weekend free-for-all – October 10-11, 2015

sleepingThis 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: The City & The City, by China Miéville. It’s ostensibly a detective story, but it’s really about two cities that exist in the same space. It’s a little noir and a little fantasy, neither of which is my usual reading, but I really loved it.

{ 879 comments… read them below }

  1. Calico

    Has anyone consolidated their student loans? I am on an extended payment schedule but think I could bring down my monthly payments by consolidating them. That said, I would like to take advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness and I’m not sure if consolidating will jeopardize that. I’ve also heard bad things about some of the big name consolidators. Has anyone had good experiences with this that they could share?

    1. Lizzie

      I am doing Public Service Loan Forgiveness and I was told that you shouldn’t consolidate if you plan to do that, so I didn’t. My loans are all serviced through the same servicer (FedLoan) and they have me paying one payment for all of them, which is relatively low. I’d talk to your servicer directly and let them know that you’re going to be looking at the Public Service Loan Forgiveness option in the near future and see what they can do in terms of lowering your payment if you need them to do so in the meantime. (I may be in the minority here, but I have actually found my servicer to be very easy to work with!)

    2. BRR

      I’m not sure I understand but the basics for public service forgiveness are it’s only for federal loans, you have to in a qualifying repayment plan (call your servicer if you’re not sure), and I’m not sure if you consolidate through your current loan servicer but if you do it through a private bank (I did that with my private loans through citizen’s bank) they will no longer be eligible as the bank pays off the government and you now owe the bank.

    3. attornaut

      If you consolidate through a federal servicer, it shouldn’t change your payments, because you are keeping the terms of the federal student loans and should be on an income-based repayment plan anyway to take advantage of PSLF. If you are not on an IBR/PAYE plan, move to that immediately so that you don’t lose PSLF time. Consolidating with a private company will leave you ineligible for PSLF.

      1. Calico

        *facepalm* I’ve been on an extended plan for a little over a year and didn’t realize it wasn’t eligible. Fortunately I made payments for about three years under IBR but…ugh. Back to the drawing board. My loan servicer told me I wasn’t eligible for IBR after I got married (married filing jointly, and I guess our combined AGI bumped me over the limit, even though the standard payment would be about half of my monthly income). Welp, back to the drawing board…

    4. Anx

      Something to consider about public service loan forgiveness is that you have to be working full-time. Are you fairly confident that you’ll work will be full-time and not part-time? I think once you get a full-time job it’s easier to get another, but I have several friends who are working part-time and volunteering another 30 hours a week in the field, but aren’t eligible. The kicker is they could probably pay off their loans if they weren’t working for free.

      1. Calico

        I’m about five years into working for a qualifying employer, and fingers crossed I can continue down that road. As far as I understand it, PSLF goes into effect after you’ve made 120 qualifying loan payments, but they don’t have to be consecutive? So I could work five years full-time and then work a year part-time, but then I would have to work for another five years (eleven total) to be eligible. I thought I had also read that they define full-time as 30 hours a week (maybe that’s a universal definition, but I guess I had always thought of full-time as 40+).

    5. littlemoose

      Look up the PSLF program and read the criteria very carefully. Not only do they have to be certain types of federal loans to be eligible, only certain types of repayment plans will qualify. I failed to do my homework and about five years of my federal employment won’t count toward PSLF because I was on the standard repayment plan, which is ineligible to count for the 10-year period, even though I have the right type of eligible loan. My negligence has cost me literally thousands and I feel like a big fat doofus. Don’t be me!!

      1. Elizabeth West

        Don’t be me either. I’m in default and am making it up through one of those collection places. I feel as though I only literally exist to give these people money. I will be doing so until I die–I am not making this up, considering the accumulated amount. In two places, actually.

        Why did I ever go to school?

        *sigh*

        1. brightstar

          My loans went into default, I was on a payment plan for nine months to get them out of default. The worst thing was the collection agency added $8,000 to the balance.

          I was unemployed for six months in 2010 and when I finally got a job, it was for over $20K less a year than my previous employer. I went from making $45,000 a year to under $20. I called about my student loans and the lowest they told me they could make my payment was almost $400 a month. I was bringing home about $1200 a month and there was no way I could do that. I was about to start paying again when they defaulted. The collection agency refuses to waive the $8,000 fee they added to my balance.

        2. SanguineAspect

          We’re dealing with this right now with my husband’s loans. Basically, he’d been defaulted for years and the collectors finally caught up with him.. They were asking us to pay $1,000/month for the next year, which was just impossible in our current financial situation. We had to take out a personal loan to handle it., which is going to be 3 years of payments, but better than the alternative. It’s so frustrating.

      2. Calico

        Wait, so I’m looking into this now and realizing that the extended repayment plan (which I’ve been on for about 18 months) doesn’t qualify, but that PAYE, ICR, IBR, and standard as the only qualifying plans. Isn’t that what this says: studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#qualifying-repayment-plan ?

        1. BRR

          That is correct. When I called they said extended doesn’t qualify (for some reason standard does, they at least acknowledged that was dumb).

    6. Gareth Keenan Investigates

      I know I’m late to this but I’m a bit concerned…my financial aid office told me that I was required to consolidate my loans to take advantage of PSLF, actually I’m pretty certain that a loan officer told me the same thing. For some reason one of my loans wasn’t consolidated with the rest (getting everything set up was a ridiculous process) and that loan now has fewer payments toward the 120 than my other loans. No one else was told their loans need to be consolidated?

      1. Elizabeth West

        They had a thing a few years ago where you could consolidate and get a certain rate, but when I went to the website to do it, you had to enter in all your loans. At the time, I didn’t even know who had all mine–they were being swapped around like baseball cards. Now they’re at two places, and the defaulted ones will go back to the Department of Education as soon as I make a certain amount of payments to un-default them.

  2. Totally Distracted

    Hi,
    Does anyone have any tips on how to be less distracted or to eliminate a chronic bad habit?

    This past month I have a lot of difficult, boring, but important tasks to accomplished, but when getting starting with this task I always started to zone out and began streaming in my phone watching videos, browsing, etc.

    I know I shouldn’t look at the phone that often or get so easily distracted, but looking at the internet has become very addicting for me.

    1. IT-SysAdmin

      Staying busy works for me, either by taking more responsibilities or projects at work, and/or scheduling outdoor activities with family/friends. There are also apps that help you be more productive and set time ranges during the day to block specific websites…

    2. nep

      Aside from just not being on line at all — There can be something really powerful in just clicking that red X to shut down a site. Back to ‘reality’ and responsibilities. It’s something I’ve taken to doing when I’ve let myself go so far as opening a website when I should be doing something else. Instead of getting sucked in, just click. Closed. Gone. Move on.

    3. Blue Anne

      I’ve been trying to overcome my really bad and embarrassing habit of compulsive skin picking. I pick at my scalp, which eventually causes bald spots and when the hair grows back it’s frizzy and tufty and damaged… but worse, I pick at my face and have always had tons of zits and scabs for years now. Mortifying.

      I’ve had huge success in the last few weeks by giving myself a points and rewards system. For every half day I don’t pick at my face, I earn £1 – if I can got a full day, I top it up to £3. When I go a whole week (hasn’t happened yet) I’ll give myself an extra tenner and when I go a whole month, £50. I can’t spend money on “girly crap” (clothes, grooming products and cosmetics other than the absolute necessities) unless I earn money for it this way. I’ve got big rewards planned for myself when I hit the milestones of “no open scabs” and “no pimples at all”.

      The huge nasty scabs that were nearly covering my entire chin for months have nearly gone. :)

      Maybe a similar thing would work for you? If you can manage not to look the the internet or stream videos for a certain amount of time, give yourself a reward, and bigger ones the longer you go?

      1. Swoop

        I do the same thing whenever I’m stressed and I haven’t been able to figure out how to stop, but this may be it! thank-you!!

      2. RoseRed

        This was me, except with pulling out my eyebrows! In my case, there was a lot of underlying anxiety and this was just one of several OCD-type habits I had cycled through to compensate for that anxiety, so it didn’t stop until I was emotionally ready to deal with the underlying cause. But I did eventually drop it, and I had my old eyebrows again by my wedding day! :-) AND I haven’t replaced it with a new OCD habit, and it’s been probably at least 3 years.

      3. Kate

        I do the same. Even though I KNOW it will go away so much faster if I don’t touch, it’s like a compulsive thing. And then I end up with a scar that lasts a week. I’m trying to just not look in the mirror as much as possible so I won’t be tempted.

    4. Excel Millennial

      The same thing happens to me when I have to do boring, repetitive, detail-oriented tasks. I find focusing on details draining, so I space out, and if the task is boring then that just makes it worse. (I know there are interesting detail-oriented tasks, but my job doesn’t involve any!)

      It helps me to listen to music while I work. I find for many tasks, music doesn’t distract me but actually keeps me more attentive, by exercising the rest of my brain that is not focused on the task, to prevent that extra brain from drifting off to another thought or task.

      The other thing I do, is automate repetitive, rote tasks. I will attempt to automate everything that I know how to automate. But not everything can be automated. So I find a way to automate as much as possible. I just will not do a repetitive, boring task if I can avoid it.

    5. Owl

      I set up my tasks in a list and break them down as much as possible. Then I use a random number generator to choose them for me. I also include small breaks to drink, walk, and read in the list as well. I got it from a challenge on habitica.com. Really great site if you want to gamify your life.

      1. RoseRed

        I love this. I’m the type of person who just cannot choose her own tasks from a list–they either have to be ordered already so I know which to do first, or I have to randomize them. I get immediately overwhelmed when I see a list and have to figure out what to do first. I randomize my to-do list every day, and probably finish at least 80% of the list every day because of it.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          My old boss used to know about me that I would get overwhelmed when I had a large number of items on my list and a high-pressure event coming up. I always had my list with me, and he’d say, “Let me see your list,” and take it and enumerate the top few most priority tasks for me. Then I could get through the day (or next several days) by honing in on those. I miss that guy!

    6. Curious

      You should read the Willpower Instinct, by a Stanford Professor. The name escapes me-maybe Pamela Mcsomething. But it is fantastic! She recommends simple meditation (may sound hokey, but it’s based in science), going outside even for a few minutes, and more.

    7. TootsNYC

      can you stand up when you do those boring tasks? I want the ability to shift from standing to sitting sometimes, bcs I often focus better when standing.

    8. saro

      The only thing that works for me is the pomodoro app on google chrome. I work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break, if I feel like it. Sometimes I’m on a roll so I just work through it.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I love the pomodoro technique. I’ve been using the pomodoro app from TeamViz.com. I like it because I can create several different lists with tasks categorized accordingly, and I can start the timer on specific tasks, rather than just for a generic twenty-five minutes like the other pomodoro apps I’ve tried.

    9. Tau

      Is leaving your phone somewhere where you can’t access it, or shutting down the data plan, a possibility for when you need to do this task? Or install an app like people have mentioned?

      I’ll admit I have a great deal of trouble with this sort of thing, and the thing that works best for me tends to be either forbidding myself from going online etc. at all or depriving myself of the ability to do so. I’m not good at things like “internet in moderation” and it’s best I don’t try.

    10. Not So NewReader

      Not meant as snark, I promise. I picture myself being fired for slacking and being escorted out of the building. Sometimes when nothing else works I have to go to worst case scenario* to kick my butt back on track. Fortunately, it’s a non-issue with my current job. I like the work and I can get through the repetitive parts by telling myself the next thing is interesting.

      One thing I did learn from those years of kicking myself back on track is to take some pride in being able to finish off large piles of boring (to me, at least) work. You know the old mumbo-jumbo about it builds character? Well, I honestly believe that it made me a stronger person. I was privately proud of that. Especially with some mind-numbing repetitive tasks. I made a game out of trying to figure out how to make the tasks less labor intensive (streamlined) and raise my accuracy (read: stay awake). To my surprise, I did increase my speed and accuracy! ha! When I approached the work like it was a puzzle to be solved I got myself over the hurdle of staying on track.

      * I used the worst case scenario idea with training a dog, also. My last dog was part shepherd and he had the formidable teeth like a shepherd. One day he argued with me over something. I became afraid of him for a second. So I pictured taking The Long Ride to have him put down because I could not control him. I picture the tears running down my face, because this was my fault, I was too afraid of him to train him. This mental imagine, kicked my butt in gear and I went right after him and scolded him. He stopped growling at me. He never challenged me like that again. But I had to go to worst case scenario to motivate myself to deal with his growling. Sometimes we have to talk nicely to ourselves and coax ourselves through a situation and sometimes we just have to drop the hammer and say to ourselves, “If I do not do x then y will happen. Do I want y to happen?” Only you know what is right for you.

    11. Jane

      For distraction, time management, and organization, my two favorites so far are chronodex and workflowy. My chronodex lets me break my time down far enough to give me reasonable targets, and I get a reward (I get to color it in! I do not know why that is so satisfying, but somehow it is.) Workflowy is a new addition, and has been helping me keep my to do lists organized. Plus I can zoom in on a section, or create a sublist with hashtags,which can reduce what I feel like I have to do to a size that is manageable.

      For the chronic bad habit thing: chose one. Break it down even further if you can. Don’t try to change too much at once. Decision fatigue is real. When I was trying to fix my diet last year I started with breakfast. I could eat whatever I wanted the rest of the day as long as I ate a big salad and eggs and meat for breakfast. Three months later the rest of my diet followed naturally.

  3. Computer Guy Eli

    I gotta say, I love reading comments on the posts here. You guys sound different than people in Montana. It must be a city thing.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      How’s life, Eli? I haven’t seen you around here much recently.

      I know what you mean about AAM though, it definitely has a special feel about it.

      1. Computer Guy Eli

        Doin’ pretty good. I forget when I last made message of what’s going on, but nothing extreme’s happened. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of keeping a calendar which is hard as hell.

      1. Computer Guy Eli

        Oh yeah. I ended up actually getting the guts up to do it, and she turned out to be very druidic. We’re talking chakras and spirituality and astral something-or-others. Also she kept stopping me to have me explain what I was saying, like she didn’t understand some of the words I was using. I don’t hold that against her as a person, but I don’t think there was a connection.

        Needless to say, there was no second date.

        1. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

          Thanks for the update! I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who was wondering about it.

          “Chakras” and “astral something-or-others”, huh? :) There’s a Bruce Sterling novel where he refers to patchouli oil as “the smell of madness” and I won’t say he’s right but I also won’t say he’s completely wrong, either.

          If you say there was no connection, I believe ya. But – there’s nothing wrong with dating someone who is into the spiritual side of the world. When I first moved to Austin, I somehow ended up dating a number of ladies who were professional astrologers (in retrospect, they may have just been passing me around; I didn’t care). Some of them had ‘issues’ – there was a woman who specialized in ‘relationship astrology’ who never lasted more than 2 months with a partner – but at least a couple of them were very sincere. It wasn’t just a lifestyle or ‘fun’ for them – they earnestly attempted to learn from it and become better people.

          So is college still gonna be a happening thing?

          1. Computer Guy Eli

            Oh believe you me I’d never write someone off just because of their belief structure. She just had something off about her… I’d hesitate to call her stupid, but she couldn’t ever keep pace in a conversation. She could talk my ear off about philosophy/meditation, and to her credit she seemed like she was -trying- to contribute to whatever I would bring up. I’m inexperienced in dating etiquette, so I don’t know if I could’ve handled it better.

            College! I’m still planning on going to college in 11 months from now, but I’m going to try my hardest to move up in my company before then, long story short, I have a good chance of getting a promotion that would make college unneeded.

            Plus I suck at many things required for college.

            1. Dan

              Dating etiquette… Other than being a complete douche, don’t worry about it. The thing is, you’re looking for a relationship that is right for you, not just “a girlfriend”. If you have to try too hard for the gf, that turns into trying too hard for a marriage, which doesnt end well.

              The right relationships are natural and don’t feel forced.

            2. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

              > Plus I suck at many things required for college.

              There’s a fellow named Michael Montoure who wrote an essay called “Hack Yourself”. I’ll append the URL to this Reply. You should read it (hell, everyone should read it).

              I hope that college is still in your plans. I thought you had some deal worked out with a friend?

              If nothing else, the women you meet at college may be more on your level.

          1. Father Ribs

            After the Big D I did a bit of dating, about 80% was online sites related. I don’t know if OKC still has a research blog but it had some interesting reading on it. I had a female co-worker who was also doing the same and she used to let me see what my fellow men were using to lure her…what a chuckle.

            People should put as much work into their mate search as they do into their job search. I bet a funny skit could be made out of job seekers using the same tactics folks use as date seekers.

        2. Sunflower

          Good job on putting yourself out there and asking! that’s tough and I think the more you do it, the easier it gets

    1. danr

      Best: the weather has caught up to the calendar and the deck repair is done
      Worst: Continuing to clean. Today is accumulated old canned stuff from the basement and miscellaneous supplies from parents when we closed out their apartments and houses. On the good side, we still have the dumpster from redoing the deck.

    2. Rubyrose

      Best: was assigned a new permanent parking space at new job. Now I’ll only have to cross the street, instead of walking three blocks.
      Worst: chair at new job has a broken back, which has aggravated an old back injury. Really hurting. Don’t know when the ergonomic expert will be showing up.

    3. Jen RO

      Worst: More people in my department leaving.

      Best: Nothing special – uh, I found a nice TV series (Sense8) and I binged.

    4. Blue Anne

      Worst: Puppy pulled my knitting needle roll down of its shelf, ripped it open, chewed up some of the needles, and peed on it – twice.

      Best: I dunno man. I’ve got some reese’s in the fridge. That’s all I got.

      1. Mimmy

        When I get done with the peanut butter cups DH got me for my birthday, I just might be raider your fridge…. ;)

      2. KateS

        UGH I feel you on your worst there. Mine would be that I found a mini infestation of what I think was carpet beetles in part of my yarn stash. I got some roving at a festival that I think was the vehicle . I hope I only lost the one project :( :(

      3. The Cosmic Avenger

        I just opened my LAST BAG of Reese’s Easter Eggs!

        Now I just have to make it until the beginning of November, then I can buy discounted Reese’s Pumpkins in bulk! :D

    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      Best: The woman who, in June, replaced me in my old crazy job reached out to me because she is experiencing some of the same things that made me think I was crazy there. We met for dinner on a Friday night and hit it off so well that we spent four hours and four glasses of wine just talking and talking.

      Worst: My podiatrist says I’ll have to continue to stay off my almost-stress-fractured foot for at least another month until my next visit. I have a friend from my previous job that waking together was our way of meeting in touch, and she is having problems with her celiac disease that make dining out together not an option. Boo, hiss! to the whole situation.

      1. C Average

        That’s awesome that you’ve found a friend in your replacement! And it’s always reassuring to learn that it was the environment that was crazy, not you.

        1. Belle diVedremo

          Hey, nice to see you here!
          How is everything since you left that job? Book, quilting, kids, and ?

    6. Nervous Accountant

      Worst- lots of medical stuff (nothing serious thank God, but annoyances and inconveniences)

      Best-hard to say. Things have been generally on the up and up.

    7. Carrie in Scotland

      Best: I keep letting my cat out for about an hour in the evening (to avoid Mean Cat) and she keeps on coming back.

      Worst: I am minus money. I actually can’t afford to work/live in the place I do with my mortgage still to pay.

    8. Excel Millennial

      Best: Re-discovered an old interest, and while it is just as interesting and helpful to me, I can see how far I’ve come (which is even better).

      Worst: Been traveling for work for the last 2 weeks. I don’t normally dine out, so I’ve been consuming an unfamiliar diet. I’ve had the shits for 2 weeks. Glad to be back home.

    9. Sparkly Librarian

      Best: Munchery roast chicken, in all honesty. There wasn’t an ounce of wasted food – bones get put into stock, the skin was all crispy/melty, and the meat was moist and delicious. None of the gristle or random bits that even my cats refuse. I have never made a roast chicken that good. I have never had a roast chicken that good. I wrote them a freakin’ email about it. I may have dreamt about it afterward.

      Worst: I did something to my leg, and it hurts. Internet research indicates something to do with the IT band. Self-massage, application of Tiger Balm and ibuprofen, gentle stretching, and rest appear to be all I can do for now. But ^*&^%$##&!!!

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        Oh, actually, there’s now something else I can do. My wife just walked in the door with replacement sticky pads for our TENS unit.

        1. Not So NewReader

          You can actually buy those locally? I never even tried, I just assumed I had to order them and WAIT for the pads to show up.

          1. Sparkly Librarian

            Walgreens! (I didn’t know you could order them online, actually; I had planned to wait until someone could make it to the specialty store.)

    10. Ruffingit

      Best: Getting things done today. Decided to hang out in Starbucks to get things done since home provides too many distractions.

      Worst: Nothing really, the week wasn’t too bad.

    11. Myrin

      Worst: My dermatologist was very suspicious of one of the moles on my arm (I’m a super light-skinned redhead and have a ton of them, so a dark – almost black – one with a weird wobbly contour is going to do that) – in fact, she suspects they’re cancerous cells and called a colleague to operate me as soon as possible. I’m only 24 and my mum almost had a meltdown.

      Best: I actually had surgery the very next day and it went really, really well. In fact, the wound stopped hurting on the first morning after and upon changing the bandaging today, I saw that it looks really good already. I’ll be able to call for the lab results on Monday and I really hope the cells turn out to not be cancerous after all (even if they are, they’d have been at stage 0, meaning they were only in this very place and nowhere else yet, so I’m 99% in the clear either way).

      1. Mimmy

        Glad to hear all went well and that your chances of coming out clear are very good! You can never be too careful with your skin, imo.

      2. C Average

        Ugh, I had four moles removed for biopsy a couple weeks ago and am still awaiting the results. It’s scary. I’m glad you caught it early and dealt with it decisively.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Hey C! Good to see you back! You will have to let us know how you are doing with the biopsy also. I try to say if it takes a while that might be a good sign.

          Fingers crossed for the both of you!

    12. Trill

      Best: Visited Bran castle (Dracula’s castle) in Romania. Although Bucharest’s parliament was pretty cool too.

      Worst: Overnight train from Budapest into Romania.

      1. Jen RO

        What did you think of Bran? I’ve always found it pretty boring compared to ‘real’ castles… (I’ve never visited the Palace of Parliament, despite living in this city for all my 31 years.)

        1. Trill

          I really liked the architecture of it. The staircases especially. And its nice that they have some history about the history of the castle as well as Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. It was actually one of my favourite castles I’ve seen in Europe even though it isn’t as big as many others. Maybe because of the time period it has been restored to.

          I did the standard tour of parliament and it was interesting to me. Learning about it being built because I didn’t really know much of that before, and just seeing how big the rooms how ornate some of the rooms are.

    13. Mimmy

      Best: Celebrated my birthday this past Wednesday with my husband and parents

      Worst: Bit the head off of the poor deputy director of the agency I volunteer with yesterday. He just emailed me back, and we’re good, so…whew!

    14. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

      Best: an unexpected inflow of $$$. I’m probably going to just hold onto it until I have to bite the bullet and buy a new car. I’ve been seeing some amazing deals on Volkswagens recently for some reason, and I hear those Volkswagen Diesels get great gas mileage. But I notice my wife is subtly pushing “Tesla” at every opportunity.

      Sad: interest rates suck these days.

      Worst: neither my son nor my daughter are going to be able to make it home from college this weekend to visit.

      Anticipation: eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Moog Mother-32’s.

      1. Observer

        You’ve probably been seeing those great deals on VW because of the mess they are in right now. And, the mess they are in right now is that it turns out that they were lieing about the emissions on their diesel engines. They are almost certainly going to have to recall all of their diesel engine cars sold in the USA to fix the problem and there is a good chance that it will have a significant effect on the gas mileage and performance.

        Google Volkswagen scandal for more information.

        1. Mockingjay

          And my 2009 VW Jetta TDI is one of them. This week, the President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., sent me a lovely form letter “to offer a personal and profound apology.”

          Dude, I want cash. The resale value on my car just went to zero. As in, $0.00. Not to mention how pissed I am that – unknowingly – I have been polluting the environment for the last 6 years with copious amounts of nitrous oxide. That part burns me the most.

      2. danr

        I assume you’re joking about the ‘great deals’ and good diesel mileage for VW…. stick with gas and a hybrid engine for super mileage or just gas for good mileage.

        1. fposte

          A friend of mine has a beloved Volkswagen, and she’s so, so furious. Plus it looks like the fixes are either going to wreck the gas mileage or cut the power, which leaves her with the kind of car she wouldn’t have bought in the first place.

          1. C Average

            We have a Golf TDI, and yep, we’re not happy about it, either. We currently love our zippy, fuel-efficient little car, but we know it’s likely to become much less zippy in the future when VW reconfigures the software to comply with emissions standards. In the meantime, we’re not thrilled with the fact that our car (which we thought was nice and green) is kicking out more smog than a ’70s muscle car. And who knows how the resale value will be affeced?

          2. blackcat

            And this is why I really think the right thing for VW to do is buy back cars at the current market value. WAAYYY more $$$ now, but I think it’s the only way to regain consumer trust.

        2. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

          Yeah, I wasn’t entirely serious about the VW thing. I find it fascinating, actually. Not to stray too much into work territory, but I hope someone writes a book about how this happened. Because I’d really like to know. The last I heard, VW was blaming it on a couple of high-ranking software guys, while the government isn’t buying that story and thinks it’s a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the company. Which I have trouble believing. But whatever the reason, there has got to be a pretty fascinating story behind how this all went down. I work for a large company (about 2/3rds the size of the Volkwagen Group) and if it is indeed true that high-level management was involved in this fraud, then there has got to be some exquisitely bizarre pathology in the management hierarchy of this company.

          For the people who bought these cars: sorry. I didn’t mean to poke fun at you. I hope you end up with an equitable resolution.

          1. Nashira

            I would really love to read a book on how it all happened to happen. The whole thing is just so odd, and the idea that a few rogue software engineers could have done it is so unbelievable to me. I mean, yeah you can sneak stuff into code if you’re high enough ranked, but… still, I want to know who knew and why they thought it would work. It’d be a better whodunit than Asimov’s stuff, and his have always been my favorite.

    15. SaraV

      BEST: Cubs made it past the wild-card round!

      WORST: They lost game one in the NLDS to the Cardinals.

      (For those unfamiliar with sports or international readers, I’m talking baseball playoffs)

      1. danr

        And they just won tonight. We’re rooting for the Cubs and the Mets. Being in the NYC area it’s hard to root for any of the American League teams so far.

    16. Masters Degree JD lady

      Best: gave notice, new gig starts in several days. Yay!

      Worst: health. Sore throat, hand/contact dermatitis, blepharitis (eye puffiness feeling like blister), and parents spending the night tomorrow so I have to pretty up the place, I know it won’t be to their liking whatever I do, and Im tired sick and cranky X/ They voluntold me they were coming over, so I got a choice of days. Trying to figure out breakfast/what to bake :S

      1. danr

        Tell them you’re sick and they should take care of you for a couple of days. Keep housekeeping and cooking to a minimum. You want to be better when you start your new job!

      2. fposte

        If they won’t like whatever you do, you might as well save your energy and minimize your effort.

    17. Elkay

      Best: Survived a run mid-week in training for a 10K.

      Worst: I slept badly all week, ended up going to bed at 9pm last night.

    18. Liane

      Worst: Daughter (18 yr old high sch senior) got hospitalized for depression & anxiety as we are in midst of packing for a move. Husband & I are both wrecks. Very Good Friend is providing long-distance moral support, thankfully.

      Best: Star Wars Reads Day. Spent a few hours at a library in my X-wing pilot costume, along with a Jedi costumer. We posed for pictures and I read a story. A few hours away from the chaos, which helped, for now, with Worst.

    19. RoseRed

      Worst: Although this will probably lead to a future Best, I’m taking two elementary education Praxis tests in November, and because it might lead to a new job, I want to rock it on the first try. I’ve been grumpy because I had my schedule *perfectly calibrated* to get everything done that I needed to get done in a day, and now here comes studying for the Praxis, messing everything up like a jerk and making me stressed out 1000% of the time.

      Best: I still managed to achieve between a 65-90% completion rate on my to-do list each day of the week, and now I’m on to a 3-day weekend and *caught up*! (Cue “Hallelujah Chorus)

      1. blackcat

        When I took the Praxis exams, there was a huge group of people just there to retake the general Praxis math test. They told EVERYONE how hard it was, how it was nearly impossible, etc.* It clearly flustered a bunch of first time test-takers (I double-majored in a science field and math, so I was not about to get flustered. I was more worried about the methods test that I had to take).

        If you have any such people in the room, do your best to ignore them! You can do it! Do not listen to the nay-sayers!

    20. Kyrielle

      Best – I got my changes done! And some additional changes! And so on! I was productive. Also, I used painter’s tape to continue an ongoing work joke involving whether the big filing cabinet is a filing cabinet or a Tardis.

      Worst – yet another issue with the oldest at school. :|

        1. Kyrielle

          Well, it’s now blue, and I believe the other appropriate decorations will be appearing at some point in the near future…though it’s locked, so it’s hard to prove the interior.

    21. Elizabeth West

      BEST: Not really anything (boo!), but at least nothing horrible happened. My auntie and her bf are visiting the US so I will need to clean like crazy tomorrow–I’m sure they’ll want to visit when they come over here next week (her brother lives here; they’re with my mum right now).

      Today, I also found this weird shop I knew existed but had never been in–they have tons of military surplus and a bunch of other weird stuff. Seriously, it’s crazy. I bought some foam for a project, some pipe cleaners, some metal solar lights to replace the broken plastic ones I had lining the walk, and some merino wool boot socks. And they sell MREs so when I put together the emergency kit I want to make (I mean to do it before winter, because they’re saying it could be bad), I can get some actual ones. Plus, they gave me a coupon I can use that never expires. :)

      Some of the things I saw in there:
      –Foam of all kinds
      –Camping stuff (yay!)
      –Rope (tiny all the way to something you’d see on a giant ship)
      –Chains, ditto
      –Stationery
      –Truck boxes (any size you could want)
      –Cat and dog toys

      Some of the stuff is overpriced, IMO, but it’s mostly stuff I could find elsewhere, like filing cabinets and the like. It was fun to walk around in there anyway.

      WORST: I did a workout on Wednesday, and when I went to bed, I had a slight twinge at the base of my skull on the left side. Woke up the next day with a sprained neck! Today’s the first day I’ve been able to turn my head! Nice–I try to be healthy and of course I do everything wrong and hurt myself. :P I hope it’s well enough tomorrow so I can skate–I missed practice today.

        1. Elizabeth West

          The store sells army surplus. among other things–it’s what they’re known for. They said they have people buying them and eating them all the time and coming back for more, so they must not be too bad. They’re expensive, but I can buy a couple just to try them and see if I want to find them cheaper somewhere else. I found a website all about MREs that can help.

          I might add the Dinty Moore in there too; thanks for the suggestion!

          1. Belle diVedremo

            Unsolicited opinion: Dinty Moore tastes a LOT better. I’d try each before stocking up. (On the other hand, some MREs come with self-heating function so you can have a hot meal.)

      1. Belle diVedremo

        Ooh, if you’re where I think you are, I’d take you aunt’s visit as an excuse to get some of the amazing marshmallows at the farmers’ market or the store, the name of which I’ve forgotten, that sells a lot of organic and small batch stuff. A little independent place, on a corner, and might have “home” in the name. I had no idea marshmallows could be so amazing! Or come in such delicious flavors. Visited there once, and those marshmallows really stand out in my memory. She doesn’t ship them, or I’d be ordering those for holiday gifts.

        Separately: saw a car magnet this week that made me think of you: “I also travel by Tardis. Bye.”

    22. pony tailed wonder

      Worst – I have been quite I’ll and found out that I have been quite contagious all week long. I had been trying to make it in to work as much as I could because I didn’t think I was contagious any more. My doctor let me know otherwise.

      Best – I got Jojo Moyes latest book, the follow up to Me Before You. It is excellent. I don’t have tv or internet at home so having a great book to read while I am sick has meant the world to me.

    23. ThatGirl

      Best: all of the construction that has been negatively affecting pretty much every route I drive is gone!

      Worst: too many nights of bad sleep.

    24. C Average

      Best: I went on my first post-hip surgery trail run and didn’t have to take a single walk break!

      Worst: I found out our kitchen remodel (which affects our guest room, which is below the kitchen and is currently all torn up and covered in plastic) will not be done in time for my in-laws’ upcoming visit. My husband doesn’t want to send them to a hotel, but I don’t think they’re going to find this place very comfortable or restful. I’ve no idea where we will put them.

    25. Shell

      Best: Got my new glasses and love them (and they accidentally gave me Crizal coatings instead of the regular anti-glare/scratch coatings, so yay? I’ve never had name-brand coatings on my glasses and don’t know if I’d feel a difference). Also, am now comfortable enough with my coworkers that I’m wisecracking with them with gusto.

      Worst: weather has been awful so I haven’t been using my Fitbit as much as I’d like. Work has also been a complete gongshow and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I need more sleep.

      1. Lore

        If you’re sensitive to light and glare the Crizal is pretty magical. I found it made everything seem sharper.

        1. Shell

          My prescription also got updated slightly, so I can’t tell what how much Crizal contributes and how much is the prescription! :D

          I’ve had the Canadian equivalent of online glasses (Canadian equivalent of Zenni Optical, basically) for the last 4-6 years or so, and those glasses have always been serviceable, but I’m curious to see what name brand lenses and name brand frames will do for me this time. (I suspect the difference in quality will be far more apparently in the lenses than the frames.)

    26. Panda Bandit

      Best: Finally tried a few of the different cupcake flavors at the bakery near work. They were fabulous. Moist, rich, perfect cake texture and amount of frosting. I wish I had one now.

      Worst: Sorting out two different problems with my health insurance. They take at least two weeks to process everything and I hate waiting to see how things turn out.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Best: My current project to run down the freezer seems to be working (I like to give it a rest several times a year)

        Worst: There is going to be some work in my building and the landord wants to come in and see what the architects are thinking of, so I will have to do extra tidying. However, I have lots of stuff and I don’t know which parts of the appartment they will want to see. (i.e. clear the living room and dump everything in the bedroom)

    27. F.

      Best: My birthday was Tuesday, quiet and low-key, just how I like it. Weather was gorgeous yesterday, all of the very loud, obnoxious neighbors were gone, and I cleaned up my front flowerbeds in peace and quiet. Very enjoyable.
      Worst: Company owner, who works at another location, has been practicing HR without me by hiring people left and right. And our Safety Manager resigned for health reasons with 3 days notice. My anxiety level has been through the roof because I will end up doing her job, though I am already pushing back. They know who they want to promote to fill the position, but don’t want to do it yet. And I have a migraine today. And tomorrow is Monday. Sigh.

    28. Book Person

      Worst: I’m heading into week 4 of a four week straight business trip, which has included either working weekends or travelling over them. (This was my scheduling decision; not something work imposed on me, but still).

      Best: Just flew into California this morning and am sitting outside in the sunlight to work (and read AAM). I love fall, but this is a lovely break from the temperatures in the low 40s where I was last week.

    29. AcademicAnon

      Best: Got a job after being unemployed for 6 months

      Worst: Not even remotely related to the field I was working in, and it’s more upscale fast food, and I dislike working retail. However I dislike not having a job more at this point.

      1. TakeTheJob or stayunemployed

        Hahaha after I posted my “best and worst” I saw yours and literally LOLed! Darn similar except for the “upscale fast food” part.

        Good luck in your new job!!!

    30. TakeTheJob or stayunemployed

      BEST: Got a job offer!! I cried tears of happiness since it’s been 4.5 months without a paycheck.

      WORST: The job is not in the creative field like I wanted – but salary matches my last one. Overall, it’s not a bad “worst” to have!

    31. asteramella

      Worst: Feeling markedly worse about the role my company takes in my industry and the way our end users are treated due to our (immoral, IMO) policies. Because I have little power to change the business practices that are unethical or downright illegal, I will be job-hunting very soon.

      Best: Taking two weeks off, starting tomorrow, in order to–gasp–get married! And hopefully relax a little bit after too :)

    32. Nashira

      Best: I finished my assembly course and I feel pretty confident that I got a good grade. I also survived four hours of Family Bonding Time with relatives of my husband that my face blind rump couldn’t recognize at first.

      Worst: Trying to do anything with my colon hurting like hell because ulcerative colitis is a [redacted]. I don’t see my GI doc for another ten days, either. :( Tylenol is not doing anything, and I can’t take NSAIDs without making the UC pain even worse. It mostly isn’t bad enough to risk the ER, but I have thought about it at points.

  4. CollegeAdmin

    Anyone ever had professional teeth whitening done, specifically Opalescence Boost? How was your experience, and would you recommend it?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      I asked my dentist about tooth whitening a while back, and they just referred me to Crest white strips. I haven’t tried them yet, but I don’t have any experience with professional tooth-whitening, either.

    2. Come On Eileen

      My dentist created mold of my teeth to use as whitening trays and then sold me Opalescense gel to use at home. I use the 35% for about 30 minutes at a time, and I’ve had great results. The only downside is that it can make your gums sensitive for a few days after using it. Worth the investment for me.

      1. AnotherPerson

        I had trays too. This was ~8 years ago so not sure what name brand, but I liked it more than the whitestrips of the mid-2000s era. I had trouble with gum irritation with both, though.

        I had a root canal on a front tooth a couple years ago and got 4 veneers (wasn’t planning to get 4 but my dentist started on the wrong tooth). The expensive painful way to whiten.

    3. Beezus

      Have a conversation with your dentist about the kind of results you can expect. My teeth naturally have a very slight grayish tone to them – turns out that is the hardest tone to whiten. I was told this in advance and was still disappointed when I got the predicted results, lol. I had some age-related staining and the whitening definitely helped with that, but I only saw minor improvement in the underlying base color of my teeth.

      I did zoom whitening in the office, and later opalescence custom trays and gel at home. I much prefer the at-home treatment, and I still use it now and then to maintain the results I’ve gotten. I use them overnight. I experience some gum sensitivity, but it isn’t bad. It’s worse on my bottom teeth than the top, for some reason – I can do my top trays for 4-5 nights in a row before it gets bothersome, but I have to alternate nights with the bottom trays. I assume I get more gel on my bottom gums due to gravity?

      1. the gold digger

        Yeah – I have yellowish teeth because of some medication I had when I was little. My dentist just shrugged and said, “Nope. Whitening won’t work for you at all. Don’t waste your money.”

        Instead, people just think I am a heavy smoker, which is part of why I plan to start smoking when I am 70 and already have wrinkles on my face. If you are going to do the time, you might as well do the crime.

    4. Pennalynn Lott

      After having my teeth hurt like hell from using Crest White Strips (and only after 2-3 usages), I asked my dentist if a professional whitening wouldn’t make my teeth so sensitive [it literally felt like a couple of layers of enamel had been stripped away]. She said, nope, the professional whitenings “thin” the tooth surface layer, too. So keep that in mind if you have even slightly sensitive teeth.

    5. ID10T Detector

      I had it done a couple of years ago; my teeth were sensitive the first day but I got Vicodin for it. I got molds and gel to take home for maintenance.

      I smoked for a lot of years and I love red wine and coffee so my teeth were yellowing, my results were 4-5 shades whiter, and I can still definitely tell the difference in whiteness even now. My dentist is amazing in every other way, so this was also a good experience for me.

    6. Noah

      I did teeth whitening at Mall of America once. I was amazed at the results. It was the style you get at the dentist’s office, where they make molds of your teeth to hold the peroxide gel and you sit with a light on your mouth for 30 minutes.

    7. CoffeeLover

      I think mine is a bit of a horror story, but I got teeth whitening done and it was the most painful thing I have experienced as someone with a pretty high pain tolerance (keeping in mind I have not had kids). I have very healthy teeth and had never really experienced sensitivity before. I can’t remember what kind of whitening I had done, but it was four rounds of professional whitening all in one sitting at my dentist (each one lasting maybe 5 min). The first two were fine, the third was a bit sensitive, the fourth was terrible. I had awful, stabbing pain in my teeth for days. I could barely sleep the first night. My teeth looked amazing, but I’ll never put myself through that again. If I ever want super white teeth again, I’ll stick to the slower working white strips.

      1. Lily in NYC

        Same here! Those shooting pains, argh. I don’t normally have issues with cold or hot drinks/food so it was a surprise to me. Now I just use the Crest gentle routine strips. They don’t work as well, though. You keep them in for 5 minutes, but I’ve found I can handle 10-15 minutes easily and the results are much better that way.

      2. Marcela

        Probably you had Zoom, which is 4 short rounds of 15 minutes. And yeah, it’s the most painful thing ever, no matter if you have perfect teeth (like my DH) or not (like me).

      3. Nashira

        This would be exactly why I just… put up with having discolored teeth. My teeth are already extraordinarily sensitive for Reasons; I don’t need to give them even more reasons.

    8. That Marketing Chick

      Be careful if you at all have sensitive teeth. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been able to bite into a popsicle, for example, and it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older (I’m sure thanks to all the soda). I have to use Sensitive toothpaste, and even then, if I drink orange juice (sugar and acid) or eat a Snickers bar (sugar and sticky?), my teeth are sensitive.
      Whitening gel…even Crest white strips…sends me through the roof because of how EXTRA sensitive my teeth become…FOR DAYS. It’s so bad that I will never try to whiten my teeth again.

  5. To Exercise Again

    Hi everyone,

    I have not done any exercise workouts for nearly 11 years. I started doing workouts when I was a pre-teen, but I had to stop doing exercise when I entered high school as my studies got harder.

    Right now, I am in my mid-20s and am still going to school, however, I realized that I am getting less and less fit. Whenever I saw an interesting workout at youtube that I wanted to try, I tried it and always ended up finding out that the workout is too hard for me.

    I also have very low flexibility and it makes it hard to do workouts even though they look so simple.

    I wanted to become more fit again. I don’t know how long it is going to take. Right now with my busy schedule, I am not sure if I can fit a workout everyday, even when they are only 3 to 15 mins.

    1. nep

      Great that you’re thinking about this.
      Your body and mind will thank you even for ‘just’ a brisk walk on a regular basis, for example, to start. Keep it simple. Getting back to exercise and getting fit do not have to be complicated. Once you’re in a habit of a brisk walk or a simple workout you like on YouTube, you’ll likely feel up for adding more. Just a few minutes a day will be far better than none.
      In my experience, exercise / yoga don’t take time; they make time. When I exercise regularly I’m in a much better overall state with a clearer mind than when I don’t move my body — and that carries over into everything I do.
      Flexibility and mobility will improve. If you’ve not been exercising, it’s normal that you don’t feel very flexible.
      All the best and keep us posted.

    2. Calico

      Do you have a smartphone? I have an app I like called Sworkit. It has different options for strength, yoga, stretching, and cardio, and you can plug in for different amounts, starting with just five minutes. I can’t think of any I’ve done that have required special equipment, other than having a mat or being able to do the exercise somewhere comfortable, like on a rug or a carpeted area. Maybe that would help you to start easing back into a routine without a big commitment in time or equipment?

    3. Dear liza dear liza

      Do you have a friend who is reliable and also wants to work out? Meeting up with said friend at the gym is the best motivation for me.

    4. Blue_eyes

      Start off slow and simple. Don’t try to do one everyday (it probably won’t happen and then you’ll feel like you failed at your goal) – start with 2-3 times per week and then increase the frequency and duration from there. There are lots of apps you can get with very short workouts that have varying levels of difficulty (I like the Simply app series – Simply Cardio, Simply Yoga, etc. – they have free versions and then a small fee for the full-access versions). Even the lightest and easiest workout routines will probably feel hard at first because you’re not used to it. Do whatever you can from the workout and take breaks if you need it. You’ll start building up stamina and within a few weeks videos that were very challenging will become possible for you. Since you specifically mentioned low flexibility, you may want to try yoga. You can find yoga programs/videos that are focused on promoting flexibility.

      1. INFJ

        This is really good advice. Don’t expect to jump right in, it’s OK to just do 2-3 days a week at first. I’ve found that when I start a new work out, it really kicks my ass the first few times and I’m sore afterwards, but by the 4th time it seems SO MUCH easier. Like Jillian Michaels says, you start where you start and work your way up from there, no shame in that!

      2. nep

        Yes. Slow and steady. One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is ‘too much too soon’ — this can lead to a setback, injury, discouragement. Completely counterproductive. Seemingly small changes will do a world of good.

    5. Mean Something

      A site I really enjoy is Nerd Fitness–it’s great at encouraging you to start from where you are and build slowly. Steve, the founder, has a number of short and easy workouts that can be done almost anywhere. The “Angry Birds” workout (so named because it is structured like a game where you “win” levels and climb up) was a real key for me. It takes 18-22 minutes and has just a few exercises. Another option is the 7-Minute Workout–you can learn about it online and there is an app or a free website that will walk you through the exercises. These short, intense workouts really do help you build fitness!

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        Nerd Fitness FTW! I love it! By following the NF principles, I’ve lost 35 lbs since June 20th of this year. And it hasn’t really been all that hard. I still drink beer. I had pizza last night. But between the NF workouts and averaging 15K steps per day, the pounds are melting off and I’m stronger and more flexible than ever. :-)

    6. LisaLee

      Does your school offer a semester or half-semester long fitness class? Usually those are intended to begin at a really easy level and move up slowly over the course of the class. I took a couple in college and they really helped me gain confidence in exercising. If your school doesn’t, maybe look at local gyms or yoga studios to see if they have a beginner’s set of classes.

      The problem with doing Youtube workouts, I think, is that the instructor can’t tailor them to you. If you attend an in-person class, the instructor will often give several options to make a session easier or harder. That said, I really liked the 30 day yoga challenge by Yoga With Adriene on Youtube, and its intended for the absolute beginner.

      1. RoseRed

        Seconding Yoga With Adriene! What’s great about yoga in general is that if something is too hard for you, you’re totally encouraged to modify it–and if you’re using a good yoga program, it’s very clear that you don’t lose anything by modifying. When I started the 30-day challenge back in December, I was not at all flexible, and to be honest I spent most of the videos using very unladylike language (:-P) and muttering that there was no way I could do this. Now I do yoga 4 times a week and can kind of almost maybe do a headstand?

    7. LSP

      Maybe Couch to 5K might be of interest to you?

      Also, those days that you literally only have 3 mins, try planking. Start with 15 seconds, or how ever long you can muster. Then as you get stronger, plank longer and build by 5 seconds. Next thing you know you’ll be that person who can plank for 3 mins straight. Good luck on your fitness journey!

      1. nep

        Great idea, planking. And one can never outgrow the plank; there are so many variations to keep increasing the challenge as need be.

    8. catsAreCool

      I’ve been really bad about getting exercise lately, but when I was doing it (after a very long time of no exercise), I found these things helped:

      – watching TV or listening to music helps distract me from exercise
      – making easy small goals and not beating myself up when I didn’t achieve them sometimes helped. One goal was 10 minutes of exercise every night.
      – writing down what exercise I did was encouraging
      – trying different things was helpful
      – it tends to take about 7 minutes before any endorphins kick in (well, for me it does).
      – for the first few minutes, my mind tends to say “This is stupid. I want to stop now.” Eventually it gets better.

    9. Mkb

      google “little victories workout” it’s a month long starter program and only takes a few minutes per day

    10. Swoop

      yay you! :)
      – try to build extra walking into your day, as much as is feasible – park a little further away, take stairs, go the long way rather than the short way.
      – you don’t have to be perfect at the workout – if you find one you enjoy just do as much as you can as best as you can! Everything helps and you get better by doing (I found I really enjoyed Dance Dance Revolution, but I was terrible at it (terrible). I liked it enough that I’m now just moderately awful (and fitter), and it’s still fun :) )
      – do you have a friend who’s into something you’d like to try? or a friend who’d like to try something?
      – a big one for me is don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day (or more). Aim to do something, but accept that life happens! Every day you do something is awesome :)

    11. Kate in MD

      Completely agree with the walking comments. That’s what I’m doing now (I’m still trying to complete a full day 1 of couch to 5K to put it into perspective).
      Don’t discount strength training: squats, lunges, modified push ups, curl ups (think sit up, but your lower back doesn’t go off the ground), lifting weights like a jug of water or a bag of things. The chair pose is also good, you can do that while brushing teeth or reading a short article.

    12. KitCroupier

      When you feel you can carve out more time, you should try Zombies, Run! It’s THE main thing that got me running, the storyline is engaging and I don’t listen to it unless I’m moving. I went from not being able to run a mile to signing up for a 15k this November. They’ve got a couch to 5k app if you want to dip your toes in, but I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get into shape. :D

    13. Momiitz

      I started taking barre classes last month. You don’t need lots of flexibility to get a great workout. It is great strength training. In the month I have been taking the classes (3 days a week) l have gotten strong enough to do a static sit-up and I can hold a plank for 20 seconds.

    14. Evie

      I’ve been wantin to start exceed using but it keeps falling by the way side- sometimes because of time and weather, for a while because running was hurting my ankle. Lately I’ve been doing some short Zumba videos I found on YouTube. Even though I’m pretty uncoordinated I’m getting the cardio benefit, and they don’t require any particular flexibility. I’ve also been finding them good at helping get my blood pumping when I’m at the falling asleep point of studying, and there are different length videos from like 3 minutes long to an hour so I can just find a length that suits me.

  6. Ask a Manager Post author

    Agh! MacBooks.

    Apparently, you can’t replace the battery in MacBook Pro Retinas yourself; you have to take it in to be done for you. The Apple store will originally tell you 3-5 days (!) but when you beg, they’ll agree to do it faster. But then they’ll call you and tell you that at some point you spilled something on the computer and it got inside, and even though it’s not affecting the computer’s performance, they won’t replace the battery without cleaning that first because they have to re-warranty the whole computer anytime they work on it, and the unnecessary cleaning will cost $1200, on top of the $199 battery change. You decline to do this, and they tell you that if you take it somewhere else for repair, you won’t run into the same requirement. So you call six other repair places and they discover it will take 3-7 days everywhere else. For a battery replacement.

    Didn’t you used to be able to just replace batteries yourself? It seems like a strange design choice.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        To be fair to Apple, if I hadn’t spilled something at some point, this wouldn’t be quite as much of a pain. But you still have to take it in and leave it overnight (at least, if not more) for the battery change.

        This will not stop me from buying another MacBook when they release new ones in a few months. But I find it aggravating.

    1. Cristina in England

      Agreed! It was such a nonsense to make the battery a non user replaceable part, and that cleaning charge is outrageous! Mine still has the hard drive as non-replaceable (I think that changed in newer models?) but my Dad and I have always changed those ourselves. You can look up DIY battery replacement videos, you will probably just need to buy the battery and some tools. I will put a link in a reply for the type of kit that is available (though check for your own model!)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          iFixIt (just add .com) is a great resource for all kinds of stuff like that. They do sell their own specialized tools, but they’re really more of a DIY advocacy site. Link to follow.

    2. Computer Guy Eli

      Apple tends to do that. With my Iphone 3 you need to send it in to replace a battery as well. Some say they do it on purpose to get you to buy new gear. I’d believe it.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        It seems like a strange design choice.

        Mac QuadraFX with the special SCSI terminator that only worked on the FX. I’m sure there are others, but I can’t remember them all. I think the original iMacs had some weird screws in them that needed a special kind of tool to open them.

        When I rule the world (benevolent dictator, I swear) there won’t be this kind of crap allowed. So much of this stuff should just be universal and easily swapped out/repaired.

    3. Pretend Scientist

      Yeah, it’s such a pain in the ass. I took mine for a lengthy appointment at the “Genius Bar”, but of course they didn’t have the battery. It took over a week to get in, and I never actually went back to get it replaced. It was more of a hassle than just plugging it in more frequently. That said, I never heard of that cleaning crap. I had an older one where the hard drive fried while under warranty, and there wasn’t a crazy cleaning charge. Ridiculous .

      1. Dynamic Beige

        A couple of years ago, the microphone on my iPhone4 died so I couldn’t make calls. It was, of course, just past the term of my cell phone plan, so the carrier wouldn’t do anything. I went to the Apple store and said “I need to buy a new iPhone, the microphone in this one is broken. I went to the carrier and they said I’m past their warranty and told me to come here.” The “Genius” behind the counter who I believe was young enough to be my child told me that I couldn’t just buy a new phone, it had to be assessed by a “Genius” first. OK, I said, where is one so they can confirm this and I can get a new phone? I was not allowed to see one at that moment, I had to make an appointment. I did not understand this, because anyone with the ability to hear would have been able to figure out what the problem was in less than 5 minutes but having no choice, I made an appointment for the next day. I was then admonished like a 5 year old that if I was even 5 minutes late for my appointment, the “Genius” would not be able to help me and I would have to book another one. I was floored. I left with steam coming out my ears.

        I showed up quite annoyed 10 minutes early the next day for my appointment… and the “Genius” was 40 minutes late getting to us. There were 5 of us seated around a table waiting all that time. When said hipster “Genius” showed up, once again young enough that he probably started kindergarten when I was at my first job where I used a MacSE, I told him the problem, I needed to buy a new iPhone because the microphone in mine was broken. He didn’t believe me. So I told him to use it to make a call, which is what I had done and confirm it for himself. He did. And then — surprise and shock — he told me that the microphone was broken. Duh. I asked if it was possible to fix, he told me no that the components were so small, blah blah blah. At this point, after about a month (or perhaps longer, I don’t get signal at my house, so I only use it when I’m out) with a phone that didn’t work, I just wanted a working phone so I bought a new one and it took a half hour to complete that purchase. He was mystified that my phone was in near perfect condition — uh, that’s what hard cases are for, to protect your phone.

        I throw up in my mouth a little whenever someone says they’re going to the “Genius” bar. It’s a reflex, I just can’t help it. Now that they’re more common, next time there’s an issue I’ll try one of those “we fix your iThing, don’t throw it away!” places. Genius bar my sweet Aunt Fanny.

        1. Trillian

          I had a very different experience, with an iPad. Did you know there was a Red Screen of Death? I didn’t, until I got one. Multiple resets, attempted restores from the simple to the factory reset, all ended in a red screen or a frozen Apple on black. So I wandered into the local Apple Store, no appointment, to ask about my options. I had to wait about 10 minutes — debating with myself about whether or not I would buy a new one. The tech tried all his tricks and declared it dead, but cut me a deal on the replacement. I suspect part of that was because it had been kept in a case and was in pristine condition. The only downside was I had been rather dilatory about backup and lost a bunch of data that hadn’t been synchronized through Dropbox.

        2. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

          This sort of behavior and the completely unintuitive layout of the stores are why I bypass the Apple Store and got to the Mac authorized sales and repair place that is locally owned and has been in business for like 25 years. They’ve been great to deal with.

    4. Blue_eyes

      That’s super annoying. Yes, you did used to be able to replace them yourself. They used to just have a little quick-release lever underneath, or just a coin-turn screw. I have a love/hate relationship with Apple right now. I got a new Mac Book Pro earlier this year. Straight out of the box it had wifi connectivity problems (wouldn’t connect automatically after waking from sleep). They insisted it was a hardware problem, and that I would have to send my computer away for a week to have the wifi card replaced. I couldn’t be without my computer for that long, so just kept toggle the wifi on and off every time I woke it up from sleep. A few months later, and the problem spontaneously resolves itself. So it seems unlikely that it was actually a hardware problem. More likely it was an iOS problem that they weren’t admitting to and it got fixed in an update.

    5. BRR

      I love my apple products but dear god certain things about them. I’m mostly pissed about their known issue of weak power cords that fray. I’m not spending $80 on a new charger for my laptop (I bought a product called sugru) when you know it’s an issue and don’t fix it (I’m beyond apple care).

    6. fposte

      Mac laptops have historically been very unfriendly to standard user replacements–it was virtually impossible to swap out hard drives in the old ones, for instance, which is why I’m stuck with dead laptops I can’t get the hard drive out of and therefore am loath to recycle.

    7. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

      Bogus. Someone supplied a URL, but it appears to be for non-Retina MBPs.

      To get started, here are some URLs that should help you get started. Note that some outfits will include the necessary tools along with the battery replacement part:

      https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+17-Inch+Unibody+Battery+Replacement/3403

      http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/macbook-pro-unibody-faq/macbook-pro-13-unibody-how-to-replace-battery.html

      http://www.macsales.com/

      I don’t want to be a shill, but I’ve personally had a good experience with OWC (a memory upgrade kit).

        1. Neruda

          I work for the Education Department in my state in Australia. Most of us lease our computers from the department rather than bring our own as that can become difficult (don’t get me started). You can get a Lenovo or a Mac. Lease fee for a Mac is about 4 times as much. Anyway a student broke my Mac screen. If this had been a Lenovo, the department would have sent someone to my school and fixed it for me. Not with Mac. No, our techs aren’t allowed to fix those and no one is coming to fix it for me! I had to drive over half an hour to the nearest approved dealer so they could take 2 weeks to fix it before I drove back there to pick it up. I love my Mac but the red tape is a joke.

          1. Nashira

            Yeeeeah. I’m looking to get a Windows laptop soonish amd can get a perfectly decent programming one in the $400-500 range.

            1. catsAreCool

              Several years ago I bought a used refurbished laptop (which I’m typing on now) for $600. Then again, it may be getting about to the end of its life, but still…

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Just to be clear — it’s $199 for the battery replacement. The $1200 is a separate charge for the cleaning that they would require before they’d do the battery swap. They don’t charge that to everyone who needs a battery replacement — in my case, it’s because of something that apparently spilled and got inside the computer at some point. But they confirm it’s not causing any performance issues; they’d just insist on doing it because they can’t re-warranty the computer otherwise. (And they re-warranty after any repair they make.)

        Non-Apple repair places don’t have the cleaning requirement, so I can still get it done for $199 and skip the cleaning, as long as I don’t take it to Apple itself. (So sort of like finding an independent mechanic for your car rather than going to the dealer, I guess.)

        I ultimately found a repair place that will do it the same-day, so I’m taking it there — everyone else wanted to keep it for days.

    8. Windchime

      So basically $1400 for a repair. I don’t think I paid much more than that for my MacBook Pro Retina! With this requirement, they’ve pretty much turned the machine into a disposable unit.

      I love my MacBook. How long have you had yours? Mine is 2 years and 3 months old; I wonder how long it will be until I need a battery replacement. So far the battery seems fine.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’ve had mine for a little over three years. I’m actually planning on replacing it soon, but I want to wait until the new line of MacBooks come out, which I suspect will happen in early 2016 (based on reading a bunch of Mac rumors sites to try to figure it out).

        I think battery life is based on how many times you’ve charged it in the past. You can actually find out by going to About this Mac/System Report/Power, and then looking at Cycle Count. Mine is at 1133. This page tells you how many cycle counts you can probably get before it impacts the battery (my battery cycle was 1000, apparently):
        http://www.idownloadblog.com/2015/06/18/how-to-macbook-battery-cycle-count/

        1. Windchime

          Oh, interesting. Thanks for the link. I’m at 512 cycles so apparently you use your machine a lot more than I do. At this rate I should have a couple of years left.

    9. schnapps

      I find that once you switch to one thing apple, you kind of end up switching to all things apple.

      We do not like apple. We had a mac mini at one point because husband-type needed to learn about macs for a contract. When he was done with that contract, he set it up so it ran windows instead.

      The only apple produce I currently use is iTunes so I can grab podcasts. Otherwise, I love my toshiba ultrabook and my Sony Xperia Z tablet and Z2 phone.

  7. Nervous Accountant

    Woke up 2 days ago to severe chest pains, spent whole day in ER. They ran lots of tests (lungs, cardio, EKG etc) and they diagnosed it as a viral infection. I’m only 30, but I’ve had uncontrolled diabetes for many years so this scared the bejesus out of me. I’m glad I went (missed a few days of work unfortunately) but Lord it was scary.

    2 weeks ago, I decided to get my sh*t together and control this damn thing. I had lots of false starts in the beginning. I have a bad habit of not taking my medications on time (if at all) and not being conscious of my diet. I finally decided to have my husband sit in with me at my last Dr appt and (w my permission) he laid it all out in the open. So now I have my family support, communicating more easily now, and I’ve been trying to control it the last few weeks now. and tracking it on a spreadsheet.

    All week I’d been feeling strange: fatigued, backaches, mild headache that wouldn’t go away. The chest pains were a (belated) wake up call. I took this as a warning to reevaluate my life. I’m SO glad that it was just an infection and nothing more serious..

    I know this isn’t the best platform to write about it, but it’s not something I’ve been comfortable speaking about in public (fear of perception, nasty comments about my weights/habit etc). Maybe I’ll start a blog, but I have no idea where to begin..

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I’m glad you’re ok nervous accountant. It sounds very scary and all the best for changing your habits in a positive manner.

    2. danr

      Glad you’re taking steps to control the diabetes. It can be done and many of the little aches and pains will go away. Stick with it, even thought you’ll sometimes feel like you’re going backwards.

    3. Excel Millennial

      Glad you are ok. My father is diabetic, Type 2, was diagnosed about 10 years ago. He has had it under control for most of that time; his doctor says he’s one of his best controlled patients. It has not always been easy for him (my father) but I think you are a strong person for wanting to take charge of your life. All the best to you.

    4. Ruffingit

      Good for you for taking control! No judgment here, we’ve all got things we should be doing better with be that health, jobs, etc.

      My mother has diabetes and we’ve found a lot of help by going through Diabetes America. Ask your doctor about it, it’s awesome!

    5. nep

      Sounds like you’ve made a great beginning. Glad it was nothing more serious. You’ve got what it takes to get your health on track. All the best to you and keep us posted.

    6. RoseRed

      I’m glad you’re okay! It’s really easy to see the small signs and ignore them, either because you’re scared, or because you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to go to the doctor, or because admitting you’re sick feels like admitting defeat and you hate that (can you tell that one’s me?), or because it just doesn’t seem that bad. Tracking things on a spreadsheet, like you’re doing, can really help and even illuminate some habits that didn’t seem like they were contributing, but had more of an effect than you realized.

    7. Not So NewReader

      You have been through some pretty stressful stuff at work, also. That can’t be helping anything. I am glad that you are investing in yourself- it came about in a lousy way, though. I am sorry you had such a scare.

  8. Jane, the world's worst employee

    I posted about a situation with my neighbor a few weeks ago (i.e. has a bad temper, could be violent, narcissistic, etc.). Well, I’m afraid it’s gotten worse.

    In the last few weeks, he has deliberately doing things to annoy our neighbors. For example, he beats on the walls all hours of the night and plays his music so loud that the walls shake. I know he is doing this things deliberately because he told one of the office staff so (“I’m going to do x, y, and z just to make my neighbors made.”). He also got mad last week because he uses the tennis court during a particular time frame nearly every day, and another resident happened to be there when he showed to play one afternoon. He stormed up the office and said, “Don’t these people know that’s MY time that I play tennis?!? Do something about it!” The office staff told him that no one can reserve the court and it’s for everyone’s use. He is just so ridiculous.

    Well, yesterday the office staff served him with a letter. Basically, he has two weeks to improve his behavior or he will be evicted. I wasn’t here when he was served but apparently, he was pretty angry. I’m scared to see what he is going to do these next few weeks – this dude is a few bricks short of a load.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      That’s the worst, but at least the management company seem to be taking some action. Hopefully he’ll be gone soon.

    2. Blue_eyes

      I’m so sorry. I hope he gets better or they get him evicted.

      Our across the hall neighbor was evicted a few years ago and he was pretty angry while he was moving out. He got pissed at his girlfriend because she said that some mutual acquaintance was his friend and just started screaming at her “Spirit of Jezebel, the blood of Jesus is against you!!!” over and over again in the hall. (That’s really what he said. I couldn’t make this sh*t up). I almost called the building front desk or the police because I was scared for her. He played loud music pretty much every day from 8am to 10pm (so you couldn’t really complain, but it was super annoying) so we were more than happy to see him go.

    3. TheLazyB (UK)

      I am concerned that they’ve effectively given him two weeks to get angrier before evicting him.

      Honestly if at all possible I would stay elsewhere until it’s confirmed he’s out.

      1. CoffeeLover

        I think they have to by law. It’s good when you’ve got a crazy landlord, so you have a chance to find a place as the tenant being evicted. It’s bad when you’re living next to the crazy tenant being evicted.

      2. BritCred

        We’ve run into this here at my block in the UK. We have to give 2 months notice (and the management company have to ask the rental agency to do it which then takes longer as the rental agency and owner of the unit don’t want to lose the tenant and have to find a new one). During that time? They either get worse or act like its not happening and then plead for extra time to find a new place otherwise they will be homeless….

        On my second tenant here to be asked to leave in a year and hopefully the last!

      3. Jane, the world's worst employee

        I have a lease until April, plus I just started the process of buying my first house, so I’m hoping to ride this craziness out (unless it gets unbearable, of course). I do have the option of staying with my significant other too. It’s expensive to break my lease, so I’m hoping to time the move with the ending of the lease as best I can.

    4. Sunflower

      Sucks that your neighbor is a terror but good thing your office is taking the steps to get him out. He seems kind of scary so in the meantime I’d avoid him and continue reporting his behavior

    5. Not So NewReader

      This may or may not be doable in your setting, but can you ask the local police to beef up their patrols of your neighborhood? I have done that once or twice in my life when things just seemed totally out of hand.

  9. Come On Eileen

    YOU GUYS. I just have to share — I am in San Francisco attending a conference, and so far I’ve gotten to hear Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Jane Goodall. My life is complete.

    Have you had any nerd out rock star moments with people you admire?

    1. Oryx

      National Book Festival, got to hear Margaret Atwood speak AND she signed two of my books.

      Many many years ago I attended a reading at Radio City that was Stephen King, John Irving, and JK Rowling! They were introduced by various celebrities, Stephen King got Kathy Bates who walked on stage and made a comment about being his biggest fan. I died.

      1. Come On Eileen

        Oh man, I would love love love to see Stephen King some day! I freaking love him. And with a Kathy Bates introduction, no less. Winning.

        1. Oryx

          Pretty sure it’s the most expensive event tickets I’ve ever purchased but well worth the money :)

        1. Oryx

          Right? My sister was kind enough to wait in line for me at the signing while I was at the talk. We got there early enough to be maybe 4th or 5th in line.

    2. Lore

      I am lucky enough to work with a lot of big name writers (including Brene Brown!) at my job. But getting cced on email by Stephen Hawking was probably an all time high. Also getting to meet Marcus Samuelsson at his book party.

    3. Ruffingit

      I love gymnastics and some years ago, Shannon Miller came to speak at the opening of a gym. I got her autograph and got to talk with her for a few minutes. That was awesome!

    4. Perpetua

      Wow, that sounds awesome!

      I love Brene Brown and her work, I’d even say it’s been life-changing for me, and I’ve only read the first book so far. :D

      1. Come On Eileen

        I agree. I just finished her most recent book (Rising Strong) after love love loving her two books before that. All three books feel like she’s talking directly to me, like she’s been quietly observing my life for years and then said “hey Eileen, here’s some stuff I think you need to know.”

    5. nep

      How great. Enjoy.
      Got to meet a great reporter who let me follow him for a day during a university fellowship he was doing. We had a terrific chat over lunch, and I got to attend their lectures/discussions that day. It was fantastic and I’ll be forever indebted to the guy for making that time.

    6. steve g

      I saw Jane Goodall at Barnes and Noble in NYC in 99…her speech was really good…I didn’t realize how famous she was until after the fact!

      My ultimate nerd moment though was when snapple came out. I was obsessed. There was a snapple convention and if you collected bottle caps or coupons or something you got free cases of it, or really cheap or something. I was 13 I think so to me getting a few cases of snapple was like getting cases of the finest wine, I was in heaven. The nerd part was getting a pic of Wendy Kaufman the snapple lady autographed. I have no shame though. When snapple drinks were new and new ones were coming out, they were awesome.

    7. Cruciatus

      I met my first celebrity ever this week! Kunal Nayyar (Raj on Big Bang Theory) spoke at the campus I work for at a free event. You had to buy his book, but I was able to get a signature and a photo with him. It was a good time!

        1. Cruciatus

          Obviously I don’t truly *know* him, but he was very relaxed on stage, seemed to really enjoy the audience questions. He spoke about his life from London to New Delhi to Portland, Oregon (as an international student) and how he got into acting (he was lonely and thought he could make friends). He shared some stories, some about Big Bang, others not. Someone asked him to sing “Soft Kitty” and he did (as long as the audience helped). He was funny, self-deprecating, and definitely liked to move around the stage–he even asked if the podium could be removed (it couldn’t). He seemed like a guy you could just sit and have a good chat with. While signing my book he got sticky notes all over his sleeves (left from when he signed other books–he was given a sticky note with each person’s name so he knows how to spell it, etc.) so I have a photo of him looking slightly deranged–but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    8. C Average

      Nice!

      At my old job, I got to do tech support for Joan Benoit Samuelson. We wound up becoming sort of friends–we’d send each other “good luck” emails before a big race. She is exactly the way you’d expect her to be: tough as nails, utterly authentic, and so very New England.

      I’ve also met Kara Goucher, Adam Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Sammy Wanjiru, Kathrine Switzer, and other famous-runner types.

      As far as writers, I was thrilled to get to meet Atul Gawande at one of his readings. We chatted for a few minutes and he signed a book for me and one for my mom.

    9. Mallory Janis Ian

      The Dalai Lama came to my university a few years ago. Our building was next to the library, and we noticed that a black limo was parked on the library portico with police officers surrounding the building. The library was closed for a private tour for the Dalai Lama and several monks. A few of us (just me and three or four others) waited outside on the sidewalk to see if we could catch a glimpse of him. When he came out, his security detail ushered him straight into the limo. I saw him saying something to them, and then he got out of the car, walked around it to near where we were standing, and smiled, waved, and vowed to all of us before returning to the car. It was very touching.

      1. Claire (Scotland)

        I took a group of my students to see the Dalai Lama when he came here last time. We waited outside the Signet Library where he was meeting with local dignitaries, and he came over to greet us when he left. He held my hand for what seemed like ages. He took time to speak to each kid individually, and he was so kind and warm. It really made an impression on the kids.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger

      We actually got to speak with Dr. Bill Lumsden, chief distiller for Glenmorangie, at WhiskyFest this year. A distiller AND a PhD in microbiology (yeast), he’s definitely a whisky nerd’s idol!

      And I was SO close to getting to spend an hour helping Ruth Bader Ginsburg with something, as in it would have just been her and I and probably another couple of people in a very small room, back when she was first nominated for the SCOTUS. I still regret missing out on that!

      1. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

        I totally believe it about Clinton. I have very little experience with politicians at the national level, but I gather that truly massive charisma is something of a given for an American President. Back in 1995 when there was that kerfluffle about Monica Lewinski – she was 22 years old. When I think about myself, and what I was like when I was 22 years old – if I’d been interning for Clinton and he somehow took a liking to me, there’s a good chance that I would have blown him.

        The only ‘big name’ political figure I’ve ever met (and I ended up spending several hours with him) was Newt Gingrich. To be clear: this was a gig that my work assigned to me. I didn’t talk politics with him, and I can’t say I exactly ‘bonded’ with the guy, but he was very smart, and he didn’t come across as evil. And (at the time, at least) he was something of a technophile. And he was never anything but a gentleman to me, even when there was a lot about my appearance and attitude that he probably didn’t care for.

        I’m not someone who collects autographs or craves fame or the reflected glow of fame from other famous people, but it’s like, if you go walk around outside for long enough, eventually you’ll meet a few ‘famous’ people.

        I saw Fred Armisen at JFK airport several weeks ago. He was by himself, walking in the opposite direction, I saw him and thought “is that him?” As he passed I said “Fred?” and he turned to me and I smiled and said “I love your work” and he smiled and we both kept walking. Which I figured was about right for a Random Celebrity Encounter. I had a similar encounter with Richard Kiel at a different airport, many many years ago.

        I’ve met a fair number of writers, which isn’t hard if you attend the occasional CON or booksigning. I’ve mentioned meeting Roger Zelazny before (he was awesome). I’ve also met Bruce Sterling (not real personable) and Rudy Rucker (nice enough a fellow) and Somtow Sucharitkul (an enormously talented man that most Americans have no knowledge of). I chatted with Dan Simmons briefly (he was GoH at a local CON circa 1990) and he was a very warm, sincere, and friendly guy. It may have helped that I had read a number of his other works besides the Hyperion books, which were very hot at the time.

        I spent at least an hour talking to Vernor Vinge at SIGGRAPH in 2007, and it was a very good time. He gave me his email address but I never got up the nerve to write to him,

        Back in like 1986 my ex-wife and I were living in the DC area and there was some kind of ‘event’ at the Kennedy Center where William Gibson, John Shirley, and Samuel R. Delany were going to spend a couple of hours talking about – I dunno, anything at all. We went, there were maybe 200 people in attendance. The next day all three authors were supposed to be signing books at some little bookstore in downtown DC. My ex- and I stopped in and the place was absolutely dead; it was Gibson, Delany, my ex-, myself, and I guess there must have been a clerk at the counter. Gibson was in a sour mood – Neuromancer had come out 2 years before, and here he is on some kind of book tour thing and sometimes he was mobbed and other times he sat there lonely for 2 hours chain-smoking cigarettes, and he pretty obviously preferred being mobbed. But Sam Delaney was just this amazing presence: a big happy guy with an infectious grin and a merry twinkle in his eye – think “black Santa Claus” – who nonetheless projected an almost sexual aura of Serious Soul. If I’d been more famliar with his more recent work (which had moved in a decidedly sexual, even perverse direction) and a bit less naive, this anecdote might have a memorable and kinky XXX-rated conclusion to it. My ex- was still going on about Delaney a couple of days later, so I asked her if she would have had sex with him, and she was like “Oh god yes!”

        I’ve met some musicians who were ‘famous’ to me but not exactly household names to the world at large, like Robert Fripp. My ex-wife and I were out at like 2am and stopped to grab a bite at a Denny’s, and we ran into three guys who were in a band and they’d just finished playing a show, and when I asked what the name of their band was, they said “Hüsker Dü”. And of course recently I met Alessandro Cortini and Richard Devine.

        And then there’s the ‘academically famous’, people who have done some pretty amazing things but who won’t ever be household names (except for the one who is):

        Kenneth Appel and Wolfgang Haken – proved the four-color map theorem.
        Donald Bitzer – co-inventor of the plasma display.
        John Bardeen – two-time Nobel prize winner, for the transistor and superconductivity theory.
        Grady Booch – famous computer scientist.
        R. Buckminster Fuller – author and genius.

        As nice as it was to have met all of these people, I almost always felt awkward. It was nice to meet them and get a brief impression of what they are like face-to-face, but I generally felt bad because I was taking time away from them doing the kind of famous-making stuff that turned me into their fan in the first place.

        1. Stephanie

          have very little experience with politicians at the national level, but I gather that truly massive charisma is something of a given for an American President.

          I met Rick Perry back in high school. He is very tan in person and does have fantastic hair. And yes, he was very charismatic (even though I was on the opposite end of the political spectrum).

    1. BRR

      From what I know of them from other owners: super awesome dogs (friendly, don’t need tons of exercise), like to lean against things, cost a fortune to feed, comparatively short life span, harder to put things out of reach, and the entire not realizing their size thing as they grow up is a pain.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        On not realizing their size: my co-worker brought her three great Dane puppies to the office once, and closed them up in the office with me whole she went to the restroom. In her absence, the pups began to rough-house with one another, standing on their hind legs and wrestling with their paws draped around the others’ necks. It was really cute, but they were sooo big!

    2. CA Admin

      They’re a guardian breed, so proper socialization and training are a must. They’re huge and strong, which compounds any behavioral issues an individual might have. Making sure they get lots of exercise and training will help mitigate that.

      Also, health problems like hip dysplasia are super common, so be prepared with $$$ for vet bills and make sure the breeder you go to gets all the genetic testing done.

      They eat A LOT, so be prepared to spend a lot of money on quality food. No Iams or Beneful, look for foods like Honest Kitchen, Orijen, and Sojos.

      All that said, they’re great dogs, so if you have the time and money to put into them (ie lots of both), I highly recommend the breed. If you’re looking for a lower maintenance dog, though, I’d try a greyhound instead.

        1. catsAreCool

          I’ve heard rescue greyhounds, who were once in races, can be kind of mellow, but I don’t know for sure.

          1. The Other CrazyCatLady

            Our Maggie was a lazy bum. She’d race around the house (literally around it, outside, chasing and being chased by the smaller dog – she would lap him and then they’d burn turn around and race the other way, they actually wore a track in the grass from this over the years), but otherwise she just curled up on the sofa or zonked out on the floor.

        2. CA Admin

          To be fair, I’ve only ever known rescued racers and they were all super mellow. I can believe that they’re not all like that though.

          I grew up with Belgians (tervs and malinois), so I also have a skewed perspective on what constitutes a high or low maintenance dog.

          1. fposte

            Oh, I love Belgians. I’ve regretfully realized they’re not a good choice for me, but they’re so cool. There’s a Terv a couple of blocks from me that I’d love to know better.

            1. CA Admin

              They’re the best dogs!! I love them so much. So funny and smart and fluffy! My dream in life is to have a whole pack of them.

              1. fposte

                I was looking at Groenendaels for a while and I took a train out to visit a kennel. The owner met me at the train with a brace of four and it was a major fluff attack.

          2. Mephyle

            My late dog was a rescue, breed unknown, but she looked almost exactly like a terv, so I consider her an honourary member of the breed. She was Best Dog Ever – super affectionate but not grovelling, and unbelievably intelligent.

        3. the gold digger

          I have friends who have three rescue Greyhounds. They live in San Francisco and it’s a pain in the neck to lug the food up the stairs to their house! I think they order it from amazon so at least they do not have to either drive to the suburbs to buy it or carry it walking in the city. The dogs eat A LOT.

          I have never seen those dogs do anything but lie on the sofa. :)

        4. Charlotte Collins

          My cousin’s family had a rescue greyhound, and he was very sweet and very calm. He pretty much slept all the time (“He’s retired!” they would explain). But he did have some medical problems (they’re not bred for long life but for speed). On the other hand, they’re a good dog with kids, since if they get too stressed out from kids being hyper, they’ll just leave the room (they should always have an exit from any situation).

          They have to be taught to climb stairs, though, because they never learn at the tracks. Also, you can’t have a cat and a retired greyhound in the same house.

    3. TheLazyB (UK)

      No personal experience but my DH had them as a kid. He absolutely loves them, still misses them 30+ years on and if we ever got a dog that’s what it would be. But we live in a small flat, so that ain’t happening.

    4. Gene

      I’ve owned a couple. I’m partial to blues and brindles. As others have said, they do eat a lot. The ones I’ve had all thought they were lap dogs. None lived past 12 years, and that’s old for a Dane.

    5. Windchime

      I’m not a dog person, but I think they seem like very friendly and social dogs. I was once at Home Depot and was squatting down, looking at something on the bottom shelf when I became aware of a presence breathing in my ear. I turned to look and it was a Great Dane, just kind of looking over my shoulder in a friendly way.

      My sister in law also had a Great Dane and , minutes before the guests were to arrive, it took a huge bite out of the homemade birthday cake she had lovingly prepared for her small son. She had to run to the store to buy a replacement cake. It was a great pet, it was just so huge that she had to learn to think of things like the dog being able to easily reach items on the counter.

    6. The Other CrazyCatLady

      I don’t know if you’re thinking of going to a breeder or a rescue, but I would encourage adopting from a breed rescue, particularly since it’s your first time with one. They have every reason to make sure it’s a good fit for you AND the dog, any adoption fee shouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as purchasing a puppy from a breeder, and they will know the ins and outs of the breed. On top of all that, an adult dog is usually much easier than a puppy – the temperament is established, the rescue/fosterer should be aware of most personality quirks. There are fewer surprises, and likely much less basic training to be done.

      1. Vanilla

        I would consider a breed rescue but I’ve had some bad experiences with them in the past. In my area, the breed rescues have a lot of criteria you have to meet (i.e. must have a fenced in yard, must own your own home, etc.). I’m living in an apartment right now but am buying a house early next year. I won’t be getting any dog until I’m moved into my new house. I’ve even had several rescues tell me that because I work full-time, they won’t consider me a good candidate. Honestly, the way I’ve been treated in the past has really turned me off of them, which is very sad.

        1. Revanche

          Oh that’s terrible :(

          I can understand wanting the very best homes for the dogs, I’ve worked in rescue and you just want them all to have the best lives after, but the number one goal should be getting them into loving homes, period. Preventing people from adopting because they have full time jobs is absurd! How else are we going to feed and house them?

          I wish everyone were as great as the breed rescue we worked with. They had a list of stringent seeming requirements but they were very open to everyone inquiring if you were both serious and demonstrated that you had thought about the reasons for the requirements. For example we didn’t have a yard at all but when we talked to them, we just explained we planned to walk 3 times a day and had a nearby park and they said it was perfect. The important thing was to have a plan for the dog’s needs.

          I worked with a Great Dane rescue ages ago and they were incredibly gentle giants for the most part, but definitely require a different mindset from your standard large dog. The largest dogs I’ve had were 100bs. These pups were 100 as younguns. Where I’d normally look out for a dog jumping on a counter of a certain height, I realized that our 7 month old Dane foster was resting his chin on that same counter without any effort at all. And he was protective quite quickly, leaping up with a scold-bark when someone startled me and I jumped. If we could deal with the shorter lifespan, I’d love to have them.

        2. The Other CrazyCatLady

          Someone with a full-time job being denied on the basis of simply *having* a full-time job is absurd, although if that job requires 12 hour days or constant travel… I can understand the hesitation there. As Revanche notes, if you have a plan of attack – “My workday can go into sudden overtime at the drop of the hat, but my partner’s job is very consistent, so between the two of us, we can keep Spot on a reliable schedule.” – they’re more inclined to listen.

          I’m sorry your experiences were so awful. =/ I feel like those rescues must either be for rare breeds or are much stricter on which animals they’ll take in, so they have the leeway to be extremely selective about who can adopt from them. You could try seeing if any of your local shelters have a breed matching system in place – the shelter I used to work for did this. Basically, you keep an app on file and let them know what you’re looking for, and if a match turns up and is an adoption candidate, they give you a call.

    7. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

      My sister has a one year old Great Dane. She previously had a senior rescue Dane (that’s what they said she was, but maybe a badly backyard bred Dane) who was the Greatest Dog Ever, and a Labrador-Dane mix she got from the rescue when he was 6 months old. He was dumb, loving and destructive in his younger years. He was great with her kids and developed osteosarcoma at age 7. After age 4, he was a mellow fellow who loved snuggles and laying around.

      The new dog is a good dog, but she is my sister’s third baby essentially. They got her from a reputable breeder here in AZ, and she is the youngest dog my sister has owned and there has been a steep learning curve for them all. My sister lucked into finding a dog guru after a diasterous first couple of months, and Gracie has gotten better behaved. My sister does a minimum of 2 miles up a mountain with her every morning to wear her out and make the day go better. They went with the puppy because my BIL wanted a dog who’d likely be around for a while to get the kids to adolescence.

  10. Cath in Canada

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the other Canadian readers! This weekend I am thankful that my husband is flying home from Dubai today, a week earlier than planned. He’s been working 14 hour days, 7 days a week, so he’ll be exhausted. I’ve filled the fridge with his favourite beers and am thoroughly cleaning the whole house (in between rugby games) to welcome him home. He says he wants pizza with bacon on it, beer, and hockey. Canucks-Flames tonight so he will be very happy, assuming he stays awake.

    Is anyone else voting in the early polls this weekend? I’m planning to go tomorrow or Monday. I’m volunteering with a candidate all day on election day, so I need to vote early!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Aww, I’m glad that you weren’t without your husband for as long as you thought…I think I remember that you weren’t looking forward to such a long separation.

      Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

      1. Cath in Canada

        Thanks! I really wasn’t looking forward to him being gone, but it ended up being easier than I thought.

        Last time he was away with work it was for much longer, came after a very stressful few months (uncertainty about layoffs in my last job, starting a new job, parents visiting for 6 weeks while that was all happening), and coincided with the breakup of our previous main group of friends. The latter was already very stressful. It was caused by a sudden big falling out between two of the central members of the group, because apparently we’re still in high school. People were still figuring out how things were going to shake out, forming sub-groups and all that – so while my husband was away, I was sitting at home alone and seeing photos on Facebook of some of the other members of that group out doing stuff together that I wasn’t invited to. That was really tough.

        This time though things have stabilised with that group (the guy who caused the falling out has since fallen out with several other of his old friends and essentially been cut off by everyone after they realised whose fault the whole thing was), and I also have new friends and have reconnected with old ones. I’ve been busy every weekend watching rugby world cup games with friends, and volunteering for a local candidate’s election campaign. So I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how relatively easy it’s been – but I’m still very excited about my husband coming home!

    2. Colette

      Yay! I’m glad he will be home sooner than expected, and happy thanksgiving to you as well. I had some friends over for lunch and now the social part of my weekend is over. I’m looking forward to three days of getting stuff done (and the turkey I’m cooking because I like turkey).

    3. Aam Admi

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too Cath in Canada and all other fellow Canadians. I am having dinner with some ethnic friends – no Turkey there, most of us are vegetarians! My kid usually visits for Thanksgiving but he is stuck in the US waiting for visa renewal – so we will celebrate the US thanksgiving this year.
      I voted on the day advanced polls opened here (Friday). The poll staff said the Federal elections this year have too much red tape. They have been given a nice printed list of electors. When someone comes in to vote, instead of checking off that person’s name on the printed list, the poll clerk has verify our id and then copy the name/address etc from the printed list on to a form (the triplicate carbon copy type form) and have us sign on it. For what purpose they do not know!Am looking forward to staying up late on Oct 19 to watch the election results coming in. Good luck for your candidate.
      I also got my flu shot the first day staff immunization clinics opened at our hospital. Our employer has not yet made flu vaccinations mandatory for front line staff but is hoping 80% compliance.

      1. Cath in Canada

        Yes, it was sloooooow when we voted yesterday. There weren’t that many people ahead of us, but they only have one actual booth open in each advance poll, and all that copying of addresses etc. takes a lot of time per person. On top of that, my husband had to sign a separate form vouching for me because my photo ID doesn’t have my address on it (citizenship card – I don’t have a driver’s license). In previous years the voter registration card itself has served as proof of address, but this time they wanted something extra, and I didn’t have anything on me. At least I did get to vote, and it only took half an hour which isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things – but it was a long time per voter. I heard of two hour line-ups in the Vancouver Centre riding. I hope this means that turnout is up on last time – 60% isn’t good enough!

        That’s what you get when your government (which has been convicted of some form of fraud in every single election they’ve won) cuts Election Canada’s funding I suppose…

        Hopefully it will all be worth it on the 19th. I’d prefer Mulcair over anyone but if it’s Trudeau, I’ll be perfectly happy with that. ABH!

    4. Book Person

      Happy Thanksgiving! I’m working the day because I’m still in the States on business, but that means I’ll take next Monday off after my red-eye home. No early voting for me, but I’m going to go from the airport to the polls (and thence to bed!)

      I’ve been hearing some not good things about the voting process so far back home–mostly election officials at the polls having no idea what the new ID laws require, and trying to turn people away who don’t have photo ID with a home address printed on it. Hope the process was smooth for you, and that lots of people get out to vote this weekend / on Election Day!!

  11. Mimmy

    Awwww sleeping cats!! <3

    So I'm about halfway through my favorite class of my certificate program, and it's about that time in the semester where longer writing assignments begin to rear their threatening heads! lol. I expect the first assignment any day now. (everything has been reading and discussion board posts thus far).

    Yes, I've had two classes already, plus all the assignments when in my other graduate program years ago. So you may think this is all a piece of cake, right? Not so much! I feel like my methods of synthesizing my readings are not efficient. For starters – I have a terrible habit of reading everything from start to finish, and taking notes along the way. I know I can cut that down by just reading intros, abstracts, and charts/tables. But….I like the meat and potatoes too! In the end, I tend to wind up with an unruly set of notes.

    Any good tips?? What works for you guys when you research a topic and have to write a paper, be it for school or work? I just find when this happens, I'm scrambling at the last minute to pull together a coherent post or paper. I always get a high grade, but I feel like I could reduce my stress significantly by using more efficient methods.

    By the way, I'm a bit of a dinosaur, so all the new technologies for writing and organizing are a bit foreign to me. LOL!

    1. Excel Millennial

      I did the same throughout college — scrambling at the last minute to pull something together. Once, I wrote a 2200 word paper by starting at 9 AM and writing for 23 hours straight. I submitted it on time; the due date was the next day at 9 AM. After spending 23 straight hours at a campus library, I printed the monstrosity out and ran to my professor’s office to hand it in.

      If I had to do it over again, I’d probably end up doing the same thing, lol! But here’s what I wish I would have done. I wish I would have started gathering ideas in an outline format a few weeks ahead of time, gradually mulling it over and adding new things. Then I’d write the first draft at least a few days before the deadline.

      1. Hellanon

        This is why I do process steps with my students’ projects – we start early on constructing the bigger papers, and even the short ones get the outline-draft-final version treatment. I explain to them that they get much more feedback & that because the papers aren’t written 4 days before they’re due, I get to give them better grades – win/win. Plus, because I get to see the overall progression, it cuts way down on plagiarism, inadvertent or otherwise.

    2. TL -

      I pull quotes as I read, instead of notes. I’m fairly good at synthesizing information, so I generally just need details and not summaries. Then, when I’m writing, I can write a paper in its entirety, mark places where I need quotes or small details, and fill them in when I’m done. Also, if I’m pulling quotes, it’s easier for me to storyboard them – I’m less likely to pull an unimportant detail because I’ll be thinking of how it fits on with other quotes I pulled.

      If it’s a complex paper, I’ll make notes/drawings in the margins to make sure I understand or mark things I don’t understand or agree with, but those aren’t for future reference, more for organizing thoughts as I read.

    3. catsAreCool

      Before a test, I would go through my notes and the book and would write up my own test that included everything I thought might reasonably be on the test. I’d have some pages with test questions and several pages with the answers.

      Then I’d take my test. That made it pretty obvious which questions I had a hard time with and which I knew well. I’d put a check mark next to the ones that I knew well and would focus on the ones that I didn’t know well.

    4. Swoop

      What worked best for me was starting the research as early as possible and doing a quick read, photocopying the relevant pages (noting citation info), and then a careful re-read and marking of the pieces I thought were most useful. Everything could stay in context then (in case I ended up needing other bits) and I could mark it up however I needed to.

      I always wanted to work with an outline, but they don’t work for me until the paper is starting to gel in my head :/

    5. C Average

      I have been volunteering at my stepdaughter’s school, and they teach a technique called Cornell notes that (I think) make notes much more functional. You add a column to the left-hand side of the page and leave it mostly blank, and then you use that column to call out the most important points in the main body of your notes. I’ve begun using it myself and really like it. You might Google it and give it a try.

    6. LibbyG

      Well, you ought to read some papers start to finish, right? Are you reading a bunch of papers that you never cite? Is that the problem? If so, maybe you just need to make yourself start writing sooner. Like choose the two most interesting papers, read them, write a couple paragraphs and then see what you need to know to continue your analysis. Then read one more paper, write more, and so on.

    7. Mimmy

      Thanks for the suggestions so far guys!

      C Average – That Cornell thing sounds pretty cool, I may take a look.

      To expand a bit – I have to read 3 articles and respond to the posted discussion question (online class). For each article, I tend to highlight stuff (almost too much!), then type out, in outline format, what I highlighted. THEN I create my post, pulling out relevant parts of what I’ve typed out. Oyyy, definitely not an efficient use of my time, lol.

      1. Lindsay

        I’m running late to this, but if you’re reading scholarly articles, the order you read it in matters. I don’t read straight through – it’s abstract, then discussion, then the conclusion. Once you’ve grasped that, you can dive into the background details in the introduction, and finally the read the methods.

  12. SL #2

    I’m probably going to get a new Mac soon (I have a 5 and a half year old Macbook Pro that’s on its last legs), but I’m debating between getting another Pro or getting an Air. Is there anything I should know about either one of them other than physical size and usage considerations? I’m not into games but I used to do Photoshop work before my current Mac started slowing down heavily.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I have both. The only differences I ever really notice are that the Air is delightfully light, but it doesn’t come in a 15-inch and it doesn’t have as much storage. If you don’t care about the storage differences though and you’re fine with a 13-inch, I’d go for the Air just to enjoy it weighing basically nothing.

      1. Cath in Canada

        I have both too. The Air has had much better battery life from the beginning – although my Pro is several generations old now so it might be more about advances in battery technology than differences between the two models.

        If you travel a lot, the weight makes a big difference.

        1. SL #2

          I do travel a lot for work. It’s half the reason why I was leaning towards getting an Air. But I wouldn’t mind looking at an MBP again if the tech advances have come along far enough that it’s lighter than my current one!

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          Oh! I forgot about battery life. The Air battery life is really long, and it also charges insanely fast. I just plugged it in to watch how fast it is, and just in the last four minutes, its charge has already gone from 54% to 60%.

          I also realized that I should note that I don’t use any super demanding programs (I really just use Word, Mail, Messages, iCal, and various internet browsers). So listen to your friends who use Photoshop over me.

          1. SL #2

            I actually just googled something like “running PS on an macbook air” and there are so many articles from computer magazines and also design professionals, so I guess I have some reading to do! If the differences are negligible, then I’m not going to worry too much about it.

            I should also note that I don’t plan on getting the MBP with Retina Display, so the considerations are between an Air and an old-school-style MBP.

            1. Calla

              I have a macbook air (11 inch, 2014 model) and use photoshop on it all the time with no problem. obviously the screen is smaller and sometimes I switch to my desktop mac to see things better, but I’ve never had an issue with running photoshop. Games, yes — they start up fine but something slow down or just really heat up the laptop if I play for hours — but you mention that’s not an issue!

      2. SL #2

        That’s really helpful! The majority of my friends have MBPs of various age and say that trying to do Photoshop work (I used to make GIFs as a hobby on Tumblr and would like to get back into it) is difficult on an Air. That said, I travel a lot for work and I like bringing my laptop with me. So a computer that weighs nothing is very tempting…

        My MBP is a 13-inch and I would get the 13-inch Air with extra storage if it came down to that, so that’s not too big a concern. :)

        1. Excel Millennial

          Another thought, re: extra storage, is to use an external hard drive to store large files such as pictures and videos. I’m not a Mac person, but after I installed an SSD in my Win7 laptop about 2.5 years ago, I made one of my external HDDs a dedicated storage drive. The other, larger external HDD is for backups. Sometimes I wish I’d gotten the 512 GB SSD but I was a student then and couldn’t have afforded it!!

          I’m traveling for work too and I do not enjoy carrying both my 3.5 lb work laptop and my 5.5 lb personal laptop with me. (These are long enough trips that I need to take both.) So I totally sympathize with your desire for a lightweight laptop :)

          1. SL #2

            I have an external that I’ve been using primarily for back-ups and Time Machine (I’m pretty sure it’s at least 500 gb) but my laptop is just so old at this point that I think what might help the most is deleting a lot of apps and files I don’t use anymore. I think the standard storage on my current MBP is 256 GB, but one of the new MBPs have a minimum of 500 GB.

            1. Excel Millennial

              Yeah, hard drive storage comes cheap now, so I don’t think they sell (new) computers with anything under 500 GB of storage unless it’s an SSD. To your point, more internal storage would help, because it can definitely get too full. That’s great you are taking backups too, I’m a big believer in backups however you take them!!

        2. Realistic

          If your main reason for using Photoshop is to make GIFs or JPGs for Tumblr, then save your money and memory. There are a ton of “lighter” programs that are easy to use for that purpose. GIMP, for example, is free, easy to use and not the memory hog that Photoshop is. And there are even “lighter” programs than that, too.

    2. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

      Just me, but – you basically want a computer for Photoshop? I’d go with a Windows system. I know Photoshop started out as a Mac application, but I’ve been using Photoshop since v4.0 (Big Electric Cat) and over the years it sure seemed to me that Adobe was focusing hard on the Windows version. *shrug* you may not agree with me, but I think the Photoshop UI for Windows is superior. I’ve been very tempted by one of those MS Surface systems that has a pressure-sensitive stylus.

      That said, if nothing but a Mac will do: I don’t know why you don’t want to go with a Retina display. I know you want the machine to be light-weight, but when it comes to image editing and Photoshop, one typically wants:

      – a large screen.
      – lots of pixels (ie, Retina).
      – lots of memory (SSD if possible).
      – a multi-core processor (since many Photoshop operations will take advantage of multiple cores).

      I’m really not familiar with Apple’s current roster of Macs, but if it was me, I’d go for something with a 15″ Retina display, maxed out SSD and RAM, and an Intel i7 quad-core processor. And a large, high resolution screen at home to dock with. I think that anything smaller than 15″ and you’ll be squinting at the screen a lot.

      1. SL #2

        I need to be able to travel a lot with this laptop, which is why I haven’t been looking at anything larger than a 13″. I’m also not a professional editor or designer, so it’s not like I’m loading RAW files into the laptop. It’s more of a weekend hobby than anything. Part of me wants the internal optical drive, which is why I’m looking at the older model of the MBP without Retina, since that’s the only one that still has the feature.

        I use a Surface Pro at work and I’ve found that the trackpad on the keyboard is too small to be functional, plugging in a wireless mouse makes the cursor go a little wonky and difficult to control no matter how much I slow it down, and it’s probably about the same size as an Air and a little slower to load apps and start up, actually. It’s a nice machine, but only if you’re using it as a tablet and not in “laptop mode.”

        1. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

          It’s a nice machine, but only if you’re using it as a tablet and not in “laptop mode.”

          I agree. I didn’t say it earlier but the truth is that the only reason I’d buy a Surface is to use it as a tablet, most probably for artwork. And it actually runs Photoshop. I’d never use it in “laptop mode”.

          *sigh* but – I feel kinda foolish about it – I’m going to wait and get an iPad Pro to use as an art tablet.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        I’m with the guy who changes his name all the time. The PC that I use is way more machine than the biggest, baddest, newest Mac out there and cheaper. 32GB of RAM! Suck it, Mac! Yes, it’s huge and heavy and a beast (dual 750GB hard drives!) but sometimes that works in my favour.

        Most of my work is in PowerPoint and because my clients are PC-based, I switched from Macs to PCs because Office products are not cross platform. I see no real hard-core difference between Photoshop on a PC and a Mac. I have CS6 for both but I only upgraded to CC on my PC, because I barely use my MacBook Pro any more. Seriously, the days of “only the creative people use Macs” are over as far as I’m concerned. It’s not the tool you use, it’s the work you do with it that counts. Anyone who pulls that “only the most creative people use Macs” BS around me, my eyes roll so hard I wind up chasing them down the hall.

        Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Macs. They are beautifully designed and very pretty to look at, feel nice in your hands but… I just don’t feel they’re worth the price. I do like the fact that you only get 3 versions to choose from because customising a PC can be difficult with all the various levels of components, on the other hand, it would be nice to be able to tweak them up a little. In the end, I just can’t justify spending all that money for a computer that has less of everything in it just because of the label it bears. But that’s me.

    3. periwinkle

      I have an Air now but plan to replace it with a Pro in the next few months. The Air is wonderfully light so you if tote your laptop around you’ll appreciate the weight. However, you get more tech/storage for the price with a Pro. I rarely travel with my personal laptop these days so it’s basically a desktop that I can move around whenever one of the cats decides to sprawl out in my usual spot on the sofa…

      1. Lore

        When I bought my last computer, I went in planning to buy an Air. But the salesperson asked me how often I upgraded my computer, and said if I wanted to have it for more than three years, I should go with the one that had the best chip, the most RAM, and the most storage that I could afford–all of the application and OS upgrades and updates inevitably take more memory and more processor speed than the previous generation, so you get longer life out of the machine if you maximize those features. So I went with the MacBook instead. I don’t travel with it that often though…

    4. Anonymous Educator

      Definitely get an Air. If you want more storage, get a refurbished that has a 256 GB or 512 GB SSD.

    5. Aknownymous

      Even though your Photoshop usage could probably be defined at light currently (in terms of the sizes of the files you are working with), something to think about woukd be if you are expecting to possibly use PS more extensively over the life of the computer. Outside of SSDs, what speeds your computer up more than anything else is RAM. I think the standard RAM for the Air is 4gb, which can be upgraded only when purchased, to 8gb. The Pro can be upgraded to 16gb whenever, which adds a lot of speed. This might not matter so much when the computer is new, but as it gets older it really makes an enormous difference. The cost for both these upgrades is roughly the same, mainly because for the Pro upgrade you can purchase from a third party, which is a lot cheaper than directly from Apple. I travel quite a bit with my Pro, and FWIW I don’t find it that much more cumbersome than the Air.

    6. Noah

      Good to hear people like the Air. I’m still rocking a white MacBook and a 3rd gen iPad, the last one made with the dock connector. Both are getting old and I’ve considered replacing both with an Air.

    7. Trillian

      Off topic, if you haven’t already, check out the refurbished laptops from Apple — the link is buried in the footer of the store page. Potentially significant savings, and a decent warranty. My MBA from 2011 is still going strong, as is the Time Capsule I bought in 2009.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger

      At the very end of last year I replaced my late 2008 15″ MacBook Pro with…a 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina display. So it feels very similar…except it’s SO much faster.

      So, believe it or not, my experience is still relevant to your question. I think that if your current MBP is 5 years old, the Air will probably still feel really fast in comparison.

  13. Amber Rose

    I want a dog! My ideal dog is a papillon. But not only do they seem to be rare as hell, they seem to mostly just be purebred and I would prefer a mix breed.

    Anyways, my question is, is there something similar/less rare that might work? It can’t be too big because I live in a small townhouse with an itty bitty backyard. And I would prefer a smart, friendly type. I grew up with a cocker spaniel, but they get very cranky as they age, and a shihtzu, who I loved very much but dumb as a rock and yappy like anything.

    1. Blue Anne

      What about a Spitz? My ex girlfriend had one and it was a very cheerful, clever little dog who took well to training and was happy in her city apartment. Fairly small and fuzzy and I don’t think they’re super unusual.

    2. Ruffingit

      Believe it or not, pit bulls are awesome. They have such a bad reputation, but we have one and we love her. She’s just a big cuddle bug. She’s actually a pit bull mix so she’s pretty small in stature, but solid. We do have to take her to the dog park quite often to run around and of course, walk her a lot because she’s just over a year old and needs to exercise. But she’s wonderful in the apartment.

      1. Swoop

        <3 pits and pit mixes (as long as they're mixed with something sensible)! So far they're the only kind of dog I've owned that I'd trust to never bite me no matter what the circumstances.
        They're very people dogs and they very much want to do what makes their people happy, but they're also terriers so they do need the exercise and and mental stimulation. And cuddles. Cuddles are deeply important to them :)

        1. Ruffingit

          Oh definitely on the cuddles! Our pretty pitty just loves the cuddles and it’s too sweet. She’s so loving. I wish everyone could see pits the way I see our baby.

      2. Stephanie

        Yesssss, I love our pit mix. He’s my buddy. I think he’s a pit lab and he’s pretty stocky. But he’s been the sweetest and smartest dog we’ve had. He’s also really good with my autistic sister and elderly relatives.

      3. Revanche

        Second and third and fourth this! We have a pit (pibble!). He is THE sweetest most cuddly dog, and bar none, the smartest we’ve ever known. He has been training my infant to pet him gently, and is succeeding! And for all hir mistakes in grabbing too hard as ze is learning how to be gentle, he has never done more than stand up and walk away or roll his eyes at me as if to say, KIDS.
        He picks up new commands ridiculously quickly even though he’s got to be over 10 yrs old and he will put up with any kind of discomfort I inflict on him in the course of vet care. Ex: we did his pedicure and husband accidentally quicked him. He weighs nearly as much as I do, over 100+ lbs, and I was restraining him, and every time he struggled to get up, I’d soothe him with “stay, it’s OK” and he would settle. I’ve had to compress his feet for ages and he complies readily. He is just the biggest love and we couldn’t ask for better.

        Oh and he went from living in a house with a yard to an apartment with no yard without any trouble. He’s totally flexible about where he lives and just settles in for a nap wherever we land. He’s currently lending his bed to our sitter’s much older dog who is ill and loves his bed. He very kindly lets her have it and sleeps on her smaller bed instead. In short, pit bulls are amazing and such wonderful pets.

    3. attornaut

      Pomeranians are everywhere, small, and (in my experience) super friendly, especially if socialized well. Mine knows a creepy number of words/phrases and loves just about everyone. You could easily find a pom mix in just about any shelter–I see a lot of pom/chihuahua mixes.

      1. Nashira

        The friendliest dog I’ve ever ever met was a pomeranian that went completely blind as a puppy. People delighted him and he was pretty fearless. I normally expect visually impaired dogs to be more cautious, you know? Not “I hear a person! I smell a hand where’s the hand ear scritchessssss yasssssss.”

    4. QualityControlFreak

      My mom has a papillon mix; she’s tiny and cute and quiet and snuggly. I think she was a res dog. My sister has connections. ;)

    5. Natalie

      Any terrier mix sounds like it would meet your requirements – terriers are small and tend to be smart and friendly. Plus they are easy to exercise with their tiny legs.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        Growing up, I had a fox terrier mix that ended up twice as big as predicted. She was a wonderful dog but definitely territorial. She loved loved loved our family and certain select other people. She tolerated other people. She didn’t let one person in the house when he was in uniform. (He was fine without his firearm.) She was a very intelligent dog, though. But terriers are stubborn, too. I love them as dogs, especially the larger breeds, but you do have to appreciate their personality.

        Miniature schnauzers always seem to be a good-sized dog for an apartment. And the ones I’ve met have been very sweet tempered.

      1. Sunflower

        totally agree- my dog being one. H’e not smart but he’s loyal as hell. They are often bred with a lot of other small dogs- like poms.

        1. Lore

          My parents have a cockalier (King Charles Cavalier mixed with cocker spaniel). He is unbelievably sweet, but not that bright. He’s also a digger–they had to install an electric fence finally, after he figured out how to dig under not just their seven-foot wood fence but under the three feet of chicken wire they sank beneath the fence.

    6. Blurgle

      I would not recommend buying any mixed breed dog. Mixed breeding isn’t magical; many small breeds share the same genetic defects. A poodle with hip dysplasia and a Maltese with hip dysplasia can produce mixed-breed puppies with hip dysplasia.

      If you prefer a mixed breed dog, go to the Humane Society. If you’d prefer a purebred, research your breeders and don’t buy from one whose only reason for breeding is to sell puppies.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        I’d recommend the same as the second paragraph. However, I’d tend to disagree with the first. My family owned one purebred dog and she was beautiful, but crazy. Also, she had medical problems, because she was bred for looks alone. That being said, it’s best to know enough about different breeds to not get a mixed breed with parents who have the same types of medical problems.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m practically contractually-bound to say this, but my advice would be to pinpoint a couple of good rescues in your area and go to their adoption events. That way, you can get to know individual dogs. You might find that a slightly larger dog has the perfect temperament for you, or you might come upon a little terrier mix who makes perfect sense.

      The terrier types might seem a little big for you, but keep in mind that smaller dogs are often yippy and super high-energy, and the big ones prefer to lounge around and lie in sunny spots. Again, though, it depends on the dog.

      And I second (third? Fourth?) pit mixes. A fellow adopter from my rescue adopted a pit/basset mix, and he is the cutest, stubbiest, sweetest little thing.

      1. Nashira

        Yes, please do talk with rescue groups. They want to find good homes for their pups and they want to hook good people up with good puppers. If you’re honest about your situation and needs, they can introduce you to somepuppy good. It’s like matchmaking in a way. Just try to meet the dog(s) outside of adoption events too, before committing. I grew up with a lab mix who was very subdued at the adoption event because she was anxious and overwhelmed, but once at home was WIRED. Good dog, but it would have been better if we’d known to expect that.

      2. The Other CrazyCatLady

        I actually want to see pictures of your fellow adopter’s dog. I’m trying to picture a pittie with bassett legs and ears and my brain is failing me.

        And absolutely seconded on checking out local rescues and letting the dogs have a say in making that match. Rescues are invested in making the right match the first time around, so they’re not likely to pressure you to look at dogs that don’t match what you’re looking for.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          He looks more like a long, stubby pittie, ears and all. And I lurve him and threaten to dognap him on a regular basis!

    8. HR Newby

      Shelties are great and can be fairly small. Have you looked on Petfinders? You can put in specific breeds and they will pull up any dog that is likely mixed with that breed. Good luck!!

  14. Mallory Janis Ian

    Ha! I made a cheddar and provolone grilled cheese on cinnamon raisin bread, and both my kids were having a fit, before the sandwiches were done, about how weird it sounded and how they would never eat such a thing. And they both liked it! Small victories.

    1. Excel Millennial

      That’s cool. I wouldn’t think cinnamon raisin and cheese are a good combination but apparently it works, haha.

      I knew a guy who put cream cheese on eggs. I could see that. But he once ran out of plain cream cheese and used strawberry cream cheese on eggs. He swore by it.

      1. Blue Anne

        My nephew, when he wa a kid, used to put ketchup on apple slices. Then he would eat them down to the peel like a slice of melon.

    2. SaraV

      Before I was born, my parents found some hole-in-the-wall restaurant that had bacon and cream cheese sandwiches on raisin toast.

      They’re soooooooooooo good.

        1. Nashira

          Bacon-banana-almond butter, grilled in butter, is still my favorite sandwich. I eat them extremely rarely.

    3. Lily in NYC

      The woman next to me at work often gets a sausage, egg and cheese on a cinnamon-raisin bagel and it looks really good.

  15. Carrie in Scotland

    As in previous Chronicles, my flat has been on the market since July and hasn’t been selling. In fact, it looks like no calls/no shows and cancelled views have outweighed the actual viewings.

    So I’ve dropped the price to a little under £100,000 and paid for it to be in the paper. But I’m a bit annoyed that the flat is waaaay down on the list of properties – it’s a local website but on zoopla and rightmove when properties have dropped their prices, they are re-listed at the top when you click on “latest”. On my solicitor’s website, the property is still at the old, higher price.

    These things are just normal for me to want, right? i.e. the flat at the top of the list and the proper price on the other website? I just can’t think of what to say without coming across as being that seller.

    1. Blue Anne

      Where in Scotland are you?

      I think those are reasonable things to want, especially the correct price on your solicitor’s website!

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I was in NE Scotland. It’s written into the selling contract about the local website – you can only advertise your property with them, it can’t go on rightmove or zoopla. Which explains the lack of properties from that area being on either of those website!!

        1. acmx

          Can you get a new listing agent (I realize it probably works differently than in the US)?

          Ask them when they plan to reflect the new price and if they can move the listing up.

          1. Carrie in Scotland

            Ah, a listing agent is like a solicitor? who deals with putting it on the market and stuff? Erm, well I paid an awful lot of money for this one so am not keen on spending money I really don’t have and can’t get (I’ve already got 2 overdrafts and a personal loan).

            1. acmx

              Ah ok. In the US, the person that lists your house doesn’t get paid until the sale is made (usually 6% commission I think).

              I hope it sells soon!!

              1. Carrie in Scotland

                Well, we have that too – commission when the property sells but there were certain things I had to pay for upfront e.g. photographer.

        2. misspiggy

          Speaking as a fairly recent house buying person, it might be worth eating the cost of starting out with a new agent and getting it on Rightmove and Zoopla. You might even be able to get the price back up. I’m sorry you’re having this hassle.

    2. Ruffingit

      It’s absolutely normal and you are in no way THAT seller for wanting things to be correct in terms of pricing and so forth. Ask and get it done, it’s totally appropriate to do.

    3. Tex

      Do you have a sign in the window/in the front? Maybe let the neighbors know? They may have relatives that want to relocate.

      My parents were living opposite an elderly couple whose adult children let us know that they were interested in purchasing if my parents ever decided to move. We sold to them about 7 years later.

  16. LSP

    My sibling-in-law has been unemployed for 4 months. SIL was fed up, had no job lined up…20? applications, 1 interview, and 4 months later here we are.

    Spouse and I live with SIL and at beginning I was going to give SIL two weeks to “relax”. However now so much time has passed that I am starting to become resentful. SIL has enough money to be unemployed for several more months and I see no serious job prospects on the horizon.

    I’m just going to be blunt. I expect SIL to do sh!t around the house, buy groceries every now and then, or IDK maybe pick up the mail occasionally. SIL spends 90% of the day on the computer and 98% of that is not applying to jobs. I go back and forth between being like, “LSP, chill.” and “Grrr, if this were the other way around, this place would be immaculate!”
    Spouse feels like I should leave SIL be. Has anyone else experienced this? Am I wrong to expect anything?

    1. BRR

      I think you’re ok with certain expectations such as not making a mess (but she’s not your maid). Stuff like that, not being a burden but also not the help. Shelling out money is kind of sensitive since she’s unemployed and I have no idea. But it sounds like your spouse needs to have a difficult talk with SIL.

    2. Ruffingit

      You are not wrong to expect her to contribute to the household in some way. The thing is, you have to make these expectations clear. People do not get these things by osmosis, although sometimes it should be obvious, it’s just not to a lot of people.

      So, take a breath, decide what you want SIL to do and sit down with her and lay it out.

      SIL – while you are at home, we need you to walk the dogs, feed them, load the dishwasher and vacuum. Here is when we’d like those things to be done. Vacuum Mondays and Wednesdays, load the dishwasher, run it, and unload each day…

      Whatever applies to your house schedule, figure that out and decide what you want her to do. Be clear and specific because you need to make expectations clear so she knows exactly what is expected.

      1. the gold digger

        Yeah, that was all part of the deal when Primo quit his job – that he would take over all the household stuff (which we continue to negotiate to this day – he maintains that windows are not part of normal chores as he does not care if they are clean – he is WRONG). But it’s easier to negotiate with a husband than with an in-law.

        It sounds as if the LW is living with the SIL in SIL’s place? If that is the case, then LW doesn’t get to say anything. But if SIL is living in LW’s place, then yeah, husband needs to talk to SIL.

        1. LSP

          I see the error is my phrasing.

          We all just live together in an apartment. We live in a city where the rent is too damn high!

          1. LSP

            PS – We are planning to move to a city where the rent is no longer highway robbery with or without Silas come next year.

    3. fposte

      I think what you want is absolutely reasonable. But is sibling in law spouse’s sibling? If so, I think you’re going to have a tough time getting those things while spouse is leaning the other way. In that case, I’d start the discussion with spouse and not SIL.

      1. LSP

        Yup. Broached the subject this week. Spouse wasn’t thrilled, but agrees with me on some points but still wants me to let it go. I think spouse just feels bad for SIL and we’re all human, so can’t blame him for that.

      2. Sunflower

        Yup. I’d have the conversation with your spouse and see if you can come to a compromise over what you want the sibling to do.

    4. Tara R.

      You say she has enough money to be unemployed for several more months, so presumably she’s still paying her share of household expenses, etc… So I don’t think it’s right to expect anything more from her than you usually do (cleaning up her own mess/ her share of the chores /whatever).

      1. fposte

        That’s a point. If SIL is paying basic market rent, the expectations would be basic roommating. I suspect that SIL might not even be rising to that level, though, and that this person has arrived as a guest and stealthily transformed into a roommate without ever taking on the roommate obligations.

      2. LSP

        Yup, that’s the crux of this all. SIL is equally paying rent and utilities and has enough to cover until December/Jan. That is what keeps me from saying anything.

        I guess I’m just stuck on the principle of the matter. Is that the right word to use? Like, if it were me, I would pick up the damn mail every day and vacuum twice a week. After 14 hour days, I still do this and walk the dogs. WTH.

        Is this what it’s like to have pre-teens? Maybe I’m secretly preparing myself for my future children.

        1. fposte

          I think it’s reasonable to expect somebody who’s part of the household to share part of the chores. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that somebody who’s paying reasonable rent takes on more of the chores without getting a break in rent just because of their schedule.

          I can’t tell which situation you’re in. If it’s the first–if SIL isn’t doing anything around the house and is acting as a guest–then it’s time to talk to the hubs and say “Look, we’ve got a slacker roommate, and that’s not fair–let’s divvy up the tasks and provide SIL with some expectations.” But if I were SIL and I were doing basic roommate tasks and paying basic roommate rent, I wouldn’t expect to do additional work as a “reward” for being unemployed, and I’d be pretty ticked off at the suggestion; if that’s the situation, I’d recommend you let it go.

          1. Ruffingit

            This is true. My comment above assumed SIL wasn’t paying rent or was paying very little. Given that she is paying her share, then nothing more than basic roommate chores should be expected regardless of what she’s doing with her time. It’s also helpful to remember that we often expect things of others because those things are what we ourselves would give/do, but not everyone is on the same page with what they perceive as fair.

            On another note though, it’s October. If SIL only has enough money to pay through December/January, then you and your DH need to have a talk regarding when she will be asked to leave if she doesn’t have a job by then.

            1. Elizabeth West

              Agreed. This happened to a friend of mine–a buddy of her husband’s ended up staying with them and he turned out to be a HUGE moocher. They had the devil’s own time getting him to leave, and it had to start with my friend having a serious chat with her husband. He was loath to say anything to the guy because buddies, etc.

        2. the gold digger

          Is this what it’s like to have pre-teens? Maybe I’m secretly preparing myself for my future children.

          I’ve always assumed that one of the reasons to have children was so you could delegate chores.

    5. GH in SoCAl

      I would say let go of noticing/being annoyed by how they spend their days or if they are/aren’t applying to jobs. You don’t want to be this relative’s supervisor, especially if your husband wouldn’t be on board.

      But I would say it’s totally reasonable to focus on asking them to pitch in around the house, which would be reasonable/expected even if they had a job. I had an unemployed friend staying in my guest room for a while, and I did sometimes feel like “Why can’t this person get the plumber in when they’re home all day?” But what made a difference was making a list of things that were that person’s responsibility to handle — change the air filters, sweep the kitchen, pick up the mail — and even when they got a very demanding full time job, those things were STILL their responsibility. Pitching in around the house doesn’t have to be about who “has the time” or “has nothing better to do.”

      1. LSP

        Yeah, you’re right. I need to let go of that part and I will.

        I actually don’t think too much about what they do or don’t do until I realize the carpet needs to be vacuumed. Then I automatically think, really?!?! Grumble, grumble.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Also, there is a difference between how you would behave and how you can expect others to behave. You say that if you were in SIL’s situation you would do extra work — because you would feel grateful/didn’t want to be a burden/other reason. But, you can’t expect that SIL (or anyone else, for that matter) shares the same sense of morality and obligation that you have.

          I do agree with everyone else, though. January isn’t that far off. SIL may be enjoying the not having to work and worry about bills stuff, but it’s only 2 1/2 months away. Given how many people on here talk about how long it’s taken them to find a new job, you may have to prepare for the long haul on this. Have you spoken with DH about what happens if SIL doesn’t manage to get a new job? Is he willing to let her stay indefinitely?

    6. Eva

      You are definitely not wrong to expect SIL to be pulling her weight around the house, especially if she is not working! Some people don’t have an innate sense of responsibility, which is incredibly frustrating if you do. I find the best thing with these types of people is to be upfront about your expectations and be prepared to remind / nag them about it as much as needed. At least for helping around the house. (I’m not sure you can nag her about finding a job as that really is up to her, except maybe pointing out that she’ll still be expected to cover her expenses even when her savings run out).

    7. Natalie

      I have a housemate in a similar situation, and I would say you have to do two things: lay out expectations clearly, and let go resentment about the job thing. Provided she is contributing as much as any employed person would (whether that’s money, housework, or both) it’s not really your business when or how she looks work. I know, it can be really annoying or frustrating, but it’s truly not your circus or your monkeys.

      That said, is there a timeframe that she is living with you? I wonder if you’re worried about the job because you’re worried about how long she’ll stay. If it’s not indefinite, I would come up with some end date and communicate it to her.

    8. LSP

      Thank you all for your insights and words of wisdom! I think I have found a middle ground.

      (I tried to make this gender neutral, but realized sibling in law as SIL makes it lean towards sister, but my SIL is a mister, heh)

      100% agree, no more being critical of how SIL spends there time. Letting go on that today.

      Your responses have helped me realized that as a household we’ve never really divied up the chores. So I can’t be mad that “Silas” hasn’t magically picked up the slack. Things like taking out the trash and vacuuming just get done mostly by DH and me. As a household we need to be better about sweeping floors, wiping the table, all other things that involve communal areas.

      I’m going to discuss with DH (right now!) how we can equally divide chores and have something set in stone. I really like your suggestion Ruffingit, but I can apply it to all of us. On Monday/Thursday this week so-and-so vacuums. On Wednesdays we wear pink!

      As for what happens come Dec/Jan, that’s another convo DH and I need to have. I might save that one for tomorrow, because once the money runs out…that’s a whole ‘nother level.

      1. Natalie

        Sounds like you have a good handle on it. FWIW though, I would start thinking about Dec/Jan now – that’s really not that far off. Would you be okay with SIL staying even if he didn’t have a job? What would he need to do to pull his weight instead? Or are you not okay with it? (A totally valid option.) Whatever you decide, it’s kinder to give him a heads up now, so he can decide how he wants to proceed.

        1. fposte

          I like this point. Think of it in employment terms–employees want to know if there’s a possibility of an upcoming layoff :-).

        2. LSP

          I was just told the money will never run out….

          Hmmm. Ok then. Guess I’ll just focus on the division of chores.

          1. fposte

            Huh? If SIL is a multimillionaire, why is he living with working schlubs like you?

            Or was that your husband saying that the money isn’t going to be a factor in whether he gets to stay or not?

            1. LSP

              :)

              DH said their parents would never let Silas run out of moola. The in laws are successful, nothing crazy though.

              1. Cordelia Longfellow

                If SIL’s parents will continue to support him to some extent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you and DH are obligated to put him up until he finds a job. Presumably he could find a place with roommates rather than living with you indefinitely? Granted, I’m not privy to the dynamics of BUT FAAAAAMILY in your DH and SIL’s family, but it’s absolutely reasonable to talk with DH and say, “Look, I was happy to help out SIL short-term, but now it’s turning into something a lot longer, and I miss having our own life/house/etc. Are there other ways we can help him out if he does move out by X date?”

                1. LSP

                  I’m a fan of Family!!!! as is DH, but we both agree that this can only go on for so long (regardless of the fact that Silas will -apparently- always be able to cover his portion of rent and utilities.)

                  I’d actually be willing to help out more or at least be more understanding, but this was all a choice.

                  Some of the AAM letters that have come up in the last few months (like the one about quitting without a job lined up) have me nodding my head and thinking What did Silas do?!

                  I used to cry driving home from my previous job, but I stuck it out and when another job opportunity presented itself I jumped at the chance and I’ve been so happy. I know what it’s like to borderline hate a job, but you can’t always jump when there’s nothing to fall on.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        but my SIL is a mister

        Ah. Well, that’s a horse of a different colour. People are going to slam me for this but it’s been my observation that there are certain men who don’t really think about household chores if there’s a woman in the house — they expect her to do them without even thinking about it. So, the conversation you have to have with your DH is that Silas is not your brother-husband and you are not his mother and if he’s going to use the bathroom like the rest of you, he’s going to have to be responsible for cleaning it every so often, instead of you all the time. I totally get why you’re annoyed. If the situation were reversed and you were staying with him/his family, he would want to see you participate/help his wife in the kitchen/whatever.

        I would also say that I’m not good with unstructured time. Silas may balk and complain that it’s not fair that he walk the dog or whatever, but it would give some structure to his day and break it into chunks. If he’s been working for a while, he may not be used to the discipline required to make his own schedule — it’s easy to get lost on the Internet for hours and not notice the time going by. You could frame it as “if you apply for jobs in the morning, at lunchtime taking the dogs out for a walk would give you and them a break. I would also appreciate it because then I don’t have to rush home midday/pay for a dog walker/don’t have to worry about the rugs being ruined.” If he were living in his own place, this stuff wouldn’t just be getting done magically with no effort on his part. He’s had a bit of a vacation, which was very nice of you both, but it’s back to work/school for all of us!

        1. LSP

          YAAAASSSS.

          The in-laws are in town and I can tell that they are peeved that our place isn’t like the inside of Martha Stewart Living and it’s my fault.

          I’m just going to stop myself right there before all the dirty laundry goes flying :)

            1. the gold digger

              PS I was really ticked off when my husband hosted a political event at our house for a gubernatorial candidate. I did not want to have to cook and clean for people I don’t even agree with. (Even if I had agreed with them, I would not have wanted to do it.)

              He told me he would do everything, to which I said, “If there is anything dirty, then I am the one who will be blamed, not you.” He and I do not have the same standards about dusting, windows, bathtub, etc. As in, I have them, he does not.

        2. Computer Guy Eli

          Here comes Eli to ruin the party a day late.

          Let’s say I moved in with my sister and her husband. I pay a third of the rent/utilities in exchange for use of their bathroom/power and the room I live in. Assuming any mess I make is within my room and doesn’t bother anyone outside my room (AKA I pick up after myself in shared spaces) I should not be expected to do anything else because that’s not my responsibility. If the dogs need taking care of, I didn’t buy the dogs, I never agreed to take care of them, I shouldn’t be expected to. Just because what I do during the day leaves me with a large amount of free time doesn’t mean I should be expected to do anything other than what I need to do to sustain my lifestyle

          What it boils down to IMO is that it doesn’t matter how I spend my day if I’m compensating you fairly for what I’m using and not impacting anyone in the house.

          Disclaimer: This is what I feel you should -Expect- of someone, not what’s the cool thing to do. If I was doing nothing all day I could understand picking up for my hosts.

          1. Tara R.

            But you should be responsible for 1/3 of the vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, window-cleaning, etc. of shared areas, because you’re using them too.

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              But 0% of the house is yours. You’re just renting out your room and some of the houses services. I don’t see how it’s fair to expect your renter to assist in the house’s upkeep when the house isn’t even theirs, considering that none of those duties are accelerated by the renter being there. If he were to spill something, sure. I don’t agree that he should have to dust/mop anything though.

              1. Tara R.

                Well, if you rent an apartment, you mop. You don’t expect your landlord to come over and do it. Mopping, dusting, and vacuuming are normal parts of inhabiting a space– and yes, you do have to vacuum and mop more often when an extra person is around (more dirt getting tracked in, more crumbs, etc). If you expect to have your chores done for you, you should be paying more than 1/3 of the expenses.

              2. Anonymous Fish

                Nope. Nope nope nope. That’s not how living with roommates works. If you live with someone, you use the kitchen, the living room and the bathroom. You put your dirty shoes on the floor, help accumulate dust and contribute to the soap scum in the shower and stains on the toilet bowl. Regardless of whether your roommate owns the place, your roommate is not your maid and you have a responsibility to share in cleaning the areas that aren’t obvious messes but still need cleaning as a result of daily use.

          2. Not So NewReader

            You make an interesting point here, Eli. We seem to hold family to a different standard than we would use with an outsider. I never thought about that in this context.

            However, I think there are a couple of differences in your example and OP’s story. One is that your example has no end date. In OP’s story, Silas is supposed to be there for a few more months as opposed to indefinitely. OP did not agree to having this in-law stay with them indefinitely. This is a big deal because OP could be feeling a bit snookered, she got more than she bargained for. This usually does not play out well in a marriage. Couples can end up arguing when the original agreement is not adhered to.
            Unlike Silas, I think you would be going out the door everyday to work. Silas isn’t. We can’t tell for sure if Silas even does anything all day. But I think if Silas had freelance work or if he was starting a small business, OP might not be writing in here.
            The biggie is I think that OP and hubby took in Silas as an act of kindness/family obligation type of thing.That alone changes the dynamic in huge ways. It’s not a pure business transaction. OP was surprised that he did not offer a hand around the house. You maybe right that he doesn’t have to offer help. But the ill-will generated by the lack of an offer could be very costly to him. We do, in fact, disrupt people’s lives when we stay with them. It is only to our advantage to do random acts of kindness for people we stay with. It endears us to them, it’s a way of showing “thanks” and it helps to keep the relationship healthy. OP’s relationship with her BIL is not so healthy right now, as she is very frustrated with him.
            Also, in OP’s case, Silas’ choices have her reassessing the way her and her husband share the workload. If hubby was not noticing changes around the house, he probably will be noticing some fairly soon.
            So, yeah, when a couple lets a family member move in with them it can become a big deal. It takes work to make it all work out.

          3. LSP

            Hi Eli. I see no party poopin going on. Just lots of good discussion and valid points as usual on AAM.

            If the dogs need taking care of, I didn’t buy the dogs, I never agreed to take care of them, I shouldn’t be expected to.

            Agreed. While it’s a nice gesture to walk or feed the dogs, I (with gritted teeth) agree that (when viewed as a black and white issue) the owner should be solely responsible.

            Interesting point regarding chores. I imagined your scenario. What if Silas were just renting a room from me in an imaginary house? I can imagine limiting the common chores to trash can and maybe mail duty. At the end of the day, this person would be helping pay towards my mortgage.
            However given the real life situation, I agree with Tara R. As a household we are all equally responsible for the common areas of this apartment. Despite Silas not working, the apartment hasn’t suddenly become a B&B for him.

      3. LSP

        Gah! Their* realize*

        Any one else’s iPad autocorrect even after you told it to not autocorrect?

        I would never mess up their, there, and they’re. *sob*

    9. MsChanandlerBong

      You’re not wrong at all. My husband and I took in a friend who was down on her luck, and it was a total nightmare. We both work for the same clients (freelance basis), so I knew how much work she had available. I said she didn’t have to pay rent as long as she saved pretty much every penny to find a new place. After two months, I asked if I could borrow $10 because I needed to buy something right away, and my husband didn’t get paid until the next day. When I saw the look in her eyes, I knew she had nothing saved. Turns out she only had $100 at the end of two months (and work was plentiful at the time; she could have easily made $200/day doing the assignments we had available). So then I said, if you’re not going to save money, you need to pay $275 per month toward the household. I don’t think $275 per month is too much for rent, electric, gas, and water, especially when you run the air conditioner day in and day out. She was late the first month and didn’t pay the second month. Not only did she stiff us on money, she was argumentative, hardly ever showered, and didn’t clean up after herself after using the bathroom. After 7 disastrous months, we finally got rid of her.

    10. Sparky

      I live alone, and I’ve had a long period of unemployement. One thing I noticed is how much more cleaning needs to be done when I’m not leaving the house for 10 hours every day. Of course I generate more dishes, I’m eating all my meals at home. And using the bathroom more frequently. And just generating more detritus in general. Therefore, I think someone who isn’t working and is home all the time does more housework. If you have a washer/dryer and dishwasher in the home, it should be really easy for SIL to do those things, and he is probably the one dirtying the most dishes to begin with.

      The gender divide around housecleaning enrages me; I would probably end up setting any male housemate on fire eventually over chores. So it is good that I live alone.

  17. Anon because I'm a chicken

    I had a baby over a year ago, and my body has definitely NOT bounced back from it. Not that I was supermodel material before, but I had kind of gotten used to the way things sat.

    A colleague of mine recommended checking out plastic surgery. She was having it done (don’t ask how this came up at work, of all places) and really liked her surgeon.

    So I went to go see the guy last week. He has the bedside manner of an angry gnome. The whole experience really left me feeling like I should just leave well enough alone.

    …except that, while he was doing the exam, he discovered that I have a hernia (it was confirmed by an ultrasound afterwards)

    The hospital has “kindly” offered to do both the hernia operation and a tummy tuck at the same time. Kill two birds with one stone? But I just can’t shake the feeling that I kind of like having my own belly button! We’ve been together since before I was born…

    (I recognize that this totally sounds ridiculous)

    1. MLT

      Ha! I am partial to my belly button too.

      A year is not long after a baby to get back in shape, but you should probably get that hernia fixed. They can get worse and suddenly be really painful. Is it an inguinal hernia?

    2. Clever Name

      It’s okay to not have a “perfect” body (especially after having a baby!). And it’s okay to love your “not perfect” body. Just throwing that out there. <3

      1. Anon because I'm a chicken

        I’m going to try, because leaving a hernia untreated seems like a bad idea to me.

        It’s just funny… I thought I was cool with the idea of plastic surgery until I found out they have to give you a new belly button. Somehow in my brain that was a total red line!

    3. Momiitz

      I second find a surgeon that you like. I work with surgeons. The best ones have great bedside manners. One of my favorite surgeons can be a little grumpy to the staff but is always great with the patient.

    1. Sparkly Librarian

      Either playing the piano well or speaking fluent Spanish. Probably the first is preferred because I could learn to do the second on my own, given time and sufficient motivation.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Being able to really, really sing like Adele or any of the ones who don’t require studio correction to sound fantastic. Like the ones who, when singing-competition contestants try to do their songs, the judges say, “Oh, that’s a hard one; not everybody can sing like ___ can.”

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Ack! I can’t comment right today; this wasn’t supposed to be nested. It looks like I’m refuting your dream of piano-playing with mine of singing, but I’m not. :-)

        2. Mimmy

          I’m with you! I used to sing when I was younger but lost interest. I still sometimes imagine myself singing and blowing everyone away on American Idol. Hey…a girl can fantasize!

        3. Charlotte Collins

          I’d like to be able to sing at all. I’m not tone deaf, but I’m one of those people who knows they’re not hitting the right notes but doesn’t know how to do so…

    2. LSP

      I’d love to know all languages. Or keeping it real, be fluent in 5 other languages.

      I’d also be happy with waking up as an Olympic class track and field athlete.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian

      Also, I’d like to be able to make friends really easily like everyone else in my family seems to be able to do. I’m the only introvert in a family of extroverts, and I’ve watched them do it my whole life, but I can never figure out how to do it myself.

    4. QualityControlFreak

      The math skills required to actually have a hope of grasping the concepts of quantum physics.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Yes, the ability to understand the workings of the universe, which apparently requires being a math genius.

    5. RoseRed

      Being able to communicate effectively with…pretty much anyone I want to. I feel like I have this skill to an extent, but when I was high-school age it was above average (because I communicated like an adult, but everyone expected me to communicate like a teenager), but now I’m almost 30 and communicate like an unusually-precocious teenager, so I frequently have trouble getting my point across and more misunderstandings happen.

    6. Blurgle

      I would love to have perfect vision…although that’s not a skill, I guess. For skills…I would love to have better physical coordination.

      Still not a skill?

    7. Elizabeth West

      Acquiring a skill overnight WOULD be magic, so I’m going to go for the gold: that I could speak, read, and where applicable, write, every single language on Earth. :)

      Non-magical: that I could draw/paint anything really really super well.

    8. Anonyby

      Being multi-lingual. Spanish and ASL would be best for starting, though some Japanese thrown in would be nice…

      After that it would be increased will-power so that I would be better at getting things done that need to get done.

  18. Trill

    I’ve been visiting a lot of museums lately and there is something I’ve been wondering about.

    The people who hang out/sit/pace in the rooms, is their job to make sure you follow the rules (not touch anything, etc.) or is their job to provide information and answer any questions? Most of the time they seem kind of intimidating and unfriendly but every now and then there someone is friendly and chatty who likes to tell you about the exhibit.

    1. BRR

      I believe usually both but with questions it’s more like “where’s the bathroom?” not “what is the background of the artist when this piece was created?”

    2. Florida

      There are two types – there are security people who are to make sure you don’t touch anything, take flash photos, etc. They’ll tell you where the bathroom is too. There are also docents. They will tell you about the artwork.

      Depending on the museum, sometimes the docents don’t meander around. They give tours so the hang out at the front desk until it is tour time. But I have seen museums where they wander around.

      In general, the security people are paid and the docents are volunteers, so whether they wander around depends on how many docents they have.

      Also, the security people usually where an officer-looking uniform, or they might all where the same color blazer. The docents might have some type of uniform (everyone where a green shirt) or they might where their own clothes.

      All of these observations are very broad generalizations. It depends on the specific museum. If you aren’t sure, you can always ask the person, “Do you know anything about this artwork?”

  19. Stephanie

    My friend said they needed an extra person for a 5k team today (she told me this Wednesday). I got through it. Race started waaaaay too late for Phoenix this time of year. So it was like 90 out. But I finished. Now for Netflix and open thread browsing.

      1. Stephanie

        Ha. I mean, that’s about normal for here this time of year. We’re used to it. It’s just that the sun is pretty intense–that in combination with the no shade and warmth…yeah.

  20. Teeny

    I’m finding Gawker’s “500 Days of Kristin Cavallari” disturbing to the highest degree. It’s THISCLOSE to harassment, and stalking. It’s sexist in the extreme — there is NO WAY Gawker would do this 500 days to a male celebrity (and it hasn’t) — and the one time Cavallari did complain about it, Gawker ran with it as though it was the best damn thing that every happend to the series. (A woman should just Shut Up and take all the harassment and stalking and remain silent, because (1) she’s a woman and (2) she has a modest amount of celebrity and IS ASKING FOR IT.) All I can say is I hope nothing happens to Ms. Cavallari or her family in the next decade because the first person who ought to be investigated is the author. In fact, Cavallari really ought to consider taking out a restraining order as it is. The author’s (and Gawker’s) behavior is just so disturbing.

    1. fposte

      Gawker, doing something offensive? Oh, surely not.

      I’ve been watching the implosion of GOMI and the subreddit about same with a certain fascination; a common justification on GOMI for alarming excesses about blogger subjects is “they put it out there.” And I think there’s a lot of similarity–if you are female and dare to be public in any way, it makes some people lose their minds. Which, given that we’re all to some extent public in the era of the internet, doesn’t bode well for any of us, including the people making that claim.

        1. fposte

          It occurs to me that that’s related to the whole notion of doxxing as punishment, which would have been really weird 50 years ago. It’s the notion that being public in any way makes you fair game, so making you public puts you into an attackable class. Online personas are the niqabs of the west.

      1. steve g

        I hate GOMI I get the concept but they are going at it all wrong. It sounds like a bunch of sarcastic teenagers going through their “everything sucks” phase. They complain about petty crap when there is so much bigger fish to fry on the Internet going untouched. If they opened…whatever you call them…threads, or whatever…on more well known sites like yahoo or slate or huffington post or dear abby, the site would explode and become much more well known. especially if it could provide some less-snarky critique of “establishment” websites. While certain “big” sites have all sorts of s@@@ that could totally be critiqued, they focus on cooking blogs and other stuff like that that kind of don’t matter in the long haul

        And how do they write about one person for 500 days?

        1. fposte

          I won’t link since Alison may have gone off to have a life, but the subreddit’s called blogsnark.

    2. RHo

      Oh that’s nothing. The real winners are the people on Gawker who defend the series from the people who come in to ask them WTF is up. You really need to go in and see how off-the-rails they are — it’s frightening.

  21. Jubilance

    My husband and I are going to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a few weeks! I’m so excited – I was able to score us super cheap flights during the Etihad glitch fare last Christmas Day. After almost a year, our trip is here! We’re flying into Abu Dhabi and then immediately heading to Dubai for the first part of our trip, and then we spend the remainder back in Abu Dhabi before we fly home. Anything we must see/do while we’re there? So far we’ve planned a desert safari, a trip to the Burj Khalifa observation deck, visiting the spice & gold souks, and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I think I want to add the Dubai Aquarium but I was wondering what else we should check out. Thanks!

    1. Sandy

      The Dubai Mall and/or Mall of the Emirates. Hear me out- even if you don’t do any actual shopping, they are destinations in their own right (aquariums! Ski hills! Dancing fountains!) and where your “average Emirati” spends a great deal of their time.

      Emirates Palace. It’s actually a hotel in Abu Dhabi, but needs to be seen to be believed. There’s a perfume merchant in there as well that was one of the highlights of my many trips to the gulf. It’s like visiting Aladdin’s cave: he has rows upon rows upon shelf upon shelf of glass bottles, each with individual scents. I think you can mix them, too.

      Walk the Corniche in Abu Dhabi

      You’ve already mentioned theGrand Mosque. It’s an absolute don’t miss.

      Honestly, both Abu Dhabi and Dubai (but more so Dubai) are like Las Vegas. Eat, drink, shop, lie by the pool, generally be hedonistic… But do it within the confines of each of the fabulous hotels, not out on the street.

      And strange but true: skip Emirati food (even the locals do) and chow down on FANTASTIC Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi food. Because of the huge population of expats (you will emphatically not need Arabic), there is great South Asian food, even in the mall food courts. In fact, I think the best Indian food I’ve ever had anywhere came from the food court in one of the Abu Dhabi malls.

      1. the gold digger

        Also – in the airport – there are Western toilets in the ladies’ room – not just the squat toilets! I did not realize this until after I had used the squat toilet (after a 13-hour flight, so I was already exhausted and balancing was hard).

        1. LSP

          After our 13 hour flight to Japan, I screamed when I went to the bathroom and saw squat toilets. Not because I can’t handle the squat, but rather my bladder was going to explode and I saw a premonition of me losing balance, falling over, peeing on myself, and reeking like bathroom for the rest of our 7 hour flight. Good times!

  22. Lore

    Has anyone seen SICARIO? Spoiler alert if not: I’d heard good things and was expecting a dark modern noir film about drug gangs in Mexico. Instead, if was violent formula, and it made me nuts that the two “outsiders” to the macho DEA vigilante culture were virtually the only woman and the only African American in the movie–so there was a great deal of “lecturing to the naive woman/unnecessary black sidekick” going on. Should have gone for THE MARTIAN.

    1. aNoN

      I saw it. I enjoy movies with the main maile actor. As a Mexican American, I grew up hearing horror stories of the violence that plagued my family’s towns. Honestly, the film is a pg rated version of the true violence, suffering, and corruption that people there live with. Unfortunately, Emily Blunt played a character that served the purpose of being an unfortunate bystander. Good things about it include the suspense and action. I thought it did a fantastic job of keeping your heart pounding.

    2. CoffeeLover

      So… I didn’t think The Martian was all that good (sorry to everyone that’s in love with this movie). I felt like it was a movie I had seen before. Like the sci-fi version of Cast Away… but not as good.

      1. Windchime

        I read the book a year or so ago and it was OK. The plot was good and I stayed interested, but in the back of my mind I felt a little bogged down at all the technical descriptions of stuff.

  23. Blue_eyes

    I just got an InstantPot for my birthday. It’s a multi-function device that works as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and yogurt maker (link in reply). We eat mostly vegetarian so I had avoided getting a slow cooker, since most slow cooker recipes are for meat dishes. I was super excited when I found this product because I had been wanting a pressure cooker, and having all the other functions as well made it worthwhile to find the space in my kitchen.

    So, what are your favorite recipes for pressure cookers or slow cookers?

    1. new veggie slow cooker owner

      I actually bought one today after talking about it forever. This afternoon we made veggie chili with basically just black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes and spices and then had it with cheese quesadillas. Tomorrow I am trying french onion soup — the blog I found recommended putting the onions in for 10-12 hours on high!

      There’s also a great post on serious eats about making corn chowder in a pressure cooker.

      1. Blue_eyes

        I think chili is going to go on my meal plan for next week. I’ll definitely have to look into making french onion soup – it’s one of my favorites. My husband will be happy about french onion soup since he usually can’t eat it in restaurants because of the beef broth.

    2. Lisa

      I’m vegetarian and I’ve done a lot of soups (with beans) and sauces like tomato with chickpeas in my slow cooker. You can also do nice oatmeals – steel cut is especially nice. Basically anything I’d use a Dutch oven for I can switch over to a crockpot. I usually cook my dried beans on the stove though because my fridge fits my dutch oven for soaking better than a crock pot and where I live it’s too hot to soak on the counter without them fermenting

      1. Blue_eyes

        Mmm…oatmeal. I’m actually looking forward to trying oatmeal in the pressure cooker feature – steel cut oatmeal in minutes sounds like a dream. I usually cook beans on the stove, but I probably won’t do that every again because they come out so soft and smooth from the pressure cooker.

    3. hermit crab

      I am part of a vegetarian lunch club at work where a few of us bring in enough lunch for the group once a week (so you only have to bring lunch once a week, and if you are a cook-in-batches type then you are not stuck eating the same thing for lunch for days). Anyway, one of my coworkers brought “slow cooker enchilada quinoa” last week. The recipe is from a blog called Creme de la Crumb. It was so ridiculously good!!!

      p.s. Chrome’s spellcheck wants me to change “quinoa” to “Joaquin.” Ha!

    4. Blue_eyes

      Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I made black bean soup last week using the pressure cooker to cook the beans. On Saturday I made apple sauce with the slow cooker function. Then yesterday I cooked some more black beans and used them to make black bean burritos – I was actually able to cook the whole filling in the InstantPot using the sauté feature.

      (More explanation about my choice to get an InstantPot, which I left out of my original post for brevity. While I know that you can make vegetarian dishes in a slow cooker, I do feel like they are often best for meat dishes. We keep kosher, so if we had a slow cooker it would have to be designated for either meat or dairy dishes. We don’t have much kitchen storage space, and I didn’t think I would use a slow cooker enough to be worth buying something so bulky. I had also been wanting a pressure cooker because they’re great for cooking grains and legumes quickly. So I was very excited that the InstantPot can do both pressure cooking and slow cooking. The Instant Pot also has a metal liner pot which is where the food actually cooks, so we were able to just buy an extra liner that we can use to cook meat.)

  24. nep

    Anyone else receive magazines in the mail, unsolicited? I mean regular issues, as if a subscriber. I receive two or three magazines regularly. My understanding is that the more ‘subscribers’/readers a publisher has, the more money they can charge advertisers, so these companies put a bunch of people on the list who are not really subscribers — Is that the case?

    1. fposte

      Yup. I got Prevention once and something else–Vanity Fair, maybe?–last year. I called (it’s a lot of recycling to do) and they canceled easily with no problem. Sometimes it’s connected with a purchase, I think, but not always.

      1. nep

        With the first magazine I started to receive, I made a call. The person told me not to worry — it was just a promotional thing and I wouldn’t be charged (!). Anyway it was time-consuming just to contact a human who could interact with me about my question, so I’ve not bothered about the others. (I did once hear of someone who received a few issues unsolicited, then got a call to the effect of ‘We hope you’ve enjoyed receiving your gift issues of X magazine — We’re offering a special subscription deal right now…blah blah’.)

    2. Stephanie

      I got Playboy unsolicited for about six months. It just started showing up. My (male) friend was visiting one weekend. I go into the living room and see a copy of Playboy on the kitchen table. I initially was like “OMG ON MY COUCH?! That is so not cool. We have to talk when he wakes up.” And then I found out later from my roommate that we were just getting them randomly and he hadn’t brought, um, nighttime reading material with him. They just kind of stopped one month.

      1. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

        I haven’t even seen a copy in years – the Internet has not been good for the magazine industry, and I’m told it’s not hard to find naked pictures online – but there was a time when Playboy really did have good articles that were worth reading. They were known for their long, in-depth interviews: I seem to recall that Jimmy Carter got into a bit of hot water over something he said during a Playboy interview, but mostly I remember that Wendy Carlos ‘came out’ as transsexual in the May 1979 issue of Playboy.

        Maybe it’s just me, but Playboy always seemed very “mild” compared to its competition like Penthouse and Hustler.

        Maybe 10 years ago I got a random phone call from someone who wanted to send me a magazine for free for a year, hoping that I would subscribe at the end of that time. He had a whole list of things that I had absolutely zero (or less) interest in (Modern Bride? Are you kidding?), most I’d never even heard of. But – hey, free magazine! I had to pick something, so I picked Maxim. They sent it to me for 2+ years, during which time I grew ever more embarrassed about being a subscriber to such a piece of crap – I actually put each issue in a sealed envelope before putting it into the recycling bin, because the recycling crew wasn’t especially fastidious and I didn’t want my neighbors to see it.

        The last magazine I actually subscribed to was EasyRiders back in 2004 or so, back when I was seriously into motorcycles. My wife told me that one of her friends had asked her “are you okay with him reading that?!” and I was like “umm … what?” I hadn’t realized it but apparently EasyRiders had (has?) a reputation for being something of a porn magazine. I mean, yeah, they’d have a photo layout with a bike and some woman in a bikini (or sometimes less) in each issue, but I had never thought of it as smut. My wife found this hilarious.

        1. Stephanie

          Yeah, we looked at it (I mean, it was there and I had never looked at a copy ever). It was kind of tame, really. About on par with what’d you see at an art museum in terms of poses and amount of nudity (I mean, the poses were all clearly sexualized). The girls were all pretty clearly airbrushed/touched up. I didn’t get the fuss, but like you said, I think the Internet wrecked that industry (and I grew up when people could just google “naked women” and get a ton of results). I would imagine that being a lot more controversial even 20 years ago.

          I saw an interview with Vanessa Williams where she remarked how different things were when had a career setback due to nude photos. She said nowadays, it probably would have barely been an issue.

          Is Esquire the men’s magazine that has good reporting? I’ve read good longform articles in one of those magazines. I wish there’s was an analog in women’s magazines. It’d be nice to have something more in-depth than ludicrous sex tips and fad diets.

          1. Elsajeni

            You know, in the last year or two, Cosmo has made a move in that direction; they’re publishing some pretty great articles. … In between the ludicrous sex tips.

          2. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

            Re Esquire – I don’t know. I get almost everything from the ‘net anymore. When I think back on it over the years, most of the best long-form journalism I’ve read on the Internet comes from The Atlantic.

            Oh – one more magazine story: I guess this was circa 1991, I subscribed to The National Review for the sole reason that P. J. O’Rourke would occasionally contribute a piece there (I like P. J. a lot). It was a mistake: apparently I subscribed at approximately the same time he stopped writing for them. AND they passed my name and address to all manner of ‘conservative’ organizations. I don’t mean conservative like ‘the Republican Party’ – I mean conservative like they felt that Area 51 was part of the liberal government’s lax immigration policy. I got a couple of things that I was honestly tempted to forward on to the FBI – organizations that claimed to be militias preparing for the End Times, that sort of thing.

        2. Anonyby

          I have a friend that in his younger years, really did read Playboy for the articles! Sure, the naked women were fun to look at, but the major sci-fi authors were publishing their stories in Playboy months before they were published elsewhere!

          My uncle had a box of old playboys that he eventually sold in a garage sale, just a couple years before I realized that Playboy published sci-fi stories. Now I wish he still had them so I could read the stories!

    3. nep

      (Funny — when I was a teen I would bug my mom to buy me some of these magazines…wished I could have subscribed. Now I couldn’t care less. I give them to my nieces.)

    4. Samantha

      Yes, I have. I think maybe they’re also hoping that you enjoy getting them so much that you’ll want to subscribe.

    5. Mimmy

      I think it also sometimes can happen when you register for an event, especially when said registration is free.

      Last year, I attended an expo targeted to people with disabilities and I think I got on a couple of mailing lists as a result. One included what turned out to be a free one-year subscription to New Mobility magazine (targeted to people with spinal cord injuries and conditions–which I do not have). Yes, they probably were hoping I’d eventually subscribe for real, but I chose not to. Some of the articles and features were informative, but since I’m not their target audience, I figured I’d just go to the publisher’s website if I wanted to read anything going forward.

    6. Gene

      I get about three and they change every few years. I know which ones they are because it’s a misspelling of my first name on the address. Currently, it’s Wired, Seventeen, and Prevention.

      1. nep

        I get Seventeen also. Poor marketing out there, whatever they’re doing. Anyway I offer them to my 17-year-old niece, who is really too busy with school and band and her job and college prep to read a stack of Seventeen magazines. (Now Prevention — I wouldn’t mind free issues of Prevention.)

        1. Gene

          Seventeen is wasted on a childless, late-50s couple, so I take them to work for a coworker with teenage daughters.

    7. Ani

      No — but one publication I subscribed to kept me on two full years past what I had paid for (and I suspected that it’s precisely because they need print subscribers). It kind of made me feel guilt — except they had sent out reminders to renew and I had decided not to. When the magazines just kept coming I checked the mailing label and the subscription end date was clearly another year in the future, and then again.

      1. nep

        I’d like to hear from someone in the business — how does this work? Is this what publishing companies do — just send out free issues to up their ‘subscriber’ numbers for advertising sales?

        1. fposte

          That’s my understanding. Not all of them, but something like Vanity Fair probably makes far more money from ads than subscribers, so it makes sense for them to make their ads more valuable.

    8. Kimmy Gibbler

      I randomly started getting Rolling Stone unsolicited about 6 months ago. I don’t need one more thing cluttering up my mailbox!

      1. INFJ

        Me too! I was crazily checking my credit card statements wondering if I had unknowingly signed up for it when buying something else online.

    9. RoseRed

      This happens to me, too, except that I think the correct recipient is someone who hasn’t lived there in a long time–the name on the front is not remotely like my name, or the name of the family who lived in the house before we bought it. I’m guessing that, like me, they just never bothered to cancel it.

      The downside to this is that I am legit OBSESSED with magazines. Like, they’re the only thing you could reasonably say I hoard. I don’t subscribe to very many, because of the whole costing money thing, but my weakness for free ones is…problematic to say the least. :-P

      1. nep

        I could forward you the ones that fill up my mailbox.

        If you like National Geographic you’d have liked a garage sale I recently visited; there were hundreds and hundreds, nicely bundled by the year. Free. (I took a couple of bundles.)

        1. Elizabeth West

          My dad used to pay for me to get Nat Geo, but I finally had to stop because it was taking over my house. I’ve since got rid of all of them.

          I’ll be interested to see what shows up in my mailbox–I recently signed up for Glamour again (always wait for the $1 an issue special, heh heh). They sent me a free scarf. It looked white in the promotional material, but it’s actually an ugly beige tan. Yecch!!! I suppose I could dye it.

      2. Blurgle

        I got the Advocate for two years once for that reason – the previous, previous owner of the house had a subscription.

    10. pony tailed wonder

      I moved recently and found several boxes of old magazines from about 20 to 25 years ago. I was very surprised at the dumbing down of the articles in several of the titles. Self magazine was one that leapt out at me. I bought a new issue to compare it to an older one and it is pretty shocking. And if Self went back to how it was, I would get a subscription.

      1. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

        Scientific American is another one that’s ‘dumbed down’. I started subscribing back in 1972, it was great for awhile (especially before the Internet) but then sometime in the 1980s (?) they changed format and turned into something about halfway between Popular Science and People magazine. They also had been pissing me off for many years with their lame re-subscription benefits: every year, they’d send me stuff that said “re-subscribe now and get [some book]” – I forget the name but it was the same goddamn book every year. They couldn’t offer a different title every year? They couldn’t offer me a choice from a list of 5 different books? Even when I was like 15yo I was thinking “these people are not real good at their jobs”.

        1. nep

          Interesting (and disturbing) observations — the dumbing down over time. Is part of it that ‘the people’ just want to be entertained, no matter what? As with the huge popularity of a certain presidential candidate?

        2. pony tailed wonder

          I also think O Magazine is another one. I don’t know if Trump and the reality show trend in America is responsible or not. It would be interesting to have a list of dumbed down magazines and see what they have in common. I wonder if the fact that more people have internet access has anything to do with it.

    11. Noah

      All the time. They show up for 3-6 months and then stop. Sometimes I get a letter asking me to subscribe, sometimes they just stop. I kinda like throwing magazines in my bag when I travel, but I would never pay for a subscription.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I used to subscribe to Uk Glamour magazine but when I didn’t recognise any of the people on cover for several issues I decided not to renew it. There was also an annoying column by Louise Mensch (nee Bagshawe, the airport novelist, and former MP) which was totally useless in terms of career/life advice. It included such pearls of wisdom as, if you wanted to work in fashion to buy a one way ticket to Milan and get an internship.

        I don’t know about anyone else, but I find magazines have several decent articles and a load of rubblish to pad it out.

    12. K.

      Marie Claire, Glamour, and Ebony. Glamour came for about two years before it stopped. They all stopped eventually.

  25. periwinkle

    This is all YOUR fault, collectively speaking… remember the question earlier this week about being required to remove wedding rings and other jewelry at work? A lot of the comments noted the hazards involved when immovable ring meets unstoppable anything (or warned against Googling about ring injuries due to the gore factor). Well, I work in a cubicle farm but it’s located in a factory and we have to walk on the factory floor to enter/exit or get to the cafeterias. There’s a perpetual safety campaign with warning and stories and reminders that even pampered white collar folks can get injured easily. My wedding ring is my 3rd or 4th, can’t remember which, because I’m more attached to the symbolism than the specific object and I replace them occasionally. This one is lightweight but strong titanium. Um…

    So I had a consultation yesterday about getting a tattoo to replace the ring, and am getting the work done next Friday. Does anyone else have a finger tattoo? How long did it take to heal to the point of not looking so red and itchy? (I’m assuming it will hurt)

    Not all tattoo artists will do rings (as I discovered to my dismay) but I found one who has not only done a lot of them but who tattooed one on her own finger!

    1. Stephanie

      That same thread got me thinking about my jewelry at work. I’m also in cube farm in a plant and go out on the floor daily. Compared to where you work, we probably have a lot less moving machinery and assembly (we’re a sortation facility with miles and miles of conveyors). It definitely got me to stop wearing dangling necklaces and blouses with ties in the back. TPTB really only push closed toe shoes, really, since only the facilities people are allowed anywhere near the belts.

    2. Ani

      It’s such an interesting topic. My brother — a carpenter who also does a lot of woodwork at him home — doesn’t wear a wedding band (and even declined to take our father’s band when he died, saying he simply can’t wear it and didn’t want to lose it).

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        My husband doesn’t wear his wedding ring, either – he works in a lab and is sticking his hands in machinery on a daily basis. He might put it on for special occasions if I asked, but I don’t think it fits at the moment. HIS dad was an electrician, and didn’t wear his ring either, so DH says it feels more normal without than with.

    3. Natalie

      Do you have any other tattoos? Just curious if your questions are about tattoos generally or finger tattoos specifically.

      1. periwinkle

        In general, I guess, since this will be my first. I’ve been thinking for a while about getting inked but the recent discussion enticed me to finally do it. On the other hand I figure finger tattoos might have some special considerations considering they’re such an exposed and frequently used body part. The artist noted that fine, precise line work doesn’t suit that area because the skin texture + exposure was likely to make the edges blur a bit. I suppose that’s why some artists refuse to do it – too many complaints?

        1. Natalie

          Not just complaints – a good tattoo artist generally doesn’t want to do something they don’t think will turn out well. It’s their craft.

          As far as tattoos in general, they can hurt but it’s a weird type of pain IMO. Each individual prick is minor, but the sensation goes on for a while and can get quite annoying. The itching didn’t last terribly long for me, maybe a few days or a week tops. A non-scented mild moisturizer can help a lot with the skin discomfort. When I had larger pieces slapping them seemed to help with itching and caused no damage to the tattoo.

        2. BritCred

          Finger and hand tattoos don’t tend to last as well and can fade/blur quickly due to the high traffic area and changes in the skin causing healing problems. The skin is also thinner on the hands so it also has a higher risk of it being too deep or too shallow and therefore come out worse than other areas of the body.

          Also (and whilst it doesn’t affect you *now* as I assume your employer doesn’t have any issue with them) a lot of people who want them later find issues with employment due to employers finding fault with those with visible tattoos. Its easier to have a more blanket policy not to do them at all rather than have to argue with the 18 year old who wants one when you’ve just done one for a 30 year old…

          Mine generally took between 1-2 weeks to stop being itchy on my back and arms. My back of the neck one actually had healed and was fine completely within 3 days.

          1. periwinkle

            Tattoos aren’t an issue at my current employer. You probably won’t get promoted if you had Limp Bizkit lyrics tattooed across your forehead, but then again that would be due more to your lack of critical thinking skills than the presence of ink.

            If I leave this company, well, I’m in Seattle. Not an issue.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I don’t, but I know many many men who do. All because their jobs won’t allow them to wear rings. They fade quickly, since the hands move much more than almost any other skin, and joints especially can be tricky. It doesn’t take fine detailing well because of the fast fading and the texture of the skin. It can be painful, since there’s a lot of nerves and tendons in the fingers.

      But! If you’re okay with a simple design and ok with getting it touched up occasionally to look fresh, they can be super cool. I’ve seen some beautiful ones.

    5. Nancie

      I don’t have any finger tattoos, but I have several on my feet and other bony areas.

      Don’t be surprised if it hurts like an sob going on. Hopefully it’s going to be a single color? That’ll probably take less time, and hurt less. The pain will fade a lot once it’s complete.

      Healing, it’ll be a lot like a sunburn. Keep it clean and moisturized (the artist will probably recommend something specific to use.) Avoid scratching it, and avoid wearing anything that’ll rub against it while it’s healing, like gardening gloves or rings on neighboring fingers.

      Finally, once it’s healed, learn to love sunscreen. Nothing will keep a healed tattoo looking new, like avoiding sun damage.

    6. Liz in a Library

      I have a finger wedding ring tattoo, as well as another tattoo on the side of my pointer finger.

      I saw above that your artist already warned you that there won’t be a lot of crisp detail, and that the colors will fade faster than elsewhere. I’ve found this to be true (mine are both ~8 years old), but not terribly bad.

      The finger did hurt more than any of my other tattoos (I have a small back piece, a foot piece, and a full ankle to knee stocking). Luckily, since it’s a small area, the pain is over fast. Mine were thin lines rather than a fill-in with ink and healed to the peel point quickly–just a few days. I had no issues with pain or problems healing afterwards.

  26. Gene

    Back home from central Missouri. Mom is doing well, her doctor says there shouldn’t be much residual affect from the stroke.

  27. TheLazyB (UK)

    So, this evening I took the four year old to Disney on Ice. Was really nervous about many things, but it was awesome you guys. He was totally sucked in. And I was adamant I wouldn’t buy all the merch… yeah. Hah.

    Anyway. I’ve been posting recently, sometimes anon sometimes not, about my friends, aka the kid’s friends’ parents, and getting really upset about them. Last weekend I accepted that we were drifting and that I’d stop reaching out.

    One of the things I was upset about was me suggesting we all go to the park or soft play tomorrow and them all ignoring me, then saying no with unlikely reasons and ignoring me when I said I was actually talking about enabling the kids to continue their friendship now they’re not all at the same nursery. Today, I got a message saying two of them were going to soft play tomorrow and were we up for it too?

    Aaaaaargh. So guess where we’re going in the morning…….

    1. Elkay

      I know that Whatsapp shows when people have seen the message but you could try playing dumb and ask if they saw your message about going to soft play.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Aw, it sounds like a fab time was had by you both! Ice things are always fun!

      Glad that some people in your group reached out to you. Hopefully this will even your friendship out a bit so you don’t feel like you’re doing all the work to maintain it.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)

        It took a good 10-15 mins for me to stop thinking “OMG they’re going to fall!!!!” every ten seconds or so. Ice skating amazes me!

        Thank you x

        1. Elizabeth West

          Even if they do fall, skaters kind of get used to it. Unless I really whack the hell out of myself, I barely feel it anymore.

          A girl I skated with got a job at Disney on Ice! :)

          1. TheLazyB (UK)

            Oooh I somehow forgot you skated! I am really impressed. Might see if the small child wants to learn. Any excuse to get back on myself ;)

    3. Autumn Mists

      This is good news but a bit annoying too – unless it was just a back-to-front way of taking up your suggestion. Anyway, hope you and your little boy have a great time.

      1. Adele Varens

        It’s a bit like co-workers giving it a bit of time then taking your credit. Glad it’s looking up for LadyB though.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          Yeah the annoying thing is that I honestly don’t know whether they’re completely oblivious or if they were trying to make up for being naff previously. Hey ho DS had a fab time and it was mostly really nice to see them. Thanks both and I like my rename to LadyB instead of LazyB, might switch ;)

            1. TheLazyB (UK)

              Oops sorry, name-sibling! I’ll stick. I used to be just plain B and then there was another so I feel your pain!

  28. Mockingjay

    Started reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. First chapters have some interesting historical anecdotes – Dale Carnegie, the rise of modern adverstising, and the population shift from rural to cities, and how these things encouraged extroverted traits in a formerly reserved population.

    I don’t normally read nonfiction unless it’s hard science, but I read sample pages (this is an e-book from my local library), and was intrigued.

    1. INFJ

      I read it about a year ago and loved it. I also really enjoyed the introductory history about how extroversion came into favor in society. Have you read about her attending the Tony Robbins conference yet?

    2. Dynamic Beige

      I got the book on CD out from the library and thought it was really good. There was a lot of stuff in there that I had never heard before, like the changes in advertising and how that was reflected in the culture.

  29. Natalie

    Since there are lots of cat people here, I have some dumb cat questions. Fiancé and cat moved in a few weeks ago and overall she’s doing well, but some things have come up:

    1. She seems to hate her water dish. He used to leave the tub tap open for her, but we have 3 people here so I’m not sure how feasible that is. Weirdly, she’ll try to drink other standing water even when her water bowl is full. (This gave me a scare when I was rooting some plants that are potentially cat-toxic and thought I might have poisoned her.) Do cats sometimes not like where the bowl is? This one is in her area with her food and cat box. Or should we just watch our drinking glasses?

    2. She is fascinated by the outdoors but freaks out when we take her outside with a harness. Like, actual panic that ended in her hiding for hours. This wouldn’t be a big deal except she’s always trying to get outside, so it seemed like a good idea to familiarize her with the yard at least. Now I worry she will get out, panic, and run away.

    3. Hair balls. I don’t know anything about this except that it sounds like she is dying and I’d rather not find one on the bed. I could probably Google but everyone here is pretty not-crazy and thus probably more reliable.

    1. Elkay

      Don’t put her food and water too near her litter box, no-one wants to eat where they poop.

      Does she like any particular type of treat? You can always use that to lure her in if she decides to hide outside somewhere. It’s a bit late in the year but we tried just leaving the door open and sitting outside so the cats could wander in and out as they wanted and just get used to the the garden.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        My husband always snaps his fingers a few times when he feeds the cats, to train them to associate the sound with food. That way if we can’t find one of them, we can just snap and they’ll come running out of whatever mysterious hiding place they were in. It’s pretty brilliant. (The same thing also works with shaking a bag of cat treats; they hear it from two floors away.)

          1. catsAreCool

            My cats come running when I shake the treat bag too.

            And yeah, their food and water shouldn’t be too close to the litter box.

        1. Natalie

          She seems to associate all crinkly bag sounds with feeding time, even if they are human chips or whatever. That would probably work if she wouldn’t come in. :)

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Yes, that is my problem. I shake the cat treat bag a specific way, but they hear other kinds of similar bags and suddenly there they are, completely asleep to begging for treats in 1.5 seconds. That finger snapping thing is really a great idea. I wonder if mine would take to it… now I just have to learn how to snap my fingers (apparently, I do it wrong and can only do it with one hand, which is also “wrong” somehow [rolleyes])

        2. INFJ

          Yes! The shaking of the treat container! Great way to ease our minds when kitty disappears and we worry that he may have escaped!

            1. fposte

              I love you guys’ detective work there. I would have been so pleased with myself at figuring this out! Save for the duct hole, that is.

      2. Natalie

        Yeah, I wondered that about the food. How far away, do you think?

        We do have a fully fenced yard so maybe I’ll let her out there while I’m outside. Unfortunately the only treat she seems to like is sliced turkey, which doesn’t make noise. But we could try associating with a sound.

        1. Elkay

          If you can’t put them in different rooms or on different floors a few metres away (either end of a hallway) should be fine. She may well smell sliced turkey, one of ours goes from fast asleep to shouting when I put her yoghurt down and that doesn’t make a noise.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      with regards to #1, my cat drinks from a cup/mug on a windowsill. So is there anywhere your cat likes to maybe sit, so you could put a little bowl of water for her and see if she likes that?

      #2…are there any other cats around that use your garden? it could be that, as my cat was definitely the Queen Who Rules The Garden and my neighbour’s cat was really scared and timid. Now my cat has gone to a new city, with me, the neighbour’s cat is really outgoing!! Or, it might be the harness?

      1. Natalie

        That’s a good idea, maybe I’ll put a water bowl near her main sitting spot.

        No other cats in the yard that I’ve seen; it’s fully fenced so they seem to steer clear.

      2. Windchime

        My cat also prefers to drink from a mug. I noticed that his bowl would go untouched, but he would try to drink my cup of water on the table. So I started just putting his water in a clean mug on the floor next to his food and now he drinks his water. He also has a water dish upstairs; the ceramic one kept getting some kind of mold or algae in it, even after a day, but changing to a metal bowl seems to have fixed that.

        Cats are very, very picky about this kind of thing.

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      If the cat is used to drinking from running water, water in a bowl probably tastes stale pretty quickly. Perhaps a fountain rather than a bowl? The Drinkwell Platinum is spendy but worth it (we burned through three cheaper versions before we made the investment). Your water also might just taste straight up different and may take some getting used to. If she doesn’t already get wet food, consider supplementing for a while so that you’re sure she’s staying hydrated.

      1. Natalie

        She supposedly doesn’t like wet food, but who knows – she might have just hated the brand fiancé tried. They sell little packets of it at our local pet emporium so it would be worth a try.

            1. Belle diVedremo

              My girl doesn’t care for standard “wet food” – only thing she likes from cans is tuna fish. Does not understand why anyone would offer her baby food, either. Found a brand that is actual poultry or fish, in a pouch, with some kind of sauce or gravy to keep it all moist. She loves that, and usually starts by drinking up the liquid – which I extend with some water. Brand is Weruva, and my girl of course likes the Cats in the Kitchen line. She won’t touch their canned food.

              Fountains are a great way to get a lot of cats to drink more. Also oxygenates the water they do drink.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        I have a Drinkwell Platinum, I like the big reservoir on the back. It is kind of large and a bit awkward to clean if you don’t have a good sized kitchen sink. I’ve only ever caught one of my cats drinking out of it. The water does go down, and it can’t all be evaporation. The other seems to prefer dipping her paw in the glass I keep by my bedside… which I didn’t figure out for longer than I’d like to think about.

    4. OK

      Try a different type of dish and try changing it 2 times a day. We have a metal water bowl and an old tupperware bowl the cats drink from. I change the water at least twice a day, no one likes stale water…even cats.

      2. Try a large wire dog kennel outside a door. Open the door, block access around the top of the kennel, toss in some blankets or pillows. Tie a cat toe to the side of the kennel and let her go in and out on her own. She cant wander away but gets to explore that limited bit and get used to new smells and sounds. Harnesses need to be introduced when they are kittens and become a regular thing. Most cats spaz otherwise. Not all cats like walks, they want to explore on their own.

    5. Pennalynn Lott

      1. I had a cat that loved running water but was afraid of the Drinkwell fountain. But he also loved drinking water from my [tall] water glass, regardless of where I’d sat it down. So I started giving him water in tall martini glasses, placed in random spots about the house (coffee table, bathroom counter, under the dining table, etc). Those glasses are shallow, which meant I had to replace the water in them at least twice a day (I picked shallow on purpose, so I’d be forced to not leave him with only dusty water).

      2. Most of the cats I’ve had that I’ve tried to take outdoors on a harness have done the same thing. They freak out when they’re out there, but then they climb the back door in an effort to get back outside. I found that it was best to just keep them indoors 100% of the time, but make the time indoors as interesting as possible. Lots of interactive toys (Da Bird is their favorite), and to put kitty window seats/ledges in damn near every window in the house so they can watch birds, squirrels, butterflies and falling leaves. Stopping the outdoor harness walks really cut down on the number of times they tried to run outside whenever I opened a door.

      3. Brushes are your (and her) friend! Get the hair out of her coat before she has a chance to swallow it. :-) Also “hairball remedy” products that kind of grease her intestines so the hair passes more easily.

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        Oh, and I’ve trained one of my cats to come running when I make a “ssssk-ssssk-ssssk” noise, because I’ve used that sound every time I’ve thrown her favorite toys or given her treats. And it’s come in handy, since she likes to dash into rooms in the house she’s not allowed in, and I can just make the noise and she comes running right back out.

        [LOL. I was just practicing the noise out-loud, to try to figure out how to spell it, and she popped her head up from her heated kitty bed to see if I really meant it or not.]

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          Bah. My kingdom for an edit button!

          I should have added that it’s important to have a sound she’ll come running to, because she’s the only cat in the house who will take off running if you so much as *think* about picking her up. So if I need to get her from Point A to Point B quickly, I need a different method than “Grab-da-kitty-move-da-kitty”. :-D

        2. pony tailed wonder

          Heated kitty bed! Intriguing! Do you think it is worth the extra money? My boyfriends cat hates me and I am continually trying to win the cat over. I got him the kitty roulette wheel but it didn’ t make him like me any better. However, it is pretty funny to pretend to read his mind when he bats the light up ball around the circle. “Always bet on black”. “Waitress, another. Shaken not stirred”.

          1. Windchime

            My current kitty doesn’t care for the heated kitty bed, but OldKitty loved it. He was 19 when he died and he was very thin so I think it was hard for him to stay warm. I just bought a round, padded kitty bed and then they make a special heating pad for pets (it doesn’t get hot, just warm) and slipped that inside. He loved it.

          2. Belle diVedremo

            If you’re looking to win points, there are a couple options. With each, you want to keep them with you long enough for the cat to associate your scent with the gift.

            Fleece. I buy remnants of fleece from the local fabric store. The ones with pile are very popular at home, they seem to be better to knead. The “furry” ones are messy and less popular with my girl.

            You can get cat pads with a heat reflective material in the middle. They warm the cat up slowly, and can’t get too hot as there’s no other heat source for it. It can take a bit to warm it, if the cat’s cold. I even borrow it sometimes to use instead of a heating pad.
            from an online description:
            …blanket without the electricity! …. this pad features a core layer of thermo-reflective material that uses your cat’s own body heat to warm the entire cushion – no cords or electricity costs! Soon to become your cat’s favorite snuggle spot…

            Cheaper and easier to manage than one that needs to be plugged in, and ours go right into the washer and dryer as needed. Also put it in the cat carrier in cold weather when she’s going for a ride.

    6. Kitty O'Shea

      1. Water: I had a cat that would only drink out of a margarita glass. It had a long stem and was at chest height when she was sitting down. You might try out different glasses/bowls of varying sizes/shapes. I agree with getting her food and water away from the litter box.
      3. Hair balls: get some Laxatone at the pet store and use as directed. Brush the cat at least weekly, if not every day. If she will eat canned cat food, try mixing in a little canned plain pumpkin, less than a half-teaspoon to start. Many cats love canned pumpkin and it’s a good source of fiber and water, both of which are helpful with hairballs. Make sure it’s plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.

    7. IT Squirrel

      1) Mine doesn’t drink out of her water dish – she’s an outdoor cat so generally gets her drink from an old litter tray that’s out the back (it is clean!). I figure she prefers the taste of rainwater rather than tap – maybe you could try yours with rainwater if you can find a way of storing it? Or mix water in with her wet food so she gets more liquid that way. Oh, and put the litter box somewhere else., no-one wants to eat next to the toilet!

      2) See if you can train her to come when you call so if she does get out you have a chance of getting her back. Mine will come when I whistle (I hate shouting and this carries accross the neighbourhood well!), and gets a treat or a fuss for doing so.

      3) Can you get indoor cat food with hairball control? I don’t know how they do it, but we have brands here formulated specifically for indoor cats that are supposed to reduce hairballs – I guess it controls moulting somehow? Obviously regular brushing is going to help the most, but that might be an extra help if she gets them alot.

    8. abby

      You’ve gotten good advice so far. Adding a couple of comments:

      1. Agree with others who recommend a fountain, especially if she likes running water. Fill the fountain with water and let it sit for a few days without running the motor so she gets used to the fountain itself. Then run the motor for a short time at first, gradually running it longer and longer. Definitely keep the fountain away from the litter box, and not too close to her food, either, if you can manage.

      3. There are some people who believe hairballs in cats are not normal and are a sign of digestive problems. I tend to agree with this view, particularly as our male cat had a major hairball problem along with a lot of other problems. Once I made changes to his diet, all of his problems went away, along with the chronic hairballs. It takes a lot of time and work to figure out what is causing the problems, but it was worth it for us.

      In the meantime, brush the cat regularly, daily if you can, to remove as much hair as possible so the cat does not consume as much when grooming. Additionally, add a hairball supplement. I used Laxatone for a long time, but the cat still had hairballs and the petroleum in that product can block absorption of nutrients. Now I do two things to avoid hairballs. First is a daily probiotic (Proviable DC). Second is a hairball blend I make based on the active ingredients in Vets Best Hairball Remedy (I cannot use this product because the male is allergic to chicken, otherwise I would). The primary fiber, psyllium, is great for pushing hair through the digestive tract so it passes through as it should and does not come back up. In non-hairball season, the cats get it once or twice a week, and more frequently during hairball season.

    9. onnellinen

      My cats have two water dishes, but definitely prefer one over the other. Of course, even the ‘favorite’ water dish is not nearly as good as a glass of water on the kitchen table! Those are preferred above all else!

      On hairballs – one of my cats also gets them pretty frequently. We give him a bit of Tonic Lax from time to time, which can help pass larger ones (it doesn’t seem as noisy). The hairballs really grossed me out when I first got the cat, but I’m pretty used to them, including the associated sounds… still can’t get used to the horror of stepping in a wet, cold one, though!

    10. MNT

      Regarding #1, my cats weren’t drinking from the bowl either, even though I got them a fresh bowl twice a day, a “hard wash” with soap and water once every two weeks or so. Then, completely by accident, I actually got a whiff of the bowl… it totally reeked! They have a habit of dunking their hard kibble into the water and that residue can actually build up and it smells terrible. Now I do a hard wash and disinfect every few days–it helped immensely. Also, having their food set up next to or in any kind of close approximation to their litterbox is also probably not helping, as others have noted.

  30. Sunflower

    More moving drama!!!

    I had posted a couple weeks ago about how my roommates and I are looking for a new place to live and my roommate Sarah and how I can’t share a bathroom with her anymore since she is always in there(She gets ready in there which is a 2 hour procedure on the weekends and I have no idea what shes doing in there during the rest of the time). Sarah doesn’t want to pay to have her own bathroom. It turns out everyone(there are 3 of us+Sarah total) feels the same way as me and no one wants to share a bathroom with her. If we end up in a place with a parking spot included, Sarah has also said it’s really important to her to have the spot(that will cost her extra when we end up tiering/splitting the rent). Sarah also happens to have a somewhat unrealistic budget when it comes to what she wants so I am at a loss for what to do. Without even factoring in her own bathroom, the parking spot is still a stretch above what she wants to pay. We had discussed possibly splitting up but that’s not ideal for any of us and Sarah was strongly against it. I have searched high and low for a place that can accommodate all of us and there’s nothing that really fits that. Also i have done 90% of the apt hunting and Sarah has minimally contributed.

    I know Sarah has no other living options besides sticking with us. Are we bitches if we tell her if she wants to live with us, she needs to have her own bathroom and pay for it? And this is most likely going to put her over her budget. It’s times like these I wish I lived with semi random people and not my friends!

    1. Natalie

      The friend issue certainly complicates things, but FWIW – you’re not bitches if you don’t set up a housing situation where only one person (Sarah) gets what she wants at the price she wants, if that comes at your expense (financial or PITA). She is an adult and not your ward, I presume, so you do not have an obligation to make sure she’s housed with absolutely no inconveniences.

    2. Cruciatus

      Just to clarify–does Sarah know her bathroom hogging is a problem (and if so, has she ever tried remedying it or does she just not care)? And besides feeling guilty, would you prefer not living with her (since you are not responsible for her and there ARE other options out there, just not with people she currently knows)? If you do go ahead with it, it sounds like everyone needs to sit down and hear the situation out. This is what needs to happen, this is what it will cost, this is who will pay what. If that’s not possible for someone they will have to figure something else out.

      1. BRR

        I think you have a great point of does she know. And I don’t think you’re bitches at all. I think you all need to let it be known that all of you think it’s a problem and she either needs to fix it or have her own bathroom. Also if that means she can’t afford a parking spot she’ll have to make priorities. I think you also need to figure out if you’d be willing to live without her so that the rest of you can be happy.

      2. Sunflower

        Her solution to remedying the issue is her saying ‘if you need to get in here, just ask. Don’t feel bad’. That wasn’t how I prefered to fix the problem but up until about a month ago, I was on a very limited budget and moving was not an option. Asking her to get out of the bathroom/her being in it was annoying but it made more sense to me to deal with it and pay the low rent instead of cause a fuss and end up in an apt I couldn’t afford. So I made it clear I was annoyed with her but I never said ‘this isn’t working’. So that’s probably my fault. Now things have changed and I guess my needs have just changed. I know I shouldn’t feel bad about this but I’m a people pleaser and I hate confrontation. If I wasn’t/didn’t, this wouldn’t feel so difficult.

        Thanks to all the comments on here I realize that what I’m asking is totally okay and logical.

    3. Dynamic Beige

      Sarah sounds like a Princess. I think you need to sit her down and give her the facts of life. You are not her mother, things cost money and she can’t hog the bathroom. If she wants to have a bathroom all to herself and the only parking spot, she’s going to have to pay for it and it’s going to cost $X. If she can’t afford that, and she wants to remain being roommates with you, she had better start looking for a place that will give her all the things she wants at the price she’s willing to pay because you are also not a real estate agent.

      Otherwise, her choice will be to move her makeup and hairdressing into her bedroom at the next apartment and bathrooms will be used for showers, toilet and tooth brushing only — no makeup, blow drying, false eyelash whatever at all by anyone. Or, if that’s not palatable to her, she can find herself new roommates. Seriously, she wants to remain being roommates with you because you put up with this and let her get away with it. She knows on some level that randos wouldn’t.

    4. fposte

      Dude. I’m tired of Sarah and I’ve only seen a couple of posts about her; I can’t imagine living with her.

      Assuming that you still want to try, it’s time for kind but straight talk with Sarah. “We’re happy to live with you, Sarah, but it has to be fair to us. Bathroom habits mean we can’t share one with you, as we’ve discussed. If you’re willing to pay to cover the extra cost of a private bathroom for you, which we calculate as $X, that’s a plan we can move forward with. If you also want the parking spot, that’s fine as long as you’re willing to pay that extra cost, which we calculate as $X, so with our current budget that means your portion would be approximately $X. We hope that you’ll be able to make that work. If you tell us you can do that/give me your portion of the deposit by October the umpteenth, we’ll move forward with hunting for the four of us together.”

      From what you’ve said of Sarah, she may cry. But now’s the time to channel your AAM management persona–let her cry, say these things are tough, and you’re sure she’ll be okay, but don’t feel obliged to convince her to accept things or talk it out. And note the default: you’re looking for three unless she confirms she’s willing to pay extra (and I would want to be pretty darn sure that was a commitment she was going to honor, but I’ll leave that to you).

      1. Dynamic Beige

        From what you’ve said of Sarah, she may cry.

        And know it for what it is, she’s manipulating you. Wah! It’s not fair! Wah! I’m going to cry and make you feel bad for standing up for yourself so you’ll back down and I can continue to get what I want! Wah! You would rather let me have what I want so I stop crying and it’s not awkward anymore! Wah! I mean seriously, if she’s old enough to have a job and share an apartment, then she’s old enough to not cry to get what she wants. What she wants is unreasonable and she would rather have you guys upset but she gets what she wants than she gets to be the one who is upset. You’re not her parents. Is she an only child?

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I was kind of giving her the benefit of the doubt on the bathroom stuff, but the notion that if there’s one parking space, it should be hers, and she shouldn’t have to pay extra? And she’s not helping to look? I’d be looking for three bedrooms.

      2. Sunflower

        Ha- Truth is, no one really wants to live with Sarah but due to other girls personalities an Sarah taking everything personally, no one can come out and say it. It may not seem it here but Sarah is a good friend and fun to hang out with. but not a good roommate

        I love the advice of channeling my AAM manager persona. Esp since Sarah is such an emotional person and she takes everything personal even if it’s clearly a logical decision I love your script too. I’m going to steal it, adjust it a bit and hope it works out!

    5. Blue_eyes

      What is she even doing in there all that time? If she’s that into hair and makeup, she needs to invest in a nice mirror/vanity set up in her bedroom. She either needs to change her bathroom habits, pony up for a private bathroom, or find other roommates.

      1. Judy

        I was going to say the same thing. That’s how a house with Mom, Dad & 3 girls survived one bathroom. Only bathing, toileting and things like teeth brushing were done in the bathroom. Any hair drying, hair curling, makeup, etc. was done in your own room.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          My neighbours had 5 children — 4 of them girls — and one bathroom. Somehow, with 7 people in a one-bathroom house (and not a large one at that), they managed to survive. Sarah needs to build a bridge so she can get over herself.

          1. Windchime

            This is the exact situation I grew up in. My parents had four daughters, plus my mom’s youngest sister. One bathroom, and it only had a tub (no shower). So the bathroom was for going to the bathroom, bathing, and brushing of teeth. Anything else like hair care or makeup happened elsewhere.

        2. Blue_eyes

          Exactly! When my husband lived with a makeup obsessed friend of ours, she found a desk on the street, painted it black, and filled it with trays of makeup and a big mirror. With a pink desk chair, it was the perfect place to do her beauty routines.

      2. Anne

        Exactly. That’s what we did in college with 3 girls to a bathroom. It worked out well for us once we figured that method out.

      3. Sunflower

        We don’t know!!! I’ve tried to ask her about it but she just kind of laughs it off. She has some body issues and I’ve seen her before just staring at herself in the mirror for 20 minutes . I think she’s in there just inspecting herself most of the time. She also has an eating disorder which has caused some IBS type issues but I don’t think that’s what is causing the extended time in there.

    6. fposte

      I just wanted to address the “Sarah has no other living options besides sticking with us.” She almost certainly does–she just isn’t considering them. She’s not going to be out on the street if you won’t give her a free parking spot.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I agree. I think that taking on a bigger financial responsibility is not going to be a good solution here. The actual problem is Sarah spends too long in the bathroom and no one else can use it. She is counting on your dislike of confrontation to get this time for herself. Think about that, she is using your own good nature against you. What’s it going to be at the next place? She brings home five cats that one or more of you are allergic to?

        I have no idea what will work for Sarah because it seems that she does not want it to work. Perhaps you can get a timer, everyone gets x amount of time in the bathroom each morning and before bed. Set the timer, when it goes off there person in the bathroom is DONE, they have to leave so the next person can use it.
        Or maybe you tell Sarah that she is the last person to use the bathroom because the rest of you are fairly quick.
        Or maybe you can tell her that she needs to see a doctor to find out why things are taking so long. Keep asking her if she has gone to the doctor yet.

        Living with other people to share costs is a privilege, not a given right. You have to re-earn that privilege every day. Which means, every day you have to be considerate of those you live with. Sarah does not seem able to do this.

        If Sarah gives you a bunch of tears about the bathroom time think of yourself months from now, you are in the new place, the rent is due and you can’t pay it. Your stomach is in knots over this. Think Sarah will be concerned? no. She will be in the bathroom doing whatever she does in there. It’s entirely possible that a new place will solve nothing.

  31. Kimmy Gibbler

    Speaking of moving, has anyone relocated across country recently (with family/school-aged kids), and if so how horrible was the ordeal? I’m seriously considering a job offer that would require a big move, and the thought of packing up/picking up and starting from scratch somewhere new has me rather terrified. The company would offer a very generous relocation package, so it’s not that, but the thought of selling my current home, figuring out where to live in a new city (and finding good schools for my kids), finding new doctors/dentists/orthodontists/veteranarian/therapist for my son who has some ADD issues — all of those day to day things leave me feeling completely overwhelmed. Not to mention making new friends and finding a new community to fit into (although I can say that I think ideologically and politically I would probably fit in much better with most people in this new location than I do in my current city/state). When I moved to my current location 10 years ago, it was just me, my husband, and a very young baby, we had no house to sell, and it was all much easier…

    (Hopefully this isn’t considered too “work related” even though the move would be motivated by a job change.)

    1. Anonymous Educator

      Moved cross-country twice in the last three years. No kids, no house to sell. Still a royal pain in the rear.

      Yes, finding new places to live, a new doctor/dentist/vet, etc. is a pain. Visits to the DMV. All that. Switching utilities providers.

      All I can say is once you commit to doing it, you do it. It’s not fun, but you don’t have much choice.

      But once it’s all done, there’s a small satisfaction you have that you got through it and can go back to “normal.”

    2. Clever Name

      I moved cross country when my son was an infant. It was an enormous pain in the ass, but much easier than moving with a kid who is old enough to have an opinion/get bored/can get himself into trouble

      I would recommend taking advantage of whatever relocation services the company offers, including having the movers pack your stuff for you. I would also suggest living in an apartment for 6 months to a year before buying a home. We put an offer on a house after a week of house hunting (we only had so much time in the corporate apartment) and it just wasn’t the right house for us.

      1. Kimmy Gibbler

        That’s a good idea — it can take a while to get to know a new area (especially a larger city) and figure out where you fit. If we do move, I would likely go in December while my husband and kids stayed behind until the school year is out in May (commuting home on weekends when I can). So, I’d have time to explore.

    3. MLT

      We moved across the ocean, and 7 years laterover back but to a different city. It is a lot of work, and it takes time to adjust, but it helps grow resilient children who aren’t afraid of starting over. It is,also great for family bonding if you handle it well, treating it like an adventure instead of something you fear.

    4. MsChanandlerBong

      I don’t have kids, but I just moved across the country. My husband I got rid of almost everything, and we drove five cats across the country over a total of four days. Honestly, I don’t miss any of the stuff I sold/donated, and the house is clean and clutter-free without all of it. Nothing, in my mind, is worth paying $4,700 to rent a U-Haul just to take it from one house to another!

    5. Treena

      My parents made 2 cross-country moves. One with me as a baby and one with me and my 2 siblings, age 6-11. They dumped us at a family friend’s house for a week and flew out to find the house we would be moving to, then came back home and packed up. It felt So. Unfair. at the time, but it would be a total nightmare to house-hunt in a new place with kids in tow. If you have a support system that can accommodate a similar set-up, I strongly advise it. This was also 15+ years ago, and the internet was a great tool for school districts, medical staff, and property listings. Now, it’ll be that much more useful. I’ve noticed that it’s easier for people with kids to make friends, as long as you’re ok with having a whole bunch of parent-friends.

      No matter what, moving sucks. It’s never fun. But the more prepared you are and the earlier you start (start purging NOW) the easier it will be. Also, bribing children during the move is perfectly acceptable. It makes it that much more bearable.

    1. C Average

      Awww, man. I miss you guys, too. I lurk here and there but, now that I’ve left the wacky corporate world behind, feel like I have little to contribute. (Stephanie, to whom I definitely owe an email, told me about this post.)

      It has been a truly bizarre and life-changing few months. My timing in leaving my job proved fortuitous: my stepkids’ mom (who’s bipolar) had a psychotic break while driving them home from a party (they thought she was drunk, persuaded her to pull over, and called me to come get them), and spent the subsequent week hospitalized. It was understandably terrifying for the kids. This happened when their dad was on a business trip, so I had to handle the whole mess on my own. The older one refuses to see her mother at all (it’s been five months now) and the younger one has just now become willing to ride in the car with her. We’ve gone from part-time parents of relatively stable kids to full-time parents of confused and rather traumatized kids. My life has been 100% about trying to help them feel safe and trying to facilitate healing and, I hope, some kind of functional relationship with their mom. It’s been challenging.

      To add to the drama, we’re having our kitchen/living room/dining room redone and have spent the past four months camping out in the basement, using the microwave and the wet bar and living in one another’s pockets. We’ve gotten to know one another REALLY well.

      Despite all that’s gone on, we’re all still standing. With a good therapist, the older one is learning to better manage her anger and has curbed some disordered eating behavior we were seeing for a while. The younger one is thriving–her resilience astounds me.

      I’ve gotten a little bit of writing done, but to be honest it’s generally the last thing on my mind. I make fits-and-starts progress on the novel, but I’m not happy with what I’ve written so far. Today at Powell’s I saw a poster of a Hemingway quote: “Write drunk. Edit sober.” Maybe I need to try that?

      The corporate world feels like a million years ago. I thought I’d miss it, but I haven’t for a single second. I am so very relieved to be out of that atmosphere. I only realized after I left how much of my mental and emotional energy was going toward nurturing relationships with people I couldn’t stand and trying to remain engaged with tasks that bored me senseless. I knew I was disenchanted with my job, but I didn’t realize how much so. It was like breaking up with a bad boyfriend I thought I still loved and realizing the magic had actually been gone for years.

      I don’t have any idea what my future career path looks like. I don’t anticipate attempting to get a regular day job again for at least a few years–my husband agree that having someone available to run the household and care for the kids has made a huge difference in everyone’s stress level.

      I definitely never thought my life would consist of giving up a career that didn’t excite me but that I’d worked hard to achieve in order to take care of someone else’s kids. But this honestly feels like the most important work I’ve ever done or possibly ever will do, so I’m taking it a day at a time and doing my best.

      Aren’t you glad you asked?

      By the way, hat tip to the screen name. “Jane Eyre” is my favorite book ever.

      1. Clever Name

        Wow. Those kids are blessed to have you, and you’re blessed to have them. You were meant to help parent them, even if they aren’t “yours”. Hang in there.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          Agree. And the kids? They’re yours. Because you stepped up and are being the parent they need, and you clearly love them. My grandmother gave birth to two children. She was mother to seven. There’s no more important work than what you’re doing right now. :)

          1. Not So NewReader

            I totally agree, the kids are hers, too. Actions speak louder than words- when mom got sick behind the wheel- who did they call?! They knew exactly who to call to get the help they all needed.

      2. TheLazyB (UK)

        Aww I was just wondering the other day what had happened to you! Glad to see you here even if just passing through. Sounds like things are stressful at the mo, hope you’re able to look after yourself too.

      3. Mimmy

        Hello stranger! Thank you for checking in and updating us on all that’s going on. I agree with Clever Name – sounds like you have helped make a real difference in your step-kids’ lives. Wishing you and the family the best with everything.

      4. Adele Varens

        Thanks for coming back with all your news. I’ve enjoyed your comments today.

        “Jane Eyre” is my favourite book too!

      5. Belle diVedremo

        Glad for the update.
        Your choices do sound well led, and the kids are lucky to have you.
        Please don’t think you have nothing to contribute. We’ve missed you here.
        (and thanks, Stephanie!)

      6. Tara R.

        Oh my god, I had a full body reaction to “they thought she was drunk and persuaded her to pull over”. Sooo scary. This has been one of my biggest fears since my dad started using again, that I’ll end up stuck in a car with him in an unsafe situation; let alone with my little brother, too. Passing on so much sympathy and support to your stepdaughter.

      7. Not So NewReader

        I was wondering if you weren’t posting much, because you thought you didn’t have much to talk about. Well you do actually have things to talk about- I hope you are able to post a little more in a little while.

        It sounds like you are doing life-saving stuff here, hands on life-saving stuff. Congratulations, too, on saving your own drowning soul from that job. A job should not suck that bad. You do sound better, not drained like before. The fact that you lasted at that job is a tribute to your inner strength, it takes a strong person to do that.

        There is no doubt in my mind that you will continue to have an interesting life with a diverse variety of things going on. And if you do pick a new employment path, I am sure which ever route you go, you will do it with style.

  32. Goliath Gary Willikers

    Are there any good options for learning math or computer science for adults who are not mathy or technical in any way?

    I’ve spent my entire life very disinterested in (and, frankly, intimidated by) most STEM fields because I was convinced my brain just doesn’t work that way. And to an extent, I think it really doesn’t. I’ve always been someone who processes the world in terms of words, stories, values, and emotions. (I’m a total INFP, if you put stock in Meyers-Briggs.) And yet, it still bothers me that I cannot do things like higher level math or coding. I want to understand these things, because I think they could make me a better employee and researcher (some of the recent developments in digital humanities, like using Bayesian statistics and data visualization, are very exciting to me as a historian, and I’d love to understand how the hell to do some of that.) And also because I just don’t like feeling stupid and incapable around a huge swath of human knowledge.

    Does anyone have advice for finding some kind of classroom or tutorship in STEM fields that would be geared toward someone like me? Especially something taught by an actual person who wouldn’t mind me needing them to back things up and explain a concept over again?

    1. Vorthys

      I’m not precisely going to answer your question, but I do suggest getting your math skills in shape. Evaluate where you think you are mathematically, and start by taking a course on the level below that or even lower. Try not to get too distracted by the numbers themselves and focus on the theorems and principles–the stories of how the numbers are manipulated. The numbers themselves don’t matter.

      Despite my job being 70% high level math, I’m not a “math person” and there’s even something of a joke going around at my job that I can’t add two integers together because I once publicly failed to in a meeting. It’s by focusing on the words that describe the math that I have gotten really quite good at modeling and data processing.

    2. AnotherFed

      If you live in an area with a good university system, look into classes geared towards applied mathematics or that treat software tools/basic scripting as tools to solve other problems – I hatehatehated statistics until I took a stats for engineers class that took the boring concepts and applied them to things I cared about, and taught us how to use some of the big stats software packages by making us use them to solve interesting research problems. I’m sure there’s got to be some sort of equivalent for social sciences – maybe in research methods, or a stats for X group class?

    3. Elsajeni

      This may sound weird, but I would suggest maybe looking into math education classes — I took a series of “math for the middle school teacher” and “math for the elementary teacher” classes as prerequisites for my teaching licensure program, and they were the best math classes I ever took in terms of getting me to actually understand what I was doing. I actually have always been pretty good at math, but my math education through high school was very procedurally focused — Doing Math meant memorizing tables of facts, or memorizing a series of steps and going through them mechanically until you ran out of numbers — and I really enjoyed, and also felt like I benefited from, some classes that focused more on the underlying concepts and relationships between numbers that make those rules and procedures work.

    4. Anx

      Can you find the stories in the math?

      I’ve had issues with math and science and I’m currently a science tutor and lab tech and do very little math (yet ironically I tend to do the math better than many of my colleagues, which surprises me).

      I have found that statistics seems to require more verbal skills than math skills to me. I’m also in bio, which I find is much more verbal than numerical (at least the subjects I work on/tutor).

    5. TheLazyB (UK)

      In a totally different vein, I will suggest “maths for mums and dads”, or a US/wherever you are equivalent. It starts with the basics but does a lot of talking about why maths matters and how fun it can be. I believe there is also now a secondary/high school version too.

        1. TheSadLazyB (UK)

          Ha sorry yes. I didn’t make that clear at all! Apparently these days maths is much more about the method and unserstanding what’s going on than getting the right answer. Maybe worth googling to get the idea even if you’re not going to buy it.

    6. LCL

      Try your local community college. They are really good at classes to fill in the gaps, and offer skills assesment.

    7. Not So NewReader

      “(some of the recent developments in digital humanities, like using Bayesian statistics and data visualization, are very exciting to me as a historian, and I’d love to understand how the hell to do some of that.)”

      I am guessing that this is where you want to go in learning more math? Have you tried googling for courses? I enjoyed the online courses I took. I found the discussion area was kind of like being here but the discussions were limited to the course work. Maybe you could find some very, very basic courses that will get you launched. I took some continuing ed courses through a community college that were online, it helped me get up to speed on using a computer while I actually used the computer to learn about computing.

      The rest of my response may not apply but here goes… I enjoyed accounting. It helped me to see how business tick, why managers/owners make the decisions they make. I took a physics course one time (it was mostly math) but I liked it because it was every day physics. For example, we used the actual formula for calculating the distance it will take your car to stop for a given speed of travel. I can groove on the stuff that is real/in front of me. I am not much on the theoretical stuff.
      I don’t think that these courses- physics and accounting- will put you where you want to be. I think you can probably take a more direct route.
      One last random thought, if you have a community college near you that might be your answer. The CS profs at my local college were not much to write about. BUT the people in the computer lab were INCREDIBLE. I sat through the class like a good soldier, but afterward I went to the lab and those folks showed me so much stuff. And they answered my questions respectfully, even though some of my questions were pretty basic. The college also offered tutoring, which there was a cost involved. But if you are learning in an arena that you want to learn you might catch on quicker than you think. And don’t forget the aging factor. Even a few years after leaving school, I found classes were much easier as I gained a little bit of life/work experience. I was surprised, you might be surprised also.

    8. Mockingjay

      Late posting, but have you looked at starting with a math computer program? My husband bought one a few years ago when he moved to a new engineering project and had to dust off his algebra. It had modules: algebra, geometry, some basic calc, and so on. It was about 40 bucks. It was useful for the kids, too.

  33. Persephone Mulberry

    Lately I’ve been fantasizing about what it’d be like if I had a sudden financial windfall that meant I wouldn’t have to work [for someone else] for, say, a year. I’d love to make a go of being a full-time artist (wow, a year ago that wouldn’t have even been on my radar as a possibility).

    How about you?

    1. RoseRed

      I would make a “career” out of volunteering in as many different places as possible, as a steady thing. This has been my ideal for a long time, but not having money coming in (or taking a lot of part time jobs and not having company insurance) is an issue. I just really like variety in my life.

      Beyond that, I would have a chance to travel more and also go to things like retreats and random events around the US that I’ve wanted to do but even my work’s generous PTO policy wouldn’t be able to handle.

    2. Kyrielle

      Just a year? I’d keep working, and save it for retirement. :|

      Ever? I’d retire, raise my kids, and keep house. Volunteer – the local no-kill cat shelter, maybe the school. Take lots of photographs and write poetry and go on nature hikes.

      1. Excel Millennial

        Yeah, me too, to be honest. I wouldn’t want to take a year off only to have to get back into it again. Like don’t get me wrong, I don’t like working, haha…but I’m with you.

    3. OfficePrincess

      My husband and I have this conversation often. We have a list, depending on how much we suddenly have.

      – Pay off student loans and cars
      – Husband quits his job to pursue music full time (right now it’s around 1/3-1/2 of his income)
      – Buy a house
      – Feel like we could actually afford to have kids
      – I either take a super low-stress job or use my time to volunteer/maybe go back to school (realistically, I’m starting to think I like being in school more than the idea of the job I would have at the end)/stay home with the hypothetical kids
      – Pay off my in-laws house
      -Send my parents on a dream vacation

    4. Dynamic Beige

      Honestly, by the time I paid off all the bills/loans, there would just be enough to give me a cushion for the next however many years. I could be more selective about how many jobs I took or who I worked for, but I wouldn’t be able to stop working with a million dollar payout.

      I remember when that Barenaked Ladies song came out “If I Had a Million Dollars” uh, yeah. By the time you buy the house, the furniture for the house, a car, pay taxes and get some new clothes that money is gone. In many places, a million won’t even get you a house :/

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I was thinking about this as I fell asleep last night for some reason and, if I had that kind of a cushion, I think that what I would do is spend the time and money to get in good shape. I’m not talking about running triathlons or anything like that, just lose the extra weight and be able to do more things without sweating like a plow horse. Hire a personal trainer, find someone to teach me to cook properly and develop good habits around all that kind of stuff. It may not be as altruistic as volunteering for a year but what I need is to get my health back. Being free(er) from the demands of clients would allow me to do that. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently, how to have a more normal life.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Nope, I haven’t. That’s one movie that never seems to be on TV at the time when I can see it.

    5. MsChanandlerBong

      I’ve been daydreaming a LOT about selling my own food and/or baked goods locally. I’d love to be able to prepare home-cooked dinners for busy people or something like that. When I’m supposed to be working, I’m really thinking of cupcake flavor combinations and looking at extremely expensive knives online. I’d also buy a Buffet R13 clarinet (with silver-plated keys).

    6. Anonyby

      If I had a sudden windfall (and it would need to be much bigger than one year’s worth of money!), I’d…

      -Pay off my CCs
      -Get a small house/condo in a decent area
      -Get a car
      -Keep just enough money in my bank accounts for food/bills/taxes/surprises/1-2 vacations, and then stash the rest in places that I can’t easily grab for a spending spree, where it would also build interest.

      Other ventures I’d like to do include starting up a small business… Ideas have included small restaurants (had one idea for vegetarian Californian-Mexican), and a soapmaking business… Also the idea of volunteering as jobs.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I’d use that year and the money to set myself up in business so I would never work for someone again! ;) The idea being to create a work place where I could hire people around me and hopefully their incomes would be stabilized also. (Not much work here, even in good times.)

  34. Stephanie

    Cardigan recommendations? Those are usually my default at work, but a couple of my trusty ones are looking a little too loved.

    1. pony tailed wonder

      I am currently lusting after a few from Modcloth. I can’t figure out how to look at the Modcloth site on my smart phone so I can’t tell you the names they are listed under but they were both new this week so if you look under the new stuff tab, they will most likely be there.

      1. pony tailed wonder

        One was a blue print and the other was a green print. Both bird related if I am remembering them correctly.

        1. Stephanie

          Yesssssss, the striped rainbow one looks fantastic. Although that is probably too cheery for my workplace. =/

          1. pony tailed wonder

            My workplace (library) has a lot of people who look great in black so as a group, we look like we are all going to a funeral on any given day. I would love it if they would all just take a few hours of hypnotizing themselves with pictures of puppies, kittens, unicorns, rainbows, and happiness before they go shopping for clothes. They are great people but I am certain that they can find other colors that they look equally wonderful in.

      2. brightstar

        If you’re brave enough to face the temptation, you can get the Modcloth app to use on your phone. I had it for a while but was buying way too much from it so I haven’t put it on my new phone.

      1. Stephanie

        Not in Arizona. :( I love their basics–their tops keep their shape and are a good weight. Sizing seems a little off, so I have to try on in person. I go there every time I’m in NYC. Apparently they’re on the Wesr Coast as well, so I should check them out.

        1. CA Admin

          Yes, they’re in LA (several locations) and the Bay Area (also several locations). Best store I’ve seen of theirs is in downtown SF. It’s huge! 4 stories and so many choices. I love their sweaters and jeans best.

    2. Lore

      My two go-to cardigans (navy and dark green) are from Old Navy but they seem to have a more natural fiber blend than this season’s version. Mine are cotton and rayon and very soft. But maybe they have different versions in store than on line?

  35. AnotherAlison

    Isn’t interesting when your emotional baggage that you thought you had dealt with sneaks back up on you?

    I have a lot of stuff from my parents. I see them as needed now (birthdays, holidays), but having grown up with a large extended family that I saw probably monthly, plus seeing grandparents and 1 aunt more than that, it sometimes leaves me lonely and I miss my family even though they kind of suck. I am really not sure why this was triggered this week, but it’s really been weighing on me. I dealt with a lot of the big stuff (my parents tried to get me to give my oldest son to my aunt and uncle and tried to break up my now-husband and I, among otherthings). It’s the little things that are now filtering their way into my consciousness. Their snide comments if I bought a car they didn’t like (when I was 35 not 18). How my mom had a family party and didn’t invite me (when we did see each other regularly). How my mom told me she didn’t buy the gift I asked for because it was more fun for her to shop for the things she did buy me (happens repeatedly). My dad forced me to take band my senior year because HE wanted to be a band dad (it was a group). He even had my sister change her college major to what he wanted the day he took her to enroll. And a million other things like that, up to my dad planning to sign one of my kids up for baseball because I didn’t and HE wanted him to play–I was ruining my DAD’S life.

    I think what I want is for them to realize they suck. I think they don’t realize what they are and what they’ve done, and it’s just between me and my husband and therapist. They think they raised happy, successful kids. They don’t actually care how we feel as long as they can prove their kids are better off then their friends’ kids. But telling them isn’t really an option. People like this either have to be told how they really are and then you cut them off, or you live with it. They won’t see the light when you tell them and change. They just twist it back to how I treat them terribly.

    I am 20 years into adulthood and still carrying around my mom’s insults from 3rd grade. I would love to not have the baggage, but I don’t seen it happening.

    1. fposte

      Captain Awkward is a fountain of helpfulness for this kind of thing, so if you haven’t had a look over there I recommend that you do. But I think you’re never going to get the response or realization from your parents that you want, even if you cut them off (it’ll just about about you being ungrateful or something), and that your goal can’t be about making them be a certain way in the present or the past because your life is worth better than that.

      People who wanted you to *give your son to their sibling* are not rational individuals capable of reasonably assessing their own behavior. Don’t chase that chimera.

      1. Today's Satan

        Yep, I agree. You’re never going to get them to see how dysfunctional they are. It will never happen.

        I “broke up” with my crazy, dysfunctional mother for six years. During that time I never figured out how to get her to see things my way (to understand just exactly how crazy she is), but I did learn good boundaries. Enough that she now lives with me and very much does NOT get under my skin. Even though she still favors my older brother and treats me like a second-class citizen compared to him. [Seriously, if we were both in a fiery car accident, she would drag his unconscious body out of the car while yelling to bystanders, “My daughter is still in the car, please see if you can help her!”]

        I still hear her snide comments from my childhood. . . [after one of her many boyfriends broke up with her, I came into the living room to ask her to drive me to soccer practice. Instead of answering, she spat at me, “I hope you’re happy, you little bitch, he’s GONE!”] . . .but they no longer have any power over me. Lots of people have said weird and crazy things to me over the course of my life — [screaming, raging homeless person on a busy street corner, anyone?] — so why would I let my dysfunctional, narcissistic, selfish mother hold any more weight than that stranger on a street corner? I can’t change the street corner person, to get them to see reason, and I can’t change my mom. I can only change me and how I react.

        Somehow, you have to give up the idea that you’ll be able to please them and/or change them. Counseling helped me with that, tremendously.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)

          My DH didn’t see any of his family for about six years. During which time we got married. They all behaved for a while when he got back in touch but quickly returned to their dysfunctional selves. Difference is, it doesn’t bother him as much now. I am not recommending this, especially as I know he misses the extra time he could have had with his grandparents before they died (they died 7 and 9 years after he got back in touch and we saw plenty of them in that time). But it’s an option. Holding it in secret might help you put up with them?

          1. AnotherAlison

            My husband had to cut off contact with both his parents a couple different times, and I’m not above using that option with mine. I’m not getting much out of the relationship now, so it’s mostly for them and my kids that I don’t. And they live <10 miles away. All it will take is a couple more of their maneuvers on my kids for me to pull the trigger. My dad likes to put little nuggets in my youngest's ear about how Dad does stuff with Big Brother and it's not fair. He's on thin ice.

        2. AnotherAlison

          Congratulations on moving forward! It’s no easy task. I agree, I won’t change them. Not only is it difficult to embrace that, but realizing as a parent with 2 kids I have to get those patterns out of my house is tough. Esp. since one kid is grown. I have been on the opposite end of controlling my kids and let them follow what they want to do, but I developed some of their other flaws.

      2. OK

        Capt is needlessly confrontational at times. They have some decent suggestions, but others….oh man. They’ll make things a million times worse.

        1. fposte

          Huh, I don’t see that myself. I don’t always agree with her or the commenters, but I think this is right in her wheelhouse. But I guess AnotherAlison can always skip it if it doesn’t suit her.

      3. AnotherAlison

        I haven’t spent much time at CA, but you’re right, that would be a good place to explore for this. My whole life would be lost to the internet if I started going there daily, I’m afraid.

        I was young (but not THAT young) when I had my son. I was 19 when he was born, and his dad was 21. But, it was one of those things that you did not see as completely effed up at the time if you were raised by these people — it seemed like something “caring” parents would do to make sure their kid had the best life possible (ummm, now I see that as a big nope). The irony of the situation with my son and husband is that my husband and I got married and are still married. My aunt & uncle got divorced probably ~5 yrs later. My uncle never had kids. Now I do completely see it for what it was, but I really didn’t know my parents weren’t nice, normal people until my 30s. I really wish I had because it would have saved me a lot of struggles. Early on, my parents would say XYZ is happening and my husband would say oh-hell-no-it’s-not (Christmas eve, or something like that), and I would be caught in the middle. Since I’ve learned they’re just manipulative, I can say with no guilt and without giving in to the pity party that we’re not coming over on Christmas Eve, see you on Christmas day, but for years I agonized over the guilt trips.

    2. Dynamic Beige

      It’s a very difficult thing to know with perfect clarity that your parents suck and there is absolutely nothing you can do to make them change. Sometimes, I really wish that I had had a mother. I mean, I had one but one that actually made me feel like she cared about me. I don’t think that feeling will ever go away, it will always pop up every now and then. My mother has been gone for more than half of my life and I still “hear” many of the things she said to/about me. I know it’s not me, it was her. I know that she should not have had children and that a lot of what happened to her, she allowed herself to be forced into/that she had a crappy life. I just wish that she had gotten her shit together before she had kids. That wasn’t possible, given the times and circumstances but she could have been such a better person if she hadn’t been so intent on imposing her will on everyone around her.

      Anyway, it’s been a few years now since I figured out that my mother was probably a narcissist (I say probably because I’ll never know for sure). You can try posting/reading RaisedByNarcissists on Reddit — lots of tea and sympathy there but not much actual help beyond knowing that you’re not alone and you’re not crazy/imagining it. Some people will have advice and tips for navigating issues like getting married or how to deal with Narcs and your kids. Trying to make you give your child to another family member — what the actual hell? There was one person on RBN that said after she gave birth, her mother tried to breastfeed her child. I will never get over that, that’s a whole ‘nother level of The Crazy.

      I also read a bunch of stuff, Trapped in the Mirror, Mothers Who Can’t Love, When Will I Ever Be Good Enough?, If You Had Controlling Parents (which I found the most useful). You might have already read some of these on the advice of your therapist. But if not, you might want to see if any of them apply. Mothers Who Can’t Love was written by Dr. Susan Forward, who also wrote Toxic Parents.

      It’s hard to give up the desire to want that approval from your mother/parents. To know that they’re proud of you and love you for who you really are, not just who they think you are or want you to be. That’s the hill you have to climb now, to know that you’re OK, you did the best that you could and, considering or perhaps in spite of your parents, you turned out well. You have great kids/happy marriage/fulfilling employment/friends whatever that you treasure about your life. And you’re not going to let some woman or man ruin that for you just because of biology and societal pressure to honour your parents. I wonder about that — how can you honour people who are not honourable?

      I met someone recently who told me a story about how when she was a little girl, she had entered a poetry contest that was running through the schools in her native country. When the magazine came out with all the winners, her poem was there but with some other girl’s name under it and she was incensed. Even though she is retired, she could still remember that feeling of injustice. So she told her mother and her mother blew it off, which made her feel even worse. No one seemed to care that this other person had gotten credit for her work. She continued to write poetry over the years for herself and recently decided to publish them in a book for friends/family in her native language. When she sent one of the books to her very elderly mother, she was amazed that her daughter had written a book and very impressed by what she had done, told her daughter so. I told this woman that she was lucky because after all those years, she had finally gotten her mother’s approval that hadn’t been given to her when she needed it, and that was a very rare gift, one that I would never have, that most people never got.

      1. Dan

        Yeah, I go through almost all of that with my mom. She’s a narc. She was a sahm — physically present but emotionally absent.

        The holiday that gets tougher and tougher for me these days is mother’s day. It’s hard to play along when my successes in life are in spite of my mother, not a result of a her excellent parenting.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          If you haven’t read them, the threads on RBN really ramp up around that time of year with people who have the exact same problem as you do. I remember standing in a Hallmark store once trying to buy a Father’s Day card and all of them were of the “Thank you Dad, for always being there for me!” variety. Hard to buy a card like that for someone who left when you were 5, and then ignored your existence as much as possible. *sigh*

          1. AnotherAlison

            So true about the cards. One year I found one that essentially said “Dad, hope you find whatever is missing in your life that will make you happy.” Score! Most of the time I just grab the minimalist cards.

            Dan, your description is close to my mom. I’m not sure she’s the narc- Dad is for sure. I think my mom is the “abandoned child” and plays the role of an emotionally immature child. She may be a narc, too, in her own way, but I guess I haven’t read enough to decide.

      2. AnotherAlison

        Thanks for the suggestions on RBN – I haven’t been there yet. I have read part of Trapped in the Mirror, but that’s it. I tried to read one other book, title forgotten, but it was convoluted. I left of with Boundaries and called it good, for the most part.

        Really good points on the pressure to honor your parents. What is so difficult with parents like ours is that they may seem outwardly honorable. When my husband cut off his mom, all I have to say is she’s been divorced 7x and you know it’s her, not us. You would have to be very astute to pick up on my parents’ emotional abuse. Each of their siblings (4 per side) were raised in the same toxic environments that bred my parents, and my parents didn’t really have close friends and neighbors. I guess I don’t have to care about justifying myself to society either, though!

    3. EvilQueenRegina

      The one that sneaked back up on me was about friends, not parents. When I was at university my so called friend (the one I posted here about ditching and whether I owed her an explanation) told me that the queen bee of the group had picked me as a friend just because I was physically there when her real best friend was on her year abroad. I thought I had shut the door on that until something I saw on TV last year. This one character was talking about why the queen bee of her friendship group had picked her friends (for being the smart one, loyal one etc) and I found myself wondering “Where was my good quality?”

      1. AnotherAlison

        That really sucks. I have never had an easy time with friends either (of course I’m starting to see more how my parents played into this, too, now), and I have had that sneak up on me. I think I responded to your post that I ditched a lifelong friend that didn’t know I ditched her because she effectively ditched me first. There are times I’m still pissed off about that. Mostly when I’m struggling with something like this and it would be nice to have an old friend to talk to!

        Sometimes the friends are even worse for “emotional baggage” because we choose each other. Families are an accident of birth.

    4. Not So NewReader

      You have some great suggestions here, OP. I am sure something will resonate with you and will help in some way.
      I am not sure that all the books/therapy/life experiences in the world ever totally take away our angry parents’ words. I do recommend reading the books, however.

      One suggestion I have is to stop looking for it to go away. Instead, respond to the memory/thought by saying, “Yep. That happened. And it is a part of the story of how I came to be the person I am today.”

      I hope you chuckle a little: My mother did not believe in explaining things. As I grew up, I kept reading and reading. I got so I could explain somethings to other people. I became an OVER-explainer because I was giving what I wanted to receive. I had to learn to how to stop explaining. One of my barriers was that I honestly did not know how much other people had learned about stuff. I figured everyone had a background like mine.

      Which leads me to my next point for thought. The longer I lived away from home, the more I saw what I missed in my childhood that other people had and took for granted. This did not make things better. It made things worse. I ended up getting more angry. So this is a point of vulnerability, as you get confirmation of what your childhood should have been like and wasn’t. To pile on more, you watch your adult friends have relationships with their parents that you will never have with your own.
      The reasons for sorrow, grief and angry seem to grow, not lessen. That is because you are viewing it as an adult and realizing the incredible scope of the problem from an adult perspective.

      Suggestions:
      1) Promise yourself that you will always take care of you, you will never let YOU down. This sounds really stupid, I know. Okay, say it out loud. Write it on the bathroom mirror and say it every day.

      2) Recognize that we all need older people to take an interest in us. This never goes away. Even someone as little as 9 years older than us can become an anchor in our lives. We need our parents to be anchors for us- someone who is stable/constant. If our parents don’t do that, then we must go find anchors. Are there older people around you that you have been ignoring? Perhaps you have an older relative/neighbor/friend that shows an interest in you, asks you how your day was, etc. Resolve not to let that skate by you any more. Take some time to talk with these people. Sometimes the world fills in our gaps here and there, if we let it.

      3) Get a book on grief. Grief isn’t just for losing people who died. There are many things in life that we grief. Learn about what grief looks like, how it manifests symptomatically, the stages of grief, the behaviors that go with grieving and learn about all the things in life that can throw us into a state of grief. There’s lots to learn here. And yes, grief also looks like anger. Then you can start to learn how to process grief- walking, journaling, self-care, therapy if you feel you need to do that.

      Ironically, sometimes I wonder if my mother had not been so out-to-lunch, would I be the person I am today? Or would I have ended up being a jerk? I honestly don’t know. We can’t live two lives concurrently. Initially, my knee jerk reaction was I would have been SOOO much better off with a different mother. The raw truth is I will never be able to prove that statement. Never.

      So here’s one more point: Rejoice in your own victories. When you have a win, tell yourself “good job”. Sometimes we starve ourselves of positive self-talk because we are waiting for someone else to say it. Say it to yourself ASAP, do not wait for ANYONE to tell you. Be your own best cheerleader for you.

      1. AnotherAlison

        NSNR, your post is full of good advice. One thing that really resonates is this:

        “Instead, respond to the memory/thought by saying, ‘Yep. That happened. And it is a part of the story of how I came to be the person I am today.'”

        I think that hits the nail on the head for what triggered this at this specific time. I’m not a great person. I’m not a liar or cheater. I’m a hard worker. I provide for the family. But, I’m not the most emotionally evolved parent. I think I do better than my parents (see: not a liar or cheater), but I hear myself say to my kids that I do not have time for X problem right now. . .and I have little patience (for real, my son was making bird noises all day yesterday). So, things I hate about myself are very much a part of what I carried forward from how I was raised. The good things? Well, my dad weighed heavily on my career, and I’ve recently had some setbacks. I was pretty happy as long as I could point to External Career Validation that I was doing well. Same exact work, remove the external validation (perks), and suddenly I’m not so happy. And then my husband became very busy with his work, and we’re running our teenager off to college visits separately and the relationship seems to drift away. NOT REALLY, but I have abandonment issues (the therapist has helped with this). It is the perfect storm.

        Anyway, I really appreciate your comment, and the part on grief is very insightful. I will look into reading up on that. It is exactly how I felt when I realized my childhood was a lie.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Again, I hope you chuckle. I don’t have kids so this is funny- me- talking about kids. I have a dog. He is a very independent thinker. He is having a life and I am in his way. Sometimes he gets going on silly stuff. I learned to do the activity with him and he stops doing that particular thing. For example: He is a part husky. I found that he howled a lot. I sat down and howled with him. After two weeks of this silliness, with us howling together, he stopped. He does not howl any more.

          I had to read to find out how to deal with a husky. I never had one before. Fortunately, I found a site that said to howl with your husky. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. His howling was tugging at my heart strings so badly and I did not know how to get him to stop.

          I bet you can find bird whistles on the internet. You and your child can do bird calls together. I totally get the fact that the bird whistles were annoying. I was mad at my dog for being so noisy and for tugging on my heart so much. Reading is our friend and knowledge is power. Likewise, almost anything that we find ourselves short in, we can google or find library books on that topic. If our parents short us because of their parenting methods, that is not our fault. But if we don’t try to find ways to teach ourselves what we don’t know, then we let ourselves down in a way that is bigger than anything our parents did. That hurts even more and tends to make the problems with our parents even larger.
          Part of your quest might be to learn some of those things you have always wanted to know. It took a bit, but I decided that this part is actually fun Now, I enjoy getting myself up to speed on things I “should have known” right along.

    5. Karma FTW

      Thanks to all of you who responded. I wanted to let people know I did come back & read the comments & advice.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Used a different name today on my work computer, so that kind of defeats the purpose. LOL. Oh well. I use a pseudonym to my pseudonym maybe 3x per year & always forget.

  36. Pennalynn Lott

    I haven’t been on AAM for many, many weeks because school is kicking this middle-aged woman’s ass. :-) However, I have managed to lose 35 lbs since June 20 (see upthread about Nerd Fitness), and I did really well on my mid-terms [lowest grade was an 84 (in Calculus), highest was a 98 (in an IT class).]

    My question for the group is this: Does anyone here know someone who has had hip implants who then took up running? My surgeon said high-impact *anything* is a big no-no, but now that I’m getting into better shape I dream nightly that I’m running. I’m curious if anyone has done it, post-implant, and if they’ve been doing it long-enough-term to see if the implants were damaged and needed to be replaced prematurely. Anyone? Anyone know anyone?

    1. fposte

      From what I can see, plenty of people run after hip replacements, but it matters what device you’ve got (I’m guessing implants are in the same ballpark, yes?); it’s likely running will wear them out faster, but just how much faster will depend.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Or swimming.

        The running you’re doing in your dreams might not be actual running, it might be a metaphor for how well your life is running now, that you’re making great strides/progress in your life or something along those lines. I think that if you’ve had hip replacement surgery, work on getting fit in other ways, listen to your doctor and revisit the issue of whether you can run or not in a while. It would really suck to undo all the work you’ve done by injuring yourself. A bunch of people I know took up running a few years ago and every single one of them can’t do it any more because of injuries, knees, feet, ankles mainly.

    2. CoffeeLover

      Running is pretty hard on the joints in general. I would probably listen to your doctor on this one. There are plenty of other ways you can get a good cardio workout that won’t unnecessarily strain your hip joints. I’ll add though that if you’re really eager to run, to make sure you’re running properly. A lot of places offer running workshops that teach you to run properly and minimize the risk of injury.

    3. Mephyle

      I know this is very much not what you asked, but consider classes with weights*. I say this as another middle-aged woman who thought that lifting weights must be the most boring exercise in the world – until I tried it. That turned me around. My joints won’t let me run, but they’d be in a lot worse condition if I didn’t do weights.

      *e.g. Les Mills Body Pump, or Body Training Systems’ Group Power classes.

  37. Tanaya

    I am concerned about a girl that I tutor and not quite sure what to do about it. We both go to the same school and she’s a few years behind me. The arrangement is private tutoring but I got hired and am paid by the school. (She is part of a minority that have a dedicated student centre on campus. The centre has a tutoring program matching their students with older ones because of educational disadvantage and lower retention/graduation rates for this minority group.) I fill in mid semester and end of semester progress reports to them, and have a. supervisor there who matches me with students, but who I don’t see aside from that.

    We’ve been working together on all of her subjects for a couple of months and get on well. I know she has home issues, such as her brother being on a psych hold at the moment for drug / suicide attempt issues. Also, she just had to move on campus hurriedly because she broke up with her boyfriend of several years. (She was living with his family because she can’t live with her own.) While these stories are sad, they’re also true for most of the students at this centre. (They come from the most disadvantaged group in my country.)

    The thing that specifically concerns me about this girl is the self harming behaviour I’ve been noticing in our last few sessions. A week ago, when we met, I noticed she had cuts all up and down her left arm. I pretended not to notice and halfway through she put a jacket on and I couldn’t see them anymore. I had never seen any marks on her before so I thought I’d wait and if I saw it again, I’d say something to her.

    On Friday, we had another session and I saw it again, some old, some fresh. I didn’t say anything because we weren’t in private and I didn’t know what to say. What surprises me the most is she makes zero attempts to cover it, so I can’t be the the only one who’s noticed. I was thinking maybe I should leave it to other people who know her better to address since she’s not hiding it, but I don’t really feel comfortable just pretending not to notice something like this and feel like I should make an effort to ask if she’s okay or try and help. Especially because I’ve been a bit mentor-y to her in other ways. Giving her advice about how to decide whether to change her major, etc.

    Her not covering it at all feels like a cry for help that I’m not answering. I dated a guy who had self-harmed when he was younger and the first time we slept together, I found that he had marks from old cigarette burns all over his inner thighs. He had done it there because it was a massively secretive thing for him and the last thing he wanted was for anyone to ever find out. This girl seems to be the complete opposite. I don’t know if she’s been expecting me to say something or how I should help. Any advice?

    1. Hellanon

      Does your school have a counseling center? They may be able to help you, either by reaching out & doing a`wellness check or by talking you through how to approach the subject yourself. I’ve handled it both ways when I’ve had students who’ve seemed to need help, but given that you’re a peer counselor, not faculty, I think talking to the counseling center would be the best place for you to start – they probably have procedures for handling these kinds of situations that protect both you and your tutor-ee.

      (And seriously, good for you for noticing & wanting to help – my students have told me that they’ve really appreciated even simple offers of help, esp. when they were in over their heads, as sounds like might be the case here.)

      1. Tanaya

        Thanks for your reply. Our counselling centre is a bit if a joke. It’s really under-resourced and everyone kind of knows not to bother trying to get help there. I know she already has a counsellor / psychologist outside if school because she’s cancelled sessions a couple of times when they clashed with appts. Presumably she is still seeing them. Just not sure whether I should also say something to her.

        1. Hellanon

          What ‘ll sometimes do is to open the door by saying, “Hey, is everything okay?” and let them decide whether to walk through (and how far). Your best bet is to listen without trying to solve anything – don’t make suggestions, don’t leave them with the impression that they need to try something you are recommending, just let them talk and be heard. It’s hard to do this – we’re wired to try and help – but the farthest I ever go on the suggestions front is requesting their permission to reach out to our counseling service on their behalf. In your case, if that’s not an option, just listening can be a huge gift – but don’t solve.

    2. Observer

      Talk to your supervisor and to the student counseling center. If the student center that pays has a dedicated counseling arm that would be best, but if not then whoever deals with mental health in your institution. If you don’t get any help think about what practical help you can give her or point her to, then tell her you noticed that she’s hurting, and offer what you can. Saying “can I help with anything” if you are not able to follow through can be hugely destructive.

    3. Lisa

      Is there a prof or supervisor you trust who you can ask about other resources? Sometimes profs will know of specific counsellors who are good or campus doctors who are helpful for mental health as well as physical health. Depending on your community there may be free options at a public health unit or local hospital or there may be a toll free emergency hotline or similar that you can give her if you think she may not have other supports in her personal life. Being available to listen is often helpful if you are up for it and if it’s appropriate at your work, but if you aren’t trained in mental health you may not feel comfortable with this and that’s all right too. If you are worried about suicide I’d definetly look into what resources are on campus (clinic with doctors or counselling centre) – they can also help you with what signs to watch for – for example if she has a plan for suicide that is a big warning sign that professionals need to be involved if she will accept the help.

  38. CA Admin

    Some context:
    I have an old friend that I grew up with and our families are very close. He and I were basically brother and sister, his mom and dad are my little sister’s godparents, and we’ve all been to each other’s major life events. He lived in my parent’s house for a year and a half after college when he was looking for a job, rent-free. His family has always been more “Jesus-y” than mine and he’s always been the most conservative of the bunch, but we’d always gotten along, despite our religious differences, until he got engaged to a woman who’s a very conservative fundamentalist Christian. My sister is gay and I’m pretty liberal, so she was never comfortable around us and it really showed.

    Fast forward–my sister is getting married in 2 weeks. We found out from his mom that he wasn’t coming about 10 days ago, which upset the family, but we decided to reserve judgment because we didn’t have a concrete reason. Then a letter came. He wrote to my sister outlining his reasons for staying away (despite the fact that they live 2 miles from the venue), which sum up to “I don’t believe in it, so I can’t support you”. TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE WEDDING.

    Why on Earth would someone do this? It’s so selfish and self righteous. You’re not going to change her mind about marrying her fiance, so why would you add that unnecessary stress? Why is it so important that she knows you disapprove? Why couldn’t you suck it up and be happy that she’s happy or at the very least, invent a polite fiction about why you’re not coming? It’s completely destroyed his relationship with my entire family–everyone is so upset with him (even his family is apparently pissed and appalled by his behavior).

    I’m just so mad and sad and worried for my sister. What a terrible thing to experience from someone who’s supposed to love you. I contrast it with our long time neighbors–they’re both conservative Christian ministers who’re anti-gay marriage and even they’re coming. They love my sister and believe that supporting her and the family are more important than dogma. After all, nobody’s forcing them to participate in the ceremony, so it’s not violating their beliefs. Why couldn’t my (ex) friend behave the same way?

    I just can’t even…who does that?

    1. Neruda

      We had dinner with my father in law 6 weeks before our wedding. He said we may have noticed he hasn’t RSVPd… Because we were living together before we got married so he thought the ‘best way to support us was by not coming to the wedding’. Long story short he came to the wedding but geez, he definitely got to make his point before doing so. He is a d*ck.

    2. fposte

      Or even be unable to make it, so sorry, thanks for asking. But to treat a wedding invitation as a referendum on your views about the marriage is hugely self-involved.

    3. nep

      I hope neither you nor your sister will spend precious energy being sad and/or mad about such asinine behaviour. It’s not worth the time and energy.

    4. Catherine in Canada

      The night before my wedding, my mother collapsed weeping, “I love P, and I know you’re happy, but why do you have to marry a Catholic?”

      1. Lily in NYC

        How dramatic! LOL. I went out with a guy who told me he could see himself marrying me but that I’d have to pretend to be Catholic until his mother died. The sentiment was bad enough, but what made it even worse is that this was our first (and only) date.

        1. fposte

          I had a friend down the block when I was seven. His mother told my mother that it was nice that he and I were friends but it should probably stop, since we could never get married as I’m not Jewish.

          My startled mother muttered something about time likely taking care of that all on its own.

    5. the gold digger

      Rude people do that.

      A friend invited me to her 18-year-old son’s wedding to a girl he had been dating for three months.

      No, she was not pregnant.

      They went through no pre-marital counseling. They were 18. Three months of dating.

      I could not support that – it was such a bad idea. But I never told my friend that. I just told her my boyfriend would be in town that weekend (invite was just for me), so I would not be able to attend.

      I was not happy to see the kids divorce a year later, but anyone could have seen that coming.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Yeah… been there, done that. Except it was my sister, so not attending was not an option. Long story full of dirty laundry, which I know you love from your comment above but I don’t feel like being sad today.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Hey, if we were to meet up for coffee, I’d tell you the very long, sordid tale. It’s been so long that I can look at it with more detachment and see all the things I did wrong in the situation. But… it’s the Internet and stuff you post is there forever. Which is another reason I really have to think about keeping a lid on it.

        1. Dan

          Heh. If you haven’t read my comment to you in the parent narc thread, please do.

          After I got married to my wife, my dad tells me that he sees similarities between my wife and my mom.

          After I got divorced, I told my dad that if he sees similarities between my mom and my next gf, please speak up before I get married, I’d like to avoid the headaches next time, thank you very much.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            My mother always used to say “watch how a man treats his mother… because that’s exactly how he will treat you!” I told this to my father once and he snorted and said that he should have paid attention to how she treated her father, because that cuts both ways.

            If it’s any comfort Dan, odds are you’ve gotten it out of your system. I’ve read that it’s pretty common to replicate the relationship with the “worst” parent. Something about it’s less threatening to act out the dynamic with a non-parent figure whom you can leave and not have the same break with that you would with a parent. Just knowing it is half the battle and since your eyes are open now, I doubt you would make the same mistake again.

    6. Not So NewReader

      “I don’t believe in it, so I can’t support you”.

      “Okay, then. I hope you have a good life.”

      Who does this? Someone who did not catch the part where Jesus said, “Above all else, love each other.”

      I say refuse to deal with it until after the wedding. Then after the wedding, decide not to deal with it at all. I am saddened to hear the family is in an uproar over this, what he deserves is dead silence. He wanted to throw a monkey wrench into the works and being upset over it just grants him power. The fact is the wedding will go on with or without him. He is creating unnecessary drama and deserves to be handled accordingly. Yes, he hurt people. But the person he hurt the most was himself- because now he has lost all these friends over it. Consider the wedding a “drama llama free zone” and keep going forward.

  39. Exception: If you died after the singularity, you may be a genuine resurrectee

    Trailer time!

    The Magicians based on the series by Lev Grossman.

    The Expanse based on the series by James S. A. Corey.

    Childhood’s End based on the book by Arthur C. Clarke.

    The Leviathan based on the book by Herman Melville?

    Ultraman based on a film by Akira Kurosawa.

    SUNDAYS based on a song by The Carpenters.

    Note: trailers are notoriously unreliable at accurately conveying the true ‘goodness’ of a movie. But The Magicians looks like it could kick ass. Also, I think it’s cool that Lev Grossman is the brother of Austin Grossman (also a writer) and Bathsheba Grossman (artist).

    1. Goliath Gary Willikers

      The Magicians was partly filmed in my grad program’s building. I’ll probably end up seeing it just to play “spot the location,” so it’s a plus that it actually looks promising.

    2. Computer Guy Eli

      Nope nope nope nope. That leviathan trailer was too spooky for me. I hate massive swimming/flying monsters

    3. Windchime

      I love “Childhood’s End”. This trailer makes it look like the movie will be very different from the book and that makes me sad.

  40. CoffeeLover

    Does anyone here have a good story about completely changing the direction your life was taking? I don’t mean for this to be a work-related question, but I do realise work is a big part of our lives. It could be something like deciding to move across the world, getting out of a relationship you were sure you would be in, and generally picking a path in life that was unexpected. I guess I’m feeling in a bit of a rut, and thought some cool stories could help spur me into action.

    1. RoseRed

      So my life is completely different now than it was a few years ago, and it was extremely unexpected (but good!). Right before what was ostensibly a simple study abroad trip, I “had it all planned out”: I was going to marry the person I was dating at the time (despite reservations about our relationship), get a degree in music education, and live pretty much where I grew up.

      Then I went on the trip and ended up meeting my actual future husband. We didn’t start dating until after we got back, but when I got back I broke up with my then-boyfriend due to the above-mentioned reservations. I finished college, and instead of getting my teaching certification right away, I moved halfway across the country with Future Husband. Then I went back to school for something quite different than my original plan. Then we moved to a rural town that was the polar opposite of the urban metropolis I always thought I’d end up in. I tried lots of new things, and I love things now that Original Plan Me wouldn’t have touched with a ten-foot pole. Sometimes I think the me that was in college almost ten years ago wouldn’t recognize me now.

      But I’m happier than I’ve ever been. :-)

    2. Ruffingit

      After my divorce, I decided to pursue law school in a city halfway across the country. I was living in my tiny hometown on the west coast, working at a job I liked, but that was never going to offer any kind of advancement to me. I decided to pack up and move, go to school, and start over. Took about a year to get everything in place, including applying to law school and gathering the application materials for that. I’ve been here 13 years now and I’m actually thinking now about making another move in the very near future.

      Sometimes, you’ve just got to take a step, even if you can’t see the staircase in front of you.

    3. CLT

      Po Bronson wrote a great book called What Should I Do with My Life? He interviewed hundreds of people and chose 50 stories of change to include in the book. Very inspirational.

      When I was in my 20s, I thought I would be a teacher all my life. 30 years later I can say I have had multiple careers and lived in 2 countries, and life has been way more interesting than I had expected.

      Listen to those nagging feelings that there might be another path for you. The times in life when I ignored those feelings, I ended up depressed and I had to work harder to shift paths.

    4. The Other Dawn

      My life has changed a lot in the last few years, some of it planned and some of it not.

      The bank I had worked for for 17 years shut down in 2013, so I had to pick a direction to go in the Banking field; I picked the wrong one, BUT it helped me figure out what I DON’T want to do, which lead me to the awesome bank I’m at now. Several months after the first bank closed, I had gastric bypass surgery (Dec. 2013) and lost about 135 pounds over the last year and a half. And during that time, my husband and I decided we just couldn’t stand living where were at and bought a house upstate, which is much more country-like than where we were.

      My husband asked me just the other day, if I knew then what I know now, would I still have done it all (we went through Hell this last year with having to evict the tenant (a friend!!) from the old house, money problems, house problems on both ends, cat tragedies, etc.). I had to think about it for a minute, and then realized that, yes, I would, even with all the crap we’ve been through the last year. I’m a peace, I love my house and where I live, and I’m healthy.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Forgot to add that I know exactly what you mean about feeling like you’re in a rut. I actually call it feeling stagnant, but same thing. You need to do some thinking and then do something to shake things up a bit.

        1. CoffeeLover

          Thank you for sharing. Keeping in mind that you’re learning what you DON’T want to do is such a great perspective. A lot better than “I made a mistake and wasted x amount of time doing this”.

          My parents moved to a new country with two young kids. They’re in a good place now, but they had a hard time getting there. My dad would say, “If I knew how hard it would be, I would have never made the decision to move here. But I’m happy I didn’t know.”

          It’s funny you use that word “stagnant”. I was talking to a friend and said that same thing. My life feels like it’s being put on hold for the moment. I do have some great plans (moving to a different country, getting my MBA and changing career paths), but I just started a pretty great job (great, but not what I want to do forever), so those plans are in 2-3 years. That amount of time isn’t a lot, but it’s starting to feel like an eternity.

  41. cuppa

    I need help adulting!
    I think I need glasses, or at least need to get my eyes checked.
    Where are good places to go? About what should I expect to pay (I don’t have vision insurance)?

    Thanks!

    1. the gold digger

      Vision insurance is not really a good deal – it costs only about $60 for an eye exam (in the upper Midwest in the US) and glasses will run you a few hundred dollars, depending on the frames. I am assuming that you do not need bifocals – that drives the price up! Watch Macy’s, Penney’s, etc, for sales. WalMart used to have optometrists in the store – that was a good deal.

      If you live near an optometry school, go to the school for your checkup. It will be either free or close to free and you will get the best checkup you have ever had. It is students, but they are super careful and they are supervised by practicing optometrists and ophthalmologists.

      Vision insurance (and I have done the math on this) is a good deal only if the employer pays all of the premium or if you start a job in October and pay only three months’ of premiums to get an exam and glasses.

        1. the gold digger

          Oh yeah – it was the ophthalmologist professor who looked at some scan and my list of meds and told me that one of my meds was likely contributing to my migraines. This was information I had never gotten from my own internist, who had prescribed the med and with whom I had discussed my migraines in great detail.

    2. nep

      I went to the optometrist my brother sees for an exam (good to get regular eye exams — not just for vision issues but overall eye health). I don’t have insurance for it either — but the visit was not too expensive. He’s given me prescriptions for the lenses I need but I’ve not put out the money for ‘real’ glasses — still using readers.

    3. Ruffingit

      You can go to a lot of the big chain stores, quite a few have optometrists on site – Walmart, Target to name two. You can also Google optometrists for your town, although it’s been my experience that the chain stores are cheaper.

      I’ve paid around $100 for an exam and then the glasses/lenses cost depended on what frames I had. One thing to do if you’ve already got frames you like is ask that they just fit the lenses to your current frames. That will definitely save you some money.

      1. Not So NewReader

        It could be just me- but I have been buying eye glasses at Target and having the best luck. I cannot kill the frame, and it’s not from the lack of trying. Their prices have gone way up in the years I have been going there- easily doubled. But I know I have glasses that will hack the stupid things I do to them.

        1. Windchime

          My current Target doesn’t have an optometry department, but I used to buy glasses there all the time in my old town.

          Currently I buy my glasses at Costco. My last eye exam was there, too. I think I paid $75 for the exam and a couple hundred for the glasses.

    4. Today's anon

      Check to see if your ophthalmologist is covered by your regular health insurance. Mine is and so I just pay the “expert” co-pay, and get a fuller exam. Where I live (big city) there are some frame makers who have occasional sample sales and that might be a way to save (they sell them for $30-$50 which is really a bargain). Some of the things that drive costs up for the glasses: getting thin or extra thin lenses, adding glare coating, adding the thing where the glasses get darker if you are outside, bi or tri focals; depending on what you have you may decide they are worth or not. Some friends have gotten their glasses online much cheaper (you email the prescription) but I have not tried that (but then I have a complicated prescription).

      1. the gold digger

        For sure this would be covered if you are going to the doc for medical reasons, ie, “I am getting headaches could it be my vision?” as opposed to, “I just want an RX for glasses.”

        Speaking from experience and a $200 bill that my insurance did not pay.

        1. Today's anon

          Ouch! I’ve never had to state a problem so maybe it varies across plans? Or maybe because my ophthalmologist is in network? I am really sorry, $200 is a lot!

          1. Natalie

            I definitely varies across plans.
            My health insurance covers one vision exam every two years, completely separate from my vision insurance. Just the exam though, no lenses.

        2. Stephanie

          Yeah, seconding this. My coworker recommended his ophthalmologist. Luckily, the receptionist gave me a heads up that insurance wouldn’t cover it since I just needed a vision check and new glasses Rx.

    5. Noah

      I wear contacts and the exams always runs around $100. Is believe a normal exam without the contact fitting is a bit cheaper. I generally use FSA money.

      I don’t wear glasses day to day, but I have two pairs, both purchased online. One at EyeBuyDirect and one at Zenni Optical. Although their glasses are not the best quality, they were under $30 each. For me that’s good enough for wearing at night when I take my contacts out.

      I currently wear daily disposable contacts. Not inexpensive but they are so comfortable. Also by the time you purchase cleaning solution for the two week or one month disposables it is probably a wash.

      1. CA Admin

        Warby Parker is great–$150 total for frames and lenses is a real bargain. That said, their frame selection is kind of limited and they all are in pretty much the same style, so if you aren’t into hipster chic, you might have a hard time finding some that you like. They don’t do the exams, just sell the glasses, so you’d need to go to an optometrist first.

    6. periwinkle

      Costco! You need to be a member to buy glasses or contacts there, but you do not need to be a member to use their inexpensive optician services. I haven’t paid attention to the eye exam price on recent visits but recall that it was $50 when I checked in late 2014.

      1. Stephanie

        Yes yes yes yes, Costco. My -8.00D blind self can get an entire pair of glasses for $150. It’s pretty much the only reason I keep the membership.

    7. Mephyle

      Check the difference between an ophthalmologists, optometrist and optician.

      The tl;dr is:
      • ophthalmologists are physicians specialized in eye care. They diagnose and treat if something is wrong with your eyes like a disease or a condition. They can diagnose your vision and prescribe corrective lenses, but it is not their specialty the way it is for an optometrist.
      • optometrists are vision experts. They diagnose your vision and prescribe corrective lenses. They can recommend you to see an ophthamologist if they see or suspect a disease or condition that should be dealt with medically.
      • opticians are corrective lens technicians. They are the experts who know how to fit glasses and contact lenses, given a prescription from an ophthalmologist or optometrist.

    8. Jenniy

      2 options
      1- look up a company called America’s best. They offer 2 pairs of glasses (frames and standard single vision lenses) for 70$, and the eye exam is free. If you don’t need glasses, or don’t buy the glasses from them, the exam is $40.
      2- go wherever for the exam, and get a copy of your prescription if you need glasses. The eye doctor cannot refuse to give you a copy. You can take this to somewhere like BJ’s Sam’s Club or Costco and get a discount on glasses, or go online to Zennioptical.com or look up coastal glasses they do very cheap glasses as well. Still good quality but much cheaper.

  42. Lily in NYC

    LaGuardia’s flight path changes often and when it does, planes fly right over my head. I have been dealing with apartment-shaking airplane noise every 45 seconds starting at 6am. It tends to last until 11pm, so I guess I’ll have to close my windows on this beautiful fall day!

    1. Today's anon

      As someone who flies out of LaGuardia every so often (and I tend to like those really early morning flights), I am so sorry :(

    2. The Other Dawn

      It really sucks living in a place that’s close to a business that creates a lot of noise.

      I used to live on a dead end street in an industrial/residential area. The pasta business next door to me would get liquid nitrogen deliveries at least 4 times a week, or more, and usually right around dinner time. Or early on a weekend morning when I’m trying to sleep. It sucked so bad to not be able to open my windows and enjoy the spring/fall breezes.

      1. Steve G

        I can’t wait to move to the country when I’m older. Since school started most mornings there is someone who has to beep at the school bus when it stops on my street at barely 7AM. Why do you think the bus is stopping?! I can’t believe how many people sit and beep at school buses. I live in a street that is 2-way but isn’t really wide enough to be, cars slow down to a near-stop when they pass eachother….but that doesn’t stop tractor trailers from coming through, which results in lots and lots of huge brake squeaking in the middle of the night. Then there are the bottle collectors. Sometimes as many as 5 people come by and go through ours and our neigbors recycling on recycling day, banging glass against glass in the middle of the night. It was really bad this summer, with the noise, and sometimes the need to rebag the recycling in the middle of the night/very early morning. They completely dessimated my neighbors garbage/recycling last week. He was PO’d!. It was all over the place….not sure what they were looking for…….

    3. Mephyle

      For fun, you can watch the planes take off and land on the map at flightradar24-dot-com. The flight path changes depending on the wind. From experience, it is much noisier when they are taking off over one’s head than when the path is reversed and they are landing.

    4. Anonyby

      I feel for you! The university I went to is right in the flight path for McChord AFB. The jets would be so loud that you couldn’t hear the professor speaking (and many didn’t even pause to wait for the plane to pass). And these were tiny classrooms! Desks only three or four deep. The giant auditorium classes were completely inside and thus protected from the jet noise enough to not be a problem.

      It also meant that if a plane came down at night and I had my TV on, I wouldn’t be able to hear the TV… But that’s not quite as important. lol

    5. CAA

      I totally sympathize. A couple of weeks ago I was participating in a very long work conference call from home when the navy decided to empty an entire aircraft carrier onto the nearby navy base. So I spent the whole call hitting mute and trying to remember to unmute and struggling to make myself heard over the noise of fighter jets.

      Then a few days later the Blue Angels were practicing over our office which is near a different base, and once again, I was on a conference call with many of the same people. I’m sure by now they think I either live inside an airport or in a war zone.

      Thankfully we are having a nice quiet Sunday today. I hope your day improves too.

    6. Dan

      I had an office at the end of the runway at Dulles airport in DC, and never even knew were by an airport. I’ve always wondered what the noise is “really” like to those who complain. Just how bad is it?

      Coincidentally, this was a company who does some airspace design work.

    7. Ada Lovelace

      Oh that is terrible. I recently noticed the changes when I was wondering why the super for the building complex behind me was using his leaf blower so much. The leaves haven’t started falling yet! I’m seeing about one plane flyover every five minutes right now. Have you checked with your councilwoman? I read one of the councilwomen from Flushing took surveys about the noise complaints and is filing complaints to the FAA on behalf of her constituents.

  43. fposte

    Fabric hounds! I’m looking to redo a couple of spots in my house, and I’m having a hard time finding something I like. I like big prints in an abstract or graphic style–basically, I like Marimekko stuff but haven’t found quite the right pattern in there yet. I love looking at Spoonflower and at a lot of the Japanese prints but they’re all very small, or at least the ones I’m finding are (I’m pretty sure that’s true across the board at Spoonflower but I may have ended up in quilting territory on the Japanese fabric and missed bigger stuff). I’ve been disappointed by the general fabric shops online so am looking for a merchant or design family; I’m currently trawling through various online home decor sites. Any suggestions?

    1. Marcela

      Have you searched in Etsy? Although I am not experienced enough to buy fabric online, except quilting cotton, very recently I discovered some fabric shops in there, with great prints and prices around the same of JoAnn. They are local, in the US I mean, so it’s not like buying from the far Orient and waiting one month just to discover yo were mislead by the description. And you can get swatches.

      1. fposte

        I’ve done some looking in Etsy and results are mixed–there’s a ton of fabric and most of it is geared to quilters and pillows, so it’s smaller prints again. But I very much enjoy looking, and there’s also stuff there to stamp and stencil your own fabric so maybe that’ll tempt me, too.

    2. Windchime

      How about Ikea? They usually have a few large-scale prints similar to the Marimekko style and I think their stuff is pretty reasonably priced.

  44. Carolina

    Did anyone here do an exchange semester while they were in University? I’m currently debating whether it is worth doing one. It seems like such a great opportunity but it will also extent my enrolment by a year so I’m really on the fence at the moment and would love to hear both the good and the bad about whether it was worth it from people who have been. There is also the option to do a short-term program for just a month over summer (I’d go to France since I am minoring in French) which costs a lot less and would not extend my enrolment but I feel like I’d just get there and it would be time to come home. I also wonder if I am worried too much about extending my enrolment….after all, once I’m in the work force, that’s kinda it and it does worry me a little that I’ll be in the rate race for 50 years, seems like the fast lane to being unhappy. But….it is a lot of money. I don’t know what to do. Help??

    1. fposte

      Interesting–most U.S. programs would give you credit so you wouldn’t graduate any later. That definitely makes a difference. However, unless you’ve already had the chance to live in another country, I think this is an incredibly valuable experience. That’s especially true if you’re from the US, which firmly believes itself to be the center of the world, but I suspect it obtains for lots of people, especially in big or island countries.

      A month would be cool if you can’t swing a year, but that’s more like a long tourist visit, whereas a year will give you a chance to really immerse yourself–and also realize what you like about your own country even after you’ve learned to live in your host nation.

      1. Carolina

        I’m Australian…..I do get credit for the subjects studies abroad but due to the structure of my majors, I have to wait for a core class to come back around and it is only offered once a year and I need that class to graduate. So that’s why I’m really unsure what to do.

        1. fposte

          Well, I second Cruciatus’s point that life isn’t over once you graduate (European hostels always seemed packed with Aussies who were taking a travel year through Europe, in fact). So I wouldn’t hang too much on the “last chance” notion.

          Are there other people, like parents, involved with the money question? Do they have an opinion?

    2. Cruciatus

      I studied abroad for a semester (just 3 months-ish) when I was in grad school. It’s a good opportunity to learn a lot about yourself and what you’re made of. Not that it’s miserable, but, oh, everything is new and I’m doing OK! I went with a group on an exchange program from our university so we had weekend trips to other countries and other activities to check out that I might not have known about otherwise. It didn’t extend my schooling though I did actually miss my graduation because I was still abroad. I think either program will be OK. Obviously the longer one gets you more abroad experience but a month is still enough time to experience the excitement of a new place and start to understand your host country more (without prolonging your schooling or spending too much extra money). It goes fast either way.

      But I also want to say, your life isn’t over once you’re employed! Maybe in certain professions, but I know plenty of of people in many different types of jobs who still manage to go on vacations abroad. You just have to plan more for it. But you still have time to go many places over the next 50 years.

    3. Steve G

      I did a 6-week summer program. TOTALLY worth it, though not much for the traditionally educational part. Most (if not all) of the courses were electives, and most of us usually end up with too much of those anyway, at least I did, because I always did extra ones when major courses were full.

      The negatives were that drinking a lot and sleep deprivation were a big issue (but supposedly that occurs a lot at normal colleges too!), and $$$ – you weren’t there long enough to get to learn how to live cheaply in that country, you might not have a kitchen to cook in, we shared a fridge that was in another room, which discouraged me from using it, finding places to exercise and do laundry I remember were pains….there was also the challenge of “cultural immersion.” It still being college and me only being 20/21 (had birthday there) there was still loads of gossip going on. I remember people gossiping about me that I was “trying too hard.” Yeah, sorry I actually prepped my foreign language skills before coming and am independent and happened to strike up a friendship or two with a local. How horrible! Maybe we are friends because we like eachother. Or maybe we are friends because we want to talk about our respective countries. Who cares. That’s why I was there! I remember one girl really hated me for no reason and one night she ganged up a group on me to confront me on why I was such a suck up and “so skinny.” Uh….doing homework isn’t sucking up and I am thin because I am a 20/21yo guy with a raging metabolism? No cocaine habit here. I wasn’t even that skinny, she just enjoyed picking on me. WTF. So 2 cliques in our study abroad group eventually formed. One with the let’s drink every night and gossip crowd and act like we are still in the USA, and one who did the traditional study-abroad “nerdy” stuff, and partied too, but moderately. (PS this sounds a lot worse than it actually was, but yeah, there were some people I wondered why they were there if they hated everything so much). I guess what it came down to was that there were people who specifically wanted to go to that country, and then people who just kind of ended up picking it last minute, and they realized not learning a word of the language made it a PITA to be there, but they didn’t care enough to actually learn anything.

      Positives were that they planned loads of field trips + soccer tournaments + a weekend trip to another country, and all of the other stuff that goes along with a study abroad. We were also pretty independent for being so young and in another country, which was awesome. The program coordinators or whatever they were called lived somewhere else, so we were on our own, and they couldn’t stop us from travelling or ditching group activities if you wanted to.

      But I think a semester would be too long, at least like the program I did. Everything was made to be temporary, which was fine for a summer but would get annoying over multiple months. For example, they didn’t want us foreigner kids to lose our keys, so we had to check our keys when leaving, which got annoying especially when you got home late. I remember having to wake up an old lady working the front desk a few times when I came home in the middle of the night.

      And now I am wondering about digital technology, cell phones etc. I went in the really early 2000s when still not everyone had cell phones and certainly no one had internet on it, so the people that did have cell phones left them in the states. If you had an issue you used a payphone. I’m wondering if people studying abroad in 2016 would be leaving their phones at home and would be fine coordinating meetups days in advanced with inflexible meeting times, or if they are bringing the phones to get local plans/Sim Cards/pre-paid cards and you will be expected to bring your phone to text with the others while there. I did that when I lived abroad in the mid-2000s and that got very expensive, until I got a family plan with someone who was local (you had to be a permanent resident to have a plan)

    4. Cam

      I did some short study tours when I was in college (1.5-4 weeks) and loved them, but I agree that you don’t have enough time to really get immersed in another culture and country. Not doing an entire semester (or summer if that is an option) abroad is probably my biggest regret from college. I wouldn’t worry about the extra time you have to be in college. If you say you had to take 5 years to graduate because you studied abroad, no one should hold that against you. The extra money can be a big deal though. I’d also talk to your advisor, study abroad coordinator, head of the dept of your major, etc to see if you can get an exception figured out. Most colleges encourage their students to study abroad so they might let you take that core class early, let you take your other classes without taking that core class first, find a place you could take your core class over the summer, find a study abroad program that counts more credits towards your major, etc. Talk to other people in your major too. Maybe they’ve discovered a work around. I didn’t study abroad bc I was convinced that it would never work for my major, but I was wrong. It could’ve worked if I had just consulted more people first and been more flexible about the direction my major took. Good luck!

    5. sarakg

      I did two semesters in NZ (I’m from Canada). It was a really great, really valuable experience. I went from being at a really big university in a really big program to a small university in a tiny program. This meant I got to do more hands-on stuff (science major) and really get to know my classmates. As well, I lived on campus, whereas I lived with my family for the rest of my university. It was a little expensive, because of the flights to NZ, but I wouldn’t change a thing! I ended up doing my four year degree in 4-1/2 years, but it wasn’t solely due to the exchange program, there were other factors in there, too.

      That said, I also took off about 5 years after finishing university, quit my job and went travelling for a year in Australia and New Zealand on a working holiday visa. It was a really awesome experience and I think because I did it not right away after university, I actually had some work experiences that were valuable to getting into my current job.

    6. ThuyJoie

      DO IT!!! Do it for a long as you can (semester vs summer session).

      I studied abroad for one semester in Lyon, France. I had the options of Paris or Lyon, I chose Lyon. I did it in my final year of school – I had a feeling that if I didn’t do it then I might never do it. It pushed back my graduation date by half a year. I chose to stayed about 2 weeks after and spent Christmas and New Years in Paris.

      It was the best and worst times of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Due to a miscommunication – the teachers of the program who were supposed to be there to greet me and take me to the place of residence weren’t there. They were on vacation. So I was homeless for 3 days… dun dun dun. FUN! Okay it was scary as $h!t but it was a learning experience!

      Then I got a hostel. Then I was out exploring the city and didn’t make it back in time for curfew – and I didn’t [know to ask about] the digicode so I was about to climb up the brownstone to my 3rd floor room. Thank goodness a family came just in time (late night arrival) and they had the digicode hahaha.

      I leveraged the class schedules so that it was on Mon-Thu so I traveled every weekend whenever I can. Travel is cheap by train. And just simply exploring the city (no matter what city you’re in) is the best! You discover places no travel books or forums could ever tell you about.

      Please do it. I ended up with $10,000 in credit card debt afterwards (I had applied for a personal loan but the bank had lost/misdirected my paperwork so they had voided my application while I thought I was awaiting final approval and deposit of money into my bank account.) It was still the best experience of my life.

      I learned more about myself, about people, about how you can be stronger than your circumstances than I thought.
      I say DO IT.

  45. Windchime

    I’m looking for a way to give a little assistance to a relative (Sam) who is trying to survive on a very small disability check each month. The disability is a mental health issue, and it can cause Sam to not always be able to make the best financial decisions. I don’t want to just send Sam a check or a direct deposit of several hundred dollars a month because that seems like a lot of money to Sam and then it gets blown on things like gifts for other people. What I am envisioning is something like a Safeway gift card that Sam could use for gas and/or groceries, and that I could periodically re-charge online. A Visa card won’t work because that can be spent anywhere and I’d like to limit my assistance to gas and groceries and necessities. Does anyone know of a way to do this?

    I’m not looking for input on how I shouldn’t restrict Sam’s purchases; trust me that I know this situation.

    1. SevenSixOne

      I don’t know if you can reload a gift card online, but it’s not like it would cost a fortune to mail a new one every month.

      …or since you want to pay for necessities, would it be possible for you to pay Sam’s phone/electric/whatever bill each month instead?

    2. Audiophile

      Windchime – a lot of gas station/grocery store gift cards are not reloadable, and the ones that are, usually require reloading them in person.
      A quick peek at Safeways website links to you gift card mall (I’ll post the link below in a separate post) and you can buy gift cards from there. I’d suggest stopping in your local store and specifically asking for reloadable gift cards.

    3. Dan

      Hi,

      I wouldn’t give you feedback on restricting Sam’s purchases, but I would ask if you’re sure you should be doing this at all, throwing good money after bad and all.

      I don’t know of any reloadable financial product that is limited to grocery stores, those things are all general use cards. The best you can probably do is just but a Safeway card every so often and send it to him.

      Do be aware that grocery stores do sell visa gift cards, so Sam can still do what you don’t want him to do, even if he had a store specific card.

      1. Windchime

        Yeah, I considered that as well. I suppose there is no way to prevent this from happening. I know that Sam could also just take the gift cards to Safeway and load up on beer and cigs and there would be nothing I could do to prevent that. If I could just fill up the freezer once a month or so, that would be best but as I mentioned upthread, we live over 100 miles apart and that would be a long drive to go grocery shopping.

        1. Beth

          Does he have a case worker or lawyer who manages a trust for him? Professionals who help manage people in these situations can sometimes help family from out of town by providing weekly help – in your case by giving gas or food gift cards on your behalf. If there is a Walmart where he lives they often deliver as does Safeway so you may be able to order for him (or have him fill an online cart if he has reliable access to a computer – for example at the public library – and then you can pay for him and have it shipped). Another option is to make a connection with a locally owned grocery store or butcher and arrange for them to deliver on your behalf. There may also be local charities or churches who would have volunteers to help take him shopping and pay using your money (via cheque?) or a gift card. Also, if you do decide to go the gift card route, there are often schools who sell these as fundraisers so your cash would help both your family and a school near you or your family – this doesn’t raise the cost of your card, you still get the same cash value, but through the partnership and volume purchase the schools get cash too.

        2. Hellanon

          Does Sam’s area have Amazon Fresh delivery? Or could you do a monthly subscription-delivery of household & non-perishable basics from Amazon? I order everything toilet paper & garbage bags to cleaning supplies & cat food from Amazon; their grocery aisle is pretty well stocked, and setting up a monthly delivery of TP, tuna, canned soup, cereal, paper towels, etc, might be a good way to go.

  46. The Other Dawn

    I’m up to my ears in apples! I already harvested a bunch within the last two weeks, but now my two apple trees are starting to drop a lot of great apples and I just can’t ignore them. I bought an apple wedger today (I just can’t fathom coring and slicing all those apples with a knife!), so very soon I’ll be peeling, coring and wedging the apples in preparation for freezing. My husband and I just can’t use them all up within a reasonable amount of time. I already made a huge batch of cinnamon apple sauce, gave away about 3 dozen, and ate some.

    Then I’ll watch some of the Walking Dead marathon, which I just started watching for the first time this week. I want to watch now, but then nothing will get done for the rest of the day.

      1. danr

        Get it if you can. Look for one that has a clamp base to grab a board. You screw it on tight and off you go. We use it about once a year and it makes large batches of peeled, sliced, cored apples in just about no time.

    1. Steve G

      My garden is still burdgeoning, I guess its the heat island effect in the city. My Cosmos actually came back to life and rebloomed this week! Just picked the last cherry tomatoes, and marigolds are still in full bloom. This doesn’t happen in the country!

    2. Tris Prior

      I am so envious! I love canning (have a batch of apple butter going in the crockpot right now, actually), and I’ve been having fantasies lately of owning property that I could grow fruit trees on so that I’d get piles of fruit year round. I do understand the pressure of feeling like you have to deal immediately with a sh*tton of food, though. That’s sort of what’s going on right now in my garden – tons and tons of tomatoes!

  47. Today's anon

    I’ve been thinking of going somewhere warm for a break from winter in January and while I expected hotels to be expensive the only thing I am finding is around $300/night which is too expensive for me. There is a hostel though that is cheap but would involve bunking with 4 other people at random, sharing a bathroom etc. I haven’t stayed in a hostel in a long time, and I can’t decide if I’m up for it!

    On the one hand, it would allow me to travel and it’s kind of adventuresome and I don’t expect to spend a ton of time in the room; on the other, I like my privacy, my personal shower and the possibility of lounging in the room, which I won’t be comfortable doing in this situation. There are private rooms but you have to guarantee all 4 beds are full (or pay them yourself, but that would be more expensive than the regular hotel room). Have you stayed in a hostel recently? Any thoughts?

    1. CA Admin

      Try AirBnB–it’s often a lot cheaper than hotels and you can choose a whole apartment, single room, or shared room, depending on your price range. They also exist in areas of cities where hotel options tend to be limited, so you can get off the beaten tourist path, if you so desire.

        1. fposte

          There are extensive review systems–have a look. I confess I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a very cautious elderly friend who’s doing AirBnB all the time now, so I’ve been won over to considering it in the future.

        2. Treena

          If it makes you feel any better, I’ll share two stories that have happened in the past two months. First, we’re staying in NYC for 2 weeks and the Airbnb host is weird, but it’s fine. After leaving, she accuses us of using her vacuum for something it wasn’t meant to suck up, trying to pry it open to “fix” it and then subsequently breaking it. We tell her uhh, sorry, didn’t touch the vacuum. She escalates it to the Airbnb team and we’re scared out of our minds that we’ll have to pay the $200-300 to replace it. This is an issue I’ve posted about this previously I think. Well, turns out they threw out the claim and we were fine.

          Next Airbnb, we accidentally steal one of their adapters, break two of their glasses, and we message them to allow us to return/replace. She says these things happen don’t worry about it.

          All in all, most people are just looking to make some money and most people are honest. If you get a wacky, Airbnb staff is a good buffer.

          I’ve never done it, but lots of people I know (including my husband whenever he travels without me) rents a room in an occupied home, and I always hear good things. A single mom with a small child approved his stay for a few days, and when he arrived, she told him to let her know if he needed anything. He said, “I actually have one really weird request.” He said the color drained out of her face and he quickly assured her he wanted nail clippers, not her participation in a horror movie-like scenario. This seems to be the general trend. People are more wary than needed!

    2. sarakg

      Is there only the one hostel? Some hostels have smaller rooms, like a 2-share or even a single, that end up being pretty affordable. You do have to share bathroom facilities, but I’ve found that to be not too terrible – I’m usually an early riser so am in and out of the bathroom before lots of the more typical hostel guests.

    3. Anonymous Fish

      I’ve had great success finding cheaper hotel rooms on Priceline. Betterbidding dot com gives a sense of what offers will and won’t be accepted by the hotels.

    4. Christina

      I did both the hostel thing (once) and AirBnB thing (twice) for the first time this past year. For my money, AirBnB all the way.

      The hostel I stayed in in London was one of the best rated in the city, but from walling in to the sound of house music, a sign in the bathroom in my room saying the water isn’t safe to drink, to feeling like I was back in high school with weird cliques. Just not worth it.

      The two ABB experiences I had, one was absolutely incredible and made my trip 100 times better (if you’re in Barcelona, stay with Hanna and Yogi) and the other kind of sucked abs made the trip more mentally exhausting than it should have been (weird dude, crappy bed, I left a not great review and he wrote a super-defensive novel in response implying, among other things, that I didn’t shower because I had to ask him where the towels were after the first night).

      My best lessons were: 1) really look at reviews and how the host responds, 2) if I get a weird vibe, bail; I can always get a cheap hotel for one night to figure out something else.

  48. Windchime

    I hope I’m not too far down to get some input.

    I’ve been having regrets about my education (or lack thereof, actually) for quite awhile now. When I was right out of high school, I had what was basically a full-ride to University of Washington. (There were some very small loans in there; so small as to be almost inconsequential). I had a bit of a rough time growing up and I was from a very small town, so I really think I wasn’t mature enough for school. Anyway, I couldn’t adjust and I quit after only one semester, came home, and married Mr. Wrong. Sixteen years later, Mr. Wrong and I divorced but by then we had kids and they were settled in our home town so I chose to stay there and finish raising them.

    Fast forward to today. I’m in my early 50’s. I have a couple of years of community college under my belt but that’s all. I have a good job and earn what I consider to be good money. But I really regret that I don’t have an education. I live so close to University of Washington that I can almost touch it (30 miles). Is it worth it to go back to school? I know that school costs a fortune these days and I probably don’t have enough working years left to pay off gigantic school loans. I won’t qualify for grants.

    If I’m going to stay at this level of work, I don’t need a degree (at my current employer, at least). Do I just learn to live with my regrets? Or should I pursue a degree?

    1. periwinkle

      Ann Landers responded to an advice-seeker’s concern about going back to school at a non-traditional age. It might take you four years to finish the degree but in that time you’re going to get four years older anyway. Might as well have the degree at the end of it!

      There are many schools with degree completion programs. Check out what’s available both nearby and online (non-profit, unless you want to have that gigantic school loan). UW has a fairly new non-traditional degree, a BA in Integrated Social Sciences, that lets you apply your existing credits. WSU also has some possibilities. If you need lower-level distribution credits, look at your options for taking CLEP exams.

      I didn’t finish my bachelor’s until I was 44. Now I’m 50 with a master’s and am working on a doctorate. It’s not too late!

      1. Mimmy

        I’m not Windchime but your post is reassuring. I got my BA at the usual time and the MSW about 12 years later. I’ve been waffling back and forth on whether to get another masters or even a doctorate, but keeping worrying that it’s too late. I just turned 42.

      2. Mimmy

        I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning – I just turned 42, and I’m always looking for ways to continue learning, be it a simple article, workshop, or a degree/certificate program.

        That said, because school is so expensive, I am careful to make sure that I’ll get some Return on Investment. As periwinkle says, it’s never too late, and I agree. However, I also think you should ask yourself what you’d want out of further schooling. I’ll admit my judgment is a bit clouded – I’ve made a few mistakes and, thus, am a little skittish about my own future education possibilities. However, if you have drive and want to learn a new skill or a new occupation and can reasonably afford it, I’d say go for it!!

        One thing to keep in mind: There are plenty of people out there with the amount of education you have and still have satisfying lives–it is not a measure of your worth as a person.

        1. Mimmy

          Oops, I didn’t mean for that to be nested under periwinkle’s post – this was in directly reply to windchime.

    2. Stephanie

      I say go for it. Plus, if you do leave your company for some reason, you might run into an employer who might rule you out solely based on not having the piece of paper.

      I’d go talk to the UW advising office about re-enrolling or re-applying.

      On the money front, sometimes there are grants or scholarships geared toward non-traditional students. I’d go meet with the financial aid office to see what your options are.

    3. Cam

      I know that in my state when you turn 65(?), you can start attending classes at the state college for free. Is that something that Washington offers? You’d have to wait awhile, but it would be the cheapest way to get a degree. I’m also a believer of “its never too late “. I worked for a scientist who went back to get her master’s and PhD degrees at the age of 45 and didn’t graduate until she was in her 50ss.

      1. Windchime

        I’d be 57 before I even had an undergrad degree, I’m sure. My community college credits are about 15 years old so I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have any value at this point.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Don’t assume that. Be sure to check. The only cap I faced was the number of credits. They wanted me to actually take courses at their school, imagine that. I transferred credits from here and there. So that gave me two years and I only needed to pay for two more years.

          Another thing- if you do not have an associates, maybe go to a CC first and get the associates then transfer the associates degree.

  49. Kristen

    Does anyone have any recommendations for healthy and delicious frozen meals (something to bring in for lunch)? Maybe I’m asking for too much, but I’m looking for something that tastes relatively good (considering it’s prepackaged and frozen) and is as close to whole ingredients as possible (ingredient lists that require half of the package to list every chemical in the product scare me).

      1. hermit crab

        I ate a lot of frozen dinners when I was in grad school, and the Amy’s palak paneer was my go-to! There’s an enchilada one that’s good too. They’re kind of expensive, but I figure it’s worth it if the other option is takeout.

    1. periwinkle

      I’m fond of Kashi frozen meals – the Chicken Florentine is a favorite. Generally speaking, though, I’d rather make my own by freezing single portions of something tasty in a microwavable container. That reminds me, I need to make some veggie chili for lunches…

  50. To Vacation or Not to Vacation

    I’m taking a week off work in early December to celebrate finishing grad school. I’m trying to decide if I want a stay-cation (i.e., just sit at home) or actually go somewhere. I’m looking at Toronto (4-5 days solo, ~$1000) or NYC (a long weekend visiting friends, ~$200) for destinations.

    1. Cost
    While I can afford to do either of these, I still have student loans, and I’m motivated to pay them off. (I currently put about 75% of my pay – 15x the minimum payment – toward them monthly, since my parents are generous enough to let me live at home.) Should I relax and spend the money for a trip, or hold off?

    2. Traveling Solo
    Anyone have any experience traveling solo and/or to Toronto? Tell me your stories.

    1. fposte

      1. Even by my seriously cheap standards, you’re doing great and have something to celebrate, so I think you’re entitled to shell out a little bit.

      2. I love traveling alone, and I’ve really enjoyed both Toronto and New York. (I can’t find the thing I just read that said traveling alone is actually becoming the majority experience, but I swear I saw it.) There are a lot of good tips about traveling alone that are easily googleable (“solo travel” is also a good phrase there). My weakness when traveling alone, which is apparently common, is to overschedule; with more experience, I now forgive myself for saying “Oh, to hell with it, I’ll go see a movie.” Considering we’re talking December, how do you like being out in the cold? If you find that daunting, then New York is probably a better choice–not because it’ll be so much warmer, but because it’s different with friends and you’ll probably do less traipsing and more hanging out. I bet there will be some cool events in Toronto, so consider booking a ticket in advance if you find something exciting. That’ll help get you out in the dark when otherwise you might bail. But I wouldn’t book something every night, either, because you want to be able to be flexible and also to veg if it’s the thing to do.

      I did a brilliant solo trip to Quebec City in November a couple of years ago, and while I missed a few things I would have liked to do, I had an amazing time, ate wonderful food, and have terrific memories of an Angelique Kidjo concert where the audience all joined in dancing.

        1. fposte

          I didn’t go as a fan–I only vaguely knew of her existence before this concert–and the recordings just don’t fully convey that energy. She was electric.

    2. periwinkle

      Travel = memories. You’ve earned a little celebration so why not make some memories?

      I prefer solo travel and recommend giving it a try. You dictate your own schedule, see what you want, and skip what you decide to skip. Toronto was a great city to wander alone and I hope to get back there soon. I had a list of things to do, and then tossed the list in favor of just checking out interesting neighborhoods.

    3. Book Person

      It really depends on the kind of vacation you want to have! I visit both cities regularly and I find them pretty similar overall. NYC has a higher energy and better public transit (subway wise, at least), Toronto is a bit quieter and more laid back. Both have a LOT of activities going on at all times. The Canadian dollar is really low right now and is projected to remain so well into the new year, so that may help with budgeting. I guess the question is whether you want to have the sort of quick, high-energy vacation with friends that a long weekend would be, or take more time and be by yourself?

      I know Toronto fairly well since I used to live there, so I haven’t really experienced it as a tourist. But, generally: people tend to be friendly, and will give you directions if you get lost. The aquarium is pretty cool but I personally think riding up the CN tower to walk on the glass floor is overpriced. There are some really beautiful old hotels where you can do a high tea, and I believe the Old Mill inn donates a portion of proceedings to a local women’s shelter. There are gorgeous parks, outdoor skating rinks, and a lot of theatre / other night life. LOTS of great museums and bookstores. There’s a pretty reasonably priced hotel the name of which I forget near Ryerson University, which is pretty central in the city (and right near the College subway station). I would recommend trying to stay in town vs closer to the airport, since getting into and out of Toronto can be a pain in terms of cost/traffic. The new subway link shuttle is active from Pearson Airport, though, which might help in that regard.

      But, ditto NYC! I’ve loved the museums there and getting last-minute rush tickets to shows, and just walking around looking at the architecture or hanging out in the park. I’ve been there both as a tourist and more often on business, so that experience is obviously different.

    4. Dynamic Beige

      As someone who lives near Toronto… I’d go to NYC :P

      I’m just trying to think what would be good stuff to do around Xmas. The thing is, the weather can’t be relied on. It could be so cold you could skate at Nathan Phillips Square (you can rent skates there) but it might not. It could rain the whole time, or snow.

      The One of a Kind show and sale will be on to Dec 6 handmade stuff that is not inexpensive http://www.oneofakindshow.com/toronto/index.php

      And so will the Toronto Xmas Market in the historic Distillery District http://www.torontochristmasmarket.com/

      You can spend a whole day at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). And if your tastes are different, there’s the Gardiner Ceramic Museum across the street and the Bata Shoe Museum. It’s right near Bloor street where all the fancy expensive shops are, and some that are more affordable like Pottery Barn. There’s also the Cumberland theatre where they do the short run more “artsy” movies than are at the standard cineplex. Eaton Centre is a huge mall, bound to be decorated top to bottom. Greek food on the Danforth. Theatre on King Street. Ripley’s Aquarium near the CN Tower — they have a walk you can do outside but I doubt that would be operational in winter. The whole downtown core has an underground mall complex that connects all the office towers (but it’s usually closed by 6 I think). Art Gallery of Ontario, Hockey Hall of Fame (if you’re into that sort of thing). High Park. Tea at the Fairmont Royal York or the King Eddy. The bad thing is there isn’t much subway, but that makes it easier to figure out!

      There’s a lot to see and do it’s just a matter of what it is you want.

      IMO, and this is just my opinion, I’d go and visit friends. Because surely they will be happy for you having finished grad school and want to celebrate that with you. Broadway shows, maybe you can attend a taping of one of the many night time chat shows that record there. But if you do want to go to TO, you will need a passport unless you drive or maybe take the train.

      1. Felicia

        I live in Toronto and agree with all of these! Also I like Casa Loma, because it’s a castle. Also we have a Harry Potter bar now.
        Just a note, you’ll need a passport if you drive or take the train too…you need a passport whenever you cross the border, no matter how you do it. This has been true since 2007 (which is also the first time I got a passport).

        1. Blue_eyes

          You can also cross with an enhanced driver’s license from some states. A lot of the border states issue enhanced licenses – I know at least Washington, Minnesota, and New York have them.

        2. Dynamic Beige

          In the US, they have something called a Passport Card, which is cheaper than the full passport but you can’t use it internationally when flying, land crossings only. So if you live in Buffalo and like to cross the border a lot and are afraid of flying, that’s the option for you.

          I had forgotten about Casa Loma. They will probably decorate that up, too. I think they do special events at Xmas at the Zoo, as well.

  51. anon non-fb

    Dear relatives who keep telling me about things they saw on Facebook or keep showing me things on Facebook: There’s a reason I’m not on Facebook. If I wanted that blow-by-blow, I’d be on Facebook. Please refrain, at least 8 out of 10 times — that would be good.

    1. danr

      Well, if they send you the stuff in emails, see if you can filter on a link in the email or a common phrase. Don’t delete the messages but put them into a separate folder. If someone is talking about what they sent you, you can either look at it later or blame your isp for not delivering it. Or, just smile and nod and change the subject. I’ve joined FB, but haven’t told my family. If they send me stuff that I’ve seen already, I’ll just say “Thanks.”

      1. anon non-fb

        It’s not via email but in person…’Look at this photo so-and-so posted on Facebook’ and the like. Not a huge problem, of course. But it’s just funny that people don’t get — I would be on there if I wanted to see all that…

    2. Mkb

      I deleted fb earlier this year and have the same issue with my mom, it’s so annoying. My only hope is that fb goes the way of myspace and everyone stops using it.