weekend free-for-all – October 17-18, 2015

Olive and EveThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. At a birthday party for a Japanese businessman with a world famous opera singer in attendance, a band of revolutionaries storm in and take hostages. Bonds develop, opera is sung, and things happen that you do not expect.

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

{ 735 comments… read them below }

  1. Be the Change*

    Wow, in early for a change!

    I had a shock this week when I reconnected with a person I knew decades ago, on Facebook. Suddenly my FB feed was full of all of this extreme —-wing stuff, very aggressive and bordering on violent. The worst one was actively racist! So I unfriended the person immediately.

    It was just so surprising to find that someone I had kind of looked up to as a kid had become this unhinged, toxic nut. Not at all what I would have expected, based on the family that I used to know.

    1. Connie-Lynne*

      When reconnecting on social media with folks I haven’t seen in a long time, I try to check out their page first.

      I narrowly avoided this week re-friending one of my high school crushes, who apparently has become a neo-nazi. … Yikes! Crush definitely over!

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Happens to everyone.

      In my young anarchist days I protested alongside a guy I admired for his activism. Over time he started getting more hostile and we parted ways. Years later I saw him as a front man for a militant racist group. I had the same feeling: Oh hey, it’s That Guy! and he’s… what? Oh. Oh dang. NO THANKS.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I had an experience like that, and I’ve unfortunately had to end up essentially hiding that person from my feed.

    4. Mimmy*

      It’s amazing how much people you knew long ago change. I once friended someone I was pretty close to during high school but had known since 5th grade. Growing up, she was pretty quiet, even shy, and didn’t seem to be into anything extreme. Once we friended on FB, I noticed a lot of political posts, and I was like “whoa!” I don’t like to unfriend people, so I just unfollowed her. She’s responded to a couple of my posts over the years and wished me a happy birthday last week, so she’s none the wiser, lol.

    5. Tex*

      I think I trump everyone here. Found out awhile back that during my middle school years I was assigned a seat next to a person who is now in jail for murder. Life with no parole. Did not see that twist in life coming; no sign of it in school. Really, really hope there isn’t Facebook access in jail.

      1. Teapot Dome*

        Wow. I was hearing on NPR about a guy who lost track of his biological father. He was glad to finally hear about him – until he learned few months later that they had linked said father to a bunch of murders.

      2. Lindsay J*

        One of my college classmates was all over the local news. She was a teacher and apparently slept with one of her (teenage boy) students.

        It was almost surreal. She was always a sweet and pleasant person, my college cohort was pretty close, and she was someone who always just gave the impression of being put together. It’s hard for me to reconcile that image of her with what she did.

        Also, her college boyfriend married another one of our classmates who has the same first name as her, which doesn’t really relate to the above in any way, but I always have to take a moment to remember which woman it is when I see his facebook postings.

      3. Liz in a Library*

        Ugh. :( One of my high school friends (not a super close friend, but someone I definitely trusted and thought was a better person) was arrested for rape in his mid-20s…

    6. littlemoose*

      Oof. My friend’s girlfriend friended me on Facebook and… wow, she posts a lot of racist stuff. It’s incredibly offensive. I hid her posts immediately.

    7. Excel Millennial*

      I’ve had this happen too. (Well, not on Facebook exactly, as I don’t have Facebook — but same idea.)

      I also had one of my highschool classmates go the other way… She was generally viewed as untalented and pathetic. She was very academic and got excellent grades, but we all know that counts for nothing in high school. One day I heard her singing. My jaw dropped. I can still her her voice in my head. It was that good.

      Now she travels the world as a back up singer for a major (VERY major) performer.

      Another classmate is a pioneer in his field already, I won’t go into detail but suffice it to say it’s medical research. And they told him he would be nothing.

      1. Cass*

        For Buzzfeed, yes! I think that study or something that came out a while back saying they were the least trusted source in news really spurred something in them. I’m a journalist, and I admire the gumption.

        1. Natalie*

          Someone commented recently that all those annoying listicles are paying for some pretty good reporting. Things that make you go “huh”.

          1. Cass*

            Yes, definitely! Seems like it might be able to balance the two, which I never would have guessed 2 years ago.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Yes! I’m all … “uh, I *am* reading Cracked, right?” Given their editorial voice, you do have to fact-check still, but more often than not they’re digging up actual well-researched stuff.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know–I feel weird when I quote them, but if you follow the links, it’s actually well done. Buzzfeed still has enough junk posts that I roll my eyes at them a lot, but they’ve been doing really well lately.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I actually really like their weekly podcast. There’s some interesting discussions on there.

      3. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I thought BuzzFeed was a joke until I read this really good longform article about this one guy’s experiences rehabbing a $500 house in Detroit. BuzzFeed has an email weekly digest of longform articles that’s great (it’s heavily skewed toward their stuff, but it’s great).

        1. cuppa*

          Buzzfeed has a really interesting article about a guy who got his iPhone stolen and travelled to China to meet the guy who bought it on the black market. If you search Brother Orange you should be able to find it.

    8. Student*

      That is a common effect of some mental illnesses. Many serious mental illnesses don’t manifest until adulthood, in the twenties to thirties. Several give rise to paranoia, which can manifest as racism (“people who are different than me are destroying the country / taking jobs that should go to me / going to attack me” trains of thought).

      I’m not saying this is what happened to your old friend, but putting it out there as a possibility. I had a college friend go through a severe mental break at the onset of a serious mental illness. It manifested sometimes as crazy racism. Once he got on meds for his problems, he stopped being crazy racist and went back to being the friend I knew. I worry that those racist thoughts are still in there somewhere, but hidden. Maybe they were always there under the surface. If so, he’s never said such things to me when he’s in his right mind.

      1. Banana Sandwhich*

        This actually happened to my father-in-law. He discovered that he had cancer on one of his kidneys. Granted, cancer is always bad news, I get that! But it was really a very small amount that had been caught very very early. Almost zero chance that he would die as a result.

        Anyway, something snapped in his mind because he thought he was definitely going to die. Now hes hoarding guns and amo, thinks that the government is coming to get him every day, etc. He actually thinks that everytime a plane goes over head, that it’s aliens. Seriously?

        He also got super religious and where he used to never go to church but considered himself Catholic… Now he decided that he’s a southern baptist and is trying to covert people in the family.

        Overall, he just snapped in his late 50’s due to a touch of cancer. It’s amazing how fragile the mind is!

    9. Anon for this*

      I found out a year or two ago that I have a family member that is a Holocaust denier. They don’t spout about it on FB, but it came out in person one day. Talk about a shock!

      1. Windchime*

        I don’t think I have any Holocaust deniers in my family, but I do have a lot of relatives who have staunch, radical opinions on several topics that embarrass me. So I’ve had to unfollow them because I don’t want that kind of crap showing up on my feed.

        1. Anna*

          I have found out my cousin and his father are both 9/11 “inside jobbers.” Completely and utterly shocked me when I realized they weren’t posting that stuff for the hilarious stupidity of it. These are both incredibly intelligent people and I just cannot even fathom this is what they’ve concluded.

    10. Stella Maris*

      I recently found one of my co-workers on social media and … wow, we could not be more opposed in the socio-political realm. We’ve always been water-cooler chatters but seeing what she was saying and sharing made me rethink that. Interesting to see how little of it comes out at work. Not sure if I’m more grateful to know the ‘truth’ now or wish I didn’t!

      1. Pug*

        Have you considered just treating her professionally and talking to her as you always have, especially since she takes care to keep work and life separate? You mentioned you found her, rather than are friends online with her, which may indicate poor privacy settings on her part. I find that reading different opinions, including things I vehemently disagree with, leaves me more open minded and mentally flexible.

        1. Stella Maris*

          That is what I have been doing and will continue to do. I do find I am really watching what I say, though, if it’s not friends-family-tv chitchat. Nooooooo politics talk from me!!

          Social media actually suggested that we be friends – that’s the danger of using gmail and googledocs for work and her having Twitter under her own name/address!!

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      Ooooh, me too. Netflix is finally coming to Spain next month, so at last I can catch up on a lot of stuff, instead of having to binge-watch stuff when I go home to NY on vacation.

      And Costco is opening a branch right outside Madrid too! How to be an expat while not missing a thing….

      1. Anna*

        I can’t even fathom this. When I lived in Spain I didn’t know anyone who lived off-base that had a phone in their house. Or if they did, we knew they had a ton of money. I didn’t have a phone (try telling that to someone who spent their teen years in the US and watch the shocked expressions). All calls were made from a pay phone outside.

    2. Tess McGill*

      There’s a series called Catastrophe on Amazon Prime. British, filmed in/around London. Hilarious. Warning: DO NOT have a beverage of any kind in your mouth when watching (at least) the first episode. I’ve watched Season 1 (binge watched). Season 2 is coming soon.

    3. Audiophile*

      Transparent, if you haven’t seen it already. Also Amazon has a ton of HBO shows.

      Netflix has the 4th season of The Killing, as well as the 4th season Arrested Development. I hear Lilyhammer is good.

      1. Windchime*

        Oooh, thanks for letting me know about The Killing. Love that show.

        I’ve been watching Empire on Hulu. It’s probably the best thing I’ve seen on cable TV in a long, long time. So good.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Yes, Amazon Prime has recently gotten me hooked on the show “Girls”.

        (Warning: Girls has a lot of explicit sex scenes in it. Like a lot. I was watching it on my iPad mini on a plane and I had to stop because I was embarrassed/didn’t want to make the nice older gentleman sitting next to me uncomfortable. There is also a super cringey scene where the main character makes a rape joke in a job interview. All of the characters seem to be terrible at making good choices employment-wise in general.)

    4. latebird*

      I haven’t been disappointed with any of the Netflix originals I’ve seen. There’s the ones everyone talks about – Orange is the New Black and House of Cards – but there’s also Hemlock Grove, Kimmy Schmidt, and Sense8.

      There’s a ton of other good tv on there too. But I don’t know if all of the tv shows are the same offerings overseas or not.

      1. Audiophile*

        I stopped watching OTNB after the 2nd season, though it was solid. I really loved House of Cards and didn’t expect. Haven’t had the chance to watch Kimmy Schmidt.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        Grace and Frankie! It’s a wonderful cast. (I had just finished a West Wing binge when I started Grace & Frankie, and it’s a veeeeerrry different role for Martin Sheen.)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          *Very* different for Sam Waterston, too! It’s taken me a while to get used to him in that role, and not think of him as a very serious District Attorney.

          1. StillHealing*

            Me too! I watched all episodes over one weekend and was left wanting more. Especially due to how the first season ended….

            I love, love LOVE the cast!

      3. Bekx*

        I tried Sense8 and just couldn’t get into it. I dunno, it might have been too weird/confusing for me? I watched maybe 6 episodes and just said f it.

      4. Jen RO*

        Sanse8 started slow, continued being slow, then turned into can’t-stop-watching-OMG. Can’t wait for season 2!

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Rita – awesome show from Denmark about a teacher… well, it’s about more than that, of course…

      It’s on Netflix

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        Oooh, I’ve heard GREAT things about this. Will remember to check it out.

        I’m so glad that people are getting into foreign series, subtitles and all. It’d be a shame if the World Wide Web didn’t encourage people to check out culture from different countries. The US has had a tight grip on movies and now TV all over the place for a long time, so it’s great to see the work of other countries finding viewers.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      Better Off Ted! I almost hate to recommend it because they took the second season off of Netflix sometime this summer, but it’s hilarious.

      Seconding The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I watched the whole series…at least 3-4 times since it was released in March. Arrested Development never gets old for me but it’s a real love-it-or-hate it kind of deal. They just added Roseanne in the last couple of months, which I adore. Other classics-of-recent-vintage are on there: West Wing, Buffy, 30 Rock, LOST are some of my faves.

      We just watched a documentary called The Search for General Tso, which was surprisingly good. It explores how General Tso’s chicken became a thing in the United States, but alongside that central narrative, it also looks at the experiences of Chinese immigrants to the United States. It was really very interesting.

      There’s also tons of stand up comedy on Netflix. Basically every one of Louis CK’s specials are hysterical. Eugene Mirman just released a new one which was super funny.

      I really love that Netflix exists.

        1. Anna*

          One of my favorite lines to quote comes from the fake meat taste test. “What does it taste like?” “Despair.”

          I’m giggling right now thinking about it.

      1. BRR*

        OMG Better Off Ted is amazing. Everytime I hear business jargon I think of the Jabberwocky presentation.

      2. katamia*

        Yes to Better Off Ted and Kimmy Schmidt! I hated 30 Rock, so it took me awhile to even try Kimmy Schmidt, but I loved it. Also The Office if OC hasn’t seen it.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          I am pleased, and not surprised, to see all the love for Better Off Ted in this comment section!

          Personally, any time the higher ups get a little heavy-handed, I internally channel Phil and Lem’s “DEAL WITH IT.”

          1. Stephanie*

            Heh, I feel like I’m the only person who couldn’t get into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. (I loved 30 Rock.) I mean, it was entertaining, just something felt unfinished about it? I was waiting for the revelatory moment where I fell in love with it. The characters all felt a little too zany for my liking (I don’t mind zaniness, but I need some sort of grounding.) I am willing to try the first episode of the next season–I know comedies can take a few episodes (even a season) to get into the right groove.

            1. Windchime*

              No, I didn’t care for Kimmy Schmidt either. It was too intentionally “Zany Innocent Girl Observes The World” for me. Too goofy. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but I think I quit after episode 2.

            2. Lindsay J*

              Yeah, it’s a little bizarre. I guess in a good way. But I never really related with any of the characters enough for me to get hooked on the series.

              1. Stephanie*

                I remember from improv class, our instructors always warned us about going to Crazy Town: they said you could go be aliens at the OK Corral shootout (i.e., something way out of left field), but you had to make something relatable (e.g., the aliens are in a mentor-mentee relationship essentially) about it or you’d lose people. The show just felt too Crazy Town for me at points.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          I hated 30 Rock the first time I tried watching it. I ran out of stuff to watch over the summer, so I tried it again…and ended up watching the entire series in about a week (a lot of the episodes are only 18 minutes long, so you could very well go through five episodes in an hour, if that’s all you were doing).

      3. CV*

        I loved The Search for General Tso! I have a soft spot for food documentaries. Mind of a Chef (PBS series?) is on there too, which is really fun.

    7. Mando Diao*

      X-Files if you didn’t see it the first time around.
      The Hatfields & McCoys miniseries is pretty fun.

    8. BRR*

      For original series that haven’t been mentioned, I recently watched Alpha House and loved it.

      Avatar the Last Airbender on Amazon is also a huge favorite.

    9. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Foyle’s War is excellent. British series about a chief superintendent of police in England during WWII. The avengers is good. And I’m hooked on the fixer upper. Oh, and Holmes inspection: series with contractor mike Holmes where he fixes problems not caught by home inspections. Shipping wars is also oddly addicting.

    10. Sunflower*

      Rescue Me aired on FX, whole series on netflix and it’s maybe the best show I’ve ever seen. I started watching Bloodline but got busy so didn’t get too far into it.

    11. Stella Maris*

      No idea if it’s available, but ‘Slings & Arrows’. A Canadian show about a Shakespearean theatre festival. Three seasons of 6 episodes each. Really really good.

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      Isn’t she? That little gamine face, the large alert ears. And Olive reminds me of a girl I had back when I was young. Love the cat pics!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      It might be in moderation. If you enter an email address when you comment, you’ll see your post with an “in moderation” note. If you only enter a username, it vanishes untilmits released from moderation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I delete comments that say nothing but “first!” since they don’t add to the discussion and I don’t want to become one of those sites where people do that.

  2. Tiffany*

    Anyone have any experience building a tiny home? I’m looking into building one out of a shipping container and would like it to be as much off-grid as possible (solar power, water catchment system, etc.). Any tips/suggestions/warnings/etc are appreciated.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Containers 1000%! You’ve already got a complete box to start with, and you can stack ’em anyway you want and weld them together. It’s almost like LEGO housing! The only caution I might have with them is be on the lookout for pests and chemical contamination – you never know what they’ve been hauling or where they’ve been and brought along for the ride.

      1. Tiffany*

        Yeah, as long as building code around here will allow it, I’m definitely going the shipping container route. It’s just so much easier. Right now I’m just playing around with designs…trying to figure out if I wanna build a loft bedroom in it, or do 2-20ft containers and place them side by side to get a nice, large, open living/sleeping area.

      2. nofelix*

        Note: Containers aren’t always the best dimensions for rooms. One has to consider where the insulation is going (outside or inside the container) and what finishes and services zones are going to be needed. They can easily end up very small if all that goes inside. It might be best to consider providing for future services from the start since you won’t want to have to take an angle grinder to your walls to install cable TV or a new sink.

      1. Tiffany*

        That’s a big question. I’d love to buy a small piece of land in the town where I live (Denton, TX) because I love it and don’t want to move. However, city municipal code won’t let me build anything less than 900 sq ft, which is about 3x times the size I intend to build (maybe 6x the size, I’m still playing around with designs). So, most likely, I’m going to look for something on county land, right outside of city limits because the chances of getting a variance approved are pretty slim-to-none.

        I do like the idea of starting an area of these, I just don’t know that I could fund the land necessary to do so.

        1. Swoop*

          If you go outside city limits are you still in city water/sewer? Or would you then need a well/septic system?

          1. Tiffany*

            I’m really not sure…I haven’t starting looking into that yet. I’m still looking into ways I can build in the city. I know I’ll need a variance and from what I’ve read, that’s not an easy task. However, my town tends to be ahead of most towns when it comes to being eco-friendly, and I happen to have a good professional relationship with people high up in the city government, so there may be an avenue I can take there that I haven’t figured out yet. I really don’t want to live outside of the city…I’m just not a country-living type of person. Especially in Texas, I’d probably see my first scorpion and run screaming back to town, lol.

    2. A*

      I have no experience but I have read a bunch of articles about tiny houses and the one warning people seem to have is to be very clear about what the zoning rules are in your area. You might not be able to have a dwelling below a certain number of square feet or without indoor plumbing, depending on your area. Good luck!

    3. nep*

      No knowledge of this domain, so no tips. Just a big hooray for you for going this route. Love everything about this. Best of luck and keep us posted.

    4. Mando Diao*

      Make sure you can afford to buy the land, have it properly inspected, and have your chosen infrastructures installed. If you buy land that turns out to have been a dumping ground or that can’t support a structure, it’s your problem to solve.

      A tiny house costs anywhere from $10-50k to build properly, but the land may run you another $50-100k.

    5. fposte*

      No info, but I hope you’ll keep us apprised if you do. I’m fascinated by those. It’s a whole different approach to life.

    6. AcidMeFlux*

      Also, one more thing about TINY houses (as opposed to small/smallish). It’s all well and good at certain points of your life to downsize, get rid of flotsam and extras, etc. I’ve donated most of my already read book, am keeping ones that would be hard to find again (the rest on my Kindle). I gave away / sold my vinyl audio a long time ago. Clothing is getting easier to find (buying online) and maintain (so little need for heavy wool/must be dry-cleaned stuff, even for a cold climate).
      No need for multiple media players /so eventually laptop, and one screen for computer/tv etc…)

      BUT? I didn’t expect a physical condition that caused serious inflamation and limitation of movement, so now loft beds are out, teeny bathrooms are out, teeny studio apts. with tons of storage up a ladder….etc. I may need a crutch or even a wheelchair in the future, so there’s that, too. Sometimes there’s a reason local authorities require a minimum space.

      1. Tiffany*

        I’m sorry that happened.

        I’ve thought about it a lot…my house now is only 400 sq ft (built 70 years ago when the code was different)…so downsizing to 150 (+loft) or 300 (if I go with 2 containers or a 40ft one) isn’t a huge stretch. If I do go the loft route, I’d definitely have a staircase. I’m not interested in going up and down a ladder several times a day and the dog certainly would not enjoy losing her sleep spot on my bed. The plus side to building this on land I own (as opposed to wheels and living wherever) is I can have a storage shed and stuff so I don’t have to store everything in the house.

        1. Lionness*

          Since you have a dog, let me pipe in here.

          Consider the two containers, side by side. I never expected my dog to suddenly lose his night vision but he did … rather young. As a result, even with lights on, he is terrified of stairs – up or down – at night. So much so that I moved so that he would not have to take stairs any longer.

          It isn’t just your health to consider. Consider that of those that depend on you.

          FWIW, I love the tiny house moment. I wish it was an option where I live.

          1. Lindsay J*

            Also, depending on age and breed arthritis and/or hip dysplasia can be a problem. My mom’s little yorkie has some type of joint problem where she can’t handle stairs anymore. However, the only stairs she needs to encounter are the three stairs up and down my deck when she is taken out to use the bathroom, and as she is 7lbs it’s easy for my parents to just carry her up and down.

            I have an old black lab/rottie mix. On occasion her arthritis gets really bad and I have to carry her up and down the stairs. It’s a flight of like 14 stairs up to my apartment and she weighs 60lbs, so it’s a challenge (especially because dogs that size aren’t really used to being picked up so she’s not really comfortable carrying her). When I was looking to move recently I was looking for first floor apartments pretty much solely for that reason (even though I otherwise dislike first floors because of the chance of getting noisy inconsiderate people above you, and I’ve heard they’re less safe.)

            1. Tiffany*

              Yeah, that’s something I’ve considered. Thankfully, my dog is only 10 lbs and I already have to lift her up to get her on the bed (it has storage underneath, so it sits pretty high)…a small flight of stairs won’t be a major change. She’s 11 now, so that’s definitely something I’m prepared for as she gets older.

    7. Connie-Lynne*

      I built a teardrop trailer for camping, with a solar rig.

      The biggest thing I can say for the solar rig is that you would be *amazed* at how many things you can find to be 12-volt powered: fans, electric blankets, coffeemakers, hot plates, swamp coolers .. as long as you don’t need an air conditioner (I see you’re in TX) or a microwave, you can pretty much run anything you want off of a few deep cycle batteries. Cooking (ovens, stoves) and even refrigerators can be powered via propane.

      The longest stretch of time I’ve lived out of my teardrop is 23 days. I don’t know that I’d want tiny living all the time, but it’s great for extended camping trips.

    8. Belle diVedremo*

      Have you checked out the houses from the Solar Decathlon? Colleges build small, solar powered houses (kitchen, laundry, computers, etc) to enter into the competition. Some of the students came up with things that have gone on to market.
      It was great fun to go check them all out when they did this on the Mall in DC, with all the houses there to be shown to the public. There was a public vote for favorite, that was entirely separate from the competition grading.

      1. Lindsay L*

        I’m a bit late, but I’ve got a friend who lives off the grid. I wrote an essay on him, it was a lot of fun. I would recommend this:
        – Prepare to work way harder than you expect
        – Pay attention to zoning and code regulations; where he lived, the government would fly over and double check they were within regulations. One of their friends got into some serious legal trouble because he kept building without paying attention to regulations.
        – On a happier note, check out boat shows for tiny house living. It’s often more cost effective and many of the “tiny house problems” have actually already been solved.

        And feel free to contact me! I love tiny house living and it’d be really cool to see how other people are doing it.

  3. Persephone Mulberry*

    Short term financial planning/savings account advice! DH starts a new job next week at a significant increase in salary. We are making ends meet okay on his current salary, so I want to start banking the difference in some kind of savings vehicle, with the goal of buying a house in 2-3 years. I assume he will have direct deposit and that we will be able to designate $X to our regular checking account and the balance of his check to an alternate account. Is an ordinary high-yield savings account someplace like Ally Bank my best option?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The only other thing I can think of is to ladder CDs, and that’s not necessarily going to help much. I think the approach depends on how solid your timeline is. If it’s flexible, then you can take a year to let all of the CDs mature, but you could also put it in a bond mutual fund and, if it has a bad few months, you could wait six months to a year for it to go back up. I’ve had good luck with that with our emergency fund, it’s earned a lot more than it would have in savings.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oops, I meant to say, if it’s really 2-3 years or maybe even sooner, I’d recommend a savings account; preserving capital is the most important thing, so don’t risk it.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with Cosmic Avenger–and honestly, for that short a time I wouldn’t even use a bond fund, because there’s still a loss risk, even if it won’t be as dramatic as stocks could be.

      If you were talking putting a lump sum away it might be worth CD hunting–there are often longer-term promotional deals floating around–but you’re talking ongoing contributions. High-yield (well, comparatively high-yield) savings is the way to go.

      1. danr*

        For a lump sum, I would recommend finding a good broker and buying municipal bonds. They have the added advantage that the interest generally better than the banks and is also income tax free. Get the ones for your state and the interest is also state and local income tax free. Many banks have a relationship to a brokerage and it’s a good place to start.

    3. RG*

      I’m not sure if you’re into Reddit, but you could check out the personal finance subreddit, you’ll find some good advice there. Although they’re not too big on savings accounts for investment.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        When it comes to investing, I know that a savings account is little better than stuffing cash under the mattress. But this isn’t really investing, this is short term plan for putting money where it’s slightly harder to get at. :)

          1. fposte*

            Everybody had a similar drop, though–that’s what the stock market does sometimes, and that’s why it’s not where you put money short term. You probably are close to where you started at the beginning of the year again now, and you’re probably up a decent amount from this time last year.

                1. Natalie*

                  Oof, I lost my college fund in that one. (Some kind of mutual fund that couldn’t be cashed out before a certain date.)

    4. Mkb*

      I like Ally and used it to save for my down payment. Interest is ~1% which isn’t great but better then a traditional savings account like chase.

      1. V dubs*

        I’ve heard Dave Ramsey answer this question on his show a few times over the years. For such a short time period, you don’t want to put your money at risk, so a money market account is what he would recommend.

        Congratulations on the new job and life changes!

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Look into interest bearing checking accounts as well. Ours has a better rate than a savings account at the same bank.

    6. Jenniy*

      If you’re eligible for navy fed (which a lot of people are without realizing it – even if you have a sibling who has it you can get it) they have an easy start high yield cd you could look into

    7. Revanche*

      If you go with Ally, I’d suggest either the Online Savings Account (which is 1% right now if you want the least amount of fuss), or putting it in a few CDs. CDs are nearly as fuss free as their OSAs but should have a BIT more interest. For a specific goal like yours, if it were a lump sum, I would usually put the bulk of it into one CD, and a smaller amount that can cover any minor emergency that couldn’t be covered by cash flow so that if you have to break it, you only lose the interest on the smaller amount. It’s no big deal to break it of course, but I like to maximize my cash flow and savings whenever possible. I like the 2-year Raise Your Rate CD so if there’s any increase in interest, you have an opportunity to bump your interest rate up once during the life of the CD. Ok, wandered off topic there: I’d start with the OSA and then roll it into CDs regularly. But it’s mostly because it is easy to do and again, I like making my money work hard :)

  4. esra*

    I’m coming off of a round a prednisone and have gone from having ALL! THE! SPOONS! back to having just enough energy to put what I need to into my job and take care of basic needs.

    For other people with health issues that leave you with low-energy: What tips/tricks do you have to stay on top of things? Specifically anything you do to making keeping on top of cooking and housecleaning easier when you don’t necessarily have a lot of energy for those things on weeknights.

    1. Stephanie*

      Prednisone. Dear God. The side effects from that were almost as bad as the initial thing I got it for (allergic eczema). I had such bad insomnia on that.

      1. esra*

        100% not something you want to stay on longterm, but my god, the energy. I can’t believe normal people have that much energy all the time. I felt like I could take over the world. Twice. By noon.

        1. Nashira*

          Haha, I have to do periodic courses to treat ulcerative colitis, and just… Man, you made me realize how much the UC drags me down! I mean at one point, 60mg barely gave me enough energy to manage work.

          (Now let’s cross our fingers that THIS UC flare doesn’t take a six month pred taper… And that my doc fixes my meds ASAP when I see him this week.)

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          I love Prednisone (only in short bursts, though). I have lupus, and when I have a bad flare, it takes me from a blob of nothing into Incredible Hulk territory. I once made $621 in one day while taking Prednisone (I’m a freelance writer doing pretty low-paying work right now because of my health issues, so that’s a LOT for one day at the rates I am making) simply because I was typing about 130 WPM and didn’t need to blink. The downside? Constant hunger, inability to sleep, and occasional Hulk-like rage.

        3. Lindsay J*

          I feel the same way about my current combo of wellbutrin and celexa. I have energy! I don’t need 12 hours of sleep and still wake up tired – now I wake up with 7-8 hours and feel fully rested. I actually feel capable of cleaning and possibly exercising.

          As far as coping when low energy – I generally just know my limits.

          I’m okay with myself grabbing fast food if I don’t feel up to cooking. I have frozen microwave meals and canned soup etc for other days. I buy paper plates and utensils for days when I don’t feel up to washing dishes.

          If I can I go to CVS or Walgreens if all I need to pick up is a couple things vs dealing with the hassle that is the grocery store.

          I don’t really need to clean every day, so I only clean when I’m feeling okay. Otherwise, I just try not to make more of a mess. It’s just me in the apartment, and I’m mostly just there to eat and sleep so YMMV on that one.

          Having laundry in unit or a close by laundry room is huge for me. Loading up my car and carrying all my laundry into the washateria once a week feels like an ordeal. And then I need to sit there while it washes and dries. Doing one load at a time when I have enough for a load is much less overwhelming.

    2. Sandy*

      The key for me is to lower my expectations. If I’m having a flare, there will be no housecleaning and I’m not going to apologize for it. Scrubbing the toilets can wait, gosh darn it.

      I also try to plan for my flares as much as possible, so when I’m feeling good, I cook extra dishes and stick them in the freezer, etc. so I have easy, reasonably healthy options when I’m exhausted.

      If that fails, I love those pre-cut veggies at the grocery store. I know some people mock them (“how hard is it to cut your own squash?? Such a waste of money!”) but they are a lifesaver when you’re out of metaphorical spoons and/or your joints can’t handle the chopping.

      1. Rana*

        Yes. Lower expectations, and try to find shortcuts. Crockpots are good, microwave or stove dinners are good, takeout or delivery is good if you can afford it. For household stuff, I tend to focus on the essentials – are the dishes clean, is the garbage taken out, are there clean clothes, are the pets/children fed, are the bills paid – and let the rest slide until there’s more time/energy to deal with them.

        (If you can avoid making major messes, then dealing with the neglect is easier when you eventually get around to dealing with it. I’ll limit my wardrobe, or keep reusing one set of dinnerware, for example. Cleaning one dish and one cup at a time is not too bad, and then you’re not likely to confront the Giant Sink Pile later. Ditto doing one small load of clothing every few days, rather than letting the Mountain of Clothing Doom develop and then having to spend hours dealing with it.)

      2. Nashira*

        Pre-cut onions made my life so easy this week. Some salt and vinegar later, and we had pickled onions for the crock pot chicken “carnitas” my husband makes every Sunday. We also get super finely cut cabbage, an excellent jarred salsa, and shredded cheese. I’m deep in flare territory, so these short cuts are necessary for both of us.

        It does help that we’re happy to eat the same thing over and over again. Chicken tacos with a microwaved veggie takes all of ten minutes for two of us… And only that long because my partner loves his tortillas grilled a certain way, so he does both of ours like that.

    3. AcidMeFlux*

      Can you afford even the most minimal housekeeping help? Even a couple hours a week of someone else cleaning, taking out recycling, folding laundry etc. can keep you a step ahead of clutter and mess, and that in itself will keep your head and mood clear. I did that for a while, then couldn’t, and boy, my house is in such bad shape that I can barely stand to be here. Hoping to get back to normal soon.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It could depend on what is bugging a person. For myself, I felt compelled to keep the things clean that I used regularly. This meant the bathroom got cleaned, but the living room- not so much. I’d work on laundry, dishes, and meals. I figured that I had to keep myself supplied with the basics to get through the week. (Laundry during the week worked, because I don’t have to go to a laundry mat and I line dry stuff.) On the weekends, I would vacuum, and clean the bathroom and I would try to do up some food to get a running start at the upcoming week. Of course, I kept the dog with food and water, but instead of going for walks, he got to take naps with me. Not an ideal situation, but at least he seemed okay with it.
      One thing that surprised me was when I changed over to natural cleaners, I was able to do more cleaning before I had to go take a nap. I never realized that all the fragrances and chemicals were pulling me down so much. This motivated me to remove fragrances from my house and I found that helpful.
      My best advice is try various ideas, even if you think it’s not a big deal, because there are definitely some surprises to be found. Try the new ideas one at a time so you can see if it is actually helping you or not.

    5. OhNo*

      My trick is to just do one thing every day. Even when you’re having the Worst Day Ever, you can usually do one thing – it might wiping down the sink after you wash your hands, or scrubbing one single plate after dinner, or something equally small, but it all counts. For me, even just doing one little thing helps keep me from getting depressed that I can’t accomplish everything I’d like to.

      I also tend to try and designate one weekend afternoon as Get Stuff Done time. Again, depending on how many spoons you have to spare, that could be anything from making lunches for the week, to taking a nice long shower, to cleaning multiple rooms. The goal is basically to take a little off the top every day, so that the housework doesn’t pile up to the point that you look around one day and realize that you’ll never have enough spoons to catch up.

      I’m also going to second AcidMeFlux’s suggestion for some housekeeping help. You don’t have to do it regularly, by any means, but if things really build up to the point that even thinking of all the cleaning that needs to be done drains your energy, try to get someone in to clean everything so you can start from scratch. It is way easier to maintain order than to clean everything from scratch yourself. Maybe put a little money aside each paycheck so you can have somebody come by once every two or three months, if that’s feasible?

    6. Wehaf*

      I try to cook a large meal every few days and eat leftovers, instead of cooking every night. I also try to cut down on any outside chores I have to do – like this post suggests: http://lacunaloft.org/automating-daily-tasks/ If I don’t have to go to the bank and the drug store I have more energy to do a load of laundry.

    7. FutureLibrarian*

      Hmmm…these aren’t all the cheapest, but when you don’t have as many spoons, it can be worthwhile (at least for me!) to spend the money and make my life easier.

      1.) I don’t do *deep* cleaning tasks (floors, full shower scrub, etc.) more than once a month. Now, I live alone and am not a messy person, so this won’t work for everyone, but I leave it as long as possible. I find that these things just don’t need it as often, and I am fine with that.

      2.) I keep a roll of paper towels and a bottle of bathroom cleaner on top of my toilet. When I am already up and in the bathroom, it takes 2 minutes to wipe down the seat/handle or the counter top. I find that makes it easier, and I do it more often, which means it takes less work to do it in the end.

      3.) I move a lot because of my lifestyle, but that’s really forced me to figure out what I really need versus want. I’ve donated or trashed a ton of knick-knacks, gifts I never used, and clothes I never wore, and I’ll do more before I move again. However, it is also something I do when I am living somewhere. The less stuff I have, the less I have to take care of, and the easier my life is!

      4.) Crockpot all the time. I can’t stand and cook for long periods, so I use my crockpot constantly.

      5.) Cook on the weekends. I have a lot more energy on weekends, so I prep meals for the week as much as possible on Saturday/Sunday. It also gives me a lot more time to take breaks between steps.

      6.) Plan on eating out or getting take out at least 2 nights weekly. I find that if I do one working night and one weekend night (for me, it is often Thursday and Saturday), it just reduces my stress, annoyance, and overall feelings of ughhhh.

      7.) I break tasks up into multiple steps whenever possible. If I am vacuuming, I vacuum one room at a time, with significant breaks in between. It means that I am less likely to jump into a flare.

    8. Revanche*

      I do some things when I have spurts of energy and low pain (vacuum, scrubbing and anything requiring moving things or lifting) and I do some things during high pain/no energy (just tidy part of the table, tidy the things on the floor). I try to match the task to my physical ability in that moment so that I don’t totally wipe myself out trying to clean something and lose five days as a result.
      We like one pot meals here, or my husband enjoys them, so I used to do that a lot. Now I do more large entree meals that can last multiple days. Most cooking happens on the weekend but I have a few very quick and easy recipes that can be thrown together in a short period of time even if I’m on my last gasp and the infant is clinging to my leg for stability. Miso soup is the latest, there. We also lowered our standards on what constitutes a meal :) there will not be any five course or six side dish meals out of me!

    9. Lora*

      My basic strategy for coping is to keep things simple and basic. I try to do the dishes before they pile up. I do a little cleaning, and then on days with more energy a little more. If I’m making something for supper, I try to make it in a crock pot or oven, and make a big batch to freeze the rest so I don’t need to cook Every Day. For me, it’s important not to over-do on those days when I do feel good/have lots of energy because then I’ve used up energy for a lot of days following that one. And, I always tell myself that I am doing my absolute best, I’m still beautiful and if someone thinks I’m being lazy or what not, they are So. Wrong. Prednisone sucks, and yet sometimes I need to be on it short-term for a flare. It’s just my life. Oh! and I also don’t try to pack too much cooking/cleaning on the weekends. They are for relaxing!! Hang in there!!!!!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great point about not over-doing on good days. This is important. Pace yourself because if you go too “high” one day that means you can/might go too “low” in the near future. One way I controlled my pace was by setting time limits. Dinner was always between x and y time, every day. Bed time was always between a and b time. My time frames were about an hour. Being consistent is very helpful, it means every day you KNOW you will eat on time and you KNOW your day will end on time. After a bit, I found that I knew I could do tasks 1, 2, and 3, and still get to bed on time. Once this happened, I knew the tide would turn in my favor in a little bit.

    10. cuppa*

      Nap when you can. Also, it was easier for me to do the smaller daily tasks (dishes, clutter, wiping down the sinks, etc.) than it was for me to do the bigger tasks (vacuuming, deep cleaning the bathroom). So my husband took over those while I did the small dailies. That way, I had less guilt about not contributing. It worked so well we kept the system up once I got better.
      Good luck!

    11. Soupspoon McGee*

      Minimize the decisions you have to make. I strive to have a bunch of identical socks so I don’t spend time sorting them or looking for a pair. I have a few go-to wardrobe options so I don’t have to spend time figuring out what to wear (because when you have no energy, every decision takes forever). I cook large meals so I have delicious, healthy leftovers (but I have to get better about freezing them so I have variety).

      Sometimes, I just take more prednisone. I’d been under-dosing for years because I did not like it, but I feel better on the right dose (but below 10 mg–when it’s in the 20s and 40s, I am angry and hungry all the time, and that is not good).

      Also, sleep has been a major problem for me. I finally found a doc who helped me find the right combo of meds to help me minimize pain, get to sleep, and wake up without a drug hangover. For me, it was a muscle relaxer and a mild antidepressant–Ambien did not work at all. Bad sleep means bad days and weeks. Good sleep means a little more energy.

    12. videogamePrincess*

      I’m always low-energy (although I don’t know how bad it is in comparison to you) because of ADHD, unless it’s because of something I have no knowledge about. I am also getting treated for depression. Honestly, I’m not sure how things ever get done. I get my husband to do a lot of the housework, and I sit around and try to program. If I’m trying to win something I’ll be fairly productive, especially if it involves something I happen to be really passionate about in the moment, but a lot of times I just sit around on my bum and do nothing except play video games. All I can tell you is that if you keep returning to the task at hand, even if you can only work at it for five minutes at a time, it will get done.

    13. Exhausted and feeling it*

      Crock pot cooking, batch cooking, meats that can do 3 meals (i.e., large batch of cooked ground beef does tacos, spaghetti & sloppy joes; large ham does 1 meal, then cheesy potato soup & scalloped potatoes. If you have freezer space, check out batch cooking and freezing for later.

      Personally I prefer crock pot cooking & preparing large quantities of meat that can do multiple meals. In the warmer months, weekend prep includes prepping a week’s worth of veggies & toppings for salads with greens or pasta. A good rice cooker/steamer is also great.

      I have anemia and other issues so this time of year the 10-11 hour days are exhausting.

  5. A Non*

    I read Bel Canto years ago, and elements from it still show up in my dreams sometimes. It’s a very profound book, highly recommended. “After the First Death” is a YA book along similar lines. Seriously intense reading.

    1. Steve G*

      What type of book is it? I’m looking for new types of reading materials. I stocked up on too many political-related books after the presidential debates but am getting tired of reading about how the world is going to hell every single ride to and from work:-)

    2. sndslkslly*

      This book really is outstanding. Probably in my All-Time Top-5. It is intense, but at the end, you are like “man, being a human is really hard but it’s also a privilege.”

  6. Stephanie*

    Airfare mavens! How long can I wait to book airfare? I am possibly meeting up with some friends over MLK Weekend and was scoping out fares. This would be a flight from the southwest to the PNW. Right now, budget’s a little too tight to book airfare. In a little over a month, I’ll have some extra pay from overtime (as we’re nearing our busy season) and some more income from a second job I just started. But will I be paying something exorbitant if I wait?

    (I’m sure if my friends got wind of this…they would just pay the airfare and not let me pay them back…which I’m ambivalent about.)

    1. Lore*

      In my (not super-abundant) experience, it really depends on how flexible you are with travel dates and times. If you can shift by a day or so in either direction (for example, coming back on Tuesday rather than Sunday or the holiday Monday), things don’t get crazy expensive until you’re past 30 days. But if you know that you can only travel on very specific times, especially on weekend days, then it can creep up sooner. Still, as long as you can book before mid-December, you’re probably not going to get into too much trouble compared to now. (I have also become an expert at buying things like plane tickets on the day after a credit card statement closes, which essentially gives me two months to be billed for it. But depending on how much room you have on a card and whether you’re carrying a balance and what your interest rate is, that might end up costing just as much as waiting…I am lucky to have one credit card with a quite low interest rate as long as I never make a late payment–I think it’s about 5%–so sometimes that’s an approach worth taking.)

    2. Sunflower*

      I have found the lowest fares are actually posted around 21 days out from the flight but that’s too close for comfort for some people. I think 49 days out is the other cheapest day. Book on a Tuesday or Wednesday if you can- fares definitely creep up on Thursdays and weekends. I use Hopper a lot. It gives you average and good fares as well as fares others have found. You definitely have time- I would look to book sometime around Christmas or the week before?

    3. Dan*

      You actually don’t want to book domestic airfare any earlier than 60 days out, as many carriers don’t have the cheapest fares loaded yet. Within 21 days, you’re taking your chances. It used to be that the cheapest fares required a 21-day advance purchase; and while they still exist, the likes of the low cost carriers have really thrown a wrinkle in pricing.

      Don’t worry about the MLK long weekend jacking up fares, it’s not a major travel holiday, especially coming right off of Xmas/NYE.

      You’ll be fine booking a month out.

      1. Lore*

        It does often overlap with football playoffs though. I travel that weekend a lot (nyc-Florida usually) and at least on that route it’s generally a lot more expensive to fly back Monday as opposed to Sunday, which isn’t usually the case. Tuesday is of course cheapest. )

      2. BRR*

        Agree with all of that. Airfares basically plateau/overlap and aren’t that bad or super cheap. I haven’t found fares differ that much by day of the weak despite what articles say and changing your plans by a day or two can yield super savings (when I booked my honeymoon it was the difference between a $400 and $800 ticket).

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          Being flexible really makes a difference. I just did a search for airfares from here to my hometown, clicking the “flexible dates” option. The cheapest fare is $287; the most expensive is $874. The flights depart within four days of each other!

    4. Lindsay J*

      Depending on how much you’re bringing with you, check into the low cost carriers – Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, JetBlue, etc. I guess Southwest falls into this category, too.

      A lot of them don’t show up on the travel search engines.

      If you can get away with just a small personal item bag on board their base fares are usually significantly lower than the legacy carriers.

      The prices go up if you want different things – usually there is a charge for a carry-on or checked bag, if you want an assigned seat vs picking what is available when you board, food or drink on board, etc. You can usually price out which options you want on the websites and see what the cost would be.

      But if you’re not looking for a luxury experience and are just looking to get back and forth cheaply they can be a great option (and honestly, none of the other US carriers really offer a luxury experience inside the US either).

  7. Puffle*

    Novelty sock lovers of AaM, tell me about your awesome socks! I recently bought a pair of socks covered in cartoon dinosaurs saying “rawr!” and I <3 them. What other cool/ cute socks are out there?

    1. Cath in Canada*

      My favourite set are from Next and have koalas and pandas on them. My favourite pair have koalas hugging the sides of my ankles like they’re tree trunks. Next have the best socks – I stock up every time I’m in the UK!

      1. Elkay*

        I love Next because they do socks that are black from the ankles up but pictures on the feet so I can wear them to work and look like I’m wearing sensible socks but I’m not really. My latest set have animals on the soles.

    2. Retail Gal*

      I’m still kicking myself for not buying the bright blue socks with macaws on them from work that were on clearance that I could have gotten super cheap with my discount.

      I did buy a pair for my niece and told her she could only wear them to church because they were “Sundae” socks. (I keed I keed)

    3. yahoo*

      I am currently entering Jenn McKinley’s (a cozy mystery author) facebook drawing every Wednesday to win the overdue library themed socks she offers. I know I can but they from Out Of Print but to win book themed socks from one of my favorite authors is just so tempting.

    4. Amanda*

      SmartWool makes adorable socks that are also the warmest things you will ever wear. If I win the lottery, I will never wear anything else.

      1. Nashira*

        Hi, you are my new favorite. I need some thinner wool socks for work, not my thick hunter socks. I’m pretty sure I could sneak in some novelty ones too, especially if one job app pans out for me.

    5. Rana*

      Have you checked out Sock Dreams? They have some amaaaaaazing socks for sale there. I always get a serious case of the covets when I visit it.

      1. Connie-Lynne*


        All my favorite socks come from there, including this amazing pair of flowery-viney-above-the-knee socks that they don’t carry any more. You can sort of see them in this picture:

        Their above-the-knee harlequins are wonderful — they stay up, they go up high enough, and they look either fun or professional, depending on what you wear with them:

      2. Swoop*

        + so many numberes!
        I haven’t yet taken the plunge, mostly because I can’t decide, but a friend has and she loves them

    6. Jen RO*

      I don’t know if it exists in the US, but I got a pair of cool socks from the Tiger store chain (they exist in Northern Europe, at least). One sock is a bunch of fish and a shark, and the other sock is a bunch more sharks (trying to eat the fish on the first sock). It’s so cute, but it’s also maddening, because I have a thing about symmetry and mismatched socks drive me nuts…

      1. bkanon*

        Oh, seriously, me too! The deliberately mis-matched sock trend really gets to me for reasons I can’t begin to explain. All my socks have to match, no matter how wild.

        Though I’m willing to make an exception for one pair – like on Friends, when Janice buys socks for Chandler so he can mix and match Rocky and Bullwinkle. I’d let the non-matching go so I could wear Moose and Squirrel.

        1. Jen RO*

          I wanted to get another pair of my shark socks so I could match fishies with fishies and sharks with sharks, but I haven’t been able to find them in stock :(

      2. TootsNYC*

        Are you sure you two aren’t vampires?

        (Terry Pratchett reference, for those who don’t know or don’t remember)

        1. Jen RO*

          I had to google for the reference, despite having read 99% of the Discworld books *hangs head in shame*

        2. bkanon*

          I do wear a lot of black and rarely go out in the sun!

          I did a lot of yardwork this summer and got tan enough to turn beige. I’m reallllly pale. Goths have asked where I buy my foundation.

    7. Tris Prior*

      I love Sock Dreams! I got a bunch of their Halloween socks this year – skulls, bats, etc. and also some ankle socks that say “f*** this s***.” Which I take great pleasure I wearing to work. Under boots so no one can see… But I know they’re there!

    8. bkanon*

      Okay, let me sing you the song of my people. There’s my previously-mentioned teapot socks. A whole flock of Slytherin socks, plus some general Harry Potter and knee-high Dark Marks. Herds of cat socks, including a French cat in a beret. Superheros (sadly, one of my Wonder Woman socks has flown the coop, so they’re out of the rotation for now). Wild animal prints – mostly tiger stripes in various colors. Spiders and/or spiderwebs. Four-leaf clovers, hearts, candy canes, reindeer – if there’s a holiday, I have socks for it. Ice-blue and white camo, in case I’m ever hiding on the planet Hoth. Monster faces. Polka dots in multiple colors. And stripes of every stripe, from subtle tone-on-tone to NEON AND GLITTER. And my mother the librarian better watch herself, because I’ve threatened to sneak off with her yellow check-out card socks.

      Basically, if the socks have a pattern on them, I’ll buy them. ;)

    9. TootsNYC*

      novelty socks bum me out!

      When I put them on, they stretch too much and the pictures are all a mess.

      If anybody can link to ones that don’t do that, I might actually be willing to buy my own.

      1. BRR*

        I have some with skulls and crossbones and they were so stretched a coworker asked me if they were aliens :(.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        I find that print patterns work better than pictures, for me — so like, a bunch of kitties or flowers or pencils-and-pads and so forth.

        The other trick is if the picture is on the front, or occasionally the side. Anything where the picture is over the calves will distort for me, as well, but for example, these socks with the octopus on the front look super cute on my huge muscular calves:

    10. BRR*

      My favorites are ones that are all puzzle pieces, a pair where it looks like a squid is attacking my ankle, and a pair that looks like a hamburger.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have some Miffy the rabbit socks and a double pack with cupcakes which are very snazzy.

    11. Swoop*

      if you’re in Canada Ardene generally has some fun socks – I got some animal print footlets there (great for the summer)
      Sock Dreams (I gushed above too :) )

      my coolest pair though? my Mum got them for me – they’ve got little skulls with pink bows on :)

    12. Stella Maris*

      I love basically every design from Sock It To Me socks – sockittome dot com – and am plotting to buy some more to celebrate knee-high season starting here!

    13. Hlyssande*

      I miss all the novelty socks I used to wear. It feels like all the super cute socks come in that ‘invisible’ style now and those aren’t comfortable for me.

      That said, I have…

      Two different pairs of blue/green tie-dyed bamboo socks (THE BEST)
      Cute brown owl socks
      Three different pairs of glow in the dark socks with skulls
      Three pairs of Star Wars socks
      Hot pink ‘invisible’ socks with bananas that I can’t resist even though they’re uncomfy

  8. Cath in Canada*

    Anyone else watching the rugby world cup? My team (England) are out, but I’m still enjoying the tournament. Hoping for Ireland to go all the way! (I also support Scotland, but with low expectations).

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I don’t think this is one of the all-time classic All Blacks sides, but you guys always have an excellent chance anyway! Watching the NZ-France game right now :)

        Realistically, I think Australia will lift the trophy this time.

    1. IrishGirl*

      Yep, glued to it!

      Thought this could be our year, still hopeful despite all the injuries after the France match…

  9. Carrie in Scotland*

    Last week I posted about my flat. knocking down the price and the website not being updated with the price change. Well, it all got sorted so that’s fine…until my dad’s wife did something ever so slightly crazy (aka “helpful”).

    So, as part of advertising, I paid for an ad in a local paper property section. I paid for it on Friday and I though it may have gone in the paper the following Tuesday so I asked my dad’s wife to check the paper. She did so and then phoned my solicitor’s asking where it was. And then! And then, she texted me to say that she’d done that and hoped it was ok for her to do…*head desk*

    I’ve just ignored it because I didn’t know how to say something without being bitchy. Usually I’d go to my dad and he’d run interference but sometimes he just made it worse.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      Is there some reason your solicitor shouldn’t know? Not criticizing, just not familiar with your local norms…

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Well, it’s just that my solicitor has been dealing with me (the seller), not my dad’s wife and if she’d told me it wasn’t in, then I would’ve phoned them…

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I understand that you don’t want her interference, but maybe this will land better than you think. Maybe your solicitor will get on top of things and things will move along for you. I remember that you said you really need to sell that place.

      I think I would just say, “Thanks for doing that,but going forward, please call me and *I* will call the solicitor.” She sounds like a person that if you give her an inch she takes a mile.

  10. Pennalynn Lott*

    Self-indulgent pity whine: My birthday is on Monday and I’ve received packages in the mail from my dad. (We live 1500 miles apart). The first package was a stove-top popcorn popper. Just like the one my boyfriend uses. The exact same model, as a matter of fact. I don’t eat popcorn. I think I’ve even complained to my dad in the past about my boyfriend’s prodigious consumption of popcorn. So, great, I open the box, see what’s inside and promptly had the popper over to Boyfriend saying, “Now you have a spare.”

    Then the second package from my dad arrives. It has a “FRAGILE” sticker on it and it’s kinda heavy. I’m hoping for electronics or even tools (what he gave me last xmas). Nope, it’s EIGHT POUNDS of popcorn, a bottle of sesame oil, and a Costco-size canister of popcorn salt. Again, I hand the contents over to Boyfriend.

    A third package arrived today. By now I’m just hoping for something fun or useful, or something that shows he knows me even a little. So what did I get? A selfie stick. A #%$@-ing selfie stick! I do not take selfies. I do not allow other people to take my picture. There are no pictures of me on the internet. He knows this. We are FB friends. A selfie stick won’t help me take more pics of my cats or the cool-looking spiders in my yard. And yet he bought me a flipping selfie stick.

    There is supposedly a fourth package on its way to me. I am not looking forward to seeing what’s in it.

    I am also not looking forward to crafting a thank you email to him on Monday (which is when I will have pretended to open all the packages). I’ve already come up with a neutral, “The popcorn will be great on movie night,” but I don’t know what the hell to say about the selfie stick. Maybe something about teaching the cats to use it so they can take their own pictures.

    Also, Boyfriend didn’t know what to get me, so he gave me cash. And my mom also doesn’t know what to get me so I asked her to make Scotch Eggs for me; but a little while ago she came in my room and said, “All the ingredients for your Scotch Eggs are in the refrigerator, I’m going to bed.” [She keeps weird hours]. So it looks like I’ll have to make my own celebratory meal, even though I always make stuff for Boyfriend and Mom on their birthdays.

    Instead of 49 starting off with a bang, it’s starting off with a whine.

    1. periwinkle*

      Honestly, I’d just say “sod off” to all of them (nicely, of course) and go out solo to some amazing restaurant. You’ve earned a little self indulgence.

      If cats ever learn to use selfie sticks the internet will become 99.5% cat videos rather than the current 98%. Someone give Maru a selfie stick!

    2. Mando Diao*

      Is the popcorn maker a brand that Bed Bath & Beyond carries? You can take it back for store credit, even if it’s been opened. Their website has a lot of stuff that the stores don’t carry (even some makeup and skincare brands). If not, I thiiiiink Target may also accept unopened exchanges/credit for gifts without receipts.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        It’s from Amazon. Boyfriend’s current popper will eventually wear out, so the new one will get used at some point. I’m just miffed that my dad doesn’t pay enough attention to me to know that the thing I said about popcorn is that I don’t like it. Or that I have never once taken a selfie. WTH, Dad?

        1. fposte*

          It’s annoying when you want a little well-deserved cherishing and it just ain’t coming.

          Is this usual with your dad? Mine couldn’t have chosen a gift for me under torture. He would have been very pleased with himself on the popcorn maker, because he’d remembered that I mentioned popcorn. There’s a reason that in my adulthood we changed to my providing him with marked catalogues.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            LOL, fposte. I think my dad is probably, indeed, pleased with himself. And he’s never been this far off the mark. I mean, I’ve gotten completely useless things from him before, but they were more part of long-running joke or him making a goofy statement. They have also always been accompanied by a check for a couple hundred dollars, which has made the gag gifts much easier to deal with. So far, there has been no check this time around. Cash always softens the blow of being reminded that my dad doesn’t really know me. :-)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Any chance that this is (his idea of) a joke too? That was actually my first thought — pounds of popcorn to someone who’s complained about her boyfriend eating popcorn all the time and a selfie stick for someone known to loathe having her picture taken reads to me like it could be a gag gift.

              1. Pennalynn Lott*

                I hope that’s what it is. But it’s a relatively expensive gag gift. Usually the joke-y stuff is in the $5-$15 range. The popper costs about $40 and the oil/popcorn/salt package was at least $25 (it’s organic popcorn from Trader Joe’s). Though the selfie stick definitely falls under his usual gag gift pattern.

        2. Excel Millennial*

          Sounds like something my dad would do. He’d get me a selfie stick (even though, like you, I don’t take pictures of myself and there are no pictures of me on the internet) because he thinks “kids your age like them”, or get me makeup (even though I’ve never worn makeup) because “women like makeup”.

          In other words, he buys gifts based on the demographic you belong to, not what he knows of you.

          Now I just ask for cash.

        3. Mando Diao*

          Even so, google the brand and see if it’s sold anywhere else that will do an exchange for you. I don’t think you should have to sacrifice the possibility of picking out something nice for yourself just to save your boyfriend an inconvenience somewhere down the line.

          Save the selfie stick for your office secret Santa.

    3. Yay It's Caturday*

      This has happened to me more times than I can count with my parents, my siblings, and my in-laws. I’ve finally resorted to giving out lists of what I would like. Although these are *usually* followed, the atmosphere on family holidays, including Christmas, is so grim for a variety of reasons that I’ve decided that starting this year my real holiday will be on the Winter Solstice day, when I buy a variety of wonderful things for myself (at least one book, an iTunes gift card) but I won’t indulge until that day. I’ll have food I like, I’ll hang out with my husband, and we’ll do nothing but enjoyable things that evening. This should give us an emotional boost to carry us through Christmas Day (always draining). For birthdays now I just have given up expectations and have a similar approach: celebrate it for myself.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, two of my relatives used to give out really just out of touch, age inappropriate gifts.

        I got a barbie at age 14. I had never played with barbies, even when I was in the appropriate age group for them.

        Clothes I would never wear or were the wrong size.

        Gift boxes full of like address labels and those little promotional calendars charities give you in December and some other random junk from the dollar store.

        So many of those little gift sets of like bath salts, etc (those seem to be the default “I don’t know what to get this girl/woman” gift.

        Gift cards to restaurants etc that are not even in our part of the country.

        My dad finally told his mother to not put together the gift boxes anymore – that while we appreciated the sentiment, it would save her time and money and save us the hassle of trying to figure out where to put that stuff that wouldn’t ever be used.

        I am so glad Amazon wishlists are a thing now.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Oh, I forgot the possibly worst one. Giant Pfaltzgraff “iced beverage” glasses in a Christmas themed pattern. They were expensive, useless 11 months out of the year, not at all in line with my taste, and I was living in a tiny apartment with a tiny kitchen with no storage space.

          I used those as a white elephant gift like a week later.

        2. mander*

          My parents gave me and my sister (26 and 21, respectively) Barbies for Christmas one year. It wasn’t until my sister opened hers a while after me that we realized they were the Millennium collector’s edition, sort of a neat thing to have, and that they didn’t expect us to sit down and play with them.

        3. Pennalynn Lott*

          I have an acquaintance who likes to buy birthday gifts for everyone in our circle of friends. She always buys them at the dollar store. I hate having to throw away everything she gives me, but it’s all junk. At least this year she gave me a can of spicy boiled peanuts in addition to the usual crappy tchotchke (a truly ugly owl-dressed-as-a-fat-banker-wearing-a-cowboy-hat teapot, whose suit is covered in stacks of cash).

          1. TL -*

            One of my grandparents used to always take me to the dollar store and tell me to pick out one of the tchotchkes! It was always like… I really appreciated the kindness and the gesture (and she loved going to the dollar store and truly wanted to share that with me) but I am not a tchotchke person and the stuff that I do have, I’m very picky about. I always picked one out then gave it to Goodwill or a friend or something. But it was very lovely of here nonetheless.

      2. +1 for wish lists*

        I maintain a public Amazon wish list exactly for this purpose. My mom once bought me a very expensive, surprisingly large ice-cream maker. When I had a tiny kitchen and when I had mentioned to her that, in preparation for moving, I was getting *rid* of stuff and really didn’t want any more stuff. And the kicker? I have a winter birthday. That year, my birthday fell on the coldest day of the year. What the F was I going to do with an ice cream maker?!?!?

        I actually cried over the damn thing. I was so upset that my mom could actively not listen to me and not really *know* me at all. It was far more hurtful than just not getting me anything at all.

        After I was done crying, I took the gift receipt and exchanged that f-ing ice cream maker for a really sweet crock pot, which I love and use weekly. And before the next holiday, I made an Amazon wish list full of things at a variety of price-points that I would actually use. Every gift from my immediate family for the past 2 years has come off of that wish list. Everyone is happy.

    4. Dan*

      Heh. I’ve tried telling my parents to please don’t send me food stuffs for gifts. A couple of years ago, my dad sent me three pounds of meat sticks from the local butcher. They’re good, I like them, he knows that, so he actually got me something that I would like. The problem is, it’s THREE POUNDS and I live by myself. That’s way too much f’ing meat.

      I haven’t seen my b-day present yet this year, and in all fairness I’ve been apparently neglectful of their holidays too. It occurred to me that with the “two of them”, I’m obligated to buy gifts in May, June, July, September, and then x2 for Xmas. Honestly, it gets tiring and repetitive. We’re going on a two-week transatlantic cruise together next year, so for the sake of my convenience, “Xmas” is going to be a card to each of them with $150 in gift cards (per person) to the cruise line. We don’t go until October of next year, so it’s going to be wash-rinse-repeat next year too.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. It’d be better if he just sent a card, right? One hurdle I faced was feeling the need to keep the gift. Then one year IT happened. I returned a gift and got something I actually wanted. If you can return the gifts please consider doing this. I don’t know what took me so long to decide to do this- well, okay, I do know why. But it was so freeing to go get something I wanted and would use. It’s just not worth hanging on to this stuff and giving it away might not be the answer every time.
      You’re right in that your dad does not know you that well but, on the other hand, he is trying in the ways he knows how. And that would be the basic theme of my thank you note. “Thank you for thinking of me and remembering me on my birthday.” Rather than commenting as to the utility of the items he sent, if you feel you must mention the items just say, “Thanks for the corn popper and the popcorn.” Notice how the sentence stops suddenly. No further explanations of what happened to the popper and the corn. Thank him for the other items by name. Then close with restating what you started out saying, “Again, thanks for thinking of me.”
      What I like about this is that you are focusing on the part that you can be sincere about because it’s true, he did think of you.
      Sadly we don’t get to pick what our family does or what they remember about us. I had family that did not even know what I do for a living. I saw these people on a regular basis and we always talked about our jobs. Yet, somehow they never figured out what I did for work. One year I said no more coffee mugs and no more tree ornaments for Christmas. Yep, you guessed what happened next. Nine coffee mugs and 11 tree ornaments. It’s more of that “listening skill” some people just don’t have it. Make lemonade as best you can. I have become a fan of selling/trading the item or refunding it. I did not use to be that way. But as the decades rolled by and my house fill up with stuff that I did not want or need, I decided that if they are not too worried about how the gift suits me then I am not going to be too worried about keeping it.
      This rule does not apply to everyone in my life, just the people who bury me in stuff I can’t use.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I have definitely re-gifted a lot of the things he has sent me in the past. Or just plain threw them away. (No, I don’t need a feather-festooned cardboard “Happy Birthday” tiara. Or an electronic fly-swatter. Or a plastic Confederate flag [I live in the South, see, so it’s a funny joke to a native Californian like him to gig me for my region’s horrible history].)

        And I am glad that eventually Boyfriend will be able to put the popper to use. The selfie stick came from an eBay seller (based on the shipping label), so I’ll re-gift it or toss it out. I’ve gone back to school, so *surely* there’s a 20-year old at the university who would be happy to have it. ;-)

      2. mander*

        “I decided that if they are not too worried about how the gift suits me then I am not going to be too worried about keeping it.”

        ^THIS. An excellent way to look at it.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I bet your dad remembers **A** conversation about popcorn, but not what the substance of it was. Poor dad!

      And yeah, I’d investigate returns.

      1. Cristina in England*

        This! I once ranted to a friend about how I hated chili chocolate, and on every occasion since then, she has given me chili chocolate. She linked chili chocolate to me in her mind, but in the opposite way! She also did this after I told her how I didn’t understand the appeal of Cath Kidston. The very next Christmas she gave me a Cath Kidston calendar. I haven’t had the heart to say anything so I expect to get chili chocolates again this year (I am getting used to them). Maybe I should tell her I hate chocolate hazelnut pralines instead!

      2. Mephyle*

        Long ago, a friendquaintance was coming to live for a while in expatlandia, and she asked me what she could bring me that I missed from the homeland. I said; any of: real chocolate chips (back then we could only get the fake ones), classic yeast (we could only get the quick yeast), instant pudding mix (I can make my own cooked pudding, but the instant ones are an ingredient in some dessert recipes), or herbal tea (anything except mint or chamomile).
        So I received: a huge bag of fake chocolate chips, a big bag of quick yeast, several packets of cooked pudding mix, and a box of chamomile mint tea.

    7. Student*

      Maybe it’s time to take the hint that you’re going to have to direct your own birthday celebrations from now on. Instead of hoping people will get you what you want, and getting disappointed over and over that people aren’t reading your mind, find a way to let them know what you really want. Telling them directly is always best, but doesn’t fly in some social circles. Wish lists are great for this. Drop hints in the lead-up to your birthday. Tell one trusted, close relative what you want and ask them to pass the hint on to the clueless relatives.

    8. Lora*

      I don’t mean to rain on your whine, which I totally get, but never once get I get a birthday gift from my dad, not even a ‘happy birthday’.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Yep, that’s an issue with whining; someone out there will always have it worse, no matter what the whine is about.

    9. Sunflower*

      The thing by your mom was a little strange? But i think it’s also worth throwing out there that some people don’t really care about celebrating their birthdays so maybe your mom and BF don’t know it’s important to you. My friends are confused every year when I tell them I don’t really wanna do much except just go out and have fun. I think I would be upset if no one acknowledged my birthday but my mom didn’t ask me about going to dinner for my birthday until 2 months after it passed and i didn’t even notice. So maybe that’s what happening with them.

    10. Exhausted and feeling it*

      Be thankful they are alive, they care and remember to celebrate your birth. There are many of us out there without those loved ones in our lives anymore. They can be taken from your life without warning in a heartbeat.

      There are big problems in life and everything else is a little problem. Be thankful this is a little problem and let it go.

  11. Tess McGill*

    I need advice. My family recently moved (for my husband’s job) to the same city where my husband’s parents and sister live. This is the second time (in 23 years) that we’ve lived in this city (again, for hubby’s job). To be very, very clear, I adore both my in-laws and my SIL. I am extremely lucky to have married into this family and have these people in my life. In fact, my SIL is like the sister I never had. She’s amazing. She’s extremely funny, very smart and well respected in her communities (her job, church, etc.). I love spending time with her. She is always the coolest person in the room. Everyone adores her. She has been a middle school/high school teacher for 20+ years (in a school that goes from Grade 6 to Grade 12). Because of this, she has great insight into teenagers, their habits, mood swings, school behavior, etc. However, she has never married and she has no children of her own. (Just two cats … but not as cute at Alison’s cats). Enter us: my son is 17 years old and a senior at a local high school (not the same school where she teaches, but in the same small county, so my SIL knows some of my son’s teachers). My son is a first year student in this school (and this is his third high school in four years, so the transition has been bumpy). Almost every single time we are together and my son is with us, my SIL is bound and determined to give out advice. Whether it be educational advice, teenager habits advice, college application advice or just plain (what I would call) parent-only advice. This is not a new habit. To be fair, she sometimes does give good advice when it comes to my son’s education, however, most of the time the advice is unsolicited AND much of the advice is not education-related. She did this the last time we lived near her and even once dispensed unhelpful “advice” regarding son via Facebook, causing me to not speak to her for 24 hours. She apologized and we made up. Last weekend there was a bit of an altercation over coffee regarding a discipline problem I was having with my son (nothing major, but something that I was taking very personally). My son was not with us during the conversation … just myself, my SIL and my husband. She couldn’t believe how upset I was about (the issue) and told me to just get over it. Then she proceeded to dispense advice regarding other areas of son’s behavior, to include some confidential information that son had shared with me. I had had enough, so I told my hubby I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to go home. Later that night, she apologized via text and all was right with the world again. Until Friday night. Son and SIL sometimes get together on Friday nights for dinner and nephew-aunt time. No big deal. She picks him up and brings him home and they enjoy their time together. Last night when she picked him up, son was putting on his jacket when I noticed that he had no socks on (shoes only). I asked him to go upstairs and grab a pair of socks and put them on before he went out. SIL launched into “why does he need socks …. you’re not wearing any socks (meaning me … I was wearing slip-ons) …. he’s fine the way he is …. why are you worried about socks … he doesn’t need socks … leave him alone ….” and on and on. This “discussion” went on between us the entire time son was putting on socks and shoes. I was stunned and kept trying to justify me telling son to put on socks (the temp is dropping, his feet sweat and ruin shoes, etc.) I was literally “politely” fighting with son’s aunt (NON-parent) about directions I’d given to son. After she left and I was in the car with hubby on the way to date night, I lost it. I AM THE PARENT. If I tell son to put on socks, no matter the reason, NO ONE gets to question or argue with me, least of all Aunt, who has no children of her own. My hubby got an earful and I couldn’t let it go. He completely agreed with me and said that she crosses the line when it comes to advice. He validated my feelings and told me I was right to feel this way. It bothered me all night and yes, it’s still bothering me today. I need advice regarding how to put a stop to this once and for all. No more advice. Of any kind (unless I specifically ask for it). Especially fighting me when it comes to son’s attire. Remember I adore SIL and love spending time with her, and yes she IS family (which is important to me), but her one flaw: she wears her heart on her sleeve and ANY criticism goes over like a lead brick with a full-on pout that lasts for days, or even weeks. She takes everything very personally and I don’t even know how to start this conversation. I just want it to stop. Especially any advice regarding my parenting (from socks to packed lunch vs. school lunch (yes, really) and everything else. I’m his parent, and what I say goes, and I don’t wish to be challenged or contradicted or given unsolicited advice. (Also, hubby has not volunteered to speak with her about this … but he might if I press him … but I think this is between me and SIL and I need to tackle it and make it stop.) I have no idea what to say and how to say it that won’t ruin our otherwise wonderful relationship. Anyone have a similar situation? Any advice to offer? Thanks.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s the serious approach and there’s the casual approach. Serious would be something like, “Jane, I adore you and love spending time with you. I’m sure you don’t realize how often you give me unsolicited advice about Apollo, but it’s a lot and it makes me feel like you don’t think I have it under control. I’d appreciate if we could talk about other things instead.”

      But I’d go more casual; I’d be more comfortable saying something like, “You know, if you give me one more piece of unsolicited advice about Apollo, I’m just going to send him to live with you to parent” or something else jokey.

      Either way, it sounds like she’ll probably sulk. Why not just let her? It’s an obnoxious reaction (because it trains people not to ever say anything she won’t like; it’s manipulative). Let her pout for weeks if that’s what it takes. She won’t pout forever, right? Say your thing, accept she might not talk to you for a month, and then it’s hopefully done.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        I’d be a little hesitant to threaten to send him to live with auntie. She might be all for that, which would be a much more awkward conversation. I’d be more likely to go with the bland, “It’s under control” approach. If SIL persists you can always add “Yeah, I think we’ve beaten that particular horse to death now.” Or some such.

        1. Hellanon*

          Seriously, one of the reasons I never had children is that my mother issues child-rearing advice* like the pope issues encyclicals. I was pretty sure that when the baby hit six months, I would show up at her door, hand her the infant and say, “Here, you do it. I’m off to join the circus.” I don’t blame the OP at all for having these thoughts…

          *I’ve seen her take screaming babies away from their mothers and say, no, you have to let them get used to frustration. What, at 4 months?

            1. Hellanon*

              That was pretty much the response, yes. At which point my mother decided my friend was a terrible person & never lost an opportunity to say something nasty about her. Me? I have cats, and I regularly get accused of raising *them* wrong!

    2. Rana*

      Oof, that sounds incredibly frustrating. Depending on your personality, I can think of two possible avenues to take here. The first is to ask her for a sit-down talk in which you basically lay out what you’ve said here: That you love her to bits, but that her advice is making you not want to be around her, and that she needs to (politely) put a sock in it. (And then, if she lapses, that’s your cue to say, “SIL, we talked about this. I and son are leaving now.” or whatever gets you out of her presence quickly.)

      The other is to go the bland underreaction route. So, with the socks, “I heard you. I am fine with my decision.” accompanied by an emotionless stare.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Yep, whatever you do, don’t validate her interference by indulging in an argument with her. You’ve made your decision, it’s not up to her to question or badger you. You owe her no explanations. You don’t need to reason with her. You don’t need for her to agree with you on your approach. Just don’t engage.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, please stop reasoning with her. Don’t offer explanations, either. All that does is draw things out. If you think about you can see that her reaction is showing that she does not want your explanations or rationale anyway.

          The sulking stuff- ugh, ugh. Always remember your life goes on while she is sulking. I had a family member that sulked for 14 years over a misunderstanding. My life went on, I did stuff, had memorable times, I grew and developed some of my abilities, etc. Family member missed all that and remained in sulking mode. The few times I reached out she did not reach back, life went on anyway. I got to thinking about the relationship and I got to realizing things about the relationship. Yes, it changed. Because it occurred to me that love/friendship does not have an off/on switch. It either flows or it doesn’t.
          At some point, don’t be afraid to take a step back and look at a bigger picture.

        2. BRR*

          Such a good point about the sulking. If she wants to sulk because you are tired of her giving unsolicited advice about how to raise your children, that’s on her.

      2. BRR*

        My cousin once did a “Thanks but I’ve got this” and that’s all it took for me to stop. I was younger (and didn’t know how much unsolicited advice is given to parents) and threw something out and that comment just made it clear who was in charge. It was done with a “I really appreciate you trying to help but it’s not really helping plus I find it annoying” tone which is difficult I think to convey.

    3. Observer*

      Why are you “fighting” her? As others say “Thanks, I’ve got it under control” is a prefectly good sentence and needs no further explanation. And then just keep on changing the subject. The only thing I would challenge is if she says something to you in front of your son, you can tell her that just as it’s inappropriate for parents to challenge her in front of her students, it’s inappropriate for her to do so in front of your child.

      Whatever you say or do, do NOT bring her childlessness into it. It is utterly irrelevant and highly offensive. She could have 13 children and it would STILL be in appropriate for her to get involved.

      1. Uyulala*

        “Whatever you say or do, do NOT bring her childlessness into it. It is utterly irrelevant and highly offensive. She could have 13 children and it would STILL be in appropriate for her to get involved.”

        +1 to this. Don’t mention that to her and work on getting it out of your head too. Having kids doesn’t automatically make parenting advice good and not having kids doesn’t automatically make parenting advice bad. If you don’t want her advice because she is not the parent of YOUR child, leave it at that.

    4. LCL*

      What does Apollo think about all this? At 17, he is really too old for mommy to be telling him to put on socks, or worry about his lunch. Back off and let him handle the trivia, and you can both laugh about auntie.

      1. Tess McGill*

        Apollo is extremely laid back, thankfully. However, as his parent, at age 17 or not, if I look down and see he’s not wearing any socks I know it’s because he hasn’t put his clean laundry away … no other reason. Not a fashion statement or even a comfort thing with this kid. It’s not the end of the world if he wears no socks. It’s also not “over-parenting” if I simply ask him to put socks on. A simple request. That’s it. The lunch issue is far more complicated and involved lying on his part, so it’s not really trivial. We discussed the incident (later) and I actually apologized to my son by saying, “I know it’s hard to know the right thing to do when you get two conflicting directives from two adults.” He’s fine with it. I’m just tired of the advice and push back from SIL, when most of the time it’s just unnecessary. I’m going to go with “I’ve got this” the next time something comes up.

        1. Marcela*

          I truly hope it was a real request. I mean, something he could answer with yes or no. I’m telling you this because my mother would say the same thing, that asking us to put a sweater when we were 18 years old was a request. But we would open the doors of hell if we didn’t do as she “requested”.

          1. Tess McGill*

            I said, “Please go upstairs and grab a pair of socks from the laundry basket and put them on.” That was it. How is this not a real request??? He did as he was told. He didn’t say another word. Then SIL got involved. Not sure what you are implying.

            1. Amtelope*

              It’s a request, but it’s not the kind of suggestion that can be either agreed with or disagreed with depending on whether he agrees that he needs socks. As you say, your expectation was that he would “do as he was told” and put socks on because you wanted him to. I’d be weirded out too watching someone tell a kid who’s about to be an adult to wear socks. Surely there’s some point at which you no longer try to control how your kid dresses unless it’s seriously inappropriate or offensive?

              1. Tess McGill*

                I can count on ten hands the number of times my son has come back to me and said, “Mom, you were right, thanks for making me wear a jacket/rain coat/sweater/socks/nicer shoes, etc.” This happens often. He’s a good kid. He wears what he wants (only once did he attempt to wear an offensive t-shirt to school and he asked me about before he left the house. I wasn’t offended (British slang) but we reasoned that his teachers might be). He’s by no means brilliant or a even model child …. although he can kill it on the SATs, he’s often a poor judge of temperature-appropriate attire. He may be 17, but he’s still at home and if I ask him to do it, he usually just does it … with zero or much less pushback than the AAM readers who think I need to “let go”. I’ll parent my way and you parent your way, thanks. In the meantime I’m just trying to resolve the SIL issue. Next year when he’s gone, he can walk barefoot to class for all I care. I’m not going to be following him around or even visiting campus unless he specifically invites me. That’s how I was raised … you’re 18, go live your life, learn lessons the hard way if you have to, wear dirty underwear if you can’t remember to do laundry, get wet or cold if you forget your jacket, if a professor fails you, you deserved it (I won’t be calling the school), etc. Call if you need something, but my job is done. In the meantime, if I ask him to wear socks, he just does.

                1. Observer*

                  Sure, you get to parent your way. But, I think you are misunderstanding what people are saying to you. Not that you are a bad parent, but that perhaps your parenting style is helping to fuel the problem. From what you say, I think it’s a valid point.

                  That’s not to say that your SIL is reacting appropriately. And I still think that “I’ve got it” is a good way to react to her intrusion.

                2. Rana*

                  Eh, I get the feeling that Tess could be parenting perfectly and the SIL would still stick her oar in. There’s no point in Tess changing a parenting style that has been working for her and her child when the real problem is a SIL who feels bound and determined to give advice, no matter how undesired.

                  It doesn’t matter if the SIL is right.* What matters that it’s not her call to make.

                  * unless we’re talking actual child endangerment, which we’re not.

                3. Observer*

                  @Rana, I do mostly agree with you. SIL is being inappropriate, and Tess should certainly shut her down. 100% on that. And 100% on Tess not owing SIL any explanations or deference on her parenting choices.

                  That doesn’t mean that SIL is not noticing something valid, and it might be worthwhile for Tess to think about it. NOT because she needs to do what SIL is telling her to, but because SIL may actually be making a point worth evaluating, albeit in an inappropriate way. This style may have worked till now, but things change as our children grow, so it’s worth thinking about, as a totally separate issue.

    5. Rana*

      One other thing. I think you need to let go of the notion that she is some sort of Expert on All Things Teenager. As your irritation with her advice suggests, she is actually not; moreover, even if she were, she’s still not an expert on your child – you are. (A piece of evidence that she’s not at all a teenager whisperer – the last thing you want to do is encourage parent-teen power struggles!)

      You’ve properly internalized that You Are The Parent; now work on She’s Not The Expert. Instead, reframe it as “She has sometimes useful information. But not always.”

      1. Tess McGill*

        This. Exactly this. She DOES have useful advice sometimes. She does know about certain things when it comes to school in this county’s school system. There are times when I am thankful for her insight into educational issues, but the rest I’ve got … bottom line, he’s my kid and I know him best. Thanks.

    6. Weekend Warrior*

      My father and brother had a very tense relationship when my brother was a teenager. Years later, my dad told me about advice his childless sister had tried to give him about the situation and he was still huffy about it. The thing was, though, it sounded to me as a sibling that it might have been really helpful if my dad could have considered it. So I’m saying that although you should set boundaries as others have said, it could also be helpful if you could figure out a way to think about what your SIL is saying to see if there’s something to it.

  12. Computer Guy Eli*

    These last few weeks have been pretty awesome. I’ve started doing more work around the house since I started that to-do list and that feels damn good. I also took a good look at what my daily eating habits were and I couldn’t think of the last time I had eaten something that didn’t come out of a box, so I’ve started eating healthier. I’m not counting calories yet, but I’m replacing my hot pocket diet with some regular food. It seems all these great life-changing decisions I’m making are happening at once, and I feel as confident about them as I did about cutting out soda eight months ago.

    1. nep*

      Fantastic. Well done.
      You likely won’t have to be too concerned about counting calories if you continue to stick with real food (as opposed to food-like substances that unfortunately are all-too-prevalent these days).
      Keep us posted. All the best.

        1. nep*

          Yes — great term. And it applies to so many things in the stores these days. Can’t claim it as my own. Check out Michael Pollan, who refers to ‘edible food-like substances’.
          Pollan’s advice in seven words: ‘Eat food – Not too much – Mostly plants’. He also says don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. (Though that will depend on the age of the person; I reckon many grandmothers these days are steeped in the packaged, ‘food-like-substances’ culture. But you get the gist.)
          Also, don’t eat foods that have a mascot or a TV commercial — those are pretty good guidelines as well.

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            Heh! My grandmother taught me how to grow food, and my father taught me to hunt and fish. But I’m pretty old myself and I really like the kind of food you pick out of the garden or caught that morning. ;)

            1. Hellanon*

              Heh. My grandmother used to order Chinese takeout (she lived in NY), transfer it into her own pots & pans and serve it to guests. But I digress.

    2. Sunflower*

      You should check out Mike Vacanti. I personally find him hilarious and he’s all about balanced eating

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Go, Eli! Now is a great time to be doing this. I just heard a radio talk show with a doctor. He said that our food/exercise/rest in our twenties and thirties lays the groundwork for our health as we age. This is a super investment for you.

        1. nep*

          (I’ll add, though, that in eating real food and exercising regularly, I’m never thinking ‘this is for longevity’. I feel like a million bucks right *now* / every day because of such habits.)

  13. Carrie in Scotland*

    Does anyone have advice to do with large pills (the ones that come in the horrid plastic-y coating) and how to swallow them any easier?

    My Dr gave me a prescription for possible rosacea and the pills are freaking huge. I can’t swallow them, so have resorted to pulling them apart and putting the powder. It made my tea taste nasty.

    1. Rana*

      I find it depends on whether the pills float or sink. If they’re floaty, then tilt your face forward after putting one in and taking a swallow of liquid (so it floats up to the back of your throat). If they sink, you tilt your face up, so they sink to the back.

      You might also ask the pharmacist if there’s a smaller size available (so you take two instead of one, say).

    2. Canadian University Reader*

      I find breaking the pills in half and emptying the powder into orange juice helps. The powder doesn’t taste as bad and it’s a couple of gulps and then it’s gone.

    3. Tess McGill*

      Someone once taught me … take a sip of water and hold it in your mouth. Slide the large pill into your mouth (water still there) and then start drinking. Having water already in your mouth will help get it down. Good luck.

    4. fposte*

      Where’s your barrier? Do you gag, do they stick unpleasantly once you do swallow, what?

      I find it easier to get big stuff down when I lean my head forward and tuck my chin–my guess is that it opens the esophagus more than swallowing with your chin up. However, it’s hard to get water into your mouth like that, so what I did following surgery was put the water into my mouth with my chin at the usual height and then forward tilt and tuck to swallow. Harvard Medical online also offers a neat tip–get a plastic bottle of water or soda, put the pill on your tongue, seal your lips around the top of the bottle like it was a straw, and suck water down and let the pill go with it.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I gag which means they often lodge in my throat.

        Thanks for the tips, everyone! I will try one of them tomorrow and see how I get on.

      2. Nashira*

        I take a palmful of meds several times a day, including several 800mg tabs at a time, because I won at being sick. The sip-and-tuck is how I did it until I mysteriously lost my gag reflex. Heartily recommended.

    5. littlemoose*

      If you have Clinique products in Scotland, the redness reducing cream has been awesome for my rosacea. Better than the topical cream from my MD.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        We do have Clinique! I will see if the pills do anything and then I’m getting a referral to a dermatologist but I will have a look out for it just in case :)

      2. ginger ale for all*

        My mother got the Clinique stuff for me as a gift and the first time I tried it, my face got lobster red and swelled up. So please try it at the counter first to see if you will benefit first.

    6. Aussie Teacher*

      I also gag on large pills. You could try emptying the powder inside into a small spoonful of ice cream – you won’t taste it :)

      1. fposte*

        If it’s doxycycline, which is often prescribed for rosacea, there’s even research on the best way to mask the, um, piquancy. Milk and chocolate milk are recommended, but yogurt is not–not sure whether ice cream would be on the good dairy side or not, but it sounds worth a try.

        Apple juice also performed reasonably well.

      2. Al Lo*

        My mom tried that on me when I was 3. I spat it out, exclaimed “There’s medicine in this!”, and refused to eat the rest of the ice cream. :)

        1. TL -*

          I hate the taste of medicine – I learned to swallow pills when I was 2 and have only taken liquid medications a handful of times since (like, less than 10 total – only if we were out of pills and I was sick enough not to fight or if I was at somebody else’s house and got sick.)

    7. TootsNYC*

      I find it easier to swallow big pills if I am in fact swallowing several pills. So maybe take them with 4 TicTacs?

      Or if you *can* take them apart (time release capsules, you often can’t), maybe mash them with a small amount of banana, and just swallow it, no matter how bad it tastes.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Apple sauce is my go to. I have also ground them up using a mortar and pestle or a spoon and a small bowl.
      Take a few sips of water before trying to take the pill has also helped me. I put the pill in after I have swallowed three or four sips. I think it helps my throat muscles to relax. Which makes me believe that it’s just worry that is causing my throat to seem to constrict, since I seem to be able to ease myself through it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to suggest this. Applesauce is easy to suck down really fast to get past the nasty taste. You can buy a pill grinder in most pharmacies / chemists. I had to do it with Bactrim once because they were huge. Unfortunately, it wasn’t effective for me, so we ended up with something else anyway.

    9. FutureLibrarian*

      I have taken some honkin’ big pills in my time, unfortunately!

      One trick that works phenomenally well for me is to wrap my thumb in my fingers while I swallow. Almost like you’re making a fist, but tuck your thumb inside your fingers against your palm.

      I don’t know where I read it, or saw it, but it works like a charm!

      1. BuildMeUp*

        Seconding this! Wrap your fingers around your thumb and then squeeze. The pressure distracts your brain enough that it relaxes your gag reflex or something like that.

    10. Student*

      Did you try TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR? Or the pharmacist? That is what normal people do when they can’t take medication as prescribed.

      Not all medication will work properly when you rip it apart and put it in a hot drink – some medication is supposed to be released on a chemical timer. Some will react with stuff in your tea instead of stuff in your body.

      Pro-tip: there are lots of sick people who can’t take big pills. My father-in-law has a throat condition that prevents him from taking any pills whatsoever. So he tells this to his doctor, and they give him special meds. Sometimes it means they have to give him a different prescription altogether. However, there’s usually a chew-able or liquid alternative to many medications because this is a relatively common problem.

      1. misspiggy*

        That first line is rather aggressive and unnecessarily critical. Your advice would have been just as useful without it.

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        @ student – I didn’t realise how large the pills were until I got home and they are closed on Sunday’s. So yes, if the tips I get from here don’t work I will go back to the pharmacist and see if they come in a smaller size.

    11. Milton*

      I cannot take pills either! Whenever I need to I always take it with my meal. Right before I swallow I’ll gently toss the pill to the back of my mouth and *gulp* down it goes.

      I also second applesauce. Bananas are great too. Good luck!

    12. Key to the West*

      Be careful about breaking open capsules! It can effect how your body takes the medicine. Check with the pharmacist or doctor first!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes. Those capsules might be a time release tool. You take the medicine out of the capsule and, BOOM, you get hit with the full dosage immediately, which is NOT the way the medicine was designed to work.

  14. M.*

    So. Have definitely hit the point of freaking out. Internet has been turned off. Parents stepped in and prevented the power from being turned off. Been working at the school almost every day but still am not going to make rent seeing as how really all the expenses went from me paying half to having to pay all. The girl that’s moving in can’t get a day off of work to move in so far.

    I did set up a gofundme which I hate because it’s tacky as shit. But I need to get thru one more month. I got money coming in mid November for some independent contracting I did in September. I posted the link in some groups that help people find things but just got met with a bunch of hate since people clearly didn’t understand that I just got a job and won’t make what I need this month. To be fair my wording may have sucked. Lots of ‘get a job’ and ‘don’t do handouts’. So. Yeah. Most likely won’t have a place to live in a few weeks.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      That sucks. I’ve been in precarious situations in my life. Just thank the helpers and ignore the criticism. Meanwhile, keep planning for the future and breathing deep. And let your helpers and funders know that when you do get it together, you’ll happily pay it forward.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, just grab any old job, as if any old job will cover all the bills. Dreamers. May you find the good people around you, M, and may your situation change very soon.

  15. The Other Dawn*

    Has anyone gone through an appraisal for an FHA loan? If so, how tough was the appraisal? Did you have to fix a bunch of things in order for the loan to go through?

    We’re refinancing the mortgage on the new house in order to get a lower rate and some badly needed cash out. Because our credit has suffered the past year (no delinquencies, just a lot of credit usage), the only option right now is an FHA loan. Normally not a problem. BUT we have a very old home (circa 1735) and I’m worried that we’ll have a big “hit” list to take care of for the loan to go through. I Googled the FHA appraisal guidelines and I’m a little worried: the light in the stairway going upstairs doesn’t work, no attic light or railing for the attic stairs, and we recently ripped up the dining room rug so it’s crappy looking hard wood at the moment.

    I know I need to be worried about the lights and the railing, but is there anything else I should worry about?

    (OK, my cat is crawling up my shoulder and is now sitting on the back of my neck with his head on one shoulder and his butt on the other…..)

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Had to do FHA when buying our home in 2012. They did have a ‘fix it’ list, but since you’re refinancing and not buying, it may not apply? Also if something isn’t installed in your house they can’t cite it for being broken – but never heard of it because it was missing entirely? You may also get a waver because it’s actually historic and not just kinda old. Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I got an FHA for a house that was not a refi, it was a regular mortgage. Friends of ours did this also. The one thing that came up in conversation is that some times the necessary repairs are rolled on the mortgage, that may give you a way to fund the necessary repairs.

      Another thing you could do is check for grants for homeowners. We have a few in our county. To start looking check at your county office then check your town office. You have to be income qualified and they may have other criteria also. The grants here come with the stipulation that if you sell with in seven years you have to pay back a percentage of the grant. For example, if you sold the house two years after the grant work is done you might owe 70% of the grant money you used. But if you sold the house in year six you might owe 15% of the grant money you used. The percentage you would pay if you sold the house would go down with each passing year. The grant packet should clearly explain these types of things.

    3. meower*

      I have sold several houses where the buyers has FHA loans. They were very focused on lead paint.

      If you have chipping paint, you may want to do some research into how to properly paint over it.

      I’ve heard that they are less picky about houses for appraisal than the ones that people are buying.

    4. Windchime*

      I’ve never gotten an FHA loan myself, but I sold my built-in-1929 home to people who had FHA financing and I did have a pretty long list of things to fix. Things like the water heater vent pipe, mortar on the chimney, a few electrical things, etc. It was kind of pain but it all ended up OK.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks for the replies. Since it’s a refi and not a purchase, I’m hoping they don’t give us a big punch list. We do, however, have a stairway light now! No more flashlight! (It’s amazing what one can get used to.) Hubby took care of that yesterday. Not easy in an old house! I had the pleasure of pulling up all the old rug staples and strips in preparation for cleaning and a throw rug. Eventually we will refinish the floor, but for the appraisal we’ll just clean it up as best we can.

  16. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    It’s a week today until we start our trip to the States! Two glorious weeks in California, mildly interrupted by a 1.5-day jaunt to D.C… I’m getting very excited!

    Our airport security in New Zealand is a bit of a joke. Are there any tips y’all have in regards to TSA regulations, anything that might trip us up if we’re not thinking about it?

    1. Rana*

      It’s mostly carryon luggage that gets tricky. You’ll want to separate out your liquids and gels (we’re usually limited to what can fit in a one-quart size ziptop transparent bag) and your electronics, so that you can easily put them in the scanning bins. Things like keys and belts and coins will also trip the scanners, so if you can avoid having them on you, that’s helpful.

      Less obvious thing: don’t joke about bombs near screening. They are required to take such things seriously, so you might get unwanted attention if you do.

          1. acmx*

            And if it matters to you, wear socks. I haven’t seen a US airport offer coverings if you are barefoot.

            What to put in the bins can vary, depends on the agent. Sometimes shoes can go in, sometimes not.

            Outer garments have to come off, so if your husband has something under the hoodie he might have to take it off.

            It is usually just a pat down. When in Prague, they felt under my waistband and I had to sit down so they could pat my feet.

            1. Stephanie*

              I think my home airport did at one time (I forget where I was living at the time), but the foot coverings went away quickly. (Probably too much of a hassle.)

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        Thank you!! Ha, yeah, I actually bought hubby a new hoodie because the one he usually wears says “gunpowder, treason and plot” on it. Not the best idea to wear that one through the airport…

    2. Tara R.*

      During my layovers in the States on my trip to Belize this past spring, the airport staff there were quite brusque and borderline rude (this was different than my experience with the Vancouver airport and the Belize airport, but it’s entirely possible I just got friendly outliers.) If you set off the metal detector at all, they will probably pat you down– they just went over my back, because it was my metal bra clasp that set it off. Also, the creepy naked scanner things are real. I was really shaken by the first time through US customs, actually– I’d never flown before, I was still 17 and adults were touching me, I was having a hard time figuring out which line ups I was supposed to be in and staff was snapping at me instead of helping me, etc.

      Put any liquids in your checked luggage (I decided to save money by carrying both my bags on, forgot about the liquids rule, and lost all my sunscreen D:), make sure you know the name or address of the hotel you’re staying at since they’ll probably ask, and generally try to act like you know what you’re doing. And have lots of fun!!

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with the Full Metal Jacket of a bra that sets off the TSA metal detectors. It hasn’t happened recently, but every time the metal detector goes off and the agent is confused, I’m like “It’s probably the underwire in my bra. No, we don’t have to head to a private room for the pat down.”

    3. Sunflower*

      Cali’s airports were much more lenient than airports I’ve been to in other US cities so hopefully you won’t run into too much trouble. Make sure you go on the TSA’s website. They have a whole list of allowed and prohibited items. If you’re carrying on, read that site extra carefully and check out the liquid rule. There are also some strange things that count as liquid- jelly, mascara, liqui gel caps.

      Strangely(or not) you can get away with some things at airports and not at others. Sometimes airports as me to put my laptop in a seperate bin, some don’t. I think the rule is you’re supposed to take your liquids bag out of your carry on but some places don’t ask you to. When you get into the security line, there are a ton of them and there is usually one who is calling out instructions and telling you what you need to put in a bin/take off. Prepare to take off any jewelry and you also must remove all your layers and shoes- some will be more lenient about leaving jackets on so just be prepared.

      Second the comment about being patted down. It’s happened to me quite a few times so don’t freak out if they tell you they need to pat you down.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Ah, but she’s going through DC and their airports are all nuts.

        One difference between the US and other countries is that you’ll need to retrieve your checked bags at the point of entry and then go through the entire “check your bags” routine before continuing on in the US, regardless of where your final destination airport is — even if it’s outside the US.

        In general you can’t carry on any liquids or gels (or toothpaste) in containers larger than 100 ml. All of your carryon 100 ml containers have to go into a clear quart-sized ziploc baggie. You’ll want to have those and your computer handy to pull out and put into the scanner tubs — the computer goes into a separate tubs, the baggie can go with your other stuff, but on top. Ipads and phones are not required to be removed from baggage but you will have to pull them from your pockets.

        For the body scan, you’ll be required to remove everything from your pockets, remove your coat, likely your shoes (just ask if there aren’t signs; it varies from airport to airport) and if you walk with a cane they may ask you to swap it briefly for a loaner while they scan it. You have the option to opt out of the scanners — the best language to use is “I’d like to opt out please,” and they are required then to do a pat-down instead.

        If you do opt for the pat-down, they do their best to make it awkward. They’ll shout “FEMALE OPT OUT” and then put you to the side (sometimes with your stuff, sometimes they put your stuff through the scanner while you wait). They may try to talk you out of it or ask you why you don’t want the scan; you can just smile and friendlily say “I prefer the pat-down, thanks!” Once the pat-down person is available, that person will walk you through identifying your stuff (don’t touch anything until prompted) and ask if you want privacy, talk you through what areas they’ll touch.

        Oh and, the DC staff are all horribly rude and grumpy. It’s not you, it’s them; same for Las Vegas. Most California airport staff are fairly cheerful, even the TSA or the security contractors who work the lines at SFO.

        1. Sammie*

          If you have “poofy” hair (wavy, curly) they may pat your head. I’ve never been allowed through the full body scan in anything even slightly baggy.

          Oh–LAX is my home airport. They are NOT nice.

    4. LCL*

      If you carry keys, loose change and meds in your pocket, put them all in a ziplock Baggie. The Baggies go in your pockets. Then when you have to empty your pockets, stuff won’t go everywhere and you won’t drop it.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I love New Zealand! Spent 3 weeks there on honeymoon 15 years ago. If you bring your own water bottle, make sure it is empty before getting in line. You can refill it once you are past security. Send any valuables through the belt last so you are close to them once you pass through the detector. These days the observance of the rules is unpredictable, seems different at every airport. Just stick to the rules as listed on the website. I’ve heard stories of women in maxi skirts getting extra screening but I haven’t seen it happen in person. Things move pretty fast so it helps to have everything ready ahead of time and a place to stash things when you no longer need them. Have fun!

    6. Revanche*

      Fun! I was recently shocked at how friendly TSA were at LAX (I don’t expect to see that again in my lifetime, but maybe?). I travel in CA a lot and I usually try to make sure that anything that needs to be separated out is VERY easy to do: bag of liquids, laptops, I take off all jewelry (if wearing any) / accessories before I even get into line and zip it somewhere safe so it doesn’t get lost or tangled.
      Also if you will be carrying a cell phone or a laptop (I think), make sure it’s charged before you get on the plane. In some cases, they’re making you power it up to check and make sure it’s a real phone/computer and not a sneaky bomb. I haven’t had that checked coming back from international travel yet but I’d heard it was a thing.

    7. Swoop*

      2nding Rana’s no bomb jokes, also don’t make jokes about saying hello to your friend Jack *sigh* (not me, family member). basically, be friendly but entirely sincere and serious :)

      check big liquids and gels. Your carryon can take no more than will fit in a quart(?) clear plastic bag, in no more than 100ml containers. I don’t _think_ they require labels, but if you have them it doesn’t hurt. If you have nail scissors or a nail file also put them in that bag or check them – they are allowed through now, but sometimes they’re pickier than others and they’re easier to find if they’re in the bag :)

      The full-body scanners: you can ask to be patted down instead. (I started getting panic attacks going through them, so that’s been such a boon)

      nthing slip-on shoes and socks.

      watch the TSA people for your cues – some don’t like it if you go through the scanner before your bags do, others just want everyone through as quick as possible.

      have your passport and boarding pass somewhere easily accessible to you (but not to a random passerby) or in your hand the entire time – not a requirement, but you get them out so many times it’s just easier :)

      have so much fun!!

  17. periwinkle*

    Since I posted last week about getting a tattoo to replace my wedding ring, it’s only fair that I post the results! The artist had a 1-hour minimum and the design would only have taken a small chunk of that so we put together a second design based on the roly poly little Maneki Neko figurine that lives on my work computer.


    Getting tattooed feels like being clawed by sharp-clawed kittens, only not quite so bad (or cute).

      1. periwinkle*

        It was my idea but based on a Google image search I’m not the first to notice that the center pad naturally resembles a heart shape. At least mine is likely the first tattoo with a royal blue heart.

        So, do I text the photos to my husband now or wait until he gets back on the 30th to see if he notices before I leave on the 31st? Hmm.

  18. Trixie*

    Looking for anyone who’s regularly taking barre classes. I know it’s challenging but curious how it compares to pilates. I’ve tried it a few times but not long enough to see a difference over time.

  19. Come On Eileen*

    I need some advice on whether there’s a way to politely ask a gum-chewer to stop.

    I’m in group therapy for eight weeks. 4 weeks have passed, 4 to go. There’s around 12 people in the group, plus a facilitator. One of the attendees chomps, smacks, and pops her gum for the entire 90 minutes of each session. It’s driving me BATTY. The noise doesn’t seem to bother anyone else though. I self-classify as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and so a lot of noises grate on me that don’t necessarily bother other people.

    Is there a gentle/non-obtrusive way to ask her to stop? Or do I need to suck this up and just deL with it for 4 more sessions?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Could you sit next to her next time and just politely ask, “Would you mind spitting out your gum?” before the session starts?

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I’ve thought about it — my concern is that if she balks or says no, I’m stuck thisclose to that noise the entire session. Last week I sat several seats away from her and it helped. I don’t know if I could sit next to that noise for 90 minutes though.

    2. fposte*

      I would check with the coordinator/therapist. Given the commonality of gum-chewing as a self-soothing, redirected addition habit, it might be a situation where you’d be expected to live with it.

      Sympathies, though: gum deeply grosses me out.

        1. Hellanon*

          Me three. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I don’t even like to look at people who are chewing gum – my first is, hey, you’re busy, why don’t we talk when you’re done with lunch?

      1. Felicia*

        Gum is a self soothing thing for me too. I can mostly stop, like at work I don’t, or when I’m talking to friends. But on my way to particularly stressful situations, I still do. It calms me. If someone asked me to stop, I would probably explain how it makes me calmer, and say if they could live with it, I would greatly appreciate it, but if they couldn’t I understand and then would stop (though I would be uncomfortable).

        I hardly do it anymore, and mostly have better coping mechanisms, but I feel like therapy is one time when i’d really really want to (and when I was in one-on-one therapy I did, and we even talked about the habit). So just know that stopping chewing gum may make that person feel the same way you feel listening to them chew gum. Maybe worse, or maybe not as bad, depending on the person.

    3. nep*

      Someone snapping and popping gum sends me through the roof. Wish I could say I’m able to focus and tune it out but it drives me batty as well.
      I like the idea of talking with someone in charge — I reckon it can’t hurt (even if you’re told to deal with it — you tried). It’s a real drag you’ve got this distraction during your sessions. Though someone who ‘needs’ to be popping that gum might be super distracted if told not to chew. Tough call.

      1. nep*

        (Not same setting/circumstances — but at a past job a co-worker one day was popping her gum like crazy. We were both on our computers writing / on deadline. I couldn’t take it and I said simply: ‘The gum noise is really distracting’. She quieted down for a few moments but then started up again. I had to repeat. Finally she got rid of the gum.)

  20. Online Journal*

    Hi everyone,

    Do you know of a online journal/diary that has a good privacy system?

    A good privacy system is not only password protected, but it can also automatically logged off whenever we have those moments when someone walked in on us while we were writing and we need to slam the laptop shut before we have time to click the sign-off button.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if this is the best way to do it, but I’d recommend the following:

      1. Use WordPress. By default, it autosaves drafts with fairly regular frequency.

      2. Don’t log into it with a regular browser session. Instead, open up an Incognito window in Chrome (or a private browsing tab in Firefox).

      3. If someone walks in, just close your window or tab. You’ll automatically then be logged off of WordPress, and with the autosave, you’ll likely lose only a sentence or two.

    2. KSM*

      So for your “slam laptop” thing: fundamentally, no website will have that function available because the most common “short” cookie duration is “per session”, meaning until your browser quits. So if you shut down your laptop, it will usually enter Sleep, which does not quit the browser. However, at least Firefox allows you to modify your “Keep (cookies) until” setting to make it per-session, and can also allow you to choose to store a cookie for every single cookie. For more, search Firefox “Enable and disable cookies that websites use to track your preferences” (as links would put me temporarily in the spam queue).

      If you want 100% cookie purging rate, change that Firefox setting to “I close Firefox” AND make it so that slamming your laptop shut will also shut it down (not put it into Sleep). Otherwise, you’ll have to find some way to manually edit the cookie (not recommended) or to set all cookies to very short durations (not recommended).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        If you have a private browsing or incognito tab/window, closing the tab or window essentially deletes whatever cookies that site has set.

        1. BRR*

          I’m not sure with other sites but with gmail and chrome in incognito if I close a gmail tab but the incognito window is still open I can go to gmail and will still be logged in.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I meant that you’re logged into WordPress only in the incognito window. Try it:

            1. Log out of WordPress on your regular session.
            2. Open a new incognito window.
            3. Log into WordPress in your incognito window.
            4. Close the incognito window.
            5. See if you’re still logged into WordPress (hint: you won’t be).

            Closing the incognito window doesn’t clear all your browser cookies—only the ones that you got while in incognito mode.

  21. Tara R.*

    Kind of a personal question, I guess, but does anyone else find that their productivity completely tanks around *that time of month*? There’s a window of like 4 days before my period where I can’t make myself do anything. I can’t focus, I don’t get homework done, I can’t even make it through a whole episode of TV. If I close my laptop, I end up on my phone. If I put that somewhere else, I end up staring at the ceiling. Going to class is just about the most I can do. I’ve always just sort of worked around it– I typically get a burst of productivity after the laziness/restlessness ends, and catch up then– but I have a lot more work that needs to be done now than I ever have before and being 4 days behind on homework is stressing me out in a big way right now. I can’t keep doing this! Has anyone else had a similar experience? Any tips?

      1. May*

        Yes! I find myself feeling mentally “fuzzy” (and also clumsy) for a good week sometimes. It’s frustrating. I try to just be patient with myself and remember that the rest of the time I’m incredibly productive and good at what I do, but I know sometimes one can’t really afford an “off” day. Aside from planning around it, what works for me is just setting a realistic expectation and doing a bit at a time. If I can just focus for even 10 minutes, that’s often enough for me to make a little progress on the task at hand and feel encourage. Then I’ll take a break to walk around or even meditate for five minutes. Then, try to focus for another 10 minutes. I’ve found that I can make steady if slow progress this way — which ends up yielding much better results than trying to (unsuccessfully) muscle my way through an intensive project or task for an hour.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yes–I just do what I can and no more. I get a headache a day or two before that nothing will help. When the cramps strike, I hit the ibuprofen immediately and I can usually make it through the day.

    2. October*

      Yep, my energy plummets for 2-3 days and I wonder how on earth I can fit everything in since I can’t even manage one task without feeling like it took ALL of my energy to do it… I don’t have any magic solutions, unfortunately. I do use the pill to make sure that the worst days are over the weekends so it doesn’t affect my work so much – and I don’t tend to notice it so much on weekend days since I guess I’m more relaxed and doing things that are more enjoyable and don’t need so much concentration.

    3. KD*

      First, if you are on any type of birth control I strongly recommend you reflect on if this was an issue before you started on said birth control. Why? Because it could be helping or exacerbating the problem. If you are going to be introducing extra hormones to you system it should be to your benefit and I found the pill turns me into a crazy person 15 days a month. Was I actually crazy? No but I felt like I wasn’t handling things in my life the way I wanted to through the fog. Which seriously sucks as a full time student with no actual days off. So that is the first thing I recommend you access.

      Once I got that sorted out I’m far more stable but I still have a few issues around my period. And while there is no perfect solution I found the following regimen to work well for me. Buy a big bag of M&Ms and set it on the desk next to my homework, take painkillers if needed, stick heating pad on my abdomen (under my shirt so it stays in place), then give into my perpetual desire to eat chocolate immediately after meeting a study mile stone ( read and take notes on the next x pages, finish one math problem, etc).

      If you finish the big bag of M&Ms before your homework is done, it’s time to call it a night and try to sleep off some of the funk (for lack of a better word). Personally I take magnesium citrate and zinc to help me sleep and feel better rested in the morning.

  22. Gingerbread*

    How do you tell someone you’re casually dating that you are now exclusive with someone else? My friend is having a tough time coming up with what to tell this guy that she is now exclusively dating someone else, but I’ve been in a relationship for so long that I have no good advice for her.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m assuming she wants to break up with the casual guy? Then she should meet him for coffee or a drink and tell him she met someone else. If they’re both adults and he respects her (and he should, otherwise she shouldn’t be dating him anyway), then it should be a relatively simple conversation.

      Unless they’ve only gone out a few times. Then she can call him and tell him she met someone else. But please, no texting, unless they’ve only gone out on one date.

    2. Mando Diao*

      “I’m so sorry, but I’ve become serious with someone else. I wanted to let you know before things went any further.”

      to be honest, there’s a good chance that this guy is also seeing other people.

      1. Dan*

        Of all the phrasing I’ve seen in this thread, I like this wording the best.

        First, I appreciate the “I” statements, they indicate that the speaker owns their feelings. As an aside, one of my pet peeves is passive phrasing like “things are progressing with someone else…”

        Second, it’s brief. I’m not a fan of “since we agreed to see other people” kinds of phrases, because they’re a bit patronizing to me. IME, I’ve actually never had the “we’re not exclusive” conversation with someone. It’s usually the other conversation — we’re exclusive only when we’ve explicitly agreed to it.

        So, like I said, I like this phrasing, exactly as it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

      2. BRR*

        I also like this (might take out the so but that’s nitpicky) and agree Dan’s like of “I” and brevity.

        I also agree with other people that it should be in person.

        1. nep*

          I also really like this phrasing. I would also take out ‘so’. I would omit the ‘I’m sorry’ altogether, but I can see how it could ‘feel’ right to start with that.

    3. Tara R.*

      “I’ve been having an awesome time with you and you’re a great guy, but things are starting to get pretty serious with someone else I’ve been seeing and we’ve decided to make things exclusive. Hope we can still catch up as friends sometime! (if true)” If it’s truly casual dating, I think text is fine for this.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I like this one… but I would add some sort of “since we agreed to keep it casual”/”We’ve both been seeing other people” (if that was discussed). It might not have been casual to the guy and he may be surprised to find out that she thought it was.

        Also, she should be prepared for some kind of reaction — whether that’s a full-on “you’ve been seeing other people, you {bad word}!” or a lot of pleading for her to change her mind. Sometimes, the guy will get territorial/competitive when you tell him that you’re choosing someone else, even if he also wasn’t feeling that you were The One. It doesn’t matter if 5 minutes before he was thinking about never seeing you again, that kind of situation can bring out the “large mammal in rutting season” instincts in some people.

        1. Tara R.*

          Yes, this is totally true. This is part of why I like text, actually, if they’ve seen each other infrequently and not for very long. It means she can just ignore him if he reacts badly. If she does do it in person, I’d suggest a coffee place or something public rather than his/her house, so he can’t make too much of a scene.

          1. Gingerbread*

            I can’t believe people react this badly when being rejected. Have you seen the Instagram page “byefelipe”? Makes me lose all faith in humanity.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Yeah, some people do and they suck. It’s like when someone offers to buy you a drink and you say “No thank you!” and then you get called a bitch or insulted for being polite. If you ever read the Schrödinger’s Rapist post, it has a really good way of explaining women’s perception of threat.


          2. fposte*

            I was going to clutch my pearls about the text thing here, because I think it’s more about the rejecter avoiding awkwardness than any safety issue, but maybe I’m out of step. Would people here rather be rejected by text than face to face?

            1. Tara R.*

              The early stages kinds of rejections, and how I prefer to receive them:
              “We’ve been on one/two/three date(s), and I don’t want to take things further” — Text. Please god, text.
              “We’ve been texting almost daily, gone out several times, and expressed a mutual interest, but I’m cutting things off now after a few weeks” — I’d rather get a text, but I’d be okay with in-person.
              “Same as above, but we both agreed we weren’t taking this relationship anyplace serious and we’ve just been having fun” — Text, in person, whatever, I’m not emotionally invested so I don’t care.
              “We’ve had a “hey, I see this going somewhere, let’s be girlfriends/stop seeing other people/give it a try” conversation, but now I’m ending it” — No text. Phone call is okay if it’s been less than 3 weeks since this conversation, more than that I want to hear in person.

              But I was born in ’97 and I am of the texting generation so I suspect others have other ideas.

              1. Dan*

                I was born in ’79, and I agree with your outline, and even your sentiment attached to each of them. Frankly, too much advice I read these days all says “do not breakup over text, EVER.” Unless I’m defining “breakup” too strictly, IMHO, that’s way too restrictive.

                Hell, I’m not even sure three dates requires an explicit “breakup” either. As a guy who is accustomed to do the initial asking, it would feel so weird to text someone and say “hey, just so you know, it ain’t gonna work” within the first three dates. If we’ve established some sort of pattern or routine, then yeah, I think it would be courteous to let the other that they no longer need to keep their schedule open.

                1. Lindsay J*

                  Yeah, on the girl side of this if I had been on three dates and a fourth one hadn’t been planned yet, I just wouldn’t initiate contact. If the guy did (or if a fourth date was already planned) then I would text and let him know that I just wasn’t feeling it or whatever.

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I was born in ’70 and have been married for twenty years, but this outline, and the sentiments behind each reason, sound right to me.

    4. Wrench Turner*

      It’s been a lot of fun but I’ve met someone else and it’s grown in to something more serious that I want to explore with just them. I enjoyed our good times but I can’t have any more. Good luck!

    5. Sunflower*

      I like all these suggestions. I’m kind of torn on whether this could be a text or not. It really depends on how long your friend has been dating the guy and the nature of the relationship. If they had established it was staying a casual thing, text is definitely fine. If they were dating and working their way into a relationship, then it would depend how long it was happening. I think meeting in person can be kind of awkward bc chances are the person you’re telling wants to get the hell out of there as soon as you tell them. So maybe a phone call in that case?

  23. Dynamic Beige*

    Raincoat advice!

    Many years ago, I bought a London Fog trenchcoat which was awesome because it had a nice thick lining that could be zipped out. It is the perfect November/March coat… or perhaps I should say “was” because it’s definitely showing some wear. OK, a whole lot of wear.

    I’ve been trying to find a replacement for a few years now but haven’t found anything I like. The new London Fogs all seem to have really cheap/thin inner linings and just ugh. So I thought that maybe someone would have a suggestion of a brand to look at. I’m looking for something classic that would be suitable for wearing to an office and if it’s the right thing, I am willing to splash out on it. Doesn’t have to be waterproof, but that would be a plus. If I have to drive to the States, well, it may just come down to that.

    Because… there was frost on the ground this morning at my house and white things were falling from the sky today as I did some errands. Aaaaugh!

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        It’s got a zipper… I don’t know if it would fit/work but that’s a thought! Maybe it would, although it’s also seen better days — I’ve worn the shiznit out of that coat.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I bought an Eddie Bauer Girl on the Go waterproof mac with a button-in lining before last autumn’s trip to the UK. It doesn’t have classic trench styling, but it’s really nice nonetheless. I used it as a coat all last year in the dead of winter, and it blocked the wind marvelously. In fact, it was so warm with the lining that I didn’t need my parka at all! The hood isn’t lined, but I don’t wear it much anyway. I wear a scarf and pull-on hat if necessary (most of the time I don’t wear hats at all).

      You can find it on Eddie Bauer’s website. Warning: if you buy something from them, they will spam you to death, but it’s easy enough to redirect those emails. They do have sales ALL THE TIME. And they have tall sizes–hallelujah! Sleeves that are long enough!

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I bought a fall coat from Old Navy for a work trip to the UK last month. It’s perfect. Lightweight, but waterproof. And it’s long enough, which is an issue for me because I’m pretty tall. And I can roll it up and stuff it into a bag. Mine came from the plus size section, but there might be something similar in smaller size. I swear it’s the best purchase I’ve made in a long time. I’ve been on a mission to find a decent fall jacket forever, which is now accomplished.

    3. Ellen*

      They’re very spendy, but Burberry makes trench coats in all lengths with removable linings that look outstanding and last forever. Mine is 35 years old and belonged to my mother before she passed it along to me; it’s still in great shape and, frankly, has sort of ruined me for other trenches. I keep thinking I might want a short one and don’t really have the finances for it right now, but also am unwilling to go with a different brand now that I’ve been so thrilled with this one.

    4. Sunflower*

      Almost all my outer wear stuff is North Face and it lasts me for YEARS. I still have jackets i got almost 10 years ago.

  24. Dynamic Beige*

    Does anyone know of a site that will calculate the value of a computer? This may seem like a work question, but it’s not completely. I wasn’t sure if I should post this yesterday or not, but I figure that there are probably all kinds of people who have needed to unload some gear

    For my work, I have purchased a lot of computers over the years. Last time I got rid of some equipment, I took it to a place that recycles them to people who can’t afford to buy computers and I got a tax receipt for the donation. This place is really far away, but I will be in the area soon and could stop off.

    On the other hand, I have been toying with the idea of selling them but I’ve never done that before. People in my writing group aren’t exactly the richest people on the planet and some of them have bad/old/broken computers. But, I wouldn’t know how much to price a laptop at and I’m kind of concerned that if something goes wrong with the computer, the person I sell it to will come back to me for tech support — and that is not something I do.

    Maybe I just need a horror story of “never sell anything to someone you know!” so that I go the donation route. But I will admit, the idea of having some cash in hand is kind of tempting. But maybe they’re just not worth very much and it wouldn’t be worth it to try and sell them.

    Is there something like a Blue Book for computers?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Interestingly, they only seem to buy back Apple laptops and Acers (what?) Also not sure if I could use them in Canada. But it was interesting to find out my iPad1 is worth $25 and my MacBook Pro $376.

    1. Florida*

      I’ve unloaded computers on ebay. Usually I list the computer at a super low price, say $25-50. Almost by law, it will get up to the correct price. People will not bid more than it is worth (to them). If you can’t get $500 for it, then it’s not worth $500 to anyone. So by law, it sells for the market rate.

      In the past, when I’ve sold computer equipment on ebay, I’m always surprised at how much it sells for. I had a computer that was probably 8 years old and it sold for about $500. I personally wouldn’t have paid more than $100 for it.

      The beauty of ebay is that no one will come back to you months later for tech support.

      If you aren’t familiar with ebay, you have to resign yourself to the idea that if it sells for your listing price, you will be happy. For example, if you post it at $50, expect that it will sell for $50. Don’t expect it to get up to $1000 or even $200. Just like Alison says once you’ve applied for a job, move on. Then if it does say for $1000, you will be super happy, or even $200, you will be super happy.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I had forgotten about eBay! Although I do buy things from there, I’ve never sold anything on there. Considering I still have the original packaging for the laptops, that might be doable. I’m going to have to see how Vaios like mine are selling.

        1. Florida*

          I always format the computer before I sell it. This erases the hard drive of my information, but it also erases any programs that were on it. I figure if people want Office Suite or something else, they can buy that separately.

    2. Student*

      Do you know how to clean a hard drive off so that people can’t recover your data?

      If not, start removing and shredding your old hard drives. When in doubt, use a power drill on them. Keep donating or recycling the old computers, because trying to sell old ones is going to come back to haunt you when someone scrapes something you’ll regret off the hard drive.

      If you do know how to properly clean a hard drive (and no, deleting things is not what I mean), then go ahead and sell them somewhere. They aren’t worth much once they’re ~3 years old. I’d go with $50 – $200 for a reasonably functional computer of that age. If they are classic computers, you can sometimes get a lot for them on online sites. Classic computers are computers that are somewhat rare and no longer in production. Old PCs don’t generally make the cut. Sometimes old business workstations do, from the time before owning a computer was common. No, those old macs from your grade-school days don’t count.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Do you know how to clean a hard drive off so that people can’t recover your data?

        Oh yeah, I format them at least three times before reinstalling the OS. Maybe eBay is the way to go, at least for the laptops.

        Uh… old macs were from my college days *cough*. Oh, the time I spent with SE Classics and SE/30s with Freehand 1.0. But I guess what you say does not bode well for my G4 even though it does still work with OS9 ;)

        1. Florida*

          You know what’s crazy is that people will buy the old macs from your college days. I don’t know what people do with these computers that seem like antiques, but people buy them. Good luck.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            One of the professors in my old university department keeps an old Mac in his office as a nostalgic decoration; I wonder if that’s what a lot of people do with them?

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          You actually need to write 0s or random bits. You can’t just reformat three times. Reformatting doesn’t actually remove the data. Look into DBan if you’re using Windows or Linux. Mac OS X (until El Capitan) has an option in Disk Utility (you can boot into recovery mode) to wipe securely.

          Also, keep in mind that the traditional methods for securely wiping data (that I just described) do not apply to SSDs—only traditional hard drives.

  25. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Health tmi-type thing:

    I have clear tiny 1mm bumps (3) on my ring finger and a couple on the palm of my hand. It fits the description of hand eczema/pompholyx/dyshidrosis which is exacerbated by stress or allergens apparently.

    1) I’m in the middle of switching jobs–how do I stay calm?
    2) Also, does anyone here have hand eczema? I’ve used hydrocortisone cream which helps but the rash’s been here (a bump here and there) since last month and shows no sign it’ll disappear anytime soon. Also, it could be from a nickel allergy–I held a nickel ID chain yesterday and today the skin got tiny bumps…

    Help? :S

    1. Puffle*

      Hi, I have eczema on the back of my hands. For me it usually manifests as very dry itchy skin that cracks very easily and a red spidery rash pattern. I don’t get it at all in summer or in hot/moist weather, but often when autumn arrives it suddenly appears.

      What really helps for my eczema (but ymmv) is to:
      1. wear gloves outside even when it’s only mildly cold/ windy (I keep some nice fingerless gloves in my coat pockets)
      2. always wear washing-up gloves to do the dishes
      3. use hand-wash that doesn’t contain soap (I find The Body Shop bars best for me)

      The creams that have the most effect for me when used in conjunction are 1) Palmer’s Shea Butter Formula (For Extra Dry Skin) 2) Liquid paraffin 3) Hydrocortisone. My doctor did advise me to be sparing with the hydrocortisone and only use it as the nuclear option (he says it causes long-term thinning and weakening of the skin), but he might have just meant that specifically for me and not for people with eczema in general.

      Eczema on your hands is a bitch, isn’t it? So many things like hot water or windy weather set my skin off, and obvs you have to use your hands all the time and can’t just keep them swaddled up. For me it doesn’t ever really “clear up”, it’s not something where I can take a pill/ use a cream and it goes away, but if I try to be mindful of the things that set it off and keep a strict moisturising routine (esp in winter) I can usually manage it. I hope at least some of this is useful. You are not alone!

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        @Puffle thanks! yup, hand eczema’s a pain…and I’m worried about next week when I’ll have to shake peoples’ hands (eczema’s on palm of my hand) so it’ll aggravate the skin more. I usually notice my skin irritates with such contact. But hopefully I’ll find the other aforementioned things at the local store….<:)

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        My daughter gets cracked and dry hands and eczema on her legs. Once she flares up it’s there for months. We’ve gotten quick results by applying a thin lotion or oil (we like coconut oil) and then a thick layer of aquaphor or crisco (really) then wrap in plastic wrap and cover with clean cotton socks. You can try it first with just the socks but the wrap keeps the lotion from soaking into the socks. I don’t know how she can sleep with that on her hands but it makes a big difference.

        Some people react to certain foods like gluten or dairy. A food journal might help you determine if food is a cause. And if you think it might be an allergic reaction yoi can try taking Benadryl right afterwards. I’m allergic to gardening and my forearms will often break-out in red bumps when I’m weeding. Benadryl clears it up quickly.

      3. Corrupted by Coffee*

        I never really had much luck getting rid of my hand eczema until I started moisturizing religiously after every shower to trap the moisture in. With eczema lotion (I use an aveeno eczema lotion with a skin protectant in it). There are different versions, but they’re all going to be more cream or oil than the squirting kind. Anything that comes in a tub is usually good, like Nivea. I tried the hydrocortisone aND a couple other medicines, but being absolutely anal about applying lotion right out of the shower (within 3 minutes) was the only thing that worked for me.

        Your results may vary, as there are different types of eczema and I’m not a doctor, but they all respond pretty well to regular moisturizing.

    2. Schmitt*

      I have that. Usually only a couple bumps and in one spot but I had a bigger outbreak for the first time a couple months ago.


      Seriously, that’s pretty much all. Try not to get your hands wet more than necessary but do use lotion to stay moisturized. Don’t scratch the little f**kers open or they take forever to heal and itch more and are nasty.

      If you don’t scratch them the skin will peel off in little rings after a couple weeks and then go back to normal.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yep was going to suggest this. I discovered this after I got married and kept my rings on 24/7. Now I take them off when I get home in the evening.

    3. Aussie Academic*

      I have this too and it never really goes away for me but it varies in how bad it gets. At the moment (spring for us, when it always seems to get worse) I have about 20 little lumps, mainly on my fingers, and they are really itchy! What I’ve found helps is to take an antihistamine daily, when washing your hands, use soap-free cleanser and rinse and dry really well, and don’t itch, no matter how much you want to. And moisturise A LOT. It’s a pain to deal with, especially when they start peeling, but I haven’t found topical preparations help at all so I just stick with this. I do find stress makes it worse so interviews would definitely cause a flare up, so I feel for you (but no real advice, sorry). I do find no one else really notices it so at least I’ve stopped being self conscious of it, but that doesn’t help with the itchiness. Good luck dealing with it!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I have it too and I’ve had to get a prescription for steroid ointment to keep it under control. But I’ve been using eczema lotions with colloidal oatmeal in them, particularly the Aveeno brand (and Walmart equivalent) and the Gold Bond one (my favorite). They haven’t gotten rid of it, but they’ve reduced the itching and general dryness significantly.

      I don’t like the Eucerin one–it stings. I think they lied about it having fragrance or similar ingredients. But YMMV. Interestingly, it’s moved from the back of my hands to my palms–I never used to get it there.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Like Elizabeth, I had to get a steroid ointment prescription to keep my stress-related hand problem under control. That got it under control, but I’m not gonna lie, the best solution for getting it to heal up was to go on vacation for two weeks. A proper vacation, wherein I actually left town and took a long two-week train trip to visit friends.

        I had the condition for eight months before I went to the doctor, and it was another two months of steroid cream before the vacation finally made the whole thing go away.

        It still comes back when life is too much, but these days, at least, I see it as a reminder to take a break than a harbinger of pain.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh, stress is definitely a trigger. I had no problems when I went on holiday in UK for three weeks. I took my medicine, but I didn’t need it! :)

          Too bad we can’t be on holiday all the time!

    5. Legalchef*

      Yes – I have for years! I tried so many different creams and the only ones I found that work are called Episerum (or something like that) and Elocon. Both prescription. Also, I take my rings off at night, as well as my watch. Hand eczema is the worst – good luck!

    6. cuppa*

      My husband is in healthcare and gets really cracked hands due to washing and scrubbing all the time. I got him some Working Hands and it works really well for him. You only use a very little bit. I started using it on the eczema on the back of my neck and it has been great!

    7. Belle diVedremo*

      I get something that matches your description. I apply tea tree oil, neat, a couple times a day covering an area about twice the size of the bumps. They usually start shrinking in a couple days. I get small bottles of tea tree oil in the “healthy foods” section of my grocery store. Not my favorite smell, but not bad either.

      How to stay calm: if you can, increase your physical exercise. The rule I learned was go for a walk – when new subjects break into your thoughts on Stress Topic, you can turn around and walk back. If you’re up for more than walking, that’s great. Also, don’t save your worry/anxiety for the end of the day.

      You’re making a lot of great changes in your life, some anxiety is usually just bumps in the road. You’ve told us enough for us to know you should be proud of yourself. :)

  26. Amber Rose*

    My cat has really badly matted fur and dandruff. I was reading online that he probably isn’t getting enough fat in his diet and I could try giving him a little coconut oil. Any ideas how long I should wait for improvement before taking him to the vet? I’ve cut most of the mats off him now. He looks a bit like the victim of a blender attack but hopefully it’ll grow back smooth.

    In other news, we have 30 pumpkins and we’re going to slice them up with swords tomorrow. I’m excited! And after I guess I’ll learn how to make pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds.

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      For kitty, pay attention to his skin. If it’s red, hot, irritated or weeping then head to the vet.

      Pumpkins … we used to dispose of old jack-o-lanterns via ride-by pumpkin slashings (with swords from horseback). So much fun!

      1. Saucy Minx*

        Slash away, but don’t try to eat the jack o’ lantern pumpies. My dad told me that they don’t taste good, & that the edible ones (pumpkin pie!!) are called sugar pumpkins

    2. Not So NewReader*

      With natural remedies, my rule of thumb is not to wait too long before deciding to move to another idea. In the case of your cat, maybe a week? BUT, if it gets worse within the week, then skip what I said and go to the vet. If your results are so-so maybe try a different type of oil or increase the coconut oil a little. I try to use natural stuff as much as possible. For an on-going issue like dry skin, I would expect to see noticeable results in 2-3 weeks. Am not saying the problem should be over by then, but I think I should have a definite idea if the remedy is working or not by that point.
      I started my dog on coconut oil and it does not seem to be doing very much. I am giving a teaspoon to a 60 pound dog, so it might not be enough. I also put a half cup of water into each of his meals. (Dryness can be lack of oils or lack of water.) He’s a good eater and he downs all this stuff with his food. No problem with getting it into him, which makes it easier to consider angles such as amount of the dose or changing the product I am using.

    3. Expendable Redshirt*

      Careful with how much coconut oil you use! I once mixed in 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon of coconut oil into Kitty’s wet food per day. It didn’t agree with his digestive tract, and poor Kitty had some diarrhea. Start slowly and in small doses.

      I also recommend taking your cat to the vet immediately. A yearly general checkup is a good thing!

    4. Belle diVedremo*

      Assuming this is a change in your cat, I’d look at his food. Can you increase the water and fat content in what he eats easily? Some cats are happy with dry kibble over long healthy lives, some aren’t. If he’s not getting wet food, I’d try that next.
      On the other hand, if it’s a big change in a short time I’d call the vet to ask if this is something they’d like to check out now or if it doesn’t resolve in X time or Y conditions or if they’re not at all concerned.

      Swords over pumpkins sounds like fun! Will you post us a photo??

      1. Amber Rose*

        Yeah, he’s all dry food. I can go back to giving him a can of wet a week.

        If I’ve done this right you should be able to click my name and see the pumpkin a sliced like a flower.

  27. Extremely Anon*

    How do I get my husband to clean up around the house?

    He is admittedly quite busy with work right now, and when he’s not at work he’s usually working from home. So I get the reluctance to spend his rare free time doing chores, but I’m drowning over here. I asked him to clean the litterbox a week ago and he hasn’t touched it. Our house is gross and I’m feeling totally overwhelmed because he’s not doing his share.

    How do I bring this up in a way that won’t be dismissed as nagging? Repeatedly asking him to do each individual task I need done has maybe a 40 percent success rate and obviously it’s annoying to have to hound a grown man about picking his socks up off the floor.

    1. fposte*

      I’d vote by saying “Honey, here’s how much it costs for a cleaning service. Asking you to carry your share hasn’t worked, and nagging is just going to make us both crazy. So unless you have any new suggestions, this is the way to go.”

      There’s a Captain Awkward link about the perennial problem of roommates/loved ones who won’t clean; I’ll attach it in a followup.

      1. Dan*

        I’m not a fan of conversations that revolve around one spouse dictating what another spouse’s “share” is.

        My ex didn’t work much at all during our marriage, and when she did, never contributed to the financial operation of the house hold. I’d have resented her much quicker if she tried to dictate that “my half” of the chores would involve X, when she wasn’t supplying her half of the rent or raising our kids. (FTR, we had no kids.)

        1. fposte*

          You’re right; as I said to Aussie Teacher, the non-draconian approach is much better. And I don’t know if Extremely Anon spends her week working 60-hour shifts in the mine, sitting on the couch petting the cat, or something in between, which is all relevant to how the work gets divvied up too.

          I’m just coming off of friendship discussions with people expected to do the whole Second Shift thing and I overextrapolated.

      2. Jen RO*

        I am the lazy one and it drives my boyfriend crazy… so we got a cleaning lady. And a dishwasher (they are not common here). And a dryer (ditto). Life has been much better since then…

    2. Aussie Teacher*

      Have one of Alison’s big picture conversations with him. Discuss how he sees the division of chores in the house and what he thinks is equitable. Explain you’re feeling overwhelmed and need more help, and make a big list of solutions together (everything from “get a cleaner” to “he does more” to “we both do an hour of cleaning together on weekends” etc.) Then together you pick one of the solutions to try for a few weeks, with the understanding that you’ll review how things are going after that time and pick a different solution to try together if that one didn’t work.
      Basically, instead of making him the problem (“You don’t do your share!”), you’re asking for help and making him part of the solution. Hope that helps!

    3. Dan*

      Can you hire a cleaning service?

      What you really need to do is have a heart-to-heart conversation about the chores that need to get done, who is going to do them, and most importantly, the schedule on which they’re going to get done. What’s critical, though, is that this conversation isn’t centered around you pushing your desires on him, and forcing him to agree to your way. Things aren’t “his job” because you’ve declared them to be so.

      What I’m saying is that many people have different cleanliness standards. I live alone, I can leave a sink full of dirty dishes in there for a week. I can go a month or two without vacuuming. The trash gets full, and it gets taken out when I feel like it. The bathroom gets cleaned when it looks disgusting. I fully understand that when I don’t live alone, these habits don’t necessarily fly.

      I do think that you have to learn to let some things go. You say the house is gross, but the only two examples you give are the litterbox and his socks. The litter box I get, but the socks?

      So, how do you have that conversation? I’m not sure who “does” the finances, so adapt this conversation as appropriate. You start with, “Apollo, the house is disgusting and I can’t keep up with everything. Can we make room in the budget for a cleaning service? If not, are there some things that you are willing to help with?”

      I do suggest you take a look at the household operations as a hole. There’s “day job” work, yard work, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and what not. Because I can stare at a pile of dishes in the sink for a week, when I was married, my ex knew that if she wanted the place all bright and sparkly, she was in charge of that. I like to eat well, so I did all of the grocery shopping and cooking. If she were to say to someone that I never helped out with the cleaning, she’d be right! But in 3.5 years, she never once cooked a meal for us either. (LOTS of people told me she got the better end of that deal…)

      Again, if you can’t afford a cleaning service, and your cleanliness standards are higher than those of your husband’s and you’re not willing to budge, take a look at ALL of the household operations. If you can’t get an even split at the big picture level, then you’re in some really big trouble. (You’re also in real trouble if he won’t even have a conversation with you.)

      1. Extremely Anon*

        No, we can’t afford a cleaning service. I know this because I manage our finances. I’m also in charge of grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. I bring in about 45 percent of our household income. None of that bothers me while he’s working 12-hour days, and I do feel he’s sufficiently appreciative of what I do around the house.

        Some things, like dishes and vacuuming and cleaning up after pets, are up for debate as far as whose job it is. Other things, like picking up your dirty clothes off the floor, wiping up the urine you splash all over the toilet, and throwing away your empty Gatorade bottles, are your own responsibility as an adult who lives with other people.

        Neither of us is a neat freak, but I apparently have a better sense of smell, because I can currently smell the garbage, the dishes, the room full of cat poop, and the sweaty socks on the floor.

        The other day, we were moving a new piece of furniture into our apartment and a neighbor offered to help. We refused, and later my husband said “I would have liked his help, but I didn’t want him to see how dirty the house is right now.” So it’s not like he thinks the current state of our home is acceptable.

        The good news is that he’s currently cleaning the litterbox and all the poop stains from when the cat decided the box wasn’t clean enough and used the carpet instead.

        The other good news is that his schedule will drop down to about 40 hours a week after Thanksgiving.

        1. fposte*

          I’m going to follow on from Dan’s framing, though, in noting that it’s one thing if you’ve agreed that this is how things should be and he’s not doing it. But there really isn’t any global rule that you can’t leave socks on the floor or an empty Gatorade bottle on the desk. I do it all the time (okay, not Gatorade per se, but empty drink containers), because it doesn’t bother me. I’m socially attuned enough now as an adult that when I share space this is something that gets talked about, but as a young adult I shared space with a relative who wouldn’t give specifics about what he wanted because everybody knew what clean was. Which didn’t work out so well for him.

          1. Extremely Anon*

            Yeah, that makes sense. I do ask him to pick up his socks/keep his shoes out of the walkways/wipe up his urine/whatever. He always seems very put off by it, like I’m wrong for asking.

            These responses have some helpful resources, though. I think it’s time for a big-picture conversation.

            1. Dan*

              So here’s the thing… you’re entitled to express your feelings, and in fact, I believe you owe it to your spouse to do so. You’ve done that. But the thing is, your spouse is under no obligation to do what you ask.

              I mean, my ex would get on my ass for putting my clothes (socks, if you will) on my side of the bed. She’d also get pissed at me for putting my jacket on the back of the dining room chair instead of hanging it up in the closet. On the one hand, one could ask why I didn’t want to keep my then-spouse happy, but OTOH, one could reasonably ask why the house had to be organized to her liking, as long as my way wasn’t a health or safety hazard. “Honey, do you want me to trip on your shoes when I got to the bathroom in the middle of the night? I might hurt myself.” That’s a different conversation than “I don’t like where you put your jacket when you come home from work.”

              So… are you asking him to do the same things over and over? At some point, you’ve expressed your desires, and he’s responded. Continuing to ask him to do the same things over and over gets really close to nagging territory.

              Re: The general state of cleanliness. You said above that he didn’t want someone to help move something because he recognized that the house is dirty. I realize that you’re trying to show that he recognizes the state of cleanliness, but I’d also throw in that at my place, there’s “company ready” and “I’m not expecting anybody to come over, so I haven’t bothered to clean.” I don’t see that as an issue, it just means I don’t take surprise guests. Again, big picture conversation.

              1. BuildMeUp*

                I disagree with some of this. I think things like not cleaning the litter box and leaving urine all over the toilet seat are different from leaving a jacket on the back of a dining room chair. Leaving clothes or shoes in one place when your SO would prefer them to be in another is one thing. Not cleaning something that causes a serious odor (and causes the cat to go on the carpet instead!) and getting urine all over the same toilet that Extremely Anon uses, meaning EA has to clean it up before he/she can go to the bathroom? That’s more than just an annoyance, to me.

                1. Lindsay J*

                  Yeah, the catbox thing is not okay. It’s not healthy for the cats, and I’m convinced it’s not really healthy for humans to be breathing in cat urine odor all the time.

                  My ex is essentially a hoarder, and I’m just not very neat and was deeply depressed at the time I was living with him. The catbox didn’t get cleaned regularly. If the dog went to the bathroom on the floor it would sit while my ex played video games until I got home hours later to clean up. Pretty sure it seeped into the floor boards during that time.

                  I don’t have the greatest sense of smell, and I lived in it so I think I became used to it.

                  I felt like crap pretty often. I would get headaches and my throat would feel sore.

                  I moved out, and now I don’t have headaches/throat problems anywhere near as often.

                  And when I went back to collect some of my things he found when moving out I was amazed at exactly how terrible the place smelled.

              2. Jen RO*

                Sometimes I wish I was single and I could happily live without any “clothes don’t belong in a pile on the floor” conversations…

              3. Extremely Anon*

                I wouldn’t have a problem with the jacket on the back of the chair. The clothes on the side of the bed are not great, but it’s better than leaving them in the living room.

                Shoes in the living room don’t really bother me, but my husband has a knack for leaving his in walkways, where I trip on them.

                I assure you, our house is far messier than the average house. Our dining room is full of boxes from when we moved in. Our kitchen is full of more boxes, which are stuffed to the brim with recyclables. Our living room has at least five pairs of shoes in it right now, plus more random stuff from the move that never got put away, with cups and bottles lining the coffee table and the floor.

                Like, I try not to let the pizza guy peer in behind me when I answer the door. Company would be out of the question.

                But the smells bother me more than the clutter, so I think that’s what I’ll focus on.

            2. misspiggy*

              The socks thing. I have ended up asking him to pick up his socks as an expression of love for me, as it bothers me so much. This has worked much better than other approaches.

              I think Carolyn Hax has said you get to ask for one or two preferences like this, then agree (genuinely agree) what else is essential, and detail who does what. Then it should stop being one person constantly asking the other to do stuff. Something to aim for perhaps, even if it’s difficult to attain all the time.

        2. BRR*

          Do you know how neat he would like it? Not how he keeps it but what he would prefer?

          My husband and I never are able to keep our apartment as clean as either of us would like. The biggest difference is I pick up as I go but never go in depth vs. him who will do an intensive cleaning every once in a while but then two days later it’s back to what it was. But I know he would like it cleaner.

          Eventually I said, “We let our apartment get really disgusting while neither of us were paying attention, can we sit down and list what needs to be done and how often.” I think this might work regardless of how clean he prefers it. From there we did a general distribution based on what each of us don’t hate doing.

          Once rules were established I didn’t feel bad asking things like “Can you please put your coat away?”

          1. Extremely Anon*

            That’s a great question. I know that we both want our home to be cleaner than it is right now, but I actually don’t know if we have the same preferences. I will probably always be more sensitive to smells than he is, but I’m not sure about stuff like clutter and dust.

        3. Belle diVedremo*

          It’s good that he agrees the house needs significant attention. I like Aussie Teacher’s framing, with the caveat that instead of “asking for his help” ask “how are we going to manage this?”

          You might also point out that in an apt not keeping up with your cat box and garbage could easily cost you money. Not keeping up with either can increase your rent and damage your relationship with the owner – and sometimes neighbors. Alison posted an ad for Zero Odor a while back; I tried it and it makes a significant difference. Getting some of that might help with the smell, but it won’t make the box easier for the cat to use when it’s full and it won’t take out the garbage for you.

          It sounds as if you moved fairly recently. If you had friends move you, can you ask them to come help you now? Understanding that neither of you wants others to see how bad it is, asking for outside help sounds both reasonable and underscores that it’s beyond current capacity to address it yourselves. Presumably your friends know that this isn’t your normal condition, and would be willing to help, unlike someone who doesn’t know your “normal” and wonders if this is it. If you can’t do that – for whatever reason – can you hire help to get you caught up? Someone paid to help won’t care if that’s your normal or not, but just care about it as a job to do.

          Good luck.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Tell him you’re going to be hiring a cleaning person to come in every other week.

      And that it’ll cost twice as much if the place isn’t picked up.

      And then, I guess do the catbox yourself.

      Or, ask him to commit to a time when the both of you can do chores in a sort of “parallel play” setup, so you can keep each other company (even if it’s from different rooms).

      Suggest that he view this chore time as “expressing affection for our home.”

    5. Revanche*

      Here’s a weird perspective on it: My husband is the neater of us two, and goes all out when we have people staying over or visiting to make sure every nook and cranny is cleaned. I help, of course, but have much less energy to do things so I prefer to space out my cleaning rather than doing it in concentrated 48-hour bursts. I apologized one night when a friend confirmed they would be staying overnight the day before because I felt bad that he’d feel the compulsion to Clean Everything on such short notice. He did, but he said something along the lines of “It’s ok, at least this way the house gets really clean!”

      I’d not considered the external motivation being a useful tactic like he did but perhaps that is another viable thing? He obviously notices the state of affairs, and I don’t suggest this as a manipulation thing!, but maybe plan to have a guest or friends over some night in a month or so and discuss what has to be clean to make it happen? That might let you think of it as an actionable thing and start the conversation from there if the normal everyday sort of conversations don’t go anywhere.

  28. Sunflower*

    How long/how do your therapy appointments work? My last therapist was an hour but she often went overtime and didn’t think much about it. I’ve recently seen 2 therapists and both have said the appointments are 45 minutes.

    One of these therapists I really like and want to keep seeing. I’ve seen her 3 times and the appointments have been around 45-50 minutes. I was a little tiffed last time I went because her other appointment ran over and I probably got in slightly less than 45 minutes. Is this something I should bring up and how do I do so? Also is this set-up normal? I’m in the US btw

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      At the clinic I work for, 60 minute appointment slots are the most common (we have one or two that do 45s). That said, of a 60-minute slot you’ll typically have face to face time of 50-55 minutes. Insurance reimbursement is generally based on time spent with the client, and the top tier is 53+ minutes, but doing 45 minute increments means you can fit one or two whole extra clients into a day, so that might make up the difference for the clinicians that use the shorter window.

      If she told you up front that her appointment slots are 45 minutes, I think you need to accept that your face to face time is typically going to be, say, 40-42 minutes. It sounds like she spent some extra time with you the first couple sessions and now needs to rein it in.

    2. F.*

      I have found that the “professional hour” is usually about 45-50 minutes. I assume that gives the therapist time to finish their session notes and prepare for the next client.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      My counselling sessions have lasted 50 mins, I think the 10 other mins was for admin purposes (notes from our session, reviewing the next patient’s notes etc).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine too, nearly always. I don’t go anymore (I can’t afford my old therapist and he won’t take my insurance), but it was always 50 minutes no matter who I went to.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Same boat. :(

          There is an app – I know it’s on iPhone, Android, and I think on regular laptops as well – called DrOnDemand. It’s a video chat service like Skype, with all licensed doctors and They do regular doctor’s appointments (that’s what I’ve done so far because I needed to be prescribed anti-depressants) for $40 for 15 minutes.

          I haven’t tried this part of the service yet, but they also offer psychology appointments for $50 for 25 minutes and $95 for 50 minutes. It’s still a lot, but it’s less than I was paying before. They’re all licensed Psychologists with doctorate degrees.

          The app offers coupons pretty regularly, too. My first session was free and I know I’ve seen coupons for another free visit and one for $10 off as well.

          the website is doctorondemand dotcom if you want to look into it further.

    4. Dan*

      My shrink can’t keep time worth a damn, and doesn’t even set a timer or have a clock in the office, so I can’t help you with how things “should” be done.

      I do believe that the standard session time is 50 minutes, you may want to double check with the internet or your insurance carrier to be sure.

      Is what setup normal? I’m ok with clock watching, as long as its consistent. You do *not* get to let the other session run over and then tell me that my session has to end “on time” and short me what I’m paying for.

      1. Sunflower*

        I’ve never been somewhere where the session was shorter than an hour. This week she told me ‘our time is almost up’ at about 30 mins in and I guess expected X amount of to continue on after she said that. I think I’m going to start wearing a watch so I am also aware of how much time I have.

    5. BRR*

      Mine says an hour but it varies. She’s gone a little over when I’ve needed it but they tend to have to fill things out so you won’t get a full hour. If it’s not often I’d let it go.

    6. Nashira*

      I’ve seen three different people, and generally they shot for 50 minutes but sometimes did 53-55 depending on how things were going. And my psychiatrist is 15 minutes from when he gets you in the waiting room to when he hands you off to make your next appointment… He’s PRECISE.

    7. FutureLibrarian*

      I see a private licensed marriage and family therapist/counselor, so that may make a difference. She does not take insurance, and it is out of pocket.

      However, I have almost never had an appointment go under 60 minutes. We usually end up at 70-75 minutes. We do chit-chat quite a bit because I’ve been seeing her off and on for…three years? now. But, she also works out of her own office and sets her own schedule, so she is flexible. We’ve also cut them short if I don’t feel well or am done.

      I’m pretty darn lucky, that’s for sure! I keep telling her she’s packing up and moving with me if I have to leave the state for work…

    8. Natalie*

      Mine were officially 50, but would sometimes go over. Once when I mentioned it my therapist assured me she would keep track of the time and I didn’t need to worry about it. So I would suggest just asking them.

    9. CrazyCatLady*

      I’ve been to many, and they’ve all been 60 minutes except one, which was 50 minutes. I don’t know why but those extra 10 minutes seem important, haha.

    10. Lindsay J*

      Mine were 50 minutes. The last 10 I assume he spent making notes for my session and taking a couple minutes to prepare for the next session. So my sessions would typically be from say 2-2:50.

      One time he ran over with the previous client into my session by like 10 minutes, so he made my session from 2:10-3 instead.

      Sometimes if we had just wrapped up a discussion at like 45 past or 48 past, we would wrap it up there because there wasn’t really time to do much else. Sometimes things would run over by a couple minutes.

      If you like her and she seems helpful I would let the time thing go unless she regularly lets the session before you run long and doesn’t make up time time or something. One time I would let go, if it’s every week then it becomes a problem because you’re not getting what you/your insurance is paying for.

  29. Dan*

    Relationship “issue”. I’m not sure if I’m asking for advice or what with this one…

    So I had been going out with this girl for three months. On paper, very awesome. Ended up making plans to go out of town for the weekend last month. We went. One thing I’ve noticed about her is that she initiates very little contact. Every plan is at my suggestion, and she never pushes back. Accepts pretty much everything.

    While we were out of town having a couple of drinks, I told her fairly directly that I needed her to take a little more initiative. I told her that I could tell that the “guy makes all the plans” is some rule that she’s trying to follow, pretty much to a fault.

    My birthday was the following week, and I figured that it would be a great time for me to pull back and let her plan something… except she never did, and it’s now been a month since we’ve communicated. Somewhere along the line, I figured that this isn’t a person that I wanted to be exclusive with, but really would like to be friends, and was wondering how to have that conversation with her.

    I didn’t intend to ghost her, as I really was expecting her to plan some sort of outing for my birthday. I didn’t get so much as a “happy birthday” birthday from her. It’s been a month. Do I reach out to her at all? Do I let sleeping dogs lie? I have to admit I’m a bit confused, I wasn’t expecting this one to just abruptly go silent. At the same time, it’s not a relationship with a long term future, either, but I very much could do the friends thing.

    1. fposte*

      Huh. I’d be scratching my head too. But wouldn’t this be just as much her ghosting as you? It’s not like it was more your obligation to stay in touch.

      I vote for letting sleeping dogs lie, unless it wouldn’t bother you to make all the plans and initiate all the contact if you were her friend. I’ve enjoyed being friends with exes, but I wouldn’t under those conditions–I hate being the Lone Arranger.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I’d say this is her ghosting you. If one person’s putting all the work into the relationship and the other isn’t, it’s not a relationship. Be glad you wasted only three months.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Bullet dodged, I’d say. Yes, let sleeping dogs lie. She is showing you the way things are in her world.

    3. FutureLibrarian*

      Yeah, that’s classic ghosting. Starts out with no effort on their part, and they just eventually disappear if you make no effort.

      Why would you want to be friends with someone who doesn’t make an effort to see you?

    4. BRR*

      I think Alison’s frequent advice applies here, This is the way she is and she isn’t going to change.

      You didn’t ghost her, she ghosted you. If you want to be friends with her, do you think you’re going to have to continue all the contact and plan making or will she stop the “guy does everything” thing? If you have to do everything still is that something you could live with as friends? Basically I think that the entire friendship is going to be on you to maintain and that’s what you need to decide.

      1. Dan*

        In some ways, I really wouldn’t mind being able to text her a “feel like xxx for dinner this week?” I could live with that and it wouldn’t bother me at all. That’s kind of how most of my platonic/guy friend friendships work anyway.

        The interesting thing with all of the “she ghosted you first” feedback I got from everybody was I wasn’t expecting that to be y’all’s take. Most of my chick friends tell me that they expect the guy to do most of the initiating until they are exclusive. That was news to me.

        When I started this thread, I said I wasn’t sure what I was asking for here. I certainly wouldn’t mind having somebody to add to my repertoire of dinner companions, but wonder if the silence for so long means that it would be too awkward to even bother trying out a friendship.

        1. fposte*

          That’s why it’s good to have women friends, not just chick friends :-).

          Seriously, it sounds like you thought it through pretty wisely–that you don’t want a relationship where it’s always on you to initiate, so a woman who expects that isn’t a good fit for you, and it’s reasonable to extrapolate from several months of dating. I don’t think I’d reach out to her now, but I think if you run into her or something in the future, it’s fine to say “Hey, this didn’t work for us as a romantic thing, but it’d still be cool to catch up now and then–you want to get dinner or something?”

        2. acmx*

          Are the women you’re dating/friends with quite a bit younger than you (re: not initiating text)? I just ask because none of the women I know think like that but most of them are close to a decade older than you.

          But on your weekend away, you indicated that you would like her to initiate contact more. So, even if she feels that way, I would think it odd she didn’t if she was interested in you. But maybe she feels the same and is ok with hanging out if you initiate but doesn’t want to take it further (exclusive)? IDK the weekend away throws things off.

          You know what, if you have something you want to do and you think she’s be interested in doing to, ask her. All she can do is say no/not text.

          1. F.*

            OK, I admit I’m old, but the weekend away together seemed to me to be a little premature at 3 mos. She seems to have decided she wasn’t as into you as you were into her. Better to find out relatively early than later. By the way, Happy Belated Birthday!

        3. Stella Maris*

          Do you know she’s OK? No contact for a month with no reason given seems strange to me!! If so, then I guess you got ghosted. If you are really interested in still seeing her (as a friend) you could try an ‘hey, are you OK, I feel like we dropped off each others’ radars for a while there, want to catch up’ email.

          But maybe take a look around at CaptainAwkward dot com for posts on ‘making plans’ or similar for ways to address this in the future if necessary!

    5. Student*

      It sounds like a poor match altogether. It doesn’t seem like she wants to be friends with you, since she hasn’t initiated any form of contact. It’s possible she wasn’t all that interested in dating you, either, but certainly not clear from your account here. Do you want to engage in a friendship with her if you’re the one who will be doing all the planning? If so, go ahead and invite her to some friendship-type event whenever you feel like seeing her. If not, stop reaching out to her.

      I grew up in a culture that regards adults celebrating birthdays as a self-indulgent abnormality. We usually cease celebrating birthdays in grade school or middle school. After that, there might be an occasional cake with friends on major “milestone” birthdays, like 21st, 50th, or 75th or so, but not yearly celebrations. As that’s what I consider to be normal, I don’t go celebrate other people’s birthdays unless they really pressure me to do so. I have no idea if this is the case with your ex-girlfriend, but I’ll throw it out there as a thought about making your expectations of your partner very clear. Not everyone has the same expectations about what companionship looks like as you do. Spell it out if something is important to you, especially early on in a relationship.

      1. Dan*

        To be clear, we were never exclusive bf/gf, so I’m not sure that label applies. This is going to sound funny, but I’m with you on the b-day thing. I frankly don’t give two hoots, but as TL points out, I *did* make it clear that I expected her to take more initiative. For my b-day, I was expecting/hoping for nothing more than a text saying “happy b-day, want to go to xxx for dinner?” I mean, if you tell someone you’re dating to take more initiative, that would be the time to do it, right?

    6. Sunflower*

      I can 100% see how you are confused by her. Personally, I wouldn’t go away with someone or accept going out with someone every time they asked unless I was really interested in them. Not everyone is like me though. To be honest, it doesn’t sound like she was following any kind of ‘rule’, it just sounds like either 1. this is how she is or 2. she’s not that interested. So if you want to continue the relationship or have a friendship, understand this is how it’s going to be. It’s totally okay if you want to be friends with this person- just don’t expect her to act differently any time down the line. I also think the fact that you communicated one of your needs and she pretty much said ‘nah’ says a lot about how much she values your relationship.

      Also this line- ‘I told her that I could tell that the “guy makes all the plans” is some rule that she’s trying to follow, pretty much to a fault’. I’m not sure how you worded it but I could see if you turned her off with this line. No one likes being accused of things and I think you could have worded it a little differently. You could have left things at expressing your need for her to initiate or said something like ‘It confuses me that you accept offers to spend time with me but never initiate us spending time together. Why is that?’. I think with or without this line you’d still be looking at the same result but it’s something to think about if you want someone to communicate with you.

      1. Dan*

        To your last paragraph, I can’t remember my exact wording, but her response was, “You’re right, previous guys have told me to back off a bit.” After the first couple of dates, she also told me that her relationships tend to fizzle because she doesn’t communicate very well. The later can be taken a couple of different ways, but I didn’t press.

        1. vvondervvoman*

          Because I’m married and poly, all my dating basically revolves around my schedule. So I get into the habit of being like you and 3 months in I realize they’ve never initiated anything beyond the first date. So sometimes, especially when I don’t have time to plan/coordinate, I’ll throw out 3-4 different times and say something like those are the only times I’m free in the next two weeks, let me know if you want to do something. Universally, this will show you their true colors. Someone who really likes you will make a date, or earnestly explain that those times don’t work, but make it clear they want to schedule *something* Otherwise, it’s vagueness, and “oh, yea we should do something” but no concrete plans of their making.

  30. TheLazyB (UK)*

    I am just back from seeing The Sisters of Mercy. Oh my god. They were awesome!!

    Tuesday we are due to go see the Editors.

    Why do I not go and see bands more often? Why do I not go out dancing any more?!

    1. TheLazyB (UK)*

      Seriously tempted to go to rock nights on my own every so often to have a dance. Would that be weird?!

      Oh and although the gig was around 150 miles away from home, the woman behind us in the queue turned out to recognise me. We both shop in the same supermarket. Apparently it’s a small world.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I used to do it when I was 20. I’m nearly 40 now :) just been a long time and I don’t know the lay of the land any more! But I’m gonna. Love dancing to music I love.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          I am going to see Fun Loving Criminals on my own in Feb! So excited. Gigs is fine, it’s actually going clubbing on my own that feels a bit weird. Do people still call it going clubbing?! I have no idea ;)

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I had kind of forgotten about them for a long time, and how much I liked them. Then I created an 80’s station on Pandora and I’ve rediscovered them.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      OMG, it’s been about 20 years since I saw Sisters of Mercy at the new Ritz! I love their cover of Jolene.

    4. Sunflower*

      I ask myself this too! Just saw Brandi Carlile for the first time live and it was AMAZING. I forgot how happy it makes me going to concerts.

  31. Ruth (UK)*

    I can’t phrase this without it sounding somehow crude or as though I am somehow attempting to be comical (I’m not) but: everyone I know keeps dying.

    I’ve lost 5 friends in the last 4 years. These have not been close personal 1-on-1 friends, but people I typically see about once a week or with some degree of regularity in a (usually small) group setting.

    Despite my age (mid 20s), my wider social circle includes a decent of people in more of the 60+ age range due to some of the things I’m interested in (eg. crafts and folk music) so it’s not like I know a whole load of 20/30-somethings who have died a sudden tragic and untimely death.

    I don’t exactly have a point here. A woman I know passed away a couple of weeks ago. I was thinking about it and also feeling a little drained. It also makes me oddly speculate and over-think about losing people who are important to me. My dad had 2 different close friends die within a few months of each other the other year.

    I know the next bit makes me sound a bit over the top but another thing I’ve started doing is, if I don’t hear from someone for a certain amount of time, and then they don’t immediately contact me back (if I contact them), I start to worry they’ve died. When I am meeting someone, if they are running late and haven’t called, the first conclusion my brain leaps to is that they’ve got in an accident and died or something (as actually happened to one of my friends last year). I know rationally that it’s unlikely but I can’t help getting upset and panicking over it all the time. It also makes me become unreasonably angry when friends of mine are late meeting me without contacting me to say they’re running late.

    I’m kind of only venting (if that is the right word) on here because it’s the only place I frequent online as an anonymous person (everywhere else I frequent has some sort of account where I am clearly identifiable as myself).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds pretty normal to me. Almost any loss is unsettling. It’s even more shocking to lose several people in a short period of time. It’s okay to want to check on people and make sure they are alright. And it’s pretty normal after experiencing a few losses in a short time to think.”OMG, Jane doesn’t answer the phone, what is wrong???”

      I understand the worry about your friends, too. When I was in my early twenties, my folks were very sick. My friends, OTH, were living life. They did not really get it about the folks. I worried if my friends were late, etc, because I was worried about my parents.

      Then I figured out that I needed to use two sets of standards. For my peers that did not have the experiences I was having, I needed to just let stuff go. For my aunts and older neighbors who were more aware of my situation and had more experiences under their belts, I had to check in with these folks if they were late or not answering the phone. The difference being is that these older folks NEEDED me to check in but my friends did not need me to do that. My friends needed other things from me.
      What this boiled down to was I channeled my worry to places where it was understood and where I could be of help. A friend who was 20 minutes late was not a big deal, I told myself. My friend thought I was nuts to be worried about her lateness. But if my aunt was 20 minutes late, I became concerned and started to figure out if she needed my help with something. My aunt’s response was opposite of my friend’s response, my aunt would thank me and reassure me she was ok or let me know what she needed. Differences in people and differences in life experiences.

      This might give you a chuckle. My friend was over today helping me clean up my yard for winter. I said I had to run into the house to use the bathroom. I got stopped when my house phone rang. Twenty minutes later, my friend comes in the house absolutely certain, I fell over the dog or something on the way to the bathroom and I am laying there unconscious. No, I was still on the stupid phone. We laughed. We are both so aware how fast crap can happen, so we both watch out for people around us.

      You’re doing okay here. Some people like the extra concern we might have and some people don’t feel they need it. That is all that is going on here.

    2. danr*

      Nope, you sound normal to me. As a chronic worrier, I know the feeling. As for the feeling that someone has been in an accident, you have reason to worry. A year isn’t enough time to get rid of the need to worry a bit. Just try not to let it rule you. Easier said than done, I know. Hang in there and keep us posted.

    3. Steve G*

      I do think the part you said might be a little over the top is a little over the top:-) but I was thinking about death today to, not anything profound, but I was going to my grandma’s and thinking how it is weird I still have a grandparent, my parents are the old ones now and I still have a grandparent, and mine is not doing well, but still lives alone (which isn’t working great, but is working for the present time) and the whole ride there I was thinking about all of the horrible hospital/nursing home scenes from the 90s/early 2000s when other grandparents/grandaunts were going. For me, its not the death itself that is/was depressing, it’s the way some of them went slowly.

      There were two incidences that still kind of haunt me. One was when I was 14 and my grandaunt lost the ability to walk. No one excepted it so it was definitely a WTF do we do moment for the family. She had to stay with us, which was a disaster, and we kind of had to make her go to a nursing home (since she couldn’t even bath at our house), and the nursing home did a sort of switch-and-bait. They showed a very lovely room/wing, but the one they brought us to the day-of looked more like a hospital. I remember the hall lined wall-to-wall with really old people in wheelchairs. Always like a parade. Many in horrible condition, respirators, sunked in cheeks, heads clunked over…..My grandaunt, who was a business exec before women held such jobs and arranged luncheons and her HS reunions and visited people in the hospital and was very quick witted and still with it mentally was NOT about to be shipped off to what was basically a hospital to be treated like a patient (which was NOT even the place we were shown, but a different building!). The place was crowded and loud and overlit. My grandaunt freaked out that she refused to stay there. It turned into an ugly, full-day event.

      Another thing that still kind of bothers me is that my grandma on the other side very quickly lost her ability to speak. Then she could barely walk, and went to the hospital for IDK what, then it was like..she was gonna go to the nursing home for a short period, but she was there nine months and died. It always bothered me because she could barely stay awake and when she was awake, she couldn’t talk, but would maybe write a few sentences on a chalk board. It was like she faded out, sometimes it “helps” mentally if you know the person has a specific disease that you can look up, so it was weird that she couldn’t talk, but they said she didn’t have a stroke or anything. And she wasn’t extremely old either. In retrospect I feel bad I didn’t visit more.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This crap still goes on. They moved my MIL from a hospital to a rehab, never told the family. When we finally found her, because she was not at the hospital when we went there, she was sitting in a wheel chair, with paper clothes on and crying. It was so awful. I was LIVID. She could not believe we found her, she had no idea where she was. Wait. There is more to the story. We had brought clothes because we knew they had not bothered to pack her stuff. So we got her in to some gear so she looked like everyone else. They insisted that she eat in the common area. Well, she was dressed but she was still crying and shook. This is a REHAB center, yikes! So I told the nurse, that she would be eating with US in HER room. (I became one of those dreadful family members people talk about.) We sat in her room, ate with her and talked to her about the place she was in. Then we took her out for a stroll in her chair so she could have a look around. This was not hard stuff to do and it made the difference of night and day. She was oriented to her surroundings, she agreed to eat her next meal in the common area and she wanted a nap. Perfect.
        One story and there are tens of thousands of stories out there like this one. Our systems are taxed beyond belief. If family does not step in, the person can have an extremely stressful time of it.

        1. Steve G*

          Paper clothes? Sounds like a disaster. What happened to her stuff from the hospital? Don’t get me started on hospitals. In an ideal world they’d all be single rooms and there would be blackout periods where you could actually rest, not have random doctors and nurses come whenever the heck in the middle of the night and start talking at you like you’re supposed to be sitting there alert waiting all day for their 3 minute visit. Everyone I know who’s been in the hosp has a roommate from hell story, mostly because the patients’ issues didn’t line up. For example when my grandma had a general infection this year and was there for a few weeks, they put her in with a young lady who couldn’t get out of bed so had to go to the bathroom both ways in bed and call a nurse to help with it. Of course it took them forever to come. You can’t imagine the stench. I was livid – couldn’t these women get some sort of dignity, one, the woman who has to do that with zero privacy, and then my grandma who would have been dying but for the marvals of modern medicine…I guess those extra 10X10 rooms are too much to provide

          1. Not So NewReader*

            We got the clothes from the nurse at the desk. I was shaken by this myself, I cannot imagine what it was like to be her. The rehab center was over 50 miles away. (It’s the one of the nearest places so we knew it would be a drive, we just did not know that we were making that drive on that particular day.) We stopped at the house and got some of her clothes that we knew she wore frequently.

            It was so weird. We had walked into the hospital room and said “hi, mom!”. The lady turned around and we both said, “You’re not mom!” Ugh. wtf. And there are no studies/tests that show how this impacts a patient and worsens their condition.

            Your story of the young woman is just bad all the way around-for your grandmother, the woman and it really speaks badly for the hospital, too. I wish I could believe it’s not common, but I can’t based on what I have seen.

    4. Revanche*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      A short period ago, I had the same problem where people I cared about were dying with alarming regularity or my loved ones were losing their loved ones and it was a very hard decade all around. Particularly since my mother was declining in health badly, and a set of my closest friends were losing their parents quite early, and our peers had no idea what that was like. I started feeling like the epicenter of dread and, for months, every time my phone rang, my stomach turned. Got so bad I developed an aversion to voicemail and to this day can’t shake that vague feeling of ‘something’s WRONG’ even when nothing had gone badly wrong. I have no advice for coping other than telling your friends they MUST tell you that they’re running late but do know that it’s pretty normal.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      Given that it’s actually happened, I don’t think it’s over the top to worry if the person has died. I know where you’re coming from. There was a time when I grew to dread my phone going off in the middle of the day because I fully expected it to be a call about one of my relatives being admitted to hospital (there were a LOT of serious health issues going on at the time) and I’ve been known to freak at getting a pocket dial because it triggered a flashback.

  32. Ruffingit*

    My best friend who is like a sister to me called me Wednesday morning at 330 am. I will never forget the exact words she said or the tone of her voice. She told me her husband was dead. He was in a car accident Tuesday night and died at the scene. I took Wednesday off from work because I couldn’t deal with anything or anyone. I was in shock. I also wanted to be totally available to my friend if she needed to call. We’ve known each other our entire adult lives. I was maid of honor at her wedding. Every joy and sorrow has been shared. She lives halfway across the country in my home state, but we’re as close as if we were next door. I bought my plane ticket today and I will be there for the service this coming weekend. He was 42. They have two kids. She expected him home by 9 on Tuesday night. Instead it was two cops and a chaplain at her door. Still so hard to believe.

    1. fposte*

      We know these things happen, but we never really expect them to directly affect us. I’m so sorry, Ruffingit, for you and your friend.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      My heart ached with your first sentence. I am so sorry. Please let your friend know I am praying for her and her family. Safe journey.

    3. Sherm*

      That is so horrible. I feel like as a society we’ve become numb to car accidents. 30,000 Americans die every year. Another year, another 30,000. But people seem to have a “well, what are you going to do?” attitude about it.

      My condolences to you, and your friend.

    4. Ruffingit*

      Thank you everyone, I really appreciate it. This is not something I thought my friend would ever have to endure. She has endured enough in her lifetime to make several TV movies of the week and I wish I was kidding. She is so resilient and she’s getting through this amazingly well. I’ll just be happy when I can get there and give her a hug in person.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        She’s getting through it because of a few good people (like you) around her. It’s amazing how having good people around can carry you through something. Yeah, no one can fix it and no one really knows what to do,but their willingness to stand beside you anyway is powerful stuff. Really powerful.

      2. Nashira*

        I wish you a smooth flight, so you can be there soon and rested. I’m so sorry for her loss and your loss.

  33. Expendable Redshirt*

    The Gig is up! Mr. Expendable Redshirt has realized that his favourite butter chicken lasagna contains mushrooms! (He hates eating mushrooms)

    Mr. Expendable Redshirt is not quite sure what to think of this.

    He started joking about how I can’t be trusted anymore. However, I was able to counter that Mr. Expendable Redshirt asked me not to inform him if mushrooms were an unknown component of his meals. I’ve been asked to buy this beloved (though mushroom ridden) lasagna again. So, Mr. Expendable Redshirt will either have to pick the mushrooms out or come to terms with the fact that he can eat mushrooms.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I admit, I am literally laughing out loud at this update. How did he figure it out? Did he spy a mushroom, read the box, what?

      He is welcome to join the “Hates Mushrooms We Can See But Don’t Mind The Ones We Can’t” club.

      1. Expendable Redshirt*

        Ah my comment didn’t nest properly, but …after months of eating mushrooms….. Mr. Expendable Redshirt finally noticed the texture. I am pleased this saga amused someone!

        1. katamia*

          LOL! Although this blows my mind because I HATE mushrooms partially because of the texture, so the idea that someone can just…not notice that texture…blows my mind.

    2. BRR*

      Having a dad who is a picky eater this is hilarious. He doesn’t like any spices at all (he’ll complain when we grilled burgers that some of the mrs. dash I put on mine blew onto his) but eats garlic bread and puts pepper on his eggs. It kills me how he won’t at least try new things.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      Mushroom isn’t my favorite flavor in the world, but I’d prefer not to have that be the predominant note in a dish. Boyfriend makes a Turkey Tetrazzini with mushrooms in the sauce. He loves mushrooms. Can eat them plain, like an apple. [Urk]. So early on I had to request that he either mince the mushrooms soooo tiny that I can’t tell if the darker specks in the sauce are pieces of turkey skin (or pepper flakes), or that he merely halve or quarter the mushrooms so that I can easily pull them out. He went the “chop them really large” route so that he gets double the ‘shrooms in his serving. :-)

          1. thelazyb*

            Now in salad i could kind of understand it. Ish . But he just nicks them off the chopping boardwhen i’m cutting them for pizza or pasta! Eats them totally on their own.

            1. fposte*

              I’d do that. I love mushrooms. I really like the texture–it squishes so nicely, like a savory marshmallow.

              That being said, I do actually get the aversion, as it’s a very specific texture.

    4. Revanche*

      Hah. A friend used to try to sneak mushrooms into my dishes because she wasn’t convinced that I could detect them. WELL YES I CAN, TRAITOR.

      Maybe this is the beginning of a new MER-eating-mushrooms-on-purpose era. ;)

  34. Expendable Redshirt*

    We were eating the infamous lasagna last night when Mr. Expendable Redshirt stops and says…

    Mr. Expendable Redshirt: “That’s a mushroom.”
    Me: *hesitantly* Yesssss…
    MER: “This is butter chicken lasagna.”
    Me: “Yes.”
    MER: *dawning light of realization* “Well sh*t.”

      1. Expendable Redshirt*

        He did finish the lasagna, while chastising me for “lying” to him. *lol*

        My protests that I was only following his instructions were selectively ignored. :)

    1. Dear Liza dear liza*

      I’m intrigued by the idea of butter chicken lasagna. I’ve never heard of it, but I love butter, chicken, and lasagna…

  35. Not So NewReader*

    I have a vague recollection of someone posting a few months ago, who was in a dangerous situation and trying to get out. She had her dog, I think she said friends would take her dog for a bit. I might have this part wrong, but I think she was worried about a violent roommate.

    Has anyone seen a follow up post?

    OP, are you still reading here?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, that’s the one I was thinking of- thanks for looking. Wow, July. Time flies.

        Jumbo Dill, if you are reading, drop a line and let us know how you are doing.

  36. Natalie*

    Thanks for cat help last week, y’all. Moving her water bowl seemed to do the trick, and she’s enjoying the porch despite the cold so I’m not so worried she’ll get stir crazy and bust out.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’m still marveling at what someone said last week about their cat drinking from a glass on the windowsill, since my cat’s main hobby is finding glasses of water that people have left on table- or counter-tops and swatting them into the floor as hard as she can with a giant WHAP!

      1. Windchime*

        LOL my old cat used to do this. For nearly 20 years I couldn’t have a vase of flowers anywhere in the house because it was his personal mission to knock over any container of water. Vase, glass, coffee cup, whatever — he would knock it over. So it was kind of a surprise to me that NewKitty likes to simply drink out of a glass or cup and isn’t interested in knocking it over.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          One of my cats is, to put it frankly, an a-hole. He’s part Abyssinian, so he’s very smart and active. If you don’t jump up to do his bidding the minute he starts whining, he’ll knock over your glass or chew through your laptop charger until you pay him some attention. My husband used to get me flowers all the time, but he can’t do that anymore because Jasper is all over them as soon as he sees them–ripping the petals off the flowers, eating the leaves, etc.

  37. Elizabeth West*

    I’m getting ready to do NaNoWriMo again. I realized that I did it last year to get going on Secret Book, but because of stupid emotional stuff, I never finished it afterward. I also got bogged down in research (and still have a ton more to go), but I need now to just FINISH IT. It’s completely outlined and everything. Though you’re not supposed to begin NaNo with anything pre-written, I’m a rebel Wrimo (I don’t actually sign up; I just blog it). It helped me finish Tunerville. Because of the lack of knowledge for certain sections, I will have to just sketch those in. God, I hate first drafts. HATE THEM.

    I just wish something would happen in my life. I’m sick of trying different things and never getting any result, on anything. Literally nothing ever changes no matter what I do or don’t do. It’s making it hard to write, because 1) my brain seems to be shutting down with a lack of stimulation, and 2) it’s no fun to enter that world and then come out of it into the most dull, boring, repetitive existence ever. Besides, even if I won a freaking Pulitzer, it wouldn’t matter, because I’d just be bringing it home to an empty, silent house. *sigh* Psycho Kitty doesn’t care about such things. All she does is cry, eat, sleep, and poop. I might as well have a baby already! ;)

    I’ve also been working on my queries. There have been nothing but rejections, so I figure that’s where I have to make improvements. Feedback on both Tunerville and Rose’s Hostage has been good, but that means nothing if no one will look at it. I went back to a blog I learned a lot from and hoo boy my queries have been crap. I won a copy of 2016 Guide to Literary Agents from Chuck Sambuchino’s blog (yay!) so I’m armed and ready!

    1. Rana*

      Hang in there. I’m firmly convinced that the key to writing success isn’t anything flashy, but just sheer stubborn perseverance. You can do this!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s darkest before the dawn, E. I firmly believe that. You are almost there, keep going, do not stop now. I believe that a good chunk of life is just having the brass to keep going when everything around you says “NO. STOP.” It’s almost like a surreal test, where it boils down to “Do I believe in ME?” because that is what is left, sometimes. A lot of people stop at this point and really I can’t blame them, because it is a huge battle.
      My theory is that what we do with our emotions when the going gets tough is tied to the outcomes we get. It’s like a battle between our emotions and our skills and there can only be one winner. Either our emotions win out or our skills win out. I like to pretend I have a friend in a setting remarkably similar to my own. What do I tell my friend to do to help her continue on? My answers to myself sometimes get a little odd considering everything. Sometimes the answer is to get more rest. Sometimes the answer is to work harder. And sometimes I find other answers that do not always seem to tie in directly to what is going on. It’s that taking a step back and trying to inject some objectivity into the situation, that is the point of the exercise. Sometimes I run at this and run at that, what I really need to do is be more deliberate or more purposeful about every step I take.
      May or may not apply to your setting. Just things to think about, that’s all. I think that you know deep down that you CAN get this and you will. It’s just that getting there has been more of a journey than you thought. Journey on.

    3. Lindsay L*

      I’m getting ready to to NaNoWriMo too! I’m Lindz L on their site. It’s my first time though. Good luck on your queries, that’s so exciting :)

    4. Lindsay L*

      I’m getting ready to to NaNoWriMo too! I’m Lindz L on their site. It’s my first time though. Good luck on your queries, that’s so exciting :)

      ^Wordpress is claiming I’ve already posted this, but it’s not showing up. Hopefully this works?

  38. fposte*

    Misophonia news! 23andme reports some preliminary findings that there is a genetic marker that is associated with higher sensitivity to the sound of chewing. (It’s not a simple yes/no binary, just a somewhat increased chance.)

    Interestingly, the survey that was part of the research noted 30% higher chance of dislike for that sound in women than in men, which is another good indicator it’s not a simple binary.

    1. Hellanon*

      Interesting! That kicked in for me when I was 11 or 12 and it never abated – it feels more like OCD than a simple question of like/dislike, so I’m not surprised there’s a genetic component (and yes, I’ve got a bunch of little OCD issues as well, fwiw).

      1. fposte*

        They’re saying it could be related to a gene that does brain stuff, but I guess there’s not much else it would be–it would be pretty stunning if it was a gene that did, say, kidney stuff.

    2. MisophoniaSufferer*

      Funny you should bring this up since just last week I googled “I want to punch my coworker in the throat” after several days of listening to constant throat-clearing. Not a nice thing to write, I know, but I was so aggravated at the time. It brought me to a page about misophonia and I’m convinced I have it. It’s a relief to understand why certain sounds that no one else seems to notice get under my skin so much.

  39. Bekx*

    So I kinda mentioned this in the Friday open thread when we were talking about health insurance….but I’m having some weird health issues.

    I’m in my mid 20s and have outrageously high cholesterol. Like, heart attack level. I’m 115 lbs and while yes…I did indulge in some never-ending olive garden pasta bowl yesterday….I don’t think I eat crap. My uncle has high cholesterol, but my parents have low/normal cholesterol. Sooo my primary sent me to a cardiologist. They are taking me off my birth control to see if that changes any numbers (ughhhhhhhhhhhh. I’m not looking forward to vomiting/pain/sweating/shaking/going home from work every month again). But then they also checked my thyroid and my t3 & t4 uptake values were elevated. But that can happen from birth control too.

    I have about 5 more weeks before I finish my current pack of bc, and then they want me to retest my cholesterol. But my gyno, cardiologist and primary all said they really don’t think it’ll make a difference. :( And while my thyroid levels being up could cause high cholesterol, I don’t really have the sudden weight gain and heat sensitivity that seems to go with that.

    It’s just a mess. I’m too young for this, I say!

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, sometimes it’s just the way people are built–my brother had the same thing. It’s pretty tough to get it just from diet at your age and weight, so I don’t think you need to feel guilty about your pasta bowls.

      I hope they find a way to skim you :-).

    2. Evie*

      that sucks majorly. Changing the type of bc you’re on can help (though I totally feel you about not wanting to go through all that period having crap. I looove skipping mine), and diet etc, but sometimes people just have high cholesterol. I hope the doctors can get you sorted

    3. Jen RO*

      My reaction to lack-of-birth-control is not nearly as bad as yours, but I was taken off due to hypertension and ugh, I miss my pills! It also looks like I have PCOS, so I wonder who’s gonna win, the cardiologist or the endocrinologist… I hope I can get my BC back!

      1. Bekx*

        I laughed when my gyno called me after getting the memo that the cardiologist wanted me off. She sounded SO annoyed. “………Okay…..so…..they want you off of this…..but they don’t give a crap about your other problems………k…….”

        A lot of people have been recommending I get the implant because that is progesterone only…but who knows what I’ll be doing in a few years. And the idea of a little implant thing in my arm kinda freaks me out a little. Like those alien movies or something.

        1. Nashira*

          The progesterone IUD is also nice, if that’s less freaky to you. Installation hurts quite a lot, especially if you’ve never been pregnant, but removal is a quick yank and done.

          I’m theoretically supposed to get the implant soon, but I swear to fsck if my gyn doesn’t get it in… I’m switching to someone who will do the IUD and be done with it. Gender dysphoria from menstruating is the fricking worst.

          1. Natalie*

            Just a heads up (and you might know this already), not everyone loses their cycle entirely from the progesterone IUD – the numbers are all over the place but the most I’ve seen is half get amenorrhea. But the rest of us do generally get shorter and lighter cycles, if that would help with the dysphoria.

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      I have crazy high cholesterol. So does my dad. When I was in my late 20s, my first doc just freaked out at the total number. New doc looked at the actual LDL and HDL numbers, I made a few changes, and I had better results and fewer conversations about statins.

      I gave up meat years ago. When total cholesterol numbers were high, I cut way, way back on eggs (two a week max, but when I was testing, I cut them out entirely). I still bake with butter, but don’t use it on breads. I don’t eat a lot of pasta or white rice, but I’m not giving up potatoes. I do use olive oil. I take an omega 3 supplement daily, and I started taking a Co-Q-10. All of that seems to have made my HDL (bad) levels go down and my LDL (good) levels go up.

  40. Trixie*

    Succumbed to Trader Joe’s pumpkin pop tarts and I think I’m good til next year. With the holidays approaching I look forward to stocking up on cranberries. They freeze beautifully by the bag, and I’ll buy 12-15 bags to last the year. Great in oatmeal and that tart flavor with a little sweetness totally satisfies.

  41. NicoleK*

    What are your favorite budget cooking blogs? I’ve been stuck in a rut lately and would like to try new but affordable recipes. I’m trying to focus on cooking with affordable real ingredients.

    1. Dan*

      So… we have to talk about what “budget cooking” means. If you’ve just moved out of your parents’ house and are on your for the first time, everything is going to look expensive for awhile, until you build up a pantry of staples. But then you find out that your bottles of vinegars, oils, and jars of dry spices last forever.

      To cook cost effectively, you have to do it regularly (like most days of the week), and get some experience. You have to be able to figure out what ingredients are unique to that recipe and you’ll never use again. If the recipe calls for more than you’ll use for that alone, and you have no other use for it before the ingredient’s shelf life expires, you can probably find something else.

      I live alone, and do pretty much all of my cooking from scratch. My biggest problem is having too much left over produces and herbs (proteins are easy for me to manage). So I either find more recipes that use those things, or I accept the fact that they’ll go to waste.

      BTW, America’s Test Kitchen “Cooking for Two” book might be helpful for you. They focus on adapting recipes to small portion sizes so that you’re not stuck eating the same thing for a week or throwing too much out.

      1. NicoleK*

        To me, “budget” is spending $100-130 per person on groceries per month. I’ve been on my own for many years, am a decent cook, and can follow recipes.

      1. Rena*

        Another +1 for BudgetBytes! Just about everything we make is from there. She has a ton of tasty easy recipes that make great leftovers for lunches.

    2. Curlicue*

      I get daily emails from All Recipes and have found lots of good recipes from them. I also like Six Sisters Stuff and Yummly!

    3. Natalie*

      You might find this cookbook written for people on SNAP (food stamps) helpful. (Link in reply; be warned it’s a PDF.)

  42. Revanche*

    Is it normal for people to wish people happy anniversary (also giving cards and small gifts) when they aren’t part of the marriage? I started noticing people doing this for friends a few years back (my husband, for one) and I was completely confused. Now wonder if I’m That Jerk who’s failed to remember 293810 wedding anniversaries for all the people whose weddings I attended. It occurs to me I have no idea when my parents were married as we didn’t do celebrations really, and that’s probably weird too, isn’t it?

    1. Dan*

      Depends on what you mean by “normal”. I’ve heard of people that do it. But I’m in your camp, a wedding anniversary is between the bride and groom. I’m not pitching in for that one, sorry. WRT my parents, I noted up thread that I’m already on the hook for Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Birthdays x2, and Xmas x2. If I had to add a wedding anniversary to that, I think I’d go nuts, especially since they got married on NYE. At some point, I’ve started to wonder what all the gifting is really about. It’s starting to feel like a chore and an obligation.

      1. Revanche*

        Normal in this case was “is this a cultural / social norm?” Like I didn’t know about the social norms about sending gifts when you’re invited and don’t attend a wedding, or bringing a gift for your host or hostess when you’re invited to dinner. We never did any of that growing up so I felt awkward when I discovered in my late 20s that some people considered it normal. I’d be happy if people stopped expecting gifts, though, at some point in your life you have got to have enough things, don’t you?

    2. Student*

      I ignore them, unless someone drops Very Clear Hints that they really want me to acknowledge their anniversary. I do the same for every major and minor special occasion. If someone makes it clear this is their Big Thing, be it holiday cards, birthday, anniversary, child’s birthday, or whatever, I try to indulge them. If they don’t say anything to me about it, I assume they aren’t all that interested in getting overpriced greeting cards I picked at near-random in the grocery store. I find said cards to be very empty gestures, personally, and would rather not give or receive them.

    3. Short and Stout*

      I sometimes buy or make a card for my parents. I bought them a sharing gift –a pair of wireless headphones that significantly added to marital harmony — when they hit 25 years.

      Otherwise would only get a card if it’s a big one, i.e. a ruby or gold wedding anniversary, where I was invited to a party of relatives or friends.

    4. Cb*

      We just celebrated our first anniversary and received a few cards (from family and a few friends) and lots of well wishes via text and Facebook but mostly people who attended our (small-medium) sized wedding. I didn’t expect the cards at all (although they were lovely) and expect they’ll drop off next year. I think Facebook is making it easier to remember things?

    5. Merry and Bright*

      I give a card to my parents and also my sister and brother-in-law, and have given cards to other family members for milestones such as silver or ruby if there has been a family meal or something. I have also given my parents a gift for these landmark anniversaries.

      1. thelazyb*

        I am pretty much like this. My grandparents just had their seventieth wedding anniversary. Finding cards and presents for that was hard!

    6. nep*

      Maybe a few times over the years I gave my parents a card for their anniversary (and we threw a party for their 25th) — but aside from that, I don’t observe these occasions for friends or family. My siblings’ wedding anniversaries come and go — I don’t see it as something to mark with a card or any other gesture. I reckon it varies, but it seems to me like you’re not alone.

    7. Elkay*

      I have a friend who does anniversary cards for other people, we don’t even do cards for each other! I think first anniversaries are different and sending cards for those isn’t weird (but it’s not weird not to either). I text my parents and we do a gift for anniversaries ending in 5 & 0 (after them being very upset that we didn’t get them anything for their 25th). People remembering is nice but I don’t expect them to. My sister in law phoned up and demanded we send a card on her first anniversary (then failed to do so on ours…).

    8. Today's anon*

      Only if someone mentions it on facebook or in real life – like my coworker who said he and his wife were going to this fancy restaurant over the weekend to celebrate their anniversary, I congratulated him. Otherwise, not so much.

      1. Sara*

        Same. Even on FB, I’m unlikely to offer anniversary congratulations unless I’m quite close to one or both of the people celebrating. Odds are that I offered them some sort of congratulations on their wedding, and I feel like my social obligation to celebrate their marriage ends there.