weekend free-for-all – April 9-10, 2016

Olive copyThis 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:  A Thousand Pardons, by Jonathan Dee. After her husband’s own public self-destruction, a woman discovers that she has a talent for getting others who need to repair their public images to apologize.

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

{ 809 comments… read them below }

  1. BRR*

    Wondering what people think of the Amazon echo? I’m very tempted by it but not sure I would ever use it. I think I would like connecting my lights to it but that seems pretty expensive.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I love asking it the weather at any time: Alexa, what’s the weather for today? Alexa, what’s the weather for this weekend? Alexa, what’s the forecast for Orlando next week?

      My daughter loves to ask Alexa for music.

      We got ours as Prime members for $99, so I guess it’s worth it. I’d like to use it with home automation, but the bulbs are expensive, and we just got a Honeywell internet-enabled thermostat last year, just before we got the Echo. I found it ridiculous that you could only set an alarm on it for one day at a time, but now you can have it set a weekday or weekend repeating alarm. (Believe it or not, that was just added in the last week or two.)

      I suppose the Flash Briefing is nice; you can choose from lots of sources (like NPR or CNN, for example), customize it by subject, and it’ll read highlights to you. It’s a lot more configurable than that, but I leave the house while other denizens are still asleep, so I don’t really use it.

    2. Noah*

      I have one, got a very good deal on it when it was first introduced and Amazon had a deal for Prime members.

      I really like it. Main uses are controlling the Phillips Hue lights, asking for a traffic update before leaving for work, setting timers in the kitchen, shopping lists (which appear in the Alexa app), and playing music. You can also do all sorts of things using IFTTT, like find your cell phone.

      It is a really good speaker, and it fills the main level of my house with music. I can also say “Alexa” pretty much anywhere on the main level and it will pick it up. My house is a very open floor plan though.

      1. Mirilla*

        Wow, I wish they had that deal now because it’s full price for Prime members from what I can see.

    3. beyonce pad thai*

      I have one. Like the other commenters, i bought it at a discount when it launched. I like it a lot – I mostly ask it the weather, but do use it as a bluetooth speaker. It has a lot of features I keep meaning to use but haven’t

    4. KJ*

      We have it and love it. It is pretty useful in the kitchen setting timers and adding to your shopping list when your hand are full. And we like it’s speakers, the music is great. Weather features work well too. We have some home automation with her too- mostly lights. It is overall pretty great.

    5. Anon for this*

      I got mine as a gift and am pretty underwhelmed. In addition to the uses others have cited, my husband loaded her with apps to play Jeopardy (6 additional questions a day), tell bad jokes, fart, and play podcasts. She is also linked to our Pandora and iHeartRadio. We have added some music of our own but she is a little stymied by requests for tracks- you have to be extremely precise. She can also answer basic factual questions.

      1. Liblady*

        We just got one this week. Does anyone know if it is possible to build custom playlists and how do I do that. I like the music and all but having to request songs by name is hard for me since I really don’t know most of the song names. I know artist I like but would prefer to have playlists of my favorites. I can’t figure how to do this. Anyone?

        1. Noah*

          You can create custom playlists in your Amazon music library. Go to the Amazon homepage, hover over Your Account, and then select Your Music Library. Once your in the Amazon Music site, on the left is a Create New Playlist link.

          If you’re a Prime member you can also add Prime playlists, songs, or albums to your music library.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      From its Wikipedia page:

      In the default mode the device continuously listens to all speech, monitoring for the wake word to be spoken.

      Am I the only one who finds that insanely creepy? o_O

      1. Noah*

        The Echo is always listening, but not always transmitting the speech to the cloud. It is listening for the wake word, usually Alexa, once it hears that it starts transmitting to Amazon’s servers for processing.

        I guess if the NSA has Thorngate technology like in Scandal they could theoretically listen in. However, my life really isn’t that interesting. If they want to listen to me talk to my dog and cat, listen to Youtube videos, and pretend I’m on a cooking show I guess they can. There are enough other microphones around though (cell phones, laptops, tablets, PS4, etc.) that I’m sure they could figure it out without an Echo. I don’t really like it, but at the same time I’m not sure how I could stop them either.

      2. BRR*

        I read you can adjust it’s speech learning so that it’s not as creepy but then doesn’t learn.

    7. Hope*

      We got Alexa as a Xmas gift and I’ve learned to love her. She is my exclusive shopping list, I use her for timing my cooking tasks (much less messy than the microwave timer buttons), she plays music on demand and gives me updates on news, weather, etc. We also play Jeopardy with her.

      The listening part is creepier to others than to me. As someone else said, my life isn’t that interesting. And I know she can do more than we use her for, and I expect we’ll keep adding tasks as we go along. It is definitely disconcerting having her randomly answer you, however, when you didn’t think you were talking to her, e.g. when you mention your friend Alexis. ;-)

  2. Confused a lot*

    I am really hoping someone can help. I have a problem that has been ongoing, but now that I have a job with extremely high performance standards, the problem has mushroomed.

    In a nutshell, I have a problem concentrating on anything. My doctor put me on ADD meds, but this issue seems to be just a part of who I am. I can’t follow directions unless they are very simple or I’ve done that task several times. I constantly forget things that were said seconds ago or don’t piece things together fast enough. I’ve had this problem for decades, but think it’s getting worse with age.

    On top of all of that, I have an anxiety disorder, so I am nervous about higher doses in the ADD meds.

    Could it be as simple as I am just not smart? I don’t even know if there is anything I can do about this.

    1. Renee*

      Look up “executive function disorders”, possibly something in that spectrum applies? It’s related to autism.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes; it doesn’t matter whether or not that’s a valid diagnosis for Confused a Lot, the tools for those with executive function issues should still prove very helpful!

    2. MommaCat*

      Does taking notes for your directions help? I don’t have ADD, but I’m pretty easily distracted, and having a written note helps immensely. That, or requesting people email your directions.

    3. Sizzle*

      Check out the ADD forums, career and development subforum for a community of people who share your struggles and help each other out. Hope it gets better for you with time.

    4. Meemzi*

      Definitely talk to your doctor. Medication is one part of managing ADD. Your doctor should be able to help you come up with strategies for managing your symptoms (or refer you to someone who can, if they’re your GP.) If you have the money, you could also look into coaching.

    5. danr*

      I had the same problem. My manager asked how I could forget instructions in 30 seconds. I just started writing everything down in a small notebook that I kept at my desk. Each time I did the task, I would refer to the notebook. I also kept updating the instruction as I did the tasks. It took a little while, but everything became manageable after that. Also use the task lists and calendar reminders that are in any email and management programs that you have available. One entry every day in my notebook was to check the task lists… and the first task in my lists was to check the notebook. Don’t worry about looking silly. The goal is to get things right.

      1. Shell*

        I just want to second taking notes. I’m in a job that has constant distractions, all day every day. I can be eyeballs deep looking through XYZ and someone will pop up over the cubicle wall to ask about something completely unrelated, and he needs an answer right then, because he’s on the phone with a customer. Or someone will walk to my cubicle to ask about ABC when my mind has been on HIJ for the last 30 minutes.

        I have a wall of sticky notes (no joke) on my cubicle wall, detailing everything from account codes to addresses. I write checklists, and rewrite them every day or every other day. I jot down scraps of conversation or instructions as soon as I hear it. I have instructions for things I’ve done dozens of times written down and taped to my desk. I have a decent memory overall, but not in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment–my brain doesn’t switch that quickly. And I do well at my job because I never rely on my memory for those things.

      2. INTP*

        Yes, writing things down is huge. I will not retain any instructions in my head for any length of time. This can be hard for other people to understand, like your boss, and you’ll deal with people who think you’re dumb or just mentally lazy, or just don’t get it (like every person that keeps telling me driving directions I will never remember no matter how many times I say I will use my GPS) but it makes SUCH a difference. I like to deal with any “Why are you writing this down you only need to remember it for 10 seconds” attitude by pretending I’m just a super organized person who likes to have everything written down. Somehow people are more tolerant of compulsive behavior than ADHD behavior, lol.

        1. catsAreCool*

          The more I feel nervous, the tougher it is to remember things. I take a *lot* of notes when I’m new to something. Then I put them in Word so that I can share them with anyone who also needs the info.

    6. Barbara in Swampeast*

      You say that it is getting worse with age, maybe perimenopause or menopause? I started grad school just as it hit me and felt like my head was packed with gauze. Good thing, it is “temporary,” bad, it could last awhile. If you are over 40, bring this up with your doctor also.

    7. nep*

      How nutrient-rich is your diet? I don’t in the least mean to trivialise any issues you’re having — Simply to say that many conditions/health problems can be far more effectively dealt with when you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.
      Wishing you all the best.

    8. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

      Is your anxiety treated effectively? Anxiety impairs cognitive performance, including encoding. ADD medications can make anxiety worse (you can focus on your worries!). Before being concerned about primary executive functioning problems I would rule out the effects of continued clinical or sub-threshold symptoms of anxiety.

    9. INTP*

      The issue with instructions is very typical of ADHD. For many people with ADHD, our brains sort of work on autopilot rather than by conscious intention – until we’ve done a task enough that we can do it without thinking at all, we have to refer to instructions at every step, every time, or be guided through. It’s very, very common for adults, especially women, with ADHD to be undiagnosed until they get into a very mentally demanding situation (either intellectually challenging work or just something that requires prolonged focus or many deadlines or multitasking). Obviously I can’t diagnose you over the internet (or off the internet for that matter, IANAD), but from your post, I don’t see any reason to assume that your doctor is wrong and you just aren’t smart.

      The good news is that ADHD doesn’t necessarily mean lower potential if you can figure out the particular quirks of your brain and adapt your work environment and style to it. (Some employers will be more conducive to this than others.) For the difficulty following instructions, I think that you will have good results if you write down any multi-step instructions (no matter how seemingly simple), print them out for constant reference if needed, and don’t try to just remember them out of your head or read them all in one go and then do the task in one go. I think one of the people that trained me at my job thinks I’m really dumb for not just being able to be told how to do something and then do it correctly every time, but by printing out checklists and doing things step-by-step, I’ve become a strong performer.

    10. Blue_eyes*

      First of all, you’re probably perfectly smart and there almost certainly IS something you can do about the issues you’re experiencing.

      I’m not a doctor, but I do have a master’s in education with a focus on languages. What you describe makes me wonder whether you might have an auditory processing disorder. The examples you give all seem to be related to listening and then processing that input. Do you have the same difficulty when following written or pictorial directions? Can you think of situations where you have been successful at following directions, remembering things that just happened, or doing something the first time? What were the conditions in that situation? Definitely speak to your doctor about this. It’s possible the ADD meds aren’t helping because you don’t have ADD.

      I think you may find a lot to think about in the writing of Mel Levine. His books The Myth of Laziness and A Mind at a Time seem particularly relevant to your situation. He discusses the different ways that people’s minds work, and the challenges that some people face in processing input and creating output.

    11. Mirilla*

      I’m not sure how old you are but I am probably in perimenopause myself now and I’ve noticed this becoming a problem with me too. My anxiety the past year or so has been pretty bad. Although I’ve had it pretty much my entire life, this past year or two it seemed worse than ever, over everything. I also decided a couple of years ago that I probably have ADHD too. I recorded a documentary on PBS about it but I couldn’t even sit through the entire program. My short term memory seems to be affected the most when under stress.
      Talk to your doctor about it if you can. I talked to my gyno and asked if this was perimenopause or what. She said probably but you’re already on the pill and anxiety meds so not much else we can do. That was disheartening. Well, I decided on my own to go off the birth control pill to see if it makes a difference. Well, it does for me! I’m not as anxious and my attention seems to be better. I’ve been on them for 20 or so years so. I’m still waiting for my first period since it’s only been a couple of weeks. Actually not sure if I’ll get one because I may be in actual menopause (although it would be early for that). The reason I stopped is because I noticed on my “week off” pills I wasn’t as anxious. The week before my period, or the last week of active pills, I was a mess. So I thought, hmmm, what would happen if I just went off them. Anyway, have a chat with your dr. because it sucks to feel this way.

    12. Temperance*

      Carry a notebook with you and write EVERYTHING down. You can follow more than simple directions if you write them out. You aren’t stupid.

      Talk to your doctor about the issue.

      1. Izzy*

        Writing things down can also help fix them in your memory, so you might not need to refer to all your notes. Also, knowing you have everything written down can reduce your anxiety a little because you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

        About twenty years ago, I noticed my Mom carried a little notebook in her purse, and wrote down everything. I mentioned my kids’ clothing sizes, out came the notebook. She was sharp as ever (still is) but trusted her memory for exactly nothing. Mom and I are twenty years apart in age, and now I’ve got my little notebook too. I joke that I have a mind like a steel sieve. Or I have CRSS – Can’t Remember S[tuff] Syndrome.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I vote for checking the basics first.
      Are you drinking water? Boy, dehydration can mess up your mind big time. And inability to retain information is a typical symptom. This is progressive and people who die from dehydration have very disturbing deaths. I am not pointing this out to scare you, but to say, “yeah, it’s a huge problem and if you have dehydration going on you definitely are NOT exaggerating the severity of the things happening to you.”

      Next, how’s your diet doing? Junk food can make some people feel like their minds are moving slower or make everything feel more encumbered than it should be. Backing off of some junk might improve your mental clarity. Not to be gross or to be too personal- but watch out for constipation- that is a problem that can go into other problems.

      Here’s one that people seem to neglect: Grief. Have you been dealing with sadnesses in your life? Grief is not just for times of death- a lost job, moving, divorce and many other things can throw us into grief just as if we were dealing with the sadness of a full blown funeral. One of the things grief does is cut into our ability to concentrate, some people can feel this impact in a big way as you describe here.

      Allergy. Profound allergy can block many things such as the mind’s ability to work properly and in some cases it can block bodily functions.

      Because life is life and all that- it would not be unusual for a person to have two or more of these things going on. And these issues can be like millstones around our necks, just dragging us down and down.

      For the immediate term- watch your self-talk. Speak kindly and gently to yourself as you ease yourself through this period of figuring out what to do to help you. If your self-talk is highly negative, that will tend to exasperate problems. Instead as you are indicating here, continue to invest in yourself. You are worth it.

    14. Soupspoon McGee*

      I’ve faced the same issue. There could be several exacerbating factors: stress, medication changes, thyroid imbalance, low vitamin D levels, other nutrition issues, and the executive function issues others have mentioned.

      I found it hardest to focus and do multi-step tasks when I was in the midst of stressful life changes, so a new job could certainly make things worse.

      Not all ADD meds work the same way, so talk to your doc about other things that help with focus without amping up anxiety. Also look into other remedies. I read that some folks have luck with Gingko and Bacopa supplements (I’ve tried a blend with no bad effects).

      I also found lack of focus compounded by a medication I’d been taking to control migraines. No joke–my boss at the time finally asked me what was going on when she noticed me reading the same thing over several hours. I told her about the new med, and she knew about it because her son had had issues with it.

      Finally, when I started taking vitamin D and B complex daily, I could focus better and get through big tasks. You can also get B-12 drops for an energy boost.

    15. Buu*

      Have you talked to your Doctor about it? I think you should in case it’s a symptom of it. I can’t imagine it’s “smartness” or anything of the sort. I loose concentration when stressed, and that can snowball for me. Don’t beat yourself up you’re obviously managing a complex situation.

  3. Anonymouse*

    For those of you still on the dating scene, what are your biggest pet peeves about online dating, dating profiles, things that happen on first dates, etc?

    I use a couple different dating apps and I automatically pass anyone whose profile says they want their dates to smile and laugh at their jokes. It reminds me too much of cat callers on the street who tell women to smile. Being told to smile and laugh just makes me feel gross and objectified.

    1. Meemzi*

      “Looking for someone who gets my sense of humor ” vs “looking for someone who will laugh and smile at my jokes” – You hope they mean the first one but there is a difference.

    2. nep*

      When someone tells me to smile, I don’t feel a particular way about myself — I simply feel assurance that the person saying it is a jerk (or at least has very strong jerk-like tendencies).

    3. Mando Diao*

      I had to stop using those apps and sites. I’m close enough to NYC that most of my matches are bound to live there, and they don’t want to date someone who lives in nj.

      1. Anonymouse*

        On a few of mine, I have a radius of 10 miles which encompasses the city, and the apps still send me matches for people who lives way out in the suburbs. I don’t know how their algorithms work, but it’s annoying for me and probably the people on the other end viewing my profile to see someone who lives a good hour to two hours away.

        1. RKB*

          Depending on the user’s settings, it may take their Facebook location, or it may take the last location their phone was found at. If they commute into the city everyday and use Tinder/Grindr in the city, the app will count them as being within those limits.

          1. Anonymouse*

            The apps I use make you put in your zip code when you sign up, so it goes by whatever you put versus your physical location when you’re using the app.

      2. Dang*

        Yep. I’m from a different New York suburb but I get unmatched as soon as they find out I’m not in the city. Also they seem to think people can travel easily across water because the mileages are all off.

    4. OhNo*

      My biggest pet peeve in dating profiles is guys who include anything about how their potential female dates MUST be willing to have kids. I know it’s mostly harmless, but every time I see it I just think ‘Slow your roll, there, guy, I haven’t even met you yet.’

      1. Engineer Girl*

        He is getting the deal breakers out front. There’s an honesty about it that keeps both of you from wasting your time if you’re not inclined that way.

        1. OhNo*

          That would be why I said it’s a pet peeve, rather than framing it as a reasonable complaint. I know why they do it – I’m not stupid – but it still annoys me.

          It probably has something to do with the fact it’s really hard to phrase without coming across as entitled, even though that’s pretty much never the intention behind it.

          1. Lowercase holly*

            Maybe if instead they stated that *they* wanted kids. Then it’s just implied they want to date others who feel the same way.

            1. Elizabeth*

              Or they have kids… an ex framed it that way – he had kids but put the disclaimer at the top so that no one would waste their time.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I can see why that’s off putting but I like what Engineer girl said… I’m happily married but if (god forbid) I were ever in the dating scene, I’m not sure I wouldn’t do the same–get the dealbreakers out of the way. But then again I also come from an arranged marriage culture where compatibility tends to be a priority over chemistry.

      3. Dan*

        That’s actually a really important thing to get out front ASAP. I’m in my mid 30’s, and one of the things I screen for (in one way shape or form) are women that are expecting to have kids in the next two years.

    5. anonanonanon*

      The stupid, unnecessary complication over who pays for drinks or dinner on a first date.

      When I offer to split the bill or pay for my own coffee/drink/ticket, I mean it. I hate someone else paying for me. For all the times the guy is cool about it, I’ve had just as many men who get offended or think it means I’m not interested in them, or men who assume that them paying for a $7 glass of wine means I’m obligated to give them a goodnight kiss (and who then get upset when I don’t).

      I have never once had the same problem with women on first dates. Almost every time we’ve split the bill for a first date. I really don’t understand why it has to be such a big deal.

      1. Noah*

        On the opposite side, as a guy, when I date women there is nearly always the assumption that I’ll pay, at least for the first date. Alternately, when I date another man, you either split the bill or whoever asked who pays.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If I asked a dude out, I’d expect to be the one who paid. If he asked me, I’d expect him to pay (but I would at least offer). If we just met for coffee, I’d figure we were getting our own.

          But I haven’t dated for ages because I can NOT FIND ANYONE. And I am about ready to stand on a street corner with a sign!

      2. Engineer Girl*

        Put your expectations out front before you even meet. “For our first meet up let us each pay our own way.”
        If he gets offended you cancel and you haven’t wasted an evening out.

      3. Dan*

        TBH, I don’t feel like spending any more money than I need to. But “who pays” is one of those things where it’s taboo to talk about it directly, and the “signaling” is really difficult to read because different people have different opinions on it.

        OKC has a section that says, “Message me if…” If you put something like, “you don’t mind a woman who insists on paying her way.” If you get it out front in your profile and are clear about it, you don’t have to worry about guys getting the wrong message.

      4. Audiophile*

        I’m a woman, but I’ve heard enough women say, “I only offer to split the bill if I know I don’t want to see him again” that I can understand why guys would assume that.
        The last guy I dated, we went to the movies and he bought me a drink, which I could have paid for myself but then we split our dinner bill. The second date he paid and the third date I paid. I’ve also dated guys who always paid for everything and guys who paid for absolutely nothing but they’re own purchases unless I made a request.

    6. Trixie*

      I haven’t dated in forever and not sure what to expect in the 40+ scene. I should consider online options but lean towards group activities with common interests.

    7. Dang*

      For me it’s the people who say they “don’t do drama. ” perhaps unironically, I have found that those people are the most dramatic.

      Also I really hate when people talk on their profiles about their negative experiences with the site or online dating in general. I get it, I’ve had crap experiences too at times, but I don’t put that out there because it sounds really snarky. One profile I was looking at was someone I was interested in till they wrote ” you women on this site are a bunch of flakes.” Nice.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        For me it’s the people who say they “don’t do drama. ” perhaps unironically, I have found that those people are the most dramatic.

        It’s probably code for “I don’t do your drama… but you must do mine!” Ugh.

        1. Fenchurch*

          IME, if you don’t do drama, it’s a non-issue that doesn’t even need to be mentioned.

      2. Anonymouse*

        In my experience, some of the people who say they don’t do X or don’t like X tend to be hypocrites when it’s the other way around. For instance, saying “a date who lets me hang out with my friends” but then gets jealous when you want to hang out with your friends or who says “isn’t on their phone all the time” but they gets upset when you don’t respond to a message immediately.

        1. Dan*

          Which is why I don’t tell you anything more than “I’m not feeling it.”

          Early on in a relationship, those who exhibit controlling behaviors get kicked to the curb ASAP. I don’t have time for that, and it’s not what I’m looking for in a relationship.

      3. Overeducated*

        I think that’s because for people who actually “don’t do drama,” it just doesn’t come up enough to be worth mentioning. So yeah, that’s a red flag.

      4. Lowercase holly*

        Not dating, but looking for a new apartment. Came across a cute place, but the description included “please, no drama” and it’s like, ummm, maybe I don’t want to live there?

        1. Guess where I live?*

          Where I live almost every single ad on Craigslist for housing states:



          Mispellings and all.

          Once I loaded all the listings and then searched for ads that said “No Drama”. The content absolutely did not change, and I thought the site had frozen and hadn’t even performed the search.

          Many of them also want you to pay 900 for a “studio” where utilities are split 50/50 with the 3 bedroom house on the property, no laundry onsite (or better yet there is a washer and dryer but it is not for you), possibly no indoor water, no parking (for despite there being 3 spaces, plus the street, the landlord uses all those.)

          And oh… right.

          That is the “work trade price” if you are willing to work 20 hours a week doing “light work” on the property, mowing 2 acres of over grown weeds with a busted lawn mower, and picking up dog crap etc., because even though you aren’t allowed to have a pet, it’s only because the landlord already owns a roving pack of dogs who bark all night and crap on your front steps.

          If you want out of caretaking duties, tack on another $350 a month, which will just get pocketed, because damned if they are going to pay for yard work when there is a perfectly good person (you) who they can threaten with their deposit.

          And you must be prepared to move out at any time. Even if you have been a quiet good tenant that puts up with all of this and keeps to themselves, the landlord’s grown children who live on the other side of the property don’t like you, and have been complaining about you since you have moved in.

          Oh and their youngest daughter just dropped out of college and wants to “live on her own for awhile” so they need their place back.

          So here is your 45 day notice (could you be out next week please?) Good luck, and we will tell your next prospective landord about how you never pay on time, when in reality those times you were “late” it was because they’d forgotten they’d already cashed your check.

    8. Dan*

      Bad pics. Head shots only, selfies, pics where you’re obscuring yourself as if you’d rather not be submitting pics, pics with you and other people in them. If it’s you and someone of the opposite gender, it just raises a WTF? in my mind. If it’s you and someone of the same gender, it’s actually hard to tell which one is you. Just post a few pics of a clear head to toe body shot. Pets are fine.

      1. Audiophile*

        When it’s an opposite gender pic, I generally try to assume it’s a friend. What guy/girl in their right mind is going to post a picture with their significant other? If you’re actively looking to cheat, you’d probably want to be more discreet about it.

        1. Ada Lovelace*

          Actually my best friend sent us a screenshot of a guy she was matched with on Tindr. His profile picture was him kissing a woman with two kids at their side. Most probably not his sister.

          1. K.*

            When I was on Tinder, I saw a number of profiles who posted pics with their SO. I saw more than one professional wedding pic on Tinder.

          2. Audiophile*

            Ok, that’s pretty blatant.

            I did see a guy who’s pic was him and his SO, but he was clear that he was looking for an “open relationship”.

            Tinder was pretty big for this, as was OKCupid.

      2. Liz*

        I find requests for a lot of head to toe body shots off putting. I understand why people want them, but it comes off as a bit objectifying when men request multiple body shots because it’s often another way of saying they want a specific body type and usually those requests are something like “a girl who’s fit/works out/in shape”.

        1. Dan*

          Fwiw, I don’t ask for extra pics. If you have lame ones up, then I don’t bother messaging you.

          The reality is that body types matter. Yes, profiles that read to much like they’re ordering at a restaurant are off putting, but the whole point of a profile is to advertise who you are and what you’re looking for.

          I suppose the corollary is like a business. They all (except for non profits) are after your money, but the ones that make it blatant don’t get my business. They have to convince me that there is something in it for me too.

      3. Aaanoon*

        The girl who has 6 photos of the same three girls (sorority sisters?) without identifying which one is her.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          Worse, the one who says “I’m the skinny/pretty/I’m NOT the fat one” pix. I ‘ve seen a few screenshots going around the webs. Idk, if I was a guy and saw that I’d think she was a douche but who knows.

    9. Dan*

      Two other things — people who bluntly put in their profile that their dream in some fashion is to move out of the local area that they have their profile in. What are you actually looking for? Someone to quit their job and travel/move with you?

      I like to travel, don’t get me wrong, but quitting my job and relocating to a third-world country isn’t high on my to-do list. I’m actually looking for someone who is reasonably happy with their life in the metro area that I live in. There’s a good chance that I could retire from the job I currently have, and if that doesn’t sit well with you, we probably won’t be a long term match.

      Second, spending too much time on your phone. Even if we’re at a sporting event, spending time on your phone makes it looks like you’re not interested in me or what we’re doing. I don’t need your undivided attention, but if you spend more time texting your friends than you do talking to me, that’s a problem. (FTR, this was a third date, not the first.)

    10. Lucky charm*

      My best friend (early 30s female living in a large Southern city) has used Match and Tinder lately and had terrible experiences. One of her most recent Tinder dates ended up being married with a newborn. The other one from Tinder wanted to um…do him a favor, cough cough, in his car in a public parking lot in the middle of a busy area in the middle of the day.

      She has been upfront about what she is looking for (a serious long-term relationship and children). She does research on the men she goes out to make sure their stories check out.

      I think she has sworn off online dating.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        All I got when doing this crap was weirdos, couples looking for a third, some dude who would only message me in the middle of the night (obviously married), 70-year-olds, and a 22-year-old whose entire message conversation consisted of “‘Sup?” This was OKCupid and Match.com (never am I paying again). On the geek site, I got nothing. I haven’t tried Tinder because nobody wants to hook up with someone as old as me.

        I’m not doing it anymore either. It’s bullshit.

        1. Windchime*

          I agree. I’m so sick of the cliches. “I want a woman who is equally comfortable in jeans or a little black dress.” Dude. I don’t even own a dress. Where are the guys who want someone who makes a kick-ass lasagna and likes to knit and paint furniture and write code and has a wicked sense of humor? Where are those guys?

          1. Kyrielle*

            I am TOTALLY that woman. I hate jeans, they’re uncomfortable, but I can get into them if I must. I hate the LBD, it’s uncomfortable, but I can get into it if I think I must.

            …I don’t think anyone who posted that would appreciate my sense of humor. :P

            1. Audiophile*

              You hate jeans and the little black dress? Are you just walking around naked all the time?

              I much prefer jeans to dresses. But if I find a dress a I enjoy, I’m good.

      2. Dan*

        Tinder has a history of being a hook-up site, so Id say that if that’s your friend’s experience, then the site is delivering.

    11. Is it Performance Art*

      Men who repeatedly message women 15 to 25 years their junior and are very clear that they are looking for men in their own age group. Extra annoying if these older men send angry messages because you don’t have enough pictures or your pictures don’t show enough of you.
      Profiles that contain the phrase “If I do message you, I expect a reply.”
      Men whose profiles go on and on about the importance of their religion in their life who repeatedly message women who are not religiously compatible.
      Explaining that they’re going to be an amazing boyfriend because they will open doors for you, tell you you’re beautiful every day and would never want to live in a world where chivalry is dead.

    12. Tara R.*

      Straight couples (or couples involving a man and a woman, at least) looking for threesomes on areas devoted to women dating women. At the very least, be upfront about it in your profile so I can pass on you and not get startled by “So, me and my bf are looking for a third….” in the fourth message.

      1. anonanonanon*

        I state in my profile that just because I’m bi does not mean I want to be in a threesome and if you message me asking for one, you better be ready to get ignored or a snide response back.

  4. Very very anon*

    I’m uncertain about how to navigate sex in my dating life.

    I naturally have a very low sex drive. I would say I’m probably a grey or demisexual (if those terms exist outside of Tumblr…?). I get romantic attractions infrequently. But fun crushes don’t translate to real feelings easily, feelings to relationship is another step, and then actual sexual desire is a long way from that. I’ve had one relationship before that spanned several years and ended very amiably, and our sex life suffered greatly in the last few years. Part of that was logistical difficulties (we did not live together, had opposite schedules, one of us was always exhausted during a visit). But as they were my only partner up to this point, if I’m honest I think the sex at the beginning had the influence of “ooh, new thing” (not just “new thing” as part of normal new relationship energy, but completely new to me) and my interest did taper off over time, on top of all our logistical difficulties.

    I don’t desire sex without the context of a relationship, and with only one data point, I’m uncertain about my desire for sex even within a relationship. Given it took so much time to kindle romantic/sexual desire in my last relationship–we were friends first–it’s hard to justify going out on dates when I’m far slower than most about the pace my feelings move at, never mind the sexual desire part. I can probably go for years without sex without complaint, even in a relationship.

    Looking for partners in the religious communities may match my slow burn tendencies, but doesn’t do much about the question of sexual desire overall. An added twist: I’m childfree and atheist, and very staunch about both. I don’t think I can share my life with anyone who is religious.

    So to conclude this novel…I don’t really miss sex at all (though I may change my mind if I were to be in a relationship again, I really don’t know, but even if I do change I doubt I’d desire sex very often). But I do miss romance, and I miss companionship, though I’m pretty okay on my own as well (I don’t feel incomplete without a partner, I’d just like one). Online dating seems too high pressure because most people decide on their feelings before the turn of the century, and it’s not fair to go all “um, I like hanging out, I might eventually develop feelings in the undetermined future to sleep with you.” Sexual compatibility is understably a big part of dating. I’m certain I can get dates if I wanted to, but navigating this hurdle feels like it’s gonna be a lot of effort wasted for not a lot of gain. To be clear, I don’t need therapy, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me. I’d like to find a romantic partner, but I’m unsure how to navigate that with my propensity of moving at glacial speeds. It seems like people who are actually looking for a date just move at faster speeds than me.

    Should I just give up on the idea of dating for dating’s sake and hope I’ll meet someone similar to me just going about my life?

    1. Clouds in My Coffee*

      Religious people don’t necessarily have low sex drives, and if you’re a staunch atheist who doesn’t want to procreate, I wouldn’t go that route anyway.

      Have you read any of Dan Savage’s advice? He has (in the past few years or so) had some good advice about how to navigate being asexual or having a low sex drive. I’d start there. And therapy might be good simply to help you figure out how to navigate dating, from a therapist who should be objective and won’t feel as self-conscious about any perceived sex-drive “requirements.”

      1. um*

        Considering Dan Savage has said some pretty shitty things about asexuals in the past few years (and before), I wouldn’t necessarily trust his advice to asexuals.

        1. Myrin*

          For real, I am decidedly Not A Fan of his because of his shitty attitude towards asexuals. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

          1. um*

            He pretty much has a shitty attitude towards anyone who isn’t a cisgender white gay man, but he’ll have a shitty attitude towards them if they have a different viewpoint than he does. For someone who ran an anti-bullying campaign, he’s such a bully towards anyone he doesn’t like.

            Most of the people I know within the LGBTQA+ community really dislike him.

        2. INTP*

          Yeah, I have not read his work comprehensively but I remember picking up on a distinct attitude that you should just do the stuff you aren’t into out of generosity for your partner (under the euphemism of being “good, giving, and game”), and that the desire of one person to do things trumps or at least equals the desire of the other NOT to do them. Maybe that works for some people but for me, any sort of sexual activity that I’m not distinctly into isn’t just neutral or boring but actively unpleasant, which is no way to carry on a relationship. I don’t think his advice is actually healthy or practicable for the one person having a lower libido (or kink level or whatever) situation at all, let alone a demi/asexual situation.

          1. TL -*

            I’d argue that his advice has slanted towards – if you don’t mind, you should try it as a compromise. If it’s a hard no, than you shouldn’t. And that is generally for people in a long term relationship they want to keep. If it’s a new or starting relationship, his advice tends to be to put your cards on the table and check for compatibility before you get invested.

        3. Tau*

          +100000. Take anything Dan Savage says about or to asexuals with an entire ocean’s worth of salt. Better yet: don’t listen to anything Dan Savage says to/about asexuals at all.

          1. um*

            I wish people would stop bringing him up as if he’s the best person for LGBTQA+ advice. He’s awful and gives so much shady advice.

            I’m particularly wary of ally groups who reference him or his stuff since I assume they don’t acknowledge his bigoted side.

    2. going anon*

      I’m totally with you on being able to go years without sex. I enjoy it when I have it, but it’s not like I’m craving it when I go months or years without it. It’s more the companionship I miss out on than the sex.

      I’ve found just listing it up front on a dating profile usually works. You get people who have no idea what it means or who are turned off by it or don’t understand that it is different from asexuality, but I’ve found that just saying I’m a demi bisexual tends to draw in people who understand that, are okay with it, or identify as demi or ace themselves. Though, it’s 2016 and there are like a million dating sites for heterosexual or cisgender homosexuals, so you’d think there’d be dating sites directed at everyone else too (it still makes me sad that there aren’t demi or bi or pan or other identify specific dating sites).

      And seconding you on the not needing therapy thing. I hate that a lack of a high sex drive means people say you need therapy to work out your reasons or issues. It’s so…I don’t think heteronormative is the right word in this situation, but it’s advice that doesn’t take into account that not everyone is the same.

    3. Myrin*

      Hello friend, I’m greysexual as well (which is an awesome concept and I totally don’t care if people think it’s something that only exists on tumblr – it fits me to a T and I was super giddy for like an hour when I first read about it)! :D

      For me personally, I’ve never been in a relationship and would be content if it stayed that way but at the same time I’d be really happy to have a significant other. I don’t think I need to explain because from what you wrote, it reads like we feel similarly in that respect. So, onwards.

      Now, with regards to dating, I’ve decided years ago that I won’t go out of my way on my quest of dates but rather, like you put it, hope to meet someone going about my life. To be fair, I’m from a culture where the American (?) concept of dating doesn’t really exist – it’s the norm here to be friends or at least acquaintances first and meet in groups and not really “go on dates” so what I’m doing is actually the standard here and people still find partners all the tim,e so, yay.

      I’ve also decided that I, should I meet someone and mutual interest arises, will be very honest about my preferences from the start. I think it’s important to acknowledge that “no sex/little sex/sex only late into the relationship” can be a dealbreaker for others and it isn’t fair to myself and the other person to pretend that I’m somehow more interested in sex than I am. This has the potential of me not ending up with someone I like very much but I feel like it’s important to accept that. I’d just really like to find someone who accepts or even shares my low interest in sex and I know these people are out there but they seem to be kinda hard to find.

    4. AnonT*

      Fellow ace-spectrum person here, too. Honestly, I think if you like dating, there’s no reason not to. When the topic of sex comes up, you just have to be honest about your feelings on the subject. Does that mean many of your dates won’t end up working out? Maybe. But it’s also a pretty good way to meet people who might have similar feelings on the subject without hanging a sign around your neck that says “Asexual seeking same. Call me!”

      And yeah, I’d skip the religious communities. Your pace in regards to sex might match up (although I wouldn’t necessarily assume that), but it sounds like there would be some pretty strong life-goal conflicts that might get in the way of the relationship at some point.

    5. Mela*

      First things first. You don’t need to accommodate sexual people just because they’re the majority of the population. That’s not your job. In reality, you’ll have to deal with them (especially online) but you don’t owe them explanations or negotiations unless that’s something YOU want to do.

      I think online dating would actually be perfect for you, especially if you’re in a bigger city. OkCupid lets you create tags in your profile and people will search for specific tags. There are plenty of grey/demisexual people in the world! As I’ve learned through casual conversations on dating sites, there are also a lot of guys on depression meds who have zero sex drive, and they’re okay with no or infrequent sex. They like and prefer it that way. As going anon says, it’s a really good filter for people who would see it as a deal breaker. Prepare for a little education for folks who are wondering details, but you can be as specific as you want in a public profile. You can even specify that you’re not sure. Also, you can date someone and then decide later that you’re not interested in sex at all. That’s okay. Again, it’s not your job to make sure you have all the answers just because your experiences don’t fit the mold.

      Have you checked out AVEN? They have pretty robust forums and I’ve head plenty of stories of people meeting up on there and finding romance, glacier speeds and all :-)

    6. justahgray*

      Gray A demi here, in a 1 + year with a sexual. Met him online, after wading years through all the jerks and one guy who seriously told me “if you don’t use it regularly, I heard it dries up”. It helped that he was very shy to begin with, so he didn’t make a move until like date 4 or 5. I went to a lot of movies, a lot of first dates. Pick something you enjoy enough that you can do it once a week.
      Demi’s are usually late bloomers, so don’t freak if it takes you into your late 30’s to really figure out what you want. Just keep on trying, and don’t let the assholes get you down.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I got nothing because I’m the exact opposite of you–sex is very important to me in a relationship, I like a lot of it, and if it ain’t good, well nothing is. But I echo the advice to skip the religious people. Religion doesn’t make someone less interested in sex. And many religious people in this country (if you’re in the US) are all about marriage and family and kids and God.

      1. Very very anon*

        Well, the staunch atheist part pretty much makes me write off religious people anyway (for the same reason they’d write me off). I only mentioned that part because people tend to suggest religious communities for those who are reserved about sex. Which I am, but it’s not because I disapprove of sex before marriage. It’s because I’m pretty lukewarm, at best, about sex.

        Although it was probably a red herring and I probably shouldn’t have included that part.

        1. Mela*

          I realized why you included it. It’s a band-aid solution. Sure, they may not want to have sex for 6+ months, but then you have to date a religious person for 6 months and at a certain point, you have to face the fact that you’re still incompatible!

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I get you. Though I’m not sure why they think religious people are more reserved about it–maybe it’s because they tend to talk up not having it before marriage (though plenty of them do).

    8. Dan*

      Knowing who you are sexually takes time, experience, and patience. I’ve realized over time that traditional mish doesn’t do much for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy other types of sexual contact. Believe it or not, it took a long time for me to understand, accept, and be ok with that.

    9. Hiding*

      No advice, but maybe it will make you feel better that you are not alone. I had major deja-vu reading your post, I could have written most of it. I am in a relationship, but all the rest fits perfectly.

    10. more anon than usual*

      I’m ace, but aromantic. If you are anywhere near a big city, maybe try the AVEN meetup section (which does trend young), and also look for local meetup groups. I’m near DC, and there is a fairly large meetup group that has regular meetings in the DC/Baltimore areas – there are also active groups near NYC and New England. There are some couples in the group (for a variety of relationship types) that met through the meetup, and if nothing else it can be a place to discuss these topics in person.

    11. matcha123*

      I’m pretty similar.
      I think that you realize that most people seem to put a high priority on the big S. If you understand that it will take you longer to find someone, that doesn’t totally ease your pain…if that’s the correct word, but it makes it easier to deal with.

  5. Anonyby*

    Such a beautiful, artistic pic of Olive! <3

    And I'm excited! Tonight we're doing a Star Wars-themed birthday party for a friend, and I'm making a cake. Got it baked and frosted last night, and I decorated a larger cake board the night before that. As soon as I get off from work, all I need to do is make and add fondant decorations and pipe a bit of lettering on it. It's going to look amazing!

  6. Mimmy*

    Anybody watch the American Idol finale the other night? I’ve been a fan from the very beginning, though it lost its magic after season 8 when the original judges started leaving (first Paula, then Simon). I am sad to see it go but it was the right time.

    So…Idol fans of AAM, let’s commiserate!

    1. Cruciatus*

      I gave up seasons ago. It became too much of an investment to watch (this also happened with Big Brother). But! I was in grad school during the first 2 seasons. During the first one I remember being so disappointed that Justin lost…which is funny, because I like Kelly Clarkson a lot these days! And now it’s “Justin who?” And the next year, my grad school class got into a very heated debate over Clay vs. Ruben (I was, and will always be, pro-Clay). But there were actually hurt feelings that night! So it really was a major show that people were invested in. I didn’t mind that the show was still on, but once most of the original judges left it was never the same for me. And I don’t think they’ve been able to make the winners into big names like they could for the first half of their run. There was Phillip Phillips but I don’t know if he’s been on the radio with anything lately…

      1. Mimmy*

        I am a HUGE Kelly Clarkson fan–I’ve seen her 7 or 8 times and even met her in 2005. The year before, she toured with Clay; we attended a stop in Long Island, and when Clay came out, you’d think it was the Beatles all over again. You Clay fans are crazy!! :P I’m just kidding – I do like him, particularly for his work on behalf of children with disabilities.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Me too. I used to love it and quit after Jordin Sparks’s season. I started to realize the good people weren’t memorable enough to make me want to buy their album, and the bad people weren’t bad enough to be hilarious.

        1. Windchime*

          That’s about when I gave up as well. These days, I really love The Voice and I watch it faithfully. I love the idea that the singers are all good, and they get coaching from industry professionals that makes them even better.

  7. Riley*

    What was your favorite Tv show growing up or your favorite childhood song ? Why were they your favorite?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I was a big fan of the Galaxy Rangers and its theme song. Great animation (for the time).

    2. MsChanandlerBong*

      I used to love “Ben Casey,” a medical show. I was in the hospital a lot as a kid, so I had sort of a hero worship thing going on for doctors and nurses. If my mother took me grocery shopping and didn’t get home by the time the show came on, I was MAD. It originally aired in the sixties, but my local PBS station aired reruns when I was a kid in the eighties.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I loved the hell out of Gilligan’s Island, LOL. I got the whole series on DVD. :) The theme is fun to sing. I watched it in reruns because while I was alive when it was on, I was too little to see it or remember it.

      I also especially loved:
      Star Trek: TOS
      The Monkees
      Batman (with Adam West–that was my FAVORITE show when I was five)
      Happy Days
      Laverne and Shirley

      I wish I could watch the last two again. Nobody reruns them. :(

      1. the gold digger*

        Happy Days is on DVD. I got it recently and wondered why nobody thought, while they were shooting the initial episodes, “Hey! There are no mountains in Milwaukee!”

      2. Jessica (tc)*

        We have reruns of Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days on Antenna TV (over-the-air television, as we don’t have cable). I’ll put a link to it below this comment. It also has The Monkees, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, Leave it to Beaver, Three’s Company, One Day at a Time, and a bunch of others.

      3. Fenchurch*

        MeTV reruns Happy Days in the US! I don’t know if that’s available where you are, though.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          My friends laugh at me, but I love watching MeTV and Antenna TV, even though most of those shows are too “old” for me. I grew up watching Nick at Nite and other stuff, and I just have an appreciation for a lot of those older shows for some reason.

          One of those channels shows the Carol Burnett Show, and I absolutely love watching it. It’s nice that Antenna TV also has Family Ties, Doogie Howser, Evening Shade (all of which actually are from my childhood years), so I get my actual nostalgia on right alongside my retro nostalgia. ;) Of course, MeTV also shows Mama’s Family, which still makes me laugh–perhaps even more as an adult.

    4. Mimmy*

      I have lots of favorites, but the one I was insanely obsessed with was Little House on the Prairie. It aired in the 70s but a local station had re-runs in the early-mid 80s. I can’t pinpoint why I loved it so much but will admit that I was particularly fascinated by Mary when she went blind and went on to meet a blind teacher and taught at the school. I also called my dad “Pa”, probably to the chagrin of my family.

      Another favorite was Different Strokes, with Gary Coleman. His “whatcha talkin’ bout” always cracked me up.

    5. Lillian McGee*

      I loved Fraggle Rock and that theme song will follow me to my grave. Even if I haven’t thought of it in years, the second I do, that song pops right into my ear and won’t come out.

      1. Portia*

        Yay Fraggle Rock! It was streaming a few years ago, maybe on Netflix? Made me so happy. I like the other Muppet shows as well, but Fraggle Rock had a special place in my heart.

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      I grew up in the 90s but I watched a lot of Nick at Nite. I loved watching I love Lucy and happy days. I’m nto sure why I liked them so much, I do remember I liked American history a lot when I was a kid and it was one of my fave subjects in school.

      Then the typical 90s shows, Power Rangers, Rugrats, simpsons, boy meets world, family matters, full house etc. Also started watching Friends when I was 14, if that counts.

    7. danr*

      The first tv shows that I remember watching were Crusader Rabbit and the Modern Farmer. Then the Bugs Bunny shows and early Popeye.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Bugs Bunny is the best.

        “Overture..curtains, lights…this is it…the night o’ nights… No more rehearsing and nursing a part…we know every party by heart!”

      2. Girasol*

        Yes! Crusader Rabbit! And Captain Kangaroo and Fireball XL5, that awful supermarionation kiddie show.

    8. AmyNYC*

      My sister and I loved Gloria Esteban, and “danced” around the house to her endlessly. I think my mom liked her, ergo we liked her.
      Anytime I’m in a dark room with her (don’t be weird, I mean like watching a movie) I’ll whisper “The rhythm is gonna getcha.”
      We’re 30 and 32, respectively.

    9. Mimmy*

      As for songs: When I was really little, I loved “You Light Up My Life” by Debbie Boone; 20+ years later, it was my father-daughter dance at my wedding.

      I also loved Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. As a teenager, I was obsessed with Bon Jovi, Debbie Gibson and Def Leppard. Guess which one doesn’t belong? LOL!

    10. QualityControlFreak*

      Great question. I loved Gilligan’s Island; I loved the whole “marooned on a tropical island” idea, plus the characters were all funny, silly and nice. Star Trek was my favorite; I’m an explorer at heart. As for music, as a child I liked Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Saint Saens’ Danse Macabre and of course The Nutcracker. Because ballet.

    11. GreenTeaPot*

      Leave it to Beaver. June, for all her pearls, shirtwaist dresses and heels, was a bit of a feminist. Ward was sexy and the boys adorable. And what a great supporting cast!

    12. Felicia*

      I was super into The Magic School Bus. I still watch it sometimes before work. Maybe I just thought science is awesome !

    13. Christina*

      Ooh, great question. Two that come to mind from when I was a little kid were Sun Beneath the Sea and Belle and Sebastian–I’ll be amazed if anyone has heard of either of these. I have such fond memories of those two because they’d be what I’d watch when I’d get up early with my dad before he went to work. We’d have cereal, I’d watch him make his lunch, and we’d watch those before my babysitter came and he left for work.

      A little older, Star Trek TNG and X-Files–I love scifi-ish stuff, my dad loved the old Star Trek, and it was a fun thing to bond over. We were calling each other after each of the recent new X-Files episodes. And Friends, because that was the one night a week my mom let us eat dinner in front of the TV.

      1. Christina*

        Oh, and for music, I just remember one summer my little sisters and I were *obsessed* with Newsies. We knew all the songs and made little dances with our beanie babies (we also had said beanies act out the soundtrack to RENT–or most of it anyways).

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          The Magic Roundabout. Ever since then, the revolving brushes in carwashes have always been “Dougals”.

        1. Mimmy*

          Same here Elizabeth. I forgot how much I watched! You Can’t Do That on Television, Mr. Wizard, Black Beauty…ahh, memories!

    14. Liane*

      Star Trek–TOS. My first, at the tender age of 3, foray into science fiction, and the first of many, many TV show I watched with my dad as child and teen, parked on the floor next to his recliner. Later, in middle and high school, my closest girlfriends and I watched and discussed the reruns and other SF and fantasy books/TV/movies. Very unusual for girls–or even many boys–before Star Wars was released when we were in our freshman yesr of high school.

      1. Girasol*

        I remember sitting in math class working out the exact number of minutes until Star Trek would be on again.

    15. Doriana Gray*

      I had a lot of favorite shows as a kid. Roseanne cracked me up (except for that weird last season) and I loved her relationship with Dan (if I ever fall down and bump my head and decide marriage is a good idea, I’d want my husband to be just like him personality-wise); The Wonder Years, Growing Pains, and Saved by the Bell were my kid shows; Golden Girls and Murder She Wrote were shoes I loved watching with my grandma, who was only in her forties at the time; and as I got a little older, original recipe Beverly Hills, 90210, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Daria were must see TV for me.

      Honorable mention shows that I liked a lot, but didn’t necessarily love were Happy Days, Who’s The Boss?, The Nanny, A Different World, Good Times, and 227.

  8. Foreverrenting*

    Anyone have any good guides/resources/ checklists for how to purchase your first home?

    1. Cass*

      Trulia.com sends interesting emails with blog posts on different aspects of buying a house. Very helpful for me!

    2. periwinkle*

      Redfin has a guide to buying a home (go to their home page, then Tools, then Home Buying Guide). I used this as a starting point when looking into buying our first house. Also check your bank/credit union website (or any big bank/credit union’s site) to see what kind of resources are available.

      And even if this sounds like weird advice, watch House Hunters on HGTV. It’s not even remotely realistic as an illustration of the home buying process, but it’s a good way to see a variety of housing types and start figuring out your own want/don’t want list. Also, heckling the people on the show is fun and hopefully will lead you to set more realistic expectations.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        If you can find it (there are sometimes episodes on youtube), watch the BBC’s Homes under the Hammer. I’ve learnt so much about what kind of stuff in a house is easy to change/fix, and what isn’t.

    3. lfi*

      we took a redfin class that was pretty helpful – the biggest thing that we took away from it was getting pre-approved for a loan first. we closed in 17 days on our house, mainly because we had no contingencies, had an amazing agent, and had the money stuff figured out in advance.
      find a good agent – talk to a few. we had to get rid of our first agents because of our experience putting in our first bid.
      good luck – and you will find a great house. :)
      i’m in the bay area – feel free to reach out if you are looking out in our area!

  9. Aurora Leigh*

    This might be slightly work related, so I understand if it needs to come down.

    Yesterday, I killed the battery in my car. I was near an autoglass repair place and went in and asked for help. The super nice guy got a battery recbarge pack from the back and came over and charged my car for nothing! I’m thanked him, but I wondered about sending a thank you card to the business as well?

    I don’t want to get him into trouble with his boss. Would a boss mind? My old one would have, so that colors my thinking.

    P.S. On top of being nice, he was cute! But I am hopeless at flirting :(

    1. danr*

      At my auto mechanic’s they post the thank you letters that they get. They do plenty of freebies, usually for folks that have broken down and need help. Since they had a battery recharger ready, it tells me that you’re not the first one to need help.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s hard to say, but I would guess the boss would be OK with it. Many businesses allow for free services like that because they increase loyalty, and they don’t really cost anything if the business isn’t completely slammed. We are pretty loyal to our local garage because they sometimes refuse to charge us for replacing a bulb or wiper blades.

      It’s also good for employee morale to post letters like that, I once worked at a place that did that, and I loved having mine up on the wall. Wegmans gives the employee a free lunch if they get a customer commendation. (At least ours does.)

      1. blackcat*


        I’ve encountered multiple mechanics who do small things for free. If it takes them less than 10 minutes to fix something, it’s probably not worth billing for. It absolutely builds customer loyalty and trust, and that matters a lot with mechanics.

        I’m 100% sure it’s worth their time to do small things for free–because when mechanics do that for me, not only do I go back when I have something I need to pay for (even if it’s as simple as an inspection), but I also tell all my friends about the helpful mechanic I’ve found. It’s a good business strategy.

    3. Shell*

      Out of curiosity, why did your old boss mind? I would think a thank you note would be a pretty awesome thing to receive! Or did you mean he got mad at the employees for doing things worth thanking? (That still doesn’t make sense to me…)

      I personally don’t see anything wrong with sending a thank you note, but I’m not speaking from any experience here.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      Do they have a yelp or other review page? You could leave a positive review of your experience.

      Are you worried that the worker might get in trouble with his boss for having helped you for free? I can’t imagine most bosses would be mad to get a thank you letter from a satisfied customer (even if you didn’t pay for anything, your goodwill towards them has to be good for business).

      1. Regina Phalange*

        I am loyal to a tire place near by office because every time my check tire pressure light comes on, they check and fill them for me for free. I am hopeless when it comes to cars and would prefer to not even have one and I know I should be able to fill my own tires, but I just don’t. And when I need to replace tires or other things, now I go there because I trust them. A nice Yelp review is always an excellent idea.

      2. Mela*

        +1 to the online review, but the handwritten note can’t hurt either. I would specifically state that his helpfulness created a new customer (if that’s true) because bosses are less likely to get upset with a tangible result like that, but a vaguer thank you might cause some upset.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Does it have to be a thank you note?

      I have stopped a second time with a dozen donuts, or lottery tickets as a thank you.

    6. Thinking out loud*

      Definitely write the note. If they have a charger, I’m sure they encourage employees to help people out.

      1. Thinking out loud*

        Oh! I have an idea! Write the note and then bring it to the place in person. Look for your cute dude and say that you wanted to say thank you but we’re concerned that he might have gotten in trouble. Then you can hear it from him. If you’re feeling daring, you can say, “can I buy you a drink/cup of coffee some time too?”

    7. susan*

      Write a great Yelp review! You can be a little vague if you’re concerned about getting someone in trouble but still show your appreciation for them going “above and beyond”

    8. Tara R.*

      I would add “I’ll definitely be coming to [business] the next time I need an oil change!” or something similar. Even a bad boss can’t get irritated when they’ve clearly gained a new customer (and the chances are the boss is good and reasonable and wouldn’t mind anyway).

  10. Mallory Janis Ian*

    Are there any good online tax prep sites that are truly free to e-file the 1040ez? My college-freshman daughter needs to file, and all she has to report is a summer job at McDonald’s and a few hours per week in the church nursery during the school year.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      Free file fillable forms. Its easy and free! It does the math, but you have to read the instructions and know what you’re doing. I’ve used it for years!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think you can just get a fillable PDF from the IRS, but if you want a little more handholding, TurboTax allows for basic 1040EZ and 1040A federal efiling. Link to follow.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Thanks, Aurora Leigh and Cosmic Avenger! I’ll refer her to one of these.

    4. Noah*

      I don’t know if the IRS still does it, but you used to be able to Telefile if you could do the 1040EZ form. The instruction pack was really simple and you called a phone number and entered in the answers to several questions. I did that when I was 17. After that I was a flight attendant and had to file per diem, which meant no more 1040EZ form.

      1. Tamsin*

        Nope. Tax preparation software firms saw that as government competing with the private sector. Nice, huh.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I use FreeTaxUSA. It’s free to file your federal return and around $13 for the state return. It remembers what you did last year, so if it didn’t change, it’s super easy.

      1. DaBlonde*

        I second FreeTaxUSA. I have used them for 3 years running now and the fact that they save your basic information from previous years makes it quick and easy.

      2. Noah*

        Thanks for the suggestion, finally finished my 2015 taxes using FreeTaxUSA. I had to file five different state returns this year because of a work move, company acquisitions, and a 401k rollover that went sideways. I was annoyed at how much TurboTax and H&R Block wanted to file all those state returns and was prepared to just file for an extension and work through the paper forms myself.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      Go to irs [dot] gov / freefile. They have software for filing for free if your income is less than $62,00, (which I assume is true of your college-age daughter).

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      I know you asked for online sites, but have you considered VITA?
      The IRS set up a program for low income or otherwise taxpayers with simple situations to have their taxes prepared for free by trained volunteers. I started my career there and we tend to be competent.
      I know a lot of them set up on college campuses, there might be a wait depending, but it’s an option worth looking into as opposed to HR/JH/LT etc.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Also check out charity organizations and senior centers. I volunteer with VITA through an outreach charity similar to Good Will and our biggest competition for clients is the AARP sponsored tax service at the senior center.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          Yep!! I did both of my stints at VITA through non profit organizations since I didn’t start this until after I graduated college. I think it’s a valuable service for those whos income and situation is relatively simple and shouldn’t pay exorbitant amounts of $$.

      2. Liane*

        Our college son is in the same situation and the volunteer preparers are a great option.In our area, they are at several of the libraries. My mother-in-law used to volunteer with them and suggested we check them out. We used them for years, until we had trust forms to file. (Which they cannot do, even though we have $0 income from it.)
        We’ve since gone to Jackson-Hewitt and the JH preparer suggested Son could use their free online e-file, since he would be getting a refund of all income tax deducted. She also said the education trust from his grandparents wouldn’t be an issue since the trust paid everything directly to the college.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I sent my daughter a link to the comment thread and told her to pick which one she’s inclined to use and I’ll help her with it. Thanks, y’all!

    9. Tamsin*

      There are still truly free online Free File options through her state tax agency website or the IRS, but the number of participating vendors have decreased and she probably needs to actually enter Free File in a search on the site.

      She should start with her state’s Free File options — for two reasons: She’ll want to pick a vendor that she qualifies for that will file in both her state and with the IRS.

      There are still options today where people with less than $62,000 in income can truly use online tax preparation and filing options.

      1. Honeybee*

        Seconding the suggestion for Free File. I did this all through graduate school and it works just like paying the fee. If she makes less than $31,000 I recommend TurboTax All Free; if she makes between $31K and $62K, I recommend H&R Block’s Free File.

    10. LAMM*

      I did my taxes this year by downloading the TurboTax app onto my phone. It was ridiculously easy, and was able to do both federal and state for free.

      My brother had to file his own taxes this year for the first time and did them on the app too. He said it was super painless for someone who had never done them before.

    11. Lindsay J*

      I did mine last night with TaxAct.

      You have to pay to access more than 2 life events so it’s not the best for adults that may be doing things like getting married, buying houses, having children, etc. But for a college freshman it should be great.

      I’ve used TurboTax in the past and also liked that but TaxAct seemed simpler to me.

      TurboTax has a fee to file a state return, not sure about TaxAct.

    12. Snazzy Hat*

      The 1040EZ is truly easy. I have to file a 1040 plus Schedule E for myself, but my s.o. only needs the 1040EZ. This year I went through the line-by-line directions and, including that, it took me about fifteen minutes to complete his tax return. I think my record for doing his taxes is eight minutes.

    13. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Daughter’s taxes are done. We used the TurboTax Freedom Edition online, which allows free state and federal filing for people with income of less than $31,000. She was able to e-file federal, but our state requires first time filers to do so by mail, so she printed the state copy and we have it all ready for tomorrow’s mail.

      Thanks for all the helpful tips, everyone!

  11. Sparkly Librarian*

    Comment thread from last week with backstory: https://www.askamanager.org/2016/04/weekend-free-for-all-april-2-3-2016.html#comment-1040668

    My wife and I (and the social worker) met on Thursday with the young mother who was considering making an adoption plan and wanted a family like ours. We had a really good conversation for a couple of hours, plus my wife and I held and fed the baby, who is adorable and was quietly looking at everything until she passed out on my wife’s shoulder. We may or may not hear anything back, but if we do it’s likely to be soon. I feel a lot less anxious about the situation now that it’s more real; I liked the mom a lot, and she seemed to like us. Her language focused on “when the baby is with you”, while I was trying to speak more in hypotheticals, but it’s not at all a sure thing that she will choose us as adoptive parents. She might choose to continue parenting instead; she obviously takes very good care of the baby and loves her, and if she only had more family/community support, I don’t think she’d be considering adoption at all. After the meeting, I am now super-calm and genuinely able to wish her well no matter her choice (which makes me feel better about myself as a person, to be honest).

    1. SophieChotek*

      Please keep us updated; your reaction is so generous and affirming! If this baby does not work out (for whatever reason) I hope another situation will open up for you!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that is a great update. OP, sounds like everything is in a good place. I am happy for you. Keep us posted as to how things unfold here.

    2. Thinking out loud*

      This is a great update. For what it’s worth, my husband is friends with a young woman who put a child up for adoption. They ended up doing an open adoption, and she is a pretty active part of the (now ten-year-old!) child’s life. Everyone seems really happy with the situation from what I can tell.

  12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Saving for a down payment but it seems like it’s taking forever :/ What’s the most creative way you saved $$$ for a down payment (not involving parents/family/rich inheritances/living at home)? I need some fun/creative frugal ideas I can do on my own. Also, living at home isn’t an option if you’ve seen my previous posts. thanks <:)

    1. Mt*

      If you have a 401k from work put extra in it. You can borrow from it for a home purchase without penalty. Also if you are in the us you can get a first time owner loan with 3.5% down. There are morgages with a slightly higher rate that will cover closing costs.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        This is a bad idea. All loans from 401k accounts must be repaid immediately if you lose your job or quit. That’s additional stress at an already stressful time. And how will you get a new loan for the difference fast enough?

        1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          Exactly. However, a Roth IRA is set up so you are allowed to withdraw contributions and gains ONCE for a home purchase without penalty.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Create a directed savings account. If you have auto deposit you can direct the funds into the account automatically. I have several accounts for other things. One for property taxes, one for travel. The money never goes into play in my checking or savings so I never see it or miss it.
      Initially you’ll notice the missing money but soon you’ll adjunst your spending habits for the lower apparent income. It’s easier to do this if you have a budget in place for the other things.

    3. KT*

      I lived in my Toyota tercel for 9 months to save for my down payment. Not feasible for everyone, but otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford my house.

    4. Grumpy*

      The realtor loaned me the money for the down payment and held the mortgage on the home. (I know, shady! Bad homeowner!)

      1. Florida*

        There is nothing shady about a realtor or anyone else holding a mortgage. If you can’t (or don’t want to) get a loan from a bank or mortgage company, you can borrow money from anyone you want to, and use the house as collateral for the debt.

        One way you can buy a house is to have the seller hold the mortgage. If the current owner owns the home free and clear, ask him if he’d be interested in holding the mortgage. You get the house. He gets payments plus interest every month. If you don’t pay, he can foreclose on you the same way a bank can. It’s really a win-win.

    5. Lucky charm*

      I just bought my first home this year. Honestly, I didnt do anything creative to save for a down payment except document every cent i spent, lived as cheaply as i could, didnt take vacations ever, and lived on a strict budget. I lived well below my means. I did this for about three years. I had to buy a new car in the middle of that time but I paid cash for the car and that set me back about a year.

    6. Mkb*

      I made it like a game to see how much I could save each month. I also said no to a lot of invitations while I was trying to save, and ate at home every night instead of going out or getting take out.

    7. NDQ*

      I saved by cutting every expense out of my budget possible. It hasn’t been easy, but I still live well but on a smaller portion of my income.


    8. Temperance*

      My husband and I sold one of our cars and just stopped all socialization for months. It sort of sucked at the time, but we lived a barebones existence just so we could get the house.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        @Mkb and @Temperance
        Re: declining invitations/stopping socializing, I’ve done that for the past 2-3 months and counting. It gets kinda quiet lol.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I already have my home. But I think it’s a good life habit to constantly rotate through your regular bills and see what you can do to reduce each one. Keep it light, like a game, but keep doing it. This means let’s say you target your heat bill and that does not go so well. Move on, find another regular expenditure and see what you can do with that. Just tell yourself you will go back to the heat bill (or whatever bill you had no success with) later on.

      Keeping it light also means don’t try to reduce all your bills at once. Do one at a time. Congratulate yourself for any savings. I reduced my costs for salt for the water softener by 50%. I saved a whopping $45 per year at that time by doing this. I congratulated myself, even though the savings was humble, and I moved on to see what I could do in other areas. I have been doing this for years. Twice I got lucky and reduced my monthly bills by $400. This is extraordinary and not to be expected ordinarily.

    10. Sunflower*

      Basically start thinking ‘what am I paying for that I could be paying less for’.

      Generally, your housing is your biggest expense so if you can cut that out or down majorly, that will help. Someone posted last week in my rent thread that they live with a handicapped person and in exchange for doing chores and such around the house, they pay extremely low rent. Something like that might be a good option.

      Cut all unnecessary expenses. Do the math and see if you need a car. Stop eating out completely- if you have a daily Starbucks habit, stop. Cut coupons, buy your food strategically. If you live in a building where you are close enough to other units, ask you neighbors if they’d be willing to split internet costs. Get rid of cable and live on Netflix. Sell things you don’t need anymore- furniture, appliances.

      Whatever you do, don’t get rid of your health insurance.

      1. TootsNYC*

        line-dry your clothes, if at all possible (if they’re wet, it can be heavy to carry them home from the laundromat–ask me how I know; but if you have a car it might not be as bad)

        Little things like that (for one thing, your clothes will probably last longer–that’s a savings too)

  13. ThatLibraryChick*

    What is the protocol when you suddenly realize there’s a funeral procession in the right lane of the interstate and you can’t get over to get off for your exit? They all had their hazards blinking, and it didn’t look like anyone would let me cut in anywhere. I couldn’t speed up to past the hearse and neither could I slow down to wait for the last car. Eventually I missed my exit and had to go down several miles before being able to turn around. What is one supposed to do in these situations, whether you were mine or if you were actually IN the procession?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I never understood that whole procession thing. I think when we had my mom’s service, people were told where to show up and when, and they just went. (I had her cremated, so there was no hearse, but still, we had to get from the funeral home to our house for the…reception? We had food and a non-religious kind of sitting shiva thing, for tradition and comfort rather than religious observation.)

      Was there a left shoulder? I probably would have pulled over there if I had thought of it early enough, and waited for the procession to pass. I also probably would have been a little frustrated, because a lot of the ritual and reverence around burials bothers me, but I like to think that it would have been minor. I’d much rather miss my exit than have a reason to be part of a funeral, so I’d just try to remember that. The people in the procession would probably have switched places with you in a second.

      1. Colette*

        I suspect the procession is practical – people from out of town won’t find the cemetery otherwise, and everyone arrives together instead of two cars getting stuck in traffic because they took a different route. It’s a pre-gps tradition.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          It’s based on when the graveyard was much closer to the church and everyone would follow the pallbearers/hearse to the grave. It’s a sign of respect. It turned into a way to make sure out-of-towners got to the cemetery and that everyone showed up together. (And not everyone has GPS, which doesn’t work as well as you’d like in older cities, so it’s still a practical tradition.)

          In the area where I grew up, the procession used to pass the deceased’s house/apartment building. It’s still occasionally done for very old people.

          1. Miss M*

            Oddly enough MapQuest and Google maps have one of the local cemeteries on the wrong side of the interstate.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree! I think that when there’s a procession, you should avoid being in it for a long time, so that you don’t break it up.

        So, sliding in and out in order to exit or enter the highway should be totally fine.
        Hanging in the middle as they go along isn’t good because it means people can’t follow one another because you’re blocking their view.

        In a small town (like where I grew up), you can wait for the 15 or 30 cars to go past on the city streets. But on the interstate?

    2. Lillian McGee*

      Shake my fist and yell “Roads are for the living!!!!”

      Jk, but I agree it is an antiquated tradition that needs to go.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I don’t think there’s much you can do but go down to the next exit. In several states it is illegal to break into a funeral procession. Many are accompanied by a police escort.
      It’s sometimes annoying but those people are probably having a worse/more stressful day than you. Consider your inconvenience an act of kindness of it helps.
      FWIW, I always felt soothed a little when people pulled over to acknowledge processions I’ve been in.

    4. Fish Microwaer*

      My understanding is that the usual rules of a funeral procession dont apply on the interstate so they should have let you in to make your exit.

    1. CAA*

      That’s a link to the shopping cart, so everyone’s will be different. What product was in yours?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        My bad. Its this–

        But it’s DaVinci gourmet flavors for coffee and drinks…the flavors are sugar and calorie free. As a diabetic, plain black coffee gets boring and the SF flavors at DD are never good… Plus I feel like this would give me more control over what ‘m drinking (talking strictly about how an employee can put in sugar instead of SF, thinking it’s not a big deal).

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I do it because I’m trying to shave Points (WeightWatchers), but I have bottles of Torani sugar-free syrup. Their hazelnut and brown sugar cinnamon are my favorites. I’ll actually put a few pumps of the brown sugar cinnamon syrup on plain microwaved acorn squash and eat it like that. :-9

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            ahhyes Torani! I see that at my local deli by my job but I’d like my own for keeps :). Where did you get yours?

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Amazon, natch! Although I once found a really good deal on them at World Market — in glass bottles! I don’t know why, but it felt fancier somehow.

          2. bkanon*

            English Toffee for me! I go through a bottle a month. Just a little splash in my coffee and it really adds a kick of fun flavor.

        2. periwinkle*

          I’ve used Torani and DaVinci but my true love is now Monin. Monin’s Sugar Free White Chocolate + milky coffee = decadence. I use the fruit syrups to make Italian sodas or spark up iced tea. Once I accidentally made a latte with SF raspberry syrup and it was surprisingly good.

          Torani is readily available at World Market/Cost Plus. My local coffee supply place carries a large assortment of Monin, including the SF flavors, but I’ll usually order them directly from Monin (shipping is free for U.S. orders over $20 and they often send out discount codes).

    2. Snow*

      In the UK these are often bargain prices in TK Maxx if you have one. (Of course they are way more expensive here to begin with as they are generally american imports as no-one here seems to make them.)

  14. Mela*

    How do you balance saving for retirement and saving for a property down payment?

    My husband and I are definitely “behind” in saving for retirement, at least according to official recommendations. We have some savings already and are contributing, but we’re limited to IRAs in terms of tax-free contributions. Right now I don’t have a paycheck coming in, so I haven’t been contributing to my IRA. We’re not going to even want to buy for 5+ years due to location logistics, but we want to be ready for it. So how to balance the two very far off goals?

    We’re going to be able to save more soon, so we’re trying to decide the best option:
    -Start contributing to my IRA as well as his to max out tax exemptions
    -Save more aggressively for the down payment
    -Some other investment option that allows flexibility between the two?

    1. CAA*

      As long as your husband has earned income, he can contribute to both his and your IRAs if your budget can swing it. When you’re ready to buy a house, you can withdraw up to $10K each from the IRAs without penalty, but you do have to pay income tax on the money at that time. If you have the money in a Roth IRA, then you’ve already paid taxes on it, so it’s even easier to take the $10K out for a house.

      Overall, I think it’s best to max out your IRA contributions, and then put any additional funds you can into an after-tax account.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I’d max the retirement first, even if it means a deferred house. That is what I did and I’m glad I did it. The longer you defer retirement savings the greater your risk of not having enough to live on. You don’t know if you need to retire early. I saw that happen to several people I know.
      You always have a fallback position to rent if you don’t have enough money to buy. There is no fallback to not enough retirement savings.

    3. Emily B*

      From an accounting perspective saving for retirement is SOOO much less stressful and less expensive the earlier you start because you can put away like $400 a month for the next 30-40 years vs $1300-$1600 a month for 10-20 years only to have saved the same amount. However, I understand your thoughts on saving for a down payment for a home because there are tax benefits to owning vs renting. Good luck!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is why, if we can afford it, when our daughter starts working even part time during high school we’re going to try to “give” her a match of up to $1,000 a year if she puts that much in an IRA. Start her early, and we hope she’ll see how compounding makes it grow.

        1. hermit crab*

          My dad did something similar for me when I started working summers in high school! It’s a fantastic idea and I’m so grateful to him for doing it.

    4. New Math*

      Remember that your home can also be an investment. Try to buy in appreciating areas, gradually upgrade over time to maximize appreciation, then down-size at retirement to something smaller, perhaps in a less-expensive market to get cash out. The IRS allows one down-size of residence with no capital gains tax.

      1. Dan*

        It can also cost you a lot of money. Interest, maintenance, upkeep, property taxes, and HOA fees contribute nothing to the bottom line.

        1. New Math*

          But that’s a cost of living. When you rent, you are paying someone else to take on those costs.

    5. NDQ*

      During the past few years, I’ve been saving aggressively for retirement and buying multi-family rental properties. I work for state government, so I take full advantage of all the tax-savings accounts offered. I have the standard retirement account and deferred comp, then last year I switched to the high-deductible healthcare plan and opened an HSA, which is another tax-free account. All of these contributions are deducted from my paycheck before taxes. these keep my Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) down which also keeps my student loan payment (income-based, public service repayment plan) very low. Keeping a low AGI also has other tax advantages, such as qualifying for medical deductions. I have a traditional IRA which I contribute to when it makes sense to get a larger return.

      Once you maximize these tax-free and tax-deferred contributions, you set yourself up to take advantage of the tax laws. The rest of my savings, and I do save a lot, goes into an easily liquidated investment account for buying assets.

      TL;DR For me, one thing leads to the other. I have also managed to cut out many expenses that I used to think I “needed” but really didn’t, such as satellite TV, lunch out, and new electronics.


      1. Tmarie*

        When you get closer to retirement age, consider switching to Roth 401k’s etc, in order to maximize your income for social security calculation purposes.

        1. NDQ*

          Once the student loans are done (it’s a 10-year repayment), I’ll have less incentive to keep the AGI down.


  15. LizB*

    I have a solo in my choir concert this afternoon and I am mildly freaking out about it!

    It’s in the piece that has been the most challenging for the whole choir, and the piece really isn’t quite performance-ready overall, so everyone is super stressed about it. I’m actually doing one part of a trio, rather than a true solo, and I auditioned for the soprano 2 line (my usual part, so I actually already knew notes for that part of the trio section), but my director gave me the alto line, so I had to learn it from scratch. I only found out I got it last week, and I don’t have a piano at home, so I was doing my best with online keyboards to try and learn it. I did okay in rehearsal this past week, but messed up a couple of times, and I’m really concerned that I’ll mess up in the concert, either lose my place or come in late or run out of breath or revert back to the S2 notes accidentally. It doesn’t help that it’s the first piece we’re performing in the concert, either. Aaaaaaaaah why did I even bother auditioning this is terrible.

    1. SophieChotek*

      The director must have good confidence in you to give you a solo part, and not even the one your auditioned for.

    2. Aussie Teacher*

      As a singer/choir director myself, the most important thing is to keep following along with the music so you know where you are and you can come back in if you lose your spot or miss a note. Find several points in the music where your note is sung just earlier by another part and highlight it (eg “The sop 1 sings a D and I come in 2 beats later on a D”) so you can practice coming back in there if you’ve lost your note.
      If you can find a recording, play it over and over and get used to singing your part while hearing the other two. Have confidence that your director picked you for a reason! Good luck!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m sure it was great! Nerves are fine– in fact, they’re good and help keep you on your toes. I have been singing for a very, very long time and I unfortunately suffer from terrible stage fright when I sing a solo… but when I do, everyone thinks it’s awesome (well, at least they compliment me). It never sounds as bad to them as it does to you, I promise. If you mess up, no one will know except you and the conductor/director, and the conductor won’t care. If you go back to the S2 notes, so what? They’re in the right key, aren’t they?

      I say this as someone who took beta blockers to get through a chorus tour in which I had a pretty prominent solo. I made it through. You did too. :)

    4. Mimmy*

      Very nice, what kind of choir are you in? When I was younger, I was really into singing. Hated my college glee club because the director was verbally abusive (I think he was let go the year after I graduated) but needed the credits for my music minor. Then I did church choirs for a good 6-7 years after that.

      I never had solos with the church choirs, but had two in the glee club. I was soooooo nervous….very normal!! It’s definitely harder when the entire group is stressed out. Not only was our director often unkind, our President (a student) often took out her frustrations on us.

      1. LizB*

        It’s a community women’s choir, and I really like it — it’s a relatively casual atmosphere, but we all work really hard on the music, and we do some absolutely awesome stuff. I like our director a lot. In my college choir I had a pretty good director, then an awful director, then a wonderful director, so I know how big an impact the directing style can have on how much I like to sing. I’m glad I have a good group now!

    5. LizB*

      Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! The concert was great, and my solo went fine — we were able to rehearse the whole piece a few times before the show and get a little more comfortable with it, so it actually went really well. I almost ran out of breath near the end because I didn’t take a big enough breath at one of my earlier breath marks, so I’ll know to be careful about that for our next performance.

      Speaking of next performance, if any Minneapolis/St. Paul folks would like to come hear an awesome women’s choir, we’re singing again next Sunday (4/17) at 7pm in Sundin Music Hall at Hamline. It’s an amazing program — I love everything we’re singing, and we’ll be doing the world premiere of two really cool pieces, one by a local composer. It’s our 40th anniversary season, too, so we’re having a bunch of former directors come and guest direct pieces. I’m really excited!

      1. Liane*

        Glad it went so well.
        For next time, record the part on your phone. My church choir director is happy to play out a part for people to record for practice, whether they are soloists or not. For Christmas and Easter concerts she makes part CDs for everyone.

  16. Not Karen*

    Out of all the problems I thought I might encounter while rental hunting, I didn’t think unresponsive landlords would be one of them. :/ I’ve contacted seven listings and only two have gotten back to me – one to say the place was already rented (then why is your cragislist ad still up??) and the other to give me attitude that the pet policy was written in the listing when it wasn’t.

    1. Mela*

      I feel you, I just went through the same process. I got calls back about 7 places and ignored by 15.

    2. Dalia524*

      I’m having the same problem about unresponsiveness from landlords/property management companies. I would be happy if they would just email me back, “No.” Last week I started working with a Realtor who said he would find something for me. I assume he’ll get a fee from the management company I end up renting from. Hopefully it works out.

    3. Sunflower*

      Ugh I am back in the process and YES- it’s crazy how unresponsive some people can be.

      And YUP so many times the listings are wrong.

    4. Caffeine Free*

      We had this same problem. We contacted probably 20 places, 8 responded and we ultimately went to see 6. I hope the one we’ve settled on will be ok because aside from the initial communications the property manager isn’t timely with the responses. <>.

      Used car hunting was even worse!

  17. Shell*

    Out of curiosity, how likely is it that feeding birds or squirrels will invite vermin?

    I cheerfully admit that I’m not really a cuddly animal lover unless the animals are housepets. My father has two bird feeders in the yard (suburbs), one with loose seeds and one with feed pressed into those blocks. The birds love them. Squirrels do too (I think the squirrels eat more than the birds). Occasionally he’ll toss bits of burnt toast in the backyard for the birds/squirrels.

    Me, I’m not a fan of feeding wildlife in general, but I keep thinking he’s inviting rats. He insists he’d never seen one, and I pointed out rats are more active at night, and even if he wakes up in the middle of the night he’d never see one. I’ve pestered/lectured him to at least get a stronger lid for his birdseed bag (he kept it in a big plastic garbage can with a cracked lid and the squirrels got into it, so he relocated and has a stronger lid). And in fairness, I’ve never seen rats either, but…I figure by the time I do it’ll be too late.

    The house is always clean, yard is maintained, garden/flowers trimmed and watered, garbage and compost/yard waste stored so that they’re never tipped over and I haven’t seen any signs of chewing on the garbage bags in the bin. In other words, they take care of their property. I just don’t like feeding wildlife.

    Am I overthinking? I will be happy to be wrong, here. :)

    1. Sherm*

      My parents’ experience tells me that rats are a possibility. They used to have a bird feeder out day and night — until one night my mom saw a rat climbing over the bird feeder. Because (as you mention) rats are nocturnal, they now take the feeder down each evening, which seems to have helped. Like you said, not seeing rats doesn’t mean they aren’t there, but it’s been a while now and they haven’t seen indications that rats have run amok.

    2. Student*

      Your father is having fun with his bird-feeding hobby. I can understand that you personally aren’t interested in it, but why are you so determined to make him stop it? You’re just looking for excuses to kill his fun because it is not your idea of fun. Get your act together; you’re being a huge jerk about it.

      What exactly would be wrong with a rat eating some leftover seed, outside, at night, that neither you nor your family ever encounter?

      1. Shell*

        This was…rather a more adversarial response than I was expecting.

        The reason why I’m so skeptical about his hobby is that my father isn’t very good at predicting not-so-good outcomes. For example, when my parents were out of the country for a month, I discovered a bug infestation in their pantry and kitchen. I’m talking weevils crawling along in the Kitchenaid mixer and by the dishwasher, where there was no food for them, because there were so many of them. Why were there so many? Because my parents did not seal up their dried goods (despite my repeated reminders) so the weevils cross-contaminated from wherever they spawned and got into everything, including three kinds of rice and the birdseed bag they kept in the kitchen (also open), among other things. Imagine a 20kg bag of birdseed crawling with bugs.

        Did I give them a hell of a lecture when they came back? Damn straight, because I cleaned it all for them–including disassembling the bottom shelves and inspecting every bag of food in the pantry–while they were out. And now the birdseed is no longer open and in the kitchen.

        So I’m quite happy if I’m wrong about rats. If one or two have a snack but they don’t run amok, fine. But I don’t know if this is a gateway to mass vermin, and my father doesn’t tend to listen until it gets out of control. If birdseed will turn into a rat problem I’d rather stop it before it gets bad. Though given past history, he may not listen to me either way.

    3. knitchic79*

      My mom has always fed the birds and squirrels. As long as your dad keeps the food stored in something pretty heavy duty it would be unlikely he’d attract rats. The exception would be if he keeps his yard messy and draws them in with shelter or things far tastier than bird seed.

    4. Dynamic Beige*

      Rats and/or mice want to eat. If you have a bunch of tasty stuff in your yard, odds are they are going to find it, whether it’s from the bird feeder (seeds fall on the ground) or if you have a compost heap. I once missed a garbage day and left the bag in the garage. Two weeks later, someone had chewed a hole in the bag in search of whatever they thought was in there.

      You can’t really stop vermin from getting into your yard, but not having anything edible in there can help. But edible may also stretch to acorns, bulbs and other things when you’re a rat (or a squirrel, which are just rats with better PR).

      The only thing your parents can really do is try and make sure that their foundation is secure — no small holes or cracks that a mouse can wriggle into. These can be as small as a dime. Because your home provides pretty much all the things a mouse can crave, safety/protection from the elements, heat and food.

      1. Nancypie*

        Our home inspector blamed birdseed for the mice we had (because they found birdseed in all the little areas where mice travel). So my husband refused to have birdseed. Instead we use suet, and have had fun outsmarting the squirrels and raccoons that have gotten it from time to time. But, we still do get mice, because we live near the woods. Mostly in the garage and basement though, and it’s not too many at a time.

    5. Mirilla*

      My grandmother has been feeding the birds for decades and never encountered anything out of the ordinary regarding vermin. She gets house mice but we did also even before we started feeding the birds a couple of years ago. Also, I have an oak tree that drops a ton of acorns every other year so I have my fair share of squirrels, etc… due to that which has nothing to do with feeding the birds. I would say though that you absolutely must keep the stored birdseed in a locked or securely secured airtight container to prevent mice from getting in there because they will find it. Plus, it keeps insects out and keeps it fresh. I love feeding the birds and get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

    6. mander*

      It might depend on the environment where you live. My parents feed the birds and throw out scraps of bread for the squirrels, but I have never ever seen a rat in their city. Where I live now, I’d be more likely to see rats than squirrels, I think, but at my house on the other side of the country I never see any rodents in the yard at all, just birds and hedgehogs.

      However, my parents have a trailer at a little park in the mountains (a sort of permanent campsite) and they have to be careful about storing things like bird seed because the bears break in and eat it all! It’s happened twice in the past few years.

      (And Student — that seems like a much more hostile response than the question suggested!)

    7. LCL*

      Rats and mice are everywhere all the time anyway. Keep stuff in metal cans. I keep the dog food in a big metal trash can on the back porch. If I spill it, we get rats and raccoons. I stopped with the bird feeders because they were attracting cats; between the cats and the birds they were causing the German shorthair pointer to go berserk all of his waking hours.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Suburbs with good property maintenance? I am thinking it might be okay. You basically keep an eye peeled for holes in the foundation of the house and for larger turds. You may not ever see the rat itself.

      But I think you are correct in assuming rats are everywhere. Rats are busy little dudes any way, so one or two rats can do a lot of damage. This means, you would notice odd things that would point to animal activity- covers knocked off of things, droppings, holes, shredded items and so on.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Squirrels and rats will eat out of the feeder if they can get to it. The seed should be stored in something the rats can’t get into (definitely not the original bag).

      My auntie has a bird feeder in her garden and the squirrels do the most amazing acrobatics to get into it. They’re pretty hilarious to watch. :) She can’t leave crusts or anything like that out, especially at night, because it attracts foxes. In London, foxes are like giant rats.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        My impression is that foxes in the UK are more like coyotes in the US. (For the record, there are both where I live. The foxes are no real trouble. But coyotes can be a problem…) On the other hand, raccoons are more cleverly destructive than either. (And I like raccoons!)

    10. lfi*

      my mom had to take her birdseed feeders down because she started getting rats in the yard. and with a dog, she was afraid of diseases. :( the hummingbird feeder has remained up though!

  18. Trixie*

    Mac users, looking for free online software to rip/burns DVDs. Suggestions, favorites?

    1. Mela*

      When we moved abroad we wanted to rip our DVD collection onto an external hard drive. My husband set up a system on his old mac that allowed you to pop in a DVD and it would auto-rip and save to a certain folder, and then eject the disk. It made a very cumbersome process (300+ disks!) super simple. This is my reminder to get back to you with the specific name as he’s currently sleeping.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I use MakeMKV to rip DVDs to my NAS media server. I actually do it on my PC desktop, because it’s a better ergonomic/logistical setup than trying to do it on my MacBook, but I do have the software on my MBP also. Plex is great for playing those ripped files; it uses Gracenote and gives you a nice UI experience for choosing which media to play.

  19. Nervous Accountant*

    Just a random question: are there any topics that are off limits on the weekend free for all (obviously aside from work/school/career)?? I don’t visit the weekend thread as often as the work open thread so I might’ve missed out on some stuff.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep. Other than that … hmmmm. Graphic sexual discussions, aggressive religious proselytizing, or hate speech are pretty much the only things I’m coming up with that would also be off-limits, but those all seem pretty unlikely to happen.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          One week when there was discussion about whether Unitarians were Christians, I posted a lot of info about what Unitarians more or less believe. It was meant to be informative in response to the topic at hand, but I’ve been worried that maybe it came across as proselytizing. I hope that it didn’t, but if it did, my apologies.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Good. I later thought about how some people who want to proselytize will wait until there’s a conversational opening and then rush in with their prepared speeches and tracts, and I hoped that what I did wasn’t perceived like that.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I don’t think Unitarians can proselytize. Not, like, you’re not allowed, I just don’t think I’ve ever met any who could! ;)

                We were responding with information to someone who asked, I think that’s pretty tame. If it bothered Alison, I assume she’d have let us know, but it was so laid back I didn’t even think whether it might have been out of bounds at the time.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I thought that was very informative. I have a family member who goes to a UC, so I was interested in learning about it because of her.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Well dang, here I was about to go into my aggressive religious proselytizing with hate speech mixed in regarding the graphic sexual novel I recently read. Kill joy Alison ;)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            And we all know you have such a long history of doing these types of things. (NOT!) lol.

  20. Trill*

    I hope this doesn’t count as work related.

    I have to wear protective eyewear at work for splash protection. I have found that all of the safety glasses I’ve tried become super uncomfortable after an hour or so. They dig into my head just behind my ear. I’ve had the same problem with every pair of sunglasses I’ve ever owned but I always just take them off for a bit, I don’t have to wear them all day long like I do with the safety glasses.

    If these were expensive eyeglasses from an optometrist, it would make sense to get different sized frames or get them adjusted, but what do you do about cheap safety glasses to make them comfortable? Do any glasses wearers have any suggestions? Any suggestions for (not too expensive) brands of safety glasses that fit comfortably? Or something I can do to adjust them?

    1. TootsNYC*

      I want to challenge the unspoken follow-on to this:
      “If these were expensive eyeglasses from an optometrist, it would make sense to get different sized frames or get them adjusted, ”

      The point of getting those frames adjusted is NOT that they’re expensive, or from the optometrist.

      It’s that you wear them every day. Or frequently (those of us with reading glasses often get them adjusted as well).

      You’re wearing your safety glasses every day. Maybe look into other sizes, or even seeing if they’re at all adjustable. Talk to an optometrist, and see if he’s got any suggestions.

      You should be comfortable–actually, I would say it’s even MORE crucial for you to have comfortable frames for your safety glasses than it is for me to have comfortable frames for my prescription glasses. I’m not going to end up injured (or fired) if I take them off because they’re bugging me.

    2. PersistentCat*

      I went to my optometrist and asked for recommendations (I have a small face, they kept fogging up & falling down, and making the area behind my ears hurt). They recommended a few pairs, and the one I ended up with cost $15. Not sure what brand, sorry!

    3. LCL*

      My company pays for us to get prescription safety glasses. You would be surprised at what’s available, ask an optometrist. Or go to a shop that sells to the trades (start with Grainger in the states) and ask to see what they have in safety glasses.

    4. Sara*

      The default safety glasses where I work are Uvex (I think the model is Genesis), and I think they’re reasonably comfortable. The earpieces are adjustable, so you can make them longer to prevent them from digging in behind your ears, and they are made of a semi-flexible plastic material, so they might not dig in as hard as some of the ones you’ve tried.

      Another possible, but more expensive, option is to get custom frames and side shields. A lot of people who wear prescription glasses get custom side shields that they can attach to their regular glasses. It probably isn’t worth the money if you don’t wear prescription glasses, though.

      1. Chrissie*

        In our lab, the people with prescription glasses use large goggles that go over the glasses. They are held up with an elastic strap around your head. We just got some new ones from Uvex, they basically look like goggles for scuba diving or downhill skiing. Should be roughly 20 bucks.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have been out of town and just stopped into a random eye wear store to have my glasses adjusted after I dropped something on them or sat on them, etc. They adjust for free. Maybe you can find a store near you and ask them to help you adjust them. It does not take long. Or maybe you can just ask them to advise you on how to find proper fit.

    6. Menacia*

      It sounds like the safety glasses you use have the usual arms that fit over/behind your ears, have you tried the ones that have adjustable straps instead? I just did a Google search on safety glasses with straps and it seems that there are plenty of options.

    7. Paul Carpenter*

      Sorry if this comes off as patronising, but can I emphasize the need to wear these things? Someone where I work got splashed by acid this year. The safety glasses probably saved their sight. Experienced worker, wearing safety equipment per the datasheet but the accident happened. Fortunately no visible damage after prompt first aid and hospital treatment.

    8. acmx*

      I found a pair of safety glasses that were a smaller size at Lowe’s.

      The one size fits most my company used, the ear pieces hit the back of my ears and gave me a headache within the hour.

  21. CAA*

    Road trips! Tell me about your favorite destinations. Where do you like to go? How long do you like to be gone?

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      Husband and I went on a little road trip when visiting California earlier this year, we did the Pacific Coast highway. Scary driving but beautiful roads.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I loved that trip! It’s the first road trip / vacation I ever took by myself. The landscape and topography changed so much over the course of the drive. I stopped anytime I saw a funny looking plant, or interesting field, or cool beach. And took a detour off into a redwood forest. And saw San Simeon (Hearst’s estate).

        I drove south, so on the outside edge of the continent. Way cool!

      2. Lillian McGee*

        I, too, love the PCH drive. Makes me carsick but worth it!

        Once I made my family stop in Big Sur because I was deep in my Kerouac phase. Gorgeous place!

        1. TootsNYC*

          I really didn’t figure out Big Sur on that trip. I couldn’t figure out where or what it was, what I was supposed to be looking at.

          Some other trip, maybe.

    2. danr*

      Bar Harbor and Boothbay regions in Maine. They are decent drives from our house and have many places to visit or just sit in a park and read. And you can get to Nova Scotia quickly from Bar Harbor on the Catamaran ferry. There are also good restaurants in the regions. We usually spend about 4 or 5 days away.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oooh, yes! We rented a place out on the water in the Five Islands/Georgetown area in…2012, I think, and it was so nice out there! The only reason we haven’t gone back is that we’ve been lucky enough to have some big international trips since then, but now you’ve got me thinking about renting the same place again.

    3. Dot Warner*

      US 101 through Oregon – so beautiful! Yellowstone Park is a long way from anything, but it’s something everyone should see at least once.

      1. KR*

        Boyfriend and I drove from the Tacoma area to The Bridge of the Gods/Multnomah Falls Area last year and it was gorgeous even in the rain/mist.

    4. Mephyle*

      Four years ago circumstances took me on a road trip on Highway 80 from Nebraska to Ontario, Canada (crossing the border at Port Huron, MI. We (my 20-something daughter and I) went through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. Flyover country, right? Not at all! It was the most fascinating trip and I wish we could have taken three times as long to stop and see everything on our list. But the things we did get to see were extremely worth it. Not a single of the sites and sights we stopped to visit was a disappointment. It was an unforgettable experience and I am glad I had a chance to do it.

  22. Noah*

    Semi-work related, but anyone have suggestions for noise-cancelling headphones? My office is open plan, which I actually enjoy most of the time. Sometimes though, it is nice to put on headphones and focus on a task to get it done.

    I bought a Sony pair a few years ago and now the wire must’ve broken because you have to jiggle it around a bit or one ear cuts in and out. They worked well enough, and were only about $40 at the time. I found a similar pair on Amazon, around the same price. However, Bose seems to be the default choice, and I’m sure there are others. Anyone have any experiences or comments?

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I bought a pair of Sennheiser noise cancelling ear buds last year and they’re great. But, if you really want the full-on “Please leave me alone” look go for muffs. No one can see your earbuds. I have a pair of Bose N/C and they’re great too, but the N/C doesn’t work unless they’re charged. There’s a little rechargeable battery that comes with it, so there’s that, it’s one more thing to keep track of and charged up. But because they’re wireless, you’re not tied to something. I mean, I can plug in my iPod and walk around with that and the headphones if I want to. But, if you use them on the plane, the cabin crew will insist you take them off for take off/landing. Also Bose were really expensive and the Sennheisers were $40 on sale.

      1. Noah*

        Yeah, office culture here is that you only wear them when you are working on something and need to be left alone. If you wore them all day, every day you would probably get to talk to your manager about it.

        The Sony ones I have take a AAA battery in one of the ear pieces. Have to replace it about once every few months. I guess I could buy rechargeable batteries, but it is just easier to keep some batteries in my desk and toss the used ones.

    2. Aussie academic*

      I also have a Sony pair that I love. They cost about $80 (Australian), so still cheap compared to Bose. I have used the really expensive ones (our office bought several pairs to be shared – which I didn’t like because I think it’s not hygienic, but that’s another story) but I didn’t find they were that much better than my own, except they do have the benefit of being more visible to coworkers (as they were over ear and mine are ear buds).

      1. Noah*

        I just bought the Sony ones on Amazon. They had an open box set for $23, hard to pass up that deal. The Sony ones I’ve always had are the big overear ones like Bose. These are the same. I’ve been happy with them this long, and $23 vs $200 for the Bose made it worthwhile to me.

  23. Pregnancy rant*

    Just need to get this rant out. I am 40wks and 2 days pregnant now (so already cranky and playing a waiting game) and just went to the grocery store, where the clerk says “ooh having twins, mama?!” Uh, no. Just one, but thanks? I really wish people would just keep their comments about other people’s bodies to themselves. This being on public display has been the worst part of pregnancy for me.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Ugh, my sympathies. Why some people feel the need to comment and can’t seem to have a thought that they keep to themselves is beyond me.

      I was at the airport awhile back, and I carried my small carryon up the single flight of stairs rather than using the escalator. I’m overweight and out of shape, so I was breathing a little heavily when I got to the top. The first thing the security person said to me was, “Wow, you’re really out of breath. ” Gee, thanks for noticing, and thanks for commenting on it!

      1. danr*

        Maybe he was wondering if you were okay. As Security he would be calling for assistance if you fell or collapsed. A simple smile and Thanks would have reassured him.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha, I wasn’t breathing that hard, just winded like from a brisk walk with friends where you can still carry on conversation. I did smile and was pleasant to her. I just privately thought to myself that I wish I didn’t know that I was so obviously chubby and out of shape. I thought that maybe I’d hidden my struggle a little better. Vanity. :-)

    2. VintageLydia*

      40+3 here and just posted below before I saw your post.

      People are stupid. I keep getting told how small I am, like they don’t believe I’m due yet, let alone OVERdue. My hips don’t lie, though. They feel like they’re gonna rattle right off.

      My first pregnancy was during the summer and it was THE WORST for street harassment I got since I was 16 years old. It’s like creeps see “vulnerable looking woman” and go all “LET’S MAKE HER UNCOMFORTABLE.” Thank god winter coats just made me look fat instead of pregnant this time around.

    3. SAHM*

      That sucks, momma! You’re rocking it though! My last pregnancy he was 5 days late, I was so ready to be DONE I considered straight up drinking balsamic. I did the Pregnancy Pizza at the local pizzeria too (it was supposed to help start labor, ha!). I’ve recently heard about red raspberry leaf tea (?) supposed to help with contractions/ease labor, no idea if it’s helpful. Just ignore the idiots who make comments, or just feel free to make a nasty one back, you’re totally allowed! You’re really kickin ass though!

    4. Nancypie*

      I think that not too many people have seen (or remember) what someone full-term looks like. But yeah, it’s very rude. Hey, take a before and after picture – when you’re leaving for the hospital and a few days later. It will make y feel better that you still look pregnant because the difference may be dramatic. I have those pictures in each of my kids’ baby albums and they love it. Do people still do baby albums? Digital cameras were newish or less common when my now teens were born.

  24. Mallory Janis Ian*

    My husband and I have recently paid off my 2011 Honda Civic, and for a while we had talked about what my next new car would be. Now I’ve been reading a blog about how to be frugal (whattup, NDQ!), and I now want to keep my Civic for a lot longer (that’s what Civics are made for, right?).

    So now that I want to keep it as long as possible, I want to focus on taking really good care of it. I’ve kept current on all the recommended services by taking it in to the Honda place when the reminders come up. But I want to keep the body in good repair, too, and there are these two little rust spots right above the driver’s side door. What can I do to treat them so they don’t spread?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oooh! Can you start putting what you were paying on the car loan into a separate “New Car” savings account? We’ve been doing that, and we are going to buy our next car for cash! (Unless we are offered 0% financing, in which case we’ll take the interest, thankyouverymuch!)

      Anyway, you should be able to find little bottles of body touch-up paint at any big automotive supply store, and you can often match the color exactly based on the make, model, and year, or there might be a paint code on the inside of the driver’s door. You’ll probably need to either treat the rust with some other product or sand it out. I haven’t done it, but I have watched videos about both. For some reason, none of our dings and dents have ever rusted, but I really should cover them up soon.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I wish! Right now it will go to credit card debt, but we’ll be free of that in about three years.

        I think the rust spots are from not parking in the carport because my husband has his projects spread out in there, and I get tree sap and bird poop on the car. Part two of the auto body care plan, after treating the rust and using some of the matching paint, is to park in the carport and wash my car more diligently. I told hubby today that I’ll be needing the carport as part of our money-saving plan for my car.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve had two Honda Civics and never washed either of them. The first one was mostly parked on the street.

          That one had a few little rust spots but they didn’t spread; what took it out was being rear-ended when it was well into the double digits. The second one is also well into the double digits and I’ve never seen any rust on it.

          Feel free not to pass this on to your husband :-).

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, I think I’ll let him go ahead and clean out the carport. :-)

            I’m just speculating about the cause of the rust; I don’t know why it’s there!

    2. Noah*

      If they are just small spots, like where the paint has chipped or something, I would start by scrapping away the rust and then sanding. Be careful not to damage the surrounding paint and clearcoat. Then get some rust converting primer and apply to the spot. Then apply touchup paint, which you should be able to get from a Honda dealership.

      It won’t look perfect, but it should prevent the rust from spreading. The only way to get it looking near new again is to repaint the whole panel and that would be expensive.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes, they are small. Each of the two spots is smaller than the eraser on the end of a pencil, but they go down through all the layers of paint. I suspect that I allowed either sweet-gum tree sap or bird poop to sit on there for too long. :-/

    3. Kay*

      Yes, sand down the rust a bit, and then apply something called Rustoleum, which will a) eliminate any remaining rust and b) protect against future rust. Then you can get a little stick of paint to match your car’s color (some Googling should get you the exact color, and you can usually find the touch up sticks at an auto parts store) and add that, then add clear coat.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh, yeah, Rustoleum. I’ve heard of that. There’s an O’Reilly Automotive about a block from my house. I could probably walk over there and get everything I need right now!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If they only have spray cans, you can spray some into a disposable cup and dab it on the rust spots with a small brush.

    4. Mirilla*

      I have a Civic too older than yours and it has rust in one area only, above a wheel rim. The rest of the car is fine. In any case, I’ve let it go too long and need to take it to the autobody to have it fixed. I have really loved this car and plan on keeping it going. It’s been paid off for 5 years and still going strong.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        “It’s been paid off for 5 years and still going strong.”

        Yay! Excellent for you and encouraging for me.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Our 2006 Honda Accord has been paid off for a while, the main issue now is that the radio stopped working! I put an aftermarket radio in my old Mitsubishi Colt about 20 years ago, but at this point, if it keeps me being happy with the Accord for even a few more months much less years, I might just pay someone to install a new radio, because it looks like it would be much more of a pain than the Colt’s was.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            The Honda Accord was going to be my upgrade car before I decided to stick with the Civic and no car payments.

          2. automotive engineer*

            I had a 2006 Honda Accord where the radio stopped working. Does the head unit still power on? That would indicate an issue between the head unit and the speakers. In my case the wire harness had come loose. I popped my radio out, re-fastened the wire harness, and popped the radio back in. It took me an hour or so (would have been faster if I had done it before) and cost nothing. There are some really comprehensive youtube guides.

        2. Tmarie*

          My 2007 Honda Civic got it’s rust spot, from when a jerk in 1980’s K car slammed their door into me, taken care of when the deer (it survived) took out the passenger side.

          Mechanically my nine year old Civic runs perfectly, and now that the passenger side is brand new, my memories of that darn K car are not so rage inducing. My Civic was only a few days off the lot when it got smashed. Shakes fist at K cars!

    5. NDQ*

      Thanks for the shout out! Definitely get out of debt and start building wealth. It isn’t easy but it’s worth it.

      Drive that Civic until its last breath.


      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am laughing. That is what we did with ours. When we sold it we got $50 for it. Too funny. Could not kill the thing, really.

        1. NDQ*

          Many years ago, I had a Hyundai hatchback that had nearly 200,000 miles when I traded it in for the next vehicle. Bought it new for $5,000 cash and I was shocked to get $500 on the trade in. Then they told me that was for the stereo. LOL

          Bought a small SUV then for $15,000 cash and drove that for almost 20 years. I did get $1,000 for it when I traded it in for a used sedan, again paying cash. The idea of a car payment has never appealed to me.


    6. FatBigot*

      Some suggestions:
      1. Keep on top of rust spots as per the advice from other responses.
      2. Make a point of washing off all bird mess as soon as possible. Certainly in Europe, modern paints are less hardwearing and the acid in bird mess attacks them.
      3. Get the Haynes Car Bodywork Repair Manual or similar, and follow the directions as needed.
      4. Replace the engine oil and filter every 6 months.
      5. Listen to the noises your car makes, so that you notice at the first sign of something going wrong, when it might be cheaper to repair.
      6. Check oil and coolant levels and tyre pressures every month.
      7. Inspect the underneath every 6 months. Especially look for corrosion in the door sills and floorpan.
      8. Buy the Haynes manual or US equivalent for your car. If the object is to keep the car running for as long as possible so that you can save money, then you will save money by tackling small jobs yourself. e.g. oil & filter change.
      9. Follow a mailing list or blog for your car, and note any preventable problems.

  25. Kay*

    So: facial hair. Something about the way my hormones are shifting and/or the way my IUD is interacting with them has made my facial hair much more prevalent and much darker. I always trended that way, but now I get a full-on beard & moustache if I don’t keep on track of it constantly. :(

    I did laser removal about 8 years ago and it worked for maybe 2 years but has since come back with a vengeance. In the meantime I do a combination of a little bit of everything but I’d REALLY like a more permanent solution. I’m bad about remembering to deal with it and then I end up with a lot of self-loathing for not being on top of it because it’s super obvious. (I am light-skinned and my facial hair is nearly black, despite being a sort of dark blonde.)

    I tried electrolysis once and despite having a really good tolerance for pain there is no way on earth I’ll go back.

    What has worked for other people? Are there over the counter laser solutions that I can invest in and do myself on a regular basis that will stretch the timing out a little longer?

    1. Mando Diao*

      Unfortunately electrolysis is the only thing that worked for me. :/ There are a few different types, and the machines have low-power settings. Maybe try a short session with someone new?

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      What about IPL (intense pulsed light)? I haven’t had it, but I’ve been reading up on it just a little bit this week. I’m not sure what hair situation it’s best suited to (fine, coarse, dark, light, etc.). I’m getting sick of my midlife facial hair, too.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      I get threading done.

      But if you have a large Indian community in your area, you should be able to get some beard lightener. It won’t stop the hair, but you could at least lighten it in between treatments if you wanted. However, if you wanted to get it lasered again, that works best if it’s dark hair against light. If the place you went to originally is still in business, you might try going back and asking what gives. It’s possible that on the face, they don’t go as deep with the laser treatment as they do on other areas of the body.

    4. InterviewFreeZone*

      The Tria precision (think that’s the name?) is pretty good. You and I have the same problem – I have laser as well. Came back when my PCOS flared up. Tria is expensive but worth it in my opinion.

    5. Christy*

      Laser works for me. I go to a salon near DC where if you go eight times, every time after that is free. I have gone five times and I’m doing ok. Honestly, shaving in between works well for me. Waxing my cheeks makes me break out a lot. Chin, mustache, and eyebrows are no problem with waxing. But laser has been life changing.

    6. Phedre*

      I can’t recommend hair removal techniques because I’ve only ever waxed, but when I got my IUD I had a similar problem. Turns out my testosterone was high, so now I’m taking spironolactone. It’s cleared up the hair growth and the hormonal acne!

    7. Me2*

      Very dark chin hair here, I just shave every day in the shower. Super easy and costs nothing. I’ve been doing it for probably 10 or 12 years.

    8. Jessica (tc)*

      I have PCOS, so my doctor prescribed Vaniqa, which helps somewhat. It’s not a permanent solution (I mean, the hair still grows), but it slows the growth and makes it less noticeable. I’ve heard that a lot of people with PCOS don’t have luck with other methods, so I haven’t paid the money for it, although I’ve still considered. Shaving every day is annoying. :(

  26. Feeling Old, Feeling Stuck*

    I realize this might sound silly, but I’m going to turn 28 in a few months and I just feel… sick about it. Not so much the number itself, but I feel like I’ve done nothing of interest with my life. My love life is non existent, my career is blah, everything is just unimpressive. Logically I know that it’s not “too late” for me to change some of the things I dislike about my life, but it just feels overwhelming. Especially when I compare myself to people who are my age who have great upwardly mobile jobs, who are married, who are starting a family, etc, etc. It’s not too late for me to salvage my life, is it? (God, that sounds dramatic!)

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      One of the worst things you can do is compare yourself to others. Because on the face of it, it might seem like they’ve got a great job (but perhaps they hate it, have a mean boss or rude co-workers, long commute) or a great relationship (except they want slightly different things or one wants commitment or they just never do the dishes).

      But no, it’s not too late to make changes. Oftentimes, if you change one, other changes happen too, like a ripple effect.

      signed, me (aged 30)

      1. Engineer Girl*

        This! The minute you start comparing yourself against others is they minute you feed discontent. Someone will always be doing better than you. Of course there are others doing far worse but we ignore them, don’t we?
        If you don’t like where you are at start a game plan to change things. List the intermediate steps to achieve those goals. Check them off as you achieve them.
        And be prepared if life throws you a monkey wrench. The ability to regroup and move forward again is the key to resiliency.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think it’s silly to feel that way. It’s a natural human impulse, and it’s totally fine as long as you don’t wallow on it. I don’t think we should deny our feelings or reactions to things, even if we can later logic ourselves out of them.

      That said, I fully agree with Carrie in Scotland that eventually you should logic your way out. It really does you no good to compare your life to your peers’ lives. Being married or starting a family isn’t always as great as it looks to people who are single and want a family.

    3. LibbyG*

      I got my first career job at 31, started the relationship that lead to marriage at 36 and had my first kid at 38. All sorts of wonderful things are ahead for you!

    4. EA*

      I feel very similar. Like I expected by life to be really exciting and awesome and some days are boring/stagnant. I took a little break from fb and that helped (i would get irrationally angry about the annoying wedding/baby announcements). I don’t have anything helpful to say, other then I am around your age and feel the same way.

    5. mander*

      If it helps, I was single from around 18 until a few weeks shy of my 30th birthday, when I met the guy who I’m now married to. I was 34 when we got married. I spent far too long working on a PhD that ultimately has been useless, and I didn’t really get started on my career properly until last May (I’m now 41).

      28 is not too late. ;-)

    6. nep*

      Don’t compare yourself to others. It makes no sense. It gets you nowhere.
      Surely there are some positive things you can focus on.

    7. First Initial dot Last Name*

      Think about how old your grandparents are…. got that number, average it, for the sake of conversation lets say that average is 85, (modern medicine FTW), with that in mind you have almost 60 years of quality life left.

      You can start new things at any point in your life. You can start over at any point in your life. It’s not too late to become an expert on anything you want. You have time to become an expert concert chocolate teapot sculptor, and have a brilliant career if you want.

      Anecdote time: I was in a crazy life altering accident at 28, I had an existential crisis, a “Come to Cookies” moment and I was forced to retool my entire life. And I did. At 36 I had another crazy life altering accident and I had to completely redesign my life, when I had recovered enough to rejoin the world four years later I started college, at 40. At 45 I walked away from my dream job because it felt like a bad relationship, I went to graduate school and started my career life over once again. My mom wanted to know why the heck I was going to grad school at my age. I rolled my eyes like a teenager, cuz, like, what does she know? I figure I have 40 productive years left in me, so long as I don’t have another life changing accident in a few years (patterns are real).

      At 28, take advantage of your youthful body and go do things. Plan an adventure and hit it like a boss. Take up solo hiking/camping/backpacking, take long walks in the woods. If that’s not your jam, think about what scares you and then run at it screaming, conquer it, get it out of the way, and then move on with your new brave self and create the fulfilled life you want.

      Go have some ridiculous fun!

      1. SAHM*

        +1 on doing things you can only do (okay EASILY do) while single. I’m turning 29, married, BS degree, kids, house, dog, the whole shebang and you know what? It ties you down. When I was younger I could drop everything and run off to Boston for a couple weeks (Ca girl here!) and that was lots of fun! Now going further than the next town over requires intense preparation, hell leaving the house sometimes takes 20 min (“You’re wearing THAT? It’s raining, go put on pants! Tell your brother he HAS to wear socks and he NEEDS to use toothpaste when he brushes his teeth or it doesn’t count! What are you doing? We’re not playing with Playdough we’re going to school!”). Honestly? I’ve always wanted to travel, see the world, I want to go to Guatemala, Italy, Ireland, Germany, heck I would like to go to MEXICO one day but that day will probably be 18+ years in my future. That being said, I do love my life, but I see the drawbacks and I see the positives of getting married young and starting a family young. Don’t rush it, once you start down this path you’re making a lifetime commitment to a partner and at least a 18 year commitment to your kids.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I have felt that way at times, too, so I’ve tried to train myself such that every time I find myself comparing myself to others, I turn it around and instead compare my life to that of the people I see every day who work 60-80 hours weeks, make less than I do, and have many fewer options. Or the people I met in Tanzania who were the lucky ones, who made a good living working with tourists, and still had a standard of living that was lower than people in the United States who are classified as living in poverty. Or those who don’t have full use of their body for whatever reason, or live in chronic pain. You get the idea.

      Sure, there are things I would like or love to have or change if I could just snap my fingers and make it happen, but it helps to think of “the less fortunate”, which makes me better appreciate the many comforts in my life that I take for granted.

    9. Not Karen*

      I feel you. It seems like literally everyone at my company is married except for me.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        That’s what’s happening to me now, and even though I don’t think I want to be married, I still sometimes end up feeling some type of way about everyone’s engagement announcements. But such is life.

    10. SAHM*

      This is how I view age, my elder sisters are 8-11 years older than me and my younger sister is 8 years younger. I can always look at them and go “I may be turning 29 but you’re turning 39!” And look at the younger sis and feel far more mature. Honestly? It’s just your perspective and such a tiny detail to glom onto and worry about. Another thought, my Grandpa passed at 96 and my Gramps is still kicking at 97, I have 70~ more years left to live, why stress about the first 30?

    11. misspiggy*

      I felt exactly the same at 28 – it’s one of the worst ages to be in my opinion. Made a lot of changes and got things as close as I could to what I wanted, which made me feel a lot better about the things I couldn’t change. Good luck!

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I have enjoyed every decade of my life for different reasons. While I enjoyed being 20 and not a teenager, I can say my 20s sucked because it felt like a lot of floundering. Nothing seemed to make a lot of sense or to be building on itself. So I totally get what you are saying.

      Then suddenly, it happened in my early 30s. Life got better. Things seemed to have more of a reason/rhyme. I enjoyed my 30s more than my 20s. I started to see where things were building on themselves. I was growing as an adult. I quit being blindsided by everything all the time.

      Why I think you are right, especially about late 20s, I also think you are heading into some of your more enjoyable years. Hang tough. Make plans, set goals, keep looking for opportunities. Just have the sheer brass to keep running at things, you will never regret taking chances or taking well thought out risks.

    13. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Oooooh, I went through that at 27. I spent the better part of that year reconciling my actual place in life with where I had expected to be and becoming ok with it all. I accepted that I might never find a life partner or have children or a Career and that I could and would still have a good and happy life without those things. I think it is just one of those adjustments people can go through. The expectations for these things as rites of passage and expected behavior is still very strong and you are still sort of bucking the norms by not being there yet. I’m not saying that you have done anything wrong, these things don’t happen to everyone who wants them no matter how hard they try. And if you live in a family-centered area, like the Midwest, it can be harder because the expectation is stronger. Most people want to do what their culture expects them to.

      I’m going through another adjustment now at 49. It sucks, but the introspection is valuable if you don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in the emotional muck. I heard or read somewhere that this can happen every 10 years or so.

      Also, you’re comparing your insides with someone else’s outsides. That’s never productive. Some of the people you’re looking at hit the jackpot. Some got married because it was time and someone was there. Some careers only look like a dream. Some had children sooner than planned and are struggling. Some have made a huge mistake that will show up down the road. And none of those people are labeled. It’s possible that from their side of the fence you look like a carefree single person with a non-demanding job who has so much lovely freedom.

      Just think of your path as the scenic route. It takes a little longer and may not lead where you think it will but the scenery is nice so try and enjoy the hike. You will get through this phase. But if you’re feeling bogged down too much then find a sympathetic professional to talk to.

    14. MK2000*

      I remember 27/28 being a really terrible year for me, where I thought my life was basically over… now I’m 37 and happy. Everyone has already given you good advice about not comparing, but I’ll add one thing to their comments about comparison: Now is a really good time for you to figure out what YOU want your life to look like. I was really upset at that age because I’d just had my heart broken and I felt like now I’d never meet anyone else, never have kids, I was this stalled-out grad student not making money, etc. But when I really took stock of my life and my desires deep down, independent of what people were doing around me, I came to conclude that I wasn’t sold on the marriage thing and didn’t want kids at all. And now I am not married, don’t have kids, don’t work a traditional 9-to-5 or make a ton of money –things that at 27 I probably would have considered an utter failure at 37– but I’m happy.

      As I’ve made choices about my path, I’ve privileged my freedom, and as a result, I’ve traveled to places I never would have thought I would, I’ve invested in a variety of friendships and my familial relationships and hobbies/interests, I’ve taken plenty of down time just for myself… everything is good. But I’m also opening to continue to reinvent myself as life goes on. Being flexible, deciding what you really want, and finding ways to be happy, even in small ways, with what you already have will be helpful now. And hopefully ten years from now you’ll be like me, shaking your head at your past self :)

    15. NDQ*

      Although this happened to me much later than you, I too was at a point where I felt like, ok…now what? It wasn’t a mid-life crisis, just a what-do-I-want-my-life-to-look-like moment. Don’t look at other’s for guidance on what your life should feel like. Look inside. Read some books on lifestyle design. The Four Hour Work Week is good for this. Not that you have to want a four hour work week, but to start thinking about how you want to live, what are the terms you want to set, what are your non-negotiables, and so on.

      Start dreaming and then create a life that makes *you* happy.


  27. Porcelain Perplexity*

    Can someone tell me about bidets? Explain to me like I’m 5. Which way do you face? Do al people (in Europe or whoever they are a thing) l have them in their houses? Do you have to touch your bottom? How do you dry yourself off afterwards? More toilet paper? Also, do you wipe from using the toilet first or just scuttle over to the bidet in lieu of wiping? Does a bidet flush like a toilet? If not, what do you do with whatever you use to dry yourself? Do people who have bidets in their houses have special towels to dry off their clean bottoms, or do they use something disposable to dry off with? Do you actually sit on it? Or do you more hover?

    1. fposte*

      I think the wall of sticky notes is basically the genesis of Trello. I see one or the other with a lot of PM/program runner type people.

      1. fposte*

        Ha! This was meant as a reply to Shell above, and the notion of sticky notes could get very confusing here!

        PP (very nice touch there), I will post in penance a Wikihow link that will answer many of your questions. (And I’m considering getting a washlet–bidet attachment for regular toilet–myself.)

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha, I was picturing someone using their session on the bidet to simultaneously plot work or life strategies using an array of sticky notes on the opposite wall.

    2. Ranier*

      Not everyone has them, no.

      Which way you face is partly a matter of the design of the specific bidet and partly personal preference. Wipe first, definitely! You wash yourself the same way you would in the shower or bath. Bidets don’t flush, and if you use toilet paper to dry off you should flush it down the toilet or place it in a bin. Some people use toilet paper, some have a towel for this purpose. Whether you sit or hover is up to you, and may also partly depend on the style of the bidet.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Not common in the UK – think it’s more mainland Europe. (very)Occasionally on house programmes UK bathrooms have a bidet and it’s seen as very old fashioned and out of date.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Ah, country folk! :) I just watched an episode of Selling Houses and there was a bathroom with a bidet featured, which was proclaimed as old fashioned and it was replaced.

    4. Jubilance*

      I went to Dubai & Abu Dhabi last year and bidets are everywhere there. Even the public toilets have little spray nozzles on them. I had to ask Google how to use it, but by the end of the trip, I totally dug the bidet. I wish they were more common in the US.

      1. Al Lo*

        It is, no lie, on my “someday” list to get a bidet seat (like this!) for my bathroom. It’s surprisingly less expensive than I would have thought.

      2. Alston*

        You can get an attachment for your toilet here for like 30 bucks on Amazon. Got one for my boyfriend one Christmas. It wasn’t heated (they have others that do heat the water, but they cost more than $30) and was awesome.

    5. Cambridge Comma*

      Varies by country. In Italy and Spain, for example, it’s a basic piece of bathoom equipment.
      Each perosn in the household has a little towel hanging by the bidet.

    6. Jen RO*

      I’m in Eastern Europe and I would say they are not common here, but not a mystery either. I removed the bidets from both apartments I’ve lived in because I wasn’t using them.

      1. Jen RO*

        And thank you fposte for the link – I honestly had no idea how to use a bidet, despite growing up in a house that had one!

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Yes, Bidets are more common in mainland European countries than the UK, but apart from the specific use, they come in very handy for rinsing out swimwear!

          1. Jen RO*

            I… am not picturing that. Do you mean like sitting on a bidet in your swimwear? Why not just rinse it in the sink when you take it off? o.O

    7. matcha123*

      This is what I think of when I hear about bidets or washlets:

      In all honestly, I’ve never used the water/wash function. I just don’t want water sprayed into my bumhole. You sit on it as you normally would. I guess you don’t have to touch anything. The toilet has a drier function that I guess uh, dries for you. It flushes like a regular toilet and if you don’t use the bidet function, you just use it as a regular toilet.
      It plugs into the wall and the seat will be warm in the winter.
      You can sit on it.

    8. Nella*

      I have the Japanese version of one. Fell in love with the idea after a long stay in Hawaii got me used to it. I think they are slowly becoming more common as Home Depot carries them. Mine replaced the regular toilet seat. Comes with a remote and it requires power. Another bonus is that it has female and male settings. I can set the water temperature, how warm I want the toilet seat. It has a massage setting and you blow dry. And you just use it regularly.

    9. straordinaria*

      I taught in Italy, and when teaching household vocabulary, my students were thoroughly disgusted that Anglo cultures don’t use the bidet. It was on par with saying that we don’t wipe; they couldn’t get their heads round the fact that we just wipe and get on with things. (One friend was also aghast that it’s not common for men to wax ‘back there’.)

      I didn’t use it regularly, but it grew on me! Definitely handy for dealing with menstruation in the summer heat.

  28. Myrin*

    Have you ever felt a dislike towards someone for no real reason at all?

    I feel that way towards my sister’s new boyfriend. By all accounts, he seems to be a perfectly nice young man but I find myself bristling inwardly whenever she so much as mentions him and I’d really like for that to stop. For the records, my goals is not to love him or anything but I’m becoming downright aggressive just thinking about him and it’s stressing me out.

    I’ve tried rationalising my dislike but have been coming up empty. He’s a really heavy and stinky smoker and I absolutely despise smoking but I don’t actually have the habit of suddenly disliking people as soon as I find out they smoke. The only reason I can come up with, kind of, is that I don’t really like the person my sister (who I’m very close to) becomes when she’s with him/talks about him. However, she becomes like that every time she dates someone and I haven’t yet had that reaction to any of her past partners.

    It’s so weird and I’m at a loss and I feel like I just have to accept that I’m just super ragey with regards to him and it will even out over time but man, it’s so exhausting!

    1. Mando Diao*

      Sometimes it’s just a personality type that strikes you in an intense way. For me, I get an icky feeling from people with “stagey” or presentational personalities.

    2. orchidsandtea*

      Maybe it’s unfair. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe you’re picking up on something subtle and he’s secretly terrible. Or maybe if you don’t feed the feelings they’ll go away, like a stray puppy. What happens if you let yourself dislike him while not letting the feelings escalate? Like “Oh, those feelings, yep, those are there. Maybe I should try a new recipe when I make dinner tonight.”

    3. NicoleK*

      Yes, I had an instant dislike for a new coworker. She essentially embodied all the personality traits I found annoying and irritating. And I also didn’t respect her (skills, competency, knowledge) I’ve never had that kind of reaction to anyone. Ever. I knew from day 1 that I couldn’t work with her. I left 7 months after she joined the company.

    4. Mimmy*

      I think that’s fairly common and nothing to be ashamed of. Just as Mando Daio points out, certain personalities just rub some the wrong way but you can’t really put your finger on it sometimes.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      How’s your love life? The anger you feel might not be because of your sister or her boyfriend but because it highlights something you’re lacking in your life. If your sister has had let’s say 4 boyfriends in the past year or two and you haven’t had any relationship during that time, it may just be rubbing you the wrong way that she has no problem finding dates and you just… can’t.

      On the other hand, it is possible that you have picked up on something intuitively about this guy. Sometimes you just meet someone and your instincts tell you that this is not a good person or someone you can trust. There isn’t any logic to it and there isn’t any “proof” that you can point to, but you feel it. Unfortunately, if that’s the case, only time will tell.

      1. F.*

        +1 to intuition. Listen to it and be on guard around him. Your subconscious has probably picked up on something and is telling you this for a reason, even though this reason may never actually manifest itself around you.

      2. Myrin*

        Your first point seems like an obvious reason but alas, I’m on the asexual and aromantic side of things so not actively looking for anything relationshippy. ;)

    6. Mirilla*

      This has happened to me. I just could not put my finger on why I disliked this person, who was a friend of my husband. Several years later a mutual acquaintance told me that she felt the same way but didn’t know why either. Trust your vibes. They are proving me right again in a current situation. I trust intuition.

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      This happened to me when a new program manager was put in charge of a project I was working on. From the moment I first encountered her, when she gave her first presentation/talk to the team, I immediately felt that she wasn’t someone I’d ever be able to trust. Nothing I could put my finger on, it was just the vibe I got.

      About a year later, she left the company in a big blaze of glory. She gave her notice 2 days before the end of the year, and then got livid when she found out she wouldn’t get her annual bonus. I had zero sympathy; it’s well known that if you’re not employed by the company on 12/31 you don’t get your bonus. She burned all her bridges in her exit interview and threatened to poach everyone she could, etc.

      A year later I was at a dinner with some people, including an HR director, and her name came up. I mentioned that I never thought she was someone I could trust, and the director said, “You’ve got good instincts.”

      Trust your gut. It usually won’t steer you wrong.

    8. Myrin*

      Thanks for all your comments guys, you’ve helped me a lot, especially with your anecdotes of similar feelings!

    9. Chrissie*

      Also, maybe you don’t instantly despise people when you find out that they smoke, but this guy is a prospective addition to the family, so it is normal that you apply a different standard than you would to aquaintances.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There are a few people I have encountered and taken an instant dislike to over the years. Sometimes it can be a small thing, like a throwaway comment or somebody who insists on hugging after being introduced. One example is a person who is very nosy and asks prying questions to people they have just met. (Prefacing with “Can I ask you a personal questions?”)

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Some people believe in past lives. They believe that at a core level we recognize an enemy/friend from our past lives and this explains the instant dislike/like we can sometimes feel toward a new person.
      I had gone to a party with my husband and dog. The DOG picked out a man in a group of over 50 people. My dog stared at the man for a long time. The man must have noticed because he came over, talked to my dog, petted him and walked away. The man never said a word to me or my husband. I started thinking about what I have read/learned about past lives and I wondered if there was recognition going on there. It was very strange and it was the only time the dog did that.

      I think that a more likely explanation is that this person has gestures/phrases/something that reminds you of an other person/people. This other person/people were negatives in your life in some manner. But anyway, you are cuing in on their traits that remind you of traits the negative people in your life had. The last time you saw a person who made x gesture or used y phrase you had a really negative experience. So here you are again with yet another person who does x or says y. To protect yourself your guard goes up immediately and you have no idea why the fast rise.

      NO matter what, nothing replaces paying attention to your gut instincts. If you feel need for concern keep your awareness levels up until you find solid reason to let your guard down.

    11. Doriana Gray*

      Myrin, I have this same problem with a work friend’s significant other. She and I used to hang out from time to time outside of work, so at one point I think she thought we were closer than we really are? Anyway, she started dating this new guy about two years ago, and she kept telling me about all of the fights they kept having, including one where he told her he felt forced into their relationship by her and that she was always bullying him. Fast forward to now, and they bought a house together and are talking marriage/kids.

      I haven’t met the dude (I’ve declined to do so several times because I have foot in mouth disease and will probably say something reckless), but I don’t like him. I think this entire relationship is a bad effing idea. I think she’s so in love with the idea if him that she’s not paying attention to some very real flags popping up (because these fights haven’t stopped) – but I don’t say a word about it. In fact, I’ve started distancing myself from her so as not to keep hearing about their relationship because that seems to be all she ever wants to talk about, and it makes me hella uncomfortable. And I still don’t like him.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve had this happen, and then I figure out it’s because they remind me of someone else I dislike, either overtly or subtly. The only way around it is to get to know them a little bit and then usually the impression goes away. Unless they’re just like that person.

    13. The Cosmic Avenger*

      A lot of good advice here, I was going to say much of what others said about trusting your instincts, try to be fair but cautious, but while you’re trying to figure it out, one thing I do when I’m conflicted or have an impulse I feel like I want to overrule is that I start talking to myself in my head. And I mean a dialogue, where I say something like “What are you worried about?”, and I’ll say back “I don’t know…I don’t feel safe.” “Why? Are you worried about being teased? Hit? What kind of fear does it feel like?” And the funny thing is, sometimes I’ll just hear the answer in my head, without thinking about it. Or sometimes that voice shuts down and doesn’t want to engage, and you just have to either think about it or give it a rest and try later. But the internal dialogue can be surprisingly insightful, especially once you have a little practice listening to thoughts that just come to you.

      1. Kate*

        Great advice about the internal dialogue. I did something similar after I had my second baby. I was in the throes of baby blues and was feeling irrationally anxious (not just a normal amount of anxiety- the kind of anxiety that takes over your thoughts) about my husband returning to work. I asked myself “what do you think is going to happen?” and went through the whole scenario in my mind. Walking through it that way helped me pin down what I was actually worried about and helped reduce my anxiety.

    14. Catherine from Canada*

      I didn’t like my son’s girlfriend, who became his fiance, who became his wife.
      She seemed very self-absorbed, wasn’t interested in getting to know the family, just seemed “off” somehow, I could never put my finger on anything specific though.
      So, I disregarded my feelings about her because I thought I was being all “no-one’s good enough for MY son” about her.
      She left him after 4.5 months (yes, I said months) of marriage.
      I don’t disregard those feelings anymore.

  29. Myrin*

    Is anyone else having trouble replying to posts? I hit the “Reply” button and it just takes me to the beginning of the post I want to reply to but doesn’t actually open up the window I can type in. I didn’t have that problem just about one or two hours ago so it might well be a glitch on my part but I wanted to mention it in case anyone’s having the same problem.

    1. S0phieChotek*

      Yes; last weekend this happened to me. Different issue though. I would type my reply hit submit, but then it would not show up. I did this multiple times for one post. Later on the first post showed up, but not the subsequent ones, so I don’t know if AAM deleted all the duplicate posts or what happened. I tried both Safari and Chrome last weekend and had same issue. So far this week, no problems.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I remember that! Your comment kept going to moderation, so when I went in to release it, I just released one of them and not the multiple duplicates. But the reason it wasn’t showing up at first is that it was waiting for moderation.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Myrin, do you by chance have JavaScript disabled in your browser?

      And to be sure, are you clicking on reply underneath a comment and no comment form shows up?

      Also, what browser are you using and have you ever experienced this before today?

      1. fposte*

        For me Chrome is working fine but Firefox only allows me to reply in a new comment box–clicking Reply after a comment doesn’t open up a box. It’s happened here occasionally before but it’s not at all usual.

      2. Myrin*

        Aaaah, I can reply again, yay!

        That being said, just to answer your questions in case something like this comes up again: No, I don’t have JavaScript disabled; yes, that’s exactly what happened, it just kept bouncing me up to the beginning of the comment I wanted to reply to and nothing else happened (like fposte described as well); I use Firefox (version 45.0.1) and have never experienced this before.

  30. Tris Prior*

    Who has tips for coping with winter weather when it’s supposed to be spring? We had accumulating snow last night. It’s freezing cold out today and the sidewalks are covered with ice and treacherous to walk on. I have more errands to run and am trying to psych myself up to go out on the slippery sidewalks again. :(

    I can’t garden and I’m tired of my face hurting from cold every time I step outside. I’m angry that I can’t move someplace warmer for family reasons, and I’ve had to hide friends on Facebook who live or are vacationing in warmer climates because they keep posting photos of what spring is suppose to look like.

    My cabin fever is starting to get the best of me and I’m out of ideas. How is everyone else dealing and keeping a positive attitude about this?

    1. Lillian McGee*

      If I remember correctly, you’re in/near Chicago. I’m in the southwest burbs and we got it last night too! It’s all gone now thanks to the sun but I’m with you. This sucks. I am way too lenient with myself… instead of dealing with it in any way I just stay under a blanket all day watching Star Trek. Mr. McGee is out there right now fiddling with his car. He is the one who is wrong!

      I did recently discover the concept of blanket scarves. They are scarves roughly the size of a lap/baby blanket that you bury yourself in before you go out. I also have a crochet shawl that I made for this purpose. I don’t care if it makes me look homeless, it is cozy af.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Well, on the plus side it’s a gazillion degrees in our apartment (radiator heat that we can’t control, + top floor). So at least I don’t actually need a blanket at home.

        Where the sun’s shining, it seems OK. But in shady spots (lots of those due to tall buildings) the sidewalks are all solid ice, and god forbid property owners who live on the same street as an el stop ever consider putting any salt down… :(

        This has to end sometime…. right?! :(

        1. Lillian McGee*

          Sometime! I love having four seasons but it seems like every year I forget just how long winter actually lasts…

            1. GreenTeaPot*

              Yes, at least in Wisconsin. We had a few really nice days in March, but April is one-third over and it’s been awful.

              I just tell myself it can’t last much longer…

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      While it’s not that bad here, we did get snow last week. *sigh*

      I know what you mean. It’s hard waiting and this winter has dripped on and on. I keep reminding myself that in a few months, it’s going to be so stinking hot I’ll be wishing it was cooler. At least it’s light out until 8pm! It’s funny how it was warm enough in February that I opened all my windows I think 3 times, but now that it’s April, I can’t do that.

      Is there something you can do that will give you a shot of spring/heat? Do you have access to a hot tub or sauna? Is there a conservatory (essentially giant greenhouse) that you can tour? Sometimes I like going to a garden centre because it’s warm and usually moist. There’s a really large one in my city where I can spend an hour easily looking at everything they have for sale. I can’t use a tanning bed but some people really like them/are OK with them.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Yes, we have several conservatories! Good idea! It always feels like Florida in there.

    3. Mimmy*

      Yeeeeeeah I’m ready for winter to end. Oh I know it’s technically spring now, but I think Mother Nature doesn’t realize it. No snow here, thankfully (New Jersey), but it is raw and cold :(

    4. Lady Bug*

      I’ve considered setting the world on fire, but its probably a bad idea. I feel your pain. Being cold just pisses me off. 100 degrees and 100% humidity please.

    5. Clever Name*

      I live in the Denver area, and I cope with our crappy springs by taking vitamin D and trying to embrace the snow. We were at an outdoor concert at the base of a ski mountain, and it was snowing heavily and people were sitting on patio furniture outside, drinking beers. It was awesome and so Colorado.

      I also skip over people’s posts on Facebook and Twitter who have flowers blooming, etc. it’s just depressing. My crocuses got covered by over a foot of snow. :(

  31. Cruciatus*

    Yes, it’s acting messed up for me too. I’m using Firefox. And I hope this replies to you! We shall see…

      1. Cruciatus*

        I’m replying to you on Chrome since it seems to be working. No, it appears Javascript is enabled on the Firefox browser. I don’t remember noticing this before–at least not any time recently.

  32. The Other Dawn*

    Things are going very well with the personal training. I’ve been going for about three weeks now and I can already see the progress. I haven’t really lost weight yet, but that’s probably a gain in muscle, plus I’m eating a lot more protein.

    I’m finding that I’m enjoying the experience. I think it’s the structure of it I like. Plus, I know I’m working towards my goal of strengthening my core and losing body fat in preparation for excess skin removal. It’s definitely getting tough, but I like feeling like I accomplished something other than watching another rerun of The Golden Girls.

    We’re using the kettle bells now, which are getting heavier each time. I also learned the plank position last night, which is much harder than it looks! And I’m almost able to do a full push-up. I’m doing about half of one right now, but I can now get up to about 8 of those. :) I’m sore today, but not anywhere near as bad as that first week. That was BAD!

    I wrote more on my blog. If you’re interested in reading (plus I’ve been posting some of what I wrote during NaNoWriMo). Here’s the link: http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      Good on you! I wish I could do a push-up or a sit up! I am naturally very slim so people assume I’m fit and kind of gape at me in classes when I flounder on my back like a tortoise and can’t actually get up to a sitting position. It’s satisfying following a program and seeing results – keep it up!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! It’s sometimes difficult, like when I have to do mountain climbers. My legs are long and I have back problems, so doing them correctly jars my back and I tend to get my feet jumbled up. The trainer has me do the motions slowly. I honestly would rather do pushups than mountain climbers!

        Now I wonder if I can do a situp? It’s been years….

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Way to go!
      I’ve been so lazy this winter, what with feeling ill from reflux resurgence and a stupid persistent tendinitis in my ankle. I’m trying to get back into the swing of regular workouts. I don’t like gaining weight because my clothes don’t fit. Plus, I need to match my body to my new fabulous hair, LOL.

  33. Apples*

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 4 years, we live together, and have vaguely discussed marriage. This week he asked “hypothetically, what kind of ring would you want?”
    I’m gathering some examples of the style (white gold, small stone(s), vintage/deco, three stone) I like in the $500-1000 range.
    Two questions:
    1) Any suggestions for jewelers in New York City? I LOVE the rings Erica Weiner (https://ericaweiner.com/collections/antique-jewels/products/late-deco-diamond-engagement-ring-with-arced-shoulders) has, but they’re out of my/our price range. I’ve seen the Diamond District has been recommend online, but if anyone has something specific that would be great.
    2) looking for affordable rings mossanite has come up as an look-alike to diamond a few times. Is anyone familiar with it? How do you like it?

    1. Lily Evans*

      I’ve never seen them in person, but I love looking at Mociun’s rings online and it’s NYC based with varying prices and might be your style. There’s also quite a few Buzzfeed posts listing places to find rings that are less common styles, stones, and price points that have had some really pretty rings featured (and some not so pretty ones, it’s really hit or miss). I think you should be able to find those with an “engagement ring” keyword search :)

    2. Mirilla*

      I’m not sure if this is too far for you but I absolutely adore jewelry and this company is well respected within the diamond community – http://www.goodoldgold.com They are in Massapequa Park, NY. If I was in the area I’d go there for sure or at least give a call to see if they can help out.

      I used to post on http://www.pricescope.com quite a bit and it’s a great resource regarding diamonds and diamond jewelry. Check out their forums where you can see all sorts of styles and sizes.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Check out Bario Neal jewelers. The company is owned and run by two women and is based out of Philadelphia, but they have a show room in NYC. I believe the NYC showroom is by appointment only, so take a look at their website and book an appointment if you like what you see. I got my wedding band there to go with my vintage engagement ring. Also try Leigh Jay Nacht at antiqueengagementrings [dot] com. They have a huge selection online and a showroom in the diamond district. I got my vintage engagement band from them.

      1. Christy*

        Love Leigh Jay Nacht!! My wife and I got our wedding bands there, from 1910s and 1930s, for $900 total. Highly recommend going in person if possible. We went up for a day to shop and left with our rings.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Cool! I’ve never been to their store. I found my perfect-for-me ring on their website and my husband ordered online because we were living in Minnesota at the time. Right after we got engaged we moved to NYC. Maybe I’ll have to go by there when our 5th anniversary gets close… :)

    4. Mkb*

      I got my set from Verma Estate Group. They have estate and antique rings posted on etsy and also have an office in the diamond district. I’m friends with the owner and I absolutely love my rings. My budget was a litter higher (~$2500 for engagement ring) but they have lower price points with smaller stones.

      In general etsy has lots of beautiful estate/vintage jewelry. Good luck!

    5. Hellanon*

      Don’t buy moissanite. It’s just another fake stone – look at rings with good quality but smaller diamonds, or at sapphires, which are gorgeous, come in a million colors and, while not as hard as diamonds, are just as durable in jewelry.

      If you love antiques, you might try the auction houses. Sothebys and Christies are the big ones but Skinner in Boston and Heritage out of Dallas, as well as Bonhams, offer great deals on beautiful one of a kind rings. Another option is a jewelry store called Single Stone, which does antique-inspired styles. They are here in L.A. but their website is excellent, as is their quality (I know I’m an internet stranger, but this is my world…I taught jewelry history and diamond grading for years.)

      1. CMT*

        Is the only reason you say not to buy moissanite because it’s “fake”? Because that wouldn’t matter to me, personally. Or does it not hold up as well, or something?

    6. Phedre*

      You might also want to look at white sapphires. They’re much less than diamonds and they look just like them. They’re only slightly less hard than diamonds. A friend has her center stone on her ring as a white sapphire and I would never have been able to tell the difference.

    7. lfi*

      catbird makes some lovely rings too! i adore jennie kwon – she is out of LA but she is sold at catbird.

  34. The Spider*

    Would someone be able to point at tye weekend free for all which had the discussion about podcasts please? :)

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I feel I now have to mention there’s a West Wing Weekly (thewestwingweekly(dot)com)podcast held by Josh Malina, where they discuss every episode in turn from TWW. Dule Hill guests on the most recent one.

  35. EA*

    Lately I’ve just felt like I am in a funk, and I don’t really know how to pull myself out of it.

    I’ve always had anxiety, so I am thinking maybe mild depression. I see a therapist, but she said I don’t have enough of the criteria for depression. I feel like I don’t have anything to look forward to, like everyday is blah. I still can go to work, do well at my job, come home, work out, etc. Another part of me thinks I am just bored. That I am a millennial whining because life isn’t always exciting. Work isn’t particularly challenging, and I am looking into programs to get a better job (my company give tuition reimbursement). I have a good relationship, I planned a vacation so I can have something to look forward to, but I still feel meh, Like is this really it?

    Does anyone ever feel this way?

    1. Mando Diao*

      I can relate to this. For me, some of it has to do with the lack of sign posts for modern adulthood. It’s wonderful that women no longer feel pressured to get married and have kids by 30, but I find that it’s hard to carve out a new path to follow; for better or worse, men still seem to have a basic understanding of a standard life progression, even if they make the choice to deviate from that. There’s not a lot out there helping young women figure out what they’re supposed to DO with their time if they’re not chasing down relationships. I find myself filling up my days with hobbies.

    2. Lily Evans*

      Honestly, I would question whether your therapist is the best match. I had a great experience with a therapist who was less concerned with whether I fit a certain diagnosis and took my description of my self-described feelings and state of mind at face value. Trust yourself. You know yourself and your feelings better than anyone else can, if something feels off don’t just brush it away. Think about finding a therapist who trusts your self assessment and is willing to work with you to help you feel better even if you don’t fit a textbook diagnostic standard.

      1. EA*

        How did you find this person? I interviewed two other therapists before this one, and felt like I wasn’t taken seriously. They would talk about how I am high functioning and seem confident, and I ended up feeling like I was wasting their time.

        1. Lily Evans*

          I got pretty lucky, actually. I used my old job’s EAP program and I was referred to her first and it just happened that she was really great. But I’ve heard from plenty of other people that finding a good therapist can be sort of like dating, you just have to keep trying until you find the right match. And “breaking up” with therapists can be a normal part of the process! Sometimes one therapist may seem like a good fit at first, but then things change and they’re not as helpful, and that’s okay! Any decent therapist should be understanding when they’re not the right match for every client they see.

          And it can be really hard just trying to pick people from the internet, if that’s what you’re doing (that’s what I’d originally tried, and the woman I ended up seeing didn’t even have a web presence, so I never would’ve found her). If your work offers an EAP program you could try using that for referrals. Depending on your relationship with your current therapist, you could describe what you’re looking for and see if they’ll refer you to someone else who matches that (this is what mine did when our EAP covered sessions were over, though I decided to keep seeing her). If you trust your regular doctor, they might be able to get you a referral. Even some insurance programs have resources to help find a therapist who takes your plan.

          But definitely keep trying! You deserve someone who will listen yo you and not make you second guess your own emotions.

          1. Lily Evans*

            Oh! And there were also certain signs that I picked up on the first time I visited her office that made me realize she wasn’t a “traditional” therapist. Her office was super welcoming, everything was flower patterned and cozy and not clinical at all. She dressed in a way that was laid-back, not intimidating at all. She had certifications in things like dance-based and movement-based (I don’t recall the exact titles) therapy. And she didn’t run through a list of symptoms to try to pigeonhole me. There were no checklists or feelings scales. She just asked why I was there and let the conversation and her advice grow naturally.

            1. EA*

              What degree did she have? And yes, I am just googling and sorting by who takes my insurance. I’ll try the EAP, I know my company has one, as well as my PCP. Thanks for writing that all out, I really appreciate it.

              1. Lily Evans*

                You’re welcome! And I’m not sure exactly what degree she has, her card just says MA, but not what kind, and that she’s a licensed mental health care practitioner.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  LMHCP is the credential, then, similar to an LPC. Masters in counseling, most likely.

    3. catsAreCool*

      “I feel like I don’t have anything to look forward to, like everyday is blah.” I’m no expert, but usually when people write this to columnists, the columnist suggests therapy for depression.

      Could you be feeling tired also?

    4. misspiggy*

      Sounds a bit like descriptions of dysthymic depression; it might be worth looking into that. Also, is this new or is it how you’ve been a lot of your life? If it’s new, reflecting on what’s changed might be useful – physical and nutritional patterns as well as life circumstances. Are you someone who needs challenges, for example? What has made you happy or excited in the past? I need new experiences a lot of the time, which can be hard for my husband – so we try to balance routine things with unfamiliar stuff.

      It may also be worth exploring mindfulness (not necessarily meditation). What do you get out of being fully in the moment on a sunny day, for example? – Or is that not something you’re used to? If not, are you distracted by bigger issues that need sorting out, or could you practice focusing on the physical dimensions of your experience?

    5. Lizabeth*

      Been feeling the same way lately and I’m beginning to wonder how much the crazy weather swings contribute to it? Been trying to get out and walk more at lunch on the nicer days (the area I work in is jammed pack with people all the time so there’s that to deal with) and push myself to walk home from the bus in the evenings. It helps…

    6. Crone*

      I have been wandering this planet for almost 6 decades, and what I have learned is that life evolves chapter by chapter. That restlessness you are feeling may be an indication that you are at the end of a chapter. If so, it is time, caterpillar, to shift shape to your next state of being.

      Transitions are the tricky part of the life process. Like the caterpillar cocooning, we often go into this blind. And often we go through a phase of depression, as we give up things that no longer fit before we are aware of what will replace them. The first time I transitioned was scary, as I did not understand that this was what was happening and I got very depressed. With the help of therapy, I emerged on the other side a newer, richer version of myself.

      Over the years, I have experienced this a couple more times, but it is not so scary after you’ve been through it once. Each time it started as a funk, a sense of restlessness and an emerging awareness that some parts of my life just didn’t fit any more.

      I encourage you to continue working with your therapist and to perhaps begin looking at what no longer fits you in your life. You’ll do great!

      1. EA*

        Really, that was beautiful. Sometimes the kindness of strangers really makes me feel good. The fact that everyone took the time to write out such nice answers.

  36. Tim*

    Removed because work-related. Please hold for the Friday work-related open thread or email to me directly. Thanks!

  37. Nervous Accountant*

    Question for the Iphone users. my phone’s been randomly going into Voice Control. I’ve turned Siri off, and the random voice control happens when I have the radio or music playing app on and headphones on.

    Worse, it randomly calls contacts. It’s been happening for about a month or so now. I really don’t want to lose the ability to listen to music. Anyone experienced this???

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      It hasn’t happened to me, but it did to a friend of mine with an older iPhone (I think it was the iPhone 4) a couple of years ago, and when we researched it online it seemed to be a known problem that no one had managed to solve completely. Some people were reporting that using third-party earphones could cause it, so changing the earphones helped them. In my friend’s case we ended up doing a full factory reset and that solved it for a while, then the problem started again and she ended up getting a newer model iPhone.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Ugh, I had this issue and it was so annoying!

      My issue was caused by headphones going haywire. I had trouble diagnosing the issue at first because it was happening with both standard iPhone earbuds and my extra non-Apple headphones, but I guess it was just bad luck and both were going bonkers. I bought new earbuds and new “extras” and both work without issue now.

    3. Clever Name*

      I have an iPhone 5, and when I use the switch to mute the ringer, it doesn’t always mute the ringer, or it cycles between mute and un mute. Really annoying. The cynical part of me suspects its planned obsolescence.

  38. INTP*

    I posted a few weeks ago about my crappy living situation (emotionally toxic household growing up, moved back in at 28 to save for a condo on my lower income, and suspected health issues), and I think some requested that I post updates, so here I am.

    First, I did read and absorb all of the posts. I didn’t respond to them because my initial reaction was defensiveness, which I don’t think is uncommon for my situation, but I just felt I needed to absorb everything than try to react to it. I do appreciate the advice. After thought, I still don’t think I’m at a point where I need to move out ASAP with no regard to my finances, and I think that there are major financial and quality of life considerations beyond how quickly I can see my name on a deed (like whether I can afford to take risks in my career or get the best treatment for a medical issue), but I didn’t want to respond all knee-jerkly.

    Shortly after I posted that, I started to get some freelance work in my field on top of my regular job, so I have been busy with that. At the moment I have a massive project in my desired specialty that leaves me with little time to breathe at the moment, let alone look for an apartment/therapist/whatever I might need at this time. So it’s stressful just from working 12+ hours/day, but it’s a positive development that makes me feel more hopeful about the near future. I also got a “scholarship” from the Y (their term for a sliding scale membership fee, I think), so that’s something to get me out of the house.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think that my suspected health issues are the result of the living situation because they predate it. My income is also low enough that if I were paying for a suitable living situation, my budget would be a driving factor in my treatment, whereas with no expenses I would be able to prioritize my health over my finances. I don’t think it will be something requiring a surgery or anything terribly expensive (symptoms point to hypothyroid), but I don’t want to commit to a lease or anything until I figure it out, and I have an appointment for late May.

    The good news is that my stepdad has been out of town on business about half of the time, with a long trip coming up, and then I have a solo trip to Belize scheduled. So I have been a lot more emotionally stable and I feel like I can last another couple of months while getting my health sorted out, seeing where my income is as I build some momentum with my freelance work, and evaluating my options. I’ve put off making any decisions until May because I think trying to make decisions while I don’t know what’s going on with my health and or what my average income (from freelancing) will be has no point other than making me anxious. A strong possibility right now is to spend the summer using sublets or airbnbs to test out new cities, allowing me to be out of the house for long periods but still keep a doctor here and not pay for all the expenses of moving until I have a longer term plan. (I’ve moved a lot of times and it ALWAYS costs more money than you think it will, and this is just not a suitable city for safe apartment living.)

    1. GreenTeaPot*

      Thank you for the update. I like your summer plan! And I am glad you see some positives coming up. I was where you are at 28 and getting out helped me a lot.

    2. catsAreCool*

      We can give advice, but we aren’t really there and don’t know what’s going on the same way you do. Processing it sounds good.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed about giving advice- it either resonates/jumps out at a person or not. I do think that sometimes even when we decide, “no, that advice there is not for me” we have moved one step closer to the decision we will make.

        OP, you sound better. I am so glad. Thanks for the update.

  39. catsAreCool*

    I’d like to buy some music online (from Amazon or somewhere), but Amazon doesn’t seem to have an option to listen to the song before buying it. Sometimes there are 2 or 3 versions of a song, and I want to be sure I’m getting a version that I like.

    Does anyone know a good way to pre-view a song?


    1. fposte*

      It could just be the music you were initially looking at–Amazon definitely allows you to sample mp3s on a lot of albums (you also have to scroll way down on some pages, so maybe it doesn’t come up easily, especially if you’re not on a computer). I use Spotify to hunt stuff down sometimes too.

    2. Noah*

      On Amazon you can listen to a 30 second or so clip of the song, similar to iTunes. If you hover over the song, it should highlight and all the way on the left a play button will appear.

      1. nep*

        Meant to add — be sure you’ve clicked on MP3 (that might be an issue).
        How are you looking up songs / where does the site bring you?

    3. SophieChotek*

      Also maybe YouTube? People often make their own videos to songs, or the band/musician may have made their own music video or promo spot?

  40. LanaL*

    I guess this could walk the line to work but it’s more of a hobby to me so…

    What are the ethics of using Pinterest for business? We have a farm and I would like to start using Pinterest with our Facebook page to share recipes for in season produce. Can I repost pins with my own comments? Can I blog myself making recipes I find and create my own pin as long as I link credit back to the original blog?

    Any feedback would be appreciated!

    1. INTP*

      I’m not an expert, just someone who uses pinterest and reads blogs a lot, but my thoughts…
      -Changing comments on pins is totally fine, even expected. You can post things directly from websites with your own comment too.
      -When it comes to blogging recipes, the only thing that is frowned upon is reposting the original recipe without permission. It’s fine to blog about the recipe, post pictures of what you cooked, review the recipe, etc, but link to the recipe rather than reprinting it.
      -If you change a recipe significantly, it’s fine to post the new recipe with credit to the original recipe (“Adapted from [link]”). Make sure you’re really adapting the recipe, not just making one or two inconsequential ingredient swaps that would be easy to explain in one sentence rather than by providing the entire recipe. (I.E., if you just make someone else’s lemon tart with meyer lemons, do not repost it as a “meyer lemon tart” recipe. If you reduce the sugar and increase the lemon zest to optimize the recipe for the use of meyer lemons, you can repost that with credit to the original recipe.) It’s not uncommon for people to make small changes so that they can post the recipe and that is frowned upon.
      -You didn’t mention this so I’m sure you don’t plan to do it, but it’s so common I’ll mention it – do NOT use misleading pinterest comments as clickbait (like saying it links to a recipe or article when it just links to a page where you want them to buy something). In a business context, you may want to click the link on all of the things you repin to make sure that they aren’t spam – I think a lot of people repin spam accidentally because they just look at the picture or comment, and for a business account you don’t want to be reported for spam.

      1. LanaL*

        Thank you! This is all pretty in line with what I expected – I want to give credit where credit is due!

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Also, if you’re interested in publishing recipes, there are online resources for the copyright laws regarding recipes that you might want to check out. They’re a little different from the laws for other materials, and I looked into them when I started a cooking blog for vintage and heirloom recipes. (I knew my great-grandmother wasn’t going to come after me for copyright violation, but McCall’s was a different story…)

    2. SophieChotek*

      Pinterest for business is quite common, I think. I am in the process of setting up a pinterest account for the company where I am employed. I believe you can even set up your Pinterest account as a “business” vs. personal.

      Pinterest is, to my understanding, about reposting pins–in theory pins should lead back to their original source.

      If you are trying to sell specific items you sell, you can also invest in “rich pins”, but these require some extra levels of coding (metatags) for your business website and may not make much sense for your business–the product/rich pins are more geared at “products” (i.e. Jane is selling this Chocolate Teapot for $250 on her website)–if she takes a photo of her Chocolate Teapot and posts it to Pinterest, then if Jane has “rich pins” enabled, if someone clicks on that photo that where it say s”Learn more” that person will get redirected to the specific place on Jane’s site where she can add that Chocolate Teapot to her cart.

      You can also have your site “verified” (“confirmed”) by Pinterest–also required a metatag to your business’s site.

      Tons of technical details at pinterest.

      I am only a beginner with Pinterest; I am sure other people here are more knowledgeable and can assist your more than I.

      Best of luck.

  41. Rye-Ann*

    Hello, I posted awhile ago about testing positive for a serious illness. We were pretty sure it was a false positive, and after some more tests from a specialist, this was confirmed! :) So relieved.

    1. Artemesia*

      Just went through a similar thing where I thought for about two weeks that I had 6 mos to a year to live — after thousands of dollars of test later — nothing. Thank goodness. The original problem that kicked off the tests which showed a possibly lethal problem and escalated from bad to worse, to finally okay — turned out to be a side effect of meds I’d been taking for years and it was cured by stopping that med for two weeks. Once you get on the medical treadmill they grind you through and tests tend to often have grim outcomes that don’t hold up.

      Glad yours was a false alarm and that mine was too — there are lots of those. And let us never again panic until the last results are in.

  42. fposte*

    It is shoot the freaking computer day. I am locked in a loop with Word (2011 for Mac) where it corrupts a file, crashes, and then when I restart it it tries to reopen the corrupt file and crashes again. I’ve renamed and relocated the autorecovery files and it *still* does this. I don’t want to disable the automatic opening of windows–I just want it to get past those damn files. If anybody has a magic bullet for the problem or a real one for the laptop, please let me know.

      1. Undine*

        Hmm. Corrupt Word – maybe uninstall/reinstall.

        Files, make backups for sure before doing anything more. You could try OpenOffice, but if word can’t open then oo probably can’t either. If it can, you can save file to RTF and then try open it in word.

        Repeated crashes/corruption can also be a sign of a hard disk on the verge of failure. I don’t ‘know about Mac, but on a Windows laptop, hard disk life seems to be about 4 years.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, bother; I hadn’t thought about the hard disk going. I can’t remember I’ve I’ve replaced the hard drive on this one or not, but the laptop’s about 4 years.

          I backup pretty well, and work should provide me with a more recent version of Word come Monday. But I should probably start planning for either a new laptop or getting a new hard drive for it. That’s all for free, right :-)?

    1. Lore*

      Is it crashing your whole computer or just Word? If the latter, you might be able to get around it by letting Word crash, then moving or renaming the corrupted files entirely so it can’t find them to reopen, then restarting the computer. (Or opening the file in Pages then exporting it back to Word. Don’t do this if you have comments in the file though–it has some nonideal side effects.) I’ve also recently learned that Mac Word has a known issue with saving to nonlocal servers so if your corrupt files are stored anywhere other than the machine’s hard drive, you might want to work with local copies and drag back to the server rather than save directly to there.

      1. fposte*

        I think it’s not the files but Word itself, unfortunately; it won’t save anything, not even a new file, without crashing. I’ll scramble along with TextEdit until Monday.

    2. Mimmy*

      I haven’t had the issues you have, but of the Office 2011 products for Mac, Word seems to be the most buggy. Hope you get it sorted out soon.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Quit out of Word completely (or let it crash, and it don’t re-open it).

      Then, in Finder, go to Go > Go to Folder

      Put in ~/Library

      Then rename (effectively “deleting” them while keeping a backup) the following folders:
      ~/Library/Saved Application State/com.microsoft.Word.savedState
      ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office

      Then launch up Word again.

      1. fposte*

        I had high hopes for this, because I know the library files get corrupted pretty easily, but it still had the same problem–trying to save any document (I’m just testing it on new blank documents now) crashes Word.

        Thanks for trying, though. And there are worse things than not being able to do work tomorrow.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          That’s very odd. It’s highly unlikely that Word itself might be corrupted, but I’ve seen that happen (constant crashing) with, for example, conflicting fonts.

          One way at least to diagnose if it’s a Word problem or a user configuration problem is to create a new user and see if Word crashes for that new test user in saving a document. At least then you’ll know if it’s a user setting or a system setting.

          1. fposte*

            Nope. It was okay with me as a new user, but none of the usual config file deletions helped.

            Since I can get a new version of Word free in quicker time than I can troubleshoot the old, though, that’s what I’m going to do.

    4. Lizabeth*

      If things suggested here aren’t working check out the macresource forum – it’s my go to for anything Mac related and the occasional ROTFLMAO post (strongly suggest to not drink coffee while reading). Everybody is pretty good about being helpful with only the occasional snark. Definitely do a search first before posting your problem.


      1. fposte*

        Upgrading to the new one fixed it, though I had to autorepair the last couple of files. I figure with software “throw it out and buy a new one” isn’t the moral weakness that it would be with a car :-).

  43. danr*

    We’re just making the switch to streaming tv apps and starting the move away from cable. The one thing that we’ve notice in just an afternoon is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to have a channel setup so we can switch among them. Right now we’re using Fire TV and Playstation Vue. The choice was made for us since we wanted to get Yankee games and Comcast (boo hiss) won’t carry the YES network (money fights of course).
    So, for those of you who are streaming, is a channel type setup possible? I’m gradually doing Google searches, but it’s slow and I haven’t found anything yet.

    1. Noah*

      It takes awhile to get used to not being able to just sit down and scan through channels for something to watch. SlingTV is the closest, but I think it is pricey for what you get and I don’t currently use it. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I also have a TiVo with a lifetime subscription that allows me to record OTA television.

      If there are particular channels you enjoy, you can often download apps specifically for that channel. I used to watch a lot of HGTV and I now have that app on my FireTV. I logged in with my Time Warner Cable login from my internet-only service and it worked. Same has been true of everything I’ve tried to login that way like the Food Network, Travel Channel, Fox Now, NBC Sports, WatchESPN, and I’m sure others that I’m missing. Most of the apps let you watch a live version of that station and also have on-demand content.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Oh! We just got rid of cable! Still have internet through Charter, though. I miss Food Network. I wasn’t sure if I could still watch it since they want a provider. Thanks for the tip! So far we love not having cable. We use Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

    2. Post Script*

      I like to use Yidio to find where a TV show is available for streaming. You can brows by all sorts of things there. Not sure if it’s the solution you’re looking for though.

  44. TheExchequer*

    So. My dear mother had a heart attack Thursday evening. (The one colloquially referred to as the “widow maker”.) It’s been a kaleidoscope of medical treatment since then, including my mother driving herself to the hospital and the doctor doing the operation while she was awake. She feels much better but the official prognosis isn’t great. One of the chambers has scars and isn’t working. Another has 13% less output than it should. They’re keeping her another night for observation.

    Any positive energy would be appreciated as well as any words of wisdom or questions we should ask while we’re here.

    1. knitchic79*

      Hubby walked away from that one almost three years ago, I feel for you this is a scary place for everyone involved.
      For mom take it as slow as slow can get. It was seriously making my husband crazy but it is the only way to heal. Take advantage of the physical therapy, whatever your insurance can cover. Sleep lots and just know that you’ll get through this.
      For you Exchequer, breathe. Take some time yourself, I wish I had taken more when we went through this. It’s a lot of appointments and like I said above a lot of restlessness. Set timers for when meds need to be taken as those will be important. Find out what the anticipated loss of heart function is so you can learn what activity level she can expect.

      Keeping you in my thoughts and remember that her surviving the initial episode is huge in her favor.

      1. Liane*

        Mine also & he was very lucky.
        Hugs, good energy, karma & whatever else I can send via thought.

    2. MathOwl*

      Sending positive vibes for the two of you, with hope that everything ends up ok. My thoughts with you also in this difficult time.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I have no words of wisdom due to lack of experience, but I’m sending good vibes and positive energy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  45. The Other Dawn*

    Any suggestions for stopping a young cat from sucking on blankets?

    My kitten is about 6 to 7 months old and this drives me nuts. It’s the one reason I don’t allow her into bed with us. None of my other cats did this.

    I occasionally volunteer with a cat rescue and have owned cats all my life. One would think I could solve this.

    1. Not Karen*

      Unfortunately I’m not sure you can… It’s probably because they were weaned too young. My cat still sucks on blankets and wool sweaters and he’s nearly six years old.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      I had a cat that would do this. He would grab a piece of shirt and suck and knead with his paws. Usually only on my mother, and she would have big wet patches on her front. It’s funny how she would put up with that.

      Is there a particular kind of blanket your kitten is attracted to? It’s probably just a self-soothing kind of thing and they might grow out of it, or do it less when they’re older. But without consulting Jackson Galaxy, I’m not sure how you could break that habit. If it is a specific blanket, you could just try hiding it. If it’s any blanket left out, that’s more difficult to police.

    3. Undine*

      I hate cats that knead with their paws, so when mine was a kitten and started kneading I would take his paws and hold them firmly but lightly (if that makes sense) so he couldn’t do it. I would still cuddle/hold him, just physically prevent him from kneading. Eventually he stopped, although I didn’t plan it. It would be harder with sucking, because of holding the head, but you’re not squeezing, you’re just trying to get in the way so it’s not possible to do the habit. I think this can only work if the cat is pretty young.

        1. Elkay*

          We refer to it as “making bread” because that’s how it gets auto-translated on the Maru blog (the box cat from YouTube).

            1. Windchime*

              I call it “making biscuits” too. I love it, except when his claws get caught. Then we have to do nail-clipping time, which he doesn’t like at all.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I used to have a kitty who used a bit of claws when she kneaded, but it wasn’t a big deal because I would grab a blanket or coat and put it between her claws and my arm. That way she could knead, and I wasn’t in pain. She was a great kitty. I miss her.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have to do this when Psycho Kitty lets me hold her on my lap. It usually only happens during cooler weather. I just grab a towel or something before I sit down and pick her up. She’ll knead on my leg for a bit (with claws) and let me scritch her head/chin before she gets tired of me and jumps down.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Actually, I love when they knead! It’s mean they’re happy and content. It’s just the sucking. And really I don’t mind that in general. It’s when she does it to my sheets on my bed.

    4. Lillian McGee*

      My cat does this too and he is about 3 yrs old. Everything I’ve read about it says you can’t really stop it, you must have to hide the materials he likes so that is what we do.

    5. AnotherTeacher*

      It’s a natural activity that comforts them. Unless she is injecting the blanket material, why not let her do it.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I find that she’s drawn to a fleece throw in the family room (one of those cheap ones you buy at Walmart). In the bedroom, it’s my sheets. I think I might buy another fleece blanket and put in on the bed. I can bring her in for a night and try to steer her towards it.

      I really don’t mind the sucking. It’s the fact that it’s my sheets and they are typically near my face. Not too pleasant to find a spot soaked with kitty drool when I pull them up.

      By the way, if you want to see her–Tiffany–just click on my name. She’s pictured in my most recent blog post.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      My dog does this. He was doing it as a pup. Someone said, “He will probably do it for the rest of his life.” He is seven now and he is still kneading and sucking. I got blankets for him and I consistently reinforced that he could not knead/suck MY stuff. The biggie is my bedding.

      I did not “make” him stop entirely. He is a very hyper, high energy animal. I think the kneading and sucking comforts him some how. As his hyperness is going down due to age/diet/etc. the sucking has tapered off a little.

      You can try mixing play with calm activities- such as belly rubs and see if that helps over time.

  46. Wendy Darling*

    This is related to work only in that the only reason I have such a big laptop is that my job gave me one, I’d never buy such a huge-ass laptop, but —

    I need a new work bag because my stupid new laptop is the size of a 17-inch macbook pro and it doesn’t fit in anything I currently own, so if anyone has favorite messenger bags that can accommodate GIANT MONSTER LAPTOPS I am totally auditioning new bags. I have a Timbuk2 Command messenger that I love but this sucker’s half an inch too wide to smash into it.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      Have you looked at other Timbuk2 bags? I had a boat anchor laptop that fit in mine.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Yeah, unfortunately they make a grand total of three messenger bags that it’ll fit in and they’re all MASSIVE in all dimensions. Like just ridiculously “I could live out of that for a week” big. :/ Their medium bags are a hair too small and the jump to the next size up is enormous.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      That’s why I bought a backpack. GIANT MONSTER LAPTOPS are easier for me to carry on my back.

      1. periwinkle*

        I’ll second the backpack comment. Although our work laptops aren’t huge, they’re heavy! I also need to carry a power brick, cable lock, and headset. Ooof. I tried carrying this in my Timbuk2 messenger bag (Command TSA-Friendly) and had to ice my shoulder afterward. That’s now reserved for my personal laptop (MacBook Air) and the work laptop goes into a Timbuk2 backpack. So much easier to carry that weight when it’s distributed across both shoulders…

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Yep. Your chiropractor will feel better about it if you’re distributing that weight. I bought a Targus from Staples. It was ~$100 Cdn +tax. I did try to find a rolling bag but it’s easier to run through an airport with a backpack. Not that I know anything about that >.<

        2. Engineer Girl*

          Just an FYI. I use an Op/Tech S.O.S (Save Our Shoulder) strap. It’s a neoprene strap that absorbs a lot of bounce. I also use it on my carry on bag. It makes a huge difference.

        3. KR*

          Also, carrying carrying the weight close to your back and wearing the backpack tight and close will eliminate jostling.

    3. Betty (the other Betty)*

      My old laptop was huge. I cut out a piece of cardboard the right size and took it bag shopping with me so I could find something that it would fit in.

  47. VintageLydia*

    I’m three days overdue with this baby and I’m over. being. pregnant. I’ve done most things I feel safe doing that’s supposed to start labor (mostly various exercises, eating certain foods, that sort of thing. No castor oil because I’m not THAT desperate.) We have an appointment on Tuesday and my OB team wants to talk either induction or c-section then and I do not want. My first kid came a few days early so I was frankly expecting the same this time around. At least my mom will be here Monday for moral support (and childcare for Kid 1 while I’m laboring with Kid 2.)

    Just trying to remind myself that 1) I won’t be pregnant forever and 2) this is the last time. Ever. No more kids. My body will never “belong” to anyone else after this one is done nursing.

    1. fposte*

      I believe in the olden days they’d run around the house taking the corks out of all the jars :-). Hope new kid is outside soon!

      1. VintageLydia*

        No corked jars but lots of wine in the house! Staring at me. Waiting for this baby to be born. If my mom drinks any I’ll be sure to be the one to open the bottle.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      OMG, I almost messaged you to ask if “Pregnancy Rant” above was you! It had me thinking of you, obviously!

      1. VintageLydia*

        I replied to her but my comment is in moderation! I can never figure out what arrangement of words is putting me in there but at least once every open thread I comment in I end up there. Solidarity for the overdue ladies. Most of the women in my pregnancy forum I’m in that was due this week went overdue, too. Meanwhile ladies due 3 weeks from now are giving birth left and right. Ah well. More time to get niggling projects done.

        1. Windchime*

          I was 10 days overdue with my first so I can totally relate to your frustration. The novelty is GONE by the time the due date passes you buy. Here’s hoping that your baby will have a safe arrival very soon!

      2. Pregnancy rant*

        Ha! I’m not VintageLydia but I am glad to hear of others in the same boat! Maybe there’s something in the air that is making these babies want to stay in extra long this month. Hoping for quick labors for both of us soon.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My friends have a tendency to go into labor after I discuss it with them (close to their due dates, that is). I’m not kidding. In the past year, three women I know have either had dinner or a text exchange with me and then gone into labor shortly thereafter. So I’m not saying I’m all powerful or anything, but that kid will be here before you know.

      I mean, hey– every little bit helps, right?

    4. SAHM*

      Good luck! I just want to send positive vibes your way and wish I could take you out for the Pregnancy Pizza at the local pizzeria (it didn’t work for me, I was 5 days late, but it was delicious!). I mentioned up-thread about red raspberry leaf tea, I literally heard about it this morning, no idea if it works but in some people it causes contractions. Which as far along as you are, might help get everything moving. Good Luck!

    5. Observer*

      Induction at 5 days post due date? Unless there is something missing, that’s a TERRIBLE idea.

      I know that you would be perfectly happy to have the baby this very minute. But, honestly, and induction so quickly is not your solution.

      Oh, and whatever else you do, drink, drink and drink some more.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        It’s a VBAC which may change some things, and we’ll be talking about it/scheduling it for later in the week at 6 days overdue. I’m sure if I’ve dilated a lot more since my last appointment that might change our plans. Considering how I’ve been feeling last night/this morning, hopefully it won’t come to that at all.

      2. Liane*

        Yes! If there’s not some Major Health Issue (like pre-eclampsia with my first) induction shouldn’t be an option, especially not early or a few days past due date. Granted, it’s been 20 years, but I was told 1 or 2 weeks on either side of the due date was pretty usual.

  48. nep*

    There is a day camp where I work. During Spring break camp last week some kids were sitting down for their lunch, chattering away. I reckon ages seven to nine. A snippet of a conversation I heard:
    One child: ‘I wish everyone was the same.’
    Another child: ‘No way — then everyone would be able to buy all the same things.’
    Third child: ‘Hey — It’s called communism, and it works.’

    Perhaps I missed some earlier context, but it’s something how the second kid’s mind went right to what people could BUY.

  49. Lucky charm*

    How do you tell a friend “you’re just not that into them anymore?”

    This week a friend of mine gently confronted me about me being distant with her in the past year. Admittedly, I havent been hanging out with her and others in that social group as much as I used to. I cant really put my finger as to why except that Ive seen a side of my friend that I dont really like. The short of it is that she is controlling and has to have “the best” of everything within our group of friends (i.e. nicest house, car, child, etc). If im honest with myself, Ive been struggling with contentment and its hard to be around someone like that.

    My response to her is that Ive been dealing with a lot of life changes in the past year (i.e. buying a home, getting married, etc) and I just dont have a lot od free time lately. She responded by saying, “I know you have other friends, and I guess thats allowed but…” I really didnt like her tone when she said that.

    I think we’ve just grown apart and have different interests now and I think I may just have to say that.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yes, I think that last line is the best way to go. Give her a call and tell her you’ve been thinking about the discussion you had with her regarding distance and you feel you’ve grown apart and have different interests now. Wish her well and hang up. Hard to do, but very freeing.

    2. Dang*

      She guesses that’s allowed??? Yikes.

      Personally I do a slow fade, but that doesn’t always work with personality is like this. I’m actually dealing with something similar and not sure what to do, I think it will work itself out for various life stage type reasons, but I sympathize.

    3. Mando Diao*

      Friends grow apart as you move down different paths in life. Someone once told me, “When you go your own way, you can’t get mad when other people can’t follow you.” I think it’s telling that you’ve drifted away from that entire group. It’s not just this one friend. It sounds like you’re just moving on. If this friend is so intense as to confront you about it, I can’t say you’re making the wrong move here. This is an instance where friendship isn’t like dating. With a partner, you can have the tough talk about drift. You can’t do that with friends without seeming pushy.

    4. Doriana Gray*

      Are you me? Because this is the exact same thing I’m experiencing with a former friend that I now consider to be just a work friend. And our distance comes down to me not liking her significant other (the only thing she ever seems to talk about) and the fact that she’s always making these competitive ass comments about other friends of hers that makes me think she only hangs out with certain people to feel superior to someone else. Not a good personality trait to have.

    5. Cordelia Longfellow*

      Captain Awkward has a number of posts about breaking up with friends – try searching “African violet” on her site.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      They’re somewhat work-related, but here goes:

      WORST: I had a huge last-minute project thrown at me during the worst week– my boss was getting ready to go on vacation, so there was a ton of scrambling with existing projects, then this was tossed in my lap. I can’t believe I made it through with my head on straight.

      BEST: Said last-minute project is allowing me to spend two nights with my grandparents and then an evening with my friends in NYC, and with everything swirling around me, it will do me a world of good to see all of these people.

    2. Mimmy*

      Best: I’d say the highlight this week for me was watching the American Idol finale, seeing all the familiar faces (some of whom were unrecognizable). This AI geek thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Up for next week’s “best”: Will likely be officially accepting the invitation to Commencement within the next day or two.

      Worst: Seeing my classmate get royally screwed over by our professor. She’s been in the hospital and thought she had everything squared away only to find her mid-term evaluation to be less than she’d expected. Long story, but I really hope she gets it sorted out. Her anger in her email to me was really palpable :(

      Annoying: Not getting proper disability accommodations for a presentation I attended yesterday. Yes, I did make my request in the registration way back in the end of February!

      1. Mimmy*

        To clarify on my “worst”: I’ve become close with this classmate, that’s why I mentioned it. She is in an overseas hospital flat on her back. It’s one of those things where I wish I could just reach through the monitor and hug her.

    3. NicoleK*

      Worst: I’ll have to wait till fall to see Niagara Falls
      Best: I’m going to Chicago in late May (never been to Chicago despite living in the Midwest for all my life)

      1. Nancypie*

        I went to Niagara Falls this past fall ( although I wanted to go in May). It was a great time to go. Not too cold and not at all crowded. So this could be a silver lining.

      2. Artemesia*

        Chicago is a great town — wonderful theater, wonderful wonderful museums, comedy clubs, great restaurants and in May the waterfront should make for pleasant walks and such. My favorite town in the US outside of my hometown Seattle (where I haven’t lived for 45 years)

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Best — Lots this week! Started wearing my Fitbit again, and I’m back into my step-counting groove. And I’m back into a yoga routine. I never understand why I let myself get out of it. I sleep SO much better when I’m doing it regularly. My 7 year old got to play quarterback in her flag football game this week, and she ROCKED IT. She threw 3 touchdown passes, and scored another one when another kid took his turn at QB in the second half. Met with a recruiter, so it feels like things are moving forward on the job front. And, we bought a new car today! A 2016 Nissan Murano. I didn’t think my husband would be ready to buy today, but we were able to make a deal.

      Worst — and this isn’t even a worst, it’s more of a FOMO…I’m going to Vegas next weekend, which I know will be a blast, but I’m going to miss this really fun annual crawfish boil that our friends have every year. It’s always a blast and there are usually some great stories to tell. So I’m bummed to be missing it. I know — a pretty good worst to have.

    5. periwinkle*

      Worst: Big veterinary bill for our youngest kitty Kenilworth, who is about 9 months old now. Kitty MRIs are expensive, yikes. His spine is a bit abnormal (he’s missing a vertebra) but the vets agreed that he would be fine for the long term and that he is the cutest kitty ever, which is quite true.

      Best: Kenilworth is getting back to normal so the house is chaotic again. Yay!

    6. Lazy Sunday*

      Best: I’ve had shoulder pain for what seems like months and it finally went away! I had a minor procedure last week so I was ordered to not work out for a week. It took a few days but I’ve been pain free as of day 5.

      Best, pat 2: I’m getting into Disneyland for free tomorrow. My spouse’s new-ish friend keeps offering, so we’re finally taking her up on the offer. Disneyland so crowded these days, I don’t think I’d bother to go unless it was under these circumstances anyway. Hopefully it doesn’t rain too much.

      Worst: I was away on business this week and I felt very sad and lonely my first night there. I don’t even know why; I don’t normally feel that way. I got over it the next day. Oh well.

    7. Jen RO*

      Best: Spring! Finally! I have my license suspended for 2 more weeks and taking a daily walk has been pretty nice. Also, my boyfriend got two new monitors and gave me his old one – yay dual monitor setup!

      Worst: Too busy at work and probably about to lose my best employee.

    8. danr*

      Best: joining the 21st century and moving away from cable to streaming apps.
      Worst: cold and snowy

    9. Doriana Gray*

      Best: My new division’s Sr. VP had the opportunity to recommend three employees in his unit to attend a five day intensive pilot training program this fall, and I was one of the three picked. I’m also one of the newest hires (we just brought on six new people last Monday) having only started with them, and in this particular line of business, January 18th. There were three other slots available to be filled, and I was terrified that the guy from work who caused my severe panic attack last month would be there, but his division head didn’t recommend him! Yay! I can attend this thing without worrying about another attack coming on.

      Worst: I may not be able to do the spa trip I was planning for my birthday next month due to the cost of my Vegas trip in June. I really need to get out from under this student loan debt ASAP because it’s killing my quality of life.

    10. Seal*

      Worst: I lost most of the vision in my right eye over the course of last weekend, so this week has been a long parade of visits to various eye doctors and specialists. While I won’t get the results of the tests back until tomorrow, the consensus seems to be that it’s an infection of some sort. I have been on antibiotics, antivirals and steroid drops all week, and the vision is a bit better; however, until they know exactly what they’re dealing with they can’t treat it aggressively.

      And in the kicking someone when they’re down department, I also found out that I didn’t get an interview for a job I had long coveted. I am told it was not because I wasn’t qualified; in fact, on paper I was one of the top candidates. Instead, it was because a few people on the search committee don’t like me and don’t want to work with me. Since I thought I had a cordial, collegial relationship with these people, I am beyond stunned. While ordinarily this would provoke a great deal of soul-searching or even a reevaluation of my career choice, I am so overwhelmed by this eye thing that I can’t work up enough energy to do so.

      Best: The vision in my right eye seems to be a tiny bit better, so I am starting to think that I might eventually be able to see out of that eye again. And even thought I am desperate for a new job, at least the one I have has decent health insurance.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: The blog challenge seems to be going well. Planning ahead, pre-writing, and scheduling posts the night before has made this the easiest A-Z I’ve ever done. :) The biggest time suck is choosing pictures. Wish the rest of my writing were this easy!

      WORST: Same old same old. And I ended up writing a strongly worded letter to a state senator re the continuing Planned Parenthood witch hunt. Now they’re trying to force PP to give over patient consent forms, ostensibly to investigate tissue disposal (no of course they’re not going to use this for anything else!), even after those videos were completely debunked. I wish like hell something (awesome) would open a way to get me out of here because I can’t stand to pay one more cent in taxes to this ridiculous state. I hope it BURNS. It’s frustrating to write letters because I know they won’t listen. >:(

      And my favorite fabric store chain is closing forever (noooo!), but when I took my sewing machine in to get it serviced, I mentioned it to the older woman in the sewing machine place and said I don’t want to go to Hobby Lobby (I was going to say they had little selection and were too high-priced). She said, “I don’t like that Hobby Lobby thing either.” I braced myself for a stream of religious freedom crap, but then she said, “They made me so mad that they won’t cover birth control,” and I was like, YESSSSS I LIKE YOU. :) #solidarity

      1. Ruffingit*

        What state do you live in if you don’t mind sharing? I’m in Texas so yeah, I can relate to the craziness of conservatism within a state.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Missouri. Otherwise known as Misery, LOL.

          I have lots of family and friends in Texas, but I wouldn’t want to live there either unless I were on the coast. (Of course everybody knows I’d rather not be in the country at all!)

    12. Anonyby*

      BEST: See upthread about the birthday cake I made for a friend. :D

      WORST: What was supposed to be a four-workday week ended up changing to six at the last minute. I really hope I get more than one day off this week so I can get some real rest in. I really hope Boss can get some changes in soon so that I can have a regular schedule. I am still technically not FT!

  50. Mimmy*

    Almost forgot: I mentioned two friends who needed some positive, healing vibes (y’all please add my classmate I mentioned in the “best and worst” thread). Anyway – both are doing okay. In pain, but in really good spirits. It’s very inspiring actually, particularly the friend who was hit by a car. She holds no ill feelings towards the driver who hit her and she seems to be taking everything in stride. Several fractures in her foot and limited mobility – dang, I’d be griping! How does one keep such a positive attitude?! I guess it’s all in your mindset. I often say that I’m up for any challenge, but when the chips are down, I’m a quivering mess. I really need to find out her strategies.

    My other friend who had her knee replaced is in a lot of pain, but a colleague said she is doing very well. She is a beautiful person, both inside and out. She’s all into “energies” and other spiritual things. I’ve seen pictures of her house – absolutely gorgeous.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Something I learned in my experiences is that when people feel loved and cared for they can act differently than if they are unsure if anyone cares or if no one actually cares.
      In all likelihood your friend with the broken foot knows that no one can fix her foot, it has to heal on it’s own but she knows that she has people who care. Therefore she feels more at peace with it all. Similar for your other friend.

      It is good that she can forgive the driver. Just my opinion, but I think that will help speed recovery and allow her to have a stronger recovery. I think she is a pretty cool person.

  51. Folklorist*

    Anyone have recommendations on making a life-long indoor/outdoor cat a fully indoor cat? I might have found the perfect place to live in DC, in the perfect location for the perfect price with really cool people, who will actually take my cat. Anyone who knows DC real estate knows that this is nearly impossible. The problem is, it’s on an incredibly busy street corner and I don’t think my cat would be able to go outside anymore. This will…not be pretty, let’s just say that. Tips?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t done it personally, but I have close friends who did. No tricks. Just the cat being very upset for months and pawing at the window to have it opened. Took months for her to adjust, but she did.

    2. fposte*

      I’ll be linking in a followup post to the Way of Cats blog on the subject–she’s pretty much the internet’s answer to Jackson Galaxy.

    3. EEK! The Manager*

      It’s much easier to transition a cat to indoor-only when moving to a new home. Your kitty won’t have any established territory outside of your apartment and won’t exactly know what they are missing! It’s also good to make sure kitty has activities to do in the new space that will provide some adventure, like a really good cat tower or secret sleeping spot. Just be super vigilant about windows and doors to prevent any escaping for the first couple of months and your cat will get used to the new turf.

    4. catsAreCool*

      I’ve heard it can be easier when you move because the kitty is in a new territory and isn’t being shut out of familiar places. Your kitty is “fixed”, right?

      Lots of toys, lots of play should help.

  52. SL #2*

    I have joined the land of the 21st century… by buying a Blu-ray player, haha. It’s really funny to me that it’s taken me this long because I’m an early adopter when it comes to most tech but apparently not when it comes to movies! But I got The Force Awakens in the Target Blu-ray pack and I HAD to watch the bonus features… which are locked in a Blu-ray disc. So now I have a Blu-ray player. Woohoo!

    1. danr*

      A blu ray player is next on our list, along with a new tv. Our current one only has one hdmi input and we’re going to need more.

      1. SL #2*

        We’ve got 4 on ours! My advice is to get a player that’s got wifi and pre-installed apps (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc). Yeah, it’ll be slightly more expensive (probably a $20 difference) but it’ll help minimize the amount of ports you need because you can consolidate a whole bunch of things into one machine/one port.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      OOooo me too! I got TFA this week–it’s my very first Blu-ray (though I bought the set that had BR, DVD, and digital–it was only $20). I got a used PS3 a couple of months ago, so now I can watch/buy them. But I wanted Star Wars to be my first one. :3

      I won’t upgrade my home theater and surround sound until I get a new TV. That may be something I need to start saving for–my TV doesn’t like to come on right away when I press the button. :\

      1. SL #2*

        I have several Blu-ray discs beside TFA but it’s because I tend to buy the DVD/Blu-ray combo packs knowing that one day, I’ll suck it up and get a Blu-ray player.

  53. i need sitcom recs*

    Anyone have any good sitcom recs? I find most sitcoms really boring when they have no plot aside from romance or I find that the characters you’re supposed to root for are awful, insufferable people on most popular sitcoms (e.g., Friends, Seinfield, TBBT, Will & Grace, The Mindy Project, etc.)

    Sitcoms I have liked are Parks and Rec, Brooklyn 99, Arrested Development, Broad City, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I gravitate more towards dramas because they’re plot driven, but most of them are so serious that sometimes I want a sitcom instead and there’s only so many times I can rewatch my few favorites before I get bored.

    1. Mando Diao*

      Have you tried New Girl? If you can look past the manic zaniness of the characters, you’ll find that the show depicts 30-something friendships really well.

      1. i need sitcom recs*

        I did and I actually really liked all the characters except Jess. I lost interest during season 2 or 3 when she and Nick started to get together, though, since that’s all the episodes were about. That, combined with one episode where she was really awful to her sister made me quit the show. I can’t even remember what the episode was about anymore, but I just remember being annoyed by how selfish and terrible Jess was.

        Part of my problem with sitcoms is that I tend to never care for the main character or main pairing (the main pairing issue tends to happen in dramas with a strong romance subplot too, so that’s just a persistent tv problem for me, lol).

        1. Mando Diao*

          New Girl is definitely hard to watch if you’re not the sort of person who can overlook the main character and just watch for “the friends.” I hated the sister subplot too. It was manipulative writing, plain and simple.

          How about Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23?

          1. Blue_eyes*

            Seconding Don’t Trust the B****! If you can just give in to the ridiculousness of the whole thing, it’s quite enjoyable.

          2. i need sitcom recs*

            Honestly, I think I would have loved the premise of New Girl if CeCe was the one who moved into the loft instead of Jess. CeCe is my favorite.

            But thanks for reminding me of Don’t Trust the B- in Apt 23! I like Krysten Ritter (she was so good in Jessica Jones) and I forgot that it was one of those shows I meant to check out.

            1. Mando Diao*

              Please comment next week if you like Apt 23! It’s such a sweet little show, and so bizarre!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      The earlier seasons of Community
      Fresh of the Boat
      Key & Peele (more sketch comedy than sitcom, but…)
      Melissa & Joey
      Dead Like Me (more cheeky than funny)

      1. i need sitcom recs*

        Community and Dead Like Me are some of my other favs, but thanks for the others! I’ve heard good things about Fresh Off the Boat, so I think I’ll check that one out next.

        1. Lazy Sunday*

          Fresh Off the Boat is so good! I heart it so much and it wasn’t even something I thought I’d be into.
          Based off your shows I think we might have similar tastes, so in exchange I will watch Broad City. I’ve seen so many clips of it but haven’t managed to watch an episode yet.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ll second Fresh Off the Boat, Key and Peele, 30 Rock, and Community, and add The Goldbergs and The Middle.

    4. Nicole*

      I really like the Wednesday night lineup – The Middle, The Goldbergs, and Modern Family. I resisted watching Modern Family for years and finally got into it this year using the library to binge watch all the previous seasons. Phil is my favorite character!

    5. hermit crab*

      Maybe what you need is a funny show that is a not a sitcom? I avoid sitcoms completely because I’m weirdly sensitive to contact embarrassment (if that’s a thing) and the awkwardness of the situations in most sitcoms is just too much for me to stand. But there are plenty of shows that are witty and fun without being actual sitcoms! These are all older/over but I’m thinking of shows like Chuck, Buffy/Angel, Sports Night, Veronica Mars, etc.

      1. i need sitcom recs*

        Ha, all those shows are some of my favorites and ones I have in my DVD bookcase.

        But I totally get you about the embarrassment. I have big secondhand embarrassment, so I could never watch shows like The Office.

        1. hermit crab*

          Oh my gosh yes. I tried watching The Office once because my old roommate loved it and had several seasons on DVD. I gave up when I realized that I was fast-forwarding through half the scenes and watching the other half with my eyes closed and/or with my hands over my ears!

    6. Leslie Knope*

      Bob’s Burgers! It’s an animated sitcom and there are maybe 5 seasons to catch up on. All the characters are weird but likeable.

      1. Mela*

        Yes! I also love animated series where everyone is an animal.
        Bojack the Horseman! Bojack is a washed up actor in Hollywood. He is also a horse :)
        Ugly Americans- It’s about a social worker who’s in charge of integrating all the aliens who have come to NYC. Chaos ensues.

      2. TL -*

        Bob’s Burgers is awesome and the characters are quirky but not awful and the show is super sympathetic to them.

    7. Lily Evans*

      Jane the Virgin is pretty great! It’s a 40 minute show, not a traditional 20+ minute sitcom, but it has a lot of humor and the plot does have a decent amount of romance, but I’ve found it to be well balanced with everything else the characters have got going on. I really like it because it feels like it falls somewhere between sitcom and drama.

      I also recently watched Hart of Dixie which was a pleasant surprise for how good it was! It does have a good deal of romance, though, but it’s not the only thing that drives the show and it did a really good job of avoiding/subverting typical romcom tropes and had a lot of good character development. It’s like the tv-version of comfort food, imo, and was a nice change from a lot of the more serious shows I’d been watching.

      1. Lily Evans*

        And I haven’t watched it yet, but my mom’s been talking about how funny Documentary Now on IFC is, and she likes a lot of the shows you listed as your favorites :)

      2. Charlotte Collins*

        I love Jane the Virgin! I’ve been trying to get my mother to watch it, because I think she’ll like the humor and the fact that the Villanueva woman are so great. (I’d recommend it to anyone who misses Gilmore Girls, too.)

    8. Dear Liza dear liza*

      Ok, CATASTROPHE on Amazon Prime is all about the relationship between the two main characters, but it’s not sentimental *at all* and is seriously hilarious in a “that’s so wrong” way. And yet it’s not mean or awkward.

    9. fposte*

      I don’t know if you’d call it a sitcom, but you might like The Detectorists; it’s a low-key British comedy, written by Mackenzie Crook, focusing on a guy and his best friend who are obsessed with metal detecting and hoping to find a big piece of history buried in the countryside. There’s a lot of outdoors compared to most comedies, which is really nice, and it’s more gently paced than quippy, but it’s still got plenty of smarts.

    10. susan*

      Fresh Off the Boat is terrific! I’m not sure where you might be able to find it, but Happy Endings was an awesome show.

    11. Elkay*

      Better Off Ted is good, it’s got Portia de Rossi from Arrested Development in it. Archer is good if you like animation (Jessica Walters & Judy Greer from Arrested Development and Chris Parnell from 30 Rock). One of my absolute favourites is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the first three seasons are golden then it’s a case of when it’s good it’s amazing but there’s only 2-3 really good episodes a season.

    12. Elizabeth*

      If you like any of the Amy Sherman-Palidino shows (Gilmore Girls – and she wrote on Roseanne for a while), you might like Younger from TVLand.

      I binged the entire series when I was sick earlier this week – it was funny and I’m “in between” the cast age wise (40s and mid 20s – I’m early 30s) – I thought it had a nice balance between super light (*what are those darn kids saying these days*, one REALLY bad CGI {I think on purpose} “action” scene ) and deep enough to keep me engaged (divorce, cheating, balancing a new life with your old friends, what does an age difference in a relationship really mean).

      Also Young & Hungry from Freeform(formerly ABC Family) this (? this past? – I watch it on the app) season was a little relationship heavy but I have had to stop on the eliptical from laughing.

    13. Charlotte Collins*

      Better Off Ted was great but unfortunately only lasted one season.

      I also loved the British sitcom Spy and the Irish show Moone Boy.

  54. MathOwl*

    I’m up late again. For some reason, I seem to thrive during evenings and nights, often going to bed as late as 3, and feeling perfectly healthy and rested the next day. Am I more the exception, or are there fellow night owls with me here?

    1. Revanche*

      Totally a night owl. My family are morning glories and I can get it together to function at the time they get up but I strongly prefer evenings and nights. Though, I never feel rested because health things prevent me from actually feeling rested, so I can’t speak to that part!

      1. MathOwl*

        Ah yeah, sleep is a tricky thing. It’s not easy to find a formula that works well, and unfortunately it’s sometimes even impossible. I’m lucky in that I sleep like a log at night, but only if I go late…

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Night owl who needs seven hours for restorative sleep but still has to get up at 6 in the morning to make it to work. I’d go in later if I didn’t have to stay later. :P I sometimes don’t want to go to bed until 1 or so and have stayed up as late as 2 or 2:30 when I don’t have to get up the next day. If I didn’t need a job, that would pretty much be my schedule.

  55. Revanche*

    We traveled to Seattle for Emerald City Comic Con this hear and even though there have been some tough bits, I’m glad we did it. The show has been fun, and the vast majority of attendees are pretty cool and friendly which makes for a far more pleasant experience.

    I’m going home with a nice little armload of comics for myself and the kiddo. Yay!

    Did anyone else go?

    1. Finny*

      We wanted to, but weren’t able to this year (all major appliances in the house except the stove needed replacing over the last couple of months, taking our con budget with them). We did go in 2013, though, and loved it. And we’re very surprised by the insistence that we go first in the lines thanks to me being legally blind.

      Great con, though, and we can’t wait to go back.

  56. Myrin*

    Gardening folks – HELP!

    I’m a relatively experienced gardener and am usually pretty good at telling what went wrong when something goes wrong and what’s the reason for it and how to fix it.

    Not so when it comes to salad, apparently.

    For the second year in a row, I’ve sown salad seed and they sprout beautifully and then they grow and… grow? And grow some more? But just the stem, it becomes longer and longer and then one day it just falls down with its measly little first two leaves and nothing else. And I’m at a loss.

    I thought I had it last year – they were definitely too warm but kind of wet at the same time because it seemed to be better when I didn’t water them at all. Now this year, the very same thing happened again. So I looked around the internet where, which is typical, everyone is all “woooow, growing salad is so easy, you just put the seed in the grown and yay”. I looked around some more and found like two other people who had the same problem and where advised to use special soil (seeding compost? Is that what’s it called in English?) so that the sprouts wouldn’t get so much energy.

    So I got that soil and tried again and was all giddy and happy and now the very same thing is happening again. They’re already tall and don’t show any signs of building more leaves and I’m about to tear my hair out in frustration because I don’t know what to do! Of the about thirty salads I sowed last year, only one (!!) actually made it to a fully-fledged salad and it’s testing all my patience. Help?

    1. Tris Prior*

      Are you growing them in containers or in the ground? For some reason, I have this same problem when I try to grow lettuce in containers. If I sow the seed directly into the garden bed, then it does well. I have no idea why, other than, there’s compost in the bed but I use potting soil in containers. I agree, it is frustrating!

      1. Myrin*

        I’m indeed growing them in containers! I would love to put them in the garden bed directly but we’re regularly overrun by snails here and even with huge cautious measures they always get to the little plants so the tasty salad needs to already be pretty big when it goes outside. I’ll try the very same seeds in the raised bed, though – there must be a way!

    2. Myrin*

      And holy moly what is with the seven million typos in this comment? Jesus Christ, I can usually english better than that.

    3. Clever Name*

      Not sure how to fix that, but your lettuces are bolting. Maybe do a search for preventing greens from bolting.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Here, bolting comes with too much heat.

        OP, if there is a small nursery with a good reputation near you, you could check with them to see what they think. They know the climate of your area, and that is what we are missing here. Maybe you need to start the seeds earlier, or maybe there are seeds that lend themselves to container growing, where others do not.

        You are saying “salad” but not the types of greens. I don’t know if you are buying prepacked salad greens mixes or if you are getting separate packs of seeds such as iceberg or romaine. That may be something there to consider.

        But if you can locate a good nursery you can ask what types of greens do well in containers.

  57. Chocolate Teapot*

    In the continuing saga of my broken washing machine, there was a letter sent to everyone in my building. It turns out somebody moved the lever on the sink in the room where the machines are installed, and this cut the water supply to all the washing machines, so none of them were broken after all.

    We have all been instructed not to go anywhere near the lever in future.

  58. The Other Dawn*

    Question to the gardeners here: when starting tomato seeds indoors, how many seeds do I plant in one little starter pod?

    This is my first time ever starting seeds, and I’m a total newbie to gardening in general. I bought a seed starter kit that has the soil pods, container that holds the pods, and a clear lid. It has 36 individual pods. It says nothing on the seed packet as to how many seeds per inch (some say that, I’ve noticed). Is it one per pod? If so, then I need another container; there’s a lot of seeds in the packet. If it helps, I’m starting cherry tomatoes.

    1. Koala Paws*

      I would safely say anywhere from 2-3 seeds per pod. Then you just weed out whatever doesn’t come in robustly or separate them when transplanting. Good luck!

    2. Tennessee*

      Generally, sow 2-3 seeds per pod. Once they get their first true leaves, pinch off the excess plants so you end up with one good plant per pod. When planting the pods, remember to break or remove the container part of the pod, that will let the roots grow better. But cherry tomatoes are a easy and hardy, you shouldn’t have any problems with them!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks for the tips! I want to try more vegetables, but I don’t want to get overwhelmed. I sometimes go gung-ho when I do something new, and then I either burn out quickly from being overwhelmed or I just lose interest. With the tomatoes, all I’ll lose is about $8.00 if it doesn’t work out.

  59. Koala Paws*

    Hey all! A (tangentially) related work question. On the job I have periods of down time on the computer in between helping patrons and working on projects where I can browse. I usually do the news or social media, and some sites like Geekologie, I Watch Stuff, Hello Giggles, etc. Do y’all have any safe for work sites that keep you entertained throughout the day?

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Have you seen Not Always Working, Not Always Right, and Not Always Hopeless? Brief, entertaining anecdotes, and I haven’t encountered any auto-play sounds.

  60. Liane*

    My college son will be going on a trip to Costa Rica with his Sunday school class in August! He is ready to get his US passport and is wondering if he should just get the book or the book and card combo. The card is only good for travel to cerain countries, not Costa Rica, but he wants to know if there might be other reasons he should consider ordering both. Not having a passport, I don’t know, although I did mention that having a second government picture ID that fits in his wallet might be handy.
    Any other suggestions for the trip would be welcome too.

    1. Noah*

      If you’re in a state that is having an issue complying with the RealID act, I would get the card. It can be used as a government ID to travel domestically, enter courthouses, etc. Eventually they’ll stop accepting drivers licenses from those states that are non-compliant at federal courthouses and TSA screening checkpoints.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      The card is only good for border crossings where you’re driving. So if you’re driving to Tijuana, no problem. If you’re flying to Cancun, problem.

      If your son needs some ID and you can afford the extra fee, then why not? In Europe, I’ve noticed that it’s pretty common for people to carry their passports when they leave their country. When you check into a hotel, they usually ask for it. I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing my passport when I’m travelling in-country because I don’t get much use out of it otherwise :(

    3. Sophia in the DMV*

      I guess I don’t see the added value of having the card if you have a DL and the passport book. To me, it’s just another thing I could possibly lose and/or get stolen (I have no idea what is on the passport card)

    4. Mela*

      It’s always good to have extra ID. If the cost isn’t prohibitive, then go for it. If he loses his passport/DL he has a back-up ID, either to fly domestically or to get a new/temporary passport.

    5. BRR*

      My first time traveling internationally was to Costa Rica last year and I just got the book (and made a copy of it from traveling).

    6. Liane*

      Thanks all! Son decided to just get the book. We like BRR’s suggestion of copying it as well. Tomorrow, since I am off, he asked me to go along while he gets the passport. He already did the online portion.
      @ Noah: We’re in Arkansas, which–I just looked it up–has a RealID extension until October of this year. Apparently, starting then, Arkansans will have the option of getting the “regular” license/state ID with “Not for Government Use” on it or getting the Enhanced/Real ID (With a Gold Star!) that can be used for TSA, courthouses, etc.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        It’s always best to have a copy. In fact, to be extra careful, it’s probably best to leave a copy at home with you, and take a copy with him that he keeps in a separate place in his luggage than his passport. Having a scan of the passport saved in his email is also a great idea.

  61. August*

    Anyone have any tips for dealing with anxiety? I’m a working student, and I’ve got two papers (one due tonight and another due on Tuesday) that I haven’t started yet. I’ve been kicking myself for two days, trying to make myself sit down and work, but, for some reason, I just can’t make myself do it.

    To make matters worse, I moved some dirty pots from the stovetop to the living room table last night, and my roommate responded with an all-caps, multi-paragraph rant over text about how I needed to remove the pots IMMEDIATELY because her laptop/books were on that same table, and how this was clearly my attempt to ruin her things because she never washes her dishes. My anxiety was so bad that I downed some NyQuil and passed out at 9 PM.

    Anyone have any tips about how to stop stressing over this petty roommate drama and motivate myself enough to sit down and write these papers?

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Try the 20/10 (or 30/10 or 10/20 or any split of your choice) where the first number is minutes on task and the second is minutes on break. You will see slow but sure progress and may break through to longer time on task. But even if you don’t , you will keep making progress. UNFY uses this for housekeeping but it works for many things. :). Good luck!

    2. Cruciatus*

      You just have to start. Step away from the internet, step away from roommate drama–go somewhere else if you must–set a timer for, say, 20 minutes–doable, right?, then just write your initial thoughts. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but maybe you will start to see how you want the paper to take shape. Once you’ve started, you may be able to go longer than the 20 minutes, if not, take a 5 minute break then get back to it. I know my biggest problem is just starting. I can put it off forever, but once I finally write the first few sentences I’m better (not great) at staying with it. You’re not going to have perfection right away, but you have to start *somewhere*.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      You also don’t have to start at the beginning. When I had to write papers I would start with parts I liked better than others, then go back and fill in the into and conclusion.

      1. Ultraviolet*

        I sometimes start papers or reports or difficult emails with a filler intro that’s really bad–like, “This paper is about the role of teapots in 21st century workplace advice columns.” I find it really helpful to just write something down right away, even if it needs fixing later and is far from my best effort. (I also find that by the time I go back to the intro to fix it, whatever sentence I wrote after the bad one(s) turns out to be a perfectly good opening. Maybe that’s like the fiction writing advice to go back and throw out the first few pages.)

      2. Liane*

        I am stealing this for my writing job because I have discovered writing on a deadline about something I usually enjoy can still feel like Homework From Hades.

        1. Trixie*

          I also like to just start by getting something down. Doesn’t matter what it is but that kind of primes the pump for writing about the easier sections or things I enjoy focusing on.

    4. Rena*

      I’m also a working student dealing with anxiety and I’ve totally been there … frequently. Here’s some things that generally work for me:

      – For immediate anxiety, I pull myself out of whatever environment I’m in (stop looking at the computer, move locations, go for a walk, etc) and listen to soothing music. Pandora has a couple of genre stations that are “relaxation” themed. It sounds silly, but they actually do help. I’ll set a time, like 10 minutes, and just unplug from my looming responsibilities for a few minutes.

      – I have a very hard time getting work done at home, so I go to a dedicated work space like a coffee shop or library. I find that framing helps a lot, “I am going to the library for two hours so I can get X and Y done.”

      – If it gets really bad, I’ll take Valerian. It’s probably a placebo, but consciously facing the anxiety and doing something about it actually seems to help.

      Best of luck and *hugs* of solidarity, if you’d like them!

    5. NDQ*

      In the school work example, the anxiety is being caused by procrastination. Procrastination is caused by any number of things, including fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of [fill in the blank]. I suggest you start with the procrastination. There are lots of books, websites and resources to help. I like the book, “The War of Art.” You have to confront your own resistance to doing the work. Do the work (i.e., planting your arse in a chair and writing or studying) whether you feel like it or not. Create a schedule and a ritual for doing the work. Practice being productive each day doing the things that matter the most.

      Good luck! You can beat this!

  62. Katie the Fed*

    For anyone who remembers the long, long thread on household responsibilities a few weeks ago – the advice was really good and I put it to use. I asked my husband to start taking on dinner on Friday – I didn’t care as long a I didn’t have to think about it. And we talked about other things.

    Well, Friday night I worked late and when I came home he had dinner all ready! It was simple but good and I was really grateful – I made sure he knew it, too ;)

    Then yesterday he took it upon himself to get the wiper blades on the the car fixed – without me having to bring it up. SWOON.

    1. Clever Name*


      I’ve been married for nearly 16 years, and we have a 9 year old with ADHD. I totally understand the exhaustion that comes with feeling like you’re the only one who thinks of stuff that needs to be done. My husband has taken on a management role at work where he does a ton of coordination and delegation, and he says it’s made him much more aware of how much effort goes into remembering to do what needs to be done around the house, and he’s started doing stuff before I remind him or do it myself. It’s kind of awesome.

    2. danr*

      Keep showing appreciation and who knows what else will happen. And make sure to do some stuff for him too.

  63. The Other Dawn*

    Another question today. This one is for the people who own a smoker.

    I have a new vertical smoker, some mesquite wood, charcoal, and a skirt steak. What can I use for marinade? Do I even need to marinate it?

    Also, I cured the smoker last night, but it never got above 250 degrees like it was supposed to. It was supposed to be 2 hours at 250 and one hour at 400. At 10 pm, I finally gave up.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Any regular steak marinade, really. Soy, sesame oil, and maybe fresh ginger would be an easy one, or heck, you can marinate in plain Italian salad dressing. But the maximum temp for ours is 275. Remember, a smoker is supposed to be low and slow. You might need to throw it on the grill or in the broiler to finish it off. And if it’s not a great smoker, it may never reach its target temp when it’s really cold out. Ours is insulated like a little mini fridge, but my older one was basically just bare sheet metal, and that one was really only usable above 60 or 70 degrees.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s actually what I was thinking, since it was cold and a bit windy last night. I’ve got the skirt steak in there now, and it easily went up to 300 today. I brought it back down to about 225-250 and it’s doing it’s thing. For my first try, I decided to go with just some salt and pepper. I want to see what the meat tastes like first. I got the steak at half price (yay markdown days!), so I won’t be too upset if it doesn’t come out good.

  64. Stephanie*

    Was supposed to fly out Phoenix this morning early. Flight was oversold. (This was after my original flight was oversold and they already gave me a $300 voucher for switching.) I had some flexibility and I guess they were really desperate. Ended up offering me a $800 voucher to give up my seat.

    So…back at home napping. Unfortunately, this will be basically an overnight trip to Pittsburgh, but the voucher was welcome.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Aw, that sucks. But $1100 in airfare ain’t nothing to sneeze at. Now you just have to think about where you want to go!

      1. Stephanie*

        Only $800. (Ha, I tried.) But still a good voucher even if I don’t live in a Delta hub.

  65. Lowercase holly*

    Semi job related: moving cross country for a new job. We don’t really have time to find a place to live beforehand and are thinking we’ll just stay in a hotel while we look. Bad idea? Any suggestions? We don’t want to rent a place unseen.

    1. Noah*

      I’ve done this a few times. Generally takes some driving around the new place to find one that is decent. I’m fairly loyal to Hilton and both their Home2Suite and Homewood Suites brands are generally nice. If you look near office park like areas you can generally find one that is mostly professionals.

      Depending on where you are, often timeshare or vacation club places can be a good deal. When I moved to Las Vegas I stayed in a vacation club place for three weeks. It had a full kitchen and in-suite laundry, all for around $200 per week. I wasn’t a member of the club, they just used me to fill an otherwise empty room.

    2. BRR*

      I found with renting that there doesn’t seem to be much planning ahead for leases. As in you see a posting and it’s available pretty soon if not immediately. So that aspect would work well in your favor.

    3. Trixie*

      Depending on the area, many times you’ll find short-term housing with 3, 6, 9 month leases. Good to know about ahead of time before committing to something longer term. Granted, the shorter term may charge more than longer term but the flexibility is often worth it. Sometimes a sublet may work as well if you can time it right.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Spouse and I have done several cross-country moves. In the first, I had a future co-worker who needed house-sitting, so we house-sat while looking for an apartment. In both the second and third cross-country moves, my spouse flew out a couple of months in advance to look at a slew of apartments and then rent one. We have a close friend who recently did a cross-country move, and she booked an AirBnB while looking for a place.

      A hotel is definitely a viable way to go.

  66. RDC*

    Question for scent-sensitive folks. (Is that a term?) What do you do when you sit down next to someone at a public event and realize they have a scent that you’re sensitive to (eg heavy smoke smell or overly perfumed)? I’m thinking of settings like a public lecture or public transit, where it’s obvious if you get up and move to a different seat. I always feel awkward about sitting down and then getting up immediately to move. Is that rude? Do people even notice?

    1. Nicole*

      Ooo that stinks (*wink*), and I don’t have any suggestions, but wanted to let you know I sympathize. We were once seated behind a woman who really doused herself with perfume and it was making me ill even though she was two rows ahead of us. It was at a football game so we were stuck. It really affected my enjoyment of the game.

    2. NicoleK*

      I would just get up and move. These days most people won’t notice or care that you got up and move.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I would definitely get up and move. You’re not saying anything rude about them. You’re just getting up and moving.

        1. RDC*

          Thanks. I’m probably overthinking it but always worry the person will be terribly offended. I should really just move!

          1. Rocket Scientist*

            I also get up and move, as quietly as I can in the setting.

            I don’t care if someone finds that offensive. My breathing/health takes precedence over your smoking habit.

    3. Clever Name*

      I would get up and maybe go to the bathroom and then just happen to find a different seat when you get back

    4. Cordelia Longfellow*

      I have a diagnosed scent allergy, which result in my throat closing up and me not being able to breathe. I can usually feel my throat constricting before I can smell the scent, so if I’m getting on a bus or whatever, I’ll just avoid sitting next to a scented person. If I’m already seated and a scented person sits near me, I will move if possible. If I can’t move, I always carry an N-95 mask with me to wear. I really don’t care about awkwardness with strangers (or anyone else, really) when my health is at risk.

      1. fposte*

        Do they have any kind of an allergen test so they know what you’re allergic to in perfumes? Or is that too risky because of the anaphylaxis?

  67. matcha123*

    I’ve been tutoring people of various ages in English for the past three years on evenings and weekends.

    I don’t think of myself as a great teacher and before I take on a new student, I tell them that I cannot explain English grammar rules in great detail. In particular I cannot explain the rules of English in the way that Japanese people learn them because I’m not Japanese and don’t know the little methods they’ve been taught.

    Despite that, a number of people are willing to sign up for my lessons, which range from chatting to homework help.

    I’m having a hard time with all of my students. I want them to become more proficient in English, but I don’t understand how to make them know that just being around a native speaker will not make them fluent. I’ve been tutoring one fourth grader, and every. single. lesson. I start with the same greeting: “Hello, how are you? What is the weather today? What day is today?” I’ve been tutoring her for the past two years and she still can’t or won’t return the greeting. She has English lessons in school everyday, I think. And I know that when I was a kid, studying was the last thing on my mind, but people are paying me and I don’t want to leave them with nothing to show for it.

    I am certain that the majority of students I tutor do not practice anything after I meet with them. Should I just leave it? I can’t punish anyone, especially the adults. I can’t give them a magic pill, either. It took over 10 years of Japanese lessons and living abroad and forcing myself to study Japanese to get to the level I am at now.

    If you are taking a foreign language class once a week for an hour, what kind of progress would you expect if you were not studying outside of class?

    1. LizB*

      I also teach once-a-week language lessons, and with zero outside practice, it’s going to be really, really difficult to make progress. The most helpful thing that I’ve found is in-class repetition — in addition to greeting your student at the beginning of every lesson, spend a lesson rehearsing the greetings and their answers. You greet her, she greets you, back and forth lots and lots of times. Print out some pictures of different moods, different weather, and different days of the week, and practice different greetings by drawing one of each out of a hat. Get her really, really comfortable with the greetings before you move onto anything else, and next lesson, have the pictures you used out on the table to prompt her memory (she can even point to the picture if she can’t remember a word). Maybe that week she’ll remember how to say her mood, but not the weather or day of the week, so spend some extra time reviewing those two sets of vocab, then see what happens the next week. I don’t know if flashcards are a thing in Japan, but can you send people home with flashcards of word/phrases? You can spend some time in each lesson creating the flashcards for the key vocab, and then review it at the beginning of the next lesson.

      One thing to keep in mind is that out of the four ways we use language (listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing), speaking is almost always the hardest. Speaking in a conversation requires you to understand what the other person said, and then to have a good enough grasp of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary to produce a valid response. It takes a lot of confidence to do that on your own. When I was learning Spanish in school, we started out with speaking exercises where we were just reading pre-written dialogues out of the book; then we had lines that were mostly pre-written, with one or two words missing that we had to provide; then we were given most of the words we should use, but had to conjugate the verbs and put everything together in the right order; and finally we reached a point of creating our own sentences from scratch. It sounds like your students need more scaffolding to be confident speaking. If they can read in English, try having a word bank (e.g. list all the possible mood words on a piece of paper) or a sentence starter (e.g. “I am feeling _______”) available when they need to speak. That might help them get started.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t beat yourself (or your students) up too much about this.

      Once a week for an hour is pretty much nothing. I took Spanish about four hours a week for five years when I was in school, and I still was unable to carry on a two-minute+ conversation with a Spanish-speaking person. Later, as an adult, I took a two-hour-a-week Italian class, and it took a long time to be able to answer questions from the instructor or return greetings.

      The real problem is that it’s not immersive, and so nothing is going to feel like a reflex. Everything will have to be thought about and retrieved slowly from the resources of your students’ brains.

      Not your fault. Not your student’s fault. It’s the format/time.

    3. Mephyle*

      I was reminded of your question when I read today’s post in the J-List blog. Peter writes:
      “One of the eternal questions about the Japanese is how everyone can study six years of English in junior high and high school — plus another four if they take it during university — yet generally not be that good at using the language. There are many reasons why this is, for starters the fact that ‘English’ (the grammar and vocabulary) is a subject taught for the purpose of taking tests, while ‘English conversation’ is completely separate, treated as a hobby like flower arranging. The Japanese treat English as if it were an exact science, like mathematics: the answer for ‘How are you?’ is ‘Fine, thanks, and you?’ and no discussion about other ways to answer this question will be permitted. When my son was preparing for a difficult local English test here in Japan, my wife banned me from helping him study because my method of teaching was too ‘natural’ and wasn’t helping him master the specific grammar and vocabulary strategies he needed for the test.”

  68. Elizabeth West*

    Two questions for the day:

    1. Stephen King fans–how do you feel about The Dark Towerfilm? I’m not at all happy with what I’m hearing—though I like Idris Elba a lot, I just don’t see him as even the tiniest bit close to Roland, and I am very afraid they’re just going to make it into a big ball of incomprehensible mush and an action film with gunfights. I think a TV show is the best way to get into the depth of this book series. This film may end up being decent, but it will NOT be The Dark Tower. King himself doesn’t seem bothered, but I’m not sure I even want to see it. >:(

    2. In mental defense against this outrage, I’m re-reading it and my longtime crush on Roland Deschain has been reactivated. Which leads me to another question–ever have a crush / fan attack over a literary character? Who and why? :)

    1. Clever Name*

      I don’t know anything about Stephen King stuff, but as to 2, yes, I’ve had crushes on literary characters before. I absolutely adore Rhodry Maelwedd in Katherene Kerr’s Deverry novels.

    2. Lady Bug*

      How do you make that many books into a movie? Thats an 8 season show. Roland had always been Clint Eastwood in my mind, I’ll accept no other. And Oy will never be as cute on screen as in my head.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        At least! You could get at least one more season out of it if you detoured into The Wind Through the Keyhole. I think they’re planning on mushing some of it together or starting later, which is why I do. not. want.

        King has said he modeled Roland after Eastwood’s Man with No Name, and Michael Whelan’s portrait of him for the final book looks just like that character. But I don’t like that one either because it’s too obviously Eastwood (even down to the outfit). I know exactly what he looks like in my head and I will accept no other! ;)

        Elba is handsome and a decent actor, but he’s too slick. Too action. Too buff. Too smiley even when his face is at rest. Roland is tall, thin, and solemn. Eddie Dean calls him “long, tall, and ugly,” LOL.


    3. MathOwl*

      I don’t know about this movie in particular, but I can definitely relate to the general feeling. I’ve generally preferred books to their movie adaptation even though I know many people who feel the opposite way. There’s something about a book that lets you imagine things in your way that a movie doesn’t really allow!

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I started reading the books a long time ago and never finished for some reason. I think I might need to try it again.

      Speaking about book-to-movie, my husband raved about the Jack Reacher movie. He’s never read the book, and neither have I. He wanted me to watch, so I did. Meh. It didn’t make me care about the characters. I really wish I’d read the book.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have not read those, I confess. I think those are like special forces thrillers, aren’t they? Not sure that’s my bag. I just checked a James Rollins novel out of the library–he follows me on Twitter, so I figure I’d better read some of his books, LOL. (Not sure why he does–I’m not that clever or funny!) I’ll give that a go and then maybe try a Jack Reacher one.

        I do worry about Preston and Child’s Pendergast novels. I’m scared they’re next in the crossfire. You’d have to search long and hard to find exactly the right actor to play Agent Pendergast. The only person I think who could even come close to handling it or looking the part would possibly be Tom Hiddleston (swooon!).

    5. Liane*

      I thought I was the only one who had these. How many of my character crushes would you like me to list for you? (I also have had many TV & movie character crushes.)
      *My first was Lord Faramir, Boromir’s younger brother, starting when I first read the Lord of the Rings in middle school. I still adore him. It was many of the same things that his Ithilien Rangers, the hobbits Frodo and Pippin and Lady Eowyn admired in him–brave, he kept his word, he was a well-read warrior, he loved and admired his dad and brother even though they often dismissed him. My biggest issue with Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations was that some of Faramir’s best scenes from the book didn’t make it into the movie “Return of the King.”
      *I also had a long crush on Richard Bolitho in the Alexander Kent novels about a British naval officer during the American Revolution and Napoleonic eras. One word–Dashing. Crush lasted from his midshipman days until he was an admiral. It ended when he treated his second wife badly, even though as a widower he had pursued her desperately. (I have my standards.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Faramir is so great. And David Wenham played him well, I think. :)

        *wails in torment* If only Peter Jackson were doing The Dark Tower!!!!! He can handle something like this! And his casting is flawless!!

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I know! My cat has one pink pad on one of her paws, all the other ones are black. Just one :)

  69. Brandy*

    Looking for suggestions for an indoor plant for my home office (in new england if it matters). It gets great morning light, but not much beyond that. I’m in there daily so can water it etc.

    Would be open to a big floor based plant or a few smaller desk/bookshelf size ones. I don’t prefer, but could be persuaded to consider a hanging plant. Not sure I want to drill any additional holes..

    1. Older not yet wiser*

      I’m on a sansevieria kick right now. Commonly called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue. I have one big one on the floor (about 4 feet tall) and three smaller ones on a table. They are very easy to take care of – seem to be happy with any amount of sun and go a long time between waterings. If you prefer something leafier look into a fan palm plant. It will want more water and should do well with strong morning light.

  70. Jen*

    Arty types..I have a quote that I’d like to have framed in my new baby’s nursery. I don’t see it anywhere online (eg. etsy or the like). I’d like it in a colored font with some kind of background (not picky, just not plain ‘ol white). Any ideas on where/how I can go about doing this?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Find a vendor on Etsy who’s work you like, then message them to ask about a custom piece. Many esty sellers are more than happy to do commissions.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Another option could be to design it yourself! There’s a web-based program called Canva with which you can do some simple graphic design. They offer templates too, so you can just plug in your text. You could then have the image printed at a Kinkos or similar for pretty cheap and frame it yourself.

      1. Jen*

        Oh! I might try this. It seems like it can’t be too hard but MS Word wasn’t cutting it and I’m pretty unskilled in the graphic design dept. templates are my friend!!

  71. Tomato Frog*

    Ugh, I’m trying to figure out logistics for attending a wedding on some tourist trap island. Can I just say, people who try to make their weddings into vacation opportunities for their guests, and treat that as some kind of benefit they’re providing, are the WORST.

    I don’t care if the location is romantic. I don’t care if it’s the most scenic. I don’t care if there are fun activities to do nearby. I’m there to see you get married. Please just make it as easy as possible for me (and, you know, your elderly relatives) to get to your wedding and to leave it. I’d rather decide myself when and where I take my fun vacations, thank you very much.


    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I get your frustration, and I don’t know what your friend is thinking, but I definitely know of other couples that deliberately make their destination wedding difficult for guests, because they’re trying to make the wedding small and have invited guests self-select out. If I were you, I would just not go unless you’re in the wedding (bridesperson, groomsperson, etc.). If you’re in the wedding, then, yes, your friend is a horrible person for not making it easy or paying for more of your stuff.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        If I wanted to have a destination wedding, I’d just have it without anyone there and then have a HUGE party/reception when I got back. Or just have a wedding and make the destination be my honeymoon. I’ve been invited to three of these in the last five years and could not go to any of them. :(

      2. Tomato Frog*

        Thank you for your sympathy! Yeah, I’ve heard of people doing that, but in this particular case, it’s just that this couple isn’t awesome at thinking things through. And this is a can’t miss wedding for me, even if I wasn’t the entire bridal party.

    2. Rocket Scientist*

      So, don’t go. It’s an invitation; not a subpoena.

      Couples that have destination weddings – or just have guests that have to travel to their hometown – understand that not everyone will be able to go.

        1. Mags*

          Have you mentioned to them that your having difficulty? Maybe they’ll realize they should be paying or at least help with it.

          1. Tomato Frog*

            You’re kind, but fortunately I can manage it (much more easily than the bride and groom could afford to subsidize me, honestly). I’m just irritated that it’s all more complicated and expensive than it needed to be — and all in the name of fun and scenery, which I care about not one whit.

  72. Passover*

    I’m confused by an email I received from a friend – she said Passover will be around 7pm at my place, etc. She copied her family. But – she never invited me as such, or talked to me about it beforehand or anything. On the one hand, I am thankful that she invited me; on the other hand, I feel like a loser because she just assumed I had no invitation or other plans, so of course I would go, like a pity invitation; on the third hand, it will be me and her family and I am not sure i want to be with them, but I don’t know how to decline the invitation since it was not an invitation; and on the fourth hand, maybe I am being my isolating self [yes, I have four hands :) ].

    I am pretty estranged from my family and seeing other more functional families is at times painful and I am not religious so having a Seder per se is not a necessity, and I don’t mind spending holidays alone even though it seems very shocking to others. Anyway, not sure how to read the email and what to do with it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’d have to go with hands number 2 and 4. :) I recognize myself in that.

      I think she probably thought she invited you and just forgot about it. But yeah, 2 and 4.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would bet she either forgot she hadn’t asked you or this was her awkward way of inviting you. If you’d prefer not to go, you can decline– write back and say thanks for the invitation but you have other plans.

      If you think you’ve been isolating yourself and you’d rather not, why not give it a try? The great thing about a Seder is that there’s a set focus for the evening, so the need to make small talk is a bit reduced. But if you think it will be painful, you’re allowed to say no.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Lots of people make awkward gestures. Most of us can sympathize with that on a very personal level. Dwell on the gesture, not the awkward part, just like we hope others will do for us. They probably meant it in the best way, unless your history with this friend gives you good reason to suspect otherwise.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I’d go. I’d hold it in the best light I could find and accept the invite. Go once. If you do not like it/do not have a good visit, then don’t go again.

      Picture your life 15 years from now, what do you want it to look like? The time to start your journey to that life is now.

      I am sorry about your fam. Mine is all gone. At some point we have to decide to let people into our lives and let them include us, sooner is better than later. People will only ask a couple times and then they stop asking. This one won’t stay the same nor last forever. Some day it will be your turn to pay it forward and include someone who is more or less on their own in this world. That is how these things go.

      1. fposte*

        Seconding this so hard. I like being alone most of the time, but I don’t like being alone all the time forever. That means making conscious choices about what pattern I want to make when I choose to associate or not; long-term relationships have to be built over time if you want them to be ready when you need them.

        I also don’t think it was a pity invitation that assumed you’d have nothing else to do, and I think if you don’t want to go it’s fine to say “Thanks for the thought, but I won’t be able to make it.” So I’d put those concerns aside and ask 1) whether I want to go because she would like me there and I might enjoy it and 2) whether this is a friendship I want to nurture.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have people invite me who KNOW I have nothing else to do and there is NO pity involved in the invite. So there is that to consider, too. Maybe they like you. Maybe they think you are fun/interesting. Be careful not to project your family’s habits on to other families. Observe before deciding.

    5. Passover*

      Thank you so much for all your comments, it has really helped look at it from a much healthier place.

    6. Passover*

      Thank you so much for all your comments, they’ve really helped me look at it from a much healthier place.

  73. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

    Just a word of caution to all your internetters out there who might still be reading!

    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I clicked a link on Forbes (the link later turned out to be a bad link…it should have included tumblr in the URL, but didn’t, so it was some random website). The website was (I assume) either hacked or purposely made this way, but as soon as I clicked the link, I got one of those pop ups, the screen (just in the browser) turned blue, and a siren started blaring. I quickly skimmed enough to get the gist, and quickly CTRL+ALT+Deleted my way outta there.

    Turns out, this isn’t an uncommon scam, even though I had never previously heard of it or seen it. I thought they just called you on the phone or sent you an email! You’re supposed to call the 1-800 number they list, and you give them your credit card, etc. I did a hardcore virus scan (even though I downloaded nothing, etc.) as precaution, but fortunately, it appears to merely have been an extreme scare tactic.

    I teach computer basics, and I was still nervous. So, make sure your family members are aware to never call something like that, and if they can’t get out of it, shut down the computer. They purposely make it hard to close out of, and that siren is terrifying. Luckily, I just popped out my headphones while I took care of it, but felt I should share my cautionary tale!!

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I did something like that a few months back! My mistake was typing .com instead of .edu for a site. It actually happened right after I listened to the Radiolab episode about getting extorted by Russian hackers, so I was even more nervous. Like you, I just went crazy scanning for viruses and changed all my passwords.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Isn’t it terrifying? I consider myself to be pretty tech-savvy, but it is scary. They talk plenty about the phone scam, but never about this one!

    2. Development Professional*

      You need to double check all the files in your directory, and make sure all of your saved files are there and accessible (you can open them). That’s actually what some versions of this do – corrupt your saved files. And then they extort you for the “key” to unlock them.

      This is why you should back up your computer regularly, everyone!

  74. Paging Meg*

    Meg – just saw your post in last weekend’s open thread about exercise-induced compartment syndrome. I have it, unfortunately, and would be happy to share any info/anecdotes that could be helpful. Did you have particular questions?

    1. Meg*

      Oh, hello! :) Thanks so much for reaching out, I’m glad I read all the way down to the end of the open thread this morning! I’m so sorry that you have it, it seems like quite the drag. My symptoms match pretty exactly, but my doc wants to wait a little bit before we do the compartment pressure testing, just to be sure. (Is that test as bad as it sounds? I hate needles.)

      How was your experience? Did you have the surgery? My affected compartment is the deep posterior one, which has the lowest rate of successful surgeries, apparently.

      1. Paging Meg*

        Yay, you saw my post here – I was worried it’d be so late you might not see it.
        I did the test, but without needles. My doctor said he could tell by a physical exam (touching my legs after the exercise), and that’d be how he’d diagnose if the needle malfunctioned anyway, so let’s not bother with the needle. I ran around a track until the pain flared up, a little longer until I couldn’t stand it for good measure, came back and the doctor looked at my legs from the doorway and could tell immediately. (He did a more thorough exam, but my legs were swollen enough he knew right away.)
        I did have the surgery, or should I say two surgeries because I had each leg done separately. I know people who have had them both done at the same time, but I felt it would be easier not to be in a wheelchair. I was also able to play through the pain somewhat in my sport (I was a college athlete); if I hadn’t been able to, I would’ve gotten them done at the same time.
        The surgery itself was pretty straightforward – I was discharged the same day with a set of crutches and painkillers. I was allowed to put a little weight on the leg, so the crutches were not nearly as bad as if I was hopping around unable to put any weight on the leg at all. And if I took the painkillers regularly (before I felt pain, as soon as allowed), I had zero problems with pain. I will note that the doctor didn’t warn me that my pain meds caused dizziness as a side effect right after taking them, so I did have a few dizziness spells, but once I figured out the link I timed them so I wasn’t up and about immediately after taking them.
        The only other tricky thing was the shower, but the doctor will give you instructions for that. I was back in class two days after surgery, and able to start rehab around that time (very minor – flexing my toes and icing only for the first week). I would say I needed extra rest for about a week postsurgery, though – I was pretty tired. I was able to start running about 8 weeks after surgery, I think, and sooner after the second one. Unfortunately, the surgery definitely did not fix all the pain for me; I had a really severe case. What it did do was it eased the pain somewhat, so I could tolerate it better and do more. I’m several years out from surgery now and (although I hate running) can run much farther now than I could pre-surgery without much pain. I can never run a marathon or even a half, but I never wanted to anyway – and my body can do a lot of great things regardless. But every prognosis is so individual.
        I feel like I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop there, but if I can answer any other questions or offer any other advice, please feel free to post! It’s such an annoying condition, especially when people don’t take it seriously and think you’re exaggerating the pain (but that’s a rant for another day).

  75. Hlyssande*

    Sundew Valley is consuming my LIFE. I haven’t been this deep into a video game since minecraft first came out or when I was in a hardcore raiding guild in WoW. I think I clocked at least 20 hours over the weekend.

    1. fretnone*

      Oh dear – I sympathize but also glad I am not the only one! Never mind that I am completely ignoring my real-life, bursting-into-growth garden… because I must get my greenhouse repaired now. Instead of going out into real spring and planting real plants.

      (But I secretly love that something can sucker me in so completely – it’s a nice little escape from the world!)

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