weekend free-for-all – December 5-6, 2015

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

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Family Fang: A Novel, by Kevin Wilson. If you like the dysfunctional family genre as much as I do and you want to read a book that feels inspired by a Wes Anderson movie, this is the book for you.

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

{ 1,015 comments… read them below }

  1. nep*

    What a delightful photo. Talk about cozy.
    Was thinking this morning how much I look forward to the weekend open thread. Thank you, Alison and intelligent, funny, insightful readers/commenters.

      1. AnonToo*

        Me too. After Christmas I’ll get another one from the shelter.
        Olive is showing everyone how to enjoy the holidays in that photo, there are serious lessons there.

  2. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone here still send Christmas cards?

    I’ve considered not sending them anymore, as the number of cards I get in return each year has dwindled down to almost nothing. I realize it’s not about receiving, but, rather, giving, but it just annoys me that I put time into sending cards to people I care about and they don’t usually reciprocate. It frustrates me more and more every year.

    1. Colette*

      I do (although it’s doubtful they get there by Christmas). I like getting them, so I send them. Having said that, if you don’t like doing it or you want to stop sending to people who don’t reciprocate, it’s fine to stop.

    2. The Expendable Redshirt*

      I don’t get or give Christmas cards anymore. I think the last time a Christmas card showed up in the mail was 2002.

    3. Christy*

      I write them because my internet friends and I exchange them, and it’s no burden to send them to family and IRL friends too.

      1. Beth Anne*

        Same here. There are several of us that exchange them so I send about 10 a year. My mom never did it but I think it’s fun. I just don’t like doing those braggy christmas newsletters.

        1. Lillie Lane*

          Ugh, the braggy letters. Though we got a funny one last year from some farmer friends about their sow. “She started out so well, but one day she turned on us.”

          1. Windchime*

            Haha, that’s funny. I don’t like the braggy letters, either. But I love getting/sending cards. I usually only get maybe a half-dozen or so, and I probably send out maybe 10 or 12. I don’t know if I’ll do it this year.

        2. Vanilla*

          Ditto on the braggies! We have some distant relatives who have sent these for the past 20 years. It’s the main source of entertainment at our holiday gathering. They’ve gotten less braggy over the years, but they used to be quite amusing.

          I do send a few Christmas cards – mostly to those family members who I know like receiving them. I did get one from a friend of mine this week that was especially braggy – her and her husband are building a McMansion and basically used their Christmas card to communicate that. Yuck.

          1. Artemesia*

            I had an Aunt who thought of herself as a creative writers (defined apparently as lots of adjectives — the hallmark of bad writing) who would send this long florid Christmas letters. One year it was something like ‘as I sit here looking out my French doors at the verdant fields where so very recently golden waves of grain waved in the wind leading my happy eyes to the purple mountains in the distance.’ — We visited that spring. No French doors ‘well we plan to put some in there when we build the patio.’ No fields of grains. ‘well they put in that housing development, but there used to be farms there.’ My mother that year wrote a parody letter shared with her brothers that was hilarious — nasty but hilarious.

            We have friends in Italy who are even older than we are and send these odd letters in which they whine about their physical ailments amidst the news about their adults kids and such.

            We send a photo card with photos of our adult kids and their families and snapshots of our travels. There is room for a smidge of bragging and for our current contact information. We had a wedding in the family this year so the main picture on the front of the card will be from that and a grandchild starting school so she gets second billing.

            We get quite a few photo cards from friends and relatives and we enjoy seeing their kids, their travels and such. We make ours New Years Cards since we are Freethinkers and this also makes getting them in the mail at any one deadline less an issue.

      2. Alma*

        I send valentines day cards – they don’t get lost in the stack of mail, they are a pleasant surprise, and if you’re crafty, a great deal of fun to create.

        Most adults (and many children) haven’t received valentines day cards outside of school. Even if I send the commercial school cards (in a bigger envelope), people grin all day.

        1. Onnellinen*

          I sent New Years cards once, and they were appreciated for the same reason – they came at a quieter time. I didn’t have the heart to tell folks it was also because I wasn’t organized enough to send Christmas cards!

        2. Lindsay J*

          I really like the little school Valentine’s Day cards. I’ve bought them as an adult and given them to my friends.

        3. Anna*

          I sent a Valentine’s Day card to my grandma this year and she loved it. Thinking of doing it for more relatives now!

    4. Sparrow*

      I think I did send cards the first couple of years after I got married, but then stopped after that. I started an Instagram account for my cats and this year I got some personalized cards made. I’m sending them to my cats’ friends. :-) I’ve received cards and done gift exchanges with IG friends and it’s been fun moreso than feeling like an obligation. If it’s becoming a frustrating experience for you, then I see no problem in stopping.

    5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I sent Christmas cards for years and years, and last year I sent probably thirty or so? I think I got five back, maybe. It’s frustrating, and it used to be that most of my friends sent cards, but I get annoyed at putting the time and effort into doing it and not receiving any back.

      So I’m sending cards this year only to people who send me some first. I know it’s selfish and petty, but it’s been a ridiculously challenging year here, and I don’t feel like putting the effort into sending cards to people who can’t be bothered to send them to me.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      It’s really more that it’s disappointing to not be thought of in the same way I’m thinking of those I send cards to. Sounds selfish and immature maybe, but that’s how I feel.

    7. Cristina in England*

      I only started to send them a couple of years ago because my husband does. I think my list expands every year, and I do get quite a few in return. I think maybe people do it more in the UK than in the US? Would love to know if Carrie in Scotland, Blue Anne, Ruth (UK), Alligator Sky and other UK posters send cards.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I got a name check! :) I feel famous!

        I send some cards, mainly to internet friends, sometimes to people I work with if I’m friends with them outside of work and my nice aunt and uncle. Maybe about 10?

      2. TheLazyB (uk)*

        I am uk. I bought 83 the other day. I don’t think it will be enough :o my small child needs 28 for school!! Plus my work (I don’t normally, but remote team means these things matter more IMO) and DH’s work, and family (mine is big). I usually send and receive about the same. We do a Christmas newsletter too. I know it’s considered the very height of pathetic but I love doing it and it makes me remember the good stuff and find cute pics of my kids.

        I keep meaning to do a joke one for the people who’d find it amusing. Maybe this year I’ll get round to it.

        1. pony tailed wonder*

          My father delights in writing the Christmas letter. Among the various highlights over the years have been a two paragraph write up over a particularly dire bout of diarrhea, misspelled names of various family members, and other eye brow raising things. I am not quite sure if he does it on purpose or not but they are misplaced moments of comedic gold.

          1. louise*

            Some cousins and I have a little contest where we guess how many exclamation points will be in my MIL’s letter. The closest guesser gets to host the cousin super bowl party (hosts get to drink more, so that’s the coveted role). We also guess which of the MIL’s five children is most favorite that year based on number of exclamations and length of that offspring’s paragraph. One year a daughter married someone the in-laws didn’t approve of and that she got married was literally the second half of a compound sentence, as in, “Jane got to live with older sister Jeanette for the first half of the year and then married Evil Boy in June.” When I married into the family our entire paragraph was devoted to the wedding, so I guess they like me. :)

      3. Ruth (UK)*

        (woohoo name check)

        I don’t send xmas cards to a lot of people. But I have a few friends that I like to send cards to who live in other cities. I have one friend in a different city who I regularly send post-cards and always send a physical birthday card etc to. Though I was actually thinking I might send some this year! (I think they began to almost die out cause of internet etc but have sort of picked up again in the last couple years cause people love to get them afterall)

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh my goodness that would be a fortune here in postage! We send about 15-20. Even cheaper/slower second class stamps here are almost a pound (they are about a dollar each).

        1. Winter is Coming*

          Oh my!! That would be cost prohibitive! It costs me $1.20 to send to my British family from the U.S. But I only have two to send.

          1. anonintheuk*

            I send about 20-30 a year.

            Someone up above mentioned sending Valentine cards instead. In the UK, or at least in my circles, Valentine’s is for romantic/sexual love, not parental, friendly, etc. I would be giving a *big* side-eye to anyone who sent me a Valentine card.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My mum keeps sending me Valentine’s (we’re in the US). I can’t get her to stop. It’s really really irritating, because I feel the same way about V-Day. Plus it reminds me that I have only my mum to send me a card, and it makes me feel bad. I’ve explained this, but she still won’t stop. >:( I just throw them away now.

            2. pony tailed wonder*

              I send the Valentines. Friends get the classroom sized ones, family get the kind sent through the mail. My elderly relatives are tickled with the cards. One co-worker got a class room GI Joe one and got teary. He had a nasty divorce years ago and his kids wouldn’t have anything to do with him and it was the first Valentine he had gotten in years. He started saying hi to me more often and he would give me great life advice.

              1. pony tailed wonder*

                Oh, but one relative did give me side eye. But my family is like that. Almost any holiday is fair game to send a card. Our last name should be Hallmark.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      I do, but they’re photo cards and I don’t really personalize them. I know it’s lazy but people still like getting them, and I love photo cards to leave on the fridge all year.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          My MIL gave me a great tip – she said to get an empty photo album and save one of each year’s christmas card (from us) in it – it’s a nice way to remember your year-t0-year adventures.

      1. Artemesia*

        I don’t really appreciate regular cards unless they have a personal note in them — and then it is the personal note that I treasure. Christmas cards with a just a signature seem totally impersonal — I don’t see the point. I like to get photo cards though and we put some of them up on the refrigerator as well.

    9. AcidMeFlux*

      I don’t think we should kick ourselves for not sending Christmas cards anymore. I know a lot of people did it as a way of keeping in touch with people who were not in their immediate circles of contact; now we have social media to do that. Frankly, it used to make me sad to have to get rid of most of them (who’s got space for all those cards every year?) I do appreciate the few I get from my family back in the US, or clients, etc. But I’m also delighted with a Facebook message with “Christmas in Hollis” attached.”

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I display the Christmas cards we receive on a string tacked across the dining room wall, and throw them out when we take the tree and other holiday decor down after New Year’s Day. I don’t feel bad about throwing them out then.

    10. AdAgencyChick*

      I do, because I like beautiful stationery and handwritten notes. I usually send about 30 and get back maybe 3 handwritten ones and 4-5 preprinted photos of friends’ kids.

      Sometimes I think about quitting since there’s not much reciprocity, but I like the process of picking out the cards enough that I do it anyway.

    11. Tess McGill*

      I’ve been sending Christmas cards since the 8th grade. When I married, I incorporated my husband’s family and extended family and friends onto the list as well. After 23 years of marriage and 12 moves, my card list is over 250 now. We actually have a line item in the December budget for the postage and the cards. I don’t like not sending them to anyone on the list, regardless if they never send cards back. It makes me happy to send them. The last three years we’ve done photo cards with pre-printed return address, which made things SO much easier — no signing anything, no folding anything. But this year, I don’t think it’s going to happen. I just can’t find my Christmas card mojo. It’s gone and I haven’t bothered searching for it. Sigh.

    12. mander*

      I do, but the list is getting smaller all the time. When we first got married my husband had an enormous list of distant relatives and old friends that he sent cards to. For a couple of years he even wrote out cards to almost every single person in his company, even people in other departments, because he didn’t want anyone to feel left out or that he was playing favourites. (Yes, he only got cards from a handful of these people — you know, his actual work friends).

      He finally saw the light after a few panicked evenings spent writing out a million cards to people who went on to show how little they cared about him over the course of the following year, so now we only send out 20-30 or so.

    13. JennaP*

      Nope. I hate handwriting, and I also don’t like getting cards, they feel like clutter and a waste of paper and I usually end up throwing them out shortly after. I usually will send people greetings online.

    14. Stella Maris*

      Last year I skipped it for the first time in years (school was overwhelming, I was sick, etc.) and felt hugely guilty. I have some adorable cards this year I bought two years ago in a post-holiday sale but didn’t use so I will make the effort this year. I have a core list plus I send to people who send to me. Maybe 25-35 depending on various factors. It’s the postage and making sure I have current addresses that bothers me the most. I told my husband I’d do the cards (as I always do) but he has to go to the post office to 1) get stamps and 2) mail the things. :)

    15. pony tailed wonder*

      I am not a Christian and my friends know that about me. I get some from them and it is always nice. I try to send Valentines out to friends and family though. I like the thought of a day for love and friendship.

    16. Marcela*

      I do. I sent about 35 cards every year, and it’s a small fortune in stamps and cards. If I receive one back, I feel truly grateful.

      But I do write letters the rest of the years, to maybe 10 persons, without ever receiving a letter back. It doesn’t bother me because in my country it’s not very easy to get stamps: post offices are far and few, with weird opening times, there are not mailboxes in the street anymore and they don’t sell stamps to have at home. I get letters are not easier to do in the middle of life.

      In any case, I write because I want that people to know about me. I’m far away from most of them and I’m not in Facebook, so the only way they would know about my life is via those cards. Sending them, and postcards from every place I’ve been, I’ve managed to keep some friends from long ago.

      On the other hand, I’ve stopped sending letters/cards when I feel I don’t get anything from sending them. I don’t feel there is any obligation to send any communication, and even more, there is no reason to feel frustrated doing anything.

    17. AnotherFed*

      I do, and the list grows every year. I mostly only get them back from family, but both my family and DH’s are pretty big, so that’s still enough cards to thoroughly decorate the refrigerator for the year. I don’t write much of a detailed message, so it’s not much work, and I like picking out pretty cards.

    18. Merry and Bright*

      I’m in the UK and I do send and receive Christmas cards. As well as nearby relatives, it’s nice having the contact from time to time with family in other parts of the country and overseas. I exchange them with friends too, especially those I’ve known for years (with more recent ones it’s just as likely to be e-cards). I know elderly relatives and neighbours love getting them. We also exchange them at things like my reading group. Maybe it is a British thing. At any rate, I like sending cards for various occasions.

    19. GH in SoCAl*

      I send out a bunch — close to 100 — and get about 75 back. I actually keep track year to year of cards in and cards out. I’ll stop sending to people who don’t reciprocate, figuring they’re not interested. I even like getting the newsletters from a certain subset of friends, mostly my college friends. I keep thinking I’ll taper off but every year I find myself doing it again. For context, I’m almost 50 and I started sending cards when I was in college, because my mother always did. (At 75, she finally stopped because she wants to spend her energy on other things.)

      That said, if you’re not enjoying it and it doesn’t feel mutual, I’d say go ahead and drop it. I doubt anyone will judge you negatively.

    20. Jubilance*

      I just mailed our Christmas cards this morning. This is the first time I’ve sent cards, now that I’m married. I’ve always thought of Christmas cards as a family thing, and I never sent them as a single person. I’m actually excited to be married so that I can send them out!

    21. Tara*

      I’m fairly young, so absolutely no one I know sends Christmas cards, but I am thinking of sending some this year. I got a silhouette this year(machine that is like a printer but cuts stuff instead of putting ink on stuff) so I found so many awesome options for elegant christmas cards. I like crafts, and I think sending them with little personal notes to all of my friends would be well appreciated.

    22. Talvi*

      I do, but not very many anymore. Pen pals, a couple of internet friends, a couple of friends I only see once or twice a year, that sort of thing. I’ll send out 10 or so, and get a few back as well.

      A few years ago, I would send out a lot, but that was back when livejournal was still very active and most of us would do annual Christmas card posts and exchange cards with whomever signed up and left me their address (this was generally restricted to mutual friends).

      It makes me kind of sad – I love sending people things by post!

    23. SL #2*

      I just finished writing a huge stack of mine, haha. My internet friends and I all love physical cards, so we write them for each other, and I’ll usually write a few for some IRL friends that I’ll see over the holidays.

    24. Liz in a Library*

      I sent mine out this morning. I send about 50 each year, but have started doing a shared card between my husband and me and also my sister and her husband. We share a lot of relatives (obviously) but also a lot of friends, and it gives us an excuse to take awkward photos together.

      I get 15-20 cards a year from friends. Most of those are pictures of children, which end up on my fridge for the coming year.

    25. Corporate Cynic*

      No – but my justification is that my birthday’s on Christmas Day so it’s fine if I only receive cards :-P

    26. Arjay*

      I still send Christmas cards, but I also celebrate Advent, so I don’t rush to get the cards out. I’ll write a few at a time, while in a reflective mood, often finishing up and mailing them right around Christmas day. I’m sure many people think they’re “late”, but I like for them to arrive during the actual Christmas season.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She and Eve are obsessed with both sleeping under it and trying to climb it. Several times I’ve found Eve lounging in the top branches, which is a violation of the cat-human contract.

      1. nep*

        When we get our tree up, we always watch to see how long before Francis the cat finds a spot and spreads out on the blanket underneath. Love it.

      2. Anonyby*

        Ha! I bet she’s really cute in the tree, though! :)

        My cat growing up liked to lay under the tree, back behind the presents and near the wall (though he also liked chewing on ribbons, so we had to stop using those!). I’m a bit afraid to try it with my current kitty! She has a habit of going after stray wires…

      3. The Other Dawn*

        It’s really weird: i have 10 cats and not one of them is interested climbing it. Playing with the bottom ornaments and the garland, drinking from the tree base and sleeping under it? Definitely interested.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I think some cats are just natural climbers. When I found my girl The Dumpee (which is pretty much how all my cats have come to be my cats) I would follow her in the back yard after feeding time. She just loved to climb trees. She wasn’t doing it to get away from me it was more like, “Let’s see how high I can climb this one” and up she would go. When I brought her inside, I came in one day to find that she had climbed up my 5′ hibiscus tree, which was now leaning precariously. I had to put some tree wrap on it to stop her. Since it’s “just me” I haven’t put up an Xmas tree for years, but I do wonder what she would do once she saw it. Maybe I should just put the tree up with no decorations on it and see what happens. My other cat? Except for the cat tree, never seen him climbing a thing, it doesn’t seem to be his thing.

      4. Wendy Darling*

        My dog loved sleeping under the tree last year, but we’re going away for most of December so we didn’t get one this year. He’s disappointed.

        I think he just liked that the tree skirt was fuzzy, really…

      5. Lady Bug*

        One of our cats used to sleep in the branches. He never broke anything, it was the cutest thing ever.

      6. Rana*

        Heh. My dad installed eyebolts in the wall of my parents’ current house specifically for anchoring Christmas trees against the incursions of curious pets.

        1. Rene*

          We had a French lop when I was a kid that had the run of the house–had a potty box and everything. She and our cat would chase each other all over–including under the tree, which was usually a casualty until we attached it to the ceiling. The more difficult thing to deal with was that she *really* liked fir trees– as in a giant candy bar. For several years our tree was bare twigs for the first two feet or so.

      7. Windchime*

        I have the cutest video of my cat when he was a kitten, climbing in the Christmas tree. It still makes me laugh, even though he is a big boy now.

      8. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Our cat sleeps in the lower branches of our tree, but only in the early morning hours. We’ll wake up in the morning and find her sleeping there, but we never see her in there during the rest of the day. I can tell she does it a lot, though, by the way that the branches are mashed completely flat it that spot.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Yes, please! My husband doesn’t read AAM but he loves Eve and Olive and Sam and Lucy photos.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I would love to be able to get one! I am required by the Christmas tree owner to shoo her out if I see her in there (he is not pleased that his many hours of work stringing lights keeps getting messed up), but I will see if I can get one…

  3. Holly*

    Best and worst of the week!

    My best: got lots of much, much needed down time this week.
    Worst: I think I’m having esophagus problems. Lots of sore throats, choking on pretty much nothing, acid reflux feelings. Blaaargh.

    1. Anonyby*

      Best: I got my Disneyland tickets yesterday for my trip next week!!! :D :D :D

      Worst: Wednesday was a day full of things not going my way. Anything on its own would have been annoying, but the pile-up of them all in one day was disheartening. I’m just hoping that I’m working out all the bad mojo this week so that next week goes well.

    2. Tess McGill*

      Best: Weight loss is going well. And bonus: I seem to finally be coming out of my post-move funk.
      Worst: Last night my baby brother graduated from the fire fighters/EMT academy (which is a good thing) but the guest speaker was so unbelievably horrible. He held us hostage for 45 minutes. This, at a graduation for nine candidates. Nine. His speech wasn’t inspirational, funny or moving and offered very little advice. It was a 45 minute narcissistic mess. No one needs to know what your time was in the 100 meter dash, that you were the brigade commander of your ROTC unit in high school in 1979, that your father had 10 siblings, that your grandmother never made it past the 6th grade or that you were the “humble” honor grad at Airborne School UNLESS you can work those items into an inspirational or lesson-giving speech, which he did not. It got so bad, that at the 40 minute mark, the fire chief got up from his seat (on the stage) and tapped the guy on the shoulder and told him to wrap it up. And he still rambled on for 3 more minutes! I looked the guy up on Linkedin. He has four post-graduate degrees. But dang. The guy can’t speak.

    3. Alston*

      I went to the best dinner party I have ever been to last night.

      My teacher from my woodworking class had the entire class and our significant others out to his house for homemade pizza. He lives out in the woods in this AMAZING house he built himself, with his wife, son, and adorable dog. They have a pizza oven in their kitchen, a wall of instruments along one side of the living room, and great big windows looking out to the forest.

      After we finished making our own little pizzas my teacher grabbed the upright bass, his wife a guitar, and his son started singing country/bluegrass/mountain music. It was the best thing-the little kid was such a ham and got so into the music. Eventually my teacher switched to the mandolin and got me to go up and dust off my extremely rusty bass skills.

      Also the kid has basically a cargo net as a giant hammock in his room. I have never been so jealous of a 7 year old.

      Even today I’m still smiling.

      And then I came home and my boyfriend told me he’s getting a job offer that will cut his commute in half and come with a 20-30% raise.

      Worst: Only two more weeks of class?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t like country, but I do like bluegrass. That sounds amazing.

        I went to a dinner party once where they served a Moroccan meal and we sat on the floor and ate with our hands. The kicker? We had to feed each other and not ourselves. I know it sounds really weird, but it was fun!

    4. onyxzinnia*

      Best: I went to a holiday party this week where I got to hang out with some fun people and take pictures in a helicopter.

      Worst: I had a phone interview with a recruiter for an advertised “Associate Tea Pot Manager” role but her follow up email listed the employer’s official title for the role as “Tea Pot Coordinator” (a much more junior role). Bait and switch! The whole reason I’m looking for a new job is that I want to advance, not do a junior role somewhere else. This is the second time something like this has happened; I wish recruiters were liable under the truth in advertising laws.

    5. Aussie Teacher*

      Worst: still one more week of school left and heaps to do.
      Best: next Saturday I’ll be on holidays with my family and extended family!

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Best: FINALLY figured out why the turn signal kept going out on one of our cars, despite the bulb being OK. I had to pull out a lamp assembly and fix one of the contacts that was bent, and now it’s working perfectly. I have declared victory and called it a day.

      Worst: the delay in the job I’m supposed to be offered, I guess, although my dad also is still in rehab, and it sounds like he might be there for another month or two. I’m glad he’s doing better, but I just him to *be* all better already.

    7. Liane*

      Best: I got holiday pay for Thanksgiving & Friday, which I thought I didn’t, being still on temp status.

      Worst runner-up: Got today off to march with the Star Wars unit in the holiday parade, but I just wasn’t feeling quite well & am afraid I might be coming down with something. So decided to skip it because I can’t take any more unscheduled time off at work.
      Worst: Funeral for my husband’s cousin was Tuesday, who passed away the day before Thanksgiving. I didn’t know him very well but it upset my husband understandably, moreso as it’s only been 4 and 5 years since we lost his parents. I had a hard time at the service, because my Dad died right at Thanksgiving years ago and picking up on everyone’s sadness, especially his mother and sisters. I felt so sorry for my aunt-in-law, seeing her crying over her son’s casket. I ended up with a migraine, but I didn’t bring that up to anyone there, just told my husband and son afterwards, so they knew why I was going to curl up in the dark.

    8. Shell*

      Best: week of vacation, which has led to much slothing. I still haven’t done the cleaning I said I would, so that’s today’s project.

      Worst: I have mysteriously screwed up my (once) good knee. Good being that this was the knee I didn’t injure in a ski accident/tousling with SO and it hasn’t never given me trouble until now. Can’t go down stairs properly (up stairs and flat ground is fine), need to support myself when sitting down… Said knee has completely trashed my plans of doing yoga and bouldering during my week of vacation. I still don’t know what’s wrong with it. I am applying Voltaren gel and ice packs and grumbling a lot.

    9. Doriana Gray*

      BEST: Got a new job this week with a promotion in job title and my pay bump was slightly more than what the hiring manager told me it was going to be. Also found out that though my promotion hasn’t come without drama thanks to my current (but blessedly soon to be former) manager, people have been coming to my defense with my new manager, people I don’t even know that well, which gives me hope that my manager’s abhorrent behavior won’t scare off my new division. And I must say, I’m so very touched by the support I’ve been given by everyone who’s backed me up, especially the people who aren’t my friends or former coworkers/manager. I thought my former manager was pulling my leg when she told me I was beloved and well-respected throughout our entire organization – she wasn’t, and that gives me the warm and fuzzies just in time for the holidays.

      WORST: I can’t seem to find the ingredients I need in stores to make my gluten free Dark and Stormies! That was one of my favorite drinks prior to my celiac diagnosis and I’ve tried to recreate them to no avail :( If I’m going to possibly be stuck in my current shitty work situation until the end of January, I need to be half drunk to do it! And I’d like to get blitzed on my favorite drink!

      1. LCL*

        I’m looking at my bottle of reeds extra ginger brew. Ingredients list is water, sugar, pineapple juice, honey, ginger, lemon and lime juice, spices. No gluten in rum, afaik. And I add a shot of ginger liqueur, ingredients spirits, agave, cane sugar and ginger. Where is the gluten?

    10. Chickaletta*

      Best: Finally worked up the nerve to start an online petition for a cause I care about, but that most people aren’t aware of.

      Worst: Now that’s it’s up, I’m going to have to step out of my comfort zone to get more than half a dozen signatures. WAY out of my comfort zone. I’m not sure I’m up for this. I hope to get a new breath of motivation next week.

    11. pony tailed wonder*

      Best – this is from about a month ago but I got a small raise. I bring up old best because …

      Worst – just found out that work is going to pull more out of my check for retirement so my raise got ‘erased’. So I am in the same place as before.

    12. Christina @ My Homespun Home*

      Best: a few things.
      1) Felt good about writing a blog post for Giving Tuesday with side of my favorite charities and got some nice feedback from a few of said charities.
      2) Friend reminded me of my town library’s book sale so we went at lunch. I bought a TON of books, and when I got home found out that one of them (an anthology) was signed by several of the authors and
      3) one book had a $100 bill in it!!! I think someone got the book as a gift and just never even opened it. Crazy. (before I got too greedy I told my friend our next lunch was on me, and I donated some to a local literacy non-profit)

      Worst: my boss has hit her lowest point of terrible management, which is saying a lot, and I think the only person on my team who’s sane (and my best work friend) is about to give his notice because of her.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Sucks about the boss. I know this isn’t the work thread, but I’m curious to know what is going on with her. Sorry your best work buddy may give notice because of her. That sucks.

    13. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Finally getting to take a shower after being without hot water for days.

      WORST: Had to take that shower in a hotel instead of the house we just rented because of all the things wrong with the house.

    14. calibrachoa*

      Best: My friend is over visiting me for the first time since March.
      Worst: I am coughing up ooze with the consistency of wallpaper glue

    15. Lizabeth*

      Best: finally got my hair cut! Woot!! Don’t look like a sheep dog anymore.

      Worst: had my annual physical and the doc said lose weight, more exercise, no salt, no cheese and no caffeine. Ugh….

    16. Stargazer*

      Worst: My husband and I had our first big married fight, and probably the biggest fight of our relationship. Most of it was my fault, but we hashed it out.

      Best: I overcame some chemo side effects and got a lot done around the apartment instead of lying in bed.

  4. Christy*

    Let’s talk about charitable giving! Who do you give to? (Credit for the idea comes from an accidental early poster on the Friday thread.)

    1. Christy*

      I give 1/3 local (DC homelessness organization), 1/3 national (Planned Parenthood), and 1/3 international (refugee organization). Plus I’m adopting a family for Christmas this year (hyper-local). And Giving Tuesday was on World AIDS Day this year, so I gave $10 to an AIDS organization when I attended a free reading of Angels in America that night.

    2. danr*

      The colleges and grad schools we went to, local fire dept (volunteers) and first aid squad (volunteers), local police association, museum and arts memberships, local food bank, professional societies, local hospital, local education foundation, conservation society. And I’m sure there are a few more lurking here and there. We’ve dropped a few that turned out to be scammy and others that can’t keep memberships straight and ask for money constantly.

    3. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      One of my alma maters (the other sends me really bad letters constantly asking me to join their leadership society), planned parenthood, local food bank (after spending a couple weekends sorting food I now just give cash), and junior league for the backpack program (they send kids who qualify for free/reduced lunch home with a backpack full of food each weekend).

    4. Cristina in England*

      In the past I have used Donors Choose to give donations in my family members’ names instead of gifts. This year I have asked that we swap charities, so for me, people give to a local children’s hospital drive to provide more family accommodation for out-of-town NICU parents (like Ronald Mcdonald House I think?). No one has given me the names of their charities yet, but that is where I will give this year.

      1. fposte*

        I used to give to Donors Choose when Tomato Nation would do its challenges; I should find another occasion to mark by giving to them now that TN seems to be winding down.

        1. Lore*

          Yes! Though I have done most of my Donors Choose giving to one of the two elementary schools within a few blocks of my house, and one of them does so many DC campaigns that I feel like I get an email three times a week from them and it’s starting to annoy me. I would love to give to the school directly across from my house but their teachers seem not to be as active.

          I also give to the Brooklyn Public Library (sometimes NYPL too, but they’re so much better funded that I feel like my dollars go farther in Brooklyn) and to a number of arts, mostly theater, organizations, which vary year by year. My company has a pretty generous matching program for gifts over $50 so I try to give gifts in that amount or more rather than smaller ones, to get the match. And I just did a volunteer day through work at City Harvest; I find their direct-mail solicitations kind of annoying but I was impressed enough by the organization that I might start giving to them.

    5. Overeducated and underemployed*

      Local public radio, a couple of international relief charities, and when funds are better, local hunger and homelessness groups and my church. We have not had giving as a regular budget item while I have been looking for stable work, though, we give irregularly :*(

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        I always forget to count my local radio station because I give monthly!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Local NPR station through payroll deduction, my Unitarian Universalist fellowship, and the local homeless shelter (our church has a drop box for then in the lobby, so I bring in whatever the theme of the month is : socks, toilet paper, peanut butter, etc.).

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Plus our church does a few “sharing the plate” offerings each year for local organizations such as the animal shelter, the center for gender equality, the peace at home family shelter, etc. and I contribute to those.

    6. Tess McGill*

      I’m pretty much a food-related giver. I give to my local food pantry (set amount each month), sandwiches for the homeless shelter (I make 20 sandwiches every 6 weeks) and Thanksgiving baskets every year (church gives out a shopping list). When my son was younger we did a lot of anonymous “paying it forward” together at the drive through at McDonalds, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks. He’s grown out of that type of food, so I don’t have many opportunities to visit those places much anymore.

    7. fposte*

      Setting aside the donation of goods I’m getting out of the house (which is the big one this year): Doctors without Borders and U.S. Fund for Unicef, via payroll. My workplace university. A little to my undergrad. A few random “in honor of” donations for loved ones who have passed away. Possibly my local food bank–I do some years and other years I don’t get around to it. I plan to add Planned Parenthood this year to put my money where my mouth is.

    8. mander*

      I’m really sporadic about this. Generally I donate when something big has happened or when I feel flush, which is rarely since my job situation is rather unstable.

      Anyway, this year I’ve donated to a Syrian refugee charity and a local not-for-profit farm. I’m also considering donating a bit to a fundraising appeal to care for a medieval illuminated manuscript that is being returned to the place where it was written.

      1. mander*

        Oh, and I buy some extra groceries to put in the food bank collection box when I remember. It’s sort of an interesting, if sad, challenge to go around the store looking for things that can be eaten without being heated up or can be prepared with just a kettle. That’s not the only thing they ask for, of course, but I always have the person who can’t afford to turn on the electricity long enough to heat up a can of soup in mind. There have been a lot of horror stories about people in those situations lately. :-(

    9. Wendy Darling*

      I mostly give to various local charities. Lots of stuff to do with kids. My favorite is an org called Treehouse for Kids that gives school supplies and nice things to foster children. My family also gives to a lot of charities to do with young people and music in honor of my deceased sibling, who was super into music.

      For a while I was giving Planned Parenthood $5 every time some politician said something appalling about them but that got cost-prohibitive really, really quickly.

      This year I got laid off for Christmas so I’m not going to be giving much — hopefully I can make up for it when I get employed again, but right now I feel like I need to keep that money just in case.

      1. Stella Maris*

        “For a while I was giving Planned Parenthood $5 every time some politician said something appalling about them but that got cost-prohibitive really, really quickly.”

        Right? I was doing something similar with refugees and disgusting comments on Facebook, and it got problematic. So I hid/blocked all those people and made one large donation.

    10. Schmitt*

      Finally set this up this year and am glad I did. We do equal amounts to:

      the Maltesers
      Doctors without Borders
      an LGBT organization
      the cat rescue our newest two cats came from

      1. Alma*

        * My Public Radio station
        * the scholarship we set up in my mother’s name after her death
        * the community health organization where I serve on the board

        Right now money is very tight, and I’m moving (again) in December or January as December is increasingly filling up with must-do meetings. I also like to do a national (Planned Parenthood) and international (empowering women) group, but may have to delay until moving costs are covered.

    11. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Regularly: Innocence Project, the animal shelter that our cats came from, local food bank, TinyKittens.com. Sporadically: various public radio shows, Planned Parenthood, battered women’s shelter, various organizations that friends work for. Thinking about this, it’s interesting to think about how my donations have changed over the years. In my 20s and early 30s, the list had more polarizing organizations on it; I guess I am old now.

    12. Applesauced*

      My local NPR station and the Doe Fund (local homeless job training program). Do my student loans count as charity? (Kidding, but once they’re done, I plan to donate more)

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

        The best e-solicitation I have ever seen was from the Doe Fund!!!! I cried, then gave :)

    13. FD*

      There’s a regional food bank/food shelf in our area that does exceptional work. It’s called Channel One, and they are particularly good with re-claiming food that might otherwise be wasted, but is actually still very good. (I.E. pre-packaged food past its sell by date that’s still perfectly fresh and useable. There’s a great episode of Last Week Tonight that talks about why this is particularly important in the US.) I also happen to know that they really helped out a few of my coworkers at past job when they were on hard times.

      I also support the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which is a huge, awesome, free to the public art museum. It’s my favorite place to go in the Twin Cities, so I like to support it. And our local shelter, Paws and Claws Humane Society, which is a no-kill shelter where me and my family have gotten several pets.

    14. Phlox*

      I do $20 a month to a different charity, so that I can be flexible when friends campaigns come up or politicians say something really appaling about women’s health. So planned parenthood twice this year, Heifer international, church rebuilding after the arsons, supporting a friends insect research, another friends medical bills, legal justice and a big inkind donation for a raffle to support a program at work.

      1. Lizzie*

        “… or politicians say something really appaling about women’s health.”

        Your poor bank account, Phlox! (I kid, I kid.)

    15. Rubyrose*

      On a regular basis, local NPR station and a hospital foundation. I buy those boxes in grocery stores for food for the needy at holiday time. Give to Goodwill. I never take home Girl Scout cookies, but donate money to the troop directly. My most recent give was to Colorado Correctional Industries. They have a program where stray/shelter dogs are matched to inmates, who socialize and train them, and then the dog is adopted.

    16. skyline*

      Regularly: my professional organizations, my employer’s foundation, the local humane society that sheltered my grand ladycats as wee kittens. Sporadically: Doctors without Borders, museum memberships, public radio, local organization that assists immigrants.

      Writing this comment makes me realize that I can be doing all of this in a more organized and consistent fashion. A good goal for 2016, since I review finances at the beginning of the year anyway.

    17. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I realized at the end of 2014 that our charitable giving had decreased a bit, so I decided to take a certain amount per month and put it aside for charity. Then I made a spreadsheet with the amounts we wanted to give to different charities, and we’ve been adjusting it throughout the year. We held off on most of them until December so that we could keep adjusting the amounts, partially because this is the first year that we actually have a plan and so we’re still figuring it out, but also so we could support different friends’ fundraisers.

      So, here’s the list, with some redactions. We are giving between $50 to $500 per organization (obviously more at the lower end than the high end):

      American Heart Association
      Friends of the National Zoo
      Planned Parenthood
      [REDACTED] Alumni Association
      St. Baldrick’s (children’s cancer charity fundraiser)
      Gay Men’s Health Crisis (AIDS Walk)
      [REDACTED] Middle School PTA
      N Street Village
      Capital Area Food Bank
      Maryland Public TV
      National Public Radio
      Electronic Frontier Foundation
      Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
      Friends of the Library
      [Backpacks full of supplies for students from low-income families] Foundation
      Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force
      Consumers Union
      Southern Poverty Law Center
      Manna Food Center
      Secular Avenue
      American Humanist Association
      Americans United for Separation of Church and State
      Transkids Purple Rainbow

    18. Lizzie*

      I give to a few local places, and provide some volunteer services to DV/HT shelters in the area who don’t have the budget to have enough paid counselors or victim advocates on staff. I also give to Planned Parenthood, Liberty in North Korea, UNHCR and the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.

    19. Finny*

      When we can, which isn’t lately due to having to replace the roof and half the appliances in the house over the past couple months, we give to CNIB, formerly known as the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. As both myself and the husband are legally blind, it’s a cause near and dear to us, and one that has helped us both greatly over the years.

      We’ve even arranged to donate our house to them once we are gone, as we are childfree, and have no one else we’d rather give it to.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      I give to random stuff that pops up now and then. This year, I’ve given to Planned Parenthood (I’d like to make that one a regular thing), Scares that Care–an org that collects money for families facing medical crises and also has a horror con that raises money, and various individual things. I need to renew my membership to the Royal Oak Foundation, which supports the UK National Trust (I get into NT properties for free!), and I’m also considering helping Rare Breeds Survival Trust in the UK–it helps preserve livestock DNA (an English lady I friended on FB is an enthusiast).

    21. GOG11*

      I don’t really have the money to give (I plan to start something once I pay off my student loans, though). Instead, I’ve designed fliers/promotional materials and some other random stuff for the local cat shelter, a boosters organization for a local middle and high school sports program, and a couple of other local organizations. I’m not sure if charitable giving includes donating “services,” but I wanted to share in case it does. When I can afford it, I plan to donate money to the cat shelter I’ve been working with for sure, though I’m not sure what other organizations yet.

      1. fposte*

        It took me a long time before I felt like I had enough money to be able to spare some. I think donating services totally counts!

      2. newreader*

        While services aren’t a tax deductible item, I certainly consider them to be charitable. If people give of their time to complete tasks for an organization, that’s less time their staff need to spend doing it. Or the need to hire additional staff. My local animal shelter depends on volunteers to help clean the animal’s living areas, do the laundry, and walk the dogs because they just don’t have enough staff to do it all everyday. Don’t discount giving time instead of money. Both are valuable resources.

    22. Vanilla*

      I give regularly to my church. I also participate in their holiday food drive. Every year, I give a certain amount to a different cause. A few years ago, I bought (anonymously) an elderly woman who i knew was struggling financially a $50 gift card to a local grocery store. Last year, I gave money to a local radio station in the name of a group of high school kids that I taught who I know listened to the station regularly. This year I donated to a sports organization passionate about for a new mentoring program they are starting. It’s a lot of fun giving away money!

    23. Natalie*

      I have recurring monthly donations to PP, MPR, and my college, and give one-off donations occasionally. We want to add to the recurring ones – probably a outdoor org for my fiancé and maybe a homelessness org I think does great work. And we’re doing a wish tree gift for the second year. The kid wants Frozen dolls and a coat.

    24. Christina @ My Homespun Home*

      I did a post on Tuesday about a bunch of non-profits I’m particularity fond of (including like many of you, Planned Parenthood). Then on Friday I found some money in a book I bought at my library’s book sale and donated part of it to a literacy organization. That felt good :-)

    25. Turanga Leela*

      My list:
      Doctors Without Borders
      World Food Program
      alumni funds
      local food/diaper bank
      local Ronald McDonald House
      local branch of Communities in Schools
      Legal Information Institute
      Arthritis Foundation
      March of Dimes

      I almost always give money rather than in-kind gifts. I could probably do more good by consolidating my giving and making larger donations to each place, but I really want to support a variety of organizations. My donations range from about $20 to $150 a year. For the Arthritis Foundation and March of Dimes, I give relatively little but fundraise for annual events. I also give small amounts regularly (maybe once a month) to friends who are doing fundraising campaigns.

    26. super anon*

      for the past 2 years my boyfriend and i have gone through the ywca to adopt a low-income single parent family for christmas. you get a wishlist from each family of things they would like, and then you buy & wrap the presents. you also get them a grocery store gift card so they can buy what they would like to eat for christmas dinner. we’ve gone over the suggested price to spend each year, but i think it’s worth it.

      other than that i don’t personally donate money to charity because i don’t make enough to do regular contributions, and i think ~$300 (our total is around $500/600, we split the cost) to make someone’s christmas is enough for me at this stage in my life until i get a significant raise. my boyfriend does more charitable contributions than i do because he makes significantly more money than me, and his donations vary depending on the year.

    27. Tara R.*

      I definitely don’t have the money to spend much on charitable donations, so I try to give $3-5 to various things occasionally, and skip a coffee/snack I would have otherwise bought. My donations are pretty random. A baby in my hometown who has cancer, a church nearby trying to sponsor Syrian refugees, occasional fundraisers that come across my tumblr dash for homeless/nearly homeless LGBT kids, Wikipedia, the occasional artistic project, Archive of Our Own, children’s hospital, etc… I figure $4 is better than nothing, right? I usually share whatever the thing is to Facebook is as well, in the hopes that enough people will contribute something small that it will add up.

      My hometown is relatively low income. When I went to donate to the family of the baby with cancer, I saw hundreds of donations in the $5-$10 range. More than half of them made their names anonymous, while the $50+ donations all had names attached (mostly names I recognized; everyone knows who the dozen or so lawyers/real estate agents/”well-off” people are). I wish people wouldn’t be ashamed of giving what they can, especially looking at how fast all those tiny contributions added up.

    28. Brownie Queen*

      I normally do not go down the rabbit hole of giving. However, I did give to a Go Fund Me for a local person who I know. Her place was robbed.

    29. CrazyCatLady*

      Doctors without Borders, local food banks, some of the local mountain rescue groups, animal shelters/rescue leagues… None are on a set schedule but I usually do it in November/December.

    30. Windchime*

      I usually just write a big check (well, big for me) to the local [MyCity] Gospel Mission, which is a homeless shelter. I haven’t done that this year because I don’t feel like I have the funds. Instead, I think I will donate to the local food bank. I really should be donating to NPR, since I listen to it almost exclusively.

    31. Giving Tuesday & End of Year Giving*

      thank you for reposting this!

      here is my short list:
      Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
      National Network of Abortion Funds (and a lot of local funds who are ensuring abortion access across the US)
      Law Students for Reproductive Justice

      Also, my partner and I are starting an endowed scholarship this year in honor of his mother, who passed away 10 years ago. We finally have enough to actually award the scholarship in January. It’ll cover 1/2 of a semester of tuition for a community college student. I am so incredibly proud of my partner for working on this long term goal.

    32. Arjay*

      Many of mine have already been listed, so I’ll just call out this new one for me. I lost my mom earlier this year, so I’m adopting a senior citizen in an assisted living facility for Christmas. I chose a woman whose wish list seemed similar to what my mom would like, so I think that will make all of us happy.

    33. lfi*

      My company offers a match… so hopefully some better holidays are coming for the SFSPCA, Cat Town, and probably one more org.

  5. Colette*

    Remember my temporary blindness issue? The good news is that the issue they saw in my eye has healed and is back to normal. The bad news is that the blood test showed that an amino acid is out of whack (which probably caused the whole thing), so I get to see more doctors. (Not eye doctors, though, which means fewer days walking around looking like one of those stuffed animals with the huge pupils).

    1. fposte*

      An amino acid is out of whack? I didn’t even know that could happen (I guess I knew it could happen if you made cats be vegetarian, but you’re not a cat). I hope that’s easy to fix, at least, and I’m glad it’s healed.

      1. Colette*

        That’s what he said, I’m pretty sure. He actually gave me the specific reading that was odd, which I am not googling or researching in any way, since that way lies madness. I will let the well-paid medical professionals tell me what it means.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that is a marker for a few things, google will tell you. Amino acids are building blocks for living beings. So it’s good that they are looking at this and hopefully they will get Colette some help.

  6. Natalie*

    Another cat 101 question: we bought different food for the kitty and she doesn’t seem to care for it. I’m thinking she might adjust if she gets hungry enough, but at what point do you give up on that?

    1. Sparrow*

      Have you tried mixing the old and new food? If she goes for that, you could slowly increase the amount of the new food. If she’s not eating anything at any meal, you might need to go back to the old food. Cats can be pretty stubborn.

      1. Natalie*

        She eats a little bit, and then looks at us with disdain (more than normal). So I’m not sure if she hates it or is just annoyed with the change.

      2. LBK*

        I tried to do this once to get my cat to eat Science Diet. She very carefully picked it out and then just ate the old food. Apparently she’s fussier and more clever than I expected.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I try a few times and if it’s not happening, I move on to a different food. Some people do an elaborate thing when they mix it with other food, slowly increasing the portion of new food, but I don’t see the point unless the new food is some special thing they have to have for medical reasons. I say give her food she likes. Our cats tend to randomly decide they don’t like something as a pack (it’s weird) and then I donate whatever remains to our local shelter (if it’s canned food).

    3. Mina*

      I use Fancy Feast Broth Toppers to stimulate interest when my two decide they don’t want to eat their prescription diet food. Switching is NOT an option for us. Warming it up helps sometimes too.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Will you say more about these Fancy Feast Broth Toppers? I googled it and didn’t find anything called a “topper” — are you basically using their broth line and topping off other food with it? I’m intrigued because my kitties are all broth fiends.

        1. Mina*

          Looking at the package, it’s Purina Fancy Feast Broths, Gourmet Cat Complement. I think there are five flavors, including the Classic with Tuna, Anchovies, & Whitefish in a Decadent Silky Broth. Last year one cat was on medicine that made him not want to eat, so I found this in the grocery store and it made all the difference.

          I’m a little wary of the actual fish bits, so I usually just squeeze out the broth itself. So far it’s never failed us! It’s usually about $1 a pack and can be used for two bowls at a time, so it’s a good deal.

        2. Trixie*

          I’ve tried canned foots that aren’t pate-style and they just lap up the broth. So I stick with pate style and mix it up with canned pumpkin. Bumps up the water intake, adds some fiber, and stretches out the canned food.

        3. skyline*

          I just add 2-3 tbsp of water to their morning and evening servings of wet food. It helps them stay hydrated, and they don’t seem to mind that it’s water rather than broth. It also helps me manage individual servings. One cat eats faster than the other cat, so I add an extra tbsp of water to the fast cat’s bowl. That way the two cats end up finishing at the same time, and everyone’s getting the correct amount of food.

          (My cats’ canned food of choice is Wellness, which comes in a range of consistencies – minced, cubed, and sliced. I rotate them through the options so they are getting variety.)

          1. Sparrow*

            I do the same thing with water. My big tabby boy gets a whole (cat food) can of water with his food. If there’s any bits left I’ll add more water and he laps it all up. I’m so glad he does that since he’s had UTI issues before.

    4. Brandy in TN*

      My cats have always enjoyed eating the exact same thing every day of their lives. I now have a new kitty and he wants different so i make sure to get the main cats theirs and get some new foods also. And they now all eat a mix except the oldest who still prefers her same. I only get several of each can in case no one likes something it can easily be given away.

    5. Perse's Mom*

      If she doesn’t need a specific food for a medical reason, feed her what she likes and will eat. If you’re trying to get her onto a better quality food, that’s great… but it’s useless if she won’t eat it. Try the smallest bag (or can) and leave some out next to her usual food; she may show interest or try it when you’re not watching.

      If she has medical issues or is an older cat, be *very* cautious and slow about changing foods. If her appetite is already declining, talk to your vet first. Cats can crash pretty fast if they don’t eat enough or stop eating entirely and a total food change can sometimes cause the latter in particularly picky cats.

  7. nep*

    A couple of family funerals in the past two weeks got me thinking more about how my family might do things when I pass. My only living parent and most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins still follow the Catholic faith in which they were raised. (Not to say my parent / the older generation would outlive me. But who knows. Anyway, just ‘thinking aloud’ here.)
    I would describe myself as agnostic. These recent funeral masses had me thinking it would be quite inappropriate to go through all that religious ritual for me.
    What, if anything, have you all told your loved ones about what kind of funeral service you’d want?
    It’s not that this all has me worried — not in the least. I’m simply curious what people think. Is it about what I believed or didn’t in life, or more about how those I leave behind choose to handle a family death? Part of me says if it helps them to go through whatever rituals they hold stock in, so be it. Hell, I’ll be gone. On the other hand, though, it just seems utterly wrong that my death would be marked by a Catholic mass and all that goes along with that.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      My mom had a cancer scare awhile back and started to talk about what she would want. I found it really helpful (she’s an Easter/Christmas Christian, my step-dad’s an atheist), as I would likely be the one doing a lot of planning.

    2. Cristina in England*

      My mom has said that funerals are for the families left behind so we should do what we want. On the surface that seems fine but I think in reality it would be easier just to follow someone’s wishes, because who wants decide by committee what type of service to have in a time of grief?

    3. Sparkly Librarian*

      My wife and I have very different faith traditions/backgrounds, and we talk about this sort of thing a lot. (Also the practical stuff like account passwords, what we want done for us if we’re unable to communicate our healthcare wishes, etc.) I’m not the point person for her religious ceremony; her best friend will make those arrangements if necessary. I will have a large part of the responsibility for explaining that to her parents, though… if it were up to them, there would be substantial religious accoutrement of a different stripe and she wouldn’t be happy with that. For my own final arrangements, I’m not super-picky – in my view, I won’t be around to complain, so it’s not as crucial for everything to go a certain way. But for my peace of mind while I’m still living, I have made a few simple requests and will leave the rest up to my wife.

    4. fposte*

      Wow, interesting question. I’ve been really clear on end-of-life stuff and cremation and never gave a thought to memorial stuff.

      As an attendee, I favor a memorial celebration with food and comments from attendees–basically, a retirement party where the guest of honor has *really* retired. I don’t deeply care, since I won’t be there, but that’s the kind of thing I’d prefer to imagine happening. I think it’s pretty likely that that’s what would happen given my social circle anyway.

    5. the gold digger*

      For my mom, for sure a Catholic funeral.

      For my husband, whose funeral I have already planned, even though he is drifting toward agnosticism, we were married in the little ELCA church he was attending when we met. (Although he was baptized, he was unchurched growing up and started going to this church because of a woman – not me, but a woman before me.) We are friends with the pastor and I would have a service there, followed by a big reception with a ton of really good food and perhaps a Drinking of the 300 Bottles of Wine in the basement.

      For me, I don’t care. If I go before my mom, then yes, a Catholic funeral because she would want it, but otherwise, I’ll be dead. Just make sure there is good food for the attendees. And people better act sad.

    6. nep*

      Interesting comments on this so far — thanks. It’s great hearing people’s views on this. fposte — love the ‘really retired’ bit. Retired for good, indeed.

    7. mander*

      Hmm, this is a good question! I’ve just finished catching up on The Gold Digger’s blog, which includes a saga about death and wills, so this kind of thing has been on my mind. I’m rather agnostic but I don’t mind religous rituals, so if other people want to do that it’s ok with me. But on the other hand I am a staunch advocate of religious diversity, separation of church and state, etc. so it would be inappropriate if there was a lot of stuff about my strong faith blah blah blah because it’s not true. Maybe an overly-elaborate lecture about the anthropology of religion would be better. ;-)

      The only thing I’ve really said is that my body should be used for whatever transplants, research, etc. anyone can use it for. I like the idea of those seed capsule casket things but I don’t have the means to pay for one at present. The only thing I don’t want is to be embalmed in preservatives and placed in a luxurious casket. It just seems wasteful and pointless.

      The will stuff is something I’ve been putting off for years. I don’t have much in the way of assets but I should probably sort something out. My situation is complicated because I’m a citizen of two countries and don’t live in my country of birth, where most of my humble assets are. I don’t know how that impacts any legal stuff. I can’t imagine anyone in my family or friends would argue over anything belonging to me but in the event that I died before certain friends I’d want to do things like leave my vinyl collection to so-and-so or make sure my niece gets a certain piece of jewelry and knows the story behind it. Stuff like that.

      1. nep*

        Much of this is right in line with my thoughts. Especially the bits about diversity, and about how inappropriate it would be to have a religious figure going on and on about my faith and I’m in a better place, etc.
        Following a conversation on AAM about wills a while back, I made a document laying out what I’d like done with a few things. I don’t own anything to speak of — there are just some things, particularly musical instruments, that I wouldn’t want just tossed or given to just anyone.

      2. mander*

        Oh, I forgot that I’d like any leftover bits cremated so that I can be disposed of partly in the place I live now, and partly in the place where I grew up. It’s a bit hard to pick a burial place if you have divided loyalties but scattering some ashes here and there would be a lot easier. ;-)

    8. FutureLibrarian*

      Though I am not Catholic (was raised in Protestant though, so not too different), I went to a Catholic school for HS. As part of a religion class, we had to plan our funerals.

      Yes, you read that correctly. 16/17 year old kids had to plan their own funerals. Unfortunately, I no longer have the document (but I should have saved it!!!).

      I couldn’t tell you what was in it. I was more religious back then, and now am not. I have told my mom that I want my organs donated (if it is possible). I also want to be cremated. Otherwise, they should have a large party with lots of food (as I love food).

    9. Lady Bug*

      I want a giant party with an awesome playlist from my ipod that will include only one sad song to cry during and my husband wants a comic roast at home, cremation, no viewing. We are both atheists. We are only in our 40s and 50s respectively, but we both feel like we’ve lived full lives and don’t want anyone to be sad when we die. Of course they will be, but we’d prefer to celebrate our lives not mourn our death. And I think the cost of coffins, funerals, cemetery plots etc is a ridiculous waste of money since I don’t have religous beliefs that require a burial.

      1. danr*

        Well, do plenty of stuff that tells well and keep your friends in the loops for it and the eulogies will have them rolling in the aisles. I’ve been to funerals of relatives like that. The only tears were tears of laughter. Which the deceased have approved of.

    10. Sara*

      Interesting to think about! I actually don’t know what my parents would want. (They’re thankfully both in fairly good health, so it’s never come up.) I think the point about funerals/memorial services being for the surviving family members is a good one. I want to donate my body (or be cremated if Science doesn’t want me), but I have no particular wishes for any memorial.

      1. danr*

        My mother didn’t want a funeral, but she got one anyway, having no say in the matter. :)=. We kept it simple and had plenty of food afterward.

    11. Aussie Teacher*

      I want a celebration of my life. I’m a Christian so while I know people will be sad, I want people to know that I’m confident I’m in a better place and to celebrate that. I also told my husband I’m happy to be cremated (organs donated of course if they’re of any use) as I won’t be using my body anymore – no point in coffins and burials and all that jazz.

      1. Alma*

        Please don’t forget to speak to family about end of life issues – what is “extraordinary measures” to you? Who has your medical power of attorney (everyone needs to be clear on this)? Where is your will? What are your wishes for children? for pets?

        Do this no matter how old you are, please. There is nothing more horrifying than a young family at risk of losing a parent, and having to guess (or argue about) what the loved one’s plans would have been had they written them down.

        Do not keep the medical power of attorney in a safe deposit box – what if you need it at midnight?

        And if you don’t have a professionally prepared will, please write out your directions, have it notarized at the least, and make sure someone knows about it. My mother did not leave a will – she owned a business, had investments and other personal properties, as well as joint properties – and the laws of the state would have upset her greatly. This caused great disruption in familial relationships.

        Please don’t put these important conversations off.

    12. Noah*

      This is one thing both my parents have been very clear on. They want to be cremated and possibly have a service in the church they attend, but they don’t really care that much. What they do not want is for us to spend a large amount of money on a funeral or burial.

    13. Susan*

      I’m firmly in the camp that believes funerals are more for the people left behind than the person who died. An old high school friend (25 yrs old), who past away a couple months ago, was a known atheist but her parents, who are religious, had a Christian ceremony. They honored her in other ways where her personality could shine through. The Beauty and the Beast rose was on her coffin, they played music from LOTR during the viewing, etc. I’m atheist, too, but I wouldn’t deny the people who had to plan my funeral the best chance at closure they have if that’s what they’d need.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I believe that is correct, funerals are to assist with the grieving process. I know the way we grieve is changing. Growing up a funeral was a 3-4 event. Viewings at night and then the funeral on the last day. Now, most of the time I do not see calling hours that are not immediately before the funeral. I also see a lot of no calling hours, private funeral. I think people are doing what is best for them and different situations have different needs.

      2. bkanon*

        When my uncle died, all the flowers were in his favorite team’s colors and the music was his favorite classic rock ballads. His biker friends who attended (new blue jeans and polished shiny leather coats! They were dressed up.) were all very pleased as it was just how he would have wanted it.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I am leaning more and more toward celebrating a life, as opposed to a funeral. My father bought my husband and me burial plots with him and my mother. So that is … set in stone.. so to speak. I am just left with planning what I would want for a funeral.

      I have toyed with the idea of a prepaid funeral instead of having life insurance. I don’t have anyone dependent on my income so I have this option. What I like about it, is that it gives me a way to let my wishes be known and have someone to carry them out. But I am still sitting on the fence about actually doing it.

      My church also offers to keep a file of final wishes for people.

    15. Rubyrose*

      I was thinking about doing a similar post here today – so glad you beat me to it!!
      I’ve been through a process in the past couple of years of thinking about this, came to some decisions this year, and have acted on them.
      First off, I’m in my early 60s, but have aunts and uncles that have lived to be 100, 102. So I expect to be around for a while. I have no children, so there is a good chance that when I go there will be no one around. I mean, my nephews (whom I’m not so close to right now) could be in their late 70s, early 80s when I pass – if they are still alive. That, and the fact I converted to Judaism means that even if my sister (Catholic) and best friend (agnostic) are around, they would have no idea as to what I would want. I am fortunate in that my sister and best friend are supportive of what I would want and would not want to force their beliefs/traditions on my (then dead) body. And it also helps that they have similar beliefs to mine (no fancy show, minimalist approach).
      So I went to the Jewish funeral home, documented plans, and paid for it. Ditto for the cemetery plot. Called both my sister and friend and had a frank discussion about what I had done, what they would immediately need to know, and covered with them the basic approach to a more traditional Jewish funeral. The funeral home suggested that I carry one of their calling cards in my purse, so if something did happen anyone going through my wallet looking for information would have a clue (I live in a different state than my sister/friend).
      I’m in the process of drawing up another will and merging some financial accounts. Once that is done, I plan on emailing them pertinent info.
      Yes, I think the service is really more for the living. But why put anyone through hypocrisy? Laying out in advance is the way to go. If they choose not to follow your desires, there is nothing you can do about it.

    16. Rubyrose*

      Now, what I was really thinking of posting.
      What has been interesting throughout the funeral planning process is the reaction of people when I’ve told them I’m doing it. Some, like my sister, who had done her own planning, was perfectly on board with it. Others immediately decided (without hearing me out) that I was planning on dying like right now and wanted to know what fatal illness I had. My new therapist started down the path that I had some type of death wish and was concerned that I was going to indirectly harm myself. My best friend did not like to hear this talk but was obviously interested. Probably because she had some very concrete ideas as to what she wants for herself but is unwilling to do any of the up front planning now. And what she wants is, I think, too much to ask her daughters to do in time of grief. She wants her daughters to located a super cheap plot at any rural cemetery in the county (does not have one picked out) and get her in the ground, not embalmed, within 24 hours of death. Really? I’m working on her now, to get a more concrete plan in place.

      So what type of resistance have any of you encountered in communicating your plans and desires to others?

      1. nep*

        You are smart.

        Very interesting and thought-provoking, both posts.
        So, these people who resist in some way, or worry you’ve got some kind of terminal illness you’re hiding, or a death wish — Do they know that no one here gets out alive? The only certainty in this life is that one is going to die — we just don’t know when our number will be up. But it will. So it’s utterly normal (and smart) to ease the process for loved ones and plan for something that’s Going. To. Happen.
        I and my parent and siblings talk about these things pretty openly — no one freaks out about it. I have a sense most of my friends and co-workers would be the same.

        1. nep*

          (I don’t mean any of that in a snide way, so pardon the sarcasm. I just find it fascinating how some people see death as some taboo subject…some don’t seem to want to accept we’re all going there.)

        2. fposte*

          Has anybody else here followed Caitlin Doughty and her Order of the Good Death? She’s a young mortician with a blog circle and then a book (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes) that I quite liked. She’s just really interested in death, in a very non-macabre way, and has a lot of insight about that.

          We are also having a strange little ripple in YA lit about kids working at funeral homes and mortuaries, and so far they’re all really good books: Jen Violi’s Putting Makeup on Dead People; Jason Reynolds’ The Boy in the Black Suit; Jennifer Longo’s Six Feet Over It are the ones I remember.

        3. Rubyrose*

          It’s like they have not even thought about it, which I find strange. Granted, when I was growing up I was being taken constantly to funerals (large Catholic family) and I don’t think that happened for many people. I also got accustomed to viewing bodies, even as early as kindergarten. It was just another life event.

          I know there are people who think that is too traumatic for a young child. That is the belief of one of my nephew’s wife, who had a total meltdown because my sister took her eight year old granddaughter to a funeral (just to the lobby, not even to the viewing room). What I never got was when nephew’s wife planned on starting the process of educating her children on death.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Nephew’s wife sounds pretty mixed up.

            Personally, I have always been content with the way my father handled things. I was five when grandpa died. My father asked me if I wanted to go to the funeral. I said yes. We went. He explained everything to me as we went along. I was too young to ask really good questions so he just talked and talked. I have always looked back on that and thought he did an impressive job in explaining things to me. Not everyone puts that much energy into explaining something to a five year old. He seemed to understand that I was following along.
            As an adult I realized that it probably helped him process his own grief by helping me to understand what was going on.

          2. the gold digger*

            when nephew’s wife planned on starting the process of educating her children on death.

            My dad once commented that one of the few disadvantages of having raised his children on military bases was that we rarely saw anyone old or unhealthy and we never saw dead people. (Not because my parents would not have taken us to a funeral, but because anytime someone died, we were living too far away to attend.)

      2. Turanga Leela*

        I’ve had no resistance communicating my own plans, but enormous resistance trying to get my father to tell me what he wants. I brought up both end-of-life planning and what he would want after he dies, and his response was, “Leela, you’re being morbid.” I pushed harder and got vague statements. Eventually I decided he’s just not going to tell me. Either he’ll write something down before he dies, or he’ll die and I’ll have to figure something out then. At least I tried.

      3. Kristen*

        My husband passed away 13 years ago from brain cancer, he was 28 and I was 31. When I got his headstone done I put my name on it as well….some of my friends and family thought I was insane. My parents have instructions that if anything happens to me I am to be cremated and my ashes put there. If I do happen to find someone and get married again my spouse will be instructed to cremate me and half my ashes will go with my first husband and they can do what they wish with the other half.

    17. nep*

      Perhaps we should have in our living wills that someone should inform the AAM community of our passing.

      1. Rubyrose*

        Yikes! That and all the issues around userid/passwords, closing down online accounts – I have not gone there yet!
        I think I have heard of some service that if you don’t log into it, say, every 3 months, they assume you are dead and they can somehow either close down your accounts or make userid/passwords available to someone you have designated. I really don’t know much about it….

      2. fposte*

        I actually have that in my instructions :-). You guys are somewhere between the bank accounts and the out-of-town colleagues.

          1. fposte*

            Yup, absolutely. There’s a listserv I’ve been on for over a decade now, and we’ve lost a few members; those of us still on it have talked about making sure the listserv is on the notification list, and I’ve added AAM (and I feel like there’s another venue and I can’t remember it).

            It’s not a lawyer-made document or anything. But since I’m living alone at the moment, I have an easily available document that outlines the location of my assets (they’ve all got beneficiaries set up), who has my mortgage, where titles are, who needs to be notified, etc. Once I get a will written, I’ll add the lawyer to it (most of my stuff doesn’t need a will, so I’ve been slow on that).

            I like to think I’ll outlive the whole concept of blogs, let alone AAM specifically, but if I’m wrong, I don’t want people here to think I’m just sulking :-).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thank you for posting this solution. Not that anyone has to explain why they drop out here, but it’s good to know if they have moved on, or they might be back later or more finite, they have passed from this world. I know there have been a few times where I have thought I have not seen so-and-so here post recently. Then a post will pop up a few days later, oh, okay. Again, not that anyone owes anything here, but sometimes I get to wondering if the person is okay and I know other people will mention it, too.

      3. Alma*

        I have a circle of friends that met, originally, on an online community, much like AAM. At a point we began our own private discussion online, and had several gatherings where we met with each other – this has been 15+ years ago, and many of us are still in contact on FB.

        One of our group traveled widely for her work in the European countries. We knew her for years, and she was “median” age (we had a great-granny or two, as well as two or three in their 20’s – but most of us were 40-ish to 50-ish).

        We were alerted that she had died by the guy who “was just a friend” that we watched develop into more. They had been married a year or two. He knew how much the group meant to her, and got on her computer to figure out how to contact one of us to pass the word. It was sudden, and surprising. I still haven’t deleted her from my contact list – I can’t bring myself to so.

        I cannot remember where I saw suggestions for planning ahead for online memberships, accounts, blogs, contact lists. The article said to leave instructions, log in names with passwords, and specifics about what was to be deleted, and what could remain up.

        My guess is that I would leave these directions with the person I most trust to be my medical power of attorney.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been thinking about this because I’m still alone *sigh* I told my brother before I went to the UK last year that if I died there, please leave me there. Let them cremate me, and don’t waste money bringing me back. If I die here, I want to go there, but I need to arrange that somehow.

      Also I thought about donating myself to the Body Farm (the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility). I could lie in the woods and forensics students could study my decomp and the natural activity that goes with it, and then I would join the bones in the Donated Skeletal Collection. I’m not a big fan of Tennessee, but I would be contributing to science, which is awesome, so I guess I wouldn’t mind being there for all eternity. :)

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I wish more people would consider this. I’m an organ donor and have told my family that I’d like to have my body donated to medical science if it’s at all possible—I love the idea that I could be useful after I die. I’d be fine with something like the Body Farm or with a medical school (students need cadavers to learn on, and they depend on donors). You can sign yourself up to be a body donor ahead of time, but IIRC, it’s not as simply as I thought; sometimes they’ll only take bodies from a certain geographic area, or they won’t take bodies of people who had certain medical conditions.

        I have not actually done the paperwork to donate my body, and I really should. Then again, I also haven’t put together my will or living will, and those are probably a higher priority.

      2. mander*

        Ah, that would also be great, and appropriate for my profession! When I was younger I wanted to figure out a way to donate my skeleton to my undergraduate anthropology department to use as a teaching tool, but I wanted a little brass plaque attached to my skull that said who I was and when I attended the university.

        Of course that’s not really realistic but I still think it would be kind of neat. That or figuring out the best place to be buried so that I might be fossilized.

      3. the gold digger*

        donating myself to the Body Farm

        Plus if you do that, your family does not have to pay to dispose of your remains! Even cremation is not cheap. (And in some states, you have to buy a casket even if you are cremated – the funeral business is a huge racket – read The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford.)

  8. Wrench Turner*

    At a recent community association meeting (Not a homeowner’s association, thank gods, but neighborhood civic group) I proposed putting a sculpture on a small triangular traffic island around the corner of my house. Our neighborhood has no public art and that simply will not do.

    After some conversation with county government and Dept. of Transportation folk, I brought a proposal for building and putting up three Little Free Libraries, offering Fiction, Non-Fiction and Comics/Manga. It seemed to go over well. Lots of design/budget/government approval back and forth is in the future but it’s a step in the right direction.

    1. nep*

      That is great. Good for you. I love to hear about people putting things into action like this in their communities.

      1. FutureLibrarian*

        Yup. While I (obviously, see username) love any libraries, the town I live in had to replace the real boulders (fancy rock decorations) with fake ones after someone ran into them. I don’t remember the details, but there have been other accidents since. Drunk people tend to drive right through them.

        1. Florida*

          Yes, there is a large (think 20 feet across reflectors, lights, and palm trees in the center) roundabout structure on the corner where I live. At least once a year, a car plows straight into it.

      2. Wrench Turner*

        Been here 3 years and haven’t seen an accident there yet. It’s medium/low traffic volume, even at rush hour but your point is very well-received.

    2. fposte*

      Go you! I love public art. In addition to Gene’s point, can I request a plate with the artist and title? There’s this one really cool sculpture downtown that I can’t find any information about, and it makes me crazy.

    3. Florida*

      A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a little free library in someone’s yard about a quarter of a mile from me. I drive by it all the time, but I didn’t notice it until I walked by it. I love it. Now I walk over there every few days to see what they have and donate some other books I’m done with.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        A few months ago, I looked up all the ones in my town because I had a sizeable box of books in good condition that needed a home. I’m so glad I did it, and recommend it to everyone! Now I see them all the time where I had just glossed over them before, and it makes me so happy!

    4. Neat Public Art Idea*

      Around here, the city hires artists to paint murals all over the place. It started by having artists paint on those large boxes that are on every intersection that has a red light. Then it expanded to included any ugly utility-type of structure – the green electrical boxes, some dumpsters, fences around construction sites (although those are temporary). It’s so neat. It doesn’t take up any extra space because the boxes are already there. It just makes them more fun.

    5. olympiasepiriot*

      Has it been evaluated for possibly creating a blind spot? That would depend on how tall the sculpture was, but might need to be considered.

  9. Anon the Great and Powerful*

    Hey Alison the new ad above the comments section is driving me crazy on mobile. It’s taking up my entire phone screen. I uploaded a screenshot to imgur so you can see what I mean, here’s the link:

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I’m not a fan either. I’m experimenting with some different ad formats this month (because it’s a slow traffic month so I figure now is the time). I don’t like this one, but can’t have it addressed until Monday when my ad network people are back at work! (There’s a lesson about testing things on Fridays, I guess.) In the interest of transparency, it’s likely to stay that size but I’d like it to have different content in it.

      1. CAA*

        There’s a lesson about testing things on Fridays, I guess.
        Yep, most of the software companies I’ve worked at deploy new releases on Thursday nights for exactly this reason.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        The size isn’t bothersome (to me, at least), but the video content slows the page down SO much. You can barely scroll down.

      3. BrownN*

        I’ve always been taught that when you are making changes to a website to test it on various devices, so that you have an idea what the user will go through. I’m sure the ad folks at least have a mobile phone to see their work in the real world.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Definitely! But they haven’t been able to replicate the issues that people have reported (and neither have I, for the most part); keep in mind that these issues aren’t affecting the majority of users so replicating them isn’t straightforward. That has made it a lot harder to solve.

          1. calibrachoa*

            Maybe set up a separate post for people with issues to leave comments on with details of what systems, etc, they are on? like what browser version or what type of a tablet they are using?

      1. cosmetics queen*

        Yup. Huge and annoying and really, really off-putting and obnoxious. I may have to look into getting an AdBlocker for mobile, I think they’re doing those now.

          1. cosmetics queen*

            Yes, they are. They are HUGE (I’ve never seen such large ads on mobile before), ugly and intrusive.

            To make things even worse, since I first posted they’ve started displaying twice, one block directly above the other. Now I have to scroll down several times to find actual content. And it may not be the ads, but something on this site keeps making my browser app crash, and it only started today.

            1. Anon the Great and Powerful*

              I have never seen such huge ads, either. Usually mobile ads are just a banner at the bottom (that I still always accidentally click but at least it’s not an eyesore).

            2. Felix*

              I agree! Giant eyesore. I took a screenshot too, but it’s the same as what “anon the great and powerful posted.” I’ve never seen a mobile app this large before.

              I accidentally clicked on it while trying to scroll past and it opens up into my App Store, which is also annoying.

              I love this blog so I wouldn’t stop reading ever! I would definitely look into an ad blocker, though, if mobile ads stay like this.

              1. Claire (Scotland)*

                Yeah, that’s a real problem with such big ads on my phone. “Just scroll” isn’t helpful when the ads are so big they take up the full screen, as scrolling without accidentally activating the link is almost impossible. Intentional or not, it feels like my browsing is being hijacked. :/

                1. Corrupted by Coffee*

                  That’s what I was going to say. To scroll, I have to touch the screen, and if the ad takes up the whole screen, you’re essentially making me click on it and then have to hit back. I know a couple of forums that do this in between posts and it’s super annoying.

          2. Hummingbird*

            I’m on my desktop, and when I was trying to write something on here, it kept disturbing my typing, making my typing skip letters or the script to stop responding.

            1. Rubyrose*

              Ditto here, on my laptop. The entire browser (Firefox) keeps locking up and the only solution is to open the task manager and end the entire browser.

            2. William*

              I used to have the same problem, too (Internet Explorer on Windows 8.1). It stopped around the same time I updated to Windows 10; not sure whether that fixed it or it was a coincidence.

            1. Aaliya*

              Id love to scroll right by but unfortunately they’re so big I can’t scroll without hitting one if the ads and getting sent to the App Store. This sucks.

  10. Ruffingit*

    So pissed off right now. We moved into a house, we are renting, on Tuesday. Got water and gas hooked up on Thursday. We have been without hot water since we moved in because the hot water heater is broken and illegally set up as the plumber informed us this morning. That will be fixed on Monday. Also, the toilets were not flushing properly. They are working now thanks to the plumber. The furnace doesn’t work either, which means we’ve been without heat since Tuesday. We routinely wake up to temperatures of 55 degrees in here. That is supposed to be fixed on Tuesday IF the part comes in and even then, it may need to be replaced completely.

    I have been in contact with the property management company of course. I am totally outraged and appalled that so many things are not up to snuff or code in some cases. These are things we had no way of checking until after moving in. I would have thought they would have been checked BEFORE renting the place.

    We’re going to a hotel and will stay there until these things are fixed. I am waiting now for the property manager to call me so we can discuss them paying for that and prorating our rent money for the time we can’t inhabit the place. GAH!! SO FREAKING MAD.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      That sucks! I hope you get it sorted out soon and that he company pay for the hotle and the inconvenie they’ve caused. Im not so good with farenhite is 55 nearly freezing?

    2. FutureLibrarian*

      That’s absolutely unacceptable.

      Is it an option to move to another place at this point? The fact that you are already having so many issues makes me wonder what they will do if you have more issues.

      Obviously, moving is ridiculously expensive, difficult, and might not be possible. But definitely see what options you have, as I’ve learned my lesson about forgiving landlords for apartment problems.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, nobody likes to move but I’d be tempted. A shirt-tail relative had to do this. He moved himself, two small kids and very pregnant wife into a house. Once they moved in and turned on the heat, they realized that the master bedroom stank of cat pee. Cleaning the carpets didn’t help (it had permeated into the floor below), so in less than a month the family had to move again. I don’t know what he did about breaking the lease but he couldn’t keep his family there in that unhealthy stench.

    3. Mimmy*

      Dang, first you leave one horrible situation (your last job), only to be in another crappy situation! Can’t catch a break!

      Yeah, that’s definitely not acceptable. I hope you get things worked out soon, but the HOA should definitely be on the hook. Were there any red flags when you started this process with them?

      1. Ruffingit*

        No red flags present. We worked with a real estate agent who assisted us in finding the rental, nothing jumped out as a possible problem. Moving may become an option if more things pop up.

    4. bassclefchick*

      SO annoying! I feel you. We just moved in to a new place this summer. And we’re the LUCKY tenants with the apartment right over the room in the garage that houses the garbage dumpster. Yeah. Our apartment smells REALLY bad. And our wonderful property managers won’t do a thing about it. Yay.

    5. Doriana Gray*

      That’s outrageous, and they absolutely should pay for your hotel accommodations. If they don’t, will your renters insurance pick up the tab? I’d call and ask about that too.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t see how they could rent out a property in that condition. It’s not inhabitable. Do you have a department of code enforcement in your state?

    7. Dan*

      Your situation sucks. Fwiw, I feel like it’s reasonable to expect your hotel bill paid or prorated rent, but not both. You’re “made whole” by either one, which a lot of times is the maximum recovery the legal system allows.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, I realize that. I’m just bitter and exhausted. We lived for two days without heat or hot water and the fact that so many things are wrong in the house makes me angry. Also, I kind of feel like they should pay for both the hotel and prorate the rent because, sure, we have a roof over our head in the hotel, but we are being ridiculously inconvenienced by having to live out of suitcases for several days with two dogs. And all because they didn’t bother to check things over and make sure they were working before renting the home. Not to mention my elderly, disabled mother lives with us and we couldn’t get the handicapped accessible hotel room because it was already taken. So that’s fun. I had to give her a shower this evening with her standing up, which is REALLY difficult for her to do, not to mention we don’t have the flexible shower head here, which meant she had to move back and forth in the shower to ensure all the soap was off her. AND she had to step over the tub ledge and out of the tub. She nearly fell on me trying to do that because she’s very unsteady on her feet and slips easily. It’s just been a huge nightmare.

        We are also out the money necessary to purchase food. There is a tiny fridge in this room so we can’t really keep days worth of food in it so we have to go out and purchase things to eat on a regular basis. It’s just…yeah.

        Let me be clear that, as a former attorney, I realize that I wouldn’t likely win on getting prorated rent AND the hotel stay, but this is not a legal case, it’s simply how I feel.

        In any case, they are paying for the hotel and issues several apologies. So there’s that I guess.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          omg. It’s can’t be one thing, it has to be ten things, right? Why does life do this to us? I call this stuff “The Rain”, where it is just one thing after another.
          Positive vibes heading your way, may The Rain stop and things get on an even keel for you very soon. Kudos to you for taking such good care of your mom. She is lucky to have you.

        2. Dan*

          No, I get it. A few years back, I had a land lady who was lazy and didn’t want to fix things. I had lived in traditional apartments until that point, so I was used to picking up the phone and things magically getting fixed. She was DIY property manager who lived 20 miles from the property. Fine in most places in the country, not fine in LA where traffic is a constant mess.

          Within the span of a week, the oven and the air conditioner went out. She was taking longer than I would have liked to fix things, and I started snooping around. Turns out she was renting out an illegal duplex, and the city says I do not owe any rent whatsoever in that circumstance. The kicker is that if she does try to evict me, I do have to file a formal complaint with the city, at which point the city kicks us out because the dwelling is, you know, illegal. On top of all of that, city law said that she would have to pay us $7000 to move.

          I was heading off to grad school anyway, and my roommate was moving in with his girl friend, so moving out wasn’t the end of the world. We went with the “we’re not paying rent” route, and everything else short of the $7000 payout happened as expected, because she did try to evict us.

          TL;DR: While we didn’t get the cash payout we were expecting, landlady lost like 6 months of rent @ $1800/mo, had to deal with the city, and put the house back into compliance. In the end, I thought that ended up being a little much, but hey, she didn’t want to fix things and owned a rental in a tenant friendly area.

    8. MsChanandlerBong*

      So much empathy! We finally moved after five years renting from people who didn’t care to fix anything. We routinely woke up to temps around 57 in the winter. The landlord’s fix? “Go bang on the furnace.” There was so much sediment in it that it would get clogged and stop working randomly. We had intermittent problems with the sewer as well. The entire house would smell like sewer gas, to the point where the smell was so strong that it would wake me up from a sound sleep. Fortunately, that only happened once a week or so, until November 2014. One morning, I woke up to the sewer gas smell, and it wouldn’t go away. It took the landlord SIX days to get a plumber to our house; meanwhile, I was throwing up and getting headaches from the strong smell. When the plumber came, he found a cracked pipe, which was leaking sewage into our dirt basement. Of course the landlord didn’t want to pay a plumber to do the work, so he put in a new pipe himself. I’m sure the new tenant will end up with a problem soon enough.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I would have been scared that the house would blow up. What an awful situation. I am sorry this happened to you.

    9. Red*

      I’m hearing you! It’s summer here in Australia, and our air conditioner has been broken for three weeks and the agent just hasn’t done anything about it. I can’t convert to F, sorry, but it’s been 40°C during the day and about 30°C over night. Uuuurgh. Good luck!

  11. Gene*

    Yay! Another season of Top Chef.

    Grayson may be back, but she needs to get her stuff together. And that dude with the man-bun, what a tool.

    1. Mike C.*

      I know, right? How can you not laugh at someone who spends their time dropping names and puts his blown up picture on the front of his restaurant?

      I got really annoyed with the chick who was trying to brand herself as “The SASSSSAY Chef”. “Hey guys, I’m SASSSAY, “. Uggggh.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haaaaate Man Bun. And Grayson– I loved her during Texas, so whatever her deal is, it has to stop.

      I can’t decide who I like at this point. Marjorie, probably. Amar, maybe. Too soon to tell.

    3. K.*

      I watched Grayson’s season but I don’t remember her, which means she was probably inoffensive then. I don’t know WHAT is going on with her now, but she seems not to understand a) that this is a competition and she isn’t going to get to cook whatever she wants, and b) that participating in this competition is voluntary. If she doesn’t want to be there so badly, she should go home. Her constant negativity is really frustrating – she acts like a petulant 13-year-old.

      1. Arjay*

        I kinda get the feeling that she wants to be on tv more than she wants to be in the competition, so she’s going for soundbite territory.

    4. Sara*

      Is it available streaming anywhere? I love Top Chef but don’t have Bravo. (And even if I did, it’s on WAY past my bedtime.)

      1. Sourire*

        Bravo (bravotv . com) streams it, though I think they only keep an episode or two up and at a time so you need to keep up with it.

        1. Draper*

          Yes, they stream it, but you have to authenticate through a “television provider” with whom they have an agreement.

    5. CharlieCakes*

      I didn’t watch the Grayson season either, but I second that she is acting like an unruly and obnoxious teenager. Get over yourself! Along with Man Buns I find this season a little annoying. I’m going to stick it out though.

      Anyone watch this weekend where they showed the Somm show right after? I think it’s usually on the Esquire network and it’s a show about people trying to become Master Sommeliers.

    1. Mike C.*

      I grew up with a cat who would lay on his back on the tree skirt, reach up as high as he could, grab an ornament, pull down and then let go.

    2. Sparrow*

      Mine too! One likes to burrow underneath and then surprise the other two when they walk by. Surprisingly that’s the only thing they like about the tree. They never mess with the ornaments or branches.

  12. Gene*

    Holiday potluck this evening. I’m experimenting on them with a Canolli Cake. We’ll see how this tastes.

      1. bassclefchick*

        me too!!! I’ll split dessert with my husband…but he knows to keep his paws off my cannoli and my tiramisu. LOL

      1. Alma*

        THANK YOU, Gene!!

        There is a link to a recipe for Pull-Apart Rugelach!!!

        I may have died and gone to heaven. I’ll have my next of kin let you know…

  13. Mike C.*

    So there was a request to discuss fountain pens a few days ago so here’s a little bit to get started but feel free to ask any questions or join in with your own thoughts. This is borrowed from another forum, but it lays it out pretty nicely:

    Why use a fountain pen?

    1. It feels better: Writing with a fountain pen is like painting on the page. Very little pressure is used since unlike a ballpoint pen, more ink will not come out with additional pressure.

    2. It’s better for the environment: You can buy a pen made in the forties (or one made last week) and use it for lifetimes. The only consumable is the ink, which is primarily made up of water and benign substances. It’s a huge departure from your disposable plastic ballpoint pens. Even if you have an expensive MontBlanc rollerball, the consumables on such pens are disposable plastic/metal one-time-use cartridges. *This is a great way to justify a hobby. :D

    3. It’s stylish: Much like old-fashioned shaving has made a resurgence, fountain pens show an investment in the process of writing, rather than simply using a cheap (or even an expensive) ballpoint. Fountain pens can also be one of the few forms of “jewellery” it’s acceptable for men to have. A nice way to show off and have a little personality while keeping it professional.

    4. Lots of choice in pens for practically any style: You can buy pens from all over the world manufactured over the past 70 years without trouble. Practically every design aesthetic that has existed in that time has corresponding pens.

    5. Ink choices galore: You can buy tons of different colors of inks for any use, with different properties.

    Ok, me again. Personally, it’s a fun hobby that I can indulge in at work. It’s fun collecting different styles and trying out different inks. Colors have a wide variety of hues and shading, some have special properties such as being water resistance or don’t feather. Pens are still being made today from a variety of manufacturers but antique pens are also lots of fun.

    Despite the prices of some of the fancier pens, a good solid pen can be had for around $15 for a Pilot Metro. I don’t know where else to take this, so if you’re curious, have questions or collect pens yourself, have at it! :)

    1. fposte*

      I saw that Mont Blanc mention and knew Mike C. bait when I saw it :-).

      So, as a collector of various non-pen things, I’m always interested in what, for a serious aficionado, is the difference between “Sure, it’s fine,” and “I love this one and must have it.” So what do you love best about the pens you love best?

      1. Mike C.*

        Oh man, great question.

        I have larger hands (I played the viola over the violin when I was younger for this very reason), so I generally like larger pens (though Pilot Metropolitans are an exception here). I’m a huge fan of piston or vacumatic-fill pens where the entire barrel of the pen is used to hold ink (rather than a cartridge or cartridge converter). When they come in clear plastic (search for TWSBI 580 for a great example of this) it’s known as a “demonstrator” where you can see the screw/piston mechanism and the color of the ink shows through.

        I tend towards clean, modern styles in in either neutral colors or blue. An example of a pen I wanted for a long time (and ended up importing at a significant discount) was a Pelikan M600 in blue. Great classic style, dual tone gold nib (gold nibs are fun because they flex – introducing line variation and this has a great effect with certain inks) and it holds a ton of ink. I’ll include pictures of some of the pens I’m fond of in the next post.

        1. Stephanie*

          I have larger hands too. (They fit in most women’s gloves, though…the L/XL size though.) But my fingers have a giant span…giant enough that my orchestra director was trying to get me to play the string bass.

        2. Alma*

          What do you use to clean ink leaks inside the barrel? I have a few that haven’t been used in ummm, decades, and I would love to use them regularly.

          How do you suggest they be carried (by women who often don’t have pockets in jackets, pants, skirts…)?

          1. Marcela*

            When the fountain pen has been in use, I only use water to clean them. Those that have been stored for a long time, without being properly cleaned, I clean them with a cleaning solution for technical or calligraphy pens. Y use a cartridge converter to fill the pen from the small “bottle”, so the liquid cleans the nib too.

          2. Mike C.*

            If we’re talking modern pens I go with anything from water to water+dishwashing liquid to rubbing alcohol if I’m using Baystate Blue* or feed and nib really need a good cleaning. Older stuff I’ll be more gentle with. Since they’re older, an overnight soak in water should but just fine to start and see from there, unless it’s made from some weird material that doesn’t like water.

            Man, I always forget about the conspiracy that women’s fashion designers have against pockets.

            A decent (by this I mean modern or properly restored) pen generally won’t leak. It might burp ink or whatnot when it’s stored upside down, is less than half full and was warmed up. Even still, you can buy pens with solid screw caps and rubber gaskets that offer even more protection. Otherwise you can buy small pen holders or pen pouches to fit in your purse or handbag.

            The only other thing I would say is be careful of large elevation changes or using one on a plane. Either fill them up completely or drain them. That air bubble can be obnoxious.

            1. Alice 2*

              Re: planes. Don’t forget to store them nib up, and only use them (if at all) once the plane has reached cruising altitude.
              Goulet pens (.com but also very informative youtube channel, see: fountain pens 101 playlist)
              Penaddict.com (also podcast!)

              1. Mike C.*

                Great sources! Just to add, Fountain Pen Network is also a great site, and “sbrebrown” on youtube has some great reviews of pens if you’re curious about what’s out there.

        3. CA Admin*

          I have small hands, so I like thinner pens. I’ve had a hard time finding a good selection of thin pens–most are super wide! I have a Lamy Studio, which is really nice, but I would’ve liked something a little thinner.

    2. mander*

      I’ve had a few fountain pens over the years (just cheap modern ones). They were really trendy for a while when I was in middle school and I had a big collection of various colored inks, though they were the kind that come in little plastic cartridges.

      I have never purchased a proper one that you use an inkwell with — what kind of stuff do you need to get besides the pen itself? What do you do if you are out and about and run out of ink?

      1. Mike C.*

        All you need with the pen (if it isn’t a piston/vacumatic fill) is an appropriate cartridge converter. This is basically a cartridge sized piston or bladder that fits inside the pen and the vast, vast majority of pens use these. You can also just refill the ink carts with a blunt tipped syringe. Other than that, you just need a bottle of ink.

        As for running out, I generally find that my large capacity pens last me 4-6 weeks of use and the smaller ones 1-2 weeks. This is light note taking through the day with fine or medium nibs however. I generally rotate through my collection and carry three of them with me at work in a leather case.

    3. Fleur*

      Do you ever have trouble with ink bleeding through papers and general messiness?

      I recently started drawing with Faber Castell artist pens. I like them, but they’re expensive for something that is one use. Do you have any experience with those types of pens vs fountain pens in terms of feel?

      1. Mike C.*

        I tend towards fine nibs so feathering and bleed through is kept at a minimum. I’ve never used the artist type pens however.

      2. Marcela*

        Well yes, the problem with cheap paper is the nightmare of us who only use fountain pens. I am always looking for proper paper, and if I remember correctly when I started researching 2 years ago, it needs to be on the heavier side, more grams per surface unit. There are some gorgeous notebooks being recommended out there by fountain pen connoisseurs, but one of the notebooks I love the most is a very cheap one I bought in the discount shop Daiso.

    4. AcidMeFlux*

      Recently I’ve giften some simple, inexpensive fountain pens to friends (there’s a stationery store across the street from my job that has a decent selection.) everyone has loved their gift. People tell me they use them to sign birthday cards, gift cards, and similar things. They also say “oh! a fountain pen! I forgot they existed!”

    5. danr*

      Except for lefties… smudge city. And yes, I’ve used fountain pens. They make bad handwriting look neat.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Yeah, sucks for lefties. I didn’t see your comment when I posted mine.

        My understanding is that it’s because we’re pushing the writing implement across the surface rather than pulling it like a righty would do.

      2. Alice 2*

        It really depends on how you hold your hand while writing. I hold my hand below the line of writing (underwriter), so I don’t generally smudge. You can also mitigate by changing the angle of the paper, primarily using F nibs, finding fast drying inks, good quality paper, etc.

        Listen to the podcast Pen Addict, ep. 62 – Lefty Apologist (relay.fm/penaddict/62), one of the hosts and the guest (Ana Reinert, from Well Appointed Desk) are lefties and they talk about it.
        I know as a lefty, I probably won’t be able to use the italic nibs because they have too sharp edges for pushing across the page like I do. But I still can use fountain pens, and have fun! Working on my ambidextrous..ness, so I can possibly play with those other nibs too!

    6. Shell*

      Seconding the fountain pen love. I have two Pilot Metropolitans with in fine nib (and it writes like an extra-fine with my dry Lemy ink). They clog a bit, but flat out do not bleed on even the cheapest of paper. I haven’t been able to use either of them much since I no longer have schoolwork to do.

      I also have a Levinger 3.0 in fine; it writes like a medium-fine depending on the paper. This one I use daily (work!). It’s more hefty and durable than the Pilots, though I think I like the Pilot nibs better.

      I’ll leave answering question to Mike C. since he is obviously much more knowledgeable than me. I just thought I’d pipe up in support of fountain pen love.

      1. Mike C.*

        Nah, feel free to jump in! :)

        And Pilot Metros are an insane value for money. You get a hefty brass pen in a variety of really stylish colors (the Metropolitan Pops are really neat looking) and converter for at most $15. I have two in medium and it’s one of my smoothest writers in my collection, by far.

        1. Shell*

          Metros are amazing. Fully agree there. Mine write a little scratchy, but considering the nib is equivalent to an extra-fine I suppose I can’t complain too much. They don’t skip, so I doubt they’re misaligned (though in fairness I don’t have a loupe to look at them clearly).

          I’m hoping once I’m finished with my current bottle of Lamy ink I can go buy a wetter, more lubricating ink (maybe some Diamine?). I do love how they handle even the crappiest paper without feathering or bleeding, so I’ll put up with their scratchiness. I kinda wish I bought medium nibs though (I bought them sight unseen; never seen any of them in stores where I am); on some better behaved paper that don’t feather/bleed, the lines are super, super thin. (On crappy paper that are inclined to bleeding, the line width is perfect for me. Can’t win!)

          I swear if I had gotten into fountain pens when I in school I probably would’ve had better grades! If only because I’d be more inclined to do homework because then I could’ve played with my pens :) (PSA to all: buy fountain pens for students who are stationery geeks! May help their grades if they’re anything like me.)

    7. Noah*

      I use the Pilot Varsity fountain pens. Two reasons. First, they’re cheap and I’m always losing pens. Second, they don’t have as much potential to leak on airplanes. I work for an airline and travel a lot for work, so I don’t want to chance it.

    8. Hlyssande*

      The problem I have with fountain pens is that they’re made for right-handed people, and I am left-handed. This is a plight of lefties. Because we push the pen across the paper rather than pull, all pen writing is wonky, but fountain pens especially so in my experience.


    9. Blue_eyes*

      I’m getting a book on calligraphy/hand-lettering for Hanukkah. Where should I start for buying a pen, ink, and paper? Specific product recommendations appreciated. I want get decent quality, but I don’t want to invest too much money in it as a beginner. Also, I’m a lefty. Any tips, tricks, products, advice for lefties?

      1. Mike C.*

        For those in the US, Goulet Pens, Jet Pens and Amazon are common places. I know the Lamy series comes with a left handed nib but I can’t say if that’s any good or not. You can also try a faster drying ink – Noodler’s has several named after Ben Bernake as does Private Reserve. Also stick to finer nibs as well.

        Anyone else have luck with this?

        1. Alice 2*

          I’m only dipping my toe in the fountain pen world right now. I’ve had no issues with my Lamy Safari Fine (right handed nib) with my left-handedness. I am an underwriter (my hand is completely under the line I am writing), so I don’t push/dig the nib as much as a sidewriter (dragging hand over newly written line) or overwriter (hooked hand over line of writing) might.
          I’ve also recently invested in a TWSBI 580 AL with a medium nib, and it also writes very nicely. The Diamine ink in my Twsbi works well enough on normal loose leaf paper, but not in my Field Notes or Moleskeine notebooks (Though Moleskeines are not known for being FP friendly).
          As a small tip, stay away from Italic nibs to start, they have sharp edges to them, and more likely to scratch the page when you push it across the page. Most modern nibs I’ve tried out so far, the tipping (bead of metal at end of the nib) is round enough to allow for a smooth write. Glancing at google image search for vintage nibs, they do not have the same tipping, so the edge of the nib is sharp, and liable to dig into the paper. There is probably someone with more knowledge regarding tipping, so correct me if I’m wrong!

    10. Elizabeth West*

      THis is really cool. I’ve never owned a fountain pen, though I have some calligraphy stuff I’ve yet to play with. As a kid, I used to make quill pens out of feathers and try to write with them so I’d probably love to have a fountain pen. I”m bookmarking this!

      1. Nina*

        Seriously, this whole thread is making me want to go to Amazon and Paper Source and spend way too much money on stationery and fountain pens.

        And while I haven’t owned a fountain pen either, I know there is definite value in having a pen that works well and doesn’t bleed. The best pen I own is a Uniball Vision Micro, which I found abandoned on a plane when I worked at the airport. The ink flows incredibly well and it doesn’t bleed at all. When I googled it, it turns out that it’s designed for business travelers because of the vented refill, so it doesn’t explode. I thought that was cool.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      This is fascinating to me. Years ago I bought a glass pen and some scented ink. I still have not tried it. (It was on a bargain table.) They also had quill pens, which I regret not picking up. I sent a glass pen to my aunt. She used a type of handwriting that is not used now. I have forgotten the name for that style of writing. For example, when she addressed an envelop the M in “Mrs” somehow took up most of one side of the envelop with curly swirls. You could easily read the writing but it was very ornate.
      This whole thing with pen types and old styles of handwriting is just so interesting.

    12. fposte*

      This whole subthread is just mesmerizing to me. I’m not a pen person, but it’s just so cool to hear people enthuses about the ins and outs and delights of this stuff.

    13. Penelope Pitstop*

      So…not to hijack this thread, but maybe there’s some overlap:

      I’m not a fountain pen person (though I’m intrigued and aspire to be), but I am a rabid journaler and pen/paper notetaker and I obsess over journals and (non-fountain) pens. Actually, love office supplies of any stripe, but those two categories are particular favorites. Wondering if anyone shares and wants to start a spinoff thread around discussing the merits of pen/paper choices?

      To start off…my current journal favorite is Baron Fig and pens…well, I love my multi-colored Flairs, Sharpie pens, and an Acroball. Please tell me I’m not alone.

  14. Mimmy*

    RAWR!!!! My online professor is getting closer and closer to being on the Naughty column!!

    First, he posts an article that is COMPLETELY protected – i.e. cannot be printed, edited (to make highlights) or even duplicated into another file!

    Second, he posts the submission link for one of our papers, and the due date is THIS TUESDAY – it was listed in the syllabus as being due on December 14 – I’m not even REMOTELY ready to hand this thing in! Luckily it’s only 4-6 pages, but I really hope that was in error.


    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      The syllabus is law! You’ll have plenty of standing to stick with the date on it. Maybe the submission is set up to *open* on the 8th?

      1. Mimmy*

        Nope, I just re-checked – it says “due date”.

        Plus the fact that this week’s discussion board post is due Wednesday.

        1. AcidMeFlux*

          I’m a teacher. If he pulls that, it means HE screwed up. Stick to your guns and the deadline. Or, he probably wants to get grades in early. That shouldn’t be your problem. (you can ask the department secretary about this.)

        2. Stella Maris*

          Just ask! “The website says X, the syllabus says Y. We (the students) have been tailoring our work completion deadlines to the dates in the syllabus – has there been a misunderstanding?” (And be ready to back yourselves up with a ‘the syllabus is law unless you changed it with the class’s approval – at least that’s how it works at my faculty.)

          1. Lizzie*

            All of my professors, undergrad and grad, had a clause in the syllabus stating that what’s written could be changed by them at any time without prior notice. Your faculty are so much nicer than mine were!

            1. Stella Maris*

              Ouch, not cool!! Ours have to take a vote in class, majority rules. (We have done this, to change weighting for assignments – for example when they realized what they’d asked for was taking everyone a lot longer than anticipated. The exam was worth 5% less overall and the assignment worth went up.)

              I would find it extremely unfair if they could change it without consultation/input/voting!

    2. Menacia*

      As for the posted article which is protected, can you do a screen capture of it if necessary? The program SnagIt can be downloaded and used for free before you have to buy it, it’s a great screen capture which can be used for capturing scrolling windows as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used technology to get around other technology, just have to be a little creative. ;)

      1. Mimmy*

        Thanks, but actually a classmate was somehow able to get the school’s help-desk to unlock the protections, and she emailed me the accessible copy. I could’ve hugged her!!

        But good to know for future reference :)

  15. fposte*

    Let’s talk about lint, baby.

    I swear my clothes are picking up more lint in the dryer than I used to. I’m basically talking my wool socks, which I know are inherently lint magnets, but I wear a lot of black wool socks and wow, they are in interesting shape coming out of the dryer. The lint screen fills up at the usual rate and the dryer seems to vent fine; it’s but a young pup of twenty or so and it’s built like a tank. Is there anything I can do to mitigate this? I never actually use dryer sheets–would they help? Can you get unscented ones if so?

    1. Swoop*

      I have cloths similar to these (this is the desc. on amazon, store I got them in is Canadian): ‘Static Eliminator Reusable Dryer Sheets – PurEcosheet – Chemical Free – 2 Count (500+ Loads)’ and they seem to make a difference to both static & lint.

    2. AcidMeFlux*

      Apart from the lint screen, is there another part of the dryer that could be accumulating lint?

      1. fposte*

        The dryer gnomes’ bellybuttons? I don’t really know what parts of a dryer there are–between the drum and the controls it’s all magic to me. Is there an area I should be looking at?

        1. AcidMeFlux*

          The exhaust vent, the places where the lint screen fits into, any places where the lint can get into the body of the dryer. Will post link in next comment.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The exhaust vent and the hose, etc. should be cleaned out every few months to prevent fires. A vacuum attachment can handle it. I just pull my dryer out, unhook it, and vacuum out the hose. You can buy a flexible attachment that pokes down in where the vent is.

    3. Rana*

      You might try drying at a lower heat. High heat’s pretty rough on clothes, and I wouldn’t be surprised it’s breaking off more fibers than usual.

      1. fposte*

        Hmm. It’s the lowest heat it’s got, so I don’t think it’s that, but “breaking off fibers” made me realize I may have been washing sheddier stuff than usual alongside the socks.

      1. Alma*

        I bought a set of six 100% wool dryer balls that are amazzzzing. (My go-to source, amazon.com.)

        The natural lanolin softens without spots, scent, or static. They do not leave a trace of fiber on my clothes. They are quieter in the dryer than those knobby plastic ones. They don’t overheat.

        These are a size between baseball and softball.

        If you leave gum in your pocket, and it goes in to the dryer with your clothes, the gum will stick to the dryer balls just as it sticks to everything else (person I am staying with does this GRRR…).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      One more. I make my own dryer sheets. I buy the fabric softener I want. (Usually something that sounds organic, near organic or at least has no scent to it.) I spill a little on to a rag that looks to be low lint. I rub the rag against itself to work the softener into the rag. Toss the rag in with the clothes, start the dryer.

      I like getting more than type of use out of a consumable. This lets me chose to add fabric softener to the washer or to the dryer. I actually dry only a few things so this option is important to me.

      Dryers and top loaders that have agitators tend to break down clothes and shorten the life span of the garment. So you may be seeing that break down, but I don’t really know.

    5. GOG11*

      You can purchase scent and dye free dryer sheets. I just get the store-brand usually. I have a lot of skin and respiratory issues, so I have to be very careful, and I’ve had no problems using them, though they work just as well as traditional dryer sheets (I wasn’t always allergic to everything and my mom used the regular kind when I was a kid).

    6. the gold digger*

      I don’t know if this is a possibility for you, but I dry all my socks and gym clothes (i.e., anything with lycra or elastic and anything with wool) on a drying rack. I have read that the heat is not good for lycra, elastic, wool, etc.

    7. Belle diVedremo*

      Nylon net. I get quarter yard lengths in some bright color and toss that into the washer and the dryer. Found it as a suggestion online somewhere as a way to help catch hair. Seems to help with lint, too. I don’t put wool in the dryer wet (do use the “home dry cleaning” sheets sometimes), so don’t have much experience with the nylon net and wool.

  16. sprinkles!*

    How do you know if you have a bad realtor?

    I’m a first-time home buyer. I started working with a realtor a couple of months ago. All of the houses I’ve looked at I’ve found (my realtor never sent me any listings). She also always had me meet her at the houses, never offering to drive me there – don’t know if this is common or not but several friends who used realtors said they never drove anywhere when they were looking. I often dealt with her assistant and rarely her. And a few weird things happened with homes I was interested in, which also made me suspicious.

    I decided to cut ties via email two days ago…and I haven’t heard a word since. Email is how we both prefer to communicate.

    I really don’t want to work with another realtor after this experience. Would it be so bad to fly solo?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What about those friends for recommendations? I wouldn’t go solo; a realtor can tell you stuff you wouldn’t know on your own (like interpret the pricing history for you or point out an issue with the house you wouldn’t have thought of), get info from the seller’s agent, and advise and negotiate for you on your behalf when it’s time to make an offer. They can also do stuff like find houses that aren’t on the market yet, if you know you want to live in a specific area with low inventory.

      1. sprinkles!*

        Coincidentally, the realtors my friends used are no longer in real estate. I did get one recommendation, but that particular realtor flat out told me I wouldn’t find anything in the area/price range I’m looking at (which I know for certain that’s untrue, because I’ve found a plethora of listings that meet my criteria).

    2. Anonyby*

      That sounds like a bad realtor. The ones I know will meet with you at their office first to find out what you’re looking for, get a bunch of options, and then will at least offer to drive.

      There are a lot of pitfalls that a good realtor can help you through. They can spot issues that you don’t know, make recommendations to companies for things they can’t do (inspections and the like), they’ll deal with all the headaches of scheduling and negotiating. And like Alison said, there’s always houses for sale that might not be on the market yet. For instance, in the real estate office I work in, all listings go up on an office-only board even if they’re not on the MLS. Also, agents talk and will let each other know, “Hey, I’ve got a house coming up that your clients might be interested. Here’s some preview information.”

      1. the gold digger*

        I really liked our buyer’s agent. I was moving from the south to a place with snow, so I was ignorant. (No. I was a fool.) I really liked a house on a corner lot and Todd said, “You know – that’s a lot of shoveling.”

        I had no idea what he was talking about and it never would have occurred to me – but when you live in a city that will fine you for unshoveled sidewalks, you want as little sidewalk as possible.

        (Also – if you are in an area that gets snow – do not buy a house that has the roof pitched toward the driveway – otherwise, you will end up with an Icy Driveway of Death.)

    3. Stella Maris*

      I’d try another one. (And another one, and another one, until you find one that works for and with you.) Maybe crowd-source it (e.g. ask local friends on Facebook or elsewhere) and get some names.

      P.S. It would never occur to me to want to be driven anywhere by a realtor; I would want to do the ‘commute’ myself to see how transit/walking worked and felt. (e.g. too sketchy, what kind of shops are there, etc.) But from other comments that may not be as common. (I also live in a big city so walking/transit is how I get around.)

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I am a walking/transit person myself, and our agent was a real lifesaver BECAUSE he didn’t have a problem picking me up and driving to showings. Once I found some I liked, I’d go over the commute and transit options carefully, of course, but if I’d had to get myself to these places, we never would’ve seen more than one or two in a day and I would have been stressed and tired and lost so many times!

        1. Stella Maris*

          Interesting! I guess if there are just a couple of neighbourhoods I wanted to look in I would try to see more than one at a go if possible. Thanks for that perspective!

    4. periwinkle*

      I’d be careful about flying solo for a first-time purchase. There are lots of details that need to be handled and a realtor should know what has to be done when and by whom. We were first-timers early this year in a hot market (Seattle region). Since I’d been hitting the Redfin site heavily to look at listings, I decided to use one of their agents. While he would have sent listings if I’d asked, I preferred to search the listings myself to pre-screen what fit our criteria and then request house tours. Our agent rarely did the tours as the office had tour specialists for that (one of whom gave us a good education on the signs of quality vs crap construction); FYI, we always drove ourselves to the houses we looked at. You might prefer a full-service agent if you’d like help in narrowing down your options. However, you can deploy a combination of Redfin, Zillow, and Google Maps/Street View to pick your own! One of our criteria was having traffic light access to the closest busy street; with Google Street View I could scope out all the intersections without having to get off the couch.

      What I really leaned on the agent for was help with the whole process and he was particularly valuable when it came to dealing with the credit union (my mortgage rep went on vacation and her fill-in dropped the ball). Lots of paperwork going to lots of different offices – I’d rather let an expert handle all that.

    5. Edacious*

      Sounds like a bad realtor. We had one where we were completely honest to about low balling an offer as it was a foreclosure house and needed a lot of work. We are talking about the wood burning stove being cemented in the driveway type of work. He guy dropped the ball and thought we didn’t have enough money to get it. But we were always upright and stated if we had to put in another 100k we may as well look for a place that didn’t need as much fixing. The real ort told me off just an email message and then I complained to his office and he had to apologise. Good thing we didn’t get it cause while this was going on I bought another place while on a coffee break.

    6. Chickaletta*

      Ditto on not going solo, especially on your first home buying experience. Keep asking everyone you know for suggestions – even an open request on FB or something like that is better than hiring someone cold. Interview 2-3 before you chose if you need to. And don’t sign a contract with them to be your only realtor. If you do this and it doesn’t work out, you can’t find a new realtor again.

      A good realtor will make sure you get to see the houses you find, show you listings they find too, communicate regularly with you, drive you, meet you there, whatever. They should communicate clearly with you about the lending process, costs, fees, inspections, and everything else. If a house is bad, they should steer you away from it instead of just trying to make the sale. Sometimes our realtor would drive up to a house, take a look at the neighbors, and say “nope”, and she wouldn’t even bother taking us inside. It was so reassuring to know I had someone looking out for us as new house hunters.

      Good luck!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Your realtor reminds me of an established* realtor that handled a house for a family member. I really did not see her do anything, her assistant seemed to do everything. In the end, I was the one who located a buyer for the house. She said, “You’re not going to cut me out of my commission.” I said, “Nope. You’ll get paid.”

      I say established because I am lacking a better word. She had been in the biz a while, she had made her money. In some ways, it was just another house to her. She could no longer go up and down stairs her assistant did all that work. too.
      This sounds like what you have.

      Twenty something years ago, my husband and I did fly solo to buy a house. I did not think it was that awful. But my husband and I knew a little bit about houses and we were both observant—okay, nitpicky— people. HOWEVER, for our price range we were not looking at mansions. We were deciding between which headache we wanted to buy, the house would need help and we were just choosing which set of problems we would take on.

      I would not recommend this to someone buying a medium priced or expensive house. And I will say that many realtors we talked to complained that we did not have a realtor. A couple quick thinking realtors tried to adopt us as their customers. I liked them.
      I tend to like to talk directly with people. We ended up talking things through with the sellers directly. No major problems. Because, this goes back to the house was a modest house, we had no grand expectations and neither did the owners.
      I was surprised by how rude some of the seller’s realtors were. And I was surprised by how many confidences those realtors were willing to break. I learned way too much about the sellers for some of the homes we saw.

      1. sprinkles!*

        All of this. My now – former realtor has been working for several years and is established. I thought this would be an advantage because she would know the process well. But I’m seeing now that maybe it isn’t a great idea.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The realtor who represented the sellers of our house turned out to be the best realtor we talked to. She totally protected her sellers interests and was very professional. She even went as far as telling us that it was awkward to speak with us directly, it would be better if we had our own representative.
          We were young and kind of cocky, so we felt, “get over it”. Real estate is a tough, tough business. I think if a person stays in it for any length of time they learn to harden up and just focus on where they can make immediate sales. Of the few people that adopted us, they showed us a few houses that were not even close to what we wanted. It was like they could not hear “it has to have a garage”, etc. For the price range we were looking at, they were not highly motivated to help us for any length of time.
          Happy ending- we found a house that was perfect for us. Even now, I get comments about having a house that has a logical layout and easy to live in. It all landed well.

    8. Katie the Fed*

      Don’t fly solo! It costs you nothing to have a buyer’s agent. Get a better one – and tell yours that you’re moving on. Did you sign a contract? Some of them can be REALLY aggressive about staying in touch unless you clearly tell them you don’t want their services.

      I had an awful buyer’s agent once. I should have known there was a problem when she saw me and said “Katie! You’ve gained so much weight!” and then she just constantly put her foot in her mouth and said unintentionally insulting things like that to potential sellers. She was so cringeworthy.

      1. sprinkles!*

        That is so terrible! I would have been inclined to dismiss them immediately. :(

        Luckily, it appears I didn’t sign a contract. And *strangely* enough, I haven’t heard a peep from her or her staff since I let her go.

        1. Windchime*

          Ugh, a realtor can make all the difference in the world. When I was house shopping in my current town, I saw a house I really liked (from the outside) , so I called the agent whose name was listed on the sign. She turned out to be really, really strange. We drove around one day looking at listings but she was just so weird that I wanted the day to be over. One of the places we went was a new building site and there was a site agent there who was organized, professional and seemed to know her business. I dumped the weird lady, called the organized, professional agent and she ultimately helped me find the home I live in now.

          Things she did for me:
          –Took my list of “wants” and “needs” and found me listings within my price range that fit my list.
          –Arranged for me to tour a home that was not for sale, but had the same layout to a home that was under construction so I could envision how it would look once completed.
          –Gave me good advice about neighborhoods since I was new to the area. Things like, “There is a fire station around the corner–might be noisy”. Or “The builder has defaulted and we don’t know when that home will be completed, if ever”.
          –Took care of ALL the arrangements and paperwork when I found my home. Worked with the finance guy when there was a problem. Advised me on negotiation tactics. Cut through the crap with skill and ease.

          Seriously. Dump your agent if they’re not actively helping you.

    9. Mkb*

      In my experience, I’d try to find someone who is new to real estate and is able to put in the time with you. I find most of the newbies to be way more motivated and accomodating.

      the more experienced realtors I’ve worked with seem like they’d rather work with sellers, not buyers. Just my opinion though!

    10. Nancypie*

      I had doubts about our realtor when we last sold/bought. But when we were under contract, the realtor was awesome at negotiating, resolving issues, keeping our buyers’ and sellers’ realtors on track. And in my mind, that was the important part (well-also getting up buyers, which came from another agency).

      I found the houses I was interested in in on the realtor dot com site, which saved me a lot of time in going to see places I wasn’t interested in. And I preferred using my own car because I could drive around the neighborhood without wasting the realtors time.

    11. lfi*

      We had a bad realtor when we put a bid on our first house. I reached out to them based on a rec from my MIL (heh) and much like you I did all the work.

      The day that we put in an offer everything that could’ve gone wrong did. They put the wrong house address on the bid documents (wtf), and sent the documents via docusign to the wrong email address multiple times. I was docusigning items on the bus from my phone 10 minutes before they went in to present our bid.

      After many tears, a few grey hairs and a lack of patience we stopped using them and ended up finding a specialist in the area we wanted (which led us to our house). Check yelp reviews, and if you use nextdoor I’d recommend posting there.

  17. Treena*

    I definitely do! Usually send out between 40-60 and usually get 25-35. My family does them, and almost none of my friends do, so that’s usually where the discrepancy is.

  18. Wendy Darling*

    Back before I left academia my crazy, abusive PI promised me and several other people co-authorship of a paper. It’s a writeup of a grant-funded study for which we did basically all the work — she designed the study but it was executed entirely by grad students, all data analysis was done by grad students, and I wrote an entire section of the paper for her like 5 years ago.

    She finally got around to publishing it this year in a very prestigious journal… with herself as the sole author.

    I’ve been out of academia for 3+ years and have no plans to go back but I’m still livid. As her research assistant I was treated so poorly I needed therapy after and was forced out when I started to crack from the unreasonable conditions. It was so horrible I gave up on academia 3 years ago, but she still had to get this one last jab in, didn’t she.

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      Contact the journal in question! Forward any emails/proof regarding the promised authorship credit! Totally unacceptable – I’m seething for you. She sounds crazy so I wouldn’t start with her, but go straight to the journal and speak to them about it.

      1. Fifer*

        Seconded – and your old department, they should take this very seriously if Grad students work was involved.

      2. AcidMeFlux*

        Ditto. Respectable journals don’t like to be punked by anybody. Their own reputations to protect. Be detailed, respectful, and give as much proof as you can get your hands on.

      3. Sunflower*

        Yeah! I’m not in academia but I imagine this has gotta be some serious stuff, esp for the university. What about the other people? I bet they probably are not happy either and if they are still in academia it’s probably a BFD for them

      4. Wendy Darling*

        Authorship is less of a Big Damn Deal in this field than some, and I doubt I still have any emails discussing authorship in any case as it was five years ago using a now-defunct university email address.

        If I was planning to go back into academia, like, ever I would probably raise a stink about it but at this point it’s not worth the inevitable giant drama explosion. I only found out about it because I was googling myself (I’m applying for jobs, so… routine check) and it turned up on page 5 because she credited me and the other grad students as ‘contributing to a previous version of this paper’ in a footnote.

        This lady is so toxic that only one of ~six people I worked with on this grant are even still in the field at all. The rest of us left academia entirely.

    2. Not Karen*

      Yep, that’s academia for you. I was just talking to a coworker about how we’ll often get to the publication stage of a project we’re highly involved in, and suddenly the authorship list is made up of 10 people we’ve never even heard of.

    3. Sophia in the DMV*

      Sometimes grad students are either paid for their work or given coauthorship, not both

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I wouldn’t have a problem with it if she hadn’t explicitly told me I (and several other people) would be given coauthorship. I was paid when I was her research assistant, but I also later wrote a section of the paper for her (I don’t have journal access so can’t see if she used it and I wrote it 5 years ago so I might not recognize it if I saw it) when I was not being paid.

  19. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

    Ugh. I feel like I am watching everything I loved about my Alma Mater get destroyed. : <

    1. Emily*

      I don’t know what your Alma Mater is, but mine is going through some rough patches (mostly, the students’ relations with the campus police has gone really far downhill) as well.

    2. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Mine is making changes that will make it much harder for rural, poor students like me to get into the schools. I did really well there and I’m disappointed at the barriers they are throwing up for students like this based solely on “convenience” to them. : <

    3. Sunflower*

      I’m so sorry :( I am a Penn State alum and everything that happened a few years ago was absolutely devastating. Even though I(and really a lot of our alumni) have such strong ties to the school, it affected me much more than I thought it ever would and it was a really hard time in my life. Hope things get better

  20. Not My Usual Name*

    Does anyone else hate being touched unexpectedly? I find myself pulling away or shouting “Get Off!” when somebody tries to put their hand on my shoulder/arm when I am not expecting it. I am talking about situations with almost strangers (e.g. people in a dance class).

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      Heh. Yup. Even my CQC instructor would give notice; “I’m going to invade your space now” when moving in to put me in a chokehold. Safety first. But he knew me very well.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Ha! I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I’m okay with people touching me in that context (I have to be as it’s a pretty hands-on martial art) but even my classmates touching me in non-fighty ways bugs me. Once I was sparring with a classmate and he hurt me in some way he didn’t mean to and put a hand reassuringly on my arm all, “OMG, are you okay?” And I had been totally fine with him trying to choke me out/dislocate my shoulder/throw me to the ground, but that hand on my arm *really* bugged.

    2. Allison Mary*

      YES, I’m exactly the same way!

      Until I got involved with a local community of, shall we say, an “adult” nature, I always tolerated this uncomfortably. Since getting involved with this “adult” community, however, I’ve become a huge champion of consensual touch ONLY and have become much more comfortable with vocalizing my boundaries.

      Lots of people still touch me on the arm/shoulder/back without asking, and when that happens, I usually remove their hand with my own hand, and say (politely and in a non-combative way), “I actually don’t like to be touched without having been asked first.” I don’t get mad the first time, because with lots of people, being touched and touching like that is a perfectly acceptable normal practice, and usually the person touching is simply trying to facilitate genuine connection. But, if people like me don’t speak up and tell them that we’re uncomfortable with it, they’re going to continue believing that it’s acceptable to everyone.

      1. Christy*

        Should you happen to write about your experiences in that community, I’m sure several of us would read with interest

        1. Allison Mary*

          Heh – I’d be perfectly willing to share about those experiences if people are curious (especially in regards to how it has affected my confidence in vocalizing my own boundaries), but the topic is of such an adult nature that I really feel like I’d need Alison’s go-ahead before going there. :)

      2. super anon*

        i have a coworker that loves to grab my hand to look at my nails, or touch my hair, clothes etc. i’m definitely borrowing your wording to use the next time she does it. ty!

    3. anonanonanon*

      Yes. I usually jerk away which leads to an awkward moment. It’s worse when someone touches me unexpectedly and they’re not in my line of visions because the fight part of fight or flight nature takes control and I’ve accidentally elbowed or pushed people because I’m so startled.

      I usually just tell people I prefer not to be touched and though most people are surprised about it, they listen. I’ve only had two times where someone forced a hug on me because apparently those two people didn’t understand that not everyone wants a hug when they’re upset and that not everyone needs to hug people they just met goodbye.

    4. Wendy Darling*

      My startle reflex involves fists swinging. Touching me when I can’t tell you’re about to do it ends badly for everybody. :(

      I don’t like being touched by people I don’t know well, though, even if it doesn’t startle me. Usually if I see it coming I will quietly avoid it.

    5. OK*


      I dont care about casual touches. But man, trying to teach kinders to keep their hands to themselves is like herding kittens high on catnip.

    6. A.J.*

      Yes, most definitely hate it! I have told this story here a few weeks ago but its definitely relevant here. I went for an interview at what was originally my top choice company (a medium sized startup). During the onsite interview the company’s HR recruiter gave me a tour of the office. Throughout the tour she kept patting me on the shoulder and touching my back. It made me so uncomfortable and really threw me off my interview focus. And she kept doing it all day long after each interview when she would bring me to the next meeting. At the end of the interview she went in for a hug when I was going for a hand shake. I was stunned and horrified and I just froze up– it was just so awkward and unexpected. ugh… just. nope.

      1. Not My Usual Name*

        Thank you people for proving that I am not completely bonkers!

        What really annoyed me was somebody asking me if I wanted a drink. Quite why they felt the need to grip my shoulder in order to do so, I have no idea.

    7. Ruth (UK)*

      I dislike being touched unexpectedly in situations with strangers or almost-strangers except, actually, in the one example you gave: dance class.

      I do a lot of dance… which is almost an understatement for me (I do 5 different styles of dance, mostly folk/traditional and have class/practice 5 days a week). Anyway, if you’re doing something like ballet, I think it’s almost impossible to cope with if you feel that way about touching. Tap… I think it’s rare for unexpected touching to occur, but it does happen. In folk/traditional styles I do, it varies. Some of them include partnering people and linking arms, hand-holding, etc (in one style ‘belly swing’ is a common move, where you effectively one-arm hug your partner around the front and middle, and swing with them in a circle). One person who teaches dances for that can be a bit of a pusher-shover when she sees someone lost in a dance.

      I also used to play a good deal of rugby in which obviously grabbing and close contact among team-mates in a match/practice is going to be common.

      On the other hand, I find physical contact with strangers or unexpectedly to be awful and awkward outside of these types of contexts. I think I kind of separate it into “this is necessary and for a reason” and “why are they touching me?”

  21. Sunflower*

    I made soup for the first time ever- Chicken Tortilla. I followed the Firebird restaurant recipe(apparently they have great soup). So the soup isn’t bad but it just tastes really bland and doesn’t have any flavor. It kind of just tastes like pureed tomatoes.

    What can I add/do to fix this! I made a large batch(8 qts) with the intention of freezing it. I’m thinking the basics of adding more salt/pepper and garlic but what else?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Chicken or pork stock (reduced sodium if you can).

      These are your chicken tortilla friends.

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        And don’t just throw it all in the crock pot or whatever you cook in. The base vegetables in any dish (say, a sofrito) need to be sauteèd a good bit before you put in the major ingredients:. That really deepens the general flavor.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Lime juice. Acid really helps pick up the flavor of any dish. Tomatoes are acidic, sure, but try some lime. Roast or saute that garlic before you add it.

      1. fposte*

        Yup–totally agree on the lime. And similarly to the garlic–if you’re adding more ground spices, bloom them first by sautéeing them in a bit of oil.

    3. danr*

      Or, freeze what you have in one pot batches and adjust the flavorings for each pot. That way you’ll get experience for what works. Generally a bland soup will need some salt and pepper to start. Add the additional bits slowly, stir, cook a bit and taste before adding more.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      To fix your existing batch, I’d add a variety of spices (salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, paprika, onion or garlic powder, chili powder, cayenne) slowly, tasting all the while, and then continue to simmer it for a few hours to deepen the flavour.

      In the future, when you do a tortilla soup, do you just plunk everything in there together? I’d start by sauteeing onion and peppers together (and garlic if you want) until soft, then adding in your spices and toasting those in there as well for a minute or two, and then adding your cornmeal or masa harina and sauteeing that for a bit until it’s nice and toasty. Then I’d start plunking in your liquids. Did you use water, or broth? (I use veggie or chicken broth in mine.) Broth will give more flavour as well. Add in your other ingredients (chicken, black beans, other veggies, whatever) and simmer for at least a half hour, an hour is better. I like to add lime at the end for zest. You can also try marinating your chicken before you put it in, maybe in a lime marinade or something else, to boost flavour more.

    5. fposte*

      I’d also say that anything promoted as “X restaurant recipe” almost certainly is a modification at best and sometimes just a vague approximation. They can still be really nice recipes, but I wouldn’t expect the same level of quality.

    6. Gene*

      I agree with the suggestion for a bit of acid. Also, instead of salt, get a small jar of chicken base. Add a bit, simmer a little while, repeat as needed.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      It could need any number of things. Take out a small amount at a time and add a little salt, if that tastes better, add more salt to the pot. Repeat with lime juice or vinegar. Probably 90% of bland food can be solved with salt and/or an acid “brightener.”

      1. Alma*

        My go-to ingredients when a culinary creation tastes like it needs something:

        Lemon or lime juice, fresh (added at serving time) – this brightens the taste, but also is aromatic, and can mimic a salty taste

        Low-sodium Worcestershire sauce (nice umami)
        Toasted sesame oil
        Tamari sauce (I prefer it to soy sauce)
        A little bit more minced garlic
        Fish sauce – but you will need to use equal parts fish sauce and sweetener

        Very finely shredded carrots (for natural sweetness, instead of adding sugar to spaghetti sauce, for example)
        Use sweet onions instead of regular onions

        Remember that some flavors are conveyed better in acid, others in oil. If you are cutting way back on oil, a bit of healthy(er) oil may work wonders

    8. Nye*

      Salt is a great place to start – maybe it’s underseasoned? After that I’d try adding acid for brightness – fresh lime juice would probably be nice in tortilla soup. Serve it with a healthy sprinkle of fresh cilantro (if you like it), to add a fresh flavor. And if you’re into spicy food, plus it up with some more chili/chipotle/etc of your choice.

      I’d recommend doing a “test bowl” before doctoring the whole pot, especially when salt/heat are concerned, in case you overcorrect. Good luck!

    9. Sunflower*

      THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! So my big mistake was I skipped the cumin because I didn’t have any and thought maybe i could get away without it but seems like not! I also added a fresh squeezed lime, a bunch of cilantro, and sauteed some more garlic and bell peppers. Added some more salt and pepper and now its perfect! You guys are awesome!

  22. K.*

    This has been a really hard year. One of my dear friends lost his father suddenly, I’ve been laid off for months, I lost my last grandparent, and I had a romantic relationship end. (I met the guy early in the year so meeting and falling for him is at least one good thing that happened, even if it didn’t last.) I’m also feeling down about the state of the country – seeing two mass shootings in one week took a toll on me. I am trying not to wallow and to take care of myself – exercise, spending time with loved ones, cooking and eating healthy, nourishing food … but sometimes it’s hard for me to keep going.

    Any suggestions for how to get out of a depressive rut? I’ve been in therapy before and might look into it again; not sure what my health insurance covers though.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      It sounds like you are trying to get out of the rut and looking after yourself. Sometimes a bit of quiet down time is needed to process what has happened and to see the way forward. Be kind to yourself and don’t be too impatient. I hope you feel better soon.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Cut down on how much news you take in. We don’t even realize how much we listen to news all day. It’s on the radio while we eat breakfast and drive to work. Then we check the news during the day. Then come home and watch more news while fixing dinner. (How we digest our meals is beyond me.)
      This year I am looking into a SAD lamp and I am already pumping the vitamin D. I don’t like winter, it tends to be a downer for me. So rather than wait for “it” to hit, I started making changes now.

      This may or may not be a thing for you, but when I hear the news for the day, I have found the only thing I can do is pray.

      1. schnapps*

        This. Definitely. I am in a way better mood when I listen to an audiobook or a podcast instead of the news on my way to and from work. I’ll flip on the radio to check the traffic, but that’s it. It’s part of my job to stay on top of local news at work, but aside from that I ignore it as much as possible. I read fiction books only (okay, kind of violent fiction, but it works!)

        Prayer or meditation might help too – my personal version of meditation is to be left alone in a dark room for 20 minutes. I lay down in savasana and just let my mind float. Or if I have the cash, I’ll go for a float in a float tank/pod.

    3. FutureLibrarian*

      My year has been…a challenge. Not necessarily in bad ways, but just challenges that have often left me in a funk. Here are some of the steps I’ve taken:

      1.) Unfriend or un-follow any negative people on Facebook and other social media sites.

      2.) Remove any news stations from your Facebook and other social media websites.

      3.) Eat something unhealthy sometimes too.

      4.) Buy yourself some candles, bubble bath, and a book or magazine, and sit in the tub until you’re wrinkled.

      5.) Read articles on Tiny Buddha (positive thinking/meditative thinking/introspective website).

      6.) Watch YouTube videos of adorable kittens and puppies.

      And finally, the most important step: allow yourself time to grieve. Do not push yourself to feel better immediately, or follow a timeline that others have created. Cry when you want to cry, laugh when you’re ready to laugh. But do it on your own time.

      1. K.*

        Ha – there’s a YouTube video of Bernese Mountain Dog puppies playing that I watch regularly, and another of German Shepherd puppies. (One of them runs into the leg of a chair, it’s adorable.)

        Thank you, these are good suggestions, particularly allowing myself time to grieve. I am not always so good at asking for help or acknowledging that I’m not OK, and I’ve been trying to be better at it – answering “Not so great” rather than “I’m fine” when people ask me how I am is a good start, I think.

        1. fposte*

          In the first few weeks after my back surgery, I deliberately looked at Daily Squee every evening just before bed. Even stuff that would have been too cutesy when I was feeling well was deeply welcome.

    4. Good helper*

      I highly recommend the book The Mindful Way Through Depression–I think it is really down-to-earth useful advice for dealing with negative emotions even if you aren’t depressed. It comes with a CD of guided meditations. My public library has it.

      The authors do say it might be hard to read/implement if you are in a really severe depression, in which case it is better to wait until you are somewhat better and then try to learn the techniques to have on hand for future. But it sounds like you are doing good self-care and functioning pretty well, so I bet you’d be able to benefit.

      Definitely keep up what you are doing, especially the exercise. I agree with the suggestions to not be impatient and to reduce your news consumption. And yes, therapy if you can afford it and find a good therapist. Good luck!

  23. Marcela*

    I need advice from cat parents, please.

    We adopted a 2 1/2 years old cat one year ago, Curu. When we got him from the county shelter, he was not in a cage but free in the room where the cages are. Shelter personal told us he cried to much they had to let him free. He is a picky eater and that caused a lot of stress in the first months, when every change or disturbance (such as going to the vet) would cause him to stop eating anything, except whiskas temptations (he is very smart, don’t you think?). By now we are a happy family and he is very affectionate, sleeping next or on top of us all the time.

    In a couple of weeks we have to go out of town for 10 days. And we don’t know what to do. On one side, we could hire a catsitter again, as we did for two days last November, with great results. But our son eats canned tuna, so he needs at least 2 visits per day, i.e. $50 per day. In 10 days, that’s a fortune. For his behavior in the shelter, we know a cat boarding hotel is not an option.

    On the other side, some friends offered us to host him those days. But I am worried about the trip, first, since he truly hates the car movements. He is a great cat for houses not used to pets, since he is very quiet, not requiring much play time or attention, and he doesn’t do mischief. But he isn’t very good with change, as most cats, and I worry moving out for 10 days is going to be too much. And, is he going to know he is not being abandoned again?

    So, I’m not sure what I’m asking from you, I guess some perspective and/or anecdotes about what you did with your cats in situations like mine. Do you think they can cope without big issues?

    1. Cruciatus*

      Do you have neighbors you trust? A neighbor with a responsible teen who could use a few more bucks around the holidays? It’d be easy for them to come over at least 2 times a day at maybe $10 a day or something. Maybe instead of your friends hosting they could come a few times to check up on things. Maybe a sibling or niece who would find it fun to house sit?

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        Yes. A responsible housesitter who can be there every day and play and pet the cat. I don’t know if this works for where you live, but for example college students who can’t go home for the holidays and don’t want to stay in the dorm often housesit. See if there’s some online source near you. My cat deals better with a steady babysitter than having someone in and out a couple times a day to leave food.

      2. Marcela*

        I have one neighbors we trust, but they are an older couple and I guess they’ll feel forced to help us. I don’t really know my other neighbors to ask for favours like this :( And our friends live 1:30 hours from us. One of them works with my husband (he has a terrible commute), but many times he doesn’t come to the office, so it’s not like he has a stable schedule. Finally, we are foreigners: we don’t have family here… :(

        1. Cruciatus*

          I wouldn’t discount the neighbors if you’re friendly with them and think you could trust them. Make it sound like it’s not a big deal if they say no but you’re asking because you trust them. Perhaps it would be something easy they could add into their day. And say you could pay $X per day or $XY for the whole 10 days or whatever. This could be an easy solution to your problem.

    2. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      10 days is a while, so I understand your concern. Do you have any friends they are familiar with who can feed them once a day and play? I can of tuna put out at night will be plenty of food for the day. A friend that is familiar and has been over before will be less stressful and staying in their own territory will be less stress than taking them with you.

    3. Ellen*

      He could probably be fed once per day, at twice his normal amount (essentially combining two feedings into one). If he’s anything like my cat, he’ll eat it all quickly enough that it won’t go bad. That’s probably not idea, but would at least cut down on the cost.

    4. Allison Mary*

      I know you didn’t ask for feedback or opinions on this, so this is absolutely none of my business – but if you feel like indulging me, I’d like to clarify something.

      Does your cat’s entire diet consist of canned tuna? Does he get fed anything else?

      1. Marcela*

        He eats mostly canned tuna (Trader Joe’s one). After several cats dying from renal problems, which my then vet told me were probably caused by dry food, we decided to give him only wet food, and the only one he liked was “tuna for cats”. Our current vet approved this diet.

        But while we were desperately trying to find something he would eat (for he doesn’t eat raw or cooked meat or chicken or ham or anything a normal cat would eat), we contacted his former owner who said he ate catshow indoor. The first night we made the mistake of offering him whiskas temptations, only to discover that was the only thing he wanted to eat, and we thought perhaps that was because he missed the dry food he was used to eat. So now I’d say he eats 3/4 of his daily food as wet food, and the other quarter in catshow.

        1. knitchic79*

          I’m on team neighbor checking in. Our cat is a total spaz…really can’t take cat trips or cages, we have a couple of neighbors more than willing to open a can of food and dole out pets. So much cheaper since they are already right there and the cat is familiar enough to not get too freaked out. We still get the silent treatment when we get home, but she rebounds pretty quick.
          Lol last time was great…kitty leapt into my arms gave me an “I missed you so!” meow and nuzzle, then pulled back howled hate at me and jumped down. She loves temptations treats too so I bribed her back into my good graces. Ahhh cats

        2. Allison Mary*

          Ah, okay – I had read your original post as possibly saying that your cat was only eating human, canned tuna, and I was thinking if that were the case, he’d probably be missing out on lots of crucial nutrients for cats that wouldn’t be in just straight canned tuna. But what you’re describing sounds much more species-appropriate than what I was picturing in my head. :)

          So onto the topic of your original post, then – I can relate to the challenge you’re facing, because our cats get fed a wet, homemade concoction, twice daily, so they really need somebody to come feed them when we’re out of town (which isn’t too often, thankfully). What we’ve been doing is making friends with at least three or four nearby neighbors (we live in an apartment building, so this is fairly easy), and because they’re so close to us in terms of physical location, we’ve usually been able to find at least one neighbor who is happily willing to come feed our cats while we’re gone. I’ve had a harder time finding people to come cat-sit for us when we’re asking them to come all the way across town, twice daily.

          Would something similar to that be at all viable for you guys?

          1. Marcela*

            Ah, ok. I suspected as much, so I was more explicit this time :) Was I wrong about using “canned tuna” to explain what he eats? I mean, is there a proper name for tuna for cats?

            Uf, I guess our main problem is that we are feeding him 4 times a day. Curu eats just a bit every time, and Hubby worries the tuna will spoil after many hours out, so he eats as many times as we do. An automatic feeder gives him food at midday, since he is usually alone then, but in any case that’s 3 times a day, that we hope we can reduce to twice a day if the catsitter is coming.

            I guess I’ll ask my neighbors if they are willing to feed him. After all, I’ll be asking them to turn on the outside lights so the house doesn’t look all alone (inside we have light timers). Luckily our son is not afraid of people, and spends a lot of time trying to seduce every visitor we have, even my FIL who doesn’t like cats at all.

            1. Allison Mary*

              Worrying about the food spoiling is definitely a legitimate concern – we feed our cats a homemade raw food, and we have to manage the same thing.

              I think most cats can be transitioned to a regular, twice daily feeding schedule. We had a little bit of a struggle with our cats, too – they wouldn’t finish all of their food in two meals. But because we were worrying about them going hungry, we’d keep putting their food back out later (between official meal times) – but this was counterproductive to getting them switched to two meals per day.

              If you put their food out for limited times (like 15-30 minutes, per meal) and then take the food away until the next meal time, and repeat the same routine – I bet you could get your cats easily switched to two meals per day, and they’d eat up all of their food. It might take a few days for them to figure out the new routine, but I bet you could do it, if it would help with the whole vacation issue. :)

              1. Marcela*

                Yeah, we did that too: putting his food in the fridge as soon as he stopped eating, and getting it back every time he asked. I had to stop that since sometimes it seemed he would ask for food just to show us he was the boss, because he didn’t even touch it :D

    5. Sparrow*

      Does your neighborhood have a Next Door site? You could post something there in case there are any people in the neighborhood who would be willing to stop by. Like other people mentioned, is it possible to have the sitter stop by once a day? Or can you get quotes from other sitters who might be less expensive?

      We have three cats who usually get fed wet food in the morning and evening. When we are out of town, we have someone stop by once a day. They each get one can of food and some dry kibble.

      One of our cats is very close to us, and when we were gone for 10 days in the summer our sitter did report that she didn’t eat much and seemed a bit agitated – meowing and pacing around a lot. I felt bad, but she got settled quickly once we got home.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Can you do a test run with the friends who offered to host him? It might take at least 2 days for him to calm down from the change, but I can’t see pushing it past 3 or 4 days for a test.

    7. non-profit manager*

      My male cat with issues eats commercial raw, so I understand where you’re coming from. And he is so afraid of strangers, I know he would not come out to eat for a pet sitter, so we have to board him. It’s not ideal, but I know he eats, the raw food is not out for hours, and they keep an eye on him.

      If my cat ate only canned cat food, I would hire a pet sitter to come by once per day. Especially in the winter, when the inside of the house tends to be cooler. You can purchase automatic pet feeders with ice packs (check CatMate for examples – I have the C20 and the C50 and both work well) and I would have the pet sitter fill the feeder each day and set it to open 12 hours later. And feed the cat, scoop the litter, play with him, etc at the same time.

    8. Num Lock*

      I adopted an older shelter car. His big issue was morbid obesity, but he was losing 1 lb/week at the shelter because of the stress. He gets three small meals a day, so I can’t really ask a friend to come over that often and I can’t afford a pet sitter. I had a lot of reservations about boarding him, but it’s turned out to be fairly fine. I’ve always ended up boarding him at my vet’s office. It’s dirt cheap ($11 for overnight plus his special food) and I know that if he starts having trouble from not eating, he’s already where he needs to be (they’re a 24/7 emergency hospital, so someone is always around). I also know that he is getting fed the proper amount of food, since he’s lost 10 lbs and I refuse to let him backslide! I have one friend who probably would come over three times a day, but I can’t trust her judgement on proportions/things to feed a dieting cat.

      He typically loses about 1 lb whenever I board him for more than 2 – 3 days, however his appetite usually perks up at that point. Usually he comes home and is extra cuddly for a few days. Sometimes he’ll be “red” from stress for about 24 hours, but a little extra lap time fixes all. I think the first time I boarded him at all it was 10 days long, and I’d had him maybe 6 months. It took about a year for him to fully “relax” in my house though, so he may still be recovering from his previous experience and be more sensitive than he will be later.

  24. nep*

    Anyone out there have a good grasp on subsidies under the ACA?
    I’ve put my question to people at that marketplace 800 number — to no avail. Invariably they sound as if they’re simply reading from a script and not paying attention to my particular question.

    1. CAA*

      What’s the question? I’ve been studying up in hopeful preparation for an early retirement next year and have found a few good explanations of the cliff and calculating magi and so on. Let me know more about your specific situation and I’ll see if I can point you to anything relevant.

      1. nep*

        It’s tough to nail down what my income will be, as my hours vary and much of my income is commission-based. I’m right near the threshold — the higher estimate would have me eligible for subsidy, the lower would have me out of the Marketplace and on Medicaid.
        What are the ramifications if I estimate the higher and so buy a policy with help of the subsidy — but then earn the lower amount, which would have had me qualifying only for expanded Medicaid? Will I owe a percentage of the subsidy I received?
        (I will find out eventually, as this is what happened to me last year — my income turns out to be lower than I’d projected, but I had coverage through the Marketplace w a subsidy. But my income situation is similar and I’ve got to nail down what to do for 2016. I’d rather not go on Medicaid so I’m thinking of going high with my projection.)
        Gah — is my question clear?

        1. nep*

          (I’ve also been thinking, I should provide the high estimate and just do what I must to earn that much or more in the year.)

        2. katamia*

          Ugh, I sympathize. I’m in a similar position except I was and will be almost totally freelance rather than paid on commission. I’m sure I didn’t/won’t make enough money in either 2015 or 2016 and could have qualified for a subsidy, but I finally just gave up for 2015 and didn’t even bother when I signed up this year because there was no way I could prove my income.

          I really wish there were some way to do it after the fact to reflect what I actually earned rather than what I think I’m going to earn. If you’re a freelancer or even if you just work uneven hours (I’m thinking retail, where the hours seem to fluctuate a ton these days, but I’m sure there are other places too), sometimes you just can’t prove it other than knowing that, short of my selling multiple novels and screenplays in the following year (hah), I’m not going to be making a lot of money.

          1. nep*

            Thanks for sharing this. What do you mean, exactly — didn’t even bother when you signed up this year. Bother to project?
            If you don’t mind, did you end up qualifying for Medicaid (has your state opted-in / expanded Medicaid)?

            1. katamia*

              I didn’t even try to project my income. It wasn’t worth the energy, and I wouldn’t have had the documentation to prove it, so I just signed up for healthcare without providing any income at all.

              I think, numbers-wise, I probably would have qualified for Medicaid for 2015. However, my income this year has been weirder than I thought (started out freelancing/contracting, took a job overseas, had to quit for health reasons, now have to leave the country and come back to the US because I was here on a work visa, am unemployed now), so it’s hard to say.

              I never seriously considered trying to get Medicaid, though. I’ve heard enough horror stories and don’t want to deal with changing doctors just because the ones I like don’t see a lot of Medicaid patients. I have family who is willing and able to help me with healthcare costs and wanted the subsidies to reduce/eliminate what they would need to pay, but going on Medicaid would have caused more problems for me than it solved. *sigh*

              1. nep*

                Thanks for this. When you say ‘signed up for healthcare without providing any income at all’ — do you mean through the Marketplace or you just got a health insurance policy on your own? Reason I ask — I didn’t think it was possible to get anything through the Marketplace w/o providing an income. Thank you.

                1. katamia*

                  I don’t know what state you’re in (I was/will be in Maryland) and I don’t actually know if it varies by state, but I don’t think I needed to provide one last year when I signed up through Maryland Health Connection. (There were Issues because I was out of the country this year, so a family member wound up doing it–with my knowledge and consent–this year.) If I did provide any kind of income last year, I suspect what I did was just give a random number over the Medicaid and subsidy limit so they wouldn’t check.

        3. CAA*

          Yes, I understand your question. I actually have a very similar situation for next year where my taxable income on paper is going to be very tiny due to some weirdness with the timing of payments, so this is something I’ve looked into myself.

          What I’ve found is you will need to file form 8962 with your tax return for 2015. The IRS draft instructions for this situation on the 2015 form are the same as they were in 2014:

          You may qualify for the PTC if your household income is less than 100% of the Federal poverty line and you meet all of the following requirements.
          * You or an individual in your tax family enrolled in a qualified health plan through a Marketplace.
          * The Marketplace estimated at the time of your enrollment that your household income would be at least 100% but not more than 400% of the Federal poverty line for your family size for 2015.
          * APTC was paid for the coverage for one or more months during 2015.
          * You otherwise qualify as an applicable taxpayer (except for the Federal poverty line percentage).

          So basically, if the marketplace accepted your estimate of your income, and that estimate qualified you for a PTC (premium tax credit), but your actual income turned out to be too low to qualify, you don’t have to pay it back. Interestingly, this form only uses the FPL of $11,670 for a single person. It doesn’t even mention the minimum of $16,243 in states with expanded Medicaid.

          The real issue is whether the marketplace will let you keep estimating your income that high and whether they’ll eventually force you into Medicaid. Once you file your 2015 taxes that show you didn’t qualify, they may come back and ask for proof that your 2016 earnings will be high enough to qualify for the subsidy next year.

          1. nep*

            Thanks very much for this. Interesting, as you say, that the form does not mention that higher threshold in states w expanded Medicaid. If I understand correctly, this might be in my favour?
            I contacted the Marketplace a couple weeks ago and gave them a lower estimate — automatically made me eligible for Medicaid in my state. I received notice from the state days later. I *might* be getting a slight raise in the coming weeks and my commission potential is looking better than it was even a month ago, so I’m thinking of revising my projection and going for the subsidy again. Pondering all this.
            Ah, if only I could get insurance through my employer and not have to deal w all this.
            Appreciate your time.

  25. Doriana Gray*

    Okay, I’m on my iPhone and have always visited this site this way, but now I’m seeing ads on the page when I never did before. Any idea how to get rid of these things?

        1. Doriana Gray*

          First, I turned off the JavaScript on the phone, closed my browser, cleared the cookies, and then switched my search engine to Google. Then I turned the JavaScript back on, and that weirdly seems to have done the trick. For now anyway.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m experimenting with some ad changes this month. For the last six months or so, there have been no ads on mobile at all, but I’m experimenting with what might work there since mobile users account for a large amount of traffic.

      I think everyone will hate them at first because it’s a change, but they should also be easy to scroll right past, so I would consider it a great favor if you’d live with them for a couple of weeks before deciding they’re intolerable (as I think people will get used to them, if history is any guide).

      1. Rena*

        I’ll give you the time, but I’m wary. I find this site already really unstable on my phone – it loads really slowly and the comments crash Chrome really frequently – I can’t see how adding giant ads will improve an already tenuous mobile experience.

        1. Mando Diao*

          Alison undoubtedly makes more money with her current ad providers than she would with others, but I’ve also never encountered as many ad problems anywhere else. Every day or so there’s some kind of commentary on difficult ads, and I never see that happening on any other site. Not my business, but as a observer, it’s odd to me.

      2. in search of an ad blocker*

        People can get used to just about anything. That doesn’t make it good. I’d expect a higher bar from you. These ads make your site look cheap and tacky.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The content here is and will remain free to you, but there are going to be ads supporting it and some of them will probably be more noticeable than what’s traditionally been on the site, because ad conventions are changing and the site needs to produce revenue. I appreciate the feedback here, but I’d also appreciate people keeping that reality in mind.

          1. Sara*

            I’m not finding them too bad (I mostly visit on my iPad). They show up above the comments for me, but the screen position adjusts so I can’t really see much of them. I accidentally clicked a few times while trying to collapse or expand the comments, but now I’ve learned how the page adjusts.

          2. Lore*

            No argument with any of your points but I agree with others who’ve said I’ve never experienced as many issues with ads on any other blog I read regularly. I don’t know if you use a different network or your site is built differently but there do seen to be more issues. The labor involved in switching may be more than is practical or financially feasible and I totally get that but if there’s any way to investigate what other sites do to manage these issues I know I (and I bet others) would be happy to do some of the research to improve the user experience here.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              So, this is a constant struggle for me, because frankly I feel the same (that there are more issues here). But my ad company — who truly seem like credible, smart people who aren’t just trying to make a quick buck but genuinely want bloggers to have good experiences with them — tells me that the issues aren’t worse here, but it ends up seeming that way because (a) this is a highly-trafficked blog with an unusually high number of regular commenters, (b) many readers tend to spend lots of time on this site and return to it multiple times a day, (c) those things both mean that there are more chances for people to notice and speak up about problems when they occur, (d) regular commenters here feel a connection to the site that makes them vocal when there are issues, which isn’t always the case with other sites, and (e) the vast majority of regular readers aren’t having issues.

              I think there’s lots of truth to that assessment, and I haven’t been able to find anyone who’s able to look at the set-up and tell me that there’s more going on (and I’ve tried). But I’m open to suggestions for how I might be able to get a more certain answer on that, because at this point I genuinely don’t know what else to try. I’d like to believe that explanation is right because that would be the easiest path here, but I really don’t know for sure.

              1. Lore*

                Would your ad network be willing to put you in touch with some of the other relatively high-traffic sites they manage, and see if they’re having similar experiences? (Which I realize doesn’t give you a solution, but if other sites managed by the same network aren’t seeing the problems, it does tend to support their theory that it’s a unique convergence of factors here and not something they could be doing differently…)

                1. Lore*

                  Also, I feel like you have an unusually high number of ads that redirect to the App Store–which on any mobile device is kicking you out of the browser entirely. Maybe it would be possible to request a smaller percentage of ads for apps in favor of ads for products/websites that if they redirect/pop up you’re in a new tab rather than immediately about to purchase an app?

              2. Mando Diao*

                I’m going to be honest: I don’t think they’re telling you the truth. I read blogs and sites with, frankly, higher traffic, more commenters, larger comments sections, and writers who also engender personal connections with readers, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single “Hey, what’s up with the ads?” comment on any of those sites.

                If it’s how your company has to operate to pay you more, then that’s the answer. But the answer they’re giving you now is a lie.

                1. Lore*

                  Gem, I think that up until quite recently, mobile ads have been turned off entirely due to some issues a while back. So you wouldn’t have had problems on a phone for sure!

  26. Fish Microwaver*

    I’d like to hear from readers about Uber. Share your opinions on the whole ride sharing concept and your experiences as a rider or driver.

    1. Noah*

      I use both Uber and Lyft all the time. Way better than a taxi because you know where they are and when they’re going to show up. The prices are normally better too.

      Anecdotally, I’ve never had a creepy experience with a driver, but I’m also a 6’2″ man, so maybe that makes a difference.

      I wonder how the drivers make any money by the time gas and wear and tear is factored in.

      1. SL #2*

        I always like to ask “how do you like driving” when I’m in an Uber; the answer tends to vary. I chatted with a couple of long-time drivers who agreed that they make less now that fares are lower, but also, the popularity of the services have soared so they get more riders now, so sometimes it does come out even to what it used to be.

        I imagine that now that gas is much cheaper than it was in the summer (I live in CA and prices have gone down an average of $2 here), it’s easier to make a profit.

      2. Dan*

        I wonder too about the financials, but I don’t worry about it. How someone makes a living is their business — and TBH, I’m a firm believer in the “market”, meaning if Uber drivers don’t make enough to drive, they’ll stop driving. Then prices go up.

        1. Noah*

          Oh I don’t really worry about it either. If they want to lose money in the end to make a bit now that is their problem not mine.

      3. Stephanie*

        I wonder how the drivers make any money by the time gas and wear and tear is factored in.

        I’ve heard mixed things. I’d imagine it’s like a lot of independent contracting situations. I know there’s some dissent growing. I looked into doing Lyft briefly and the numbers weren’t in my favor (for one thing, I’d have to up the limits on my insurance policy).

    2. E*

      In my early 20s and use both services regularly, though I use Uber as the default unless Lyft is running a sale (which they sometimes do). Infinitely better than a taxi because it is very hard to get a cab in my neighborhood in Chicago, and I can get an Uber easily (and you can see how far away they are, when they’re getting there etc). It’s also substantially cheaper, which is the primary reason I don’t take cabs. Only one creepy driver experience – he asked to follow me on social media. I ranked him zero stars and Uber gave me the ride for free, so I was satisfied with the response.

      1. salad fingers*

        Yeah, I’m in the same boat. I live in a cab desert in Chicago and much prefer Uber to calling a cab company and waiting a half an hour for them to find someone to send over.

        On the other hand, I’ll almost always grab a cab if I’m in my work area (Gold Coast) because they’re everywhere and I actually kind of prefer cabs, but only Uber in my neighborhood. I even Ubered myself to the emergency room at like 3am when I had appendicitis :-)

    3. Sunflower*

      UberX(Uber black cars are totally different) /Lyft can be good or bad. I’m just a rider, not a driver.

      – Better than taxis for multiple reasons- order before hand, can track how close they are, cheaper, better/safer drivers(some keep water/snacks in their car), cars are better wel kept. Definitely a better experience than a taxi.
      – It makes it easier to get around in the burbs/areas where cabs aren’t common.

      – Even though the drivers are better, I still feel safer in taxis. I had a weird experience with an uber on a late Tuesday night where the driver accidentally canceled my trip 25 feet into it and I had to keep requesting. Then we took some weird route. Looking back, I should have just gotten out of the uber after the trip canceled. However, if I wasn’t in the uber alone, I probably would have felt differently.
      – It can be REALLY expensive. Of course, they have a fair estimator on there so it’s really on the passenger if you take an uber at 3x surge and then freak out when you get the receipt.
      – The model used to be good for drivers but it seems like uber keeps cutting fares and it’s not really beneficial for drivers anymore. Most articles I’ve read say it really beats your car up and it’s not really worth it for the money you make. I am wondering if Uber is now running on new drivers who haven’t yet realized they can’t make anything.

    4. Sparkly Librarian*

      I disapprove of Uber’s corporate policies, so I don’t use them, but have had only good experiences with Lyft. Being able to have a ride at short notice (often arriving in 5-10 minutes) has saved me a fair amount of time, stress, and physical discomfort. No rude drivers that I can recall, and plenty of them will drive quietly rather than chat, which is my preference. Carfare adds up, though! I have to watch myself. :)

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        So how are Uber and Lyft different in their corporate policies? I know a bit about Uber but next to nothing about Lyft.

        1. Sparkly Librarian*

          Uber’s got a bad reputation – the things that come to mind for me are ways they’ve mistreated their drivers, their customers, and their competition – from bait-and-switch employment to denying service to passengers with disabilities to placing and cancelling Lyft requests (tying up those drivers without payment and pushing the demand over to Uber). Then there’s the many documented cases of sexual assault of passengers by Uber drivers, for which Uber doesn’t take responsibility – they’re independent contractors! Uber can’t be liable for that! Unless you pay more to get a “safe ride” from a driver who has been background-checked. Ugh.

          Lyft shares much of the independent contractor business model, but their business ethics haven’t been noted to be nearly as shady – or, at least, not to my knowledge. My Lyft experience is limited to the last 4 months and the SF Bay Area, but I was purposely avoiding using Uber long before I opened a Lyft account. Before that I occasionally used Homobiles, a local volunteer car service, but the wait times were long and they only accepted cash fares/donations (this may have changed by now).

          1. SL #2*

            I’ve never had a ride that didn’t tack on the safe rides fee ($1 in SF). I don’t think it’s optional anymore.

          2. Dan*

            More thinking aloud than anything, but to your issue with uber not taking responsibility for their drivers committing crimes, well, it’s a very American attitude to expect them to do so. The truth is, the perpetrator of the crime is solely responsible for his or her actions. No one else is.

            I haven’t read anything about denying services to passengers with disabilities, but if you’re referring to passengers who have mobility issues and can enter/exit a sedan because of it, I don’t take issue with that.

    5. katamia*

      I don’t like Uber’s policies/leadership and would never use them in the US, but I’ve used them a couple times here in Taiwan because I don’t speak Chinese well enough and therefore can’t really reserve a taxi/have serious doubts about my ability to communicate where I’m trying to go to a taxi driver. Or rather I used them once when I was moving and tried to use them once when I was injured and couldn’t face the walk to the metro, but had to cancel because it took so long to get here that I just did the walk anyway (they charged me for the cancelled fare but gave me a credit when I contacted them and explained the situation). The one time I actually used them (may or may not try to use them again when I go to the airport next week), everything was fine–I didn’t feel creeped out or anything.

      Their app is really annoying, though. Every time I try to type in my destination, it keeps giving me locations in Bangladesh or India. It takes awhile each time for it to re-figure out that, yes, I’m still in Taiwan. No idea what’s causing that.

    6. anonanonanon*

      At first I felt guilty about using Uber over taxis, but taxis in my city are horrible at knowing where to go and trying to trick people into taking the long way about, are never in my neighborhood despite being in the center of the city, and sometimes refuse to drive to certain places.

      I like Uber because it’ll pick me up right at my door and it’s generally cheaper than a taxi by a few bucks (though surge pricing is a different matter). I only take them late at night, if it’s really bad weather and I know public transit is going to be slow, or if I have too much to carry somewhere. Plus, sometimes I’m in an area where it’s difficult to get a taxi so it’s nice knowing Uber is available.

      Every Uber I’ve used has had GPS, which is a change from most of the taxis in the city who are all “I don’t know how to get to this popular destination”. I find Uber way more convenient than a taxi. I know how long it’ll take me to get an Uber, while waiting on the street for a taxi could take forever.

    7. SL #2*

      I only ride, but I used to live in San Francisco (Uber and Lyft HQ) so we got discounted rates, very quick service, etc. I loved it, found it extremely convenient for getting back from late nights at work or concerts or any sort of social event when I wouldn’t be comfortable on public transit. I think ride-sharing as a concept is fantastic, and it’s had the added bonus of making taxis step up their game and become more tolerable.

      I also know there’s been a lot of reports of harassment or worse from Uber drivers; I’ve never been in a car with someone who made me uncomfortable in any way, but I always watched the route on my phone via Google Maps or even the Uber app itself, and I made it very obvious to the driver that I was doing so, and would notice in an instant if they were taking me the wrong direction to somewhere that I didn’t want to go. So, in a nutshell, I do love Uber and find it convenient and easy to use, but I’m also very careful when I do use one.

    8. Jillociraptor*

      I love Uber. It’s consistently cheaper and more reliable than cabs in my area, and I’ve had the most interesting conversations with my drivers.

      Conversely, I’ve had such terrible experiences with cabs around here. I think every time I’ve taken a cab home from the airport, I’ve had the driver either try to take the wrong route, or try to charge me the long-distance surcharge rate for a trip within the limits. And so many spent the whole trip complaining to me about Uber…

      I am really curious to see the effects of the “sharing economy” concept. Most of all, I hope that it’s a good kind of pressure on industries that previously had less incentive to provide good services.

    9. Mando Diao*

      I live in a very college-y/party area, so a lot of the local Uber drivers are people who used to be part of the scene but have aged out of it. The drivers seem to “get it,” if that makes sense. This area also has a reputation for really lousy, creepy cab drivers, so Uber tends to win out. I’ve never taken Uber alone though, so I can’t speak to safety issues.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I never took– and will never take– an Uber in Manhattan. I always lived in neighborhoods where cab drivers also lived, and because I could step into the street and hail a taxi, I never bothered using Uber. The one time I considered it, they were at 3x surge pricing, so I called a local Brooklyn car service.

      Now that we live in the south, I use UberX almost exclusively. Taxis here are awful. My next-door neighbor drives two cabs, and I would never, ever get in them– they’re poorly maintained, for starters, and my neighbor smokes lots of things at all hours. I don’t think he’d ever drive while stoned, mind you, but I can just imagine how his cabs smell. Uber drivers here have been really polite and friendly, with very clean cars. I got really excited when I got a repeat driver. I’ve never had a problem getting a ride to the airport, even very early in the morning. Granted, I live in a pretty well-populated area close to downtown, so there’s that– no one minds picking me up or taking me home.

      There are several college campuses around here, and many of the Uber drivers have told me their “horror stories” that end with, “I’m just glad I was there to pick them up and get them home.” It makes me happy that college students aren’t trying to drive but are using this type of service.

    11. salad fingers*

      One other thing to note — Uber is kind of nice when travelling. When I’m here in Chicago, I know which intersections to walk to get a cab, whether I’m in a neighborhood where that’s possible, etc. When we stayed in a slightly residential part of Montreal this past summer, we didn’t see a ton of cabs driving by when we were going out to dinner. We were able to Uber there, and when we had trouble explaining to the driver where we were headed, we were able to just find the destination on the app. And the currency exchange bit is automatic — one less hassle if you don’t have cash.

      I don’t want to like Uber but it’s convenient sometimes.

    12. Stephanie*

      Conflicted about Uber. I’m not a fan of them as a company–they make all their money by shifting all the expensive parts of running a transportation company (like fleet maintenance, insurance, following DOT regulations, etc) to the drivers. (Granted, I know that’s sort of common with taxi drivers, too.) So I feel a little mixed taking one (especially an UberX) just because I know the driver may not be making a ton.

      That being said, I used them in DC occasionally, as cabs were f*cking abysmal at the time (I preferred the bus tbh…you at least knew when it was going to show up). No standard of maintenance, no sense of direction (I gave cabbies directions more than a few times), no credit card readers, and I had a couple of cabbies hit on me to an extent that I asked to be dropped off at places that weren’t my house. There were also tons of small cab companies, so it was hard to call a cab ahead of time. And Uber would take me to whatever destination I asked (I lived in neighborhood that wasn’t served by cabs that often). So Uber was nice in that regard. The black cars were more expensive than cabs. UberX was about on par with a cab.

      I don’t take cabs in Phoenix. I live way out, so if I was at the point to where I couldn’t drive, it’d just be cheaper to stay at a hotel. I just abstain or have one drink.

      Like I mentioned above, I looked into driving for Lyft out here, but it wasn’t cost-effective. I’d be hired as an independent contractor, so there’d be the end of year tax hit. And Lyft wanted a $1 million limit on my car insurance (which would have doubled my current insurance rate). Plus given how sprawling Phoenix is, I figured it wasn’t going to be worth the extra gas costs and wear and tear.

    13. Windchime*

      My kids live in Seattle and they use Uber all the time. They love it. They’ll use it when they are planning to meet friends for drinks so they don’t have to worry about having a designated driver.

    14. Num Lock*

      I’m not a rider or driver, as I live in Nowhere, USA, but my 60-something dad was a regular Uber driver for a year. In the end he quit because he didn’t want to work late nights to get the real money, didn’t want to work when the weather was crappy, and the formula changed to make it harder to get the big bonuses. I think he quit about a year or two ago.

      As he told me, he had to be ready to hop in the car as soon as someone requested a ride. You’d miss out on a ride if you weren’t next to the app, ready to hit the accept button. He’d have to locate them using the app, but the GPS was often incorrect and he’d have to call the client. Uber frowns heavily on this, he said. He invested in a separate GPS device to route him since he was trying to take calls over a tri-county area.

      Overall I think he enjoyed it, but it just became too stressful for him. Plus he actually had to get a newer car to do it, so that upped his costs significantly. I really think it’s more a part-time gig than any sort of job replacement (like my dad hoped for).

  27. Noah*

    Feeling a bit selfish today. My brother in law took his own life earlier this week. I was home for less than 10 hours after returning from Thanksgiving and ended up going right back to my parents and sister’s state. I was gone the first two weeks of November for work.

    I just left everyone to go home. I’ve spent the week helping out, taking care if my niece and nephew, assisting my sister with memorial arrangements and figuring out life stuff. I’m drained and need to go home. The memorial service is Monday, but I have to be back at work by then for an important audit. I need at least a day in between to relax.

    Lots of emotions. I’m mad at him, sad for the kiddos, and my heart aches for my sister. Obviously nothing compared to what she’s going through. Part of me wishes I could stay there, but I’m also so glad I get to leave.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      That’s awful, and I’m very sorry for your loss. If you have to go to work, then you have to go. Your family will be needing help for a long time: lot’s of people show up at the first, shocking, critical moments of a crisis, then are never seen or heard from again. You can give a lot of help in coming months, when it’s really needed.

      1. Noah*

        Oh, I’ll be going back. Already had a trip planned for Christmas and then my niece’s birthday in January. One big benefit of working for an airline is free flights.

        1. Observer*

          So there you are. Life goes on, but you are planning to make helping out a part of that – and it’s not just words. You already have concrete plans in place. In the meantime, you have phone and email as a bridge.

          I think you are doing quite will, all things considered. Take care of yourself, so you can continue to be a helpful child and sibling. It’s ok to take care of yourself, just for yourself, too. But, if your feeling guilty, recognize that it benefits your family as well.

    2. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, Noah. It sounds like you did a tremendous service for your family the last few weeks; I hope find this breather restorative.

    3. Doriana Gray*

      You are not selfish. You were there for your family and you’ll be there again. So sorry for your family’s loss.

    4. Victoria, Please*

      Oh Noah, you don’t sound selfish at all. You sound strong. You’ll be there for your family in future; like someone pointed out, there’s lot of help at first and then everyone drifts back to their own life, and that’s when you will be there.

      I’m so sorry this happened. Let us know how you are, upcoming.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      Noah, I’m so sorry. I think all your feelings are perfectly normal – and it’s ok to be selfish in situations like that. You need to carve out your own space to deal as well. I’m really sorry.

      1. Alma*

        Yes, put your oxygen mask on before you help someone else…

        I am so sorry. There are so many layers to your loss.

    6. knitchic79*

      Noah! I’m so sorry, I can’t imagine how this feels for everyone. Your whole family is in my thoughts. You are not being selfish…sometimes we need work as a distraction when the worst has happened. Take care of you. :(

    7. pony tailed wonder*

      I don’t think you are selfish. You need to recharge because you are planning to be there for the long haul. Take care of yourself and you will be better able to take care of your family.

    8. SL #2*

      So sorry for your loss. I know it feels like you’re being selfish by wanting to leave, but you’ll be a better source of support for your family if you’re also recharged and running at 100%.

    9. Clever Name*

      Oh no. :( it’s not selfish to take care of yourself. You’ll need the strength to help your family. Thank you for being there for them.

    10. Mando Diao*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. You are allowed to think of yourself first. Trust me, your sister is not going to be upset that one extra person isn’t invading her space right now. Be there for her in the weeks and months to come, after everyone else has returned to their normal routines. That’s when she’ll need you the most.

      By the way, a lot of us handle grief by staying away for a while and taking time to figure out our feelings. There is nothing wrong or weird or selfish about managing your own life in the midst of a tragedy.

    11. Vancouver Reader*

      So sorry to hear that, especially when this is supposed to be a happy time of year for everyone. It was wonderful of you to drop everything to go help out your family. I hope your sister and her kids get continuing support from those who live closer to them.

    12. Penelope Pitstop*

      So very sorry, Noah.

      Claiming something for yourself to recharge is what will enable you to give of yourself without giving more than you’re able and becoming resentful. There’s nothing selfish about knowing your limits. Also, your mix of emotions…including the anger is totally normal and healthy.

      You are a gift to your sister and those kids.

  28. Vera*

    Alright, I know this has been asked a million times, but I’m going to ask again. How do those of you that are frequent commenters keep up with the comments section?! I’ve tried subscribing to the comments via e-mail but it’s not really helfpul if I’m trying to follow one or two threads of comments. I’ve tried RSS feeds for comments…same problem. The best solution I’ve come up with is to just keep refreshing the page and CTRL+F my handle to see where I have replied. What does everyone else do?

      1. Cruciatus*

        Same as the both of you! But I can’t keep up with all the comment sections, usually because of work (stupid work!). The weekend open thread is probably the only one I can keep up with. I refresh then start at the bottom and work up. So often I read “And continuing the [very interesting] thread from such and such post earlier this week…” and I’m like…”when did that happen!?” So I miss a lot, but reading it all seems like it’d be at least a part-time job.

        Oh, sometimes I CTRL F “ask a manager” to see what sorts of posts Alison is responding to in case something exciting/interesting is going down in a thread. I really hope that’s not too stalker-y.

    1. Audiophile*

      That’s what I do. I often forget what stories I’ve commented on, especially if it’s been a day or two, so I’ll go a few pages back and see if my handle pops up. Sometimes I’ll search for it in the search box, but that’s hit or miss, especially if it’s really old.

      1. Noah*

        Speaking of searching, I also Google search for “Noah site:askamanager.org” and then select search tools and past week or month. Sometimes I forget what I’ve responded to, and it is interesting to read replys.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Ooh, I hadn’t thought of that. This would be great for making sure I see replies for posts from a few days ago.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Here is a trick that might help. I don’t use the site search function; instead, I keep this page bookmarked:


        Hmmm, I don’t know why that URL is Safari-specific, but you can create your own by typing “site:askamanager.org” (no quotes) into Google, and then bookmarking the resulting page. Name it “AAM search” or something and then you can easily go there when you need it.

        Once there, you can add your commenter name to the search string, and it will bring up everything with your name on it. To narrow it down, use the Search Tools menu at the top of the page and choose “last 24 hours,” “past week,” or whatever time period you want. (However, that time frame is linked to the date of the post itself, not the date of comments.)

    2. nep*

      Same — refresh the page when I get back to reading it, and ‘find’ my handle to see the exchanges. I also always go to last post and work up, to see the latest.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        me too. Sometimes I find random questions addressed to me in the weekly threads that way too – usually federal specific stuff.

        One of the strangest things on this site though was when I realized people remembered stuff I’d previously mentioned and said “oh, is this still such-and-such employee?” I figured I was more forgettable than I am!

    3. fposte*

      In addition to what people said, I will sometimes search on the page by time of posts– a search for “at 5” if I stopped reading at 4:45, that kind of thing, and then go ’round for subsequent hours. That’s too much during the time comments really explode on a thread, but for catching back up later it’s often an easy way to see what I missed.

      And sometimes I just see comments months later when I’m looking at an old post, too. Which is a nice surprise–kind of like finding money in my couch :-).

      1. Mephyle*

        Same here. Also, on the free-for-alls, which tend to be active for at least two days, I will search for the second day; e.g., “December 6” on Sunday for this one which started on Dec. 5.

    4. Rana*

      Honestly? I’ve given up. Unless I’ve actually commented (and can then search on my name for follow-up responses) the comments sections get one pass, if that. There’s just too much to keep track of, too many new people I don’t have a feel for, and a lot of repetition (since, understandably, I think a lot of people comment before trying to read all the comments to see if anyone’s already made a similar point).

        1. Rana*

          We are doing well! At the moment we’re still trying to recover from Thanksgiving travel, but otherwise she’s great. She’s been surprising us a lot lately with a bunch of new verbal skills coming “on line” – I sort of knew intellectually how complex language acquisition is, but it’s a whole different thing observing it in practice.

          My own work is in a bit of a lull at the moment, but that’s not entirely bad, since I want any projects I take on to be worth the inevitable disruptions.

          1. fposte*

            Good to hear! It’s really fun to watch them learn, isn’t it? “When the heck did you figure *that* out?”

            1. Rana*

              Plus she now busts out with some ridiculously complex sentences, and it’s still like, “Wha?”

              (Tonight’s example: looking at a book of pond animals she said, upon observing the dragonfly, “Dragonfly! Flying! With wings! Like birds!”)

    5. Ask a Manager*

      And there’s a feature coming later this week that will make this much easier! I didn’t want to announce it earlier because I wasn’t sure of the timing yet.

  29. Audiophile*

    Happy to report our mail delivery issues has been resolved. My mom noticed that someone from the post office came by and looked at the mailbox, made sure they could reach it from the vehicle. Then we got a call from the Assemblywoman and when my sister went to collect mail, she was told we’d be getting mail again. And that if the postman gave any further problems they would deal with him. So now he drives by and begrudgingly throws it in the mailbox.

    1. Noah*

      I don’t know why some people try to make everything difficult. I had a mail carrier who would never deliver packages. Instead he would fill out the green card and leave it in my mailbox. I would sit in my office and watch him do this, and complain to the local post office every time. After months of going to the post office to retrieve packages, and complaining every time, I finally videoed him doing this and sent it to DC. The next week we had a new mail carrier.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, that’s great news! Did you guys call the assemblywoman? I didn’t remember that part, but smart move if so.

      1. Audiophile*

        I actually emailed the person (using my mom’s name). I think that, in conjunction with one of my sisters yelling them and causing a scene, got the issue resolved. I also wrote to both towns (our town and the one the post office is located in). So who knows which thing it was. But he now angrily throws our mail in the mailbox, which is fine, as long as it’s in there.

  30. nep*

    Did anyone see the NY Times front-page editorial on guns? Apparently the first front-page editorial since 1920.

    1. Mike C.*

      I kind of had a chuckle when I found out what the editorial in 1920 was about. Talk about bringing back memories of AP US History class.

    2. Clever Name*

      Kudos to them. On Monday I’m calling my senator who accepts beaucoup dollars from the NRA and who votes against gun regs. I feel sorry for the person who takes his messages. :)

  31. Dynamic Beige*

    Question about something that may be racially charged: what is the deal about Kool-Aid?

    I watch the Daily/Nightly show and this week, there was a big ‘do over one of the Faux news people asking a female guest chef who was black if she made Kool-Aid with some dish she was making. She had commented that in the summer she put in some other ingredient and he asked her if she made some Kool-Aid to go with it and everyone was all “that’s *so* racist!” I don’t get why that’s racist? I thought it was rather a weird comment to make because that’s a kids’ drink and why would she make a kids’ drink? But there must be some reason why that would be considered racist that I just have never heard of or would even consider. Or maybe asking an adult if she made a kids’ drink to go with something for adults is the racist part? I can see how that could be considered sexist — I doubt he would have asked a male chef of any race a question like that — but I think there’s some subtext there that I’m missing because she was black.

    For some context: we never had Kool-Aid when I was a kid that I can remember. My mother didn’t believe in things she considered luxuries, so pop/chips/junk food in general was something we didn’t have around the house all the time and Kool-Aid fell into that category. I remember it as being something exotic I saw on TV ads that we never got (this was the 70’s). I think that at some point I bought it just to see what it was like and I just didn’t like it, but by then I was an adult and the whole sugar/chemical thing just wasn’t on for me.

    1. fposte*

      It bypassed me too, but apparently it’s a thing–there’s a stereotype of black people drinking a lot Kool-Aid (from what I could see, it’s about poverty more than race–the notion is the Kool-Aid drinkers can’t afford juice). An internet search reveals this question being kicked around as early as 2008, so it’s not something that just came up.

      1. K.*

        It’s definitely a thing, has been for … as long as Kool Aid’s been around, I think. Black people liking Kool-Aid is a stereotype in the same way us liking watermelon or fried chicken is.

        I saw that clip, and what struck me was the guest’s daughter (I think it was her daughter) – when the host asked about Kool-Aid, the little girl gave the camera such a side-eye. I think she knows exactly what the stereotype is.

        1. fposte*

          Okay, good to know, thanks. I don’t think it was around in my childhood in the 1960s, because Kool-Aid was very much Every Kid’s Thing then (I even remember a spirited playground discussion about whose family bought sweetened Kool-Aid and who bought unsweetened–based, I would bet, on our tendency to try to eat the dry mix). I suspect this was part of changes that meant what was standard or even indulgent fare in the ’60s (canned Spaghettios, God love ’em) became class markers as trends moved on.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            That’s kind of how I’ve always I’ve seen it, I guess, as a sort of Every Kid’s Thing — maybe that’s a hold over from the 60’s and it’s different now? Kind of like Tang. Does anyone drink Tang any more? And except for Jonestown, I’ve never had a negative association with it, all the chemicals and sugar aside.

            It’s funny how things like canned spaghetti — when they first came out — were seen as not “poor” food, but something new and amazingly nutritious for you and your family! Only *poor* people cooked because they can’t afford to buy canned… and now it’s the exact opposite. Like with carpet and hardwood floors. My grandmother went to a lot of trouble to cover the hardwood floor in her house with carpet, because only poor people had hardwood back in the late 50’s, and now it’s the opposite — if you can’t afford hardwood, you go for carpet (or laminate, or tiles).

              1. fposte*

                We actually got those at my house! Even by the standards of the time, they weren’t great food (I remember them being kind of gritty and gelatinous at the same time), but we were still fascinated by them.

                1. Xarcady*

                  I remember those!

                  We didn’t get Kool-Aid. We had Wyler’s Soft Drink mix, which was the lower-cost Kool-Aid.

                  And count me among those who had no idea there could be a racist connotation to Kool-Aid. There certainly wasn’t back in the 60s, at least not on the military bases I grew up on.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Rugs vs hardwood. If they keep moving the goal the bucks just roll in as people try to keep up with current trends.

            2. the gold digger*

              I loved Tang but it was too expensive for us. :) We just had Kool Aid.

              I am laughing at the “only poor people cooked.” My mom always cooked – we never had any convenience foods. I think it probably was mostly about money, but my mom was also very savvy about nutrition and didn’t want to feed us crap. But it was mostly money.

              Anyhow, I never tasted any of that kind of thing – Spaghettios, Kraft Mac and Cheese- until I was an adult. They are disgusting! I am so spoiled because my mom is a really good cook.

              My husband, on the other hand, thinks Oreos taste great. Again, a food I never had until I was an adult because my mom made cookies from scratch. My husband’s mother was not a good cook.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                I never really thought about it before, but it is kind of true. My grandmother made everything from scratch, even pizza. She would make pancakes from scratch, not a mix, and they were delish. In large part, I think, because a frozen TV dinner cost way more than a meal you could cook yourself, and there was less food. Also, most the foods they were used to, which we would call “ethnic” now, you couldn’t get in a store.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m vaguely remembering this from somewhere, but my main associations of Kool-Aid are 1) drinking tons of it as a child (my mum wouldn’t buy soda but we could have Kool-Aid), 2) Jonestown, and 3) the Kool-Aid advert with the giant pitcher yelling “OH YEAAAAAHHHH!!” and crashing through stuff.

        1. Windchime*

          My grandmother even had one of those Kool-Aid pitchers with the face on it. This was back in the 60’s and we thought it was so amazing.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      It’s part of the watermelon/fried chicken stereotype. I mean, I LOVE watermelon and fried chicken, so I didn’t really understand that either when people were circulating pictures of the White House with a watermelon patch in the front, but now I know.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        The watermelon thing, I know about that. How that got started, I have no idea, but that one has been around for a long time. I always thought fried chicken was a “southern” thing more than being tied to any race, guess I’ll have to adjust that.

        I guess for me is that Kool-Aid just isn’t something that has ever been on my radar as a thing in general, so it was just kind of surprising to find out that it was associated with a stereotype like that.

        1. knitchic79*

          I remember having to run some errands for work last year. I gassed up and while I was at the station I bought myself and one of the supervisors an orange soda. Oh my goodness the side eye I got when I handed him his. It wasn’t a race thing, he just loves the stuff.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Count me on this, too. Mystified. You brought him a drink he likes and instead of being viewed as a kindness, other people saw it as racist?

              In some ways, it seems that you can’t do much of anything anymore without someone taking offence about it in some way.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Uh… you mean it’s not? It’s not a phrase I use (or hear) often but that would be the first thing I would think, playing cards. Doh.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              My parents used it in the context of calling things for what they actually are. I never knew where the expression came from. I know that I very seldom hear this expression any more.

            3. fposte*

              It wasn’t, initially; it was just about shovels. So it’s not *based* on the racial slur, but it’s come to be associated with it. There’s a false etymology going around that suggests a different origin, but it’s wrong.

              That doesn’t mean it gets to stay an okay phrase; it’s use, not just etymology, that makes something offensive.

    3. Dan*

      I grew up in an extremely white part of the country, so wasn’t exposed to a lot of stereotypes as a kid. As an adult, I laugh at a lot of them — particularly the ones mentioned in this thread. It makes me wonder what the history behind them is.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Me too. I’m not saying it was good or bad, it just was. We didn’t have a person of colour in our class until grade 4 and they only stayed one year — they had come directly from Africa (I can’t remember where exactly, except that it was a French speaking part). Also, for all her faults, one of the things my mother hated was racism so that kind of talk just didn’t happen at home.

        1. Dan*

          There were expressions that we used as kids that I’d be embarrassed to be caught saying now. TBH, I certainly had no idea they were offensive — and then I moved to the big city for college. When we’d sit around and talk about our younger years, I had to ask what people called such-and-such activity (describing the activity, not using the offensive name for it). It’s sort of embarrassing, really.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Yeah, I remember calling things “gay” or saying something was “retarded” — so much of that stuff you pick up at school to fit in with everyone else and no one knows how it starts or where it comes from. And you’re too young to really know any better. Not saying it’s right, everyone is so desperate to “fit in” and be “normal” just like everyone else when they’re young, no one thinks about much beyond that because no one wants to be singled out for the same treatment. What is it about us that drives us like that? I bet that dynamic has been going on since the beginning of time.

  32. Windchime*

    Love the picture of Olive relaxing under the tree.

    I totally spaced it and posted my non-work comment on the work open thread this week. Not sure why I got so confused! I know we talk about our cats a lot here, so here is my most recent cat story. Kitty was having some symptoms that led the vet to believe that he is experiencing food allergies. So we have been trying out a hypoallergenic food. He finally (grudgingly) ate some of the canned food, but he totally boycotted the kibble. Like, no way was he going to eat that. He actually tried to bury it yesterday. It was $65 a bag (!???!!), so I was able to take it back and get samples of a different brand/flavor of kibble. Thank goodness he seems to like this new food.

    What a hassle. In other news, my refrigerator is making a big puddle on my (hardwood) kitchen floor and the repair guy can’t get here until Friday. The day that my Christmas guests arrive for Early Christmas.

    1. IT Squirrel*

      You might already have done this, but have you checked the drain pipe inside at the back/bottom of the fridge? It might be blocked, you can clean it out with a bit of kitchen paper and a chopstick or other poking implement…

      Appologies if you’ve already tried it!

      1. Windchime*

        I watched a video that suggested this. There is a ton of stuff that has to be taken apart to get to it. When I called the repair people, they said there was a recall on a part in my fridge that causes this to happen so I will let the repair guy fix it. But thanks for the suggestion! :)

  33. Victoria, Please*

    Has anyone ever worked with a professional organizer?

    I am desperate — like, pour me many stiff drinks desperate — to have LESS SH*T IN MY HOUSE. But my husband is a keeper and finds making decisions about Physical Stuff com