weekend free-for-all – September 19-20, 2015

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: Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today, which will teach you to drink and indulge in home remedies at the same time. Divided into chapters like Digestives and Other Curatives, Winter Warmers, Painkilling Libations, and Mood Enhancers, its drinks include delicious things like a rhubarb slushy, peppery fennel fizz, “corpse reviver,” and herbal sleep punch.

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

{ 785 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

    I need advice on buying a car! :D

    I recently got offered a job, and my living and financial situation is one which finally allows me to afford a car (and I am now living in Sprawling Southern City instead of Urban Metropolis, meaning cars are necessary to go anywhere. There are basically no busses or subways). I’m going to some dealerships today to do test drives and I’m not planning on buying today at all, so what are some things I should research or tips I should know before I commit? What did you wish you knew the first time you bought a car?

    Also, any recommendations on manufacturers? I’m looking for something small, reliable, with good gas mileage. If I were made of money I would want a Tesla, but I am not. :P I am, however, seriously looking at a Mini, because they are adorable and I love them. But if I can’t find one within my price range, of course I’ll get something else. I don’t really care so much what, though.

    Oh, and I’m looking to get a used car, not a new one.

    1. acmx*

      Mini Coopers are made by BMW and can be pricey to repair. Also, I’m pretty sure they require premium gas.

      I’d like a Tesla, too :)

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, the requirement for mid-grade fuel steered me toward a Golf instead of a GTI. Well that plus the turbocharger (I just saw extra maintenance down the line) and higher insurance costs (my insurance viewed it as a sports car).

        It would have been fun to drive, though.

        1. I'm all out of bubblegum*

          Smart thinking on your part. I’ve had a car with a turbocharger – it was more annoying than fun. And my current ride takes only Premium fuel – not fun.

          Also, as a BMW owner – I would not recommend BMW to anyone.

          1. Stephanie*

            Smart thinking on your part. I’ve had a car with a turbocharger – it was more annoying than fun. And my current ride takes only Premium fuel – not fun.

            Ha, my friend had some Kia sedan (the specific model escapes me). She was driving and stops by the gas station. I see she’s filling up with 89 octane.

            “You have to put at least mid-grade fuel in that?”
            “Yes. This nondescript soccer mom car has expensive tastes.”

          2. MJ*

            Oh no… why not? I was considering a BMW X6 (Used) bit I really want a Range Rover HSE. I have a Lexus IS now…

        1. Mike C.*

          This is one thing that steered me away from them, after realizing I would be paying a “BMW tax” for parts and repairs. I really liked that funny shaped coupe though.

    2. Stephanie*

      So one thing with the Mini: I drive a slightly bigger car (a Golf). This could be because I’m in the land of Lifted Trucks, minivans, and SUVs, but I’m constantly dwarfed by other cars and trucks and sometimes have limited visibility. It’s not a huge problem, just an annoyance. At the dealer, I would see if you can test drive the car on the highway.

      Also, if you work for a large employer, you may have some corporate discounts. (Mine does at least.)

    3. Come On Eileen*

      My sister just bought a Honda Fit and she LOVES it. Really good gas mileage, small but surprising amount of storage space. To me they’re not the sexiest cars out there, but they fit the bill for inexpensive and reliable.

      Another solid option would be a used Prius.

      1. Cruciatus*

        There’s a new faculty member where I work who needed to buy a car for the first time and also bought a Fit. He seems to really love it. At my old job I had a coworker who drove a MINI but she had to drive 2 hours to another city any time it needed routine maintenance. And it seemed like she went a lot. It didn’t seem to bother her but I sure as hell am not willing to drive 4 hours total for my car.

        In my personal experience, some of the best used cars come from Toyota, Subaru, and Honda. (This is obviously not a complete list! But I know people who have purchased used in these brands and there were no major problems).

      2. Victoria, Please*

        I have a Fit as well, and the gas mileage is actually not as good as I would expect from such a tiny tin can. But I love the flexible seats that let me move a lot of stuff.

      3. Natalie*

        I’ve driven a bunch of different Fits through my car share and I agree. They’re great little cars, and from what I understand Hondas are not expensive to repair.

      4. SystemsLady*

        +1 to Honda in general. Love our CR-V, brother has a Fit, and in college I drove a 2000 Civic that still ran perfectly at over 100k miles.

        1. LAMM*

          Yes. I have an ’09 Honda with 125k on it. I’ve done the basics (oil changes, brakes, batteries, etc) and the only thing I’ve had to replace so far was the starter. When it’s time to replace this one, it’s going to be with another Honda.

      5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Loved, loved, LOVED my Fit. Cheap, reliable, good on mileage, fit an IMMENSE amount of crap, all-around fun cars. The downside would be a somewhat noisy ride and a bit stiff (but mine was a 2012, they may have made some changes for the new models). Now I have a CR-V, still love it.

    4. Noah*

      Places like CarMax are great because they have a wide variety of cars you can test drive and they don’t play the “lets make a deal game” quite as much. I like to test drive anything I would consider buying. When I bought my Mazda 3, I test drove a 2, 3, 6, and CX-5. I also drove a Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla to compare before finally deciding on the Mazda 3.

      The best advice I can give if you go to a traditional dealership is be willing to walk away. Also, I would see if you can get financing from a local credit union lined up before you go to the dealership. Mine will give me a cashiers check that says something like “valid up to $35,000.00” and then you fill in the actual price you agree to and give it to the dealer like you’re a cash customer.

      Also, make sure you set aside plenty of time. The process always seems to take way longer than necessary as they run you through the various people and departments and sign all the paperwork.

      1. BRR*

        All great advice.

        Be willing to walk away and ask you bank about financing. Don’t settle for a dealership’s financing. Also you shouldn’t finance a car for more than three years, if you need a longer loan it’s probably too expensive.

        Also minis sadly have poor maintenance records. I love the new 4 door mini cooper but when I buy I don’t want to spend a fortune on my car.

        1. Buggy Crispino*

          I agree, but would add one thing. Pre-approved loans from an independent source can be great, but be open to dealership financing. Some makes offer discounts and rebates only if you use the manufacturer’s financing (this happened with my Ford, I got $5,000 in rebates using Ford Motor Credit that I would not have gotten using my credit union pre-approved loan).

    5. acmx*

      I know someone with a Kia Soul. It’s small but roomy enough inside. It’s really popular in my area (he moved here with it. Guess it wasn’t as common up north; part of the appeal for him).

      (I can’t help with personal rec as I drive an SUV)

    6. Liz in a Library*

      I no longer have it, but my favorite car I’ve ever owned was a Toyota Prius. I got great gas mileage, zero maintenance issues (literally just oil changes, light bulbs, and a wiper blade in the 140k miles I had it). I got rid of it because my husband and I decided to share a car, but we’ve already decided when it’s time to replace this one, we are going back to Toyota.

      I convinced my mom to get a Yaris a few years back, and she’s also loved that car.

      1. TL -*

        I know I said I loved my yaris upthread but I do want to mention that it’s over 112,000 miles and no maintenance/repairs beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations

        1. blackcat*

          My old camry was at like 200,000 miles with no issues when it met its untimely demise in a wreck. I did a couple of cable/tube replacements, but those were all things rated to 150k miles anyways. The biggest thing I ever had to replace was a weird part of the passenger door lock. So yeah, besides the major recall issues of late, Toyota makes cars that can run forever with few issues until they have some epic failure around 250,000 miles. I’ve always gotten their bigger sedans, but they do make cute small cars. I regularly get compact Toyotas for rentals (Yaris or Carolla), and they seem to do well on mileage. I have a camry hybrid now which gets great milage (average ~45 mpg) and handles snow/ice much better (battery sits over the back axle balancing the weight of the car well), but it sounds like you want something smaller (and the snow/ice isn’t a factor in the south).

        2. Liz in a Library*

          Yep, mom’s Yaris was over 100k miles when she bought it and checked out great with her mechanic!

        3. Natalie*

          My best friend is on her third Corolla – the first one she got in its middle age and ran into the ground, and she drove the second one for a decade and probably at least 100K. This third one is her first new car but it seems to be as reliable as the first two.

      2. Otter box*

        I have a 2009 Yaris 3-door hatchback and I love it – about 55k miles and absolutely no unexpected maintenance issues, knock on wood. I would recommend looking at a manual transmission (which I have), as the car is a bit underpowered and I like being able to control when it shifts and give it some extra power on freeway on-ramps. My Yaris is a little bit dinged up from 6 years of road debris and idiots who keep scraping up my bumper trying to park behind me, and that’s gonna knock quite a bit off the price if I were to sell. I bet you can find a similar one in the $6-8k range (maybe a little higher at dealers), and it’s a great car to own for a long time. Maintenance costs are low, gas mileage is great (I am currently getting about 25 mpg driving almost exclusively in stop-and-go traffic under 25 mph, but I get about 42 on the highway and 30 with more normal city driving), and it’s actually a lot more spacious than it looks. I call it the Tardis because it’s blue and it’s bigger on the inside.

        Basically, the Yaris is a great car and worth test driving. Good luck!

      3. Clever Name*

        I’ve had my Prius for 10 years and I lurve it! I plan to get another Prius when it poops out eventually. Mine has 125k miles on it. Insane gas mileage. I can’t ever go back to a non-hybrid.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      My spouse and I recently got a used car (first car purchase), and we are very glad we didn’t set foot once in a dealership. We used our credit union, which had some arrangement with a car buying service (at no additional cost to us). We just did our own research and gave specifications on what car we wanted and a price range, and then they got us that used one. Because the gas mileage was good, the credit union also gave us a much lower interest rate (1.7%).

      We ended up getting a Hyundai Elantra. Great gas mileage. Very smooth. Not too expensive. Unfortunately, not exactly petite either… but it’ll squeeze into a “compact” space still.

    8. Marcela*

      I bought a car about 6 months ago. I wanted a small one, so a mini was inside the possible list. But when my husband, who is a car aficionado, started looking in detail about it, he discovered they are horrible cars, very prone to mechanical and electric defects, with very expensive parts. He found one rating, or website, I’ll ask him later so you can see it too, where cars are rated between 0 and 100. He told me a good car is 100, a decent car is about 70, a bad car is 30, and the mini was 2. So, no mini for me. I’ll post the link in another comment.

      He was looking for Japanese cars. His main preference was a Subaru. They are economical, cheap parts, with a simpler design, easier to fix. At the end I got a Pontiac Vibe, but it’s a funny one, since internally it is a Toyota, with the same motor as my husband’s Toyota MR2 Spyder. In any case, I know he would say never buy an American or European car, so I could not have a Peugeot (although they are not common in the US) or a cute Fiat. Well, this sounds weird even to me, as if I was saying I need his permission to get a car =^.^= It’s not. I trust his knowledge about cars, because he loves them.

        1. GH in SoCAl*

          This site is amazing!

          I recently bought a used Lexus IS C and I’m glad to see it’s on the higher end of the reliability scale.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Not as far as I know of. I’m from 100-Inches-of-Snow-in-30-Days-Wtf Northern City, and we are considering moving back up there in two or three years (or later, but not sooner). But down here, to the best of my knowledge, there’s just heat in the summer and sometimes a little bit of snow/ice in the winter. And I guess every so often hurricanes might hit.

    9. Alicia*

      I have a 2007 VW Rabbit (gas engine, not diesel). Doesn’t exist anymore, but a golf/GTI would be comparable. I like it. It’s a peppy little car but still spacious. Love the hatchback option for bigger items. Repairs can be somewhat costly when they do happen, but I’ve never had anything aside from regular maintenance (oil changes, filters, brakes, etc) so it’s not too bad.

    10. Cath in Canada*

      I hear ya on the Tesla! But there are some (relatively) cheaper electric options too. We got a slightly used Chevy Volt (plug-in hybrid) a couple of years ago and love it – if most of your driving is in the city, you can run it 100% on the battery for the vast majority of the time. We only ever use petrol on long trips out of town. We also test-drove the Nissan Leaf (fully electric, not a long enough range for visits to relatives) and the Ford plug-in hybrid (forget the name – it was decent and about the same price as the Volt, but we both slightly preferred the Volt).

      1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

        The nice thing about the Tesla that there is very little upkeep expenses. We test drove one and all I could do was say “Wow” the whole time. I figure by the time they come out with a lower price point model, I will have saved enough for a down payment.

    11. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

      There’s a lot of choices in the $5-6,000 range which doesn’t need you to take a loan out. I picked up a 2004 Honda Civic LX from my car mechanic that is going good. Your best bet is to find a really, really good car mechanic by word of mouth and see if they have a car or two to sell. The other thing is to have a budget for car repairs – at least $1,000 a year. My last car was a 89 Chevy (bought new) that I ran into the ground and donated to NPR via Car Talk at the end. My rule of thumb for the Chevy was as long as I didn’t go over $2,000 a year in repairs, it was cheaper to keep it. I averaged a $1,000 every other year for a long time and it came down to some major repairs and $ at the end to pull the plug in 2012. Good luck!

        1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

          Just because it’s budgeted doesn’t mean it will get used…brakes front and back can get pricey if you have to replace the rotors in addition to the brake pads. And like I said, it was $1,000 every other year, not each year.

    12. littlemoose*

      I adore my 2013 Nissan Sentra. Great gas mileage (30/39, I get about 32/33 doing mostly city driving), nice features for the price, and very spacious despite being a compact car. Huge trunk and a backseat that actually fits adults. My first car was also a Nissan and was 100% dependable, never any mechanical problems.

    13. NDQ*

      Buy only what you can afford to pay with cash.

      Talk with your insurance agent about rates on different models.

      Look at mpg for city driving and make sure the car will be affordable.


      1. Lizh*

        Be careful on used Toyotas. Some model years are having issues with excess oil consumption, and Toyota knew about the defect and sold them anyhow.
        Google Toyota excess oil consumption for the model years involved. They don’t have to do a recall, since it is not considered a safety issue.
        I would say go for a used Honda. As someone else advised, have a mechanic check out the vehicle. Check Carfax also. I have never used CarMax, but hear they are pretty good.

      2. Mike C.*

        What’s with the cash only thing? Many banks/credit unions offer near 0% loans (or 0%) with no early payment penalties and it’s a great way to build credit.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Thank you! :D I was inspired by the funny names google gives when people not in your contacts list are viewing a document. Anonymous, but still memorable.

    14. Audiophile*

      Both times I bought a car, I used cars.com and edmunds.com, important numbers: inventory vs MSRP. I also went to each car manufacturer website and had quotes sent from nearby dealerships. This is really where those numbers became invaluable. I financed both times through the respective dealerships, and the second time around I actually got offered the advertised rate at the time. I currently have a Hyundai Elantra GT, first car was a Nissan Versa.

      1. Natasha*

        Audiophile, I just bought a Hyundai Elantra myself (the Touring model), and I love it. My parents had an Elantra when I was younger, and I remembered it being good quality. Hyundai, like Mitsubishi, offers a great deal because they don’t have the same reputation as other Asian cars, but have great quality and warranties to make up for it.

        1. Audiophile*

          Natasha, Hyundai has gotten much better since the 90s. They used to be pretty notorious. I bought mine because I really wanted a car that offered in-dash Sirius radio without having to get Nav and I wanted a push-button start. If one of the Honda or Subaru models had offered it, I would have bought that.

    15. Mike C.*

      Consider using a car buying service, such as through Costco. Also look into discount programs with your new employer or other large organizations you happen to be a member of. Either way you can avoid a lot of the haggling BS and save money at the same time. I was able to buy my Subaru BRZ at dealer invoice while it was still really new and harder to find this way. Saved several grand over the local price at the time.

      Also, a BRZ/FR-S is an amazing daily driver, holds plenty and is an amazing value for the price. And holy crap is it fun to drive!

      1. littlemoose*

        I want one of those!! I didn’t buy one when I needed a new car because I needed a practical sedan, but man, sometimes I wish I’d been impractical.

      2. Natalie*

        I didn’t know Costco had a car buying service… this is relevant to my interests. Have you used it? What did you think?

          1. LCL*

            My experience with Costco car service sucked. The dealer they recommended didn’t listen to me, tried to sell me a type of car that wasn’t what I wanted, and took us on a test drive in a car that was out of gas, and when I pointed it out blew me off. I eventually, wth the help of car fax, found what I wanted.
            I would say, don’t be too hung up on ‘must have a Japanese car’. The cheap ones aren’t all that, and cars these days have parts and sub assemblies from all over. I bought one American badge car, that had a Japanese engine, and was assembled in Canada.
            And every Toyota I have ever driven has just felt horrible to drive, poor fit, they feel cheap and plastics. At work I can drive a Prius but never do because I hate that car.

    16. Anon Accountant*

      I love my Honda Civic. 35 mpg highway and 30 in the country roads. Parts aren’t super expensive and are typical cost of other cars. Had it 9 years, 100,000 miles and it’s going strong.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        My partner has a Civic, and most of the time when I drive it it’s pretty all right… but then I want to make a turn at a specific intersection and that front right bar gets all blind spot up in my vision. It’s so infuriating whenever I have to deal with it, but the rest of the time I have no troubles with it.

        1. Natalie*

          That is an annoying thing about cars I noticed when test driving. Some of them just have odd window layouts that don’t work!

        2. Anx*

          Are you me!? I drive my partners Civic. I’ve never had a car of my own, but drove a few SUVs with boxier front side windows. I have issues with spatial awareness and have to triple check the lanes I’m moving into and I swear it’s worse in the Civic than any other car I’ve driven.

          I’ve also noticed than the angles of the windshield make it more difficult to see out of (again, maybe I’m just used to SUVs).

    17. StillHealing*

      Honda FIT. Good city gas mileage (22-24/mpg typically for me) Can be up to 40 mpg on interstate.
      Very low maintenance. Mine is a 2012.

      1. A grad student*

        I commented already below but I’ll second this- I bought a 2007 with 100k miles on it a year ago and have had no problems at all thus far. Usually get 25 mpg city, 40 mpg highway. They’re great!

    18. yahoo*

      Consumer Reports has some magazine like books on car buying. They take all their car reviews and bind them into a single publication. They rate used cars in it as well. I have seen it for sale at Walmart and larger grocery store magazine displays. If you can’t find it then your local public library will most likely have their April car issue which is also pretty good. You can photocopy whichever pages you want out of it.

    19. Menacia*

      You really can’t go wrong with Toyotas or Hondas, I don’t know where you live but will you need AWD or can you get away with FWD? I had great success with my two Toyota Matrixes, hubby is still driving my 2010 Matrix. 2013 was the last year they made the Matrix so you may be able to find a used one. Try to stay as logical as possible when going to dealerships, remember, it’s a CAR, so don’t get emotional about it (don’t name it Brad) and you’ll do fine. ;)

      1. Marcela*

        Oh, I loved the Matrix. It was a great looking car, lots of space, great visibility. But when we found one, it had been in a serious accident and one door had to be replaced, so my husband was worried about the actual protection an already damaged car “body”? (Sorry, don’t know yet the right name for it) would give in a new accident. I asked him if he was expecting me to be such a bad driver, hahaha =^.^=

    20. Jenniy*

      I have a chevy sonic. Similar size to the HOnda fit but has a sedan or hatch option, average 37 miles to the gallon (real life mix of highway and city driving), costs me around 20-25$ to fill from empty. Chevy has a 100 powertrain warranty, there is an option for a stock turbocharger (which is quite nice), all for around $20k including taxes tags etc.
      Also remember than any price you see may not include those numbers! The sticker price was 12750 for ours, but by the time we were done it was 19500.
      Also, like someone else said, check if your employer or career gets you discounts -chevy has a few, but your employer may have deals if they are a large employer (think school system or like I work at a shipyard)

    21. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

      Didn’t end up test driving today, because the person who was going to go with me hurt himself and wasn’t up to it. Instead, we spent the afternoon doing research and looking at what’s available nearby, and we’ll go out tomorrow for actual driving.

      Tentatively, I’m considering three options. 1, because my budget has some flexibility and I have some spare money tucked away in case of maintenance woes, go for a MINI. They’re cute enough I’m actually willing to go a little more high-maintenance just for the squee factor; 2, find a different model that I like and am going to be happy with for its reasonable lifetime that will cost less and/or need less maintenance than a Mini will; or 3, get something cheap that’ll last me a couple of years and get a mini when it falls apart or whatever (or get a Tesla then, if they end up coming out with their more affordable line and I’m in a place where it’s financially possible). There are upsides and downsides to each option, I think, and I won’t really be able to make a decision about which path to pursue before test driving a bunch of options – who knows, I might hate driving a mini, or fall completely in love with something I never really considered!

      And tomorrow is definitively NOT a purchasing day, since I need to talk to my credit union about loan rates and otherwise figure out the financing plan. So I’ll be able to walk away at any point and do proper research on whatever models stand out after driving them, and (hopefully!) won’t get end up getting pressured into a higher price than I should pay.

      I get the impression that most small car drivers worry about internal space, but that’s something I don’t really care so much about. Now, that might be a function of never having owned a car before, and it might turn out that space matters more than I thought it would. But my ex had a mini (and we had no other car) and we never had space issues with it (and few mechanical issues either, anecdatally), and my partner’s Civic should be plenty roomy if we need to make a big Costco run or something, and has worked great for that in the past. But maybe space matters more than I think it will, and I’m missing something? Hard to say. Anyone end up caring less/more about internal space than they thought they would?

      I’ll definitely try to find out if my new job offers anything related to cars; that’s a great tip. It’s a national telecom, so certainly big enough that it might, but I have no idea. I also have to give a huge thank you to Alison, because her interview tips definitely helped me clinch the offer! I’ve been looking since I moved down here in June, so wicked excited to get back to work.

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        We have a Mini,and yes, it was a little more expensive than some of the others we looked at, but I don’t think it’s had any more problems than most other vehicles. We take our car back to the dealership for servicing which costs a little more, but they treat us like gold there. Also, if you have to spend a lot of time in your car, it may as well be an enjoyable experience.

    22. Observer*

      I have not read any of the responses yet, so I’ll probably overlap.

      Decide up front whether you want to keep the car as long as possible, or you are going to want to replace it after a couple of years. If the former, ignore the issue of resale value. By the time you decide to get rid of it, it’s a moot, if you got a good car. And if the car is not a good buy, the resale value won’t help you much. Also, a few dollars up front, if you can manage it, can wind up saving you a LOT of money over time, if you keep the car for the long term

      And example of what I mean: Our last car totally broke down on us at the end of the 5th year we had it. We also spent a fair amount of money in that last year on repairs. It’s probably a good thing that it’s last breakdown was fairly catastrophic, or we probably would have kept it another year and poured way too much money into it. We replaced with a car that was significantly more expensive – not more luxurious, and possibly a few less features, but better quality and much better gas mileage. 10 years later, the thing runs well and rarely needs repairs. And it’s still pretty competitive in gas mileage with other newer cars. Being able to essentially skip a car replacement essentially saved us the cost of a new car, and that’s not pocket change.

      The gas mileage also wound up saving us a lot of money. If you are driving a lot, gas mileage can make a huge difference in how much it’s going to cost to run the car. In our case, the difference in mileage between the cheaper car and more expensive one was saved us enough money that it paid for the difference in cost (not just price, but extra interest on the car loan) between the two cars. And, since it’s still within 1-2 mpg with cars in its class, we continue to save in that department

      The other thing that saved us money is repair costs. We’ve just had very little in this category. It’s a well built car, and we have had very few maintenance expenses, besides the routine stuff. And because it’s also a fairly common car it’s easy to find places that can deal with it, and we are not stuck with ONE place that can do anything with it.

    23. Observer*

      I missed the used car thing in my response:

      Getting something coming off lease can get you a good buy. These cars are not too old and are often in reasonably good condition. Make sure you get the car checked by a mechanic YOU hire before you sign. Also, check the car’s history to make sure there are not gotchas like flooding.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        Those are great tips!

        For getting something checked out by a mechanic, do they come with you to the lot? Or do you drive the car off to them and then bring it back after they’ve checked it out?

        1. Observer*

          The first one was checked after we bought it. It wasn’t too bad, but not a great deal. The second time, we actually took the guy with us, and it turned out to be a very good deal. Was going great till it got totaled in an accident.

    24. skyline*

      Hard to go wrong with a Toyota, Honda, or certain Mazdas and Subarus. Something like a Ford Focus would probably be good, too. I have an old Corolla–bought it certified used with 63K miles and it’s going strong at 130K. Much as I am tempted by getting something newer, I plan to drive this into the ground. Not having a car payment is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

      (Two of my siblings owned Minis when they were single. Both found the Minis expensive to maintain, and they both ditched them when their life situations changed.)

      1. Evie*

        Beware VW golfs. There’s a problem with the gear box across some models which causes them to loose power while you’re driving (like going along the highway at speed then suddenly loosing 10-20/kmph), and if you have to replace it it can be expensive. My boss had the issue happen with hers in the last year and it was a major hassle – even though the car was under warranty. The dealership didn’t want to spend a lot o money to fix it but it was still in the shop a lot so she had problems getting to work for weeks. She got rid of it in the end.

        1. Stephanie*

          I have a ’12 Golf. It’s got about 72k miles on it and I haven’t had any major repairs…yet. That being said, VWs are weird. The ’07 Golf can be a lemon, while the ’11 Golf can be great. If you do look at a VW, be sure to check out the ratings for that particular year.

    25. Ann Furthermore*

      I had a Ford Escape as a rental about a month ago, and I really liked it, much more than I thought I would. Plus it got pretty good mileage too. We will be buying a new car sometime next year, and this one will be on the list. I also liked it because it has plenty of headroom, so if you’re tall, that’s important. I’m pretty tall, but my husband is 6’5. When he drives my Envoy he has to put the seat waaaaaay back. That can’t be comfortable.

    26. RG*

      I actually traded in my beloved Toyota Matrix for a RAV4 a couple of weeks ago. Two things to consider. Depending on which sprawling southern city you live in, (though I have a hunch or two) heavy rainfall can lead to flooding pretty quickly. It’s not a cure-all, but a car that sits higher up helps. Secondly – everyone in my city drives like an a**hole and does crazy stuff. A car that sits high up, even if it’s not that big, is much more noticeable. Again, not a cure-all, but it’s harder to miss me when you’re switching lanes.

      1. acmx*

        “Secondly – everyone in my city drives like an a**hole and does crazy stuff. ”

        I think we live in the same area. Ha!

    27. SevenSixOne*

      Research the dealership! I didn’t realize one dealership had a reputation for high-pressure sales, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have test driven anything there if I’d known they’d call me every day for more than a month afterward.

      1. littlemoose*

        Great point. One Honda dealership I went to was terrible – pushy and disorganized – and another I went to was terrific. I wound up not purchasing a Honda, but I would have been happy to do business with the second dealership.

    28. Dang*

      I had a lot of time to think about what I wanted, so by the time I went to the dealers, I only had to go to two. I also bought a dealer car, which a lot of people warn against, but I’ve had no problems and got it newer and with way lower mileage that I wouldn have otherwise.

    29. Lindsay J*

      I recently brought a new (to me) car. My car got major damage that wasn’t covered by my insurance (because I wasn’t carrying comprehensive or collision).

      I wound up getting a Hyundai Elantra GT from Enterprise car sales.

      I knew I wanted a small hatchback, and when I took my old car to the mechanic to see how much it would cost to get fixed and see if it was even worth repairing, the guy I was talking to there specifically pointed out the Elantra GT as something that was cute, fun to drive, reliable, and inexpensive to maintain and repair.

      My grandfather also favors Hyundais and Kias due to their warranty and build quality.

      I looked around at a few different dealerships in my area. I searched the inventories online to see who had the Elantra GT or similar cars in stock. A coworker of mine had liked using Enterprise and my dad had recently purchased a car from Enterprise as well.

      I was a little hesitant about purchasing a car that was previously a rental car – the stereotype is that people don’t take care of the cars/drive them like assholes because they don’t own them. However, the good experiences people I know had with their purchases during and after the buying process, and some internet research that basically said that the trade-off with a rental car is that it has likely been serviced more frequently than it would have been by a private owner sold me.

      That and they were selling a car a model year newer (2014 vs 2013) that had less miles (32,000 vs 36,000) for cheaper than another local dealership.

      The no-haggle pricing drew me in as well. This was the first car I was buying by myself (my dad came with me when I purchased my last car) and so while I think I could have held my own in negotiating I didn’t really want to deal with the whole song and dance.

      I set up an appointment over the phone. Showed up. They ran my credit for a preapproval first since I had some hesitations about being able to finance the car as I’ve had some credit difficulties. Then they took me out and let me test drive it. I liked it, so I called a friend of mine who knows about cars to come drive it with me as well so he did, and we stopped in a parking lot and he looked under the hood and stuff to make sure he didn’t see anything amiss.

      We brought it back and then went in to talk numbers. We went over the basics as far as how much I wanted to pay a month, etc. I had a trade in, and they looked at it and gave me a number on that.

      At that point, I wanted to take some time to think before we made a decision, so I asked if we could take my car to CarMax to see what they would appraise it as. (CarMax will buy your car and give you a check for it even if you’re not trading in). So we did that. CarMax didn’t have my Elantra GT, but they had a Ford Focus hatchback that I test drove while we waited for the appraisal.

      I didn’t like the Focus as much and they way lowballed me on the trade in (offered me $500 for it vs the $1500 Enterprise was offering) so we went and grabbed lunch, I took time to think everything over and make sure it was really what I wanted to do, and then went back to Enterprise.

      Since we left, my sales person was with another customer so we had to sit around and wait until she was done to complete the sale.

      Then she gathered the rest of the information she needed for financing.

      Then they tried to upsell me an extended warranty and a bunch of other crap. If I had taken all of it it would have cost a ton of money and none of it was really necessary. I was able to buy just gap insurance by itself (if I total the car relatively soon after I buy it when I’m still underwater on the financing, it covers the difference between the value of the car and the amount I owe on it. It is like $12 a month or something, and I can cancel at any time and so I will cancel once I am no longer underwater on it.)

      We finalized everything. I signed the paperwork on it. I signed my old car over to them. They took my new car back and cleaned it up a little bit. They took my picture in front of the dealership with the new car. I moved my stuff from my old car to my new car and gave them the keys, and I drove off in my new car. It probably took 5 hours total, and would have taken less time had I not stopped in the middle to go to CarMax and grab lunch.

    30. Lissajous*

      Used car? Spreadsheet!

      I recently bought myself a new used car, and admittedly I’m an engineer, so of course I put all my parameters into a spreadsheet. First I figured out which models I was interested in (for me: Mazda3, Mazda 6, VW Golf, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Aurion, Subaru Impreza).

      Then I went online (for us it’s Gumtree – dealers and private post there) and started getting data. I knew I wanted to trade in my old car, so that restricted it to dealer. Then for each model I was interested in I set the filters to <100k km, and then put in the data. The data columns I put in were make, model, year, km, age (calculated), km/year (calculated – this gives you an idea of how the car's been used), and price. Once I'd finished data entry for a model, I put a filter on the header row and sorted the model by year. Then I colour coded the km, km/year, and price columns, red to blue for high to low (bad to good).
      So then within each model, I had a quick visual: the further down the list I go, the newer the car is, and if it's blue in all three columns that's a car I want to look into.

      I also put all the data for every model together in one group and did the same thing, which is a good thing to do if you genuinely don't have much preference out of the models you're looking at. And I also graphed price against km for each model to see how they degrade over time, but that was more for interest's sake. (For those who are wondering, Aurions and Mazda 6s lose value a lot faster than their smaller counterparts, the Corollas and Mazda 3s. Apparently the smaller ones are considered great first cars over here.)

      What I ended up with: a 2010 Mazda 3 with 40k km on the clock (10k/year is low, 15k average, 20k a lot here – and we're a city that takes a fair bit of driving), at a price similar to another one offer that had 70k km on the clock. Mine was at a Subaru dealership, and they didn't really want a Mazda hanging around.

      Yes, all of that took a while, and yes, it was super annoying to have to manually enter everything. (Why can't Gumtree just have an option to export the results as a CSV file?) But it meant I knew exactly where the cars I looked at fell in the price curve, and it meant that I only looked at cars that I already knew were a good option, unless I spotted a significant issue while looking at them.

      Obviously you need to check the car once you've picked the ones that are worth looking at, which if you don't much is where a car handy friend can be good. But remember: it's you buying the car. Other people can offer advice, but it's your decision, and you wear the consequences. Do not underestimate the increase in cost a fancier car has for maintenance, not just parts, but labour if the set-up's weird and also time just to get parts.

      And for the love of flying spaghetti monsters, don't buy a Citroën! Lovely to drive when they go properly, but so many repairs, the parts are pricey, and they're put together all complicated like which both increases labour hours and means you can't even do the basics yourself like change the oil or top up the power steering fluid. (Because it wasn't a standard power steering system, it was all pressurised and part of the overall thing and just graaargh.)

    31. ...and Vinegar*

      On the off chance that you’re still checking for comments:
      – Drive anything you’re interested in for a least half an hour, with some of that highway driving.
      New noises often show up around 20-40 minutes in. Pay attention to sight lines and how easy it is to see around the traffic on the road with you. And you want to know you’ll be comfortable driving some distance.

      – Run anything you’re seriously interested in past a trusted mechanic.

      – Get tips on what to look for under the hood (eg, what does a new car look like, and what are signs of an additional paint job) and how to see if the body parts really fit. I’ve seen some pretty interesting puzzles pieces in cars that come with a clean car fax report saying “no accidents reported.” And as a person without Y chromosomes, I was happy to get more respect in the search process when recognizing this kind of thing.

      Nissan and Ford have both changed their transmissions in the last few years. I’ve driven rentals of each that were find, and rentals that I couldn’t stand. They seem to get really mixed reviews (another reason for a longer test drive) AND some seem to work better than others.

      Consumer Reports is a good source of general information on repair history, etc.

      General expectation I’ve heard in a lot places: expect to spend 10-15% of the purchase price on repairs/upgrades in the first 6 months. I’ve done better when I include that in my price range.

      Happy Hunting.

  2. Stephanie*

    So looking into registering for a race. There’s a 5k option and a 10k option. It’s the same price for both. This is six weeks away. I’m debating which to choose.

    (1) I could do the 5k and work on improving my time.
    (2) I could challenge myself to do the 10k. This would just be me trying to finish it (and possibly walk part of it).

    Thoughts? I usually do a (slow) 2-3 mi now. I also usually walk 1-2 miles a night at work at the plant.

        1. AH*

          Agreed. See what you can do. I also run a slow mile (12 min) and was pushed to do a half-marathon by a friend. I did have more than 6 weeks to train but I did it (and 4 more after it).

    1. Connie-Lynne*

      Go for the 10K. When I ran cross-country in high school, we trained doing about 3 miles daily. Every now and then there’d be a 10K fun run. Admittedly we were all young and very fit, but occasionally doubling how far we ran (10K is about six miles) really helped us push our times and our limits, and even the most out-of-shape of us (me, for the record) could finish ahead of other people, which was a great ego-booster.

  3. Carrie in Scotland*

    Eve! :)

    Questions for Alison (as long as you don’t mind answering): Did you ever tell your masseuse/beauty therapist that you like quiet or did you just get a new one?
    Are you & your husband still looking for log cabins?

    Also, Eve!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Weirdly, I did neither, but the problem has stopped!

      The log house: We’ve stopped actively looking, because we’re coming to terms with the fact that having our perfect house in an area that we don’t particular want to live in is probably not a good idea (and they don’t put log houses in any of the places we currently want to live in). We’ve been spoiled by the amenities of D.C., I think, and aren’t sure we want to give up, for example, one-hour delivery of pretty much anything we want. So we’re in a period of confusion, and have decided to just wait until that confusion clears up, which presumably/hopefully at some point it will.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Thanks for answering! Glad that you don’t have to put up with the chatter or have to find someone else!

        As for the cabin, yeah. I do like an emergency shop (a corner shop where you can get the basics if you run out). Or you know, an emergency place to get cake or something…

  4. Come On Eileen*

    Do I need to give the ring back?

    My fiancée and I split up in January after ten years together. It was a mutual decision, we weren’t happy together for a long time. He first told me to keep the ring. (I think he was feeling very sad and guilty and under all the terrible emotions of the breakup.) A few weeks after that I texted and asked if he wanted it back. He surprised me by saying yes, but also said he was busy and maybe we should arrange a mutual friend to deliver it.

    At that point, it was really painful for me to keep contact with him so I backed away and we didn’t talk or text for many months. We’ve kept in sporadic text contact since then, but that’s about it. He hasn’t asked for it and I haven’t offered it. It’s been sitting in a ring box since January.

    I’m in the process of buying a house and could definitely use the money toward my down payment by selling it. (I’d probably get a few thousand dollars.) At the same time, that feels kind of coldhearted. I know I won’t wear it anymore. Should I make another offer to give it back? Should I assume if he really wanted it he would ask for it?

    1. Curious*

      Since the breakup was mutual, I’d mail it to him (insured mail), assuming he paid for all of it.
      Legally, I think it varies by state who has a legal right to the ring.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      All I know about this is what I saw on Judge Judy and People’s Court, but the general consensus seems to be that if he paid for the ring and you are no longer together, yes, you should give it back.

      If you both could agree to sell it and split the money (get it in writing), that’s another alternative. But if you aren’t going to do that, yes. Give it back.

        1. Come On Eileen*

          Thank you. It was brutal at first, sosososomuch crying and sadness, but I’m definitely in a better place now. And I do think it was the right decision and I’m in a good, happy place in life :)

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Yes I saw judge Jude say it’s a gift in contemplation of marriage, so should be kept by the person who paid for it.

        Giving it back seems like the right thing to do.

      2. T3k*

        Generally I’ve seen 2 scenarios regarding whether or not to give back the ring (not counting if it’s an heirloom, which is more tricky):
        1) if Partner 1 bought the ring and Partner 2 later called it off/cheated they have to give it back
        2) if Partner 1 bought the ring but later cheated/called it off, Partner 2 can keep the ring

        Of course in Eileen’s case, since it was mutual, it’d be best to give the ring back.

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      I think I would contact him one more time and say something like “I’m going to be moving, so if you want the ring back you’ll need to make arrangements to pick it up by (insert date). Otherwise it will be liquidated along with all the other stuff I don’t use to help pay for the move.”

      If he paid for the ring, it’s reasonable to want to return it. However, his being busy doesn’t obligate you to chase him down or to make the arrangements for a mutual friend to return his property. You’re offering to give it back. He can do his own logistics. If he chooses not to claim it by the date specified, you can sell it with a clear conscience.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        +1 on this. Giving the ring back is the right thing to do, but if he wants it back, you shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to get it back to him. This is giving me flashbacks to the letter about the emeritus person who had a box marked for him to sort out later…

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      IMO yes, you need to return the ring. I also kind of think you owe him an apology for sitting on it this long. You offered, he accepted and even suggested a third party to handle the transfer so as not to drag things out with scheduling challenges, and you blew it off. I actually think it’s pretty stand up not to have mentioned it again,but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want it back or isn’t upset about it. Contact the go-between, insure and mail it, something. But give it back.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        This is an interesting insight for me and I appreciate you bringing it up. I’m going to noodle on it for a bit. I wasn’t looking at his lack of mentioning the ring again as being a good-guy move, but you might’ve on to something. So thanks :)

    5. BRR*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I’m making the assumption he paid for the ring and if so you should give it back. Since it was a mutual breakup I don’t think it’s right to come out of it with thousands of dollars (unless there is any additional information such as you moved for his job and you had to quit your’s). Be proactive about it. Just ask him “Would you like me to ship it to you via insured mail or give it to a friend?” Then do it. From what it sounds like, I don’t think it’s your’s to keep.

    6. Caro*

      I think you should make a concrete offer to give it back. From what you wrote, it sounds like he accepted your first offer, suggested a method, and then you stopped contact. As for why he hasn’t followed up, he may have changed his mind, but he may also just feel uncomfortable hounding you about it.

      So I’d say something like “If you still want the ring, I can mail it next week/give it to a mutual friend/etc.” and then see what he says. I definitely would not sell it without talking to him again.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes doing the activity is easier than all the worrying/thinking that goes into which activity to do.
      I had an upsetting-to-me situation here. I had my father’s wedding ring. I forgot to have him buried with it as I had promised. What to do with the ring, yikes. Years passed and then one day I figured out what to do*, once I went through with my idea I felt SOOO MUCH better about the whole thing. Likewise for you, pick a course of action and go for it. Realize that no solution is going to be perfect, just do the best you can. And pick a solution that 20 years from now you will still say, “I did the best I could.”

      *My story does not fit your setting that well, except for the part about settling on a course of action, do that action and putting some feelings to rest. In my situation, I sold the ring, because gold was $900 an ounce and increasing daily. I got $75 for the ring- this was not about the value of the ring, but about the forgotten promise. I turned and sent a check for that amount to someone whose house had burned down. I could just see my father smiling. I was glad to have the ring gone from the house and I was glad to have found some resolution.

      1. LeRainDrop*

        That is such a good ending to your story! I was really hoping you did something kind with you money, and, sure enough, you did! Any father would be proud of that!

    8. Menacia*

      Give it back and make a clean break of it, it may take you a bit longer to get that down payment, but it will be far more satisfying.

    9. yahoo*

      This happened to me as well. He called it off a week before the wedding. I offered the ring back and he said no. I had paid for all of the expenses toward the wedding and the new house inspection and other folderol and he never chipped in a dime nor did he offer to call or notify people about the change in plans. I just let it go. I took charge and did the heavy lifting. I remain friendly to him since we still work together but it felt great to just say goodbye to the anger, sadness, and betrayal. I wish him well. It took me a while to get to that place but it is worth it in the end. Also, I think Miss Manners says you can keep the ring, but I would need to look it up to be certain.

    10. Yes*

      I’m sorry your engagement ended and hope you’re doing well, given the circumstances.

      I would give the ring back. I agree with QualityControlFreak’s suggestion of imposing a call-to-action: “Do you want X? If so, please let me know by [date]. Otherwise, I will move forward with Y.” A voicemail and email should be sufficient notice.

      Good luck.

    11. Come On Eileen*


      Thanks for all the thoughtful replies. I just texted him and said “hey, you still want this ring back right? If so can we make a plan for you or someone to come pick it up?” He texted back and said “yeah I guess we can sort that out. On a related note, I noticed you restricted me on Facebook. Did I do something?” So he mostly turned it into a conversation about why I blocked him on the book of faces. He’s big on noncommittal language like “let’s sort that out.” A little frustrated now.

      We live ten minutes from each other and occasionally run into each other at shows in town, so I think it would be weird and formal to mail it back to him. I wish he would have said concretely “yes, I’ll be by to pick it up Tuesday night.”

      I appreciate those who have said it’s an empowering decision to give it back, wipe the slate clean, and not have it hanging over my head anymore. I’ve been doing a LOT of growing and learning about myself since we broke up, so this really speaks to me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You can be the one to make a concrete plan though — or at least a proposal for one. Why not say, “I’d like to handle this in the next week if that works for you. Will Tuesday work? And if not, can you propose an alternative day?”

      2. De (Germany)*

        If you live 10 minutes away, why does he have to pick it up? Why not throw it package it and throw it into his mailbox?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. He is using this as a string to keep a connection going on. Or, he is not a strong decision maker and prefers hemming and hawing.
          A ring is small enough that you could mail it, insured, and it would not cost a ton of money.
          Or you could tell him that you are calling the mutual friend to deliver it to him. I think that it will probably be up to you to decide the course of action and put the ball in motion.

          I am shaking my head, you only asked about the ring and it became a longer discussion.
          It almost helps to solidify the idea of getting the ring back by best possible means available at the moment, doesn’t it?

          1. Dang*

            Yeah, I’m not liking how he turned the discussion into why she restricted him on FB…. Come on. He’s trying to drag it out and use it as a pawn, I think.

          2. Come On Eileen*

            I’m mulling over this option now. I’m not overly interested in seeing him face to face right now — both of us were really hoping we could be friends at some point in the future, but that point isn’t here yet and I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Mailing it feels like an easy way to wrap it up.

            1. Anna*

              At this point you don’t owe him anything other than getting the ring to him and you’re not required to make it more difficult for yourself. Why not just mail it if that’s what will make you the most comfortable?

    12. Alison Read*

      Okay, I’ll go out on the limb … Ten years! Keep the ring! He had his chance to get it back.

      I realize it’s too late now that you’ve been back in touch. I’m betting after he gets the ring you’ll hear from him again: “I’m wondering what I should do with your ring…”

    13. ...and Vinegar*

      Really glad to hear that you’re in a good and happy place now.
      I can’t comment on whether or not to give it back, but please don’t mail it. I used to do a lot of shipping; no system is perfect but this one would be messy to lose. It should go hand to hand, via intermediary or not.

  5. TheSoundkeeper*

    I would love some input from parents of tween/teen girls! My fourth grader is an assertive and confident kid who sometimes gets too “my way or the highway” with her friends. As she heads into the years when girls’ self-esteem can start to slip and it’s important to have a good set of friends to help you get through middle school with soul pretty much intact, how can we help her balance her self-confidence with the ability to compromise? (Or do we leave things alone and let her work it out? Our older daughter has a completely different set of friends in middle school than she did in elementary but went through a period of angst while things shifted, and we just didn’t know how to help.)

    1. catsAreCool*

      Maybe talking about empathy and picturing how other people are thinking? As more of useful knowledge, not something to be ashamed of not doing.

    2. Colette*

      Do you observe the behaviour or just hear about the impact? Regardless, you should ask questions. “Oh? How did Sam like doing it your way?” “What would have happened if you’d gone along with Chris’s idea?” “Did you notice how quiet Mel got? Why do you think think that was?”

    3. Please*

      You can disregard this as I’m not a parent, but I was once a tween/teen (as were you, obviously).

      IME, self-esteem comes from within, not from friends or even family. I was always a very confident kid/adult and it pushes some people away.

      But, those who do not want to be around a confident person are not people I want to be around. They want a pushover, someone they can manipulate and mistreat. Your daughter won’t stand for that? Awesome.

      My mother would always tell me to compromise with my friends. When I instead stopped caring what my friends thought of me, and did my own thing, I lost many friends but found new awesome friends that I’ve kept into adulthood.

      Self-esteem has never been a problem. I don’t compromise that for mere friendships.

      But I’m not a parent, so what do I know.

      1. Anna*

        I’m not sure her issue is the self-confidence, I think it’s more along the lines of being uncompromising. In some cases being steadfast is great. When it comes to relationships, it’s not so great all the time. I’m confident; my friends are confident, but if none of us compromised with each other we would all be very lonely people.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I think self-confidence is a great thing, and as long as it doesn’t morph into a queen bee vibe, then she should be fine. That’s what you should keep an eye on.

      My stepdaughter just turned 18 on Thursday. She’s always been a very confident person, who has never really cared what anyone else thought. When she was in 8th grade, we were driving somewhere one day, talking about this and that. The conversation turned to bullying, and I asked her if she’d ever been bullied. She said, “No, nothing like that has ever happened to me, and I don’t know why.” Then she told me that one of her best friends had been targeted by the mean girls clique at their school, and had been sending her really horrible nasty texts. My stepdaughter was with her friend when she got one of them. She grabbed her friend’s phone, called the number back, and said, “What you’re doing is illegal, and if you don’t stop right now, I’m going to call the police and turn you in!” And the texts stopped. I would never have had the balls to do that when I was that age (she was about 14).

      That confidence has carried her all the way through high school. She is a real straight arrow, and has no time for people who drink or do drugs. Friends of hers have gone down that path, and she has moved on without looking back since that is not something she wants to be around. She’s such a strong and confident person. I was nowhere near as self-assured as she is when I was in high school. I really admire her.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        I am Super Impressed with your stepdaughter! Gutsy, and a good friend to boot!

        I had zero self confidence for most of my life, so Parents, anything you can do to help your kids grow in confidence and remain caring individuals will pay off.

    5. I'm all out of bubblegum*

      Do you read to her / with her? We did that all the time with the kids when they were young. I don’t have any specific books in mind that relate to self-confidence / compromise, but I’m fairly sure it wouldn’t be hard to find any number of books that push whatever message you want.

      Anyway, the point is that reading with your child is a pretty good way to pass along the messages and values you feel are important.

    6. MomIsThatYou??*

      Kidding. But seriously, this was me at that age, and in a way still is. I would look at it not so much as “my daughter is alienating her friends” and more of the “my daughter doesn’t need to have a million and one friends that she can’t be herself with” To this day, my 2 best friends are the ones I’ve known since 6th grade and who know that I can be bossy and stubborn and hard-headed, who I have fought with and not talked to for months at a time, but they’ve been there through it all. I say leave her alone, let it work itself out, and always be there for moral support when she does fight with the few friends she has because it’ll be extra hard.
      FYI, these two friends have only met twice – at my wedding and the birth of my daughter. They are very different from each other and don’t really get along, so it’s funny to me. But I am so happy that I have two fantastic, close, would take a bullet for you friends vs 20 hey it’s great to see you we should get coffee sometime friends.
      One more note on the personality side of things, I have done very well since pretty early on in life almost completely attributed to my not-settling, no nonsense and going after what I want personality. Sure, it has rocked some boats and caused some turmoil here and there, but all in all, it’s helpful to stick to your guns. Teach her how and when it’s appropriate vs not appropriate and you’ll be golden.

    7. AP*

      I don’t have kids, but I was a lot like your daughter when I was young, and even as a 20-something, I often have to check myself before I wreck myself. This always helped me and I still use it to slow myself down in some situations: do I want to be right, or do I want to be good with my friends?

      This thinking gives me the opportunity to decide whether the point is something I feel strongly about and is worth arguing, or whether it’s really not a big deal and I can let it go. Working through a similar line of reasoning with your daughter might help.

  6. Shell*

    Fitbit update!

    I love my Fitbit One. Thank you to everyone who recommended it to me!

    My first evening with it was spent setting it up and poking at the dashboard and help articles. Second day was very stereotypically Fitbit-y: I looked at my step count, went “I only walked 3000 steps today?!” and went out for an hour-long walk with hills until I broke 10,000. (And then I went “I only have 8 more flights of stairs to go until I reach 50 flights for the day?!” and walked up and down my stairs until I got the badge. :P)

    My Achilles tendon wasn’t terribly happy with me the next day, but boy, was I happy.

    I remain perplexed at all the reports of people’s Ones falling out of the clip; I had trouble getting it into the clip into the first place and so far it seems very secure (in fairness, I don’t run or do anything with jarring impact because I have a bad knee). In fact, I’ve taken to clipping the clip onto my short sleeve tees for sleep tracking rather than switching it into the armband every night. I’m sure my sleep tracking will be less sensitive, but I figure if I move my arms at night I’d be moving my whole arm, and clipping it on my sleeve only loses the data from if I move my arm from the elbow down. I figure I wouldn’t rotate my elbow much when I sleep, so it seems a fair compromise.

    Now I need for it to stop raining so I can go walk some more. Yay!

    1. Cruciatus*


      See! I have no idea how all those people were losing their Fitbits. Clipping it to the sleeve is a good idea at night. My wristband will last a little longer but eventually will be unusable and clipping it to a sleeve will still give me a good enough idea of my sleep. I’m mostly in it to see how long I sleep anyway, not how many times I’m restless (because I will always be restless at 4:30am thanks to a cat).

      I’ve been quite lazy today due to the rain. It’s not raining at the moment but I’m having trouble getting motivated. I actually haven’t missed my goal in months so maybe I’m due an off day…

      1. Shell*

        The One really does exactly what I want. Charge would’ve been my next pick because I want the altimeter (which Flex doesn’t have), but I tried out the armband in store and it was so finicky to secure (and there were reports of it coming loose). Charge HR is nice, but I don’t need heart rate monitoring, so the One does everything I want for cheaper than the wrist versions!

        How does the One’s arm band wear out? The velcro? The rest of it seems pretty well-built…

        1. Cruciatus*

          It’s a couple of things–somewhat the Velcro losing effectiveness, but also just the black part (mostly the side the Velcro attaches to) starts to separate. Mine is curling on the sides. I might be able to add a few stitches to stave it off for a while. It’s lasted about a year so that’s not too bad I suppose.

        2. Otter box*

          Mine wore out after I accidentally put it through the washer and dryer, but you can buy a new one online for $15. My rubber clip also broke at one point, but I was able to replace that part as well. I’m going on almost 2 years of using it every single day, so I actually think it’s held up pretty well.

    2. Rebecca*

      When my FitBit zip stops working, I think I’m going to up grade to the One. I use mine to keep track of steps for the day, and I’ve always kept my goal at 10,000 steps. Many times during the week I exceed that, and often do more than 15,000 or even 20,000 on a weekend day. 3 times I exceeded 25,000. One of those times was a bit over 28,000, but I honestly was exhausted and could not do another 2000 to hit the 30,000 step badge. Someday, I will!!

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Yay! I’ve had my One for about two years and I have had a handful of times where it kind of wiggled loose from the clip, but it was only if I clipped it to my pajama pants while I was sleeping. It’s hard for it to go to far in that case. :)

      Welcome to the Fitbit club!

      1. Shell*

        I’m trying to talk a friend into getting a Fitbit. So far she remains skeptical. :P

        Tomorrow’s weather looks equally terrible, but if it lets up any I’ve a walking route all planned out. C’mon, weather–work with me here!

  7. Carrie in Scotland*

    (I do talk about a voluntary job but it’s hopefully not too work related…)
    About six weeks ago I moved cities and last week I went for an intro session at a charity bookshop (I’d volunteered in one in my old city). This week I was supposed to start properly but I did a no show/no call because ever since I’ve moved I seem to have gone introverted/backwards in my self confidence/self esteem. I just got really panicked and turned back around and went home again :( Everything is much harder than I anticipated and well – I don’t know what to do really. I’d never dream of pulling such a stunt in my last volunteer role.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      You’re in a new place–it’s weird and freaky and scary because you don’t know stuff and people. If you still want to volunteer, you might call them and apologize and see if you still can.

      But I think maybe this happened because you weren’t quite ready yet–you don’t have the feel of the place, and that’s okay. The same thing happened to me when i moved here. I applied for a program at the zoo, had one really nice day there (cleaned up cheetah poo, fed grapes to raccoons, and gave a baby wallaby a tummy rub). But I was still reeling from a breakup and being around the animals made me really sad (my ex and I had lived on a farm).

      Give it a little time–maybe go out on some small excursions and get to know your new city. Find the shops, explore your neighborhood. :)

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        @ Elizabeth – as ever, I owe you an email!

        I’m too scared to call – I might send them an email and just postpone and say I can’t volunteer at the moment but will get back in touch when I can.

        Or just go and volunteer in another book place (but I think they share managers…)

        Volunteering at a zoo sounds amazing in general though! Not the cheetah part though – ick.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL it’s just poo. It wipes off.
          I probably would have kept doing it, but I just wasn’t ready. I never called or anything and I should have. What you said you might email sounds perfect.

          And even though you were excited to move, it’s all new and it’s okay to feel weird about it, really! Give yourself time to settle in.

    2. Myrin*

      Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that! :(

      If I remember correctly from your previous posts, you were actually quite excited to move to New City, is that correct? (I hope I’m not confusing you and another commenter!) Do you think there might be a way to get at least part of that excitement back, to find it again, so to speak? Maybe think about what made you look forward to moving there and try to find even little things you enjoy and make you happy about this new place?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        @ Myrin – no you’re not confusing commenters, that was me! :)

        Part of the lack of excitement is that various things aren’t going well; finances for example but perhaps it’ll be a bit better after payday, I could actually afford to go to a meetup group activity for instance. I do exploring when I can and have eaten quite a bit of cake in my explorations :) Thank you for your response, I’m sure if I just take time it will get better.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Watch your self-talk. I can just see me turning around and going home, too. And it all starts with what I am telling myself inside my head. The rule is “if you cannot say it to a friend you cannot tell yourself that either”. Be kind to you and yet be gently firm. Set a small goal each day, keep it doable, and make that small goal happen. Tell yourself whatever works, “I am only going to stay for 15 minutes” OR, “If I don’t like this I promise not to make myself go back” or “I get ice cream when I am done here”. Ease yourself along with kind thoughts.

    3. Eva*

      Hi Carrie, I have been following the comments here for a few weeks now and I am so happy that you managed to make the move to New City that you so wanted to make!

      My piece of advice to offer is this: It’s normal that you are finding some things harder than usual right now. You have gone through a big change that you are tackling all by yourself. That is an achievement in itself! Remember to be proud of what you have accomplished so far. Secondly, just because you have been a little more introverted or had slightly lower confidence lately, doesn’t mean that you will continue like that – it’s easy as humans to think that just because we’ve acted in a certain way that we are that way now. But that’s not true. You have stepped outside of your comfort zone before (look at what you’ve managed just moving there!), and you can do it again. Even if you are feeling shy/introverted, you can definitely manage to overcome those feelings, and go ahead with the volunteer job. (I’m a big believer in “fake it ’til you make it”)

      I would phone the bookshop and have a chat with them about starting again. You don’t have to explain the whole story to them (unless you feel they would be particularly empathetic), but there is certainly no harm in phoning them and having a chat about it. Even if they decide that they are not willing to continue with having you volunteer with them, at least you’ll have tried. And the chances are, they’ll be happy to give you another go.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Moving to a new place alone can be like suffering a shock. “Okay, where is the grocery store? I found it last week. Huh. Now I need gas for my car. Damn. Where is the gas station?” It’s exhausting and a person can end up questioning every move they make, which does nothing for the need of self-preservation that we all have.

        Carrie, make sure you get some extra rest. Even if that just means sitting and quietly reading, not necessarily sleeping/napping. Take down time when you need to.

    4. TheLazyB (UK)*

      Aww just sending along some moral support. I can’t imagine you doing this from what I know of you here so you must have felt bad to do that :(

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        @ LazyB – I do have form but it when I was much younger. I walked out of a job once – I just went for lunch and never went back! I’ve abandoned shopping in the middle of the supermarket as well…

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          I did some bloody stupid things when I was young! Also supermarkets have it coming, manipulative temples to consumerism that they are ;p

    5. Menacia*

      Hi Carrie, I too struggle with being an introvert and anxiety. I had to attend a user group meeting somewhere I had never been before, a place where parking is usually a nightmare. I looked up all different ways of getting there without my car, and at the very end, decided to put my big girl panties on and just do it. Everything turned out great when I just decided to do it, I found plenty of parking, and met some nice folks even though I had a huge zit on my chin! I literally had to pysch myself up for it and was completely drained after the fact, but it increased my self confidence tenfold. We all have bad days, perhaps you could just chalk it up to that and try again?

    6. Nicolette0223*

      The best and most exciting things lie just beyond your comfort zone. It’s all in your perspective and what you’re choosing to focus on. Right now you’re focusing on the negative things that might happen. Push those thoughts out and replace them with positive thoughts! If I make myself do this, I could meet some great new friends and won’t feel so alone in this brand new city! I’ll discover some amazing things I didn’t even know I didn’t know about along the way. I’ll have new adventures to blog about (and take pictures to post on said blog).

  8. Laura*

    I’m on exchange for a few weeks and I’m finding it a little hard to fit in. It’s a feeling I’m not unfamiliar with to be honest. I’ve never really an ‘outcast’, and I usually have people to hang out with and go out for meals etc, but I never really feel like I fit in with them.

    A lot of the time when I’m around people around my age (mid 20s-30s) the conversation always turns to the wild partying they do and the various situations they’ve turned up in. I’ve never really been a party person (tired it in uni, just didn’t enjoy it) and it’s kind of hard to relate.

    Usually I find their stories amusing, but it’s not something I feel like we can ‘bond’ over, and I’m pretty sure I come across as pretty boring. I wish I wasn’t so socially awkward.

    1. Myrin*

      Oh god, flashback to twelfth or thirteenth grade when the Twilight books were just being promoted really big (and maybe the first movie came out at the same time? Don’t remember.) and the group I usually hung out with had all just read the whole series. I had actually been interested in it way back when the second book had just been released but ultimately decided I didn’t like the premise enough to actually give it a go. Then the hype happened and I still wasn’t interested but suddenly everyone else was. All of us had a free period on Monday from 8:45 to 9:30 and we would go to a coffee shop to have a drink. And all they would to, all year long, was talk about these freaking books! I’m not exaggerating, that was literally the only topic! I grew so tired of it and also found it kind of un-nice how they didn’t even try to talk about something a bit more “inclusive”. I mean, okay, there were four of them who wanted to talk about it and one of me who didn’t/couldn’t, but still, I felt majorly left out. Add to that the fact that I was only a sidekick to the group to begin with since they technically were my best friend’s friends so we just got into contact in the first place because of her.

      Flashback end to say: I feel you. However, I’m not sad about this, to be honest. I’ve been a loner from early childhood on and I find that I quite enjoy it that way. I get along great with people in general and always come across as not socially awkward at all but I actually only have two or three people I’d call “friends” and other than that, I’m only really close to my family. Obviously I don’t know if you feel the same or if you’d rather change that situation for yourself but I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences because it’s always been really great for me to hear that other people are like me, too, and that it’s okay to be that way.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        A whole year, wow!

        A former friend of mine got really into downhill mountain biking a few years ago, and acquired a whole new group of friends who were just obsessed with the sport. It was literally all they could talk about. I’d politely go along with it for a while, asking how they got into it, where they like to ride, etc., and then start to try and change the subject, but it was impossible. For example, I mentioned a movie I’d just seen, and the very first response was “oh, that was filmed in western Alberta! I went riding around there once; great trails” and they were all off on the mountain bike talk again. Those people were part of the reason why I stopped hanging out with that friend.

    2. I'm all out of bubblegum*

      If I may offer some thoughts based on my own past life: when I was young I tended to hang out with whatever people tended to be “around”. Ie, I was free from 2pm-4pm and so were Jack and Sue and Bob. There’s nothing really wrong with this, except that I also tended to count these people as “friends”. Which wasn’t always really the wisest thing to do.

      As I got older, I started to get more selective about my friends. There’s nothing wrong with having acquaintances. But if all they do is bore the crap out of you, then a) don’t think of them as friends and b) when they begin to bore you with party stories, leave.

    3. Treena*

      I totally understand! I’m almost exactly the same way. I don’t party, and if that’s all you can talk about, I’m going to awkwardly smile and nod along. But secretly I think about how sad it is that this person can’t connect with another person except for talking about how totally wasted they were that night woah! I *hope* I come off as boring and socially awkward because in my head I’m being super judgmental and mean.

      That said, finding something to “bond” over is really tough outside organized groups (school, work) because you really do bond over stupid, insignificant things like how the coffee machine spurts to the left etc. When meeting with people outside of a “setting” I attempt to steer the conversation towards topics I enjoy (travel, nature, books etc.) and if they catch on, great. But absent that, I talk about the beverages/food we’re consuming or the decor of the restaurant or something else and hope a nonsense topic emerges from that.

  9. catsAreCool*

    I may need to switch my cell phone carrier. I’ve got a smart phone but don’t really do much with it but call and occasionally text. I keep planning to use it for more :)

    Does anyone have suggestions or warnings about cell phone carriers? This is in the USA in the Pacific Northwest.

    I’ve heard a few things about freedompop.


    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend either T-Mobile or Verizon (and, yes, I’ve had AT&T and Sprint before). Verizon just cannot be beat in terms of good coverage nationwide (including more suburban, less-urban areas), but they’re very expensive. T-Mobile I switched to a couple of years ago from Verizon, and I love it. It’s a lot cheaper, and now I get seamless extended international coverage without having to activate and deactivate international coverage or pay extra international rates. I’m mainly near urban areas, even when I travel, so this works, but if you’re off out in the remote suburbs or rural areas, probably not as much.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Verizon is pricey, but I use it for the coverage. It’s the only provider (and I’ve tried all the big ones!) that gives me equally good coverage in my home city, my parents’ place in the super-super-rural TN mountains, and my in-laws’ place in rural NC. I also never ran into coverage issues when I was traveling for work, and I was in everything from huge cities to tiny towns.

        1. katamia*

          Yeah, my parents like to vacation in a place that doesn’t get good cell reception and use Verizon for the same reason.

        2. LAMM*

          Coverage is the only reason we have Verizon. My boyfriend and I are on a (large) family plan with my parents and siblings. We need to be able to get coverage where they’re at, where we are at, plus several other places out of state due to my stepdad’s job (lots of travel) and the day trips within our state we frequently make for work/fun.

          We know that we pay an arm and leg for service… but at least we always have service!

          (Also, with one of their current plans you can adjust your data allowance mid-cycle to avoid overage charges. Which, with seven! people on a family plan, is pretty awesome).

      2. BRR*

        I agree Verizon has the best coverage but is pricey. I have sprint and it’s affordable but my coverage is ehh. I feel like AT&T used to be expensive and have poor coverage but it’s been a long time since it’s checked their plans.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I second T-Mobile. I switched from pre-paid carrier Net10 and while I pay more, it’s better overall. Net10 had great coverage (I think they piggyback on AT&T) and it was cheap–$50 a month with an older model smartphone–but I could not use my phone outside the US. On T-Mobile, I didn’t even have to do a thing when I went abroad, just used my phone as normal.

      Best part? They have no-contract plans and you can get a phone on them just like with a normal plan and pay it off as you go. :) I had been avoiding all the regular carriers and sticking with pre-paid because I didn’t want to get locked into a contract if the service sucked. I have had absolutely no problems with them so far, so I finally felt good about dropping my landline.

      1. Nina*

        T-Mobile used to have this amazing pay-as-you-go plan, with smaller increments like $10/$20/$30 and they took a year to expire. It was great because I use my phone more for data and texting, not so much for calls, so I didn’t have to refill the minutes every month if I hadn’t used them. Sadly, they got rid of that plan when smartphones became the rage.

        I use the Wal-Mart Family Mobile which is partnered with T-Mobile. It works fine, but they are brutal if your payment is late; they shut off services pretty quickly. It’s not my forever phone plan, but for now it works.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I had T-Mobile for years and loved them right up until the day we moved and discovered we didn’t have any signal in our new house. They are usually a half-season behind on the latest phone releases, but if you’re not a big gadget geek and don’t mind being a generation behind, they have great prices, too.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah,that doesn’t matter so much to me, especially if I have to buy the phone. But they let you pay it off as you go, so each month you pay your bill and then a bit on the phone. I need to pay mine off, because I already broke the screen!

    4. cuppa*

      We use Ting and love it. You do have to move your cell phone over or purchase a new one. It uses Sprint network, so it might be a good option depending on Sprint coverage in your area.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        We are switching to Ting because it came up in a comment thread a few weeks ago! We’re on Sprint now, so our coverage shouldn’t change, and the cost comparison of what we pay now vs. what we’d pay with actual usage on Ting… wow. Plus their customer service gets fantastic reviews online, and that’s always a big plus.

        Haven’t made the switch yet (resolving a stolen phone issue through insurance first), but looking forward to doing so.

    5. Oh Anon*

      I’d check the coverage maps for T-mobile, Verizon, and AT&T in your area and then compare plans. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with service in your area, only from the southwest to the east coast. From my experience, both Verizon & T-mobile have good coverage in urban areas, but AT&T has been the onlyI one that’s been able to get coverage in very rural areas (some areas required a signal booster). Both AT&T and Verizon are more expensive compared to T-mobile, but from my experience, T-mobile also had the worst service of the three.

    6. Lady Bug*

      I’ve had T-Mobile forever and I love them, but I live in one of the best coverage areas. If we drive a few hours away service gets very spotty, so I definitely agree with the other posters to check that first.

    7. Noah*

      Freedom pop is ok. I just moved back to AT&T because I need international roaming capabilities again with my new job.

      Freedom pop require understanding and compromise. I rarely had issues with call quality, but it requires Sprint data service to work and their network is not as widespread as either Verizon or AT&T.

      Verizon always gets lots of love but in my hometown it is next to impossible to get a Verizon signal while AT&T works everywhere. I think each carrier has their strength in certain areas. TMobile is attractive for the cost of the plans.

      Also, ask around for corporate discounts. I get 25% off my main AT&T plan because of the company I work for. That amounts to nearly $20 a month for me. All I had to do was show my work ID at the AT&T store. I would imagine the other carriers have something similar.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Good point about discount programs! I got a substantial monthly reduction through my last employer…and I think my phone was also discounted when I bought it by a decent amount.

    8. Audiophile*

      I’ve had all four major carriers. I switched to AT&T in January after being on Sprint close to ten years total (a brief 7 month departure to Verizon). This is the best service I’ve ever had. I had a 3GB data plan which just got boosted to 6GB through 2017. Plus with rollover data, I was already averaging 5GB a month anyway. I made the switch because I discovered my employer offered a bigger discount with AT&T than the other carriers. I’ve never heard of Freedompop, but you generally can’t go wrong with Verizon or AT&T, they serve large cities well and they can handle the more rural parts pretty well. When I was on Sprint, if I wasn’t near a major metro city, my service was mediocre. The only perk was I was able to roam on Verizon because of the deal between the two characters. I second the person who suggested you check the carriers maps and also don’t be afraid to pick up a phone and try it out. Just a quick note about that, the fine print for AT&T is after 3 days, if you returns the device they prorate your bill. The other carriers offer 14 days, before you’d actually owe them if you canceled.

    9. Observer*

      Check coverage maps. From what I have seen, Verizon and ATT have the best coverage, with T-mobile really working on improving as well. Sprint still seems to be really crummy. Make sure that they have decent coverage where you live, work, the route in between and the other places you are likely to travel. For me AT&T has had the best coverage. For a co-worker who goes to the Catskills in the summer, Verizon is a better bet, because Verzion has much better coverage in the area where she goes. Don;t just check the map – talk to people there. I’ve seen maps that show coverage that was more theoretical than real.

      Verizon is the most expensive carrier, and they are the hardest to bring your own phone to, in my experience. Also, from what I have seen ATT and Verizon have the best signal for talk and text, if they have decent coverage altogether. But you do need a halfway decent phone. And, on AT&T you need a 3g phone even for voice calls in some areas. (This was confirmed for us by ATT.) But if your smart phone is relatively recent, and it will work on ATT, you should not have an issue with that.

      Consider some of the smaller / value carriers that use the network of either Verizon or ATT. Page Plus uses Verizon’s network, H2O uses ATT’s and Cricket is ATT’s value brand. From what I’ve seen coverage and signal quality are on par with the networks on which they are traveling. (ie Page plus is equal to Verizon, etc.)

      The other question is how heavily do you use your phone? The kind of plan that makes sense totally depends on that. For instance, if you spend a lot of time on the phone talking and texting, then an unlimited talk and text with a small data plan makes a lot of sense for you. But, if you really don’t use it that much but have it mostly for emergencies, then a metered plan (ie a pot of minutes, probably with a per minute overage fee) probably makes more sense.

    10. Girasol*

      Republic works well for us. Buy your phone outright from their supported options and select whether to get any data coverage, data coverage only on wireless internet, or data coverage by cell. We have internet-only. It’s $11/month. I can use data at home and at work and when traveling at hotels and internet cafes, but not on the freeway where there’s no wifi. Cell service offers unlimited talk and text. Talk/text will go via internet when both cell and wifi are available. The phone seeks wifi sources by itself, so if you walk into a cafe it says, “Cafe-net detected. Use it?” and you just tap to get on. I didn’t really need smart phone either except to keep up with the joneses at work and answer company email off-hours, but having kindle and audible always at hand has been wonderful. Over two years the cost is less than T-Mobile dumb phone service.

    11. MommaTRex*

      I live in the Pacific Northwest – north of Seattle – and I have had surprisingly good coverage with Virgin Mobile (unless you want to leave the country). I love the no-contract thing, which is ironic because I’ve been with them so many years now, I can’t even remember when I started. I’ve had to buy my phones outright, but I priced it out and made my money back after about six months or so. However, now I’m thinking of leaving because they no longer carry iPhones and I don’t know that I want to switch to a different kind. I like the idea of bringing all my apps, etc. over to a new phone. I’ve been thinking of T-Mobile, and since I see a few recommending that, maybe it’s time to check them out.

  10. Noah*

    Moving sucks. The moving company that was supposed to arrive on Tuesday had a lot of challenges and still are not here. When they called last night to tell me the truck had broken down, I quite literally started crying, I almost feel bad for the employee. It was even worse when they said the soonest a replacement truck could get to me is Tuesday or Wednesday. This was a huge, nationwide company too, not some rouge, cheap company.

    My lease ends tomorrow, so this morning I started calling around. I found a local company that will do it and they will be here either late tonight or early tomorrow depending on how their other moves go today. Fingers crossed this works. I move frequently, and normally use ABF U-Pack and hire load/unload help but strayed this time because my job had some deal with big company. Never again.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ugh, I have BEEN THERE and I understand and I am so sorry. Moving is stressful as it is, but this kind of crap? When we moved long-distance last year, my bf put down a deposit with a company that contracts out their jobs, and two days before our move, they refused to tell us what date they would actually arrive on. When he asked to be moved up the supervisory chain, someone eventually told him that our move was scheduled for August 3rd. Our lease was up on July 31st. Also a national company. I also cried– big, nasty, ugly tears for hours. I ended up doing what you did– called a local company (that had provided us with an estimate a few months before) and asked if they could do it for any amount of money they wanted to charge. They not only said they would do it, they honored their original estimate. I now recommend them to every single person who moves in and out of New York.

      So. My fingers are SO crossed for you, and I hope things work out quickly and well. I can also tell you that, apparently, moving companies deal with last-minute stuff all the time. Good luck!

      1. BRR*

        Ugh it’s so hard to find good movers. Why is the process so loosey goosey? I was originally told my stuff would arrive sometime in a 5 day window. Uhh I kind of need to know so I can make arrangements for me and a dog. Thankfully somebody got the information wrong and they packed me up on a friday and delivered it saturday.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh God, car shoppers are even more of a crapshoot. Last time I had my car shipped, I remember waiting at home all day for guy to show up. He said he’d be there at 8 am, so I ran out first thing to get cash (he wanted cash…not a money order…not a cashier’s check…$800 cash). And then me and my pile of cash were just stranded at home all day. He arrived at 2 am. I met him in my pajamas.

          “Oh, I didn’t hold you up, did I?”
          “Yes, yes you did. Just give me my keys.”
          “Is [city in Southern Maryland]* close to here? I have to make another stop tonight.”
          “Umm…not really.”

          I at least felt comforted knowing there was some person Southern Maryland who commiserated and was also stuck waiting.

          *This was in the DC area. The city he was headed to next was about 2 hours away.

            1. Stephanie*

              I drove once for a cross-country move and at about hour 11 of I-40, I was like “F*ck, I should have shipped this.” And then when that happened on that particular cross-country move, I was like “F*ck, I should have driven.” I think it’s just painful moving.

              1. I'm all out of bubblegum*

                Back when I moved from Virginia to Texas, I drove it and enjoyed myself immensely. It took 3 days, but since I was basically transitioning my entire life (new town, new job, etc) it was sorta nice to have a few days to do nothing but drive and listen to music and think and be “in transit”.

                1. So Very Anonymous*

                  I moved across the country years ago (west coast to east coast) and had the same kind of experience. It took me five days and I planned the route so that I could see/stay with family and friends on the way. My parents are road trip warriors, too, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. If I hadn’t gotten the flu this summer, I would have driven the car from my parents’ (way up north) to my place (way down south), but I had too much else going on to have the time (and the energy, post-flu) to do that.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Such a crapshoot, definitely! When my car was shipped from Florida to PA (I bought it from my mom), Mom had nothing but raves for the company and the guy who did the shipping. Apparently, he was the biggest, roughest-looking nice guy my mother had ever met. Showed up on time, delivered on time. That was probably the only part of our big move that went smoothly! Well, that and boarding the dog.

          2. Audiophile*

            Weird that he wouldn’t take a money order or a check of any kind.
            I think the longest I’d do for a cross country drive would be 24 hrs. My cousin is driving 16 hours this weekend to move to Tampa from NY.

            1. Stephanie*

              They said they had fraudulent cashier’s checks and money orders before, so the payment had to be cash. I was living in an area that didn’t have a ton of convenient banks, so I remember there was a whole ordeal at 7 am to catch the Metro to the bus (and then I may have just caught a cab home since the bus was nowhere in sight and it was unseasonably cold). I did all that…and the guy was nearly 24 hours late.

              1. Audiophile*

                That’s a huge hassle. I can understand refusing money orders, since they’re not guaranteed. But I would think a cashier’s or certified check would be better still than cash. Especially for that much money.

          3. Noah*

            The one and only time I shipped my car was when I worked in Alaska for about six months. No surprises, arrived when expected. I drove back through Canada though because I wanted to see everything and thought it would be an adventure. It was beautiful but also a very long drive by myself.

          4. So Very Anonymous*

            I just had my first and what I hope will be my only experience with car shippers, because wooooow was that a frustrating mess. They just wouldn’t commit to a time. “We’ll bring it over the weekend,” even though I really wanted it Monday so that I didn’t have to waste my whole weekend wondering if/when it would come. It arrived on the Monday anyway. They also were super loosy-goosy about picking it up from my parents’ (they sent me my mom’s lovely little Honda Civic when she got a new one) — my parents were supposed to be going out of town and the shippers were so late that my parents almost missed their trip. They were more than a day late because they went to the wrong large city in the state on the scheduled day — two hours away from the large city my parents live in — and then it took them over a day to correct that. The car’s here now, so it all worked out, but, wow.

      2. Noah*

        Well much more relaxed tonight.

        Local movers should be here at 10am. He promised everything would go smooth. He also matched the price Mayflower gave me, so no gouging or anything. I told him if he pulls this off I will be sure to use his company again for every move where it makes logistical sense.

        He said exactly what you did, apparently this kind of thing happens more often than I would think. I work in the airline industry, if we left passengers stranded for a week it would be all over the news and passengers would be rioting in the airports. I’ve seen what happens after an 8 hour delay or a cancelation and reschedule for the next day.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Fingers still crossed, but glad it seems to be working out. As someone who works tangientally in marketing, I think it sucks that some of the national companies get by on their ubiquitous branding but don’t put enough effort into making sure their product actually, you know, works. Moving is horrible and stressful, even in the best of circumstances.

  11. Holly*

    Ugh. I know this is a trivial thing but sometimes rude/dismissive customer service can really put a dampener on your mood sometimes. I just misheard the price of something I was paying for (it was a noisy area!) and the guy behind the counter rolled his eyes and spoke to me like I was a child. I’ll get over it in a few minutes but it just felt so patronising.

    1. Laid Back Stepmom*

      Whew, annoying.

      I still remember the time when I was 15 and took my mom’s car to get the oil changed. I didn’t know what kind of oil to put in — she hadn’t said, and I had never taken a car to get the oil changed before — and the old goat who was doing the oil change told the manager, in front of me, that “this girl’s as dumb as a box of rocks, don’t know what she wants.” To this day I wish I’d told him to fuck himself and taken the car somewhere else.

      So I’d say, go back and call the dude on it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        How come he had to ask a 15 year old girl what to do? Why didn’t he know what to do?

        A few years back I bought all new tires for my car. About three months later they were wearing out, but in an uneven and odd way. A stranger stopped me and warned me to get the tires changed. I explained they were new. His jaw dropped. “Then they were never aligned.” I went back to the place. “Oh, we don’t align them unless you tell us to align them.” As if that would be immediately apparant to a non-technical person such as myself. I felt like saying, “And if you have a runny nose, should I remind you to wipe it with a kleenex, too?” Instead, I chose never to do business there again. It was too bad, my husband and I had done business there for over a decade. I liked their tires but I was done.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          I once had some body work done after my old car was backed into and I drove for a week or two wondering what was wrong with my headlights. It just was never bright enough to be effective and I thought my high beams had quit. My parents thought I was nuts, but my mom rode with me one night and realized it was as bad as I said. Next day I’m back at the shop finding out that they didn’t align the headlights after putting them back in and they had been aimed straight down. Thankfully, that was a free fix.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            This made me laugh a little, because I totally did this to myself the first time I replaced my own headlight bulbs. I was so frustrated and couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong!

    2. BRR*

      I’m not saying he was right but remember customer service people put up with a lot of crap. Don’t spend any more energy on this, it was just a short interaction.

      1. Nina*

        Same. Having been on both sides of that issue, sometimes mean customers will drain every bit of niceness out of you. Not saying you were mean, just that this rep may have been dealing with jerks all day and just ran out of patience.

        1. Noah*

          Agreed. It’s not right, but when I worked in a customer facing position, sometimes the smallest things would just push you over that ledge and you couldn’t smile anymore and everyone annoyed you.

          1. LAMM*

            … but it’s literally your job to smile and be nice to people. And I say this as someone who currently works in retail management (and has for the past several years). It doesn’t matter how many days you’ve just worked, how difficult the customer before them was, etc. You give each person your 100% and give them the respect and attention they deserve. Without customers, we wouldn’t have jobs.

            1. Lindsay J*


              I feel like working in customer service has made me appreciate and be nice to employees who are great at their job and doing their best, but has also made me tolerate things like this even less. There is never an excuse to roll your eyes at a customer to their face. If they really piss you off, end your transaction cheerfully and then commiserate with a coworker when you’re in the back or when there aren’t any customers in the area.

              If someone rolled their eyes at me I would most likely either track down their manager or write a letter to corporate.

              I’ve walked out of stores when the cashier has been too busy playing with their cell phone to ring me up.

              On the other hand, I completely understand when there are things that are out of their control – if there’s a long line, if they’re out of stock on something, if the customer prior to me takes 30 minutes because they can’t stop chatting or asking ridiculous questions or pays entirely in pennies.

              I honestly don’t even care if you’re smiling. But you need to be polite.

    3. Mimmy*

      No I definitely get it…I get annoyed by poor customer service too, even when it is a minor thing. On the flip side, I practically dance for joy when I get someone who is particularly helpful.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      It’s possible he was just having a bad day, of course. But sometimes I think counter staff don’t realise how quiet their voices can sound in a noisy place. I’ve had the eye rolling done to me. But whatever the reason, it is still rude.

      Even if the guy is just an a-hole though, he’s the one with the long-term problem.

    5. Audiophile*

      Aw I’m sorry.

      I got chastised by a cashier for taking a sticker off the shelf and brought it with me to the register. You would have thought, I was trying to rip off the store.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, don’t move their stickers. It causes meltdowns. An area supermarket is willing to charge people with shop-lifting for the slightest thing. One instance was a customer who tried to point out that his coupon had not expired. The clerk informed him if he said that one more time he would be charged with shoplifting. I think I would have left my cart at the cash register. I don’t know what the customer did.

        1. Audiophile*

          That’s insane. That is not a store I would shop in.

          It was the sale sticker, not the regular sticker on the shelf. Plus there were other stickers, I found it comical how upset she got. I purchased what I wanted and left the sticker with her. If I hadn’t worked at that particular store in the past, I probably wouldn’t have moved the sticker.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            Take it from someone who used to be responsible for placing and maintaining the price stickers. Don’t touch them. Take an employee to the shelf if you need to but don’t take it off the shelf. If that price tag is missing then other customers don’t know what the price is and might misread an adjoining sticker or if the spot is empty as well as missing the sticker the employees might not know immediately to restock the shelf (there where tens of thousands of SKUs and even though I had nearly the entire store memorized, no one expected the stockers who worked 10-15 hours a week to do so.)

        2. Lindsay J*

          Yeah I wouldn’t be going back there, and if it were a chain corporate would be getting a letter from me.

    6. HR Generalist*

      I was in a city for a military-related event this weekend and some of the guys in the group were active military and had done tours overseas. We were having a great night and then stopped at a chain poutine shop. One of the guys has a special diet (dairy-free, vegetarian, etc.) and ordered one that fit those requirements. About halfway through making his order they asked him if something else was okay. He explained he was basically vegan so no, what they were suggesting wouldn’t really work for him, and they said “Well the gravy isn’t even vegan…” and started arguing with him about whether he could eat the wrong order they had prepared.

      I watched as they guilted him and then gave him what he didn’t order. He took it but was obviously upset. I stepped in and returned the order and asked them to make him what he had requested. The clerk looked at me and said (angrily), “So you’re just going to throw that out..?” and I said “I’m not doing anything, you’re the one who’s going to throw it out, if you do, because you’re the one who messed up the order.” I couldn’t believe how disrespectful they were. I explained to them that my friend had served our country and he’s going to have what he ordered, but it’s a shame that even had to be said. I felt corny even saying it but I’m glad I did, they were putting the guilt on him when he just wanted what he ordered. They did eventually quietly prepare the one he had requested. We’ll never go back there and it really put a damper on the night.

  12. The Other Dawn*

    I need some advice on something.

    My niece is 22 and she and her mom, my sister, live with my dad, who’s 80. My niece used to be pretty thin, but, due to taking the Depo shot, she has gained 42 pounds in 2 years. She’s not thin, but I don’t see her as “fat,” just a little overweight. I saw she posted on her Facebook page yesterday that not a day goes by when my dad doesn’t say something about her weight. He’ll say she looks pregnant and then laugh like he’s joking. When she cooks a meal, or reaches for any kind of food to, you know, live, he asks her if she should be eating that or says she should go for a run afterwards. As a result, she feels like shit about herself and I feel terrible for her; it’s not her fault she’s gained weight and she has to listen to this crap everyday. My dad, in my presence, once made a gesture to her indicating a pregnant belly and both my sister and I immediately called him on it. He didn’t seem to realize he’d insulted her. He said he was joking and that she knows it. Doesn’t matter if he was joking. It was rude and insulting. So she cried for awhile in her room. My dad also makes comments to me about a friend of mine who is obese. He’ll say that she’s gained a lot of weight and that she looks like a “moo moo” and then laughs. I either ignore him and change the subject, or I tell him that’s not nice to say.

    My dad has always been someone who speaks his mind, but he’s always been respectful in what he says and bit his tongue on certain things when necessary. Yes, he’s made comments about certain ethnic groups and such, but I just ignore him because that’s how he grew up and it was the norm at the time. I know, that’s not an excuse and it’s not acceptable, but that’s the way he was raised; I definitely don’t agree with these things he says. Anyway, these last few years it seems like whatever filter he had is now gone. I don’t think he’s making these comments to my niece in order to purposely insult her. I think he thinks he’s trying to help, or is just joking around. She’s told him many times that he makes her cry and makes her feel terrible about herself. My sister has told him so also.

    So, what should I do? I don’t feel that having a talk with my dad will help; he’s already been told many times how he’s hurting her. Plus, his memory isn’t what it used to be, so part of me thinks maybe he just doesn’t remember her saying something about it. He doesn’t have dementia or alzheimer’s, but I’m thinking maybe a mini stroke has something to do with it.

    I’m also struggling with what to say to my niece to help her. I was obese all my life, and very tall for my age, so just about every day of my childhood sucked as a result: people frequently asked me if I was pregnant, I was constantly insulted at school and in public, and was always told I “have such a pretty face, if only [I] would lose the weight.” I wasn’t insulted by family, though, so her situation is a little different.


    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      It doesn’t sound like your father is going to change. Also, if your sister is living with him, this may simply be a price she has to pay. I say ignore it, or if it’s too much, move out if possible.

      My husband and I moved recently and planned to live with his mom for a year to save money. She made so many comments about our “lifestyle” and condescending remarks about everything from his job search, to our hobbies, to how “dirty” we left the kitchen (despite the fact that her house was a pig-sty and we cleaned up for her all the time) that we decided it was worth the financial burden. It sucked, because it drained our savings and has put our house hunting on hold for at least 3 years, but it was totally worth it for the piece of mind.

    2. catsAreCool*

      This might be a good thing to send to Captain Awkward. I think she or Carolyn Hax might suggest that she tell your dad that hurt her feelings and then leave (go to her room or go to the library or something). With the idea that she avoids him unless he can treat her respectfully. It would be nice if she could move out, but I’m guessing if that were possible, she would have.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yeah, she’s not in a position to move at the moment. She works, but she’s at a retail job and doesn’t have much money.

        I know my dad won’t change, so my inclination is to tell my niece to just tell him “any discussion of my weight or eating habits is off limits” and then walk away. I just feel so bad for her. It’s truly awful to have to deal with shit from people. People still think it’s acceptable to degrade those who aren’t in line with their idea of an ideal weight, and think it gives them the right to try and “fix” them. When I read her Facebook post I just started crying. I’m tearing up now just thinking about how she must feel.

        1. nep*

          No words for that kind of sadness. It sucks that we can be affected by such awful behaviour, but it happens.
          I hope your niece will have things going for her and feel great about herself, such that she will be able to truly disregard his ignorant and cruel remarks.
          I don’t really have any advice to offer. Just empathy and a hug.

        2. BRR*

          Ugh it sounds so awful. I’d even switch to, you are not allowed to comment on my body. Using the word body makes it feel much more stern in my opinion. Where weight might seem ok to some, body feels more icky to discuss.

        3. Natalie*

          One thing I would do, or keep doing if you have already, if validate that he is being mean and out of line. Sometimes we hear a lot of justifications for a person’s behavior that might be true, but can come across as though she shouldn’t be bothered. It’s okay for her to be bothered by this behavior! Even if it’s because of a stroke and he can’t help it or whatever.

          This has come up recently with my wedding and one of my grandfathers, who is disinhibited due to dementia and thus gropey, apparently. Had to have a tough conversation with my stepmom about not wanting to deal with that at the wedding. :(

    3. Myrin*

      I am so, so sorry to hear that. Since it indeed doesn’t sound like your dad is going to change (although I do have to ask just to have all options out there: Did you [anyone of you] ever clearly tell him “Please stop it with these comments!” or “I don’t want you to say things like that in the future, please leave it!”? I’ve found that with some people, especially if age or some kind of privilege are part of the mix, telling them they make someone cry or feel terrible about themselves doesn’t actually translate to “Stop this! Now and forever!” and you really need to spell it out for them to get what you’re actually saying.) I think the most important thing you and your sister can do is be there for your niece and show her that you support and love her just like she is. She probably won’t take his comments less to heart but maybe it’ll be a bit easier for her to deal with them if she knows you guys stand behind her 100%.

    4. Natalie*

      FWIW, disinhibition is pretty common with many forms of dementia. Given that you mentioned memory loss and a stroke, it wouldn’t surprise me if something is going on brain-wise. Has he been seen by a doctor at all?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        He goes to the doctor, but he tends to wait until he has an appointment to mention any complaints. He won’t necessarily make an appointment because X is bothering him. He just waits until the next regular appointment.

        We don’t know that he had a mini stroke for sure, but I feel like he’s had one. It’s hard for him to get his thoughts out sometimes and forgets what he was going to say quite a bit. I remember him mentioning that he was having an MRI to check if he had a mini stroke, but I didn’t hear anything else since then. I’ll have to ask what the results were.

        1. BRR*

          My mom had a mini stroke, it’s important that they identify where it occurred. Example my mom had one and her carotid artery was almost entirely blocked and they needed to get in there to fix it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think that you should start telling him that since he cannot stop making fat jokes after being told numerous times to stop then you will be going to the doctor with him and asking the doctor about this behavior.

          I do agree, that as some people get older they become exaggerations of their younger selves. My only hope is that I do not make the same mistake, where my worst traits get magnified.

          I had an inlaw with X behavior. She would not change her behavior. Finally I said, “Then it’s time for you to see a doctor about this”. She said to stop treating her like she was a little girl. And I said, “Then stop acting like one.”

          In short, it’s time to take the gloves off with dad. “Dad, if you cannot stop with these jokes then we need to sit down with a doctor and find out why you cannot understand that you are making your grand daughter cry and you need to stop.” Just because a person has health issues does not give them the right to be abusive.
          Skate by the part about “it’s only a joke” because that is not relevant. He has been asked to stop and he has failed to stop.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            That’s not a bad idea, both as a tactic and on its own. Frontotemporal dementias can cause personality changes before any cognitive changes are noticeable.

        3. AM*

          It’s also worth noting that people with any form of dementia generally do not identify it or ask for treatment for themselves. If you think a loved one is acting different in these ways it’s often worth initiating a doctor’s visit yourself and accompanying them.

      2. Girasol*

        It could be a sign of a mental problem but it might not be. Our culture has made it okay to tell overweight people that they are overweight and coach them on losing weight because they are obviously clueless. (As if anyone could be clueless about weight management when talk of it is in every magazine and newspaper and broadcast!) Maybe explaining to him how stressing an overweight person hurts more than helps?

    5. BRR*

      Ugh my dad is similar in that he’s lost his filter with age. I’m not sure about your dad or your family dynamics, but when my dad, who is not a looker by any means, commented once about somebody else’s body I threw out a “Let’s go see your old modeling pictures.” Not the most mature response but he wouldn’t have stopped any other way.

      I would switch from saying he’s making her feel bad to he needs to stop making her feel bad. That you’re not identifying his behavior, you’re telling him how he needs to behave.

      For your niece I would suggest maybe just having her not be around him. If that’s not an option I would let her (to make sure she knows it’s alright) cut things off early and say “I’m not going to be around you when you behave like this.” If he says it’s a joke she should response with “No, it’s not a joke.” He doesn’t define if it’s a joke, you, your sister, and your niece do. And if it comes down to it my non-mature response would be “must be some bad genetics, I know the weight gene skips a generation.”

      1. Book Person*

        The “but it’s just a jooooke” excuse is so maddening. Definitely call it out in some way, either you or your niece. I like how direct BRR’s suggestion is, but if that will just lead to grumbling about “why are you so humourless,” then there’s a great one from Captain Awkward, too: “great, if you were just joking, then you won’t mind stopping / then it will be easy for you to stop.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Right on.
          Him: “Oh it’s just a joke.”
          You: “That has no bearing here. You have been asked to stop. It does not matter if you are joking or serious. You have been asked to stop, period.”

    6. I'm all out of bubblegum*

      Speaking as an actual dad who has never had much of a filter – I don’t think there’s a lot you can do here in terms of getting your father to stop with the weight comments. Is there anything you can do to assist your niece in finding a new place to live? I don’t know but I suspect that the fact that she’s under his roof is a large part of the problem: that entire “my house, my rules” thing. On re-reading, I see that you mentioned that she’s not financially capable of moving.

      *sigh* Some problems don’t have solutions.

    7. Lindsay J*

      My mom used to do this kind of thing to me and it did a number on my self esteem. I was running cross country and putting in 10 miles a day. I wasn’t fat. But still the, “Do you really need to eat that? Do you know how fattening that is?” etc did a number on me. (She also regularly asked if I was pregnant, but I always assumed she was trying to ferret out whether I was having sex or specifically unprotected sex vs accusing me of being fat.)

      I think I ultimately wound up gaining weight because my body image was so distorted – I figured I was fat anyway so what did it matter if I gained even more weight.

      I know she and your sister have said things to him, but I would try saying something as well. Maybe he’ll listen more if it’s coming from you.

      For her, I guess I would just encourage her as much as possible. I don’t know if you live near her, but if you do maybe taking her out to lunch and then clothes shopping or getting her nails done or something else that will help her feel good about her appearance will help. And maybe post nice things when she posts pictures on Facebook, etc. She needs a good, positive voice in her life to counteract the bad.

  13. Laid Back Stepmom*

    Does anyone have experience with electrolysis? I’m tired of having to pluck the hairs of my chinny chin chin every couple of days (sorry if that was TMI).

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      LOL. Man I hate that hair that grows from my chin. I call it my “man hair”. It’s just a single hair but really annoying and thick!

      1. Myrin*

        I call them (yes, it’s more than one u___u) my beard or my sideburns. Really, I have more prominent muttonchops than some cis guys, ugh.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        I’ve got one of those, too! It seems to suddenly appear from nowhere every few weeks. Sometimes it’s brown and sometimes it’s white (or maybe there are two of them – but only ever one at a time).

    2. Trixie*

      I’ve had it done on my legs, a single series. I think continued treatments have been great but it was a groupon special. Very effective but there is some continued treatments over time. I always remember Bobby Brown or someone similar saying she had it done on her facial hair (chin/lip) before it turned gray/white. Except for eyebrows, I’ve been using tinkle handle razors on peach fuzz, chin, lip.

    3. Been there, done that*

      I say go for it. Experience will vary of course. Wasn’t too bad when I had it done in my 30s, more painful in my 60s. Probably due to changes post menopause. This will be something that you will do off and on for years because there will always be new hairs. And I wish I had more done when I was younger.
      If you’re plucking the hairs will need multiple sessions before they are done and there will be more there than you think. You should plan on going every 2-3 weeks depending on how much needs to be done. But you will have to stop plucking before the appointment. You don’t need a lot of hair showing but there has to be some. I have found I can usually tolerate about 2 weeks of growth. Cut with mustache scissors if necessarily.

    4. Christy*

      I get laser, which is different from electrolysis. You’re going to keep getting chin hairs though–those are caused by hormonal changes so they’re not really ever going to go away forever, just improve. I’m finding it worth it even if it’s just emotional–I used to obsess over the chin hairs and now I’m not allowed to pluck or wax between laser sessions so I don’t notice them at all because I can’t do anything other than shave.

    5. the gold digger*

      My husband pulled a hair from my chin because I couldn’t see it. I guess it’s good that I have someone who will help me out when I am old, but I am not ready for that time to come just yet.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I had some electrolysis done a few years ago and it seemed to work, although the beautician would not pull out all the hairs if she felt they were not ready. As part of an economy drive, I now stick to tweezers after a hot shower.

      2. Treena*

        I’m in my late-20’s and my husband’s been plucking my out-of-sight-to-me, under-chin hairs for years! He hates it because he can never see them, and doesn’t think I should bother (him) to remove them, but I can feeel them!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She continues to be such a delight. She and Olive are very bonded now and are always together. And she’s becoming cuddly — which is especially gratifying after the first few weeks we were fostering her, when she wouldn’t let us touch her and was basically in hiding and terrified. She now likes curling up on top of my legs while I work.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I wish my torties were like that. They are sisters and came from a hoarding house that had 80+ cats. So, they were never socialized well. They’re very affectionate with us and with each other, but we can’t really pick them up or have them on our laps. Louise doesn’t like to be pet while she’s on the floor–she has to be on the couch or table or some elevated surface–and we have to approach her head from the side. Thelma loves a good belly rub, but she doesn’t tolerate being held.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          My cat is like that, though I can pick her up and put her on my lap. She only likes it when it’s cool/cold outside, understandably.

          If I had a bigger house, I’d make her come inside and get a pet door, but I don’t and it just wouldn’t work. Even the layout of the house isn’t conducive to a pet door–it would have to be in the back door and it’s in the garage.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sam seems to enjoy watching her, but doesn’t interact with her that much (although he’s kind of like that with all the other cats; he is a sedate older gentleman who does not want to get caught up in their tussles).

          Lucy is slowly coming around and has played with her a few times, but is very invested in asserting her status at the top of the hierarchy and so relations are not quite as warm as I’d like yet. I think she’s a few weeks away from starting to bathe her, though. (Olive bathes Eve constantly, so Eve will be extremely clean if Lucy also joins in.)

          1. Anne*

            Does eve like the iPod cat games? The pic of your other cats playing from a while back was so cute that I saved it!

  14. Brandy*

    I am hosting an evening surpirse birthday party in a few weeks. There will be ~15 guests. I need menu ideas! I can do sit down or buffet, full dinner t just hearty apps. No dietary issues and Budget is very flexible so don’t let that limit you. I’m also open to catering some (but would prefer not all).

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Garlic Naan. It’s easier than it sounds and always a hit. I broil the bread in the often since I can’t grill. Very filling.
      Buffalo chicken wing dip. All the great flavor of wings, less time, less calories.
      Sushi. If you have the roller, sushi can be awesome. Smoked salmon is a good choice since it’s cooked but flavorful.
      Pickle rolls. Top deli ham/deli meat of choice with cream cheese, place pickle, roll and slice.
      Sliders or small sandwhiches. Make subs and slice into 4ths. Or make slider burgers.
      Fruit infused water. Nice low call high flavor option for the non-soda drinkers.

      Can you tell my office throws a lot of pot lucks?

          1. Stephanie*

            OMG, that reminds me. I need to go get more of it. I left an actual Indian grocery store…to go to the nearby TJ’s and get the garlic naan. *sigh*

    2. misspiggy*

      Eton Mess is an easy winner – ready made meringues broken up, whipped cream and defrosted frozen berries, mixed up and chilled.

    3. Stephanie*

      I like things like enchiladas or lasagna for a dinner party–usually crowd pleasers and people can take as little or as much they want. You just don’t want to cook anything with discrete amounts (like say…chicken breasts) in case more or fewer people show up.

    4. AnnieNonymous*

      Grilled cheese sandwiches cut into small pieces. Super easy to make, and people love them.

      Dips always seem like an easy go-to, but don’t do this unless you supply enough plates for people to be able to scoop out some dip/chips and walk around. Everyone loves dip, but no one wants to hang out by the food table to eat it.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I like to do a taco or fajita buffet. You can put out beef or chicken, flour and corn tortillas, rice, beans, and all the fixings. I know you don’t have dietary restrictions to accommodate this time, but it makes it easy for meat-eaters, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. to eat from the same buffet without much effort on the part of the host.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with cream cheese. I believe they’re called Angels on Horseback. I found a great recipe for them on Pinterest. I made them as appetizers for Thanksgiving last year, and people went crazy for them. They’re not hard to make. Buy dates from the produce section (don’t buy the dried variety) and then use a bamboo skewer to poke the pits out. Split them open, put some cream cheese in there, and then wrap it in about 1/2 a strip of bacon. Then roll them in brown sugar and pop them under the broiler.

      Also found on Pinterest that I made for Thanksgiving last year — pumpkin pie truffles. They were AMAZING and they were a huge hit. One thing — they get rolled in melted white chocolate, and you need a little more than what the recipe calls for.

      I’ll link both recipes in a reply. They’re fancy but neither one is hard to make. The truffles do take quite a bit of time because they need to sit in the freezer for awhile between steps.

    7. RG*

      I’ll go backwards. Finish off with some type of fruit based dessert, so it’s sweet but not too sweet. I’ve made an upside down plum cake and a banana bundt cake, and both were good. For vegetables, I’d do two dishes – one steamed and the other roasted. For main, I would see if there was some type of main like a casserole or pasta that included meat and starch and/or vegetables. Then a type of bread to go with it. Complement with wine, out if you’re on that level, a certain type of beer. I think a lot of it depends on the expected mood of the party – there’s a difference between a birthday dinner for a church friend that’s older than my early twenties cousin, if you know what I mean. If you want to talk more, then just include your email – I have lots of recipes. :)

    8. KitCroupier*

      Teriyaki chicken wings! You can do up a big tray of them and they don’t take too long. They might be a bit messy, so maybe pick up some wet naps for people to wipe their fingers. :)

      My recipe (I do all this by eye mostly but it’s pretty easy):

      One pan large enough to hold all your wings (use disposable foil pan for easy clean up)
      Enough wings to fill pan :)
      garlic, one head (fresh is best)
      soy sauce (if using a large tray, grab the big container)
      sesame seed oil
      brown sugar
      scallions (optional)
      sesame seeds (optional)

      Preheat the oven to 375
      Put all the wings in the pan, keep them in a single layer to make sure they cook evenly.
      Add brown sugar (I’d say use about 1/2 a cup to 3/4 if using a biiiig tray and use less if you’re unsure)
      Peel and crush the garlic (or chop, whatever is easier)
      Add soy sauce, until it comes up halfway up the chicken wings (don’t cover the wings with it!)
      Add sesame seed oil (if it comes with a shaker top, about 10-12 shakes, if not, 2-3 tablespoons)
      chop up scallions and throw them on
      ditto with the sesame seeds
      Bake in the oven for one hour, turning over the wings every 15-20 minutes. Serve with rice (and add a ladle for people to spoon the sauce onto the rice. Yum!)

      This is a really good pot luck or cookout dish. Make it with drumsticks for parties! If using chicken breast or chicken thighs make sure it is NOT skinless, the chicken will dry out without some skin/fat.

  15. Carrie in Scotland*

    (I realise I’m totally spamming but they are all such separate topics…)

    I was off work 2 days this week and watched all 10 episodes of The Affair. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. It’s about an affair (obviously!) but each episode is told by each of their perspectives and there is a bit of a mystery element involved too.

    Next up, is most likely The Americans which my friend has recently watched and said I’d love.

    Is there anything I should keep my eye out for from the US this autumn?

      1. Lizzie*

        Agree on Mr. Robot, and cannot stop recommending it to people. (Seriously. My boss hates me. Affectionately though, haha.)

      1. Curious*

        Sorry, I like reality TV. So I’d recommend things like Shark Tank and Masterchef Junior with Gordan Ramsey. Guess that’s not up your alley,though. :)
        I’ve heard Scandal is good.

  16. SL #2*

    My friend’s cat has gone missing. He’s an outdoor cat, and assuming he’s just lost and scared right now, we’re hoping that he’ll find his way home somehow. Does anyone have any tips on how to get him home? My friend has put out one of her shirts, the cat bed that he shares with their other cat, and some food where he normally gets in and out of the house, but no luck yet…

    1. Myrin*

      Ah, I was going to suggest leaving something that smells strongly of either your friend or the cat himself out but I see she’s already doing that. Has she asked all the neighbours already? Looked into sheds and garages and thelike? Called the local vet(s) if maybe someone brought him in? My cat went missing once (only for a day and a half, though) and found his way back on his own, but we believe he got himself stuck somewhere as he clearly hadn’t eaten at all while he was away and also had some weird markings on his front legs like he had rubbed them against something trying to get out somewhere. We did go out and call his name periodically and also shook the box with his kibbles which makes a very distinctive sound and usually has him running, so doing that can’t hurt.

      1. SL #2*

        I’m not sure if they’ve called the neighbors or the vet yet (the cat lives with her parents and they’ve been rather… well. Lax about it, is the kindest thing I can say.) but they’ve been going out every hour or so and calling his name and whistling (he comes to whistles). They’re also going to put up posters.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I hope he’ll come back soon, is he chiped? My cat went missing for doc months and a vet called to say someone had brought him in. Turns out my cat had just started hanging around this other house a few miles from me and they took him and looked after him, so there’s still hope.

      1. Natalie*

        That must have been pretty scary at the time but it sounds kind of cute and funny that he just adopted himself to another house for a while.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Honestly I’d given up on him coming back, but it’s kinda resourceful of him, I guess he wondered too far and got lost so decided to find somewhere safe and warm to stay.

      2. SL #2*

        He is chipped, yes! So hopefully if someone finds him, they’ll be able to take him somewhere that they can scan it.

      3. blackcat*

        This happened to one of my friend’s cats. They lived in a pretty rural area (on like 30 acres) and adopted two sister cats. One bullied the other constantly, and after two months the bullied cat completely disappeared. A sweet old neighbor found the cat, took her to the vet who ID-ed the cat. Ultimately, the decision was that the cat had chosen the old woman, who had fallen in love with the cat, and that the two of them were meant to be. Both cats are likely happier as only cats anyways.

      4. GH in SoCAl*

        I just did some Encyclopedia Brown-style keyboard sleuthing to figure out that “doc months” = “six months.” Thanks for the fun!

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Oh no :( posters with his picture on it and your friend’s details? Has your friend called local vets/pet hospitals? Could she go door to door to the nearby neighbours and just see if he is in any garages/sheds/other outbuildings etc? Also, is the cat microchipped?

      This is one of my nightmares.

      Best of luck, from one cat owner and lover to another

      1. SL #2*

        They’re doing posters today, but I don’t know about calling vets or neighbors. But yes, he’s microchipped, so if he gets brought into a vet’s office or a shelter, they’ll be able to find my friend pretty easily.

    4. Today's anon*

      Also, if there are any facebook groups for their neighborhood that might be helpful (there’s been some happy reunions in mine).

    5. Cruciatus*

      Everyone has good tips. Definitely let neighbors know. Let local cat/animal/vet agencies know. Where I live we have an animal network on Facebook (ours is just called “Insert City Here” Animal Network). People write in with a picture/info about the animal and they post it and followers will repost, especially those living in those areas. It does work. In May I saw a dog in my yard and checked the site and found an ad for a similar looking dog in my area. I called the number and the owner and dog were able to be reunited!

      A friend of mine thought her cat had run away but he was actually trapped under the porch. In the end kitty was fine, though dehydrated. But if there are any nearby areas like that check them out–neighbors might not mind checking areas like on their property if asked.

      1. Zingbot*

        Yes check around the house and in nearby trees often cats are actually stuck somewhere and that’s the problem. Also whenever ours gets out for more than a little bit I find going out in the middle of the night when it is quietest is helpful for listening in case he is crying somewhere I wouldn’t be able to hear him over street noise etc. during the day. I also have walked around the neighborhood a few times a day when my guy has gotten out and he’s just walked up beside me before, no idea where he was but by being out and about he saw me. Good luck!

    6. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Contact local vets and animal shelters/rescues, possibly even local police if they also do animal control duty. Provide clear photos if at all possible – how your friend describes the cat might not at all be how you would describe him and someone at a shelter might describe him still differently, which can make it next to impossible to match up the cat that just came in with a verbal description.

      The shelter where I used to work would post photos of incoming strays on their website, but we *always* asked people to come in and look in person. If he’s a skittish cat, mention that – “he’s mainly an outdoor cat, and he’s probably terrified, so he might seem feral.” That might get people to take a closer look at any less “pet” like cats that have come in or do come in.

  17. catsAreCool*

    I’m trying to figure out if I should get paint shop or something else so that I can color in and modify drawings I’ve made. I’ve been using a free visual editor, but it’s fairly limited. I’m especially interested in being able to change colors quickly I tend to like crazy colors, and I like to change thecolors back and forth to determine which combination looks best.

    1. T3k*

      Waaaaaay back in high school, I was informed of Gimp which is sort of like Photoshop, though their interface isn’t as friendly. But hey, it’s free.

      There’s also Corel, which I hear is good for painting in digital format, but not free, and I never could get the hang of it (had a free limited version that came with my drawing tablet).

      1. catsAreCool*

        Thanks. I’ve been using GIMP, which is free. It has an option to change color, but that option doesn’t work very well. but every time I want to change colors of a picture, I have to go back and fix all of the pixels that it didn’t change.

    2. Shell*

      I use Paint.NET, which is also free. I find it easier to use than GIMP, though I believe GIMP is more powerful. But if you just want to tweak something simple, Paint.NET should work; I didn’t find it to have much of a learning curve at all.

    1. Jean*

      Are there any local (or semi-local) cat rescue organizations with which you can connect? I can’t offer personal help because I’m also allergic.

  18. Myrin*

    Does anyone here know of a free and easy-to-use program or website that allows you to deal with contrast and colour of pictures?

    I’m a medievalist and working with a manuscript right now that is, for the most part, in good condition and easy to read. Well, the copy I have is, not the manuscript itself (some of my problems will be solved by taking a look at the actual manuscript but I can’t do that just yet). Others, well, aren’t in such a good condition. I posted some pictures of what I mean here on my tumblr. What I need to do is basically make the background lighter but have the text stay the same (not really become darker as that would probably make the lines thicker, also), adjust the contrast, whatever. You can see I’m not very good at this.

    Do any of you know any kind of device that might help me? I’ll also ask my sister who is pretty good with that stuff but she’s occupied at the moment and I’d also generally prefer to not have to bother her and do it myself because I know what I have to be an the lookout for. All suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      If you have Microsoft Office Suite, you probably have Microsoft Picture Manager. I love it for simple corrections (brightness/contrast, etc.). If it’s not your default picture-viewing program, you can usually find it pretty easily by right clicking on the image in its home folder and looking under “Open with…”

    2. I'm all out of bubblegum*

      Windows, Mac, or Linux?

      I’d use Photoshop, but it’s not especially cheap and it also takes some time and effort to learn to use it.

      If you’re on Windows, you might want to look at Irfanview. It’s not the most polished interface around, but it’s free and it’s got a lot of function in it – it’s sort’ve like a swiss army knife for graphics.

      One thing: the quality of the scan of the document will matter a lot. You’ll want high resolution, but also for this you’ll want as many bits per pixel as is possible. If you can get the scan in RAW format with 48 bits per pixel (ie, 16 bits each Red, Green, and Blue) it might help you.

      I don’t know your background, but if you’re not really familiar with this stuff, you might want to do some reading on color theory and (believe it or not) HDR photography.

    3. Lindsay J*

      Adobe Lightroom might work for you.

      It’s a photo editing program like Photoshop, but less full featured. One advantage it has over Photoshop for cases like yours, though, is that you can apply the same edits to multiple photos at the same time, vs having to fix each scan one by one.

      It’s not free, but they do offer a free trial so you can play around with it and see if it works for you. And if you like it, you can subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud where you’ll get that and some other programs for $9.99 a month.

      On your scans, it looks like you mostly just want to blow out the brightness as much as possible. Upping the contrast would darken some of the stuff in the back as well and not help you too much.

  19. On the Tenure Track*

    So dog dog dog. our little eight lb rescue Bichon came down the stairs when called this week. Yay! good news/bad news. It was wasn’t to her name Jane . My husband called- “come here girly” and down she came trotting. Turns out she think girly is her name…I am just going with that for now on.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Heh, I wouldn’t sweat it too much. My dog has about 1000 nicknames. He does respond to his actual name, but more than that, he responds to my voice. “Come here, boodle-doodle-doo!” gets as much traction as, “Come here, bud!” and “Woofles! Where are you?” Not one of these is his actual name.

      If you want a name to truly stick, make sure everyone else (friends, family, mail carriers, etc.) call her by the name you want.

      1. T3k*

        Hehe, same with my dog. My mom and I went through the list the other day about how she probably thinks her name is also “dog” “baby” “sweetie” etc.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          I’m pretty sure my parent’s dog thinks her name is doofus. She does get called by name and “pup” etc, but I’d say 75% of the time it’s “Doofus”. She’s lovable, but we think she slid head first into the kitchen cabinets a few too many times (darn linoleum).

          1. On the Tenure Track*

            I think also in my “head” I don’t think of her as Jane or Janie. It was a compromise name as we couldn’t agree on one. My favorite was Boodles. The husband didn’t go for that.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Boodles! Your husband is WRONG, dammit! That’s a great name. :) Our buddy is Boo, Boo Bear, Boo-Boo, and… Boodle. Boodle-Doodle.

    2. AnotherFed*

      Girly’s not such a bad alternative! One of mine answers to sh*thead… not our best training moment. She was a Houdini dog who would open doors and let herself out (we ended up putting in keyed deadbolts so she couldn’t get out). She (and most dogs) won’t come if you sound angry, but you can say just about anything as long as your tone of voice is nice, so at least once we were out there sing-songing “Come here you little sh*thead escape artist, I’ve got treats…”

      1. Zingbot*

        Haha our cats name is Tucker and during a football game my husband yelled…. Something that rhymes with Tucker and the cat came running! Also not our proudest moment but could be a fun party trick I guess.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

      Bichon rescue FTW!

      I love my Bichon rescue to pieces. Sweetest dog ever. He’s not exactly 8 pounds though. He’s:

      32 pounds.

      OMG he is a horse. I have no idea. He just came that way.

      Yay for Girly.

    4. Sunflower*

      My dog is about to turn 5 and I’m convinced he has no idea what his name is. I think he only understands tone of voice.

  20. cuppa*

    Calling Chicago people (or anyone that can help!):
    I’m looking for a recipe for foccacia. Not the dense sandwich bread, but the kind with sauce and cheese like a pizza bread that the Italian bakeries sell. Anyone have one?

  21. SystemsLady*

    > forgets to bring new refilled bottle Rx I will always require, every single day, lest horrible consequences occur
    > can’t grab forgotten bottle for three days, one day left
    > OK, let’s refill since my pharmacist is right here and I was almost due for one anyway
    > Rx has expired, despite me having seen the doctor two months ago
    > Pharmacist – one I’ve refilled with before – refuses emergency refill on grounds that she “isn’t familiar with my doctor”
    > Stuck at urgent care clinic at bottom priority, because hey, I still have enough to survive a day and I’m healthy for now (it will also take them less than five minutes to verify I have what I say I have and write the script, and the medication is not abused by anybody, but pfft)

    What was supposed to be date day is turning out to be pretty terrible :(

    1. Been there, done that*

      Have lots of sympathy. I’m fortunate to have a wonderful pharmacist. Daughter just moved and is switching insurance but was getting prescription filled under old policy and they only told her afterwards they don’t accept her insurance. Like you at the end of old prescription, fortunately it wasn’t expensive and she has now transferred it.

    2. I'm all out of bubblegum*

      I feel for you.

      Also: your pharmacist sucks. You’re in the USA? If you’re talking about a Schedule IV or ‘higher’ drug, and you’ve filled the Rx with her before, she should at the very least be able to give you a few days worth of the drug while you get the Rx sorted out with your doctor. She also shouldn’t be terribly shy about calling your doctor for a refill.

      Pharmacists can vary a lot in their helpfulness. You want to talk about a hassle? A couple of years ago I endeavored to get my Adderall Rx refilled in another state while I was on a business trip. I thought the pharmacist was going to call the cops.

      1. Anon for this*

        Apologies to the decent pharmacists out there: I regularly pick up ‘scripts for a family member. Some pharmacists like to play god with such essential meds and refuse to fill them even though it’s the same script we’ve filled for months at the same pharmacy. Every month its the same hassle to get the script, figure out if the meds are in stock, drive around to at least four other pharmacies because they won’t tell you over the phone if they “have it in stock” (read – won’t fill it because they think you are selling them on the side)

        I read recently that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a pharmacist can’t discriminate and refuse to fill a prescription if you are otherwise jumping through all the hoops.

        I’m not sure how pharmacists became so paranoid, because the fact is, prosecutions against pharmacist for improper distribution are extremely rare. If you have a legitimate script in your hand, stand your ground. Don’t let the pharmacist bully you or call you a junkie (true story there – smh).

  22. Cath in Canada*

    Well, I had a weird week. Most of the weirdness was work-related, so I won’t get into that except to say that I set a new department record for the number of grants submitted in a single week. I was really really looking forward to the week ending so things would get back to normal, but then my husband called me on Thursday to say that he was going to Dubai for work for a month, leaving the very next day! So he’s there now, and I have some unexpected alone time.

    I always really enjoy having the house to myself for a week, but it gets less fun with time. Four weeks is OK if that’s really how long he’s going to be gone – his last trip (Montreal) was supposed to be for four weeks and ended up lasting seven. That was definitely too long. If I lived by myself all the time I’d have my life set up in a different way, but as it is, Saturday night is usually our date night, so weekends seem loooooooong when he’s not here. I’m going out for an early dinner with a friend tonight, and there are England rugby games on Saturday lunchtimes for the next few weeks, so I’ll meet up with some friends to watch those. So I will survive, especially because I love love love rugby and have been looking forward to this world cup for ages!

  23. Lady Bug*

    Does anyone else get annoyed that there are stores putting out Christmas stuff already? I mean I love Christmas, just not before Thanksgiving!

    1. Been there, done that*

      Before Thanksgiving has been normal for a long time. It’s the fact it’s not even October yet. Unfortunately for some stores they have no way to store the stuff so they have to put it out. I’ve seen Halloween before school starts and Valentines Day before New Years while there was still Christmas candy on the shelves.

    2. T3k*

      One store I visited last week literally had Halloween stuff on one side and Xmas stuff on the other. I think I remember saying something like “Ok, whoever did this didn’t see The Nightmare Before Xmas.”

    3. OfficePrincess*

      Ugh. Agreed. It’s not even Halloween yet. I’m not even ready to put a pumpkin out yet and there’s Christmas decorations in all the stores. Not to get too work related, but this pushing everything up means that our busy season is hitting earlier than expected and I’m not ok with it.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ugh yeah, we’ve been talking about peak since last month. I’ll like Christmas once I leave this job.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          By the time Christmas rolls around, I’m over it and ready to just sleep for a week. I’m hoping that going to visit family for Christmas this year will make me feel a little more festive.

    4. Stephanie*

      I’ve only seen some stuff at Costco. But yeah, it’s even weirder here since it’s still pretty warm in Phoenix (although Christmas out here has always felt a little weird since it’s so warm in December).

    5. Al Lo*

      The one that makes sense to me is Michael’s (and other craft stores). If I’m going to be successfully crafty before December 23 for any of my Christmas decorations, this is the time to start!

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh yes. Craft stores are the ONLY place I will give a pass on, knowing that there are people like my mom who quilt holiday-themed things all year round (tree skirts, placemats, table runners, wall hangings, you name it), and some of those crafts can take a really really really long time to get going if you want to have them ready before Christmas Day!

        But my God, with the others, no. Nobody needs to buy Halloween candy with their back-to-school shopping.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          ITA with all this. Craft stores get to go 1-2 seasons ahead. (Think of the people with craft-based businesses! They have to get their supplies from somewhere!) But I’ve even seen Halloween candy commercials on TV! Really?! It isn’t even technically Fall yet.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Oh, and you should be able to buy costume-making supplies early, because it can take some time to make your own costume. (But fully made store-bought costumes can wait until October 1.)

      1. Nina*

        This. As someone who loves the holidays, I’m tired of Christmas being trotted out during the year as an excuse to make money. I just rme when I hear the retailers going on about the “Christmas in July” sales. I know they’re trying to make money, but I just take a pass.

    6. Rebecca*

      Halloween stuff has started to appear in late August here, before school even starts! And now not only Halloween stuff, but Thanksgiving things have started to appear, but I haven’t noticed any Christmas items yet, but sheesh, it’s only 3 months away :(

      It makes me sad. I wish they would wait until the middle of November, but holidays seemed to have lost their meaning and have just turned into a money grab for retailers. And I swear if I hear “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” in October, I will freak out.

    7. I'schnapps*

      I am giving Costco the side-eye on the entire row of Christmas decorations plus the beginning of gifts. I saw that last week.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Costco also caters to small businesses/retailers. The gifts themselves being out is a little ridiculous but I’ll give it a pass on decor since they want it available for business owners to buy to decorate their own stores.

    8. Noah*

      It annoys me because I love thanksgiving and it seems lost between Halloween and Christmas. However, I get that retailers can’t sell items from the back room and it probably makes sense to go ahead and put I out as soon as it arrives at the store. Also, not like there’s a magical switch to make the store instantly Christmas on Black Friday after the thanksgiving holiday.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Thanksgiving also isn’t super-commercialized like Christmas is and Halloween is getting. Some people might buy turkey decorations or place settings or centerpieces, but for Thanksgiving the focus is more on the food and family than physical objects you can buy.

    9. Could be anyone*

      Had my first Christmas sighting at Big Lots in Va when I went to visit my daughter at college 3 weeks ago. It was still August.

    10. Retail Gal*

      I work receiving at our smallish store, and we were absolutely running out of room with the decorations and trees and ornaments sitting around until we could get them out last weekend. Probably starting next week, we’ll start getting stuff that will be need to be held until Black Friday. Comforters and coffee makers and blankets and slow cookers…*shudders*

      And just one quick point…three months from now is December 20th. Three months ago was June 20th. How long ago does June 20th feel to you? To me, not very long.

      1. Lady Bug*

        I’d be happier if stores put out slow cookers and comforters than trees and decorations. I really don’t need 3 months to pick out a tree. I feel bad that you are bombarded with this stuff way too early as a worker and have to put it out. It just feels like Christmas is an industry not a holiday.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And try to find thermal long johns in January. No where in sight. Cannot be found anywhere. But I can get a bikini. Not helpful.

          I don’t think stores are that connected to what their customers need.

    11. Carrie in Scotland*

      It is the same over here in the UK. Cards, boxes of chocolate with snow pictures on them, mince pies and chocolate coins have been seen :-(

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Ugh, yes, I keep seeing a lot of it here in England and it drives me crazy. Add wrapping paper to the list!

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          And gift bags! I can never think about Christmas until after my birthday (beginning of Nov) anyway so it just annoys me. Sometimes I think if one major retail company (M & S, John Lewis etc) didn’t start Christmas until Nov, other places would follow their lead. Alas, in a perfect world…

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Mine’s August so I often find that it is right after my birthday that it all starts appearing. Maybe one day it will happen…

              1. Neruda*

                I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s a small part of me that understands early Christmas stock. I live in Australia and we don’t really celebrate Halloween and we don’t celebrate thanksgiving. So for us there are basically no major holidays in between now and Christmas. If you consider that Christmas is probably 6 pay cheques away for some people, I guess for them they might want to budget it out and purchase a little each fortnight so they have lots of time. I’m sure it’s actually totally commercially driven but I thought I’d just add that in.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  In that situation, it makes a lot of sense, as does putting stuff out in craft shops (those crafts take a long time). But in most shops, it’s frustrating to go in looking for Halloween or harvest/autumn stuff and find only Christmas already.

  24. Malissa*

    Has anybody used Airbnb? I attempted to book a condo through them and the landlord came back wanting a longer stay and more money. Felt a lot like false advertising to me. Is this just how it goes or is this guy just a lemon?

    1. blackcat*

      I’ve only used it 2-3 times, but I’ve never had that experience. I would just move on to something else.

    2. Aussie Teacher*

      We’ve used it two or three times and it was amazing. No complaints. I would have pushed back against the landlord – there’s meant to be a minimum stay listed and also a price range, so it’s pretty rude to try and change the terms of the deal from what’s listed (I might even have contacted Airbnb to complain and give them a heads up). Hope you find somewhere better next year xxx

    3. katamia*

      I’m moving into an Airbnb place next week, but it’s my first time using them so my only real feedback is “No one appears to have stolen and used my credit card number yet, so that’s good.” I definitely didn’t have that experience when I booked, but I’m staying in mine for a long time (until December), so it’s a pretty long stay already.

    4. Victoria, Please*

      We use it a lot and have never had an experience like that. We’ve always had a lot of fun. I’d say you ran into a lemon and I agree, you should report it.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I keep hearing/reading horror stories about Airbnb. We’ve used VRBO several times and only had one less than stellar experience. The place itself was really beautiful, but the bed was horribly uncomfortable, and I was pregnant at the time so I couldn’t really suck it up and deal with it. With VRBO, at least with every one we’ve booked, the pictures are always accurate, and good reviews are reliable.

    6. Christina*

      I’ve used it twice. First, yes, I’d report that, it’s not how it’s supposed to work. Second, my first experience was AMAZING and absolutely made my trip as awesome as it was and I will still tell anyone who will listen to stay with Hanna and her dog Yogi in Barcelona. Second trip…I should have bailed and got a hotel room. The guy was kind of weird, bed sucked, place wasn’t clean. I should have put more stock in the negative review that he commented super defensively on.

      So my tips–really look at the reviews and how the host responds and don’t be afraid to bail.

      Good luck!

    7. Treena*

      That happened to us a bunch of times when we were looking for a place for 4-6 weeks (in the high season) during the low season. They claimed they don’t know how to put in the “high season” pricing blah blah. It’s really scummy and scammy, because it’s really easy to do that! So you’re either with someone totally incompetent or a scammer. If they have a lot of reviews, probably a scammer. The longer stay part is weird, usually they are upfront with their minimum (usually 2-3 days, 1 week or 1 month). Sounds like a newbie to me. Still don’t want to stay with them, since that’s nearly as bad as a scammer!

  25. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

    Rats! The library doesn’t have that book but it does have his whiskey cocktails book (it’s on reserve). Maybe they’ll get it. Was hoping it might have some restorative cocktails for bum knees in it!

    1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

      Alison, is there a recipe for a bum knee in there that uses single malt scotch??? Wishful thinking, I know…

    2. katamia*

      Interlibrary loan! Also see if your library system has reciprocity agreements with other library systems nearby if there are any.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      On a slightly related note, my friend gave me Tequila Mockingbird: cocktails with a literary twist which is quite amusing and wry (and has some wonderful illustrations to go with it).

  26. TheLazyB (UK)*

    I posted this last week but didn’t really get any answers so I hope it’s OK to post again Alison, please delete instead of approving if not!
    So I found this link of graphs about extroverts on buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/shannonrosenberg/17-charts-all-extroverts-will-immediately-relate-to#.enVqBmAmW (via facebook, of course) and I really want to get other people’s opinions about whether it’s genuinely Extrovert Stuff. Because the bits that are most true of me are things I’ve always seen as my personality flaws. And if it really is just that I Really Am An Extrovert… maybe I can forgive myself for some of my more needy behaviours and just… work on toning them down a bit.

    Number 3 is rather pertinent, although it needs to be redrawn, as it suggests I vocalise thoughts I don’t actually have. And my 10 bar chart is the other way round…. oh god the pain of perceiving myself as being left out….

    1. Colette*

      Interesting, but I’m not sure all of those ar extrovert traits. I’m introverted, but 4&5 apply to me, for example. (I don’t need much social contact, but tend to initiate it when I do need it).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I’m more introverted than extroverted. But, I think this is an insult to extroverts. I guess an introvert would say that? I don’t know. I think you might try other sources of information. I think that was written for humor not for true information.

    3. AnnieNonymous*

      I’ve never really understood the need to label people introverts or extroverts. Most people go back and forth between wanting to socialize and wanting to be alone. IMO, in real life, the only people who continually label people that way are men who are trying to shame women into speaking their minds less. “Oh, you’re such an extrovert.”

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Agreed. I have strong elements of both – I need some alone time AND some social time to keep my energy levels up. It’s all about the balance!

        Most of those charts seemed off to me – more about the stereotype than the reality, I think.

    4. catsAreCool*

      I’m an introvert, but I’m not sure that most of these are actually flaws, just differences. Which do you think of as your flaws, if you don’t mind me asking?

      I have an extroverted parent, so that might be why these don’t seem like a big deal.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Haha too many to list! Specifically the desperate need to be included and the whole needing to vocalise eeeeevery thought in my head thing.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’m introverted, and I hate the perceived feeling of being left out about as much as I hate anything. Plus I feel powerless to do anything about it; I guess I thought extroverted people were better at knowing how to be included more frequently.

      I hated how many of the pie charts were equal for every trait depicted. If every component of the chart is equal, couldn’t the information be represented just by a list!?

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      Alot of those apply to me but I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m an extrovert based on it. If at a social gathering, I’m much more likely to be looking for the exits and wanting to hide in a corner with my book but this isn’t true all the time, more when I don’t know the people very well or weddings etc.

    7. Sunflower*

      These graphs seem to imply all extroverts are hyperactive with ADD. I’m am extrovert in social situations and I do get anxious if I have to be alone for too long but that doesn’t mean I never need alone time. Also while I have a bit of a hard time understanding introverts in social situations I don’t find them ‘confusing AF’ as I find staying in and not talking to people to be extremely enjoyable.

    1. Gene*

      Worst, and it’s not bad – spouse went off on me a bit because I didn’t give her the soothing response she was expecting over her family problems. Won’t go into those, I’d need a keyboard instead of the phone, and a scotch instead of water.

      Best – out at the racetrack this weekend, in my whites, waving flags at racecars. One more event next weekend, and the seasons are over. :-(

    2. F.*

      Best: Celebrated my husband’s 84th birthday last Sunday. Went out to dinner and had a good time.
      Worst: Heading into a difficult time of the year for my depression. Trying to stay on top of it and allow myself a little slack. Makes it hard to focus at work.

        1. F.*

          Thank you! He is very healthy, lifts weights 5 days a week and belongs to 3 gyms. He’ll probably live to be 100!

      1. Observer*

        Is your depression sunlight related? I found that when I was able to get a full spectrum light for my mother it helped her. (Now she is in Florida, so it’s a non-issue.) The nice thing about trying this is that it didn’t cost a mint, and it’s perfectly safe.

        1. F.*

          It is partly seasonal. I haven’t looked into full spectrum lights in years. They used to be large and expensive. I need to look at them again.

    3. Shell*

      Best: got my Fitbit!! :D Walk walk walk walk walk.

      Second best (work related, sorry): got complimented repeatedly by a coworker–when he was talking to me and when he was talking about me to someone else. Hee!

      Worst: my other spoiling-myself order hasn’t come in yet! Hong Kong is faaaaaaaaaar.

      Second worst: rain! I would normally be thankful for the rain since our summer was exceptionally hot and dry, but I want to go walking with my Fitbit!

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: I let my cat out doors (new flat and city) and she came back! Twice! (just for 45 mins or so). Also GB are ahead in the Davis Cup (tennis).

      Worst: I have knackered my back. Last weekend I bought cat food from a supermarket and it was heavy. It still hurts a week on and if I move too much I feel sick.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: Parents-in-law left to go back home to Colorado this morning after a three-week stay at our house while they settled an eviction case with multiple court visits. I have my normal life and my house back — whee!

      Worst: I have an almost, but not quite, stress fracture from over use of my foot by wearing backless platform shoes this summer. I have to wear compression socks, elevate my foot at least twelve inches above my heart, avoid walking overly much, and take an anti inflammatory prescription. My foot had been tender and swollen for three weeks before I finally went tho the podiatrist. I want to waaaalk!

    6. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Went to my 10th law school reunion tonight. So awesome to see everyone and catch up on what we’ve all been doing the last decade.

      WORST: Still getting over the flu I had last week. Just some residual fatigue.

    7. Raia*

      Best: officially handed in my letter and I quit toxic workplace next week!
      Second best: Made chicken tortilla soup in a crock pot for the first time with no disasters or fire alarms going off! And people loved it!
      Worst: The waiting game that is job hunting.

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      Best: My daughter had an awesome flag football today — pulled 2 flags and caught a pass! No touchdown, but for 6 year old pee-wee flag football it was pretty impressive. I’m traveling next week (leaving tomorrow) and the people I’m going to be working with said they didn’t really need me until Tuesday, so I was able to push it out a day and not miss her game.

      Worst: Mounting tension with my boss. I’ve been on an absolutely horrible project for the last 18 months and I’ve reached my breaking point. I don’t think she really understands just how bad it’s gotten.

    9. SandrineSmiles (France)*

      BEST :

      DOCTOR WHO LAST NIGHT (sorry, enthusiasm) .

      WORST :
      Wednesday night, my Twitch link was posted to the French equivalent of 4chan. Instead of my usual 10 viewers I got to almost 150 who came in calling me names and all.

      The good part is that I streamed again last night, they seemed to be watching me and tried, but I had a few moderator friends to help out, and boom it went away quite quickly, and no DDOS attack this time.

      All in all, ended well xD

    10. Cath in Canada*

      Worst: husband leaving for a month (for work) with less than 24 hours notice, right at my busiest time of year

      Best: rugby world cup!!! I’m a huge fan and am in heaven right now. Good start for England; Canada were destroyed by Ireland as expected, but put in a good effort. Both my teams have tough groups!

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Worst: I had a major bout of homesickness this week, really, really missing my friends in New York– with a lot of tears. It was the Jewish holidays that did it. I have a wonderful congregation here and I really enjoy the services, but I don’t have a “family” here, and damn, do I miss that. It was exacerbated by the too-late realization that since Rosh Hashanah started on a Monday, I really could have hopped on a plane and spent the weekend in NYC, then had holidays with friends instead of on my own (bf had to teach, so while he attended a few things, it was really just me).

      Best: Despite all of that… I had the first concert of the season this weekend and it was so great! A smaller group than our usual chorus, and I really felt like part of the group for the first time.

      Other Best: I learned on Friday that two co-workers, both heads of their respective departments, think I’m the strongest person on my team. I needed that– and I was totally surprised and touched.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: I’m still alive, I guess–except for allergies. ACHOO!!!

      WORST: I’m in default on student loans and when I called the Department of Education on Friday, they were all in a meeting and unavailable and now I have to call them again tomorrow. I got a letter from a thing I didn’t recognize and when I googled it, it was a horrible collection company with a ton of complaints. When I called MOHELA they told me to call the Dept/Ed., not the company. So hopefully I can still deal with them and not the evil ones.

      SECOND WORST: My USB ports on my computer quit working and I am using my old Vista laptop as backup. Blargh! I can’t use my flash drive on it because my work requires it to have BitLocker, and that doesn’t play with Vista. I have to send files to the desktop but I can’t put them back! Lucky I saved the old flash drive and can just move them from one computer to the other when I get it back.

      On the good side of that, the Satellite model I have has the ports on a separate card, so they only have to replace it instead of the motherboard. Which makes it about $150 cheaper! And in the meantime, I cleaned off this old machine and I need to finish some games I have on it before it dies.

    13. Natalie*

      Best: fabulous, no social, staycation weekend with my fiancé and my housemate. Crushed my to-do list.

      Worst: work, probably. No further comment. :)

    14. AcademicAnon*

      Best: might have a job, waiting to hear back from HR. It’s only part time and not in my field but I’ve been unemployed for almost 6 months and it’s at the place where I used to work so I can keep my vacation and sick time.

      Worse: At the interview I forgot to mention I was taking this week off. I didn’t expect HR to actually finish the background check so far. I’ll have to call the manager sometime during the trip tomorrow to let them know I can’t start immediately when I said I could.

    15. Anx*


      I’ve finally succumbed to the back-t0-school cold. I was so uncomfortably hot (I don’t want to put the ac on because of all the dust) and hungry and tired that I spilled hot hot soup all over myself. Then I got cranky because my partner wasn’t home to help out.

      The cold mostly held off until Saturday night, giving me the chance to see a friend on Saturday while getting a lot of the cold out of the way over the weekend. So I don’t have to take a pay cut!

  27. TheLazyB (UK)*

    I am currently half-watching a Nine Inch Nails DVD and thinking I need to listen to some bands that, like, release music more regularly. Current musical obsessions: Hesitation Marks, the Royal Blood album (LOVE IT why is it so short?!), Elbow’s The Seldom Seen Kid, Editor’s The Weight of Your Love, and, err, early Tori Amos (but nothing after the Beekeeper, and probably really only Under the Pink to TVAB with maybe a tiny bit of Scarlett’s Walk). Oh and DH and I are going to see The Sisters Of Mercy soon which I’m mega excited about.

    What other new stuff could I be listening to? And for that matter what did I miss in the 90s and 00s that I could go back and discover?? I never really listened to Tool, Perfect Circle, Type O Negative*, Ministry, all the stuff my friends listened to. I did love Placebo but drifted away. And FWIW I’d quite like some more female music too.

    So, yeah, any suggestions appreciated! And yeah… my taste in music, rather eclectic.

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      Put a * on Type O Negative and forgot to add in my footnote. Only after the singer died did I realise I had totally misunderstood the name all those years. I had always read it as Type Of Negative. Like there was supposed to be an apostrophe in there.

      Sometimes I’m not great with the reading comprehension.

    2. Eva*

      You could try using Spotify – just put it on a “Rock” playlist and see what comes out.

      My taste is much more alternative/indie and not heavy rock, but I recommend Arctic Monkeys, The National, The Preatures for something female, The Black Keys for some newer music.

      1. fposte*

        Spotify or Pandora. I find a lot of new musicians on Pandora just by doing a channel based on somebody I like.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Yeah, your list sounds like a great set of Pandora seeds. I put in a bunch of old school industrial at one point, and Pandora introduced me to John Adams! The algorithm was so right, I love his stuff, it’s experimental noise in the best sense, and I’d never have found it on my own.

    3. Steve G*

      No suggestions from now, but wanted to give a shoutout because I like Tori Amos as well, Little Earthquakes and Crucify Ourselves have made themselves back onto my frequent rotation lately. Also need to give a shoutout to the Lunachicks. They are an awesome mix of punk/rock/glam from 1990-1997 with a great “big” sound and funny lyrics to them….even though they were never that popular, which was a shame. Not sure if you have heard of them, a lot of people never did, but a lot of people who went to your/our sort of concerts in the 90s loved them too. I only got lucky to hear of them because they opened for a Marilyn Manson concert (yes, nitwits at GOMI that compare me to Rush Limbaugh, I went to a MM concert and didn’t need sniffing salts to get through it).

      Personally I’m going through an 80s house/freestyle phase again because so many people are posting midnight radio mixes from times past on youtube. May be a good idea to youtube radio station/year combos that used to play music you liked. I found some awesome mixes from a few NY area radio stations from the 1986-1999 time frame that had lots of songs that you NEVER hear anymore + some new songs I never heard in the first place.

      1. Steve G*

        Just had a flashback…..also popular in that scene were GWAR and KMFDM, and Bauhaus and Sioux and the Banshees had a revival….

      1. Steve G*

        Me like! Me like! Have to finish digging through during the week, but so far I discovered a few “new” songs (Sisters of Mercy No Time to Cry, Damned, Shadow of Love, and Siouxie and the Banshees, Fear of the Unknown).

        And I don’t necessarily remember this show, because MTV was always on in the background with my sisters and our friends coming and going, I wasn’t really paying attention to what show was on, all I remember was Kurt Loder and Tabatha Soren and Kennedy on all the time, and then the short bald guy on headbangers ball:-)

        And I was especially excited to see “Whisper to a Scream” and “She’s in Parties” in there, because those are among my all time ever favorite songs, and I was excited to find berlin, Sex. I never heard the full song and totally forgot about it until I was transcribing old mixed tapes from late-night radio to MP3 over the past year, and found a snippet of that song, but couldn’t find who sang it, because the only lyrics on the part I had were “I’m a woman, I’m a man,” which doesn’t google very well

        Thanks for the link!

      2. Liz in a Library*

        I’m sure you already know this, but your husband is badass.

        I’m going to stay up waaaay too late watching music videos.

    4. Nina*

      Garbage’s self-titled album from 1995 is still one of the best, imo. Shirley Manson’s voice is unmistakable.

      Some diverse 90s suggestions:

      No Doubt (Tragic Kingdom and Return from Saturn)
      Nas (Illmatic)
      Sneaker Pimps (Becoming X)
      Lauryn Hill (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill)
      Daft Punk (Homework)
      Massive Attack (Mezzanine)
      DJ Shadow (Endtroducing)

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha! I was going to suggest Garbage and No Doubt as well. (I think Tragic Kingdom was the first CD I bought.)

        1. Stephanie*

          Also, +1 to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Illmatic.

          I was in a very 90s R&B mood at work last night and was listening to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation and Mary J Blige’s My Life (both hold up).

          1. Nina*

            (high five!)

            Garbage was the first CD I ever bought. And I’m surprised that it still holds up really well.

            Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation and Janet. would also be on my list. There’s too many to name. I’m probably biased, but we really had some great music in the 90s.

          2. Steve G*

            Ironically, that Lauryn Hill album is in the CD bins at EVERY yard/street sale in NYC, as well as at every used CD/video store. I see it as much now as Taylor Swift’s pic….either a sign that people are sick of it, or that it was so good that people bought extra copies they don’t need anymore

      2. Steve G*

        I’m having amnesia right now, I’m like 95% sure I saw No Doubt in concert at the Roseland in NYC but I am getting confused between the many shows I went too….. I think that was the concert I unsuccessfully tried to mosh, and then my sister got goosed and we were only teenagers so didn’t know how to react. Then the guy came back and apologized but says he couldn’t resist, which made immature us laugh the rest of the night. I can’t believe our parents let us take the train to NYC and go to these things when we were only 16!

    5. Stephanie*

      90s (or maybe early 00s): Fiona Apple
      Current: Florrnce and the Machine, London Grammar, Janelle Monae (I pick up your tastes tend toward alternative, but she crosses genres)

    6. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

      My partner recommends 12 Rounds, one of Trent’s projects from New Orleans. He also says to check out How to Destroy Angels. I might be reaching here but Skunk Anansie and Hole also come to mind, and maybe check out The Screaming Females.

    7. katamia*

      Oh, this post sent me off into Happy Music Land for a bit. :)

      Oingo Boingo and The Cure (though not that awful days of the week song), though they were a little earlier. Orgy (hello, comment moderation)–I did a relisten of Candyass recently and was surprised at how much I still enjoyed some of the songs (thank you, parents, for letting 12-year-old me buy a CD called Candyass by a band called Orgy). Aphex Twin (my personal favorite is “Come to Daddy,” but if you’re easily freaked out you probably shouldn’t watch it or listen to it). Within Temptation. Nightwish. Rob Zombie. “This Is a Trick” by ††† (Crosses).

      I also have a thing for Turkish musical acts–try maNga’s “Fly to Stay Alive” or “We Could Be the Same” (which was actually Turkey’s Eurovision entry a few years back, so you might have seen them then) and Model’s “Pembe Mezarlık” and “Antidepresan Gülümsemesi.”

      Model, Nightwish, and Within Temptation have female singers.

    8. LCL*

      Hillbilly Hellcats, album Rev it up with Taz
      The Cramps, Stay Sick. Not a female group per se, but Poison Ivy is the creative mastermind behind the Cramps.
      Hale storm, songs “I miss the misery” and “Freak like me”. Yeah, Halestorm is derivative as hell, but Lizzie Hale’s voice will chill ya.
      I just bought the Alabama Shakes disc, and a compilation of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but haven’t listened to either yet. My guitar teacher said Sister Rosetta’s secret is open tuning, like a slide guitar.
      Asylum Street Spankers, can’t remember the name but it’s the disc with the pot leaf on the cover, Spankers Madness? Strong female singer on many tracks.

    9. I'm all out of bubblegum*

      > Tool, Perfect Circle, Type O Negative*, Ministry

      These are all great bands. A Perfect Circle’s first album Mer de Noms is especially awesome.

      What else … I’m all over the map WRT music. I like Filter a lot. Fever Ray and The Knife (both are basically Karin Dreijer Andersson projects). The Glitch Mob. How To Destroy Angels. The Soft Moon (esp the album “Deeper”). Amon Tobin (esp the album ISAM – but be warned that it’s not for everyone). Excision. Queensryche’s album “Operation: Mindcrime” is not new but is a whole lot better than you think it is. Chevelle’s album “Wonder What’s Next” is uneven but awesome in spots. Chelsea Wolfe (check out “Pain Is Beauty”). Wire’s “154” (an old, old band that some people still remember). Our Lady Peace, Purity Ring, Rob Zombie, The Acid, The Prodigy.

      (Fever Ray / The Knife, Chelsea Wolfe, HTDA, and Purity Ring are all “female music” :) (and by that I mean not just a female vocalist).

      It might not be your thing, but I listen to a lot of soundtracks: anything by David or Thomas Newman is going to be good. Antonio Pinto’s soundtrack to The Host was the best thing about the movie. The soundtracks for Ex Machina and It Follows and John Wick and Limitless, and Jean-Pierre Taieb’s soundtrack for The Divide are all very, very good.

      Oh – it’s an oldie but if you like Sisters of Mercy, you’ll probably also like Peter Murphy’s album “Deep”.

      1. I'm all out of bubblegum*

        Some URLs with samples:

        Fever Ray – https://vimeo.com/2740700

        Chelsea Wolfe – https://vimeo.com/100740036

        Chevelle – https://vimeo.com/49357832

        A Perfect Circle – Judith – https://vimeo.com/13226582

        A Perfect Circle – Pet – http://youtu.be/jpm66En6BJg

        A Perfect Circle – Passive – http://youtu.be/ZejpwgpOPxQ

        A Perfect Circle – https://vimeo.com/80748896

        Purity Ring – https://vimeo.com/53644132

        Amon Tobin – https://vimeo.com/28836404

        The Soft Moon – http://youtu.be/iigmNuZRlqU

        Prodigy / The Glitch Mob / Khameleon808 – http://youtu.be/4EtcqyArzZk

        Excision – https://vimeo.com/97556094

        How To Destroy Angels – https://vimeo.com/56805766 [1]

        Tool – Sober – https://vimeo.com/27941432

        Tool – Sober – kids cover by O’Keefe Foundation – http://youtu.be/ctt87B6hU1M. <- totally worth checking out

        The Knife – https://vimeo.com/29093748

        Filter – http://youtu.be/Uq_REsvdCg0

        The Glitch Mob – Apple Tree compilation – https://vimeo.com/69237151

        [1] and yes, this is a picture of me with Alessandro Cortini (right) and Richard Devine (left).

    10. Carrie in Scotland*

      Portishead? Based on The Affair I’d recommend Fiona Apple as her theme song to the programme was amazing and haunting.

      Best recent discovery was a local to NE Scotland teenage singer who is quite folky/acoustic-y called Best Girl Athlete.

      Love Elbow too!

    11. Carrie in Scotland*

      Oh, if you like shouty bands my friend plays guitar in another NE Scottish band – their name is Carson Wells, they tour from time to time.

    12. Cath in Canada*

      Do you like podcasts? I hear a lot of new bands via music podcasts, and sometimes end up buying their full albums.

      What I do is to search iTunes for a band that I like, and click the podcast selection. That way you find the shows that play at least some music that you already know you’re going to like, and if the curator’s any good, you’ll like the other, new, stuff that they play too. The shows are variable quality and I end up ditching maybe about a quarter of the ones I sign up for, either because I don’t like the music or because the host talks too much between songs or whatever, so there’s some trial and error involved.

    13. TheLazyB (UK)*

      I planned to reply to everyone but left it too late so – THANK YOU everyone and there are loads of suggestions I already like so I think the others are likely to be good too :)

    14. Swoop*

      a friend recently got me on to Melody Gardot (one play of ‘Your Heart is as Black as Night’ and I was hooked :) ), Nightwish, and Within Temptation
      bit different than the above, but if singer/songwriters are your thing at all Natalie Gelman is quite good

  28. TheLazyB (UK)*

    The other week I was shopping, I’d done ‘click and collect’ for four items and gone straight up to the store to collect them. In between me leaving home and me arriving one of the items disppeared. The poor guy who served me was totally perplexed as the item in question kept appearing on his internet searches then disappearing every time he tried to add it to the till.

    To cut a very long story very short in the end he tracked it down and sold it to me. I then asked to speak to a manager and he looked rather nonplussed but said he’d get her as soon as she’d finished on the phone, which he did. She came up clearly expecting a complaint and I said “I just wanted to say thank you, this guy has been really helpful and friendly with a really difficult situation”. She was clearly really chuffed, as was he, and it was just nice all round. Made the frustration prior to that kinda worthwhile.

    Positive feedback rocks for everyone :)

      1. fposte*

        It’s not really an opposite meaning; it’s a mistaken use (the “unfazed” meaning) that’s gathered energy. Kind of like “weary” for “wary” or “leery.”

        1. fposte*

          Sorry, that was confusing; of course the drift usage is the opposite of how Lazy B used it. I just was meaning this wasn’t some “lift” and “elevator” situation.

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          I spent years sort of guessing at “nonplussed” from context rather than actually looking it up, and in my head it meant “having a negative reaction” (non=negative, plussed=positive, happy) and it still trips me up trying to remember it actually means confused or perplexed.

  29. hermit crab*

    I just wanted to thank everyone who wrote in with Vancouver Island travel tips a couple of weeks ago! We had a great time! Onnellinen, we got pizza from Pizzeria Prima Strada twice, it was so good. And Cath, we spent the entire time in Pacific Rim National Park looking for Ewoks. :)

  30. Anon Accountant*

    Just a rhetorical question and whine. How can some people manage to “jump in the sewer and smell like a rose” to use a cliche to describe a situation?

    Not ready to discuss it but I know someone like this that has had so many things just handed to her while the rest of us work our butts off to try to get ahead. A few things just have me down lately.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      (Health wise and a family member’s health) have been not going as well as expected so that’s what has me down to clarify.

    2. Gene*

      That used to happen to me all the time. Of course, I was sampling the sewer coming from the Revlon factory. I’d come home covered in glitter like a stripper had exploded and smelling like a room full of hookers. At least that’s how wife#1 described it.

    3. fposte*

      Because gifts are rarely handed out evenly, and sometimes that just plain sucks. I’m sorry you’re having a tough time.

      However, you don’t know what’s going on below the surface that you see in others’ lives, so it’s quite possible you wouldn’t trade with them if you knew. cf. Edward Arlington Robinson,”Richard Cory.”

      1. Vladimir*

        Richard Cory is also great song by Simon and Garfunkel that is inspired by the poem. Btw. Another great song inspired by poem is Rime od the anciend mariner. I recomend both.

    4. AnnieNonymous*

      I’m not sure I fully understand your question, but I’ve definitely known people who coast through life and get everything they want. But here’s the thing: while I envy them in a broader sense, I don’t actually want the things that they’ve been given. Do I want a relationship and a better job? Sure. Do I want Random Friend’s exact husband and her exact job? No freaking way.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Your turn will come. I think that my life turn a little bit at 40, then a little more at 45 and this year has been amazing. Not in every aspect, of course. But I have had a good year. I would describe the first 40 years as robotically going through and trying to do the right things in life- it was draining, at best.

      It can take a life time for the full story of the rosy-smelling person to play out or even come to light. I would encourage you that often things are not what they seem. If you look at a snap shot, you will only get one part of the story. It’s best to look at the whole movie of what you know about a person’s life. This provides context which helps with perspective.

      I have a family member who appears to get everything she wants. The rest of the story is that she has a terminal and inoperable condition. Every day is a gift. Confusingly, she is able to go about having a life- she does all the things an average person does. She has been living this way for close to 30 years. We have no way to know if she will last another ten minutes or another 10 years. But, yes, she seems to get material goods and other things of significance handed to her on a silver platter, to the point that other family members comment on this.

      As I sit there and watch this person with yet another new house or new car or job, I have to remind myself that she thinks I have things and non-tangibles of value that she does not have. And so do you, you have things that other people feel that they are lacking- tangible and intangibles.

      If you are looking for a way to help ease this, then the way to combat it is to build your own plans. Set goals, figure out your steps and start. Maybe you have done this already. Well, it could be time for a check-in with those goals/plans to see how things are coming along. Or maybe the goals you pick are no longer of interest and you have new ideas, it could be time to redirect your goals that you are aiming for.

      Some times “material girl” is just annoying. And other times people like this serve to remind us that we need to up our game. You could start by asking yourself- What things do I value and yet I have managed to put on the backburner? Do I ignore things that have been long term desires for me/my family? Do I privately feel that I could be more aggressive/efficent at reaching these goals?
      When my husband passed, I went for life coaching. She was all about being deliberate. Setting goals, laying out steps to the goals and so on. Although I have done this from time to time in my life, I never consciously thought about it. And I never developed a life plan- an over arching plan for how I wanted my life to play out. There’s lots to think about when you start thinking about this stuff.

      1. Trixie*

        I’m not sure it’s a matter of “your time will come.” That’s almost like this thing that you wanted really badly didn’t come through because something else better is coming, which often doesn’t come. Things happen because they happen or due to choices we made along the way. But it is hard not to compare our lives now to peers. Those are the days to stay away from social media.

    6. Seal*

      As I get further along in my career and life in general, I run into people from my past who treated me terribly or who were just terrible people in general. Mainly abusive bullies, but also those who never had to work hard get ahead or had things handed to them on a silver platter or got ahead by taking credit for the work of others. Some of them have gone on to have hugely successful careers or are wealthy or have a certain degree of fame, or any combination thereof. And I have to say – it galls me. I can’t understand why life is such that terrible people often get ahead while nice guys finish last. I don’t buy the fact that people change, either. While some people behave badly due to immaturity and eventually grow out of it, too many others seem to have this nasty streak they just get better at hiding.

      I’m certainly not perfect and have had my moments of bad behavior, but I’m also not a forgive and forget type of person; if people cross a certainly line with me I’m completely done with them. That is undoubtedly why I have such trouble accepting those nasty people those “jump in the sewer and come out smelling like roses”. Life isn’t fair and that sucks. Sorry to be so cynical.

    7. Florida*

      There is a quote in the current edition of Reader’s Digest that is relevant here:
      “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” – Barry Switzer, former NFL coach

    8. NicoleK*

      Some people somehow manage to get everything they want. They are lucky and are at the right place at the right time. I know people who are less educated, less talented who seem to land good paying jobs left and right. Some people are just lucky.

  31. Today's anon*

    How do you get the smell out of a plastic container? I have one of those “protein shake” containers that was given to me but last week forgot to take it out of my bag and clean it right away and now there is still an ugly smell. I’ve soaked it with detergent and hot water, I’ve aired it out, washed it a zillion times. I don’t have a dishwater if that makes any difference. Is it doomed?

    1. fposte*

      I’m lazy, so I wouldn’t bother trying without a dishwasher. When I’ve had that happen, I just leave it in the dishwasher for several months and let it keep cycling along with everything, and if it’s not better by then, out it goes. But I wouldn’t bother to keep trying with a hand-wash, and I probably wouldn’t bother much if it was a smell of spoilage to start with. Plastics are often pretty permeable, so it’s likely not a superficial infiltration.

    2. nth time commenter*

      Put a spoonful of baking soda/bicarb in, shake it around a bit, and leave it overnight, then rinse thoroughly/wash again. It’s worked for me with my water bottle which picks up a really bitter stale smell whenever I leave it in the fridge for too long, anyway.

      (This reminds me that one of my plastic lunchboxes has an orange sheen which won’t wash out after I put something in oily tomatoey sauce in there. It’s been handwashed a few times and gone through the dishwasher twice but no luck yet. Not sure how to shift it – any thoughts, anyone?)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Tomato stains. Hydrogen peroxide? Lemon juice and sunlight? I would look at cleaners that remove natural stains- such as blood and grass stains.

      2. Trixie*

        This wont’ help remove tomato stains but I read to spray the container with Pam or other cooking spray before adding tomatoes. Seems to work really well so far.

        1. nth time commenter*

          Thanks – I’ll try that next time! And thanks Not So NewReader too, I’ll try your suggestions on the one I’ve already stained.

      3. Kate R. Pillar*

        Tomato stains in plastic really go away with sunlight.
        Or after many many runs through the dishwasher.

    3. nep*

      I usually have success using lemon to get odor out of plastic containers — just cut a lemon in half and rub the hell out of the container. Rinse. Repeat if necessary. Might be too far gone, but worth a try.

    4. GH in SoCAl*

      Agreed about lemon and the other cool trick that works is a denture tab! They apparently dissolve food proteins. When my metal water bottles get funky I drop a denture tablet in each one and they come out fresh (and slightly minty!)

      1. Noah*

        +1 to the denture tabs. I use my retainer cleaning tabs to clean my protein shake bottles when I travel and don’t have easy access to a kitchen sink. Those are basically denture tabs and they work great.

    5. MK2000*

      Vinegar is good at getting smells out of things, so maybe try a vinegar soak? Couldn’t hurt, might help.

  32. No name today*

    Does anyone have any suggestions for getting tested for hypothyroidism? I had a weird/embarrassing daylong episode at work the other day. I can’t describe any specific symptoms, I just felt “off” the whole day and during meetings I got super emotional and occasionally started crying, getting hot flashes, and had to excuse myself several times. My coworker took me to an urgent care center but it was so hard to describe to the doctor what was going on. He suggested that I get my thyroid tested. My mom has thyroid issues and looking at some of the emotional symptoms, I’ve decided to get tested. Should I go straight to an endocrinologist (my primary physician isn’t that great)? Any suggestions?

    1. fposte*

      It’s mostly about the blood test, so as long as your primary care physician is prepared to order the test, she should be fine. An endocrinologist would be a longer wait in most areas.

      FWIW, hot flashes and superemotional sounds more like hyperthyroid than hypothyroid to me, but it could also be a ton of other things, and it’s a pretty straightforward blood test.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t think hypothyroidism for those, either, but it’s easy for hormones/vitamins to go off and produce weird symptoms, so your doctor can test for a bunch of stuff while doing the thyroid test.

        (Personally, I get weirdly emotional from low blood sugar – if I go to the gym hungry I’d better not hear a sad song before I eat or I will be sobbing – some people get angry, but for me it’s an emotional roller coaster.)

      2. No name today*

        Thanks! I’m having a hard time interpreting the hypo/hyper symptom differences. And I have ongoing anxiety and depression, along with other things that fall into either, so perhaps it has nothing to do with the thyroid at all.

        1. fposte*

          But it’s a pretty common thing to get checked if you have anxiety/depression, too, because thyroid irregularity can play a role in those, and it’s going to be a big help to get treated if you have it. So I think it’s a reasonable thing to ask about.

          1. No name today*

            Yeah, I think my physician and psychologist are hung up on the idea that my mental health problems are due to situational causes. They never suggested getting any physical tests. I’m starting to think there is something wrong with my hormones. The other week I told my therapist that I am noticing a significant drop in mental function, which scares me. The other thing that worries me is that I seem to have some days where I am “on” and others where I am “off”. If I get the tests done when I am “on”, could the results show normal function when, in fact, it could be abnormal other days? I’ll need to ask some questions about that.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              All those things can be thyroid symptoms. I would start with that, and if you can’t get answers, then perhaps a referral to an endocrinologist might be in order. But it could be just as simple as thyroid.

        2. Observer*

          On the other hand anxiety and depression can be related to thyroid malfunction, so definitely worth following up, especially since there is a family history.

    2. Observer*

      I’d actually start with your PCP and ask for a few blood tests – but then get the results from him, not just “normal” / “problem”.

      Definitely look into thyroid – you want to test for T3, T4, TSH and antibodies. Also check for insulin resistance as blood sugar can throw you off and Vitamin D. It’s a surprisingly common issue, and can cause some seriously weird symptoms.

      1. Saro*

        Completely agree to ask for the results. My endocrinologist once said that PCP’s often misdiagnose thyroid issues. They think the normal range is bigger than what it actually is.

        1. Anx*

          Could you expound on this a bit?

          I had mine tested a while ago because I had all of the symptoms except for being overweight. In fact, the doctor first dismissed the possibility because I’m thin (though I feel fatter as my muscle mass has dropped down). I was right at the edge of a normal range. As was my iron levels.

          1. Observer*

            If your doctor dismissed the possibility of thyroid issues because of your weight, then he certainly doesn’t know much about thyroid.

            At one point the standard that was accepted was that anything up to a TSH level of 10 “normal”, although over 4.5 -5 it should be watched to see if symptoms show up. However, However, today even conservative doctors don’t like anything over 4 and many doctors will tell you that actually 2 – 2.5 is more appropriate, especially if there are any symptoms.

            I’ll post a couple of links on this in a reply.

              1. Saro*

                Thank you Observer!

                You should get the actual numbers.
                My dr aims to get mine as close to 1 as possible bc I have symptoms when it’s off. This includes anxiety and heart palpitations when it’s too fast, and foggy brain, weight gain, hair loss and infertility when it’s slow.

  33. Katie the Fed*

    Does anybody ferment vegetables at home? I just started trying it – did a great batch of sauerkraut that turned out fantastic! Now I’m looking for other things to do while the farmers markets are full. Any good ideas?

    1. skyline*

      I’ve made kimchi with great success. There’s the traditional cabbage, but you can also make with other vegetables like turnips and radishes.

      Making fermented dill pickles is on my to-do list. I’m also told you can make homemade ketchup through fermentation, too.

    2. schnapps*

      What’s your sauerkraut recipe? I love sauerkraut but coming from a germanic family, I’m pretty fussy about it. A good sauerkraut is awesome (the Costco sauerkraut is terrible)

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I borrowed a friend’s 5L fermenting crock, sliced up about 4 large cabbages, sprinkled with kosher salt (maybe 1 tablespoon?). I massaged the salt into the cabbage until it released liquid, packed in in the crock with a small handful of juniper berries (that was the hardest part – really packing it in), covered with the weights, and sealed it up. After 2 weeks it was a great level of sour and salty.

    3. LCL*

      I did carrot sticks and they were Ok. I don’t like raw carrots, so I don’t know why I thought they would be awesome. They were Ok. I tried basil and made compost…
      Going to try kraut or tomatillos next.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just did sauerkraut myself (in mason jars)– it was ok, but I need to wait until the temps are cooler here so I can ferment longer and better. I’ve done a few batches of kimchi, which is so easy and good. I just picked up some green tomatoes and will put up some sour tomatoes today.

      I’m more of a pickler, honestly, but fermentation is a great project. We have a backyard and a shed now, so that’s even better– so worries about stinking up the house!

      When the Japanese hakurei turnips are back in season, I’m going to try my hand at a turnip kimchi I had at a bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was SO good. No recipe, though, so I’ll go by ear (and nose and hand) for the first time.

  34. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

    Waiting for first baby to arrive. Due date was Wed and we saw doctor for a regular check up. To my surprise doc said, we’re not letting this pregnancy go past 41 weeks, we can induce today or I’ll give you until Monday. So now I’ve got a deadline looming and not a whole lot I can do about it. I had a lot of anxiety to work through with the pregnancy and thought of labor and while I know you can’t ever plan a birth I was really hoping to avoid being induced as I’ve heard it’s hard and fast and rough on mom and baby. Anyone have any comforting (or at least not too terrifying) stories about being induced? Any tips for staying relaxed through childbirth? I am going for long walks every day but haven’t resorted to any other internet suggestions on inducing at home.

      1. schnapps*

        Epidurals are fabulous. I loved mine after 30 hours of back labour – I finally got some rest and 6 hours later I had a baby.

        1. LibbyG*

          I was induced for the second birth, and it was totally fine: not zero-to-sixty in 4.8 seconds or anything like that. I had epidurals both times I gave birth, and I loved them because I felt so much more present during the process when the pain wasn’t so overwhelming. I had a doula during the first birth, but she was actually pretty lame. The awesome L&D nurses gave me all the support and advice I needed. You’ll be surrounded by wise and kind women, even without a doula. Best of luck! I hope it’s a great experience!

      2. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        That’s so good to hear, thank you! Undecided on the epidural, I certainly haven’t ruled it out.

        1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

          And ugh, schnapps, 30 hours of back labour sounds miserable. I guess I should look at the bright side of being induced- maybe labour won’t take so long!

          1. schnapps*

            I won’t lie. Back labour is pretty miserable. I wanted to walk around to get things moving, but after a few steps my legs would collapse.

            It was when the doctor checked me and I was 9.5cm, and then an hour later he checked me and I was 9.5cm, and I said, “Are you [insert expletive of choice] kidding me?” He pulled husband type aside and let him know that an anaesthesiologist was coming in in 20 minutes because of a caesarean and if he could get me to take an epidural things might happen faster because I would relax.

            The epidural went in, after two contractions the pain was gone, I laid down and fell asleep for two or three hours. The doctor checked me a couple of times while I was sleeping (with nurse and husband-type present), I woke up, he checked me again and I was fully dilated.

            His next question: “Would you like a mirror?”
            My answer: “No! Why would I want to see what happens to my yaya when I push out a large watermelon?”
            He laughed and said, “Yeah, no one ever wants the mirror.” I laughed too, so apparently the nap was a good thing. The only problem was they wouldn’t let me have a cup of coffee, only ice chips.

    1. Brandy*

      I was due on day X. Day X came and went. On Day X+6, my doc started talking about induction dates during my 40th week, which kind of freaked me out. It was my first kid, but my mom was late with every single one of her pregnancies and 13 days late with me (her first). I had a 100% normal preganancy with absolutely no issues, other than the fact that I was becoming the size of a houseboat.

      On top of that, the hospital didn’t do inductions over the weekend, so doc wanted to schedule mine for a friday (X+10) rather than Monday (X+13). I didn’t want to do it, and after talking it over with my husband, we decided I just wouldn’t go to the induction on Friday and then “beg forgiveness”/feign ignorance and get it scheduled during week 41. As it happens, my water broke at 2 or 3am the day I was supposed to be induced we got to the hospital around 5:45am, and baby was arrived safe and sound by 10am.

      Good thing: labor was insanely fast, since I was very dialated by that point. I think I was 5cm the last time the doc measured, and when I arrived in the hospital, I was already past 6. I pushed for 2 minutes total and the nursing student observing was told by the staff “it will be a long time before you see another labor this fast, this is NOT typical!”

      Bad news: I had planned to go sans epi, but due in part to the way things happened (nothing nothing nothing BOOM water breaks and contractions 2-3 min apart) , that idea went out the window about 40 minutes after I got to the hospital. The epi fixed everything, however, once it was in. Also, because i was so late, my baby was very big. Over a certain weight, they automatically have to get screened for diabetes (i think?) which is a series of blood tests that were a PITA, especially when it seemed totally normal to me that a baby 10 days late would be on the large side (and the kid was the same size I was when I was born…)

      HANG IN THERE! This time next week you’ll have a baby regardless of how it gets here.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        Thank you!!! That’s a great story and I will just keep focusing on the fact that one way or another, he’s going to be here soon!

    2. Observer*

      Actually, you probably CAN do something about this. Doctors say “we are doing x,y and z” a lot but, you are ultimately the one to make a decision. You need to ask your doctor what the specific issue is. If he just doesn’t do this on e general principles, you absolutely can push back.

    3. Observer*

      Another thing, if you haven’t arranged for a doula / labor coach, a good one is worth her weight in gold.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        Thanks, I’ve been wondering how much to push back on this. I agree that this is something I should have some kind of say in and was very surprised at how final “his” decision seemed to be. I think I was too taken aback to ask the right questions last week so I just said we’d definitely wait until Monday and revisit then. On Monday I plan to ask him about his reasons and what sort of options he thinks we have.

        I don’t have a doula, I made a few attempts to find one but didn’t have much luck in the area we’re living in now. I recently revisited the idea but I guess I figured that it was silly to try and find one so late in the game.

        1. schnapps*

          Where I live, you can hire a doula any time. And you can go to a midwife or doctor and state medical insurance will cover one or the other. If you start with a midwife and have medical issues they can’t handle, they transfer you to a doctor (usually an OB/Gyn). Doulas are hired privately.

          And remember, it’s your body. If it were me, unless the baby or I were being endangered by continuing the pregnancy, I’d just let him/her cook until done. Our prenatal instructor was a doula and in midwife training. She seemed pretty knowledgeable about the science behind labour. I guess when you go into labour naturally, there are a bunch of changes that happen. Your body literally prepares for labour by um, cleansing your insides, releasing hormones to loosen your joints, and prepare for lactation (she was kind of crunchy, but this is the sort of thing I believe – after all, women have been giving birth for millenia and we’ve managed to survive :))

          In the meantime: go for walks, get a pedicure, get some acupuncture if you want, bounce on a yoga ball, and have your partner/husband (if of the male persuasion) help out (wink wink, nudge nudge) :)

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Some doctors have a manner that’s overly authoritative, but regardless, you get to make the call — he can’t order you to do anything. It’s not his decision; it’s yours. He’s a resource to you, and you should ask him to explain, but what he’s giving you is a recommendation, not an order, and it may be based on assumptions about how you want to handle things that are different from how you actually feel. You may ultimately decide you want to take his recommendation after you hear the pros and cons — but you should ask him for those pros and cons and make your own decision.

          1. blackcat*


            I have not had any babies, but I have had many random injuries (I am clumsy) and asthma/allergy problems. Once I found a teaching hospital where all the docs are trained to present the pros/cons & talk out the decisions, I stayed within that system until I moved. It was GREAT. And 90% of the time, there was a medical student there who would ask all sorts of educated questions about the pros/cons that I wouldn’t think to ask. When it came time for treatments, the docs would present evidence on either side, say a recommendation, and ask what I thought. Ultimately, I was incredibly happy with the care I got from that system, and I always felt like they heard me (also, it’s SO great to have a 3rd party in the room when you’re making big decisions. If you can bring someone else and a list of questions tomorrow, that would be ideal).

            It’s your right to be heard by your doctor. There are certain factors that make induction before 41w a good idea, but there’s also plenty of evidence* that, for many women, the risks of induction don’t outweigh the benefits until closer to 42w. So ask. There could be a good reason for a 40w induction (elevated blood pressure or blood sugar? other things I don’t know about…) or a bad reason (“big” baby, he’s going on vacation, or it’s just what he usually does).

            *According to my nurse friend who went to 42 weeks with her 1st baby. She refused to be induced–her doc pushed the “big baby” reason starting at 38 weeks. Her baby, born at 42, was like 8lbs. Which is big, but the doc was saying the ultrasound was estimating 10+lbs.

            1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

              Blackcat, that sounds like such a great healthcare system. We moved from a big city where I’d seen the same pcp for years and felt very comfortable . After moving to a few small, (more) rural areas I’ve had some very difficult experiences with doctors and I’m still working on learning how to speak up for myself or push back when I feel something is being ignored.
              At this point I think I do need more information to determine whether and when induction is right for us, hopefully I can get that information tomorrow and make a decision that I feel really good about.

              1. blackcat*

                It was a great system. I miss it! Fortunately, I’m in Boston now and every doc I’ve seen here is used to having scientists as patients (we ask lots of questions, such as “When you say ‘abnormal,’ how many standard deviations away from normal are we talking about?” Hint: the answer to that question is often around 1, which really doesn’t say much! A reason why I think all pre-meds need to take statistics, not calculus!). I do really miss having the med students always around, though. They asked fascinating questions and sometimes brought journal articles, making my scientist self happy.

                Do you have a partner, friend, or parent who can go with you? It’s often easier to get the questions answered if there’s someone else there with you. I also recommend having the questions on a piece of paper you could hand to the doctor and/or visibly check off when you felt you had an answer.

                Good luck!

            2. Brandy*

              On balance, my doc was convinced I’d have an “average” baby, and when I was 9 days late baby “measured” 8lbs. Kid was almost 10lbs and my doc said “where were you hiding that thing?!” I am not a slight person, and I gained 58+ Lbs (stopped stepping on the scale at 40weeks) but apparently I gained it evenly? (Fwiw i returned to my prepreg weight and size by about 5 months, with no real effort at all, just took time).

          2. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

            Thank you, Alison. This (resource vs. authority) is a really helpful way to frame the relationship. I struggle with being a strong advocate for myself in healthcare settings. It’s something I’ve been working on but there are times when I’d really like to be more informed and assertive but still end up nervous or intimidated. I’ll prepare a list of questions and objectives and hopefully tomorrow’s discussion will be productive.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sometimes it’s easier if you make it clear right up front where you’re coming from. So it could help to say something at the start of the conversation tomorrow like, “I’m not convinced I want to go with induction at this point. Can you tell me more about the pros and cons and why you’re recommending that?” So he’s clear at the start that you’re going to make the call and are looking to him to advise you.

              Also, ask him, “What would happen if we waited a week?” Sometimes the answer to that (in all medical situations, not birth specifically) makes it clear it’s a perfectly reasonable option, but for some reason it’s not clear until you ask it that way.

    4. Been there, done that*

      Both daughters were induced. No issues related to the inductions. And it’s kind of nice to know exactly when you’re going to the hospital. Labors were different for both but that would happen anyway. Had 3 pregnancies and no epidural for any of them. Was given some short acting pain meds for 2&3 (daughters). The nurses should help you through labor. And before you know it the baby is here and you forget about what you just went through.

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      It will be okay. They tried to induce me chemically, finally broke my water and it was pretty fast after that but it wasn’t awful. They did give me some pain medicine since I’d refused the epidural, so I’d say it depends on a lot of factors. One thing I liked was walking calmly into the hospital and checking in, rather than a wild ride while in labor. I was in a safe place with professionals to help me. I really trusted my doc. And my partner was there. So that all helped enhance my calm. Mom and baby were a-okay.

      Best wishes!

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        Thanks for sharing your stories, everyone! No matter what happens, it helps a lot to hear from people who’ve been in this situation and feel good about their choices and the resulting outcomes.

    6. Persephone*

      I was induced six months ago — I also wasn’t crazy about the idea but decided to go with the doctor’s recommendation. Everything went fine! I checked in on a Friday night and had the baby the following afternoon. Most of that time was low-key. I was given Cervadil overnight and pitocin the next day. I did get an epidural. I will say if someone mentions the words “Foley bulb,” you might consider getting the epidural before they put it in if you’re going that route! But that part was over pretty fast. Actually, the staff was a little surprised how fast everything went. Inductions can be rather drawn out sometimes.

  35. Ruth (UK)*

    Time of year for spiders here… For one of the first times ever, I am dealing with my fear by moving into the next room and leaving it. I normally flee or attack in panic, depending on whether it’s in my house or not. When I saw it, my heart stopped. I sat for a few minutes, having to consciously focus on breathing as normally as possible. Then I went into the next room. Luckily, it is not in my bedroom. I’ve now been going through odd increases and decreases in level of fear as it almost fades entirely but then resurfaces strongly… It’s late at night here and I’m planning to go to bed so… Wish me luck, and it felt calming a little to write this down… Anyone else trying to address this or a similar fear?

    1. Lizzie*

      I’m glad you’re making progress with it, at least! I tried to get over this in my early college days but it didn’t take, and I still resort to “kill it with the nearest non-breakable heavy object.”

      Do you think moving them outside might help? That way you haven’t assaulted the spider but he’s not in your space anymore?

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        It was stationary.. If I tried to catch it, it might move and scare me more. Weirdly, I found it easier to leave than try to catch..

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I think I’ve seen specialized “bug vacuums” advertised – you suck it up into a tube and can then take it outside and release it. That way you don’t have to get too close. A regular vacuum would work too, of course, but getting the spider back out (alive, anyway) would be more of a problem.

          I’m OK with smaller spiders, and my cats will catch and eat the bigger ones. But a few weeks ago a f%$*ing HUGE hornet came into the room while I was home alone, and I had a very visceral response to it – spiked blood pressure, racing heart, the works. I’ve never seen anything like it – even the cat who has caught wasps before took one look and noped right out of the house. I opened all the doors and windows while flapping my hands around and screeching, then retreated to the kitchen for an hour until I thought it was probably gone. It wasn’t, but it was looking very slow and woozy on the windowsill, so I veeeeeery carefully put a glass over it, and my husband killed it when he got home!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            A tip–spray the hornet or wasp with the stickiest hairspray you have (aerosol works well–I recommend Aqua-Net or something equally cheap). Its wings will gum up and it will drop to the floor and you can squash it with a shoe. If you spray bug spray on them, then you have a room full of poison and it just makes the hornet mad. You can keep a can of the cheap hairspray around if this happens periodically.

    2. Rebecca*

      I used to be afraid of them, so I looked them up on the internet. Turns out there are very few venomous spiders here in PA. Most of them, while scary looking, are harmless to humans. I used to think the barn funnel weaver spiders were scary, but now that I know they are just big bug eaters with striped legs, I move them outside using a big mason jar and lid. I put the jar over them, and gently slid the lid (or a thin piece of cardboard) underneath, then turn the jar over. They can’t escape, then I move them outside. Now I marvel at their webs, especially the big garden type spiders. I feel badly about killing them since they do a big service by catching other insects that bother me.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        They are almost never venomous here, my fear is totally irrational. Yours sounds more like me and snakes. I am not scared of snakes, but would obv be cautious in an area where venomous ones were common. Our only dangerous snake is the adder which is not very common and is mostly found in heath

        1. Rebecca*

          We have 3 venomous snakes here in Pennsylvania, timber rattlesnake, copperhead, and Massasauga rattlesnake, but only 2 are found in my specific area. I’ve seen them several times in my life, and I steer clear! Once I figure out if the snake I’ve encountered is venomous or not, I can calm down and be reasonable :)

          1. Cath in Canada*

            My first year here, I went camping with a friend who’s a fellow immigrant, and I saw a snake right next to the tent, right before I went to bed. I asked my friend if there were any venomous snakes around here, and he didn’t know either! And of course we had no cell phone reception to look it up. That was a fun night! Always look these things up before you go :D

            (Turns out there are no venomous snakes on the BC coast, but there are rattlesnakes in the interior).

    3. Otter box*

      I have such a debilitating fear of spiders, and I live alone for the first time so I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it. I’m having a mini panic attack just reading this thread. I might honestly resort to paying a friend an obscene amount of money to come over and kill it for me.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        At that level of fear, I think your best choice might be to keep a lot of books about. They are good weapons. I honestly used to be so scared that even small ones would have me fleeing and screaming and I’d often cry afterwards. I started looking them up online and learning facts about individual species. It has made them gradually less scary for me. I still have that fear, but it’s one that I can live with. I want to be over it of I ever raise kids so I can’t pass it on.

        I like other bugs. I recently picked up quite a large grasshopper that had got into the kitchen when I was babysitting a little girl, about five years old. At first she was scared – nervous and backing away but not terrified and I said things like ‘look how cute it is’ or ‘it’s so pretty!’ Etc and she came to look and then wanted to hold it. It escaped again before she helped me catch it and put it outside. I want my kids (if/when I have any) to be like that with all of those types of fears… At the moment I think they’d learn a fear of spiders from me…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Kudos to you, Ruth. I know what you are talking about, because I have bought books on other things that scared the daylights out of me. Damn. It was hard to pick out a book. I would bring it home and it would sit there for months before I looked at it. Then finally I looked at it.
          Knowledge is, indeed, power. The more you know, the less you can be rattled by stuff.

          I wanted to point out that this way of challenging fears is an excellent life habit. Things come up that are scary/unfamiliar. Picking up a book or looking at websites is a good way to bring that fear back to a reasonable place. Otter, if you can kind of convince yourself that this is a new life habit for you- to read up on subjects that challenge you- then you might be able to wade into this a little bit easier. This is where you take something that seems to be an encumberance, a burden to bear, and ease yourself into finding new ways to deal with stuff that is worrisome to you.

          It has gotten easier over the years, I still procrastinate a bit before confronting a new found fear/heavy concern. But my procrastionation time is no where near as long as it used to be. And my fears are not as high as they used to be, either.

      2. Harriet*

        After my first year of living alone with a debilitating fear of spiders, I ended up going on a spider phobia programme at my local zoo. It was honestly life changing and I’m so glad I did it. I’ll never love them, but my fear level is vastly reduced and I can cope much better now.

        If there is a similar programme running near you I’d strongly recommend it. Being scared and apprehensive in your own home is so tough.

      3. Harriet*

        P.s. On a more practical note, I used to hoover them up and always kept the hoover next to me during spider season. The arms length-ness of it really helped me.

        The cat will chase them if she sees them, but was generally staring at me wondering why I was screaming and pointing, instead of looking behind her at the spider running around…

      4. Otter box*

        Thanks, those are all good ideas! I like the zoo suggestion – we do have a big zoo here and they may have a program like that. I’ve gotten to the point that I can kill them with only a moderate amount of panic if they’re on a flat surface I can easily reach with a shoe or something, but I had one living in a groove in my window and I could not get to it. I stuffed a bunch of cotton balls in the gap and 2 months later still haven’t been able to remove them for fear of what I’ll find. My high ceilings also worry me now.

        I think part of my fear is finding 3 different giant house spiders (I think they’re called that) in my home several years ago – those things are HUUUUUUUUGE and hairy and brown and traumatizing (google them if you dare). I was terrified of spiders before, but I’ve never been able to get the possibility of one of those out of my mind and it’s made it worse.

    4. TheLazyB (UK)*

      When I bought my flat I decided I needed to be able to deal. I can now put a glass over a spider, slide paper under, tip it upside down so it falls and take it outside. And I always freaked out before then. It’s possible.

      I like the idea of spiders but hate them in my house.

      Trying not to pass it onto my kid but seeing as DH is even more scared than me it’s unlikely!

    5. E*

      I have this, but with cockroaches (the big outdoor kind). Nothing really help me other than bug spray, keeping a very clean house (so you can quickly and easily scan walls and furniture for critters), and sleeping with the light on if it’s a really bad event.

      Mostly, I’m hear to say that you’re doing great, and not to be too hard on yourself.

  36. fposte*

    Any window savants around? I have oldish vinyl-framed windows, and I have a recurring problem: when I unlock the bottom sash, the top sash slides down slightly and unevenly, and then sticks completely. So now I can’t lock the window, because the top sash won’t go back up far enough, but I can’t pull the top sash down to lubricate the tracks, either, and there’s not enough space to get a lubricant straw in–there’s not even a gap most of the time. The channels are aging plastic, so there’s not a lot of flexibility in them. I was hoping to find a 2×4 in my basement of a usable length but only found a couple of 1x2s; I’ll try to brace the thing back up with those, but man, this is so annoying.

    All the stuck window advice I can find on the net is about wood-framed windows and bottom sashes, so that’s no help.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Are there any screws in the channels? From what I am reading those can be tightened or loosened to adjust the window frame*. It sounds like the frame is loose at the top and tighter towards the middle.

      *Definitely not window savant, proceed with caution. Will ask my window savant friend in the morning if I don’t see other answers here.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Okay, I checked with my encyclopedia-ish friend. He said this happens for one of two reasons:
        1) The window was not put in square to begin with. This would mean that you have always had this problem.

        2) The house has shifted and the window is no longer square in it’s frame. You would figure this is the reason because the window worked well at one time.

        He said in your case, the window fits too loose at the top, that causes it to drop down. Then once it drops down it fits too tight in the middle, which causes it to get stuck.
        Loosening the screws at the top and tightening the screws in the middle might help… if you can get at them…. sigh.
        He felt that this is something that someone has to look at in person to actually decide what to do. You might need to have the window taken out and put back in correctly.

        My house is built on very swampy, wet land. It shifts around. I can open a door that fits the doorway correctly. When I decide to close the door, the door no longer goes back in the opening. The house moved. My brilliant friend put in drainage for me, shored up the foundation, etc. I should be having less issues. None of this is fun stuff. At all.

        1. fposte*

          I’ll have a look for screws! Thanks for the thought.

          My suspicion is that it’s not that the window or frame itself is out of true but the plastic in the tracks has dried out and gotten brittle, and that it hasn’t done so evenly, so there’s a little bit of shrinkage and the friction’s uneven when things do slide, so it slides unevenly and gets stuck very easily. I have the nasty feeling that even if I could take them out, lubricating the plastic (I don’t care if it slides down as long as I can slide it up again) isn’t going to solve the brittleness thing. The annoying thing is that I just got new glass in these, and if the plastic is this bad I may have to get new windows soon anyway. Bah.

          1. Natalie*

            Do you have a rubber mallet? That might work to force the top window back up – open the bottom window all the way so you can access the lower part of the top window, and then bang it with the mallet. It’s usually wide, so the force is more distributed, and the rubber will keep it from scratching the frame.

  37. Lizzie*

    I went for a run this afternoon and absolutely witnessed one of Local University’s fraternity boys getting peed on by his dog mid-walk.

    I didn’t like myself, but I laughed so hard I had to stop running.

    Please tell me someone else finds this hysterical, and I’m not just a cruel human being masquerading as a nice lady.

    1. Nina*

      I’d laugh too, I can’t even lie. I’m sure the guy was OK and was able to walk it off. I think it would be worse if he stepped in dog poop.

    2. AnotherFed*

      I’d have laughed, too! It’s hilarious, and while the frat boy might be embarrassed, there’s no harm done – shoes/clothes wash, and I don’t think there’s a frat house on the planet that hasn’t had grosser things to clean up after.

    3. Noah*

      I would laugh too! Trust me, he’s exposed to far grosser things living in a fraternity house. I went back for an alumni event recently and didn’t even want to sit in some rooms.

      1. Lizzie*

        I hadn’t even thought of that. Apparently I just made the real-life version of the D: emoji face at my screen.

        I was in a sorority in undergrad but we didn’t have a house (none of the Greek organizations did, and they still don’t – small school). I’m suddenly *very* happy about that.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I can’t believe you didn’t run by and yell something like, “Now you’re really and truly his!”

      1. Lizzie*

        I don’t know if I would have been able to breathe to do it! I’d been running for three miles already and I was absolutely dying laughing.

  38. AV*

    How can you really learn Excel when you don’t really have a practical use for it? I’m sort of interested in becoming really “good” at Excel (and I know that means different things in different industries). I just think it would be an interesting skill to have. Are there any good websites for this? I took a course 2 years ago where we worked with Excel and, ugh, I’ve forgotten everything because I had nowhere to apply it!

    I’ve recently started to learn French and I’m almost wondering if there’s a duolingo-esque site for Excel and other programs.

    1. Nina*

      Youtube has some great Excel tutorials. It’s a good way to pick and choose your proficiency level so you don’t have to slog through everything. Motion Training;s Excel lessons are a good place to start.

    2. skyline*

      Ask your public library! Many have subscriptions to websites like Microsoft IT Academy, Lynda.com, or Universal Class that cardholders can use for free.

    3. Noah*

      I learned so much about Excel in a freshmen level, management information systems class. It is probably the one college course that I see a direct link to my daily work. I would check around and see if you can audit a course at a loca university or community college.

    4. MJ*

      Beyond online courses available through the library, actual practice is the best teacher. Try creating practical documents with which you have some experience. For example, create a timesheet where you put in the start and end times for each day and any unpaid breaks, and the spreadsheet calculates total time worked, over time due, and vacation accrued. The formulas will need to recognize the day of the week in order to do this, and also be able to subtract time. Then add in ways to log vacation, holiday, and sick time used. Then make it pretty.

      Other examples from every day life are a checkbook register, an amortization of your mortgage, and a budget.

  39. Please*

    How do you deal with driving long distances when you always feel tired/exhausted, and randomly get dizzy? I have to drive 5 hours each way next week (business trip leaving Sunday and returning Friday- hope it’s still ok to post here). I rarely drive more than 10-15 minutes, so I’m just not used to having to concentrate so hard for several consecutive hours.

    Most of the trip is on the highway. I’m worried that I will fall asleep or black out behind the wheel. I’m more worried about hitting someone else and possibly killing them. I regularly sleep about 10-11 hours per night, and often fall asleep before it’s dark outside in the evenings, but I’m still exhausted. Any tips on keeping awake and alert are appreciated. I’m also have some issues focusing my eyes when I’m tired so any tips on keeping my vision in focus would be great too.

    1. Rebecca*

      I hope you don’t mind me asking, but have you seen a doctor? It sounds like you need a lot of sleep, and even with 10 or 11 hours of sleep, you still feel tired and exhausted. There could be a medical issue. I am not a doctor or medical professional, but throughout my life I’ve met people who have had conditions like sleep apnea, or other medical issues like a viral infection that causes a lot of tiredness, even with sleep. When I had mono, I slept at least 14 hours a day, and when I was awake, I was exhausted.

      I would find out if someone could drive you, or you could ride with a coworker, or take some sort of transportation (train or bus) if possible.

      1. Steve G*

        I agree, but at the same time, we don’t know if Please has a medical issue they know about but just don’t want to get into. And sleeping 10hours/night isn’t that crazy, though the tired-during-the day part is…

      2. Please*

        Yes, I have a diagnosed and untreated condition. I cannot get treatment for the foreseeable future.

        Last time I made this trip it was with a close coworker, who gladly drove the whole way, but she’s moved on to greener pastures at a different company.

        I have looked into train tickets and it would be cheaper than gas (which my company reimburses) but my manager said I had to drive, because I’d still need a car at the other end of the train ride (which is true). And I cannot rent a car on the other side).

        My plan right now is to leave by noon on Sunday to do the whole trip in daylight, sleep 14-15 hours the night before (which is usually enough that I feel truly awake for 8-9 hours)- with plenty of coffee/pee breaks, lots of water, and other things I do to stay awake during a normal day. I’m even willing to pull over and take a nap if I have to. But the return trip on Friday evening after a full work day honestly scares the living crap out of me…I might just pay for a hotel room part way and complete the rest of the trip Saturday morning.

        1. Natalie*

          I think you can beg off by virtue of your condition. It might be around conversation but I think you should do it – it really doesn’t sound like this drive is safe for you.

        2. catsAreCool*

          You can check out a book on CD from the library – if you find a good book, it can really make the miles go by. For a long trip, I like to buy chocolate with almonds in it and soft drinks.

          A hotel room sounds like a smart idea.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      Can you tell your boss that you have bad eyesight and can’t drive long distances? See if you can get him/her to arrange a carpool or other transportation. You really shouldn’t drive if you’re that worried.

    3. Steve G*

      I am burning CDs right now for a long trip tomorrow…I try to do that for trips, and to find/burn music I’m not that familiar with + podcasts on topics I’ve always wanted to learn about + anything in my foreign language, i.e., anything that is novel/new/exciting to my brain. + budget an extra hour for frequent stops to get out and walk around

        1. BRR*

          I do it too! My car is 13 years old so only CDs or radio and I don’t like the radio because I’d rather control what I listen to and not have commercials.

          1. I'm all out of bubblegum*

            It’s probably not exactly news but there’s a ton of stuff out there like this:


            I own this particular model and works just fine – a bit on the expensive side, there are other, newer devices that are cheaper but I have no experience with them:




        2. Elizabeth West*

          I do, for skating–I’d still do it for long car trips, but my car CD player is skipping and everybody tells me there is no way to clean it and that I have to pay $$$$ to replace it. I have an auxiliary jack and a cord so screw that. I just use my phone now.

        3. Anx*

          I like to use CDs as opposed to my iPod sometimes because it’s easier to see the controls than to use the iPod. I only do this when I know I’ll get sick of my shuffle or otherwise be tempted to restart a playlist on a long road where I don’t feel like pulling over.

      1. Please*

        Yeah I’ve already bought some new albums haha. Put them on my phone. I got some podcasts too- there’s one I just got into, so I downloaded back episodes all the way back to January just in case! Those are good tips.

        I guess the problem is that I don’t just lose concentration/ get bored and fall asleep. I fall asleep even when I’m fully mentally engaged. It’s like my brain just shuts off while going full speed.

        1. fposte*

          That really isn’t good. I would emphasize Noah’s point of frequent stops–not even to nap, just to walk around and break up your focus. If you’re on the interstate, assume every rest stop has your name on it. Pretend you’re collecting maps :-). Window open can also be helpful; also, crunchy snacks, like carrot sticks, can help because they’re both loud and effortful. Also maybe a water sprayer to give yourself a bit of a spritz, which tends to sharpen the senses; I’ve had good luck with that one. I haven’t tried a kitchen timer, but a little one with a decent beep could be stuck on the dash and set to go off every 15 minutes or so, which might perk your focus up.

          Overall, though, I really think your plan to stay over Friday night and drive back Saturday is the best one. That’s a long drive to do at the end of a workweek even for people without your energy challenges.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Fposte reminded me, chewing gum is a good way to raise up your energy levels, I was told. The increase is about 20%.

          2. Stephanie*

            I work in shipping and I think there must be secret reserves of energy drinks and sunflower seeds in the building. The long-haul truckers all seem to live off those. You could try snacking on something like sunflower seeds that are relatively effortful to eat.

          3. Please*

            Thanks, I’ll practice eating and driving at the same time (I usually can’t take a hand off the wheel or I start turning the vehicle)

    4. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Is carpooling a possibility? Or a bus?

      My family lives a few hours away, so I get to make that drive throughout the year for holidays. If I’m alone in the car, I can get tired because driving is mostly muscle memory at this point, there’s very little active decision making involved.

      It helps immensely to have things that keep my brain active – if I have people along, there’s conversation. If not, I load up my ipod:
      comedy podcasts – if I’m laughing, I’m not falling asleep
      debates – if I’m yelling counter-points at the wheel, I’m not falling asleep
      music, of course – road trips are great for singing along, badly, to anything you want at any volume you like
      Give yourself plenty of extra time so you can stop and walk around.

      All that said, if you’re truly worried about this and there’s no other means of getting there (no carpool, no bus, no train, no puddle-jumper flight), can you get out of it? I’m not going to internet diagnose, but I agree with Rebecca – even outside of the long sleep hours, the random dizziness and exhaustion seems like it may be a medical issue, and both (plus unfocused vision!) are a recipe for disaster on a drive that’s much, much longer than you’re used to.

      1. Stephanie*

        debates – if I’m yelling counter-points at the wheel, I’m not falling asleep

        Yes. Finding the local tinfoil-hat talk radio station on the AM dial (there’s always at least one) always keeps me alert on trips.

        1. Natalie*

          A weird UFO show got me through Wisconsin-nowhere at 3 am. It was alternately annoying and creepy, and the only thing on the air.

    5. Noah*

      I like to listen to comedy, talk radio, or audio books. I find it keeps my mind more engaged than music. I also plan extra time so I can stop every hour or two and get out of the car and walk.

      If I end up feeling really sleepy I’ll pull over and sleep for 15-20 minutes. I usually feel 10x better after a quick nap. Especially true if I have to drive through the night for some reason.

    6. schnapps*

      If I had random dizzy spells and extreme fatigue, quite honestly, I wouldn’t do that drive. I’d call or email my boss, explain to him/her what’s going on (just as you did above) and that you’re really worried about driving that long. Tell him you’re going to book a doctor’s appointment for the week after you get back (AND DO IT).

      Is there a coach/bus you could take (a la Greyhound) instead? Or take a friend with you?

      If it were me, before I did anything including driving for that long, I’d make a doctor’s appointment. They’ll start off by sending you for blood tests and go from there.

      1. Please*

        I’ve had so many blood tests I might as well be a pin cushion. Doctors are very good these days but medicine is not magic.

    7. Florida*

      Listen to music, book, or podcasts helps the time go by.

      If I get tired, I drive with the window down. It’s hard to fall asleep with all that air blowing in your face.

      Also frequent breaks. Stop at a rest stop and get out and walk around for 2 minutes. Breaks don’t have to be long, but stand up and stretch a little.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      My setting was only kind of similar to yours. I was putting in 18 hour days and wondering why I was tired.

      Can you get a doctor’s note saying this trip is not doable for you?

      I do have two tips. One is to drive with you window open, especially if it is cool outside. This can help keep you alert.
      The other tip is kind of questionable: take your shoe off. This allows you to feel the pedal better and be more cognizant of what you are doing. HOWEVER, driving without your shoe is illegal in some states. It’s not illegal in NY, as far as I know, but officers do not like to see people doing this.
      Shoes do slide around. If you decide to do this put the shoe in a place where it cannot slide up to your pedals and cause you further difficulties. Secure that shoe.

      I have driven without my shoe and found it did help. I use mostly the area of my foot that is under my big toe to push on the gas pedal, so this worked out okay for me. You might want to test the idea before you start out.

      1. Please*

        I use the same part of my foot actually. My brother says he uses only his toe, so I guess it varies from driver to driver. I will test that idea, that sounds like a good tip, although I will check the legality first (in both my state and the destination state). I do have to do the trip, though — if I say it’s not medically doable, they’ll just fire me and find someone else who can do my job + the trip.

        1. schnapps*

          So if you have an accident along the way because you fell asleep, is your employer liable? Particularly if you let them know in advance?

          Also, have you had a sleep study done? A friend of mine had a similar problem – turns out she has narcolepsy with cataplexy.

          And ask for testing for sleep apnea if you haven’t already. Many people with sleep apnea “wake up” several times a night but don’t remember it.

          1. Please*

            I already have a diagnosed condition. It has a name. What I do not have, is treatment.

            If I have an accident the last thing I care about is if my employer is liable.

            I appreciate the concern but unless you are willing to pay for all my medical care and replace my salary when I get fired, it’s not helping.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              One more for you: hydrate. I only realized recently that dehydration is linked to dizziness. If you are prone to the dizzy spells, then being dehydrated would probably aggravate that.

              Just a shot in the dark question. Do you use synthetic sugars in anything? Diet soda? Coffee?

              1. Please*

                No I don’t use sugars, only cream. I don’t drink pop because it gives me gas haha. I drink about 6 liters of water per day, my coworkers have noticed and make fun of me for it (real mature). Yes, if you are dehydrated your blood pressure drops which can cause dizziness for sure.

            2. schnapps*

              I’m sorry about that, Please. I didn’t realize you have a diagnosed condition.

              What I was getting at was that if you employer is liable (or thinks he is liable) it may be an incentive to accommodating your travel requirements. Maybe there’s a way through the ADA on that? (I’m Canadian so it’s a pretty random thought).

              I’ll shut up now :)

    9. Amber Rose*

      I’m in a similar boat except I don’t have a diagnosis.

      Eating protein helps me. Like, chips do nothing but jerky or nuts give me some alertness. Vitamins B12 and D are good natural energy boosts.

      I fell asleep on the highway once and hit a rumble strip. The fear adrenaline was good for a couple miles. Can you maybe stop and do some jumping jacks or jog in place, get your heart beating a little faster?

    10. Tennessee*

      If you are still monitoring this thread — be sure to do a wake-up stop about a 1/2 hour to hour out from your destination! That last 1/2 hour stretch is the most likely time for a driver to fall asleep. Apparently, being close to the destination, we relax, and that can be deadly. And definitely try to find a co-driver. Lots of people actually like to drive, some of us will use any excuse to take a long drive, so ask around. Good luck!

    11. Chris A*

      Responding kinda late, but I used to drive 5 hours each way once a month for work. Normally I would listen to an audiobook, but whenever I started feeling tired or drowsy I would put in a favorite very lively music and sing along at the top of my lungs! It perked me right up and I can’t imaging anyone falling asleep while singing.

  40. Rebecca*

    I found some nail art channels on YouTube and have been happily wasting time watching different techniques for some pretty colorful nail art. I even got brave enough to try one of the techniques. It involved painting my nails white, then putting green, yellow, blue, pink, and purple polish on a makeup sponge and dabbing it on my nails, followed by a clear top coat. I got so many compliments, and people wanted to know who did this for me :) My next task may be lightning bolts, accomplished with strips of painter’s tape. I want to go for an 80’s color scheme of pink, green, and white.

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      That’s so cool! Youtube video tutorials can be super nutty, but it’s really fun when something works. A few weeks ago I saw a video on Refinery29 that showed a different placement for smoky eye shadow – I finally found something that works for me!

    2. Lillie Lane*

      I do the makeup sponge dabby thing too! My favorite is a base of metallic teal-y turquoise blue, then several layers of almost-black iridescent tiny glitter in an ombré shading that gets darkest at the tip, then an all-over overcoat of iridescent larger glitter in blues/greens. It was from an online nail artist inspired by Van Gogh’s the Starry Night. Sinful Colors brand, so super inexpensive!

      1. Rebecca*

        That sounds pretty! I saw a video about how to do a starry night theme, starting with a dark blue and working toward black at the tips, then finished with a glitter layer on the tips. I want to try it, but I need to get some of those little foam circular sponge things first.

  41. Amber Rose*

    Just a random piece of romance: husband and I had our first kiss 10 years ago today. :D

    So far we played D&D for 4 hours and now we’re at a fancy restaurant having steak (he’s stepped away for a second).

  42. skyline*

    I bought new toys for my cats at Target this week — three little rattling catnip balls that look like Halloween pumpkins. The cats have plenty of toys along the same theme (balls that roll and make noise) but these have been a surprise huge hit! It’s been one long game of kitty soccer around here, with some bonus games of Fetch. And given that the toys look like jack-o-lanters, it’s especially hilarious when the cats start carrying the toys around the apartment in their mouths.

    (Target also had cardboard cat scratcher/houses that were decorated to look like haunted houses. If I didn’t still have the very similar cardboard gingerbread house from last Christmas–now somewhat dilapidated–I would have bought it, too. Leads to lots of good photo ops!)

    1. Rebecca*

      My office mate picked up a Snacky Mouse for me, and just one of my cats figured it out. She’s pretty sly, so she plays with it behind my chair (where I put it so the dog doesn’t step on it and break it) and she eats all the treats that fall out!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Aww, that’s cute. I wish Psycho Kitty was more into toys. She has a couple she likes–a little monster and a tiny version of that silly grinning weiner-shaped dog toy–but other than that, she doesn’t mess with them much. I did get her some small catnip mice at my auntie’s vet in Kingston (that was her British souvenir, LOL) and she does like the one I gave her. I KNOW she plays with it, because when I take it out of her doghouse and leave it out, I find it in weird spots on the patio. I just never catch her at it!

      1. skyline*

        It’s always amusing to see what cat toys have moved around overnight while I was sleeping or during the day when I was at work. Often they are ones that the cats never actually play with while I am watching. More than once I’ve woken up and found a little pile of toys next to me on the bed!

  43. M.*

    So since I’ve been away for a few weeks just an update on things:

    Got my guyfriend the help he needed and he’s doing loads better. It is beyond me how someone who lives with family could get so bad, but on the other hand, I think they just ignore things for the most part. Showing up on a check in and finding a grown man running around in the drive way completely naked was something that has never shown up on any of my bucket lists. He’s managed to book up enough work (he mows lawns and does home repairs) to keep him busy for the next few weeks so that coupled with meds should help.

    I went to visit my parents. One, because my grandfather is dying although no one wants to come out and say the words. Two, I needed to decompress. My parents helped me pay for the flights so it was nice. And although my relationship with my family is strained, it was a good trip. Except now my parents seem to think I’m too sick to work and are trying to come up with a decent small business thing for me to do. Oh well, they are at least focused on something.

    I did get a small 6 day project offer, that I’m doing now. And I think I’m being approved to substitute teach. Also, someone contacted me about possibly tutoring/guiding their daughter in her homeschool study plan. So hopefully things are starting to look up.

  44. Trillian*

    Domestic question: is there a way to get cooking oil stains out of cotton? I made the mistake of wearing one of my favourite T-shirts while frying on an unfamiliar stove, and there was an eruption!

    1. Stephanie*

      Try spraying WD-40 on the stain. I find that sometimes “regenerates” the oil stain and it comes out in the wash. You may need to wash it a second time to get all the WD-40 out.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      Sometimes, Dawn or another dish soap, scrubbed pretty well into the stain will work for me. Be careful if the fabric isn’t colorfast!

      1. the gold digger*

        Dawn only. Other soap does not work, or at least that was my experience when I was my wearing my husband’s sweatshirt – his favorite – and got chicken grease on it. It has to be Dawn. Hot water and you may have to run it through the wash more than once or twice.

        Also, do not dry the item in the dryer until the stain is gone, otherwise you will just set the stain and it will never come out.

    3. Nina*

      Coat the whole stain in baby powder. Not just a dusting, but cake it on. The powder will absorb the oil, you may even see the outline where the oil stained the fabric.

        1. onnellinen*

          Seconding the “do not put it in the dryer” advice – the dryer will set the stain, and then there’s no second chance!

    4. Elkay*

      Washing up liquid, it will cut through the grease. Worked on my sweatshirt that got attacked by spitting sausages.

    5. Sunflower*

      i use Lestoil on all my stains and it takes almost everything out. Also don’t put it in the dryer until the stain is out- it will only further absorb it

    6. Malissa*

      Find a Fel’s Namptha bar. That stuff will take out set-in stains on clothes. I wet the shirt and rub the bar over the stain until it is coated then throw it in the wash.

  45. Serpen-Teapot Belt?*

    Update on the serpentine belt problem (see bottom of last weekend’s open thread free-for-all): The problem wasn’t with the belt itself. Rather, the serpentine belt pulley broke, causing the belt to not operate.

    Again, with 127,000 miles, here’s what I’ve had replaced in the past few months:

    *IAC valve
    *MAP sensor (manifold absolute pressure)
    *Serpentine belt pulley

    I shutter to think of what’s next to malfunction…

    1. Could be anyone*

      Have my sympathies. We have 4 cars. 1 just under 100,000, 2 at 165,000, 1 at 185,000. Just replaced the anti-lock module on one, fixed the a/c on another, and accident repairs on a 3rd (mostly covered by insurance).
      Had a car years ago where we replaced the MAP sensor. That was expensive because it would always work when the mechanic checked the car. Stuck on the side of the road too often, had it towed too often. The car would just stop running. Took too long to figure it out.

        1. Could be anyone*

          Not really. One is only used now for taking youngest to and from college (mini vans have their uses). The other three (all the same) all have a bench front seat that is no longer available in any automobile, good leg room and a real back seat that fits full sized people. They get pretty good mileage and are pretty safe, too. My son had the same car in high school and walked away from a totaled car. (He got another and it now has 225,000 on it). We have looked at other vehicles but the seats are too narrow and with the shift in the middle now the console real cramps the space for legs. It’s tough to be taller and or wider than average.
          Have a daughter with a knee problem and it took her awhile to find a vehicle she could drive comfortable and satisfy her other needs (mileage, cargo, etc.)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh. I sympathize. My 2007 car is beginning to need replacements for things. Struts and shocks are top on the list–to the tune of $1100 for both (both front and rear, I think). People keep telling me it can be done cheaper, but I have had excellent luck with my mechanic and have never had to get any of their repairs redone. I may call the Chevy dealer though, to see if they can do it cheaper, and if so, go back to the mechanic and see if they will match the price.

  46. nicolefromqueens*

    It’s 3AM and it just took me about 45 minutes to clear out my personal email. So. Much. Spam. The things I do instead of writing cover letters. I HATE writing, especially about myself. Queen of procrastination.

    1. Serpen-Teapot Belt?*

      Does being queen of procrastination count as work experience? If so, put that on your resume.

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        Not work experience, but definitely a skill. Because we leave things to the last minute, we find shortcuts to get things done faster. Work smarter, not harder.

        Unfortunately the NY Giants didn’t get that memo.

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      I think that is a title in and of itself. Procrastination is hard work- sometimes you have to get really creative to keep yourself busy instead of doing the things you should be doing. I love the work, but it’s definitely hard work some days ;)

  47. ThreeYearsOfHell*

    I have three more years to stick out of school.

    Three more years living in a city I absolutely despise because I can’t afford to give up my scholarship and move. I hate everything about this city. I hate turning on Facebook and Instagram every day and seeing people living in the city I’m dying to move back to. I’m sick of knowing I have to wait THREE YEARS until I get to be happy too. I hate that i have to spend three more years in a climate I hate. Three years away from my friends. Three years away from doing the things I love. Three years of fucking depression.

    I don’t know how to cope.

    1. NicoleK*

      That’s a difficult place to be in. Are you able to take trips back to visit friends or visit the city of your dreams? Can friends visit you? Can you take a break from Facebook? Can you find anything appealing about the city? The things that you despise about your current location, are there little things you can do to make it bearable? If you truly are stuck (and it sounds like you are), the best thing is to change your mindset and expectations. If that’s difficult for you to do on your own, perhaps your school offers free or low cost student counseling. Good luck.

    2. fposte*

      I’m really sorry; you sound pretty miserable. I’m agreeing with Nicole on checking in to ways to change your perspective and on exploring counseling in the meantime, though. It’s tough to avoid a downspiral in this kind of situation, but it sure would be great if you could find some way to avoid it. Keep in mind also that this kind of life-hating tends to become a habit that’s really hard to break, so finding a way to deal better now would help minimize the chance that you take it with you when you move away.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Your answer maybe to forego the scholarship. That level of anger is not healthy. It will eat you right up. Is your goal worth it?

      Coping is going to be very difficult and that is on a good day. Deciding to be happy in the future never goes well for today.

      If you went home right now, what would you do to earn a living? Would you be able to make a sustainable wage?
      I agree that maybe counseling might be helpful for you right now. Saving x dollars on tuition is not going to help you if you have to pay 2x or 3x dollars in medical care because your health is so very taxed from stress. In the long run, it might work out that leaving the scholarship behind is cheaper than staying.

    4. Kirsten*

      If you’re miserable, I would transfer back to the other city and just pay for school. 3 years is a long time to be unhappy and doesn’t seem worth it.

  48. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

    Pheromone (calming) collar for dogs or cats. What do you know about them?

    I bought them for our two dogs, both of whom are originally rescues, almost on a lark. Results for one dog – nothing, as expected. Results for other dog – dramatic change.


    Baxter has been with us since he was just under a year and he’s 9 now. He’s a result of bad designer breeding. He’s supposed to be a Morkie (Maltese Yorkie) but he’s too big for that, 15 lbs. Definitely Maltese + some other kind of terrier. He was bought by a woman with 9 cats and flown across the country as a puppy. Initially raised with cats and given up when she realized that dogs are not cats. (Long story.) Anyway, ends up with us. We’re a loving, indulgent dog family. Pretty much crap at behavior modification.

    So, he’s crazy. We call him Cujo/Benji. Beautiful dog, when he’s being Benji the sweetest, cutest. Cujo – very territorial can be aggressive and he will bite if you encroach on a territory he is guarding or try to take something away from him. He does not like to be picked up or held. He is always Benji on HIS terms. If he wants to cuddle, he’ll jump up and cuddle but do not even think about picking him up. He will bite you.

    Both of the dogs have been barking a lot when I’m personally not in the house, and both of them are high strung and anxious. (Other rescue was abandoned in house for 30 days so he’s got his reasons for anxiety too.) We’ve been experimenting with doggies anti anxiety treats with some success. Melantonin seems to take the edge off of my Casey, the one who was abandoned.

    So! I bought calming collars, phermone based, from Amazon last week. Sounded like crap but bought anyway. Casey, no results we could notice. Baxter (Cujo/Benji): **dramatic** change. Cujo went away and we’ve only got Benji. He lets us pick him up. He’s calm. He doesn’t bark much. He just a cuddle bug.

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? we have had him for 8 years. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

    A1: Can’t last
    B2: Can this be?

    What? Anything?

    (I’ll link to the collars in a reply to this post)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Morkies are a thing, part of that pretty-much-awful designer breed craze from the last decade, combining one pure breed with another in a”who put their peanut butter in my chocolate” way. As I understand it, designer breeding is prone to creating dogs that are a bit crazy. Pure breed to pure breed carries a lot of risks and many people who are doing it don’t really know what they are doing. In this case the breeder sold a Morkie that there’s no freaking way he’s Maltese + Yorkie, and the price tag was $1000.00 for the cat lady who bought him.

        We think he’s Maltese + Westie but Malwestie isn’t a snappy name (no pun intended).

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          I’ve always been amused by ‘Malty-poo’…I’m not a dog person but I’ve never heard of a Morkie before. You’re right though in saying Malwestie isn’t as snappy :)

        2. fposte*

          I don’t think it’s so much that the crossing of two breeds creates a risk as it was a bandwagon people jumped on to turn out saleable puppies without the eagle eye of breed standards looking over their shoulder. And the parents weren’t usually going to be dogs of high breed standard or else they’d have been breeding purebreds for more money.

          1. fposte*

            And plus there were the people who just found themselves with puppies from random pickups who then sold them as designer rather than basic back alley mutts. Sounds like that might be what you have.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              You think if Cat Lady paid $1000 to have a puppy flown across the country, she would have researched that. But who knows because you’d also think she’d know that dogs aren’t cats. (She litterbox trained him, ffs, and the poor thing got a urinary tract infection from litter up his you know what because news: dogs are not cats!)

              1. fposte*

                It’s because there are so many people willing to pay $1k to fly a pile of branding across the country that designer “breeds” managed to make themselves A Thing.

          2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            What I’ve read (which makes sense to me but I’m hardly an expert) is that pure breeds are bred to have strong, very specific personality characteristics which can be in conflict with the way another breed is bred strongly.

            Mutts are awesome because they are genetically diverse but two pure breeds together don’t get that benefit, just the risk that the breeds will conflict.

            Anyway, IDK other than my Morkie is not a Morkie and he’s split personality nuts. :-)

    1. schnapps*

      One of my cats wears a calming collar. He was doing this thing where he would lick and chew on anything made of soft plastic (he’d also lick the walls). He had to sit on my lap all the time when I was around. He’d randomly yowl I went and got a degree in veterinary science from Google University and determined that he has anxiety. I got a calming collar and wrestled it on him and within a day the licking the walls and plastic bags had stopped. He doesn’t yowl as much either.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        You are making me Cautiously Optimistic that this change isn’t some fluke. This would be awesome! It’s only 5 days for us so far.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I’m glad I scrolled through today. I have 10 cats and at least one of them has been “trashing” the dining room since we moved to the new house last year. Someone is pooping on the floor and peeing in the corner. It’s always the dining room and I can’t determine with any certainty who’s doing it. I have a general idea, so I’m thinking I should try these collars. Thanks!

        (And of anyone has any suggestions for me, I’m all ears!)

        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

          You might want to look at sprays also or instead, cover more cats that way? I don’t know anything about it other than it was an option. There’s even a difuser.

          The collars I bought were 6 and change each in a three pack, and are supposed to last 30 days. Depending on how many cats you wanted to put the collar on, that would add up. (My price is for dog and not cat collars.)

        2. schnapps*

          The collars can be a bit expensive – amazon sells a 3 pack for around $15 and that’s the cheapest price going. Have you tried a Feliway Diffuser? We have one of those and it stopped the inappropriate pooper (also the one who wears the calming collar). We also switched to cat attract litter and there is no more inappropriate pooping. In fact, when I switched out to the cat attract, I filled one box with their regular stuff and one box with cat attract and they both started using the box with the cat attract.

          And there’s a money back guarantee on the cat attract – if you don’t get 100% litter box usage, you get your money back.

          1. skyline*

            +1 for Cat Attract. My otherwise well-behaved cats went through a brief period of very occasionally pooping on my bed. Including once when I was sleeping in at. Cat Attract stopped that problem. It’s pricey compared to some other litters, but so worth it.

    2. acmx*

      I *just* bought a calming collar for my dog! She’s had it since Friday (I got a different brand, though.)
      My dog just likes to pee on things. Maybe I should just buy her diapers.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Aptil seems to be a more popular brand. I bought Sentry because it was cheaper and I was sure I was wasting my money.

        Hope you get good results!

      2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        p.s. one of these days my Bichon The Size of a Horse is going to be wearing diapers. Right now I buy a truckload of wee pads and that’s getting old. I threaten him sternly and then he looks at me with those eyes and I spend another $35.00 on a load of wee pads. :)

        1. acmx*

          Is he older so it’s incontinence or is it behavioral? For my dog, it’s both. Proin takes care of the incontinence.
          Working on the bad behavior (which probably result in a few weeks of being penned in a room instead of free roam of the house. She was doing good for a long spell and then back to old behaviors. I don’t think the collar works for her. Heck, her nose might not be sensitive enough.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              oh and I haven’t tried a male wrap. I think that he would hate it but what if he doesn’t.

              He LOVES wearing costumes. It’s his favorite thing. He’d wear his Turkey costume all the time if I let him. I’ve never had a dog like to wear things before.

              I’m on a roll with the calming collar with Cujo. Maybe I’ll try the male wrap for my lovebug.

              1. acmx*

                An old coworker rescued a male dog who would mark (aside: she had a Maltese with Cushings) so she got him a wrap/band. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the outcome.

                You could rig up your own. I think what she originally had was just a cloth band that wrap around. The one in stores I think have an absorbent filling. I thought the band was to discourage rather than contain (they’d stop themselves if they peed on themselves) but I could be wrong.

                It’s close to Halloween and then Thanksgiving; let him wear his turkey costume ;)

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Bunch of things. Part of it is behavioral. He is a senior rescue, so he was 8 when he came to us a year ago. He was with an older lady who had to go into a nursing home due to Alzheimers so no idea what kind of conditions he was trained or living in for his life. Add to that he lives with another male dog (see: origins “pissing contest”). AND he’s got some anxiety issues that make him pace sometimes which is often a pace-n-pee. AND Bichons as a breed are notoriously difficult to house train.

            But wait, there’s more!

            He also has Cushings Disease which causes excessive drinking and random peeing. We did get the Cushings under control with meds after about 6 months. IDK at this point how much is behavioral and how much is medical.

            After too much stress on all of us, I gated up the house and covered the family room in wee pads. The family room is my base of operations so I’m with him most of the time and he’s happy. And I go through a lot of pads.

            I know. The inmates are running the asylum. I know!

            (I’m a much more effective manager and people mother than I am dog mommy)

  49. Lou*

    I did what you guys said delete and block the customer. Well my ex manager has now deleted me as a friend on facebook because of this. I suppose I was quite curt with him, I said I dont feel comfortable and rather not talk then blocked and deleted him and his wife. :/ But he didnt get the hint before and he still didn’t get a hint after. I know if I ever converse with ex manager again she will I say I was rude to customers and it was unacceptable, but he was trying to hit on me ffs.

    1. Colette*

      It sounds like your ex-manager has a lot of boundary issues. Good for you for protecting yourself – there wasn’t going to be a good way to make your manager happy.

  50. Nerdling*

    We moved back at the first of the m9nth. I’ve been trying ever since to get Time Warner to hook us up for internet. They’ve been scheduled to take care of us twice now and have failed to come through (and failed to tell me they wouldn’t be here both times even though they knew almost a week out that they wouldn’t make the first trip). Now they’ve said they can come our to survey and see about flipping the switch for our property, but they can’t make it until October 2, more than a month since we moved in. The only other options out here are Dish or Direct TV, which are a lot more expensive and less reliable. I just want to be able to watch Netflix!!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have TW, also. People have amazing stories about them, for sure. Every employee that I have talked to from there HATES the company with a passion.
      The last time they were here they left a couple motherboards, after complaining that they could not get motherboards. Am shaking my head…

      1. AnotherFed*

        You can do netflix with a decent satellite connection – we’ve got one and it works. I wouldn’t want to do twitch games, but otherwise, as long as you have a good plan, it’s fine. There are weather outages, but not so frequently as the horror stories would have you think. You do have to keep an eye on how much you use – most of the satellite plans are like cell phone data plans, and have a set limit for how much data you use or they throttle your connection, which totally sucks while you wait for the month to reset.

  51. Sunflower*

    Looking for roommate advice
    Right now I live with 2 women, Sarah and Natalie. Our apt is really well priced but I can no longer share 1 bathroom between 3 people- primarily Sarah who is in the bathroom all the time. We are now looking for new places to live. There is also a possibility of another woman moving with us. I really feel in our new place Sarah needs her own bathroom, however, I am not sure Sarah feels this way. Natalie is very non confrontational so I know she won’t address it with Sarah. I would refuse to share a bathroom with Sarah but I really feel whoever has to share a bathroom with her will end up essentially in the other bathroom(with me an someone else) all the time. Sarah also is sensitive and takes things personally. A different living situation is not really an option for any of us. Any advice on how to approach this without things getting heated?

    1. fposte*

      I think you go forward assuming that Sarah will be spending the same amount of time in the bathroom and planning from there. This is who she is and what she does, whether it’s because she has IBS or because that’s what she considers her peaceful refuge. Even if you did talk to her about it, it seems pretty unlikely it’s going to change much.

      If you can’t take sharing one bathroom between three people, and you can’t take sharing a bathroom with Sarah, I think your choice is either to find a two-bathroom apartment with the three of you or find that purple unicorn of a three-bathroom apartment for the four of you.

      1. Stephanie*

        If you can’t take sharing one bathroom between three people, and you can’t take sharing a bathroom with Sarah, I think your choice is either to find a two-bathroom apartment with the three of you or find that purple unicorn of a three-bathroom apartment for the four of you.

        Yeah, only time I’ve seen that arrangement is with student housing. You could look for a 3-2 and have Sarah take the master/master bath and pay more accordingly. You could also look for houses with 1.5 bathrooms–is the issue that Sarah’s in the middle of her hour-long shower and one of y’all just needs to run in there to pee? A half-bath could help with that.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I looked around here out of curiosity, and it’s definitely available in student-aimed housing. I suspect that, at least historically, bigger than three bedrooms meant a family once you got outside of the student market, and therefore the assumption was that kids would be sharing the bathroom anyway.

        2. Nina*

          Yeah, I lived in a quad-style dorm in college, and it doesn’t work at all, imo. Four girls sharing one bedroom and one bathroom meant no privacy and no real space. Even after one roommate moved out it didn’t make much difference. Wouldn’t recommend it if you can avoid it.

    2. NicoleK*

      Is Sarah in the bathroom all the time because of a medical condition? Or because she likes to take her time to get ready, enjoys the extra pampering, and etc? If it’s a medical condition, I’m not sure I would say anything. I’d just focus on finding a new place with two bathrooms.

    3. Anne*

      Is she showering, using toilet, or getting ready? If she is blow drying her hair etc you can ask her to do that In her bedroom

  52. ella*

    Any tips for getting better sleep? I think I have a form of Restless Leg Syndrome and I toss and turn all night, leaving me tired all the time.

    1. Not So NewReader*


      During the day, I have been adding electrolytes to my water. That also helps me to sleep deeper.

      With either one of these try it on the weekend when you do not have to work, so you can see how it goes.

    2. skyline*

      You may be doing some of these things already, but here’s the usual wisdom… Wake up and go to sleep at the same times everyday; consistency is your friend. Try to develop a calming pre-bedtime ritual, with no lighted screens or food in the hour before bed. If you’re not exercising regularly, try to pick up the habit; even a daily brisk walk can help. Get enough natural light during the day to help set your body clock (a daily walk can help with this, too).

      Good luck!

  53. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    This is random, I know–but–do guys have a biological clock of their own? Ie) An age span in which they feel ready for kids?

    My bf and I were talking about how babysitting cousins and interacting with them closely is good practice (for later becoming parents). Thing is, his mom and my mom both had us while they were in their mid-30s. My mom had a stillbirth at 30-ish and my cousin had a series of miscarriages so I’m worried about if/when I’ll (ever) have kids.

    We’re both in our late 20s, but the 30 mark is slowly creeping up. Thoughts?

    1. Kirsten*

      I have some male friends who are also dying to have kids. My husband is not one of them unfortunately. I’m hoping it hits him at some point, he is about to be 31.

    2. Natalie*

      In your late 20s I wouldn’t worry too much about age unless you want to have a ton of kids. Most of the handwringing over fertility in your 30s is overblown (see the recent Atlantic article). There’s no way to know if your relatives would have had the same problems if they tried to conceive younger.

      More importantly, do you both want kids? Do you want to birth them, or is adoption or fostering and option?

      1. Dang*

        I’ll have to read that article. I’m sooo sick of my friends in their early 30s who so clearly don’t want children now but are trying due to “time running out.”

  54. Ask a Manager* Post author

    My husband just found out at urgent care that he has shingles! (He’s in his 40s so this is unexpected.) Should I just keep him heavily intoxicated for the next few weeks? Advice from the shingles-experienced welcome.

    1. Stephanie*

      Oh no! Sorry to hear Mr. AAM is sick. My mom got shingles a couple of years ago–it sounded pretty painful. Not to freak you out too much–she got Bell’s Palsy as a result from it. (She’s since recovered fully.) Does he have a good pain treatment regimen?

    2. BRR*

      I’d say the answer is always to keep him heavily intoxicated. But if you prepare food for him, remember not everybody can have sandwiches ;).

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      You can get shingles at any age although more common in older people as immune systems weaken and the herpes virus busts out. :). Yet another reason to get vaccinated against chicken pox! Once you have it, the virus is always with you and some people get shingles multiple times. Babies can get it which must be horrible. I had a bout in my late 40s in classic leg and waist location, thank goodness. You can get it in your eye areas or inner ear or other places where nerve damage is a worry. I got the antiviral med in time to lessen the severity but felt yucky for a week or so. The scars took forever to fade but eventually did. Now I need to stop procrastinating and look into the adult vaccine against shingles. All I need is a recurrence… Good luck to your husband. It hurts like hell but it passes.

      1. Mimmy*

        Yup, a friend of mine got shingles twice in a roughly 2-year time span. I think her second case was milder though, thankfully.

    4. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

      I had shingles almost 2 years ago on my face. Took all the pain meds & anti-viral meds prescribed, as well as eye drops. Was knocked on my a$$ from the pain meds for over a week but had little pain. I do have some residual pain in my scalp & a beaut of a scar on my forehead. Hope your husband’s experience is less severe.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve had shingles twice– the first time didn’t heal properly, so it came back. I was in my mid-20s. Textbook rhombus on my lower back, both times. (I wish I had pictures, it was that perfect.) Can totally happen and he’s not alone! I understand the panic, though. My mother, who is an oncologist and has also done significant work with AIDS patients, had never even heard of shingles in a healthy adult. One of her dermatologist friends (I got “summoned” to his house so he could look at my back) told her it’s not uncommon. Also, coincidence– my grandmom has them right now. She’s 85, though, and healing way more slowly than she’d like, and she is miserable.

      Anyway. I’m sure you’ve been given antivirals, so make sure the Mr. takes those monsters– back when I had shingles, it was giant 1 gram pills of Valtrex, felt like a damn horse pill. Benadryl helps with the itching. If he caught it early enough, the pain shouldn’t be terrible, but I’m sure they’ve given him something to take.

      One thing to note: I had residual pain for a really long time. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great– just a weird sensation on my back for several months. So if that happens, it’s pretty normal unless it gets severe. Also notable: getting them twice in the same place is also not unheard of but IS TOTALLY WEIRD, so don’t let my experience alarm you.

    6. Could be anyone*

      Been fortunate not to have had shingles but son did at about 24. His was pretty mild but he also had a very mild case of chicken pox to begin with. I think he about 36 poxes.

  55. EvilQueenRegina*

    Ugh. Think I need to do a friends cut on Facebook as did not need to see some stupid Bitstrip comic shared by Robin implying that this other person and I are fighting over him. Robin, you’re 31, not 13, and that’s a battle I don’t think I want to win somehow! *shakes head* More like The Loser Takes It All, since I’m winning by walking away from that one! But seriously, kind of immature, no?

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        He’s clueless all right. Some idiot had actually commented on it saying it was a great post – am I missing something here? Does he really think I want that broadcasting on Facebook or flinging in my face? It says “Will Scarlet and EvilQueenRegina gear up for an epic battle – couldn’t resist!” (Yeah, I may not have mentioned in the past the fact that Robin’s bi.) Truth is, I don’t even know how much Will really wants Robin so we could be gearing up for an epic battle for who DOESN’T get him!

        I have no idea what Will makes of the whole thing. He may be equally unimpressed.

  56. Natalie*

    So, I live with a cat now. Fiancé and I have been talking about him moving and we decided no time like the present. Going back and forth between houses sucks, plus his cat was getting bored and/or lonely.

    She seems to be doing pretty well! It’s a small house so we’ve let her have the run of it while we’re home, and she’s just checking everything out and rubbing it, which seems like a good sign. She found a spot under my housemate’s bed which is apparently her cat-cave – she slept under there for hours. We had to lure her out with sliced turkey (fav treat) to show her where her new litterbox is.

    So yeah, I’m in the Cat Club now. Get ready for some dumb questions!

  57. Weekend Warrior*

    End of weekend fun project! I’ve been baking a cookie of the week for the past few weeks to cheer up our brown bags and keep me from the 3pm candy run to the vending machine. So far I’ve done the classics: suger cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies. This week salted chocolate shortbread! So easy and good.

  58. Tara*

    I started university two weeks ago. Travel to and from my hometown is about 6 hours, or 4 hours if my mom picks me up and I don’t have to bus from the ferry. I thought I was adjusting pretty well. I’ve been talking to lots of people, going out and socializing a fair bit, keeping in touch with my friends back home, and talking to my mom on Skype.

    But my friends from back home came out for a visit this weekend (circumstances worked out that it was convenient). They left about three hours ago, and I haven’t been able to stop crying. I didn’t realize how sad and isolated I was feeling until I had a chance to feel like myself again, and now everything just hurts. It’s only been two weeks… I went longer than that without seeing them this summer! But now it seems like I’m missing everything about home… It is *that time* of the month when everything is a lot more emotional than it usually is, but I’m looking back through my diary for the last few weeks and it’s all about how I miss chatting with my mom over tea and hearing my brother playing video games and knowing everyone who I walked past on the street. Everyone else that I meet keeps talking about how fantastic it is be meeting new people and get out into the big city, and on and on. Was anyone else homesick when they first moved away? How long did it take you to get over it?

    1. skyline*

      I’m sorry things are hard for you right now.

      During my first semester at college, I wasn’t exactly homesick, but I was lonely. It was overwhelming to watch most of my fellow freshman develop these intense insta-friendships. I’m an introvert–I don’t operate that way. I think it was two or three months before I really felt like I found “my” people there.

      It sounds like you’re focusing on all the things you miss about home. It might help to focus on the things you like about university. I find it helpful to write things like that down (old CBT trick)–the act of writing helps me drown out the little negative voices in my head.

      Good luck.

      1. Tara*

        I’m pretty extroverted, but I’m finding the same experience; I’ve *talked* to so many people, but I haven’t developped any real friendships the way it seems like everyone else is. It’s good to know that it’s not just me, honestly. And I will try your trick of writing down the positives! It sounds like it might be a good way to reset my thinking pattern right now.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Oh my goodness, yes. It’s very very very very very common. I will tell you something about all those other people who keep talking about how excited and thrilled they are to be meeting other people: inside, 99/100 of them are deeply freaked out, too. Most people are at least somewhat….homesick might not be the right word, but have a period of adjustment. Even if they keep talking about how much they love it–there’s tons of people who don’t want to seem young/lonely/provincial/scared/homesick, and that’s a good out.

      It’s very normal. Moving to a new place and meeting new people and starting university are BIG changes in your life, and it can be really hard once the first whirlwind of things are over and you start to realize that Things Are Different Now. It’s okay to feel homesick and lonely and sad and isolated. There are lots of other students feeling the same way as you do now (and especially if you’re self-aware enough to recognize that things may be hitting you harder than usual at this moment–that’s a good sign!), even if they don’t show it.

      It’s OK to vent in your diary about how much you miss home and your family, but it may also help you a bit to write down in your diary things that you like about uni life and new things you’ve tried. Even if it’s something as stupid as “tried a new food in the cafeteria” or “talked to a total stranger from far away,” or something like “my bed is really comfortable” or “lots of nice places to walk” or whatever. Try to reframe some positive things about your circumstances right now, even if you don’t really feel that way–just try writing a few things down and see if it doesn’t help to change your perspective.

      Things get easier the further you get into the semester, too. Eventually, things will stop feeling so disconnected and you’ll get yourself into a routine with school and a social life, and things will settle down for you. And if they don’t, I’m willing to bet your school offers counseling services and “I’m homesick and lonely here” is the kind of thing they hear ALL the time–I’m sure they would be willing to lend an ear and have some ideas.

      It is really, really, really hard at first. I was terribly homesick and lonely my first few weeks at university and then again at grad school. It’s very difficult going from a place where you know everyone and everything to knowing no one and nothing, and feeling lonely and unsettled. It’s a hard thing to do! Give yourself some credit for going out there and doing it so far, and give yourself another couple of weeks and see if things settle in a bit for you.

      Good luck!

      1. Tara*

        Thank you so much for your insight. I’m feeling much better knowing that this is somewhat normal– I think a big part of what had me feeling so awful was the idea that I would be stuck feeling this way for the next four years. I’ve never been very good with change and uncertainty, so I think this whole process has just brought out a lot of old anxieties I had more or less forgotten about.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I wasn’t exactly homesick, but I wasn’t fully embracing the change when I first arrived. I saw a lot of other first-years latching on to each other for fear of not having friends, and I was still just figuring out stuff. I had a comfy social life in secondary school, so starting over wasn’t fun. But I think what really made me embrace and start to love university life was coming back from winter break and realizing (after a few weeks at home) how much I missed my university friends.

    4. Pineapple Incident*

      Oh I’m so sorry! This is a hard time- I remember how you feel. I remembered being a senior in high school and being at least familiar with everyone, and having someone to talk to in every class. As a new freshman in college, I felt like everyone was making friends so quick or was still hanging with high school friends, and I only had a couple of people that I was sort of friends with. It took me a while to hit my stride with it, and discover that it was gonna take a little more than passive actions to make friends. I was used to making friends easily through joint connections in high school, not building friendships from practically nothing- it’s not easy!

      My advice for you is to join a club or group that does something that you’re interested in, or a couple! It may seem unnatural, or weird, or feel like you’ll be judged for not having connections with people already, but it won’t! People wanted to get to know me, and after some effort and attempts at making plans with people (hard to do, but the worst they can say is no or I’m busy) I had more events to go to and plans with friends than I knew what to do with.

      It took me FOREVER to do that, and I wish someone had made me during my first month at school. Instead I spent my freshman year homesick, sleep-deprived, and with lackluster grades because I was afraid to put myself out there. More people than you think are in the same boat as you- don’t give up!

  59. Spin Dame*

    I go to 4-5 Spin classes each week, taught by 3 different instructors. I love all the instructors, including “Jane” who teaches twice a week. Jane is super passionate and engaging and I love that about her, but she does tends to ask a lot of questions during class as part of her instructional style. She’ll ask things like “So, what’s going to happen when you sit back down?” *looks around for answer* “Your heart rate is going to catch up, right?” or “How long are we here?” *looks around for answer* “45 seconds, right?” Asking questions of a class seems like a great strategy for teachers in general, but I am surprised to see this tactic carry over into an intense cardio class. My way of handling this is to just ignore it and not answer the questions as not to reinforce them, and to otherwise participate (yell “woo!” etc). But my workout buddy has started avoiding classes on days when Jane is teaching. I don’t think it’s my place to bring it up with Jane, but is there anything I could nicely say or hint if I ever get the opportunity? What if she asks why my workout buddy never comes anymore? I totally meant to come here Sat and post this. Maybe I will still get some input. If it’s too late and this gets deleted I understand.

    1. been there done that*

      I’m not sure there’s anything you can say to the instructor. Jane has her own style to running the class. Unless there is a massive turn over in the members of this class it’s just a bad fit between her and your friend. Your friend just finds Jane’s style more annoying than you do. And there’s nothing wrong with ignoring the questions.

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