yourself something comfortable, modest and affordable. If your situation improves, you can trade up (in a sensible and cautious way). When your friends are in debt up to the tuchus, the’ll envy you your discretion.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This! Time will be very kind to you. Live within your means always. They may look like they are “winning” but the reality is that they may or may not be “winning”. You only know the part of the story that they tell you, you don’t have the whole story. I had a friend whose father would give them x amount toward a down payment for their house. My friend almost sold his soul because of what the father expected in return for that “free cash”.

        When you do buy a house by something that is below the range you have been approved for OR use a financial calc yourself to figure out what price range is actually realistic for you. I am still seeing people with incomes of 30K per year buying houses for more than 90K. They are going to have a long road, especially if they need to fix things on the house.

        Stay the course you are on, you will make it. Once you get a house it will definitely be yours.

    4. Elkay

      I have a similar thing that people we know seem to be on their second or third house and despite us both having middling paying jobs we aren’t in a position to move to the next rung of the housing ladder in the city we live in.

      1. Elkay

        Which is to say, I’m sorry you’re going through this because it’s crappy to feel that way.

    5. periwinkle

      I know the full 20% down payment is ideal because it avoid the PMI costs but you don’t have that added cost forever if you put down less! We had never owned a home before but when we relocated we found we had the combination of income + property values to swing it (it helped that I went from underemployed and then grad student to well-compensated professional). According to the mortgage calculators, we might have been approved for a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for $X. However, we would have had to save carefully for several years to accumulate a 20% downpayment for that price point and then we’d be stressed out by hefty mortgage payments plus maintenance costs and property tax, etc.

      Our strategy:
      1. Look for a single-family house at about 1/2 of $X. I scoured Redfin for a few months to get a sense of what areas had what kind of properties at our target price.
      2. Check your financing options. We went with a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage that gave us higher mortgage payments than the standard 30-year but would also help us build equity a little faster. Big bonus: lower interest rate than a 30-year.
      3. Put down 5%. We were in a hurry to get out of our badly-managed apartment complex but the timing turned out to be great because inventory has since plummeted and rates have started to rise. Our house value is already going up and we’ve only been here 6 months! Anyway, we will keep an eye on the equity and get the PMI removed when eligible.
      4. Look for a house that was perfectly acceptable for now – cosmetically dated but structurally sound – that would be a good candidate for a value-adding renovation.
      5. Look for a house that’s been sitting on the market for at least a month because the seller may be willing to bargain more. Just make sure that the reason the house remains unsold is something you can manage.

      The house we purchased had been on the market for nearly three months, most likely due to its odd floor plan, tiny master bedroom, and tiny narrow kitchen. It’s also near the flight path for a small airport that Boeing uses so there’s some close jet traffic. We didn’t mind the floor plan or kitchen plus we’re aviation geeks, so no problems there! Inspectors confirmed that the house was in great structural shape, too. We got the seller to knock off $5k from the current asking price AND to help cover allowable closing costs. We paid just the closing costs that only the buyer could pay; all other closing costs were covered by a combination of the seller’s contribution and the Redfin kickback (buy through one of their agents and you get back a percentage of their commission). Even with PMI and the higher monthly payment of a 20-year mortgage, it’s roughly equally to our old rent and (most importantly) we could handle it on a single income if necessary.

      End result is a house we love and a mortgage we can afford with little stress. It’s more than big enough for us and the cats, located in a safe, solidly middle-class blue-collar neighborhood very close to my work, and has a lot of potential to renovate into something even more comfortable. Work out your strategy and you could leave behind that house envy soon!

      1. fposte

        “I know the full 20% down payment is ideal because it avoid the PMI costs but you don’t have that added cost forever if you put down less!”

        Double check on this when you’re talking to the bank, though–apparently some loans don’t roll the PMI back even when you get to 20% in equity these days.

        1. periwinkle

          I don’t think they’ll do it automatically but I’m happy to do the math and make some calls if it saves me money! There is a minimum # of years for which I have to carry PMI, regardless of equity, but it’s only 3 years. That’s about the same time that we hope to get the major renovation done: taking the house from 1.5 stories to a full 2 stories by adding a master suite. We’re back in serious saving mode to pay for that one…

          1. fposte

            I was meaning more for Haute, but now that I’m looking and thinking, I bet the people who hit this had an FHA loan, which has different rules.

          2. Pennalynn Lott

            I’ve had my mortgage for 17 years and the bank will not let me stop carrying PMI. I will be paying it until the day the note is paid off. :-(

            1. Judy

              I would think you could refi at a much better rate and get rid of the PMI at the same time. (I’m pretty sure the rate we paid 16 years ago was in the high 6%. My credit union is showing a 15 year loan at 3% with 0 points, a 20 year at 3.75% 0 points and 30 year at 4% 0 points.)

            2. Artemesia

              PMI is a scam. My parents ended up paying more for it than their mortgage and when my Dad died, they tried to argue that since he was so close to the cut off age of 80 that they would just pro-rate the payment and give her a small part of the 15K left on the mortgage. It took legal action to get them to pay off.

              If you have substantial equity and they won’t end the PMI then refinance and get a better bank. These guys are crooks.

        2. Colette

          I have no idea about PMI, but I wanted to point out that the less you put down, the more quickly you’ll be trapped if prices go down. A 5% deposit means you walk away with $0 if you sell immediately at the price you buy at (due to fees).

          1. periwinkle

            It does help my strategy to have been buying in a strong housing market (Seattle area) where prices are rising. My neighborhood is full of Boeing union workers who design and build commercial planes at the nearby Everett site and I’ve been told that hiring is about to go crazy as they bring in several thousand more employees to that site. Traffic is going to get worse but our home value will probably soar. My strategy might not work well in a place with stagnant home prices or for someone who might have to sell within 5 years or so.

            Yup, before settling on a mortgage company I made sure that PMI could be removed (among other considerations including no penalties for early payoff). Hurray for credit unions…

    6. NDQ

      As with any kind of envy, at some point you figure out that the grass isn’t always greener. Some people like to appear wealthy, but aren’t. Read: The Millionaire Next Door. Aspire to real wealth, not a lifestyle that looks well off but has a foundation of debt.

      NDQ

      1. HauteButBroke

        I’m a huge fan of “The Millionaire Next Door!” I read it recently and (along with similar books) it really helped me to reconfigure my view of “the American Dream.” Translation: There’s a whole lot of people out there that don’t “look” like they are broke but in actuality are in dire straits financially.

        1. ginger ale for all

          That is a great book. It woke me up to a more realistic view of the world as well.

        2. Not So NewReader

          All is definitely not what it seems. Going the opposite way, I know people that work every day, their clothes are ripped, stained, old because that is what they need to wear for their work. They are worth millions. And you cannot tell by the house either, they live in a modest house and drive a modest car.

        3. Persephone Mulberry

          I tried reading Millionaire Next Door when I was about 22/23 and I was like pffffffft. I need to try it again with an additional 10+ years of experience and wisdom under my belt.

    7. Clever Name

      Some of your friends may be “affording” their lifestyles by going into credit card debt and not saving for retirement, which they’ll regret when they’re 70 and still working.

      1. SevenSixOne

        This is important! A lot of people’s material wealth is an illusion– they may only have the expensive car, home, education, clothes, hobbies, and whatever else because they’re in debt up to their eyeballs for it.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Some people take out loans against their inheritance. Their parents aren’t even dead yet.

    8. MsChanandlerBong

      Keep scrimping and saving. I have a friend who is very judgmental about the neighborhood I live in, and the fact that I rent, but I know she can’t truly afford her house. She took out an ARM, so her payment seems to vary a lot from one month to the next. Then she quit her job to go to law school–but has no desire to be a lawyer–so they were down to one income. The day I went to her law-school graduation, I almost died, because we walked out to the parking lot to follow her to a nearby restaurant, and she had purchased a new (used) car. Her mother said, “[Ms. Bong’s friend] figured if she’s going to get a high-paying job, she should have a new car.” In my head, I was like, “NO! You don’t get a car because you THINK you’re going to get a job. You get one after you have a job and have time to save up money.”

      If her mom didn’t have an amazing pension, they wouldn’t be able to afford to live. Her mom paid for their building permits, watches their kids daily (so no daycare expenses), loaned them money for their education, etc. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it sure rubs me the wrong way that she’s so judgmental when my husband and I manage on our own–and I have significant medical expenses on top of everything else.

      1. Lindsay J

        My own father is like that to some extent. He recently got on me for not being in a great financial place right now by telling me that at my age he had a house, a wife, and me on the way.

        However, my grandmother and grandfather gave him the land he built our house on, and helped him with the costs of building the house. (He is also off by a few years, as they started building the house when I was three and before that they lived in a crappy apartment like I live in now. (They also helped him with their first new car purchase which also happened after I was born.)

        I don’t begrudge them the help, but don’t hold me up to some standard that doesn’t really exist.

    9. Anx

      For me, it helps to know that even if I might never own a home, I’ll never be stuck with a home and am more mobile.

      I’m not going to lie, sometimes I’d just like to paint some walls or be able to hang more stuff on the wall, commit to furniture, etc.

      The idea of renting forever and never having anything to show for it is a little unsettling. But I know home-ownership is probably a ship that’s already sailed. On the plus side, in a natural disaster, I know I’d lose most of my things but I’d be able to relocate more easily.

    10. SandrineSmiles (France)

      I found a tiny appartment… in a house that was divided. Not the same thing, but I’m keeping up the little delusion for now, it did help.

      I’ll be moving ASAP though, cause I’m too far from Paris and it will be difficult to commute, but this is the little way I found. ^^

    11. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Oh god yes. We’re closing on our first house on Wednesday (wahoo!!) and I’ve lived through years and years of house envy. I’m 36. My friends started buying houses like 15 years ago. Where did they get that money when we were all making $30,000 a year?!

      But it turns out that you don’t need that much cash up front to buy a house. For a $250,000 house (which is what I assume my friends were buying; that’s slightly above average for my area), you can get away with $9,000 as a down payment (3.5%) and maybe another $8,000 in closing costs (which you may be able to negotiate as a part of your purchase).

      How they afforded the payments is another question. I assume they were getting help from their payments, making a bigger down payment, and then having lower mortgage payments.

    12. AnnieNonymous

      Don’t ignore the possibility that some of your friends inherited money. People (Americans especially, I’ve noticed) are really reluctant to talk about things like lineage, and no one wants to deal with the social changes that happen if you announce that you suddenly have a lot of money.They use all of the money as a down payment (very often on condos) but may still struggle to make their mortgage payments. Plus, liberal-minded people reject the American expectation of “bootstrapping,” but they’re also critical of people who openly enjoy financial privilege. It’s no wonder that people aren’t honest about where their money is coming from.

    13. Ariadne Oliver

      Read Fluffy Kitty’s post above. Even when you’re in a financially good place, this can happen to you (or me, or anyone).

      Buying a house isn’t always the right thing for everyone. If you can rent something you like in a neighborhood you like, that might be the best thing for YOU. Don’t compare yourself, your possessions, your job, etc. to your friends. In fact, it sounds like your friends are setting themselves up for failure.

      Learn to be happy with what you have. If you’re not in debt, didn’t steal anything, and are healthy & employed, you should be happy.

    14. Kristen

      Don’t give up! It is worth the hardwork and sacrifice to get what you want and to be able to afford and live comfortably in the house once you get it.

  8. Sir Percival

    A few weeks ago I went to a birthday party and met a woman I felt I got a good rapport with. I decided to be daring and invited her to out, later, by email. So we went to dinner last week, and I think it went well but she was kind of reserved, especially at the end when I said I hoped we could hang out again. I can’t tell if it’s just that she is reserved (which I think she is) or if she was not so much into the idea. She hasn’t emailed since either. Part of me feels I did the setting up for the dinner and if there is mutual attraction, she would initiate the next get together, even if it was an email asking if I wanted to hang out again. Or should I try again and see what kind of response I get, which maybe would make things clearer.I am so very bad at reading social interactions, especially when I am interested in the person, sometimes overly optimistic and other times overly pessimistic so I feel I have no clue!

    1. nep

      You’re not alone in feeling that you’re bad at reading such things. And it’s true that people often — for a host of reasons — send off signals that don’t line up with what they’re really thinking/feeling.
      In your position, I’d wait till the other person reached out — that way I’d feel sure s/he is into getting together again and really interested. And if no contact, I’d move on. But that’s me; everyone’s different in this regard, of course.
      How was the chemistry when you went out with her?
      All the best and keep us posted.

      1. Sir Percival

        I think it went well at first, but it fizzled towards the end, and I felt I had to do a bit of work in making conversation but then we’d exhaust that, a bit of silence, I’d start a new topic, and it went like that a bit.

    2. Myrin

      I also think she should and would be the one to initiate a second date if she’s at all attracted to you. She knows you’re interested in her since you asked her out, so I think things are pretty clear already. As your dinner was only last week, I’d maybe wait a bit longer but then let it go – from what you’ve said, it does seem like she’s not really into you, and I’m really sorry.

      (All that said, I think it’s really awesome of you to come here and ask for advice and to also be willing to think of the possibility that she might not be interested. I’ve known way too many people who convinced themselves the other party absolutely must feel the same and if they get just one more message they’ll be convinced of it as well and… well, no.)

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      Email her. Or, better, call her. Dating is not tit-for-tat, especially at the beginning. You won’t know if she’s reserved or Not Into You unless you ask her, and waiting for her to make the next move won’t get you anywhere. It’s been a week? Get in touch and ask her out again, just be sure to really pay attention to her response– if she doesn’t say yes, then it’s probably best to move on.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        Agreed. There are a million possible explanations why she might not have reached out, from “not into you” to busy week at work to an attack of the flu. I’m not saying it’ll work out if you reach out, but you don’t have anything to lose beyond a little more invested time.

        1. LibbyG

          You could email to say you enjoyed your dinner together and say something like, “Should we make plans again or just look forward to seeing each other around the neighborhood?” If she isn’t feeling it, that would be easier to respond to than a particular invitation.

          1. Dan

            I don’t recommend that. Too wishy washy. Throw something concrete on the table, if she’s interested, she’ll bite, if not, she’ll ignore it or turn you down. Either way you gave an answer.

            “Look forward to seeing each other around the neighborhood?” Really strange sounding verbiage.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        In glad my husband asked me out for a second date lo those twenty years ago! We had a wonderful first date, but I AM reserved. So I didn’t know how tho act adding him when we were back at work again the next week. I was waiting to see if he still liked me, and he didn’t know how to read me; he thought maybe I was being a little chilly toward him, but he decided to ask me out one more time just to see. I accepted enthusiastically, which surprised him because he thought I was signaling lack of interest. I wasn’t; I’m just shy and occasionally awkward.

        I advise asking her on another date and see how she responds. Good luck!

    4. nep

      P.S. I’m going to assume from your name here that you’re a male — correct me if I’m wrong. If you are, could be a case of a woman who thinks the guy ‘should’ always initiate. Think that might be at play?

      1. Sir Percival

        I think not because we are both some variation of queer, although I am masculine and use male pronouns and she is more feminine (and female pronouns), although we didn’t get much into that in our conversation at dinner.

    5. Artemesia

      Especially since you don’t feel like you read these things well, I would plan something low cost — maybe a free concert or event in your area, or something else that doesn’t put you on the hook for $200 for dinner — and then invite her. Have a plan B if the date doesn’t work — or offer two times. If she doesn’t respond positively or if that event is blah then the ball is in her court.

    6. SherryD

      Don’t assume her shy/reserved behaviour means she doesn’t like you back. Invite her out again. Worst case scenarios are she says no, or she never replies.

      Some people are shy in general, and especially when it comes to dating (and oh god, am I one of them!). There’s nothing wrong with being forthright that you’d like to see her again. And if it doesn’t work out, don’t take it personally.

      I agree with other posters, keep the second date cheap, like a free event in your town, or coffee and a walk.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Maybe check in about time frame. Maybe she always gets tried Fridays at 1o pm, or whatever time it was when you went to dinner. Check to see if there is a better day/time.

  9. fposte

    I love Calvin Trillin! But I’m pretty sure Travels with Alice isn’t in the Tummy Trilogy–that’s Alice, Let’s Eat! plus two others without Alice in the title.

    Which is good, because that means there are *four* great books rather than only three.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You are right! I just checked and the trilogy is American Fried, Third Helpings and Alice, Let’s Eat. Whoops! I will correct the post.

      Travels with Alice is my favorite of his, followed by Alice, Let’s Eat. (I also love About Alice, but that’s a different kind of thing.)

    2. periwinkle

      Not to mention all his non-food writing, although you might only enjoy it if you lean left politically.

      Calvin Trillin taught me how to enjoy eating alone on the road, how to have a broad definition of what constitutes an “appetizer”, what makes for a great city (the kind where you have a spectacular meal but forget all about the restaurant’s existence because there are so many other places equally wonderful), and why I should insist that my husband refer to me as “La Principessa” on any future travel to Italy.

  10. Elkay

    This afternoon despite it being twelvety million degrees I cleared out my clothes and shoes and took the bags to the charity donation bin. I also went to the tip/dump and got rid of a table and ironing board we no longer needed. I’ve still got a lot more to clear out but at least now I can put my clothes away without having to force the drawers shut. The top of my wardrobe now only has clothes as I donated nearly all the shoes that were in there.

      1. Elkay

        Yes! I desperately want a cleaner, tidier house but it’s a real struggle for me to keep on top of things.

        1. Artemesia

          For me the key was moving to a tiny condo. It still fills up but it forces me to deal. We have a walk in closet that is big enough for the two of us, but does mean off season clothes under the bed and weeding out things as we go so they don’t accumulate as they once did. It is remarkably freeing not to have tons of stuff you never use cluttering up kitchen cabinets or bedroom closets.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Yay!
      I will be working from home on Tuesday because a donation truck is coming for the giant pile in the garage. FINALLY.
      I can’t wait! Then I can put more stuff out there and get rid of that too!

    2. Paulina

      Yay for you! I bet it feels great!! You’ve inspired me, I know what I’m doing this morning.

  11. Trixie

    Start to feeling a little more organized these days. Taking some time to sort through clothes, stuff, accumulations, and decide keep, toss, donate. I know KonMari stratevy is tackle all at once but that’s just not going to happen. I select a target area and go at it. Dresser, car, whatever, just pulling everything out.

    I did add to my possessions when I came across a $20 six-panel window for sale, and a vintage type writer cart/table. These are items I always watch for and if price is acceptable, I splurge. Window can be cleaned up and crafted in so many ways, but ultimately used a ceiling-suspended room divider. And the cart/table, spray painted and used in kitchen, patio, etc. I had a really nice one a few years ago, redone in yellow and used as microwave cart. So cheerful!

    Also trying to keep a handle on projects, setting aside time for job hunting, freelance, studying for next month’s certification. Speaking of, feels good to have this four-week goal ahead of me to work towards.

    1. Delyssia

      I like the idea of the KonMari strategy of dealing with it all at once, but practically speaking, I find that completely overwhelming. So I take more of an Unfuck Your Habitat approach. I just need to really stick with it and not backslide…

  12. AvonLady Barksdale

    A week ago, I started running. Scratch that: I incorporated short jogs into my morning walk. I do not run– I’ve had stress fractures in both feet (including a very serious one), I have sciatica and I’m prone to groin pulls. But… the abundance of good food and beer in my new home, combined with a period of bad stress? Had to do something to step it up, even though I walk at least 2.5 miles every morning and have done since I adopted my dog (who, by the way, tolerated the first couple of times we started jogging but protested when I added an extra “burst” this morning). So I walk for a while and then I run in short bursts at least twice during my walk. Increasing slowly but surely.

    However, my thigh muscles are sore (not horrible, just uncomfortable) and today, I’m really, really tired. The tired is probably because it’s Saturday and I’m just sleepy, plus it’s been unbelievably humid here. Any advice on combatting the soreness? Part of me doesn’t mind it because hey, my muscles are getting worked, but it’s making me fidgety.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I haven’t, but I know I should– this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that! I had some IT band issues for a while, plus I have incredibly tight calves from all the walking. Time to invest. I also haven’t stretched, but that’s mostly because I do walk for a good while after my last running burst, so I suppose I figured that was stretch enough. Guessing it’s not!

        1. BRR

          It’s hard for me to always stretch but when I do I definitely see value in it. You can always try that then move on to foam rolling. But I love foam rolling (which I also don’t do regularly).

        2. nep

          I think some deep static stretching when muscles are warm (following the running and walking) could help. Make sure not to stretch to discomfort — just till you feel the stretch and hold for a good 20-30 seconds.

        3. AnotherAlison

          I don’t static stretch, but I do dynamic stretch before. You can look up strengthrunning dot com for a good dynamic warmup. My chiro said this was a Big Deal. I always just started with a slow jog and called it good, but he was very firm that the dynamic warmup before and foam rolling after were critical. This is great, but I am not that fast so it takes a lot of discipline to warmup, run, and roll before work. : |

    1. Elkay

      Are you stretching after running? Holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds should help. One leg at a time bend your knee, hold your foot/ankle up to your bum (or as close as you can) and push your pelvis slightly forward to increase the stretch (hold on to something if you need to).

    2. LBK

      Seconding those above saying to stretch after running. I always found that made a huge difference, probably even more than stretching beforehand in terms of combatting soreness.

    3. Stephanie

      Yeah, echoing everyone about the stretching before and after. I also find it’s good to start with a dynamic warmup (like jumping jacks). Are you doing a cool down walk after you finish?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I am MOSTLY doing a cool down walk. As in, “OK, I ran a little, I can walk now, it’s cool.” :)

      2. Zookeeper

        Also chiming in on a proper warm-up and cool down to prevent DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Cool downs are especially important because it redistributed the blood back to the body and prevents blood from pooling in your muscles.

    4. schnapps

      Stretching will help.

      To stretch your IT band, try a pigeon pose (google it). My left one often tightens up fairly often and it’s pretty painful. Pigeon targets those parts that are hard to stretch. I found foam rolling was just too painful when my IT band was at its worst.

      A figure 4 stretch is good for glutes and IT band too.

    5. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      Have you consider trying water aerobics? You get fit, don’t sweat and it’s considerably nicer on joints, bones and muscles.

      1. Today's anon

        I once was injured and took some water running classes instead and … omg that was such a hard class! It totally kept my cardio up, and you use your core in a much more focused way that when running. I like pools and swim, it was weird to be in a pool and not swim but it was definitively worth it.

  13. Windchime

    Here is a delivery story for you all.

    At the end of July, I ordered a table from a vendor online. I ordered it on the 27th, and it came from California to a town south of Seattle on the 29th. The shipping company called me to set up a date to deliver for Saturday. Great! The next day, they called to reschedule for Monday. OK. Monday comes and goes, nobody calls and nobody delivers my table. I thought, “Hmmm…maybe they meant NEXT Monday?” So I wait till the following Monday–nothing. I contact the vendor online, who gets back to me later and says that the shipper “lost the paperwork”. Shipper calls me again, makes another appointment for Friday. Friday comes and goes — no delivery, no call.

    So that was the THIRD day I have worked at home, waiting for this stupid table to come. Contact vendor again. Shipper calls me on Monday and gives me some big stupid excuse for why my table isn’t here. “My screen froze up as I was trying to assign to the driver” or something. And then she offers me an alternative–I can drive down to South Seattle and get it myself. I lost it; I said, “Delivering stuff is YOUR job, not mine!”.

    I finally gave up and cancelled the order. Fortunately, the vendor credited my credit card. Good luck to the vendor getting your table back from this incompetent shipper. (It wasn’t UPS or USPS, it was an independent company).

    1. Mimmy

      I’d say the vendor needs to find a new shipper! Sounds like they were covering their behinds with those excuses.

    2. Nina

      I feel your pain. I’ve had independent delivery people leave my packages just sitting in the lobby of my apartment building or on the front steps. Needless to say, stuff has been stolen more than once. When I contacted the vendor, they were just ‘eh whatever, we’ll resend it.’ Apparently it happens a lot. The “convenience” of their delivery service outweighs the customer dissatisfaction, along with the lost merchandise.

  14. Laid-Back Stepmom

    New handle for this one! My stepdaughter is getting married in December to a parent’s dream guy (high income potential, no debt, smart, responsible, incredibly nice…). We’re delighted for her and looking forward to the wedding. His parents are, well, *tightly wound*, so we are doing our best to take the calm, easy-going, non-interfering-unless-asked role.

    She wants the mummies and aunties to wear a particular color but the dress is our choice. The last wedding I went to, I bought the dress at a GoodWill! No one every knew and I got so many compliments. For this one, I’d love to get a really nice, high quality designer type dress…but not pay $1000s for it. I’m in the LA area; anyone know of great consignment shops? Or online shops?

    1. Stephanie

      LA people can confirm or deny this, but aren’t there good deals to be found in the Garment District? I had heard that you could go there and get deals.

    2. blackcat

      I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard great things about Rent the Runway (google, and you’ll find it). That only works if you only want the dress for the one occasion, though.

      1. blackcat

        Oh, I just checked–you can buy used dresses on clearance from them for very little. I didn’t know about that, but it’s there!

    3. Yoshi

      Maybe you could try Nordstrom Rack? They always have a wide variety of dresses, both fancy and casual (and often from bigger named designers), at a discount from regular Nordstrom prices. Otherwise, maybe a consignment shop in a high end area (Pasadena, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills)? Sorry- no specifics to offer here.

    4. Anonymousaur

      Wasteland! The one on Melrose – much better than the Burbank or Santa Monica ones. They are essentially the higher end designer version of like a Platos Closet or Crossroads etc but MUCH nicer

      They buy secondhand clothes outright from the original owner (rather than consignment). But it’s secondhand and they only take things in great condition. Some seem to have never even been worn. Haven’t lived in LA in a few years so hopefully it hasn’t changed but found some great items while I was living there.

      Also seconding rent the runway.

      Or if you are comfortable buying without trying on (eg if you know a particular size in a particular brand fits) Poshmark is great (it’s basically a cross between eBay, Pinterest and Twitter). Users can resell items they own that no longer fit or that they have sitting in their closet but don’t wear. Sometimes some of the items are new enough you could try them in-store to determine size and then buy online.

      Also try sites like The Outnet, Gilt, Hautelook, etc

  15. Ali

    Beauty mavens of AAM:

    I’ve been into makeup now for a few months and am loving wearing it and gaining confidence. But one day, I wandered off into a subReddit called MakeupAddiction and saw some of the collections people boast. (A lot of girls are crazy about collecting/buying makeup to a level I can’t even imagine.) It has me wondering if I have everything I need or if I need to keep buying stuff since there are so many options for eyeshadows/lipsticks/blush, etc. I mean who knew you’d have lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss, matte lipstick, liquid lipstick, etc.? My collection feels downright inadequate compared to some of these women! Is there some stuff I’m missing? I can live without some products (I have zero interest in contour palettes or eyeliner, for example), but I now ask myself if I need to have a vanity/a specific area for doing makeup or some of these other products.

    Here’s what I have so far:

    Face: Concealer, two powder foundations, BB cream, one liquid foundation, two primers (though I tend to use one as a serum since it’s Too Faced Replenishing Rx), moisturizer, one bronzer

    Blush: I have three blushes. They’re all powder.

    Lips: Three regular lipsticks, one liquid lipstick, four lip glosses.

    Eyes: One eye palette (Too Faced Chocolate Bar…makes me feel giddy), one eyeshadow duo, one trio, three mascaras, eyeshadow primer. Is it odd to only have one palette? Some of what I saw on MUA, there were girls with at least three palettes. Like how do you use them all?

    So, is there anything I must have that I didn’t list here?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      People who have the huge amount of makeup that you’re seeing on MUA are people are seriously into makeup as a significant hobby. If you’re not, it’s like comparing your few bottles of wine to a serious collector and wondering if you’re somehow lacking.

      Buy the amount of makeup that makes you happy; this is not a “must have” kind of area, and the last thing you want is to get into a space where you feel in some way deficient over how much makeup you have versus other people. (Honestly, you’d be fine with a third of what you have! All the rest is just for fun.) (I mean, technically all of it is for fun, but hopefully you know what I mean.)

        1. Stephanie

          Oh man, I love liquid eyeliner. It just took a lot of practice so I didn’t look like Cleopatra. Also, I found dark brown liquid eyeliner was a lot less harsh than black.

          1. schnapps

            Liquid or gel eyeliner is where it’s at :) I just sorted my makeup out into baskets instead of my makeup bag and forgot just how much makeup I have.

            Also, I may be in love with my CC cream.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian

            I love using dark brown eyeliner. Lately I’ve been using high-pigment dark brown eye-shadow with a dampened liner brush for a softer effect than liquid liner. I’m still mad that Avon discontinued my eyeliner powder compact. It was the only thing I bought from there, and I’ve never found one I like as much. It was easy to apply, like a liquid, but soft-looking and blendable like a pencil. If they ever bring it back, in stocking up like Elaine Benes with the sponge.

          3. SaraV

            I am sooooooo “scared” of liquid eyeliner. I use a medium brown pencil eyeliner now, but figure I need something more significant. I have light coloring/fair complexion, but have these super dark (almost black) strong eyebrows.

            Not sure what to do to balance that out…

            1. Nicole

              I was scared of liquid eyeliner too; I’ve always avoided black eyeliner of any kind because it felt too harsh to me, but I recently got black liquid eyeliner in my Ipsy bag and I love it. I highly recommend Birchbox and Ipsy (both makeup subscription boxes) for some fun things to try for a low price point.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            What brand do you get?! I’m excited that maybe this can replace my long-lost Avon powdered eyeliner compact.

            1. Nashira

              I’ve done it with Nyx’s Naked palette. Works really well, and you can smudge the line for a softer effect if you want. Non-glittery colors worked for me, with a side of practicing on the back of my hands to get the lines accurate.

      1. SevenSixOne

        I stopped going to sites like MUA because I realized they’re geared mostly to super-advanced, expert users. I can appreciate their skill and artistry, but I’ll never be at that level myself because I have no INTEREST in getting to that level.

    2. Dynamic Beige

      Like how do you use them all?

      I think you’ve posed the right question, and IMO the answer is “they don’t”. Unless they are make up artists of some stripe who need colours for everyone, they don’t use them. Buy the products you like, that work for your complexion/skin type/wardrobe. Make up goes bad after a while, depending on what it is and it’s often expensive. This is not about “who’s got the most” but who makes the most of what they’ve got.

      1. Claire (Scotland)

        I have seven different Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes, and I promise you I use them all. :)

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict

          Do you have the new Naked Smoky? I don’t go in for smoky eyes much, and I couldn’t do the Naked3 (rosy tones don’t really work for me) but holy crow, 1 and 2 get SO much use. Right now I’ve switched over to the Stila palettes (Soul) and it’s terrific, but I’m tempted to go back to UD.

          1. Claire (Scotland)

            Yes, I got it on release day. I love it a lot. It’s easy to do smokey looks, but the colours are varied enough that you can do a good everyday eye too. I’ve used it every day since I got it.

            I’ve bought all the full Naked Palettes, actually. I only got Basics 1 though. Naked 1 was good when I got it, but once 2 came out I never used 1 again. I actually gave it to my mum at that point. 1 was just a little too yellow toned for me. 3 is lovely and I use it for work looks a lot. And now Smokey is so much fun. I highly recommend it!

        1. Stephanie

          It depends. That’s a good rule of thumb. If you look on the back of cosmetics, some will have a little compact icon that says “12M” or “6M” or something along those lines. That indicates the number of months you should keep the cosmetic.

    3. Anj

      Hi! I have about the same size of beauty collection as you, more or less. and I don’t think you’re missing anything for regular/daily use of makeup.

      face – only thing missing seems to be SPF 15-30 for daily use. the bb cream might have it anyway, so you may be covered. but you should wear a low grade sunscreen every day.
      blush – no need for a cream blush unless your skin is dry-ish, then the cream ones help you look more “dewy”
      lips – honestly the only thing missing from your collection is lip liner… which is helpful if you wear bold colors (helps keep them from smudging out) or if you like to line outside the lips (look fuller).
      eyes – i think a bunch of small sets (duos/trios) OR one big one is fine – there are just only so manycolors you can use! I WOULD recommend you look at eyeliner but that’s because i love using it and it’s one of the minimal makeup elements i use every day – try a pencil or kohl eyeliner if you think liquid is too bold or harsh on you. but other than that, i think you have it all covered!

      all in all, unless you are very into creative makeup looks, i think you should trust your instincts, and avoid getting sucked into the consumerism of vloggers who like showing off their collections – a lot of internet bloggers and vloggers just like showing off their haul because of the status implications (loosely: “more high quality/designer stuff = more money = more superior”?).

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I used to have a huge lipstick collection, until one day I was scraping out the worn-down ones to melt into a pot with some ChapStick and mint oil as a glossy tinted back, and I realized that they were all within one – three shades of the same color. Realizing that I was just buying pretty much the same color over and over again took the wind out of my sails. So now I just have two or three lipsticks and that works just fine for me.

        1. Anj

          ooh, that sounds nice, converting the tiny bits into a tinted balm! and yeah i think using the same-ish color happens to all of us. did you break out into a new direction yet?

          i’ve always wondered about doing that but with eyeshadows… i’ll have to google it to see how i can combine the tiny squares all into one set somehow.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            With lipstick, I’m still gravitating to the same colors I always have. Note that I’ve realized that, I don’t need so many of them. I have been making myself go a shade or two lighter recently, though, because I’ve read that as we get older, darker colors are harsher and more aging. It took a little adjustment tho get used to seeing myself in the lighter shades, but I do think they are more flattering now that I’m used to it.

    4. Lillie Lane

      Sounds like you are all set! The only extra I’d suggest is a good SPF and maybe something for your brows.

      If you want to add to your collection, you can slowly start adding tools, like brushes, eyelash curler, beautyblender, etc. These items usually last pretty much forever if you buy decent ones and take care of them.

      1. Ali

        Phew! I feel better now. :) The consumerism part is the most difficult for me to avoid getting sucked into. After all, that’s how I ended up asking, “Do I really need X?” Sometimes I will buy the smaller size products that are in the bins at Sephora or Ulta. That way if I end up being meh on them I didn’t lose as much money as I would have with the full size.

        I did just buy a new brush the other day that I’m going to try tonight. I have brush cleaners as well that I picked up at Sephora. I don’t really want an eyelash curler because the thought of putting tools close to my eyes freaks me out. (And not just with makeup…I spend a lot of time at the eye doctor on pins and needles from pressure checks, glaucoma testing, etc…I just hate stuff that close to my face!)

    5. Emma

      I am one of those girls with a huge makeup collection……and honestly, most of them are probably spending money they don’t actually have on it. I know a lot of mine was made on credit cards in a need to have the ‘new thing’ to show off on Instagram and impress my peers and now I’m stuck paying down my credit card debt when I’d really rather not be. I mean, I do have a few cool palettes now that will last me now I’m over wasting the money but really, you have everything you need.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, that or they’re getting it from the makeup companies. The personal care companies have figured out there’s a whole marketing angle via YouTube videos or Instagram and will send beauty vloggers samples to promote.

        1. IWasReallyDumbAndIRegretIt

          The Beauty big Vloggers/Instagrammers are getting the free samples to play with.

          The rest of us plebs can’t really afford it all and have a huge pile of wasted money sitting on our dressers and either have stopped buying it and or are in denial of how much they’ve spent and are trying not to cry when they think about it….and sooth the pain with a new lipstick.

        2. Nailed It

          It’s not just the superstar beauty bloggers either! I have a friend who started a nail polish blog mostly as an excuse to show off the nail art she was already doing. She’s not super-active, only a few posts a month… but she gets so much free stuff that she unloads several dozen products on me every time I visit.

          She’s transparent about what she gets for free and what she buys herself, but says the other beauty bloggers she’s friendly with aren’t always transparent about it– basically, if the post doesn’t explicitly say I BOUGHT THIS WITH MY OWN MONEY, assume the blogger didn’t.

    6. AnnieNonymous

      Lots of the women you’re seeing buy makeup they never intend to use. They want it for the packaging, or they want to collect a particular brand or designer collaboration, or they just want to try something even though they kind of already know it doesn’t get much use. I consider myself fairly into makeup (though my focus is more on skincare than colorful cosmetics), and by any measure, the five lipsticks in my regular rotation is a paltry amount…and I still barely use any of them.

      I don’t think you’re necessarily missing anything, though I see you don’t have any eyebrow products. elf makes a great $3 set with a gel for outlining and filling in, and a lighter powder for making things softer and more natural. The set comes in four shades. If you feel like something is “missing” from your look, this might be it.

      You mentioned Too Faced a bit, and while they have some nice products, they’re a brand that prioritizes the gimmickry (that’s not an insult – I love kitsch in my cosmetics!) of packaging and fun scents over presenting an intact assortment of options. Make Up For Ever is very low-key, but they’re the best when it comes to foundation and concealer – just getting that flawless complexion. I’m a big fan of Revlon’s balm stains. Smitten is a great berry shade that seems to be fairly universally flattering, if you’re interested in trying a type of product that you don’t have yet.

      Before spending money, think about what you want to accomplish with your makeup? Are you just having fun with color? Are you trying to brighten things up? Achieve a certain look? Nail down an everyday work-friendly routine?

    7. Former Diet Coke Addict

      If you’re interested in expanding and playing with new stuff, have you looked into some of the beauty boxes? I think Birchbox is the “big” oldest one, but there’s Julep and I’m sure a few others. I used to get the Canadian version of one, and frankly, it was fun–it was about $12 a month including shipping and taxes, and I got either 3-5 samples of stuff or 1 full-sized product each month. Some of it was meh, but some of it was awesome–I got a few full-size nail polishes I like, a great makeup remover, and bunches of little samples of face wash and moisturizer that I take on trips and stuff. It was a fun, low-key way to try out new stuff without feeling bad for sinking $32 on a new blush that I couldn’t be sure I would.

      1. Yoshi

        I second the recommendation of trying the beauty box subscription route, if you’re interested in makeup and various beauty products. I did it for about a year, and found it to be a lot of fun and a great way of trying new brands and different products, many of which I had never even heard of before. I did both Birchbox and ipsy/glam bag, both of which cost about $10/month in the US. I preferred birchbox over glam bag, because I thought it had more professional make up and products better suited to my late 20’s life (office appropriate, some fun colors for the weekend, but nothing crazy sparkly or anything). I found ipsy/glambag to be geared more towards the late teens/early twenties set, with more glitter, brighter colors, etc. It did tend to have larger sample sizes though. But, if you have $10 a month to spare, it might be a fun thing to try out.

    8. SandrineSmiles (France)

      The only people I’ve seen with huge makeup collections are beauty Youtubers. Because they need to be “up to date” on stuff. Otherwise, choose what makes you happy.

      Right now, I’m all : eyeliner, maybe eyeshadow, mascara, and lip stuff. Well, gotta buy myself some. Ha xD

    9. NDQ

      I’ll admit to only using a few items: concealer, spf lotion, brow pencil and lipstick. I’d give up everything except the sun blocking lotion if I had to.

      NDQ

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        I only use eyeliner mascara and lipstick. For a lot of years i literally didnt use anything.

    10. asteramella

      Keep in mind that makeup goes bad, especially makeup that is moist or wet in any way (lipsticks, mascaras, etc.).

      Lots of people have different hobbies and collections. If you google around you’ll find people with huge collections of Pokemon toys or fountain pens or matchbooks or nail polishes. It’s all just stuff. If you feel a passion for that particular type of stuff, go for it. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money/time/space. You don’t need to have any amount or type of makeup to prove your femininity or anything else.

    11. Claire (Scotland)

      If you are happy with the looks you can achieve with what you’ve got, you really don’t need anything else. Those huge collections are amazing, but unless you are really into it and enjoy collecting it, there’s only so much you will use.

      I have a fairly big collection, maybe five times what you’ve got, and I do use almost all of it but a few things I’ve bought just because they were fun or cool or unusual. I enjoy playing with makeup looks and it makes me happy, so I have a monthly makeup budget to play with.

      Personally I can’t imaging being without eyeliner, I probably have more eyeliner pencils than anything else, even lipstick/gloss. I can’t do liquid eyeliner though. Other than that, the things I notice as “missing” from your collection are brow products (I use a brow pencil daily) and highlighters (I have both liquid and powder highlighters). But if you don’t feel those would be worth bothering with for you, you don’t need them!

    12. Camellia

      Some others have mentioned it but I want to reiterate – SPF! The highest number that you can find that works with the skin on your face and with your foundation. Right now I am using a L’Oreal SPF 50 that is thin like milk and it works great with my mineral foundation. I like Neutrogena’s “dry” sunscreens for under liquid foundation.

      As for how much you need? Imagine you are packing for a week’s vacation and the only luggage you get is one carry-on. The makeup you would pack for that is how much you “need”. For everything else, what works for me is that it comes out of my ‘entertainment’ budget. Necessities, like my favorite foundation, are non-negotiable. For everything else, I have a weekly amount that I will spend for entertainment and if I’m out somewhere and decide to pick up a new eye shadow, blush, etc., I pay for it out of that. Because that’s what makeup is for me – entertainment! I love it, love the colors, the brushes, everything!

      By having a separate budget amount for ‘entertainment’ I don’t feel any more guilty about buying an eye shadow and using it only once (if I find out that I truly end up hating it) than I would feel about seeing a movie one time.

    13. Nicole

      I can relate – I only own one palette too (because I don’t wear eyeshadow very often, although that was primarily because it would always rub off quickly until I discovered eyeshadow primer).

      It’s really up to each individual how much makeup they’d like to own. If you’re happy with what you have that’s really all that matters.

      I did subscribe to Birchbox and Ipsy this year because it’s fun to get a package in the mail monthly with new stuff to try.

    14. Lindsay J

      I’ve found that I have to unsubscribe from subreddits like those sometimes because I get into a weird mentality where I “have” to have whatever the great new thing is this week (and there’s always a great new thing to be had). It’s not even a keeping up with the Joneses mentality – I don’t care if other people have more or better stuff than me.

      But after hearing all the raves about dipbrow or Cashmere or the Lorac Pro Pallet or clump crusher or whatever else I feel like I’m missing out on some great, life-changing thing if I don’t pick it up when I see it, even though if I hadn’t heard about it on MUA I wouldn’t have given it a second glance on the shelf.

      As it is, if you like what you have I wouldn’t be in a hurry to run out and buy more. The photography subreddit is pretty pragmatic when it comes to things like this – a lot of times people will come in and ask what thing they should spend money on next (usually what lens, sometimes it’s whether they should upgrade their camera body. And first response invariably is “What problem are you trying to solve?”

      I have a couple eye shadow pallets because I like varying my eyeshadow. I don’t necessarily have one “look” I do on a daily basis and would get bored if I only had a few colors to choose from. (Though on those pallets there are quite a few colors that just don’t get any use because I don’t like them or they don’t look good on me, and I feel like it’s probably the same for most people to some extent).

      I have a bunch of foundations and primers because I haven’t found my holy grail so I’ve bought different things to try.

      I have a few lipsticks. A bright red, a peachy/coraly color (it’s pretty but hard to describe), a pink, and a nude.

      On the other hand, I have one blush. One eyeliner. (Well, two, because I got one as a gift). One mascara. I don’t use concealer.

      I switch up my eyes and my lips on a regular basis. The rest of it stays the same so I don’t need a lot of product. Someone who likes changing up their blush would need more blush than I do. It’s all about what you use and what you don’t.

  16. BRR

    I’m not even sure what I’m hoping for with this post but ever since my husband and I moved in together, I’ve noticed our sheets and towels smell. We keep them in the same closet and this has now been in two separate houses. This has never happened to me before. I guess I feel like it’s his fault and want him to know that he’s causing it and how do I solve this. I periodically wash everything but the bad smell comes back pretty quickly. Like I don’t even know how it’s happening. It’s the same detergent I have always used and I periodically clean my washing machine with vinegar. Is it from sitting in a closet too long?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      It could be. I also have this issue– but only in my microfiber hair towels, where the combination of moisture and my hair gel (I put the gel in and then wrap up my hair) wreaks havoc. The only way I’ve found to get the smell out is to add vinegar to every wash cycle in addition to the regular cleaners. If you have a front-loader, put vinegar in the little drawer where you would put fabric softener or bleach.

      It’s probably not his fault. In fact, it’s likely not his fault. Just like it’s not actually my “fault” that my hair towels smell weird after each use and I’ve managed to convince my boyfriend to deal with it. :)

      1. Jessica (tc)

        I don’t use hair gel, and my microfiber hair towel smells sometimes after I’ve used it a few times. I wonder if our old washer (at a former apartment) did something, because this is the first hair towel that I’ve had that happen to since I started using the microfiber ones. It’s still happening at our current place (same towel), but I’m going to try the vinegar thing. Thanks!

    2. Myrin

      I’m intrigued! What kind of smell is it? I mean, does it smell of anything in particular or is it more the smell of “old” or “damp”?

      Apart from that, the first thing that came to mind is the closet: You mention that this started to happen since moving in with your husband, a move that I suppose included sharing your furniture? Of course, if this current closet is the one you already had before you moved together, it can’t be the issue, but maybe your husband brought it with him or you bought it together after you moved in together? If the latter is the case, I’d start looking there, maybe it’s made from a weird material or somehow its own smell combined with the detergent makes a weird mixture?

      1. BRR

        I guess musty. We moved into a new place together and the smell came. Then we moved to a different state and they still smell. Maybe he brought it with and he needs new towels. They’re pretty old. I think his sheets held it but we replaced those and the smell is less frequent. I’m going to try new towels.

        1. Mickey Q

          It happens when you cram too many things into the linen closet with no air circulation. It happened in my t-shirt drawer until I got rid of half the t-shirts.

    3. Beezus

      My sheets get musty smelling if they sit on the shelf for a while. I’m not sure how long you’re leaving them. My towels cycle through pretty quickly.

      Is it possible that the closet is getting damp, or they’re not 110% dry when they get folded and put away? Have you tried using moisture absorbers in the linen closet?

    4. fposte

      I’d recommend not worrying about fault. Towels get smelly sometimes; that’s just how it goes. Two people may also mean towels are getting wet more often and having less time to dry out between uses, and that there’s more stuff hanging out in the hamper before wash day. (Though if he’s throwing them on the floor, you can at least blame him somewhat.)

      That being said, the internet is full of helpful suggestions that mostly suggest to me nobody’s really fixed this one. It also depends if you’re talking sour towels or towels that are picking up odor from front-loading washers, which seems to be a different problem. Ultimately, though, stuff that gets wet all the time gets a life of its own going on, and it’s an ongoing fight against that. I usually go for a wash on hot + vinegar followed by a dry on hot, and I try to make sure towels don’t go in the hamper wet and are spread out well on the rack to dry.

      1. BRR

        I only bring up fault because to me it’s like ok something since having him in my life is causing this and he’s like, “wow what’s going on, this is as unexplainable as crop circles.”

        1. Myrin

          But wouldn’t that reaction of his suggest that his towels didn’t smell either before moving in with you? So he might think it’s you? Or am I misunderstanding?

          Anyway, I agree with the others who suggest something to absorb the moisture. Additionally, we have these little bags (I have no idea what they’re called in English, sorry!) and apart from being really pretty to look at they also lend a very soft and fresh smell to our closets. Some might make it smell like a “grandmother’s closet” but you can absolutely find the right ones for your preferences!

          1. BRR

            They smelled when we lived separately but I never brought it up because we spent most of the time at my place.

            1. the gold digger

              My husband’s bath towel starts to smell (while he is still using it, not after it has been washed) well before mine does. I finally figure out it’s because he will splash water on his – not wash it with soap – and then dry his face on the towel. His towels smell sooner (and have to be washed sooner) because they get dirty faster.

              (It was this practice of his that forced me to give up my dream of having white towels only in our bathroom, as I had always had. He brought dark green towels that I hate to our marriage, but they do not get grimy the way white towels do when he does his face thingy with them.

              1. BRR

                I learned the reason hotels use white towels is because they bleach them every wash. It could be your secret to having white towels :).

                1. the gold digger

                  I wish. I have learned (based on my white t-shirts getting grimy around the neck and wrists after one wearing because I am obsessive/paranoid about sunblock) that bleach doesn’t work on grimy dirt.

                  Nor does it work on non-organic substances, like the rust that gets inside your dryer when you live in Miami and the dryer is outside and gets rain in it.

                2. Natalie

                  Oxygenated cleaners will work better than standard bleach – it reacts with proteins in sweat and turns yellow. And as far as I know, that yellow is super hard to remove.

          2. Jessica (tc)

            Sachets! My mother used to use them in drawers. I never got in the habit, but some of them are so cute. I use these little cedar balls and blocks from Container Store in drawers and things that we don’t use/open on a daily basis. I’ll post the link below. (Some are just cedar and some are cedar/lavendar ones.)

            1. Artemesia

              the dryer sachets from Trader Joe which are lavender with a kind of citrus edge smell better than most sachets I have encountered and you can use them in the drawers or the dryer or both.

    5. Stephanie

      Are they really thick and possibly not drying all the way? This might not work everywhere, but I usually leave bulky things out in the sun to dry. Also, are you leaving your washer door open? Sometimes closing the lid/door can make it musty in there, even if you’re cleaning it regularly.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict

          When you clean your washing machine, if it’s a front-loader, do you clean the rubber seal? Sometimes if I leave mine closed it can develop a musty smell if I don’t wipe down the rubber seal because there’s moisture lurking in there.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            Yup. Gotta get in that seal with vinegar. (I use vinegar for everything.) Leave the door open, run vinegar through every cycle, use the washer’s self-clean every 30 loads or so.

    6. schnapps

      Do you wash them in hot or cold? We do all our sheets/towels in hot. Husband-type is a great sweaty thing and it’s the only thing that completely gets the odour out.

      1. BRR

        He’s probably washing them on the “tap cold” setting as it’s the cheapest to run. I’m not sure though as we do our own laundry. I’m going to run things through on hot.

        1. Alma

          Long ago, the Sears appliance guy answered my question about the same issue – sour or not fresh towels and jeans, etc. He told me I was probably using too much laundry soap. He suggested vinegar, as well as cutting the amount of soap I was using in half.

          So for a long time I started each month with a gallon jug of vinegar (they come 2 in a box at Sam’s for about $6). I did a pre-wash with a cup of vinegar, the clothes, and at least warm water for the pre-wash. I could see the sudsy start to work its way out of the towels and other laundry items as they agitated in pre-wash. Then I immediately followed with the regular wash/ rinse cycle, using half the soap I had been using.

          I did this with every load until I ran out of vinegar for the month. I figured I had super-cleaned everything at least once each month.

          The next step is just as important: the heat of the dryer does a lot of the germ killing. So be sure to dry the heavy items thoroughly. That keeps them from going sour or “off” once put in the closet.

          I will put a link in the following post. I found an all natural, unscented, no fillers laundry product company that *literally* is impossible to use incorrectly. For a full load, use 1 oz. Of the liquid, or one scoop (I think it is a tablespoon) of the powder. If you live in a hard water area, add a scoop or two of water conditioner. (I live in an area where every other town is X Quarry). There is also an oxygen bleach powder that is color safe that helps with stains. And it is made here in the Great North State. It can be used on hand washables to overalls to dog beds.

        2. asteramella

          He might be leaving the wet laundry in the washer and not switching it immediately to the dryer, thus causing mildew.

        3. Artemesia

          If he is washing cold then that is the reason right there. It will not get sweaty or funky things clean. Period.

        4. Natalie

          Does he use fabric softener or dryer sheets? Those coat fabric with stuff, and can hold in smells. White vinegar will soften and deodorize, no fabric softener needed.

    7. Today's Satan

      I haven’t read all the comments, but my boyfriend has a “funk” odor, despite daily showers and only wearing clean clothes. It’s so bad that I won’t store my clothes or towels in the same place as his, and I won’t wash our clothes together. (Seriously, even with detergent and hot water my stuff will come out smelling like his if it’s in the same load. I try to wash a load of pet linens in between his stuff and mine to kind of flush the washer out). As long as I keep everything separate, my things are OK. (We also sleep in separate bedrooms because of his horrendous snoring, so, thankfully, my sheets and pillowcases don’t suffer from his “funk”).

      1. Felix

        Oh interesting! My bf and I are talking about moving in together, but because he snores and I have trouble sleeping we’d be looking at having separate rooms. Does this work well for you? Any suggestions about separate sleeping locations? We are mostly fine with this arrangement, but often feel like we have to defend ourselves to others (if they find out we don’t usually sleep together, and it’s not as if we announce this).

        1. Weekend Warrior

          If you want separate rooms, it’s your call and nobody else’s business. But if the snoring is a big problem, it’s really worth having it checked out at a sleep clinic. It could be due to sleep apnea and be causing a strain on your bf’s heart, disturbing important sleep cycles, etc. My husband got checked out and now uses a CPAP. Even when I’m away he admits he drops it only one night and then is back on it as he can tell the difference in sleep quality . And for me it’s like sleeping next to a very soft ocean. :)
          A life, and marriage, saver!

          1. Felix

            Great advice! I’m pretty certaon he doesn’t have sleep apnea, it’s a really gentle snore, I’m just a REALLY light sleeper so any change in sound or movement immediately wakes me up :(

            1. Natalie

              Flonase might help. It’s a nasal spray and at least according to my doctor you can use it basically forever.

        2. the gold digger

          I am convinced I would be happier if my husband and I lived next door to each other. He is a night owl but I have to be up at 6 a.m. because I work for The Man and The Man doesn’t like it if I roll into my desk at noonish. If I lived alone, I would be in bed at 9 or earlier and up at 5:00 to exercise before work because I hate exercising so much it’s better for me to do it when I am not quite conscious.

            1. Felix

              I’ve started researching this and apparently several celebs have this arrangement (and the very wealthy).

        3. Artemesia

          My best friend and her husband had separate rooms for years — they both found it really helped them get a good night’s sleep and they had a great marriage. I am not someone who likes to be crowded when I am sleeping and a king size bed makes sharing the room possible. My husband is great about rolling over if I poke him when he snores and I can get to bed later and up earlier than he does without disturbing him as he can sleep through anything.

          1. Felix

            It’s really working well for us too, we have tons of “sleep overs” (we have separate homes right now), but it involves us sleeping in different rooms. Sometimes I wonder if we are missing out on the “bonding” that happens sleeping in the same bed, but I’m such a light sleeper I have to take a sleeping pill/aid to stay asleep with someone else in the room. And then I wake up with that groggy feeling. It seems unhealthy to drug myself in order to sleep together (and he agrees), so our solution is separate bedrooms.

            Does your friend “hide the evidence” of separate rooms if they have guests over? If not, have they had to deal with a lot of judgement from family/friends?

            1. Artemesia

              They didn’t start this until fairly late in life and were quite open about it having reached the ‘not giving a flying F about what other people think’ stage of life.

            2. moss

              my husband and I have separate rooms too. We have a great marriage and we’ve just trained family/visitors that we think it’s totally normal and they should too.

    8. Artemesia

      Is it a slightly musty smell? Or something else?

      If you can’t knock it with using something like biz in the wash and hot water then consider using white towels and using bleach. I also use the lavender dryer bags from Trader Joe’s in the dryer and you can use them in the closet as well.

      Our washcloths get musty and washing doesn’t really stop that and bleach wrecks the color. I have taken to washing them every time I do any sort of load — we wash the towels once a week or so but the washclothes go into the wash with every load.

      1. Artemesia

        Re husband funk. My husband is very clean and doesn’t smell bad but his shirts would get really gross because somehow the laundry just didn’t get the sweat and deodorant out of the underarms of his shirts. He wears black t shirts as undershirts so bleaching wasn’t an option. We have front loader low water washers and they really don’t get things as clean as the old agitator washers that we had before we moved. Someone recommending using a pre-soak cycle with biz and since I have done that it really vastly improves the shirt odor issue. I do the presoak cycle with biz and then wash the load after the pre-soak has drained and the shirts smell fresh.

        Consider bleaching the undershirts he wears if they are white and if not try pre-soak with biz, or with vinegar or experiment with a few things like that.

        1. Chocolate Teapot

          I don’t think anyone has mentioned it, but how fast is the washing machine spin cycle? Mine is 1600 (somethings) which means the laundry comes out of the machine much drier so it needs less time on the washing line.

          1. Artemesia

            I have those crappy front loading washer and apartment size stacked washer/dryer things and my washer does not spin heavy things like towels very well. I usually end up using the laundry room of the condo for towels and sheets or if I am using my own small washer, will do an extra spin cycle. Our dryer also doesn’t dry things entirely so I always snap the shirts and put them on the bed for a couple of hours before putting them away — it is best to use the large dryers in the laundry room for towels as that gets them bone dry.

    9. Menacia

      I found this info online and it seems right on regarding this issue. I agree with you if the towels are old to get new ones.

      Wash your load of towels on the hot cycle and add 1 cup of vinegar to the load. Do not use detergent or anything (especially bleach – that can be super dangerous!)… just hot water and the vinegar. Let the washer do it’s job. Then, if you still smell a little bit, rewash with just hot water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. I did not need to do this step but if your towels are bad, you might want to. Again, no detergent, just baking soda and hot water. Got it?
      When your towels are done, throw them in the dryer. Done and done! They always come out smelling great and fresh!

      I think they key take aways are to use HOT water, and use the vinegar in the water when washing the clothes, not just to clean the washing machine, and definitely make sure to remove the laundry from the washing machine and put it in the dyer before the laundry starts drying in the washing machine.

      I have a different issue, when my husband does the laundry he will not only use a fabric softener in the washing machine, but also the fabric sheets in the dryer. All these do is ruin the softness of my towels. I have now purchased my own set of towels that I wash and he can do whatever he wants with his that are now like sandpaper. Just say no to fabric softener and dryer sheets!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Someone gave my husband some heavy weight shirts. They were so loaded with fabric softener that I had to wash them six times to get the smell out. You could smell the clothes from one room over, it was so strong. And the clothes felt funny- like they were caked with something. Yes, I used hot water, baking soda, vinegar (separately). I did everything and still had to wash them six times. I almost gave up, but the sixth time I washed them the smell was so faint that I decided I had won.

    10. LSP

      Oxyclean powder FTW!!! I get it from Costco and it goes on sale fairly often. Our clothes used to have this musty/funk odor, especially the towels. Ever since I started adding a heaping scoop (2-3 tbsp maybe) my clothes don’t smell at all, it’s amazing.

  17. Gene

    The smoke in Spokane yesterday was INSANE! The official air condition was “Hazardous, do not go outside.” No visible sun. Wind change overnight and it’s clear today.

    Plan for 2017, Worldcon in Helsinki. Time to learn some Finnish.

    1. Clever Name

      Ick. I’m in Denver, and we’ve been getting smoke and haze from all the fires. My husband and his family are from the area burning, and it’s awful to watch.

      1. Gene

        The con was very good. Record membership numbers, second largest attending members, record Hugo votes. They did a great job with integrating the Discworld con folks and the Sad (and Rabid) Puppies got their collective ass handed to them in the Hugo Awards. I may go to Mid-America Con next year, but really can’t see getting to Helsinki.

        We’ll have to see where NASFic 2017 ends up being. And 2018 currently only has two bids, New Orleans and San Jose. I’d go to either of those.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      Mid-Columbia WA has been smoky for days and days, with very limited visibility. The fires aren’t close at all, but it smells smoky. It’s been extra hot, extra dry for so long. I dream of rain. I think the last measurable rainfall was in May.

  18. Carrie in Scotland

    I’m bemused at the fact that for the past few weekend open threads the “suggestion of threads you may like” has been the same one – 11-12 July…

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Aha, I have solved it! (Now it doesn’t display any related posts, but that’s how the open threads are supposed to be. The one it was showing had been mis-categorized.)

  19. EvilQueenRegina

    Just want to vent here.

    So, it looks like The Tale of Regina and Robin is over.

    Turns out he has someone else in the background. This other person lives thousands of miles away and doesn’t want anyone to know about this thing they have between them. Robin is saying he doesn’t think he can wait for them to be together. I don’t know how aware the other person is of that.

    I can see that whole screwed up situation ending in tears. But they won’t be my tears. I’m removing myself from the situation. Robin can cheat on the person from miles away if he wants to, but it won’t be with me. I am finally done. If we were together he would likely cheat on me too (we may be only hundreds of miles apart as opposed to the thousands of miles that he and the other are apart, but it’s still long distance in different countries).

    Maybe I’m just an idiot for hoping. But to be fair to me there were enough times when he gave me the impression that he cared for me. Even my family thought he did just based on a few posts on my Facebook. I just wonder now if he was playing me all along. It just gets to me that he keeps on about how worried he is I’ll disappear on him, how much he missed me and found it really hard the days I wasn’t able to chat while I was away, and then this. Even if technically we weren’t officially together, I thought we could be one day. We talked about taking things offline, we have each other’s numbers and had talked about meeting in person. It wouldn’t have been this year anyway for various reasons, and I guess won’t happen now.

    Observer in particular, I should have listened when you said there were red flags. I should have paid attention to his ex Marian who felt she had also been played (don’t ask how I know that). And it just confirms the pattern of Robin being just like my first love Daniel, who also turned out to have someone else in the background.

    Nothing like realising love interest is very similar to your ex to kill feelings for someone, huh?

    Truth is I’m not completely over him yet. But I will get there. I’ve survived worse than that before and can do it again.

    Sorry about that ramble.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Don’t be sorry for the ramble – better out than in.

      Urgh what a horrid situation for you. Take time to heal and be kind to yourself. You are worth so much more than him. ((hugs))

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        Thank you. I’m trying to tell myself that. I know full well his other relationship is just going to blow up in his face, but hey, I won’t be around to find out. His problem, not mine.

    2. Clever Name

      That really sucks. As painful as it is, better he showed his true colors sooner than later. Hang in there.

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        Thank you. I know now it wouldn’t have worked if we had made a go of it. It just hurts right now to think that he never cared about me at all. Well he can go bore this other person to death now about Criminal stupid Case. I’m better off without him.

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        Haha, that comment about Robin made me laugh, so thanks for that! Does the offer of a curse still stand?

        I’m better off cutting my ties and moving on. He doesn’t care, after all. I know I shouldn’t be posting these venty replies at the moment but I’m still angry at him right now. I wish I hadn’t wasted a year of my life on having feelings for someone who just never cared.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I know. *hug* It’s hard, though, because feelings are what they are and even though the other person has just as much right not to care as we do if the situation were reversed, wanting them to care when they don’t just sucks. I finally don’t care if Crush isn’t interested, but I still think about what could happen if he changed his mind. Though if given a choice, I’d much rather spend my time with someone who really wants to spend his with me. (My moan is that no one wants to!)

          But Robin really IS an idiot and is not worthy of Regina. Only a complete twat would have fallen for Zelena’s obvious trick. And yes, the offer still stands!!!

    3. Artemesia

      Dodged a bullet. Everyone has these disastrous relationships in their lives at some point — not all cheaters, but there are lots of ways for a relationship to be a disaster. Figuring this out and moving on dignity intact is a win.

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        Even taking the other person out of the equation, thinking about it now I think there were other reasons why it was never going to work. But I’m better off just walking away. Thanks for that.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yep, you got grace and dignity going on here. And you know, he probably did love you in his way, unfortunately, that way isn’t want a lot of people, including yourself, are looking for. Everyone has their own definition of love, he thinks love is a water faucet that he can turn on and turn off, randomly. Life can be really tough, he brings in a lot of needless complexity.

          1. EvilQueenRegina

            I don’t know how he feels towards me, if he feels anything at all. But I know that if anyone’s going to be with me, then I don’t want to share with anyone else, I want someone who’ll be with me and only me. From something he later admitted it sounds like the person I talked about above isn’t the only one. So I’m better off without.

  20. The Other Dawn

    I’m disappointed to say that I do not have five cherry trees in my yard–I have five crab apple trees. I’ve been Googling and it appears they can be used for jams and pies. Anyone ever use them before? Anyone know when I should harvest them? As near as I can tell, it would be sometime in September maybe.

    1. fposte

      Crabapples are basically little apples. As with apples, when they’re ripe depends on the cultivar, the area, and the weather, but September is a pretty good guess. Basically, when there are apples, pick ’em.

      What crabapples are really good for is being beautiful flowering trees in spring.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Neither me nor my husband are cider drinkers anymore. For me it’s the sugar content. But I suppose I could make it and give it away. I hate to see all those apples go to waste.

        I also have two apple trees in the yard. I’m guessing McIntosh, but I’m not sure. But the apples don’t look very good at all; we’ve never had apple trees and have no idea how to take care of them to get good apples. I’ll try next year.

        1. Meadowsweet

          even if they don’t look fantastic give them a try to see how they taste – family’s got a tree where the apples don’t always look very good (scabby, strangely shaped) but always taste wonderful :)
          other than that pruning to make sure they get air between the branches (the internet or your garden centre should be able to help) and a fruit tree spike in the spring (I think you just need to pound it into the ground somewhere within the root area, but the internet will know that too :) )

        2. Not So NewReader

          The birds will eat them and so will the deer. I should think other critters will be interested, too.

    2. Mephyle

      You can make crabapple pickles – all the grandmas and great-aunts made them in my childhood.

    3. the gold digger

      Is it OK for me to say “I told you so?” Especially knowing that crab apples can be delicious? (My grandmother canned quarts and quarts of them every year.)

      I would make apple pie, apple tart, and apple strudel with them. And applesauce.

    4. Artemesia

      If they were cherry trees the birds would have picked them clean before they ripened for harvest — at least that was the story of our cherry tree. The only year we got a harvest was the year the 13 and 17 year cicadas both hatched and the birds gorged on those and we got two of the best cherry pies ever made. The next year, the cherries were all plucked clean a few days before they would have been ripe for us again.

    5. E

      They make awesome flavored jelly. You just cook down the crabapples for their liquid and strain off the pulp, then jell the juice with sugar to sweeten it.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah, it’s a pretty easy jelly and you don’t need to add pectin. Just cook them* in water, strain, boil with sugar, and jar them. There are plenty of directions on the internet.

        *I cut them in half to make sure I’m not cooking any worms, but don’t bother coring or peeling them. That makes it lots easier.

  21. IWasReallyDumbAndIRegretIt

    I just added up how much money has slipped through my fingers on stupid stuff like makeup, clothes, shoes, eating out, manicures etc etc and I feel really upset and disappointed in myself. It’s very much just a case of ‘where has all this money gone’ and then realising it basically went nowhere other than lots of various frivolous things that added no value to my life other than a 4k debt I now need to pay down. I’ve had a pretty rough time over the last year and I’d shop to feel better. Like how some people drink, I shopped.

    Now it’s really hit me because I can’t go on a study program for 2 weeks to Italy with my University because I can’t afford it….but I could have afforded it if I was more careful with my money over the last year or so and didn’t blow my tax refund and spare income on freaking tons of shoes I only wore a couple of times or 5 lipsticks that look almost identical etc etc. Now I miss out on this AND have to live miserably for a while to pay it back down.

    I know this is the most entitled whine ever, but I’m so bummed and mad at myself and feel like the biggest idiot and failure ever.

    Just needed to get it off my chest :(

    1. FluffyKitty

      That really sucks. I know exactly how you feel. I’m going through something similar now (tons of debt). But you’re so lucky you realized the path you were headed down and it’s only $4k. I don’t mean this it’s no big deal. I mean it could have taken you so much longer to realize it and your debt could have been so much worse.

      My friend and I once added up our “eating out” expenditures…boy, was that a HUGE eye opener! My spouse and I were spending about $500.00 a month on take-out, delivery, etc., rather than cooking. My friend and her spouse were spending about the same on a daily coffee habit, McDonald’s, Chinese, etc. Needless to say, we both stopped cold turkey and we saved a lot of money.

      (I wish I could say that my financial issues could this time be solved by not eating out, but that’s not where our money is going. We go to the diner about twice a month.)

    2. Trixie

      That’s tough but you are far from alone in the overspending field. At the time I think the little purchases aren’t a big deal by themselves but then they all add up. The good news you recognize where the problem is and where to cut back. If you can select a few things you don’t need or have duplicates of, maybe sell them online? You’ll get a handle on this in no time, and you won’t be miserable. You’ll feel a weight lifting each paycheck as you see your debts go down.

      1. Trixie

        Also, we’re heading info fall which means many places are gearing up for holidays. Seasonal employment is a great way to earn extra cash, and maybe stay on PT in the new year. More cash, less debt, happy new year!

    3. fposte

      Money goes really fast, and I think you’re in a pretty common situation. As I got more experience with money, it was easier for me to stop looking at spending in isolation and measure the value of something against my other uses for that money. Am I going to get $100 of use and enjoyment from this sale haul of end-of-season t-shirts? Or would I get more pleasure from one more day in Italy?

      It can also be useful to look at things you *have* felt were worth what you spent on them. What’s the difference? Can you apply that to how you approach your spending in the future?

      1. BRR

        I do the same thing with thinking if something is $100 worth of whatever.

        I’ve also started saving what I talk myself out of. So if I was going to buy a shirt and decided it’s a waste of money, I’ll move that money to my savings account. If I don’t do that I’ll end up spending the money on something else.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Definitely a good question: Will I get x dollars worth of enjoyment out of Y?

        Another thing I like to do is calculate how many hours I had to work to by an item. “Whaaat??! I have to work three days to pay for this! Heck NO.”

      3. Lindsay J

        This is a really good way to look at things. I’m going to start trying it; the hours of work thing wasn’t working for me, but measuring it against something I enjoy might.

    4. Weekend Warrior

      So many people go further down this road before they wake up so good on you. It’s kind of like a rite of passage thing most of us hit at some point. :)

      I love the Blonde on a Budget blog and you might too. Her early posts were on how to aggressively get out of debt. http://blondeonabudget.ca

    5. Kate M

      Oh I totally know how you feel. For me, it was a lot of Starbucks, lunches out, and popping into Forever21 that ended up in so much wasted money. I would so strongly recommend setting up a budget – it’s the only thing that’s helped me. I use YNAB, and it’s seriously the best thing that’s happened in my financial life. Not only does it allow you to track where your expenses are going, but setting up a budget based on the money you actually have lets me spend (or not) without guilt. I budget about $25 for breakfast or lunch out per month, and then before I buy something, I log into the app to see how much I have left in that category. If it’s enough, great! If not, I know that before I buy something. If I really still have to buy it, I do it with the acknowledgement I’m going to have to pull it out of some other category (that might be more fun, like a vacation). It makes you so much more mindful, and having a plan for your money is really essential.

    6. nep

      I think a lot of people can identify. Don’t beat yourself up — what’s done is done. It’s good you’re aware and thinking about it — means you’re likely to be more mindful.
      I know you didn’t ask for advice — Just to note, when I was freelancing and money was tight I found it really helpful when I would keep a notebook in which I wrote down Every.Single.Expenditure. Including a few coins to a woman in the street, to a few pieces of fruit at an outdoor stand — everything. (I’ve been meaning to get back to doing that (resources remain scarce) — this might just spur me on to do so.)

      1. nep

        Notebook and a pen — or, you know, some other more advanced means like I don’t know a smart phone…But you get the idea. (I still like pen and paper for some things.)

      2. SherryD

        Yes to the spending diary! I do mine in Excel, but paper works just fine. It’s incredibly eye-opening, and it encourages you to be more mindful with your money.

      3. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, it’s really important to realize that other people are going through the same thing.
        I think we need to get it out of our systems and then get serious.

        My mother used to say we reach an age where buying things does not mean much anymore. She hit that point in her 50s. My aunt hit it in her late 70s. I hit it at 30 something because of cleaning out my parents houses. I saw the crap that collected and decided that I will not do this. I always have a bag of donations for clothes and another bag for miscellaneous household items. During the cleaning out years, I had read for each thing we buy we should get rid of one thing. Well, I had saved so much from my parents (I’m an only child) that I decided I needed to get rid of TWO things for each item I bought. Boy, that gave me incentive not to buy anything! I don’t follow this rule so much any more, but I am more careful about what I bring home. I have to be able to pick a spot in the house to put, before I can buy it.

    7. SandrineSmiles (France)

      I’ve done that too. But I’ve done that so often that I’m now deciding I need to kick myself in some way to get things “started” again, in a good way. Here’s to hoping none of the cats need huge vet bills in the meantime, because I need to get my driver’s license, and other things.

      Crossing fingers for you!

    8. CIVICSGRATE

      I feel for you, I truly do. But: even if you choose to live like a monk, living costs money.

      I’m not trying to say “hey, it’s okay, spend all you want!” but most people have some kind of hobby or diversion to occupy their free time, and as hobbies go, makeup and/or shoes aren’t the worst you could do, cost-wise. I had a neighbor who was into waterskiing. And think about SCUBA diving, BASE jumping, automobile racing, horses, salt-water reef aquariums, model railroading … the list goes on and on. I’m not saying these efforts aren’t worthwhile. Just: you can piss away $4K on ski boats (for instance) so fast you won’t believe your eyes.

      You can live like a monk – or you can accept it, try to budget a bit (like: I’ll try not to spend more than $N/month on shopping), and accept that over a lifetime of potential earnings, $4K isn’t chump change but it (probably) won’t put you on the government’s list for non-voluntary euthanasia when you hit retirement age.

    9. Felix

      This was a super helpful blog to get me started on a healthier financial path. The author Cait, paid off $30,000 in consumer debt in 2 years. She posts her monthly budget which I find really helpful. You’ll likely find her older stuff more relevant, so make sure to check out the archives!

      http://blondeonabudget.ca/start-here/

    10. Artemesia

      What has always worked for me is saving first. If possible divert part of the paycheck into a special savings account when it is deposited. If not, do it manually. Have a budget including money you can fritter away and just deposit the savings portion so it is out of sight and hard to get at. I did this for decades and now that I am retired have enough. I did it when I was making very very little as well as later in my career when I had plenty of money; it really is not about how much you make but how well you can live within the resources you have and how you build saving into that. (I did however dress very badly during the poor years) Make it a habit, you will be glad you did.

    11. FD

      This is really common, but it’s great that you’re looking at it now!

      Here are a few things that might help.

      1. Mint is a great free website that not only lets you set a budget, but automatically tracks your spending through credit cards and debit cards. It syncs to your smartphone, so you can check where you’re at anytime you’re considering a purchase.

      2. I got the recommendation from this website–the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich is a great resource, despite the very scammy-sounding title. It talks about the psychology of spending vs. saving, and I’ve found it to be the best resource in how to trick yourself into using your money more responsibly.

      3. Don’t try to go 100% cold turkey with your spending if you can afford it. It’s like trying to go on a diet and never have any desserts–some people can do it, but most people have more success allowing themselves some treats sometimes, but moderating the quantity and frequency. So maybe you put a moratorium on fancy shoes, but you allow yourself $20 on makeup each month.

      4. Something I’m experimenting with right now is that I put all my spending through credit cards EXCEPT my fun money. That I keep in cash, which forces me to ration it out and not over spend. When it’s gone, it’s gone for the week. I’ve had some success with that, and personally, I find it more realistic than doing everything by cash (your mileage may vary though).

    12. catsAreCool

      A lot of people have done the same thing. I got even heavier into credit card debt right out of college (although it was mostly living expenses). You’re in college, you’re probably at about the age most people do this kind of thing. Take it easy on yourself. Find some low cost (or free) fun things to do. Keep working on paying that debt.

      Once you’re debt-free, you might want to avoid using your credit card for a while or only spend what you can pay off at the end of the month. Try to keep some cash in the bank for “just in case”. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re human; you goofed up. Figure out how to do better in the future.

  22. DaintyPaint

    In April, I adopted a kitten from the local RSPCA shelter and now I am starting to think about adopting a second kitten so Clouseau (yes, as in the Inspector) will have someone to play with while I’m at work. My fiancé is tentatively on board, but we wanted to get some advice from owners of multiple kitties.

    First, is there a best age to mix cats together? Clouseau is currently 10 months old, male and desexed so we’re thinking kitty 2 will need to be a female.

    Second, I can’t really set Clouseau up on a cat play date – are there any personality traits that would indicate he’d get on well with a second cat? When we adopted him, the RSPCA said he was really playful with humans and the other kittens so that’s probably a good sign, but he has since had about six months of undivided attention so not sure if that may have changed.

    Finally, Clouseau had cat flu as a kitten. He has made a full recovery and has had his cat flu needles but I have read that he may still be a cat flu carrier. Does this mean I should look at getting an older, fully immunised cat to avoid spreading cat flu, or should I put a pin in the whole idea of adopting another cat?

    Any advice people have would be very welcome. Thank you :)

    1. SandrineSmiles (France)

      I would say the age of the second cat doesn’t matter. If you can get a girl cat, why not, I have one boy and two girls at home and while I think my first girl might be older, she gets along just fine with boy cat. In the “Pff, I don’t care for this dude, and sometimes I’ll whack him” kind of way. Good enough for them it seems xD

    2. schnapps

      I have two boy (or former boy) cats. I got them older and most days they tolerate each other. They smack each other around and clean each other. I don’t get it, but they seem happy.

      The RSPCA should be able to give you information on how to integrate your new family member. And they should be able to provide medical information (or ask a vet) as to what needs to be done re: cat flu.

    3. Clever Name

      I think that adding another cat to the mix kind is of like having another kid. There is no magical age difference that will guarantee that your kids (cats) will be BFFs. It’s totally personality dependent.

    4. I.S.S.

      I live with three cats. The oldest was 13 when I adopted a brand new kitten. It’s now a year and a half later. They get along very well. The oldest cat gets along well with 3 year old cat and they were introduced as adults. But middle cat thinks younger cat is a royal pain in the tail. Animal personality is the most important factor, not age.

    5. Seal

      A few years ago I adopted a 4 month old kitten (rather, he adopted me!) into a household with 2 elderly cats. Fortunately, the kitten had been raised with elderly cats before I got him, so while he was otherwise very rambunctious he was very deferential to the other 2, particularly the alpha cat who fading due to kidney issues. A few months later the elderly cats passed away and my now 7 month old kitten needed a friend. So I adopted a female kitten about his age from the shelter. The male kitten was over the moon to have a same-aged companion. She took awhile to warm up to him in part because she had ear mites and an ear infection when I got her, but once she was healthy they became best buddies. A year or so later I adopted an abandoned kitten who was immediately welcomed into the fold by the other 2. All I did to introduce the newest members was keep them separated in the bedroom for a few days and then let them out for supervised visits. By that time everyone had gotten used to smelling each other under the door and were quite eager to get aquainted in person.

    6. GOG11

      I have three male cats, all adopted/found. One is a little less than two, very happy go lucky, playful and friendly. Another is about 4 years old, skittish initially, but very warm and friendly when he gets settled and comfortable. The third is 13, grumpy, dislikes cats but adores people. The younger two are BESTEST FRIENDS FOREVER. They eat, sleep and play together. The oldest tolerates the other two, and on occasion swats or chases the skittish one. I didn’t seek out the younger two, so I didn’t have the luxury of picking out a cat that I thought would get along with the oldest. I guess I just lucked out that they enjoy each other’s company so much.

      That all being said, I think there’s only so much that’s in your hands. Unless the prospective adoptee is known to dislike cats, it can be difficult to gauge that it would be a poor fit. You could try to choosing a cat with a similar energy-level as your cat so that one cat isn’t pestering the other with his/her antics and excess energy. If you get a younger cat, they may go through life stages at similar times, and I think that can help (I think that’s part of why my younger two get along – they are both still very interested in playing every day).

      Having adequate space, enough litter boxes (one per cat plus one), spaces for them to hide and to climb as cats like to be up high. If they have spaces to retreat to when they get overwhelmed, that can help them manage any anxiety that crops up from having a new friend/living in a new place.

      I do want to add that getting the youngest cat made a huge difference in my skittish cat’s life. The kitten is so nonplussed about most everything that he sort of acted as a model for the scaredy cat. Fraidy cat started taking cues from the kitten, and he’s really calmed down and gained some confidence.

  23. Amber Rose

    3 hours of sword fighting last night, and 6 hours today, and 6 hours of staff tomorrow. My knee pads have sanded off my knees and my feet feel like I’ve been walking on lava.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m having fun. But also, I need to work on my stamina.

    At this rate I may survive the zombie apocalypse. ;)

  24. Cath in Canada

    I just had a very glamorous introduction to federal politics – I spent the last 5 hours serving hotdogs in the blazing sun at my local representative’s re-election campaign kickoff BBQ. I met some very nice people, including the volunteer coordinator who I’ve been emailing back and forth with, and signed myself up for some phone canvassing and possibly election day polling station duty. I’ve done the latter at the municipal level before, but I’ve never done any kind of canvassing (and I hate the phone), so this will be interesting!

    Now to try and cool down after a day in the sun, which included loading all the BBQ stuff back into trucks, and then cycling 5 km home on a very hilly route. A couple of days ought to do it.

    1. Florida

      I did door-to-door canvassing once. Try to go with another person, just because it’s more fun. It was interesting to see how people make decisions on candidates. Some people didn’t want to hear anything until if the person was Democrat or Republican. If he was their party, they would listen. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even take a flyer.

      Some people would ask about a specific issue, “Where does he stand on immigration (or whatever their pet cause was)?” That was the only thing that mattered.

      Other people asked about several issues. It was interesting to see how different people make their decisions.

      Have fun with it. Good for you in getting involved and supporting a candidate.

      1. the gold digger

        I did doors with my husband when he was running for the State House.

        (He never mentioned before we married that he might run for office – he is an engineer who had a good job – and I highly recommend anyone who is thinking of getting married put in a “unless you become a politician” clause in your wedding vows. Also, marry a rich orphan.)

        I hated it because

        1. I hate politics
        2. I was working full time and this ate up my Sunday afternoon
        3. I disagree with husband on almost all the major issues

        I didn’t want to lie to anyone, so if I talked to someone who was on my side, I would say that nope, Primo, didn’t agree with us on that issue but I could guarantee he would sure give our side consideration or he would be sleeping in the guest room.

        As far as phone canvassing, I made cake for the volunteers who helped at the phone bank. Phone banking is sooooo awful, although it was made easier by the fact that we had a script and we were calling only people friendly to the cause to get them to vote. We were not trying to change anyone’s mind. (I don’t know if that ever works.)

        Anyhow, I hate doing this kind of thing but my husband loves it, so it could be me. Good for you guys for doing something – a lot of people are completely apathetic. At least you are making an effort.

        1. Cath in Canada

          That sounds awful for you at the time, but I have to admit that the thought of a candidate’s spouse having to explain to voters that she disagrees with him on the major issues is pretty funny :)

          I’m a total politics junkie, and I spent 7 years in Canada as a non-citizen without a vote. It was so incredibly frustrating when friends who are Canadian citizens didn’t vote, while I really wanted to but couldn’t. Those years, plus my visceral hatred of the current government, have really motivated me to do more than just vote now that I’m a citizen!

        2. Lindsay J

          Heh, my guy friend has mentioned a couple times that he’s considered running. Every time he mentions it I think of you and your blog and am mentally like OMGNO.

      2. Cath in Canada

        Ooh, those are some interesting points that I hadn’t really thought of before!

        Having three major parties in Canada, plus a couple of minor ones, changes things, I think – people are more likely to consider voting for more than one candidate. More shades of grey and balancing of, e.g., voters’ fiscal vs. environmental preferences. There are obviously people who are firmly entrenched for one party, but even I – a member of the NDP since I became a citizen – overlap with both the Liberals and the Green Party on some issues. (Not the Green Party’s disastrous science policy though).

    1. Mimmy

      Best: FINALLY moved out of our storage unit!!

      Worst: Nothing really. Just don’t really enjoy crawling around our attic with all the insulation up there. That stuff really clings to your clothes!!

      1. Artemesia

        We will have paid far more than our stuff is worth by the time we manage to empty the storage unit. Kudos for biting that bullet.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      Best: almost finished getting my daughter’s room cleaned out so my son can move in now that she’s gone tho college (she will live in his smaller room when she’s home, but she’s planning on lots of summer study abroad).

      Worst: feeling bored and useless from how slow my job has been. Thank God the students and faculty are back on Monday and I can start feeling overwhelmed and panicked instead.

    3. Apollo Warbucks

      Best: I’m on holiday in Scotland at the moment which is great if not far to wet considering it’s the summer. I also got an awesome new tattoo earlier in the week.

      Worst: Whilst the tattoo is awesome the nasty infection it developed is not, there really shouldn’t be so much blood and pus coming out of my body.

      1. Lady Bug

        That should not happen! My family has tons of ink and we’ve never had blood other than right after getting it and never any pus. You should get that checked out ASAP and go back to the shop to complain.

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          Thanks, it looked bad enough that I went to the doctors and got a course of antibiotics which has helped and I’ve been washing the area with warm salty water so it’s cleared up loads

          I’ll talk to the guy who did the work when we’re both back from holidays. I know other people who’ve had work done by him and they’ve been fine so I guess I was just unlucky.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      Best: a friend from NYC and her awesome doggy stayed here on Monday on their way home from Florida. It was so good to see both of them! Her dog and our dog got along very well, even though my dog decided her dog was OMGAMAHZING and he tried a little too hard to get her to play.

      Worst: some work crap. My co-worker is taking the brunt of it, but it ultimately affects us all, and it’s a whole lotta frustrating crap.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      Best: all moved! Reunited with my cat.

      Worst: Lack of money, internet, tv channels and far too many boxes!

    6. Elizabeth West

      Best: Found out today that we ARE having a Halloween ice show and I will get to do the Fright Night program I missed doing last year, when they snafued the schedule and had the show while I was on a train to Scotland. I’ve only wanted to do a Halloween show since I started skating!

      Worst: Between Aunt Flo’s visit and a bunch of late-night bad weather, I barely got enough sleep to make it through the week. I left early on Friday to have my car inspected and it passed, but the struts and shocks are at the end of their useful life and will need replacement soon. To the tune of $1100 that I do not have. >_<

    7. Ann Furthermore

      Worst: Being coerced to travel back to support users for their month-end close next week, after I went there for their July close and it was an unmitigated disaster because the users ignored everything I told them to do. I was there for 8 days, and in that time I worked almost 110 hours. I don’t know why they think I have to be there…they can ignore me just as easily remotely as they can in person. I seriously almost quit my job yesterday.

      Best: There is no best. Having to go back to support that bunch of nitwits obliterated anything good about the week. Ugh.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Oh Ann, I have The Rage on your behalf re: your work. It sounds like you have gone above and beyond and they are messing you around.

    8. Elkay

      Best: My eyes are better following about 6 weeks of itching and grumpiness.

      Worst: Being teased for being an introvert.

      1. Elkay

        Also best: I met a kitten on my walk and on my run I saw another cat I hadn’t seen for a long time and I was worried he was no longer with us, turns out he just found a new sun spot.

    9. ginger ale for all

      Best – The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. Wow – what a fun little movie! I cannot stop thinking about it. A visual feast, great laughs, inventive stunts (end of a harbor scene was completely unexpected), great chemistry, and wonderful retro fashion. I don’t understand why this one isn’t doing better at the box office. It is one of the top three summer movies for me.

      Worst – Hitman Agent 47. Predictable cardboard drivel. Plot was simplistic, flaws in logic, etc. Even if someone pays your way for this one, don’t go.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I literally did not even know that they made a Hitman film, until I saw a promo pic. If they could do it right, it would be spectacular (and they should get Jesper Kyd to do the soundtrack–his soundtracks for the games are FANTASTIC).

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Decided to have a weekend away, with dinner at my favourite restaurant. Unfortunately it was shut for renovation.

    10. Panda Bandit

      Best: Got a free and very delicious dessert one day when I was buying my lunch.

      Worst: 2 mosquito bites that are right next to each other, on my finger. I’m glad the itching has gone down but my finger is still noticeably swollen. :(

  25. Political Junkie

    I wanted to get some people’s opinions on this… Our newspaper just reported that a local elected official was part of the Ashley Madison hack. It went so far as to include the personal ad part. (i.e. “I am seeking a woman who fantasizes…”) It led to a discussion with a friend about whether politician’s lives are our business or not.

    What do all of you think? If an elected official uses Ashley Madison, it that the public’s business? What about other aspects of their private lives? For example, if the mayor of the city had a heart attack, but didn’t want anyone to know. Is that our business to know? What about the families? For example, is the spouse off-limits, or the kids, or adult kids?

    I know that the news can and will report anything that will get ratings. I’m more interested in what do you think we as voters deserve to know about elected officials and what is none of our business.

    1. Weekend Warrior

      I think “outing” public figures has some merit in cases where public stances and private actions are at odds, e.g. “family values” crusaders engaging in the behaviour they rail against and demonize others for. Still queasy about anonymous gotcha warriors though. On other matters such as health issues or family problems, not our business.

      1. Artemesia

        +2 I so want to be lectured about my personal use of my lady parts by gits like Duggar or Vitter or Hyde or Sanford or well any of these politicians who want to meddle in other people’s sex lives and are so sanctimonious. LEAVE US ALONE fix things like global warming and the economy.

    2. Dynamic Beige

      Hmm… that’s a good question. If a politician is all about family values, then having an ad on a site like that is both hypocritical and a danger to his political office — he could be blackmailed. I don’t like the idea of poking around in a public person’s private life but on the other hand, I don’t like the idea that they could be using their job/office/power to use public money and pay for extra-marital affairs or hiring people who aren’t qualified to keep them close/as a favour.

      1. BRR

        I think it’s relevant in this case for the reasons you stated. I also think people care a little too much when it doesn’t matter though. By trying to find infallible individuals you’re going to be disappointed.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I agree, no one is perfect. It does make me wonder if someone ever schools these people though. You see the kind of scrutiny people go through for various positions in government in public hearings, you can’t be completely ignorant of that when you pursue office, or the various scandals that make the news. Or do they start out clean and slowly devolve, thinking no one will touch them after a few scrapes get covered up? The press isn’t like it used to be, actively covering up affairs (Kennedy) and illnesses (FDR). If it’s true that power attracts the corruptible, maybe the only people who could practice good governance are those who get drawn through a lottery and never expected to be chosen — may the odds be ever in your favour!

    3. Ann Furthermore

      It’s only our business if said elected official is one of those self-righteous, pontificating, a-holes that shouts from the rooftops about how everyone else’s “immoral” behavior is bringing about the collapse of civilization.

      My theory on this type of thing is proven over and over again. The people making the most noise about this kind of thing are always the ones getting their freak on behind closed doors.

      1. Rebecca

        I so much agree. See “Josh Duggar”. Seriously dude. Do not work for the Family Research Council, as an executive director of all things, while hiding child molestation and seeking to have affairs with other women. I suspect we’ll see more of these people exposed in the coming weeks.

      2. Aknownymous

        I also agree. While I find infidelity absolutely reprehensible, people have a right to privacy. But the hypocrites, the loud preachers of morality who do in private what they condemn in public – I have no problem with them being hung out to dry. I do feel sorry for their families, but when they consistently pass laws, propose policies, and push discrimination based on morality, I think it’s good that they are exposed as immoral (by their own definition), because it weakens their authority on the matter significantly. And maybe, just maybe, others who don’t live as they preach may think a little harder before they step up on the pulpit.

      3. Florida

        We had a judge here who was constantly breaking law – lots of speeding tickets, some other traffic problems, and a DUI. I think we deserve to know that. If you are a judge, sheriff, or state attorney, your job is to enforce the law, so we need to know when you break it.

    4. ginger ale for all

      I don’t want to know what goes on in someone else’s private life unless it will affect mine. If a politician is involved and his actions make him or her to be a hypocrite, then I still don’t want to know because if his or her policy making is judgmental on people’s private lives in the first place then to me it is time to elect someone new whether or not they are a hypocrite or not. My private life is mine to run and theirs should be as well. Having said all that, I think AM is scummy. You should be honest and open with the dealings you have with other people.

    5. Steve G

      I think the higher the public office, the more the scrutiny.

      Addictions, criminal record, net worth, work history, and educational background should always be disclosed.

      I also think things involving sex/marital life of politicians in the media should be off limits unless it is inhibiting their ability to do the job or becoming an obsession. We don’t know what is going on in the marriage, and some people just really don’t want to hear about it because of their own sensibilities. For example, I REALLY didn’t want to hear about Chris Christie’s birth control use. It’s just…I don’t need to picture certain people in the act unless it proves some larger point. His was “some Christians use birth control.” He didn’t need to use his personal example to make that point.

      On a side note, I wish the media and people were less biased when it comes to covering politicians, so we would get fair reports on the history of a person. For example, the media was digging up stuff about Romney from when he was a teen, trying to paint him as a nasty, out of touch person from day one. But Obama? It took a long while for his bad sides to come out. It’s as if the media isn’t even mature enough to handle certain types of stories….

      1. Artemesia

        I don’t know. Roughing up someone and cutting his hair because he is gay is not in the same league with smoking a little dope.

        1. Steve G

          Or fawning over a preacher that says things like “God d*** America” and is very racist…….

          1. Artemesia

            Yes we definitely should all be held responsible for everything our minister says. I’ll let Mormon politicians go first.

            1. Steve G

              Ha! Touchee :-). But seriously that minister is pretty off the wall. Not to make a discussion of it here but if you haven’t watched his stuff it makes for entertainment on youtube

      2. Florida

        But there are other media outlets who were digging up stuff on Obama from day 1, but giving Romney a pass. It happens both ways. Most media outlets are slanted one way or the other. Back in the day, news organizations were required by law to give equal air time to both sides because they use federal air waves. That was struck down, I believe in the 1990s, as a free speech violation. That’s why you have news organizations who don’t really report the news, they report what their audience (be it the right or the left) want to hear.

  26. Not there for me

    When someone (friend/relative) says they’re there for you, but then they never are, do you call them on it? I can’t see how such a discussion would end well, perhaps I should just accept her inability to be there for me?

    1. fposte

      I’m inclined to go with your second sentence, unless you have a goal and a specific request rather than a calling out planned.

      “I’m there for you” is kind of like “How are you?”, in that it’s not a literal phrase. Some people will do stuff for you in need and some won’t, and some people–most people–move between the two categories. Is being there for you in need the dealbreaker here, or are there other things in the relationship that you can coast on just in a less close bond?

    2. Random stranger

      I’m so sorry – that sucks. :( I hate to say it, but you’re probably right that calling them out won’t change it. You’ll probably get more real support by leaning on the people who really are there for you, whether or not they say it. Someone close to me has struggled with this with various other friends over the years, and it hurts to see how much it hurts her, so lots of sympathy here.

    3. nep

      What always counts for me are a person’s actions — not words.
      I think your idea of just accepting the truth this person has told you by his/her actions and move on.
      All the best to you.

    4. Dynamic Beige

      When my mother was sick, people would routinely say “If you need anything, let me know”. Yeah, I needed a lot of stuff but I had a feeling that if I called them up and asked them to do X, Y or Z they wouldn’t have been able to. I began to just see it as something polite people say because they’re expected to, like “how are you?” The ones who really want to do something find a way. It’s hard though, to judge how far to go between helping and intruding — at least I find it is.

      The only thing I would ask is when this person says that to you, are you asking specifically for something? For instance, do you call them up and say you just need to vent about _____/can you be a shoulder for me right now? Or do you expect them to just “know” you’re in distress and call? Or when you do ask for something, they suddenly are too busy/make themselves scarce/bring the topic back to how much worse their life is?

      1. Florida

        In a situation like yours, you could call them up and say in a lighthearted way, “Remember you said if you need anything to call? Well, I’m going to take you up on it.” Then you can ask them for what you want, even if it is, “Well, I can’t leave my mom alone, but she spends most of the day sleeping. Would you like to come over for a hour and hand out with me?”

        Also, if you just need someone to talk to you could start the call off and say, “Do you have a few minutes to just listen?”

        But there are definitely people are offer to help, but when it comes down to it, they really aren’t capable or unwilling.This is very disappointing to be let down, but sometimes it happens.

    5. asteramella

      It sounds like you might not be on the same page re: what “being there for you” looks like in terms of concrete behaviors.

      Instead of framing the discussion in terms of “when I need you you are NEVER there for me!!” it might be helpful to say, “Hey, I appreciate that you love me and want to support me. Right now a great way to support me would be to do X, Y, or Z (bring me freezer meals while I recover, listen to me vent about work for 1 hour, look over my resume, teach me your biscuit recipe, etc). Is that something you would be able to do with me?”

    6. Not there for me

      Thanks everyone! I think she has her own stuff going on all the time so is unable to offer support to me when needed. I’m talking moral support only, we don’t live near each other. I’ve had a few challenging situations come up over the past few years, and she just…disappeared, after having an initial conversation. So I know she was aware, and she made specific mention of wanting to help. Oh well, you all are right, it appears to be an offer of help in name only. Luckily I’ve got others I can count on, for which I am very grateful. Thanks again for taking the time to weigh in.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This sounds so much like someone I know. I did confront that and it was a total waste of my time. I ended up even more upset, mostly because the person was wildly disconnected from what was going on with me and her comments reflected that. So, no, you don’t want reinforcement of what you already know. Her heart might be in the right place, but her mind and body are off doing something else.

  27. Gareth Keenan Investigates

    My partner and I have moved several times in the past few years (3 times in the last 2 years for him, 4 in the last 2 years for me) and we’re in the process of doing it again. Each time it’s been so I could pursue a better job (or, at least one time, flee a really terrible job). The expense of moving so frequently is obviously a burden and honestly, we’re a bit exhausted. Each time we’ve moved a fair distance and have had to find a place from far away. We’ve been pretty lucky in finding decent apartments in our price range but this time we’re having a terrible time finding anything. CL, Zillow, Padmapper, there’s just not much out there. And apparently the market is so good that landlords can stand to lose a few potential tenants bc every time I request a showing I’m told that the current tenants aren’t willing to allow showings on whatever day I’ve asked about. (Again, we’re traveling nearly 3 hours each way and it’d be great to line up more than one place at a time.) I’m 9 mos pregnant and trying to wrap up my current job. I’m also moving to a city with a higher COL even though my salary will be only slightly higher than it currently is. My partner will be staying home with the baby…any thoughts on how to find a great place on a budget when you can’t ever be the one to show up first and put down a deposit? We’re really hoping to find a place we like enough that we don’t have to move again for the foreseeable future but all we’re finding so far is a series of potential compromises.

    I did contact a local real estate agent but haven’t yet heard back. In my experience this can be really hit or miss.

    1. WorkingFromCafeInCA

      One thing to try might be booking a monthlong AirBnB or VRBO place in new city, while you look for housing. Yes it adds one more move, but you might be able to live out of a few suitcases for a short while. AirBnB places will be fully furnished with everything you need to cook and clean and sleep and lounge, so you won’t have to pack/unpack as much.
      If you had a friend in New City, that person could go to the showing and do a FaceTime call walking you through. You could ask questions that way, too. (Might be able to try hiring a Task Rabbit for that, if you don’t know anyone there).
      Other than that, id just say don’t wait for the perfect place if you can’t afford to wait. Especially if this is a new city, you might find out after a while that you’d rather be in a different neighborhood.
      Agreed that moving so frequently is exhausting and expensive, but at least by now you’re well-practiced at it! Good luck and hope you find something great.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates

        Thanks! Airbnb is a great suggestion, I actually stayed at one for a month when I first started this job. I don’t know that it’d work so well with a brand new baby and our pets (this is definitely a less than ideal moving situation) but I’m hoping we still have some time to find a decent place. I do have a cousin in New City, she’s generously offered to face time some walk-throughs for me and I should really take her up on it. And you’re right, I should probably also not put too much pressure on this decision, if this apartment doesn’t end up being “the one” we’ll deal with it like we always have.

        1. Monodon monoceros

          Do you have anyone willing to take your pets for a month while you live in the airbnb and look for housing? When i moved internationally I left my dog with friends for 4 weeks. I missed him, but was really lucky to have friends who could take him, and honestly it was so much less stressful to not have to worry about him during the move.

    2. Artemesia

      When we moved to a new city I found a sublet for 6 mos through a VRBO type service that was ‘corporate housing by owner’. Unlike the services that cater to high end executives and are crazy expensive short term places, this one had lots of moderate sublets and we got a great place while we then looked to buy. So see if there are services lie that where you are going. Places that focus on vacation rentals like AirBNB and VRBO tend to be too expensive for longer term but if you saw something renting monthly that appeals, you could also see if they would do a year’s lease.

  28. jamlady

    For people who know cars:

    I have a 2000 Honda Civic with 166000 miles on it. We’ve been through hell and back together (sigh), especially in the last year when I was in 3 car accidents in central Texas (none were my fault, I got all the settlement money, but my car is still beaten up). I am back on the west coast and I’ve had to fix a bunch of random things since I got here. I just went for an oil change and was told my oil pan is leaking and then they “half shaft, left front: remove and replace” – it’s going to cost 6-700 dollars. I commute 78 miles a day and I’m starting to wonder if I should just break down and buy a new car.

    Questions: what does that “shaft” business mean? Is 6-700 dollars too high of an estimate (I went to Midas)? Is it worth spending the money on more repairs (they’ve all been small and not life threatening things) or should I spring for a new car?

    1. CIVICSGRATE

      Given that this estimate came from Midas? I think the “shaft” business is fairly obvious.

      Seriously – I’ve dealt with Midas in the past and I have never found them to be particularly honest.

      Having said that: a 2000 Honda Civic with 166K miles on it, plus 3 accidents? It’s not really surprising that you’re bleeding money into maintenance on it. By way of example: I have a 2000 BMW with 48K miles on it. It’s a constant source of minor frustrations, but in general it runs and is reliable enough for my purposes. I’ve thought about trading it in – it’s got a KBB value of about $4K – but frankly, it’s way more cost-effective to deal with the occasional cost and hassle of minor repairs than it is to drop a large amount of money on a new car. Also, even after 15 years it’s a surprisingly sweet car (I’ll attempt to post a pic on the name link). If the transmission goes out or I’m looking at some $3K or more kind of repair, I’ll probably try to trade it in. But until then – I’m keeping it.

      Note 1: If I had one piece of advice for you, it would be to find a reliable, honest mechanic / shop who will work with you on your car versus bleed you dry.

      Note 2: The scheme I outline above to deal with maintenance until a major issue comes along may not work for you if you need reliable transport at all times. My wife has a vehicle, plus I mostly work from home, so getting my car worked on is inconvenient but is not going to cost me my job or otherwise send me on the road to financial ruin. That may or may not be the case for you.

      1. fposte

        Agreeing with the above on the regular and independent mechanic. I have a regular mechanic and a 2003 Civic, and the stuff I’ve been told elsewhere–including by the dealership–is ludicrous.

      2. Stephanie

        Is that the car on your linked blog? You should keep it! The color’s nice and it looks good. I say keep it until there’s some major cost ineffictive repair.

        1. CIVICSGRATE

          Yes. Thank you. I gotta tell you: you’re not going to see me endorsing BMW anytime soon for reliability. But when it’s on the road? It’s kinda ruined me for most other cars.

          I agree – I’ll keep it until I hit a repair that exceeds the trade-in value. Then I’ll buy something new and *cough* “cheap”. Which is – if you’ve looked at cars recently – nothing.

          1. Artemesia

            You have to be pouring a whole lot of money into a car before buying another is more cost effective. If it can be fixed, I’d fix it.

            1. jamlady

              In my situation, my car is worth about $500 at trade-in and I’ve put about $1500 into it this year alone (not including the additional charges I was just quoted). I drive in extremes, long distances aaaall the time, and the car is old and just not reliable enough for me anymore. It’s more cost-effective in the long-run and, since people like to hit me all the time and I’ve become an overly cautious anxious drivers (thanks, Texas), it brings peace of mind.

      3. ginger ale for all

        I would say that it depends on each individual Midas shop. I had a great reputable one in my hometown who were great but when I moved, I went to one that was quite scammy. I was driving a car that I had bought a lifetime warranty on the muffler and had the same car for well over twenty years and the new shop said that they didn’t have honor my warranty. They said that the warranty wasn’t supposed to be for that long but a lifetime warranty is good for the lifetime of the car, not when the second shop said no. I called shop number one and had them call shop number two to set them straight.

        1. Alistair

          I’ll chime in to agree here. It totally depends on the individual Midas. Ours was lousy when we moved here, but about a year later, they got all new management, and are now a model for how Midas should be run. I recommend them to everyone here.

          Likewise on individual shops, it’s pretty well agreed that our local NTB is full of a-holes. Not call the cops scammers, but definitely deserve all the side-eye you can muster. But your NTB might be full of pros. So shop around, and good luck.

    2. Kristen

      Were you checking your oil before the oil change and were you having to add oil more than usual? Were you noticing oil on the ground? I’m guessing they were talking about the drive shaft? I’m no car expert though. Did they write anything down for you so you can take your car to another shop. I second Civicsgrate on the importance of finding a reliable mechanic. I used to take my car in for oil changes to a chain car repair shop where they would recommend different fixes for my car. After one time when they pointed out two things, one was an easy repair my boyfriend took care of that wasn’t needed and the second I brought to a different mechanic that had been recommended to me by a friend. I was told after their inspection that the repair was not needed and they didn’t see what the other shop supposedly saw. I have never had a problem with that part three-four years later. I stopped going to that chain after that experience.

      As for buying a new car, that’s harder to answer. How bad were the accidents and was the damage mostly cosmetic? Is the car in good shape other than what you’ve been told by Midas. On a car that age with 166k miles on it, a $700 repair bill every year or two isn’t bad in my opinion. But you mention other repairs. Were those typical maintenance-type repairs that you’d expect here and there (e.g., a new battery, brakes, a fuel pump) after that many miles? And really, assuming your car is running well, 166k miles isn’t a lot especially for a Honda. I have a 2002 Saturn with 214k miles on it that runs very well (knock on wood) considering it’s just a Saturn. But you also have a long commute, so it’s up to what makes you feel the best at the end of the day. Can you afford a new (or new to you) car or will it hurt?

      1. Kristen

        I just asked my boyfriend about the drive shaft, and he said it’s not uncommon for a Honda with that many miles to need a half shaft (one half shaft goes to each front wheel) especially if it’s been in a car accident that could have damaged it. He mentioned that you would possibly hear a knocking noise at certain speeds coming from the half shaft. He said a half shaft is basically the axle in a front wheel drive car. It connects the transmission to the wheel hub to drive the wheels. Hopefully, I’ve explained that satisfactorily.

    3. Observer

      I second everyone on the need for a good, honest mechanic.

      14 years and 3 accidents? You need reliable transport at all times? You have a much lower threshold for replacement than for a second car, etc.

      I’d say take it to a good mechanic and see what he (or she) says. How much have you had to spend on it this year (outside of routine maintenance)? How much will this repair cost? And what else does he think is going to go on you in the next year or so? How much time have you had to spend in the shop / without a car (outside of the accidents themselves)? If you’ve already spend a somewhat significant amount of money, and will need to spend another $6-700 on this repair or expect to need to do a lot of other small repairs, replace. Same with time – getting stuck not being able to get to work, or get other things done is a cost as well.

      On the other hand, if the car is mostly just dinged up at this point, and the mechanic says you won’t need this change and shouldn’t expect a lot more little things, I’d hang on to the car, but start putting away money each month for a new car. The more you can put down on a new car, the less it will cost in the long term.

    4. LAMM

      I agree with having someone else look at it. I have an 2009 civic with 126k on it. The only thing I’ve had done on it (besides regular oil changes, new barrery and the occasional brakes) is a new starter. And I’ve been told I can probably get another 100k out of the car. And I’ve had certified Honda techs look at it off the books (they were friend of of friend kinda deal).

      1. LAMM

        Also… I took my car into Midas cuz my car was making a god awful grinding noise. One of the brake pads had slipped and they missed that. Instead they charged me for new rear brakes. When the boyfriend took it back up later that day cuz it was still making the same noise, they replaced the front brakes for free with brake pads that were of a much lower quality than the originals as an apology.

        We have not been back since.

        1. Alma

          A good way to find an independent mechanic who specializes on one manufacturer is to go to the local parts stores and ask a few questions. First you can ask about prices for a half shaft. What else would be wise to repair or check while the repair is being done on the half shaft. They may very well tell you about a mechanic that specializes on your brand of car. This is high praise if you hear the same name a few times, and know s/he is making a living working only on those cars. It also means s/he probably stockpiles parts for older models 0r knows someone where s/he can get them. My issue with Honda was that they stopped making the parts after the model was 10 or 12 years old. (They want you to be inconvenienced enough to trade or buy a new one.)

          I just had my 17 yr old (also foreign) car in for major maintenance. At 285,000 miles the engine was pulled, valves re-machined, and all the 300,000 mile work done (timing belt, etc). It was worth the expense – I will get another 150,000 to 200,000 out of the car. No car payments are really really nice.

          You can find mechanic recommendations on CarTalk.com – or ask people you see in parking lots, at work, etc who have older model Hondas who they rely on for service.

    5. jamlady

      Thanks everyone! This is what has been decided:

      My husband will be moving here soon, so we’re moving further away from where I work, making my daily commute something more like 110 miles a day (but we’d commute together). All of our family lives 2-3 hours away so I spend a lot of time on the road on the weekends. Also, I live smack dab in the middle of the Mojave desert and it’s been hell on my old little car. All of the damage is cosmetic, but lowers the value of the car tremendously. We looked over how much money we’ve put into it over the last year and realized it’s more cost-effective to buy a new one (which I’ve been saving for already – I knew this had to be coming). I’m getting it appraised and selling it to my dad (the original owner haha) because he never drives long distance and he’s currently driving a car that needs so much work, my mom is convinced he’s going to get himself killed. I’m just going to buy another (newer) Civic because I love them. I bought this little guy 5 years ago from my sister for 4k and it was the best purchase ever, but I think it’s time to move on.

      Note: my husband and uncle are both hobby mechanics and asked all the same questions about the oil (me thinks Midas is full of crap) and the shaft stuff (that one could be real), but the quote they gave me was outrageous. My dad’s going to track down some old friends who will do it for super cheap (they’re just old and retired and it may take time). But my cars going to retire and keep my dad company during his retirement, so I get to visit it every so often. I’m happy with this arrangement.

  29. academic librarian

    dog, dog ,dog….sigh
    to refresh- adopted a 3 year old 9 lb bichon from a rescue organization.
    came with recent vet papers- 2 weeks old- shots, health report etc.
    Was concerned about a lump on her eyelid and really bad breath and the fact she has a funny hop when she walks.
    Turns out…
    She is more likely around 8 years old. Has very serious periodontal problems (may have to lose all of her teeth) an infection in her eyelid and two bad knees (may need knee surgery in both back legs)
    The vet felt so sorry for me she didn’t charge for the visit except for the booster shots.
    Vet said it was not unusual for Rescue to understate the age of a dog as it is hard to place an older one. It is true if they had said they had a dog around 8, I would not even have scheduled a look.

    Too late- we do love her and will care for her as long as she is around. Just a bit sad right now.

    1. Mimmy

      I understand the reasons, but that just sounds wrong for them to misrepresent the dog’s age. So sorry you’re dealing with this :(

    2. Gareth Keenan Investigates

      I’m so sorry. A similar thing happened to me. I knew she was older (they told me 7) but she was probably at least 10 and very sick with Lyme’s disease. I won’t even tell you how much the vet bills ended up costing, and I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with her as I would have liked. I hope you and your pup can appreciate the love and companionship you have now, at least you’re giving her a home she wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      You may still be able to get pet insurance if you don’t already have it. They might charge a higher premium based on her conditions, but I think it’s worth looking into.

      I’m really sorry the rescue lied (at worst) about or underestimated her age. That’s really sad, and I wish you so much luck with keeping her happy and healthy.

      1. Ariadne Oliver

        Pet insurance is something I would not recommend. I found it to be very expensive for older dogs, and I was frustrated that they considered each treatment to be a new event (for lack of a better word), even though the 2nd treatment was a continuation of the first.

        Because of the OP dog’s health problems, the insurance would probably be way too expensive. I’d put that money towards vet bills.

    4. Monodon monoceros

      Oh no, that is terrible. I understand getting attached quickly and your commitment to her. I think it’s great. But i would let the rescue org know…they should at least know that “you’re onto them” and hopefully it will make them reexamine their practices. One thing i love about the org I volunteer for is their honesty about the animal’s known and potential problems.

    5. class factotum

      We got our two Siamese cats from a rescue organization. Both spayed, shots, etc.

      Only then Shirley started to get really, really loud. And she peed on the rugs. And I couldn’t stand it.

      SH diagnosed it – she was in heat.

      A spayed cat.

      A spayed cat with incorrect records.

      In our case, the rescue org paid all the fees we had to pay to the vet to have both cats spayed and to get all their shots.

        1. Powers that Be

          Hey thanks for the story. I’ve calmed down a bit. went on the internets. somehow it IS comforting that I am not the only gullible dog adopter. She made it through the horrific storm last night with no visible fear or trauma. Nice, that.

    6. AnotherFed

      Oh no! I’m so sorry! Definitely tell the rescue organization – the age thing can be hard to guess (especially if an animal has spent time as a stray), but missing that many problems at the vet’s first visit implies that either they really need to work on their record keeping system or they need to work out better vet checks. So many rescue organizations rely on vets volunteering or donating that they aren’t able to be picky, but they may be able to work on getting more thorough exams. Even if volunteers start recording anything they notice when working with the animals, that’ll give a list of things to push the vet to look at more closely than they might otherwise.

      Down the road, if you or a friend/family member gets another dog, do some research into rescue organizations in your area. Some are definitely better than others! I’ve found that organizations dedicated to specific breeds, especially ones that can be crazy high energy (like shepherd dogs) or have a bad reputation (like pit bulls), are very invested in making sure to carefully match dogs and humans to ensure the dog’s success, so they tend to be pretty selective in what dogs they take in the first place and have a good idea of what special needs and restrictions a dog has (no kids, no cats, mostly blind, weird allergy, has X medical condition, etc.).

    7. Lindsay J

      Happened to my parents when we adopted a beagle years ago. The rescue said he was 3 ish. Vet said he was more like 8.

      My SPCA let me fall in love with my dog when I was there (I knew she was older) before they mentioned that she was heartworm positive.

      1. jamlady

        The San Diego location let me fall in love with a tiny red kitten and told me, as I was signing papers, oh yeah he totally has asthma and teeth issues. Rude. But I took him anyway lol. I don’t appreciate their business tactics, but mostly I wanted him away from that place. He’s old and annoying but I love him.

  30. GBBO

    Anyone watching the new season of great British bake off? I find it so addictive! I don’t even bake much or own any baking books but I can’t stop watching this show!

    The contestants on this show are always so likeable and this year is no exception. It’s only week three so I haven’t picked a favourite but there are five or six I’m quite find of already. Next week is dessert week^^!

    1. Emily

      I’m not yet, but I just started watching all of the older seasons on a friend’s recommendation. I’m on season 2 right now and am liking it a lot! The bakes are surprisingly exciting to watch, and Sue and Mel are fun hosts! I also like how respectful the show feels of its contestants – when they’re not doing well, they’re allowed to be sad but are still treated with dignity.

    2. Elkay

      Yes! I love GBBO. The only person I find slightly irritating is Ian but I think Nadya is so lovely! Paul’s bread lion was incredible.

    3. Claire (Scotland)

      Yeah, I’m hooked! I hardly watch any TV and I can’t cook/bake, but my best friend made me watch with her and now can’t quit.

      I just have to make sure I have something delicious in the flat to eat while watching, because it makes me so hungry.

    4. Menacia

      Hrm, I’ve only watched the first season, which I LOVED, but season 2 does not come out until Sept (here in the US anyway)? I am looking foward to watching it again as I am a baker (when I find the time), and always love new ideas. I’m also amazed by these amateurs and how well (most) of them do, and the spectacular fails as well. This, along with Downton Abbey and Call the Midwives, are my PBS favs.

  31. Sparky

    I’m getting a loud ad right below the Ask a Question box. It was for a Bushes Baked Beans type product, then switched to a toothpaste ad.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      The only way I can get these tracked down and stopped is if I have the URL they link to, so if you see it (or another) again and can email me the URL, that’s what I need. Thanks!

  32. Regular going anon

    I made a call for a therapy appointment on Monday morning. I very nearly had a breakdown at work on Friday and I’m getting dangerously close to having my emotions have a negative effect on both my work and personal lives. I’m nervous, but hopeful that this is my rock bottom and I can finally work on better.

    1. Clever Name

      Hugs. And if you don’t click with your therapist, it’s definitely okay to find another one.

    2. FutureLibrarian

      As someone who uses therapy quite regularly, I can’t imagine life without it, and suggest everyone goes.

      Anxiety is my main issue, and thanks to therapy, I can drive on busy roads, in unfamiliar places, etc. One year ago, I couldn’t even imagine driving into [Nearby City], but now, I love going there, and driving too!

  33. MsChanandlerBong

    We have 29 days left until we move 2,000 miles from where we live now. I’ve been trying to do a little bit of packing or cleaning every day, but it’s been hard. I’ve almost doubled my workload (I’m self-employed) to ensure we have a good cushion when we move, so I’m exhausted by the end of the day. We’re selling or donating almost everything we own, so I’m trying to set up a yard sale listing on our local newspaper’s website, but the ad system isn’t working. I tried a different newspaper, and you can’t even post an ad online! The good thing about moving is that we bought a new paper shredder (to shred the six years’ worth of paper we no longer need), and it’s amazing. I just shredded a whole box worth of documents in less than 10 minutes. Our last shredder only took 50 pages before it overheated and shut itself off to avoid thermal overload!

  34. katamia

    Anyone tried AirBnB for longer stays (like a month or two)? I’m at BEC mode with my roommates–they’re nice people, but we have nothing in common and I’ve done the roommate thing for so long that I just really think I need my own space–and want to move out at the end of September (can’t do it earlier, unfortunately). However, I don’t know if my job here is going to work out and don’t want to commit to anything long-term, especially since I don’t think I can stay in the country very long if the job doesn’t work out. Anyone have any advice, either for AirBnB or other short-term housing possibilities I could look into? AirBnB is appealing because the listings are in English and my command of the local language is not great, but I’m open to other possibilities as well.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      A friend of mine did it when she moved to TX for a semester-long fellowship. It worked out pretty well for her. I think anyone who has a separate space they rent out via AirBnB would be happy to have the extra income. We had a summer associate for 6 weeks and I looked at AirBnB listings for her, and they all had weekly or monthly rates. Worth a shot, even as a stopgap.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates

        I stayed at an airbnb for a month when I moved for my current position. My host was great and it was nice having someone who knew the area and could offer some advice. I was a bit nervous about it, as I’m an introvert and wasn’t sure how I’d adjust to being in a stranger’s home for such a long period of time but it ended up working out really well.

    2. it happens

      When I was waiting for my place to be ready to move into I used Craig’s list to find sublets – 6-8 weeks each, WAY cheaper than nightly airbnb rates. Having a language issue might make finding a local resource like that (a student housing office or online expat forum, for example) more difficult. Also don’t know whether airbnb has limits on length of stay – there was a case last summer where two brothers stayed in a place in SFO over 30 days and then squatted saying that they were effectively tenants. BIG mess. I don’t know what country you’re in, so YMMV.
      Good luck

  35. Anon For Now

    Going anon for this post… my dad is an alcoholic, and has been all my life (I’m in my early 20s). He started trying to get sober for the first time about a year and a half ago, and seemed to be really serious about it — therapy, AA meetings, inpatient rehab, the whole shebang. I flew out to do a “family weekend” at his rehab program with the rest of my family (I went to college 2000 miles from my hometown and still live in the city where my college is), and part of what we talked about was that I wanted to know if he started drinking again, because I hated being blindsided by it when I went home for visits. I thought things had been going well since then.

    I found out tonight from my mom that no, actually, things aren’t going well, and for the past six months he’s been drinking heavily again, to the point where he rarely stays totally sober for more than a day or two. I was just home for a visit, and he was on his best behavior and didn’t drink at all, so I thought he was still okay. Nope, that was all a charade. I’m heartbroken and furious and kicking myself for trusting him. I know it’s a disease, so I can’t expect him to just get over it all by himself, but he hasn’t been going to meetings, has stopped seeing his individual therapist, hasn’t told his GP about it… he’s slowly killing himself, and I think he might be killing my sister (who has mental health issues that get drastically worse when he drinks) too. And here I am, 2000 miles away, and I can’t do a single thing about it — not that I could do anything about it when I was living at home, either. I hate this.

    1. asteramella

      I am so sorry to hear that. Have you been to any Al-Anon or similar support groups in your area? It might be a good idea to encourage your mom and sister to try that as well if they haven’t already.

      1. Anon For Now

        I’ve thought about going to Al-Anon lots of times, but haven’t tried it… I might actually check it out now, but I don’t exactly know how it’s going to help. My mom is doing her best to get my sister (and brothers) to individual therapy, and is trying to set up some family therapy, but we don’t know yet if my dad will agree to go. She and my siblings will do it without him if he won’t participate, but it would be better if he did, obviously. I just feel so powerless.

        1. Colleen

          Al anon is great. Even a few meetings will help you cope with your father’s alcoholism a little better.

        2. Observer

          As NEP says, try it and see if it’s of any use. And, think about individual therapy as well.

    2. nep

      So sorry you’re experiencing this. There is no pain and sense of helplessness quite like it.
      Agree with other commenters that it would be worth it at least to try Al-Anon. You say you ‘don’t know exactly how it’s going to help’ — You can’t know that, until you put yourself in that space and see what it might have to offer you.
      Wishing you peace.

      1. Powers that Be

        Al-Anon is the place to go. It will help with the anxiety, guilt, and worry. Alcoholism is a family disease. Go to at lease 6 meetings before deciding whether the program is for you. See if there is a Beginners meeting . Get a beginners packet. I started going in my mid twenties. I didn’t relate or see how it could help the first time but I did get some tools to help me with my family.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Knowledge is power, in a situation where we don’t have much power. If you do not get around to therapy or groups, please consider doing some reading up on how the disease works and how it impacts the ones close to the addict. What I like about reading is that I can set my own pace and I can pause to process how what I just read meshes with what I have seen. I think reading other people’s stories is good, too, because they will talk about their emotions that they experienced. I find that helpful.

      It sucks. But it sucks even more to be constantly blindsided and that is why I think that reading will be helpful for you. Some people do eventually make it. I have a friend that has been sober for decades. But the damage has been done and he lost his kids forever. To his credit, he remains sober anyway. These things can play out a lot of different ways, I don’t know why some make it and some don’t.

  36. CIVICSGRATE

    (slight spoiler for the movie The Age of Adaline): this comes up often enough in television and the movies that I have to wonder: just how, exactly, does someone who is immortal get reported to the FBI (who then attempt to drag that person away to a Top Secret lab somewhere)? I mean – does someone come to the office one day and think “Golly! A has been working here for 10 years and hasn’t aged a bit! I’d better call the police!”? And then the police get a call and the desk officer is like “Okay – let me connect you to the FBI”. And then the FBI says “please hold while I connect you to the X-Files”? But it’s not Fox Mulder, it’s some lonely guy who’s like “Holy shitsnacks! I’ve got a real case!” but he’s got to make a big PPT presentation to his boss just to justify the funds to send someone out to investigate this person A, and then it takes months to get all of the documentation together to verify that OMG yes, there really is something odd going on, and then there are a whole lot more PPTs and presentations and someone with more experience and political clout steals the case from not-Fox Mulder and then more PPT and even a 3 minute presentation to the President, who gives it a green light and it’s only then that the people in accounting authorize all of the funding and (since the President is backing the project) a whole bunch of people get seriously PO’ed when their project – which has been on the Top Secret Lab Calendar for months – gets pre-empted. Etc etc etc.

    I’m just curious how this stuff all works.

    1. katamia

      This would make a hilarious book/movie (probably not cinematic enough for a movie).

      I don’t have an answer for you, though.

    2. ginger ale for all

      I think there was a Highlander tv episode that dealt with someone being found out but I have forgotten how it happened.

    3. SevenSixOne

      I think that’s why Adaline created a new identity and moved so often.

      Honestly,the Immortal Person could probably misdirect the attention by just radically changing their appearance every year or so–people would be so dazzled by how DIFFERENT the person looks with dark hair, a beard, different makeup, glasses, or whatever that they wouldn’t notice much else.

      Even if someone DID notice that Immortal Person doesn’t seem to have aged, or seems to have firsthand knowledge of history/culture that someone their age couldn’t possibly have experienced, most people would just shrug it off or accept something like “I’m really diligent with sunscreen” or “I love historical fiction” as an explanation.

      I’d have to know someone intimately for a long time to even suspect they were immortal, and I think by that point I’d be committed to keeping their secret to protect someone I care about from a situation like you’re describing.

    4. Florida

      I got called by the FBI once at work. I worked at a nonprofit, and got a phone call from a donor. Donor then mailed his donation with the check made out directly to me, not the charity. Few days later, we receive the check. I also had an email from the guy because he made the check out for the wrong amount and could we refund part of it? (Sure buddy, I’ll get right on that.) Our CFO called the company whose check it was. They said the check was stolen. They had already reported it and passed our information on to whatever agency they where dealing with. A few days later, I got a call from a FBI agent asking me about the sequence of events. Then I received an FBI victims right book in the mail. It was all a little surreal.

      I don’t think regular people call the FBI. I think you call your local police and then they call the FBI. I’m not completely sure though.

    5. Treena

      I think the idea is that there’s some secret part of the FBI that tracks little odd reports and sees if there’s any credence to them. If you’ve seen True Lies, I think it’s sort of like that. They monitor situations and no one knows they’re there until they want to talk to you.

    1. Little Teapot

      I had to laugh, because I didn’t think the Josh Duggar story could possibly get any bigger.
      I was a devoted 19 Kids fan – but not because I believe in their values. In fact, they stand for the complete opposite of who I am (feminist, lesbian, liberal, pro-choice etc). I watched it because it was fascinating and I will miss it.
      However, Jim Bob and Michelle have made HUGE mistake and boy oh boy, Josh’s Ashley Madison account is truly the icing on the cake.
      The real issue is Anna, of course. That poor girl will NEVER be allowed to leave Josh (plus, how could she? She’s uneducated, young with four children living in a patriarchal society. How is she going to manage?) and will, no doubt, blame herself (as well as Jim Bob and Michelle no doubt blaming her also).
      It makes me so angry the entire time he was cramming ‘family values’ down everyone’s throats and look at him, cheating all along.
      The worst part is I doubt he cares, and he’s only ‘sorry’ as he was exposed/caught.

        1. Stephanie

          *sigh* I knew the misdirected blame was coming. I fantasized briefly that she’d pull a Jenny Sanford and be like “Welp! Bye!” but that’s not realistic.

        2. Artemesia

          They are just praying around the clock about it. About what you would expect from a misogynist cult. It is always the fault of the women who just don’t do enough to ‘hold their men’ — or in this case to say ‘no’ when told to marry a child molester.

    2. Stephanie

      I’ll cop to watching that show as a guilty pleasure. It was bizarrely fascinating. But something seemed off (it didn’t occur to me that it was basically a cult until later). I figured that family had some kind of secret. I had just hoped it was something innocuous like one of the kids was gay or an atheist and then that kid would go on to write* a memoir about being a gay atheist in that family.

      But all this Josh Duggar stuff is even worse. I would shrug off the marital hypocrisy (not the sexual abuse)–he isn’t the first and won’t be the last sanctimonious family values person to be exposed as a hypocrite–if he and his parents weren’t so actively involved in anti-LGBT lobbying efforts.

      Thing is, I wonder will there be much fallout? So yes, they’ve lost their show. (Although there is that sexual abuse special they’re helming which…what in the everloving f*ck?) But I’m guessing with their core group of supporters, he’ll talk about praying about it and seeking spiritual guidance. And then all will be forgiven. Best we can hope is that they’ll fade into obscurity.

      *Ok, it would be ghostwritten.

    3. Rebecca

      I feel so badly for his wife, Anna. She married a child molester, and has 4 children with him. I had hoped she’d leave him and file for divorce, but apparently she’s not going to. Hopefully child protective services will step in and do something, not sure what, to keep Josh away from his kids. He molested his own sisters, so it’s not much of a stretch that he’d try something with his own children or their friends. If anyone sends their kid over there for a play date, they have rocks in their head!!

      As if this wasn’t bad enough, then the Ashley Madison thing came to light. I commented above about this. I get really irritated when people get on their moral high horse and tell others how they should live, and if they don’t do X, Y, and Z they’re bad, [insert group name here] are ruining the sanctity of marriage and the family unit, and all the while they’re doing exactly the same thing behind closed doors. Honestly, he should just go crawl under a rock and never come out again.

      It will be interesting to see how many of the family values and sanctity of marriage blowhards get caught up in this. The lesson here is to not throw stones when you live in an extremely fragile glass house.

    4. Steve G

      A sign that having too many kids is not a good idea because you can’t pay attention to what they are doing and you can’t actively raise so many kids.

      1. Clever Name

        Yep. I’ve seen the show and it was pretty clear that the older girls were raising the littlest ones.

        1. Ariadne Oliver

          My grandmother had nine children, and my mom was the oldest. Grandma *never* made Mom or any of the others do much child care. She always said that SHE was their mother, and her children were children.

          I admire my grandma more and more as time passes by. What a wonderful and wise lady she was.

    5. asteramella

      Many evangelical churches that have financially supported the Duggars in the past have doubled down on that and will continue to do so. Their cash flow from the show may stop but they will still have plenty of money.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I think that Josh has a life-long sex addiction. Until he gets help for that, not much is going to change there.

  37. I.S.S.

    Question: Should the following situation irritate me?

    Roommate takes my cat carrier from my room to use it for his pet. The cat carrier will not be returned for three weeks. Permission to use the item was not requested.

    Thoughts?

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I would be annoyed that it was taken from my room without asking, unless there was an emergency and you weren’t around to ask. Then I’d be annoyed further by it being gone for three weeks.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Definitely annoying! & also, what if you needed to use it due to some pet related emergency?

    3. Elkay

      I’d be worried about my cat freaking out at a carrier with another animal’s scent. So yes, you’re allowed to be irritated but also, say something to him.

    4. I.S.S.

      Ah, I’m probably not crazy then. No pet emergency on his part. My cat carrier was just more convenient to locate than his was. I was feeling annoyed for reasons already identified. Plus I do have an elderly cat who needs regular vet checkups. I don’t mind loaning supplies, but goodness! Ask first!

    5. Artemesia

      I would be annoyed beyond belief if ANY of my possessions were appropriated by a roommate without permission. That is a bright line in any rooming situation.

  38. Felix

    Hello all, I’ve been a reader for over a year and have just branched out into commenting this month. It’s nice to “meet” everyone – I’ve loved reading all your comments!

    I have a quick question- wondering of anyone knows a good store to get nice quality (but fashionable) work pants? I’m trying to upgrade my wardrobe and am tired of gross polyester and weird mixed fabrics for women’s dress pants.

    I’m in Canada so that’s a factor for online shopping (shipping fees and duty). Would pay up to $75/80 for the right pair. Hoping for wool or more natural fabrics. Not really sure where to look as I’m graduating away from F21, H&M type shops… Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    1. Yoshi

      JCrew, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor tend to be the ‘next level’ up, at least as far as I know. I’m not sure if they are easily available in Canada, but may be worth checking out. Maybe take a look at Zara? Also, you might check out some work oriented fashion blogs if you haven’t already- they helped me when I was trying to improve my work clothing. I’d recommend caphillstyle and corporette. Corporette also has an interesting series about different ‘levels’ of fashion, which might have some good ideas for you. I’ll try to send a link to the article I’m thinking about below.

      1. Felicia

        None of those are easily available in Canada unfortunately . At least in terms of physical stores/ reasonable shipping. Banana Republic has a few locations but i think the other 2 aren’t in Canada at all.

        1. Felicia

          To add , you can still order those things online, but the shipping is so expensive and they’re priced in American dollars, which makes it even worse because the Canadian dollar isn’t doing well in comparison right now. So it makes more sense to buy from places wth Canadian physical locations.

        2. Dynamic Beige

          It’s going to depend on where Felix lives. There are a bunch of Ann Taylor/AT Lofts in the GTA and there’s a Banana Republic in my city. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a J. Crew store. Using the store locator on any of the websites for the brands should sort it out.

        3. Former Diet Coke Addict

          They are–not a lot, but J Crew has several locations all over Toronto, in Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton, and BR is in Vancouver/Alberta/Ontario/Quebec, and Ann Taylor/LOFT is fairly well represented in the Toronto area and I think LOFT is in other big areas. AT at least (and I think the others) have done a thing to include tariffs/taxes in the total so you don’t have to pay duty.

          1. Alma

            What about Lands End or LLBean? Don’t they have easy shipping to Canada?

            They have everything from ponte knit to the 7-day twills (that last forever and come in a wide range of sizes) to wool trousers – and at Lands End if you buy more they discount every item of the same item number at times.

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict

              I know Lands’ End does the same thing as lots of other retailers, where tariffs are calculated at checkout so you don’t have to pay at the door, but they’re not available in Sears or as stand-alone stores here. Which is too bad, I have some really cute stuff from there but I always find it’s hard to fit (tends to run big) so I always want to try things on. Same with LL Bean, I don’t think they have any locations, but ship free to Canada. I may try them out right now as they have a bunch of cute stuff I’m interested in.

            2. Dynamic Beige

              You know, I’ve tried buying clothes online and it’s always been a disappointing experience. Because it seems that no matter what size I buy, no matter how carefully I check their sizing chart against my measurements, they are always too large or too small. Not to mention the colours are never accurate — so I just don’t bother any more.

              Clothes shopping is something I hate with the intensity of a thousand fiery suns. When I am ruler of the world (don’t worry, I will be a benign dictator) one of the first things to go is going to be all this stupid sizing. Why is it that there are departments of weights and measures that ensure gas stations all dispense the correct amount of gasoline yet sizing of clothes does not seem to fall under their mandate? I can buy a 16 of one brand, but it’s 12 in another and 14 in some other one, it’s stupid and a waste of time trying crap on. If there was a universal guaranteed sizing for clothes, I may just buy them online again. But now, I really don’t want to bother with buying something, sending it back, getting a new size, sending it back. I can experience the same levels of disappointment over a shorter period of time just by going to the mall. And don’t get me started about vanity sizing.

    2. KitCroupier

      Maybe Express? I’ve bought their pants for work and they last quite a while! (The hems on the pants seems to go fastest). A little pricey, but since I don’t need to replace them as often I think it evens out.

    3. Yoshi

      Also just a quick note- don’t purchase anything at BR, JCrew or Ann Taylor at full price- they have sales where discounts reach 30-40% off nearly every week. I think all three also have outlet stores.

    4. Felicia

      Since you are in Canada, I’ going to recommend Reitmans! That’s where most of my work wardrobe is from. They’re especially great for pants, and I usually struggle finding pants. They sell short people (and tall people) pants in all waist sizes! And i have a large butt but relatively small waist, and yet Reitmans pants fit me wonderfully. Addition elle and Penningtons are the same store essentially, if you (or anyone you know) happens to be plus sized.

      I also like Smart Set and Suzy Shier. You can find some good stuff at The Bay and Winners too, but you have to look more carefully and it’s more hit and miss.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        There’s also J.Michaels (which can be spendy), Cleo and Melanie Lyne (which is also not exactly cheap). They have a personal shopper service at Melanie Lyne, which is kind of just like asking a sales person to assist you (or at least that was my experience, but she did direct me to things I wouldn’t normally try).

        I have found some really great deals on suits at The Bay after Xmas, seriously deep discounts. And they do have these designer shops within the store — it’s hard to explain but I’ve bought some things and they had to ring it up there, I couldn’t continue shopping and then go to the central cash points. I also couldn’t pay for regular Bay merch there. It was kind of weird.

        I guess I’m weird because I actually like polyester dress pants, I have several in black for work, because they don’t wrinkle and I can throw them in the wash when I get home, no further spend on dry cleaning. The thing that bugs me is that most brands have taken out the lining in dress pants.

    5. Artemesia

      I wanted to get a decent pair of basic black wool pants last year and I live in an area with lots of good shopping. I was stunned, having not bought wool pants in years, that they were almost impossible to find especially lined ones and the ones I did find were several hundred dollars. I was thinking $100 for a decent pair — the ones I found were $200-400.

      1. Paulina

        In case it got lost above – Banana Republic dot ca and Gap for ca both have online shopping with free shipping over $60 and free returns.

        1. Felix

          Awesome. Thank you! I love the Gap, but haven’t tried Banana Republic yet. Will check that out for sure.

  39. Sandy

    Wei have a weird workplace- I think we’ve covered that before. My colleagues and I are all thousands of kilometres from home, live within a block or two of one another, and few of us or our families speak the local language.

    It totally forces a set of relationships with your coworkers that you would never voluntarily have otherwise.

    This year’s new cast of characters includes the wife who got bullied into a fantastic job by her spouse even though she wants to stay home and scrapbook, the evangelical Christian in a decidedly non-Christian country, and the husband who won’t even let his de buy toothpaste without his permission, let alone come on a coffee date on her own.

    This is going to be a longggggggg year.

    1. class factotum

      Sounds like you are in KSA, where my parents worked for five years. Their life was very interesting with experimenting with homemade wine (apparently, grape juice sells very well there) and clandestine Mass with a clandestine priest and raising money through their clandestine church to send young women from the Philippines who had been raped and impregnated by their employers (the women were usually household help) home, as they employers fired the women as soon as they knew they were pregnant.

      Also – the Friday afternoon lashings, cutting off of the hands, and beheadings. And a stoning or two. (That KSA did. Not my parents. Not part of our religion or culture.)

    2. Monodon monoceros

      I hope they turn out to be ok people. I can kind of empathize. My last few jobs have not been in a war zone like you, but were in somewhat remote areas where most employees were from far away. So we were all kind of stuck together and because most of us were there due to similar interests, work was the most likely place to make friends. I have some very close personal friends that i made from those jobs, but there were definitely people that grated on my nerves. But it was a small town, so they were hard to avoid.

    3. Elkay

      I’m curious about what your job is. Sounds like you might be a candidate for Alison to do an interview with, I thought the bits of the Arctic scientist interview covering how they live was really interesting.

  40. SandrineSmiles (France)

    Oh, another thing.

    THANK YOU AMERICA.

    Why ?

    Three American soldiers on vacation in France managed to stop a terrorist, who was on a train. Maybe not a terrorist, maybe just a lunatic, I don’t know. But these guys are just AWESOME.

    There.

    1. Steve G

      I am thankful too!

      But do you see in the French media what country Ayoub El-Khazzani was a citizen of? It is scary that these people get to the places where they can do attacks, and this one is very frustrating because it looks like he’s been being tracked by anti-terrorism police since 2013….

      1. fposte

        He’s Moroccan, right? France has long been the big Moroccan diaspora country, with close to two million Moroccan-born residents (says Wikipedia). What are you thinking this means–that it’s a significant new development since Morocco hasn’t really been exporting terrorist acts, or that he’s a lone convert like the US and British ISIS members?

        1. Steve G

          I’m not trying to make a trend out of it, I just want to know exactly where he is from, where he grew up, where he has citizenship now. It’s not in the news (yet).

          At some point we are going to have to change travel/immigration policies so terrorists never make it into countries they target.

          1. fposte

            Ah, okay, I thought this was a “Hey, did you notice” question rather than a request for the information. It sounds like he was flagged at one point in Spain, so I’m sure there will be more discussion about that.

            But plenty of terrorists are already in the countries they’re targeting because that’s where they’re from. Hard to keep out Timothy McVeigh.

          2. Artemesia

            a lot of these terrorists are born right where they attack and what is to be done about the home grown US terrorists who are not Muslim — the Timothy McVeigh types or scum like those guys that beat up and peed on a legal Mexican immigrant because they are patriotic Trump enthusiasts.

          3. AcidMeFlux

            Because it wouldn’t do a thing against terrorism. They’re now recruiting native-born people.

        2. AcidMeFlux

          He’s Morrocan from the city of Algeciras, which is a Spanish protectorate, so he has a right to reside in Spain. According to the Spanish paper El Pais, he had been in the radar of the police in Spain, France and Belgium for some time, and he had travelled to Syria last year and is assumed to have had contact with ISIS.

            1. Steve G

              OK thank you. This is all very scary – especially the whole he’s been on the police radar but still almost did this part…..

    2. Artemesia

      I have ridden the Thalys many times and was horrified. So very glad no one was killed including these guys who tackled the heavily armed creep. Such a happy outcome where a disaster could have occurred. Brave men.

      1. Artemesia

        According to the Time this morning, the reason these guys didn’t die is that the gun malfunctioned. I had assumed they were right next to him when they jumped him but they actually had to run about 35 feet to get to him and take him down — if he had not jammed up his guns, they would be dead. VERY brave men.

    3. Mimmy

      I’m very proud of these Americans. They adverted what could’ve been a devastating situation.

      I think there should be heightened security on transportation systems other than airplanes. My husband thinks I’m crazy, saying that it’d REALLY slow down the trains. So yes, probably unrealistic, but there has to be some way as I can definitely see trains and buses being potential targets.

      1. Artemesia

        When you ride trains in Spain where there have been some terrible terrorists incidents, you put your luggage through x-ray screening and go through personal security before boarding. At small stations without elaborate platforms they line people up well before the train’s quick stop to process them, so they can make the quick boarding. It shouldn’t slow up trains since security happens on the platform.

        1. AcidMeFlux

          I live in Spain, and am quite used to having to put my bag(s) through x ray to enter any official building; some banks also have a similar system.

    4. Mephyle

      Update – the latest news stories are now claiming that he was flummoxed when he found out he was being classified a terrorist – he was a starving guy who had been told by companions that the train was full of rich people and easy pickings. Is it true? Apparently his physical appearance and clothing are consistent with his story. It also would explain why he was inept at using the firearms he was carrying.

      1. Artemesia

        European trains are easy pickings for thieves. They do it routinely and quite well without being armed with AK47s and lots of ammunition.

      2. fposte

        We may never really know if it’s true, especially since it’s a pretty subjective truth and now that there’s a media narrative we’ve locked onto. I think he was claiming to have found the AK-47 in a park, which seems unlikely to me; there’s also the reported info that Spanish authorities flagged him as suspect (or some other official term). That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a random violent criminal, of course.

        1. Steve G

          Found it in a park? I’ve been listening to way too much news recently in my unemployedness and I distinctly remember a “I found the gun in park” thing this week in another story (though it could be an old story because I’m listening to stuff from over the last few years)

    5. Not So NewReader

      I thought of you when I read the article. I knew you were smiling.
      Yep, these guys were awesome. I hope they inspire others in a similar manner.

  41. ginger ale for all

    Did anyone here catch the Diane Rhiem (sp?) show this week on the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken? I loved the discussion until they said “most people don’t truly understand the poem” just one too many times. People can have their own interpretations of the poem. Just say that there is more than one way to think about the poem. No need to be so snobby and condescending about it. Grr! I actually changed radio stations because it just raised my hackles so much.

    1. ginger ale for all

      It brought to mind the scene from the Colin First / Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice where Darcy’s aunt goes on about how she would have been a true proficient if she had studied blah blah blah.

        1. Artemesia

          And since we are on Pride and Prejudice, netflix streaming that home of the worst movies made by any great actor has Bride and Prejudice right now. It is a bollywood adaptation of P&P and is by far the best adaptation of an Austen I have seen (even a bit better than Clueless which was pretty good). The way they translate these Edwardian British foibles into Indian culture is clever and fun. Particularly the Collins character who has been turned from a British clergyman into a shallow mercenary Indian businessman.

          1. Delyssia

            I’m streaming Bride and Prejudice on Netflix right now! Before I even saw this comment, I was flipping through Netflix options for something to watch and couldn’t resist. I’ve seen it before, but it’s been far too long.

    2. nep

      I heard some of that broadcast in the car.
      Did you send a comment to the Diane Rehm team? I think Diane would want to know that, even after the fact.

        1. nep

          And I really think that is so against what Diane is all about — I think she’d value hearing your thoughts, if nothing else just to watch that in future programmes.

  42. Sister trouble

    Do you have siblings that are totally irresponsible? My sister and her husband are totally dependent on my mother – they own in name a rental property (inherited) but take no interest in its management and some of the money that supports them is that but my mother manages the property and gives more when they run out which is all the time. They don’t work, and might be unemployable now since they have never worked (they’re in their 40s). They are artists but it’s hard to survive and from what I see you need to hustle and they don’t; they’re mostly sorry no one notices them; the husband drinks and goes on benders. I have tried to stay away from all this but I am becoming increasingly worried about what will happen to them after my mother passes away. There might be some inheritance money but .. as was pointed upthread, money goes quickly if you are not paying attention and I have not seen them budget or save any money (I understand it’s also my mother’s fault for not ever setting a boundary on this). I am not interested in supporting them, if I even have enough money for that. How would you even have a conversation with mother or sister about this? Should i be clear that I won’t be able to step in? What would you say? I feel like both mother and sister are in such deep denial and codependency that it’s hard to get through.

    1. Rebecca

      Start practicing now. Look in the mirror, and say “no”. It is not your responsibility to enable your sister and her husband after your mother passes away. You might want to talk to your mother, and see if your sister’s inheritance could be set up in some sort of structured payout, so much per month for X years so she can’t blow it all at once, and make it clear to your mother that you will not be supporting them.

      I know someone who started down this path with her sister. She is in her mid 60’s now, and her sister relies on her for every. single. thing. I mean, right down to buying her a car to drive, sister runs out of fuel oil in the winter and needs a fill up because she can’t even bother to look at the gauge, she runs out of grocery money and needs $20 that she then spends on cigarettes, you get the picture. Do not go down this path. The dependency will never, ever end. Nip it in the bud now.

    2. Colette

      I don’t think there’s much you can do now. I’d definitely be prepared to firmly say no if they start asking you for money. You might want to think about ways you’re willing to help as well (e.g. Info on job hunting programs or budgeting).

    3. ginger ale for all

      You should be clear about what you cannot do now so there are no surprises later. And also, maybe you should get your mom into the Dave Ramsey cult. He hates people who enable financial bad behavior, he calls it giving a drunk a drink. Perhaps you can tell her that you want a partner to go through the class together and you think it will be a good bonding activity for you both. A closer relationship if you will. . .

      1. ginger ale for all

        Oh – and don’t attack who they are. They might just tune you out if you are always in their case. I think they are probably aware of their short comings already. Let them decide on their own to change. Forced change is too unstable and may not last. Support the positive changes they decide to make and try not to dwell on the changes they aren’t making. And if they never change, you will need to find peace with that since they are all adults and should run their lives the way they see fit to do. It’s hard to watch someone make bad decisions but after you have offered your opinion and help, you have to let them be.

    4. Artemesia

      I would have one conversation with your mother in which you make it clear that she is crippling them and they will be up a creek when she is gone. She might want to put their share of the inheritance into a trust. (of course this conversation might cause her to leave everything she has to them)

      I would resolutely practice not taking this on when she passes and they start hounding you to support them. And never let them visit and stay at your place for even a night or you will never dislodge them. People like this can sleep on your couch for years.

      If you have already had the conversation and your mother isn’t doing anything, then just resolve to step out of it and steal yourself for denying their demands.

      I’d let my sister and her husband sleep under bridges in this circumstance. If a relative comes on hard times due to disaster, I step up. I gave money to a cousin who was badly injured and had a family to support. But lazy mooches only learn when they have to and they are ’employable’ at some menial job like cleaning hotel rooms if they get desperate enough. I’d wash my hands and turn my back.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I have had that conversation, different circumstances and different relatives. Basically, I told the key person in the story that I would not be looking after these people once the key person was gone. The conversation actually went well. “I don’t blame you” was all that was said.

        Hopefully, your mother will surprise you in a similar manner. She may feel as a parent her responsibilities are greater than yours as a sibling. As far as your sib plus inlaw, I would not say anything, especially if you are not supporting them now. If you are supporting them, start to dial back and just say you are not able to do this anymore. Do not give an explanation, just say no more.

        I can have all the sympathy in the world for someone who is working at their lives and things just fall apart. These people are going to drain you of every dime you have, therefore, no sympathy.

    5. AnotherFed

      I have an aunt and uncle like this. The bigger problem is my aunt, but as much as I love my uncle, he’s not helping or stopping the situation, either, and my grandmother is pretty much carrying them to the detriment of her own funds. The biggest thing you can do is realize that there isn’t anything you can do to make other people change. If your mom is ok and can continue to support them without putting her own finances in jeopardy, that’s her decision. I’d stay out of finances altogether, and if you can’t talk to them without wanting to bring it up or getting angry, spend less time with them.

      If they have any kids, then I think it’s a lot more important to stay involved – it’s not the kids’ fault that their parents don’t make good choices, but the kids can get stuck with some of the consequences. Just being around and modeling reasonable choices can help them learn sane financial management, and it sounds like you’re the only adult in the picture with recent employment history to help them navigate typical teen jobs (applying, handling terrible bosses, workplace norms) – they can probably make it without that help, but it’s still a help.

      The kids may also need help if they become a target of their parents’ debt collectors – I think the age varies by state, but at 18 or so, the parents’ debt collectors may start harassing the children about parents’ debt. If the parents have debt in the kids’ names, this is even worse – I know my aunt got a credit card in her daughter’s name and used it to rack up several thousand dollars of debt in her daughter’s name. Fixing that kind of thing and building decent credit can be very hard, especially for a teen who might also be trying to get a car or student loans. Having someone they can trust and maybe crash on the sofa has made a huge difference in that situation (at least for my family).

    6. Elizabeth West

      I have a relative who is like this. She just does not want to adult and married a guy that doesn’t either, so they enable each other. It’s always due to circumstances that they can’t get it right, never their own fault. I know bootstraps is not always the answer for many people, but they are given help and squander it. After they squandered all over me, I vowed not to help anymore. Another relative who helped me said that she didn’t mind doing it because I had been trying (when I was job hunting), but that she doesn’t want to deal with Non-adult anymore. I don’t blame her. It’s frustrating as hell. You also don’t hear much from her unless she wants something, either. Then it’s all lovey-dovey, oooh hiiiii, love you, can you [insert random favor here]? I shudder to think how it would be if I ever become famous/wealthy.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        If you became wealthy/famous, you would have a whole team of personal assistants/agents/house keepers (butlers, maids, cooks) to keep them away from you. Not to mention a team of attack lawyers who would draft up restraining orders at the snap of your fingers. And very high walls with a gate and top-notch security systems. They’d have to parachute into your pool in order for you to ever have contact with them.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Hahaha, I would love to have a housekeeper and a cook. I feel like I spend more time doing chores than anything else.

          My luck, I’ll become famous (probably for something dumb) but not wealthy! :P

    7. jamlady

      There are a lot of people on this thread with relatives like this, so I’ll just say ditto and point out how HELLISH it was to watch my dad take care of his abusive parents and 5 ridiculous sisters for so long. It was rough on my parents marriage and it was rough for me and my sisters to watch. We are all so intense about money because of this and we have major trust issues when it comes to family (either ours or our significant others). He finally put his foot down (mostly), but we were all grown by then and we have a terrible relationship with our cousins because, like their parents, they’re irresponsible. It’s a big stress in my life and I moved away for a few years to get away from them (and because of that, I was away from the family I adore). Like everyone else is saying, just practice saying “no” now, because it ruins everything.

  43. Today's anon

    I have an older cat (18) and she was straining with her bowels so the vet recommended giving her Metamucil on her food. Surprisingly she doesn’t mind it (I got the unflavored kind) but only when it’s “fresh”. So when I feed her (she only does wet food) and I mix it in or sprinkle it, she will eat it, and maybe a bit later too. But then she won’t; I get it, the food gets a weird consistency. When I’ve put it in the water, she won’t drink it. Have you guys had to give Metamucil to a cat? She is on the underweight side so it’s important that she eat all her food.

    1. Rebecca

      I did this with an older cat many years ago, for the same reasons. I found that I had to give him smaller, more frequent meals with the Metamucil in it so it didn’t gel up, since once that happened, he wouldn’t eat it. He loved the “tuna water” from canned tuna, so I’d always save that for him to get a bit extra Metamucil in him. I also made meat broth (he loved venison) so that helped too.

      1. Artemesia

        Every time I open a can of tuna I get a little pang of sadness for my now dead kitty who always came running the moment she heard the can opener.

        1. Today's anon

          Yes, one of the sad things is that she has become deaf and doesn’t come running anymore when I open a can.

      2. Today's anon

        Thank you, that’s a great idea, about smaller meals and adding some broth or tuna water and mixing the Metamucil there too.

    2. Onan

      I once had a kitty that had bowel problems and the vet suggested canned pumpkin. The cat loved it mixed in the food and it solved the problem of pooping in pain. I just mixed a teaspoon in with his wet food and he gobbled it down. Best of luck to you and your kitty.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Pumpkin helped my old dog.
        Currently, I am giving my dog butternut squash which also works like a charm.

      2. cuppa

        Super late to the party, but we also had a cat that we gave canned pumpkin to. I will never forget the Great Pumpkin Shortage a couple of years ago — our store actually limited how many cans you could purchase at once, and we hoarded canned pumpkin like crazy. :)

    3. abby

      On the advice of our vet, I gave psyllium (the active fiber in metamucil) to our male cat when we were weaning him off cisapride, a dependency-forming constipation drug. I am lucky this cat eats almost everything, as I had no trouble getting him to eat his food with psyllium. I did add a LOT of water to avoid the gel consistency and blend it well with the food. I also made homemade turkey broth, blended psyllium with the broth, then stirred it all into his food.

      Other things to think about for a cat that is straining with her bowels is the food itself. It’s good that your cat eats only wet food, as the added hydration helps a lot. My male had a lot of trouble in this area when he was eating mostly dry food. But I’ve noticed my female has some trouble with certain brands, namely the brands with added “gums”. If I avoid wet foods with gums, neither cat has trouble.

  44. Rebecca

    My oldest cat is approaching the Rainbow Bridge. She’s taken up residence on my computer desk, so I folded over a furry heat reflective mat so she’s not laying on the hard desk surface. To tempt her to eat a bit more, I put a small dish of kibble next to the mat on the desk so she can nibble if she wants. She sleeps 90% + of the time now, and doesn’t seem to be in distress, but if that changes, I’ll make the dreaded appointment at the vet’s office for her. I hope this doesn’t sound awful, but I really hope she just goes to sleep and doesn’t wake up at some point. She’s almost 16 1/2 and she’s had a good life. It’s just so hard to see her little clock winding down just a bit more every day. On a happier note, she really seems to enjoy all the ear rubbing and chin scratching she gets by laying right in front of the monitor!

    1. Camellia

      I had to let go of my SassyKitty in June of last year. She too had been going slowly downhill but suddenly there were two weeks where she basically stopped eating, and we could see her pain when she walked. I had her for 17 years and it was time to let her go. It is so hard but we can hold them and whisper to them and love on them so that our touch, voice, and smell are the last things they know. I still miss her.

      A funny thing is that she had been on heart medication for the last 12 years, the same that humans take – atynolol – and we had to get her script filled at a human drugstore. Every time we moved (8 times, for work) and went to a new drugstore it was the same thing. “This prescription is for my cat, Sassy.” Later…”Uh, your insurance refused to cover this.” “Yes, that is because it is for my cat.” “Uh, what?” “This is for my cat. She has heart problems and she takes this medicine so she doesn’t have heart attacks.” “Um. Really?” “Yes, really. I will pay for it out of my own pocket. Please do not submit it to the insurance again. Here is my credit card.”

      Eventually they would get used to it but we would joke about it every time we had to do it.

    2. Monodon monoceros

      Have you had bloodwork done recently? 16 is old, and her slowing down could be age, but there also could be something medically going on.

      1. Rebecca

        I’m sure she misses her sister, who left us in January, and she’s simply old and slow. She is so scared of the vet, so unless she really seems to be suffering, I’m going to just let things ride out.

        1. Ariadne Oliver

          You’re doing the right thing, Rebecca. Making her last days as pleasant as possible is helping both of you. My bff had to put one of her kitties to sleep a few weeks ago, and it was so hard for her. The cat was actually dying, but she wanted to stop her pain. She had the time to cuddle Parrot and tell her how much she loves her. Parrot’s sister is having trouble adjusting, but is starting to perk up a little. So is bff, and she’s glad that she had those final moments with Parrot.

    3. The Other Dawn

      It’s really tough when it’s close to their time and it’s just old age. We recently had to put one cat down because of old age. I, too, was hoping he would just go in his sleep–I really didn’t want to make the decision because it’s so hard to know when it’s the “right time.” He was sleeping most of the time or just laying around. But the biggest clue for me was when he would walk a few steps and then lay down for at least a half hour. I later found out when I brought him in that it means the cat is in heart failure, which pretty much means it’s time. So, I would watch for anything like that. And I’m sorry for your impending loss. :(

    4. Clever Name

      Awwww. *ear scrabbles*

      My cats are 14 and 15. The 14 year old is in amazing shape, but the older one has arthritis in her hips and has trouble moving around. We’ve put step stools around so she can get to her favorite sleeping spots, and she has beds on the floor. I’ll look at her sleeping and wait to see her breathe. I half expect that I’ll return from work or wake up in the morning to find she’s passed in her sleep.

    5. Today's anon

      Yes, sometimes I have to check that my cat is still breathing. Also, she has become deaf so she can be incredibly immobile, no ears moving or anything. I always make sure to say good bye personally with a snuggle before I leave for work. We lost our other cat (younger than her) a few years ago and she really went into a mourning period where she would follow me around and want to be on/with me all the time. They were friendly with each other but they were not BFF so I was surprised at how much she seemed to suffer the loss.

  45. Stella Maris

    Long time reader, occasional poster – but would like to be a more involved part of the commentariat community!

    Anyone live in the Phoenix- Sedona-Flagstaff area have tourist itinerary suggestions? My spouse and I are going to be there (and at the Grand Canyon) in early-mid-September.

    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie

      Hi! Phoenician here.

      So September in Phoenix is still pretty warm (especially if you’re not from a warm climate). So if you’re going to do anything outside, DO IT BEFORE 9 AM. I am not kidding about this. Unfortunately, there are casualties every summer from out-of-town hikers who underestimate the heat.

      In Phoenix
      1. Desert Botanical Gardens
      2. There’s lots of hiking—Camelback Mountain is the popular one, but there are several other hikes in Central Phoenix such as Squaw Peak.
      2a. If you’re willing to drive a bit east, Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction is really nice. If you’re willing to drive even further east, I really like Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior (although much won’t be in bloom in September).
      3. For a day trip, I like driving the Apache Trail. It goes from Apache Junction to Globe and is the old route miners used to take to get to the mountains. At the end in Globe, there is Roosevelt Dam which has this suspension bridge. Great views. If you get motion sickness easily or are afraid of heights, I wouldn’t recommend this.
      4. Heard Museum–museum about Native American culture.
      5. Pueblo Grande Archaeological Park–preservation of the ancient Hohokam culture
      6. Arizona State Capital
      7. South Mountain Park
      8. Taliesin West in Scottsdale

      En Route to Sedona/Flagstaff/Grand Canyon off I-17
      1. Montezuma’s Castle in Camp Verde
      2. Arconsanti in Mayer, AZ, which is this artist’s experimental arcology in the desert

      Sedona
      0. Fair warning, food in Sedona isn’t the best. It tends to skew expense account or overpriced mediocrity.
      1. Do a Pink Jeep tour
      2. Lots of hiking as well
      3. Slide Rock State Park
      4. Go see the Chapel of the Holy Cross–designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (I believe). It’s a church built into the red rocks.
      5. Heading up to Flagstaff, take 89A instead of I-17. 89A cuts through Oak Creek Canyon and is a very scenic drive.
      6. Oak Creek Brewery

      Flagstaff (worth a pit stop):
      1. Lowell Observatory
      2. Food is actually really good in Flagstaff (much better in Sedona). Lots of affordable and delicious options.
      3. Sunset Crater National Monument
      4. Wupatki National Monument
      5. The downtown is really cute and has lots of great boutiques.

      Grand Canyon:
      0. Another scenic route is to take US-180 from Flagstaff (instead of I-40). US-180 cuts through the Coconino National Forest and has nice views of the San Francisco Peaks. (Since it’s fall, snow shouldn’t be an issue.)
      0a. I would aim to get to the entrance gate as early as possible. Waits can be pretty long.
      1. Check out the Watchtower
      2. This is run by the Native American tribe, but if you’re willing to shell out the money, there’s the Sky Walk, which is a glass bridge that goes over the Grand Canyon.
      3. Havasu Falls (also run by the Native American tribe).
      4. Donkey rides!

      Also, bring layers. Northern Arizona is usually at least 30 degrees cooler than Phoenix due the the elevation change.

      1. Stella Maris

        Wow, thank you! (Our only experience in the southwest is Vegas in January so thanks especially for the heads up on temperature. We’ve been struggling with clothing options, not sure if we’ll overheat in jeans etc. but wanting to be covered in the desert.)

        And good to know about food in Sedona vs. Flagstaff.

        Thanks again! Really helpful to see stuff on our MAYBE list noted by a local. We were considering a Pink Jeep Tour but now we’ll put that on the YES list for sure.

        1. Stephanie

          Overall, there’s going to be a 20-30 degree difference between the high and low temperatures anywhere in the state. I have a pretty high heat tolerance (so take my recommendation with a grain of salt), but I think jeans might be ok in Phoenix in September, provided they’re not really heavy or too form fitting. Northern Arizona might get chilly at night.

          Also, if you’re going to hike into the Grand Canyon, heading toward the river is warmer than the rim. The river is a mile lower than the the rim, so it’ll be a totally different temperature.

          I mean, the Pink Jeep tour is touristy, but it’s fun!

          Yeah, my friend from the Midwest visited, so I did this whole jaunt from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon with a pit stop in Sedona. West Sedona seems to have the cheaper lodging and food options. But yeah, best thing we found there food wise that wasn’t going to cost us $50pp was an alien-themed diner with duct-taped booths.

        2. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)

          Also, the David Wright House offers free tours. It’s the house Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son’s retirement. It was nearly torn down in 2011, but through extreme protest and machinations it was rescued by a wealthy donor who is looking to turn it into a nonprofit foundation and education center and is restoring it. You have to book a spot on its website, and the instructions for getting there include going through a semi-hidden door in a church parking lot. It is spectacular.

          Also Tovrea Castle is another crazy piece of quintessential Phoenix history. And the Mystery Castle has a nice hike right next to it that leads to a great view.

          1. Stella Maris

            Wow, that sounds so interesting, thanks! (Sadly they are booked all the days we are there but I may still drop them a line in case they can squeeze us in.)

    2. Monodon monoceros

      I have family in Phoenix, and I am also extremely heat-intolerant. I can not handle it. I’m also not a big fan of the sprawl that is the greater Phoenix area. So my advice would be to spend most, if not all, of your time in Northern Arizona, which is really beautiful and also cooler.

      1. Stella Maris

        Thanks! I hate but am used to humid heat so I have no idea how I’ll react to it.

        Our main reason for being in Phoenix is going to a Diamondbacks game but since we’ll be in PHX for that and to fly in and out, we thought we’d want other stuff to do there.

        Right now it’s 2 nights at the Grand Canyon at the beginning and 2 nights in Phoenix at the end but in between (Sedona, Jerome, Flagstaff, etc.) is up in the air.

        1. asteramella

          You will need to drink much, much more water than you think. Do not be the tourist who dies on a hike after only taking a couple of bottles. Drink frequently throughout the day and replenish your electrolytes with a salty snack or two.

  46. Kirsten

    A cat question for all for all of the cat owners here – I have a female indoor cat who likes to sit at my back screen door. I open the door for her when I’m home and she lays by it for hours. My neighbors have an outdoor male cat who likes to come to the door and hiss at her. I usually just shut the door and he goes away. Last time he sprayed at me as I was shutting the door, luckily none of it got in the house. Any tips on getting him to stop coming onto my deck? He scares my cat and I don’t want him spraying into the house if he comes by when I’m not close to her. We don’t have air conditioning so keeping the back door open really helps to keep the dining/living room cool when it’s hot. Thanks!

    1. A

      They sell ultrasonic devices you can put in your yard for exactly this reason, actually. They emit a sound that’s not painful but is very annoying to cats, but that humans can’t hear. I think the popular ones are Critter Gitter and Cat Stop.

      1. blackcat

        Humans with large hearing ranges (which includes most very small children and the occasional genetic mutant like me) will suffer with these, too, so only use it if there aren’t any small children in the immediate vicinity.

        I’ve had extremely good luck by spraying a dilute solution of cayenne pepper around. Cats don’t like to walk over it. High concentrations can hurt their paws, but low concentrations just make them cranky enough to not come back.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I had this issue with the local feral/roaming house cats in my yard, winding my cats up. There are sprays/granules you can get at hardware/home improvement stores to spray the area you want them to stay away from (made from peppers, I think) and it’s worked pretty well for us. We use Critter Ridder by Hav-a-hart and haven’t had any issues since the spring.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I wish I could do this to keep the damn strays away from my cat’s (expensive) food, but since she’s an outdoor cat too, that won’t work. I’ve had to resort to putting cheap food out in front of the house when I feed her to distract the little buggers. This sounds horrid, but I keep hoping something will happen to them. I can’t take them on–I just can’t. Psycho Kitty is bad enough.

        I think I’m going to have to start forcing her to eat inside, or install a pet door in the garage and then feed her in there. But that last won’t keep THEM out, once they figure out that’s where she eats. She will not wear a collar, so I can’t do the electronic door either.

  47. Obviously Anonymous

    So … does anyone know anything about getting records expunged?

    When I was 18 and very stupid, I had very poor taste in friends and got picked up when one of them decided she wanted to shoplift something. (To be clear, even the police report said that I didn’t have or do anything, just that the store manager said I was her “lookout.” I definitely wasn’t.) We went to court about it, and the judge “withheld adjudication of guilt,” which the lawyer the court put on my side told me meant that I wasn’t being convicted of anything and that it was like the charge was being dropped, because I clearly hadn’t done anything. Well … it’s still on my record and it turns out that it’s NOT the same as the charge being dropped, which means I’ve accidentally lied on about a billion applications since then. (Thanks, random court lawyer!) I need to get this squared away ASAP.

    What’s the timeline like for doing this? Is it possible to have this expunged and done away with before spring, or am I looking at a multi-year debacle?

    1. fposte

      Expungement (or sealing) possibilities vary, sometimes hugely, from state to state and actual charge to actual charge, so I think you really need to talk to a lawyer in the area where it all happened to find out if it’s possible; it could vary from a slam-dunk to a no-go. I wouldn’t even bother reading website info about expungement if it pertains to a different state–things are that different. If you look at “expungement [state]” at lawyers dot com, you may at least be able to get a brief idea of whether yours is in the ballpark.

    2. DebbieDebbieDebbie

      My so had a misdemeanor trespassing conviction when he was 15. We were able to get his record sealed and then expunged easily and directly through the court without using an attorney. As fposte, said above, this is not likely so with every jurisdiction. However, I would start with the court’s website and see if the process is explained there.
      As for time-line: about a year after he had completed his community service he completed the form, mailed it in. There was no charge and no re-appearance in court needed. Process completed in 2 or 3 months, I believe.

    3. CIVICSGRATE

      What fposte said: you need a lawyer who practices in the vicinity where you were charged. This is one of those peculiar legal things where the procedures and even the definition of terms varies a LOT by jurisdiction.

      (But I’ll go so far as to opine that it sounds like you have a reasonably good chance of making this happen).

      If you haven’t looked at it already, the Wikipedia page on Expungement

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expungement

      is definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

    4. Not So NewReader

      It sounds like they did not seal the case. I would call the court and ask if the case has been sealed. If you can, go to the court with a couple different forms of ID and talk to the clerk. If you have a copy of your record bring that with you, to help clarify what you are talking about.

  48. AnotherFed

    I just discovered that my gmail address, which is a letter/number combination because my last name is hard for people to spell, is also the pen name of a fanfiction pr0n writer. I only caught it when checking to make sure my social media profiles didn’t come up under that address or my name because I was going to be putting in a job application.

    On the plus side, I’ve used the email address for years and if any of my friends/family have noticed, they haven’t said anything…

    Do I go to the hassle of changing the address, or assume that no one is going to google the actual email address?

    1. A

      If it were me, I’d change it. It’s an inconvenience for me, but it would really suck to make the assumption that no one’s going to look up my e-mail address in the course of doing due diligence searches and find that and be wrong about it.

      1. AnotherFed

        I’m planning to change it for the job application anyway (assuming USAjobs lets me, that is) – that’s pretty easy.

        The much, much harder thing will be changing over for personal stuff – I think I’ll probably just keep it for all of the accounts currently associated with it, and see if I can’t just use a new one for communications with real people. At least most of my friends and family will find this hilarious and will mock me but not make it weird.

        It’s the acquaintances, especially work acquaintances that are making me twitch a little. Now that I think about it more rationally, they’d have to be googling my personal email address and poking around somewhere, which is just creepy anyway. As long as I don’t call attention to a sudden change, I don’t anyone will be curious, but still, twitching.

    2. schnapps

      You could just set up a new address solely for job searches. Might be a good way of keeping business and personal separate if that’s important to you.

    3. Colette

      I wouldn’t bother changing, but agree getting another address for job hunting (and possibly work aqua instances) is probably a good idea.

    4. Mints

      You could create a new one, then forward all emails one way or the other. And just use one account while checking. That’s how I slow faded to my new email address.

      1. Mints

        I’m not sure if I made sense. My old email address was like m-ints54 then I created mintsmarie. I started giving out mintsmarie, and had all m-ints54 emails forwarded to mintsmarie. So I only had to check mintsmarie, and eventually everyone relevant had the new address

    1. Mephyle

      In case you were wondering whether anyone paid attention to this, I did. Recipe already bookmarked.

  49. Be the Change

    Talk me into being a grown up, you guys. I just found out, via Facebook, that someone I consider a really, *really* good friend — in fact the person I would consider my closest friend in this area — had a major life event, a big party, etc…. and did not even tell me, let alone invite me. I know, big expensive parties are often necessarily limited but I would have thought… Gotta admit, it stings a little.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Comfort yourself with the fact that if you were not invited, then it couldn’t have been a very good party.

    1. MLT

      It is easy to wrap a story around an event when you don’t have enough information. In this case, your friend held an event that you were not told about or invited to, and you are wrapping a story around it about being intentionally left out, and you are making yourself sad with your story. So here are some grown up options:

      — Wrap a better story around it: “My friend had a major life event and I was not invited. She and I have always been close, so I am sure there is a good reason. I should congratulate her for this milestone.” Alternately consider that this may have been an oversight, there might have been expenditure limits, your invitation might have gotten lost in the mail or your spam folder, there may have been an invitation conflict, when may have thought you wouldn’t be interested…
      —Get more information: “Congratulations, Friend, on your major event. I read about it on Facebook. I was surprised not to be included in your news, and I wanted to make sure everything was okay between us.”
      — Let go. Things happen and we often don’t or won’t know why. If we aren’t brave enough to ask, we have to get adept at releasing. Maybe your idea of BFF is different than hers. Maybe her idea of who to include in milestone events is different than yours. Other people think things through and make decisions differently than we do, so best not to judge based on how we would do something ourselves. Just accept that this is how she did things, and that it probably has nothing to do with you personally.

      And good for you looking for better ways to think about this rather than looking for sympathy. That’s grown-up.

      1. Be the Change

        Ayup. Thought of all that. Just needed the community to help me DO it!

        …scurries off to make sure the invite didn’t end up in the spam folder and if it did to apologize…

      2. Not So NewReader

        Well said.

        This stuff does sting. It could be a heads up regarding your friendship or it could be a small glitch. Let time show you which one it is.

  50. schnapps

    Let’s play the Instead of/I am game

    Instead of preparing for an interview tomorrow, cleaning the litter boxes, doing laundry and shampooing the rug, I am watching a John Cusack movie, drinking coffee and thinking about going out for eggs benedict.

    (Husband type took kidlet to his parents’ place for the weekend so it’s just me and the cats who are torturing each other)

    1. Weekend Warrior

      Instead of preparing interview questions and the script for a difficult conversation, I’m drinking tea, reading AAM, and considering doing a load of laundry to feel “productive”. At least your plans sound fun!

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Instead of watching tv in my new flat I am not watching tv because the reception is terrible and it doesn’t really work :-( I had some channels, then bbc only ones and now it keeps saying check the aerial. Not internet either!

    3. Elkay

      The most important question here is which John Cusack movie?

      Instead of prepping dinner I am watching Six Feet Under. I’ll move just as soon as this episode finishes…

      1. schnapps

        It wasn’t very good although I only half paid attention – it’s “the Number Station” and it’s on Netflix (although I’m not sure if I’m on the Canadian or the American netflix).

    4. Kyrielle

      Instead of cleaning my house, I am reading the comments here, and nursing headache.

      I am also doing that instead of taking medicine, which I should probably go do. :)

    5. Mints

      Instead of assembling the ikea table that’s been eyeballing me for a week, I am browsing the internet and brooding that there are too many people in the house

    6. SystemsLady

      Instead of picking up the house, I am watching how it’s made videos and even procrastinating a drive out…to buy chocolate, which wasn’t even on the list. Oy.

    7. T3k

      Instead of focusing more on re-doing my resume (I re-did half of it, that has to count for something, right?) and re-teaching myself HTML/CSS, I’m playing video games and prodding my rosemary cutting in water to grow longer roots so I can move it to a pot soon.

    8. Elizabeth West

      Instead of cleaning the house, I am on the internet again instead.

      This needs to change. I think what I will do is clean one room every weeknight, thoroughly, so I can get out of this habit of doing nothing but chores at weekends. Once the donation truck comes on Tuesday and removes the pile, I can put more stuff in the garage to chuck and cleaning will become easier. Then in future, I can keep it up on weeknights without expending so much effort.

      I will do the living room tonight because I want to set up the new all-in-one printer I got. It was time; my old color printer and scanner still work, but I need to save space. They’re going on the pile too. I can get along with that and my huge laser printer I use for manuscripts. By the time that one dies, I can get a better all-in-one.

    9. SaraV

      Instead of picking up/cleaning my apartment/folding laundry, I’m surfing on my phone while watching the season 5 marathon of “Walking Dead”, leading up to the premiere of “Fear the Dead”.

    10. Miki

      Instead of packing for my 2 week trip to Europe this Wednesday, I spent all weekend volunteering for this big fundraising sale and I am spent.

  51. Steve G

    Does anyone have any good overnight trips recommendations for places within 200 miles of NYC? Small towns, historic towns, nature spots with hiking? I’ve done Baltimore, DC, Phillie, Gettysburg multiple times, and sometimes go to Hawk Mountain. I have a few days free this week and have been sitting here for hours trying to think where to go……

      1. Steve G

        Thanks I just looked at it though and realized I stayed right there in 2012 and didn’t go to the village. Stupid me. Not sure how I missed it!

    1. BRR

      Hyde Park area. You can eat at and take classes at the culinary institute, there’s a Vanderbuilt home to see, and FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt museums.

      Storm King Art Center

      Search the Roxbury Motel, they have a list of activities on their site as well as it being a campy motel.

      Lambertville NJ/New Hope, PA, small town with many little artsy shops.

      1. Steve G

        Mmmmmm the Hyde Park one looks like a good combo of interesting and not too far! Thanks. I’ve never been there but apparently driven through multiple times. I’m also liking this Innisbrook Gardens in the woods outside of Hyde that I’m seeing online……………..

        1. BRR

          You’ll have to let us know what you do (I consider this a contest and want my suggestion to win).

          1. Steve G

            Ha! This is funny because you “won” because I love the Innnisbrook Gardens and love towns and small American cities, and we are also combining it with the Mohonk Mountain House which isn’t that far away. But we are staying in a regular hotel near Hyde Park, because Mohonk is $750/night for next weekend!!!!!!!!!!!! But they have 40K acres to walk…..so we will do Innisrook and Hyde Park and if we have time do the other place.

            PS where are you that you know this place? I grew up in eastern LI but no one ever talked about that area of NY. Everyone went really far upstate or not at all……..

      2. Alma

        The “Off the Beaten Path” series of guidebooks have been great resources for me as I have traveled and moved to new places. They give one-day rides that bring you back to where you started, noting stores and restaurants along the way – as well as farm tours, hiking trails – you can’t get better than this!

      3. OriginalEmma

        New Hope is very kitschy and very cute. Same goes for Lambertville. The old houses and architecture, the quaint little town feel, are worth the drive.

    2. AnotherFed

      These might be a little far (and definitely require a car), but how about Saratoga, Lake George, or Mt. Marcy? Saratoga has the battlefield, a small downtown, and the racetrack. Lake George is a major summer tourism area – lots of hiking, all sorts of boating rentals and excursions (everything from whitewater rafting to paddle wheel ferry boats), some cute downtown areas, and a few forts/historic areas from pre-Revolution events. Mt. Marcy is actually pretty close to Lake George, but it’s just a fun hike.

      1. Steve G

        Have you ever been to Saratoga? What did you think? It’s probably a bit far for this trip but I am occasionally around Albany so can add it on to another trip in the future…

        1. AnotherFed

          I went as a kid 15+ years ago, but I remember the battlefield being very cool – in lots of places, especially in the south, the old sites like that have been subsumed by suburbia (we have lots of civil war signs in gas station parking lots), but the Saratoga battlefield seemed well preserved. We were there in autumn, so the trees were gorgeous and it was just nice to be outside, walking around. They’ve also got a canal lock for Hudson river traffic that was pretty interesting. I don’t remember the downtown area being anything special, but I was mostly oblivious to shops at that age.

          1. Steve G

            Interesting I never heard of the battlefields there, I just knew about the horse racing. I like battlefields, I’ve been to Gettysburg 4X. Lots of places for long walks on preserved land + history + a nice downtown….

            1. Not So NewReader

              Yes, lots of battlefields. There is Bloody Pond in Lake George, named so because it turned blood red during one battle.
              One town near there, still has the remains of the old fort running through people’s basements. Many of the towns grew from forts, and the towns bear the name of the original fort that started the settlement.

              If you do not like horse racing or are ambivalent about it, then do not go during racing season. It will save you money and time.

              Family members had property north of there, so I got to learn all this stuff.

          2. Not So NewReader

            Downtown tanked with the economy, but it should be coming back up. A major company went into Albany area and it’s bringing more people. (Thousands of people.) You can still see plenty of old mansions from the glory days. There are old spas, plenty of places to eat and quite a few gift shops. Nice gifts not junky like other vacation areas.
            There’s ghost stories (marketing gimmick?) about one battlefield. People have seen soldiers still fighting. Fort Ticonderoga has the same types of stories, so it seems to be an thing now. Plenty of historical stuff to see. The ocean used to be near the area, there is a park with interesting fossils from that time.

    3. Lore

      Hudson Valley in the fall is gorgeous–Hudson itself and also Kingston have pretty interesting music and art scenes right now. I also highly recommend Olana, Frederic Church (Hudson River School painter)’s estate just outside Hudson. Also Rhode Island–not so much hiking but beautiful coastline and both Providence and Newport have stuff to do.

      1. Steve G

        I love Newport but have been there 2X this decade (once for work, no I am not rich:-)).

        what is in Kingston to actually do though? I drive through it on the thruway and it doesn’t look that big…..

        1. Lore

          It’s not very big. But a lot of artists are moving up there and I’ve been told it has a small but lively gallery and music scene. We were only there during the day before going to a wedding on the other side of the river, but the waterfront area was interesting to walk around and there was I think a museum on one of the boats. It’s also close to Rhinebeck and Hudson and not far from Storm King, which is awesome.

          1. Today's anon

            Also, not so far from Kingston is Woodstock, which is quaint, has a quaint farmer’s market, and small stores. There might be more but I didn’t have a car when I went so I stayed local. It was very relaxing.

            Near Kingston is the reservoir (probably has its own name) that feeds NYC and is a nice walk, also there are some protected bald eagles and they often have eaglets at this time, and that is neat when you spot them.

    4. AnnieNonymous

      Try Asbury Park, NJ. The beach and boardwalk are fairly empty on weekdays, and the cultural/touristy area is fairly small – you could hit all of the fun spots on one long day.

      1. Steve G

        hmmm interesting, another town I’ve heard of but never thought to actually go there….thanks…

        1. BRR

          If you’re going to the shore it’s nice you can take the train to Asbury Park but for the shore I’d go all the way down to Cape May, unless you like gambling then Atlantic City.

      2. OriginalEmma

        And right next to Asbury Park is Ocean Grove, an adorable little town with old Methodist Retreat tents, a huge church and these wonderful massive old summer homes. Seriously, just walk across the canal from AP and you’re there.

    5. Kirsten

      Mystic, CT is really pretty. They have a historical downtown area, a great aquarium and are close to both CT casinos if you like to gamble. Litchfield County in CT is also really scenic. I like the Kent area near Kent Falls.
      Brattleboro, VT is another one. It’s right over the Mass border so not as going to Burlington or any of the towns up that way. Last suggestion would be New Paltz. You can buy a day pass and hike at Mohonk Mountain house (I’ve never been but heard it’s great.) There are also wineries in that area and New Paltz is a cute small town.

      1. Steve G

        Wow that Mohonk resort looks awesome! And only 90 miles from NYC. Kent Falls doesn’t look so far either. I have never heard of either of these places, thanks a lot! Seems like I am getting info for more than just one weekend away here!

      2. Not So NewReader

        It’s been years since I have thought of Kent Falls. I remember seeing the falls when I was a kid. Reeally New England-y.

    6. moss

      Roscoe, New York is 117 miles from NYC and is a huge trout fishing town. If you’re into that. It’s a cute small town with the usual small town activities in addition to fishing.

  52. nep

    I’m looking to buy MP3 downloads of a couple of songs I really like. They’re not on Amazon, where I usually but songs. I don’t do iTunes so don’t know much about that. I was going to search for the songs on iTunes just to see whether they’re there, but it seems I’ve got to choose a genre first? Isn’t there just a general search / type in artist’s name? Any other suggestions for where I might find a couple of rather obscure songs? (I see them on ReverbNation, but it doesn’t look like they can be purchased there. I might ask their tech support about it.) Any suggestions welcome.

    1. nep

      (Actually over time I’ve found what I thought were some pretty obscure tunes on Amazon, so I guess that’s not a factor.)

    2. Felicia

      You can search by song or artist on the iTunes Store. There should be a search option at the top right of the main page.

    3. Cruciatus

      In the top right of the screen there should be a search button where you can search by song, artist, etc. I don’t have any legal ways to get the obscure songs. Sometimes my library’s Freegal music downloading service shows odd stuff–but I’m limited to downloading only 3 songs a week.

    4. fposte

      In addition to what Felicia says, allmusic dot com seems to give info for Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, and Amazon all in one go.

      I also find that with lower-profile musicians it can be worth going to their own website–sometimes you can download stuff directly from there.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      Apart from some iTunes exclusives (deals specifically with the artists and their recording companies), I haven’t found any songs that are on iTunes that aren’t on Amazon.

      Generally, if something is too obscure for MP3, I just buy the CD and rip MP3s from it.

      1. nep

        Your first point — good to know.
        Can’t find any CDs with these two songs — the search continues.

    6. Steve G

      Since I am a fan of 80s music and Amazon usually only has the top-100 mainstream songs you’ve heard a million times….I usually download stuff from youtube using a youtube-to-mp3 downloader.

      Try this one –

      youtube-mp3.org

        1. nep

          (Reading a bit about the legal aspects of all this now. Anyway, there are vids of the songs on YouTube but I want to purchase.)

        2. Steve G

          Legal? IDK. But I still buy stuff from Amazon. But if they are only going to have top-100 hits they are selling themselves short. The exact type of music (the stuff that isn’t on the radio all of the time) seems to be exactly what they don’t have on Amazon. From the 80s at least…….

          1. nep

            Taking intellectual property has got to be illegal, but I’m sure in these times and with current technologies it’s done all the time.

            1. Steve G

              I’d pay if what I wanted was offered for pay! Seriously Amazon needs someone to comb through music history from pre-when they started and to bulk up the digital sales they make.

              Maybe I should pitch that as a position to Amazon:-)

              1. Today's anon

                What often happens is that it is hard to determine who actually has the rights to sign for a song to be turned into a digital file. For the current stuff, a digital version would now be included in any standard legal document. For the really old stuff, if the person is dead, then some of it goes into public domain or maybe there is an estate. But the medium recent – it might be hard to find the person or the estate and not enough time has passed for it to be public domain so things stay in limbo and no one will produce the digital file. One can’t just take a CD and make it into a digital file, especially if you are going to then sell it and make money out of it.

                1. fposte

                  …Which is why television shows from that middle period took for freaking ever to become available in recorded media if they used real music, or they dubbed in “fake” music instead.

    7. Meadowsweet

      If they’re indies have you tried bandcamp or cd baby? (I won’t post the links, but searching should bring up the sites as the first hit).

      Otherwise I’d try the artist’s site – sometimes there’s direct purchase through the site and if not there’s usually info on where they’re available.

      good luck!

  53. Felix

    Help!

    As I mentioned above, I’m a long time reader, but new commenter. I selected “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” on my earlier comments and now I’m receiving hundreds of email notifications! I thought I would only get responses to the thread I was commenting on, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Is there anything I can do now to stop getting these email notifications? Or, just learn my lesson and not click on that comment feature again?!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      There’s an unsubscribe link in each email you’re receiving — but if that doesn’t work, email me and I’ll stop them manually for you!

      1. Felix

        Hi Alison, thanks for this! I embarrassingly didn’t read through the emails far enough to notice this unsubscribe feature! I’ve just done it and it seems to have worked. Thanks so much and for your quick response to my call for help. I love your blog (and how responsive you are)!

  54. Summer - Update?

    Summer,
    We’d love to hear how you are doing, if you’ve been able to talk with someone “in voice” or “in person.”
    Thinking about you.
    Sunday

  55. SystemsLady

    For those that were curious, we found out last weekend that the owner has decided not to sell :). So we get to stay here another year and have the time we had originally planned to move!

    Turns out they wanted to buy a new house and were growing increasingly skeptical that this house would sell in time for that to be viable.

  56. schnapps

    I have a question about male cats. My two boys are both fixed – one is 14 the other is 8. We adopted them about a year ago. Up until now, I’ve only ever had female cats.

    I was cleaning out the boxes today. The one is up against a wall and had a blow up bed in a bag next to it. I noticed there were some spots on the bag, so I pulled it out and sniffed it – cat urine. The wall was kind of smelly too so I pulled everything out, bleached the entire laundry room floor (needed it anyways) and threw the bag in the washer.

    My question: was this a deliberate spraying or was it just a splashback? One of them peed on my coat once when I left it on the floor and on a pillow when I was a bad cat mom and changed the type of litter, but otherwise we haven’t noticed them spraying.

    1. AcidMeFlux

      My cat sometimes pees on things that have a strong plastic smell (like my dustpan, or some supermarket shopping bags) if they’re left on the floor. Maybe it’s the smell of the bed/bag?

      1. AcidMeFlux

        I forgot to say, because I think he thinks anything with the same plastic smell as his littler box makes him think it’s ok to pee there.

        1. schnapps

          It’s a nylon bag – the drawstring kind – so I washed it. It was right next to the litter, so I expect it was accidental, but as I said, I’ve never had male cats before so I’m not really sure if they were just being jerks or not.

          1. Lillian McGee

            I have a male cat. Sometimes when he pees, he starts out squatting but slowly he raises his butt enough to pee over the side of the pan/all over the wall etc. I think he’s just being lazy. Can’t be joint trouble, he’s only 3. Even the super-high-sided pan isn’t high enough so I got a huge covered box and that seems to keep it in. Search Amazon for “Catit Jumbo Hooded Cat Litter Pan”

  57. NicoleK

    Question for all the bakers out there…..when a chocolate cake recipe calls for cocoa powder, what brand do you use?

  58. T3k

    Trying to figure out if I should continue doing half and half with the amount I put towards my student loans and my retirement plan (I’m 25 but want to get a head start on it). I make very little so I had to put my student loans on forbearance as some months I couldn’t even make the min. but every month I try to put about $100 towards them (to keep the interest down) and then the same amount into my Roth. The forbearance lasts only a year and then you can request it again depending on your situation. It’ll end next Spring, but I’m really hoping by that time I’ll have a far better paying job and won’t need to do it. Thoughts?

    1. MLT

      Compare interest rates. If your Roth is paying you less than 1% (very likely) and your student loans are cost much more than that (also likely), then shift your payment to getting that loan paid off. The exception to this, of course, is if your employer is matching your Roth contributions, which greatly increases your ROI.

        1. fposte

          Maybe thinking of a savings account in a Roth? On the other hand, as of last week, a lot of people’s Roths are flat for the year, so you certainly *can* have less than 1% per year in investing, too.

          1. BRR

            Oh yeah, if I looked at my Roth for only 2008 hahahaha. Definitely less than 1%. I was also thinking MLT maybe was referring to dividends.

    2. Kirsten

      I would stop putting anything into the Roth until you get your loans in better shape. There can be a huge different in salary from graduation until late 20’s/early 30’s. If you cannot afford to pay your student loans now, I would hold off on the Roth until that is under control and keep looking for a higher paying job. If it helps at all, at 25 my husband was out of work and we lived on my $42k salary, by 29 we were making well over $100k combined had paid off all of our loans and our cars. A few years can make a huge difference.

    3. fposte

      I’ll differ slightly from MLT, in that your situation isn’t easy to do interest rate vs. interest rate on (and it’s pretty unusual for an employer to contribute to an IRA, so I’m guessing there’s no relevant contribution). You put money in an IRA not for an ongoing return but for later benefits, and you can’t get that space back. Your overall return until you’re 65 is likely to average 5-7% annually, but nobody knows for sure, and it’ll include drops as well as highs; that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the space.

      But if your loan repayments are so small you have to request forbearance, I’d be inclined to prioritize the loan payments for a little bit, especially if you anticipate better income soon. I’d check two things , though. Is there a reason you went for the Roth, given that your income likely makes you eligible for deducting your IRA contributions? If you haven’t crunched the numbers on the difference, do so, and consider opening a traditional IRA with new contributions if the deduction makes it preferable. Additionally, are you eligible for and taking advantage of the Saver’s Credit, which you’re also likely to be eligible for? If you’re eligible for both, that makes an IRA quite a good deal, and I’d have a hard time passing it up without knowing more specifics about your finances, career track, and support.

      1. Trixie

        Isn’t the Roth IRA better for someone just starting out in a lower tax bracket?

        “With any luck you’ll be in a higher tax bracket by the time you retire. Roth IRA requires you to pay taxes now but not in retirement. Conversely, if you think your tax bracket will be lower in retirement than it is now you should consider a traditional IRA. If that’s your situation, the tax break now is more valuable than a tax break in retirement.”

        1. fposte

          It all involves crystal-ball stuff, but I’d crunch the numbers based on my own contributions and career trajectory and other tax-advantaged options and then decide. And if your income stays low, you can always convert the traditional IRA to Roth and just pay taxes, which may be little to none if your bracket is low, on the growth.

            1. T3k

              Yeah, I went with Roth at the time because I’m in a very low income bracket and, as mentioned further down, if I ever need to pull money from it I can pull any I contributed without penalty.

              I didn’t know of the saver’s credit, so I’ll definitely look into it, thanks.

    4. BRR

      It sounds like you need to focus on your loans at the moment. If this was paying student loans off early I would say put some into your roth to get some compounding interest on it plus the other advantages but because you’re in forbearance I would focus on the loans.

      1. BRR

        fposte reminded me, if you have an employer plan with a match, definitely contribute enough to get the full match.

        1. T3k

          My past employer did have a matching for every dollar, but my current one doesn’t.

          Sounds like everyone is saying to stop contributing to the Roth until the loans are paid off so I guess I’ll just let it gain interest on the little that’s in it and focus on my loans, thanks everyone for the advice.

  59. Menacia

    I think it’s probably better to focus on your debt before putting money into a Roth. I am hoping you also have some type of savings that you can access when needed, as opposed to tied up in a retirement account? You are still very young and have years to build up your retirement, especially if you can find a job that offers a matching 401K. I did not start doing Roths until I had my debts under control, and was putting the max into my 401K, a Roth is more or less the next step after those two…

    …a good website to use for this type of info. (and lots more) is clarkhoward.com.

    1. fposte

      The advantage of the Roth over the traditional is that you can take your contributions back out of the Roth without penalty at any time–you just can’t take the growth out. It’s therefore a popular way to develop an emergency fund, especially if you’re not usually inclined toward emergencies (IOW, don’t have a house or kids, or have a second income in the household, etc.).

      Agreed that in general the rule of thumb is 401k/403b/whatever to the level of the match, then the IRA.

  60. AcidMeFlux

    Double check everything. I once worked as a secretary in a cardiologist’s practice. I got a call one day from a hospital where he worked a few days a week. The secretary there said, “Tell Dr. E. we’re confirming the procedure for tomorrow.” Okay, and I told the doc that his catheterization was confirmed. The next day when I arrived at work he called me into his office and said, “You told me a secretary from Hospital X confirmed that cath, but it seems neither of you confirmed the time. They mistakenly had it down for 8; but I had asked for it as 3.So at 8 am, the patient was prepped and ready on the table, and I wasn’t there. Your carelessness caused a human being needless anxiety and physical discomfort”. Agggggghhhh. It was the other office’s fault, but I was just as complicit for not checking the time. I am now very careful with things like that. (And grateful to Doc E. for not firing me.)

    1. CIVICSGRATE

      This is just me being philosophical about it, but – this sounds like the kind of mistake that someone might make once, learn from it, and never do it again. If I were the patient, I might well be annoyed, but also I think I would pretty easily forgive the mistake if I knew it was a one-time “learning experience” kind of mistake.

      (Note: I probably would *not* be so forgiving if the mistake involved, say, amputating the wrong limb).

    2. PissedAtDrsStaff

      That sounds very typical for my area. I keep hearing from friends how incompetent their doctors’ office staffs are, ie, records not being sent to other doctors, wrong information being entered on records, insurance questions being answered wrong, and on and on.