weekend free-for-all – June 18-19, 2016

Eve smilingThis 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: Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. I’d been avoiding this because I figured it would just be all about hiking and that sounded dull, but once I realized it’s by the author of the Dear Sugar advice column, I got curious — and it’s great. It’s about family and heartbreak and grief and redemption, and even the hiking parts are pretty magnificent.

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

{ 756 comments… read them below }

  1. Gaia*

    I am so angry at my property managers. Yesterday I came home to a notice on my door that they will be inspecting my apartment for undisclosed reasons between 8am – 6pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Not one of those three days, all three days. They will enter three different times.

    I have a companion dog (not a service dog, but a therapy dog) that is getting older and crating him is incredibly detrimental to his health. I am livid they won’t disclose why they need to enter three different times and won’t accommodate that I cannot crate him for 10 hours three days in a row.

    If I could move, I would, but our rental market is so tight there hasn’t been a single opening in over 3 months.

    1. wet gremlin*

      I’m sorry for you and your poor dog. Is there any language in your lease that restricts the frequency of management’s access to your place? I would think even a term like “reasonable” would give you a leg to stand on in this situation, as their request doesn’t seem to be, given they won’t disclose the reason.

      1. Gaia*

        Unfortunately my lease barely mentions this at all. My state law does give me the right to refuse entry for non-emergency, non-maintenance, non-tree inspection (why? no clue…) and non-notice serving purposes. But if I refuse lawful entry I risk them exercising their right to terminate my lease.

        1. Dan*

          I might be out of my league here, but don’t they have to get a judge to order the lease terminated?

          Further out of my league, if they are vague, could that be construed as harassment?

          1. Gaia*

            They would just need to show I refused lawful entry.

            But yes, it feels very harassmentish. I’m not sure it legally would be, however.

          2. Gaia*

            I actually wondered if part of this is retaliation for a recent push I made when I resigned my lease. They had a “pet” amendment that I refused to sign because my dog is, legally, not a pet and calling him that in a legal document may compromise some of my rights with him. They got really irritated about it but ultimately gave in when I pointed out they should really just have an “animal” amendment.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Have you called them and asked for the reason? I’d be surprised if they flatly refused to tell you if you called (even if they didn’t put it on the notice).

      1. Gaia*

        I went into the office and they told me it was a corporate inspection and flatly refused more details. Mind you, I just had the yearly inspection two months ago and the fire extinguisher inspection three months before that. I’ve lived here a year.

        If it was one inspection I wouldn’t even blink an eye but three inspections over three days with no reason given is insane.

        1. Cookie*

          I had a situation kind of like that a few years ago, similar vague explanations. As it turns out, the company that owned our building went bankrupt and the inspections were from the bank and possible buyers. In the end, it turned out well for us as the new owners finally replaced appliances and made other necessary repairs that the insolvent company was unable or unwilling to make.

          1. Gaia*

            The company is one of the largest in the nation and they actually own the buildings (unlike most places where the management company manages for investors or owners) so it is unlikely dealing with bankruptcy, but there have been murmurings of selling or going over to income controlled rentals. Maybe something is going on there. Who knows? Either way, three different inspections is asinine if my opinion counts for anything.

        2. Christopher Tracy*

          Definitely insane, especially because they’ve already inspected twice and you’ve only been there a year. This is excessive to me.

    3. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      This type of stuff is frustrating, especially when it it is vaguely described as maintenance. We suspected that our apartment people came in more than they announced, because one or two things would be moved on the counter (like mail) or the cat would be spooked. Sadly a lot of leases are vague on what is reasonable.

      1. Gaia*

        I think this is why I’m so irritated. I feel paranoid but I just cannot fathom why they need to come in 3 times over 3 days. That is a ridiculous demand in my mind.

        1. DCtoKC*

          It happened to us when the complex was sold. Lot’s of inspections leading up to the sale.

        2. Kyrielle*

          I will bet it is worse and they are coming in only once but not sure when they’ll get to yours, so huzzah, three days of inconvenience!

          1. Gaia*

            I thought that was the case at first, but they verified it will be three separate inspections. One each day.

      2. Amadeo*

        My landlord did this in one of my old apartments before I had to move back in with the folks. My GSD let him for the first couple of weeks without complaint, then one day she just wouldn’t allow it and he finally had to start calling me if he wanted access to my apartment.

        Frankly I’m lucky he didn’t demand that I get rid of my dog or get out, I suppose, but I was still grateful that my dog finally got as fed up as I did with strange people going in and out and put an end to it.

    4. Not Karen*

      Have they explicitly told you that you need to crate your dog? Last time my landlord did inspections, they put in the letter that they suggested crating pets, but when I called to explain that I couldn’t lock the cats in the closest for the whole day, they said it was fine to leave them out.

      1. Gaia*

        Yes, it is actually in my lease. They have an unfounded but deep fear of my dog because he is large (but sincerely is a lover of all people and worst case scenario would follow them everywhere hoping for treats) and so have demanded he be crated whenever they have to enter, even if I am there. I think it is because they suspect he is Akita (he isn’t) but they’ve had no negative interactions with him, they are just inept.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Would they possibly be willing to compromise and let you shut the dog in a room or put in a baby gate so they could look in the room, but the dog stays in it?

        2. Sas*

          I have a question Gaia and I could be out of line. If so, I apologize, could you possibly not crate the dog, and leave a note on the outside of the door suggesting in no uncertain terms the dog was not in a crate that day, with you signing it and leaving your number to be reached at? You could also mention that the dog’s not dangerous, but they could enter at their own risk.

          1. Gaia*

            Hi Sas,

            That is actually my plan. I asked to speak to the regional manager to arrange a specific time for them to enter. If I don’t hear from her before tomorrow morning, I plan on leaving a note on my door making it clear that the pup isn’t crated and they are welcome to come in or they can call me and arrange a time that I can be there to come in with them.

            1. Artemesia*

              With our cat we were able to lock her in the bathroom where her litter box was when people needed to enter to inspect. But your operation doesn’t sound reasonable — it almost feels like they are trying to push you out. Or could well be pre-sale inspection.

              Being able to put the dog in one room that is off limits (It could be a different one each time, seems like a plan if they are not just in it to harass.)

            2. Boop*

              Can you put the dog in doggy day care or leave it with a friend for those days? It might be a little pricey, but the peace of mind might be worth it. Most doggy day care facilities have an “old timers” room where the dogs can lay around be petted all day.

    5. azvlr*

      In Arizona, tenants have a right to “quiet enjoyement”, which means the landlord cannot simple enter the premises anytime they want, and need to have a legitimate reason. They need to give the reason, and the timing needs to be infrequent enough that it’s not an inconvenience to you.

      After my landlady sent me several lengthy and “urgent” emails demanding an immediate response, and asking to enter the premises several times in the first month, I sent her a certified letter telling her to stop. She became very cranky to deal with, but did back off. At the end of my lease, it came in handy when I had to sue her for my deposit. The judge understood that she had a history of bullying and harassment from day one our interactions.

    6. DoDah*

      I’ve seen this before. In my building, it happens about every other year. The City needs to inspect the premises (usually because of complaints) and the management company wants to “pre-inspect” (run around and fix things that should have been fixed over the year) before the actual city inspection. The property manager (whose full time job is a correction officer–so he treats us like prisoners) gives us less than 8 hours notice that he needs 4 days worth of 12 hours of access to our units. As I work from home this is a real pain in the ass.

      I wouldn’t crate the dog.

  2. Aardvark*

    I’m relocating to my hometown (homecity?) in a couple weeks. I haven’t lived there in a decade and a half, so it’s almost like moving to a brand-new place. Any advice on getting to know a new area? I’ve found a couple meetups and classes that relate to my hobbies and work interests, but I’m not really sure how to understand the spirit of the city and find a neighborhood that’s right for me. Luckily, due to copious family in the region, I’ve got a few months before I need to find a place of my own, so I have a bit of time. Anyone been in a similar situation?

    1. AliceBD*

      Sort-of! I moved to my current city a little over 3 years ago for my current job. I had only visited this city twice (once for an interview in college and once for the in-person interview for this job), and knew one person here, a childhood friend who lived in the opposite side of the metro area from where my workplace is and who was planning to move several states away a few months after I arrived. I’m talking from my experience looking for an apartment, but I think a lot of the same things can be applied to looking for a house.

      I had two weeks in an extended-stay hotel to find a place to live, so my mom came to check out apartments for me because she works for herself and can work from anywhere for short periods of time. The apartment offices were mostly open during my work time, so she helped check out places for me so after work I could just shoot over the best place she’d found that day. You’ll have a longer timeframe, since you can live with family for a few months, so you should be able to do it on your own.

      I asked colleagues for recommendations on places to live. I got lots of recommendations for specific neighborhoods to look in, as well as ones to avoid. They also told me the character of the neighborhoods. My new boss and her husband took me on a two-hour driving tour of the city, so I would know some major landmarks. You shouldn’t have to do that, since you’re familiar with the place. I made a list of characteristics I wanted in an apartment, and knew my budget. I looked for places from tons of apartment listing sites, but my mom actually saw my awesome current complex just on Google Maps; it wasn’t on the apartment sites we’d checked.

      It was helpful to drive around places even when the offices weren’t open. Did the area seem safe? Were the buildings well-maintained? Were they clean or covered in litter? Was there enough parking? Were the parking lots well-lit? This isn’t helpful in a big city where everyone takes public transit, but one thing I looked at were the types of cars in the parking lots. Were they comparable to mine? Or were they in way worse shape or way fancier? I also checked the crime statistics.

    2. Cookie*

      It’s an interesting place to be. When it came time for me to move back to my hometown (away for college and law school, but visited with relative frequency), I used a realtor and she helped me open my eyes to other options that I had never considered. The website, city data, is also great for engaging in discussions about the feel of each neighborhood and helping you determine what would best meet your needs.

    3. Kyrielle*

      Find a local group on FB and join it!

      My local group is full of people complaining about X complex because rents are rising, Y complex because of mold issues that have led to legal action, etc. And also saying that Z complex is awesome, if hard to get into, because see awesome, and that this other place isn’t too bad….

      1. Kyrielle*

        Also occasionally someone complaining about a place because they’re “overzealous” about enforcing the rules and it inconveniences someone who was breaking the rules…which honestly, I might be tempted to move there depending on the rules…. :P

    4. stevenz*

      More times than I wanted to…

      Where there is a large concentration of a certain population, that will determine much of the local culture. To generalise … If it’s a state capital, for example, that will have its unique qualities. Government people tend to be younger, decently paid, and anxious for happy hour. A military town will be very conservative and intolerant. A college town will be very young, wide open, a bit edgy, and lot’s of affordable cafes, restaurants, and arts scene. A declining rust belt city will have it’s attractive pockets but a lot that is pretty depressing. A seaside city may have a large tourist market. (“Touristy” cities are nice places to live because there is usually a lot to do.) Maybe the city you’re going to isn’t any of these, but a nice blend.

      If you have an idea of the kind of neighbourhood you want to live in – leafy and rich, bohemian/alternative, coffee shop/artsy, classic suburbia, decrepit but gentrifying, crime-ridden, etc – you can get some pretty specific suggestions from locals, many of whom will have strong opinions about what the “good” and “bad” neighbourhoods are (though they may be out of touch with current reality). Then go drive around and look at them. And drive around them again, then another time.

      Spend some time in cafes or shops or restaurants close to the neighbourhoods you like. Look at the arts and entertainment listings in the newspaper and online.

      Also think about local travel. Will you have a car? How far do you want to be from work? Do you mind taking a freeway to get there? Do you want public transit? Is there a train system that is efficient for getting to your workplace? So you may want to look at a transit map, or draw a “radius of tolerance” around your workplace and look within that area. That makes your search more manageable. You also have some musts of your own so seek those out.

      Finally, price, and you know what that means.

      Every city offers some good things to do, such as museums, symphonies, parks, theatre, a range of job opportunities, etc.

      1. Library Director*

        Can you define what you mean by, “A military town will be very conservative and intolerant”?
        I’ve never found that to be the case. Because of the diversity of the military and the fact of living in varied cultures, I’ve always found military towns more open. Now there is the exception where the military town isn’t friendly to military personnel even though they are the economic engine of the community.

    5. Artemesia*

      In the city we moved to there is a meetup group that does neighborhood walks and there is also an Architectural Society that does neighborhood walks. Joining those helped us get to know the city and also get to meet new people.

    6. Stephanie*

      Seconding City Data. You can also read Wikitravel just to get a general idea of different neighborhoods.

  3. wet gremlin*

    I finally let go of caring what my family and the people I grew up with would think, and changed my legal name to the one I prefer and which I have been using professionally for over a decade now. I know none of them will ever call me by my name of choice, but the official decree just showed up in the mail and I feel so deliriously light today that I wanted to share. I know it’s bizarre for such a small, really notional thing to be such a weight taken off, but I feel more like myself today than I have in a long time.

      1. JaneB*

        Yay! My cousin changed her name in her 60s, and told me how wonderful it felt (her mother had wanted a boy, gave her a name that was linked etymologically to ‘bitterness’, and told her why regularly) – claiming a name for herself was a huge step for her!

        I hope you really enjoy being properly labelled as who you are inside1

        1. Artemesia*

          I know somone whose younger sister, an accident and unwanted, was named Jinx. I have no words and congrats to your relative who finally made the move even at 60.

    1. StudentPilot*

      I did the same a couple of years ago! My mom always “forgets” but I’ve had no issues with friends. (And I never liked people I knew in school, so when I (rarely) see people from before, the usual refrain is: “OldName! OldName! It’s me, Person! How are you?!?” I just look at them and go, “Sorry, who are you? I’m StudentPilot, not OldName.”

      But the changing of names was….one of the best things to happen to me.

      1. wet gremlin*

        I wish I could do the same. Left to my own devices, I’d never interact with my high school people again, but due to economic hardship I moved home a couple years ago after being gone for over ten years, and reconnected with someone who has since turned out to be an incredible husband! Due to his job, though, I am now stuck in the area, and his life is still very full of people from our past. It has honestly caused me to regress quite a bit in terms of self-confidence and social development, and inflicted a hit on my mental health. He tries his hardest to understand (he really enjoyed his upbringing and would be completely at sea if he left this place) and allows me ample space, though, never questioning too much when I don’t want to accompany him somewhere. He knows I have to be social on my own terms.

    2. First Initial dot Last Name*

      Congratulations! Names are a big deal! Maybe your family will never address you appropriately, but, hey maybe they will if you make assertions to your “new” name.

      I have a set of totally normal names that, it would seem, nobody other than my mother and I can spell correctly. Over time it churned a lot of aggravation in me, I felt disrespected when I’d say it (in context) and it’d be repeated back to me incorrectly, either deliberately or inadvertently. It made me realize how much power our names have for us. I changed the spelling my first name back in the 90s and changed my middle and last names when I got unmarried in the early aughts. My mom was irritated for a while, stating that I didn’t respect her choices by keeping a single name she’d given me, but she’s come around. She now addresses me as First Initial and introduces herself as First Initial’s Mom!

      1. wet gremlin*

        I’m glad your mom came around! It must have been hard growing up and feeling powerless against that kind of disrespect. It is true that names have a lot of power. Unfortunately, by the time we’re legally able to change them, they’ve acquired a lot of inertia. I’m fairly sure that if I ask the people who knew me as OldName to call me “wet gremlin”, it will never happen…but, if I just make the change known and then keep my mouth shut, they’ll eventually get bored of their need to keep my “in my place” and roll with it.

        Side note: I am expecting my mother to have the same exact reaction as yours, regarding the supposed disrespect. She is an epic grudge holder, so I am certain I will hear about it from her very deathbed.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My daughter had started going by a nickname that is a diminutive of her middle name. I always disliked the name that she is going by because I’ve heard so many anecdotes, from other people who go by the formal name, of people presuming, uninvited, to call them by the diminutive. So the diminutive has lived in my mind as something that no one actually wants to be called. It’s Lizzy for Elizabeth. So after my daughter started going by Lizzy, I had to remind myself that she doesn’t see it with the baggage that I do (did). I also thought of Lizzy Bennett and made myself realize that it is a perfectly good name that I had developed an illogical aversion to. I call her “Lizzy” in public and to others where she is known by that name. At home and in private, I still call her by her given name, which she says I can do.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I forgot to add the reason she wanted to change her name. She says it is because too many other girls in her grade, especially girls in the “popular crowd” had the same name. She said that people were always jovially calling out her name, and it was disheartening to always be realizing that that warmth and conviviality were not meant for her.

    3. Rafe*

      It’s not small! I’ve been thinking of changing my middle name for years. Part of it is because I had a different middle name at birth — and when I was adopted by my adoptive father, they changed it because my mother didn’t like that my biological father had picked it. So I’ve never had control over my own fricken name, but other people have had no problem changing it at will. I’m sure I shouldn’t be so … bitter and probably need therapy. ;) But no, I say it’s not a small thing at all.

  4. Ayla K*

    I like showering in the morning, but with my schedule, I’m going to have to start exercising at night. Any tips on how I can keep my sheets from getting gross? I’m not switching to night showers.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, this is what I’ve ended up doing. I do a proper shower in the morning, exercise in the evening, wait for the sweat to dry, and then do a quick shower afterwards just to get the dry sweat off.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have skin far too dry to do lots of showers. What works for me (I hope) is that I do a really complete PTA bath at the sink before bed — so neck, pits, tits, and crotch are washed with soap and water but I don’t have to immerse the rest of my skin which doesn’t do well with that much washing.

    1. wet gremlin*

      Depending on how greasy/smelly you get, a full-body scrubdown with warm, wet washcloth (with maybe some tea tree oil or another antiseptic) might work for you until the morning. But if your scalp/hair gets gross when you work out, make sure you’re changing your pillowcase a lot more often.

      1. Ayla K*

        I change my pillowcase every 4 or 5 nights already at the suggestion of my dermatologist – would you say I should do more often than that, or does that seem reasonable?

        1. wet gremlin*

          That seems reasonable! The only reason I mentioned it is that most people go longer before changing theirs.

          1. Ayla K*

            That’s true. In college I’d go 2 weeks or more before changing it and then get confused about why my hair and face felt so icky.

          2. Artemesia*

            I throw the pillow cases in when I do a load of wash (a couple of times a week) and let the sheets go longer. Same with wash clothes, they always go in every load of wash.

    2. Knitchic*

      How about those wipes they make for folks who are traveling/recovering from surgery or otherwise can’t shower. I would use them on days I worked out a little too hard before work and didn’t have time to shower. You should be able to find them at any pharmacy. Wrap your head in a bandana and I’ll bet you’ll be good to go.

        1. Knitchic*

          The brand I used way back when I haven’t found in a while, but Nathan sports makes some good ones. If you go on their website you can plug in your zip and they’ll tell you where you can buy them.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Those will work but I get similar results with baby wipes and they’re majorly cheaper.

        Just don’t buy “baby powder scented “ones, because urgh.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Ha! Yeah, I use unscented baby wipes when our walking meetings get vigorous or I need to meet someone or go somewhere right after a workout and I don’t have time to shower. I like the seventh generation unscented ones, but generic unscented ones work fine too.

        2. Artemesia*

          I think baby wipes are the same as the adult ones and the adult ones cost as much as 3 times more; they make them unscented. They do however not do anywhere near as good a job as soap and water which you can use without needing to do a bath or shower.

    3. Brooke*

      A quick wipedown (baby wipe?) would probably help with the sheets – you’d probably feel nice and fresh as well!

    4. Nella*

      Just shower at night. The wipes just move the bacteria and sweat around. You don’t have to use soap. Just use a wash cloth/ luffa or something similar to scrub.

      1. Ayla K*

        The issue is my hair. No matter what I do, if I wash my hair at night, it looks a damn mess in the morning. I need to be able to wash it in the morning, and it’s not an option for me to wash my hair without taking a shower. I’m not taking one shower at night and another one in the morning, so night showers are just not an option for me.

        1. Stephanie*

          Can you braid your hair while wet and sleep with it that way? I’ve done that if I wash my hair at night.

        2. LizB*

          If I have to exercise in the evening, I hop in the shower afterwards but don’t shampoo my (curly, must be washed in the AM to be presentable) hair; I’ll either just use conditioner, do an apple cider vinegar spray + conditioner, or just get it wet and comb it through. Then I shower the next morning like normal so my hair will behave.

        3. Random Citizen*

          Could you clip your hair up in the shower and just wash your body? I’ve done that before when my hair is already clean/don’t want it wet, but it feels a lot fresher for me than using wipes or a washcloth.

          1. teclatrans*

            This is what I do. The hairs at the nape of my neck get wet, which doesn’t bother me, and I pull out a shower cap to out atop that if I need to stay dry.

          2. Windchime*

            I do this all the time. I shower daily, but don’t need to shampoo or even wet my hair that often. I just put it up on top of my head and pin up my bangs, then shower.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        As someone who’s used wet wipes while camping in low water situations, I assure you they do more than just move bacteria and sweat around.

        But assuming you’ll be at your house before bed, why not just wash up at the sink with a washcloth? No danger of your hair getting wet and no weird scents from the wipes.

    5. GreenTeaPot*

      Baby wipes, warm washcloth and body spray were a lifesaver for me before I worked at home.

    6. AliceBD*

      I also have to shower in the morning for the same hair reasons. What works best for me is putting a shower cap on (I got a 8 or 10 pack from the dollar store for $1 and I can use a cheap one for months before it rips) and getting in the shower and rinsing off. It’s easier and faster for me than using wipes or a washcloth. Not sure if it would work with your hair, though.

      1. Ayla K*

        I think that would technically work with my hair, but then I’d still have to take another shower in the morning to wash my hair, and it just seems strange to take two “back-to-back” showers..

        1. TL -*

          Generally my after workout shower would be a lot shorter than my real one. Unless I got super dirty, I wouldn’t be concerned with scrubbing everywhere clean, just the stinky bits. I do a full scrub, hair, and shaving during the “real” shower.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          Take a “bird bath,” as my mom would call it. Use a soapy washcloth to wipe down, rinse it, and then wipe the soap off your skin. No need to wash your hair or get in the shower.

      2. TL -*

        Yeah I would suggest this. I can just put my hair up in a bun and keep it reasonably dry for a quick shower but a shower cap can be helpful.
        Just a 5 minute, quick soap scrub shower is all I do after a workout if it’s at a weird time.

      3. fposte*

        That’s what I’m thinking. Showering feels like a huge chore to me too, so I understand the resistance to doing it twice, but the workarounds are more trouble than 30 seconds under the water with hair in a cap or double-ponied in a band. You’re not going for purity; you’re just knocking the big chunks off until tomorrow :-).

        1. Ayla K*

          The big chore for me is that after drying off, I HAVE to lotion my entire body because my skin is so dry. I don’t mind showering twice, it’s the post-shower requirements that give me pause.

          But I guess twice the lotion isn’t gonna kill me.

          1. MK2000*

            Maybe try a body oil spray? I find that I actually use a spray, whereas I’m too lazy to lotion. :)

          2. Mander*

            What about using an oil after your shower instead of lotion? I’ve got fairly dry skin that I usually neglect, but recently I’ve started rubbing a bit of body oil (some kind of peach kernel derived stuff I got at Primark for £2) all over before I dry myself off. The effects actually seem to last for a few days before I start to feel dry again, although my towels all now smell like the body oil!

            1. teclatrans*

              I love to use oil while my skin is still wet — it made a world and difference for my dry, bumpy skin. (Thanks J&J Baby Oil for suggesting it in an advert ~30 years ago!)

          3. Noah*

            I use an in shower lotion. You put it on in the shower, wait a few seconds and then rinse it off. Way easier than lotion.

            I generally shower twice a day. Long one in the morning and a quick one before bed. I generally workout in the evening and run in the morning. So, two showers works for me, but the one at night is less than five minutes. I rinse my hair, wash my face, wash my body, and then use the in shower lotion.

            1. Buggy Crispino*

              I’ve often wondered about the in shower lotions that you rinse off. Do they leave the floor of the shower slippery and/or with a residue that means the shower has to be cleaned more often?

          4. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            Try Dove Nutrium shower wash. It works very well on dry skin — it might help with the amount of lotion you need.

    7. ginger ale for all*

      When I had late night workouts, a warm bath was a treat. They have bath salts in ‘sport’ versions at the grocery store that supposedly soothe tired muscles but I preferred lavender because it lulled me to sleep a bit.

    8. LiteralGirl*

      My daughter has curly hair and when she showers at night she wears a silk cap I got her on Amazon for under $20. It actually looks better if she showers at night than the morning because of that.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m going to try it, too. My hair is color-treated and also naturally dry, so I’m trying to figure out how to eliminate heat styling and still look good. My hair is a little coarse, so unless I use a leave-in conditioner or a ton of some other product, it *sticks*down rather than *hangs* down. Sometimes, if I moisturize it enough and the planets align, I can wake up with a nice wave or soft, loose curls if I go to bed with it a little wet.

    9. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I usually work out in the evening but my hair doesn’t look right if I wash it at night, it needs to be washed and styled the next day. So I shower and soap up my body at night. I wear a shower cap to keep my hair dry unless it got really sweaty in which case I rinse it really good but don’t shampoo it. Then in the morning, I just wash my hair, not my body.

  5. Gene*

    A great weekend for racing! 24 Hours of Le Mans, European Grand Prix at a new street course in Baku, Azerbaijan, and NHRA at Thunder Valley. And some NASCAR race somewhere.

    It could only be better if I were at one of them. But I’m working on my SCCA National Flagging and Communication license so i can work the USGP in Austin next year.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, too bad the American coverage of Le Mans is so terrible. Live streams from the inside of a corvette doesn’t tell me much about the race.

      So how did you get into flagging?

      1. Gene*

        I raced a Formula 500 for a couple of seasons. After a crash (suspension failure, no real injury) that put the car out of commission for the rest of the season, I figured I’d crew for someone and put out a call for anyone who needed a body. The Flag Chief asked if I’d flag and I tried it.

        I discovered I got to spend time with the people and enjoy more of the racing without the costs and stress of owning a racecar. So I got the car running again, sold it, and haven’t looked back.

        If you are interested, find your local SCCA region online, contact the Flag Chief, and say you’d like to try it. We always need bodies. Some organizations will cover part of your cost for travel and hotel, you’ll get lunch and likely dinner, and see the racing from closer than you can get anywhere short of driving. But mostly, it’s the people.

  6. Elle*

    In the car two days straight from Florida to Ohio with a splitting headache. Feel like crying. That is all.

    1. Ayla K*

      Ooh yikes I’m so sorry. Are you doing all the driving? If you can trade off with someone, I’d say stick an eye mask on. I get really bad light sensitivity sometimes and it makes a world of difference between just having my eyes closed and actually blocking the light.

      If you feel like crying, I’d say go for it; I usually feel way better after a good cry, and sometimes it ends up being a quick one. Just make sure to rehydrate either way.

      1. Elle*

        Not driving at all, but my husband is a chronic tailgater and speeder so there’s a lot of quick stops going on which isn’t helping the headache situation much. Have my sunglasses on, maybe I’ll put something else over my head to block out more light.

        1. Ayla K*

          Ooh, I often have to close my eyes when my boyfriend is driving; I told him that watching takes years off my life. Can you tell him to try to drive smoother since you’re not feeling well? If that doesn’t work, then yes, a towel or spare t-shirt over the eyes should help a bit.

            1. Nina*

              Glad to hear it! I don’t get migraines, but the jerkiness of bumper-to-bumper traffic is one of the few reasons I would actually get carsick. I would have asked him to ease up on the throttle, too.

        2. Gene*

          “Honey, I don’t feel well. Could you please drive more smoothly?”

          Then when he doesn’t, barf on him.

          1. nep*

            (Saw a sticker in a car’s rear window the other day that read: ‘Sorry for driving sooooo close in front of you’. If I were one to put stickers on my car, I’d put that one.)

          2. ginger ale for all*

            Another +1 and perhaps see if you can keep a barf bag handy. He might go slower if there is a visible reminder that you are under the weather.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I just say that out loud. “If we don’t slow down a bit, I am going to end up puking.”

            If someone wants to be a bad driver they can do it on their own time, not mine.

    2. Aardvark*

      Have some internet sympathy!
      Sometimes road crying is more cathartic than regular crying, I don’t know why.

    3. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      I feel you. I drove from Michigan to Florida and had a blinding migraine strike somewhere around Tennessee. I was hallucinating all sorts of smells in the car, thankfully the aura didn’t hit until I realized what was coming. Excedrin migraine saved my tail, but if you don’t have any you can do a “home” version with Tylenol and any caffeinated beverage. The caffeine helps the Tylenol work faster just like in the pills.

  7. The Other Dawn*

    Today I went to the garden center and while I was looking at the annuals–25 cents per 6 pack!!–, a woman commented on the price and how amazing it was. I commented that the price was right for me, since I’m a plant killer. As I went around the other side of the shelf, I heard her son ask if I was pregnant. I was mortified! She just said no and then walked away. Didn’t say another word. No apology, nothing. Didn’t tell her son he shouldn’t ask that or comment on someone’s body.

    Some people might think, “It’s a kid and kids will be kids.” But this wasn’t a 3 year old, which I could kind of deal with. This was an older kid, maybe 10 or so. At the least, I think the mom should have apologized on the kid’s behalf. Or told him everyone’s body is different. Something.

    Another reason why this was such a big deal to me is that I had weight loss surgery 2 1/2 years ago. I’ve lost about 130 pounds and I’m about 30 pounds away from my goal. That comment just took me right back to 343 pounds, when people asked me all the time if I was pregnant. Even as young as 14, people asked me that question. UGH! It was so depressing today to feel that way again.

    1. wet gremlin*

      What a miserable thing to go through. I can only hope that the woman is going to correct her son later, in private, but it really should have been done on the spot, with an apology. Congratulations on all your hard work; I hope this incident doesn’t squat in your brain for much longer.

    2. Nicole*

      I’m really sorry that happened to you and brought back bad memories. Keep in mind it’s quite possible she was so embarrassed she didn’t know what to do in the moment and will have a more meaningful conversation with her child once they get home.

      1. Jean*

        Give yourself credit for working so hard to reach a healthier place in life. Maybe someday so many people will know about weight loss surgery that everyone will automatically include it on the list of Reasons Why You Never, Ever, Ask a Woman If She’s Pregnant.

        Less possible but worth considering:
        – the child is developmentally delayed (thus might interact socially at an age younger than “expected” as per the child’s physical experience)?
        – the mom & child have recently been discussing pregnancy as a happy option, as in someone they know is going to have a baby?*

        *Once, when newly and ecstatically pregnant, I asked this awful question of another woman (total stranger) in the grocery store. When she said no, I explained I meant it as “are you also having this joyful experience?” I have always hoped that she understood and didn’t feel bad about it later, in private.

    3. Elle*

      That’s crappy. Please don’t let that cloud all you’ve accomplished!! What you did isn’t easy, and fwiw I am proud of you!

    4. Jean*

      Oh, how lousy. +1 to wet gremlin’s hope that your brain soon eradicates any memory of this.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, my parents would have given a brief answer in public and then when we got to the car I would get an earful. “If you EVER say that in public again, we are going straight home, you will go to your room, do you understand?!…” and on and on.

      She may have wanted to speak to her kid but did not want to make a bad situation worse by speaking to him in public. My mother would have been so busy feeling humiliated by me that she never would have thought to apologize. Just fwiw.

      I am sorry this happened. It sucks. You are doing so good.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My parents would have been the same: to embarrassed by my words to say anything to the other person. They probably would also have wanted to avoid prolonging the other person’s embarrassment and involvement, so I imagine they’d whisk me out of there pretty quickly, and then I’d be In For It.

    6. Mela*

      It sucks that Mom didn’t handle it properly in the moment. But if this makes you feel any better, it’s that time of year, and he’s the right age–he probably *just* learned about pregnancy in school (usually around 5th grade). He might be so anxious to see a pregnant lady (because now he KNOWS what’s going on and it’s exciting to finally be in the know) that he’s asking the same question of every woman he sees that isn’t a size 2.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I’m feeling a little more charitable today, and I realize mom was likely embarrassed (at least I hope so!). Just sucks that I got a comment like that after all that weight loss. Well, I’ll let that fuel my desire to get in shape and eventually have skin removal! It’s so hard to get myself to exercise on the days I don’t see the trainer, but so far so good.

      1. Observer*

        You’ve done some amazing work and you really deserve to pat yourself on the back. Letting this be fuel for further improvement is so much better for you that stewing, and I give you lots of credit for making that choice.

    8. Rafe*

      The Other Dawn, I’m so sorry this happened. Please be proud of yourself and gentle on yourself. I’ve recently lost weight — just on the start of the journey — and was buying the first new smaller-sized clothes, but am about 1 size still above what’s in 99 percent of non-plus-sized stores, and it almost sent me straight to the food court for junk food comfort eating. Somehow I held out, though in the moment it felt like all my efforts were for naught. Take it one day at a time. You’ve accomplished a great deal already, and I’m sure there are a lot of us rooting for you!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m in the same boat. Total hit or miss as to whether I can wear an XL or a 1X (I never knew those were two different sizes until a couple years ago!). It’s really annoying. I hate that I still have to go to stores that have both Women’s and Misses. But we’ll both get there eventually! Congrats and good luck!

    9. Observer*

      Actually, I think the mom made the right call here. The kid was indeed rude, and I would hope his mother will have some conversation with him about this.

      But, a big conversation in the moment tends to be counter-productive for a number of reasons. Would you REALLY have wanted to hear a conversation in which the subject of your weight was further discussed? I wouldn’t. (I’m noticeably overweight, and have had pregnancy comments directed my way.) The reality is that had the mother tried to have any conversation about this, your weight would almost certainly have been part of the discussion, no matter how skillfully the mom would handle it. And, if the mother wasn’t sure whether you heard, saying anything to you would be a bad move. Think about it – if you hadn’t heard and she approached you to apologize you would have been mortified.

      Don’t get me wrong. It stinks, and the kid should definitely NOT have done that. But, you have no idea what the mom did when she got home. I certainly hope that she did do some clear explaining to him at that point.

    10. Artemesia*

      People don’t always do the right thing on the spot. She may well have talked to him privately but felt embarrassed to do it right there. Of course she should have apologized to you but she was probably mortified — at least I hope so.

      I am trying to teach my granddaughter not to make personal comments. She is not likely to make the kind of crack this kid made about you, but she still comments to me. I was on the bus and a woman across from us had a sort of 30s flapper haircut, was wearing silver tights and was quite made up — 40ish. My grandchild was whispering to me ‘do you think she is a movie star?’ Of course the woman could see the kid looking at her and talking about her and was obviously embarrassed and moved to the back of the bus. When we got off I made a point of exiting back there and as I got off I turned to her and said ‘She thinks you look like a movie star.’ The woman grinned and was obviously pleased; I think she had thought we were saying ugly things about her. Child and I had a talk about how that sort of thing makes people feel.

      Sorry you had to experience this. No one likes to be embarrassed like this in public.

    1. GreenTeaPot*

      Best: our construction project is done, our garden is in, and a work project is finished.

      Worst: more projects to go, and I’d rather be outdoors in the garden, or working out in summer.

        1. fposte*

          Maybe we should do a gardening subthread? I’d love to talk plantings. I’m revising my landscaping by filling in trouble spots with plants that seem to like it a lot here, so Siberian iris and catmint are the big plantees this year. Put in some more poppies, put in a bunch of salvia azurea that’s making me nervous because it still hasn’t broken dormancy; put in hostas in shady areas where bulb foliage complicates the situation.

          I also got a few dupes of clematis I already have but am growing on the fence that only the neighbors can see now. Fortunately, I like those neighbors, but I still would like to see my flowers.

    2. Elle*

      Best: getting to sleep in my own bed tonight, seeing my son and pets after a week away.

      Worst: being in Orlando this week. So much sadness and pain.

    3. Anonyby*

      Best: Saw opening night for a show friends of mine are in, and I volunteered a cake for the after-show party! :D I was thrilled with how the cake turned out and the show was very good (Dracula). They’d had a malfunction with one of the set pieces the night before, but it went off without a hitch last night.

      Worst: Just feeling very tired and blaaaah, especially at work. Things are still unclear to me as to what my role is/has become. We have a new person starting next week and so hopefully once he starts things will settle down…but I’m afraid that I still won’t have the hours/benefits I need.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      Best: I went to a great cricket match last night. It was the big London derby and exciting with a nail-biting finish – and my team won right at the end.

      No real worst except it has been rainy and chilly again.

    5. Caledonia*

      Best: I had an interview. I have another interview for a different job on Monday. Fingers crossed.

      Worst: The damp shadow that has been putting people off buying my flat (it will cost a few thousand to fix – I’m hoping that’s an expensive quote) has gotten worse due to the constant rain. I feel like giving up. (I can’t afford to fix it, I have no money). I’m tired of being poor. I’m tired of job searching. I am just tired of it all.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Good luck!! Yes this weather has been horrendous for homes prone to damp spots. I hope you have some good luck soon.

    6. Gene*

      Best – the crushed hand is mostly healed and I was able to make progress on the costume. Ask the major pieces together and ready to assemble as soon as I sew some trim to the top and finish the embroidery on the collar.

      Worst – one of the props arrived from China, and the assembly instructions are in Chinese.

    7. Mimmy*

      Best: Nice weather and the possibility of reconnecting with a good friend.

      Worst: A council that I’ve been on for two years is becoming a sinking ship because we can’t get members’ appointments renewed (keeping specifics about the nature of our work vague to avoid revealing anything potentially identifiable). Some have been waiting almost two years! We can have up to 17 voting members – we are down to four officially but only TWO who will be active this summer (one is ill, the other has been MIA for a year).

    8. mondegreen*

      Best: found a nail salon that works for me. The manicure lasts all week, the base coat they use doesn’t damage my nails, and it’s an affordable ($13 with tip) way to look pretty. I’ve been going for a month and am getting to know the regulars.

      Worst: my phone wouldn’t turn on for three days this week, and now the battery is draining much faster than normal. I probably can’t put off a repair for much longer.

      1. NYCRedhead*

        So jealous of your manicure place (is it in NYC?) as I was just thinking last night that I have to make peace with never finding the perfect manicure place.

        1. mondegreen*

          Yes, it is! Idea Nail on the UES (near 2nd and 61st). It’s a fairly small storefront with some loyal customers and what seems like plenty of space in the schedule for drop-ins.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      BEST: I got to take a couple days of PTO that I was going to lose if I didn’t take them by Sunday. I’ll still lose some at year end, but now not as much. Next FY I’m taking ALL OF IT.

      WORST: Dealing with these stupid stray cats. And this house. I’m ready to torch it and run.

    10. New Reader*

      Best: I think I finally have water again at home

      Worst: What I anticipate the bills are going to be from the well company and plumber to fix the well so I can have water. (But having water will be well worth it!)

    11. danr*

      BEST: I’ve mentioned before that we have a new deck and new deck furniture. We’re now eating our dinner on the deck when the weather is good. It’s amazing how calming this is.
      no worst.

    12. ginger ale for all*

      Best – My dad loved his present.
      Second Best – I won five contests this week.
      Worst – more drama with a co-worker. I am going to try to not vent about it at work and try to just move on but sigh . . .

    13. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      Best: I got into trouble at Target and found tension curtain rods (absolutely no drilling in walls per lease) and blackout curtains on sale. So I installed blackout curtains for both windows in my apartment last weekend and have been enjoying the cool darkness ever since. I’m sleeping better, the cat is calmer (?) and movies and games have nil screen glare 24/7! Plus, rooms are magically 10x classier than they were!

      Worst: Bad combo of a busy week and being down 1/3 of the team means we were behind all week, so I’m not looking forward to the crapshow that will be Monday because we just couldn’t get to everything. I’ll be going on call though, so I’m sure I’ll end up with OT either way. Gotta pay for those curtains I splurged on!

    14. Overeducated*

      Best: found an apartment in new city! It was unlisted and a really good deal so a friend in the area checked it out and we jumped and put down a deposit within 36 hours of finding out about it. I have never ev3n been to the neighborhood but have been getting advice and doing tons of online research so my fingers are crossed that it was a good choicr. Most importantly, we can focus our 3-4 day visit next week on visiting potential day cares. Less importantly, now that I am done job searching and apartment searching, I get my Netflix/reading time back!

      Worst: just trying to figure out the logistics of a long distance move. I am really nervous about finding a day care nearby, waiting lists are 6+ months but we are moving in 2.

    15. The Avocado*

      Best: Being told by my child that I am the best mama ever :)
      Worst: The MP being murdered by a far right terrorist. My cat getting ill and taking out all of our savings in one out of hours appointment…on a seriously financially difficult month, I did not need that.

    16. LizB*

      Best: It’s been a good week, I’m having a hard time choosing! My boyfriend’s awesome family is visiting for a week starting tomorrow — not staying at our place, so we just have the fun of having them here without the hassle of houseguests. I went for a run this morning and managed to run longer than I have in any previous longish-distance runs. I made a seriously amazing recipe for slow cooker french dip sandwiches this week. I’m re-reading the Watch books from the Discworld series and they’re wonderful. I get to play D&D with my online group tomorrow. All good things!

      Worst: I can feel myself getting increasingly antsy about marriage & babies. It’s getting really bad. One more set of friends are engaged, one more co-worker had an adorable baby, and it’s all getting to be too much. I keep having to bite back hints and stop myself from talking incessantly about weddings. I never thought of myself as one of those stereotypical sitcom women who nags their SO into moving faster, but the impatience is real. It’s taking a lot of self control not to get obnoxious about it. (I do plan on initiating a serious conversation about it soon, but right now boyfriend’s work situation is kind of shaky, so I want to wait until he’s less stressed about that.)

    17. Sam E.*

      Best – I made a few killer pies with fresh rhubarb from the garden. Took one into work for a potluck and everyone loved it! Lots of leftover produce and pastry for whenever. Having the time to enjoy the beautiful weather with Mr. Sam E. We bought patio furniture a few weekends ago and love sitting out with the nice breeze!

      Worst – Hot weather warning is making both of us very sleepy.

    18. QualityControlFreak*

      Worst: It’s been a rough week. Death and loss, both as a nation and personally. Orlando. And my family lost a beloved uncle who died very suddenly.

      Best: Kiddo graduated with honors, distinguished scholar. Family is well and strong and whole. And as we grieve the horror and loss of Orlando, we also see pictures of cops visiting survivors, and huge numbers of people gathered at funerals to shield grieving families from hate groups. The most important message I’m hearing is “Love Conquers Hate.” Maybe there’s hope for the human race.

    19. Florida*

      Worst: This week in Orlando
      Best: The people of Orlando
      The community has come together like you cannot imagine. On Sunday when the blood bank said they needed certain types of blood, people waited in line for 10 hours to give blood.
      It’s hard to tell because there are several groups raising money, but as best as I can tell, people have donated more than $10 million to support the victims and their families.
      Today, 4 protesters from a hate group out of Kansas came to Orlando to protest two funerals. They were met by 1500 counter protesters! The four protesters left with their tails between their legs.
      Almost every large building downtown has a huge rainbow flag, an Orlando United banner, or some other display of their support. The city is like one big rainbow fest. Even Chick-Fil-A opened on Sunday to serve food to the police, FBI, media, and others at the scene.
      This week was completely surreal, but I don’t think anyone could have asked for a better response from a community.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        Thank you for writing about the good things in Orlando. It helps to know about it.

    20. Kyrielle*

      Best: I finally found the cause of the bug I was trying to fix at work and fixed it! (I have been wrestling that beastie for a _week_.)

      Worst: IBS flare or food poisoning on Wednesday. (Probably an IBS flare, but the refrigerator that wasn’t working properly at work – that we found out about Thursday – made it at least a tiny bit questionable.)

    21. Persephone Mulberry*

      Best: Tomorrow we leave for our mostly-annual family trip to the North Shore.

      Worst: My phone up and died Thursday morning. It was still under warranty and there was an outside chance the replacement might get here today, but it didn’t, so now I will be phoneless until we get back from vacation. I’ll have my tablet so I’m not completely cut off, but I admit that my phone has basically become an extension of my arm, and I feel more than a little lost without it.

    22. Kali*

      Can I have two bests? 1: Finished up an amazing vacation in Juneau with a helicopter ride over (and landing on) an icefield. 2: Quit my job! To work for myself!

      Worst: I was a nervous wreck for two days because my boss didn’t have time to meet with me so I could quit on the day I planned, so I had to do it the next day. I’m an incredibly anxious person, so two full days of stress (heart pounding, hands shaking, etc.) took its toll on my body.

    23. Christopher Tracy*

      Best: My natural hair was straightened last weekend and stayed straight (though with lots of volume – my hair is thick) through the heat and humidity this week when other people predicted it would revert back to its coiled state. And the style I had it in made people either say I looked like an old Hollywood movie star or Jackie Kennedy (the latter was the result of my hairstyle and dresses), so I’m more confident wearing it out now once it cools.

      Worst: I got my hair done again today and I’m not feeling the style. Even after having my hairdresser change it nearly three times, I’m still just “meh” about it. It’s my least favorite braid style I’ve done by far. I don’t feel as pretty as I normally do and that makes me sad :(

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Hair woes that make you feel less pretty are such a bummer. I’m going through that right now with my hair being dry and fuzzing up in the summer humidity. I hope you (and ne, too!) find a style that makes you feel your groove is back!

    24. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: after last week’s thread about using the StyleBook app to organize the wardrobe, I decided to make a capsule wardrobe for June/July/August and document it with the app. It is only on iPhone, though, so I had to search for a similar Android app. I ended up going with Stylicious, and I already have more than half of my wardrobe photographed and categorized. I made three style boards if outfits that I’ve already successfully worn this week, and I’ll continue to document the outfit combos that I like (criteria: look good, feel comfortable). Also, organizing a capsule wardrobe inspired me to go to Lowe’s and buy a modular closet organization system, so I’m super-organized now!

      Worst: Ants in my house. I’ll be glad when this rain goes away so they’ll quit coming in. They always show up in wet weather and go away when it gets hot and dry.

    25. Fish Microwaer*

      Worst – haven’t heard back from the job interview from 2 weeks ago.

      Best – went to an exhibition where my friend was exhibiting.

    26. Elkay*

      Best: Climbed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks this weekend (2 one day 1 the next). This is a HUGE achievement for me as I’m a slow walker and from a really flat area and hills are tough when you’re not used to them.

      Worst: Achy feet, calves, hips, back.

    27. Lindsay J*

      BEST: I finally saw a psychiatrist a couple weeks ago. (Made an appointment at the end of March and June was the soonest he could get me in.) I’ve been on meds prescribed by my GP for awhile, but wanted some tweaking on them since I hadn’t been 100%, and also wanted to seek treatment for my ADHD since I’ve been unmedicated for that since high school.

      Well, he switched one of my medications (gave me Zoloft instead of Paxil) and the difference is amazing. I not only feel motivated, I actually have willpower again. I’ve stopped mindlessly eating and have been able to stick to a 1250 calorie diet, and I haven’t compulsively spent my entire paycheck like I had been doing. And I’ve been able to start a small exercise program. It does make me a little more tired than the Paxil did, but I can live with it.

      WORST: Realized I forgot to call/go to municipal court I had been subpoenaed to go to after being in a traffic accident in March. For some reason I thought the date was the week of the 20th, but it was really the 10th. Right now I’m hoping the driver of the accident just decided to plead guilty prior to the case, pay the ticket, and forget about the whole thing. Otherwise, the subpoena was unsigned and not delivered via any type of traceable method (just regular mail) so maybe I have something there? Going to call the court Monday to find out the status of the case/what I need to do.

      1. Liane*

        WORST (by far): Orlando shootings. Dear Friend told me that close relative to had almost gone to that club that night on vacation, but his partner was sick. Our city had the decorative lights on its bridges in rainbow colors and our church which had many prayers.
        WORST (2nd): Issues with AC. Fixed and cost a few hundred (instead of close to a thousand), but a couple other bills will get paid late.
        BEST: Had a great Skype roleplaying session Friday night, run by (same) Dear Friend. I got to play sort of a female Indiana Jones–really fun! And one of the other players ended the session by having his character bring a rose & wine to her hotel room. (I adore PG-rated romance in RPGs.) Extra special because one of our regulars is heading out next week on a mission trip and won’t be playing for several months. However, the group had agreed to let my son take his spot as we won’t be doing the same campaigns and will be trying some other games. So I will get a chance to game with him.

    28. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Best: Bought a house on our house-hunting trip! We are allotted only six days to cover everything–looking at houses, making an offer, handling home inspection, etc., and we arrived Saturday around noonish and had an accepted offer in hand by 3pm today. The home inspection is tomorrow, and barring any problems with that, we’ll have all conditions removed Wednesday and have a new place to live when we move in three weeks!

      Worst: This posting is going to be difficult, I can see it now. It’s more rural than where we’ve been living, fewer people, higher prices, and MUCH colder and snowier in the winter. (Of course, today it’s 33 degrees and we’re all dying, but there was snow in May!) It’s finally sinking in that we’re Really For Really Reals Moving Again–we were at the old place three years, it’s been long enough to feel homey and I’m trying to convince myself the new place will feel like home eventually, too.

    29. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: destination wedding of close friend of boyfriend’s. Also, boyfriend gifted me with a lovely jewelry piece.
      Worst: arriving home and realizing all the stores are closed and that you need toilet paper. Also, getting bitten all across stomach by mosquitoes.

  8. Bibliovore*

    Best: it is sunny day, I just finished teaching a class that went really well. I am feeling physically well and ready to do some more prep.
    Worst: no worst except for a week of travel ahead.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Best: Bought a jar of Amarena cherries which taste really nice.

      Worst: The whole horrible EU referendum thing, especially with the murder of the poor MP.

      1. nep*

        Truly no words for what happened to Jo Cox and her family. Her sister’s tribute was beautiful.

    2. Bibliovore*

      worst:Orlando and PSTD. How could I not of thought of that?

      yet best: Finished a draft of my book. To the copyeditor on Monday

  9. Lily Evans*

    I have had a Week this week. I moved on Tuesday and the next day, my very first day in the city, I got into a car accident when I left to get groceries. I was fine, so were the people I rear-ended, but my car is not fine and dealing with insurance and everything is terrible. I was so excited about not having a terrible commute driving anymore, but now I have to take a bus and two trains to work (thank goodness there’s at least reliable public transport, though!). I contacted my doctor about refilling an old anxiety med prescription for flights because I have trouble with claustrophobia and she hasn’t gotten back to me yet. To top it all off, my new roommate left for almost two weeks and didn’t clean anything, the apartment is a mess. Like, she left globs of toothpaste in the bathroom sink and didn’t even do her dishes before leaving! I spent an hour last night just cleaning the bathroom sink and tub and I swear the tub actually changed colors as I scrubbed. I’m exhausted.

    1. Lily Evans*

      Also, the bus stop closest to my apt is in front of a restaurant that my former darth-vader-roommate’s parents own, where she works part-time still. And one of my best friends, who I haven’t seen since she started dating her new girlfriend a few months ago, decided that a good way to cheer me up would be to send me a screenshot of a funny text from her gf about a book series we both like. But all it did was bring out my inner jealous five year old because gf was talking about how her favorite character is my favorite character and how dare she think sh loves that character? I obviously love him more! That reaction was what made me realize how badly I needed sleep (yay for getting used to new apartment noises!)

  10. Confused Publisher*

    A few weeks ago, there was a discussion here about podcasts, and someone mentioned In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg. I’d been meaning to listen to it since then but didn’t get around to it till last week. Now, in the last few days alone, I’ve listened to discussions about Euclidean geometry, the novel-poem Aurora Leigh, Thomas Hardy novels, the life of Margery Kempe, Ranjit Singh the leader of the Punjab! Thank you for the recommendation: I think I might be hooked!
    What other podcasts are people listening to?

    1. mondegreen*

      I’ve been catching up on West Wing Weekly–it’s about the show, not real-life politics.

      At an AAM reader’s suggestion (you know who you are, and thank you!) I’ve been listening to You Must Remember This for a while now. The latter is all about Hollywood during the studio system era.

      1. fposte*

        West Wing Weekly is so much fun! Thanks to somebody (Caledonia, maybe?) for suggesting it here.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I need to check that out if only for Margery Kempe.

      I just started listening to My Brother, My Brother and Me. It’s so funny that I’ve routinely needed to stop my walk to work to crack up.

      Reply All just did a four-part series about a man who wrote a blog from prison. Well. Lots more than that. Very Serial-esque. The whole podcast is interesting but this series was particularly riveting.

      Code Switch is a brand new podcast, but the first few episodes have been excellent.

      Double click on West Wing Weekly – consistently awesome. The episode a couple of weeks ago with Richard Schiff (Toby) was really touching.

      1. Confused Publisher*

        I could do with funny right now: I’ve just lined up your first recommendation.

      2. Liz in a Library*

        Oh man! And if you click with MBMBaM, that extended family has sooo many awesome podcasts on a million different subjects to get hooked on. I personally really love Still Buffering (about teen life now and 20 years ago, and how things have changed).

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      What other podcasts are people listening to?

      Jealous Curator
      The Talkhouse Film Podcast
      Hidden Messages Podcast
      Anna Faris is Unqualified
      Reply All

    4. LisaLee*

      I’m listening to Alice Isn’t Dead, which is an amazing serial fiction podcast. It is a bit scary though, so if dark fantasy/light horror isn’t your thing it might not be for you.

      I also really like Ditch Diggers, which is an irreverent writing podcast.

      1. NDR*

        I love Alice Isn’t Dead! You might check out TANIS and The Black Tapes too. Both are horror/fantasy but set up like a Serial-style show. They are both produced by the same people and characters overlap a tiny bit. TANIS is a little more fantasy in flavor, while The Black Tapes gets to be truly eerie at times.

    5. Oh Fed*

      Futility Closet was recommended on an open thread earlier this spring and I absolutely love it!

    6. First Initial dot Last Name*

      What other podcasts are people listening to?
      Along with the big named usual stuff, I’ve been listening to some other things, some new on the scene, otehrs have been around for a while.

      Scene on Radio (I have a piece in episode 18)
      Two Dope Queens
      Sleep With Me Podcast (actual bedtime stories)
      Bad at Sports
      The Broad Experience

    7. Jillociraptor*

      I listened to the In Our Time about Margery Kempe at the gym this afternoon! Great recommendation!

    8. K.*

      Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time, Period
      Code Switch
      Postbourgie (Gene Demby of Code Switch’s first podcast, although new eps are infrequent)
      Pop Culture Happy Hour
      This American Life

    9. caligirl*

      Great question!
      Snap Judgement – stories, lots of them hilarious.
      Mortified (there was a documentary about it on Netflix a while back too) – adults reading their teenage journals.
      Note to Self – quick listen and the host is cool.
      Thanks for the recommendations everyone!

      1. Windchime*

        I like Snap Judgement but I’m really, really tired of the constant shilling on that one. They beg for money several times during the podcast; it makes me think they must be funded differently than other NPR shows.

    10. Windchime*

      I just found a new one called “Beautiful Anonymous”. It’s an hour-long phone call between the host and an anonymous person. The one I listened to yesterday started out as a story about the caller trying to get a passport in two days and ended up with a really interesting, long discussion about Orthodox Judaism.

    11. Confused Publisher*

      It’s now Monday morning here in the UK, and I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s chimed in over the weekend with their recommendations. I don’t think I’m going to run out of recommendations anytime soon, and hope to report back in the next few weeks.

  11. Gene*

    Cooking thread!

    What are you cooking today?

    What are your can’t-live-without kitchen items?

    What ingredient do you use that others might find unusual?

    1. GreenTeaPot*

      Burgers on the grill today, well, tonight.

      Small food processor, good knives, lots of cutting boards. After renting a tiny apartment in Paris, I learned knives and boards are pretty much all you need if you have fresh ingredients.

      No unusual ingredients. I do like salt and rice from the Camargue.

    2. Gene*

      I’m making a batch of Two Lumps Cup Meatcakes. Time for add couple of months of low carb eating.

      I love my original style chef’n silicone spatulas (the one-piece versions). And the assortment of knives I have accumulated over the years.

      I have a jar of something a friend gave me before she head home to Korea. It has only Korean writing on it, but seems to be quince and honey and spices. It goes great in pork and lamb/mutton dishes in small amounts.

    3. Aardvark*

      Trying to decide between ramen chicken salad or chicken pitas with yellow rice. Feeling like comfort food today, and don’t want to heat up the house too much!

      Good knives, stand mixer, silicone spoontulas, 2-and 8-quart saucepans.

      Hmm, I tend to cook pretty ordinary things? Tomatillos are the most exotic ingredient I use regularly?

    4. Jean*

      This morning for breakfast I had frozen chopped spinach (thawed/heated in the microwave) with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and interesting-to-me-anyway spices: cumin, dill, and celery seed. I wanted to continue the benefits of yogurt and produce but take a break from the sugars that come in fruit.

      Yummy! The savory equivalent of Greek yogurt, chopped apple or peaches or raisins, and cumin and nutmeg. (Cottage cheese also works well with this combination. If you want more crunch, try a teaspoon of unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds.) Or you can use this combination–minus the fruit–on cooked pasta.

      1. Jean*

        Whoops, I forgot the other two questions!

        Favorite kitchen items: +1 to Aardvark’s mention of good knives; my silicone spatula; glass prep and serving dishes; small cutting boards; the salad spinner; good-quality food storage containers; and the linen closet. “Linen closet” because we keep kosher in a small apartment. There’s no way to store groceries, potholders, and two sets of almost everything from spoons to stock pots (see glass dishes) in just the kitchen cabinets.

        What do I cook? Very plain & basic food (except for the spicing): soups, salads, some rice, roast veggies, and baked apple slices, and the semi-annual coffee cake. We eat a lot of fresh or frozen produce along with yogurt, cottage cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, cold cereal, eggs, frozen pizza (because teenaged son), Trader Joe’s pasta sauce, and the occasional meal of fish or poultry. I also make brownies and stovetop pudding or baked custard from time to time. DH occasionally cooks his own beef or lamb. DS will eat beef hot dogs.

        1. Nella*

          Probably will be bbqing today, even though it’s raining. I m thinking chicken and fresh corn.

          Favourite kicken items. My Thermomix tops the list, after that is the active fry and a good set of knives.

          I can whip up risotto with steamed veggies and chicken with 10 min actual prep time. And 20 min doing other stuff as the machines do all the cooking and stirring.

        2. Short and Stout*

          I have been made fun of for my salad spinner, but it is essential! Vigorously shaking a colander does not have the same effect.

      2. DropTable~DropsMic*

        I like to top Greek yogurt with zaatar ( a middle eastern spice blend), a little salt, and olive oil, and eat with pita bread. It’s a nice savory way to eat yogurt.

    5. Lizabeth*

      Spinach and artichoke galette for my lunches this coming week

      Sharp knives, cast iron pan and my microplane.

      Instant espresso powder and cinnamon in chocolate chip cookies. Woot!

      1. Jean*

        Wow, this sounds like snickerdoodle cookies on steroids! Yum! I might adapt this by adding instant coffee granules and cocoa powder to my next batch of refrigerator cookies. Given the caloric restraints followed by most of the household, that “next batch” isn’t happening any time soon. Sigh. Shrug.

    6. Emmy*

      Cooking nothing overly adventurous today: bratwurst and mashed potatoes. Tomorrow making egg noodles from scratch.

      Love our Mist-O. So much cheaper than buying a cans of olive oil spray and, a bonus: better for the environment. One of the best, fairly cheap things we’ve ever bought.

      Nothing too exotic for ingredients but I do love smoked paprika. Hate cooking with rosemary. I like the flavor but the texture in food is just like eating pine needles and sticks. I might have to break down and get some little spice bags for cooking.

      1. Jean*

        Thanks for the reminder to acquire an oil sprayer. I love the idea of using significantly less cooking oil.

    7. fposte*

      I don’t think I’m doing any using-heat cooking today. I’m eating my favorite summer dish of peaches with mozzarella and prosciutto and later will have open-face radish sandwiches–Fromager d’Affinois spread on good bread with sliced salted radishes.

      All-Clad dutch oven, because I make soup all the time. My big Victorinox knife and little Victorinox paring knife, which I use on fruit and cheese.

      I doubt that I have any unusual ingredients–the usual ones are just too good. But any soup that doesn’t have onions and/or garlic is broken.

    8. Confused Publisher*

      I really enjoy food and cooking and feeding people, so this is a really fun topic for me.
      I made chicken enchiladas today.
      I couldn’t live without my beloved chef’s knives, a decent set of chopping boards… and my pressure cooker. (Once you’ve made fall-apart tender lamb stew in 25 minutes, you’ll understand my fanaticism.)
      I don’t know if they’re unusual, really, but I must must must have my spices (cumin, paprika, turmeric, harissa – which is actually a spice blend) and aromatics (ginger, coriander leaf, lemongrass).

    9. F.*

      At the moment, I am baking a cherry pie, my husband’s and my favorite, for Father’s Day tomorrow (though we will have some tonight). Although I use pre-made crust and canned pie filling, my secret ingredient is cinnamon, liberally sprinkled all over the bottom crust and again on top, with sugar also sprinkled on top. Supper will be hamburgers on the grill with grilled onions and salad. We eat a large salad every day. It currently has spinach (some from my own garden), grape tomatoes, green onion, dried cranberries, sliced cucumber, green pepper, sliced mushrooms, black olives, garbanzo beans, blueberries, sliced strawberries and sugar snap peas (the last two from my garden). Ingredients vary from season to season. In my garden, I’m currently growing strawberries, sugar snap peas, two types of cucumbers, green onions, cooking onions, grape tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and spinach. My garden is definitely my secret ingredient. Everything tastes so much better fresh! My favorite kitchen tool is my crockpot. Sloppy Joe tomorrow with enough for two more meals this week.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      What are you cooking today?
      Hmm, don’t know. Maybe something with pasta. Or possibly pancakes.

      What are your can’t-live-without kitchen items?
      A microwave (to thaw stuff quickly) and bamboo or wood implements because they don’t scratch my pans.

      What ingredient do you use that others might find unusual?
      When I make a sausage and pepper skillet, I put caraway seed in it. IDK why, but it makes it taste kind of not-American.

      1. Short and Stout*

        Microwave is such a good call. When I lived in a house where our microwave broke, I bought a new one within a few hours.

    11. periwinkle*

      Cooking today: Nothing, we’re going out for sushi because darn it, I’ve done enough cooking this week. Tomorrow is chicken marsala with broccoli and jasmine rice.

      Must-have: Currently it’s the InstantPot. How have I lived without a pressure cooker for so long? In the long term, the most essential pieces are a KitchenAid and the thin rectangular Japanese vegetable knife (usuba bocho) inherited from my mother.

      Unusual ingredient: Bull-Dog sauce – it’s a fruity brown sauce made to accompany tonkatsu. I like to use it as a marinade and basting sauce for chicken, especially for anything destined for the grill or air fryer. It goes nicely on grilled corn, too. I have been known to use it instead of ketchup when snarfing down French fries, too.

    12. nep*

      I don’t cook.
      Wouldn’t want to live without food processor, blender, and julienne ‘grater’.
      Don’t know how unusual but I mix a Brazil nut into energy bars and smoothies — selenium.

    13. Tau*

      Cooking today: pasta bake with cream, spinach, ham, red peppers and mozzarella. It’s sort of a conglomeration of some of my standard pasta dishes. I was also hoping to experiment with raspberry turnovers, but didn’t end up doing so. Next weekend!

      Cannot live without: Apart from standards (pots, pans, pans, cutting boards) I’ve got..
      – A good pepper mill. Pre-ground pepper just tastes of nothing.
      – A silicone bread form. I bake bread pretty often, and it is so handy not to have to fuss about greasing it and making sure nothing gets stuck and and and.
      – If I’m making soup, a stick blender.

      I can’t really think of any particularly unusual ingredients I use? Unless you count quark, but that’s more of a cultural thing – it’s common in German cooking. And I mainly use it when baking… ooh, I should really do boiled potatoes with green sauce sometime, even if wild garlic season is over… ANYWAY.

    14. danr*

      steak on the grill tonight. our ingredients are pretty usual: rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme, onions, garlic, garlic, garlic. We use a lot of garlic.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I made Thai green chicken curry with carrots and sweet potato today, mainly as a way of using up some manky carrots and sweet potatos. Plus, I don’t like leaving meat in its packaging in the fridge for too long. There is an asian supermarket not far from where I live and I bought a big tub of Thai green curry paste (they had red and yellow too) and 500ml bottles of low salt soy sauce, which I have never seen in any of the other supermarkets.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Raise your hand if you double or triple the amount of garlic in pretty much any recipe. (I do!)

        1. LizB*

          Me! I pretty much just keep mincing until it looks like “enough” — which is always a minimum of 3 cloves. Even if the recipe calls for 1. I don’t skimp on the garlic.

    15. the gold digger*

      Went to our local produce market where the guy sells buckets of needs to be used now produce super cheap, so I have been cooking that – and the Rhubarb Fairy left rhubarb in the cafeteria at work. I have made last night and today

      1. Rhubarb orange marmalade
      2. Shaker lemon pie – too tart for me and my husband does not like the peel in the filling, so I will wrap it up for our neighbor
      3. Giradiniara
      4. Roasted pepper soup
      5. Basque green beans from Cooks Country
      6. Collards

      I can’t do without a good knife. Our good knife sharpener guy at the local hardware store died and I have not been able to find anyone else who does it as well as he did.

      1. Sam E.*

        Oooh, rhubarb-orange marmalade sounds fantastic. We have a load of rhubarb still from the garden! Do you have a recipe?

        1. the gold digger*

          Sam E., I cobbled together a few recipes to get a finished product. I used the proportions from the NY Times Essentials Cookbook for their Rhubarb Marmalade – 2.5 lbs of rhubarb, 3 oranges, 4.5 cups of sugar (can’t find a link for the recipe), but followed part of the process from DinnerWithJulie’s Meyer Lemon Marmalade (link follows) and the rest of the process is from researching marmalade best practices online.

          Before cutting the oranges, I peeled them with a vegetable peeler. Then I peeled off the pith, seeded the oranges, and chopped the fruit. The pith and the seeds go into a cheesecloth. The peel gets chopped into small pieces. The peel and the fruit go in a bowl with the cheesecloth and some water and goes in the fridge overnight.

          After the overnight soaking, I simmered the orange peel, fruit, and cheesecloth (all the orange product) alone without sugar (other sources say that the peel will not soften after the sugar is added) until the peel was soft. Then I plopped the cheesecloth with the pith in a bowl in the freezer. As soon as it was cool, I squeezed it really hard over the peel. Apparently, the pectin comes from the seeds and pith.

          Once I squeezed as much as I could, I added the rhubarb and sugar, took it to 220 degrees, and simmered until it passed the plate in the freezer test. I put it in jars in the fridge – I did not process it.

          I just had a few spoonfuls and it set just fun and it’s really yummy!

    16. GiantPanda*

      I couldn’t make up my mind, so I cooked a batch of five different asian chicken casseroles. Still haven’t decided which go in the freezer and which in the refrigerator…

      Boxes, obviously :-) And sharp knives.

      I’m not really creative. More hot sauce / chili / mustard than most people.

    17. Me2*

      I’m making limoncello cupcakes for an extended family meal tomorrow. Combo of Father’s Day, two dads will be there, and my niece is leaving Monday to spend the summer in Italy taking marketing classes and studying the wines of the region (why did I not take this class in college?). I can’t live without my KitchenAid mixer, I even have one of the pop-up shelves it stores on because I use it so often. My husband is British so I often put a tsp or two of Marmite into soup, stew, sauces, it definitely gives an umami taste.

    18. LizB*

      Chicken enchiladas for dinner tonight, or at least that’s the plan. I have raw chicken in the freezer but forgot to take it out to defrost in the fridge yesterday, so I’m considering popping out to the grocery store to get a rotisserie chicken to shred instead. Plus a rotisserie chicken usually yields 2 or 3 meals’ worth of meat, so I’d be saving myself future work as well…

    19. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m making spareribs in the oven with a soy-mango preserve marinade. We have a minuscule outdoor space but I’m too lazy to set up a grill so slow baking it is.

      I loooooove our food processor, which was on our wedding registry, and our Le Creuset Dutch oven, which was not — our two best wedding gifts BY FAR.

      I love this question because it reminds me I haven’t cooked with Chinese brown sugar in a while. Makes an AMAZING caramelized sauce for chicken!

    20. Sam E.*

      Mr. Sam E. made great french toast with fresh bread he made this morning. Between that and the hot weather warning here, we’re being lazy for dinner. I had picked up some super cheap chicken and vegetable kabobs, so I’m checking on them periodically in the oven. A boring plain salad to go with it, since I forgot we’re out of vegetables. Whoops!

      I love all of my silicone bakeware, but my favourite has to be my loaf pan.

      We have a lot of game meats at our disposal, so I’ll either use the cuts as they are, or get out of my meat grinder and make things like lasagna or meat loaf. Super tasty.

    21. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am not cooking today, though I think I’ll bake a cake tomorrow. I did, however, open last week’s batch of cucumber pickles, and they were the best I’ve ever done. I’m very proud of myself.

      I can’t live without my chef’s knife. I’m a simple being. And my 13-inch All-Clad braising pan, which was a birthday gift 11 years ago. I love it and make everything in it.

      Ingredients… I use preserved lemons in a lot of things that would surprise people. I make my own (I love to pickle and preserve, see above), and I put them in Italian-style pasta dishes as well as Middle Eastern dishes. I’ve used the liquid any time I’ve needed lemon juice and salt, like in a vinaigrette or even, one time, in an apple pie when I didn’t have lemons in the house for the filling.

    22. LiteralGirl*

      I made a BB8 (the droid from “The Force Awakens”) cake for my daughter’s birthday party today. My husband thinks I’m crazy for spending so much time on them, but the girls love them. Next up: a Pete Wentz cake for my Fall Out Boy fan!

      1. Anonyby*

        Any chance of pictures? I bet the cake was awesome!! It’s so easy to spend tons of time on these cakes, but I’ve found it addictive!

    23. Emilia Bedelia*

      Whole chickens were on sale for 49 cents/lb, so I made roast chicken and vegetables and a salad for dinner. The recipe was called Engagement Chicken; I’m calling it practical single lady chicken, because I’m going to be eating it for weeks, and because I got to eat all the crispy chicken skin myself, so as far as I’m concerned I’m never making it for anyone else.

      My diet relies heavily on canned tomatoes,eggs, frozen spinach, plain yogurt, dried beans, and salad- I’m trying to eat fewer simple carbohydrates, so these plus whatever produce is on sale are pretty much my mainstays. I manage to spend less than $20/week on food, so I think I do pretty well!

      I use coconut milk a lot in place of cream; at $1 a can, it’s pretty cheap, plus, I don’t really keep cream on hand,and it has less fat and curdles less easily than cream. The coconut flavor is not noticeable in most applications with strong-flavored ingredients. I also use a lot of Thai curry paste- it’s so quick and easy, and at the Asian grocery store, a giant tub is less than $4. A big spoon of curry paste, a can of coconut milk, and a pile of random veggies = dinner in 20 minutes.

    24. Christopher Tracy*

      I made bourbon chicken and rice tonight, and will make chili and honey cornbread tomorrow.

      I don’t have a can’t live without kitchen item for cooking (though my coffee machine and latte maker are lifesavers) and I don’t use unusual ingredients, but I am going to start cooking more gluten free versions of ethnic foods soon, so we’ll see what kinds of unusual ingredients I have to start using then.

    25. Tara R.*

      I made quinoa, corn, and beans the other day with cilantro and cumin. I’m just learning how to cook for myself so I was pleased that it was edible, honestly.

    26. Mela*

      I made sweet potatoes, apples, and onions in the slow cooker yesterday, and am making a white chicken chili today (it’s winter here!). My favorite summer recipe is a watermelon gazpacho and no one in my life likes gazpacho besides me.

      Good knives for sure and a slow cooker/dutch oven are musts for me.

      I don’t think they’re unusual, but I live by spice blends. Spice stores are the BEST.

    27. Applesauced*

      Today I’m making Lara bars! There’s a recipe on The Kitchn but in short – equal parts dates, dried fruit, and nuts. Mix them all in a food processor (my favorite kitchen tool) until the stick together. Last week I used apricots and salted almond, and they were so good!

    28. Short and Stout*

      Today I have to use up all my vegetable box remnants + some minced beef I bought on Friday, so I’ll be making a sweet potato and beetroot dal–soup for the freezer and a chilli that can also go into wraps for lunch during the week. I need to go buy the wraps this afternoon.

      I can’t live without: my high quality sharp knives, chopping boards, wide frying pan good for tortilla / risotto / stir frying*, pepper grinder, pestle and mortar.

      (*I find it extremely difficult to cook without a gas hob — but am currently doing so! Our flat has the worst radiant ring hob ever, with the settings “Too Hot” and “Not On”. Normally I would stir fry with a wok, but this is impossible without gas. Also housemates kill woks by washing them, alas.)

      I tend to use English rapeseed oil as my go to frying fat and sometimes as a dressing, as it’s local to me, really cheap, and has some health benefits over olive oil.

  12. Caledonia*

    Wild is such an amazing book, and so sad (I wish I’d known how sad it was before reading it in public). She managed to capture the sense of loss of losing a parent so well, even though our circumstances were so different. I thought the film with Reese Witherspoon was a very good adaptation.

      1. Grumpy*

        Agreed. I read it on a plane and had to stop because I was tearing up.
        Never did see the movie though.

    1. Me2*

      Cheryl Strayed lives fairly near me and I’ve heard her speak on several occasions. She’s an excellent and entertaining speaker, very open to any and all questions. I think it’s interesting when authors are also good speakers, writing and public speaking seem to be two very different skill sets.

    2. LCL*

      I wasn’t able to finish the book. Spoiler alert! When I got to the part where the writer and her brother have to put down her moms horse, and were too cheap to hire a vet and too stupid to do it properly themselves, I got angry and sick and threw the book away.

      1. Pumpkin scone*

        That part was very, very hard for me. When I got the movie on DVD, I made sure to fast-forward through that scene.

      2. TL -*

        I think too cheap to get a vet is a bit unfair. Putting a horse down is very, very expensive – you have to pay for the vet, the home visit, and once the vet has done it, they have to report to the county, who has to come take the remains away for disposal (at least where I grew up) and it was $400+, last time my family checked. Not having that much money isn’t always being cheap.
        My vet usually advised you to put the horse down yourself because of the price issue.

    3. Nye*

      It’s interesting to hear from so many people who liked Wild, because I absolutely hated it. (Couldn’t finish it, in fact.) I read it after hiking the PCT solo, since so many people saw a woman hiking alone and said, “Oh! Just like Wild!” Which I know was meant kindly, but… It was SUCH an insulting comparison. She was a dangerously incompetent hiker who put herself – and could easily have put SAR personnel – in danger through her willful ignorance. That is really, REALLY not okay. She also had a sort of hiking entitlement I saw on the trail myself, and really didn’t care are all for. (It may be of interest to know that Wild and Strayed are widely reviled among the through-hiking community, partly because she is presented as a through-hiker but wasn’t– she skipped all the hard parts of the PCT, and hiked around 40% of the trail in total.)

      It also didn’t help that I don’t care for her writing, or for how she presents herself in her writing. Clearly, Wild is a thing that is Not For Me. But then, I tend to be extremely wary of memoirs focused on Journeys of Self Discovery, and really don’t love that narrative for long hikes. I hiked the PCT. It was really fun, and honestly not particularly hard. The hardest part is having the time and money to get away and not work for 6 months. After that it’s just walking.

      1. Nye*

        Ha, sorry for the novel! Everyone has their ridiculous pet peeves, and you guys have just found one of mine!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            She got a publishing deal based on being a beautiful writer with an interesting story! (Also, I’m pretty sure she’d written the Dear Sugar advice column for years before getting a book published.)

            I think she was pretty up-front about being dangerously incompetent; to me, at least, that was sort of a key piece of the story she was telling!

            I’m not surprised she’s hated in the hiking community since whenever someone writes a really successful book about an activity, the media is going to act as they’re a representative of that community which is always annoying and frustrating to people actually in that community … but I’d be surprised if she’d claim to be representative of it.

          2. Nye*

            I’m with the gold digger on this one – just could not deal with her, her series of terrible life choices, or how she represented herself. I also don’t think she’s a particularly gifted writer, based on both Wild and some of her other essays.

            That said, clearly the book deal was a good business decision for her publisher! Cheryl Strayed is comprehensively not writing for me, but she has a large and enthusiastic audience and she figured out how to exploit her incompetence for some big bucks. Good for her. And I’m sure she’s gotten some new folks into hiking, which is a wonderful thing as long as they learn from her mistakes.

          3. Kittens*

            I get that, but I also think that’s exactly why a lot of women do identify with the book. Often people who grew up with awful/abusive circumstances like hers have no model for how to become healthy happy adults and stumble a lot along the way. It’s interesting that folks on this thread seem to be anti-Wild, a lot of women I know (myself included) who grew up under troublesome circumstances really identified with the story.

      2. TL -*

        Oh interesting. I read the book and I was under the impression that she only skipped one part (and it was a reasonable safety decision). She was dangerously inexperienced at the beginning, but I felt she wised up pretty fast and when she talks about it, she tends to admit it was very dumb and she was very lucky.
        I read the barefoot sisters, though, who did the AT, and I had the same angry and horrified reaction to their winter hiking portion, which I’m much more familiar with than through-hiking, so maybe it’s just what I know.

        1. Nye*

          Yeah, I actually don’t blame her for not hiking the whole thing, since I think she was pretty up-front about being a section hiker. It’s more in the media/movie coverage that she’s presented as a through-hiker, which is frustrating but not her fault.

          In total she skipped most of the desert, all of the High Sierra (a good decision for her, I agree), and all of the North Cascades – ~1500 miles in total, in comparison to the ~1000 that she did hike. I just think it’s a bummer that she skipped all the hardest and most beautiful parts of the trail, since like it or not, her book has become an ambassador to the PCT for many people. It’s so much more amazing that you’d think from her experience!

          1. TL -*

            Oh. I definitely read the book as being much more about what was going in in her head than the hiking itself – but yeah, as an ambassador to the PCT, the book does fail. I’ve never been on the trail but I didn’t feel like I got a sense of the trail from her narrative.

          2. blackcat*

            I have hiked all of the High Sierra PCT (and that’s the only chunk I’ve done), and when I found the movie on in a hotel room, I got all excited that they might have some cool pretty shots of places I haven’t been for 10+ years. I have traveled all over the world, and never seen anything like the High Sierra.


            The high sierra part of the PCT is where its at. But, yes, it’s can be dangerous even when the weather cooperates, largely because people don’t always have the right gear/prep. On that trail, I encountered people puking from elevation sickness, people suffering from heat stroke/dehydration, and a case of hypothermia (folks, it gets COLD at those elevations, even in summer. The night my boot froze solid–after I left it out to dry overnight–meant a sad, sad morning.).

            Google Image search Thousand Island Lake PCT to get a sense of what she skipped. It’s f-king beautiful.

            1. Nye*

              Oh man, the High Sierra was otherworldly gorgeous! The Evolution Valley, Mt. Whitney, SEKI backcountry, Forester Pass, Muir Pass — really everywhere was stunning. 10/10 Would Hike Again.

              I also thought the Cascades were mind-bogglingly gorgeous, especially Mt. Jefferson and the Pasayten Wilderness / Stehekin area.

  13. Mimmy*

    Okay here’s a weird one:

    Sometimes when I go on a walk, the skin on legs get hot and itchy. Last night was particularly unpleasant. Has anyone else ever experienced that? Could it be from being out of shape? I think I’ve always had this happen but never looked into it.

    1. Lily Evans*

      I’ve seen a medical TV show before about how people can actually be allergic to exercise. It’s called Exercise-induced anaphylaxis if you want to google it (or if you want to talk to your doctor and not go down the rabbit hole of self-internet-diagnosis).

    2. Elle*

      Yes! I have it, as do my three sisters. No idea what it’s from. We’re all regular exercises too!

    3. AliceBD*

      As I understand it (could be wrong as I am not a medical professional), the anaphylaxis part of what Lily Evans says is for the actual anaphylaxis (i.e. leading you anaphylactic shock where you can’t breathe). But yes, you can get exercise-induced hives. My best friend in college had them. And I have a different type of hives, and some of the people in the hives support group I’m in have the exercise-induced kind. You will probably want to check with a medical professional because you don’t want to get the anaphylaxis.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I would suspect it’s a circulatory thing (unless you’re getting hives or swelling, then it could be allergies). I’m heavyish and when I wasn’t exercising regularly, after a brisk walk my legs would be itchy as hell. It’s improved now that my body is more used to working out.

    5. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      YES. I have this problem if I’m not careful and pace myself. It basically means I can’t walk/hike with anyone else because I have to go slow and take frequent breaks. The second I start to work up a sweat it begins. I dread it.

      I really don’t know what it is. I’ve found Benadryl fixes things when it happens. I know it happens much easier (like during a basic grocery-store trip) if I don’t take my daily allergy meds. Really I’m just permanently itchy if I forgot those. Maybe I’m allergic to my own skin.

      I’ve been doing more walking breaks at work and I think that’s helped me somewhat… but I think like others have said it’s some histamine thing.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I think it is from being out of shape, to be honest…and this is from personal experience.

      I have it happen a lot, and I am really out of shape!

    7. E*

      I’ve heard that this happens when your muscles aren’t used to exercising – the capillaries get overworked and expand, which makes your legs itchy. It used to happen to me and went away when I started exercising regularly.

    8. Stephanie*

      Yep, exercise-induced hives are totally a thing. You could also be overdressing. I sometimes would wear too much while running and underestimate how quickly I wold warm up. This happened to me recently when I wore pants to go running. If you think you’re going to get even a little sweaty or heated up, I would dress in fewer clothes.

    9. LiteralGirl*

      I’ve always gotten hot itchy skin when I exercise outside, regardless of the kind of shape I’m in. Unless it is super irritating, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    10. Emilia Bedelia*

      This used to happen to me a lot. Then I started to run a lot (like, at least 5 miles a day) and it went away.

      Then, I tore my ACL and didn’t run for a year. When I started running again, my legs got crazy itchy all the time. So, I think it is from not being used to exercising

    11. Tara R.*

      I have this issue! I do find the more regularly I exercise the less it bothers me, although that could just be getting used to it.

    12. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I get the same thing when I’m out of shape and haven’t exercised in awhile. I think it is from using circulation that hasn’t been used to that degree in awhile. Mine always goes away when I’m more fit and exercising regularly.

  14. Ruffingit*

    We’ve been six days without AC. I live in Houston. We bought a window unit and have been fighting the property management company to pay for it. The owner and the PM company are dicks. We have a lawyer at the ready to deal with this as needed. I’m just so tired of these people. It’s been a nightmare since we moved in. I’m so over this nonsense. I haven’t slept well in at least two weeks and my anxiety from what is coming next with these jerks is through the roof. I just cannot even anymore. I’m having heart palpitations from the stress. We’ve had three contractors out here to look at the AC and today they say oh we’re still waiting for them to get their bids in. And then they try to fight paying for the AC window unit. It’s insane.

    We are either going to try to get out of the lease or ride it out until the lease ends on Oct. 31. We will see what makes the most sense.

    I could really use some AAM love y’all. I’m so down about all this.

    1. Caledonia*

      That is terrible, I just can’t even. What the fudge possesses some people, I will never know. Take care of yourself *offers internet cake*

    2. Mimmy*

      Ugh that is horrible. You may have a case for moving out before the lease ends due to unbearable living conditions. IANAL, I’m just thinking common sense.

      Meanwhile, sending hugs!!

      1. Stephanie*

        Not sure about Houston and A/C, but when I lived in DC, non-functioning heat could totally be used as a reason for withholding rent. I remember when we had a delay with our heater repair, our landlord was over immediately with space heaters and an a rent discount offer. I’m sure it’s because he’s a good person/landlord, but I think he also knew we could withhold rent.

        I remember my A/C in Houston went out in August. It was miserable.

        1. TL -*

          Texas on general has pretty strict laws about heat. Electric companies aren’t allowed to turn off power if it’s over 90, for instance. I would imagine the law is on your side here (including being able to get out of the lease.)

    3. Jean*

      Sending you AAM love and vibes! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Does your local political/activist landscape include any tenants’ rights groups, consumer-supportive city, state or county offices, or sympathetic elected officials? If so, sic ’em on the bastards (e.g. property owner & managers)! People who make life hard for tenants deserve a special place in Hell (complete with dripping ceilings, lively vermin, clogged toilets and _no_ AC). Why do they treat people this way?!

    4. fposte*

      This is the place where you had to move into a hotel for water or some horrible significant thing? They are horrible, and I’m sorry they’re still so horrible. I cannot cope with heat at all and this would just reduce me to snarling rage.

      I hope moving makes the most sense, because I think being rid of these landlords will feel really, really good.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yup same bastards. I’m going to tell the lawyer we want out of the lease. I’ve got some assistance in locating new digs and I’m hoping we can get out of here and into somewhere new by the end of the month.

    5. Dan*

      Donno about Texas law, but California requires that mechanical units that worked when you move in must continue to work. That’s their way of saying that they aren’t going to require air conditioning, but if the landlord provided it, they can’t just take it away or refuse to fix it.

      California also lets you pay the repair bill out of pocket and deduct it from your rent.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      I would call that lawyer and get out of that lease.

      This sucks, and is also very concerning considering the extreme heat wave. However, this isn’t even the worst thing that could happen. What if your pipes break? What if the water goes? What if…what if…what if. If this is how they respond to something as simple as an AC issue, I’d be lawyering up and heading for the hills.

    7. Nina*

      Hugs to you. Dealing with no AC in scorching weather is bad enough, but lousy PM on top of it…ugh. I hope things get better for you.

    8. ginger ale for all*

      Google these words – Texas tenant law air conditioning. The top two results are helpful but I would read the second one from the DMN (Dallas Morning News) first, it’s an easier read and the top link has statewide laws. Good luck!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Sending the love!

      This so sucks. So much stupidity piled up in one place, wow. How do these Three Stooges stay in business.
      You have a parent with you? Or you did… Your mom? I can’t remember. How is she? Can you pull the senior citizen card out to make them move faster?

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yes my mom lives with us. It doesn’t make them do anything faster. I’m so done with all of this. Sending the lease to my lawyer tomorrow so she can get in contact with them re: their violation of said lease.

      1. BRR*

        Hit submit to soon. Withhold rent to pay for the repair. A lot of leases or law s have reasonable time for repair clauses.

        1. Ruffingit*

          No way would I pay to repair this because it would cost thousands. These people have an air handler that was built in 1977 in this house. The whole thing has to be ripped out and updated. My hope is just to be able to get the hell out of dodge since they’ve violated the lease. Ugh.

    10. Lindsay J*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. We had AC problems all last summer and it was terrible. My landlord was relatively responsive, but his repair guy was inept, because we kept on being told it was fixed. And it kept on not being fixed. It was really frustrating.

      AC here in summer (or really just NOTwinter) is just as important for health and sanity as heat is in the winter in the North East.

    11. Rafe*

      My landlord does this thing where they shut off the hot water at least once every two weeks for the entire day. I swear they deliberately get around the local code about this by sending out the night before an announcement calling it an “emergency” repair — but this has been going on since I moved in in 2011. It’s always the kitchen water that’s affected — once it’s shut down, there will be no hot water for at least another week (and I’m sure most people don’t realize they’re running cold water in the dishwasher. I know because I use so few dishes I wash them in the sink and let them dry in one of those little stands people used to use). It’s so wrong. We have the utilities added on to the rent in a way that also is weird, which I’m certain is why they just shut it down altogether so often — a day without water charges, and at least a week without hot water for any kitchen applications.

    12. stevenz*

      There are only a few immutable laws in the universe, but one of them is that property managers are heartless scumbags.

  15. Elizabeth West*

    Do pest control companies remove cats? Because I am at my wit’s end with this mamma cat stray and her two kittens. They are taking over and pushing Psycho Kitty out. They did the same thing at my neighbor’s but he can take his cat inside and I cannot.

    Animal control and the shelter that spays are useless–they want me to do all the trapping work (and RENT me a trap). I need someone to do their damn job and come REMOVE THESE ANIMALS. I don’t care what they do with them; I WANT THEM GONE.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Contact a rescue group. There should be multiple ones around, not just the shelter. Do not contact a pest control company, as they kill animals and these cats are just as entitled to a space to live as everyone else’s cats (despite annoying you right now).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I can’t believe I pay taxes for animal control but then I have to do all the work. Seems they’re like the one in Parks and Rec before April Ludgate took over. Probably sitting around smoking all day. >:(

            I looked online, but all the links lead back to the spay / neuter thing. And the no-kill pulls from the shelter–it doesn’t take animals dropped off! It’s so effed up, I can’t even. Why should I have to be responsible for other people who can’t take care of their animals? MY cat is spayed. And it’s hard enough to get her to eat in the hot weather without all this bullshit around.

            I never wanted a cat in the first place–she was dumped on me. But that doesn’t mean I want to take care of all the cats in the fucking city. I wish they would just GO AWAY.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Homeless animals often suffer terribly and need people who are willing to help, since they can’t speak up for / help themselves. It would be a kindness for you to help.

              1. steeped in anonymtea*

                I “inherited” a cat. I always thought I hated cats. He turned out to be the “love” of my life. Please treat these cats kindly. They are not at fault.

            2. Windchime*

              Is she gentle and pet-able? If so, maybe you can find her a home. I know it’s annoying, but she has found a source of food (belonging to Psycho Kitty) and she is trying to keep her kittens fed.

            3. YaH*

              If you’re feeding your cat outdoors, then you’re providing a readily available source of food for other strays. If you’re not able/willing to trap these strays yourself, then you need to make your area unhospitable- no food or water, nowhere to use the bathroom, etc.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I HAVE to feed her outside. She will not eat inside. I’ve tried numerous times and it only freaks her out. I took care of her because I knew nobody else would. I didn’t sign on for the rest of them.

                I tried feeding the other cats away from her food (she won’t defend it) and two of them have left her alone after that. It’s only THIS one. If I stop feeding them, they’ll just eat her food and she will get nothing. Her food is expensive, but they’ve freaked her out so much that now she’s trying to eat their food. I may end up just feeding the damn expensive crap to everybody. >:(

                She is thirteen years old. When she is no longer with me, the rest are on their own because I will dump this place and move away so fast. I hate this house, this neighborhood, and this city. If I don’t get out of here soon, I will not make it. You don’t know what it’s like to live here. Let someone else in the neighborhood deal with it! This is not The Walking Dead and I am not the only person here!!

            4. catsAreCool*

              Sometimes pet stores sell stuff that you can put on the outskirts of your yard that cats don’t like, so it sometimes keeps them out.

                1. catsAreCool*

                  There are catios that let cats be sort of outside while being in an enclosed space – maybe that would work. If the stuff the cats don’t like is only on the perimeter of your yard, maybe your cat won’t want to cross the stuff and leave your yard?

        1. acmx*

          It might be expensive to have pest control do it. To remove a dead animal, it’s around $200.

    2. Allison Mary*

      Removing strays/ferals is unlikely to solve the actual problem. Typically the reason that stray/feral cats move into an area is because there’s a food source there, whether it’s garbage or an infestation of mice, or cat food left out within reach. If you remove them, or someone comes along and has them euthanized, it’s only a matter of time before a new group of cats are likely to move in, having been attracted to that same food source.

      Basic science: food equals population growth. The only way to stop that is with TNR (trap/neuter/return). If these cats can be sterilized, and left where they are, that food source can be occupied and protected by the existing cats, without it turning into more cats.

      And perhaps most importantly – if you can get these strays neutered/spayed, almost all of their behaviors that make them a nuisance to begin with, are likely to go away. Spayed/neutered cats are way less territorial, they get into fights way less, they won’t spray in the areas that your cat can smell (which is probably what’s making your cat crazy).

      I get that you’re frustrated with this situation, and it sucks. But I’d really urge you to consider recruiting someone to help you trap them, get them neutered, and then put them right back where they were. They will almost certainly be way, way, WAY less of a nuisance. And if you just have them removed or euthanized, it’s only a matter of time before the problem repeats itself with new cats.

      More info here: http://www.alleycat.org/VacuumEffectScience

      1. catsAreCool*

        Allison Mary is right. TNR is a good thing to do,, although it does sound like a lot of work. Are there other kitty adoption places besides the shelter, maybe some place that is more pro-active? It sounds like you already looked though. Some kitty places might be more helpful with this.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I will look again and call around and see if anyone can help me. I don’t know what else to do.

          This only got bad recently. It’s only become a problem in the last year. The only thing I had to worry about before was raccoons and possums, and I solved that by feeding PK and then removing what she didn’t eat before I went to bed.

          1. Belle diVedremo*

            My (very limited) experience with Animal Control is that they’re usually focused on critters they think dangerous.

            If I’m right about where you live, the Humane Society website says they take surrendered animals and prep them for re-homing. Looks like there are no kill shelters nearby, too. There’s also the major university town a couple hours north of you with no kill shelters. Pain to travel to get rid of them, but they’d be gone.

            Do you have an outbuilding of any kind? You’ve said she won’t eat inside, but I wonder if she’d eat inside somewhere like a shed/garage that didn’t seem like your living quarters or had a door she could open. If that would work, you could put a pet door in for her and put a collar on her with a gizmo that opens the pet door (without the gizmo, the pet door won’t open). That would protect her food and give her a retreat – if she could be persuaded.


            1. Elizabeth West*

              She won’t wear a collar.

              I folded up the lawn chair the mamma cat has been sitting on and put water out front for them so they have no reason to come in the back. PK got some food eaten and I went out and brushed her. We will take back our patio!

      2. Liane*

        Not all these TNR or rescue groups do anything, except try to get donations. A few years ago, we lived down the street from a wooded spot where feral/abandoned cats hung out **because stupid people put out BAGS of food for them several times a week.** A pregnant cat decided to hang out at our house & I tried repeatedly to get TNR out for them, or just to get back with me period. My husband is so allergic to cats that meds and shots don’t help, so couldn’t have her around, much less the kittens or the possibility more of the colony would join her. Grrrrr. Thankfully the cat moved on.
        As for the claim that the colonies won’t grow with TNR, that isn’t so, from our experience. Yes, feline behavior might have kept new feral cats from moving in–but human behavior increased the population. How? Humans who didn’t want their cat–or their cat’s kittens–anymore dumped them there, because they could salve their consciences with the thought that Unwanted Kitty would be happy with all the other Unwanted Kitties to play with and the food left by well-meaning idiots.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m always so surprised whenever people talk here about bad experiences with TNR or rescue groups because that’s so different than what my experience has been! It must vary by area of the country or something.

          I’ve known a lot of different types of animal rescue people and — like all people — some are more sane than others, but I’ve never known any to just try to collect donations and not actually help animals. I’m not disputing your experience, of course, but I wanted to note at least that there are many others that don’t function like that!

          1. Liane*

            Admittedly, I don’t know what the local TNR group does in other areas of the city/suburbs, and I have no idea if the colony I mentioned had TNR cats in it but it was really frustrating that I couldn’t even get an email answered.
            And I like cats and am very much against abandoning an animal.* The last time a cat tried to adopt us, in our old state, I’d had friends with a cat who were able to take it, but couldn’t find anyone here.

            *For the record our dog Bear is from the Animal Village (aka the city shelter) and we are very happy to have him–except when he won’t shut up ;)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’m against abandonment too–that’s why I took Psycho Kitty instead of letting her fend for herself. And why I stay trapped in this stupid house. Because she is NOT an inside cat and I can’t imagine trying to move her.

              I only fed the other cats to keep them away from PK’s food. It worked, until this one came along.

    3. CatLady*

      I currently have a stray that comes into my house and sprays. On my stuff.
      I have a magnetic cat door that requires collars. The stray gets through it by shoving hard. I tried an electronic door but it was defective and the cat mate company told me “too bad, so sad”. $200.00 gone. I am still mad about that.

      My local animal control is useless. I’ve managed to trap the cat once, but the damn thing busted the bottom panel of the door I had the carrier shoved against and escaped. I have a laundry bag I’ll be using next time. Animal control can deal with a highly pissed off cat in a bag once I catch it. I hope it bites them.

      I feel your pain. Good luck. I suggest rigging a trap, you could find a cage on craigslist for cheap and set a trap with food. You may have to lock your cat in for a bit, but it might be worth it. You could also use stuff laying around. Be creative.(laundry bag with pull close. Cat freaks, all you have to do is yank it shut, no one is hurt. Just dont let it run off so maybe anchor the line to something)

  16. Caledonia*

    Those following Brexit from a distance – campaigning has been temporarily suspended due to the murder of an MP and will resume more low key next week. How awful the world can be.

    1. Confused Publisher*

      I work in a mostly politics-free environment usually, but the lead-up to June 23rd has been … really quite heated. I’m having to bite my tongue multiple times a day as people argue and counter-argue without really engaging in a meaningful conversation. (I’m in the UK, and quite invested.)
      And then to have this senseless murder was just… the icing on the cake of human awfulness.

      1. Caledonia*

        (maybe it helps I’m not working at the moment) I’m on a blog site and lots of people have posted about their friends on FB being nasty and insulting, I just don’t get it, it’s not something the people I’m on FB have done (I only have 40 people on it). I wonder if most Scots have just become fatigued like I have over it all because (as I mentioned last week) this will be the 4th time I’ve voted in under two years.

        1. Confused Publisher*

          I followed one of those votes really closely last year, and maybe Scots are just … Nicer people? The level of vitriol this time, including on Facebook, is quite disheartening. That is what probably made yesterday’s tragedy even more painful. I can’t even bear to think about her family’s agony right now.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            I saw some pretty heated discussions and quite a bit of abuse being thrown about during the run up to the independence referendum.

            1. Tau*

              I swear for something like a month before the independence referendum I found it impossible to have a conversation with strangers without the referendum creeping in beforehand. My “favourite” was when I had a check-up at the dentist, who asked about my position and then clarified hers before starting. Like, I was so happy we had managed to clarify we were on opposite sides of this particular issue before she started poking around in my mouth with drills.

    2. fposte*

      I heard about the incident right after it happened–how absolutely awful, and she has two little kids. I’m pleasantly surprised that campaigning halted as a result.

        1. JaneB*

          It’s ALL HORRIBLE.

          I am so sick of the “Refer-never-end-um”

          And we have eight hours of meetings at work on voting day.

          ROLL ON FRIDAY (which will hopefully dawn with the news that the world is not actually ending…)

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I think the worst thing is not knowing either way what is going to happen once the votes are counted.

            There is always the concern that I might be made redundant because I will need a work permit and more documentation to live where I do. At present all I had to do was go to the town hall with my passport and proof of my address, and that was enough!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              That’s what worries me too–it might make getting and keeping jobs very hard for both EU and British citizens (and anyone who might want to emigrate–not that it’s easy to come there now if you’re not EU).

          2. Tau*

            I’m an EU citizen living in the UK and I have wanted to crawl under my bed and wait for it to be over for several months now…

    3. Tau*

      I’m glad it’s halted – it’s such a truly appalling thing to have happened. The poor woman, and her poor family. :(

    4. catsAreCool*

      My theory is that there are a lot more decent people in the world than horrible ones, but the horrible ones get more press because they do terrible things. Don’t know if that helps at all, but it seems like there are a lot of people doing good things that don’t get much attention, and focusing on that helps me.

  17. Stephanie*

    Trying to figure out student loan stuff now. The offer I got for school was tuition/fees remission only (I mean, not complaining since MS degrees in my field are self-funded at a lot of schools). So I’m on my own for living expenses (very small chance I could get some additional funding, but I’m not banking on that). Luckily, I’m moving to a fairly affordable city, so I think I can keep costs low.

    That being said, it’s a little overwhelming figuring out how much to borrow. I’ve got a budget. I think it’s just I’ve been used to getting a salary and working off that versus just getting a refund check and needing to live off that for the semester/year.

    Any tips? On the one hand, I know these are loans, so the less I can borrow, the better. On the other hand, perhaps because I’m a little older, I know I can’t handle eating ramen constantly and would like to sort of live like a 30-yo.

    1. TL -*

      As for living off a refund check, can you have it put in a savings account and have it auto deposit in your checking account monthly or bi-weekly or whatever your preferred paycheck timing is?
      Anything that’s leftover can go back into the savings account and then anything left there at the end of the year can be paid back on the loan.

      1. BRR*

        That’s exactly what I did in the same situation. I needed a “paycheck” but just see if you have a limited number of times you can with purse from your savings account.

    2. Jean*

      Scour the Internet (including this site) for gazillions of suggestions re inexpensive or frugal living. I think the basic ideas are: cook or pack your own food instead of eating out; carry a commuter mug of coffee and/or a reusable water bottle; consider meatless meals (you can go a long way with yogurt, soup, pasta, and salads); make do-it-yourself a way of life as much as possible unless that would be dangerous; buy groceries and everything else that you can at co-op, thrift, or consignment stores or warehouse clubs (or shop the sales of mainstream retail); walk for transportation as much as possible; don’t buy dry-clean-only clothing; and air-dry your laundry as much as possible instead of spending money on the commercial dryer. (Buy your drying racks on Craigslist.) Also get familiar with Freecycle, Craigslist, or any other local resource-sharing listerv.

      Compare prices in case, say, XYZ grocery store has a sale or ongoing price that’s a better deal than Costco. Resist the great price if it’s something you won’t use up before it spoils.

      Used articles may be higher-quality items than the cheaply-assembled stuff in specifically identified Discount Stores. Buying or bartering used also frees up a few more dollars to spend on good groceries, medical care, or shoes. (A friend once described her graduate student wardrobe plan as “used clothing and new shoes.”)

      For entertainment, check out places with “pay what you can” or Preview performances, which are usually the night before the formally designated Opening Night. Or see if you can be an usher at the theater. Universities have discounted onsite performances. The general world often offers student discounts. Check out places good for walking (public gardens? streets with interesting architecture or views?). Invite people over for a meal + board game and conversation. Finally, remember the public library for paper and e-books, various forms of audio or video, and (depending on the library branch or system) online access to databases or information sources.

      1. Jean*

        Oh, and enjoy yourself despite all these suggestions! I’m serious. I follow a lot of these suggestions (although just an adult, not a graduate student) yet live happily. Graduate school can’t be a 24/7 serious experience.

        Also know that oftentimes frugality comes at the cost of time and mental and physical energy. Most of us can’t do-it-ourselves for every activity because who has that much time…?! If your circumstances give you even minor flexibility to choose when to spend and when to suffer (which it sounds like yours will), consider yourself fortunate. I tell myself this on days when I don’t want to go down to the building basement to do my laundry.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. When my frugality necessitates more mental or physical energy than I want to expend, and I’m feeling petulant about it, I always think of Caroline Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie books and feel better by the comparison. Like, I may have to wash and fold a ton of laundry, but wouldn’t Caroline Ingalls have loved an electric washer and dryer; why, it’s hardly like work at all! I have to cook dinner for my family when I, myself, am not even hungry, but wouldn’t Caroline Ingalls have been thrilled to have had some pre-prepared ingredients readily available. Yep, Caroline and I are pretty tight. :-)

          1. DaBlonde*

            That is a great way to keep things in perspective.
            Whenever my daughter complains about doing laundry I remind her that she’s not hauling it down to the creek and beating it on a rock.

  18. Adjunct Gal*

    Thinking about using Airbnb for a first time later this summer. Hubby and I want to do a weekend in P-Town and the hotel’s are $$$$! Any tips to using it? Good experiences? Bad?

    1. New Reader*

      I used it once last year and was happy with the experience. I tried to stick with hosts that had good reviews.

    2. salad fingers*

      I had a great experience with an Airbnb in Montreal. It might turn some people off, but I personally really liked that there were ample places in more neighborhoody areas that don’t typically have hotels. Tips would be to think strategically about what you want to be doing and look for listings in a neighborhood near there. Also, keep public trans or parking in mind. We rode tripped so we made sure to ask everyone if there was a parking spot or easy street parking.

      Oh, and one oversight of ours – maybe double check that the place has wifi if that’s important to you. We had a couple of people who had small amounts of work to do during mornings (looking at you, workoholic sister ;-)) and weird issues with data roaming, so it ended up being a little bit of a pain to not have wifi.

      But yeah, in terms of safety, ease of use, cleanliness – we felt completely fine on all fronts :-)

      1. Adjunct Gal*

        Great ideas! Wifi is super important, so I will want to check for that, but really, I just wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t be putting ourselves into a scary situation. I’m a bit paranoid, to be honest.

    3. Sandy*

      We’ve used it in Turkey, Italy, France, and the US.

      No bad experiences. The Turkey one had less heat than I expected for January but was otherwise lovely.

      I tend to rent whole apartment only rather than a room within it. Maybe that helps with our success rate?

    4. Belle diVedremo*

      Used it for the first time last year to visit in Springfield, MO. We got an entire bungalow to ourselves for less than the price of local hotels, and had a full kitchen which made meals so much easier. I know someone who has a spare room on AirBnB who’s terrific, but I’d be much more comfortable renting an entire home rather than sharing a home.
      A quick scan of Air BnB’s website shows multiple options for cottages and guest houses in Ptown. Prices I saw started around $75/night. Listings show what’s included, a/c, wifi, etc.

    5. Library Director*

      I’ve used it three times in Oregon, Florence and Rome, Italy. I rent whole apartments as well. The bungalow in Medford, OR, was two bedrooms and perfect my adult son and I. Rome was fabulous. Florence was sketchy with little hot water and a flooding shower. Google the address and use the street view to get the best idea of the neighborhood. Watch for listenings that have mostly closeup photos of flowers, candles, etc.

    6. OlympiasEpiriot*

      As someone who is a neighbor to a building with at least 2 high volume airbnbs in it, I have a perspective to relate: We don’t need them playing that they live here and clustering around the stoop late into the night but not giving anything back to the block.

      Please make sure you are really staying in someone’s home and, especially if this is in a multifamily building, please don’t assume their neighbors are happy about the increased traffic.

      A Noo Yawker who is pissed that entire apartments are being used for airBnB when they should be occupied by real tenants and, no, they aren’t all just the spare room being rented by someone who is there all the time.

  19. MsChanandlerBong*

    I just wanted to thank everyone who gave me support when my husband was out of work and our finances were in a shambles. He was hired part-time in April; within two or three weeks, they asked if he wanted to go full-time. This is the happiest he has ever been at a job. At his last job, he’d come home looking like a man marching off to his own execution. Now he comes home with a spring in his step, and he actually has cool stuff to tell me about work. Our finances have done a total 180. Four months ago, my MIL had to buy us food because we had no money for groceries. Today, I paid all the bills due from now until July 13 (so we’re almost a month ahead). Life is so much less stressful now.

    1. Nicole*

      That’s awesome! Congrats to you and your husband not just for feeling more financially secure, but also that he loves his work. That is big!

    2. Caledonia*

      Great to hear for both you and your husband! :) now you can enjoy life a bit more since he is happy at work

    3. Jean*

      This is great news! So glad that your husband now enjoys his work and that you no longer feel as though the financial wolves are at the door (or chewing on the doorknob). Enjoy living with less stress!

  20. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Gardening-ish question: My neighbors have bamboo growing in their yard, against the fence that divides their yard from mine. Some of it has apparently migrated over to my side, and now there’s incredibly fast-growing bamboo at the very back of my yard. I like it, but I know bamboo can be really invasive. Is it likely to strangle or otherwise harm the bushes I have back there? I’m hoping I can just leave it alone, but it has been a huge struggle to get those bushes to take root there (it’s at the top of a slope that’s hard to keep watered).

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you go out there at least every few days, you can probably get away with kicking over/stomping any shoots that come up where you don’t want them. If that gets to be too repetitive, you can try boiling a kettle and pouring some scalding water on each after you stomp it, that should slow the regrowth. They grow fast, but the shoots are fairly fragile (compared to mature bamboo — there’s a reason they make flooring out of it!).

      Back in 2009 we paid a few grand to have bamboo removed from a good portion of our yard, including digging up the roots, and resodding.

        1. danr*

          It will just take over if you leave it alone. You’ll think everything is fine, then you’ll look around a year or so later and there will be nothing but bamboo.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, but think of it like pruning. You will need to keep it under control and away from the bushes, or it will completely engulf them eventually.

          And it can grow in spurts, probably sending out runners (roots) in different directions, and becoming more active when it’s really rainy out over the longer term. It may not seem to be moving in the direction of your bushes, but if you don’t check for a couple of weeks, as danr said, it might suddenly have 4-5 foot shoots 10 feet further from where it was before.

          Once the stalks get that green color, they’re very woody and fibrous, and would have to be clipped or sawed; when they’re beige/white they can be kicked over and snapped off easily. So if you want to keep them in or out of a particular area, you will need to visually check at least a few times a week, and probably go out there at often if there are shoots where you don’t want them.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            But I think you are OK as long as the shoots aren’t too close. You don’t want them to block the light or suck up all the moisture and nutrients. I’d give it about 5 feet of clearance for a small bush, or maybe closer to 8 or 10 for a big hedge, as a rough guess.

        3. Victoria, Please*

          It will take them over completely, sadly. Bamboo is aggressive and tall and will shade them out.

        4. Pennalynn Lott*

          Yes, it will completely take over native plant life. We have to hire guys twice a year to dig up the shoots (bamboo grows through underground runners) that come over from our neighbor’s yard. I’d prefer to provide an environment for native wildlife (and to keep my property from falling into the creek behind our houses, which is what’s happening to my neighbors with the bamboo), than to end up with a mono-culture.

          Luckily, my other next-door neighbor works for the local zoo and the elephants *love* bamboo shoots. So they get a treat from us twice a year. :-)

          But, yes, it will kill anything and everything you already have in place, and it will do so in only one or two seasons. [I recently spied a 6-inch shoot growing up in our yard (in front of the fence versus behind it on the creek side) and told Boyfriend to dig it up. TWO DAYS LATER it was EIGHT FEET TALL. I kicked it over to keep it from growing any further, until he could get around to digging it — and its brethren — up.]

    2. Shout-out to All Folks Considering Law School*

      If you’re within a reasonable distance of any type of home for pandas (e.g. the Smithsonian Zoo in DC) you could contact the panda keepers to see if your bamboo meets their requirements for suitable panda food. I don’t know any details such as how much a particular site needs to supply or whether the panda keepers or bamboo growers are responsible for transporting the harvest.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Being able to get rid of bamboo and help pandas at the same time would be pretty cool.

    3. Thomas E*

      Yeah, depending on the variety it might harm other plants by out competing them for water, nutrients or sunlight.

      Easiest way to determine is look over the fence and see that the mature plant looks like. You’ll get a similar plant on your side of the fence.

    4. Cristina in England*

      This is exactly why I wish my parents hadn’t planted bamboo all over the back of their yard. My dad says that every spring he has to pull up the shoots wherever he doesn’t want it to spread, but he doesn’t consider that a big deal. I don’t think it will kill other plants, just compete with them. Better to try and keep on top of it and pull out any shoots you see, I think.

    5. Gene*

      Or you can decide just how far you are willing to let it spread and install a bamboo barrier. Manual methods always fail. I like bamboo, but planting running bamboo next to a fence without a barrier usually means you either don’t know what you are doing, or you don’t much like your neighbor. ;-)

      http://www.bamboogarden.com/barrier.htm#80 mil barrier

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Not to discourage you, but my old landlord blacktopped the parking lot. The bamboo came up through several inches of blacktop. Yeah, brutally chop it back, show no mercy.

  21. periwinkle*

    Who knows about privacy plantings and privacy fences?

    We live a little north of Seattle – nice cool-temperate climate. Our yard is an odd inverted triangle shape, with the base of our driveway forming the bottom tip and a wide backyard. Weird. Anyway, both sides of the yard have partial privacy screens formed by mature arbor vitae (15 ft or so). These screens start a couple yards from the curb and end at the house. There’s an old wooden fence that starts where the arbor vitae stop; it’s a 6 ft fence along the back of the property (facing a condo complex, which also has a fence) but is low on the sides facing our neighbors’ yards. One of our neighbors parks their RV and other gear along the fence line so it can get noisy, plus our family room addition has a window facing their RV. There’s a tree there giving some privacy but also blocking the light – and it’s overhanging the house too much. We’re going to have it removed or at least heavily pruned; my husband took some of the lower branches off already, bringing more light but less privacy.

    So… our options are to replace the existing wooden fence – which is falling down anyway – with a standard 6ft privacy fence, a line of rapid-growing arbor vitae to extend the current plantings, or something else that hasn’t occurred to us yet.

    In favor of the arbor vitae is that it gives privacy without feeling quite so rude about it, our backyard will still be accessible to our neighbors’ cats who like to visit with ours (separated by windows, ours are strictly inside-only kitties), and it gives more shelter options for birds.

    In favor of the privacy fence is that we’d get immediate privacy and some sound muffling, a bit more security (perceived or actual, who knows), and would be preferable if we decide to add a catio so our cats can go outside without going outside. We also want to at least rebuild the privacy fence between us and the condo AND add more plantings there (there’s a line of trees but with some gaps). It doesn’t make sense to have just a fence wall on its own if there’s a security concern as well as a privacy one.

    Thoughts? Alternatives?

    1. LCL*

      Will you ever have a dog, or have children, at this property? If yes, then a real fence is the way to go. It will probably shade the yard more.
      If you want to stick with plants, have some fun with it. Arbor vitae are common and cheap, you can rest easy about chopping one down. Laurel works good for really heavy duty hedges- it can get huge and has to be chainsaw pruned, but it is infinitely malleable, well, for a plant. I always wanted to try a section of red twig dogwood for screening. You should go to sky nursery and see what they suggest for plants.

    2. Gene*

      Clumping bamboo can be a great screen for both vision and noise. Plus, it doesn’t need the control that running bamboo does (see above). There are several bamboo nurseries around here that can give you good advice and sell you the right plants. Plus, bamboo grows very quickly, so you’ll have a barrier much sooner than with that ugly (IMO) arbor vitae that is everywhere around here.

    3. Sibley*

      I like the idea of the arborvitae. You could plant them now and take the fence down in a year or 2 to give them time to grow a bit.

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I love arbor vitae because of the shelter it gives to birds and its shape. The branches are too weak to let cats climb, but plenty strong for song birds.

  22. Athena C*

    Visited my dad’s grave today. He died on father’s day ten years ago. It sucked, but not as much as I had feared.

    Now my mum and I are going to drink wine.

    1. Shout-out to All Folks Considering Law School*

      It’s hard to see the grave of someone you loved. I hope your memories of him are good.

    2. Athena C*

      Thank you. It was hard, and I do remember good things. It’s just…he was very sick. He was dying my entire life, and it’s just hard.

      Thank you.

  23. Sophiabrooks*

    I had a dream last night that someone wrote into AAM to ask if she should take an opportunity to be a paid research penguin. It was very strange but made sense in the dream

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I want that to happen! I randomly had a dream last night about that letter from a couple of years ago from the person who was afraid to fire the office receptionist because she was afraid the woman had violent family members who would retaliate. I woke up really wanting an update.

    2. DropTable~DropsMic*

      Ahaha now I’m imagining one of those profiles Alison does, on a penguin.

    3. Confused Publisher*

      My book club did a completely mad but great book called Death and the Penguin a few years ago, and the very very strange climactic scene played out in my head when I read about your dream.
      Related anecdote: the only time I’ve ever wondered whether I was spending too much time on here when I dreamt Alison was adjudicating solemnly in a dispute between my parents’ cats and my teddy bears.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I’ve just added this to my to-read list. Did you ever read Three Bags Full? It’s about a flock of sheep who try to solve a murder mystery. The summary of Death and the Penguin sort of reminded me of it.

        1. Confused Publisher*

          I hadn’t heard of it but just based on the title and the premise, it’s going on my to-read pile. I’ll report back!

    4. Lady Kelvin*

      I had a dream last week that I had woken up and read AAM already, but when I checked the site later in the day the letter I read was no where to be found. I’m still not positive it was a dream, it was so real. However, I’ve been getting horrible sleep for the last month due to stress, so it was probably just a dream.

    5. Turanga Leela*

      I love this. Also, if someone offered to pay me to be a research penguin, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I still want to climb a secret, winding staircase and sit in a comfy armchair reading a coconut book and waiting for my advising appointment with Alison. I forget which commenter had that dream, but I liked it!

    7. Saro*

      I’m imagining a penguin’s log, “Day 3, the other penguins still do not realize I am not one of them…”

  24. Not Karen*

    I’m sick and tired of therapists giving me a hard time about asking if they have evening or weekend hours, as if it’s weird that I work 9-6. I even have flextime, so my workplace is more lenient than most about hours. What do people with regular full time jobs do?

    1. Cristina in England*

      Write in to AAM about how to ask the boss for time off every Thursday afternoon for therapy. :-)

    2. Dan*

      My shrink takes Sunday and Monday off, and has her last appt at 7pm.

      I bolt at 5p and nobody even misses me.

    3. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      I found one that had 8 a.m. appointments when I worked at 9 – 6. Then I’d just flex the 15 minutes of travel time off my lunch break. Or I’d take an extended lunch if she was booked before work, but I hated this because I could not eat at my desk later so I mostly missed a meal. Occasionally I’d just have to take a midday appointment, usually due to holidays.

      Now that I work 8 – 5, I suppose I’d just have to take leave or flex the time or take my “lunch” then. At least I can eat at my desk now.

    4. K.*

      My therapist has evening hours – I’ve had a bunch of 5:30 appointments. My friend’s therapist has hours on Sundays. You’re definitely not in the wrong for asking! Could you do lunchtime appointments?

      1. Becca*

        My therapist works from like 1pm-8pm or so… It would be great if there was a website or network of some kind where therapists listed their locations and hours! Save us the trouble of having to ask about hours. Good luck.

  25. Caledonia*

    Trivial things that annoy you?

    1) microsoft upgraded hotmail to outlook on my phone and now I can’t use my app because my phone is too out of date to install outlook.

    2) apply for a job, save the application. *Every* single day, I get an email reminder reminding me that I haven’t finished. I don’t need one every day to tell me that!

    1. LisaLee*

      I hate Outlook. I want my Hotmail back. The infinite scroll of outlook bugs me.

      I’ve also been job searching lately, and it drives me crazy when you have to enter your references into the computer system at the initial stage. No one needs them at that stage!

  26. Shout-out to All Folks Considering Law School*

    (This is really Jean–the one whose posts run into the hundreds of words if she isn’t very, very careful.)
    This past week someone asked AAM whether it was a good idea to go to law school. I wanted to tell that person–and anyone else also pondering this question–that just yesterday I found the following article in the New York Times online:

    For more information see also (articles I haven’t read):
    *** Op-Ed piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/opinion/too-many-law-students-too-few-legal-jobs.html
    *** Letters to the Editor, in response to piece above (all written by lawyers, law students or law professors): http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/opinion/a-law-degree-is-no-job-guarantee.html
    *** the blog “Corporette” (www.corporette.com), self-described as “fashion, lifestyle, and career advice for overachieving chicks” which was started by a now-former lawyer and is frequented by many lawyers. Every so often the comments section has a long or short discussion about the merits vs. drawbacks of going to law school and working–or looking for work–as a lawyer.

      1. Shout-out to All Folks Considering Law School*

        Oops, I forgot! Apologies. (What does that say about my own work-life balance?) I’ll re-post appropriately.

  27. Anonymous Educator*

    How do you best support friend (besides listening) who is in a bad relationship, knows she needs to break up with her boyfriend, and hasn’t yet done it? She’s financially fine without him, but they do own property together, which makes things complicated…

    1. Cristina in England*

      It sounds like you’re doing a lot of listening without any progress or movement in the situation. Have you tried redirecting the conversation? Changing the subject? Giving her five minutes of pointless venting time before changing the subject? You didn’t explicitly say that you are fed up so forgive me for projecting my own experiences with endlessly complaining and stuck friends onto your situation.

        1. Cristina in England*

          If you aren’t fed up, then you’re probably already doing a great job! Listening sympathetically without judgement, offering opinions when asked, and inviting her to do fun stuff with you is close to the limit of what you can realistically do.

    2. Emmy*

      If you have a strong relationship, you can help her think through: What’s next? What steps will get you to “next”? Are you ready for “next”?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks. Yes, we’ve talked about that. It’s really just a matter of her actually taking those next steps. I guess there’s only so much you can do if you’re a friend and not that person who has to make the actual step.

    3. TootsNYC*

      It’s possible that what’s best for her is to stop listening so she has to do something about it. Sometimes talking about this stuff releases just enough of the pressure so she doesn’t have to act.

      Once someone did this to me, and it is the one thing I am most grateful for.
      I was complaining “how fat I am!” and she said, in a very interested tone:

      “What are you going to do about it?”

      As if there was an answer that I would give, as if that was the only logical next topic of conversation, and she was really interested to hear it!

      Note that she didn’t say, “So are you going to start working out?” (so, not “are you going to talk to a real estate agent?”)

      It wouldn’t have had the same effect.

      The thing I have carried with me for decades following that comment are these:
      -I can do something about what bothers me.
      -And if I actually want anything to change, I do have to do it; complaining doesn’t actually create change.

      However, if she’d told me those things directly, it wouldn’t have worked.

  28. Thomas E*

    Hm… I just enrolled on the first module of a postgraduate degree (it’s with the open university in the UK. )

    Wondering how I break the news to my parents / family without getting lots of pressure.

    One if the nice things about the OU is you don’t have to register for a degree to start studying it… so you don’t necessarily fail if you don’t get a degree.

    I guess it’s been a long time since I was a student and I’m not that confident :)

    1. Cristina in England*

      Why do you think it will be such a big deal that you have to “break the news” to them? Is your family unsupportive generally or are you projecting your own lack of confidence onto the situation? What is the worst that could happen? Feel free not to answer that last part here, but it is useful to think about in order to figure out how to deal with it.

      1. Thomas E*

        Possibly the opposite. I have a very education-focused family so my doing a postgraduate degree would be something they would be thrilled about.

        But I have a lot of health problems and it’s quite possible I’ll never finish it.

        1. Caledonia*

          I am with the OU but UG – the student support services are very helpful. You may be able to take a longer time to study than a “normal” uni. Is your PG part time like UG is?

        2. Cristina in England*

          Oh yes I can relate to that.
          Do you have to tell them right away? You could do the first module without saying anything, to see how it goes and build confidence.

  29. Cordelia Drexel Biddle*

    I need some perspective here and hoping you can help.

    I just received a text from my MIL stating that she got my husband a Father’s Day gift from me and my children. (What?!) I asked her why she would do that, she stated “I know money is tight and wanted to help in case you didn’t get him anything.”

    I am so upset, yes, money is a little tight but I have money to buy my husband a gift. Which I had already planned out. I texted my husband to tell him what happened and that I’m upset that she would be so presumptive. He understood where I was coming from but didn’t offer his opinion on the matter. My issues isn’t that she did this, it’s the fact that she didn’t ask me and told me what gift I was giving. What gift my children were giving.

    I guess I just wanted to put it out there to see if I was the only one who would feel the same as I do.

    1. Dan*

      Is it something you would have given yourself or that otherwise will be appreciated? If so, assume that MIL’s heart is in the right place. After all, she’s buying it on behalf of her grandkids and not just you, right?

      If there are other subtexts going on that I’m missing, that’s different, but if it’s a genuine gift, er on the side of its the thought that counts.

      1. Cordelia Drexel Biddle*

        It is something he would like. It is from me and my kids. I already have a present for him and my kids (still very young) have a tradition of giving him hand prints every year. So now I’m supposed to give him something else that isn’t even from me and pretend that it is? She has a bad habit of meddling in things. I constantly have to push back on things.

        1. TL -*

          I would just tell her thanks for the thought but you prefer to buy your own gifts for your own husband. Repeat as necessary.

          More importantly, has your husband talked to her about boundaries? Because this is his mom and she sounds like she has some boundary issues. He should be the one letting her know her actions aren’t appropriate.

          Buying a gift on someone else’s behalf, without their knowledge or permission, to send to a person they know intimately, is incredibly gross and not okay. And buying a gift acting as the wife of your son is also gross and not okay.

        2. Observer*

          No, give him what you got and the kids’ hand-prints.

          THAT is from you. Whatever you MIL got is NOT from you, even though she got it on your behalf. You can give it to him and tell him where it came from. Especially since he knows what happened already.

          Keep in mind that just because she got a gift doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and do what you want. There is no law that you can’t get more than one Father’s day gift.

          Your MIL may be a meddler, but by just going ahead and doing your thing, you minimize the impact on yourself and your family.

          BTW, I totally get why your husband wouldn’t offer an opinion on this. But see if he is willing to thank his mother for HER gift.

      2. knitchic79*

        Oh this would send me into orbit too. My MIL informed me that she’d signed my youngest up for his first sleep away camp. Youngest has a mild sensory processing disorder and is also a bit immature for his age. Grrrrr I know they mean well but seriously…sorry Cordelia, I feel you big time.

        1. Cordelia Drexel Biddle*

          Oh my goodness! I would flip my lid! I don’t understand what their thinking is. “This is my child” is something I say repeatedly (to myself because she’s too pig headed to listen.)

          My parents won’t even give a gift unless they speak to me first, to make sure we don’t have it, if it will be appropriate, etc. I don’t understand why she can’t do the same.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I think it would be OK to buy a gift for a child without checking with the parents, most of the time; that’s not something I would request of my in-laws.

            But, yeah, this is your child.
            Maybe it’s time to start saying, “You are not the parent here.”
            So it’s about them.

        2. Observer*

          Seriously!? And how, exactly, do they think they are going to make you send your child?

          I’d really just NOT discuss this, but just let the camp know that you are NOT sending the child. Period. No discussion. And, since you and your husband never signed anything, they cannot claim that you owe them a cancellation fee.

          Just doing your thing in these cases is far more effective than talking about it. If you do your thing, you do what you want to and you MIL doesn’t get what she wants. In most cases, eventually they learn. And even if they don’t, you’ve minimized the impact on you. (But, do make sure to explicitly tell places like your pediatrician that they are NEVER to discuss your children with your IL’s.)

          1. Knitchic*

            We ended up checking the camp and liking it. And our church’s pastor, who kiddo loves, is going to be a chaperone/counselor as well so we decided to give it a try. I did tell MIL that this was so far out of line I couldn’t even…She at least apologized, a lot.

    2. Red*

      I’d be ticked. You don’t actually have to take it though– “thanks for the thought, but we’re set.” She can return it or give it to him for some occasion or whatever. Not your problem.

      1. Cordelia Drexel Biddle*

        That was basically how I responded. “Thanks, but I already got him something.”

    3. Ruffingit*

      That is way overstepping her bounds. If she wAs concerned money was tight, she could have offered you cash for a gift, but actually buying something?? All the nopes.

    4. Becca*

      This is ridiculously out of line. Even if money is too tight for any gift, a homemade card is so much more appropriate than a “sponsored” gift like this, with his mother jumping in… Eesh. Boundaries are a good thing… Hope the frustration is over soon. Good luck.

    5. TootsNYC*

      I would feel exactly the same way you do.

      And I would say, “That’s nice, but you may not put my name or my children’s names on that gift. You should give it to him from you.”
      And I might also say, “I need you to understand that I consider that really over the line. It is not appropriate for you to do such a thing; I consider it interfering in my marriage, to be specific. And interfering in the relationship between my children and their father. Please don’t ever do it again.
      “Gifts are not valuable unless they are given from the heart, and that has nothing to do with our budget. My children and I are all capable of giving a gift to our father and husband, and the gifts we give will have all the more meaning because we gave them using the budget available to us.
      “I don’t intend to be mean here, but I am very serious, and I want to be very firm. Never, ever do such a thing again. Can you promise that?”

    6. Artemesia*

      Wow. She can give him a present but she can’t give him one from you and your kids without tactfully conferring first i.e. ‘I got him a Veeblefetzer and it could be from all of you if you would like.’ Still presumptuous but not quite as gross.

      You husband really should say something clearly if she actually does or did this. ‘Mom, it is not okay for you to take it upon yourself to decide what my wife and kids give me for father’s day. Don’t do it again.’ If you were able to stop her then YOU can make it clear. Both my daughter and SIL are out of work; it would not cross my mind to engineer something like that. She and their child can give him a cake they make or a picture the child draws. It isn’t buying stuff that makes father’s day.

  30. Mimmy*

    I don’t think I ever updated y’all about my phone situation from the first weekend in June.

    I did get a refurbished phone – an iPhone 4s. With how sharp and fast the 6 and 6-plus are, you forget how different it is from older models. It was a real pain though: The system got all confused because my old phone is still out there. We did erase it but I think we had to un-suspend it (so the guy couldn’t try to reactivate it through another carrier) so that we could purchase the refurb. We never got insurance for either of our phones, and DH thinks we should consider getting it for any new phone going forward.

    So far it’s worked fine except sometimes the battery drains very quickly, sometimes in just one day. The plan is that once the newer model comes out, likely in September, DH will give me his old 6-plus, since it’s much bigger and, thus, easier for me to see.

    I also wanted to clarify something based on the comments: My husband TRIED to get the guy (who found my old phone) to agree to meet somewhere; yet, he was all “man, what do you want me to do??” and “Just let me know when you get here!” even though he didn’t say where “here” was (we could only guess the general area based on the phone’s location). That’s basically what he was saying to me as well.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      I am looking for a new phone. How do you search for a reputable company to sell you one? My phone is so glitchy that sometimes getting to AAM takes about ten tries because it resets to the opening choices screen or jumps to a random website that I had looked at earlier.

      1. Mela*

        Swappa! It was a site originally for cell phone sales people (they get new phones every couple of months because the companies want them to use it personally and talk them up to customers). But now anyone can sell a used phone. They verify that the phones aren’t stolen and you can search model, color, storage, condition, etc. I’v never bought a new smartphone and I’ve bought 3 or 4 from this site.

  31. Jubilance*

    Hey friends! Just wanted to share – I’m expecting! It’s our first baby and we’re overjoyed. I’m also nervous and naturally a worrier, but trying to focus on the joy and not worry about all the things that could go wrong. I’m due in late December so we’re looking forward to either a late Christmas gift or a New Year’s baby!

    1. MommaCat*

      Congrats! I’m due in mid-January with my second! May your baby be healthy and your morning sickness mild! And heartburn. And constipation. And brain-fades. Basically, may all your annoying pregnancy symptoms be super mild!

      1. Jubilance*

        OMG thank you! I’ve had some mild morning sickness and heartburn, so I can’t complain about that. Congrats on your new addition as well, and I hope everything goes smoothly!

    2. Emmy*

      Yay! A baby! You are going to get so many Baby’s first Christmas ornaments! :-) Best wishes for all!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am so happy for you!
      Thanks for sharing this news with us.
      You guys will be great parents, I am sure.

    4. Artemesia*

      Congrats. Hope your hormones kick in like mine did. I am a naturally anxious worry wort who one would expect to be thinking dire thoughts while pregnant. Instead those endorphins kicked in and I was blissful the whole time I was pregnant both times. It never crossed my mind that anything could go wrong (and I ALWAYS worry about what can go wrong.) Hope it works that way for you.

    5. New Bee*

      Congratulations! I just found out a friend is due that same time; yay for Christmas babies! I’m due early November, and our kid is both half-Christian, half-Jewish and the first great grandchild on both sides of the family, so I’m basically carrying the most spoiled child ever.

      I empathize on the natural worrier part; I tried to keep in mind that our bodies are made to do this. :-)

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      I hope you come back to see later additions like this — congratulations! It’s also kind of cool being considered a friend, even though we’ve never met. I look forward to hearing about the little cutie.

  32. nep*

    I think I’ve got a good candidate for Trump’s running mate — A woman quite nearly mowed me down making an illegal U-turn on a side street. When I wasn’t ready to get all warm and fuzzy with her when she opened her window and shouted ‘I’m sooo sorry — I didn’t see you’ she then yelled, ‘Well you could at least thank me!’

        1. ginger ale for all*

          I don’t think Alice Cooper would do anything that would limit his golf time. I read his biography a few years ago and there isn’t enough time in the day for him to play golf.

      1. Artemesia*

        Ivanka isn’t old enough. Alice is a thought though. Condi would be perfect what with ignoring a memo that said ‘Bin Laden poised to Strike in the US’ two days before 9/11.

    1. ginger ale for all*

      Trump and his protesters just baffle me. Why in the world do they want to interrupt his speeches? JMO, let him keep talking, his crazy comes out when he’s running his mouth.

      1. Jean*

        Maybe they can’t restrain themselves? Or believe that our country can do better than to elect this dictator-in-waiting? All that hatred and ignorance begs to be challenged.

      2. Artemesia*

        I am paranoid. I assume he will employ protestors — sort of a Reichstag Fire strategy in order to be able to run against ‘lawlessness’.

  33. Florida*

    I suggest we build a big beautiful median to prevent illegal U-turners. Also, we need to immediately deport all bad drivers.

    1. nep*


      (And her ‘it’s all-about-me’ demeanor. She nearly killed me driving her big SUV illegally (probably texting), and she was indignant. I got a good chuckle out of that.)

      1. nep*

        (Not a jab at SUV-owners… Mentioning that because it relates to the damage she could have done had I not been able to move quickly.)

  34. Guava*

    In general, what side do you walk on on the sidewalk? On a trail?

    I would say, stay to your right. If I recall, slower runners are told to stay to the right during races.

    Anyway, the last few runs I’ve gone on (trails, on the weekends) the majority of people just kind of walk or run in the middle. No real regard for people coming the other way or the other runners who may be faster or slower.

    It’s been really annoying me lately. Then I started noting it in my everyday life. Just take up the whole sidewalk! I don’t want to be that person who ends up accidentally shoulder checking you, but it just might get to that point :(

    1. Cruciatus*

      I always just let out a “on your left!” to let them know I’m coming up behind them to pass. They almost always will move. They should be on the right side, though I probably start going toward the middle of a path if left to my own devices or when walking next to someone. When we see someone is behind us we move or if someone up ahead is coming our way we also move to the side. Just let ’em know you’re there and they’ll move.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I always stay to the right on sidewalks and trails. I’m also so accustomed to hearing cyclists calling out, “On your left!” when passing.

        A few years ago I was walking on my university campus, and I heard a cyclist call out, “On your . . .”, and, in keeping with my trained reflexes, I immediately leapt to my right. Well, she nearly plowed into me as she finished the sentence ” . . . right!”

        What? There’s no such thing as, “On your right!” The only way, in cyclist/pedestrian shared areas, to say this sentence is, “On your left!” Because once trained pedestrians hear, “On your . . . “, we’re already moving to the right.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I hate the calling out with direction. It involves way too much thinking on my part. Especially w/ bikes, because they’re moving so fast that by the time they are close enough for me to hear them, and to realize that they’re talking to *me*, they’re already running into me.

          I think all bicycles should use a bell; that says “bike!” to me, and I know to look. It will also carry farther forward than someone’s voice.

    2. LizB*

      If there are obviously lots of other people around, or I’m on a wider trail, I usually walk on the right. I might walk/run right in the middle of a sidewalk if I don’t think anyone is around. I always try to stay alert and be aware of folks around me, though, and move out of the way of anyone who wants to pass. If I don’t notice someone right away, an “excuse me” or “on your left” will do the trick.

      What gets me are the people who are out in a group and insist on walking/running/biking side by side, taking up the entire width of the path, and expect people to step off the path (or swerve out of the bike lane) to go around them. It’s so rude. If I’m out with a group, we always go single file briefly or step off the path if someone going faster wants to pass.

      1. Nicole*

        That’s a big pet peeve of mine as well. Some people think they own the path or something. Just last week some guy was walking from the parking lot to get on the path, looked right at my husband and I biking toward him and stepped right in front of us anyway. It’s as if he dared us to hit him. Ugh!

    3. ginger ale for all*

      I see that a lot too. I think they just need to have a friendly sign or two in the parks. Most people don’t know the protocol when they first start out.

    4. LawCat*

      There’s a bike trail that is also available for runners and walkers. I run against bike traffic (so I run on the left side of the trail) so I can see them coming and move to the side so they have plenty of room.

    5. Lizabeth*

      Try walking in Manhattan…especially in Midtown! Way too many people who aren’t sure where they are going. And we won’t talk about the escalators in the Port Authority….there are days I want to growl at people to get them to move somewhere.

      1. Lizabeth*

        What I’ve found to be effective is a pleasant “Excuse me” with a slight edge to it really does break through whatever fog people are in. Especially IN the Port Authority on the level where I get my bus to go home.

      2. the gold digger*

        At the airport. People. DO NOT STOP AND STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PATH IN THE TERMINAL. Move to the side.

        And on the moving walkways and escalators – if you really do have an injury that keeps you from walking even when you are on the moving walkway or have a bunch of kids you are trying to control or are old and tired, please stand to the right so I can pass you on the left. It is too darn slow to let the moving walkway take me. I want to hustle.

    6. K.*

      Stay to the right, pass on the left. I do this when biking or running, and I say “on your left” when passing.

      I have a favorite trail and last weekend I was biking on it, and these three women were walking all in a row so they took up the entire trail. (The trail widens and narrows in different spots, so in a little while there would be more room but they were walking three deep in a narrow spot and no one could get by them.) Runners and cyclists alike were giving indications that they needed to make some room, but they just wouldn’t move. At one point they just stopped walking and were still taking up the whole trail, so they could have caused a collision. At this, a cyclist finally yelled “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” and they kind of got startled and cleared some room. It was so annoying – and dangerous!

    7. Vancouver Reader*

      That’s a major pet peeve of mine too. I was taught to stay to the right and pass on the left, but so often I find people walking on their left towards me. At 5′, I may not be an intimidating force but I walk with purpose and if people don’t get back on their side, I am not above shoulder checking them. I do however make exceptions for elderly, people who have a physical handicap or someone who’s dog insists on going to the grass on that side.

      1. misspiggy*

        As someone with invisible disabilities which make me take a fairly wobbly path down the street, that may explain why I got bashed about by so many people when I was in New York recently. In most UK cities people are so appalled by the idea of inadvertent physical contact that they swoop out of the way even if I’m staggering across their path. (I do apologise when that happens, but I appreciate people not trying to punish me for something I can’t do much about).

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          I hope I haven’t smacked into anyone who’s got an invisible disability. Most of the ones I smack into are teenagers who seem to think they own the sidewalk. I had one group once that purposely didn’t move even though they were walking 3 across. I purposely shoulder checked them and didn’t apologize, but then neither did they.

    8. Artemesia*

      When it is a path shared with cyclists I like to walk on the left so I am facing bikes coming towards me. I don’t like bikes coming up behind me where I can’t see them to jump. I live near a two way shared bike/pedestrian path that is very busy.

  35. Mander*

    I had an unsettling experience last night with someone begging me for money. I always feel bad but I never know how to get rid of people without being nasty.

    My DH and I were on our way home (around midnight, but there were a lot of people around) and walking away from the train station when a woman stopped us and asked if we could help her. In my experience at least half the time people want directions from me, so I stopped and asked what she needed. She then proceeded to try to sell me various items of jewelry she was wearing, a pair of shoes in a plastic bag, etc. We said no, sorry, we can’t help and started walking away. She stayed right with me and got increasingly hysterical, talking about how she *only* needed £20, her daughter had died, she hadn’t eaten for a week, there’s a cash machine right around the corner, she’s been unemployed for two months, etc. etc. I felt bad because perhaps everything was true but it seemed to me that if I went to the cash machine I’d find an accomplice with a knife waiting for me. The woman finally abruptly turned around and walked off when we passed the cash machine and it was apparently clear that I wasn’t going to stop and give her money.

    The truly upsetting thing was that my husband started walking faster to get away, but I am for some reason a ridiculously slow walker. I cannot keep up with him on a good day, let alone when I have a slightly scary, hysterical person matching pace with me. During the later argument he claimed that he was trying to encourage me to speed up and basically run away, but he didn’t say anything and just charged out across a busy street leaving me alone, trapped by traffic, and trying to shake this person off. I felt abandoned and angry. We had planned to get a late-night dinner but went to bed without anything because he was too upset to cook and we would have had to pass the woman again to get to the takeaway place.

    1. nep*

      What a crappy experience for you, in a lot of ways. Has your husband come to understand why you were angry over his approach?

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Hmm.. I feel like in NYC it’s the exact opposite, or at least it should be. If someone blurts out “Which way is 5th avenue?” I’ll stop and answer them. But people who say “excuse me” and then wait for me to stop make me think they want something more and I’ll keep walking (I’m sure some of these people do just want directions, but I’m not stopping if I’m not sure).

        1. the gold digger*

          I think I read this in “Paper Moon,” but part of being a good con artist is getting people to say “Yes” to you. So you start with “May I ask you a question?” because most people will say, “Yes.” Then it’s on to the ask or the buildup to the ask.

          If anyone asks me that now, I ignore him.

    2. Caledonia*

      there is one that wanders around my city, with a strong Scottish accent and in a safety jacket. He claims he has lost his car keys or something and needs money to get to small town 15 miles away. Well dodgy.

      I’m sorry your husband didn’t wait for you :( that’s crappy of him, if you actually cannot walk any quicker. Even though it was late, was there anywhere open like a pub/takeaway near by? I might’ve ducked into there (I’m assuming if you’d crossed the street she would’ve followed you).

    3. Tara R.*

      I just say “Sorry” and keep walking. Don’t give excuses like “I don’t have any money” because it opens it up for debate. I give some change when I can, and that helps alleviate my guilt a bit.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Was it here? Someone said they carried energy bars to give instead of cash.

      I hope you guys get calmer about this and have a good talk about what to do the next time. I get that we should not have to explain these things, but yet, here we are. My husband and I had a few such talks after an event. Yep, it’s hard because one spouse has one idea and the other spouse has a totally different idea. And you end up looking at each other as if to say, “What planet are you from, anyway?” And i get the abandonment feeling too. He left you and she kept pursuing you- so it was like you were trapped by this person. If he had not sped up or if she had not kept following you this story would have been a lot easier.

      My husband fell in the middle of the road while walking the dog one night. He lost his precious glasses. He would not stand up until he found the damn glasses. There was an on-coming car, I jumped out in front of the car because by luck I happened to be carrying a big flashlight that night. No matter what I said, he would. not. stand up. until. he. found. his. glasses.

      Once I got back to speaking in full sentences, it RAINED in my husband’s world. I think I must have talked for about three hours, that is how long it took for me to calm down. He probably thought it would have been easier for him just to get hit by the car.

      Once you both get down from the ceiling, work out a plan that you will use as a team and agree to stick the plan. Focus on finding something that works for the both of you, as opposed to talking about what the other one did wrong and should not do. (Can’t unring that bell.)

      And as an aside: I used stuff like this to remind me about my own self care. If our spouses/parents/whoever abandon us that is one type of problem. But if we do not take good care of ourselves that is a whole new level of problem. Take good care of you.

      1. fposte*

        I cackled at “He probably thought it would have been easier for him just to get hit by the car.”

        (But seriously, if the car rolls over you the glasses are a moot point anyway, so get out of the road!)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          So obvious to most people, yet some how he totally missed that point. I think if he had stopped saying “BUT my glasses…!” the conversation would not have taken so long. In the end, he did say that he thought it was gutsy of me to step out in front of that car that way. And I concluded that this is why we see newspaper headlines of people doing illogical stuff like this. I could have been that headline. You have a few seconds to decide what to do and you just pray it works. I was very lucky.

    5. Lizabeth*

      The best thing I’ve found to work in NYC is don’t make eye contact, don’t respond, don’t say sorry and keep walking. Is it harsh? Yes, it is…however it works. There’s a difference between a tourist that’s confused and needs some directions and a professional panhandler.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Pretty much.

        I got panhandler fatigue from living in Santa Cruz. From what I’ve heard, it’s not much better since I lived there. I can ignore a beggar with the best of them.

        Buskers, on the other hand, I will give to if I like what they’re doing. Though I HATE when they use amplifiers in the tube stations. Guh, the noise is just awful. I actually doubled back and gave a guy a pound just for not using one. (He was also playing the guitar pretty well.)

      2. salad fingers*

        We have a lot of homeless people in Chicago, and I get approached a lot. I say sorry, make eye contact, sometimes say good luck, and don’t think I’ve ever gotten followed. I’m also a REALLY fast walker though (like practically a jog, I’ve been told) so I think people see that I’m not really stopping. Despite that, I feel like I’m still always the one that people ask for directions. I do totally stop for that.

      3. Tris Prior*

        I do this too. Though sometimes I’ll say sorry, if the person isn’t being aggressive or threatening. I still get profanity yelled at me in return sometimes, though. :(

    6. Mander*

      Yeah, he understood why I was mad and apologized, but I still felt angry about it. And this person didn’t really do any of the usual panhandler stuff — she was walking with all the other people who had just left the station, carrying an umbrella, etc. She came up behind us and I just assumed she’d gotten off the train and was maybe confused about which direction to walk for the buses.

      I’m better now but at the time I was also really pissed off that he was just lecturing me on all the things I should have done, or that he “didn’t realize” that I wasn’t keeping up with him, despite the fact that I have never been able to walk as fast, or saying that when he looked back I seemed to be talking to her and engaging her and therefore… what? I deserved it, I guess?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Grrr. Tell him next time he has to hold hands with you. Superficially, you guys can be looking like a sweet couple holding hands and meanwhile you can squeeze the heck out of his hand if he walks too fast.

  36. Cristina in England*

    Anyone ever hidden a desk or computer workstation in an IKEA wardrobe? I have seen a couple examples online like this one (second link has more photos but is same project):

    The reason for doing something like this is that we don’t have a bedroom to spare as a home office, and I like the idea of hiding my desk away. In real life, is something like this a good idea? Can I make a setup like this ergonomic? Would it be annoying to use a pull out accessories tray for my keyboard and not even have normal drawers, etc? I also want a kneeling stool or something else that will be good for my back but I would have to hide away in the under desk space.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I think it depends on the user. My husband had one in our old house. He generally left the doors open and you could see the mess all the time. The pull out keyboard tray was fine, but seems if you are going to put your stool in it, you won’t have much storage space. If you are mostly digital and don’t have a lot of paper mess it will probably be fine. The mess was a sore spot for me.

    2. Nina*

      I’ve never done this, but I think it looks great. The only negative I would see is if you actually need a desk space to use, not just for your computer. Even if you removed the monitor, it would be pretty confining to try to write in that small space. Otherwise, looks fine to me.

    3. Cristina in England*

      @Caledonia, thank you, I think so too!
      @AnotherAlison, good point about leaving the doors open! I currently do this so that definitely something to think about.
      @Nina, yes, I agree it would be too confining for actual writing. I will have to think and make sure I wouldn’t need more than just a computer in there.

    4. Artemesia*

      We had a one bed apartment when we first moved to this new city and my husband needed a desk/work station. There was one in the wardrobe but he found working in essentially a closet depressing. Sure you can do that? We ended up buying a small computer desk that we positioned by the window — with a nice view. Bedrooms don’t get much use in the day time and it was great to be able to use that space to give him privacy and workspace and he was MUCH happier with the view than trying to work at a desk in the closet.

      1. Cristina in England*

        That is something important to consider, thank you. I don’t know if I would mind, to be honest. Currently I hunch over my laptop sitting on the floor, with the laptop on one of those air-circulating stands. I have the bed six inches to my left, the wall six inches to my right, and bookshelves in front of me. I think I would be all right in that respect actually, having reasoned it out here. My main concern is being able to get an ergonomic setup. I think being in a closet might actually work strangely well for me.

  37. louise*

    I stopped taking antidepressants in January because I’d been on Pristiq for a couple years and it no longer kept crying jags at bay, or seemed to be helping with anxiety or depression anymore. Tried Brintellix/Trintellix briefly, but reacted very badly to it. Have used Effexor and Zoloft in the past and didn’t have positive results with either. So, I wanted to see what I was like unmedicated. Had some amazing things happen–no longer sluggish in mornings (didn’t become a morning person–I’d rather sleep in–but I no longer felt glued to my bed every morning), generally felt more alert, sex drive returned, and I lost 12 lbs without altering my diet.


    Other things have been worse. My job has gotten very, very bad in the last couple months and I can’t tell whether my difficultly dealing with it is because it’s truly out of control or if I need to be medicated. I am having to be so incredibly careful about sleep, food, avoiding ANY extra commitments, and so forth as my tolerance for handling things seems diminished.

    My therapist has been so helpful along the way and has suggested several times that ADD may be a real issue for me. I agree but had the hardest time getting the psychiatrist to agree to trying anything for that. She finally relented and I’m now 1 month into a ramp-up on Strattera (have only been on full dose 3 days). I can’t tell any improvement in my focus. My anxiety and crying spells have increased in the last week, but again, things at work are truly falling apart so I think I’d be feeling this way regardless.

    I’m just so unsure of how to handle the whole medication thing and don’t have the emotional energy to flit around trying different things until we get it right.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I don’t have any good advice for you, but I’m sorry you’re having so many problems. I hope things get better.

    2. YaH*

      Is there any reason why your doctor tried you on a nonstimulant medication rather than the more commonly-used stimulants? I ask because Strattera needs about 1-4 weeks to build up in your system enough to be fully effective- meaning that if you’re on your full dose now, you still have up to another month before you can see the full effectiveness.
      However, stimulants (Adderall, Vyvanse, etc) start working immediately and, due to their short half-life (compared to antidepressants), they’re pretty much out of your system within 8-14 hours. That means you can skip a day or two of medication if you’d rather not take it on weekends, and still have it be equally effective on Monday when you restart it.

  38. Okie Nomad*

    After being unemployed for six months I’m very seriously considering relocating to another city (about 300 miles or a six hour drive from where I now live). The local economy has taken a turn for the worse. I’ve started a long-distance job search and have had several telephone interviews and a couple of in person interviews. I think my job search might go better if if I actually lived in the area. There are several temp agencies that friends in the area have worked with that, I think, would tide me over until a permant job comes along.

    I wonder if anyone has any advice about renting an apartment when you are unemployed. I’m hoping to rent in the central part of town, so as to be able to fairly easily get to any part of it, or to the adjacent suburbs. Ideally, I would get a month-to-month rental, so I could move closer to wherever I end up working. I have good credit and substantial cash savings (about a year’s worth of my last salary). Money for deposits isn’t going to be a problem.


    1. Most real estate management companies want you to be employed and to have been employed for at least six months.

    2. They also want previous rental references and I’ve been living with relatives for the last seven years. (They’re snowbirds and I have the house to myself for six months of the year and I pay the utilities while they’re gone.)

    3. Real estate management companies want you to sign long-term leases and I feel reluctant when I don’t have a job lined up and don’t know where I’ll be working or how far away my commute will be.

    I’ve looked into corporate housing and it seems awfully expensive. I suppose I could live out of a motel for a while, but that is sub-optimal and using a motel for a home address doesn’t sound great. Subleasing? Are Craigslist and/or AirBnB something I should consider?

    Is this a totally ridiculous idea that I should just forget? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Caledonia*

      Hm, I wonder if for both no. 1 & 2 a guarantor would work?

      My friends were students when they moved into their current flat and got a mutual friend (with a job) to be their guarantor, so that if they couldn’t pay, the owners could get the money from the guarantor. You won’t be the *only* person who has solely lived with family members.

      I’m positive other people will chime in with much more helpful suggestions! Good luck :)

    2. Stephanie*

      My friend moved to NYC without a job a few years ago. From what I remember, she had to show she had sufficient funds to cover rent for a few months and maybe got her mother to be her guarantor.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Have you thought about a PO box there, assuming you don’t have a friend who you trust to receive and check mail for you? If you can drive there in six hours, you should be able to make any interview; most people who live in the same city expect more notice than that.

    4. the gold digger*

      I moved to DC without a job after I got out of the Peace Corps. It was pretty easy to rent a room or be part of a group house then, although of course living with roommates is really hard to do once you are used to living alone. That might be an option for you if you can stand it. (I can barely stand sharing living space with my husband! Too many years alone before I wed. I am set in my ways. :) )

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You should definitely consider AirBnB. A friend moved to Austin for a semester-long teaching job and rented a place for that period of time through AirBnB. It was furnished, centrally located, all that good stuff. I think it was a little on the pricy side (she had a housing allowance), but she was paying for convenience more than anything.

    6. Helen*

      Are you willing to consider share housing? Some places require you to be on the lease but in general they tend to be a bit more flexible, especially if you can pay a sizeable chunk of the rent upfront. There’s also less tendencies for lock-ins, although rates will probably be higher to compensate for that.

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      Craigslist would work. I currently live in a place I found on Craigslist (renting a room with a family… I’m certainly counting down the days till I can move out, but the price makes it worth it). Prepare for a truly terrible response rate, and watch out for scams (you can just google “Craigslist scams” for a checklist… trust me, they’re pretty accurate :) ) but for a month to month, inexpensive option, it might work for you.

    8. Tara R.*

      Try looking on student facebook pages for [local school]? Landlords in those areas are often used to lack of references/non-traditional income structure (you will have to show you can pay though!)/short term stay. My mom wrote my reference letter for my upcoming apartment, ahaha. For reference, the FB pages for local student housing here are something like “UBC Roommates…” “UBC Housing…” “UBC Apartment Search…” generally with long descriptive titles in there. Just ignore the 3 people looking for a 4th person to cram into the closet type posts, assuming that’s not something you’d be interested in! :-)

    9. Red*

      List the relatives you’ve lived with as private landlords. That was sufficient for my mortgage company anyway — they just wanted a notarized statement that I had met the agreed-upon rental conditions for the past year.

    10. Okie Nomad*

      Thank you for all the helpful suggestions!

      I would feel a little embarrassed asking someone to be a guarantor, but I guess I could ask my sister or my elderly parents. Listing the people I now live with as landlords sounds reasonable.

      The suggestion about student FaceBook pages from nearby colleges is not something I would have thought of and it sounds promising. There’s a state university near where I hope to live and the school’s student housing website has a page listing off-campus housing not directly associated with the school, but run by real estate management companies and landlords who rent apartments to students. Most of them offer short-term leases.

      After reading your responses to my request for advice, I now feel like this isn’t going to be quite as difficult as I had imagined it might be.

    11. Artemesia*

      We subleased when we came to our new city through corporate housing by owner. Regular corporate housing is ridiculously expensive; this VRBO type listing service for ‘corporate’ type sublets had lots of much better deals. Your relative is your landlord and should be able to serve as a reference. They don’t have to get into the details. If you have someone who be a guarantor that might help or you could see if with first and last month rent you can get a short term lease. Good luck. Any chance you could line up a temp job before you arrive?

    12. stevenz*

      There are lots of rental options that aren’t managed by property management companies, such as apartments in private houses/duplexes, that sort of thing. Dealing with the individual property owner is a much better experience . You give them an opportunity to get to know you as a person, not just a bank statement, and rental terms are more easily negotiated. There is also a wider range of housing types. You can find such places on Craigslist, but *beware*! There are a lot of scams on Craigslist. Don’t rent a place sight-unseen, or without actually meeting the owner and under no circumstances send any money to anyone until you know they are legit. (Anyone asking you to wire money is almost certainly up to no good.) There are other online resources where people advertise for renters or roommates.

      These are ordinary concerns for anyone making a move to a new place, so don’t be overwhelmed by them. I know there is a lot of uncertainty, but it’s part of the price we pay for better jobs or quality of life. And of your options, living out of a motel for a short time – a month, say – isn’t all that bad but it won’t be cheap.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, in my latest apartment search, the property management company has been a giant headache. (After lots of back and forth, we finally got the application out and now it’s just in approval purgatory.) Unfortunately, given my budget and finding housing mostly remotely (visited for a weekend to view a few places, but am unable to go back due to being across the country), property management companies were pretty much my only option.

        That being said, my rent-by-owner situations have run the gamut. I had an amazing landlord at my first apartment and then a pretty meh landlord (he wasn’t a slumlord, per se, he really was just renting us space and not doing much else). But on the whole, I definitely prefer rent-by-owner.

  39. knitchic79*

    This week, oh my lord. Some “adult” who lived in our apartments chased and attempted to beat up my youngest. Dealt with the apartment office, maintenance man witnessed it. Dealt with the police, twice because we then got a series of threatening calls. Bright side, man is evicted and slunk out with his bully children. Can’t imagine the kids home life is terrific right now, but my kiddo is much happier right now. Second bright side, the second officer who came to take a statement lives in our apartments and recognized our boy, said he’s seen him around and knows him to be a great kid. So yeah for having great kids.
    Oh and on the eve of the first Father’s day without my dad my mom tells me she’s dating. Pretty much fine with that, I want her to be happy after all. But if DH does not stop making Geritol jokes I might end up smothering him in his sleep. :’D

  40. derpy*

    My employer laid off 30 people on Friday. I wasn’t one of them but luckily I am currently in the interview process for a position elsewhere, hopefully things work out. My spidey senses started tingling about this place about 5 months in.

    The layoff included people in offices across the country. We lost two people in our department. It was a massive shock to everyone involved and many of us have been there for less than a year. The people we lost were the type that always took on extra work to help others in a tough spot. I’m pretty upset about it all and it really shows that you cannot count on employment or loyalty from your employer.

    I’m glad I got to experience this as I’ll know what signs to look for in the future. For now I’m going to try and lay low until I can find something else. They handled things so unprofessionally and the person that informed us was really insensitive and rude when announcing it to us all. I can’t possibly stay somewhere like this. Feels like I’m on a sinking ship.

  41. Lauren*

    Oh joy! I was checking the free section on my local CL and came across an ad posted several hours earlier in which someone was giving away 75 issues of Cook’s Illustrated. That’s about 12.5 years’ worth! I sent an email immediately and got a quick reply that they were still available. So I threw on some shorts and ran to the car. Right now I am very, very happy knowing I have lots of good reading in front of me!

    1. fposte*

      I was toying with purging mine, and then the website got so bad after the sale that you can’t find any of the old stuff there. So you didn’t get mine, but I hope you’ll enjoy them. (It’s funny to watch the recipes get more streamlined as the years go by, too.)

      1. Bibliovore*

        I know. The website is so horrible and it just made me angrier and angrier that I paid for an on-line subscription.

    2. Calliope~*

      A local library was having a book sale this past week- .25 cents each or 5 for a dollar… I bought 30 of them @.20 cents a piece! Free is better but I’m still happy with my purchases!

  42. Colette*

    Foot update.

    The “must fax in the referral” physio place is covered if you don’t have insurance, so I have an appointment on the 27th (which I may cancel for multiple reasons).

    In the meantime, I started physio at another place a little over a week ago. I wasn’t walking at that point, mostly because I was scared. The physiotherapist gave me some exercises to move the very stiff joint, and to help me gain confidence. I was walking in the boot within 24 hours.

    At this point, I can walk without the boot, but I’m having issues with my foot swelling that I’m a little concerned about. It was swelling in the boot a little, but without the boot, it swells and stays swollen. However, still huge progress from a week ago.

    1. Special Snowflake*

      The swelling will ease up some but when I was in physical therapy one of the things I was told (echoed by my surgeon) was that feet stay swollen for years.
      Since you are on them all day even with a boot and it is at an extremity it is hard to get the swelling down. As you work it more it won’t swell as much out of the boot but coming on 3 years post injury mine still doesn’t fit in a lot of sandals.
      Be religious about the take home exercises from your person and do them for way longer than seems necessary.
      (I missed your original story so you’ve probably heard all that before- but foot injuries are the worst!)

      1. Colette*

        Thanks! That’s good to know. I’m mostly concerned about the swelling because I don’t want to hurt it further, so it’s good to know it’s normal.

    2. AliceBD*

      Echoing that swelling can last for a really long time. My issue is recurring ankle sprains, especially in one ankle. When I’ve just had a sprain it’s swollen of course, but also my other foot swells to because I end up using it more (even with a boot or crutches etc.) The swelling goes away in my non-hurt foot sooner, but I know my ankle has remained at least somewhat swollen for at least months after injuries in the past. (I’m only 2 months out from my most recent sprain, so it’s definitely still swollen.)

    3. Sibley*

      A gentle massage might feel really good, and would also help get fluids moving. Depends on the foot problem of course, but consider it. You could probably do it yourself, I’m sure you can find instruction videos on youtube if you need them.

  43. super anon*

    does anyone else have or had tennis elbow? what did you do to overcome it, or is it one of those injuries that never really goes away?

    i was diagnosed in march and i’m still not better, and it’s getting SO frustrating. i’ve been doing a ton of stretches that the sports medicine dr i went to told me to do, i’ve been using a prescription version of voltaren that’s even more effective than the OTC, i took a course of naproxen to calm the inflammation, and now i wear a brace while typing and exercising. i also have my desk set up at work ergonomically, have a gel wrist pad for typing/mousing and an ergo mouse designed for tennis elbow. i also am going to start going to a RMT to see if massage can help me out. aside from adding on physio visits, idk if there’s anything else i can do that isn’t taking time off work and not typing or using a cell phone until it heals. :/

    i feel like it gets better for a bit and then comes back with a vengeance. mine isn’t bad enough that i can’t grip things, but i do have trouble with anything that involves a lot of arm turning (driving really irritates mine, idk why), and using tongs to cook. i had a tricep injury before that took forever to heal, and even that was preferable to this!

    1. fposte*

      Hey, I had that too! Massage is helpful. What really helped me was the Theraband Flexbar and, believe it or not, doing pushups–I was having so much bent arm forceful movement that working to extension was really helpful. It didn’t even have to be full bodyweight–wall pushups were good too.

      1. super anon*

        ohh, no one has told me about that flexbar! i’m going to try that out asap and see if it helps before my next appt with my doctor. i’m getting tired of going and having them tell me to do my stretches and come back in a month to see if it’s gotten better.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I had to do ice therapy and massage the tendon. Go to a physical therapist–they will help you sort it. The massage has to be done a certain way and it stimulates the tendon to repair itself.

      You’re going to have to also stop doing whatever it is that injured it in the first place until it heals.

    3. Girasol*

      Had that years ago. Company doc said to get one of those elastic bands that you wear on the forearm just below the elbow because it (rather than the elbow itself) serves as the muscle fulcrum and gives the elbow a rest. He also said to get a different mouse. So I got a band and went from traditional mouse to trackball. Between the two it healed up quite quickly. I quit the band in a few weeks, stayed with the trackball, and it never came back.

  44. Tara R.*

    Does anyone know of some good budgeting tools that seem well suited to a “lump sum” sort of situation?

    Basically, I have about $20 000 for the next year, in cash in my savings. For the next 10 months, I’m estimating $6000 rent, $6000 tuition, and $2000 food — so I have about $6000 left that I need to budget to other necessities and spending money and whatnot. Does anyone have a favourite budgeting app (preferably free or cheap-ish) that will make it easy to assign money to different months without showing it all as available, if that makes sense? I don’t want, as a random example, to just have a category with $500 dollars in it labelled “Restaurants”– I need to break it down month by month.

    1. MommaCat*

      There was a comment up above that talked about putting your lump sum money in savings then having it auto-deposit into your checking either monthly or bi-monthly; that seems like it’d be a good idea. Then you could budget that amount monthly. IMO, it’s easier to budget that $500-600 a month than a $6000 lump sum.

      1. Colette*

        Definitely agree that you want to do your budget per month. Figure out your other important expenses (transportation, insurance), your expenses that may not tapped monthly (clothing), and go from there.

    2. Lindsay J*

      You Need A Budget should work for this.

      You assign each dollar a job, and you could do that for months out.

      It’s usually expensive, but they have an online version now where you pay by month. You used to be able to purchase it for cheap on Steam during sales, but I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.

  45. Anon nervous nellie*

    Just wanting to vent.

    My mother needs to see a hematologist to get tested for something, and I am worried out of my skull. So is she, and the experience has already been negative. Her flaky doctor gave her the wrong number for a local hematologist, and my mother spent hours trying to locate the correct one from her doctor’s office. Of course her doctor wasn’t there, and the receptionists were no help at all. She finally contacted her old doctor who gave her a solid referral, and she’s going to contact them Monday. We’re both relieved that she’s in better hands, but that doesn’t alleviate the fear that something could be wrong.

    I’m about to do a school internship and the preparation for that has been terribly stressful, but this has really caught us off guard. The hardest thing is trying not to worry. Thankfully, I stepped away from webmd because that was making me paranoid. Anyone else go through this?

    1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Oh heck yes! Dealt with crummy doctors, fear of the unknown diagnosis, etc.

      1.) Stay the heck away from anything on the internet UNTIL you know. It’s hard, but I’ve got diagnosed chronic illnesses, and the internet makes it seem like I will die tomorrow, or at the very least, never get out of bed again. (While that is sadly the case for some (not the dying tomorrow part…the bedridden part…it isn’t that bad), most folks, like myself, live normal lives.)

      2.) Know that knowledge is power, and a good doctor makes all the difference. She may have something, and that is very, very scary. But a lack of testing could hasten issues, whereas knowing now can help to move forward with treatment/lifestyle changes/etc.

      3.) Tell your mom (and you should know this as well!) to never, ever be afraid to speak up. If something hurts, if something isn’t okay…say something. I’ve fired many doctors, and will continue to do so as I need to. I don’t mess around!

      4.) Finally, don’t assume anything, at all, either way. Live here, right now. The test will come and go, and so will the results. Whatever happens, you will cope, you will adapt, and you will get through this.

      1. Artemesia*

        Good advice. I had a diagnostic test with a bad result; I looked on the internet and the Mayo Clinic site said ‘unfortunately the most common cause of XYZ is metastatic lung cancer.’ Well that isn’t too good. I was sent for a CT scan and then waited a couple of weeks to get results during which I assumed I had 6 mos to live. Really was convinced I was doomed. So next bad initial test — I will at least take it with a grain of salt.

        It helps to manage fear if you have knowledge, but jumping to conclusions doesnt’ help.

        The one bright spot for me is that I discovered I have no bucket list and it also helped me focus on what I want to get done in the rest of my life. I did get started on a task I had been letting slide.

    2. Ruffingit*

      My mother had been tested so much she practically qualifies as a hypothesis. The thing to remember is there are so many possibilities and almost anything they find is treatable in one way or another. And quite often they find nothing at all. So take s deep breath and remember that all will be well. Sounds simple I know, but in my own trials of late I’ve been helped by remembering that I just can’t be in control of everything and it does all work out in the end. Thinking of you and your mom!

    3. Anon nervous nellie*

      Thank you for your replies! It’s a scary thing, but I’m trying to stay positive and think good thoughts. I’m glad she’s with a doctor she trusts going forward.

      Thank you again. This community is wonderful. :)

  46. SaraV*

    Just a general grouse…

    I’m way overdue for a phone upgrade. I’m currently typing this on a Samsung Galaxy S4. But, it appears all of the big/mid-sized ellular companies now have a new structure where you either a) pay the full $500-$700 for a new phone, or b) Go on a payment plan for 20-30 months. Bllleeeecccch. I logically understand that I’m sure they were getting burned by people getting out of their contracts left and right, but there was no warning this was going to happen. (At least, I didn’t see anything)
    So, I guess it’s a refurbished S6 for me for $100.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I got my first smart phone a little over a year ago, and I got a good deal by getting the Samsung Note 3 because the Note 4 had just come out. Since I hadn’t been using a smart phone anyway, the Note 3 still felt like a major upgrade to me. So now I’m thinking that each time I get a new phone, maybe I’ll get one that is the older model of a new release. It’s still a new phone and I don’t care about always having the latest thing, so I think I could save a lot of money on phones this way.

    2. Mt*

      Ive had good luck buying used phones on swappa. Depending on your carier you can buy the insurance for it once activated.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I’m terrified of anything ever changing on my family’s current phone plan because we’re grandfathered into an older plan. We have Verizon and I can still get phones on contract, not that “monthly lease” bullshit. I’m looking at a Galaxy S7 (I have the S4 currently as well). Best Buy has it for $150 with 2-year contract, but I’m waiting for a better deal. They keep including this VR headgear with purchase but I couldn’t care less about that so it’s not an enticement. And both of my parents are on basic phones which are impossible to update. Neither has had a new phone in 5 or 6 years. Not sure what we’ll do when the phones die (they aren’t interested in smart phones, and if even one of them does change to a smart phone our plan will change to the current payment model I hate!).

      I’d love to know how phone payment structures work in other countries. Are they paying as much as Americans? I feel like we are paying way too much for what we’re actually getting and it’s only getting worse. Not to mention add-on fees like paying $40 to activate a new phone on the plan. WHY? Why is that necessary? Why are we willing to pay this? Gah!

      1. EU-RO-Cat*

        In Romania I pay 13 euros (~$15, I guess) a month for unlimited calls (national, Europe – some land networks, US&Canada all cell networks) unlimited national SMS and 2Gb of data (that I never-ever will consume, since free wi-fi seems easier to find than free water around here. Btw, just as additional info, broadband Internet is also unlimited in most cases, and really affordable – my 1000 Mb optic fiber line costs a little more than $10/month). Each 2 years I receive various offers involving a good phone + another 2 years contract. Phone, in these circumstances, varies from free to (almost) full price, depending on the model and your plan. I got an Alcatel 2 years ago for close-to-nothing, my spouse got a J5 for free last autumn. We have to stay with the network 2 more years, but we’re OK with that (we’ve been with the same carrier for 10-12 years now and we’re still happy).

        1. Cruciatus*

          That’s amazing! My plan is probably $60 something. It’s hard to figure out for sure since it’s a family share plan. I get 2 GB data, NO texting (that’s another $10 a month–I just use a free app instead), and unlimited nights and weekends, and 700 minutes for other times to share with 2 other people (700 minutes has never been a problem). Our total monthly phone bill for 3 people, 1 smart phone, 2 basic phones, is $119. And that includes my Verizon discount from my employer. And as I said before, if you switch phones you have to pay an additional fee. And now the programs are such that they are making people buy the phone outright ($700 for the Galaxy S7) or charging about $30 a month to “lease” it until you pay the price in full, charging them a $30 fee PER PHONE for even being on a plan, not to mention the plan itself. It is highway robbery and I don’t know why so many are willing to pay these prices! I’m grandfathered in to the older plan, but if it ever changes I will definitely be looking for another plan. I don’t know how the companies can justify these costs except that we keep being willing to pay them.

          1. Observer*

            I just gave a quick look at AT&T – for the same number of people and amount of data, but with unlimited talk and text, you’d pay $105 without any employer discount. T-Mobile gives you 2.5gb data for $90. If they have coverage where you are, it’s worth looking at.

            If you are willing to go pre-paid (or prepaid with auto-pay) you may be able to do even better.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Same here. I’m with AT&T and I’m grandfathered in for unlimited data. I don’t even reach 3 GB a month, but I don’t want to give up unlimited either. Plus, I can still do the contract and not have to pay monthly installments on the phone. Every time I think I want to find something cheaper (and there really isn’t anything cheaper unless you go prepaid or something) I give up and stick with A&T.

        1. Observer*

          AT&T really does have pretty decent prices. But, pre-paid can be worth it, depending on your particular plan. But a key issue is coverage. Sprint, for instance, has great prices, but I know a number of people who left them because they couldn’t get good coverage where they needed it. T-Mobile has similar problems though not as bad.

      3. super anon*

        I’m in Canada and we pay insanely high prices for all telecommunications products – phone, internet, tv. We have a oligopoly with 3 big companies (that we call the Big 3) that somehow are allowed to price fix and make everything incredibly expensive.

        I have a 15 GB data plan on a corporate discount – without the discount that plan would be $170 before tax and add-ons. Data overages are insane, on the old old plan I had before I was forced to switch a few years ago was $5/1GB of extra data. Now, an extra GB is $50. I currently pay $120 a month after taxes and fees, which is considered a good price for the amount of data I get.

        The CRTC made a rule that we all had to have 2 year contracts instead of 3, and the Big 3 took that as an opportunity to significantly increase monthly plan costs. So even though we now have shorter contracts, we have to pay more. It’s seriously infuriating but because of the size of our country compared to the population, I don’t think it will ever get better. Oh – and internet up here is disgusting as well. We have data caps on that as well.. my current plan is $80 a month with a 300 GB data cap, with speeds slower than the LTE my phone can get.

        1. Mela*

          Swoon! Canada sounds like a dream come true! We currently pay USD83 for 20 GB of data at a similar speed.

      4. Cristina in England*

        I pay £5 a month (yes, only five!) for: 100MB 4G UK data, 125 UK mins, & 500 UK texts. I am a pretty light user and I nearly always have wifi for using data. I got my iPhone 4s for free last August as it was my friend’s two-phones ago phone. If I had to get a new phone I would get a second-hand unlocked one and stick with a dead cheap plan.

        1. Cristina in England*

          My biggest pet peeve traveling to the US is the lack of decent SIM-only plans, which are very common here.

    4. Observer*

      This has been brewing for a couple of years now, and we are finally mirroring what the rest of the world does.

      If you are using a Galaxy S4, you may want to look at a new mid – low end phone. Some of the newer low end phones handily beat the S4. One phone I really like is under $200 in its base configuration. It’s the new Moto G 4 (the prior model is also quite good, but while it’s actually better than the S4 in some respects it doesn’t quite match it in others.)

      Now, a phone like that is not going to match a new Galaxy s7, but it’s a surprisingly good competitor to the S6. Not in every respect, but enough that it may be worth looking at. This is not the only one, either. Also, depending on how much you are willing to spend, you might want to look at something like the Nexus phones or even the Moto X, which are more expensive but significantly less than the new Samsung phones.

      1. SaraV*

        I’m with US Cellular right now, so Motorola phones aren’t an available choice. (We can talk about my dissatisfaction with USCC and not having as much coverage as they did when we first signed up oh so many years ago, but that’s another story)

        I have looked into the other phones (non-Galaxy family, and non-Samsung). Maybe it’s wrong thinking, but a) I use my phone A LOT for web-surfing/social media, YouTube, etc., and b) I only have 10 extra apps on my phone, and I can tell my phone is struggling. (Again, another story about bloatware that I can’t take off my phone. Ugh.) I’m not sure about making a lateral move device-wise.

        1. Observer*

          Two things. If you buy an unlocked phone, you’ll be rid of a good chunk of the bloatware.

          Secondly, the newest Moto G and phones in its class actually have better specs than the S4 you already have. If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can get something like the Moto X or the Nexus 5x, which will definitely be better than what you have.

          A good place to give a look at the comparative specs is gsmarena. And there are some good comparison reviews that can give you a sense of the real world performance.

    5. Dan*

      What do you mean by you’re way over due for an upgrade? I haven’t been on a contract plan for about five years.

      I bought the Nexus 5 free and clear 2.5 years ago for $350. My phone bill is $18/mo. I guess I’m due for an upgrade whenever I feel like it, but I’m not inclined to drop $600 for a new phone anytime soon. What for?

      BTW, I love the Nexus 5. It’s a multi band phone that works on pretty much any carrier.

      1. SaraV*

        My contract is on a 2-yr plan. Every two years, sometimes 18 months, you can upgrade your phone. I guess as a “reward” for being with the company, you can get a decent phone at an extremely discounted price. I could have gotten an upgrade somewhere around March, but have just be putting it off. I didn’t realize they had discontinued their “2-yr contract” discounted pricing on their higher-end phones until I started seriously looking into it this month. That program may have just been discontinued this past month.

        1. E*

          Even if there’s nothing advertised, it can’t hurt to ask for a good deal on an upgrade. They are motivated to keep you on their network and an upgrade doesn’t cost them as much as they list the phone for.

    6. Punkin*

      If you are in the USA, look at Consumer Cellular. We literally cut our bill in half. Great phones, great service, no contracts.

  47. Beth Anne*

    So I got engaged Friday! I’m still kind of in shock. Like I knew it was coming we’d been talking about it and he kept saying “soon” and the day he did it he was acting kind of weird but then when it happened I could barely answer him (which of course was yes). (Click my name for a link to a photo)

  48. MsChanandlerBong*

    It was 101 degrees today. Probably not the best day to make homemade chocolate pudding that requires about 15 minutes of constant stirring over a hot stove. Or to peel and shred 15 lb. of zucchini. Too late to go back now! (I’m making a big supply of “zucchini patties” to freeze; they have shredded zucchini, shredded cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, seasoned bread crumbs, and a little bit of egg in them).

  49. Mallory Janis Ian*

    I marched in our town’s Pride parade yesterday, and it was a wonderful day. The parade started in front of our local Episcopal church, and I love that congregation! They were out with a wheeled cart of bottled waters on ice, offering them to all the parade participants. They always ring their church bell to kick off the parade. Last year, Pride was right after the legalization of gay marriage, and they rung the bell for duration of the parade. This year’s parade was delayed for about thirty minutes by a sudden downpour, and they flung open their doors and had people come into the fellowship hall. If I ever quit being a Unitarian, I’m going to go join them! :-)

  50. Aussie Teacher*

    I might be too late to the party, but someone mentioned dress shields the other day and I had never heard of them! I’m usually freezing in winter (I’m thin) but I get quite sweaty under the arms when teaching or conducting, so they would be brilliant! How do they work? Are they disposable or washable/reuseable? Do they have adhesive on them/how do they stay put? How thick are they? Are they available in Australia? So many questions!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have never tried them, but here in the US, you can find them in sewing stores. I think they are fairly thin so they do not bulge out under the garment. From the little I have heard people seem to like them.

    2. Key to the West*

      I was intrigued by these too! I’m a larger woman and sweat quite a bit in summer.

      The ones I found (can’t remember the company, sorry!!) were something like £10-£20 for 120 so they’re disposable. I’m sure you could get reusable ones but that seems like too much work unless you’re conscience of the environment!

    3. Artemesia*

      Some attach to the bra strap and sort of over your arm. Some are little vest like things with the heavy shields in the armpit area. Some pin to the garment. And many stick to the armpit skin kind of like putting on an armpit shaped bandaid. There are also for men, t shirts with building sweat shields.

      I haven’t used them in years, but when I did, I used the vest type as I find pinning them in cumbersome and they didn’t have the kind that stick on.

  51. The Other Dawn*

    When someone moves into the neighborhood, what’s the standard today for welcoming someone?

    We have two new neighbors across the street. One we met last year while they were in the process of building the house. They moved in a few weeks ago. The other one also moved in a few weeks ago, but we haven’t met them yet. We also have another one moving behind us (he’s building a house, too), but we’ve met him and say hi when we see him. I thought about putting a note in their mailboxes, which would say something like, “Welcome to the neighborhood! If you need anything, feel free to give us a call.” Then sign our names and note our phone number. Is that weird? I know people used to just go over to their house and bring food, but that also seems weird. I feel like people don’t like people knocking on their door these days. If it were Fall, I’d probably think about bringing over a big bucket of apples and making the introduction that way.

    When we moved in two years ago, only one neighbor came over to say hello. The other one we still haven’t met and the ones across the street–they just moved away–we didn’t meet until last year when the guy came over to warn us of seeing a coyote in our yard. Seems weird to introduce ourselves to the one next door after two years. Especially since his son (who lives behind us) sold us our house and our realtor put the son through the wringer. (old house, we only asked for safety-related items to be fixed, like asbestos removal and extermination)

    1. danr*

      I don’t think there’s a standard. We usually meet the neighbors during unusual events… Power outages, hurricanes, blizzards and hot air balloon landings.

      1. nep*

        Isn’t that the truth? The most we ever saw and talked with our neighbours was during floods a couple years back. The other day there was an early-morning power outage — I stepped outside figuring I was bound to see a neighbour. Sure enough the guy next door was on his porch also to see whether it was isolated or widespread.
        On the question — we’ve got new neighbours next door. We’ve simply said hi and introduced ourselves. I agree that there is not really a standard. (Perhaps different ‘customs’ in different regions?)

    2. the gold digger*

      I take brownies or some kind of treat. I want to know my neighbors and I want them to know me. I have also organized block parties for my block. If someone is taking furniture out of my house (although why someone would steal the sofa the cats have thrown up on, I don’t know), I want my neighbors to say, “Hey! GD and Primo aren’t moving! This looks suspicious. I shall call the police!”

      (I am also always looking for 11 year old kids who can be our catsitter once our sweet high school junior goes away to college.)

      1. nep*

        Good approach. Indeed it is really nice to have neighbours you get to trust over time. Priceless.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Reminds me of that Roseanne episode where the robbers posed as something like Salvation Army pick up and cleaned out the neighbor’s house. Later, Dan and the neighbor are talking and the neighbor says his wife thinks they should create a neighborhood watch, to which Dan replies, “I thought that’s what happened. You got robbed and the neighborhood watched.” (Uh, it’s probably funnier to see than read!)

      3. DoDah*

        This is my strategy. I make sure that I know my neighbors–you never know when you might need help–or be able to give help.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      My right-side neighbors introduced themselves to me when I was pulling into my driveway a couple of weeks after buying the house, and they were outside saying goodbye to extended family who were there for a visit. [They are now my second family.]

      Introduced myself to the new left-side next-door neighbors shortly after they moved in; gave them my contact info. They are now good friends.

      Introduced myself to my across-the-street neighbors a few weeks after I moved in. Just walked up and knocked on their door.

      Introduced myself to the new renters in the left-of-across-the-street house shortly after they moved in. The husband was parking his truck in the driveway such that it blocked the sidewalk. I told him Code Enforcement would hand him a ticket for that pretty quickly because they like to patrol our neighborhood. (Maybe because the people here can afford the fine?)

      And then I’ve met umpteen dozen other neighbors when I throw our annual “Friday Front Yard Happy Hour” in the spring and the “Sit Around the Firepit in the Driveway on Halloween Night and Hand Out Candy” party in the fall. :-)

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I like your idea of leaving a card your names and phone number. And maybe an email address. That sounds welcoming and not intrusive.

      This type of thing is so much easier in apartments. When I moved to my studio in Queens, so many years ago, my elderly next door neighbor saw the movers, introduced herself and told me that if I needed anything, I should knock on her door. She asked if I needed to borrow a coffee maker, since it might take me a while to find mine. A lovely lady. When I moved to Manhattan with my bf, neighbors would introduce themselves at the elevator. It was especially easy if they had dogs.

      In our house, it’s tough! I don’t know why. When we first moved in, our neighbors saw us outside and introduced themselves, and our dogs used to say hi to each other. Since we’ve been here, four new sets of neighbors have come in. One set (guy owns the house, his gf stays occasionally) waves, another set ignores us (we wave, he sometimes waves back), another set is a creepy bunch of dudes I don’t want to associate with anyway (I’m not 100% convinced they’re not squatting), and the last set is a woman and a strange cast of characters constantly coming and going. She did introduce herself, but only after I confronted her about standing on my driveway and talking shit about my dog.

      If you do choose to bring food, I’d highly recommend bringing something packaged. I bake and would love to bring brownies to someone, but I know my own kitchen (it’s clean) and my own skills (I’m good). If a complete stranger brought me something homemade, I would accept it graciously but would likely never eat it. I think it’s a lovely gesture, just a potentially wasteful one.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think you should do whatever feels natural to you.
      My neighbors had different things. A couple of neighbors took us to breakfast. Another neighbor took us to the dump so we could see where it was and how the system worked there. (It’s elaborate, there is a place for garbage and then a recycling area. But you have to separate everything before you get there, so you don’t tie up the lines.) Other neighbors just introduced themselves as the years went by.
      We never went out of our way to meet new neighbors. But if you take walks regularly you can use that as an opportunity to say hi and start a conversation about something. That is what we did.

    6. Artemesia*

      I have taken over a plate of brownies or a loaf of banana bread as a welcome gift. I would feel weird leaving a note. I was glad I had done this with our last next door neighbors when we had a house as it meant I had had a conversation and been friendly when it was time to ask them to stop wheeling their parrot out into their drive way right under our bedroom window each morning at 7 am. The thing would screen ‘Mom Mahhhhhhhmmmmm. endlessly and sometimes it would imitate a car alarm. It was no big deal during the day but when we were trying to sleep in it was pretty annoying. They started waiting till 8 am when I spoke with them. I think the banana bread made that less awkward as our first interaction wasn’t a whine.

    7. Menacia*

      I live in a condo complex, and no one came to introduce themselves or welcome us. We only got to know our next door neighbor because our condos are attached. The two times I spoke with the neighbor across the street was when the power went out, and when she needed help removing the wheel from her bike (she came right over, rang the door bell and asked!). All the neighbors came out when my husband went running after my car (which he left in drive so it went rolling down the hill) and seriously hurt himself when he slipped in the grass… Hopefully you will have better luck with your neighbors…you seem willing to try, which is half the battled! :)

  52. matcha123*

    I’m sorry, what does “DH” mean? People use it so much and it actually gets on my nerves everytime I read it…

      1. Tomato Frog*

        When I first saw it I figured it meant “Damned Husband” and I was very disappointed when I learned this was not so.

    1. nep*

      I knew what it meant, still for whatever reason I cringe a little whenever I come across these.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        LOL. I thought it meant darling husband/son and I would search for other signs of sarcasm, in other words “darling” really meant “NOT darling”. After a bit, I decided that it was not sarcasm but I still feel compelled to check to make sure I am reading correctly.

  53. FrustratedInRentalLand*

    TL;DR: I want to “charge” the landlord, a property company, a late fee for failing to give me my mail key when I moved in, preventing me from receiving my mail for the last month. Landlord says, no way. Worth going above her head to her supervisor, her mum, to register my complaint?

    Moved into a lovely new apartment. When I moved in, I was not given my mailbox key. Landlord (property management company) said she would work on it. A week passes and I don’t hear from her, so I email inquiring about it. Crickets. Two days later I follow up again by emailing and calling. Landlord sounds really annoyed, and says that she is working on it. A few days later she gets in touch and says, you’ll have to go to the post and show them your lease, and they’ll give you a key. So I go to the post office, but they need at least one week to make a new key. It doesn’t help that the post has recently delivered a package of mine to the wrong address. I update the landlord on the ongoing situation, whose mum and uncle own the property company, and mention that a late fee deducted from my rent would be reasonable. She responds with a SorryNotSorry, and that no, I am not owed any deduction. I have been professional and polite the whole time, but the landlord, who is a few years younger, has been non-responsive, dismissive, condescending, unapologetic, and totally unprofessional. Had she done her job in the first place I wouldn’t be in this situation. I want to escalate my complaint to her manager – her mom or uncle – but I also want to stay on good terms with my landlord. Should I just let this go? Anyone experience something similar?

    1. misspiggy*

      In a UK setting you’d have to be willing to show that you incurred equivalent financial loss through the delay, and be prepared to go to small claims court to defend yourself. I can’t actually see how you could deduct an amount from the rent, because wouldn’t they just withhold that from your rental deposit when you moved out?

      1. FrustratedInRentalLand*

        I was thinking something roughly equivalent to what they charge tenants for paying the rent late – $50.

        1. Agile Phalanges*

          I would think you’d be a lot more likely to actually succeed (either with the landlord herself, her boss/es/relatives, and/or small claims court) if it was based on actual losses you incurred, like misspiggy said. So if you missed paying a bill because you didn’t receive it (though of course they’ll argue that you should have still known you had recurring bills even if you didn’t receive them in the mail) and incurred a late fee from, say, your cable company, you could get reimbursement for the actual late fee, but not any additional monetary amount. Most likely. I mean, obviously it’s still a huge inconvenience to you, but I can’t see claiming more than you were actually “harmed” financially working out for you, unfortunately.

  54. nep*

    Has anyone here read Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between?
    Regarding books — and I reckon this has come up — how often do you stop reading a book after just 10 or 20 pages? I did that yesterday; it just was not doing it for me and I’ve got so many books here I want to read, didn’t want to invest my time there. (I think this could be a ‘state of mind’ or timing thing — I might have really liked (or someday like) the same book.)

    1. Cruciatus*

      It usually takes me longer than 10 to 20 pages–usually around 100 or so is when I’m like “this sucks and I’m hating it.” Once upon a time I never gave up reading a book, but as I get older I find it’s necessary. Wolf Hall? Nope, will never read through the whole thing. Outlander series, nope. (I like the TV show but find the books just too much for whatever reason. When I realized there were tons of books in the series, all 800 page books I was out–I don’t hate large books, but my heart was definitely not that interested in it). Not every book is for everyone (just look at the Wild discussion above!) and, to quote Stuart Smalley, that’s OK.

      1. nep*

        Funny — same here. When I was a bit younger it used to really bother me to give up on a book but now nope. Indeed, sometimes I’ll give it longer than 10 or 20 pages — but this one last night, that was enough. I’ll keep it around and might pick it up again sometime, more out of curiosity to see whether it ever becomes appealing.
        Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse certainly was difficult to stick with (but for completely different reasons — not because it wasn’t good — just tough), but as much as I sometimes felt like flinging it, I just had to continue.

    2. Artemesia*

      I find I do that often now. I am trying to find a new mystery author or two since I have read everything written by my favorites. What I am discovering is how much really bad crap is out there in this genre. Now I know to avoid anything involving someone who owns a cupcake shop or bookstore or has just returned to a bucolic home town but still am having trouble finding interesting new series with interesting protagonists. Any recs out there?

      1. Library Director*

        Have you read the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Samson? They are legal thrillers set in Tudor England. One of the things I like are the author notes outlining fiction vs. historical fact. This is what really happened. This is what historians argue about. This is what I made up. I do feel you on the super cozy/kitchy mysteries. I stopped reading one, walked into the library and said, “I need blood and dismemberment.” I needed something to wash all the cute away.

    3. Panda Bandit*

      It’s rare for me to stop reading a book but I’m pretty picky about what I get in the first place. In my opinion reading is meant to be enjoyable, and if you’re not enjoying a book then there is no need to continue with it.

  55. MsChanandlerBong*

    I already posted two comments on this thread, so I hope I’m not going over my allotment, but I wanted to tell everyone about this in case it affects them! Ticketmaster is settling a lawsuit by giving people free tickets. If you bought tickets between 1999 and 2013, and you have an online account with TM, log in and check to see if you received a voucher. The number of free tickets you receive will depend on how many tickets you bought during that period. I received one free pair, but I know someone who received 12 pairs because she goes to concerts all the time. When you log in, look to the right side of the page for “Active Vouchers.” Click on the link, and it will tell you if you have free tickets and/or a discount code.

    I think I bought TM tickets twice in that period, and I still received a free pair, so check even if you don’t remember buying anything or think you didn’t buy enough to qualify.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Thanks for the reminder! So for me this shows 3 different codes for 2 free general admission tickets (for selected events not yet determined) and 3 codes for $2.25 discounts! I don’t even remember using Ticketmaster that much (though I guess from 1999-2013 is a long time)!

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Awesome! I don’t use it much, either. I know I used it to buy tickets to the Radio City Christmas show, and maybe a Dave Matthews Band concert, but that’s it. A few of my friends got a bunch of tickets because they take their kids to the circus every year, and the circus usually sells tickets via TM.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Yup, I logged in yesterday and saw all my ticket codes and discounts. I’ve bought a lot of tickets during the stated timeframe (mostly Def Leppard) so I ended up getting 17 codes for free tickets, which means 34 free tickets total. Got the same amount of discount codes. I just hope that the free tickets are good for shows I actually want to see and not something crappy.

      I thought this was a scam when I first got the email. But I Googled and found out it’s real.

  56. Tara R.*

    I was scrolling back through some of my old comments on this site and figured I should do a brief life update.

    I had a fantastic year at university. It was hard at times, but I finished with an A+ average and lots of friends, contrary to my fears. I posted a bit about feeling lost about my career path/degree choice after somewhat losing interest in mathematics, and after a lot of thought I’ve decided to start pursuing a computer science degree. I’m really excited about it!

    I’m back home for the summer now, and things are okay. I miss having things to do on the weekends, and all of my Vancouver friends. My back-home friends now also live in Vancouver, so I miss them too! I have been working really hard to establish some good boundaries with my dad based off my therapist’s advice, and I’ve mostly managed to avoid spending a lot of time with him since I’ve been home. It’s Father’s Day, so it’s time to suck it up for a few hours. I did get a job for the summer, which should give me enough income that between that and my RESP and scholarships from last year I won’t have to worry about money for next year. After that, I’ll be looking at loans, but getting through half of school debt-free is a plus IMO.

    It’s weird to think that I was 17 when I became a regular on this site! High school feels so far away now. :-) I honestly believe AAM has shaped how I’ll approach my professional life for the next 50 years, and I think that’s pretty cool.

    1. anon for this*

      i see you mention university & vancouver.. if you go to UBC when you start having to apply for student loans look into the UBC bursary program. as long as you get a student loan you can qualify for it, all you have to do is apply online through the ssc. if you have any kind of financial need after your loans, you most likely will be able to get some funds from it, and often it can be a substantial amount.

    2. UBC Anon for this*

      On a related note, if you’re able/interested in working during the school year to make a bit of cash the UBC WorkLearn program is a good option to look into. Jobs for fall will be posted in early-mid August. Most jobs are maximum10hr/wk and pay rates are based on UBC employee rates so most are ~$16/hr. Schedules are based around your class schedule and most employers are flexible with hours around exams etc. – I definitely let my students work less around exams if they want to have more time to study.

      Also, congratulations on earning such fantastic grades!

      1. Tara R.*

        I actually did a work learn this year! It was only 3.5 hours a week, so I’m going to try to find one that gives the whole 10 hours for next year. :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Rock on. I think you are going to have a very interesting and very full life. You have a great approach to life and life “stuff” and that will serve you well. Congrats on the great grades.

      I agree with you about AAM. I am sure many people’s lives are changing for the better because of reading here. I know mine has, too.

  57. Windchime*

    Today is a beautiful day, after days of gray and rainy weather. So naturally, this is the day that the neighbors put their caged parrots on the back deck. The parrots are alternating between wolf whistles and “beeping truck backing up”, plus the people are playing loud music. I would love to be able to enjoy my back yard, but I don’t want to listen to their music.

    1. Rebecca*

      I just had an evil thought, and had to share it :) Perhaps when they go to work, you could find something to play for the parrots, maybe something equally annoying to the neighbors so they’d have to put up with it when the birds were awake inside their home.

    2. nep*

      Your name and your comment come together for me here — When I sit on the back patio to read and enjoy the evening breeze, I take down a wind chime hanging in the yard. Much prefer to hear just the breeze and birds. A neighbour playing loud music would be a huge drag.

      1. Windchime*

        LOL, the funny thing is that I don’t even own a wind chime. It’s an online name from years ago that just kind of stuck. Fortunately, the parrots are back inside and the music is off. These people are the Loud Family, though — they all holler when they talk. Nobody seems to have a normal voice, so even though they’re like 50 yards away, I can still hear every word because they all YELL at each other.

        1. Nicole*

          I know exactly what you’re talking about because our next door neighbors yell to communicate. They never just talk to one another.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Funny story. Growing up my geeky husband was annoyed by his grandmother’s radio. He did something, I have no clue what. But grandma learned that if she turned the volume up too loud the radio signal broke up and she could no longer enjoy her tunes. He did something to interfere with the signal. So she learned to keep her radio turned down. Years later he did a similar thing to a guy in the motel room next to his. This guy also learned that his tv worked much better with the volume turned down.
      Am shaking my head. Not suggesting you interfere with their radio signal and run up the against the FCC. But it is a mental vacation to picture this happening.

    4. Calliope~*

      I’d be sorely tempted to put outdoor speakers aimed in their direction and blasting annoying music their way.

      My problem is with the gun range that is about 2 miles down the road where everyone seems to love the semi-automatics that echo throughout the region and just about sets me on edge every.friggen.sunday. From sun-up to well past sundown! After two years I still jump with the staccato sounds of gunfire.

      What about those Bose noise canceling headphones? I know it sucks to have to use them in your own yard but it’s what I’ve had to resort using when I’m working in my yard.

        1. Calliope~*

          Yeah, when we bought the house, we didn’t realize that it was such a well used (outdoor) firing range AND that the way it’s built into the side of a mountain, the echo’s can be heard 2 miles away. I keep hoping I’ll get used to it but so far, no luck :/

    5. Artemesia*

      LOL I just posted my parrot disaster story up thread. Ours were at the crack of dawn and the thing shouted ‘MOM, HEY mahhhhhhhhm’ and imitated car alarms. What are the odds of two parrot comments in one thread?

  58. catsAreCool*

    Retirement plan advice? I don’t plan to retire for a couple of decades, and I’ve been saving about 10% of my income in a 401K, but I’ve been thinking, I should really start figuring out what I should do now – this seems like an important time to save and prepare. I’m doing OK financially – it helps that I was brought up to be fairly frugal. Any tips, good web sites, etc.?


    1. New Reader*

      I’m not overly familiar with the nuances of 401Ks, so this advice might not be relevant. With my 403b, the company that manages the fund has represntatives that visit our location a few times a year and we can scheduled 1-1 time for advice. The management company also has a website that has other options for advice, including scheduling consultations by phone. The rep I’ve consulted with asked a lot of questions about such things as my goals, lifestyle, and risk tolerance and provided advice to help achieve those goals in a way I’d be comfortable with.

    2. fposte*

      I just plugged William Bernstein’s “If You Can” below, and I’ll plug it again–it’s a twelve-page, freely downloadable pamphlet that lays the info out in as clear a way as possible. I’ll post a link, but Google will get you there.

  59. catsAreCool*

    I don’t like weeding, but I hate spraying round–up, etc. on my lawn because I feel like I’m spraying poison (which I guess it is, really). Does anyone have good tips on weeding? Does boiling water work on mot weeds? Are there bad side effects? How about pulling weeds so the roots come up – usually the root breaks off when I pull them. Should I soak the ground first?

    I mostly have dandelions, clover, and blackbarry bushes.

    1. really*

      Dandelions will only die if you use a pesticide. If there is any root left at all they will come back and it is almost impossible to get it all. As far as trying to pull them up you need the soil to be loose. So you probably need to actually dig around the weed, try it get it and a clump of dirt. You can try to remove the dirt from the roots to refill the hole but there’s no guarantee that you won’t leave any root behind no matter what you do.
      The advantage of round-up is that you only spray what you want to.

    2. F.*

      I leave dandelions and clover. Dandelions break up our hard packed clay soil, and clover attracts honeybees. Can’t help you with the blackberry bushes, though.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I don’t mind dandelions and clover so much as I think my neighbors won’t appreciate it if I let them take over my lawn.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          You can also help keep them in check with frequent mowing. Like, at least 2x per week.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      Get started on an organic program. Weeds fill a niche in poor soil (so that there’s not just bare ground), so it’s important to make sure you have soil that is healthy enough to support the type of grass and other plants you want.

      We use no synthetic herbicides (or pesticides, for that matter) in our lawn, and the number of dandelions each year are countable on one hand. [And those we pull up with a special weed “popper” tool that digs deep to get the dandelion’s taproot.]

      Check out dirtdoctor.com for information on a organic lawn care / gardening program.

  60. Pennalynn Lott*

    I’m late to the party, but Boyfriend just asked me to look up any current good books about financial planning. He’s currently reading some Ben Stein books from back in the 2000-2004 timeframe.

    Background: We have a couple of IRA’s (a traditional and a ROTH) and he is convinced that he should be more active in managing them. The money, what little there is (under $6K at the moment), is in Slightly Aggressive (or whatever) mutual funds.

    Me? I think we should just leave the money alone, since we get charged a fee every time he plays with the particular fund mixture. But maybe there are some books out there, with greater authority than me, who can convince him of that?

    1. New Reader*

      I don’t have any good suggestions for books or resources, but there are funds out there that automatically adjust based on age to recognize that retirement strategies should be revised the closer you get to retirement, particularly in relation to risk. Check with the company where you have the IRAs to see if they have a vehicle like this.

      I agree with you that retirement savings shouldn’t be actively managed in the sense of trading often. Possibly review every few years to ensure the portfolio remains balanced, but the intention should be to achieve long-term, steady growth.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Oooh, thank you, New Reader! I’ll tell him to ask his Edward Jones agent about them.

    2. really*

      For investments check out Fidelity or Vanguard. Really the best thing do do for retirement accounts is to find some index funds and leave them alone. You increase your likely hood of losing money if you try to manage your way to higher returns. The best thing to do is max out everything can. Company 401(k) to at least the match then i would go Roth and then traditional IRA.
      There is a gentlemen who I have followed for a couple of years now that you may find helpful. He has mentioned various books in his columns. While is co-owner of an investment firm he talks about how to do it on your own.
      Links to columns and invest site below.

    3. fposte*

      I was going to ask why he gets charged a fee every time he moves something in an IRA, because that shouldn’t be the case at any reasonable holder. Then you said Edward Jones. Oy.

      Read, for sure. Read William Bernstein’s 12-page free pamphlet, “If You Can”–Google will find you a URL for the PDF. And consider moving your IRA to a place that doesn’t charge you for every time you breathe on your money. Exchanges within an IRA shouldn’t cost you. I suspect you guys are losing money to EJ that you’d rather keep, and that if you realized the long-term effect, you’d be dismayed.

      But he also should leave his money the hell alone. I think there’s overlap between people who feel that they need to move it around and people who get sold on high-priced active management, as generally gets found in Edward Jones. The studies that suggest women fare better in investing than men indicate it’s because men keep moving their shizz around. Pick a Target Date fund with a low expense ratio, keep putting money in, and otherwise ignore it.

  61. Wrench Turner*

    Don’t want to violate the “not work related” rule but since I haven’t actually started the company yet, it maybe doesn’t count. I’m taking lots of notes from AAM about peoples’ interactions with property management companies. The good, the bad, the expensive. Hope mine is on the good side of things when I get it going.

    Meanwhile, friends of Mrs. Turner are moving up and one of them has an interest in electronics and motorcycles and may just be the electric motorcycle build partner I’ve been looking for.

    1. HardwoodFloors*

      Wow! Why a wonderful phrase *electric motorcycle*. Is this a kit you can build like a car from a kit? I would love to build something like an electric motorcycle. I even have a motorcycle license but haven’t riden in years.

      1. Wrench Turner*

        Electric motorcycles are already widely available and work really well, Zero being the biggest maker. I just want to make my own. There may be electric bike kits that let you build from scratch but I want to convert an old gas bike and there are lots of DIY tutorials on how.

  62. Nervous Accountant*

    Well, a few weeks ago I asked abotusports bra recommendations….I ended up buying a few from VS and I’m super satisfied with them. Yay for their sale!


    On another note, in the spirit of Ramadan, I’m going on a shopping fast/ban. My husband forced me on one for a few months last year and while it was tough, I’m glad…Unfortunately, since tax season ended, I’ve been on a shopping binge. So I’m putting myself on one for the next 3 months. Not sure what I’m looking to get out of it now. Anyone ever done this? Go completely off limits on something?

    1. Wrench Turner*

      All the time. It’s called bein’ po’. I skipped meals or eating entirely for a day because if I didn’t use that $10 to feed the car then I couldn’t get to work and neither of us would eat again. I’m in a better place now, praise the ancestors.

      We’ve stopped drinking during the work week now to save money and empty calories. It adds up quick: A glass each with dinner, another glass with art/TV/internet chats afterward and we’ve done a $5 bottle of wine, several days a week. If you don’t pay attention you’ve spent $100 a month just on dinner beverages. Tea is way cheaper.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yep, I have done a no fly zone on numerous things.

      I really cut down on my spending after I emptied my father’s house. I just decided to do this because of the huge hassle of emptying his house. I did not want to end up like that, too. It made me think about a lot of things, such as how much money we waste on what we don’t use. And I thought about how much stuff we have laying around that we have forgotten about. I also thought about how there is a point where owning things is no longer pleasurable, it becomes a burden.

      The odd thing is that even though I was watching spending, I still brought home plenty of stuff. Why. Well people gave us stuff, because they had too much stuff. Or I would pick up something at a tag sale and the seller would give me two more items free.

      I concluded that this went out beyond money. Our society seems to want us to own lots of THINGS. Even if we do not need them and do not use them, that part does not matter. Sometimes I think that we use shopping as a substitute for having quality relationships and doing meaningful activities. Or we use shopping to fill holes in our lives. Disclaimer: Not all of us and not all the time. Now I do not take freebies unless I will use them and if I give something away, I ask the person if they will actually use it.

      It felt weird at first not to shop so much. But I started digging into corners and using what we had on hand. I actually found a satisfaction with that. I was surprised. I organized the smaller items so we could actually find them when we needed them. (This actually saved us money and reduced clutter.)

      Now it’s more like a way of life. I wish I had been tighter on spending right along. Just thinking about all the stuff I bought that did not work out makes me cringe. If I had put more thought into it, that would have happened less.

      1. Nervous Accountant*


        I can’t pinpoint to an exact thing but I think that was it–I was always into makeup, clothes, etc. but it increased by A LOT over the last few years. There comes a point when it’s not as pleasurable anyomre and just becomes a burden.

        When I look back over that period, I realized that I went through a whole holiday season without being blue (for many years, I’d get extremely depressed around this time). Other factors had a play in it, but I think one of the contributing factors was NOT being out in super crowded, stressful shopping malls etc.

    3. Alinea*

      My New Year’s resolution a few years ago was to not go shopping for 3 months. It was surprisingly easy. I think I didn’t even online window shop in those 3 months since it would be too tempting.

      Now I put stuff in my cart online and just let it sit there. A few days later, if I still want it…I’ll still leave it there. I have to really love it to buy it.

  63. Rosie*

    Alison, are you planning to sell your resume reviewing services this year? I didn’t jump on the chance last year and have regretted it. Hoping that I didn’t miss another opportunity!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not sure! I have it tentatively penciled in for August, but I’m waiting to see how my schedule is looking. They’ll definitely come again at some point though!

  64. Bekx*

    I’m probably too late, but in case anyone else reads these on Monday…maybe I can get a response.

    I don’t like gardening. I just moved into a condo though, and I have a little front yard mulch thing at my door/sidewalk. I’ve been weeding but the five plants or so that are there from the previous owners are starting to die and I think my HOA is giving me the stink eye about it.

    Any advice on what I can plant/do for someone who doesn’t really want to garden to fill the area up? No trees. I live in Ohio, so cold winters and humid summers. It’s mostly shadey/partial sun. There was some ivy in there but my HOA stated they don’t want ivy, so I ripped it all out and now it looks pretty sad in my garden/yard thing.

    Is it a faux-pas to just keep mulch in there with no plants? I’d like to put stone so it doesn’t look too boring, but I’ve heard that has it’s own issues.

    1. KR*

      I think mulch would be fine as long as you fill it in well and keep it neat looking. You could collect some interesting boulders and rocks to decorate the mulch area too.

    2. the gold digger*

      Snow on the Mountain will fill in all the spaces and more. You cannot get rid of it – you can’t kill it. It is great ground cover if you want ground cover. Not so great if you want to rip it out and plant flowers.

    3. AFT123*

      This sounds ridiculous but I swear it looks pretty good – “plant” some fake plants in the mulch. A green fern would look nice, or something leafy. Even flowers can look nice. Fake plants from craft stores (Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc) in my experience hold up really well to the outdoor elements – even hot sun. I have a tree I put outside every summer and it’s still bright green and looks awesome, though I do take it in during the snowy months.

      1. AFT123*

        I actually have a fake bamboo tree I put out on the deck too for the last few years and this year, the birds seem to have discovered that the thin plastic leaves make great nesting material, because they keep stripping the leaves and stealing them! haha. Really though I swear fake plants look real when you plant them in the ground like that. I’ve heard of commercial places doing this too but I can’t say I’ve noticed it (though maybe that’s the point) except for at one McDonald’s, they had literally planted a bouquet of non-native purple flowers.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Late, late, late, I hope you see this. You could take the mulch out of there and put in stone or marble chips. Then find an antique something or other and place it in the center of a the bed. Make sure it definitely looks like an antique and not junk.
      You might also find statues at a local nursery that appeal to you. These ideas would stop the whole problem of having to garden. If you go this route, put down some plastic as a weed stop before dumping the stone on there. The last time I looked Lowes had a nice selection of stones in bags. Probably Home Depot would be able to help you out here also.

      My first stop would be to make sure I thoroughly understand what the HOA expects in these spaces. There’s no point to buying stuff that they do not allow.

  65. Menacia*

    Hostas would work perfectly for a shade/partial sun area and are very low maintenance. Just make sure you don’t get the kind that grow really large, they have small/medium/large varieties, the leaves/flowers can be different bringing some interest to the area. They fill in a space nicely, so you don’t need to buy too many.

    1. Bekx*

      Oooh. I forgot about Hostas. My parents had that growing up, this might be the perfect solution! Thanks!!

  66. AFT123*

    Late to the party – anyone out there?

    I’m testing the waters being a landlord this year – I’ve had a tenant renting out my old house since may 1, and I’m finding I get anxious every time I get an email from her. She is perfectly pleasant, but my house is very old, and thus has some old-house problems like the occasional leaky basement* or sticky window. Everything we could possibly think of was disclosed in the lease agreement so we would be protected, but the issue is just more of the fact that she is requesting things a lot it seems like. I want her to be happy and rent a long time, but I struggle to understand what part of home maintenance I am legally responsible for. Examples – cleaning the exterior of the windows. Cleaning the gutters. Trimming back large bushes and trees. Etc.

    Anyway, I’m only 2 months in and I cringe when I see an email from her, and I’m thinking I don’t want to renew her lease and I want to try and sell the house when her lease is up. It isn’t anything against the tenant (she pays on time, is pleasant and the neighbors like her, she is totally fine), I just don’t think I like being a landlord. The rental income I’m netting is $500 a month, before unplanned expenses.


    *Note on the leaky basement – it leaks once or twice a year, which was disclosed to her in the lease. It is an exterior access only basement, not part of the legal square footage even bc it’s unfinished with low ceilings – we allow her to use it for storage as a courtesy, at her own risk of her items getting damn. We did not include it as part of her lease even. We run a dehumidifier constantly and there is a drain in the floor. There are no mold issues, and because it’s totally separated from the rest of the house, there is nothing in the living area impacted by any dampness down there. It’s just a humid cement basement in a house from 1928 that we’ve dealt with the best we can short of rebuilding the foundation, and it doesn’t flood or anything, water trickles down the walls 2 – 3x a year and runs to the drain. No pooling water or anything. We can mitigate it somewhat if we keep the gutters clear, however they fill so dang fast it is hard to keep on top of it.

    1. acmx*

      Cleaning the windows should be the tenant responsibility. The gutters is probably yours and yard work is hers, I’d think. I’ve had a house rented out for 8 years and I’m responsible for most things (through a property management company). I’ve never had yard maintenance requirements (the trees are at the back of the lot) maybe that’s in the tenant’s lease

      Maybe you could retain a handyman and have her call that person for repairs and ask that the handyman contact you if the repair will exceed $X before s/he proceeds with work?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’s reasons like this that I won’t ever be a landlord. IANAL, but I do see landlord/tenant issues. The bottom line is that the landlord probably should put the house on a maintenance and inspection schedule.
      And just my opinion, but you can do everything according to the law and still be considered a slum lord by some people. In other words, the law has a pretty low bar. After that it boils down to what you think is ethically correct.
      As a tenant I never washed the outside of the windows. I will not go up two stories on a ladder. I’d be willing to use one of those window cleaners on a long pole, but I would probably do that once a year not more. I never asked a landlord to wash the windows and they never did on their own.

      I could be missing something about the dehumidifier, but from the tenant’s perspective she has to keep emptying the bucket and paying the utility bill on that humidifier. If it has an audible hum that can also be wearing. You may not have to rebuild the foundation to fix that dampness. I had a lot of luck here putting in drain pipe and sloping the yard away from the house. Yes, that was a lot of work, however the improvement is huge. If you watch you will probably notice a correlation with the clogged gutters and the increased dampness in the basement. My friend who helps me with my house also extended the eves of the roof in some places to kick the drip line out from the foundation walls. The drip line was very close.

      Looking at this from an income angle there are much easier ways to earn 6k per year. I cannot see how you can make much money on this investment. Yeah, I’d want to get out of it also. For the short run, I think if you did inspections of the property and lined up a maintenance schedule you might be able to slow down some of your tenant’s requests. For other requests, you may have to just say no.

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