weekend free-for-all – September 26-27, 2015

4 catsThis 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:  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. An old bookstore, a mysterious book-related secret society, a puzzle, and so much intrigue! I’m two-thirds of the way through and loving it.

{ 660 comments… read them below }

  1. Christy

    Love that book, Alison!

    I have to start cooking for me and my girlfriend–she just took a new job with a worse commute and so it no longer makes sense for her to cook. I haven’t cooked in several years because she has been cooking. We try to eat healthy foods–I’m on Weight Watchers and so we try not to have carb-focused meals, with lots of vegetables and leaner protein. Does anyone have any meal-planning resources for easy and healthy dinners that pack well as lunches?

    1. Myrin

      Maybe you can find something on Cafe Delites? The author focuses a lot on low-carb meals and often lists the Weight Watchers… points, I guess (? I’m sorry, I have no idea how WW works but I know that she often specifically writes WW information down), so maybe there’s something of interest there for you?

    2. super anon

      i’m not great at cooking and budgetbytes is my favourite recipe website. they are easy to follow with step by step picture instructions, and are usually healthy & filling. i don’t use it for the budget factor, but because it’s a more budget conscious site the recipes are usually straight forward and don’t include a lot of exotic ingredients that can be hard to find.

      my fav is the hearty black bean quesadilla recipe – they freeze well and can make a great quick dinner/lunch.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      My favorite is the New York Time’s Eat Well blog. We have a vegetarian household and she (Martha Rose Shulman) has a ton of great veggie recipes, but she also focuses on lean proteins. You can search by ingredient.

    4. Dear liza dear liza

      My favorite healthy Website is Gina’s Skinnytaste. She keeps things simple and everything I’ve made is delicious. Bonus: she provides the WW points for each recipe.

    5. Frances

      I use CookSmarts.com and loooove it! Every week they give you a menu of four meals to make and a grocery list. They’ve got multiple dietary options, and can adjust the number of servings each recipe makes. I also try to eat fewer carbs, so I usually follow the paleo recipes, but I don’t stress about some of the more expensive ingredients. For example, I have no problem using soy sauce rather than coconut aminos.

      You have to pay for it, but I’ve found it to be super worthwhile in terms of saving time and reducing food waste. There’s two people in my household, but we usually make the meals for four and repurpose the main dish for a salad the next day. I’m a big fan!

    6. danr

      Just about any dinner will pack well with a salad base. I usually used lettuces, a half a tomato, some herb seasoning, the leftovers and sweet balsamic vinegar, all put in a tupperware container with the squeeze down top. Refrigerated overnight and I was set to go.

    7. Momiitz

      I find lots of good recipes through Pinterest. I use pepperplate.com to organize my recipes and plan menus.

    8. FJ

      Not specifically diet-focused, but my favorite cooking books/blogs are:
      Thug Kitchen – received the cookbook as a gift. Good vegan recipes (even for an omnivore like me!) and snarky descriptions. Some ingredients can be non-standard, but you can ignore some of them and still get good results still. They have a website too
      The Bitten Word – blog that makes recipes from food magazines. Good descriptions on whether the effort is worth it for each recipe. Their pork tenderloin recipes are a favorite of ours. Good recipe index for finding a different recipe for the ingredient you want to use.

    9. Witty Nickname

      I’m a big fan of eatingwell dot com. It’s my go to recipe site – I don’t think I’ve tried anything I didn’t like from there.

    10. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

      I second skinnytaste as she does great recipes. I also love greenlitebites.com and emilybites as both are good for WW’s. I dont know if your subscribed to WW newsletter but they send out some good ones through there as well.

  2. blackcat

    Wanted: jeans recommendations!

    I’d really appreciate a recommendation for a brand of jeans fitting the following…
    1) not super expensive (under $100/pair, so I’m not asking a lot)
    2) mid to low rise
    3) have more room in the thighs/butt relative to the waist size
    4) come in petites or just run short for small sizes (I’m a 2 and 5’3″)

    The most common problem I run into is that some crazy people think that a size 2 should be cut for someone who doesn’t have hips/thighs. Or that someone who is size 2 is 5’10”, and there’s no need for petite sizing. The brands where that doesn’t seem to be true are “mom jeans”–high cut and not flattering (but comfy! So I have a great pair of Lees that are ugly, but practical). I’m relatively young and prefer to dress my age, rather than wear the same pants my 60 year old mom does.

    Given that this community sent me to eShatki (omg, dresses that fit my boobs AND my waist!!), I was hoping someone would have advice. Thanks!

      1. blackcat

        Oh, great! I had seen those in a gap outlet near me, but they only had regular and long sizes (and so I didn’t even try them on). I’ll look online for short sizes!

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      My absolute favorite pair of jeans is by Kut From the Kloth. Low rise in front but higher in the back so you don’t tell the world what color undies you’ve got on today when you sit down, plenty of hip room without getting mom-jean-ish. I found mine at the resale shop, but it looks like their $70-90 at Macy’s and Nordstrom.

      1. Blue_eyes

        Yes to Kut from the Kloth! I have two pairs of jeans and two pairs of cords from them. I have a big tummy so often jeans that fit my waist are way too loose in the legs, but these fit me just right.

    2. Stephanie

      Gap jeans! Seriously. Their curvy line is great. I also like Kut from the Kloth and some cuts of Levi’s.

    3. Jane, the world's worst employee

      I just bought a pair of jeans from JCPENNEY this week and love them. They are from their Stylus line and come in petite. I’ve never bought petite jeans before and am really happy that I did. Plus, I got them on sale and paid $27. I bought them online and had them shipped to the store for pick-up, tried them on at the store to make sure I liked them.

    4. Audiophile

      I was going to recommend Old Navy, but I just looked at their site and they don’t have the jeans I bought from them.

      1. Anx

        Yes! They just discontinued a bunch. Mostly some of the few non-skinny jeans options they have. I’m not a big fan of theirs but I had a gift card and it’s a good think I used it when I did.

      2. AnotherFed

        I think they’ve added a few lines, too, though – it seems like they do still have some more curvy options. I just bought a couple of pair at their labor day sale, but haven’t tried them yet.

      3. Audiophile

        I think they just renamed them. It used to be – Diva, Sweetheart, Flirt, etc. I just searched the site and found khakis for most of those names. The previously named jeans are now simply “curvy”.

    5. skyline

      Lands End. A lot of petite jeans are still too long for me (29″ or 30″), but these come in shorter inseams (26″ and 28″). The sizes do run big though so take a look at the size chart. I’m a 2p there and will be sized out if I lose any more weight.

    6. Not Karen

      I would check out Lucky Brand Jeans – not sure if they come in exactly the size/shape you need, though. They retail at $85+ but you can find them on clearance/sale for $30-50.

      1. Nye

        Another vote for Lucky! It sounds like we have a very similar body type (hourglass figure but short – I’m 5’2″), and I love their Lolita cut, 30″ length. As mentioned above, they’re at or just above your price point full-price, but they have frequent sales so I’ve never paid >$75/pair. If you get on their mailing list, they’ll let you know about the sales and frequently send coupons.

    7. Lizabeth

      Doesn’t Lands End still do their custom jeans? I get my jeans on sale at Cabela’s website but I like the natural waist jeans.

    8. blackcat

      Thanks everyone! It looks like GAP is currently having an online sale, so I might go in that direction and try out a couple of their smallest sizes.

      1. Anonymosity

        This is super late, but Loft has great jeans in a short inseam- I think it’s 28 inches? I’m 4’11” with an athletic build and I love their petite curvy ankle jeans. They are good quality and come in a variety of colors/washes!

    9. puddin

      I like Lands End for pants and jeans because they have a variety of lengths AND some of them they will hem to your specs. They have low and mid rise options, but are still cut for a fully grown adult figure (the hips and thighs part).

    10. Sunflower

      I am build a lot like you. I personally like Loft- everything comes in petite and really any of their fits are great for me since they all tend to have a lot of stretch in them. My only complaint is some of the cuts are higher waisted than I’d like so I have to wear a longer shirt with them. I think they’re around $70/pair but Wait for a store wide sale to buy them. Loft has 40% entire store sales pretty much every other week. I also like Buffalo jeans- I buy from Lord and Taylor but always have to hem them.

    1. Myrin

      Right?! I’m surprised yet excited they’re actually all in this together and that Alison(‘s husband? I think you mentioned he’s the one who takes the photos?) managed to actually take picture on top of that!

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        He takes the really good ones. You can tell I took this one because it has shadows in it. His would never have anything as unsightly as a shadow.

        And I have to admit I deposited Olive in the middle of this heap in order to make it happen. I am a big fan of cat social engineering, and often when they fall asleep, I move them next to each other.

        1. AcidMeFlux

          I have just one cat and would love another, especially since His Crazyness is getting on 10 years old. I need a kitten to keep him occupied. Which means I’ll need a bigger apartment (one cat in a one bedroom is pushing it.) I love your pix of your brood; vicarious cat love.

        2. Mowgli

          Can you tell us their names? I know Olive and Eve, but didn’t know you had the boys (I assume they’re boys – my apologies if I’m wrong!).

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Three are girls! The huge orange one in the back is the boy: Sam. The smaller orange one is Lucy. They were the original two, and it was just them for seven years. Then Olive came along two years ago when we fostered her and then couldn’t give her up, and then Eve repeated that pattern this summer. (We obviously cannot foster again as we clearly suck at it.)

            1. Mowgli

              I totally get it – I just got an email today from the woman who runs the rescue group where we got two of our dogs. She asked us if we can foster a dog, but in this house there is no such thing as a foster. We already have three 50+ dogs, and I travel a lot for my job, so it would be much too much for my husband.

              And, we have a Lucy, too! A giant, goofy black lab mix. Named after the Beatles song.

              1. Anna the Accounting Student

                Aren’t “giant” and “goofy” standard lab traits? (Or is it just for the yellow ones?)

        3. Myrin

          I’m laughing so hard at “cat social engineering”. I do something similar with our cat – I got him a lovely bed two years ago and he usually likes it and sleeps there when it’s not too warm (it’s directly above a heating pipe in the floor, so great for winters). However, he has taken to lying right next to it on a towel in recent months. So I sometimes move him into his bed while he’s sleeping soundly to get him to get re-used to the bed – and then he will lie there for about two minutes until I’m out of sight and promptly flop over onto the towel again!

          1. schnapps

            Have you tried putting the towel where the bed was? he may like the towel better than the bed (because cats are jerks, generally).

            1. Myrin

              Yes, I have! And he will sometimes lie on it but sometimes go where the towel normally is (so I’m having a hard time figuring out if he just likes the towel better or if it’s the specific location; from his behaviour, it could be both), thus lying on the cold hard ground (sorry, I’ve had that Taylor Swift lyric stuck in my head all morning and it fit so perfectly!). I also put the towel on the bed but then he will sniff it and generally not lie down.

              He’s behaved like this before and then changed it come winter when the bed was much warmer than the towel but it’s never lasted that long!

              1. Violet Rose

                Maybe it’s *too* warm for him at the minute, or he’s trying to cool down? Or, you could try putting the towel on the bed where the towel usually is? I’m now coming up with all kinds of cat experiments.

                1. Myrin

                  My family actually thinks that’s it but we can’t be sure until winter. And I’ve actually tried putting the towel on the bed at the towel’s location (what you suggested) as well as put the bed on the towel – but then he just lays down really close to both and kind of puts his foot on the towel and looks at me like he’s the most miserable cat in existence.

              2. Exhausted and feeling it

                He prefers the towel because it breathes. Most pet bed have polyester/knit linings and they are uncomfortable. Pets can’t sweat like we do. I have a folded 100% cotton blanket that all 5 cats (once all 7) would lay on and they dogs have another on the floor that they prefer too. Best part – easily washable and bleachable. Compare it to microfiber sheets – how many of you really like them or would you rather 600+ count cotton sheets.

    2. Windchime

      Yeah, I think this is the first time we’ve seen a picture of all four of them together. They all look so soft and pretty piled up together.

  3. AV

    Oh man, I woke up sick this morning and I have got to recover before Monday. I’ve been really stressed out about, well… everything lately and I think it’s finally caught up with me. I’m planning on isolating myself from society and “relaxing” all weekend. I’ve already had a bowl of chicken soup and I’m curled up with a mug of NeoCitran (I’m not sure what they call this in the US). What else should I be doing to speed up my recovery?!? Ugh. This sucks.

    1. GH in SoCAl

      The US equivalent of NeoCitran is Theraflu BUT in the US it doesn’t have Pseudophedrine in it anymore. I prefer the store brand “Hot Lemon Relief” from Shoppers Drug Mart myself.

      My Dad swears by Gatorade to speed up a cold. It’s about pushing ridiculous amounts of fluids I think.

    2. Rubyrose

      If this is a cold – try Cold-Eeze. It is basically a cough drop with zinc. And of course, orange juice, for the vitamin C. If it is more like the flu, not sure what to say – haven’t had it in years and don’t remember any specific remedy for it.
      You might try the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy – it could really help with the stress. If you felt up to more research to find a more specific remedy, you could take the questionnaire at their website.

    3. Ruffingit

      I’ve found that a lot of liquids and sleep is the best cure for me when I feel like crap. I’m talking sleeping for 10-12 hours if you can manage it. My body just needs tons of rest when I get sick.

    4. Dynamic Beige

      A client of mine swears by a shot of Stoli straight from the freezer right before bed. Must be unflavoured, apparently the flavoured ones don’t work. I’ve done that a few times and felt better in the morning. It is kind of weird, though, lying in bed feeling that liquid in your stomach.

      But if you’d rather get something from Rexall… NyQuil. It’s mostly alcohol but when you’re sick, you need sleep and that’ll do it.

    5. Stephanie

      Mostly, sleep a ton. If it’s just allergies or a mild cold, I also find lots of hot liquids help.

      Some homeopathic suggestions:
      -Neti pot
      -Soup
      -Hot tea
      -I sometimes make a homemade tea by boiling ginger in a small pot and adding honey and lemon. The spiciness of the ginger usually makes me sneeze and helps my congestion.
      -If you’ve got a sore throat, try drinking pickle brine. (Er, you could also do a pickleback shot where you do a shot of whiskey with a chaser of pickle juice, but I’m unsure if the whiskey does anything health wise.)

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Or, since you’re in Canada, get a bag or two of salt n’ vinegar chips. I’ve done that for a sore throat a few times because it tastes better than gargling salt water (which is what my mother always advocated).

        1. Stephanie

          Ha, I’m sure this nested wrong. I am not in Canada, but all the Canadians should be arriving in Arizona in a couple of weeks.

          Are salt and vinegar chips native to Canada? I usually can find them in the US without issue.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Nope! When I saw the drinking pickle brine, it took me back to the days of gargling salt water (ugh) and that Salt n’ Vinegar chips can be a substitute for that. Since you live in a snowbird state (and I do know a couple of people who have houses down there) maybe that’s why you can find it?

            I think it may depend on where you are. I’ve asked for vinegar for my fries in various places and gotten weird looks, the suggestion of mayonnaise instead (? and gross!) or balsamic vinegar.

    6. Random citizen

      Sorry you’re feeling under the weather. :( That sucks. More homeopathic remedies: Yarrow tea is possibly the worst tasting substance in the world, but unfortunately effective. :) Also echinacea/propolis (also awful tasting) have worked wonders on my colds. Besides that, lots of sleep and lots of water always help me get out of the woods faster. Hope you’re feeling better soon!

    7. Elkay

      Inhaling over a bowl of boiling water with a towel over your head for as long as you can (minimum 5 minutes) I use Olbas Oil too but not sure if that’s sold outside the UK.

    8. schnapps

      So I am a fan of Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals.

      Quit the Neo Citran and switch to NyQuil. Or do both at least 4 hours apart. Whatever you need to do to sleep, do it.

      Drain the hot water tank once a day by steaming yourself in the shower/bath for as long as you can take it. If you’re taking a bath, throw in some eucalyptus/vicks vaporub and breathe it for a bit. Or if you’re not doing baths, bring a pot of water with eucalyptus/vicks on the stove to simmer, cover your head and the pot with a towel and inhale the fumes.

      Make sure you eat! Healthy stuff! Except for Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup (LCNS) – Canadians you know what I’m talking about. The LCNS will help you restore electrolytes – just make sure you drink lots of water/herbal tea after that crap.

      Also, take your vitamins – as much Vitamin C and D as you can handle. If you’re taking B vitamins, take them in the morning only and not past noon in case it screws with your rest.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I use a German product called Tetesept Erkaltungsbad (or an own brand copycat) which is like taking a bath in hot Vicks Vaporub. It’s various different essential oils and herbs, including eucalyptus, and the trick is to get the bathwater as hot as you can bear it. Then go straight to bed afterwards.

        Works every time for me.

    9. Kyrielle

      Sleep and liquids, but I always loved my mother’s “Russian tea” for it too. (NO idea where the name comes from; it’s not tea, it’s not Russian, and none of the ingredients even twitch any appropriate stereotypes for me…other than that the name is perfect. Heh.) The original recipe volume requires a pitcher, and of course it has to tolerate heat given the boiling water.

      1 cup orange juice
      2/3 cup lemon juice
      2/3 cup sugar
      pour in 5 cups boiling water over the above three ingredients
      1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
      optional: dusting of nutmeg

      Serve hot (or warm, if hot is overkill for you) – keep it in the refrigerator and microwave subsequent mugs of it.

  4. Carrie in Scotland

    Last week I asked about TV recommendations – well this week I have been watching How to get away with murder and absolutely loving it! So thanks for the people who suggested it!

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      Oh boy. Oooooohhhhh boy. I started out loving, then train wreck watching, then straight up hate watching that show last season. And then there was the cliffhanger. Do yourself a favor and after you watch each episode, go read the recaps on gofugyourself dot com (link to follow). They’re even better than the show.

      1. Myrin

        I’ve never watched it but know some people who did and they all basically agreed with your statement. They were super excited and enthusiastic when it came out and then apparently everything fell apart. Like I said, I’ve never watched it myself so I have no idea what that whole decline was actually about, but I’ve seen a lot of people pretty unhappy with it, unfortunately.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          @Cyclatrol/opening theme: This is off-topic, but I keep meaning to mention to you: Some of your user names for some reason are more likely to get flagged as spam, so on some days I’ll discover all of your comments that day (or most of them) in the spam folder. I then release them, of course, but if you were wondering why it seems like some days your comments are delayed in showing up, that’s why! (You may have already figured this out since you’ve never asked about it, but I didn’t know if you were confused by it.)

      2. Carrie in Scotland

        Oh thanks for the link – the recaps are hilarious!

        I’m still loving the show though – it’s so gloriously trashy and OTT.

    2. Mimmy

      The show is a little hard to follow–and I do read recaps afterwards–but it definitely keeps you guessing!!! Viola Davis is absolutely stunning as Annalise Keating. Her Emmy this week was well-deserved.

        1. Anx

          Agreed. One of my favorites was up against her and I don’t even care that she didn’t win.

          One thing I wish, though, was that the Emmy’s in general spent less time on introducing introducers and gags and stuff and spent a little time showing clips of the nominees or introducing their roles a bit more.

  5. Father Ribs

    If you like fiction about writing, libraries of forgotten books, mystery, forbidden love, Spanish society (conflict) and culture, spiritualism, fate, and a bunch of other buzzwords, I really recommend Carlos Ruiz Zafón. He writes in a zone somewhere between the material and spiritual worlds…the closest analogue I can come to would be Cormac McCarthy in that regard.

    1. Noelle

      +1000. I love his novels, I actually just reread The Shadow of the Wind this summer. So incredibly well written.

  6. Expendable Redshirt

    My boyfriend hates mushrooms. Loathes them! He’s got some kind of *thing* about eating fungus that weirds him out. I’ve just discovered that his favourite premade butter chicken lasagna contains mushrooms. Am I honour bound to inform him of this?

    1. Mimmy

      What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him ;)

      My husband hates mushrooms too, though I don’t think it’s for the same reasons as your boyfriend.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          It is, but if he already eats it without problems that means it might not be a physical problem…
          I would err on the side of sharing but it depends on many things. I’ve told many people that if I’m eating soemthing that’s a one off and they realise it’s got something in i don’t eat not to tell me. if it might be regular though I want to nkow.

        2. TL -

          Generally, though, if you eat something you shouldn’t have you figure it out fairly quickly. Boyfriend would probably be saying something if he had a physical reactions to mushrooms after eating the lasagna (and would hopefully be checking labels as well.)

        3. Kyrielle

          It definitely is, but that doesn’t sound like what the boyfriend is dealing with, based not only on the lack of reaction, but also on the way he it’s described (“weird him out”).

          That said, if someone tells you they can’t eat X because they actually have a physical reaction and you realize they are eating something with X in it (but not reacting) – tell them. Some of us are sensitive based on how much we have, and if we eat things X and Y on different days (where each has traces of the problem) and are fine, that doesn’t mean we won’t be miserable if we eat X and Y in the same meal.

    2. cuppa

      I grind up button mushrooms and combine them with ground beef to make meatloaf. My mushroom-hating husband has declared it his favorite meatloaf. I’ll never tell….

    3. Stephanie

      Yeah, my relatives claim to hate onions…and then I made lasagna with red sauce with an entire onion (not out of spite…I just always make it with onions and forgot).

      It could be a texture thing. Raw onion is pretty pungent, but cooked onion is more mellow.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I say if he’s already eating it, he must have been aware after the first time, so pointing it out isn’t going to achieve anything. My father hated sauerkraut. Knowing this, my Grandmother made chocolate sauerkraut cake (where she got that recipe I have no idea). He ate it and thought it was fantastic… then she told him it contained sauerkraut. She did it in fun (I assume) and he put his hands up to his neck and made choking noises (also in fun, I assume). If he hadn’t been told, he would never have known.

        There are a whole bunch of foods I just don’t like on their own. Onions, eggs for example. Chop up that onion and put it in something, fine. I have never ordered onion rings ’cause ick. I’ll happily eat cake or pancakes that use an egg in the batter but scrambled eggs… just can’t go there.

            1. the gold digger

              I got this recipe when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile. I have this cookbook that the North American Association of Chile put together. I made the cake for my co-workers and did not tell them what was in it until after they had eaten it and praised it. They thought US food was very strange – I had made BBQ chicken, cornbread, and brownies for them once and they thought it was bizarre to have a sweet sauce on meat and to have bread made from corn. They liked the brownies.

              Sauerkraut Cake
              2/3 C butter
              1.5 C sugar
              3 eggs
              1 tsp vanilla
              1/2 C cocoa powder
              2 1/4 C flour
              1.5 tsp baking soda
              2 tsp baking powder
              1/4 tsp salt
              1 1/4 C water
              2/3 C sauerkraut
              1 C raisins (optional)

              Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together, then add to butter mixture alternately with water.

              Rinse sauerkraut, drain, pat dry, and chop fine. Add sauerkraut and raisins to mixture.

              Bake in a greased and floured 9×13 pan or two 8×8 pans for about 30 minutes at 350. Frost with a caramel frosting. (I didn’t do that because I am lazy, but I think any caramel frosting – or maybe manjar – would be excellent.)

              Bon appetit!

              1. schnapps

                Ok, so because I am of Germanic descent, I need to ask: define sauerkraut. Pickled cabbage, yes, but there’s a great difference between the Kirkland one at Costco (Eeeeeeeew) vs the one I pick up at my local market.

                1. Dynamic Beige

                  My grandparents used to make their own. Don’t know the exact recipe but it involved a lot of shredding of cabbage (there was a special thing for it, a board with very sharp razors in it), apple slices, a thick crockery thing (I can’t remember the name, but it was like a cylinder 2′ high with brown glaze on the inside and beige on the outside, the walls were about 1″ thick, it was very heavy). They would put a layer of cabbage, some apple slices, salt (I think and probably other stuff), and just fill the container up with repeating layers. I’m sure there was something else, but I inherited the hatred of sauerkraut from Pops, so I never learned. Anyway, a specially made wooden platform would be put on top of the whole thing that was cut to be the interior diameter of the crockery (so, not a lid). There was a hole in it, so the juices could be siphoned off. Then, a very large rock (yes, an actual rock) was placed on top to provide pressure. It took weeks to get the final product.

                  I think if I had to buy some of it, I would go to Denniger’s Foods of the World — a local small chain store that specialises in European foods and products — to get it. I bet they would have the good stuff.

                2. Dynamic Beige

                  PhyllisB, it wasn’t a lot of apple slices, but I think it was to add a bit of sweetness. My grandparents were from the Baltic region, so maybe it was a regional thing?

                3. Tinker

                  I got into making my own kim chi because I’m allergic to shellfish and a lot of the commercial brands (especially the ones that are any good, much to my annoyance) flavor with shrimp. It’s the same basic deal as sauerkraut — the essential elements are cabbage (or other vegetable), salt, and the exclusion of air. This creates an environment which is better for lactic acid bacteria than for other things, and those bacteria then ferment the cabbage. Spices and such are according to preference. I’ve been mostly reading Sandor Katz on the subject, but home fermentation seems to be the new trendy thing generally so there’s a lot written about it.

                  I’m kind of wondering what would happen if I put my garlic-and-red-cabbage kim chi into that cake…

                1. PhyllisB

                  Dynamic Beige, your comment made me think of my daddy, who was a butcher used to make his own sauerkraut. It was layers of cabbage and salt, no apples. We lived in a Mississippi town that had a large German population, and they all said Mr. Weeks made the best sauerkraut they ever ate. The funny thing is: He was an EXTREMELY picky eater who wouldn’t eat sauerkraut on a bet; and I never knew about this until he passed away. (I never heard of/ate sauerkraut until I was in my late teens.)

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      I agree, don’t tell! I dislike mushrooms as well – the texture squicks me out and if I can SEE them in sauce or whatever I’ll pick them out, but if the pieces are small enough I don’t mind them.

        1. Windchime

          I don’t think they have a taste at all. To me, they are like chewing on a pencil eraser. Just a little hunk of rubber in my food. If they are tiny or ground up, I probably wouldn’t mind but I can’t stand slices of mushrooms in or on my food.

          1. Natalie

            They do have some umami, which is the savoriness or meatiness flavor. But that’s most noticeable when they’re in a sauce or something.

            1. Dynamic Beige

              I love mushrooms. I’ve even found Morels in my back yard and fried them up in a pan. A very long time ago, I had a dish in a restaurant that featured Matsutake mushrooms and Oh. My. Gawd. the flavour on that was amazing. It’s not something that gets in food here very often, that’s the only time I’ve ever had it but highly recommended if you love mushrooms.

      1. blackcat

        Yep, this is me, too. I hate the texture. But mushrooms that have been blended or are very small are fine. I will live in happy ignorance for many dishes.

    5. danr

      No. Don’t tell him. If he had a real food sensitivity, he would know that something is wrong every time he eats it. He probably read the story “Boys! Grow giant mushrooms in your basement” by Ray Bradbury much too early and he’s still afraid. :)=

    6. Traveler

      I hate mushrooms, but I eat things where they are ground up and indiscernible. I would assume that’s the case here or he would have noticed already. You might be able to tell him without him freaking out? I would vote to tell him.

      1. Expendable Redshirt

        Thanks guys!
        My guy does not have a biological problem with eating mushrooms. No allergies, sensitivities and such. He isn’t bothered by the taste or texture of mushrooms. My fellow doesn’t like eating mushrooms for psychological reasons. “They’re grown in poo and therefore they’re ichy” I’ve seen him happily eat mushrooms (big slices of them) if he doesn’t KNOW what they are.

        Once he ate vegetable chips (mushrooms were an ingredient) and exclaimed how delicious they were.

        Me: “Hey Hun… You know this is made with mushrooms right?”

        Him: “Dammit! Now I can’t like them..”

        My guy loves this frozen lasagna! He asks for it every week. Oh dear!

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Then I suggest telling him. Heck, tell him they’re in dishes that don’t have them. too. If he like foods based on what he’s told about them rather than how he thinks they taste, that might eventually cure him of it.

        2. Tina

          I think most commercially available mushrooms are grown in a a controlled environment in a sterile substraight so probably have less poop exposure than organic veggies grown on farms where there are animals and birds around. I know that food aversions are often not rational, but perhaps some knowledge of mushroom farming (or wild mushroom harvesting) plus the sterilizing heat of the oven might make the lasagne palatable for him even once he knows? I would be honest with him though now that you know there are mushrooms in his favourite dish, assuming you would want him to be honest with you.

          1. Natalie

            For that matter, lots of mushroom varieties don’t grow on manure. I’m not sure where that idea comes from. Most of them, as far as I can tell, grow on dirt or rotting wood.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Better make that -100 because I used most of the can… the whole top of the pizza was practically black. And yum! What didn’t make it on top, I finished off with a spoon as an appetizer. (pictures Expendable Redshirt shuddering in horror)

          1. Myrin

            Yass, another olive lover! It always makes me sad how little love they get because I think they’re super delicious and just really fun to eat. (And isn’t it interesting that some foods [and other things, like bands *coughnickelbackcough*] are almost universally disliked? I always feel it’s very random and not really based on anything other than some kind of negativity hype.)

            1. Dynamic Beige

              The only olive I’ve ever found that I didn’t like was one that was slightly rotting. How that happened, I don’t know. Kalamata, green with the pimentos, black, I’ll eat them all. Although I think I had a jalapeno olive once and that was too spicy. I really should start eating them as a snack because they’re supposed to be wicked healthy for you and I do have a few cans in the cupboard.

              As for the pizza, it have to admit it was a frozen one. But it tastes much better smothered in olives!

            2. Mephyle

              I love all olives (and mushrooms, too). But for some, olives are an acquired taste. I’ve always liked this joke about it:
              A child and his father were eating olives. The father took one and ate it with gusto. The child took one, and screwed up his face at the taste. Once again the father enjoyed his next olive, and the child could barely swallow it. With that, the child burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” asked the father? “You’re getting all the good ones!” the child sobbed.

            3. LCL

              I had ‘Rockstar’ as the ringtone on my previous phone. I tried to figure out how to play it on guitar but it is harder than it sounds.

          2. Stephanie

            Oh, I snack on olives. I love them. I even live near an olive mill. My friend and I were those weirdos asking for far too many sample cups at the Wegman’s olive bar.

          3. Kyrielle

            Your pizza sounds AWESOME.

            Besides, who can’t like black olives? Besides everything else, they’re fun when you’re little, to stick on the ends of your fingers! My boys both love them too. :) (Mushrooms, not so much. So it goes. _I_ like them.)

          4. Anna

            I LOOOOOOOVE olives. I’ve even come to love green olives, but I can definitely polish off a can of black olives all on my own. With only the smallest tinge of guilt.

    7. katamia

      Nope. I hate mushrooms, too, but not because they’re fungus–I hate the taste and texture of most mushrooms. But if I found out something I really liked had mushrooms in it, then I’d keep eating it because clearly the taste/texture don’t bother me there.

    8. matcha123

      I am like your bf and I hate mushrooms. I don’t know why some people think that’s strange.

      I guess you don’t have to tell him, but if I were him and I checked the ingredients and saw they contained mushrooms and I knew that you kept that from me, I’d be ticked.

    9. Rebecca

      As a fellow mushroom loather, I read every word on every label when I try new foods. If it contains mushrooms, I don’t buy it or eat it. I say let it go, if he was that concerned, he should read the label :)

    10. AvonLady Barksdale

      He wouldn’t last a minute in my house. Last night I made udon with shiitake and enoki mushrooms. And… we like huitlacoche ’round these parts. :)

  7. The Other Dawn

    I’m waiting to board my flight back from lax to jfk. Business trip followed by a couple days of vacation. I’ve come to realize that airport food is not very good for someone who has had gastric bypass. My choice seems to be bagged snacks aka tons of carbs, prepackaged sandwiches that are all bread or roll, fast food or pastry, and yogurt with granola that contains 50g (!) Of sugar. The only somewhat good option is a fruit cup, but it’s mostly melon and I’m not a fan. Ugh! I brought some of my own snacks (quest protein bar and kind nut bars) but I want “real” food on a 6 hour flight. Oh well. Guess I’ll just eat my own stuff and keep drinking water in between. It’s just annoying that I can’t kind better choices. I did find a couple salads but they were filled with candied walnuts and the like.

    1. SocSci

      Check some of the Starbucks/Peets boxed lunches. I like Starbucks’ Omega 3 box; somewhat pricy, but healthy – or at least healthier!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Yeah, a lot of the chains have wraps now. I am sure Starbucks does, but I haven’t gone there for food in months. I do know that Pret A Manger and Au Bon Pain have good wraps.

    2. Windchime

      That’s one reason I like to fly Alaska Air. They have a good cheese and fruit tray that is kind of expensive, but much better than the food in the terminal. I’ve got a long flight tomorrow, too, and I’m dreading it. Airplanes are not made for tall people and somehow I usually miss out on being able to purchase extra leg room.

    3. Kyrielle

      Ugh, much sympathy. A bit of irony: if you are traveling through an airport large enough to have a McDonald’s, their salads are not half-bad, if salads are a good option (what I know about gastric bypass is almost nothing tho). I usually get a grilled chicken bacon ranch without the dressing or cheese.

      1. Noah

        Wendy’s salads are awesome too, I love the strawberry chicken one. They used mixed greens instead of just iceberg lettuce. I know ATL, PHX, CLT, and MIA have them.

  8. salad fingers

    Does anyone here have and regularly use a bread maker? If so, do you have a favorite source for recipes? Any super sneaky pro tips or troubleshooting methods? Just got a standard 2-lb one by Oster and am having a BLAST, minus my first flop yesterday — Olive Bread. It ended up dropping down in the middle, forming a pretty intense concave bread bowl shape. Too much water? Not enough rise time?

      1. salad fingers

        Ooooh, nice. For some reason I’m resistant to buying cookbooks because I feel like at this point, I can find usually find a blog that I like as much or more as a book. I have to say though — I haven’t had that experience with bread maker recipes for some reason. Thanks!

    1. GrittyKitty

      My uncle (about to turn 89) makes dill bread. They use it for sandwiches, breakfast – everything. It is YUMMY!

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      My bread machine came with a basic white bread recipe, and I’ve made one modification that makes endless variations. It calls for 3 cups of bread flour. I use 2.5 cups and a half cup of oats, or a half cup of pecans (very tasty), or a half cup of ‘bugs’. My bug bread has a mix of white and black sesame seed, flax and golden flax, and sunflower seeds. Sometimes I do 1.5 cups white flour, 1 cup wheat flour, and 1/2 cup something else. It needs to be a dry ingredient, but that’s the only criteria.

      1. salad fingers

        Very good to know – didn’t realize that subbing things can be that simple. I found one recipe that sounds very similar to your bug blend (also, lol at “bug blend”) and I can tell already that it’ll be a staple. Thanks!

    3. Anonyby

      I have a zojirushi machine that I inherited from my paternal grandfather. It’s amazing! :D Before that I was borrowing one from my maternal grandmother, but it was smaller and I only used it for the dough setting.

      I mostly use the recipes in the book that came with it (the zojirushi), but if I’m looking to branch out, this is the site I go to:

      http://whatscookingamerica.net/BreadRecipe.htm

      1. salad fingers

        YES, thank you! This looks like an awesome resource, and I like the paired down but very readable design of the site.

  9. super anon

    anyone have an advice for bouncing back/not being overwhelmingly sad after the death of a loved one? my grandfather (however he raised me from a baby so he was essentially my father for all intents and purposes) died 18 days ago and i’m finding it impossible to get things done at work as quickly as before because i just can’t focus. i’m really slow, and sad, and i find that i am super irritable and angry at everything. my mood is spilling over into all aspects of my life – nothing really makes me happy the way it used to (getting a new nail set used to bring me real joy, and it didn’t this time). there was no funeral so i didn’t go home to see my family after he passed, and i don’t really have anyone i can talk to about it. my benefits package still hasn’t gone through so i can’t afford to go see a therapist to get some practical coping advice either. i’m trying to go out and live my life, but i find every day is a struggle. even getting the energy to put on makeup and go out in the morning is a real challenge.

    my boyfriend lost his father last year and he didn’t really cry, and he went back to work the next day and lived life normally. i feel really frustrated that i seemingly can’t do the same thing. :(

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Well, it’s true what they say – people experience grief in different ways; what works for your boyfriend might not work for you.
      I think that you should give yourself time and space to feel sad – it is sad. If talking about him helps, then do that. Perhaps, if you can, go and see your family or take a few days off (but I’m well-versed in US holiday policies are, so I’m aware that it might not be an option).

      I lost my mum six years ago, and although the day to day hurt is gone, it’s still always there – it’s something that has happened to you and changes you, whether or not you realise it.

      Take care of yourself, and I’m so sorry for your loss.

      1. super anon

        I’m in Canada – I have 4 days left of vacation days this year (next year I’ll get 4 weeks, but I’m new so this year I only got 8 days), but I can’t afford to go back now that he’s passed because flying across the country is prohibitvely expensive, and I’d need to rent a car as well. I also went back a month before he passed to see him and spent $4000, which is crazy pricey for a recent grad who only just started their first real job (I’m stilling paying it off of my cc… the price point was painful!).

        1. Sasha

          My doctors office in Alberta has a therapist who you can see for 5 sessions for free – it’s covered by provincial health care and not my extended benefits (ie not Blue Cross or my EAP from work). Having someone to talk to about your grief will help, so maybe call your GP if you have one already or go to a walk in clinic and ask about free mental health resources in your town. My therepiast really helped me with grieving a recent loss and one thing I learned that really helped me is that the so-called “stages” of grief are not linear – they can overlap so you might feel angry and sad at the same time for example, and also they can happen more than once and out of order – ie feeling sad and then feeling angry and then back to sad. You can also ask your boss if there is berevment leave – losing a dad (whether or not he’s your biological father) is a big deal and it’s ok of it takes you time. Some churches can offer support too even if you aren’t a member of the congregation, and some therapists will have a sliding scale so as a recent grad you may be able to get a discount. Hoping for the best for you during this time :)

          1. Sasha

            Also sometimes situational depression is enough to be worthy of using a couple of sick days if you have those, so keep that in mind if you are too distracted to perform well. A day or two resting sometimes gives you enough strength to hold it together for the next few work days

            1. Alma

              Highly recommended! Doesn’t matter how much time has elapsed.

              I encourage you to set aside some time, even if it is 20 minutes an evening, to focus on nothing but what you’re feeling right then. Make some notes, draw some pictures, however you are able to best express yourself. This is just for you. It is sacred (and this can be sacred in a purely secular way, as well) time.

              You may need only two weeks, or more. It may help you come up with a way to celebrate his life, and what he still means to you. Writing down your recollections, dreams you may have, maybe in a memory box, with photos, cards and letters – these may be something that will be a resource to share with someone special later in life.

              I had a friend who went out with her brother and planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs so every spring they would be reminded of the joy their Grandfather brought into their lives.

              Don’t let anyone rush you. Your loss is immense. Healing, peaceful thoughts being sent your way!

        2. Carrie in Scotland

          Ah yes – Canada is a large country.

          For the first few years, on my mum’s birthday I used to set off a chinese lantern. Maybe you could do that or something similar to celebrate his life? My mum also has a tree in the garden of the house I grew up in (my dad still lives there) and a bench with a plaque on it in the woods (she liked to walk her friend’s dog).

    2. Catherine

      I think you have to give yourself a break – it’s only been 18 days. I lost my both my parents in the last 5 months – they were elderly (86 and 91) and it was not unexpected, but I am still sad and I can certainly relate to not being able to focus.

      Your boyfriend’s response is not typical and may catch up with him in the future.

      Be kind to yourself, allow yourself some time each day to grieve, and know that it will get better.

      My condolences – losing a parent is a life changing event and requires time to recover from.

    3. Ruffingit

      Grief groups can help. Do a search for Griefshare and you can enter you zip code and see where they meet in your city. I am so sorry for your loss!!

    4. Audiophile

      I’m sorry for your loss. My grandfather died a number of years ago, and my grandmother passed away almost 3 years ago. I felt like my grandmother’s death hit me harder. Part of that was compounded by my job at the time, making it pretty difficult to take time off.

      People grieve differently, this is very true. Give yourself time to deal with it, don’t expect to be able to jump right back into work.

    5. Courtney

      I’m sorry for your loss. Is there a grief support group through your hospital? Ours has a free grief support group that meets one night a week. Can you contact a mental health nonprofit agency and ask if there’s low cost support available? Maybe check their websites?

    6. Elizabeth West

      *hug* I’m sorry. :(

      You’re not your boyfriend, and people grieve differently and at different rates. Take some time when you need it, and try to do what you can for now. When your benefits kick in, if you feel like you need to, then you can go talk to someone. But for now, it will just take time.

    7. Mimmy

      You said below that you can’t afford to travel to see your family, but maybe you can call them (apologies if you’ve already done so).

      Everyone grieves in different ways – try not to compare yourself to how your boyfriend processed his grief last year. I second all the support suggestions given already.

      Very sorry for your loss ((hugs))

    8. fposte

      Oh, honey. It’s just eighteen days. You’re sad because this is really, really sad, not because there’s anything wrong with you. Your boyfriend’s response may work for him, but it’s pretty unusual. I’m no therapist, but I think the practical coping advice right now would be “Go ahead and be sad.”

      Tell us some neat stuff about your grandfather. What are some of your best memories of him?

    9. Ask a Manager Post author

      18 days is so, so early. It is so normal to feel this way about the death of someone who was like a parent to you. Let yourself grieve, don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you for not bouncing back quickly, and know that it will get more manageable in time. (It won’t go away completely, but you will find joy in things again.)

    10. Liane

      I am so sorry for your loss – hugs!
      Grief support groups have been suggested by others, & I second them. If going out to one is just too much, you could probably find an online one nowadays. If one group doesn’t work try another one. In the USA, hospices have these groups and the person you lost doesn’t have to have been receiving services there for you to attend.

      I agree with others both that everyone grieves differently and that your boyfriend’s way of grieving seems to be uncommon, but that’s not important. As long as he is supportive of you and how you grieve this deep loss and doesn’t tell you that you should do the same as he did (no one should tell you you’re grieving wrong!) that’s what matters about that detail.

    11. InsertNameHere

      I am so sorry for your loss. I think this is a time to be extra, extra kind and gentle with yourself, and give yourself some space to not be super productive or productive at all, and slow overall, and not judging yourself for any of it.

      A few years ago, a very close friend of mine died. He was partnered, so all the “official” mourning was around his partner (shiva, memorial service, etc), it made me feel even lonelier, like there was no place to acknowledge the very big loss I had just also suffered. My therapist suggested I gather my own friends to surround me around my loss. I was skeptical but i was feeling very lonely in my grief so I decided to do it. I did it easy, ordered a deli platter, and told people it was sort of like a shiva call. And my friends came and they sat with me, most did not know my friend who passed away, and I got to tell them about him and about how much he meant to me. It was incredibly healing, it helped me feel less lonely in the big emptiness that was this loss. Maybe that is something that might be helpful to you as well.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Aside from what everyone said about it only being 18 days… finding some way to memorialise him where you are might be helpful. Light a candle, get out a photo album. Find a photo of him or the two of you that you love and get a frame for it. Turn off the phone and give yourself permission to bawl your eyes out full-on ugly cry for a night. Go to somewhere nearby that you think he would have liked and have a picnic. See his favourite band or play songs he enjoyed. Get a journal and write it out. Gather your friends and have a wake for him/yourself. If he made a certain dish and you have the recipe, make it and remember some good times.

        While it’s a shame you couldn’t go to the funeral, you got to see him before he passed and that is so much more important. Funerals are good for closure, in the sense that there is that finality there, and maybe you need some sort of ritual for yourself if you feel you missed that.

        You’re going to feel what you’re going to feel, and the timing on that may not be convenient. Bottling it up isn’t going to help. I’m not saying that this is an excuse but if you’re falling down on the job a bit, there are very few people who haven’t gone through what you’re going through. They should be understanding for a few months if you need to suddenly run to the bathroom and come back with red eyes. Some days are just harder than others when you’ve lost someone you care about. It does change you and mess with your perspective.

        I’m glad you went and got your nails done! It’s so important at a time like this to take care of yourself and things like that can help a little bit.

        1. super anon

          He actually chose not to have a funeral, just a basic cremation. There will be a gathering when my grandmother passes away to celebrate both of their lives… but that could honestly be years in the future.

          Actually, the day he passed away I went and got pie for myself and my boyfriend to eat. It was his favourite food and it always makes me think of him, so it felt fitting to do that. I like the idea of finding other ways to memorialize him, there may not have been an official funeral but that doesn’t mean I can’t things for myself to remember him.

          Also I have gel nails so they were a standing appt – it’s super dangerous to let them grow out too long so I couldn’t have skipped even if I wanted to, I don’t want to get nail fungus! :p

    12. the gold digger

      I am so very sorry for your loss. I am sending you a big hug.

      It has been 18 years and 30 days since my dad died. I am still not over it. You don’t necessarily get over the death of someone you love. You just learn to deal with the huge hole in your life and it becomes less and less hard to do so. But you never get over it. It will always be a loss. You just get used to it and remind yourself that the pain is the price you pay for having been lucky enough to have someone wonderful in your life.

      As far as grief counseling – I went to a grief group at a church. It wasn’t even my church and I don’t think they would have cared if I were not a believer. It was really useful to be around a group of people who understood and with whom I could talk about my dad and cry and not be judged. It was somewhat structured and we talked about coping mechanisms. It was free. That might be an option for you.

      Big, big hug. So sorry. It’s so hard.

    13. NewCommenterfromDaBronx

      So very sorry for your loss. Grief really is different for everyone. 18 days is very very soon. But even if it’s 18 months,, you may still have these occasions where you can’t focus. Give it time. My husband died very suddenly 2 years ago. I went back to work about 2 weeks later. But it took about 6 months before I really cared about doing my job well. Still not sure I really care as much as I should. Fortunately my boss was totally understanding. Be kind to yourself & let yourself grieve. Baby steps!

    14. Not So NewReader

      All the things you say here are symptoms of grief. Lack of focus, slowness, irritablity, anger are some of the symptoms of grief. Some people go through forgetfulness, irregular heartbeats, and so much more. Some people trip over their own two feet, or accidently give themselves other minor injuries because they are just not able to focus on what they are doing. That is fairly normal stuff.

      It sounds like money is a little tight right now. There are some low cost/no cost things to do.
      Check out the library for books on grief. Pick one and actually read it. Look for that one where it sounds like the author is talking to YOU, like she knows you. Some grief books are written in a large font and are very slim- not many pages- that is because the author knows that people cannot concentrate.

      If you go to church or are interested in joining a church, now is a good time to do that you can check for free grief programs there. Perhaps there is a church near you that seems nice, you could just ask if they have a program for grieving folks. These programs are not awful or scary or anything like that.

      Remember to cry when you need to. If you tell yourself to stop crying, that will only make it worse, you want to cry even more. Tell yourself that it is okay to cry, because it is okay to cry. Crying releases chemicals in the brain that help to keep the brain healthy which, in turn, a healthy brain helps us to process the difficult things in life.

      Is there someone in your family that would talk with you every so often? If you have a calling plan that will accommodate that phone call (long distance) then it would be a good idea to touch base with that person or persons. Try not to let yourself go into isolation. That will make it worse, too. Go slowly and carefully and find understanding people to talk with.

      We all grieve differently, compounding the confusion on this topic, one person might grieve differently for different people. My husband barely shed a tear when his dad died, but when our dog got killed the tears flowed. Us human beings are pretty complex sometimes so we grieve in a particular manner for a number of reasons, not just one or two reasons. And that is okay, too. It’s a good idea not to compare your grief to other people’s, even your BF.

      Grief changes over time. My nana died over 40 years ago. Once in a while, I can still whip up some tears because I still miss her. When she first passed, I cried a lot. I cried every holiday, etc. But I needed to, I needed to push those tears out in order to help myself.

      Come back and let us know how you are doing.

      1. super anon

        This was a really helpful comment – thank you for taking the time to write it.

        I’ve thought about grief groups at churches but I’m not very religious and have never gone to church before, so I don’t know if they would welcome me. I’m also not really sure if I believe in God at all – do church’s let people who are non-believing there? :/

        Money isn’t overly tight as a household in general- I just have massive student loan payments (my boyfriend’s Mercedes payment is less money than my student loan!) and am trying to really chip away at it, and I don’t feel right taking my boyfriend’s money to pay for counselling, when he’s already helped me out so much financially this year during the 6 months I was unemployed after I finished university.

        I don’t really have any family I can talk to – I’m estranged from all of my family aside from my grandmother and my mother, but my mother is a very self-centred person and only talks about herself whenever I call her. She hasn’t asked me how I’m doing yet since he died… I often find calling her makes me more upset than if I hadn’t called at all. I’ve been trying to go out with friends and coworkers after work, and I find that has been helpful, but then I feel bad laughing and having fun when a Terrible Thing Happened and I feel like there’s this pressure to be sad visibly? Like people are judging me for being cold and unfeeling so soon after? Or something? Idk it’s weird… death and grieving in general is just weird and I don’t particularly like it.

        1. Zingbot

          I believe you can find support groups that aren’t necessarily religion based, just doing a quick google it looks like griefshare.org might be a good resource. I suffered with some minor postpartum depression but couldn’t find a therapist that was covered by insurance and a local support group was definitely the best thing to help me through it. If you would be comfortable and able to talk about it (which it seems you are!) that could be a great option.
          Some churches are very welcoming to those who doubt/nonbelievers, but I’m guessing if you aren’t already affiliated with one that is comfortable with those who are questioning or who are just more interested in a supportive community, then now is probably not the time to go looking (because some, definitely not all!, but some would see this as an opportunity to try and convert you while vulnerable ). Church to me is a lot like dating, you have to go through some frogs to find your prince- I’m a weekly churchgoer but more because I love the community than for spiritual reasons, I just lost my grandma a couple of weeks ago and don’t think I’d be comfortable trying out a new church because I’d be especially upset if someone tried to make it a new member opportunity.
          I’m so sorry for your loss, it’s been a month now since I lost my gma and I find the sadness is being slowly supplanted by the sweet happy memories, I have the cookie jar she always had on her counter and I filled it up the other day and find myself smiling when I get a cookie now instead of crying, so keep enjoying pie and happy memories and hopefully it’ll start to ease.

          1. Alma

            Many churches provide space to grief groups that meet everyone “where they are.” A phone call to the church office should provide you with a contact person for the group, and do ask questions.

        2. military grandchild

          I’m so sorry for your loss. I had a very hard time a few months ago when my grandfather died, and he hadn’t raised me.

          Don’t feel strange about having fun–most people get it.

          I also found it very helpful & healing to talk about his life with those around me, even though none of my friends knew him. It’s a bit easier because he was career military, and served in many campaigns from WWII through Vietnam, so it’s a bit of a “this is a cool piece of history” in addition to “I want you to know about my grandfather.” Most of it has been happy sharing–I’m not crying, but smiling when I share these memories. I scanned many of his pictures, and I’ve enjoyed showing them to people and talking about them. I’ve also shared pictures/video of the military burial (which is a HUGE production for a high ranking officer), which a lot of my coworkers have been fascinated by. (As a side note, as an a-religious person, there wasn’t a lot of ritual around my grandfather’s death until the military burial, which took months. But the ritual of the military burial was incredibly healing for me, and I think part of that was the level of ritual. Societies & religions made rituals for a reason–they are helpful. So if you can find something to do that holds some meaning for you, it may be very helpful). Telling people about his life has been great, and you may (or may not) find that it’s helpful for you.

          Finally, I haven’t found people trying to comfort me with religion to be useful. I’m sure it works for some people, but being told that I’ll see my grandfather again in Heaven isn’t helpful to me. I believe he’s just gone, and part of the pain is knowing I’ll never see him again. Being told about seeing him again when I am “with god” just feels like rubbing salt in the wound (but it HAS been helpful for the religious members of my family, so YMMV).

        3. Not So NewReader

          It’s okay to have laughter and tears all in the same day or even the same hour. Fortunately, we have grown as a society and we now understand that it’s totally normal to have several emotions all at once. It use to be you had to go around with a long face because you were in grief. Not so any more. One day, many years ago, I was standing with a group of students at school. It was a mixed group all different people. One middle-aged man was cracking jokes left and right. He was very funny and everyone was laughing. When he turned and looked at me I could not believe what I saw. His eyes had to be the saddest, most heartbroken set of eyes I have ever seen in my life. Life is a mixed bag. We have funny things and sad things happening each day.

          Try not to let what others think or even what you think others might be thinking get in your way. See it for what it is. It’s an artifical barrier. Us humans are great at coming up with lots of things to dwell on. All these things do is interfer with our basic need to grieve. Let your mind relax on these minor things such as what others think. Instead focus on what you would like to do to help yourself reknit your life. I did a balloon release one time. I bought a balloon that said “I love you” and I released it. Not exactly environmentally sound. However, it’s not my habit to do balloon releases. I indulged myself that one time. You know, it was tougher to let go of that balloon than I thought it would be. And it made me smile as it floated up. More of that happy/sad stuff.

    15. ThursdaysGeek

      I’m sorry.

      When my mother-in-law died, I was fine some days, and crying others. Like others have said, we all experience grief differently, and it can take a long time or a short time, and that’s fine. Let yourself grieve and don’t compare yourself to someone else. It’s a different relationship, a different pain, you’re a different person.

    16. stellanor

      Grief legitimately makes you stupid. :/ Like, it actually slows your brain down. Someone told me there was actual research showing it is true but I’ve forgotten the citation because I had the grief-stupids at the time. I was a graduate student when an immediate family member died and it took me at least 8 months to be back at like 85% of normal smartness capacity again — the quarter it happened I had to drop all my classes, not because I was too grief-stricken to go to them but because I was too grieving-braindead to understand any of the material. I don’t think I was REALLY back to normal for a bit over a year.

      Your boyfriend’s experience is quite atypical, and I actually wonder if he had some inner turmoil he didn’t share! Although I, too, to some degree dealt with my grief by trying to get into a routine. Some people thrive on doing normal stuff, some find they can’t or really struggle to do normal stuff. Your boyfriend sounds like the former and you sound like the latter.

      Cut yourself some slack. Try to find a support group online or in your community — I bet there’s free stuff out there somewhere. If you’re even vaguely churchy (I’m actually totally not) they can be great resources for this kind of thing and tend not to begrudge total strangers in their time of need. Initiate self-care protocols — do stuff you like, even if you find you’re a bit meh about it. Don’t give yourself a hard time for feeling the way you do — how you feel is legitimate and normal and okay! Everybody does grief their own way.

      Take an occasional mental health day. If you want to sit under a blanket and be a miserable sack of slop for a day occasionally, totally do it.

      I’m sorry for your loss. You’re gonna pull through. If anyone (even that little voice in the back of your head) tells you you’re grieving wrong, tell them stellanor says they can go pound sand.

    17. Bea W

      Everyone processes grief differently. Your boyfriend’s coping mechanism may have very well been to just toss himself headlong into his work. Some people do that. He may be struggling quietly. I think men in particular are less likely to share their emotional struggles. A friend of mine told me when her husband died, she didn’t cry about it for 5 years. Then suddenly tears came gushing forth. One of my best friends lost her father a few years ago. Her experience was probably closer to yours. Really, your experience 18 days out sounds pretty normal to me, especially for someone who has not have the benefit of going through the usual rituals of closure. You say there was no funeral, and you didn’t get to visit with family around the event. That can leave people feeling a bit at loose ends.

      There may be free or low-cost grief support groups in your area. They may be run by local hospices, hospitals, churches, or social service agencies. Try searching for grief support in your local area. See what comes up.

      Give yourself permission and the time to feel whatever comes up. Take time to do things for yourself, make sure you get enough sleep and are eating enough. Those are areas that tend to get all messed up during hard times, and just taking basic care of those things can make a difference in how you feel. Reach out to family by phone or online if you think you can (not knowing your family dynamics).

      I love fposte’s suggestion to share memories with us. I have found that helpful myself, sharing my good memories and stories of the person (or pet). It’s sad but it brings back all the good feelings at the same time.

    18. Lionness

      My grandfather is like my father (who was never around) so I know what you mean when you say that, for all intents and purposes, he was your parent. The idea of losing him makes me miss a breath. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss.

      As others have said, 18 days is so early. It is ok that you still have trouble focusing. It is ok that you are still so sad you can’t find joy. It is ok, it is normal. One day it will get easier. One day, you’ll find yourself smiling at a silly joke or looking forward to being with people. I know that is hard to even imagine now, but it will come again.

      Sometimes it can help to talk about your grief (and it is ok if it doesn’t help, too). You might look into free/low cost mental health counseling or grief groups.

      Also, keep in mind that there is no “right” way to grieve. There is no wrong way to feel. You feel how you feel and you grieve how you grieve.

    19. Belle diVedremo

      I’m so sorry.

      I recommend releasing your tears, if you have them, especially first thing in the morning. Turns out that if you cry while showering, one generally comes out without looking like one’s been sobbing. Eyes aren’t red, etc.

      A pattern I have found helpful is to sob in the shower before work, finding someplace to go cry at lunchtime, and making time to cry after work & before bed. Are there churches open all day or midday near your job? Those were great places to go with a wad of tissues to just cry quietly. No one ever approached me at those times; church-goers often assume that church will be a place of comfort and safety and were seemingly unconcerned by my tears. This pattern didn’t mean zero tears at work, but seemed to allow me room for work and other life stuff before grief demanded focused release again, instead of trying (unsuccessfully) to fight down tears all day.

      Losing the strongest or remaining family link carries an additional grief.

      There’s a reason so much is written about grief and loss, we all face it at some point and it can leave us undone off and on for years. 18 days is so short a time. You will find your own way forward.

    20. BrownN

      I remember when my mom died, hard to believe it was 18 years ago, I was so angry weeks after she died. I didn’t understand why I was remembering her everyday, seeing her in places that were very unlikely, seeing something that reminded me of her, and worst of all, crying in public. I thought it was ridiculous because if I didn’t think of her everyday when she was alive, why was I behaving this way now.

      It wasn’t until my therapist told me that I would probably have feelings regarding my mother’s death for about a year or so. I don’t remember whether I thought, oh, my god, I hope not, but I accept what she said and that made things a little easier for me. Even 18 years later, I still miss her greatly.

      See if there is a grief support group in your area. Usually, they are free. I also suggest you do something that allows you to honor your grandfather/father. Have your own funeral, ceremony, or celebration. Write to him, telling him how much you loved, miss, and care for him.

      Give yourself time and make sure you do nice things for yourself each day.

      1. BrownN

        I forgot to mention you can also write him and tell him how angry you are that he left you or that you didn’t get to say goodbye or whatever feelings pop up.. All of these feelings are the norm.

    21. Kristen

      If your town has a hospice service, check with them on grief counseling/groups. They usually meet in the evenings and you can talk to others that are going through what you are and feel open to share with them. A group like this was a big help to me after my husband passed away.

  10. Elizabeth

    We are really enjoying the meat market/butcher shop that opened in town a few weeks ago. We got a week’s worth of meat, all high quality, for about 2/3 of what we would have paid for it at the mega mart. The only thing we can’t get yet is chicken, and that will come in the Phase II expansion, along with facilities for hanging beef to age it. Being able to buy retail cuts at wholesale prices is awesome.

    1. schnapps

      Best: I got into some Red Cross training I applied for. I get flown to the National Office in Ottawa, housed, fed and trained up. And because I’m in Vancouver(ish), I actually ended up with several hours on either end of the training to wander around after and before flights. And I’ve never been to Ottawa and I’m a politics and history junkie. I. am. So. Excited.

      Also best: AC/DC at BC Place Stadium. Awesome, awesome show. I am so happy I went, especially if this is going to be their last tour.

      Worst: Getting out of BC Place after the concert. I was on the floor so we had to go up through these tunnels/ramps to get out. They are not designed for fast egress of a thousand people. And then these two guys right in front of me sparked up a joint in the tunnels (idiots abound, I tell you). At least I had a bit of a walk to the train to get rid of the buzz from it.

        1. schnapps

          Yeah, they’re talking about packing it in. Phil Rudd and Malcolm Young are gone. They brought in Angus and Malcolm’s nephew Stevie to fill in for Malcolm, and Stevie is 58. They’re getting a bit old for this. :)

          Although, if they retire, part of me wonders if it will be a Rolling Stones type of retirement. :)

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        I used to live in Ottawa! If you’ll be at Red Cross HQ, I know where you’ll be–dead close to Parliament and very convenient to the Market for plenty of time to wander around and soak up the place! If the weather cooperates, walk down the stairs beside Parliament to the canal and riverside–there’s a walking path that goes beneath Parliament and gives terrific views of the river and Quebec. Or walk on the other side of the canal to Major’s Hill Park and up the statue of Champlain, which gives the best views of Parliament. Then you’re right in the Market for coffee and beaver tails and the best poutine place in the city! Convenient!

        1. schnapps

          I haven’t had word on the hotel yet, but I don’t expect it’ll be that far from HQ. :) I booked the flight right away because I wanted a direct flight from Vancouver to Ottawa. After getting up at my usual 5am to go to work for half the day (on public transit which I’m not accustomed to), and taking the Canada Line to YVR for a 4pm flight, the last thing I want to do is to deal with a stopover. I figure I can grab a nap on the plane that way and maybe mitigate the 3 hour time difference a bit.

          1. schnapps

            Oh I can make one of those. I land at 11:40pm (Eastern time) on Oct 15 and meetings don’t start until 6pm on the 16th. The meetings end at noon on the 18th and I don’t fly out until 7pm (I could have caught an earlier flight, but it wouldn’t have gotten me home any sooner and required two stopovers instead of one so I thought I’d use the time to decompress and wander Ottawa a bit).

          2. Mephyle

            Former Ottawan here! If you are able to catch a tour of the parliament buildings, the part most not to miss is the library. The inside looks like something from a Harry Potter set.
            And going in mid-October, you have a good chance of catching the fall colours in their prime. If so, I hope you can get a chance to walk around and view them!

              1. Mephyle

                I’m a book addict too but I don’t want you to get the wrong expectation. Visiting the parliamentary library isn’t a reading opportunity; it’s to adminre the architecture.
                I got some good books at the Ottawa Public Library’s permanent discard sale, but it was about 10 years ago; I don’t know if the discard sale is still there. Probably a look at the library’s website will tell you. The main branch is not far from where you’ll be; walkable or a very short bus ride away.

      2. schnapps

        So rumour has it (from the course conductor) that we’re staying at the Cartier suites which look really nice. And my Unknown Roommate might get their own room to save them from my apparent snoring (which husbandtype insists I do. I’ve never heard it :)

        1. Colette

          So you’ll be by city hall, off of Elgin. It’s a bit of a walk to the parliament buildings (but walkable). You’ll walk down to the war memorial and turn left for parliament hill, right for the Rideau centre/market. And Elgin has lots of food opportunities, which is good.

          The airport taxis are on strike (still, I think) which might make getting to your hotel a pain. There is likely a shuttle, but they have been disrupting traffic. Hopefully it will be over by the time you get here.

          1. schnapps

            Good to know about the taxis; thanks, Colette. Red Cross will usually arrange pick up.

            I just mapped it out and its about a kilometer from the hotel to Parliament Hill – totally walkable. And I see there is bike share there so that’s an option too. I have a Modo carshare membership too so that may be an option if the weather is extremely crappy.

            And the best part is, it’s right before the election (I come back home on the 18th). So NO POLITICIANS – they’ll all be stumping in their home ridings.

    2. Natalie

      Worst: work, as usual.

      Best: Two bests. Fiancé’s cat (or our cat, I guess) is doing awesome in her new house. She’s not shedding or whining as much as she used to at his place, so I think she’s actually getting enough socialization and entertainment. She was pretty unhappy in his old apartment.

      Also, we bought a new used truck today. Good price, and it runs a lot better than the old truck.

    3. Aussie Teacher

      Worst: I had a really difficult high school class last week – they’ve been getting steadily rowdier and I wasn’t sure how to handle it, because I’ve only taught all-girls before and boys are quite different. Tried to lay down the law and about 8 boys decided to really push me, and I didn’t handle it well. Spent 3 hours crying after class and felt sick and anxious for days afterwards.
      Best: I have an older teacher supporting me now and she’s fabulous! Also, it’s school holidays so I can take some time to rest and relax before I have to go back and deal with them again!

    4. danr

      Best: the deck repair is almost finished. All of the new boards are down, the new stairs are in place and the railings are going on.
      Worst: Cleaning out the garage. Have about 15 years of accumulated stuff in one bay. We’ve saved the little bit of good stuff and are shoveling the rest into garbage bags and putting them in the dumpster.

      1. fposte

        Oh, I was dancing around the edges of the garage today and thinking I would have to face it eventually. Funny how KonMari didn’t mention garages :-).

    5. Mimmy

      Best: A meeting that I was really dreading went a lot better than I expected. In fact, we’ve already secured a followup meeting.

      Worst: Nothing too horrible except catching my left pinky between my leg and a semi-sharp desk edge. Ouch :(

    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      Best: After a crappy, homesickness-inducing Rosh Hashanah, I had a surprisingly lovely Yom Kippur. I love our services and synagogue here, and we ran into people we know and like, which added something extra special to the holiday. My bf came with me to everything and can now follow what’s going on amazingly well. He even insisted we return to services so we could hear the story of Jonah.

      Worst: My co-worker who was effectively laid off had her last day this week. I really like her, so I’ll miss her a lot, but worse than that, I think it made zero business sense to let her go. The combination of sadness and frustration is never a good one.

    7. Colette

      Best: a lot of social events with good friends. I couldn’t do it all the time, but this week it was awesome.
      Worst: sometime last night (probably at boxing or the grocery store) I hurt my wrist. No idea what I did, but it’s pretty messed up. It’s annoying not to know how I did it (and doing everything one-handed is a pain).

    8. Elkay

      Best: Happened upon a right time/right place deal meaning I got some stuff at a total bargain basement price.
      Worst: Totally failing at exercising at the moment.

    9. Panda Bandit

      Best: I saw The Man From U.N.C.LE. I loved it!

      Worst: Ongoing health problem and work are tied for that category.

    10. EA

      Best: 2 out of the 3 junk rooms are cleaned out

      Also good: My favorite football team won easily today

      Worst: Work is awful … in the middle of a very large project (30+ hours of meetings in a what-should-be 40 hr work week just on this project. And it’s a project that I think (but will never mention to mgmt) is doomed to fail)

      2nd Worst: Back pain is still awful. Weekly chiro visits serve to help minimalize the pain temporarily, but it comes back, and is not getting better. Have an appt. with my primary care next week, hoping that he will recommend an MRI so I can finally figure out what’s CAUSING it.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Grrr. My chronic back pain (from an old injury) is flaring up right now, so I can sympathize. It’s making it hard to skate. I need to get on the Pilates but I HAAAATE doing it because it takes an hour and I feel like I should be doing other things. Good luck at the doctor’s.

    11. Q-chan

      BEST: I made a really great beef tenderloin dish with a red wine reduction sauce–something I’m pretty darn proud of, considering that I find high-heat searing/deglazing to be a pretty scary experience!

      WORST: the Stromae concert I was supposed to go to on Tuesday was cancelled at the last minute :(. My boyfriend and I went home and watched Mad Max instead (which turned out to be a lot of fun). At the very least, we weren’t the ladies we met out in the parking lot who’d driven 8 hours to see him!

      1. Nashira

        I’ve been listening to Stromae videos for the last hour. I can see why you’d be bummed! He is really really good.

    12. SaraV

      Worst: The week where I had to wake up at 3:45A four times, and the fifth day at 5:30A, is the week our landlord decided that the trees between our two apartment buildings needed to come down. Chainsaws and diesel engines and branches/trunks falling so heavy that they shook the place…no nap for me.

      Best: I was able to catch the most glorious nap when the tree cutters were at lunch one day. An hour and 15 minute nap that felt like 2.5 – 3 hours. It was splendid.

      Also, husband had work things to do on Saturday, so I drove up to a nearby town that was holding a fall festival. Enjoyed the gorgeous weather and made some purchases at the European bakery. Nom nom nom.

    13. littlemoose

      Best: dinner with my family earlier this week.
      Worst: found out I didn’t get the job for which I interviewed. Also caught a virus this week, so had to miss out on my weekend plans. I’m ready for a new week, please.

    14. stellanor

      BEST: Cooked the heck outta some brisket it smells amazing. (We don’t get to eat it until tomorrow. My life is very hard on the delicious-smells-I-can’t-eat-yet front currently.)

      WORST: Best happened due to horrible layoff-related depression, which I decided to deal with by cooking everything. Cooking being the only thing I can do right now without bursting into a fit of ‘THIS IS STUPID AND I HATE IT!’

    15. EvilQueenRegina

      Best: my cousin and her husband had their first baby this week!

      Worst: I guess I’m still angry at myself for even reacting to stupid Robin and his Facebook post about “Will Scarlet and EvilQueenRegina gear up for an epic battle. Couldn’t resist!” (Yeah, the other person is a guy, Robin is bi, which I knew all along but which wasn’t a deal breaker in itself.) Immature much? Why announce on Facebook that we are fighting over him? Which, believe me, we are not. I don’t even know how interested Will is but I know I don’t want that from a relationship. Will can win the battle if he wants but I will have won the war, because I know I’m better than that.

    16. Bea W

      BEST: So much sleep! Perfect weather most days. I have had some absolutely wonderful evening walks. I was in DC the first half of the week for work, then with friends the second half of the week. I did not know the Pope was coming to town until Monday night. I am not Catholic and the whole Pope thing is an odd concept, but that was quite exciting to be coincidentally staying down the street from the parade area. There are a lot of things I like about this Pope, and I think he’s a fascinating and truly spiritual man.

      I considered skipping the last day of my conference to view the parade since I was literally staying down the street, but decided I did not have the physical fortitude to make it, knowing I’d have to be out there before the 4 AM opening of the gates, and then committed to staying within the viewing area until noon. No thanks!

      WORST: I couldn’t get to the chiropractor before my trip, and have been in pain for the last two weeks. That made it really difficult to get good quality sleep and the constant discomfort made it difficult to stay focused on the conference, or move very quickly particularly in the morning. I missed parts of some sessions. My allergies have been going a bit crazy as well. That did not help! All of that made it really hard to focus on working at the end of the week. I didn’t get a lot done.

    17. Nashira

      Best: discovered last night that I’m getting good enough at x86 assembly language that I can think of ways to really optimize it, which is a BIG deal. I keep seeing the code structure inside video games I’m playing, too, especially Sunless Sea. A coder I shall be!

      Worst: OMFG I want to get rid of my uterus. Menstruation-related gender dysphoria is the wooooooorst ever.

    18. Kyrielle

      Best: EITHER oldest son is loving his swim lessons, OR I got to read a whole book uninterrupted! (The latter would be more awesome if the book hadn’t turned out to be okay but not amazing, but so it goes.)

      Worst: I got to read the whole book because I spent two days home sick (one working from home, one not) because my ongoing health condition and a nasty cold decided to hit _at the same time_. So it goes….

    19. Shell

      Non work related…

      Best: I think my home keyboard survived! I had accidentally spilled hot water all over it Monday night. Between frantic wiping, draining the water via conveniently placed drain holes (just discovered them), and two days in a warm spot, all the keys seems to be working. Any idea if this will last or if it may still die? I have the same keyboard at home and work and the model was discontinued years ago, so of really struggle to replace it!

      Best/worst: spent a bunch of money I didn’t plan on spending for new glasses. I needed them, but my insurance doesn’t reimburse, so ugh.

      1. Trixie

        Have you checked out online sites such as Zenni Optical? Serious savings for multiple pairs = spare pairs everywhere.

        1. Shell

          I’m in Canada, but I have taken advantage of one such online-glasses site that is based around here. They’ve served nicely; my last four pairs of glasses was from the same online company!

          That said, I have noticed the frame quality can be rather hit or miss with that site (and it’s a very well-reviewed site for the most part). I’m trying frameless glasses for the first time (and a name-brand, incidentally, because those were the frames I ended up liking), so I wanted the warranty of an in-store purchase. My optometrist actually has a program where she gives away free glasses* with an eye exam, and her prices for other glasses aren’t outrageous, so I wanted to try in-store this once. Honestly if I had insurance that covered glasses the cost I would end up paying would be downright cheap, but my insurance just doesn’t cover this. Sigh.

          *free glasses are simpler frames, of course, no designer stuff. But they are all still quite functional with warranties and coatings and everything.

      2. Not So NewReader

        I think your keyboard will be okay. My husband used to say with electronics the thing works or it doesn’t, no grey areas. Not so with mechanical things, they can limp along working sporadically for quite a while.

    20. Elizabeth West

      WORST: Webworms. Have. Taken. Over. They are seriously gross. I’m not the only person who has them; they’re in trees all over my end of town. Bleah. We’re not going to have any kind of autumn if they don’t lay off–all the leaves will be gone! Add that to the mad rush of bloated humongous orange spiders spinning webs all over the damn place and it is NOT fun to be outside. >_<

      BEST: My auntie and her bf are coming for a visit in a week or so–they're arriving from London to visit with my mum on Oct. 7 and they'll be over here for a week (her and Mum's brother lives here) so I will have to clean the house really well. Gaaaaahhh. I think I'll move some furniture around, and this gives me an excuse to go buy a cheap club chair or whatever so people have somewhere to sit. Maybe Target has something.

      Also, I was trying to figure out what to wear for the October 30 skating show, and I went through my fabric remnants and found this cool black stretch net with shiny blue sequins. I had JUST enough to make the yoke and sleeves for this one pattern. Plus, I cut it out in L instead of XL, so now I have to get off my giant arse and work out so it will fit! Eeep!

      1. Not So NewReader

        I had to google webworms. We get tent catapillars here. Similar idea and pretty gross. The article said you can tear the tent with a rake (if you can reach) and birds will eat the bugs.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I can’t reach them, sadly.

          Speaking of the spiders, I ran face-first into a web last night when I was taking my lawn chair out to see the super blood moon. BLAUUGGH!!

    21. Father Ribs

      Best: Taking my son to his first GWAR concert, and having two of our friends introduce him to the most pit and a little light crowd surfing. It is a very niche band but if you like that sort of thing, it definitely is buck list material.

      Worst: Doc mis-diagnose something, putting me on pills that took me out of commision for 2.5 workdays and not getting to see my daughter at her new college. Grr.

    22. Trixie

      Best: Late credit card payment does not appear to have affected my zero balance transfer rate, or incurred a late. Splurged on some girly skin care products for post-summer / fall pampering. Oil cleansers, Vit C serum, essential oil balm, hyaluronic acid serum, and glycolic serum.

      Worst: Fall arrived overnight along with drizzling rain all week. Not looking forward to winter because I never really warm up at home. Goal: electric blanket, better layers.

  11. Courtney

    I learned through a friend that a mutual acquaintance’s dad is very sick. His dad was diagnosed with stomach and liver cancer. The acquaintance “Joe” is a connection of mine on LinkedIn and lists his personal email plus phone number.

    I see Joe about 4-5 times a year but we aren’t friends that meet for drinks or lunch. When we see each other we chat about football teams, Super Bowl, etc.

    Would it be an etiquette breach to message him via LinkedIn or email the address on his profile to say I’m sorry to hear his dad is sick and let them know they’re in my thoughts? Would this be thoughtful or a bad idea?

    1. danr

      Use the email address in the profile, not linkedin. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it. Be sure to mention how you found out.

    2. the gold digger

      Totally thoughtful. When my dad was dying, I couldn’t believe that wasn’t the only thing everyone in the world was talking about – after all, it was the worst thing that had ever happened in my life. It helped me so much when people acknowledged that my family was going through a horrible time.

      You don’t even have to say anything super eloquent. As with a condolence note after someone has died, there are no words that can fix what has happened. All you need to do is to say that you are so very sorry to hear the sad news and that you hope his dad is not in pain (or something like that) and that you are thinking about him and his family. (If you and he are the praying type, then you mention that, but unless I am very sure about the other person’s beliefs, I do not say anything about prayers or heaven.)

      1. Today's anon

        Yes, I was so touched when acquaintances, people I just said hi to in passing, took a moment to send me a card or say something, even though we were not close at all. It really meant a lot. So much so that I try to do the same for others now.

    3. Dynamic Beige

      It would be a thoughtful thing to do but please refrain from offering the “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know” kind of thing. Because odds are, there is nothing you can do for them, beyond offer up good thoughts that his treatment is successful (which you could say) or that he passes with the minimum amount of pain (which you really can’t). If you knew him better, you could offer to watch their kids for a night so that they can go out — or take the kids out to a movie or something so that they get a break.

      If you really feel motivated to do something, you could make a donation to a local cancer agency. The Canadian Cancer Society used to loan out assist devices for those in palliative home care — when my mother was dying we were able to get a hospital style bed and potty chair for her. All I’m saying is that there are charities where the donation would be greatly appreciated.

    4. littlemoose

      My dad died of terminal cancer earlier this year. Had an acquaintance emailed me like you are suggesting, I would have found it thoughtful and appreciated it. Cut him some slack if he doesn’t get back to you soon though – it can get kind of overwhelming just to keep up with the bare minimum during times like that.

  12. Amy

    I am moving in a couple weeks. Same city, but different neighborhoods. Does anyone have advice for things they did or didn’t do when moving that made the move easier or helped them settle in faster?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Moving almost always sucks, even in the best of circumstances, though I do love unpacking and finding new places for everything. My only concrete advice is this: if you have pets, send them to daycare or with a friend while you’re moving– and ideally while you’re packing, too. Not having to worry about my dog going insane (or getting underfoot) was an immense help when I was moving.

      Of course, this may not apply to you, so I got nuthin’. Except, find your local wine shop. And if you see a restaurant that looks good, grab a menu. :)

      1. Alma

        OMG yes. My pups have always “gone to camp” at the boarder’s where they get lots of attention. They leave before Mommy starts to lose it, before strange people start moving their stuff, and when they walk into the new place their bowls, beds, and toys are arranged as expected. The house smells like their house even if everything is in boxes. And Mommy has taken her anxiety medication, so everyone is comfortable.

    2. AcidMeFlux

      Visit the neighborhood a few times and scope out the things that matter to you. For me, that means places to get good affordable food,be it fresh from small markets or delis or good supermarkets or reliable take out. Think about each part of your day and what things make each moment better, whether it’s a place to get coffee before you get in the car or on transit, or a bookstore to browse in for a few moments after work, or a good gym or park to exercise in….just having a place or two or three to feel comfortable in will help you settle in.

    3. Jillociraptor

      The best thing we did our move this summer was to have a few weeks of overlap between the two leases, so we could take a carload or two over every weekend. We just transferred one linen closet to the next, had cable and internet all squared away well before we took up residence in the new place, and had plenty of time to clean the old place before we had to hand over the keys.

      Good luck with the move!

      1. Elizabeth West

        I was going to say this–the more of the little stuff you can move first, the better. It helps lessen that feeling of “OMG why do I have so much craaaaaap” on the actual moving day. Also, this is your big chance to get rid of stuff!

    4. Natalie

      Pack a couple of “right away” boxes and suitcases, with everything you’re going to want to use within the first week. The suitcase can be packed like you were going on vacation for a week – clothes, toiletries, etc. Put 1 set of dishes and basic kitchen stuff in the box. Not having to open five boxes to find your can opener or hair dryer is invaluable.

    5. Applesauced

      Pack a first day/night box. It has a shower curtain, 1 set of sheets (or sleeping bag), towel, change of clothes, toiletries and medication, 1 cup/bowl/plate – basically, anything you’ll need in the 1st 24 hours. If you’re too tired to unpack everything, this has the minimum to function.

    6. schnapps

      Do the first night/day box (or do I what I did and throw a roll of toilet paper in every single box regardless of where it goes). And purge as you go – the less you have to move, the less time it takes to settle in to your new digs. Also, throw your chargers and remotes in a shoebox, label it, and keep it with you or put in the first night box (it took me a week to find our house phone chargers – until then we were charging them in the car or he charged his at work).

      Arrange for meals for the first week – get a grocery store with a delivery service to deliver them and schedule them ahead of your move. And if they’ll include a bottle of wine in that (assuming you’re in the US and can buy wine at the grocery store) all the power to you.

      As soon as possible after moving in, make sure you set up at least one area where you can sit and chill (that isn’t your bedroom). For us, that meant setting up the TV and the sofa, loveseat, coffee table and side tables. We ended up with a large space behind the loveseat that was a box storage area, so while we were sitting, they were kind of out of sight.

    7. AnotherFed

      Start boxing things up now, and purge as you go – that way you can do a little bit at a time, in a rational, organized manner. Otherwise, I end up hitting a wall the night before/last morning, randomly throwing stuff in boxes and ultimately going “I don’t care anymore! Gone! Trash, Goodwill, who cares, I’m not boxing it!”

      Also, label the heck out of everything – sure, that box started out as a linen closet box, but then it acquired the photo frames from the wall next to the closet and the knick knacks from the spare bedroom end table and the can opener that was preventing the last kitchen box from closing.

    8. BrownN

      If you have or find something you haven’t used or forgot you had, in the past year, get rid of it (give it away or donate it). It helps with cutting down on bring a lot of stuff with you. Especially, things like old clothes, shoes, and other things that aren’t really essential.

    9. Persephone Mulberry

      This is late so I don’t know if you’ll even see it, and I don’t know your budget, but I am never, ever moving without professional packers ever again. They are so worth every penny. I watched three guys pack up my 3-bedroom house in like, 5 hours, and all I had to do was stay out of the way.

  13. Katie the Fed

    Does anyone have fruit trees? I’m thinking of putting in a couple of apple trees, a plum tree, and maybe an apricot tree in my yard. Are they a ton of work? Worth it?

    1. fposte

      I’d say they can be worth it; you need to either go big on the critter protection or assume that you’re going to lose some (I would vote for the second, because I’m lazy). Plums and apricots can be on the short-lived side, but they’re beautiful. Make sure if you only get one plum that it’s a self-pollinating variety, and make sure your apples work to pollinate each other. If you look at vendor listings for fruit trees on davesgarden dot com, you should find some good sources that are informative to look at even if you don’t buy from them.

      I’m still toying with apples myself; my friends had a really good year from theirs this year.

      1. Katie the Fed

        I’m thinking two apple trees and then a crabapple in the front yard to help with pollination too. Our yard is pretty shaded so I might have to take a tree or two down to get enough light. I’m having trouble picking the apple varieties – it’s a big commitment!

    2. Stephanie

      We have grapefuit, lemon, and orange trees. Those are pretty common out here–citrus does super well in the winter here, to the point where people will leave fruit in the work break room. If you get one suited to the climate, shouldn’t be that much work. In fact, you will probably have an overabudance of fruit. (I visited a friend last January and brought her a dozen grapefruits from the tree like “Please take these off my hands. Please.”)

      If it does produce a lot of fruit, just make sure you pick it regularly as excess fruit can attract critters. And yeah, I’m with fposte and just let some of the critters get it.

    3. onnellinen

      I have a pear tree! I’ve only had it three years (was already established when I moved into the house). I don’t think they need to be a tonne of work, but you need to do some regular maintenance (like pruning once a year) if you want lots of fruit. But I also see lots of fruit trees in my neighbourhood that look less regularly maintained, and they are often still bearing loads of fruit, so I think they can be pretty hardy.

      The nursery near me has apple trees with multiple types all grafted on, so you get like 6 kinds of apples off one tree!

    4. Dynamic Beige

      I don’t know about apricots (too cold here for that) but plum trees are a great big fat nuisance, IMO. They need to be sprayed because otherwise they get this thing called Plum Rot, which kind of looks like those firework snakes. I think it’s some kind of fungus that just kills the tree. Similar thing with peach trees, they have to be sprayed at certain times of the year with fungicide or they don’t flourish.

      Apple trees are much easier. They don’t *need* to be sprayed to prevent diseases, but if you’re planning to eat the fruit, you should spray them but it doesn’t have to be every week (or get really good with a knife so you can cut out the “protein”). In a city it might not be so bad. Get the dwarf varieties if you can because they don’t need as much pruning as the old-school ones (she said ignoring the overgrown unpruned trees in the back yard).

      One thing is that if they fruit, when the fruit falls it makes an ungodly mess. Where my trees are, I don’t really care. But, the fruit does attract wasps and other stinging insects. Also not especially good for mowing a lawn, so you might have to pick everything up before you start the mower. The deer come and eat what falls here, which is kind of cute. But also the raccoons will eat stuff like that. I’ve also found that pear trees don’t need a lot of special kid-glove handling so you might want to consider that, if you like them.

      Along the lines of the lots of fallen fruit… when a tree’s fruit ripens, it ripens in a short window of time. So if you don’t care about putting a lot of fruit in the compost heap, not a problem. If you want to use it, you’d better ramp up on applesauce recipes, how to make juice and have people around you who are willing to take a dozen apples or something because they want to bake a pie. Then there are years when nothing will happen and you don’t get much fruit at all. When the trees bloom in the spring, it’s fantastically beautiful and always makes me thing of weddings. If you’re going to do it, it might be worth it to get two trees that ripen at different times so you’re not completely overwhelmed with the apples. If you ask someone knowledgeable at a reputable nursery they should be able to steer you in the right direction.

      1. the gold digger

        All I have been doing in the evening after work is dodging the bees as I collect fallen pears in the back yard, then cutting up the pears for the freezer and/or baking pies, crisps, tarts, and Danishes. My vow this year was not to do any canning.

        It is nice to have the tree, but sometimes, it can be a pain in the neck. And it is not cheap – a couple hundred a year for pruning plus the extra thousand or so we have paid to treat the fire blight we discovered a few years ago. Cheaper to treat the (two-story tall) tree than for it to die and have to be cut down.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Mmmm…. danishes. It’s a good thing I don’t like to cook or I would quickly resemble all kinds of pastries.

          Fire blight? I’ve never heard of that. Two of my pear trees didn’t flourish because all the other trees grew up and took over their sunlight — they were at least 50 years old when they bought it. Thank you, ice storm.

          I was trying to remember the thing with peaches and it’s Leaf Curler Disease that always got mine. The leaves curl up, turn red then die and fall off. No leaves, no photosynthesis, no food for tree. The big thing with spraying is that the conditions have to be just right for it to stick, or you have to do it again. No wind (or minimal), no rain for 24-48 hours after application, leaves and tree have to be dry so you can’t do it early in the morning when they’re covered in dew. Some sprays you can’t apply in direct sunlight.

          That idea of having 6 kinds of fruit on one tree intrigues me. Must. Not. Buy. Such. A. Tree. And I think I would die if I could have citrus trees. Fresh grapefruit, right off the tree in the morning? *sigh* Maybe next lifetime.

      2. Katie the Fed

        Thank you! This is helpful!

        I’m on the fence on plums – I don’t know that we’d eat enough to make it worth our while and they do ripen all at once which means OMG PLUMS. As opposed to apples which you can usually store for a while.

        I already can a lot of applesauce and jams and stuff, and we were thinking we’d give extra apples to a food pantry because they’re always looking for fresh produce. We have lots of deer here and the rest I can try to scoop up and throw in the compost heap.

        So maybe I’ll just stick with apples and figs? And maybe a quince and crabapple tree. That seems manageable. Stone fruits sound like a more of a pain.

        Do they really need direct sun? We have quite a few big trees in the yard and a completely sunny spots are a little tricky to find.

        1. fposte

          I think that’s pretty non-negotiable–about 6 hours of sun per day. If you don’t have that, I’d look for something that thrives in part shade rather than trying to make sun-needing plants limp along.

          1. Katie the Fed

            Hm ok – I probably need to get a couple of the big trees taken down anyway – one of them has some dead branches and I don’t want it falling on the house in a storm. This is a good excuse :)

        2. Dynamic Beige

          Yeah, they do better with sun. Some of the apple trees were planted when other trees were smaller and… let’s just say they all lean in away from the other now larger trees to where there’s more sun.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Not a plum tree fan. They send up lots of suckers for decades. If you have your heart set on this, google first. I would plant a plum where I would be mowing around it, just to keep the suckers knocked back. My friend’s plum sends up about 20-30 suckers a week. It’s planted where the mower does not go, it’s a royal PITA and it does not produce that many plums.

      Also familiarize yourself with the spraying schedule the various type of trees will need.
      I think that fruit trees are a ton of work but I would still do it if I had good soil and more space. I would stick with dwarfs or semi-drawfs. I would make a calendar to keep track of which type tree needed what type of attention for pruning, fertilizing and spraying. One mistake another friend made was he did not build a plan for getting rid of the waste. Have a good clean up plan, you don’t want critters.

    6. Lillie Lane

      My husband and I work in the orchard business and just a warning, you will have to put in some babying if you want the trees to turn out well. We live not too far away from you, and our apple trees were overrun with cedar apple rust this year because we were traveling and couldn’t get to spray them. The East coast is very humid and diseases proliferate here very quickly.
      You’ll also want to educate yourself about pruning, because it needs to be done…and if you do it the wrong way when the trees are young, you can ruin their structure and bearing capacity.

      1. Katie the Fed

        You work in the orchard business? That sounds lovely :) I’m sure it’s a lot of work but I think in my dream world I’d have an orchard. And a pumpkin patch. And strawberries, asparagus, and hundreds of tomato plants. And an alpaca.

        1. fposte

          Sounds like a fun collection–some sweet and some tart. I might investigate success rates on the Tydeman Red–I know a lot of English apples can struggle in the US (there’s a reason we don’t get much Cox’s Orange Pippin, though it’s a delightful apple).

          Where are you looking to get them?

          1. Katie the Fed

            I wasn’t even considering Tydeman’s red until I had some at a PYO place – AMAZING. I’m going to contact that orchard and see if they can hook me up. I’m looking at catalogs right now.

            NOM NOM NOM APPLES

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Unless you use a ladder or a fruit picker — we made one that was a long wooden pole with a small net basket attached below two nails. You had to get the stem in between the two nails, with the fruit over the mesh basket and yank. It worked, but it took forever. It was the only way to get stuff from the old pear trees. They sell one at Lee Valley which probably works better for $20. Very important to have an aluminum telescoping pole because you’re standing on the ground manipulating this thing looking up in the air and it’s a great way to get a sore neck really fast.

        Even some of my dwarf trees are over 15′ in height, not much low-hanging fruit there.

    7. LCL

      Not worth it. Here, apples left untended aren’t edible because of Apple scab ( a fungus disease) and apple maggot. The state extension office has suggested people cut down their untended apples to control Apple maggot. Once the fruit starts ripening it falls to the ground, and Should be picked up every day because it attracts rats and raccoons.
      We have had 2 fruit trees cut down that were too close to the house and creating a raccoon superhighway. An arborist advised me to keep the rest of the trees because hey help resale value.

  14. Carmen Sandiego JD

    I got my flu shot yesterday. After that, I went for a walk and felt my leg calf muscles alternating between contracting and expanding. It felt disconcerting in that I couldn’t control that muscle movement. No other weirdness (knock on wood). It seemed like my body was confused and wondering where to direct the pain. A few hrs after, my arm felt sore (same arm I got the shot).

    A pharmacist I talked to said it’s normal and the shot might’ve hit a nerve (considering I didn’t have anything else acute happen). Has this ever happened to others?

    1. fposte

      I don’t see how hitting a nerve in the arm would account for jitters in a calf muscle, but calf-muscle jitters are pretty easy to get for a lot of reasons, including stress. I’d be inclined to think the shot didn’t cause it, or at least not directly.

    2. nep

      I’ve never had a flu shot, so can’t comment. Just wondering — since you brought this up — who out there regularly gets the flu shot? Who’s never had one?

      1. Natalie

        I get one every year, usually at work or when I’m at the doctor for some other reason. When they’re at work they’re usually free, which is nice.

        1. schnapps

          Every year. I work with the public, so it’s free for me. When swine flu was going around, my kid was under 6 months. I got the shots (there were two that year), to protect her. Husband type got it (and it was awful), but neither I nor my daughter did. She got the H1N1 shot the day she turned 6 months. I was taking no chances on that.

          I think once I had a bit of a reaction – I just felt kind of rough for a day. Oh and my arm hurt, but I often get slight rashes/hives after any sort of shot. I think I have a mild allergy to the disinfectant they use.

          My understanding is that most people should get a flu shot unless for some reason you can’t like having an allergy to eggs or you’re immunocompromised (in which case all the people around you should get a flu shot).

          1. Miki

            Every year : I work at University, so it’s free for full time staff and highly encouraged. I’m getting mine this Monday, they’ll have flu shot clinic set up in our library for a couple of hours.

        2. Nashira

          My immune-comprimised posterior is a big fan of getting the flu shot and encouraging others to get it (and other vaccines) as well. I need to call my GI doc and make sure I’m still cool to get the dead virus vax, on my new meds. The flu is bad enough with a fully functioning immune system. I don’t want to get it now.

      2. Claire (Scotland)

        I had it through work in 2012 and 2013, but missed it last year. I’m scheduled to get it in about a month when they do them this year. I’ve never had any kind of reaction to it, and I will definitely always get it if I can.

      3. Former Diet Coke Addict

        I get mine annually. When I was a teenager my elderly grandmother lived with my family, so we got the flu shot to keep from being carriers for her, and I’ve been in the habit ever since. My husband gets them at work without any say in the matter, so we’re a 100% flu-shotted household.

      4. Sorry

        Never had one and I’m sixty. Husband and children haven’t had any either. But except for some allergies we’re a pretty healthy lot. My mom stopped getting them because she’d get sick afterwards.

      5. AnotherFed

        I’ve never had one. I don’t like needles (relic of years of allergy shots), so would never volunteer for any sort of shot. I tend not to get sick much and don’t even have a GP – I’m allergic to a lot of antibiotics, so unless I get incredibly ill, it’s not worth the allergic reaction (or risking worsening the allergy in case I really do need antibiotics in the future).

          1. fposte

            I did that one year when I missed the shot window at work–Public Health did the nasal spray. It was uneventful.

      6. Pennalynn Lott

        If I’m somewhere that they’re being offered and it’s convenient, I’ll get one. I’ve never noticed a difference, though, in whether I got the flu or not during years I got the shot and years I hadn’t. Maybe in another decade or so (I’m 48) it’ll start to make a difference. (?)

        1. fposte

          Oh, and no flu, or nothing sick enough to be noticed as flu, since I started doing that about a decade ago.

      7. Rubyrose

        I had the flu in 1991 for 2 weeks – it was awful. So I started taking the flu shot every year. And every year I would get sick from the shot, with it getting progressively worse every year. On the 6th shot I was down for 4 days. I then did some allergy testing (for other reasons), which showed an allergy to chicken (they did not test for egg allergy). So I quit taking the shots. I’ve been fine.

        Fast forward to the last two weeks. I’ve just started a job for a hospital, where you are required to take the shot, partly because of state law. This is required even though I’m in a building several blocks away from the hospital campus and never see patients (I’m an IT software type). I’m taking the paperwork to my doctor next week, to get an exemption.

      8. danr

        Every year. My wife is immuno-suppressed and the flu could be deadly. She gets a flu shot too and we cross our fingers. There is sometimes a bit of soreness on the arm that had the shot, but that’s it.

      9. De (Germany)

        I have gotten them every year for the last four except once when I was too sick to get it until January.

      10. matcha123

        I’ve never gotten one.

        I try to avoid people as much as I can, wash my hands regularly, avoid touching doors and other public spaces with my bare hands, etc.
        I guess it’s possible I’ve gotten the flu without knowing it…

        1. Katie the Fed

          If you had the flu, you’d know it.

          I had swine flu in 2011. I honestly thought I was going to die, and it happened during a bad snowstorm so I couldn’t get to the hospital if I wanted to, not that I was thinking clearly enough to do so. I called my parents to make sure they knew I loved them because I honestly thought I might not survive the night at one point, and that was despite taking Tamiflu when it started. I was too weak to even stand – I was crawling around the house.

          1. Stephanie

            Yessssss, you will know if it’s the flu. I don’t think my swine flu was as bad as yours, Katie, but it was bad. Very bad. I remember my eyeballs being sore. I think I slept like 15 hours a day. And yeah, I started on Tamiflu at the first signs of illness as well.

          2. fposte

            You can have a very mild flu, especially if you’ve been vaccinated. But yeah, it can really wipe you out. The last time I had it I was out for two weeks–not working at home, just plain out.

      11. Mallory Janis Ian

        I get one every year through my employer. My old university department used to have a campus nurse set up in an office in our building for a day and give them. In my new department, we gave to go over to the campus health center to get them.

      12. Bea W

        Work gives them out every year. If the day they are onsite doesn’t work for me, I can go to my doctor’s office or work usually partners with Walgreens. I typically get some soreness in the arm used for the injection, maybe some very mild general achiness that lasts only a day. One year my work used the vaccine with the short needle. It came in a pre-loaded cartridge. I had some kind of reaction to that limited to the injection site where the was an area on my upper arm that was red, tender, and raised/swollen for a whole week. I was relieved the next year when they were back to giving traditional injections.

        I made the mistake one year of getting the flu shot and a tetanus booster at the same time, one in each arm. When I woke up the next morning I felt like I’d been hit by a train. I was just sore all over and it hurt to move.

        The one year I hadn’t gotten the flu shot, I got the flu, and that year it was a particularly lingering strain of flu that was knocking people out for 2 weeks. Not fun!

      13. Cath in Canada

        Every year. I work for a healthcare organization – not directly with patients, but I’m often in the same building as immunocompromised cancer patients – so we all have to either get the flu shot or wear a mask when we’re in public areas of the building. But I always got a flu shot before I worked here anyway – the one year I didn’t (it was late coming out because of the swine flu), I got the swine flu and it was miserable.

        Even when it’s not a great match with the current year’s strains, the flu shot can help – people who get the shot and then get the flu tend to get a milder form, and to get over it faster. And even if 20% protection (like last year’s) doesn’t sound worth it at the individual level, at the population level a 20% reduction in the number of cases can make a huge difference, especially to vulnerable demographics.

      14. Stephanie

        Pretty much every year. I got swine flu one year (and then had post-nasal drip for weeks afterwards) and that was enough to scare me into getting one yearly, even if it meant paying out of pocket at Walgreen’s or something.

        I remember DC DOH was giving out free swine flu vaccinations to “at risk” groups one year–which meant the elderly, small children and their parents, caretakers, immunocompromised…and under 25. I was in line and the nurse looks at me quizzically like “Er…you’re here for the H1N1 vaccine? You’re in a high risk group?” I’m like “I’m 24.” “Ah.”

      15. Elizabeth West

        I get one every year because I do NOT need to get flu. If I get the variant the shot doesn’t cover, it seems to be less intense because I have some immunity. Usually I get it at the pharmacy, but this Tuesday they’re doing it at work, so I’m doing it there.

    3. Lady Bug

      I’ve never had one. I’ve known a few people who’ve had very bad reactions, including my mom, so I’d rather risk the flu than a reaction. I’m mid life and fairly healthy. Maybe in the future I’ll change my mind.

      1. Older not yet wiser

        I got the flu about 10 years ago and seriously thought I was going to die. I was so so out of it sick. The next year I got my first flu shot. I’ve had one every year since. Works for me. It was so scary to be that sick that I never want to experience it again.

        1. Bea W

          I have had the flu 4 times that I can remember, twice as a kid (one for which I was in the hospital for 4 days) , twice as an adult, and “thought I was going to die” is a good description. It’s pretty horrible. A lot of people get a bad cold and think that is the flu, but if you’ve actually had the flu, bad cold doesn’t even come close to describing it.

          1. Nashira

            I got it last year and spent five days in bed, barely able to wake up enough to eat when my husband shoved food at me. Yet my manager kept asking if I couldn’t really make it into work. And that was with a fully functioning immune system (a thing I no longer have) and, per my doctor, probably made not as bad because I had gotten a flu shot. I didn’t feel back to normal until several weeks after I stopped being sick.

            Having my arm sore for a few days has NOTHING on having the flu. Flu is a serious disease, folks! That’s why there is so much work being done on a universal flu vax.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Yep. People die of it every year. Mostly very young and older people, but it absolutely can make you desperately ill if you have any immune system issues.

              The Spanish flu pandemic in 1918-1919 was really frightening, because it mostly killed healthy young adults. Overall, it killed between 20 and 40 million people. It was a horribly vicious disease. I do not want a repeat of that!

    4. Momiitz

      I have to get one. It’s mandatory where I work, a hospital. I don’t really believe that the flu shot helps, it’s an educated guess on what strain will be going around the next year. If they guess wrong like last year the shot won’t do much protecting.

      1. Betty (the other Betty)

        I get the flu shot, and my husband and now 16-year-old get it too. None of us has had a bad reaction.

      2. TL -

        There’s a fair amount of evidence that it helps, even when they get the strain wrong (as fposte posted up above) and honestly, every little bit helps for the immuno-compromised. Plus, some years it’s 70% effective.

        1. Academic Librarian

          I get the shot every year despite also getting a crappy reactions to it. My arm swells up , I get really really weary and headachy.

          Winter 1993, I got the the flu and was almost hospitalized (the husband stayed home for two weeks taking care of me) Last year I got the flu- confirmed by the clinic and was sick for more than a week. Certainly wasn’t as bad a 1993.

          At work they are free but I am due for physical so getting it in a week at the Dr. I usually plan to be miserable for the next 12 hours but take an NSAID and try not to have any meetings or classes on my schedule.

        2. fposte

          I figure even if they get the strain wrong I might be more resistant if that strain comes around in future.

  15. Stephanie

    Man. I don’t know what it is with me and laptops. I don’t think I’m particularly hard on them (I don’t even carry mine around that much). But the outer shell has become separated from the LCD, so there’s a gap between the shell and the screen (computer still works). I’ve had this one about two years (the computer itself still seems to be fine software wise). I also got an error message about the cooling system, but I’m going to see if some compressed air into all the ports and vents will help that.

    The physical portion isn’t covered by warranty, so taking it to a local repair shop Monday. But man, I feel like I burn through laptops every 2-3 years. Is this normal?

    Is it time to heed the call of the Mac? Friends have been yelling at me to get a Mac for years, but I couldn’t really justify the extra expense, especially when I just use Office and the Internet. (And I had at least three or four iPhones from the last model, so I’m a little skeptical of claims that Apple products are flawless.)

    Or really…I might just get a desktop when I’m more settled.

    1. Rye-Ann

      I’m no expert, but I think it depends on how often you use it/how long you use it each day as well as the brand. My first laptop was a Compaq and it died after 3 years (the screen broke and it would have cost more to replace it than to get a new laptop). My second was an HP and it only lasted 2.5 years. I don’t know what brand you have, but maybe look into getting a brand with a good reputation? Supposedly, ThinkPads (by Lenovo) last forever. I have a different Lenovo (an IdeaPad), which I think will hit the 3 year mark soon, and it’s still going strong.

      Also, if it’s just a heating issue, you can buy a fan to set your laptop on. That will help keep it cool even if the cooling system isn’t working so well anymore. If I recall correctly they aren’t super expensive.

      1. Rye-Ann

        (Additionally, sorry if my sentence about getting a brand with a good reputation sounds snarky – I didn’t mean it like that!)

        1. schnapps

          I have a toshiba ultrabook I’ve used every day for the last 4 or 5 years. It’s even survived having a glass of wine spilled on the keyboard (although the battery life is kind of meh since then). The only changes we made to it were replacing the hard drive with a solid state, and maxing out the memory. Oh and windows upgrades – it started with windows 7, husband type upgraded to the pro version, I skipped windows 8 and now it’s running fine on windows 10.

          I don’t do any programming or gaming so I don’t need a really high end laptop. But this is my main computer and its fabulous. I use it for presentations for some of the contract work I do and it runs all the powerpoint (and MS office generally) and videos I want. It’s light, small but has all the features I want. And I got it for a song the week it came out – Staples wanted $800 CDN for it, husband type found an online price for $580 or something silly like that so Staples matched it.

        2. Stephanie

          Ha, I didn’t think that at all!

          Yeah, my HP laptop didn’t last long. Neither did my Dell.

          I had a Lenovo where the screen crapped out, but it wasn’t cost effective to repair it (I got it through a friend’s employee discount, so it was extra cheap). Their stuff is reliable, if not particularly sexy-looking. I’d bust it out at a coffee shop among lots of sleek Macbook airs and people asked if it was my work computer. :)

          I have a Toshiba Satellite. Battery life has been meh, but it’s been reliable. It’s just the physical laptop itself. I’m all for repairing it, assuming it’s cost-effective.

          1. Rye-Ann

            I’ve heard that laptop screens can easily crap out in general, just because they are connected to the main computer through the hinges, basically – so even if you aren’t lugging your computer everywhere, that part gets moved a lot. This means that the wires in there can fairly easily get damaged over time.

            Anyway, I don’t really have any more advice (I don’t really know much about Toshiba), but I hope it does turn out to be cost-effective to repair!

      2. Rubyrose

        My first laptop literally started smoking on me after five days (don’t remember brand name, but they are out of business). That was a little over 20 years ago.

        Over the last seven years I’ve had four laptops, two though work and two at home. All Dells. Two of them lasted five years each. Of those, one of them was with me on the road for two years, going through airports for three weeks out of four every month. The other two are still going strong at two years and one year respectively. All four were/are middle of the road in cost.

        So I do have a preference. My understanding is that one can expect to replace a laptop every three years; I’m just glad mine tend to last longer.

      3. Monodon monoceros

        I have a Lenovo Thinkpad as my work laptop for about 3.5 years. It gets lots of daily use (since it’s my work laptop) and I also travel a lot for work and bring it with me. I’m pleasantly surprised at it’s durability. It has one little crack on the corner of the housing, but that is from me dropping it at airport security once…

        My personal laptop is an ASUS. I’m super happy with it. I’ve had it about 4 years, and it is still kicking. I don’t use it for much other than surfing the internet, watching Netflix or similar, and occasional Office work. I travel with it once or twice a year during personal travel, and it has held up great. My previous laptops died within 2 years but this one is great. I will probably get another ASUS when this one does actually crap out.

    2. AnotherFed

      I used Dells through college and for about a year after, and it’s a good thing they were on the school warranty/IT plan – I had about one critical failure a year with them. I had an Asus and a couple of HP machines afterwards that each lasted about 2-3 years, and finally got a refurbished Mac 3 years ago.

      The Mac has definitely held up best of the lot, but was also the most expensive.

      On work computers, I’ve had a higher end Dell and a Surface that have held up very well so far, but I tend to leave them in their docking stations a lot more than my personal laptops, so they probably don’t get the same wear and tear.

      1. Artemesia

        I have owned at least a dozen macs since the SE — we have two laptops and a desk top right now. I always had them at work as well and my first laptop was a work computer that I could dock at work. I have never had a problem with any of them; it was always just plug them in and off we go. I love their intuitiveness and stability.

    3. Nina

      I’ve had a Toshiba for nearly 5 years and it’s still going strong. I had a Dell (worst customer service ever) and my Sony Vaio was felled by a virus and couldn’t be repaired. I recommend Toshiba. It’s not as fancy or charming as a Mac, but it absolutely holds up.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      My workplace uses all Macs (even for Windows machines), and I’ve worked in places with Dells and HPs. Macs are by no means perfect and they don’t “just work,” but they are solidly built and well engineered. If you get a MacBook Air, it’ll last you a good five or six years, especially if you’re using just Office and the Internet. Keep in mind, though, that the license for MS Office for Windows doesn’t transfer to Mac. You’d have to get a separate Mac license.

      Another way to go, if you’re worried that plowing through laptops every 2-3 years is costly is to buy Chromebooks. Sure, you may still plow through them every 2-3 years, but they’re a lot cheaper (US$200-300). You’d have to do Office online, though (can’t do Google Docs?).

      1. Stephanie

        I could do Google Docs. I’ve thought about a Chrome book before. My friend was a 5th grade teacher and went that route to get laptops for her students (she just wanted to get them using a laptop and figuring out how to do word processing and all that).

        1. Anonymous Educator

          If you’re just web surfing and can do Google Docs instead of MS Office, I’d highly recommend a Chromebook. They’re cheap and have very little maintenance compared to Windows and Mac.

          1. Alma

            I love my Chromebook. You are able to save in Word format, PDF, etc. I think if you need MS Office you can pay monthly for it?

            Super light, every update appears automatically, and is free. With so many smartphones adding wireless hotspot ability, it should take care of connection. There is some offline workability, but not much.

            1. Anonymous Educator

              There are also some LTE-enabled Chromebooks. Of course that means you’d have to pay for a separate data plan. Tethering is a cheaper option usually.

    5. Noah

      I have a white MacBook, I want to say it’s about 3-4 years old. The plastic case is scratched up a bit from use, but everything still works great. I keep thinking I should get a new one, but this one still works. I’ve seen refueled Macs on Groupon deals a lot, that might be a cost effective route.

      Lenovos are great, if you go with the business models. They are usually branded as ThinkPad. The consumer stuff is no better than any other brand. I think that goes for most stuff though, including HP and Dell. The business models are normally better made.

      My work computer is a Lenovo ThinkPad 420s. I think the S models are slimmer. So, while not as sexy as a MacBook Air, they’re not a 1 inch thick, heavy boat anchor either.

      1. Observer

        From what I have seen, none of the consumer lines are much good, even from companies that make good business machines.

        1. Stephanie

          Yeah, last time I got a computer fixed (or really…the guy just put all my data on an external HD and told me to go get a new computer), he said to check out laptops geared for business use. Said they were built to be sturdier and didn’t have all the bloatware of consumer models.

      2. Short and Stout

        Lenovo ThinkPads are not what they used to be. I bought a X131e, designed as an especially rugged machine for education use, and the left hinge broke after two years. Lenovo refuses to do anything about this despite the fact that it has happened to around 20% of this model and is clearly a manufacturing fault. I used to be a massive Lenovo fangirl but this has put me off for life.

        I bought a MacBook Pro, having looked extensively at several Windows laptop options and concluded that I would have paid just as much for a high end Windows machine. The retina screen was really the deciding factor for me.

        I’m now considering buying a small Windows desktop machine to use for photo and music storage, as the crazy magic no-file-structure let’s arrange photos from oldest to newest system on the Mac really bugs me. Also, I think Office looks rubbish on a Mac compared with Windows and I hadn’t fully considered porting the macros I use.

      3. Observer

        Lenovo USED to be great. At this point, I would not consider Lenovo for anything. First there was the whole Sunfish fiasco. You would have thought they learned something from that. But, no, they got caught again implanting spyware, and the last 2 times (yes TWICE more – the last time only a few days ago), it was on the business lines (ie thinkpads and think centers.)

    6. Observer

      Lots of laptops are really not built to last more than a year or two. If you really want to keep on longer than that, you need to get one that’s built with some ruggedness.

      I’ve had EXCELLENT experience with HP Elite books. Lenovo, not so much. The Acers I have seen were junk.

    7. Fleur

      My laptops have never physically broken down on me, generally their battery tends to die out, like my 8+ year old Song Vaio. It’s still working at my parents place, just needs to be plugged in.

      Can I ask what your use to carry your laptops? I love ZeroShock sleeves for their protection and my bag has a padded laptop compartment on top of that. I feel like if it’s multiple laptops physically breaking on you, it might be time to look into better physical protection for them while traveling.

      1. Stephanie

        Hmm. I have a backpack (a Patagonia, I think?) that has a padded laptop compartment. I also have a laptop bag that has a padded sleeve for the computer. But I may need to look into something sturdier.

    8. Myrin

      I have an Acer that I got pretty exactly 5 years ago. The only real problem I’ve ever had with it is that the battery died (or rather, it still works but becomes empty super fast) in the second or third year. This is not a “problem” at all for me, though, since I mostly use it on my desk where there’s five sockets right below it, or at university, where I have access to sockets pretty much everywhere. I also only use my backpack (which isn’t even padded) or a laptop bag that is more like a handbag to carry it around but it doesn’t seem to mind. It’s become a bit slower over the years – I refer to it as an “older gentleman” by now – but works perfectly fine otherwise.

    9. the opening theme from the 2030s VR version of the Bugs Bunny Show

      I’ve been using Lenovo notebook computers for my Windows needs for many years, and I’ll typically get 3-4 years of use out of one. And I’m not especially gentle with them, either. The only thing I don’t like is that, spec-wise, they tend to weigh in at about the 75th percentile. But – I got my wife a Lenovo Yoga 3 and it’s pretty sweet. In the past, she’s tended to like Sony VAIO systems (some of which have very very good specs) but in our experience they tend to fall apart after a couple of years.

      Currently our only operational desktop machine is the gaming system my son built. But he’s away at college and it just collects dust.

      Apple stuff is, well, Apple stuff. I got the kids early MBP Retina systems before they went to college, and they seem to be holding up well. I’ve got a 2011-era MBP that is warped and bent but still works, plus a few newer MBPs that are in pretty good shape.

      Long story short: I’d go Lenovo for notebook computer. A desktop machine, I’d build my own. And for Mac – hell, I don’t know. I’ve got several of them but to be honest, I don’t care much for OSX (and neither do my kids, they run Windows on their MBPs) and I only use them because there are certain software titles that are (still) Mac-only.

    10. Merry and Bright

      I had a laptop burn out on me last year. I had to replace it and the repair shop suggested I get a chill mat. I just connect it to one of the USB ports and it seems to do an excellent job in keeping the temperature down.

    11. Persephone Mulberry

      Three years seems to be about my average. I had a Toshiba that I loved and was sad when it died, an Asus that I hated after a year but continued to use until IT died, and now I’m on another Toshiba, which I don’t like as much as my first one. The casing feels cheap. My next computer is going to be a desktop Mac.

  16. nep

    I’m someone who finds extremely loud bass in a vehicle super annoying — whether I’m hearing it from my home or out in the car. But the other day I experienced this sound/this vibration/this THING … I don’t even have the words to qualify it. I was driving and suddenly this bass/horrid vibration thing just enveloped me — I felt utterly destabilised. Felt as if I was going to pass out. I had a baby in the car…scared the hell out of me because I could easily have had an accident — that’s how bad this was. It came in waves. (The baby did not flinch / no reaction whatsoever, by the way, thank goodness.) I could not tell where it was coming from or what it was. I have never felt anything like it. It was terrifying.
    What the hell?

    1. Not So NewReader

      There is something about the sound waves.

      At one point in my life, when I was run down and tired, my heart would try to match the beat of anything bass-y nearby. It was not comfy at all. And I would get really ticked if a car near me had all bass and no music on the radio. That boom, boom, boom drove me nuts. It does not bother me now, but I still don’t see how that can be healthy to listen to all the time.

    2. the opening theme from the 2030s VR version of the Bugs Bunny Show

      Interesting. I don’t know what it might have been, but some questions I would ask:

      – are you positive that it was an ‘external’ experience and not something just in your head? You say the baby did not flinch – but did you see things vibrating or bouncing around?

      – was the ‘sound’ at all musical?

      – what was the road / vicinity like where you were driving? Was there other traffic around you? How fast were you going? Were you on a city street, a highway, an overpass, out in the middle of the desert? Were your windows down?

      – how long did the incident last? You said it came in waves – can you estimate the duration of each wave?

      Strange. I confess I’m a bit concerned that the baby did not react – I sometimes get sleep paralysis, which occasionally sorta matches what you describe. But never while driving. If it’s a real physical effect, I’d suspect the road surface having some characteristic that makes the car ‘hum’ or vibrate. Can you go back and try it again? Alternatively: once or twice I’ve had the windows down and been driving along at a relatively high speed and the wind has done a kind of low frequency oscillation thing that is difficult to describe. It wasn’t overly disturbing.

      It’s high and on the outside but were you driving past an army research facility or some kind of lab or even a college dorm, such that someone was trying to be “funny” by pointing some kind of high-amplitude / low frequency transducer at your car?

      1. nep

        It really floored me that the baby was not reacting in any way. (I was sooo glad of that — but found it odd.)
        I was going by a high school when it started; I was wondering whether it could have been the guy driving behind me. But it was infinitely heavier and more disturbing than I’d ever experienced before from a vehicle’s sound system. Each ‘wave’ seemed to last about 15-20 seconds. I was hoping it was his vehicle and then I’d just get away from him; he was behind me at a light, and I felt/heard it while stopped. We then both turned right into two lanes. (I was prepared to pull over and park it just to make sure I was OK before proceeding.) He passed me and I waited for the next ‘wave’, hoping it wouldn’t come; it didn’t. This had me thinking it was something about his vehicle. God it was awful and sickening. If it was something in his vehicle, that something should be illegal.
        What am I missing? Is this a thing?

          1. nep

            What was crazy was how it felt like it was originating in me, such was the force of the vibration — and I could hear nothing else/concentrate on nothing else.
            If it was from a speaker in his car, if that kind of thing isn’t illegal it should be. Other sound / bass I’ve heard in cars is loud and just annoying; this was debilitating. Sorry to learn such a thing is out there.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              I had that same feeling, that the vibration was originating in me, when our former sucky neighbor boys would play their subwoofer. I could feel my sternum thrumming before I could even hear the music.

        1. the opening theme from the 2030s VR version of the Bugs Bunny Show

          Thanks for the additional details. It does indeed sound like it was coming from that other vehicle[1]. I try to keep current with audio stuff but I’m not much into the car audio scene. But it’s entirely possible that someone has figured out how to take that stuff to the next level. The other day someone sent me this link:

          http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/22/devialet-phantom/

          Which does not look like it is designed for use in a car, but it’s difficult to look at it and not put it (or something like it) on the list of Possible Suspects. I think this stuff is neat and I like to make loud, strange sounds, but 105dB is the point where you have to start being careful about PSH and stuff.

          [1] although I hope you’ll pardon my paranoia in asking that if you should encounter this again, while driving or especially while not driving, you’ll see a doctor.

          1. fposte

            Agreed–another possibility that occurs to me is vertigo. It can be quite a shock the first time you experience even the benign version of that.

            1. nep

              But if it was vertigo I’d feel dizzy, no? I was not dizzy. Just vibrating — everything vibrating. This all-encompassing awful bass/vibration. Felt it in my bones, it seemed.

              1. fposte

                No, not necessarily. Admittedly vibrating doesn’t sound right, but when I had my first moment of benign vertigo, which was one-sided, I just felt destabilized and weird and sick. Like I couldn’t have conceived the ways in which I felt “off” before I experienced it.

        2. Bea W

          I know for sure my 2 experiences were vehicles, and I was able to identify which vehicle it was as traffic moved and it got closer or farther from me each time we came to a stop. It let up as soon as I was able to get enough distance.

          Sometimes cars like this stop along my street, and you can hear the vibration of the car itself in time with the bass beats in the music. It sounds horrible. I think to myself, “How can anyone think this makes music sound good having the bass so loud it literally vibrates your car and the sound gets distorted?” Maybe it sounds better when you are actually in the car. *shrug*

          The other thing I noticed is that bass seems to travel further? So if I am a distance away from the offending noise, I can hear the actual music, just the THUD THUD THUD of the bass, which is even more annoying than hearing loud music. It becomes this disembodied thumping, which I find really disconcerting.

        3. Hellanon

          It’s the very low frequency sound waves – they can actually create feelings of dread and panic, even if the sound itself isn’t audible. Look up “Dyatlov Pass” – it’s this crazy story of hikers in Siberia panicking and freezing to death for no apparent reason, and it turns out that the area where they were was conducive to air turbulence vortices that create ultra-low-frequency sound waves. Which, in turn, generated such powerful feelings of dread in the hikers that they abandoned their tent in the middle of the night in a howling storm… In other words, it’s not your imagination!

          1. Bea W

            Wow. I thought it was just me and my anxiety disorder doing that. I never thought it was the bass I was hearing from someone’s loud music, but it happens all the time. I am find with loud music, except when there is a lot of bass. Then I get really anxious, and “feelings of dread” describes the quality of that anxiety really well. They can be pretty quiet even (the music actually being far away down the street or something), and it’s more distracting than actual loud music to me, because I just get these terrible deady-panicky type feelings.

          2. Mephyle

            There is another story about low-frequency sound and eerie feelings. A researcher, Vic Tandy, working in a lab at Coventry University a couple decades ago felt a ghostly presence. He described it like this:
            “Sitting at the desk late one night, I had an intense feeling that someone was watching me. There were windows at each end of the lab, so it was possible. I investigated but there was no one around.
            Back at the desk, the feelings got stronger, and I began to notice something moving by my shoulder. Immediately the hackles stood up on the back of my neck and a cold chill ran through me.
            There was clearly something else in the room. The door was in front of me, so no one could have entered without my knowing. Whatever it was came from behind me and glided silently to my side.
            I was partly aware that my attempts to give this gray mass form were influencing what I saw, but I was absolutely terrified of what was happening.”
            He goes on to describe what gave him the clue that it had to do with infrasound, and how he solved the mystery. The full story is at the link.

        4. Cath in Canada

          I wonder if, in the same way that kids can hear high-frequency sounds that adults can’t*, adults can hear low-frequency sounds that kids can’t? Not my field, but it’s a possibility.

          *I remember being at my Grandma’s as a kid, and my sister and cousins and I could all hear the bats outside squeaking, but none of the adults could. You lose those high-frequency sounds as you get older.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I can hear bats squeaking….at least the bats in my meetup group’s meeting place. They flew out at dusk one time when we were standing outside and squeaked adorably. Maybe it’s the kind of bat?

            That’s interesting about the low-frequency sounds. Now I want to find a test to see how low I can hear them.

          2. the opening theme from the 2030s VR version of the Bugs Bunny Show

            I’ve heard all of these stories about high-amplitude low frequencies making people nervous, as well as the mythical “brown note”, but I’ve spent some time trying to re-create these effects, and I think the stories are much exaggerated. If you hit a resonant frequency under 20Hz (or over 20Hz, for that matter) with enough power you can make stuff shake and vibrate – but it’s kinda obvious what’s going on. It’s not like a 9Hz sine wave at 110dB will make everyone in the room mysteriously freak out. I mean, nep apparently encountered something loud enough to make her body vibrate / resonate, and the experience was understandably disturbing. But that’s different than some of the stories, which seem to say that a person will simply get nervous or be overcome with dread without feeling any vibration or hearing any sound. (At least within the limits of my equipment) I’ve never managed to do that.

            And, practically speaking, if you go to a concert and they start hitting the audience with sound that makes people’s bodies and clothes vibrate, people tend to like it.

            Loss of high-frequency hearing is a consequence of age and also, not uncommonly, a misspent youth listening to music way too loud for way too long :( Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    3. Stephanie

      Uh, confession. I’m one of those people with a really loud sound system in my car. It sort of happened by accident. So my factory speakers died. My dad, the audiophile, is like “Oh, let me take it to my car stereo guy. He’ll give me a good deal.” And now I have a subwoofer in my trunk. I knew he had really jacked up my sound system when I turned All Things Considered and the theme music had a kick to it.

      Sometimes it’s nice. Other times, I unplug the sub. I work swing shifts and overnights, so the extra kick is good for keeping me alert driving home. I do try to be cognizant and not blast anything if I’m in a residential area.

      I also have a fairly high tolerance for noise as well. My house is noisy and I work at a plant, so…

    4. Cambridge Comma

      I’ve had the exactly feeling you describe from tinnitus. Let’s hope it was the other car, but if it happens again, see a doctor.

    5. Bea W

      I know exactly what you mean! I was trapped with someone’s super loud awful base in heavy traffic in a tunnel, and it was horrible, feeling just the way you describe. I had a pet in the back coming home from major surgery, and I was worried if I was feeling so bad, if it was having some negative effect on her body as well as her stress levels. I am baffled how people can play bass like this and not feel like their internal organs are melting. There was another time I was not in a tunnel, but stuck in traffic again, and I thought I was doing to puke. It made me physically ill.

      1. nep

        So I guess I’m not crazy. I, too, felt physically ill. ‘Organs melting’ is a good expression here.
        How awful that you had a convalescent pet in the vehicle. All turned out OK for the pet, I reckon?
        I’d be fascinated to find out why the baby was not screaming her head off / not reacting at all.

  17. Amber Rose

    One of my shoes fits. The other doesn’t. This is the third pair already. I’m so frustrated trying to find a pair of runners that fits both feet that I literally feel like crying.

    New Balance are the worst, short and wide and ugh. Nike fit small and come in shitty size ranges. Don’t even talk to me about Sketchers. Am I just SOL? :(

    1. schnapps

      Have you tried Asics? I have one foot that’s at least half a size bigger than the other and those are the only ones where an 8.5 fits both feet.

      1. Rebecca

        I love Asics and Adidas. I wear a women’s size 12, and they fit my feet very comfortably, and I can get them via mail order and the sizes seem consistent so far. I have one pair of Nike Max Air, and won’t replace them in my rotation. It feels like they just made the shoe longer to fit and they just don’t have the same comfort/fit as the Asics or Adidas.

        I second the other poster’s recommendations to go to a store for fitting. One of my coworkers runs, as in half marathons, and that’s what she did and it’s been a great benefit to her.

    2. Frances

      Is there a nice running shop near you? The staff at the one near me has a really good grasp on the idiosyncrasies of the various brands, and are happy to bring out pair after pair until you find one you’re happy with. When I went, they had to bring 8 pairs from the back before we found the right one (cursed with super narrow heels) and they weren’t put out about it at all!

      If you’re looking at them especially for running, a lot of the shops have a treadmill so you can give them a spin, which is great. But at least at the shop near me they’d be happy to help you out if you were just looking for sneakers to walk around in.

      1. Stephanie

        Seconding the running shop. Shoes might be a bit more expensive, but they’ll bring out all kinds of shoes for you to try on and let you try them on the treadmill. I think it’s not uncommon for people to have differently sized feet, so they should be able to help.

      2. Pennalynn Lott

        I’ll third the running shop. I just recently became active again after a few years of surgeries, slow recovery and setbacks. My local running shop (Luke’s Locker) spent about an hour with me, getting the right fit. (And that was after me having gone to Academy Sports and trying on a dozen or so pairs of shoes, with no winners).

      3. AnotherFed

        Another vote for a running store. On top of being willing to help you try every shoe in the store and the treadmill to try things on, they often have much better measuring tools than just the standard shoe size gauge, which will help you figure out which types of shoes will be good for you in the future. They also often have inserts that can help if part of the problem turns out to be that your feet are slightly different shapes, not just different sizes.

      4. skyline

        Many running stores have generous return policies — mine offer credit for returns (even if worn) within 30 days. I don’t mind paying full price if that means I can actually do one of my normal runs with a new pair of shoes to see if they are really going to work.

    3. Shoes

      On top of going to a running store, also see if tying your shoelaces differently helps. My feet are the same size in length but one if a bit wider and has a higher arch that gets irritated when it’s tightly laced on. It was life-changing to find different ways to lace my shoes so they both fit comfortable.

    4. Could be anyone

      Make sure you seat your hell into the shoe by tapping the heel on the floor. Then tie the laces snugly. This will keep you from sliding in the shoe and they will fit better. Learned this at running store I bought my last pair from. And I’d been looking for replacement shoes for ever.

    5. Mephyle

      There are shoe exchanges to match up people with different sized feet. In the past, people used to do it by mail, but I expect it’s much easier to find a complementary partner in the internet era. Search “odd shoe exchange”.

    6. Tina

      If Nordstroms sells runners you might be able to get a mismatched pair, or Holt’s downtown so you don’t have to go all the way out to Chinook? I’d call first though just to check

    7. LCL

      Light hiking boots, like keens but not that brand as they are low volume and the toe is squashed. I just got a pair of Eddie Bauer women’s mid height boots and they are the bomb. Or, men’s asics, the women’s are too low volume and sized small.

  18. the gold digger

    Someone mentioned recently using a spreadsheet to plot a novel. After three years, I have pulled out my manuscript about Sly and Doris and what a bad bacon eater I am, etc.

    I have already chopped the first 62 pages out, which felt like taking out my own kidney.

    I need a good way to outline the plot. Whoever mentioned using a spreadsheet, what columns did you include?

    1. meower

      I use a software called yWriter5 to keep track of characters and scenes. It’s free. I find it helpful to have a strong outline and tons of notes when I write. In everything else I’m a free spirit who wings it.

    2. schnapps

      Oh, I think that was Cath in (from?) Canada – someone in her writing group was using a spreadsheet to do the plot and check where characters intersected each other, etc.

        1. Cath in Canada

          Oh and I didn’t look at the details. I do know that it’s a multiple POV fantasy novel, and she said she was using SUMIF and conditional formatting to make sure the balance of POVs was the way she wanted it – that she wasn’t giving too much time to her favourite characters and ignoring the others. So she must have had POV character as one of the column headers. She also mentioned keeping track of pacing, so that must have been incorporated too.

          I would guess that there’s no template that would work for everyone – you’d need to adapt the method to your individual project.

    3. Dynamic Beige

      It’s not Excel but I bought a copy of Scrivener earlier this year and I love it. So much better than Word. You set up all the pieces as little cards on a corkboard and move them around as you want, print them out if you want to do it in real life. Both Mac and PC, but the Mac version seems to have more options.

      https://www.literatureandlatte.com/

      1. Shell

        Seconding Scrivener. I’ve also tried yWriter5 and found it quite functional, though I didn’t like its layout like I do Scrivener.

        Scrivener is often a supporter of NaNoWriMo, and if you win (or know a winner who gives you their code) you can get it for 50% off.

  19. Not So NewReader

    A friend and I are having a good natured debate. He feels that you should run your hot water heater on a very high temp and cut the water with cold water at the faucet if need be. He says it’s cheaper to do this because it takes less time for the hot water to heat up (????) and you are less apt to run out of hot water.

    Growing up, I always heard the opposite. You should set your hot water heater at a point where you did not need to cut it with cold water. While I understand that it helps to prevent running out of hot water by running the hot water heater at a higher temp, I am having trouble believing it will be cheaper to do this.

    Did I miss a memo where we all changed our minds about the temp to set the hot water heater at?

    1. Colette

      Well, keeping the temperature higher might make it last longer (because you’re using less hot water since you have to cut it with cold). However, I doubt it would be cheaper – most people use hit water a small percentage of the time, but the tank doesn’t know when it will need to supply water, so it always has to keep it warm. Plus to heat the water to X degrees will always be less efficient than heating it to X-5, sinc you have to get to X-5 first in order to get to X.

      1. Bea W

        If you keep you water heater in a place that gets really cold in the winter, the heater element will have to work more frequently to keep it at temp. I assume it works on the same principle as heating your home in the winter, keeping the thermostat lower does make a noticeable difference in heating costs. I am not sure how much difference you would see with a water heater though. Certainly if you use a lot of hot water so that it needs to work to heat the incoming cold water to a higher temp, that takes more energy and costs more money.

        Personally, I don’t want my hot water so hot that it will cause serious burns if not cut with enough cold water. Plumbing has apparently advanced since I was a kid, and flushing the toilet would give anyone in the shower a scalding surprise, and I live alone anyhow so that is no longer a concern, but I remember those days!

        IMO – set it where it makes you happiest. :)

        1. Not So NewReader

          So glad you mentioned the toilet. Mine sweats and over time it rots out the floor around it. My friend is saying it’s because of the cold water going into the toilet that causes condensation on the tank. He said that some people use warm water in their toilets for this reason. wth.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Colette, I am agreeing with you. I use the hot water for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night (rough average). I cannot see how raising it to an unnecessary temp is going to be cheaper. My friend says that because you use less hot water then it takes less energy for the water tank to recouperate and that is where you save. I. am. so. skeptical. of. this.

    2. schnapps

      We run our hot water heater on a reasonably high setting because we like really hot showers.

      End of discussion. :)

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        That’s us, too, schnapps. :-) We don’t have any children, so the only ones who might accidentally get scalded would be adults having an Idiot Moment. Which is fine.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        We reduced our hot water heater temp years ago as a safety measure when we had very young children. The youngest is fifteen now, and we only recently remembered that we could’ve enjoying really hot water. My husband turned the heater back up a couple of weeks ago, and the luxurious amount of hot bath water has been heavenly! I haven’t noticed whether our costs are affected, but as long as it’s not too much, it’s worth it to me!

    3. AnotherFed

      Most hot water heaters are well insulated and do a good job of keeping water hot. The biggest energy suck is heating up the incoming cold water, so whether you keep the water hotter and use less of it or keep the water a few degrees cooler and use more water because you’re waiting for it to warm up the pipes, it mostly doesn’t matter.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Right now the water is set at 180. I made the mistake of saying, “Oh, that is way too hot” and with that, I opened this huge can of worms. I am thinking 160 sounds good to me.

        1. fposte

          And I was thinking I might nudge mine up a little. But first I have to pull myself together and flush the thing; it’s banging and the water temp doesn’t get as high as it should. I really need to do it while it’s warm enough to dig around in the garage for hoses.

        2. LCL

          180 degrees is scary and dangerous. Electric utilities recommend 120 degrees, or 130 if your dishwasher doesn’t have a booster.

    4. Dynamic Beige

      I think that if you have a dishwasher, it’s recommended you keep your water heater at a certain temperature that is higher than is comfortable for people.

      If you want to use less time to heat up the water and never run out, go tankless. I’ve got an oil-fired hot water heater which gets so hot, it’s hard to run out of hot water. But I’ve got a dishwasher so I cut the hot water with cold. When I had an electric water heater, it took way longer for it to heat a tank up.

      1. danr

        Modern dishwashers will heat the incoming water to the desired temp. We one model that had an inline heater and one that heats the water in the tub then begins the cycles. Both types did just fine.

      2. Marcela

        Yes. We had to undo the change to lower temperature when the dishwasher started returning the dishes as dirty as we put them (but with different dirt). We were told it’s the detergent who needs a higher temperature to dissolve.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I remember in the 70s the cardiologist telling my dad NOT to take hot showers. It would get his heart racing and his heart could not hack the racing. I always think of that with very hot water.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Thanks, everyone. Interesting discussion. Since the furnace repair guy happens to agree with my friend, I will ask him for articles discussing this. I would really love to see the math on this one. I am also going to ask furnace guy to turn the darn thing down. I agree that the high heat is not really safe.

      FWIW, furnace guy is someone I have done business with for decades and will continue to do so because the service is outstanding. Because this is someone whose opinion I respect, it was really disconcerting to hear him tell me to raise the temp of the hot water. His advice is usually spot on, so I was very surprised. It flies in the face of what I know to be true.

      As an aside, it’s going to be very hard for me to tell if I am having increased costs. I purchased a new, more efficent furnace and I got the furnace room insulated. Previously, this was a room that was only slightly above freezing in the winter. Yeah, my hot water tank is in this room. Nice catch on that about the temp of the room the tank is in, thanks for pointing it out.

      1. LCL

        You are right and really, the cost is a minor issue. The info is available if anyone really wants to know how fast tissue is damaged at various temps. Accidents can happen to anyone.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Oh, another good point. I remember in the late 70s I had a job waitressing. This was just as stardardizing health codes really became a thing. Previous to this we very seldom saw a health code inspector. For handwashing dishes we had to use 140 degree water. We were told that if the health code inspector came in, he would stick a thermometer in the water, so we had best be using 140 degree water. My skin came off. Seriously, I lost layer after layer of skin in the water. I thought how can this possibly be sanitary. I do think that the dish soap accelerated the whole process and made me molt quicker. But that hot water was not good.

  20. Growing Pains

    From my informal, online, house-buying research, the general guide is to buy a house 3x your annual salary. Here’s the problem: I live in southern California (OC) and a house 3x my annual salary doesn’t exist. A decent condo costs 5 or 6x my annual salary.

    Could I throw the general guide out the window?! I played around with mortgage calculators and I ~could~ afford something 6x my salary (no debt, no kids, etc.) But I’m apprehensive.. what if I lose my job? What if an unexpected health issue comes up?

    I’ll be saving for a down payment for at least another year and still have time to mull things over. I just feel a little bummed because it looks like I might never be able to afford a home. :(

    1. Ruffingit

      I say dump the 3x, 6x or whatever thing and instead, figure out what you can comfortably afford and what you could manage if you did lose your job. There’s no one size fits all for house buying except for not buying something that would take up a significant chunk of your income and that you could not afford to carry without a job if needed.

    2. Hellanon

      Keep in mind that those calculations take “average” levels of debt & expenses into consideration. If you live very frugally, you can put more into a house payment. But, as a SoCal homeowner, I would strongly caution you to make sure that your calculation takes into account the need to set aside a healthy chunk of change for emergencies – roof repair, major plumbing/sewer line mishaps, that sort of thing. And keep in mind that with condos, the association fees can go up at any time, and if there are any serious repairs needed, you can be on the hook for special assessments in addition to the monthly fees. That was what kept me from buying my Santa Monica apartment when it went condo years ago – I knew that the termites were the only thing holding the building together, and while I could have afforded the mortgage, no way could I have funded my share of a special assessment to deal with decades of deferred maintenance.

      1. Bea W

        Excellent advice. Do no buy without having an inspection to catch things like this – termites, a roof that is at the end of its usefulness, plumbing, and especially if there is a septic system, because septic repairs can be really costly. If you are buying a condo, be sure to look at the association finances and how much is in the reserve.

        1. Hellanon

          Stuff can still go wrong 2-3-4 years down the line, and those can be tough to cover if you are stretching to cover the monthly payments. Even things like replacing/repairing appliances can set you back more than you anticipate these days…

    3. Bea W

      Same for Boston. You have to throw that guideline out the window. Ideally you do not want your housing costs to be more than 1/3 of your monthly income. So the amount of house you can afford will depend in part on how much you can afford to toss in as a down payment, which will bring the monthly costs down. The numbers you really want to look at are your mortgage, particularly the monthly payment, property taxes, PMI (personal mortgage insurance) if your loan is greater than 80% (so if you put 20%+ down, the bank will probably not require it), and the cost of homeowners insurance, plus any HOA fees. Then you compare your monthly income with those costs, and for good measure if you can estimate the cost of utilities, parking, maintenance, etc that will even give you a better idea of what you need to be able to afford a particular home.

    4. fposte

      I’ve never seen the calculation based on the value of the house before–how does it take into account the different amounts people have as down payments?

      To me it was easier to figure it out in terms of monthly costs. Across-the-board rules of thumb on percentages aren’t very useful; the question is how much money you’d have left after paying for your housing and whether that covers what it needs to. So I’d say it’s time for you to create a budget, and you might try the old trick of figuring out what you think you’d be paying for a mortgage (and property taxes) and putting that money away every month for a while. Does that leave enough for you to eat and commute and live a life you enjoy? And remember that although the mortgage, assuming a fixed rate, doesn’t go up, property taxes and insurance do.

      I don’t think owning a house is the be all and end all, but even if you’re renting, you have the questions of what if you lose your job or have an unexpected health issue. The goal in either case would be to have some emergency fund to tide you over, if so.

    5. Mkb

      I don’t mean this to sound pessimistic, but maybe you should wait until your income goes up to buy? Or would you ever consider moving to a cheaper area? We moved from Westchester Cty, NY to a neighboring cty in CT which was significantly cheaper because we knew we would be house poor if we bought in Westchester. Sorry I know this isn’t the most helpful comment but I’ve seen way to many friends stretch themselves too thin and not be able to do anything because most of their monthly income was tied up in house payment.

      1. attornaut

        In some real estate markets, though, this is just not great advice because the monthly mortgage payment may be lesser or equal to monthly rent. Where I live, my mortgage payment on a 4 bedroom home is less than my monthly rent on a one-bedroom. Granted, I am paying things like maintenance, homeowners insurance, etc now, but I am also building equity.

        1. fposte

          I’m in a market like that, too–I think it’s particularly common in university towns, though it may happen elsewhere.

          But I wouldn’t worry too much about building equity or use that as a big reason for buying over renting. As we all learned in 2008, equity can tank just like anything else, and as you note, additional ownership expenses can make owning really noncompetitive. So I think either is fine, and I think people sometimes need to get past the psychological/social reasons why they want to buy instead of rent and really think about which makes sense for them.

          1. Persephone Mulberry

            We currently rent a townhome; while sometimes I think about the long-term value of ownership, other times I think about our built-in lawn and snow maintenance and how much money the management company has spent redoing our landscaping and re-roofing our building and and fixing our air conditioner (twice), all just this summer, and think it’s probably an okay tradeoff.

            1. BRR

              Yeah renting isn’t as bad as some people say it is. They say I’m throwing money way, no I’m not, I’m getting a place to live. Plus we have a fair shot of not being hear long term (since they say you have to live in a house 5 years to make up the difference plus the ability to sell it) and add in we couldn’t afford anything we’d want to live in for a long time and it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  21. Dynamic Beige

    I’ve been doing a lot of “heavy” reading recently — the kind that stirs up stuff and requires a lot of thinking. I’m looking for a recommendation of a not crazy-long novel that’s fun/funny. I’ve been trying to think of something but I just can’t. I may have to read the latest Plum novel just for the recycled laughs but I think I want something completely new.

    1. Stephanie

      Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. It’s not short, but it’s a fun read. It’s about American-born Chinese woman who goes to meet her fiance’s family in Singapore to discover they’re all uber-wealthy.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        The sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, came out last year (or early this year or something) and it’s also wildly entertaining! They’re both great–very escapist, quite funny, and also great in audiobook version.

        1. Stephanie

          I actually have the audio version of China Rich Girlfriend on hold on the library. I listened to the audio version of Crazy Rich Asians and thought it was well done. It got me through my dull commute. :)

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict

            I liked the audio version of CRA more so than CRG, but they’re both really good. Honestly, having someone who could correctly pronounce all the non-English phrases really did make a big difference in enjoying the book! I liked reading them, but listening to them was fun in a different way.

            1. Stephanie

              YES. That was a huge plus. Because sometimes foreign words/names will really trip me up while I’m reading and take me out the story.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        I think that sounds like just the ticket! I’m going to have to see if my library has it.

        Anna TAS, I’ve been reading business books and just stuff that well… you know how sometimes you read something and you go “Oh… I never thought about that before but it kind of sums up why [NegativeFeeling] about [ThisThing] and now that I know this, what am I going to do/can I do about it?” That’s fine for a bit, but I’ve been doing it too long now. I just want a brain vacation.

    2. Anna the Accounting Student

      I just had the involuntary idle thought that the scare quotes meant you’ve been reading a doorstop (as opposed to the more usual, metaphorical sense of “heavy reading”). Maybe I should lay off the medieval history hardcovers I’ve been borrowing from the library!

    3. katamia

      Jen Lancaster’s memoirs. First one is called Bitter Is the New Black, and they should be read in order. (But if you’re sensitive about animals dying, stay far, far away from The Tao of Martha.)

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I don’t know if this is going to make any sense, but I have this weird feeling like I need a really big cry… but I can’t. To quote Gomez:
        I wish I could cry on demand,
        Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo
        Given all these troubles on my mind,
        The tears won’t come out.

        So, yeah staying away from the dying animals. I think right now I’d rather laugh until I cry than the other way around.

    4. Aloe Vera

      Have you read “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler?” by Italo Calvino? I read it 10 years ago and I still frequently think about it.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Not at the library, so I just bought a cheap used one from Amazon. The descriptions sounded intriguing!

    5. Amber Rose

      Try Jasper Fforde. The Eyrie Affair is a silly, fun thing for literary fans. It’s the first book in a series but I read them all out of order, it doesn’t really matter. The Fourth Bear is similarly entertaining if you like nursery rhymes and crime stories.

      For non-fiction, Will Ferguson is my go-to. His books often have me literally laughing until I can’t breathe. You can find articles he’s written online, on subjects ranging from small business to picking up girls.

    6. BrownN

      Though really old, I suggest either Six of One or Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. When I first read them, I would laugh out loud and my mom would ask me what was so funny and wanted to read them to. They were funny to me, to others like my mom, amusing.

    7. MK2000

      A couple of light reads that I enjoyed this summer:

      The Storied Life of AJ Fikry: charming, funny, rewarding for book lovers

      This Is Where I Leave You: this was made into a Jason Bateman/Tina Fey/Jane Fonda movie recently. Well paced and extremely funny, though it’s somewhat dark and crass, just to caution you in case that bothers you.

    8. Anonyby

      If you’re into fantasy, I’d suggest the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C Wrede. They’re generally classified as Young Adult, but honestly I think they still work well as an adult. (I may also be a bit biased–they just came out on Kindle and I went on a rereading kick, I love these and Tamora Piere’s stuff.) The whole thing is zany and spoofs a lot of classic fairy tale tropes.

      And if you want to read just one of them, then I’d suggest either Dealing with Dragons (considered the ‘first’ of the quadrology), or Talking to Dragons (technically the fourth, but it was written over a decade before the other three as a stand-alone).

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        SQUEE. I’ve had the box set on my Amazon wishlist for like two years, and this post made me go “forget it, I’m just going to go ahead and get them RIGHT NOW”…only to see that they are FINALLY coming out for Kindle in two weeks. Preordered!!

  22. Anonymous Educator

    My spouse and I recently moved and were having a really hard time getting our former landlord to return our deposit (not a portion of our deposit with an explanation of why it wasn’t the full deposit—just any deposit). We were really worried that we’d have to take LL to small claims court, but eventually all the “the check is in the mail” excuses turned out to become an actual check in the actual mail. Sign of relief…

    1. Artemesia

      Glad you got it back. I have twice cleaned for hours and left places spotless only to get stiffed. I understand why people sometimes just leave the place like dump given the number of loathsome landlords there are.(I know there are many loathsome tenants as well but punishing good tenants hardly evens it out.)

    2. BRR

      We had that too. Finally I sent a text that said if we don’t receive our check I’ll be contacting our (nonexistent) lawyer. That did the trick.

      Sadly he was so late state law dictated we were entitled to twice our deposit back but he refused to pay that and we would have had to take him to court and since we moved 8 hours away it wasn’t worth it.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        Yeah, technically, we had something like that, but we really didn’t want to have to go to small claims court if we didn’t have to. A reasonable amount of the deposit was withheld (we painted some walls they had to paint back), so even though technically they were over the limit on days to return the deposit, we didn’t pursue anything further. I’m just glad we got it back.

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Can you give a bit more detail on this? It’s just an empty prompt with a C:\ or does it say something else? If you close the window, does it just go away, or does it come back? Does it happen when you log in or some other time? For only one account or for all accounts?

    2. nep

      Update — I ran a computer scan last night; it did show one threat found / cleaned. The prompt, which had been relentless, has not come back since. Called my computer guy to give him a heads up — just monitoring for now. So far, so good. We’ll see.

  23. Ruffingit

    So husband and I are doing a big clean out of our apartment. We are planning on moving in a couple of months and we just don’t want to drag a bunch of stuff with us. It feels so good to see so many things going into the donation boxes. Tonight, we tackled the kitchen cabinets. So much stuff we just didn’t need. We now have room for the things we do need and are using and we’ll be moving only the things that are actually functional and in use. Love it. Anyone else doing some organizing?

    1. Noah

      Just moved across several states, and I did the same thing before the move. I figured, if I have to pay by the pound to move this stuff, it might as well just be the good stuff.

    2. Trixie

      I try to on a semi-regular basis because so much of my stuff is packed in boxes while in transition. Clothes I can purge more regularly but other items I mostly just want to repack and take inventory of. I’m usually satisfied paring down wardrobe and toiletries. Biggest challenge is not accumulating more items before moving. To that end, I walked away from a 5ft by 5ft mirror going for $20 which is just begging to become a project. Willpower!

    3. fposte

      Me! I did a ton of purging over the summer, and while I’ve had to slow down on the house stuff now we’re in my busy season, I’m persevering. Did another big Goodwill run yesterday, and the bathroom closet should be finished today. The linens have been satisfyingly rationalized (that’s my favorite term for the process) but I have to figure out the towels. All of the examples I see clearly are using skinny hotel towels or something, because when I roll my towels, they’re too wide to be stackable anywhere but an amphitheater. So I think a trip to the Dollar Store may be happening today, which is one of my favorite kinds of shopping–1, it’s close to my house and doesn’t need me to fight traffic, and 2, it’s cheap.

    4. Cath in Canada

      Me! I’m taking advantage of my husband being away for a month to get organized. It’s amazing how much more motivated I am to clean and declutter properly when I know there’s not going to be a trail of sawdust, screws, and other carpentry mess through the house the second I finish :) I’m trying to declutter one closet / storage area per week. I did the bedroom last week and have 2 big bags of stuff to donate and 2 of trash.

    5. Fantasma

      I’ve been doing the same for a November move to a smaller place. It does feel good to drop boxes and bags off at the donation center. Still got a lot to go, though. But I’d rather do it now than be overwhelmed at the last minute and pay to move a lot of stuff I don’t need.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I now have shelves in my laundry/furnace room area. It’s the most amazing thing, after waiting two decades to get shelves. And everything is in boxes that are clearly labeled. I even spent crazy money on a couple more plastic boxes to make this happen. Now I walk out there and I can actually find things without moving ten other things that were “shelf-less”.

      1. Ruffingit

        I just cleaned out our big bathroom shelf tonight. It’s actually a bookcase and we had piled tons of stuff on it. I just got tired of it so got everything down, threw out tons of stuff and put the other things in plastic bins. Amazing what a difference it makes when you don’t have to move 10 things to find one.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Open flat areas are like magnets, they attract AKS. (All Kinds of Sh**) I have not seen my dining room table in a few months now. Wintertime project!

    7. Artemesia

      We moved after 25 years in a giant house with endless storage to a small condo in another state and when we moved we didn’t know where we would end up, so everything went into a 10 by 30 storage unit. We had all the kids’ stuff as well as our own ridiculous never thrown away stuff. We took months to get rid of most of it — so glad we did. I think we furnished 3 or 4 refugee apartments with the huge amount of furniture and kitchen things we didn’t keep and we filled a giant skip with just junk. I gave away and sold nearly 100 cardboard boxes of books (that was hard to let go). We still made errors — threw away stuff we should have kept and kept things we should have donated or thrown away — but mostly it has made life so much easier.

  24. Noah

    I mentioned my move, and how badly it was going on last weeks open thread. So happy to say that the movers I ended up hiring at the last minute to replace the flaky ones were awesome. My stuff arrived within a few days and I’ve only found a single broken item among all the boxes I’ve unpacked.

    My couch would not fit into my new townhouse, but the guys did try every angle over the course of 20 minutes. They removed doors and flipped it around and around. It was actually pretty funny to watch, but in the end there was just no way because there is a 90 degree turn at the top of the stairs. So this weekend I’m searching for something that is in pieces. Considering Home Reserve, but I’m not in love with any of their styles, maybe the Tux. Also considering Ikea, there is one in my new location, so that might be worth a shot.

    1. fposte

      Glad you found some decent movers in the end–that did sound extremely frustrating. I remember when we were helping my dad move into his retirement community and the movers turned up 12 hours late and drunk and/or high. No fun.

      1. Noah

        Nope, all the windows are narrow and tall. We considered that too. Ordered a few fabric samples from Home Reserve, we’ll see what they look like. I went to Ikea yesterday, didn’t really find anything I loved.

  25. Christina

    Has anyone read “The Warmth of Other Suns”? I just started it and it’s absolutely fantastic. It’s about the Great Migration, the movement of Southern blacks to the rest of the country, specifically between 1914 and 1970. It’s so well-written. She picked three main people to tell their story and those stories are interspersed with incredibly detailed historical research.

    I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know, so thought I’d recommend it to you all as well!

    1. Stephanie

      Yes! I love that book. I was talking to my parents (they were teenagers/young adults during the last wave of the Great Migration). Their families stayed in their respective towns in Arkansas and Missouri, but they both remember families packing up to head to Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, etc. My mom said she knew a couple of families who headed to California.

      Supposedly it is being turned into a series?

    2. Lillie Lane

      Cool! Thanks for the recommendation. I wanted to read more about The Great Migration after reading an article in the New Yorker a few weeks ago. Now I know where to start!

    3. Today's anon

      Over the summer I saw Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series exhibition at the MOMA – there’s still an online exhibit you can check out. It was really amazing.

    4. Artemesia

      Great book. The thing that really hit home for me was how the north with its discrimination, segregated expensive housing and of course the lack of social support for families created the urban mess we have today. The people who headed north were not the losers. They were highly motivated hard working people who took initiative but were often not able to properly supervise their kids as they scrambled to support them and of course didn’t have the web of family infrastructure to create a good environment for kids growing up. The often violent racism they encountered helped create today’s ‘underclass’. Very powerful book anchored in interesting personal stories.

  26. AcademicAnon

    Thinking about getting 1-2 new cats to add to our 2. I would like to get some new additions while the 2 we have are able to enjoy the newcomers. We have had my in-laws cat over to cat-sit, so I know they will accept another cat, and will play with him. Main problem is the one cat is very dominant so my options are sort of limited to:
    1. adult cat(s) that is/are very submissive. This is totally doable, I have seen this work.
    2. kitten(s) I and the other cat can hopefully train (some cats even as kittens can mature into very dominant cats and sometimes it’s hard to tell until they get older or are away from their family group)
    3. wait until it’s no longer an issue with the one cat (and I would rather not be sad+happy to get some new additions)
    4. Foster and keep the ones that work. The problem with this option is the other cat who is very submissive/afraid. He’s a rescue from a very bad situation a long time ago so he’s as good as he’s going to get with people and I’m afraid this would make that worse not better. Also I would probably be a LOT worse than AAM about this. I come from a very long line of cat rescuers.

  27. Aloe Vera

    How do you politely tell a wedding guest that they have given you too much money and are being too generous?

    I got married Friday (yay!), and many of our guests had to travel cross-country to see us. I have two family members who cannot fly, so they took the train – which costs nearly $1000 and is significantly more expensive than a flight. Both of these guests gave what I would call extremely generous gifts beyond their means, and that’s not even including the cost of travel. I was actually very upset when I opened their cards and saw the size of the check.

    I would love to tell them that their coming to see me was more than enough of a gift and that we cannot accept their check, but I have no idea how that conversation could ever go well. Has anyone else been in this type of situation?

    1. ismis

      I’m not sure how this will work if you’re accepting other cheques from other guests (and if they will talk) but maybe a thank you card explaining that their presence was their present, and while you are grateful for the gift, it wasn’t necessary? I wouldn’t mention that you think they can’t afford it :)

      Don’t return it – just don’t cash it.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I strongly advise against not cashing it. If you don’t cash it, you run the risk of messing up their records. Besides, they would know you didn’t cash it, and it wouldn’t solve the problem. It might even cause some terribly hurt feelings.

        Honestly, I understand the sentiment, but most people will give what they want to give and what they can afford– or think they can afford– and it’s not up to the recipient to make that call. Accept the gift graciously, cash the check, and give it to charity as Carrie suggested, if you’re that uncomfortable. Or, invest in a trip to visit them and a generous gift on their next occasion.

        1. fposte

          Or, if they have kids, a generous gift to their kids. People who resist direct generosity will sometimes accept it if their kids are benefiting.

        2. Artemesia

          Not cashing it will make it seem like you really thought it was insignificant and didn’t bother or are very disorganized and lazy. I think you need to be gracious and even the score at some point in the future. Maybe give their kids nice checks when they graduate and head for college if that occurs or find some other occasion to be generous.

      1. Artemesia

        That means they are still out the money and you don’t benefit. Seems like the worst of both worlds here.

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          But someone else is benefiting! ….I’m thinking a local, grassroots sort of thing – a community garden, local homeless shelter, children who are in care for christmas so they can get presents etc. Paying it forward. Personally, I don’t see the problem with that.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      I don’t think you can. At least, if my experience with my mom is a guide — my parents are on a fixed income, and my husband and I make good money, and yet she simply refuses to stop giving me cash whenever I see her (and my parents also wrote us a too-large four-digit check as a wedding present).

      I hate taking money from her, but I’ve given up on trying to say no, thank you. It made her so upset when I did that — she was trying to show her love by scrimping and saving to give me the money, and no matter how many times we told her we didn’t need it and that she should get herself something nice, she would keep saying, “What do I have to spend money on? I have everything I need!”

      I found that the best way to handle it when she stuffs $100 into my hand is to spend it and then gush to her for hours about what I did with it. She lit up when she gave us (totally unnecessary) “anniversary money” and my husband and I went out to lunch, and we came back and told her all about how delicious the lunch was and what a good time we had.

      If your relatives are anything like my mother, I suggest a long and detailed thank-you note about how delighted you are about whatever you plan to purchase with the money. Even if you just put it in the bank, make something up — you got some beautiful home decor! You’re one step closer to your down payment! Anything that will make them feel like they’ve made a significant contribution to your *happiness*. (Which is why I wouldn’t suggest giving the money to charity.)

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, this is my take as well. I have a family member who’s exactly like this, and returning the money would be terribly hurtful. She sees it as sacrificing to do something nice for us, and refusing it would make her feel really bad. Accept it, be hugely grateful, and tell her with enthusiasm how you used it (agree that charity isn’t the way to go here, for the reason AdAgency Chick says).

        And then look for things you can do for her where it won’t be obvious that it’s tied to her gift.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Totally agree. Cash the check and spend it wisely. Tell them what you did with the money. “We bought x, not only is it lovely, but we plan on keeping it the rest of our lives.” OR “We talked about what to do with your generous gift and we decided to start an account to save for a house.”
          Do something with it that will make a difference in your live together.
          But if you return that check you risk ending the relationship forever. And that is a very high price to pay.

          Think of it this way, you are dealing with fellow adults. Just as you do not want someone telling you how to spend or not spend your money, they feel that way, too. They feel they can afford it or you are worth it or whatever. Say a heartfelt thank you and honor their gift by using it wisely.

    3. Treena

      Yea, there’s absolutely no way to graciously reject a cash gift for your wedding. They clearly care a lot about you to travel to your wedding and give you a gift on top of it, so just take it with grace! If you really feel like you can’t “keep” the gift, put the money aside in a savings account. Are these the types of family members that you will be taking care of in the future? Or can you get them a gift for a big birthday/anniversary? It’s much better to “return” the gift by gifting them something than outright refusing it. Or maybe they came to the wedding despite travel limitations because they rarely get to see you. Maybe spend the money on a trip to see them/a group vacation? Or if you’re in the same area, maybe take them out to nice dinners or do a fun activity together?

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict

        These are nice ideas–there is no way to graciously reject a gift, since after all, it’s a way of expressing love. Have you ever tried to give a gift to someone–a really thoughtful, lovely gift, and had them reject it? It hurts quite a bit–it feels like they’re rejecting you personally–and it can cause a lot of relationship damage.

        Just accept it, write them a gorgeous thank-you note, and if you don’t want to spend it, put it aside or use it on something for them in the future.

    4. Anonymous for obvious reasons

      Agree that there is no good way to give the money back. Take it. enjoy it and tell the guests how much you appreciate them.
      But I would ask all of you to think about the fact that very few of us really know someone else’s financial situation. We sent our kids to private school and they participated heavily in travel soccer. Some might think we have lots of money based on this. But others might only know where we live and what we drive and that doesn’t look like a lot of money. You might be very surprised by what others do and do not have.

      1. Observer

        I think that everyone agrees that no one knows the gift givers’ financial situation. But that’s not the point. The point is that they are adults who clearly knew what they were doing and as such, there is no way to reject the money. And, also it’s quite probable they had what are, to them, perfectly sound reasons for the size of the gift.

        1. Anonynous for obvious reasons

          That’s my point. While Aloe Vera may know exactly the financial situation of the guests, too many assume they know something and then act on that belief causing more problems.

    5. AnnieNonymous

      Are these guests older? They may feel that they don’t have anything else left that they want, and they view their gift to you as an “inheritance,” except given to you at a time when they think you’ll get the best use out of it (paying for the wedding or a house, even student loan debt). I’ve seen that kind of thing before – your relation to them isn’t close enough to warrant a mention in their wills, so this is their way of giving you something.

    6. oh noes

      they gave it. willingly. because they love you and support you.

      cash the check. thank them honestly, warmly, and tell them that they shouldn’t have.

      honor them in as many ways as you can (if they send you a request to support a fundraiser, always do it, or support their kids/grandkids birthdays, weddings, etc.).

  28. TheLazyB (UK)

    About to take Small Boy to junior parkrun for the first time! He turned 4 a while back and was superkeen on the idea before his birthday but then went off it afterwards! But now he’s keen again yay. I am excited but nervous. If he’s middling that’s fine, but scared he’ll be quick and I can’t keep up, or slow and I can’t go slow enough!

    Any other parents whose kids do parkrun?

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        He both loved it and hated it! Came in last but the tail runner was fab :) and the local ice cream parlour does free ice creams for the kids afterwards!! Terrible idea from a business plan PoV but I was dead impressed :) thank you!

  29. Tara

    I mentioned last week that I was having a hard time at university, and I’m feeling much better now. I spent all day today at a workshop for a club I’m joining– the Pride group– and then I went to a party and had a pretty good time. I still feel like I haven’t really clicked with anyone, but I think it will come with time.

    On a completely different topic, I’m trying to expand my reading tastes a bit. I tend towards teen fiction and sci-fi/fantasy, and I’m trying to get into the realms of something a bit ‘deeper’. I started with a couple of classics– reread To Kill A Mockingbird and read The Great Gatsby for the first time, and now I’m trying out some autobiographies and biographies. I would love to hear some varied recommendations of books that have a bit of substance to them, but are still relatively readable! I tend to prefer books with a relatively straightfoward plot and lots of exploration of relationships between characters (not necessarily romantic). Help?

    1. Stephanie

      Glad to hear things are looking a little better. It might take time to find your friend group. Looking back, the people I’m close to from college aren’t the people I met freshman year. Two of my best friends I didn’t even meet until junior year.

      Personally, I say read what you want to read and don’t worry about if your reading list is English teacher approved.

      I like All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. It’s basically a dramatization of Huey P Long’s ascent. Long was a demagogue governor of Louisiana in the 30s (for some reason, I have you pegged as Canadian).

      I enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale by Magaret Atwood, which is a dystopian fantasy where the US is taken over by a theocracy and fertile, young women are made to be surrogates for the men in power. Story’s told from one of their perspectives.

      The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is good as well. It follows a missionary family from Georgia who heads to the Belgian Congo right before independence. The book follows the family of a firebrand preacher, his wife, and four daughters and how they change during their time there.

      1. Tara

        I am in fact Canadian. :) I’m sure I’ve mentioned moving to Vancouver and going to UBC once or twice, so you may subconsciously be remembering it!

        The Handmaid’s Tale is actually one of my favourites! I will put the other two on my list– they sound fascinating. :)

        1. Alma

          If you’re Canadian, you might enjoy Barbara Erdrich. A delightful, beginning book to begin with would be The Birchbark House. I’ve given copies to many of my friends as their daughters reached long chapter book age to read together.

          She writes about First Nation people, the Anishnabe, and character lines weave through the books. Great get-away books. Highly recommended.

        2. fretnone

          Welcome to Vancouver, Tara! I used to live at UBC and have fond memories of it especially at this time of year – don’t miss the Apple Festival coming up soon!

          If you enjoyed the Handmaid’s Tale, also try Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. It felt a bit lighter to me, but enjoyable (though, disclaimer, I have not read the last book in the trilogy that just came out).

    2. Yoshi

      A tree grows in Brooklyn is a classic. Not a ton of action, but a story about a young girl growing up in a poor family in Brooklyn, and explores her changing relationship with her family members/ neighborhood/ self.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Oh my God yes, that’s one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read it so many times I know it by heart.

        I really like Emile Zola–he’s a 19th-century writer (French, Naturalist), but he’s very readable. Start with Nana. It’s about a courtesan who destroys everything she touches.

        That was my first Zola and I loved it. My auntie introduced me to it on my first trip to London. I carried the book all over the place, read it on the tube, etc. I’m trying to collect all his Les Rougon-Macquart novels, of which Nana is one.

    3. Elkay

      Jeffry Eugenides is a good author for people focussed plots, I think The Virgin Suicides is probably the shortest. Also, Stephen King’s Different Seasons novellas are very good.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Thing about Alison’s recommendations is I keep downloading them to my Kindle. I’ve just started this week’s recommendation as I was between books. Apparently there is a prequel too.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is my favourite novel–sometimes shelved as YA, but it’s really about a family and their stories together.

      For memoirs, if you can find them, Beverly Cleary’s memoirs A Girl From Yamhill and On My Own Two Feet are really just excellent and charming stories about growing up in the 20s and the Depression, very readable.

      The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill is also a very readable but heavy book–very dark in places, but really good writing and understandable. (I think elsewhere it’s been titled Someone Knows My Name, though?)

    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      I almost thought you might be my daughter from reading your first paragraph. She’s having a hard time at university, too, and has joined a Pride group, a gender equality group, and a book club. The gender equality group had a party last night at an eighteen and up nightclub, and she had a good time at it and some people to hang out with. During the day, I know that she is eating a lot of meals alone (maybe even three meals a day). I really hope she finds her niche soon; I hate that she’s experiencing such loneliness.

      I think some loneliness is common in freshman year. Just keep getting out and doing things and you’ll find your people eventually (same advice I’ve been giving my daughter).

      1. Tara

        Oh, I didn’t even look into if there were any book clubs around here! It’s nice that you can talk to your daughter about how she’s doing. I keep telling my mom that I’m meeting lots of people and doing great, because I can tell she’s lonely and off-balance and I don’t want her to worry about me too.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          My daughter’s book club did Divergent as their first book, then they divided up into factions and had tho perform tasks. She joined Dauntless, so they had to go to the park and see who could jump the farthest out of the swings. The lowest-scoring members of each faction become factionless, until there’s one main winner. Sounds like a lot of fun!

          I do kind of ache for her that she hasn’t found friends yet, but I’m not too terribly worried, because I can tell that she’s on the right path (staying involved, trying new things). I don’t push her too much or give her a “worried mother” act, because I don’t think making her feel the pressure of my worry would help her.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            . . . . not to mention more activity than I’ve ever had in a book club; the ones I’ve been in have wine-drinking as the primary event :-)

    6. Blue_eyes

      I just finished reading A List of Things that Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt. It’s a memoir about his life growing up on the fringes of society. It’s very readable and less depressing than you would think given the title.

      You might try some books by Barbara Kingsolver. She writes short stories, novels, and essays. Her books have some good substance and often explore relationships and the idea of home, but are fairly enjoyable and easy to read.

    7. Anonymous Educator

      A few recommendations off the top of my head:
      * The Slave (Singer)
      * Lady Oracle (Atwood)
      * When We Wake (Healey)
      * M. Butterfly (Hwang)
      * Love and Rockets (Hernandez)

      Also, in non-fiction, I just read a great book called Red: a History of the Redhead.

    8. Ask a Manager Post author

      If you’re up for more classics and haven’t tried Jane Austen yet, now is the time. Start with Emma or Pride & Prejudice. What people often don’t realize about Jane Austen is that she’s funny — in Emma, in particular.

      For something more modern, you might look at Nick Hornby — About a Boy and High Fidelity, in particular.

    9. AnnieNonymous

      Have you read Dorian Gray? Once you get used to the flow of Wilde’s language, his writing is great fun.

      If you’re backtracking a bit, try The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a really quick read and remains sort of relatable even as you grow older.

      I love Amy Greene’s books. Bloodroot is just beautiful, and I’m in the middle of Long Man, which is utterly haunting.

      Dream Brother is my favorite biography. It’s about Jeff Buckley, alternating chapters with his dad Tim. The way their lives accidentally reflect each other is fascinating.

  30. SandrineSmiles (France)

    Well, well.

    After a week of DDOS attacks every time I wanted to do a Twitch stream, and after over 35 forum threads calling me names and inviting to raid my Twitch to be assholes, my friends made me promise to stop until the police stuff was dealt with. It’s kinda painful to think you have to stop doing something you like for so long (on Twitch it’s like 2 weeks are an eternity, and I might have to wait longer than that) especially when you’re working hard to make the whole thing look presentable and you’re also trying really hard to be a good “show host” .

    Besides, turns out the cough I had at the end of August never really went away, it’s starting up again to the point I can’t film my Youtube videos, either. Oh well.

    So I’ll finish on the good note. I was feeling down and knew I shouldn’t spend any money or anything like that. But I bought the Sims 4 (and the work extension) at a huge discount and, after starting a family, am now running a bakery in it. And confuse the heck out of my friends when I speak of the game if I don’t say it’s the Sims before talking :p

  31. AdAgencyChick

    Alison — I looooooved Mr. Penumbra’s! I picked it up when I had clients in San Francisco whom I occasionally had to do on-site meetings with, and I’ve gotten into the habit of reading novels set in the city I’m visiting when I’m traveling. Such a delightfully nerdy book.

    I’m a fan of Chekhov’s principle of not putting a gun in your story if you’re not going to fire it, and therefore I loved this book because it very much adheres to that principle. I love how the seemingly most inconsequential of details turns out to be quite important in the end.

    Enjoy!

  32. Rebecca

    Vacuum cleaners! I want a new vacuum cleaner. I have an Oreck XL and an Oreck handheld vac, but I want one that has an on board wand attachment, washable filter, and does a good job sucking up pet hair. I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars. I have a small house, and I just want something so I don’t have to lug two things around with me. I don’t like doing housework anyway, so anything that will make my life easier is a plus. Truthfully, given the choice to go for a walk, ride my bike , visit with people, do things, anything, even play Candy Crush on my tablet, will win out over vacuuming :( Apparently I’m not good at adulting.

    I spotted a Hoover Wind Tunnel Pet model, so I was thinking something along those lines.

    Any ideas? What do you use as pet owners?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I love love love my Shark Navigator Lift-Away, and they have a new one that’s supposed to be amazing on pet hair. Less expensive (much less!) than a Dyson Animal, though I admit, that’s my dream vacuum. My current Shark (I’ve had it for over 4 years now) has a pet hair attachment that’s pretty great, though it also does a good job with the regular brush attachment.

      I got mine at Bed Beth and Beyond, so I used a coupon. I think it cost me about $150, and it was SO worth it!

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        My husband just bought the Shark Navigator lift-away for us, and I like it so much better than the Eureka The Boss Smart Vac, which we’ve bought in the past from reading Consumer Reports. The Shark is light and very maneuverable. It had a thin profile and it tilts on its handle as you turn corners, so you can easily reach into corners and underneath things that would have to be moved if you were using another vacuum cleaner.

      2. Lillie Lane

        Seconding the Shark Navigator. It’s pretty great at picking up pet hair. We bought it when our Hoover died and wow, what a difference! Clean up with the bin is super easy. Filter is washable.

      3. Bea W

        Second the Shark Navigator Lift-away as a pet person with a lot of fur and hay to clean up. It’s freaking amazing! I have had mine about 4 years, and it is still going strong. My favorite part is that it easily comes apart for cleaning and de-clogging (if I’ve been overzealous about vacuuming up the large hay strands). The suction is outstanding. I love that it’s easy to replace just about any part of it should I need it. I love that the canister is easy to empty. It opens from both the top and the bottom. There is no filter inside the canister to change or to unclog. My last vacuum had a disposable filter at the stop of the canister that was constantly being clogged with fur.

        I got mine at Target, probably around the same price. Totally worth it!

      4. NDR

        Yes to the Shark! I just finished vacuuming and am – again and still – amazed and horrified at how much stuff it picks up every single use.

    2. Wrench Turner

      You should get a 5 gallon wet/dry shop vac – I’m getting one from Harbor Freight for about $50. Yes they are loud, but it will get up everything from pet hair to spilled plants to shattered glass to clear up flooding one bucket at a time. You may not think you need one, but they come in super handy when you have it.

      1. Rebecca

        I have a big Shop Vac, and have tried it, but it’s hard for me to take up and down the steps, and the floor attachment thing pops off from time to time and is hard to use on carpeting. I love it for vacuuming the car, decobwebbing the cellar (unfinished very utilitarian), cleaning up broken stuff, like glass, it’s awesome for that. Thanks!!

    3. Sorry

      Daughter got the Shark Navigator Lift-Away, based on recommendations here. She has a dog and has found this to work well. Also used coupon at BB&B.

    4. Rebecca

      Thank you so much for the recommendations. I think we have a Shark vacuum at our office, come to think of it…now off to find one locally. Woot!

  33. Wrench Turner

    The start of fall means sitting down and figuring out the crazy to-do lists I’ve been ignoring most of the summer:
    -How many steel flowers I need to weld together for the fall conventions, shows and winter holiday gifting; 2 dozen all-steel roses, 3 or 4 orchids with 3D print blossoms, lilies and a lotus.
    -How many 3D print lucky cats do I need to make and paint?
    -When and where to teach a local Boyscout troop how to weld (I hope it’s not my house).
    -Issue 2 of the book I need to finish illustrating, layout and print by Halloween (same as last year, issue 1)
    -Then a commission to mount a bunch of this guy’s license plates and cut it out in the shape of Ohio (where he’s from)
    -Design a couple of posters to print and sell at conventions
    -Get together all the art and links to give to my web designer

    …but first this coffee and reading other people’s to-do lists for things I probably forgot.

  34. Weekend Warrior

    Hi Alison, I’ve been wondering how your husband’s shingles are healing. I thought I’d never forget my shingles experience but over time, like the scars, it has faded. I hope he’s healing well!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      He’s actually doing pretty well, as shingles go! He’s through the blistering stage and the pain is starting to go away for longer periods. It’s much worse at night, but his days are a bit easier. It looks like he may have gotten off relatively easily, compared to how it goes for a lot of people.

      His doctor told him that people who have been shot or stabbed say that the pain of shingles is worse than that.

      1. Wrench Turner

        Had it 2 years ago on my right hip, and the scars and joint stiffness linger. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone. Speedy recovery!

        1. Alma

          I have recurring bouts in time of severe stress (like last week). I’m too young for the vaccine. Yessssss, it is excruciating.

      2. misspiggy

        A relative who had ongoing severe shingles pain found pregabalin made a huge difference. Not sure what the US name is but it’s similar to Lyrica.

  35. Shell

    A whine crossed with a question here…

    I’ve always had dry eyes. Two years or so ago I had a bout of really bad dry eye syndrome–gritty, burning, the works. It was far worse in my left eye than it was in my right; no idea how that happened, but it did. My optometrist put me on Restatsis for six months, and it recovered nicely.

    Yesterday I went in for my eye exam and what do you know, the dry eye is recurring again (though not as badly). My optometrist wants to nip this in the bud before it gets worse, so she gave me a sample of Systane Balance to try out.

    I looked up dry eye again and there’s three layers to the tear film–lipid, aqueous, and mucus–and disruption to any of them can cause issues with dry eyes. Systane Balance is geared towards repairing/reinforcing the lipid layer.

    My question: is it possible for optometrists to tell what part of the tear film is having issues during an eye exam, or can they only tell “wow, you have dry spots/low tear volume”? In other words, can I take the prescription as an assumption that it’s lipid production dysfunction that’s my issue, or is my optometrist doing a trial-and-error process too?

    I’m asking because there’s actually a big sale on these eyedrops at the drugstore today, so if this is my diagnosis, so to speak, I’d like to pick up a bunch. But if this isn’t my diagnosis, I guess I can wait until the follow up exam in a month.

    1. fposte

      Hello there, fellow dry eye person! You’ve raised some good questions. I know some about aqueous deficit and some about lipid problems but nothing about what would mess with mucus. I know that in my case it’s a lipid thing, specifically meibomian gland issues (the little glands along the edge of your eyelids that secrete oil); it’s pretty common for those to get plugged, especially as you get older, and in those cases the Systane is definitely a useful thing because it’s the lipid layer that needs help.

      But there are other things to do in the meibomian gland/lipid case so I’m wondering a little at an optometrist that didn’t mention those. They’re pretty harmless to try on your own if you think it would help. One is to clean the eyelids and eyelashes nightly, whether with something like baby shampoo, a product like Ocusoft, or something like Cliradex that contains tea tree oil (be warned that that will smart); I use the baby shampoo, and it’s like 30 seconds after brushing my teeth–I wet my eyes, dab shampoo on my finger, wipe and scrub my closed eye at the lashline, and then wipe it off with damp toilet paper. You can also use heated compresses on your eyes–you can buy a thing specially for this, that you can nuke to heat up, or you could try a damp washcloth if you don’t want to splurge. But a few minutes to help loosen up the solidified lipids can be really helpful. I try to do that about once a week with some nice music on :-).

      I do think she should have had more specifics for you, like whether it looks like your glands are getting plugged, for instance. There’s some trial and error, sure, but maybe not as much as this sounds like.

      1. Shell

        Hmm, maybe I just imagined the part about the mucus layer. Oops.

        I know that every time I put a warm compress on my eyes (which is a thing I should do more often), my eyes feel fantastic afterwards, though I love heat in general so I’m not sure if it’s just improved circulation or if I’m specifically feeling fantastic because the increased lipid outflow from the heat. (Does heat help the aqueous layer of tears any?) I should do that more often.

        I actually received in the mail this week a dupe of the Sephora Precision Pore Cleansing Pad, which is a very soft, very gentle silicone scrub pad. It’s gentle enough that I actually have been automatically scrubbing my eyelids with it in the shower without thinking about it. Huh. So maybe I’ll be giving my eyelids/eyelashes a regular cleaning after all. Eyelid cleaning is not a subject I’ve ever had to think about!

        She mentioned that my eyes are in great shape; nerves, surface, no glaucomas or cataracts, and then she launched into the discussion about dry eye. So it’s anyone’s guess whether she meant that the meibomian glands also look fine because she didn’t mention it, or it wasn’t worth mentioning in the same sentence as cataracts. I didn’t think to ask for specifics because the last time I had dry eyes worth mentioning is two years ago, and I had forgotten all my research!

        I think I’ll probably go buy the Systane at the drugstore. My eyes feel pretty good right now, and the Systane Balance doesn’t give me blurring or stinging that some people have reported, so it’s probably worth a shot. In fairness the real litmus test would be at work with my overzealous AC. I guess I can always return it if I later don’t think it’d work out.

        Glad to find some commiseration/solidarity!

        1. fposte

          It’s one of those things that turns out to be more common than you realized–once I had it, a bunch of people said, “Oh, yeah, I have that.” If the pore cleanser doesn’t hurt if you get it in your eyes (obviously the great advantage of baby shampoo), that’s likely to be pretty much covering it, and you might be getting even better results from doing it in the shower when things are warmed up.

          There’s also a massage thing that you can do, if it’s the glands, to move some oil out. I do it just if my eyes are actively bugging me; I have a tendency to overdo on interventions and probably shouldn’t crunch my eyelids up on the regular. But you can look for descriptions of that and try it out; the first time I tried it it was clear that there had been a bit of a backlog :-).

          1. Shell

            !!

            I just looked up meibomian gland dysfunction on a site with pictures…and I’ve totally had the clogged ones! (Frequently, even–though not as frequently in recent days.) Generally if I have a day of scratchy eyes and no amount of eyedrops can fix it I knew I’d find at least one of those clogged bumps on or around my eyelid somewhere. I tend to scratch at it with a fingernail until the bump “pops”…which is probably not good but beats having it rub against my eyeball all day.

            I had mentioned this to my optometrist before in previous visits, and she said “yes, they’re like clogged pores” and advised heat compresses, so maybe she didn’t think it necessary to repeat it every time? Though it would’ve been helpful because I had forgotten all about this.

            Definitely sounds like the meibomian glands are contributing to this. Off to find a hot compress!

            I love this community. I learn the best things here :D

  36. Soupspoon McGee

    My kitty, Lily, was hit by a car last Sunday. She was 14 but still very vibrant and playful. She was a gorgeous girl, probably Himalayan with her long, white fur, seal-point points (is that how it’s said?) and crystal blue eyes that bored through your head until you had an urge to give her treats.

    I come home expecting to see her dash by my feet, then come up short. I worry I’ll forget her, because her death was so sudden and unexpected, unlike my older cats whose illnesses I mourned before it was time for them to go. I hope she thought I was a good mamma kitty to her.

    (Click on my username for a picture and post).

    1. fposte

      Oh, Soupspoon, I’m sorry. I don’t think you’re going to forget a cat you had for fourteen years, no matter how sudden the death, and I think your time with her will be part of your life going forward even when you’re not thinking of her. And she looks absolutely beautiful and very, very treasured.

    2. nep

      So sorry. Don’t add worry to your grief — it’s clear you honoured and cherished her and always will.
      Big hug.

    3. Elkay

      I’m so sorry for your loss, we lost our 15 year old boy in the same way a few years ago. We all still miss him terribly, there’s no way you’ll forget her.

    4. Harriet

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Your post brought tears to my eyes – she was obviously a much loved, very special kitty and I’m sure she knew how lucky she was to have made her way to your home. You won’t forget her, I promise. Big hugs.

    5. Rebecca

      Oh, so very sorry for your loss. It’s such a shock when they are taken like that :( You won’t forget her, and she’ll always be in your heart.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I’ve had two dogs, three cats and a bunny, now I am on my third dog. (This doesn’t include the two dogs from my childhood.) I can tell you first hand, you will never forget. I think you already know this- each animal has it’s own little unique way about them. You will tell stories of her unique things for years, maybe even the rest of your life.

      The quickness of their passing or the length of their illness has no connection to what happens to our memories of them. Your memory of her will stay intact the same way as your other critters.

      She was beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss.

  37. Cath in Canada

    I’ve been doing some volunteering for my local federal election candidate: I helped out at the campaign launch BBQ (got mild heat stroke, yay), handed out flyers at a SkyTrain station mid-week, and have a massive sign in my front yard. (Plus I donated cash. It’s one of those high stakes “voting doesn’t feel like enough of a contribution this time” elections).

    Today, I’m going door-to-door canvassing for the first time and I’m really nervous! I don’t know what to expect. I tend to write much, much better than I speak, but they didn’t have any writing/editing/proofreading jobs for me and this is where they need the most help. I just have a sense that it’s not really going to be my thing.

    It’s a very safe seat for this candidate so the majority of people should be at least tolerant, but I’m sure there will be some people who want to argue with canvassers too. They said they’d put me with someone experienced (and I get a whole 30 minutes of training before we start!), so hopefully it’ll all go OK… wish me luck!

    1. Tara

      Don’t worry about it too much! You’re not expected to have all the answers if someone starts arguing with you. Just be ready to explain why YOU support a particular candidate, and you’ll be good. Most people understand that you’re not an MP or anything. When the Conservative MP was tabling over here, she got a lot of loaded questions about election fraud, C-51, environmental laws that have been abandoned, etc., but when the student canvassers go around people mostly just say “No thanks, I’m not a supporter.” (Okay, maybe sometimes I’ll make a polite statement along the lines of not believing the party has my best interests in mind, but I’m never RUDE.)

      1. Florida

        I’ve done canvassing before and I agree that you should focus on why you support the candidate. If someone asks where a candidate stands on a certain issue and you don’t know, just tell them you don’t know. (Certainly if you know, you can tell them.) Make a note of it and tell the campaign staff so they can follow up if they want to.
        Most people will not be rude, even if they are for the opponent, but if someone is rude, just leave. “Thank you for your time, Mrs Jones. Don’t forget to vote on Election Day.” And leave.
        If you have the option to walk with someone else, do that. Especially if it’s someone who has done canvassing before.

      2. Cath in Canada

        Heh, last time we had a Conservative candidate at our door I said “I’m a scientist, would you like to defend your government’s record on that issue?” and he said no thank you and left :D

        (The Conservative candidate in my riding is usually something of a sacrificial lamb – they usually run someone young and/or new to politics who wants the experience before moving to a riding where they have a chance)

    2. Cath in Canada

      Thanks all for the encouragement! I just got back. It was a lot less stressful and more fun than I thought it would be! Most people weren’t home (it’s an absolutely beautiful day here in Vancouver), but everyone we talked to was very polite, even the confirmed voters for other parties. We met quite a few supporters – a few of them requested signs, and we signed one person up to volunteer! They matched me and two other newbies up with the former Chair of the (elected) Vancouver Parks Board, who had tons of campaigning experience.

      Next time I will take a water bottle and some snacks though. I chugged two glasses of water and devoured some toast as soon as I walked through the door! It was thirsty work, all that talking and walking :)

      1. schnapps

        So I guess the sign in your yard is Orange or Red (and I’m leaning towards orange?) :) If you were with Patti, she’s an awesome lady.

        My vote is strategic. I live in a conservative enclave, but our riding was split and they split off the most conservative part. I just want Harper gone. I had a polling agency or something call me on behalf of the Cons, and when I found that out, I said, “We’re not interested in any political messaging, particularly from the Conservative party.” She hung up on me.

  38. BrownN

    Book Recommendation: Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran Xinran.
    This is one of the truly amazing books I have ever read and I always suggest it to anyone who loves to read.

  39. nep

    Book recommendation…as Catalonia is in the news with today’s elections — Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia. I’ll certainly be picking that one up again soon. What a book.

  40. Too sad to use my normal name

    It makes me feel so, so shitty that if i whatsapp my friend group suggesting plans, either for us grown ups or the kids, no one ever answers until i send a second message. Like, every single time. Worse as whatsapp tells you when everyone has seen it so i am left looking at those blue ticks thinking so it’s true you guys really don’t like me. I cry, every time. Makes me feel so pathetic so have to say ‘so…. guys???’ I kind of wish they would just say a flat no so i knew where i stood, but when i chase it’s 50-50 yes and no.

    *sadface*

    1. Thinking out loud

      I often don’t reply to an evite immediately because I have to look at my calendar – I wonder if this is the case for them. My guess is that as long as they don’t consistently say no, they probably do want to hang out.

    2. Colette

      Evites feel impersonal to me, to the point where I assume no one cares if I show up or not. Do others in your friend group organize events using evites? Its probably the medium rather than that they’re not interested.

        1. fposte

          And the thing is, even if they do, she doesn’t know how quickly other people respond to that invitation. And my guess is that the answer is “very slowly.”

          I’ve read some stuff about contemporary socializing and how texting especially has changed it; that people don’t block out time following an invitation but juggle possibilities until the last minute. I think if you want people to break from that practice, you need, as people are suggesting, to use a medium that doesn’t lend itself to that.

    3. fposte

      More directly to you, Too Sad, are there other reasons with the group that make you feel this way? Tears seems like a pretty significant response to merely having to repeat something. Do you feel happy and content with these friends otherwise, or are there other things that this sadness might be really responding to?

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      It really could be the medium. You have no idea what they’re doing when you send them that message — they could be about to head into a movie, having dinner with someone, on a date, just laying down for a nap, doing work, or who knows what, and they see the message and plan to respond to it later … and then don’t because other stuff comes up and they don’t think to look back at the app. When you send the second message, it reminds them.

      I’d try a different medium … and/or tell them what you said here.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      I agree with the medium being an issue – facebook messenger does the same thing. But I have a friend who is notoriously bad for getting back in touch/always running late when we make plans. It’s just the way she is and I get alot out of the friendship so I let it slide.

    6. Too sad to use my normal name

      Probably too late now. But anyway.

      Most of you are suggesting that it’s the medium. This is the medium we use to arrange stuff. We don’t do email and we don’t do fb (well we do but never arranging stuff on there). If there’s another method they have of getting in touch they haven’t told me. Carrier pigeon maybe?

      No, they don’t invite me to things. They arrange Friday nights in and post about them on facebook. That’s what I cry about really. I feel so powerless to change anything. It hurts. Not any one particular iteration of them doing it, like I don’t expect to be invited to their nights in, but why don’t they ever suggest/invite me to one? It’s the fact that they do it regularly and never do anything like that with me. My DH thinks it’s because one of them doesn’t like him. We have no evidence of that but maybe it would make sense? Maybe? But… maybe not. I wonder if they don’t like me. Or my small child.

      I don’t really cry every time but sometimes it feels like it.

      I just want some reciprocity. I want them to think oh it would be cool to spend time with Too Sad! They think it for each other, why not me.

      I feel so, so pathetic that I am posting like this.

      1. Merry and Bright

        You aren’t pathetic, just feeling sad. It does hurt to feel left out like this. People can be thoughtless like this, especially if a clique has formed along the line.

        Is there a regular treat you could give yourself at the end of the week? Or some nice regular thing you could do with your son? If you have your own Friday evening to look forward to it will help shut out the other stuff a bit. Take it a bit at a time and keep being kind to yourself – that bit you are in charge of :)

  41. Sunday Night Confessions Here

    I sweep my kitchen floor with a dustpan and brush. It’s so not the most efficient way of getting the dust up, but i find it weirdly satisfying.

    Anyone else got any slightly odd housework behaviour to confess??

    1. nep

      Ha. I use the small brush and dustpan most of the time, both in the house and outside. Same — it’s oddly satisfying. (And I got used to sweeping this way during the time I spent overseas.)
      Other…Not so odd, perhaps, but I keep a designated rag or paper towel in the bathroom vanity drawer to wipe around the sink after use — can’t stand leaving the sink with water all over it.

    2. nep

      (And here’s how accustomed I am to sweeping that way: When I read your post, my initial thought was, ‘Uh…yeah…and? what of it? what other way is there to get the dust up?’)

    3. Dynamic Beige

      I usually sweep the floor with a Sweepa and pick up the stuff in the dustpan, then I’ll take my ShopVac and vacuum to get the bits I missed (I don’t have carpet anywhere, so I don’t need anything more than a floor cleaning head). I do usually put all the sweepings out on the compost heap, so that’s probably weird.

      I think the problem is that:
      normal = what makes sense to you/what you usually do and
      weird = what doesn’t make sense to you/what other people do ;)

    4. BrownN

      I do the same in my very small kitchen.

      Recently, I found a note I had written to my mom eons ago, where apparently she thought I was strange to clean the kitchen floor on my knees with bucket and rag. In my note to my mom, I said “I can’t explain why I like to do it this way, I just like doing this way”. I think for me, I actually feel like I got every inch of the floor cleaned including places that a mop really can’t go.

      1. Jean

        I also prefer to wash the kitchen & bathroom floors this way. It doesn’t seem as clean if I’m hovering four or five feet above the floor while pushing a mop, and I detest having sponge mops which I can never get completely clean.

        I sort my spices into “sweet” and “savory,” then arrange each set on its respective spice rack in alphabetical order. I used to iron my dish towels but exhaustion, finite time, and/or the resurgence of my sanity put a stop to that. It’s possible to simulate the act of ironing by smoothing the fabric before hanging damp items on a drying rack.

        I could continue to list other quirky housekeeping habits, but honestly, my overall approach is quite casual. There’s always something else to do that’s more interesting than doing housework! However, I still spend a lot of time “talking shop” with another friend who shares my interest in and approach to Domestic Engineering (use old-fashioned techniques and chemically simple cleaning agents, and accept that it’s an ongoing alternation of order and disorder).

    5. Sunday Night Confessions Here

      Hehe maybe I should have mentioned my kitchn floor is carpet tiles. I think most people would vacuum :)

      Jean your stuff is fascinating :)

  42. Alma

    Has anyone accepted an invite to Google’s Project Fi? Would you share your thoughts and experiences? I’m seriously considering making the move.

  43. Please (chronically sleepy)

    IDK if anyone remembers my post from last week but I completed the 5 hour drive without any issues! All of your suggestions might well have saved mine or others’ lives. Thank you!

  44. Jean

    Yes, I remember you! It’s wonderful that you made the trip without problems. Thanks for coming back to update us.

    1. Stephanie

      Me! It is so cool. And I was driving due east on the way home, so I saw the super huge moon rise over the mountains.

          1. Not So NewReader

            A deep burgundy red, not fire engine red. My friend said it was redder where he was. I think getting away from a cluster of homes made a difference.

      1. StillHealing

        Yes, very cool. Could even see it in the city. I had the same experience of going outside to see other neighbours looking up and talking about how red it was. . Fun how something like this brings us all out of our homes.

    2. fposte

      Thanks for the reminder–I had forgotten. I dashed out to find much of my neighborhood hanging out and watching together, so it was really nice.

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