weekend free-for-all – January 28-29, 2017

cat squaresThis 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.)

Recommendation of the week: Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners, by Therese Oneill. This is all the stuff no one has ever told you about living in the Victorian era, including what your underwear was like (disturbing!), how bathing worked, the raw meat you will tie to your face while you sleep to fight wrinkles, and much more.

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

{ 1,126 comments… read them below }

      1. Your Weird Uncle*

        Holy cow – coincidentally my husband and I *just* adopted a tortie kitten and named her Olive! (Short for Oliver, my last kitty who we lost earlier in the winter…she has his long hair.)

  1. Not Karen*

    When you check out a book/movie/show/etc. that a friend has recommended and you don’t like it, do you mention it or never bring it up and hope they don’t either?

    1. Lillie Lane*

      I never bring it up. I get annoyed when people give me unsolicited negative opinions and so I try not to either. Plus it might make them feel bad that I spent the time reading/watching the recommended thing.

    2. Former Invoice Girl*

      I never bring it up and hope that the friend won’t remember to bring it up, either.

      Even thought it’s not very rational, to me, it still feels like whenever I “criticize” something that someone else likes, I criticize or insult the person who recommended the particular show/book/movie, and that’s not a conversation I’d like to have. (It works the other way around, too – I like to keep what I like to myself so I won’t be told again how I’m a disappointment for liking electronic music, or whatever.)

    3. Myrin*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t bring it up, either. It’s awkward enough when they actually do remember and bring it up themselves, I wouldn’t want to “provoke” that kind of situation.

    4. Allypopx*

      I wait and see if they bring it up, and if they do I usually shrug it off and say “not my thing” unless it’s really offensive to me for some reason. Like GOT for instance, I’ll say “I’m really not big on shows with gratuitous sexual violence” so they know not to recommend me that kind of stuff in the future. But I don’t go out of my way to crap on things they enjoy.

      1. OhNo*

        That’s what I do, too. If I didn’t like it, I usually mention a reason or two why. My friends all do the same thing, too. It can be kind of awkward when that happens with acquaintances, but with friends it’s no big deal.

      2. Natalie*

        Yep, “not my thing” seems to work in nearly all cases, and I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to mention it unless they asked.

      3. SophieChotek*

        Yep me too. If they don’t bring it up, I won’t though. (Unless its a really, really good friend and I hated it so much that i’m surprised they thought I would like it….then I might ask to see what made them think I would like it. But that has only happened like, once or twice ever.) Usually I just never bring it up unless they do.

    5. Lily Evans*

      My friends and I recommend things to each other all the time, but don’t bring up not liking something unless the other person asks. I always just keep it neutral and say it just wasn’t my thing if they ask and no one has ever seemed offended by that. I’m not offended either if someone doesn’t like what I recommended, disappointed maybe since I always hope people will like the things I suggest. If anything, though, it helps me tailor my recommendations for them in the future. We all are very into TV shows and books so there’s constantly new things we’re telling each other to try and we’re all very critical of the things we watch, so this might just be our unique dynamic.

    6. FD*

      If they ask, I’ll usually say “Eh, it just wasn’t my thing.” Saying it that way doesn’t usually offend people because it puts it squarely in the realm of personal taste and doesn’t imply that they’re horrible for liking it. I won’t bring it up unless they do, as a rule.

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      I do say something — not in a “why the hell did you think I would like this?” way but more like “hey, I did the thing” (read: I think highly enough of you that your recos don’t go in one ear and out the other), and then I tell them what I thought of it with some details so it’s not just “I didn’t like it.” If there’s a part I did enjoy, or if I can understand why they thought I would like it because of X part, I say that, and then a specific thing I didn’t like about it.

      Usually they understand, or seem to, that what appeals to one doesn’t appeal to everyone. This happened recently — a friend highly recommended the movie “Atlantic City,” so when my husband and I finally watched it, I ended up telling the friend that it was interesting to see AC in that era, and there were moments I enjoyed like the scene with Robert Goulet in it, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like any of the characters. He wasn’t offended — he agreed with me that the characters aren’t the best human beings, but he really enjoys fish-out-of-water stories and that’s why he loves it. But he seemed pleased that we even watched it!

      This is why I think it’s worth bringing up — I think so often recommendations get put on the shelf for years or just ignored altogether, that friends are happy just to know that someone took their recommendation seriously.

      1. Not Karen*

        Yeah, although I don’t want to offend anybody, I’d like them to know I followed through and did it fact check it out, because it disappoints me when I make recommendations then never hear feedback on them.

    8. Lissa*

      It really depends. My best friend and I recommend and share books all the time, so we’d tell each other and not be offended. With someone I know less, not unless they bring it up, and I’d try to find one thing I did like. Also when I talk about something I don’t like, I typically try to stay away from statements like “It sucked” or “the acting was terrible”, i.e. emotional statements made as if they were objective facts.

    9. Someone*

      Wow, to me it’s completely different. Of course I tell them, because if we are close enough to be sharing recommendations, we’re close enough to be actually interested in each other’s taste. I’ve even recommended authors I don’t like to people who might like them.

      I’m also always interested in which artwork of mine other people like & why. It’s fascinating how different people react.

    10. Allie*

      It depends on the closeness of the friend. My best friend and I share books all the time and we’ll be completely honest with each other if we didn’t like it. On the other hand, if say, my mother in law recommends a book and then I hate it, I say NOTHING.

    11. Liane*

      Some of my friends I am quite comfortable telling them I didn’t care for it, or not as much as they did. Fortunately most of these friends are very good at guessing what I will enjoy, and if there is something they think might be a problem for me they will warn me along with the recommendation. Like a couple of the guys in my gaming group told me Dr. Strange was a fun movie–but, knowing I have a slight fear of heights, warned me there were scenes they thought might trigger. They happened to call it wrong–but only because those scenes were so surreal to me, unlike The Bridge of Khazad-dûm in Fellowship of the Rings.

    12. katamia*

      It’s hard for it not to come up because I’ll often let them know I’ll be trying something, so a lot of the time they’ll ask how I liked it. But I don’t have a problem with saying that I didn’t like something, and my friends don’t seem to take it badly when I say so, either.

      If I know I’m going to hate something a friend recommends (like if I can’t stand the genre or a main part of the story is a trope I loathe or if I hate the art style for anime or video games), I won’t try it, though. There are too many things I actually want to see/read/listen to/play for me to want to spend time on something I already know won’t be to my taste, especially when that dislike might hurt a bit. Not hurt enough to end a friendship over or anything, just a conversation that I don’t think would benefit anyone.

    13. Chaordic One*

      Well, it depends on the friend and how close they are. With my best friends I can say something like, “I really didn’t care for the plot and the characters seemed conventional and were kind of boring.” We can have spirited debates and arguments over the book, the plot, the characters. I love it. It is sort of like what goes on here. (Last week’s comments about Dr. River Song from Dr. Who for example.)

      OTOH, I’m a little less inclined to state opinions with certain people I know (including several relatives) who don’t think very critically. I am especially noncommittal about books and movies that have a political or religious point that they are trying to make because most of the time I feel that they are not very well done.

      When I volunteer at the Friends of the Library used book store I keep my mouth shut and just try to push whatever the customers seem interested in. The point there is to make some money for the library and not to argue politics or even to discuss literature.

    14. beem*

      I say things like, “I just couldn’t suspend disbelief enough to get onboard with the blah blah blah.”

      “I had to stop halfway through. It was way too scary for me.”

      “The main character is such a dick! I get that it’s part of his character, but in this case it just bothered me.”

    15. CM*

      Wow, so many answers from people who would never bring it up! It would never occur to me that my friend would be offended if I didn’t like the thing they recommended. I would think they would be glad I tried it. To me it’s a compliment that you checked out something based on a recommendation — it means you respect your friend’s taste enough to think that this is something you might like too. And I’ve had some interesting discussions with friends when we both watched/read/listened to something and had different reactions to it.

  2. Lady Julian*

    We’re going on nearly a month of cloudy weather where I leave & I am OVER IT. Every winter, the weeks and weeks of clouds make things seem so bleak. I’m bummed about my job, I’m bummed about my personal life, I’m bummed about my weekend plans – and nothing’s really different from the summer; I just feel much more down in the wintertime. I try to push back with fun activities (baking a historical cake last weekend, lighting a candle), but these things only help so much.

    Sigh. I just needed to vent.

    1. Courageous cat*

      I feel this, but also I wish I had it. I recently moved from a place with all four seasons to Miami, and I’m realizing that I really, really need the winter in order to appreciate the summer. Or hell, even a spring or a fall – we haven’t gotten any of those. The air never changes here. I’m glad I’m moving back home soon.

      1. Lady Julian*

        Don’t get me wrong, I *am* glad to live in a place with all four seasons! It’s just that in my particular place, “winter” means “cloudscloudscloudscloudsclouds”. I’d give anything for a brilliantly sunny, bone-chillingly cold day. At least it would be bright to look out the window!

        1. Courageous cat*

          I definitely get that. We get a mixture of both types of winter days at home (Atlanta) but cold + cloudiness for more than a week can definitely wear on you mentally. One of the reasons why I’d be nervous to move to the PNW.

      2. nonegiven*

        Mother Nature: You really can’t have all four seasons in just one week.

        Oklahoma: Hold my beer.

        1. Purring Kitty Awww*

          That made me laugh, partly because it feels the same over here sometimes:

          Mother Nature: You really can’t have all four seasons in just one day.

          England: Look out the window

        2. jstarr*

          This goes for Georgia as well. This week we had tornado warning, 32 degree weather, severe wind, 74 degree weather…

    2. J bird*

      I mainly just wanted to point out the beautiful Freudian slip that is “where I leave” …But then it occurred to me to mention light therapy lamps. I just got one for Christmas to help with winter weather blues and sluggishness (SUCH sluggishness), and BOY has it been helping. Before I got it I was sleeping twelve or thirteen hours on the weekend and still feeling tired all day, and now feel alert and sleep a reasonable 8 to 9 hours. I have a little Verilux “happy light” but there are a lot of options.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Our last Sunny day was Jan 9th (so the weather guy tells us)

      Boost your vitamin D intake, though. Vitamin D deficiency causes depression, even when it doesn’t sink to SAD levels where you need a special lamp.

    4. Red Reader*

      That’s why I left Seattle — my last winter there I kept track on a calendar and I went 42 days without seeing the sun :(

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I grew up an hour from Pittsburgh, across the border in Ohio.

        It’s cloudy there all the time. The second cloudiest place in the US after Seattle- which is why my grandmother built tanks there during WWII and there is a nearby arsenal.

    5. SaraV*

      We had a full day of sun yesterday after around 2 weeks of no sun. Didn’t really change the temperature, but it certainly gave me a better disposition.
      Woke up this morning to sun. Then almost at exactly 1p CT, it went away. And no sun in the forecast for at least a week. :(

    6. Jo*

      I’m right there with you. Right now everything looks miserable, with no hope in sight.

      It’s cold and I’m never warm (no such thing as central heating here – only wood-burning stoves and electric heaters); the weather has been grey and wet and miserable for days; I’m three months into a new job where I’m learning pretty much everything on the fly and the only feedback I’ve gotten is that I’m not outgoing enough and no one likes me; I’ve been super depressed and stressed so I’ve been comfort-eating non-stop and have gained 20 pounds; my first serious relationship ended two months ago, we live in a small community where running into him is unavoidable, all of my friends like him more than me so I’ve essentially been pushed out of our friend group, and he’s already moved on to someone else while I’m stuck still getting over him. Oh yeah, and I live in a conflict zone with the constant risk of kidnapping, explosions, sickness, death, and other lovely things like that.

      Thank god I leave for R&R in a few days to a sunny warm beach. It’s the only thing keeping me going at the moment.

      1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

        Sympathies! This sounds perfectly awful. I hope your days on a sunny warm beach will be restorative.
        May your future take you away from the conflict zone and into contact with better friends and significant others.
        My stressors are different but otherwise I’m with you in the stress/eating/weight gain cycle. I’m hoping to turn things around by replacing stress-eating with stress-drawing, taking daily walks, and getting to bed early. You’re welcome to become a partner-in-cyberspace for some or all of these.
        Now, where did I put my pencil and drawing pad?

        1. Jo*

          Thanks! It helps to know it’s not just me :) And I’d love the support of a partner-in-cyberspace for this — support is always helpful but usually in short supply.

          I can’t draw, but I like the idea of replacing stress-eating with stress-something else. My biggest challenge is that due to security restrictions, I can’t really go out. Or I can, but the options are extremely limited and it has to be in a car. Walking out the front door is strictly banned.

          I can be reached via the blog linked to my name.

  3. Lady Julian*

    I got Unmentionable in a Goodreads giveaway and just did not care for it. I made it a few pages in and then had to set it aside because the use of second person and frivolous tone was getting on my nerves.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I have several of her books. At least three. Consuming Passions and At Home with the Victorians are two I know I have on my shelf.

    1. FD*

      I rather enjoyed the tone of it so far, but it’s clearly meant to poke fun at the overblown style that a lot of bad pseudo-Victorian authors tend to use.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        It seemed to have good reviews on Amazon.

        I quite like the Liza Picard books about London, which are full of trivia about various aspects of daily life and are the sort of books you can dip into.

      2. Lady Julian*

        Yeah, this is more a personal taste thing for me than anything. Just because I didn’t care for it doesn’t mean that other people won’t enjoy it! :)

    2. Liane*

      Does anything know if it sounds like Miss Manners, or rather the tone she mocks? If so, I might like it.

    3. periwinkle*

      Good to know. I do love books like this, though. Some of my favorites:

      If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley
      At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
      Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders: A Writer’s & Editor’s Guide to Keeping Historical Fiction Free of Common Anachronisms, Errors, & Myths by Susanne Alleyn

      They’re all England-centric, which is handy for those of us who devour Austen and Trollope.

      1. Marcela*

        Ooh, I love Lucy Worsley. No matter what her documentaries are about, I just watch them for not only I’ll learn something new, it will be full of witty remarks. And I am sure she owns a pair of purple sandals I could not buy because they were too high, and regretted to this day.

        1. Torrance*

          Have you seen any of Suzannah Lipscomb’s stuff? She is probably my second favourite historian, after Lucy, and does similar stuff. If you like Lucy’s Tales from the… series, I’d definitely have to recommend Suzannah’s Hidden Killers series. It’s about all the ways the British, throughout the various eras, have introduced ‘hidden killers’ into their homes (like arsenic wallpaper or electric tablecloths).

    4. Merci Dee*

      Just downloaded the book onto my Kindle. As soon as I saw a mention of tying raw meat to the face before sleeping, I said, “yep . . . sounds like the sort of fun history that’s right up my alley.”

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have the Lucy Worsley book about the home and it’s another good “dipping into” book. There was an accompanying BBC documentary series which some kind individual might have uploaded somewhere… She has also just started a new series on “History’s biggest fibs”.

        The Suzannah Lipscombe programmes are interesting, but there is no series, they seem to appear sporadically as one off episodes. She did an experiment in the Victorian one showing the difference wearing a corset makes to breathing.

        Amanda Vickery is very good for the Georgian period. She did a great programme with Tom Service about Messiah at the Foundling Hospital. She presented the part about Thomas Coram and how he came to found the hospital, and Tom Service interviewed various music experts about the piece, and best of all, it was interspersed with performances in period costume. (Lucy Crowe anyone?)

    5. MommyMD*

      I read The Shack after so many recommendations, hated it, and thought it sent a terrible message about redemption for a pedophile child rapist murderer. I felt scammed by this new age nonsense novel.

      1. NaoNao*

        I am a frequent thrift store shopper and “The Shack” (along with 50 shades of gray) has replaced any/all books by Andrew Greeley (he writes/wrote turgid, purple prose Beach Reads about the lives and loves (?) of catholic priests, basically) as the “most given away” book I see.
        I also see:
        A ton of Anita Shreve
        James Patterson
        Davinci Code (although less and less, I think all the extra copies have finally been pulped.)

        It’s a little sad to me, because in my early teens, you could find real gems in the thrift store—books from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s that were part of someone’s personal collection, art books, the classics, and now it’s sort of wall to wall “book club” books and “airport paperbacks”.

  4. Ruth (UK)*

    I wasn’t going to post about running this week because I’d then have to make this confession: despite supposedly training for a half-marathon I STILL haven’t actually run any longer distances yet. All my runs have been 2 or 3 miles. This is largely due to time constraints and also not liking to run in the dark…

    But… this morning I got a new PB on the parkrun (5km) of 26:38 so I’m super chuffed and therefore wanted to share it.

    Anyway I am strongly planning to do a longer run tomorrow. I reckon I can do 6 miles at a slow pace… Who knows.

    Also, I bought a melodica cause it was marked down to £4 from it’s original price of £25 (which is quite typical for a melodica). I know a lot of people aren’t fans of the instrument (I don’t think it’s taken seriously as a ‘proper’ instrument sometimes). But hey, I normally accompany myself on the glockenspiel or kazoo and tambourine anyway. I think the melodica has a nice sound. I mean, it doesn’t have the buzz of the kazoo, for example.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Of course, though I might have to wear shorts when the weather heats up… I have some excellent yellow ones

    1. tigerStripes*

      I wouldn’t want to run in the dark either, at least not unless there was lighting and plenty of people around. Too dangerous.

      1. Misc*

        That’s so weird to me, cause running in the dark is my favourite thing – no people around! and it’s cooler! I’ve been really missing my 2am runs :( (sprained an ankle a year ago, nearly almost at the point I might be able to start running again).

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Really depends on your location. I feel very safe running around my subdivision at night (even as a small female) because I am familiar with the area and people, but I would never have tried it when I lived in the city.

    2. Today's anon*

      I know you’re athletic but be careful in going from 3 miles to 6 miles, that’s quite a jump. Most plans suggest not increasing mileage by more than 10% a week. It’s not worth getting an injury. Also it’s not uncommon for a first time half marathon plan to max at 8 or 10 miles so perhaps you don’t have to be at 6 at this point. Hal Higdon has some good beginner half marathon plans.

      1. Stephanie*

        Also, you could aim to run half the half marathon. As long as you’re within the course limit, it doesn’t matter how you make it to the finish line…Most I’ve seen have a limit of ~4 hours, which should allow for doing a powerwalk the entire time.

      2. Lady Julian*

        Good suggestion. Most plans advise adding a mile a week. Take it slow, you’ll be fine. I second the recommendation to check out Hal Higdon.

      3. Ruth (UK)*

        I realise it’s quite a jump but I think I can pace it slowly and pay attention to any potential problems/twinges that might suggest I’m pushing too hard etc.

        Also the one I’ve entered has quite a tough cut off of 3 hours and 15mins for the max time (and you must be halfway by 90 minutes) because of road closures. There isn’t a shorter distance to enter. Anyway at least I don’t think it’ll take me over 3 hours anyway.. I hope!

        1. Stephanie*

          Even if it does take 3 hours…eh? Being out there is half the battle. It’s not like you’re one of the professional runners at the front who need to make a certain time to get paid. Just enjoy yourself!

          I will say, overuse/overtraining injuries can be insidious, so I definitely agree to listen to your body. It’ll start out as a twinge and if you don’t properly address it, just one day it’ll suddenly become really painful and far more serious. (How do I know this, you ask? Do as I say, not as I do/did…)

        2. The Penguin*

          training injuries don’t usually come with flashing warning sings. they can come on really surprisingly quickly after feeling fine for weeks. by the time you can feel it it might be too late. I always thought if I could, I should, then half way into my second half I could hardly walk and couldnt run over a mile for TWO YEARS of P.T.

          Don’t be like the penguin. adjust mileage slowly.

    3. Stephanie*

      Good job! It might be tough to do the full distance if you’re not increasing your mileage steadily. If you’re fit enough, you could probably complete it, it’d just more be a question of how enjoyable it’d be (challenging but rewarding vs absolutely miserable) and you might struggle with pacing if you try to run 13 mi like you run 2-3 mi. If there’s a shorter distance, most races will let you drop down.

      Re running in the dark, it’s doable, depending on your comfort level and safety of the area. Getting a head lamp or reflectors or just anything to make you visible is key. You’re going to want to stick to major streets, have the route in mind from the start, and not wear headphones.

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      Great job on your race! I’m not sure how long till your half, but if you are supposed to be doing 6-mile long runs I’m guessing you have another 8-10 weeks. If so you are a little behind but you can definitely catch up. I did not start training until a month before my first half, and I did fine (disclaimer: I was already able to run 6-7 miles at that point.)

      I believe you can do this! Good luck and enjoy the thrill of hitting new distance records!

    5. CheeryO*

      How’d it go?!

      26:38 is a fabulous 5K time for a newer runner (or anyone, really). You’ve got some speed, so there’s no reason why you couldn’t do 2:00-2:15 or so for your half, assuming you still have a few months to train.

  5. Rat in the Sugar*

    Good morning all! Does anyone have any suggestions for training/disciplining cats? My two little darlings (one in particular) have been disrupting my sleep and I’m not sure what to do about it.

    http://imgur.com/1zgVOC9 (The cute little jerks in question).

    To explain: I adopted two little bugs last fall, Sunhillow (large orange male) and Moon Ra (small dark female). It’s just the two of them and me in a one bedroom apartment, so I spend a lot of time around them and they sleep in my bed. Most of the time they are the sweetest little beans, but they have a bad habit of attacking me at night I’d like to break. Sunhillow will go after my toes and then sneak onto my pillow when I sit up, which is annoying but he doesn’t do it every night. Moon Ra, on the other hand, will attack my long hair constantly, and actually swiped me in the eye the other night when it fell over my face.

    I’ve tried disciplining her the way I would a dog, saying “No, bad kitty!” in my best I’m-angry-with-you voice and setting her down on the floor, but it doesn’t seem to phase her and she just hops back up to attack me again, even after several repetitions. I’m not sure what else to do now. I don’t want to shut them out of my room, I love having them sleep with me when I’m not getting hit in the face. Plus they’d yowl, Sunhillow especially is very attached to me and does not beg so much as he stridently demands. I also don’t want to try using the water bottle while she’s in my own bed, and I won’t hit them, either. Am I just stuck living with this behavior? Surely Moon Ra is smart enough to train, I just don’t know how to discipline her properly …

    1. KR*

      I’ve heard that feeding them and playing with them right before bed is the best way to go. If you really tire them out and then give them some food, their next step is to go to bed which should buy you some time.

      1. Cookie D'Oh*

        This is what I was going to suggest as well. Cats have a hunt, eat, groom, sleep cycle so if you consistently do this before bed hopefully they will sleep through the night. I got this from watching multiple episodes of My Cat From Hell. Do you have a window in your bedroom? Maybe you could set a cat perch by the window so they have their own space.

        For other behavioral issues, I like the books written by Pam Johnson Bennett. There’s a lot of information online, but sometimes I like having a book on hand for a quick reference.

        Good luck. They are adorable!

    2. Professional Cat Lady*

      What cute littler jerks!

      Part of it is just that they’re young and they have a TON of energy. Like KR suggested, more play/stimulation would help them get energy out before bed. You also might try forage feeding: toys with food locked inside them so it simulates hunting for food: uses more energy and stimulates them more even during the day when you’re gone, or overnight so they have something to attack other than your feet/face. Finally, try a calming spray/collars/diffuser like Feliway – it emits pheromones designed to mimic what their mother put out when they nursed: it has a calming effect. Consider plugging one in at night. Be aware that not all cats respond to those, but it is one of our first recommendations when people call in about behavior issues. (I work at a cat shelter.)

      Mostly though, they’re just in their terrible teen phase, and will likely outgrow these behaviors.

    3. fposte*

      Wow, they are adorable!

      In general, punishment isn’t a very effective training method for cats or for dogs–they aren’t very good at associating it with the thing you want them to, and they’re better at just associating it with you. It’s also really, really hard to train animals (including human animals) to simply not do something; it’s a lot easier to focus their attention on something else instead. I strongly second KR’s suggestion of playing the hell out of them before bed (feed them after that rather than before, because of the usual associations of play/hunting with eating/kill; they’re likely to settle down better after eating than after playing), and also playing the hell out of them generally. Do they get some good action with a wand toy or something that really makes them run on a regular basis, separate from whatever they get from each other? Because right now you’ve got a really fun game going that they have no interest in stopping–they attack, they get attention, they attack again, and you never seem to lose interest in playing the game, so great!

      You can also change the enticements. Put your hair in a scrunchie when you go to bed so Moon Ra doesn’t have the toy dangling; have two pillows and keep going back and forth so they both smell like you, and then you can yield one up to Sunhillow without it being a prize that you have to fight him for. But right now you’re got established nighttime games and you’re leaving the toys temptingly around; it’s going to be hard to present them to your cats and then convince them not to play.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you use a spritzer bottle when you are not in bed, it will get to the point that just picking the bottle up will cause them to fall into line.

      I had two cats and a dog sleeping in the room with me. Sometimes a friend’s dog stayed with us. The rule was pretty simple. I give a warning “bedtime”, if peace did not fall on us, the offending party got kicked out of the bedroom for the night. (My first dog would stir up Visitor Dog. If I separated the two of them, Visitor Dog went right to bed/sleep. I kicked my dog out two nights in a row. On the third night the problem was over.) I would give the warning and give them about 30-45 minutes to figure something out. This way they heard the word several times. The cats understood, too.
      Cats tend to be nocturnal. If yours are under the covers with you, they may think they are not able to jump down and go play if they chose, because they can’t get out from under the covers. In the end, our two would start out sleeping with us but they would jump down in the middle of the night and chase each other through the house. Once they got older this stopped.

      1. Marcela*

        Hahaha, that reminds me of how my cat knows perfectly well that he is NOT to wake me up. First morning he did it, a small pillow I use to cover my eyes from light flew in his direction. Never again. My husband, on the other side, felt that was slightly abusive, so whenever my cat is hungry (for example if his automagic feeder does not work because the batteries run out), cat wakes up my husband. Even at 4 am in the morning.

        1. Buffy*

          My dogs are the same way! They have trained my husband to take them out at 5am and he says “that’s just when they wake up and need to go!” When he’s traveling for work, we are all perfectly content to snooze until whenever!

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Just having the spritzer bottle in reach was enough for my demon cat. ;) If I put them away because they hadn’t been touched in months, the unwelcome habits started up again.

        Honestly, he would wake me up and do things like knock glasses of water on to me. We just shut cats out of the bedroom and got a white noise machine to not hear his yowling (He yowled with the door open OR closed) It was strange after he died to let cats back in our bedroom. My current feline overlords leave as soon as I turn the lights out, to go do fun things in the rest of the house.

    5. copy run start*

      As others have said, do the hunt/play, eat, groom, sleep deal as part of your bedtime routine. Bedtime in my house starts with play, then I feed the cat, he grooms himself while I “groom” myself, and then we settle in for the night.

      I do not use a water bottle on my cat. He is fairly well behaved, but I just hiss at him when he does bad things — it’s what other cats would do and I’ve found it super effective. If you don’t get results, my vet showed me that a firm grasp at the back of the neck and on the hips will remind a cat who’s the boss in the house. The goal isn’t to hurt, just to make your point known.

      1. blackcat*

        I hiss at my cat when he does something that pisses me off. It’s very effective. I also squeak/eep if he ever does something that hurts me.

        I communicate with him in cat language.

    6. tigerStripes*

      If you make sounds that sounds like what happened caused a lot of pain, sometimes the kitty will understand and cut back on the behavior and hopefully stop the behavior. I agree about playing with them first – wear them out so they don’t want to play while you sleep.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I taught my dog that OOOOWWW is not a good thing. What is great about this, if he steps on a visitor’s foot, the knee-jerk response is “ooowww”. The dog gets that instant correction and knows to be more careful.
        With both my cats and dogs, I have used an angry face and I wag my index finger to show displeasure. This one takes a bit for them to catch on, but once they get it they never forget.
        It was funny, my friend was playing with my dog. In the course of play he wagged his finger at my dog. My friend stopped dead in his tracks. “I did something wrong here, what did I do? The dog has lowered his head and tail as if I yelled at him.” I explained that I wag my finger when I scold/correct behavior. We both reassured the dog that everything was okay.

    7. mreasy*

      Highly dislike water bottles for cats. My cat (NOT a kitten) used to have this habit, and what I did was…sleep-train him. It takes a few days of bad sleep, but all you have to do is entirely stop responding in any way to the behavior. Cover your feet/head with pillows/slippers/whatever works, and set your phaser to Ignore. It will be brutal for the few days it takes the kitties to learn that their nighttime onslaught doesn’t get them the attention they’re craving, but they should learn it. You can google “sleep training cats” for more info.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yes, you absolutely must NOT react in ANY way when they play with you in the way you don’t like.

    8. Is it Performance Art*

      If you ignore them every time they engage in the behavior, it’s just a matter of time. Mine was an unrepentant night yowler. I’ve had luck with active ignoring: I turn my back to her or I slam the door shut. There were a couple of rough weeks (yay for earplugs), but now she’s much better. I also make sure I play with her for about an hour before I go to bed. She also has some toys that she can play with on her own at night.

    9. Swoop*

      I’ve had luck with computer air – I think it’s the sound as much as anything, because the air gets nowhere near them. Also hissing and eeping as mentioned above, and lightly blowing in the cat’s face if they’re close enough – just one puff usually (I think it might also be a cat thing, as it stops my little semi-feral short when it’s getting extra pointy and rambunctious)

    10. Grey*

      When you play with them do you waggle your fingers or otherwise incite them to attack parts of your body? If you do you might be setting a bad pattern.

      We have one cat we got as a kitten (now an adult) and I played rough with her, letting her chase my fingers and bite at my hand. The other we got as an adult and he only plays with toys. Guess which one attacks me in the middle of the night?

  6. regina phalange*

    So kind of having a dilemma. I have three friends I hang out with a lot, though one more than the other two. I am the black sheep of the group (not married, don’t own a house, don’t share their profession). Sometimes the three of them go out and don’t invite me and it’s not often but it happens (and I always find out via social media). Well it happened last night and really upset me for two reasons. 1) one of the girls posted a pic that said something about wine therapy with her girls, which hurt my feelings because she just suffered a great personal loss that I’ve also been through and I was there for her with the other two and it made me feel like I didn’t do enough. 2) the girl I hang out with the most posted the same pic and mentioned me in a hash tag, which was really a slap in the face because it’s not like they invited me out and I declined, they just didn’t invite me at all, but I got my own hashtag so I should feel included, right?? I have to see one of them today because of previous plans and I don’t know if I should say something. Normally I wouldn’t care, but I guess the reason it bothered me more this time is for the reasons listed above. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    1. neverjaunty*

      They’re your friends. Talk to them. It’s not really about the hashtag, right? It’s about you feeling like an outsider (are you the one who says you’re the ‘black sheep’ or do they?) and this just cemented it.

      If you don’t want to talk to them or think they’ll lie to you or blow you off…. well, that’s the answer right there, yes?

    2. TheLazyB*

      I’ve been there and cried about it.

      I wasn’t going to mention it but in the end I did, and it made the friendship stronger. But the right moment to mention it was many months later.

      I wonder if the girl you hang out with more didn’t realise you weren’t invited and thought you were just busy? Hence the hashtag?

      Fwiw I think some people prefer not to get their emotional support from those who’ve ‘been there’ because rightly or wrongly they think that their thunder has somehow been stolen because they weren’t first to go through it. Messed up logic for sure but if it helps, great – if not please discount.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Right at the start of your story, there could be a problem. You call yourself a black sheep. I hoping that was just for purposes of writing here and not a larger issue. But if you already feel like you are on the outside looking in, things like this will draw that feeling to the foreground.

      Another wrinkle. A (possible) misunderstanding that attaches to a current grief. You are processing your own sadness with your loss. One way we can do that is by helping someone else with their loss. So here is a double header: It could look like you missed out on helping her with her loss annnd in turn missed out on processing some of your own loss. Any misunderstanding or miscommunication involving grief can be extra hurtful.

      Bottom line, it always hurts when friends don’t include us. Always. My suggestion will be to talk with them, of course. Maybe you don’t, which is fine, it’s your choice. Either way, use this heart pang to nudge yourself to do something different in your life. Add a few new friends even if they are casual friends and not close. Take on a new activity such as joining a group. Consider how you are doing with your own grief and maybe consider a grief group. When something tugs at our heartstrings we can look around and see if there is an action we can take in response to that tug. Oddly, something that seems like indirect action involving a different thing might be the right answer.

    4. Elkay*

      Say something. It’s going to be awkward but let them know how they made you feel. It can’t make the situation any worse. I’ve been there and when I spoke up I realised they didn’t think of me as a friend how I thought of them and it hurt but ultimately I don’t feel a loss because I now see they’re not very nice people.

    5. Anonforthis*

      I would try talking to them about it and see how they respond. Otherwise I would try and broaden my social circle. You already feel left out and so it might be time to meet new people. Plus, it can be a sort of test. If you are busy all of the time, they might reach out to you and wonder what’s going on/where you are.

    6. CheeryO*

      Ooh, been there, I’m sorry. I would definitely bring it up next time you’re all together – it doesn’t need to be a major argument, but they should know that it was rude to rub it in your face, even if it was unintentional.

      Try to assume the best so you aren’t beating yourself up until you get a chance to talk to them – maybe it started because they wanted to talk about something related to their field and didn’t want to bore you? Or maybe they mistakenly thought you had something going on?

  7. The Other Dawn*

    I’m happy to report I’m on track with my exercise AND my diet this week! As a result, I’m down five pounds (I know that’s water weight). Funny how the scale goes down when you stick to your allotted calories. :)

    I had jury duty this week (a local murder trial!) but didn’t get picked, which is good because it would have run in very close to my surgery date. When we broke for lunch I went to the coffee shop in the courthouse. I was worried about the choices I would have. It was basically sandwiches, which I really don’t eat anymore, burgers, chicken tenders, fries, and stuff like that. I looked at the breakfast menu and noticed they had hard-boiled eggs, and they had bananas on the counter. So, I got two eggs and a banana and I was thrilled. And it only cost me $3.00.

    I went grocery shopping after the trainer last night and bought a bunch of those steam pack veggies, the ones with the sauce. I hadn’t thought about those before because I’m typically not a fan of frozen veggies, but I noticed they now have a much bigger variety. Some have rice, potatoes and even quinoa now. I stayed away from the rice and quinoa because the calories were ridiculous. One of them had about 400 calories for one cup! I stuck with the veggie-only ones that have sauce or herbs. I could actually eat the whole bag if I want to and it’s less than 150 calories. Toss in some chicken and I have a full meal! Best part was they were only $1.00!

    I also got myself a real blender so I can add in some protein shakes. I have a small personal size blender, but those aren’t good for running for a couple minutes. They’re more for pulsing. I’ve found that running the blender longer makes the shakes thicker, which is what I need if I want to feel full from it.

    So, yeah, I’m finally on track.

    1. interesting*

      Nice job! What a great week.

      And way to go with finding a healthy yet filling lunch when few options were available. Once you start finding more healthy options, packing your lunch is the cheapest and healthiest way to go. Hard boiled eggs are a staple in my lunch, often with a hunk of cheese or hummus or chicken or edemame, a small handful of almonds, and a mix of whatever fresh finger food veggies/fruits I had in the house (cherry tomatos, carrot sticks, blueberries etc…).

      Keep it going!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Awesome! I’ve stayed pretty on track this week, except for some pizza and a trip to Steak N Shake today with friends. But I will have either pea soup or a big salad tonight for dinner (with avo and egg).

    3. Future Analyst*

      One of my favorite ways to get calories, flavor, and a ton of veggies is an arugula salad: use a whole bag of ready-to-use arugula (I get mine at Trader Joe’s), plus 2 oz of crumbled Gorgonzola, a diced pear, pecan pieces (candies if you’re getting fancy), and balsamic vinegar. Tastes decadent, is high in fiber and healthy fats.

  8. Sami*

    What kind of dry dog food do you feed your dogs? Mine seems to not like hers so much. She refuses to eat it (Hill’s Science Diet- a mix of Active Longevity and Weight Management both small bites) without any “mix-ins” like some chunk chicken or cheese. She has actually thrown up (just yellow bile) rather than eat it sometimes.

    So if I can find her a new kibble that she really likes, that’d be great. Thanks.

    1. Gaia*

      Petcurean Go! Sensitivity & Shine Limited Ingredient Salmon (sometimes Duck or Turkey). It is a great grain free, LI food made in Canada with no recall history on their dry food.

      1. RKB*

        Seconding Go! My pup was suffering from pica and Go totally turned it around. He’s been eating it for a year and a half now and loves it!

    2. KR*

      Whole Earth Farms! My dog eats the Healthy Weight Formula because he’s old and prone to being overweight. He’s never had a digestive problem with it and it’s grain free! It’s hard to find anywhere but Petco but I’ve found it to be a reasonable price with lots of varieties and wet food too.

    3. AnitaJ*

      We feed our pug Royal Canin pug variety, but we’ve had a lot of success with mixing in either canned pumpkin, canned or frozen green beans, or brown rice. Keeps pups slender and is easy on their stomachs. Best of luck with your furry one!

    4. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Walmart’s Pure Balance grainfree bison, peas, and venison dry kibble. We have a German Shepherd and he has bad skin allergies, so we switched to grainfree even though the vet said it wouldn’t make a difference. He really seems to enjoy it. We switched to it from Iams Proactive Health and he’s much more enthusiastic at mealtimes since we swapped.

    5. LCL*

      Avoderm original beef. He should probably be getting a senior food instead, but the one time I tried doing a gradual transition, he got instant diarrhea.

    6. periwinkle*

      I have yet to own a cat who will eat any variety of Hill’s; reading the labels makes me think they’re smart. Ugh, so much corn. Look for something with no corn or corn gluten meal. Your supermarket options are limited (Purina Beyond is a good choice) . Pet food stores that sell the premium brands often have sample packs (free) or smaller bags so you can try them out. Blue Buffalo advertises heavily but my vet wasn’t impressed.

      Quick snapshot of the differences – here are the first six ingredients of three options:
      Hill’s Science Diet Active Longevity Small Bites: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brewers Rice, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Corn
      Purina Beyond White Meat Chicken & Egg: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Starch, Cassava Root Flour, Canola Meal, Dried Egg Product
      Acana Meadowland: Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Chicken Giblets (Liver, Heart, Kidney), Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Kidney), Chicken Meal, Catfish Meal

      I feed the cat version of Acana, switching between flavors – expensive when you have 8 cats but they’re thriving on it.

      1. periwinkle*

        Money saving note – Chewy.com has really good prices on premium pet foods! Check local shops anyway because they might have similar discounts; I buy Acana at a single-location store which has a price comparable to Chewy’s.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        My older cat won’t eat anything other than Purina Cat Chow. Period. He refuses all healthy grain free foods, except the grain free kitten food we fed the younger cat for a year. :P

        For wet food, they only want the icky Friskie’s PATE – no bits of shreds or anything resembling real food. And poultry, not fish!

        1. periwinkle*

          When we had a feral cat colony to feed, we bought supermarket-brand dry food. My spoiled indoor kitties preferred that stuff over the premium food they got. Well, I might prefer potato chips to broccoli but too bad, the broccoli is better for me… (okay, sometimes I’d buy a small bag of Fancy Feast dry, which they just loved)

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Unlike a human, my 15 yr old cat would rather starve to death than eat better-for-him food. I have tried to outstubborn him- he will go down to skin and bones. He has gotten to be as old as he is, with zero health problems except when his baby sister came with Feline Herpes and gave him an outbreak, so I just let him go on eating the cheap stuff. :P When he is gone, his sister will have to eat premium food.

            The wet food is just the vector for their L-Lysine. My biggest complaint is that it’s hard to FIND- even harder to find in poultry.

            1. SignalLost*

              Yeah, my 22-y/o kitty can eat kitty McDonalds for all of me; he’s earned it, and it’s not worth fighting with him about eating something other than Meow Mix dry and Friskies wet food. The good news is my 6 y/o cat eats Blue Buffalo and won’t touch the garbage. Since the younger is already overweight, I’m okay with this. :)

      1. DogNers*

        My dogs eat this and love it. Our vet highly recommended it for my older dog who suffers from allergies. My only complaint is that my local Tractor Supply never has it on the shelf.

    7. Jessesgirl72*

      Taste of the Wild grain free. They will only eat the Pacific Stream flavor, because they are picky.

      The grain free are good because they cause less waste- so less to pick up!

      1. Loopy*

        Seconding this. At one point I tried to change to supposed better food and he was all messed up so we went back to Taste of the Wild.

    8. Kms1025*

      We had to take our little guy off dry food entirely. Pippen is an eleven year old Shih Tszu. He consistently began throwing up that awful yellow bile every time he ate dry food. Seems he was unable to digest the hard, dry kibble. We feed him only high quality wet food. Look for grain-free, limited ingredient. His issues cleared up by 99%. Still the occasional eruption, if he gets hold of something he shouldn’t have :(

        1. Asterix*

          The dry food keeping teeth clean is a myth. A lot of it is genetic, so one needs to be on top of dental health in general.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            A myth told to me by veterinarians in separate areas of the country?

            I hope you forgive me if I believe the medical advice given to me by the people with the medical degrees and experience.

            1. Taylor Swift*

              I mean . . . You’re an anonymous internet commenter trying to give someone pet health advice.

    9. Aardvark*

      My dog likes Taste of the Wild. My ex’s dog didn’t care for it though–he prefers Natural Balance. I’m happy with the nutritional content of either one.

      1. Rogue*

        Taste of the wild is what my two pibbles eat. It’s grain free and widely available (we can always get it at tractor supply).

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          You can also get it Amazon Prime.

          But our local pet supply chain has you save your receipts, and when you turn in 10, you get a free bag.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We feed our buddy Nature’s Logic. It’s made in the US with millet (he’s not into grain-free). We’ve tried a bunch of different proteins, but beef is the best one for him (gives him the best poops ever!). What I love about Nature’s Logic is that it comes in all sorts of proteins and is designed to switch among them seamlessly, so you don’t need to mix them when you transition. We’ve fed him lamb, beef, and chicken so far, but it also comes in venison, sardine, and rabbit. The prices vary by protein. (He’s a 65-lb. short-haired hound mix.)

    11. katamia*

      We feed ours Eukanuba. She seems to like it okay, although she often waits for it to get stale before she eats it. Maybe it tastes better that way?

    12. Buffy*

      My dog is a picky eater so we started feeding him Blue Buffalo grain free. He seems to like it, I assume since it’s meant to be less processed and more real food tasting.

      1. JHS*

        We also use Blue Buffalo and have had really great results. We used to do the Life Protection one, but now do Wilderness Blend. My dog’s coat is shinier and his digestive issues have gone away. We also give him the Vetri-Science Probiotic, which has helped his sensitive stomach enormously!

    13. Natalie*

      We just switched our dog to Simply Nourish (Petsmart’s store brand) Salmon & Sweet Potato and he loooooooves it. He runs to the bowl when I open the container and gets so excited he has trouble maintaining his sit-stay. It’s fairly affordable for a “fancy” dog food – about $50 for a 25-lb bag

  9. Myrin*

    This might seem like a super weird question for someone who is actually pretty internet-savvy, but hear me out:

    What the heck is the deal with internet commenters?

    And, I mean, the first response is probably to say that comments on the internet basically everywhere – except for a few moderated spaces like this very site – are horrible. Which is true. But I’m wondering about the psychology behind that. Because that would mean that there are so many, so, so many horrible people in this world.

    And I know that the most often mentioned thing people say wrt internet commenters is that they feel powerful and like they can say whatever they want because of the relative anonymity but that doesn’t change the fact that these people, even if they never show any of it in real life or when they’re online in a less anonymous capacity, are really, truly nasty and horrible, and I find that pretty scary.

    The only alternative to this is that there are only like ten of these horrible people online but they have about a million sockpuppets which, well, probably not true. And another one I came across only two days ago and which actually prompted this thought experiment: They don’t actually have horrible views but think it’s fun to pretend they do and rile others up? Which, honestly, I’m not sure if that’s better or worse, really.

    (The specific example was someone saying something pretty inflammatory towards queer people. After some back and forth, a new commenter jumped in and said, very calmly and reasonably, that hey, these are real issues that actual people face in their daily lives and that hurt them and suddenly, it was like I was observing some strange Jekyll-and-Hide situation, because the shit-stirrer said (also very calmly) that they’re well aware of that and actually support queer people but “think that it’s fun to mess with/upset tumblrinas and SJWs” and my head about exploded.)

    So, yeah, are so many people really so terrible and I just don’t see it because I don’t encounter them at an online article?

    1. Gaia*

      It isn’t that people are horrible, it is that anonymity allows people to be bolder (which often translates into rude or mean) than they would in public. We are conditioned to suppress this in society but it is “rewarded” online. It is just the psychology of reward feedback. It gets attention, so people do it. People do it so it gets attention.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh, I’m aware of that, my problem is just that the comments I mean aren’t “bold” or even just “rude”, we’re talking downright offensive and aggressive. I can understand the “bolder” psychology and even feel it myself to some extent – I’m a bit more blunt online than I am IRL although I am there, as well. What I mean is that the internet doesn’t give people a personality transplant as soon as they open their browser, so when someone comments on a video or whatever “You said XY you f**king r*etarded bastard son of a cumsl*t”, that means that these are thoughts and expressions and a level of aggression that they have in themselves (even if they wouldn’t actually say it out loud in reality) and I find that pretty scary. Also because it’s a huge amount of commenters who are like that; if it were the odd one here and there I wouldn’t think much of it but they are basically everyhwere.

        1. fposte*

          Even setting aside yer basic haterz, I think common discourse has gotten a lot more intense in what’s meant as hyperbole even among friends and compatriots when they’re directing their ire against a politician or a mean person they encountered. I don’t much like it, even when it isn’t gendered; I don’t think it’s a great thing to toss off the idea of doing people damage to their tender parts with rusty chainsaws in the first place, for the same reasons you state, and then you get internet enclaves where there’s a sort of group focus of projected anger that leads to unpleasant detail way beyond that.

        2. NoMoreMrFixit*

          Big part of this is due to there being no repercussions for this type of behaviour over the internet. Face to face would result in a punch to the teeth for a lot of these individuals. But the ability to hide behind technology while using it as a weapon to harass others gives trolls the same type of superiority thrill traditional bullies get from physical abuse. It’s not just attention – it’s a power trip. It’s a form of bullying behaviour and one that is getting worse over time. With the lack of human to human direct contact there is also the lack of perceived threat so these people don’t see themselves as bad. Rather they think they’re funny. Strong. Powerful. And sadly, very much untouchable. Worst, it’s easy to do. Also easy to get others to join in and gang up on the target.

          Many jurisdictions have cyberbullying laws in place to fight this but unfortunately those are reactive in nature and can only punish those who cross the line and manage to get caught. Preventing this from happening has not been a success so far. Schools have tried to teach kids not to do this. But it’s just too easy, rewards are immediate and the risk of payback entirely too slim. Sadly I don’t see this problem going away any time soon. And it’s not just kids. Look up GamerGate for an example of an adult, a journalist forced to quit due to calling out sexist behaviour in the online gaming world.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Lindy West has a fascinating account of what happened when she was able to talk to one of her trolls — here she is talking about it on This American Life, including some of the actual conversation with the guy who was trolling her:


      It’s hugely affecting to listen to it, but if you don’t have the patience for audio (I don’t always), here’s a written account (not as moving, but still interesting):


          1. Not So NewReader*

            I think he eventually did answer her about why he did it, when he said he was uncomfortable about her intelligence. This one can go either way, women can get uncomfortable about a man who appears very intelligent, too. He did say he had more than one area of his life that needed work, too. People who feel they are painted into a corner can sometimes snarl/bite at anyone.

      1. Myrin*

        What a fascinating insight! (And what a vile thing to do, no matter the reason, impersonating someone’s dead father with a stupid name to boot!)

        A follow-up question to that, Alison, if you don’t mind: How do you deal with nasty, vile, offensive comments on here? I mean, we see you being stern and banning people quite often but is there a lot we don’t see? Where you just delete a bunch of horrible stuff? And have you seen any consequences of that, like, do you get less trolls and thelike than what other columnists might receive?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          There’s not much that you don’t see. There are maybe one or two truly horrible things a year, which is much, much less than I would have thought there would be. I think it must be because of the topic — workplace stuff probably sounds boring to potential trolls. I can’t think of any other explanation.

          I’ve actually rarely banned anyone; typically I just set it so that all of their comments have to go through moderation, which has turned out to be quite effective. Usually they give up out of boredom at that point because it’s no fun to write comments that never show up on the site, since I don’t release the offensive stuff from moderation.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I have wondered if it is because you have created a thinking person’s culture here.
            There is almost no space for comments that do not show thinking/concern/basic respect.

            If people can talk about what really eats at them there is no need to fire blank bullets into cyberspace. I have to smile. A couple times I remember commenters saying, “Explain this to me like I am five years old.” So people explained the basics to help the commenter. (I remember finding it an interesting read personally.) If people are free to say that and get respectful explanations then there is little need for a verbal firestorm.

      2. Kristen*

        Thanks for the link, I’m going to listen to that today! Internet meanness is something that really interests me, because it’s so appalling. It’s something I really appreciate about this site. Everyone is so nice. It’s rare that we encounter a mean poster here (and it’s never at the level of other websites where it’s a free-for-all).

      3. Kristen*

        I often get sucked into this trap of reading comments on YouTube. Sometimes you’ll read comments following a video where everyone is very complimentary and nice. Or you get situations like the comments I read following a mundane video about loading a kayak onto a car. Everyone had to criticize or sexually harass the uploader. I just went through and starting reporting comments. I’m sorry, but the woman probably didn’t upload her video so a bunch of creepy dudes could tell her “nice ass”. I know it probably does very little to report that stuff, but it’s better than being sickened by it with nothing to do.

        1. Hattie McDoogal*

          Youtube comments are the worst. I sometimes get sucked into them, if I’m watching videos of obscure bands and I’m trying to scroll down and look for track listings or links to places to buy the albums, and I’ll see stuff like:
          Dave Everydude at 8:05 am: Nice video, anyone know where it was shot?
          [27 more comments hidden]
          Jeff L’astname at 11:36 am: [expletive-filled white supremacist screed]

          1. Myrin*

            Oh god, I know these all too well. I’m an avid gamer and watch a lot of gaming videos and while some only seem to be getting lovely comments, others (especially bigger ones) have that shit all over their comment section. It’s bizarre to see some of these arguments unfold.

            Side note: One of the things with gaming videos in particular seems to be that of course everyone in the comments can play every game absolutely flawlessly with the highest score on the first try and needs to let the others know. But I recently saw the absolutely best reaction to something like this: A lovely couple who make videos together where the husband is quite good at that one game, he got practice and learned a lot over time but still failed a bit in the beginning. And then someone moaned in the comments “Uuuugh, that was sooooo cringey!!” and the husband answered “Well, why don’t you go somewhere else then, cringehunter?” and it wasn’t even super extraordinary or whatever but for some reason I laughed so hard and everyone else did as well and the “cringehunter” actually came back and seemed legitimately embarrassed about it, it was glorious.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I do that sometimes, report comments. I’ve been trying not to get into it with people and if I do say something to them, to do it politely at least, without name-calling. Certain public figures who shall remain nameless, however, get called whatever I want. If anyone starts getting nasty with me on FB, I just block them so I don’t see any more notifications because ain’t nobody got time for that.

          Some little troll with 17 followers replied to something I posted on Twitter last week, and called me honey. I replied back but said “My name’s not honey. It’s Elizabeth.” He said, “Okay, honey.” BAM! Instablock. Go crawl back into your hole, child.

          I have posted comments I’ve thought better of later; hey, I am human. If I feel that way, I will go back and delete them. Or if I got in someone’s face, I do apologize. It’s hard sometimes not to, though some comments are not worth arguing with and get ignored completely.

        1. SL #2*

          Me too! I tried to explain to my friend just the other night that I just don’t have the patience or ability to focus on audio? Whereas she’s in the news production business, she used to have a radio shows, etc., so she spends like 90% of her time listening to podcasts.

          But even if you gave me 500 pages of a transcript to read, I would totally sit down and do it, but I can’t even handle 15 mins of NPR.

    3. Annie Mouse*

      There was a Derren Brown show (I think it was called ‘The Gameshow’) a few years ago where they gave everyone in the audience an identical mask and then got them to pick options from a choice of two for what happened to this guy. One would be nice, the other nasty. Started off with little things like his drink would be knocked over, right up to deciding if he would be kidnapped or not. The anonymous crowd consistently picked the worst option but when things reached a certain level (I won’t spoil it in case you can still find it somewhere to watch), the result was really interesting.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I figured. Which is quite disheartening. :(
        (There are, of course, sites which offset that, one of the reasons I love AAM so much.)

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      Being anonymous helps. In the case of upsetting SJWs and people on tumblr, I think that’s because a lot of them take the bait very easily and they have friends who get offended on their behalf and also engage. I’m always surprised by how many of them actually respond to troll-baity anon messages instead of just deleting them and moving on (and maybe it’s age since a lot of them seem to be young and clearly still have the energy to engage with trolls). Tumblr is very much a place where ideas like “if you don’t 100% agree with me, you’re wrong” and “this is my experience as a queer person, so every queer person has the same experience” run rampant, so I think sometimes online trolls like to stir up drama around those ideas. I definitely have seen instances where someone stirs up drama to disprove those ideas just to mess with SJWs.

      People cause that drama for attention, sometimes because they find it funny to watch people get so worked up over something, and sometimes because they want to be mean under the guise of anonymity the way they never would in their real life. I’ve read several accounts of people who knew someone they thought was so nice and sweet offline, only to find they were online trolls as an outlet.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        It’s not just being anonymous, though. My husband and I had this discussion just this morning, about certain family members who are polite in person, but who spew the most hateful crap on Facebook.

      2. Brogrammer*

        On a very meta level, sometimes people disagree on whether a topic is something that reasonable people can disagree on. That’s “fun.” And I’ve been on both sides of that experience.

    5. Temperance*

      I think that a lot of people say things on the internet that they know are not polite to say in person.

      1. tigerStripes*

        I think people get angry and worked up about stuff and then spew it on places where they think there won’t be any consequences. They might not even think about it as being hurtful to real people – maybe they just feel like it’s a chance to let out the worst, angriest side of themselves. I don’t totally get it because I don’t think I’m completely anonymous really, but it seems like that’s it.

        I think the other thing is that people live in “bubbles” in a way. I’ve seen a number of political posts on facebook where it seems like the person had read 1 article about something, and that article was very one-sided, and the person is totally buying into it without thinking that there might be another side to it. It makes me feel very uncomfortable, but I don’t want to get into it, partially because although I think it’s one-sided, I don’t want to spend a few hours getting documentation explaining it properly, especially since I doubt the other person will believe me.

        1. tigerStripes*

          And by “bubbles”, I mean that most of the people they talk with about politics, etc. are people who have read the same type of articles, have never considered the other side of the argument, and totally agree with each other.

          1. Temperance*

            Oh I totally see that. I’m in the interesting position of being an educated liberal who has largely uneducated, conservative family and high school friends. So I see both sides sharing crap although I admittedly end up calling out the conservative ones more, because the stuff they share is so amazingly inaccurate. They seem angrier because they lack the intelligence/skills to research and express themselves appropriately.

            From my experience, pointing out when they’re sharing lies and believing falsehoods doesn’t actually change their mind, even with reliable sources. They just double down on the stupidity. (Like my friend’s brother, who went on a bigoted tirade about people on SSI and welfare, and doubled down when I pointed out that more people in red states depend on those benefits.)

    6. Caledonia*

      I follow tennis and every so often there are an influx of comments, usually regarding the nationality of so and so (Andy Murray, currently the World No.1, is Scottish, plays for Great Britain and supported Scottish Independence – he gets a lot of hate, usually around Wimbledon, which happens in the UK).

      There was an article just yesterday about Rafa Nadal and someone had written that they could no longer support Nadal because apparently Trump likes him.

      The Williams’ sisters get a lot of hate also, I’ve seen references to Serena especially liking her to a monkey and a man before.

      & of course, the ongoing drugs in sport issue and commentors inferring that so and so must be taking illegal substances in order to be able to play such long matches or whatever.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m always thinking of how miserable people who constantly leave such comments must be. I’m reminded of when we talk on here about how too much negative talk can change our perception of reality to a more negative one and I always feel like if people tried to be a little nicer, they’d be much happier, too.

    7. Sydney Bristow*

      There’s a book called This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things by Whitney Phillips on this topic. I think it developed out of her thesis. It’s on my to-read list but I haven’t started it. You might want to check it out.

    8. JKP*

      I don’t think internet comments are a representative sample of people in real life. Think of how many people viewed an article and never commented at all. Then you realize that the horrible comments are just a small minority of the people out there. I mean if a youtube video has 16 million views and a thousand nasty comments, that’s only a fraction of a percent of the people who watched the video, even if it’s a majority of the comments that were left.

      Plus, the horrible comments drive away a lot of the good comments, skewing perception even more. I know that in real life I’ve stood up to people who were being mean to someone in front of me. But online if I see the comment section of an article filled with those kinds of sentiments, I’m liable to not leave a comment at all, even if I would have otherwise left a nice comment. I just don’t want to get sucked in online and waste my time.

      One site I used to read & comment on regularly got overtaken by one commentator, and I just don’t read it very often anymore. Every once in while, I go back. The articles are still good, but the comment section turns me off. It’s sad, because it used to have really nice, thoughtful discussions from a wide range of different people – like on this site – but now when I look at the comments section, most of the people who used to comment there don’t anymore and the majority of the comments are from this one person. Personally, I think the author is making a huge mistake not moderating in some form, but it’s their site.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Internet comments are not happening in a parallel universe. They are being thought up, typed in, and sent “in real life” by people who are interacting with others in real life after they walk away from the keyboard – and who hold the same views they just expressed, even if they’re bright enough not to go around announcing them at large.

        Are they a representative sample? Not if you mean in the sense of, let’s take the number of YouTube comments that are awful and decide that exact ratio is correct in whether people in real life are awful. But I don’t think you can dismiss this as a few people, either.

        1. JKP*

          I get that they are real people, but I do think that they are only a few people in real life. Pulling up a random video on youtube with 2,410,271 views and 5,969 comments, even if 100% of the comments were nasty, hateful trolling comments, that’s still only 0.25% of the people who viewed the video. It doesn’t shake my faith in humanity to think that 0.25% of the people out there in real life might be horrible. And there’s not a 1:1 ratio of horrible comments to horrible people. The horrible people are making lots of comments, which makes it seem like there are more of them than there are.

          I got trolled once and threatened, and he even tracked down my phone number and harassed me on the phone so I changed my number. It turned out the guy doing it was agoraphobic and hadn’t left his house in 30 years or held a job and lived on disability. He spent literally every waking hour online doing that kind of crap because he was mentally ill. Normal people don’t have that kind of time. And you don’t meet people like that guy in real life because he literally didn’t have any real life contact with other people. It was very sad.

          1. Perse's Mom*

            Mind you, anyone who upvotes the people who leave the nasty comments are also terrible people. There may only be 1000 awful comments (probably at least some of those being from the same person), but a few hundred upvotes on even one of those makes it a significantly larger number of people who are *thinking* the same hateful things, even if they’re not “brave” enough to post it publicly.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      More than half of it is due to the commenter’s ability to hide behind anonymity, but I wanted to add that much of the issue is due to the anonymity of the victim. Even if the victim’s real name and photo are available, the victim won’t be as relatable as people that you see and interact with every day. Those people are categorized the way you’ve been socialized to categorize people since infancy. (Which can vary, but that’s your baseline for personhood.) When you read about someone real, they’re still kind of fictional in your mind, and online you often don’t get the level of detail that many writers try to put into their characters, because the people don’t post or comment to present themselves as a character to the reader, they’re posting to communicate something specific.

      This is all because we have a mental hierarchy of personhood. People most important to us are given the most significance and identity; this can include pets, of course, as we know them well and can certainly project a lot of anthropomorphic qualities onto them. So people we only know online usually rank pretty low, unless we interact with them extensively one-on-one. (Monologues like this comment are much less conducive to developing that sense of personhood between people than back-and-forth exchanges, because we can start to visualize a real-life dialogue better through, say, IM messages than we could through, say, blog posts, unless those posts are about the blogger. )

    10. Glod Glodsson*

      A national news site in my country recently decided to disable comments. As usual, they were regularly vile and uninformed and badly moderated. This site stated the costs of moderation were their highest expenditure and after running some stats, they found out that the number of commenters was just .05 percent of the total readership of each article. They decided it was no longer worth it to cater to such a tiny portion of the whole – many of whom posted under multiple names.
      I did some research after that and NPR disabled their comments section for mostly the same reason (they stated 0.06, there’s some interesting articles about it), which makes me think that this is probably more broadly true.
      And if you think about it, most people read an article and move on if they have nothing to add. What kind of person would take the time to post hateful, inflammatory rants? Right, people who have nothing better to do.
      So I think it’s a small minority but they are obnoxious and make me lose faith in humanity regularly :p

    11. Stellaaaaa*

      People don’t tend to spend a lot of time online if they have a lot going on in their real lives. I hate to perpetuate the notion that everyone on the internet is a loser, but I do think that perhaps the most pleasant and well-adjusted of us probably aren’t People of the Internet.

    12. C Average*

      I used to work in social media for a big brand, and was in a consumer-facing role. People within my company referred to me as “the troll whisperer,” because I’d always strive to take conversations with apparent trolls offline and have a reasonable discussion with them. The ostensible goal was to hear out their grievances and address them from a brand standpoint (i.e., if they’d had a bad experience with our product, find out why and if possible remedy the situation with an apology, an exchange or refund, free product, etc.), but it was equally about hearing them out and connecting with them on a human level.

      Because I interacted with them under my real name and because my real name is highly unusual, some number of them reached out to connect with me on Facebook as well, and I remained friends with a handful of them for years after I left that role. But gradually, I have had to unfriend every single one of them after seeing their nastiness re-emerge in other contexts.

      I like to think kindly of people, but I was forced to conclude the world really does contain some number of genuine jerks. You can hear them out and try to understand them, and you can find places to connect with them. They are capable of pretending they’re not jerks. But the truth will out.

      (Most interesting: several of them, when I called them out on their jerkiness, responded by telling me they’d never had a sincere interest in being friends with me, and had only feigned friendship in order to manipulate me into doing them favors, e.g., helping them get deals on products or connecting them with people I knew whom they regarded as more important than me. I think on some level I always knew this. It’s made me extra wary of people who seem like jerks. I’ve concluded that going forward, I will err on the side of assuming they probably are.)

      1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

        Wow, you have more patience than I do. (The Younger Me would have tried this. Present-day Me hasn’t the time or patience.) I hope some of your interactions paid off in the real world, even if you don’t personally benefit from having some random jerks out there become milder versions of their formerly 100% objectionable selves.

    13. zuprubup*

      This is a very interesting question and discussion. I think there was a study that confirmed the trolls really do feel powerless IRL and spewing hate gives them a feeling of power.

      Sadly, I avoid youtube & twitter because of the trolls. Even more sad, I have had to unfollow family and friends of facebook because every status update seemed to be a hate-filled political rant (if you agree with so and so, then it means you support xyz which makes you a !@#$). So often, I’ve thought to myself “You’re a really nice person. I know you, or I thought I did. Why would you post something like that to anyone?”. I’ve had to unfollow because I was worried it would stop liking someone based on their status updates.

      Anyway, I wonder if it’s possible things could turn around. Might traffic to sites that allow that bile to be posted see enough of a drop off in traffic that they take a much more serious approach to culling it or perhaps a replacement sites might start to pop up — sites that don’t allow hateful comments from the get go. Are there enough of us to cause site operators to make the changes that could make comments safe to read?

    14. Mazzy*

      What bothers me the most about the internet commenters is how so many of them think they have the answer and final truth for everything, and I mean everything. They know every piece of history and government policy and who did what when and what was the context of the situation and how they would have done it differently, and who is wrong and why, and there is absolutely nothing they don’t know. It’s crazy.

      I also hate in a way how everything is so googleable because you can get people who are just basically cutting and stuff from other sites without really knowing about the topic. You can find any information to support any side it seems like. It’s not like when you used to have to spend hours in the library and used to have to read through all of the information that went against your POV to get to the part that was for your POV. Now you just google for what you want and you’ll find it.

      I think it takes years of experience with some topics for one to form a valid opinion based on solid evidence. While I think it’s great when someone who is very young knows about certain topics, I don’t want to be pontificated to by someone in their early 20s on the internet because they feel they are an expert on a topic because they watched a few videos and read an article or two. It’s very annoying. You can’t seriously debate just by reading the cliff notes.

    15. Rosemary*

      I think part of it is that there are a lot of people who feel that anything that happens on the internet isn’t really ‘real’. So there’s a lot of people who like ‘trolling’ SJWs and people because they get the power high of bullying without having to actually realize the person on the other side of the screen is a real human being. Going along with what others have said re: not facing consequences, they can imagine that the worst thing that happened as a result of their words is that someone stomped off in a huff, and not that someone is actually crying and afraid and HURT.

  10. Myrin*

    Is that Sam who looks downright massive next to Olive there? Do they have that big a size difference or is it just the angle (or my eyes) that makes it look that way?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That is indeed Sam, and he is indeed still more than twice her size … although that photo was taken when she was a little smaller than she is now (toward the end of kittenhood).

    2. Cas*

      I’m in Australia so I just read on the way in to work (which generally covers all your posts except the first of the day) and the way home from work (which gets me your first post of the day) :)

  11. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Question for regular readers: How do you know when there’s a new AAM post? Do you randomly check at some point during the day? Do you see a notification come up on Facebook or Twitter, or in your news feed? Something else? (I’m asking partly out of curiosity and partly because knowing that helps me plan the timing of posts.)

    1. Gaia*

      I check the site. I know when some regularly scheduled posts are made but if I’ve missed that or am checking later I’ll just scroll the site.

      1. Becca*

        Seconded! I check the site a few times throughout the day. I don’t know when posts are scheduled, but I know the general schedule.

      2. Drew*

        I visit the site, probably several times a day, and it’s still not enough to keep up with comments. Often, I’ll read the post and the first few comments and then move on, which feels unfair to the people commenting later, but this could be SUCH a time sink.

    2. Clumsy Ninja*

      I randomly check when I have time available. It does also come up in the Bloglovin app on my phone, but usually I tend to just go online when I have free time and look.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I am addicted to Feedly on my iphone/iPad and have AAM, Clients From Hell, Carolyn Hax, and one or two others in my Must Read section which pops up first. Tonight, though, I just went directly to the site because I knew the Weekend Free For All was likely up and I wanted to post something.

    4. KR*

      I randomly check throughout the day. Once in a blue moon I’ll see it on Twitter but usually I catch it here before hand.

        1. JaneB*

          I’m in the UK – I usually check first thing in the am/with the first cup of tea/whilst waiting for my work PC to boot and pick up one new post, then the others arrive early evening so I check back at least once then. And come in & read comments if I have a wait for something else or just need a distraction at any point during the day.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      I’m a random checker, but I most commonly have a look in the morning when I wake up, and in the afternoon/evening when I’m home.

      But I’m on UK time so my normal checking times are probs different than most your readers.

      1. G uk*

        I’ve noticed there’s usually one about 3pm UK time. I consider it a reward to check AAM during a 5 min afternoon break if I’ve had a productive day and to get me through to the end of the day

      2. Girasol*

        Me too, er, me 89th. I’m nearly never the person who says, “Hey, I got the first comment!”

    6. Temperance*

      I sort of figured out your schedule. I read the early post on the way in to work, check in after 11:00 ET, and then after 1:00 p.m.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          I’ve figured out the schedule so I just check around those times (usually like 10-15 minutes after, to give some time for the comments to build up…)
          I use the schedule to plan my work breaks- I know if I want to take a break at 1:30, I should keep at it for another half hour so I can read the post at 2 :)

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, I check when I notice it’s around those times…or after, if I’m busy or in a meeting.

        (Because I would NEVER read AAM in a meeting. Nope…hardly ever…. ;) )

    7. DorthVader*

      I usually check first thing in the morning (5 or so), at 11ish, and at 2ish. Fridays I usually just check in the morning and once around 2. I have to say that you have the most consistent posting schedule of any of the other sites I visit, which really helps me plan my day!

    8. Allypopx*

      I check mostly at work. I check the morning post on my commute (7am-7:30am) and then I work through my lunch generally, and take small breaks throughout the day instead which usually constitute a snack and a quick check in. I find work-related reading to feel more productive than checking Facebook, and it helps me stay in work brain and not get too off course, so I can switch focus to this and then switch back relatively easily.

      Definitely check in more on open thread days (except yesterday because I was sick) but I read all the posts most days even if I don’t have as much time to keep up with the comments. I still skim them and comment if I have something constructive to add.

    9. CAA*

      I visit feedly several times throughout the day. I click through from there for most AAM posts and read them at the site so I can see the comments. I tend not to click through to the sponsored posts (unless it’s an advertiser I’ve never heard of and might possibly be interested in) or the ones that are just two sentences directing me to some other site.

    10. Myrin*

      I check the site all the time – I automatically start typing “askaman” as soon as I open any browser anywhere – and roughly know the times you post anyway.

    11. persimmon*

      Not sure what this says about me, but I know the exact schedule. On weekdays, it’s midnight, 11 AM, 12:30ish, and 2 PM. I check when I want to based on knowing new ones have been posted at those times.

    12. Cruciatus*

      I just always check the site. I know the times when most things are posted so I usually check around then (except the midnight one. I read that a few minutes before 11 if I can, then just update at 11 for the newest post). At home I have the site saved with a bunch of other sites I like to check out so on the weekends I just open all the tabs at once and then update throughout the date for weekend posts, or other updates.

    13. Caledonia*

      Due to the way FB does things these days, it can be a bit sporadic to see a post there, as it could be from a day or two ago.
      I’m in the UK, so the first 5 question post is up by the time I go to work and the next post is around 4pm our time and then the last one is at 7pm. I check before work, lunchtime & after work.

    14. Ariel Before The Mermaid Was Cool*

      Facebook sometimes but it’s unreliable because it will sometimes show older posts… I’ve just gotten to know the “normal” times that posts go up so I’ll check the site directly at those times.

    15. Cookie D'Oh*

      After the demise of Google Reader, I switched over to AOL Reader to keep track of the blogs I follow. On the weekends, I’ll come directly to the site to catch the open thread.

    16. Persephone Mulberry*

      I memorized the schedule. So I check throughout the day, but it’s not random.

      If I’m having a busy day occasionally I will be reminded by seeing a FB post, and I always click through so that I’m engaging with the FB page and the posts keep showing up in my feed.

    17. Lily Evans*

      I usually get to work early, so I’ll check the site then (around 11:30) and then refresh it when I have downtime during the day. But I’ve been reading for a while now, so I know around what times to expect to see a new post.

    18. periwinkle*

      Every weekday I jump over to AAM just after 9pm for the first daily post (ah, life in the Pacific time zone). Otherwise, I check randomly because in all this time I’ve never noticed that you actually have a regular schedule for the other posts… d’oh.

    19. Al Lo*

      I’m 2 timezones away, and I work a not-morning job, so I check at or sometime after 10 PM, and then by the time I get up and get to work (sometime between noon and 2 EST), most, if not all, of the rest of the day’s posts are up. That’s partly why I don’t comment as much as I might — I can comment before bed, but then I’m not around to engage in much conversation in the morning.

    20. setsuko*

      For me it is a mixture of checking my RSS feed and just knowing your schedule. So I will usually check in at 4pm UK time, because I know there will be a new post then.

      That is the only one I tend to go looking for though, as due to the time difference the rest of the posts tend to come when I am at home or asleep. So then I have a bunch to scroll through in the morning. It really gets in the way of my morning productivity :)

    21. nep*

      I randomly check it throughout the day.
      On Saturdays, I’ll always check in around 1 or so, eagerly awaiting the open thread.

    22. FD*

      I check the site, usually before right after I get up, at lunch, and after work. On weekends, I usually open it a few times to see if there’s any new posts or if there are comment threads that interest me.

    23. Elkay*

      I use Feedly but I also know the second post of the day is 4pm UK time so if I’m having a slow day I’ll head over to Feedly to pick it up.

    24. Confused Publisher*

      I’ve learnt up the times, and adjusted them for UK time. So I tend to check first thing in the morning, when the last post from the previous day will be up, but not have many comments, and then check back in as and when. If I’ve had a super busy day, I know that a new post will be up as I’m finishing my work day.
      My husband asks me all the time: anything new on ‘your’ AAM? And I talk about the regulars as if they were people I know in real life.

    25. Not So NewReader*

      I check the site directly. I probably will eventually unsubscribe to the emails because by the time I look at my email I have already read the post. I originally subscribed by email because I wanted to look back at this site on a regular basis. But I have long since stopped needing an email reminder to do it.

    26. printrovert*

      I use a RSS extension for Firefox called Brief. It tallies the number of unread stories in my browser and then when I click the icon, it opens a new window and I can see what’s new.
      For anyone interested, an account is not required.

    27. esra (also a Canadian)*

      It’s part of my morning routine at work. As I settle in, check my email, I also check a few sites (I don’t know if it’s modern times or phone culture or what, but I’m constantly jumping back and forth if I’m not deep-diving into a project). If there’s something I comment on, I’ll check back in on it throughout the day, or if there is a post where I’m really interested in how the comments are flowing.

    28. Hellanon*

      I am on the site pretty frequently during the day – it’s a good 10 or 15 minute break at work – so if there’s a new post up I will check it out when I see it.

    29. Bonky*

      I randomly check a few times a day. I’m in the UK, so quite a few of your posts tend to be published when I’m asleep, and there’s usually a nice new crop in the mornings here.

    30. Lord of the Ringbinders*

      I don’t get notifications. I don’t feel the need with a site that updates daily – whereas I follow some blogs on Bloglovin as they’re more intermittent and I would miss stuff. With AAM I tend to pop by on my commute to and from work. I like it if a few new posts have built up for me to read.

    31. Sami*

      I use Facebook a lot and in fact that’s how I found you. So now I have your page set to “See First” so I never miss a post. Though I also figured out your schedule so sometimes I read via Safari or Chrome or whatever.

    32. Milton*

      I just check throughout the work day. If I can’t sleep at night, I’ll read it at 10 PM PST because I know the next day’s posts show up around 9 PM PST.

    33. AcademiaNut*

      In my case, due to time differences, most of the posts occur when I’m asleep, and the remaining one shows up almost exactly at 1 pm (or noon, depending on daylight savings time). So it’s mostly morning coffee reading.

    34. tigerStripes*

      I check at lunch and after work. I think that means that my comments rarely get read, but that’s OK. I’m still working on getting to the “How can tigerStripes possibly get that much work done so fast and so well?” stage, and I’m not there yet.

    35. Claire (Scotland)*

      I know what time posts generally go up, so I typically just check when I get a chance after that. I’m not too bothered about seeing new posts as soon as they appear.

    36. Ruby*

      I’m in Australia, so I normally wake up (about 5am) to a new AAM post and then check back through out the day, I think I normally get a second about lunch time or something. I’d like to comment and interact with people more, especially on the open threads but due to my work schedule (which is often weekends and doesn’t leave me anytime first thing in the morning) they seem to be winding down or be pretty established by the time I get home from work and settled into my evening routine. I have a pretty mental work schedule though and it’s been pretty jumbled lately. I’m guessing my fellow Aussies with better hours would have much more luck catching posts.
      So I pretty much just lurk and comment when I have the rare weekend day off, which happened to be today. What better way to start a lazy Sunday than AAM, a vodka screwdriver and a bit of a sleep in?

    37. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I’ve got a decent idea of the schedule (although daylight savings, on your end and mine, always screws me up). And the timezone pretty much ensures that the open threads are up before I get up on a Saturday and Sunday morning. Sometimes I’ll notice a new post on Facebook, but usually I just head straight here :)

    38. HannahS*

      I check at certain points in the day–usually part of breakfast reading, maybe during a break at lunch, and then sometimes again at night.

    39. Elizabeth West*

      I just look at the site. I see announcements on Twitter if I’m already on it, but if I’m working, I can’t really be and I don’t like to look at the app on my phone. For open thread and weekend stuff, I usually make sure to check, though today I saw it on Twitter, as I was already on there ranting, LOL.

    40. katamia*

      I avoid subscribing to things/leaving things open that beep or pop up to reduce distractions when I’m working, so I just come directly to the site when I have time during the day. I know you tend to post things at the same times every weekday, so I can usually guess whether there’ll be a new entry.

    41. AliceBD*

      If I’m planning to ask a question in an open thread, I check when I think it will be up so I can get in not at the bottom of the list. Otherwise I check after work and read all the day’s posts at once. Or sometimes during lunch (or waiting at an appointment, etc.) if I ran out of my other reading material.

    42. Nicole*

      It comes up on Feedly a few hours after its been posted, so for the open threads I’ll check the site directly because I lack patience.

    43. Bad Candidate*

      I check the site. I never found an RSS feed reader I liked after the demise of Google Reader. Sometimes new posts pop up in my Facebook feed, but not reliably so and during the week I’m not on FB a whole lot since it’s blocked at work.

    44. Mimmy*

      I have a good idea of the schedule – I know the short-answer posts are there first thing in the morning, then the next one is at 11:00 (at least the Open Thread), then one or two more in early afternoon. The weekend seems to change from time to time.

    45. Just.my.opinion*

      I randomly check. I think the site could be more efficient on the replies. But it’s a great site.

    46. Red*

      I just check a few times a day, usually on the way to work, on lunch, and on the way home. There’s always something to read that way. On the weekends, I just kinda look around on Saturday afternoon and see what has or hasn’t happened.

    47. Aurora Leigh*

      I basically know the posting schedule. I time my morning break at work to catch the 10 AM (central time) post and then catch up on the rest over my 1 PM lunch.

      Saturdays I check periodically until this thread is up. I like the surprise!

    48. AshK434*

      I rely on your consistent posting times. It seems like you post at 12am, 11am & 2pm so I check the site around those times.

    49. Apollo Warbucks*

      I check the site once in the morning for the short answer post and again in the afternoon and evning for the other posts.

      I know when the posts go up so check around those times.

    50. Goreygal*

      Facebook and I also know roughly when they land so will check after breakfast and after lunch my time zone.

    51. JHS*

      I check the site regularly throughout the day. I read first thing in the morning, then I think you usually post the second update after 11 am, so I try to wait to check again until then. Then I check again around 3 pm.

    52. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      I check during the day. (This will end when I find employment and am not at home for hours on end. I don’t have a mobile device and don’t want to start the habit of indulging in non-essential internet visits from work.) I haven’t memorized your posting times, so I just visit the site when my spider sense tells me to expect another posting. If I’m wrong, it’s easy to check back later.
      P.S. I’m in the U.S. and also in Eastern Time.
      P.P.S. Thank you for running this site and cultivating such an interesting, thoughtful group of commenters.

    53. CC*

      RSS reader which checks for updates about every 6 hours, and which I check anywhere from twice a day to once a week. Which is why I rarely comment…

    54. Mike C.*

      It seems like you post them on a specific schedule. I know there’s going to be a new post at 9pm, then 8am the next day, then 2 more in the next few hours. (Times are Pacific) Not always the case, your sponsored posts seem to come around 7am, but it seems like the schedule is pretty regular.

    55. Blue_eyes*

      I use Feedly for all the blogs I follow. So I open Feedly on my phone tablet, or computer when I have a few minutes and pick something to read. I also go straight to the website when I’m at work and read AAM on my work computer while I eat lunch.

    56. Windchime*

      I just visit the site several times a day. I check it around 6 AM Pacific time when I get on the train to head to work. I usually check it around noon while I’m eating a quick lunch at my desk and then again in the evening, either on the train home or on the sofa around dinner time. I don’t really have any idea what time the new posts come up so it probably wouldn’t make a difference to me either way if you adjusted your posting schedule. I’m just grateful for all the good content you post!

    57. Audiophile*

      One weekdays I’ll usually pop in around 12-12:30am before I go to bed. During the day, if it’s quiet, I’ll check in the morning around 10am and then around 2pm. On Fridays, I’m on early if I have something I really need to say during the open thread.

    58. Agile Phalanges*

      I just keep the site open in a tab the entire workday. I read the article or question/answer when I have a little break, and skim through the comments as I can. Some days, I barely get the first article read, others, I have the time to read all the posts and most of the comments fairly thoroughly. But I don’t “check in” at any certain time, just keep the site open. I’m in the Pacific Timezone, so I think that helps–there’s usually already one or two posts up by the time I get the chance to take a peek for the first time, and if I’m particularly busy that day, I know to skim faster, or on a slow day, read more thoroughly so I don’t run out of material to read during my breaks before the end of the day. :-) (I’m an office manager, so have bookkeepings tasks as well as dealing with walk-ins and phone calls to do, but when my work is caught up, I have more time to surf between those walk-ins and calls, and AAM is pretty work-related, sooooo…)

    59. Kat_Ma_Ras*

      I use Feedly. It tracks which posts I’ve read & which are unread. Or I can manually mark as unread or star something I want to come back to.

      Also follow AAM on Twitter, but there’s so much other noise there that I rarely see your posts.

  12. Cristina in England*

    Are Tom Bihn bags worth it? It seems like it could just be a status symbol/cult thing, but on the other hand it seems geared towards people who love to organize their bags, and I am one of those people. I just got my first set of packing cubes, and I feel like I am going down an organizational rabbit hole.

    For context, I got to this place by looking to replace my 20L running backpack as my daily lightweight summer bag. Any recommendations welcome!

    1. Lady Julian*

      My father just got a Tom Bihn bag for a business trip & LOVED it. He’s also the kind of person who likes packing cubes, so my guess is you’d enjoy the Bihn bag, if you’re a packing cube person.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I have never seen these but they are amazing – we are moving to tablets at work (for better or worse) so no more need to lug heavy laptop around and a few of these smaller bags would work well. Alternatively Other Half does have to lug a billion cords and laptops for work/travel so… huh.

      I have to say I never got into packing cubes but I have a friend who travels a lot for work who swears by them. I would be willing to try them but only start with maybe three for things like socks, undies, shoes. Stuff that you usually fit in and around flat things like trousers and shirts. Ive seen cheaper ones at REI or online should have them, maybe Blacks?

      1. fposte*

        A friend adores packing cubes; I like the idea but have never gotten into them. A relevant difference is that I’m usually traveling to one stop with the goal of traveling as light as possible, so I don’t want to cede the space in my rollaboard to containing stuff I don’t need contained; she and her husband are usually traveling with a checked bag and to more than one destination.

        1. Jules the First*

          I love my packing cubes – I’ve lost count of how many I have – and I find them particularly useful when travelling light.

          I have a few small ones that are permanently set up for destinations I visit often (my Euro kit, for example, contains Euros, a continental adapter, a few spare tickets for public transit in several cities where I’m a regular, business cards for a few of my favourite hotels and restaurants), and one of travel toiletries. I then pack another one with underwear, one with nightwear and gym kit, one with dressy tops and one with casual tops, and then a small one with a dress, tights, scarf, and a couple of pieces of jewellry for last minute invitations (I also used to keep one of these in my desk when I worked in a casual office for last minute evenings out). All of these slip neatly into my compact carry on and I can be packed and ready to go in about 30 minutes.

          I started using cubes when I travelled with a single carry-on for work and needed somewhere discreet to stash my clothes when I was rummaging in my bag for something in a meeting. Packing with them takes a little practice, but I get a deep and abiding joy from being able to retrieve exactly what I’m looking for from my bag anywhere, anytime.

          My favourites are the Eagle Creek ones, mostly in half and quarter cubes.

          1. fposte*

            I have a toiletries kit already, so I get the joy of modules. But I don’t see the gain for the rest of it–I can find all that stuff just by opening the carryon, and they wrinkle less when rolled, so when I borrowed them to try I felt like I was being controlled needlessly by the cubes, had less use of the suitcase due to the dimensions being an inexact fit, and added the weight while losing convenience. So this may be one of this nearly literal YMMV situations.

            1. Jules the First*

              It may be a YMMV thing, but I’ll mention one other point…I roll everything inside the cubes. The cubes I’ve got are parachute nylon – they might add a couple of grams in weight, but they actually end up saving space because stuff compresses a bit inside them. But

      2. Cristina in England*

        I am only now getting into packing cubes. For me, the two compelling reasons are:
        1. I have the stuff of three people in my suitcase (me and two little kids) and everyone can have their own cube
        2. I can pack my suitcase over the course of a couple of days without having the suitcase open on my floor (or even in the room)
        2b. I can get everything out without having to have the suitcase open in a small hotel room or holiday cottage

        I think that these two reasons are awakening some dormant organizational zealotry though… there might not be a way back.

      3. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

        Packing cubes are wonderful! It’s such a relief to have similar items grouped together. BC (before cubes) I had to grope my way through my luggage and everything always got ALL tangled up and lumped together.

        “Packing cubes: Start grouping. Stop groping and grousing.” New advertising slogan?

    3. It happens*

      The Tom bihn look great – but also heavy and costly. Here is a link to a similar bag that I have travelled the world with – eBags TLC weekender. It’s max airplane carry on size with a laptop sling and can be a backpack or carried with a shoulder strap. I also use packing cubes – they are the best, especially when traveling for multiple weeks at a time.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks so much for this link, what a great bag! The one you linked to actually fits the other need I didn’t mention, which is a carryon for travel. I had been thinking of saving up for the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 but I am far from convinced that it is worth the price. The Aeronaut 45 actually weighs a little less than the eBags one (only by 4 ounces) but it holds a little less too.

        The Tom Bihn I was thinking of for everyday use is the 16L Daylight backpack which weighs only 12-13 ounces depending on which fabric you choose, or the Synapse 19L which weighs 1 pound 7 ounces.

        1. Trillian*

          I have a Synapse 19, bought when I’d had it with digging for things in black-hole backpacks. I wanted internal organization, and a light interior. It’s good for an EDC when I expect to be walking a lot and carrying my laptop. When I expect to be riding the bus, which is cramped and not designed at all for carrying anything, I swap everything over to a Pilot shoulder bag. Pocket to pocket it maps fairly well. And the O rings and keystraps mean I hardly ever forget the things I used to forget all the time, like keys, work ID and bus pass.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I have a few of the eBags Expandables (carry on and 25″) and love them. I was able to fit 5 days of clothes and toiletries into the carry on. Love them.

    4. Viola Dace*

      I have a Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack. It’s been a bit underwhelming for me. My biggest issue is the teardrop shape. If it were an actual rectangle, there would be more room. I also find all the compartments a bit fiddly. Either too small or too big. I’m a big fan of packing cubes and organization and bag geekery, but my experience with the Synapse has put me off Tom Bihn a bit. I have used an eBags Motherlode backpack for one bag travel (3 weeks in Europe my longest trip) and it worked great.

  13. Embarrassed*

    I know someone who is gender fluid and even though I’ve made an effort to get pronouns right I sometimes fail in that regard. I’m not doing it on purpose and I feel embarrassed everytime I mess them up. I apologize and correct myself as soon as it happens but I don’t want this person to think I am doing it on purpose or that I’m trying to be offensive. I realize this is my own issue. Has this happened to anyone else? How did you fix it and stop messing up? I don’t want to be the person that makes others uncomfortable.

    1. Allypopx*

      The absolute best thing to do in this situation is a quick “he – sorry, she – ” and then move on. Don’t show that you’re embarrassed or apologize over and over again. They’ll know you’re trying if you correct yourself, and making a big thing of it is going to make them a lot more uncomfortable than the initial slip.

      I’ve found if you’re having trouble – practice! Talk about that person with mutual friends, like you would with other friends (“they were wearing such a nice top today don’t you think?” or whatever) and get the practice in. Have conversations with yourself even. It needs to become a habit.

      By gender fluid do you mean they change their gender pronouns regularly? That can make it harder, but the important thing is that you do your best and don’t get all messed up in your own head about it because that will a) make it harder for you because you’re putting too much pressure on yourself and b) make it the focus of your relationship with them which kind of dehumanizes them a little and you don’t want that.

      Disclaimer: I am not a trans person. This is largely the advice I have been given/have taken when I’ve been in the same boat!

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I was just thinking that if someone is genderfluid, the mistakes might be quite understandable. Is it in any way “obvious” which pronouns to use? Because my only experience with genderfluidity (?) is my sister (who is figuring that stuff out at the moment) and for her, it’s just about her feeling more male or female on any given day and you absolutely wouldn’t know which pronouns to use unless she said it (she only uses female pronouns so I don’t have to worry about that but even if she didn’t, I wouldn’t just “see” it).

      2. Embarrassed*

        Thank-you for replying and for the helpful advice.

        This person does change their pronouns daily. One day they may wear women’s clothing and make-up have a feminine hairstyle. The next day they may wear men’s clothing, no make-up and a masculine hairstyle. The next day they may dress and appear androgynous. I mess up and say the wrong one (she/he/they) mostly when I haven’t seen this person yet and don’t know what they are wearing that day or I’m talking to them online and can’t see them. I am working on being better at this and I will definitely take your advice into account.

        1. fposte*

          I think whether it’s pronouns, usernames, or titles, the less consistent we are with our self-referents, the less we can expect accuracy and the less blame there is to people who make mistakes. So try your best, but I don’t think this is the same degree of error as misgendering somebody with a consistent gender identity.

        2. Allypopx*

          Hm. I feel like it’s not great to get into the habit of judging gender based on appearance. Is that what this person prefers? If it’s changing that often would it feel totally out of line to just ask? “What pronouns would you prefer I use today?” and try to solidify that throughout the day?

          Definitely don’t beat yourself up if it’s a daily thing. You should still try, of course, but that’s hard and you won’t be perfect. Is “they” a safer default until you’re corrected?

          1. Embarrassed*

            It is what this person prefers, and they is not a safe alternative. This person only wants to be addressed using they on androgynous days. Otherwise it feels misgendering to them, and that’s the lady thing I want to do or to feel on my account.

            1. LCL*

              This person is playing a little game. Is he or she still in high school? Every time you see them, ask them what their preferred pronoun is right now, and use it. If you make a mistake, say sorry I forgot, and use the right pronoun. Never mock, but also never feel guilty.

              1. Allypopx*

                I’d be cautious about labeling it a game, and experimenting with gender and pronouns definitely happens after high school. But I agree it is unrealistic to expect people to keep up with daily changes and to take offense when they slip up. There could be a lot of reasons behind it. It could be a phase or it could be an attention thing, sure, that happens, but it could also just be them trying to figure things out and it’s good that their friend cares enough to be supportive even though it’s not easy.

                1. chickabiddy*

                  I agree that it is likely not a “game” to the person who is in transition, but it is still unreasonable to expect other people to track fluid identities and pronouns. I mean, I have one kid and she’s had the same name for almost fifteen years and I still call her by the cat’s name sometimes. I think I would offer to use a consistent neutral pronoun or acknowledge that I am likely to get it wrong quite a bit, especially over email and especially when everyone else is supposed to guess based on appearance, which is plenty tricky to start with.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  It’s not a game to want to be called by the correct pronoun, but it is some serious BS to present it as ‘guess what pronoun I prefer today based on visual cues, even if you’re online and can’t see me’.

            2. Allypopx*

              Yeah that’s really hard and exhausting, especially if you’re expending emotional energy on feeling guilty about it. It might be worth having a conversation, particularly regarding text-based communication and what they would like you to do when you don’t have visual clues to go by. It’s your responsibility to try to adhere to people’s requests about gendering them, but it’s also their responsibility to make it clear what they are looking for, especially if it’s not consistent and they are likely to get offended if you get it wrong.

            3. Temperance*

              I think the fact that this person expects you to guess their gender presentation of the day before you’ve seen what they’re wearing/how they are presenting makes this person unreasonable. You sound very kind.

            4. Misc*

              Honestly, talking to them directly and just asking what they prefer, or if there’s a way to set up a specific signal (assuming you a) have that sort of relationship and b) they actually care that strongly about your possible screwups) is probably the best way (e.g. color coded bracelets or avatars or including a quick pronoun note the first time you chat online).


              – This might be more effort than they want to put in, or they might still be figuring out a lot of this and appreciate it. I dunno. It’s context/individual dependent.
              – It might be that they don’t mind because you keep trying and correct yourself, so you’re not a huge huge deal to them on the scale of things that suck about complicated gender stuff in their life right now
              – A *general* conversation, not a ‘oh no I messed up’ self flagellation.

        3. Huh?*

          Wait…so they change how they look on a *daily* basis and expect you to get it right when you haven’t even seen them yet? And there are 3 different ways they appear yet you are expected to just know when you wake up every day? Don’t beat yourself up. You aren’t a mind reader and it’s not fair to expect you to be one. And you are not a bigot or intolerant just because you can’t read minds. Sheesh.

          1. Misc*

            To be fair, there’s nothing in the original comment about the subject’s attitude, just that the OP is worried about getting it right – you can have a challenging (to others) identity without being automatically unfair about it.

            *also genderfluid. I don’t usually shift *daily*, but it changes pretty regularly. For me my brain mostly considers gender weird and irrelevant so I’m used to ignoring whatever pronouns are being used for me, and don’t find anything specific is actually ‘better’, so there’s no point requesting anything, but it would be nice if requesting a specific pronoun WOULD make my brain happier. My shifts are more about how strongly I feel about being gendered at all.

    2. bluesboy*

      In Italian, when you use an adjective to describe yourself, you finish it with the letter ‘a’ if you’re female and the letter ‘o’ if you’re male (usually).

      I don’t know if it helps you to not feel bad about it, but I knew someone a few years ago who had a male to female sex change…and repeatedly used the wrong letter when talking about herself! (By ‘wrong’ I mean that she called it ‘wrong’. She used to get frustrated by it, but after 30 years using the masculine form it took her a while to get used to the change)

      So if someone can get it wrong about themself, I’m sure people will understand if you get it wrong occasionally. Do the best you can, and as someone else said, don’t let it become the focus of your relationship with this person.

    3. FD*

      I can’t find the post right now, but I do remember reading a post by a trans person who talked about how to deal with mis-gendering them (I can’t remember right now what the gender of the poster was).

      They said that the big thing for them was that people 1) made an effort to use the right pronouns and 2) didn’t make an excessive deal of it when they made a mistake because then it seemed like it was about the person talking to them, rather than them.

      I suspect it’s different for each person though, have you asked your friend what the best way to handle it is?

      1. Embarrassed*

        This person isn’t my friend (works in the same industry as me and is a member of the same community theatre as I am) and for reasons unrelated to gender fluidity I would not interact with them if I had a choice. However whatever my feelings are towards them personally I don’t want to be intolerant or make them feel othered or badly because of their orientation.

        This person says the best way to handle it is to call them by the correct pronoun. I do my best to follow their wishes and don’t ever use the wrong one on purpose.

        1. Tim*

          This person says the best way to handle it is to use the correct pronoun, but gives you no way to determine which pronoun is correct? And isn’t okay with gender-neutral pronouns? Frankly, that’s ridiculous and I wouldn’t be worrying about it at all at this point.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Some genderfluid bloggers use xe instead of he or she. While you might still forget, that would at least solve the problem of using a pronoun because it was how they presented yesterday, and the consistency might help. I would ask, and I’ll bet the fact that you’re not using solely one pronoun every time is enough to let them know that you are trying not to mislabel them.

      1. Embarrassed*

        This person says xe is problematic and makes them feel othered. I have never used that pronoun but I know someone who was taken to task for doing so. This person prefers she or he or they because cis people use those pronouns and they aren’t othering like xe is.

        I appreciate your suggestion though.

        1. Christy*

          Literally, I would refer to this person by name exclusively. Like, Oh, how is Alex? Alex is great today. I don’t know if Alex like chocolate but I know Alex likes vanilla.

          Honestly, you sound like you’re really trying, and Alex sounds like Alex is unreasonable.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Yeah, this person is literally expecting Embarrassed to read their mind sometimes, and that’s never reasonable. And unless you’re in a romantic relationship with Alex, you shouldn’t be expected to anticipate their moods or thoughts. Your best guess or a consistent neutral term of their choosing should be good enough.

    5. Trans anon*

      I’m not gender fluid but I am trans. I have to say that most of the time you can tell when someone is trying but making a mistake (and usually apologizing right away like you do) but also when they people were not trying or were just trying to make sure you knew they were using the wrong pronoun on purpose. What I have done with others is to try to remember before I meet them that the pronoun is x which is harder when it varies but perhaps taking a moment to remind yourself that you may not know the pronoun of that day, might give you the pause to use the correct one.

  14. Sparky*

    Hi, all, I just placed my first thredup order, I commented in that thread (heh) but thought I’d put this here, too.

    Currently, the code NEWYR40 takes an extra 40% off their orders.

    Here’s hoping I’ve found a new way to find work clothes!

    1. Sparky*

      Whoops, I forgot to say that I wish thredup indicated if pants have pockets or not. I *need* pockets! Some I ordered I could see clearly did have pockets, some looked like they didn’t, so I moved along. I know some designers still say ladies don’t like the way pockets disrupt the line of trousers, but I want cash and keys on me, maybe my phone, maybe my work badge. Carry on…

      1. periwinkle*

        That’s why I click on the large version of each photo and then squint hard – pockets or no pockets? It’s tougher when you’re shopping for dark-colored pants!

        1. nep*

          Yes — clicking on the zoom provides a nice large image where you’re usually able to tell whether any pockets. Never thought about it, but I guess it would be handy if they included that in the description as well.

        2. Sparky*

          Yes, I was really peeing at these black pants (or navy, or pinstriped) trying to see evidence of pockets. Maybe they’re saving the pockets for pajamas? Which I also think is weird. I don’t tote things to bed, typically.

      2. the gold digger*

        I know some designers still say ladies don’t like the way pockets disrupt the line of trousers

        Which is why they put pockets on my pajama pants? Because there is nobody to see how the line is ruined when I put my keys, money, glasses, and imitrex in my pockets to go to bed?

        1. neverjaunty*

          If what ‘some designers’ said were true, it would probably be the first time in the history of the fashion industry that designers stopped and said ‘well, now, wait a minute, before I add or remove this feature, what is the woman wearing it going to like?’

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          Tbh I do feel this way! Even when my pants HAVE pockets I don’t usually use them except to put things that take virtually no space like my ticket stub at the movies or an OB tampon for 2 minutes or whatever. There is no way I’m fitting my wallet in there and I’ve already adjusted my life to have what I need in my purse. I often don’t even cut the pockets open if they’re not. I use my sweatshirt pockets though but that’s worn in casual situations not like at work.
          It is pretty funny how different men and women’s pants are cut. I used to wear my ex’s pants sometimes and not only did they make me look like like a guy in my profile (I was skinny but definitely still had a very female looking body shape) but you could put stuff in the pockets without changing the way the pants looked at all. They are just designed that way. It does make me wonder if it would be possible to design pants that have a feminine looking line but still look normal w/stuff in the pockets. Personally, I’d rather have the more feminine cut if it’s really an either/or, but I know other women would prefer the other option.

      3. Yes, yes, yes*

        Yes – some people actually need pockets. What woman wear is not solely based on fashion. And really how often do you look at a woman and go – she would look so much better if her pants didn’t have pockets? While I want to look good practical beats “fashion”.

        1. Aurora Leigh*

          Yes! Anytime my friends and see a celebrity wear a dress with pockets we think better of them as a person.

          Also, fake pockets are the bane of my existence!

      4. Arjay*

        I wish they’d add a lot more filters. I can’t tell the width of a shoe without actually clicking through to the specific item. It wastes so much time that I just stopped looking.

  15. Caledonia*

    I’m trying to find a mortgage – it’s not going well.

    I’m in the UK (specifically Scotland, which does it differently to England) and I can get a decent mortgage from a bailout bank and less decent ones from more stable banks – I wouldn’t be able to move to the city I work in unless it was a shoebox. I commute in just now and I *really* do not want to remain doing so because my commute (& my workplace’s lack of flexibility) is killing my work/life balance.

    The search continues. *Sigh* Properties go so quickly, one I was interested in is ‘subject to contract exchange’ within 10 days!

    1. Jules the First*

      I caved last time and used a broker – and actually, the options she came up with were much better than the ones that I found myself, more than paying for her £200 fee. I’d offer to introduce you, but as I’m in England, that might not help…

    2. Cristina in England*

      Sympathies!! It is a really tight market in a lot of places right now. When we bought our current house, we viewed it and made a verbal offer before there were even photos on the estate agents site! It was somewhere between day 1 and 4 of it being listed. More houses should be coming on for the peak season in a few weeks. I have three close friends who are also trying to buy right now (two in Scotland) and there truly aren’t enough houses on the market right now to meet demand.


      10 days is good. Here in the Midwest, a lot of properties are sold on the first day. I called on one because a friend posted it on Facebook and I really liked it. He asked if I had been pre-approved, “no, not yet”, and he advised me they already had 11 offers on a house in not so good neighborhood. I was floored, but wished him good luck. Oh the house was beautiful, two floors a beautiful staircase and unpainted woodwork. (Sigh)

  16. Gene*

    Well, my uncle has been moved back to the nursing home on hospice. They’re keeping him comfortable, we think he’s waiting for his sister in law to get there. She refuses to fly and won’t drive at night, so she’s expected today. She holds powers of attorney, so she will make all the decisions, including whether there will be a service.

    Meanwhile, I need to start the drive to Tucson from the Seattle area on Monday. And I have a hard need to be home on the 13th. So I’m mired in indecision as to what I need to do. Since there’s a real chance there will be no service for my uncle, I’ll probably head off to Tucson and see what happens. But if she decides to hold a service, I’m on the road in a rental car…

    1. fposte*

      Sounds like you’re going to have a long and melancholy week, Gene. Hope it all goes peacefully for everybody involved.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. This sounds so uncomfortable. This might sound stupid, but I have found it helpful to blindly believe that I will be in the right place at the right time. A little baseless belief can go a long way.
      I think you will land okay here. Not great, not awful, but okay.

    3. Drew*

      I’m so sorry, Gene. I know when my grandfather was in hospice (after a bad fall from which he never awoke), the staff there were SO caring and helpful and present without being obtrusive. They made his last week so much easier on everyone, especially my poor grandmother who almost never left his side. I hope your experience is similar. I’m not at all religious, but hospice workers make me want to believe in angels.

    4. Gene*

      Just got word he died a few minutes ago. So I’ll likely know about any service before final decision time on the drive to Tucson Monday morning.

      He’s been in pain since he got hit by a 60 mph car about 6 years ago. Glad he’s free of that.

      1. Being here now*

        My sincere condolences, Gene. Truly sorry for your loss. I hope everything works itself out for you to do what you need to do this week. Take care of yourself.

      2. Gene*

        Thank you all for the thoughts.

        And, as expected, there will be no service, just a viewing Tuesday. I said my goodbyes when I saw him in August, so I’m at peace with my decision to not fly there for that. So, I’m hitting the roads on Monday. Looks like good weather on the way down is predicted. Here’s hoping for the same when I drive back.

  17. Myrin*

    I got off the phone with my grandparents about two hours ago. I’ll be arriving at theirs on the 14th and stay for six days and I called to let my grandpa now the exact time of arrival. He then handed the phone to my grandma, who started to develop a form of dementia last spring. Our conversation went about like this:

    Me: “Hello grandma, it’s My!”
    Grandma: “Hello My, dear, where are you?”
    Me: “Grandma, I’m at home, in [hometown].” (My mum moved here before I was born; we are six hours away from my grandparents.)
    Her: “Oh, okay, I thought you’d be here.”
    Me: “No, but I was just talking to grandpa that I’d be coming to visit you!”
    Her: “You talked to grandpa?”
    Me: “Yeah, just now. I’ll be arriving at yours on the 14th.”
    Her: “Oh, not today?”
    Me: “No, not today. But on the 14th.”
    Her: “You’re gonna come here today?”
    Me: “No, grandma, on the 14th. In about two weeks.”
    Her: “At 8 o’clock?”
    Me: “No, at 1 PM, actually.”
    Her: “At 1 PM? Aha. But not today, right?”
    Me: “No, grandma, not today. In two weeks.”
    Her: “Oh, I thought you’d be here tomorrow, maybe.”

    And then the same pattern happened when talking about my mum and sister and her herself. And it’s so weird because I haven’t seen her since she’s become like this and she used to be such an intelligent and articulate person, with a wide range of interests (especially for a woman of her time) and a knack for holding long, deep conversations, and it’s really strange to see her reduced to talks like this.

    1. Allypopx*

      That’s really hard to get your head around, I’ve been there. I hope your family is dealing with everything okay – particularly your mom I feel like it’s hardest on the direct children to see a parent fade away like that.

    2. Confused Publisher*

      I lost my grandmother to complications from senile dementia last July, and the last 4 years of that last decade were heartbreaking for all of us. I’m sorry.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is pretty normal given her givens. I am so sorry. Sometimes they “perk up” when they see their family in person. It might be better once you get there, or maybe just better here and there.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, it comes in waves. Sometimes, she’s basically normal/like she was before, although by now the bad times outnumber those. But she definitely has days where she’s better and then those where she’s especially bad.

    4. Girasol*

      Me too. My lovely and brilliant stepmum started hardly more than a year ago saying “Are there mountains where you live?” (She’s visited us many times.) “It’s autumn here. What season is it where you are?” (We live a day’s drive to the west, not in a different hemisphere.) It came on and progressed so quickly. She went from slight confusion last year to this year in which she can’t remember that she can’t walk. She must be watched constantly to be sure she doesn’t jump up from her wheelchair, walk two steps, fall, and break her hip again. The family planned to care for her at home but the 24×7 vigilance needed is more than one or even several people can offer. Dad tried and the stress aged him. Don’t wait until the last minute to study options for care. Wish we had started that process sooner.

      1. Myrin*

        My mum and uncle started looking into care options basically immediately when the whole thing started (my mum happened to be visiting at the time). So far, my grandfather can manage just fine – he has the energy and build of an ox and is surprisingly patient with her, although he isn’t actually a very patient person – but especially my uncle has already arranged different reliefs for when it does become too much.

    5. Kms1025*

      Really sorry for this awful journey you and your family are on :( Dementia is such a sneak thief, stealing the essence of our loved one away, yet leaving in place someone that looks just like them. Dementia is an outright burglar for the person living with it. It breaks into their mind and steals away their memories and comprehension. I am so sorry for you and your grandma. She is still in there somewhere, spend as much time communicating with her as you can and cherish the moments when she is more lucid. Read up on caregiving for someone with dementia. You’ll find lots of tips for best ways to communicate and share her days with her.

    6. Bonky*

      I’m sorry. It’s such a hard thing to deal with – I can’t think of a crueller illness. I hope you and the rest of the family are managing without too much heartbreak.

    7. Rogue*

      My grandmother has been going through something similar. Unfortunately, she’s now to the point where I can’t even talk to her on the phone because she gets so confused. :-( My only advice for you is to continue to love her and be patient. I went to see her last year and she knew who I was maybe 75% of the time (she can’t see well, so she goes by voice or you have to tell her who you are). It’s sad. I’m sorry you’re grandma is dealing with dementia and sorry your family has to deal with that. It’s rough.

    8. Liane*

      So, so sorry. I never got used to my late Dad’s memory problems. He had multi-infarct dementia (dementia caused by lots of mini-strokes). In his case, almost nothing made it from short-term to long term memory. Having a conversation with him was like talking to any intelligent, engaging person–except he probably wouldn’t recall it the next day, and possibly not you, if he hadn’t known you for years. Made it both frustrating and easy for me sink into denial.
      He loved my son, who was about 22 months old when Dad passed away, but never called him anything but “The Boy.” My husband suspected Dad somehow was able to recall he had a grandson, (and later a newborn granddaughter) but not what his name was.
      Just take the advice the others gave, talk to her like always. Make all the corrections you need to, just kindly. Your answers in the phone conversation are just right.

      1. AliceBD*

        So sorry. It’s really hard to deal with .My grandmother also had the memory issues from many mini-strokes, like Liane’s dad. She stopped being able to have phone calls the last few years (even trying to wish her happy birthday over the phone was too much and upset her) and by the end she only had a couple of minutes of conversation before you had to repeat yourself. She always knew who we were (which was lovely, because I know some forms of dementia take that away) and she knew my brother and I didn’t live in her town anymore, but she had no idea where we did live. And she would say she was lonely and no one came to visit her, but talking to the staff (and corroborated by her friends) her friends who lived there came by frequently. (She lived in a retirement home with step-down units, so she entered living independently in an apartment, then moved to assisted living and then the nursing home wing.) She always mixed up names — mixing up my name and my mom’s name, and my brother’s name and uncle’s name and cousin’s name, and so on — but she also started mixing up generations and talked about “when your father and I went to England” etc. when she meant her and our grandfather. She had always read the local paper and the WSJ and The New Yorker and could talk about everything very intelligently, and it was so hard to have her just saying small talk all the time.

      2. Rogue*

        This is what happened to my grandma. Series of mini-strokes undetectable at the time. I’m so sorry for anyone that has a loved on dealing with dementia. Internet hugs for you all.

  18. Al Lo*

    I’ve been using my Instant Pot pretty regularly since I got it for Christmas — at least 2-3 times/week. This week, I made soup and meatloaf in it at the same time, and took a trip to Ikea for some accessories. On the weekend’s recipe docket are risotto and individual cheesecakes (working up to making a full cheesecake in it the next time I need a dessert).

    I also ordered a “tattoo” (vinyl decal) for it. I didn’t realize that was such a thing, but I’m all about geekifying my household items, so I was happy to jump on that train.

      1. Al Lo*

        Pretty much like a crock pot. The liner can go in the dishwasher; the outside of the pot wipes down. The main difference is taking out the sealing ring in the lid to wash that separately. On the actual pot, there’s a kind of a lip where the lid seals that is a bit harder to get, but I’ve seen people use a foam paintbrush to get under the lip. So far, I’ve just run a dishcloth under it, but I can see the foam brush being a bit easier. But I use it multiple times/week, and the main cleaning is easy.

      2. chickabiddy*

        It’s pretty easy to clean. I have pressure-cooked a pot of water with half a lemon in it to blast the valve. The foam brush is genius and I will go to the dollar store next week to look for one.

    1. Dear Liza dear liza*

      That’s great! I’m still adjusting. My crockpot died and I’ve been using the slow cooker setting on the Instant Pot but the IP cooks slower and meat doesn’t seem to get to that fall apart stage I achieved with the crockpot.

      1. Al Lo*

        I made some really tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs with the actual pressure cooker. I would try that instead of the slow cooker setting — you’ll probably have more success.

    2. Clumsy Ninja*

      Where’d you get your decal? (And what is it?) I’m still debating what I want on mine….

      I’ve been trying 2 new recipes a week to learn this. I did learn this week that my pot roast needs a LOT longer to go in the Instant Pot than it does in my stovetop pressure cooker (30 minutes at pressure on the stove, 65-70 at pressure in the Instant Pot). Going to try “Better than Takeout General Tso’s Chicken” tonight.

      1. Al Lo*

        I got it from an Etsy store, whose name I can’t remember off the top of my head. There are a TON of vinyl decals available on Etsy — some specific to the IP; some just general. I actually got 2 — one says “Hurry Potter” and the other says “Accio Dinner.”

        1. Red Reader*

          Ok, that cracks me up – I have nine crockpots and they are all named after various HP characters. But I haven’t labeled them.

        2. Melody Pond*

          That’s AMAZING! I’m now pleading with Mr. Pond to let me put an “Accio Dinner!” decal on our instant pot.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Are they really all that? I am intrigued by the idea of a pressure cooker that won’t explode, but I am also leery of it being the Next! Cool! Gadget! that I have to learn to master.

      1. Al Lo*

        To be honest, I didn’t find that it had a particularly steep learning curve, but your mileage may vary. I see posts in the instant pot Facebook group all the time from people who have one that has been in the box for two years because they were terrified to use it. Somethings are certainly faster than traditional methods. Somethings are not. What I like best is the set it and forget it nature of it. In that sense, it is similar to a slow cooker, but much more in line with typical cook times. Best of both worlds. No stirring, no pot watching, no babysitting. I also really like the number of things that you can do in one pot. Unlike a traditional slow cooker, I can, say, sauté my onions in the pot before I throw everything else in and turn on the pressure cooker. Actually, I have been very surprised at how often I use the sauté function. I use it to boil water, to boil broth and skim off the fat before I pressure cook it, to reduce a glaze after I took the ribs out of the pot, to sauté my vegetables before things go in, etc.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Thanks. My husband weirdly hates the way things taste when cooked in a slow cooker, I think because the long cooking time caramelizes them, so I may try it.

    4. Overeducated*

      Wow! I am trying to use it once a week or so, so I am impressed. Well under half of what I cook even makes sense to do in the Instant Pot, and I love leftovers and only cook new dinners about 3 times a week.

      So far it has been a learning curve in terms of adjusting liquid in regular recipes for it and figuring out what the ACTUAL cooking timetable is including coming up to pressure and releasing. I got it thinking it would make weeknight cooking way easier but until I get a better handle on things, or find recipes that take under an hour including the pressurizing, it’s still a weekend gadget. That said, right now I have black eyed peas cooking, and tomorrow I might make chicken and chickpea tikka masala from Serious Eats.

      Any favorite recipes to pass on from your experiments so far? I would love recommendations!

      1. Al Lo*

        Ah, yeah, times. We don’t have kids and don’t have set bedtimes or mealtimes since we both work weird and varied hours, so I’m not trying to make things on a schedule. If it takes 40 minutes longer than I thought it would, who cares. I can see how it would be more difficult to fit the first bit of learning into your schedule if you’re more normal than we are.

        1. Al Lo*

          As for recipes, this soup was delicious, these ribs were amazingly tender, this ramen was really ambitious but delicious, and making meatloaf with this method is the moistest, best cooked meatloaf I have ever made. I tweaked the recipe to be my usual meatloaf ingredients, so that was a bit different, but I made soup on the bottom, and meatloaf on the trivet on top, and then took the meatloaf out, brushed it with sauce and put it under the broiler while I blended the soup.

      2. Being here now*

        Another instant pot new user who is loving it so far. I did make a beef stew following a recipe exactly, even though I was skeptical – and I was right. The veggies were mush. But the meat was incredible. So I know what to do next time. So far the best results have been mashed potatoes, rice, oatmeal and chicken. And the beef part of that beef stew! Still figuring it out, but like Al Lo I like the no pot-watching aspect of it. And thank you Al Lo, for the meatloaf idea. That will be my next project!

  19. Al Lo*

    My cat got a haircut last week, and after a cut, she’s always suuuuuper cuddly. She’s trying to burrow under the blankets as close to my legs as possible at the moment. I don’t know if it’s that she’s colder (although the house is pretty warm, and she does this regardless of the time of year), or it’s more comfortable for her to be touched (if her long hair is starting to mat, although we keep it pretty well brushed), but she becomes quite the snuggle bunny when she’s just been to the groomer.

    1. Cookie D'Oh*

      Aww, how sweet! My big tabby boy is not much of a snuggler, but when I go down to the basement to work out he’s all over me. I’m trying to do sit ups and planks and he’s slinking around purring away.

  20. Cat-Flea Help*

    My house has been dealing with an ongoing flea problem. My roommate’s cat picked up fleas around the end of October. She wasn’t on any flea meds previously because she’s an indoor only cat but she got the meds immediately. We had the house completely sprayed once in November and again in December. We washed everything multiple times and vacuumed constantly.

    We have seen a major drop in the flea count. Where before the cat would be brushed from head to toe and a dozen fleas would be found, we now only see one or two every other brushing. Plus we haven’t seen any bouncing around on the floors or furniture, the only fleas to be found are the ones on the cat. I think/hope that means we’re coming out the other side of this issue, and the occasional flea isn’t that big a deal. The roommate who owns the cat (first time cat owner) and the other roommate both say we’re still in trouble.

    Which is it? And is there anything else we should be doing to really give these fleas the boot out the door?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Make sure the cat is getting her monthly flea treatments- and maybe it’s just me, but I do NOT find the generic brand to be as effective as the name brand. I’ve tried. More than once. I still end up with itching dogs unless I use Frontline Plus and only Frontline Plus. (Which, is not poisonous to cats, and they make a cat version)

      And where/how were you spraying? I’d do a flea bomb, and spray the outside yard/grassy areas. The gas goes to places sprays don’t. Wash all bedding, even what’s in storage.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Do not get generics, ever – there have been cases of pets being poisoned by generic/off brands. We have had very good luck with Advantage.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Never buy HATRZ products ever. Of any kind.

          The same can’t be blindly said about other pet products- not even the flea stuff. I just think the couple I’ve tried (PetSmart, Meijer’s, Sam’s Club) aren’t as strong or something, even though the active ingredients are the same.

    2. Bonky*

      Second the flea bomb idea. (Ours are indoor-only cats too, but got fleas at the cattery once and it was hell getting rid of them.) The little buggers live in carpets, and can be pretty good at avoiding being picked up by the vacuum cleaner. We found a flea bomb did the trick in the end once we’d got the population down.

    3. Clumsy Ninja*

      It takes at least 3-4 months of consistent use of the flea preventatives (and you didn’t say what kind she’s using) to get rid of the problem inside. It sounds as though things are definitely going in the right direction, but you’ve still got to be vigilant. Also, it’s really hard to find fleas on cats unless there’s a heavy infestation, because cats will groom most of them off themselves.

      Good luck!

    4. Amadeo*

      Sounds like you’re fighting the battle the right way! Keep going, it’s a long, hard slog. Make sure you’re emptying your vacuum outdoors immediately after you’ve finished vacuuming, too.

      1. Mt*

        If you have carpets they make a lamp/sticky pad to use at night. The lamp heats the sticky pad and the fleas are attracted to it. It targets any that maybe in the carpet or nearby furniture. Does nothing to kill eggs.

    5. bkanon*

      If you do go the flea bomb route, ask your vet for a rec and check the ingredients caaaaaaarefully. Years back we bombed the house, waited longer than the necessary time to get the cats back in, and my Siamese still had a severe reaction. The vet said I got him to the hospital barely in time. Kitty turned out to be allergic to pyrethrum. So now I am majorly careful about what’s in my flea killers.

    6. Emlen*

      I have found carpet deodorizing powder to be a secret weapon when it comes to knocking down (and keeping down) a flea problem. Liberally sprinkle all over rugs and any upholstery you can’t launder, leave it on for as long as you can deal with it being everywhere, then vacuum it up. It kills the fleas, so even if they don’t come up with the vacuuming, they’re no longer a problem. I would do a patch test anywhere you want to use the stuff to make sure it vacuums out cleanly.

      If you don’t like the powder idea, an alternative is steam cleaning your carpets and upholstery. More expensive, but it kills the fleas and doesn’t come with the respiratory irritation that some people get with the carpet powder.

    7. ..Kat..*

      You have to keep re-treating for awhile. I believe it is to kill off the new ones as they hatch. Consider using diatomaceous earth as one prong of your attack.

    8. dawbs*

      I tend to believe you never see only 1 flea.
      Diatomacious Earth is amazing stuff.
      It’s non-toxic–to pets and people (There are people who swear by eating spoonfuls for de-worming, and its commonly thrown by handfuls into things like silos of grain for consumption) but contact screws with/kills things w/ exoskeletons.
      It’s downside is that it’s useless after it gets wet.
      But since it’s a contact kill, you can do things like sprinkle it on the pet, brush it through the fur, brush it out, and have it help kill existing fleas. and you can sprinkle it on the carpet, brush it in, leave it a little bit, and vacuum it back up.
      And you can leave defensive lines of it down in weird places indoors–under the area of my house most likely to be bug invaded, there’s DE swept into the cracks between boards, just in case.

      Link to buy to follow.

      1. Kj*

        I use DE to control mites on my chickens. It is great stuff but do not breath it in. That stuff is not good for the lungs of you or your pets.

  21. Drew*

    I bought a house this week!

    To be technical, I had a bid accepted, loan approved, and signed a lot of paperwork, but we don’t actually close on it for a few weeks yet. There’s still time for things to go pear-shaped (other than me, because that ship has sailed). But screw that: I bought a house!

    1. Cookie D'Oh*

      How exciting, congrats! The amount of paperwork that goes with the mortgage process and closing is overwhelming. Hope everything goes smoothly the next few weeks!

    2. Jules the First*

      Yay! Congratulations!
      (Now comes the scary part as it starts to sink in just how much money you’ve just spent…hang in there, it’s worth it!)

    3. periwinkle*


      Yeah, all that paperwork… by the 11th or 12th form, I was just scribbling my signature in a daze.

  22. nep*

    Perimenopause / menopause.
    It’s an effort to stay on good terms with my body when it seems it wants to turn on me every day.
    Just focusing on the positives and letting the negatives be what they will.
    (Anyone read the piece ‘Pause’ that appeared in Granta?) (Anyone here read Granta?)

    1. fposte*

      No, and sometimes, so now I will.

      I got pretty lucky on perimenopause (maybe to make up for lack of luck on menstruation) and have found menopause much more of an even emotional state than youth. Some of that is doubtless just mileage, but I think there’s a hormonal component as well. May that be waiting for you too.

      1. nep*

        On the positive side, it’s all causing me to be extra mindful of and grateful for all the ways my body is sound and healthy (touch wood). I’ve truly got nothing to complain about.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I had a similar experience myself, once on the other side everything settled right down. It was NO FUN for the last ten years before it ended. It’s nice not to be yo-yoing every month now. It can happen a person can have a tough time with periods and a not so nice ride with perimonopause and then PEACE. I do think that taking care of yourself does help. If I have been following along accurately, nep, I think you have a strong interest in good eating and nutrition. Keep going with this stuff and I believe it will help you in the long run.

        1. nep*

          Good observation. Yes — I’m hoping that my exercise and clean eating habits will mitigate the effects.
          In any case, c’est la vie. We can’t control what comes our way but we can control how we cope / respond.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’m still chugging along–though Flo was very behind schedule this month. However, things have been EXTREMELY stressful and she has flaked before and also sometimes slides forward or back a little bit.

      But do not leave me yet, dear; I’m not ready. :(

    3. Mimmy*

      Other than irregular cycles and hot flashes (at least…I think they’re hot flashes!), is there any way to tell whether you are in perimenopause? My one positive is not having to endure the discomfort of Flo’s visit as often, but the hot flashes are not pleasant.

      Is there a blood test or something? My doctor says there isn’t. So it sounds like a guessing game :(

      1. nep*

        If memory serves — I do recall an ob-gyn doing some kind of test to see whether I was approaching perimenopause. It was a few years back and I don’t recall the details.

        1. LilyPearl*

          I’m only familiar with UK NICE guidelines, which say if you’re over 45 and getting irregular periods and hot flushes, a blood test isn’t needed (FSH level). Between 40 and 45 it could be considered, and under 40 it’s recommended if perimenopause seems likely. One of the problems with FSH testing is that levels fluctuate in perimenopause so the results may not be helpful.

  23. Cookie D'Oh*

    Since there are a lot of cat people on this site, I thought I’d share some of the products that have worked for us.

    1. Big Head Water Bowl from ViviPet – Two out of my three cats have had cystitis/UTI issues so I like to make sure they drink enough water. I tried a fountain, but they weren’t interested. I saw this product on Instagram and decided to give it a try. I’ve noticed a definite increase in their water consumption. I have one bowl for the three cats and they get fresh water in the morning before I leave for work and then again in the evening.

    2. Black Hole Litter Mat – I have three of these in the laundry room with the litter boxes and they work great at trapping litter. They’re easy to clean with soap and water. When the weather is warm, I hose them off outside.

    3. Delectables Squeeze Up – I got these as part of a Secret Santa gift and I need to find out where to buy more! My tabby-mix girl has a decent appetite, but isn’t food crazy like her big tabby brother. When I pulled this out she absolutely loved it and pushed her brother out of the way trying to get more.

    4. Moody Pet Fling-Ama-String – I saw this in action at the pet store and had to try it out. It’s a battery operated toy that you attach to a door. When you turn it on, there is a string attached to a conveyor belt that starts moving. The other two don’t care, but my little black cat loves it. I attach it to the pantry door so whenever I’m in the kitchen she’ll sit by the door and wait for me to set it up. It’s pretty sturdy. She’s caught the string and tried to pull it off, but it snaps back and keeps moving.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Thanks, I’ll have to check there. My usual grocery store didn’t have them and I only have one packet left!

    1. Lily Evans*

      I might have to try the string toy for my cat! Strings on sticks are her absolute favorite (like the ones that usually have toys attached, I just take the toy off and knot it and she’s obsessed with them), and this might give me a break from constantly having to wave them around for her. She’ll drag the toy over to me and meow while tapping my knee until I pay attention to her, so having an automated string would be amazing and I’d never seen a toy like that before. Thanks for the recommendation!

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Your kitty sounds so cute!

        My girl loves strings too. There’s a box full of toys, but one of her favorite things is a piece of ribbon left over from Christmas.

        I usually set it up when I’m cooking dinner so I can keep an eye on her. And I try to have some interactive play time with her later in the evening.

        She would be happy if I kept it running constantly, but the concept of batteries is lost on her.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Is that string toy loud? I just got the Petsafe Dart, the automated laser toy, and it’s loud. My cats are more curious about the Thing Making The Noise then they are about the laser.

          1. Cookie D'Oh*

            I don’t think it’s too loud. There is a light whirring noise from the motor. My kitty is a bit skittish and wasn’t sure about the sound, but now she’s used to it. I do have to watch her with it, because she’ll hold on to the string and try an yank the whole thing off the door.

        2. Lily Evans*

          Mine always seems to really want to play right when I’m sitting down to eat or to try to get some writing done, so this could be a good distraction!

    2. Bonky*

      I’ve just ordered the litter mat – thank you so much for the recommendation! (There *do* seem to be a lot of us cat people here, don’t there?)

      To return the favour, here’s my best cat recommendation of the last few years: the Smartykat Chirp Toy. It’s a little cat toy shaped like a bird or a cricket – but it’s got an accelerometer and sound chip inside, so when they play with it, it makes bird noises. Ours tend to get bored with other toys, but will play with these for months on end until the batteries run out.

      1. Cookie D'Oh*

        Thanks! I will check out that toy. Mine get bored easily as well so I like to give them some variety. Although the the time they were the most entertained (and I was too) was when there was a leaf blowing around on the deck. They were practically jumping through the window.

        I hope the mat works out for you! I used to have the ones with just the ridges, but I find these far more effective. They were worth the money and I find I have to sweep less.

    3. Amadeo*

      I have discovered the Tidy Cats Breeze litter box. We are in love and the cats tolerate it well enough. You still have to scoop poop pretty quickly, but the urine smell is non-existent now. They don’t track the pellets too much either and the ones that do get kicked out of the box are easy to pick up and toss. I had read some other rave reviews and decided to give it a try and I’m glad I did. I may look into that bowl though, I have a geriatric CRF cat (at 19 years old, I’m not surprised) and the more water I can convince her to drink the better.

      1. Al Lo*

        The Tidy Cats Breeze was recommended here a few months ago, and we switched our cat over about 4 months ago. I love it. So much less messy, and so much less litter box smell, which is a huge deal for us in a small apartment. The cat’s litter boxes (yes, she has two, although right now, she’s only using one — she seems to go through phases with them) aren’t in a bathroom/basement/laundry room, so lack of smell is my #1 priority. (We have her boxes inside furniture — one inside a wooden chest/coffee table that is actually our living room coffee table, and one inside a hall tree.)

        1. neverjaunty*

          Thanks for the recommendation – will look into this, as we have cats who enact the kitty version of Spy vs. Spy on a regular basis, which sometimes involves the litter box. :/

    4. chickabiddy*

      Kong feather balls (link will follow) are a great favorite at our house. Unfortunately, my boy cat has a bad habit of putting his best toys in the toilet bowl, so it is a good thing that they are cheap.

      We did one of those pet gift boxes through Groupon and got a catnip Tickle Pickle (link will follow; Google results may end up NSFW) that was so potent that the cats were pawing at the box when it arrived even though the pickle was in a plastic bag, wrapped in paper, and in a box. The brand makes other blends with other herbs and I’ve ordered a sample pack of “gherkins” and I can’t wait to see the results.

      1. Cookie D'Oh*

        The Tickle Pickle looks like it would be great for my big tabby boy. He loves to grab toys and rabbit kick them.

      2. lcsa99*

        One of our babies loves the kong feather balls. Absolutely becomes a kitten when we have one around. Will chase it and throw it in the air to pounce on it. It’s fun to watch! The only problem is that he easily destroys them (I mean this literally. We will find pieces everywhere) within a few days so we can never keep them long.

        Our other baby is happy with a q-tip for a toy.

      1. Cookie D'Oh*

        Haha, so true! She already gives me the death stare if I don’t mix her wet food with the right amount of water or put enough “crunchies” on top.

    5. lcsa99*

      Thanks for the recommendations! We’ll definitely get a few of those to try on our kitties.

      One of the big winners here is the Friskies Pull n Play cat treat toy. Any time we pull it out and fill it with treats one of our babies (the other won’t give it the time of day) will be practically dancing around to get to it and will play with it for hours. And best part about it is that it’s strong. We’ve kicked it accidentally several times and it’s only come apart once or twice and each time it just pops back together easily.

  24. Mandy in Atlanta*

    I ruptured my Achilles Tendon on Wednesday night playing volleyball. Assuming the swelling goes down, I’m scheduled to get my leg casted from my toes to mid/upper thigh Monday morning. This is the first time I’ve ever been injured or had to use crutches/wear a cast. I wish I could use one of the knee scooters, but because my cast will go above my knee, I don’t think I will be able to.

    Does anyone gave any tips or suggestions to make this experience more bearable? I’m guessing I won’t be able to wear pants since they won’t fit over the cast. Is that correct?

    1. fposte*

      Ah, Mandy, that’s annoying, and the first time is a real shock.

      You’ll get a lot of advice on this, I think, because a lot of people have experience with leg casts! You’re right that most regular pants won’t fit over the cast. If they’re loosely cut enough on the thigh, you might be able to get them on if you rip the seam up to above the cast, but I wouldn’t even bother, tbh; I’d either go with sweat pants (most yoga pants are going to fit closely enough that I think it’ll be a pain to pull them on) or forgo pants entirely.

      And the PITA thing is a big deal–you’re going to be tired and sore, so you want the easiest possible thing to wear, preferably stuff you can pull on over your head. Easy knit dresses, or even a few big knit circle-type skirts that you can pull on over your head rather than up from below. If you’re not somebody who orders clothes online, now would be a good time to start; failing that, you might have friends or family who could lend you or pick you up a few things.

      Best wishes for speedy healing.

      1. Mandy in Atlanta*

        Yeah, shock would be a way to describe my reaction. I had no idea this is such a bad injury. At least I found a doctor that is is willing to be conservative and not push surgery. Although, I was not pleased when he said the first cast would extend above my knee, it beats surgery.

    2. Soupspoon McGee*

      I’m so sorry! I just got off crutches, but my cast ended below the knee.

      I suggest you set up a few stations around the house where you’ll recline. Make sure you have a water bottle, tissues, treats and snacks, reading glasses, and things to read/do at every station. Get a few leak-proof water and thermos bottles. Make sure you have messenger bag on hand with external pockets to transport the bottle. Keep a ziploc bag in the messenger for messy things.

      Get a shower chair and a cast cover (Amazon has some great deals). For showering, make sure everything is at sitting height. If you don’t already have a handheld shower head, install one.

      I ended up moving my work clothes to the first floor right next to the bathroom so I could set up my outfits the night before. You will probably end up wearing sweats. I wore scrubs, so those worked. Regardless, wear something with an elastic waistband. It was no easy feat standing on one foot while tying my waistband.

      Call on a few friends to help with laundry and shopping.

      1. Mandy in Atlanta*

        Thanks for the tips. Luckily, my husband has been a huge help so far.

        What did you do when your cast itched? Or is there anything you can do?

        1. Sparky*

          I will get a cast off off of my arm this Thursday! Officially, you really shouldn’t scratch under the cast, the skin is dry and can tear and get infected.

          I’ve been carefully scratching underneath with a letter opener. Others have recommended shish kabob skewers, knitting needles, and using a turkey baster to inject olive oil under the cast. I’m thinking dead skin, bacteria, body heat and olive oil is a bad idea, but there you go. If your cast will be changed at any time, bring soap, a wash cloth and a towel to the apt. and wash between casts. I’m on my 4th cast in 5 weeks as swelling has gone down, and I’ve not needed the cast above the elbow the whole time. I’m in Denver (where snow removal is not the city’s priority and where FOOSH means “fell on out stretched hand”) and they don’t wash between casts, the patient does that.

          Good luck, and heal quickly!

          1. Mandy in Atlanta*

            Thanks for the info….I’ll definitely bring soap when I get the smaller cast in 4 weeks. Maybe they’ll even let me shave my leg:)

            I’m just concerned about itching since a leg is much larger than an arm, and I’m not sure if those will reach. Were all your casts the same size?

            1. Sparky*

              The first temp cast was over the elbow, then just the forearm, then two weeks in a cast that included the elbow and part of my upper arm, then back to just the forearm. The bend in the longer casts kept me from being able to scratch some areas. Even though this is most of what I’ve mentioned here, I haven’t itched that much.

              You should be able to shave, I’d think. Bring your husband or a friend because bathing something that has been immobile and is injured isn’t the same as normal washing. I was able to carefully wash my arm without bending the wrist. I’m considering trying to find one of those spas that have fish nibble the dead skin on people’s feet once the cast is off. There is so much dead skin every time I wash between casts. I’d like to give the fish a shot at my arm. But the casts aren’t forever, as I’ve been reminding myself. Walgreens has the water proof cast protectors for bathing.

              1. Mandy in Atlanta*

                Yeah, I’m not real sure how much my knee will be bent when they cast it.

                Just wondering since I haven’t ever had one, just how do they put casts on? And is there anything I need to know beforehand?

                1. Sparky*

                  They slip on a stretchy cotton sleeve, make a thumb hole, wrap a few layers of cotton gauze around it, then sticky, quickly hardening nylon bandage stuff is wrapped, in the color of my choice (green- for healing, although purple is my favorite color). They wrap the nylon stuff around the cotton gauze and stretchy stuff to makes neat ends. Then someone presses it into shape for a few minutes; this stuff really does harden quickly. This step has been at least a little uncomfortable where the bone breaks are, less painful every time as they heal. Finally, they coat it with something that makes it not sticky. The nylon stuff is a little harder than my fingernails and roughish, like burlap, so sometimes I very slowly file the nails on my other hand on my cast. Not around other people, though. I can’t think of anything you need to know, good point above about shaving and ingrown hairs.

                  Of course, what they do for your leg might be very different than what they do for my arm. This process is surprisingly fast. They cut through the cast with a rotating blade, but not all the way through. They use heavy shears to finish taking off the cast. The blade thing vibrates in a way that tickles, which was good. I thought it might really hurt where the break is to have this thing vibrating near it. I still turn my head because this part makes me nervous, but they do this all day and have never cut me.

        2. Soupspoon McGee*

          I exfoliated my leg before they casted it, but I did not shave because I didn’t want ingrown hairs. When it itched, I mostly tried to distract myself because I didn’t want a skin infection on top of a broken bone. The PA I work with told me to take antihistamine when the itching was really bothersome, so a Zyrtec or two helped calm things down.

        3. Garland Not Andrews*

          I’m chiming in really late, but one trick for itching that I was told the last time I had a cast (about 2.5 yrs ago) was to scratch or rub the itchy spot on the opposing limb. It works to an extent by kind of tricking your brain.

      2. Mimmy*

        A friend of mine just had Achilles tendon repair surgery (was torn by a large bone spur) and she too got a shower chair and cast cover from Amazon. She was so excited when it arrived, lol.

        1. Windchime*

          I had Achilles repair surgery for a bone spur, too. I still have a couple of screws in my heel. I was in a temporary cast for about 10 days; it went almost to my knee. After my stitches came out, I was in a boot and non-weight bearing for 6 weeks. I was lucky that I was able to use a knee scooter because I’m terrible with crutches. The boot also made it so that I could put lotion on my leg from time to time. At first I wore the boot in the shower with a cast cover, but after a few weeks I very carefully showered in a sitting position without the boot.

          Good luck. It’s good that you’re trying to heal first without surgery; the surgery took me a good two years to completely recover from. I’m in my 50’s though, so maybe it would be different for someone younger.

      3. Misc*

        May not be relevant with a cast, but might be later:

        If they stick physio tape stuff on you, that stuff is a nightmare to get off. Use oil (any cooking oil), just rub it on the tape and it will dissolve the glue.

        *based on many agonising experiments with my own busted ankle.

      4. Colette*

        Yes to all of this. And you probably already know that crutches are exhausting. Plan accordingly, and look into getting a temporary handicapped parking permit if that will help you.

        People will want to help – take them up on it.

      1. Mandy in Atlanta*

        Yeah, it was either start with an above knee cast or surgery. It sucks but it’s better than surgery.

        1. Mimmy*

          Do you have a temporary cast now until casting on Monday?

          By the way, I’m curious why a cast isn’t put on immediately – I noticed others who commented in this thread weren’t casted right away.

          1. Mandy in Atlanta*

            Right now, I have the boot that I got at urgent care (which interestingly, doesn’t include my knee). My orthopedic surgeon wanted to wait until the swelling went down before casting.

            1. Sparky*

              Waiting for swelling to go down, and as it’s gone down and the casts have become loose they’ve replaced them, and waiting for me to be able to get in to see the hand specialist.

    3. Just.my.opinion*

      This is a big injury if it’s an actual rupture. Wear sweats or shorts and follow the advice of the orthopedist to the letter. Good luck. I practice medicine.

    4. Crutching vet*

      Veteran of 11 foot and ankle surgeries here. I’ve never been casted above the knee, but I can answer some crutching advice. Don’t let there be any pressure under your armpits. The key is to press them into your sides with your arms, so some of the weight goes onto your core and some onto your wrists.

      For crutching itself, momentum is your friend. You don’t want to hop, you want to swing. So place the crutches out in front of you, a little wider than your hips, and pull yourself toward them. Use the momentum of you heading forward to get your push for the next movement, and so on. Think of it like propping yourself up on parallel bars and swinging forward, only the bars move with you. All the best!

      PS: My favorite thing to wear was skirts/dresses with loose shorts under them. The shorts are easy to pull up and keep you from flashing everyone in sight.

  25. Mr. Rockefeller*

    Minor minor vent … my wife put all the towels in the wash before I had a chance to shower today. I’m still at “work” (I work remotely on saturdays), and the towels will be done in time to shower before we go out to dinner tonight, but it just throws off my routine a little.

    1. Al Lo*

      I’ve done that to my husband before, but he’s not noticed before getting into the shower, and the clean towels live in the other bathroom. Whoops!

      1. Temperance*

        I’ve done it to myself more often than I’ve done it to my husband. For me, it’s because I like showering after chores, and I’m not thinking about the logistics.

    2. Windchime*

      When one of my kids was around 12 or 13, he would forget to get a clean towel from the linen closet across the hall. When he was done with his shower, he would yell, “I need a towel!”. For awhile, I would get one and hand it through the crack in the door, but finally I told him that next time, I wouldn’t bring him one. Sure enough, next day he yelled again and I didn’t respond. One wet, naked dash across the hall to the linen closet was all it took for him to remember to get a towel from then on!

  26. Myrin*

    I made an appointment for a surgery I’ve basically put off for more than ten years already. My nose is crooked on the inside and while I don’t generally have trouble breathing, as soon as there’s even a whiff of snot anywhere, my one nostril is blocked off completely. It also becomes raw and bloody very easily and since it’s estimated to only become worse over time and I will have to get it done eventually, I opted for finally getting it over with. I’ll be having surgery in the week after Easter, on the 19th April. Then there’ll be three days of staying in the hospital and seven more days where I need to stay at home. I’m not sure what to expect but since I have quite a bit of trouble with my throat and ears, I hope those will get better as well (there is a high chance that the sore throat I always have is a result of my nose; my ENT guesses that because I can’t breathe properly at night, I open my mouth and that affects my throat). Let’s see how it will go.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like a good choice to help your ears and throat. We have to drain that crap out of that area or there can be a lot of problems, such as vertigo. Good for you for pushing ahead on this one. It’s an investment, you may not value it so much now, but as the years roll by you will become more and more glad you did this.

    2. Book Lover*

      I hope it goes well. Sounds like a septoplasty? Are you not in the US? It is an outpatient procedure here. My mother and brother both had it and did great :). I hope you are as happy as they were with the results.

      1. fposte*

        Myrin’s in Germany, I believe.

        I have a slightly deviated septum and it does seem to affect things more as I grow older. It’s always interesting before surgery to mention it to the anesthesiologist and have them tilt your head back and look at your nostrils like they’re a plumber looking at pipes.

      2. Myrin*

        I don’t know the specific medical term, but the septum is indeed the thing that needs to move. And no, I’m in Germany, so it’s no big deal (money-wise, because I’m guessing that’s what makes the difference?) to stay at the hospital for a couple of days.

        1. LCL*

          Yeah, I had the septum and other stuff done. It is outpatient here, I wish I could have stayed in hospital overnight. My balance was bad for about a week. I couldn’t drive for that week. Sometimes you will see bruising around the eyes and nose, I had that. Boyfriend wouldn’t go anywhere with me til that faded. If your doctor used packing, when they take it out it is a totally weird sensation but doesn’t hurt.
          I am so glad I had it done.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I had septoplasty surgery, along with turbinator reduction surgery, a little more than a year ago. I had apparently broken my nose several times when I was child and years of untreated allergies had permanently enlarged the turbinators in my nose. Things had gotten to where my nose was plugged almost all the time and I was having trouble sleeping. It was an outpatient surgery and they dismissed me a couple of hours after the surgery.

      It sounds to me like your doctors are being very cautious by having you stay in the hospital for 3 days and that’s probably a good thing. When I got home my nose started bleeding and I kind of freaked out. It seemed (to me) to bleed profusely. I imagined myself bleeding out and phoned the doctor’s office. My ENT was doing surgery on another patient, but his PA and nurses had me come to the doctor’s office (I was driven there by friends) and they changed the dressing several times and then it stopped. They said this was typical, but I wasn’t prepared for it. I probably could have stayed home but I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. The PA and his nurses were great about it. (They even brought in the hypo-allergenic therapy dog to help me calm down.)

      I had stents in my nose for about a week, during which time I changed the dressing in the nose myself at decreasing intervals. At first every 2 or 3 hours, then less often. I also used a NeilMed sinus rinse at least twice a day to rinse out my sinuses and wash away dried blood and snot from inside my nose. After the stents were taken out, I was still sore, but I could have gone back to work (if I had had a job). After about a month the swelling was completely gone and I could breathe freely through my nose for the first time in 20 years or so. Even though I was supposedly healed, I swear that the roof of my mouth felt sore, (like I’d been punched in the nose) for a good six months afterwards.

      My ENT said that in years past they would usually remove tonsils and adenoids at the same time that they did this surgery, but that they no longer do that unless there is a history of frequent infections in those organs.

      The surgery was not a complete success, but it was 90% effective and it has definitely improved my quality of life and it was totally worth it. Based on my experience, I would certainly recommend it. I can breathe through my nose almost of the time now and I can usually sleep with my mouth closed. A bonus is that I many fewer sinus headaches.

    4. Elizabeth H.*

      I have a very mild deviated septum. As a kid I always breathed through my mouth and I still do a lot of the time, only when I started doing yoga 3 years ago did I get a lot better at nose breathing! The whole time I was a kid I had to hold my nose underwater bc I couldn’t figure out how to keep water from going up it. I also have one chronically swollen tonsil and it never occurred to me the 2 things might be related but your mentioning ENT issues makes me wonder. I’d love to get both fixed but bc I don’t have any big impairment would pretty much be elective surgery and I doubt my insurance would cover it/I could justify the time off work.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I didn’t think that my insurance would cover it at first, but I made a point of contacting the insurance company before hand and I didn’t even need to get a pre-approval. My ENT recommended it and that was that.

        While not a life-or-death kind of surgery, it certainly improved my sleep and my quality of life. I had to pay up to my insurance company’s deductible ($1,500) and I made sure that everything was done “in-network.”

    5. CheeryO*

      Ahh, good luck! I had a septoplasty and minor rhinoplasty last May after putting it off for about a decade as well, and I’m generally pretty happy with it. Don’t count on perfection, but you should be able to get a major improvement in your breathing. My septum has moved back a bit, and I have quite a bit of scar tissue, but my breathing is still quite a bit better, and I’ve had fewer issues with my sinuses so far this winter.

      The recovery is kind of crappy, so make sure you have everything you need to be super comfortable for that week at home – straws, soft foods, ice packs, lots of movies/shows/books, and a good setup where you can sleep/nap with your head elevated, where you won’t roll around too much. It’s also really important to follow your surgeon’s after-care instructions, which for me meant using tons of saline spray to keep things moist and removing blood/crust very gently with q-tips and diluted hydrogen peroxide a couple times per day.

  27. Confused Publisher*

    I’m now in my mid-30s, and have been highly myopic (-15) since I was 3 years old. Yesterday was the first time in my life that a 6 monthly eye test found no change in my prescription. It felt like an ‘achievement’, because for the last 15 odd years doctors have been shaking their heads at me and wondering aloud why this has been happening despite my being ‘too old’ to be ‘still growing’. No question really: I just wanted to share.

    1. TheLazyB*

      -15, wow!! I’m -8 and that’s bad enough.

      I remember wondering if my eyes would ever stop deteriorating and feeling so excited when they did. I totally relate.

      Of course, now I have cataracts, and when they whip them out they’ll correct my vision. That feels so weird.

      1. AliceBD*

        They did that when my grandmother’s cataracts were removed. It was so odd because she didn’t need glasses — she kept reaching for them because she was so used to them, and we were used to seeing her wear them!

    2. Mimmy*

      Wow, that sounds like my prescription, although I think mine is roughly +15. I don’t have a script on hand so I’m not sure. My poor sight is due to having had cataracts at birth and not given implants.

      Thankfully my vision has been stable (though I think my reading vision has gone down a bit over the years), but I also have glaucoma-level pressures, so who knows how long that stability will last.

  28. Cruciatus*

    There’s a house I’ve zeroed in on that comes the closest to everything I want but it says it’s heating is forced air, but in the pics online you see long baseboards along most of the walls. I’ve been trying to read up online but it’s making me more confused. Would a house with forced air heating have the long baseboards? I’ve always had forced air but each room had a small register and vent that don’t take up the whole wall. The baseboards seem like it would make it impossible to place furniture, especially since the living room is already small, and the one uninterrupted wall has a baseboard from one end to the other. One bedroom also has 2 walls full of baseboards. Is that something that could be switched to smaller registers? The one negative for this house is this and the lack of air conditioning, but if it’s something that might be easily (but maybe not cheaply) fixed I’d be willing to overlook for now.

    1. Bonky*

      I have never lived in a house with forced air, but I have friends who have, and who swore they’d never move into another one when they left. They found dust was a huge problem. I’m not sure how widespread this opinion is, but you might want to spend some time researching it before taking the plunge!

      1. fposte*

        Where in the country do you live? Forced air is the standard in anything post 1950 in my Midwestern region–the main alternative would be radiators, which are a PITA albeit lovely to warm up near.

        1. Bonky*

          Ha – I’m in the UK, where forced air is pretty unusual. (We’re a radiator and fireplace country!)

    2. Jules the First*

      Some mid-20th-century houses are indeed forced air heated but have loooooooong ventilation panels running along the baseboards. If memory serves (it’s been a long time since I lived in a house that had them), there’s usually just one or two openings in the wall or floor and they’re easy to replace the long ones with a smaller grate. You’re also usually fine to put furniture in front of part of the vent, as long as it’s not pushed right up against it. If you’re worried about it, your building inspector can probably give you more info. (Also, embrace furniture on legs…)

      Air conditioning is super easy to retrofit into a house with forced air – just replace your furnace (which you’ll likely have to do anyway) with one that has an aircon feature.

    3. fposte*

      Are you talking about a vent flush with the wall that’s longer than usual rather than set into the floor (have one of those), or a separate heating element sticking somewhat out from the wall (seen those)?

      If it’s the former, it’s likely just about how the forced air is directed and should be easy to undo; if it’s the latter, it’s definitely to be inquired about. Is it there because some rooms need supplemental heat, how is it powered, what are the power bills? I can’t remember what region you live in, but in zones with real winter, baseboard heaters are generally pretty pricey to run. It’s possible it pre-dates a decent recent furnace, but I would definitely want to pin it down.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I’m in the snow belt of northwestern PA. I’m going to attempt to post a link to one of the bedrooms in the house that shows what I see here: http://tinypic.com/r/voud7r/9

        Maybe I don’t even know what I’m looking at. When I think of a radiator I think of a large lunk of a thing, not something along the floor/wall. They do say they recently installed an energy efficient furnace if that’s any help at all.

        1. fposte*

          Looks exactly like baseboard heaters to me too. The fact that that’s a corner room and therefore more exposed to the elements makes me think it might be or have been a cold room; is it possible that this is even an enclosed porch or converted garage room?

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          You are going to have to go and look yourself. There are forced air vents that look like that. I have been fooled by them before, because I’m not paying for electric baseboard heating in the upper Midwest! I complain that I don’t want them and that’s what it looks like in the picture, and I’m assured they are forced air. Then I go see for myself, and they are. The new modern radiators also look similar.

        3. copy run start*

          I’m positive that’s a radiator, could be electric or hot water. Modern ones are small and long like that, not the big behemoths seen in the 1920s. They’re super common in my area, but I think forced air is preferable.

          I’m thinking either they a) renovated the house for forced air and didn’t bother to remove the radiators or b) they’re an additional heating source or c) they are wrong. It could even be that there’s a central wall furnace and the radiators are additional heat for bedrooms that are too far away to be serviced. You won’t know for sure until you look at the home.

          1. Chaordic One*

            I agree with you. These look like the radiators I have in my house which was built in about 1994 or so.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          I can’t get the pic to load, probably an issue on my end.
          However, I have a house that is 180 years old. And I have found remnants of earlier heating systems. It’s amazing what people leave behind. The heaters run along the exterior walls in the house, it’s (oil fired) hot water heat. But I have also seen electric heat done this way. It could be a supplemental system? I also vote for calling and asking if the place interests you otherwise.

        5. Jules the First*

          Those look like 80s forced air to me. Afraid you’re going to have to go and look at to solve this one…

    4. AliceBD*

      I grew up in a house that had baseboard things like that on the walls. There were also air vents in the ceiling but I think those were AC only? I’m not sure what kind of heat it was, but IIRC they got hot in winter so I’m guessing some sort of radiator. We just ignored them when placing furniture and it was never an issue.

  29. Stephanie*

    Vent time. It’s been an eventful couple of weeks.

    In the last week:
    -Had my car towed. While I was out visiting my parents, a water main brok e on my block. The city ended up towing my car because it was in the way apparently (I wasn’t blocking the main, but I guess I was close enough).
    -I get my car back from impound and find out it was damaged during towing. I’ve been going back and forth with the tow company and just had to sic my insurance on them. Meanwhile…I’m hoping the snow/rain doesn’t leak into my car…
    -Lost my keys
    -Sent my computer off for warranty repairs and the part is on back order. I’ve been without a computer for about a month now (I’ve been camping out in various computer labs on campus)
    -Had my debit card number compromised (someone spent $80 at a Cheesecake Factory about 300 mi away)

    1. Audiophile*

      Aw I’m sorry, that’s an awful couple of weeks. Hopefully the bank is able to get you your money back and hopefully your computer comes back soon. How bad is the damage to your car?

      1. Stephanie*

        Not horrible, but like about a half-dollar sized portion of my door is just missing (there’s some plastic portion next to the body). I can’t say with confidence the tow company did it, but I asked them to look into it at the very least and they’ve been dodging my calls.

        1. Audiophile*

          That’s pretty suspect. If you weren’t that close to the water main, I’d be surprised if it happened before the towing company took your car.

          What happened with your computer?

          1. Stephanie*

            Heh, it was a pretty minor thing–the hinge cracked. I was out for the semester and was like “Oh hey, this is covered under warranty–I’ll just send it in! It’ll be back in time for the semester!”

            Oh well, I suppose I feel more guilt when I goof off when in the campus computer lab…

            1. Audiophile*

              Ugh, I’ve had that happen. It sucks. Hopefully it’s back soon.

              Eh, everyone goofs off in the computer lab… I did when I took CS classes.

  30. Stephanie*

    Anyone have recommendations for good running jackets for running in cold weather? I did a bunch of layers today with a down vest, but the down vest was a bit too bulky/warm.

    1. Thursday Next*

      I have an Under Armour running jacket I bought from Sports Authority or Dick’s sporting goods a few years ago (so I don’t have the specific name) that I like for cold weather running, it’s pretty thin and doesn’t have a lot of padding, but it keeps me warm. I think I was rated for under 40F, so if I wear it when in in the uppers 30s/~40F I can just wear a short sleeve work out shirt and I’m good to go. I’ve found that if its >40F the jacket is too warm. For colder weather (down to the 20s) I wear the jacket with a a long sleeve thermal tech gear shirt on.
      Sorry I don’t have a specific recommendation but when I lived in the Midwest this jacket plus a Nike therma-fit long sleeve shirt (with appropriate bottoms of course) worked well for me into the 20s/upper teens (colder then that I don’t run).
      Also, cold weather workouts are the one situation where I like the shirts that have the thumb-hole sleeves – the sleeves are long enough that I can keep my wrists (which I find stay colder than fingers) and fingers, to an extent, warm when I start running and then push the sleeves back when I warm up and I don’t have to worry about storing gloves.

    2. edj3*

      Mine is from Brooks. Also, I layer when the temp is 30 or below. I wear a sleeveless shirt (so I have something on when I peel off the rest), and one to two long sleeve running shirts, depending on the temperature.

      Are you also wearing some sort of hat? When it’s windy (often the case in Kansas), I wear my running beanie and a running headband that’s designed to cover my ears (and is also a very bright neon yellow–I run in the dark so it helps me to be seen).

      1. Stephanie*

        I just wore a cable knit beanie, but I think it’s too warm and doesn’t wick enough. It was kind of gross after I was done. I have a wool balaclava I use for biking, so may try that or look into a beanie with moisture wicking.

    3. CheeryO*

      I have a few different options – I like doing a technical fabric hoodie with a tech tee (long or short-sleeved) or a thicker mockneck baselayer, depending on the temperature. I also have a hooded jacket that is thick fleece with a quilted front that keeps the wind out nicely. I also have a thinner vest that’s good as a layering piece, again especially on windy days when I need a little extra something.

      I can’t do the thin nylon (?) shell jackets that a lot of people seem to wear – they don’t breathe very well.

    4. Jourdan*

      I have some great stuff from Uniqlo. They have under layer stuff, but I recently got some heattech pants, which are really wonderful. I haven’t tried the jacket, but I imagine it would definitely keep you warm.

  31. The Other Dawn*

    Just wanted to say I’m so excited: I got a new toilet, a new vacuum cleaner, and a new mailbox for $144.00. :) I need the new toilet because the one that’s in my downstairs bathroom is very low. I’m having surgery soon, which will make it very hard and painful to get up and down from that toilet. I’m 5’11”, so it’s like I’m sitting on the floor. We got a chair-height toilet. I had one at the old house and it was awesome.

    Oh, and last night at the grocery store they had Malt-O-Meal cereal on clearance for 80 cents so I scooped those up for the husband.

    It’s the little things.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have been thinking about a taller toilet myself. But mine matches the other fixtures so am dragging my heals. I know I have enjoyed having a bed that is higher than usual. It’s so much easier to get in and out of.
      But you got some great deals there and to get all that for $144 is impressive. Sometimes we win the coin game. (You have to go back to that place when you need something else, too.)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Home Depot. :) The toilet was a basic one. The vacuum and the mailbox were on clearance. The mailbox was the better deal: 13.03 marked down from 49.95. It’s one of those Rubbermaid protected boxes with the post covering. We’ll just have to buy the post the goes inside the casing and into the ground, but that’s no big deal.

        I would love to have a higher bed some day. We’re thinking it’s time, actually past time, for a new mattress set, but I just can’t bring myself to buy it on credit. I really want a Sleep Number so it will have to wait.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Home Depot, eh? Note to self: must check there this week when I shop. I am part vulture anyway, I am always hovering over clearance tables and going out of business sales.

          My poor mailbox got clipped by the plow two years in a row. I broke down and bought one of those sets like you are talking about the first time it got clipped. I was pleased by how much easier it was to replace the box. I had been just buying random boxes and posts and trying to “make it work”. Getting a set like that seems to be the route to go. (I also re-positioned the mail box back in from the street and put reflectors on it.) So far so good.

          You can get those bed risers, they look like cones or sometime squared off type of cone shape, only the tops are flat so the leg of the bed can be placed on top of them. One thing about a higher bed is that you do not need as many blankets and the comforter can be lighter. It’s just plain warmer even though it’s only a matter of being inches higher. We both found it easier to deal with back/leg/ rib injuries with the higher bed. By the time my feet touch the floor I am a standing position. With some injuries it is really hard to raise the hips/butt up off of anything- bed/chair/toilet.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Now that you mention the risers, I think that would also be a good thing to get in prep for my surgery. I know getting up and down will be tough, and why not make it much easier on myself?

    2. Drago cucina*

      Impressive deals. I haven’t had malt o meal in years. Now I’m in the mood. I like my chair height toilet. In the middle of the night it’s much easier to find. When I’m in a hotel it feels like I’m sitting on the floor.

  32. HiItsAmy*

    Random question…

    Has anyone here been interviewed on a talk show?

    (Or I guess some similar tv program.)

    Is it as fun as it looks?

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Kind of. It was kind of a whirlwind of media attention and responding to requests was almost a full time job itself. Being interviewed itself was fun.

    1. Drago cucina*

      I’ve done a local, live, early morning show. The morning part makes it less fun. It’s hard to be chipper and coherent at 6am.

    2. Al Lo*

      Not a talk show, but I’ve been interviewed on a number of TV and radio stations, usually in conjunction with my work. Typically it’s the 30-second sound bite; the longest one was a 30-minute interview about a play that I was producing. I enjoy it. It’s not such a novelty for me anymore, but I still like talking about things that I’m passionate about, and my work tends to be that. It’s fun to see behind the scenes of whatever media you’re being interviewed by. For me, it’s fun to be the public face, and it’s fun to have people hear or see me and comment on it. YMMV; I can see how that wouldn’t be fun for everyone.

      I tell people that one of the greatest skills I learned was the ability to speak publicly to large groups of people on the spur of the moment. I remember the first time I did it (in junior high, at a school assembly), and it’s something I do on a fairly regular basis. Quite a few of my TV/radio appearances were without preparation or planning — just being the media-savvy person in the room that my boss wanted to put out there. I don’t get particularly nervous anymore, but I’ve definitely developed the skill of thinking a few words ahead of my mouth and avoiding “um”s and “uh”s in my speaking. Not being a confident public speaker would also probably impact your fun to stress ratio in an interview setting.

  33. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So, my wife has been working through mental health issues stemming from abuse as a kid. I know what happened generally, and who did it and what helps her.

    But, next Friday we are both meeting with her therapist so she can share her story with me in a safe context. I really want to support her, but I really question whether I need to know…details…and if I can handle it. After all, if I’m trying to be supportive I shouldn’t get really angry or cry about it, not in front of her. But, she’s insisting I go and that it will help us both. How do I keep my feelings in check and focus on helping her?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Maybe think of it this way: Having to stay quiet about what happened to her reinforces the feeling that it’s shameful and that it’s a burden she needs to carry around alone … and by listening to her, you’re helping her to liberate herself from that?

      (Source: listening to a close friend who went through something similar)

    2. Not a Pineapple*

      Are you afraid you’ll get triggered and be uncomfortable? Or are you afraid you’ll be sympathetic?

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        The first one. I’m still not that great with feeling uncomfortable and dealing with it in good ways, I guess.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I think the therapist might help you find good ways to process this.

          FWIW, while I have not been abused, I have had heartbreaks. Sometimes the people who helped me the most and opened up healing for me were the ones who cried with me. It’s a very powerful thing to watch another human being look at a situation with you and say, “wow, this is one of the awfulest things I have seen in life.”
          It’s that acknowledgement AND the other person’s unstoppable commitment to walking through the situation in spite of how hard it is that was just so very inspiring to me. “I don’t know how to fix this and maybe I can’t, but I will stand beside you anyway while you sort. I am more concerned about you than I am afraid to look at your situation with you.” [This is very tough stuff.]

          One good tool I have had to learn is to tell myself, “This is not happening any more. It has stopped. It happened in the past.” People can feel unsafe because the memory is so very vivid. It’s good to remind ourselves that it is a memory now and the actual action is no longer happening. Your wife is safe from further harm now.

      2. Been there*

        I would guess (from my personal experience on the other side) that he’s worried he will see his wife differently knowing details.
        I struggled with that telling my husband details about being raped before we met.
        The only thing I can say if that’s the case is remember she’s the same person before and after this conversation now you just have more context. Let her know exactly why you are worried (even if my guess at the reason is incorrect) the fact that you care enough to say I want you to know that I hear that you want to tell me and I want to be sure you know I am concerned about my reaction because of XYZ will let her know you care. And know that telling you (someone she trusts) will be very liberating for her

        1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          Friendly reminder: don’t assume all couples are perfectly straight! I’m female :)

          1. Been there*

            Sorry! I live in a very conservative area, and I realized I had ignored your username after I posted

    3. Allypopx*

      Are you able to share your apprehensions with the therapist beforehand? Part of it being a safe space is that if one or both of you reacts badly someone is there to mediate and help coach you through it. The therapist might be able to do that better if they know what you’re concerned about beforehand.

      Your wife seems to think you need to know details, it might be important for her healing and for her trusting you and really feeling fully present in your relationship (being an assault survivor myself, I don’t have that personal viewpoint, and would never want to share specifics, but everyone heals differently and it might be really important for her). But don’t put too much pressure on yourself to react perfectly. This may be traumatizing for you and you might need to seek out your own personal help on how to handle it, but that’s a bridge to cross when you come to it.

      But approach it with an open mind, and a willingness to share the burden to ease her suffering, and what each of you need to move forward from there will become clearer with time.

    4. Jules the First*

      I know it’s short notice, but can you book something just for you with a therapist – ideally both before and after so you can work through how you feel about it without worrying about how your reaction will affect your wife? (And shame on her therapist for not insisting on this)

      You are probably ok to get angry and cry about it – what you need to focus on is that you are angry about what happened, not angry that it happened to her; that you are sad it happened, but that it in no way changes how you feel. The tone you are going for is “I love you and I’m angry this was done; I love you and I’m sorry that they hurt you”. Steer clear of but statements (“but I love you anyway”) and vengeance. Be angry that someone hurt her, be clear how much you love her, and be grateful that she trusts you so much.

      I’ll also say that while you’re right that you don’t need to know everything, your wife needs to tell you everything…otherwise she would not be doing this (trust me – she does not want to do this, she needs to do this). Her telling you the details is a big step in her feeling safe with you – which is not to imply that she is or feels unsafe…it’s just that this is the deeply held secret that she is most terrified of having someone uncover and that to deliberately uncover it to you is a powerful way of proving to herself that she is strong enough to trust you with this, and that you will not bail on her even when you know the most horrible thing about her in excruciating detail. Because the one thing about this that haunts her is that rationally she knows that you are ok with what happened to her, but irrationally she is still terrified that you are only ok with it because you don’t *really* understand what happened, and that when you do, you’ll abandon her. She can’t master that fear until she *knows* that you really, truly, know what happened and that you still choose to be with her.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yes, particularly to the second paragraph. As someone who has been on your wife’s side of this, even just sharing basics and without having gone into great detail, this is very, very good advice.

    5. Bonky*

      Are you sure it’s not OK to cry about it in front of her? I can think of many dimensions in which that’d be a good, welcome response: a confirmation that what happened was awful and intolerable; a sign that you also find it emotionally difficult, which normalises her own reaction – there’s a lot that can be positive in crying.

      If you are angry, make it very clear where your anger is directed. It can be tough being around someone radiating unfocussed anger; lots of people, especially at an emotionally sensitive time, can draw the wrong conclusion about who you are angry with and you don’t want your wife to be one of them!

      Good luck, and thank you for being so supportive of her. I’m sure she finds it an enormous help.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Thanks. I’ll remember that about the anger, but I think it’s already clear. In fact, after he recently tried to friend her on Facebook, I was so angry I threatened to doxx him online. It made him stop harassing, and I am still looking for a way to do that- but she is considering telling her family so I am waiting for now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ahhh. Now this is making sense. It could be that she wants you to know now so when she tells her family it is not the first time you have heard detail. If you frame it as a first step in a series of many steps maybe that would help some how?

    6. TheLazyB*

      I would hope that her therapist would give you both guidance about how this will work, not getting angry/crying seems highly unrealistic, although I second clarifying that you’re in no way angry at her.

      I hope it’s ok for you both, and healing for her.

    7. Kj*

      The justification for this is that telling your story and not being rejected is a way to reduce shame. I’m assuming this therapist is doing some sort of cognitive processing with your wife and this is part of the exposure. You should show emotions about the story- the therapist is there for both your safety and will help you with this. If you have your own trauma that means you won’t be able to listen without your own mental health struggles, you need to talk about that before this whole thing starts- the therapist should check in with you to make sure you are ready to hear the trauma narrative. If you can listen, please do- it is OK to be uncomfortable, but I can assure you that listening will be a great gift to your wife. If listening would threaten your own mental health, then you need to talk about that with your wife’s therapist.

    8. Red*

      You know, the therapist really can help you both deal with the emotions of this. It’s only natural that you’d be upset hearing all this, and I bet both your therapist and wife would be happy to help you be comfortable knowing her story. After all, that’s the whole point of this meeting.

      As someone on your wife’s side of a very similar situation, she probably just wants to know you know and you love her just the same, whatever other emotions you may have. Just listening is enough to help her.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Just want to point out that you might need a few therapy appointments for yourself so you can deal with this afterwards. It is not uncommon to feel traumatized after hearing bad stuff like this. Take care of yourself and ask for help if you need it.

      And please don’t feel that you can’t cry, get angry, whatever about what you hear. Just make sure your wife knows you aren’t angry at her – rather you are upset that she was put through this awful stuff. She also might be afraid that you won’t love her once you know. Deep down, abused people can feel they deserved how they were treated (abusers are good at getting the people they abuse to believe this). As an abused person gets better, there can be a lot of shame. Society does not help – so many people don’t understand why a person being abused stays in the relationship.

  34. Not a Pineapple*

    I’m trying to put together a daily routine for my happiness. I figure you can work out everyday to work on physical health, why not work on happiness health everyday too? Has anyone found a daily routine that works for you?

    1. Allypopx*

      No but I’d love to hear more about the concept. This sounds really interesting. What kind of things do you include to work on happiness health?

      1. Not a Pineapple*

        Thanks! I was actually thinking on writing about it, but I didn’t know who’d be interested, the actual problem I was solving for them, and what format I should present it in. (You gotta know your audience!)

    2. Jules the First*

      I try to finish each day with ten things I am thankful for – in bed, before I turn the light out, I list them. Some days I have to work harder than others, but it almost always helps.

      Gretchen Rubin has some marvellous suggestions too, both in her book (assuming you haven’t read it already) and on her podcast (which I love, even though I am NOT a podcast person)

      1. Mandyyy*

        When you list the things you’re thankful for, what do you get out of it? Do you feel better right away, or is it a reminder to be grateful in general?

        1. Jules the First*

          I think it’s kind of both – in the moment, it refocuses me from the frustrations of my day onto the good things, and over time it actually raises my baseline happiness because I am actively looking for the good things that we often overlook. You have to be specific though…not “I’m grateful for my health” but “I am thankful that my body is strong enough to clean my house, carry my bags, and ride my pony”; not “I’m thankful for my job” but “I’m grateful that today Karen asked for my help at work, even though we don’t always get along”. I was skeptical until I tried it, and it’s now my favourite part of the day.

        2. Future Analyst*

          I’m late to this, but my husband and I talk about things we’re grateful almost every day. It’s not so much that we feel better right away, but it’s a reminder that there are good things in our lives (and that’s even more pertinent this week than usual). It’s about keeping perspective (for me at least). Also, Gretchen Rubin annoys me at times, but Better Than Before really helped me reshape my approach to what makes me happy, and what helps me to be a better person from day to day.

      2. Fish Microwaver*

        My brother has something he calls the 5 Es

    3. Bananistan*

      Idk if this is what you’re looking for, but I’ve started meditating recently using an app called Headspace. (First 10 guided meditations are free, then you have to subscribe for about $10/month.) I love it. I’m a very happy person in general, but I think it’s really helped me feel calmer and more consistently happy.

      1. Bananistan*

        Also, I just realized how spammy this comment looks. I’m sorry! I promise I’m not affiliated with Headspace in any way. There are tons of other meditation books and apps out there that are probably great. I do recommend using an app though- it’s really helped me stay on track.

        1. Not a Pineapple*

          Haha no! That’s exactly what I was asking for! I’ve heard of headspace before anyway. Does it really make you “happier” or more like… “less annoyed”? I found when I do meditation it kind of evens me out.

          1. Bananistan*

            Hmm, good question. I’d say it makes me feel uplifted. My neutral state is happy, so when I return to neutral I’m happy, if that makes sense. So I can’t really speak to whether it would make you happy.

          2. DoDah*

            I’ve used Headspace for a few years. I find it makes me more “removed” from aggravating things. Which in a way—means I am happier.

        2. Hrovitnir*

          Not sure if anyone will come back to this, but I can say I had a psychiatrist say Headspace seemed legit – ie: she said that others are probably fine, but that one specifically had been analysed by psychiatrists and is regarded as good at what it does.

          I am the worst at keeping up with these things, and feel patronised really easily, so have only done a couple but I really must try and give it a proper go.

    4. Sunflower*

      Last week I posted asking for self help book suggestions and I picked up “Your Erroneous Zones’ by Wayne Dyer and “Better than Before’ by Gretchen Rubin on the suggestion of AAM folks. ‘Better than before’ works off the idea that habits are what make our life and therefore, if we want to change, we need to change our habits. ‘Your Erroneous Zones’ talks about how we engage in self destructive behavior, why and how to change it as well as how we can control thoughts that we think we can’t. The main thing the books stress are that changes don’t happen overnight and the important thing is to start somewhere and keep pushing through it. Your thought patterns have been reinforced thousands and thousands of times so when you change your thoughts, it needs to be reinforced a ton as well.

      For example, I have this project at work and it’s beyond stressful and I just want to give up on it. Whenever I go to work on it, within a few minutes, I feel defeated and push it to the side. Today I’m changing my thoughts about it. I’ve decided I’m going to finish the project because when I do, I will be happy to have gotten through it and accomplished something so difficult for me. It’s small but it’s something!

      1. Jackie*

        If you want to learn even more about habits and how they are formed read “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s an excellent book on how the brain works. And good luck, keep working on the thought patterns you want to change and it will happen.

    5. nep*

      For me, it’s when my eating and and exercise are on point that I’m at my absolute happiest and best.

    6. Bye Academia*

      Lately I’ve started using something called the Happiness Planner. It’s kind of expensive so I don’t think I’ll get another one after this – you can google to look at what the pages show and do it yourself in a blank journal. They also just came out with an app, but I haven’t used it so I can’t speak for it.

      The part of it that I really like is that it prompts you for what you’re looking forward to each day, so you can start the day with a positive mindset. Then at the end of the day, you list the things you are grateful for/that made you happy that day. Can be a good cup of coffee, nice weather, a TV show, delicious lunch, your partner, your health, anything big or small.

      I wouldn’t say it’s revolutionized my life or anything, but I have found it helpful to remind myself that even bad days still contained a lot of good things.

      1. Not a Pineapple*

        How did you find out about the Happiness Planner? What encouraged you to buy it? Maybe I’ll try to make my own and see how it goes. What do you think would make it better?

        1. Bye Academia*

          I saw it on one of those favorites videos people do on youtube, and I bought it on a whim. I have anxiety and was in a bad job I couldn’t leave at the time. I was kind of desperate to try anything that would get me in a better headspace, because I felt pretty bitter and miserable.

          I started with the 100 day journal to see if I liked it and then got an annual one when I decided I did. I actually like the layout of the 100 day journal pages better because there’s more room for the good things in your day. The annual planner is trying to compete with other plan-your-whole-life planners so there’s more room for other notes and less for gratitude. In terms of what I’d do to make it better, I’d cut out the actual planner stuff since I already keep myself organized with google calendar and the notes on my phone. Ideally, I’d have:

          -A section for things I’m excited about for the day
          -Maybe a bare bones to-do list to focus on the most important stuff I have to get done
          -A section for things that frustrated me and how I can reframe my thinking i.e. is there a “silver lining”
          -A section for good things that happened in the day
          -A section for things I’m grateful for

          Certainly doesn’t replace the medication and therapy I was also trying, but I do notice and appreciate a change in my mindset when I am thinking through what to put down.

          1. Not a Pineapple*

            That’s interesting. Thanks! I do do that sometimes already. I actually brought something up like that with a friend, but she said she thought it would feel like too much work to have to write stuff down all the time. Guess she just wasn’t the right audience for it haha. I guess it works for you doing it on a wake up/go to bed basis though!

          2. Not a Pineapple*

            If you had a second “pocket” one that could help you through when you’re in a difficult situation… or just to check in halfway through the day… would that be helpful, or annoying?

          3. Not a Pineapple*

            I know I’ve already asked you a lot of questions, but if you want to give me feedback later on once I’ve designed something, please add me on Skype: “Not a Pineapple”

    7. Goreygal*

      Check out the Headspace App…..it’s regularly recommended by emotional resilience specialists in UK and Ireland

    8. Camellia*

      Wow, this stopped me in my tracks. What a concept. I am going to be giving this much thought. Thanks!

      1. Not a Pineapple*

        Thanks! By the way, if you (or any lurkers or anyone else) wants to chat about this idea past this weekend and give me feedback, please add me on skype. My name is “Not a Pinapple.”

    9. Purring Kitty Awww*

      i don’t have a daily happiness routine, but I think this part counts: Watching the sun come up

      (I mean, not if it cuts into sleep time, which is also important, but if you can?) I write Morning Pages every day to clear my head (modified a bit; I rarely hit the suggested page count) which I first found in Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”, and I do it watching the dawn come up (it gives me somthing to start writing about) and I get my hour’s dose of sunlight that way as well.

      I try to watch or listen to a lot of stand-up comedy and radio shows and podcasts, and if I really like them I buy them so I can listen to them again and again.

      This one’s a bit more hit-and-miss, but if you like animals, make time for them. Dogs are very good at Being Actively Happy and cats are excellent at Ridiculously Athletically Killing Cat Toys, and also Calm Contentment. Just looking at a sleeping cat drops my shoulders down, it’s like magic.

      Also, “The Top Five Regrets of The Dying” (sounds depressing, I know, but it’s not, really) is a book written by a terminal care nurse about the issues that came up again and again with the people she cared for, and it’s a kind of reverse-map to happiness, in a way? I really de-prioritised 24/7 checking in with work after reading it, and social media too – I realised that having my phone with me was distracting me from actually experiencing my life.

    10. bluesboy*

      Not a routine so to speak, but what has helped me is making sure that every day I do something specifically to improve my quality of life. It can be as simple as watching a film (that I would consider art, not a stupid film, much as I enjoy them) or cleaning the bathroom (so tomorrow I have a clean bathroom!), or just half an hour of studying for my professional exams. But every day, something constructive.

      It helps me to feel that I’m doing something and going somewhere, which has made a real difference to me.

  35. Sled dog mama*

    Odd how I sort of posted about this last week. My youngest brother and his wife are expecting and today my mom emailed the family saying she is throwing a surprise baby shower for them (aunts/uncles/siblings only). I really adore my brother and sister in law and want to go but I’m also really hurt because my parents didn’t do anything for us when either of our children were born. (They also bought nursery furniture for my brother and sister in law.) we’ve had a rocky relationship with them for the last 8 years but since losing our younger daughter last spring we have all been making an effort to mend fences.
    Part of me says don’t read too much into it, mom’s excited and she has been on a kick of don’t let an event pass without celebrating it since last March (and not going will hurt bro/SIL more).
    And part of me just wants to wallow in the my mommy doesn’t love me depression that this has sent me spiraling into.
    All of this is doubly difficult for me since they are due about three weeks after the anniversary of my daughter’s death and they (I’m sure unknowingly) chose the six month anniversary to tell us they were expecting.
    I also feel bad because my brother called to check on dates for a shower her friends are throwing (making sure I could come and that it wouldn’t interfere with other daughters birthday party) and I had to tell him that the day they were planning on was the one year anniversary, so I’m currently feeling like the selfish sister.

    1. Elkay*

      I’m sorry for what you’re going through, your family seem like they’re being particularly unsupportive to you, the anniversary of losing your child is something they should know about without you needing to remind them. You are not being selfish, they are being insensitive.

      1. Bonky*

        What Elkay said. I’m very sorry. This must be terribly difficult for you. Take it from a random lady in the UK: you’re not being oversensitive or selfish. Your family are being rather unthinking and insensitive. In your brother/SIL’s case, it’s *sort of* understandable – it’s easy to become very over-focussed on yourself when you’re expecting, and I know it’s something I’m guilty of if I don’t watch it – but your Mum should really think a bit harder about what messages she’s sending.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          Thanks, random lady in the U.K. My brother was super embarrassed he forgot and also thought our mom would have a hard time with a baby shower that day. Mom is……well I’m just hoping that this is not her playing favorites and is her realizing she should celebrate each of her grandchildren because they are all precious.

      2. Sled dog mama*

        In my brother’s defense he did ask if we were planning anything for her birthday. I think the idea that the anniversary of her death is a bigger deal this year didn’t cross his mind. We’ve tried really hard to focus on “she lived for 9 days” rather than “she died after 9 days” so I can see why he might forget the exact date.

    2. Allypopx*

      It sounds like they’re too caught up in their own excitement to remember that you have a really raw wound you’re carrying around. That’s horribly insensitive coming from your family, and you have every right to feel the way you’re feeling. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

    3. this*

      It sounds like your mother was effected by your daughter’s death more than you may realize. You say she has “been on a kick of don’t let an event pass without celebrating it since last March” but also your daughter died last spring (march?). It seems that it’s not that she’s ignoring your loss so much as trying to embrace what she still has.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Oh yes I totally agree, in fact she even told us that our daughter’s death made her realize how much she was missing by “being silly about the past”.
        it just hurts that she didn’t even offer to do anything for us when her first and second grandchildren arrived and is now buying furniture and throwing a surprise shower for my brother and sister in law

        1. Allypopx*

          Can you talk to her? “I think it’s great you’re doing all this for [brother] but I’m having a really hard time with all this because _____” It’s a reminder, it’s making you feel less important, it stings that she didn’t do the same for you, whatever you need to hash out.

      2. Allypopx*

        Are the two necessarily mutually exclusive? If this has become some kind of coping mechanism for the mother it could be she’s wrapped up in it to the point that she’s overlooking how it’s impacting others who are having a different grief experience.

    4. TheLazyB*

      I’m so sorry about all this. Losing your daughter, bad timing of pregnancy announcements, dealing with mom issues… so much to cope with. Have you got good support? Team You, therapist of some flavour, anyone else?

      I would be hurt by this too.

      Internet hugs from a uk internet stranger, if you want them.

    5. Overeducated*

      I am so sorry. I think you are already going to one shower for them and that is lovely enough, it would be more than understandable if you wanted to hide away from all things baby related all spring. If the second makes you feel bad, I think it’s OK to stay home.

      I think it’s also OK to talk about how you’re feeling with your mom. MAybe it would make you feel better to get it off you chest and give her a chance to make amends somehow, from the way you write about your family here I am sure you would be kind about it.

    6. awidowwithsomewisdom*

      First of all, I am sorry on the loss of your daughter. I have no idea how it feels to lose a child but have seen many people close to me deal with it and I know it can be devastating. I have lost my spouse, almost 15 years ago now, and the one thing I did learn was that the grief process is different for everyone because everyone’s relationship to the one who passed was different. Maybe your mom is going that extra effort for your b/sil because it gives her something positive to put her energy into and she needs that right now. I also whole heartedly believe that our loved ones that pass are with us each and everyday. I feel my husband with me and I truly feel his approval/acceptance/guidance in decisions I have made since his passing. I also believe that positive/happy occasions are put in my life on the days that would be the most hard, his birthday/our anniversary/his passings anniversary, so that I have a reason to smile that day because he would want me to smile and be happy. Your daughter would want you to be happy about your new neice/nephew and would want you to celebrate that with your family.

  36. Mandyyy*

    When you don’t want to get out of bed… but you don’t really have to do anything either… do you let yourself stay in bed all day? Or do you force yourself to do something?

    1. Al Lo*

      There are a solid handful of weekend days when I don’t get out of bed until 5 or 6 pm. In fact, I’m still in bed now, although I do need to run some errands and get a few things done today. My lazy weekend day is something like wake up, read, doze, check Facebook, read, get a snack, doze off again, read some more, doze off…

    2. Cruciatus*

      On weekends I can laze in bed for a while but I eventually make myself get up and shower (exception being if I was sick). Even if I have no plans, being upright makes me feel slightly more productive. And I know if I stay in bed it’ll wreck my sleeping routine even more and make Mondays at work suck more than they should because I didn’t sleep well.

    3. Lily Evans*

      I end up feeling gross and groggy if I stay in bed all day, so I usually try to leave the house to at least grab coffee or something.

      1. Cookie D'Oh*

        That’s exactly what I do! I feed the cats, clean litter boxes and settle in on the couch. It’s closer to the kitchen than going up and down the stairs. On really lazy days, I usually stay in my PJs most of the day and take a bath or shower at night. When it’s cold outside, I can spend the whole day inside without venturing out.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        Me too! I rolled out of bed, fed the cats, made coffee and plunked myself on the sofa with a book, and didn’t move again for hours. It was glorious. Its the first Satuday in weeks that I didn’t HAVE to do something, and I reveled in every minute of it. The “okay, I really should do something productive” but kicked in around 8:30 pm and so now the dishwasher is running and there’s a banana bread in the oven.

    4. Just.my.opinion*

      Not all day but maybe until noon. I feel like a slug if I don’t get at least one thing done.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I at least get out of bed. My back is such that staying in bed too long sets me up for a day full of lower back pain. Even when I don’t have to do anything, I still pick something to do, even if it’s just going to the grocery store to see if there are any good deals. Gets me moving. Or I decide that I’ll do some batch cooking, which also keeps me moving. Sometimes I’ll watch TV and sit around on the couch, but I try to mix in spurts of activity just to keep the back pain away.

  37. printrovert*

    I’m a little too excited about this, but who cares–for the first time in three years, I have health insurance. I paid my first premium yesterday.

    1. Rob Lowe can't read*

      Isn’t it amazing? Even better when it’s good, easy-to-use health insurance. I remember marveling at how easy it was to get an appointment and fill prescriptions once I got my first good health insurance as an adult.

  38. So Anon I Don't Even Exist*

    It seems like a large number of authors and editor types hang out here- I’ve been waiting all week to ask you a question. When writing a book, how much effort does an author have to put into fact checking? And if fact checking fails, does the publisher want to know?

    I’m asking because I discovered a book (a best selling book no less) that includes a story about my immediate family that is completely bogus. Has anyone ever run into this before? The author blurs the line by saying that the story was “as it was told to him”, but a cursory google would have revealed to him the story was utter crap.
    The publisher then muddies the water by tagging this book a “true life memoir” and stating that all events contained within are true. I don’t want to sue this idiot or anything, but I want the bogus story removed and the bad facts fixed on his website.

    I know this is a weird one! Thanks!

    1. Mandyyy*

      No idea. Ask a lawyer? Maybe you could send a letter that says they fix it … or else you’ll take legal action. That’s absolutely crazy!

      1. Allypopx*

        That’s a good amendment to what I said – you don’t necessarily need to get the courts involved so much as threaten to get the courts involved.

        I have some contacts in publishing but IANAL.

    2. Allypopx*

      What’s this person’s relationship to your family? A “memoir” implies they are VERY close to the source or have first hand knowledge of events. Do they use real names? Is it classified as non-fiction?

      You probably can’t do much without getting courts involved.

      Some publishers would want to know and some wouldn’t. If it’s a bestselling book they may be worried about it hurting their reputation, or they’d rather be ignorant and let the money keep coming in. It really depends on the company.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I always thought that “memoir” meant that it was based on the person’s memories and that you never really know for sure just how accurate those memories might be. It’s probably true, but with a definite perspective that is probably not the entire picture.

        1. Allypopx*

          Right but it matters a little who is recounting the memories. It’s usually based off some kind of intimate knowledge or first hand account, or by someone very close to the source. Rando doing interviews and getting anecdotes is usually a biography, where a memoir would generally be a family member or a close friend.

    3. fposte*

      The short answer to the first paragraph is none, and no.

      Of course authors often do fact-check, but not necessarily because there’s any inherent requirement that’s getting confirmed. And the reasons why publishers care when authors don’t check are mostly financial, when bad reviews or a PR stink leads to bad sales or a big lawsuit is going to cost.

      Since defamation suits are very expensive and often pretty messy, bringing more publicity to the statements that people wanted not to be published in the first place, the lawsuit option isn’t all that common. Bad publicity works a little better, but it usually has to get the right voices involved, and of course it’s got the same risk of signal-boosting the statements you don’t want in the public realm.

      But you might still talk to a lawyer just for the hell of it; if it’s a minor publisher or a really egregious claim, it’ll take less effort to raise the alarums. A straight out cancellation or reprint with stuff omitted is unlikely; if you get something, it might be a quiet and never-admitted concession, like slide off of the backlist or a failure to move to paperback.

      1. Lore*

        I can only speak for the particular publisher for whom I work, but I would give different answers. We make it very clear that fact-checking is an author’s responsibility, and they, not we, are liable for misstatements. We don’t habitually do detailed fact-checking precisely to avoid muddying that liability. BUT if suspicions are raised that the fact-checking has been inadequate (a copy editor, proofreader, editor, early reader, or production editor starts to get a sense something isn’t quite right), we take action. If it’s early enough in the process, contracts have been canceled; books have been paused and put through more rigorous fact-checking by an expert hired by us (but paid by the author); or at the very least, legal disclaimers about the verifiability and veracity of the contents have been added.

        I agree that it’s unlikely that a bestselling book will be removed from sale unless a major lawsuit seems imminent, but we make changes, even sometimes quite substantive ones, for reprints all the time. (And with supply chains working the way they do now, bestsellers reprint frequently and it’s quite possible to get changes into subsequent printings, though the existing copies would continue to sell until they were gone.) Or, you might be able to get the addition of a disclaimer in future reprints and future editions, or possibly a delay to or changes made for a paperback edition.

        The tricky thing is getting that information in front of the right person. There is someone in our customer service department who filters any reader feedback that seems valid to our managing editor, who makes the call whether it should be addressed–but I don’t know how common this is. If the book’s acknowledgments list the book’s editor, you might able to research their contact info and email them directly.

        Another thing worth knowing, though this is sort of a shot-in-the-dark option. Amazon polices its feedback very stringently. If they get reports of errors (and a very small number of them, like three?–and I mean, tiny errors, even typos–or if their automated “spiders” flag what they consider mistakes in a book, they will report them to the publisher and if the publisher does not respond promptly, the book gets pulled off sale until the issue is resolved. (Believe me, I do not know how this overlaps with the vast array of typos there are in things like self-published books but I guess maybe people report them more in the high-profile publications?) (Also, I worked on a book that reproduced the Lindbergh kidnapping note, and that gets reported at least twice a year for its errors, so it’s an imperfect system.) I’m actually kind of curious what would happen if you reported this kind of thing as a “content error.” Maybe nothing, but maybe, especially if you got two or three other people also to report it, maybe something.

        1. fposte*

          That’s a good expansion, Lore; thank you. My pessimism here is because this seems to be 1) already published, 2) successful, and 3) a memoir and a disputed family story, which seems tough to prevail on. However, I don’t deal that much with autobiography and memoir, and maybe you’ve seen that work better behind the scenes.

          I did once get an advance reading copy with a very clear CYA change–it was a personal account of a disaster, and there was a new page pasted over an old one in it. And everybody who got the thing carefully peeled off the page to see what they were backing away from, and it was an explicit statement of blame for the disaster. So I don’t blame them but I thought it was pretty funny that they sent it out with this highly defeatable safety measure.

        2. Olive Hornby*

          Also in publishing, and Lore’s post reflects how information like this would be handled at either of the two houses where I’ve worked. We do care if something is wrong, and we’ll make best efforts to correct it.

    4. neverjaunty*

      This is something to run by a lawyer who specializes in this area. Sometimes a sternly-worded letter is appropriate to get them to run a correction or disclaimer.

    5. So Anon I Don't Even Exist*

      Thanks all for the feedback!
      Looks like I will be making some phone calls Monday.

      And to answer several inquiries no, the author isn’t related at all. That is what makes it so weird- of course the necessary disclaimer is in the book “names have been changed to protect people” but then he SPECIFICALLY names my family by location and uses legal given names.
      And the story is not a disputed family story- it is straight up fiction. I don’t want to give too many details but it involves death. Not a natural death. If you can connect that to my name, you can guess who died.

    6. Liable for libel?*

      I’ve heard of cases of authors having to pay damages or books being pulped under our libel laws because they put thinly-veiled real people in their story, or because they used someone’s real name and identifying details for a dubious character. So you might have a case under libel laws?

      I think it’s the author who’d really be on the hook for committing the libel. A libel case would probably wipe the publisher’s profit out, too. If your case is strong enough, I think you could threaten them with lawyers, but it might be best to find out the CEOs contact details and take it straight to the top because libel’s above the pay grade of most of their staff.

  39. AcademiaNut*

    Happy New Year to those celebrating!

    This year I decided to learn how to make Buddha jumps over the wall at home (shark-fin free, though). It turned out delicious, although if I did it again I’d decrease the cooking time a bit. I also did home-made radish/turnip cakes for the first time, which were amazing.

    Buddha jumps over the wall is a twice cooked stew typically made with as much high quality dried seafood as you can cram into it, often served at banquets or New Years, and takes up to a week to make, depending on what you put into it. I sprang for sea cucumber, fish maw and dried scallops, as well as the Jin Hua ham.

    1. Bonky*

      Gong xi fa cai! Can I ask if you wouldn’t mind sharing your Lo Bak Go recipe?

      I am horribly pregnant at the moment, so my husband, who never cooked before I got pregnant, has been in charge of cooking for a few months – I’m very grateful, but there’s not much variation, and I think most of my family’s Chinese recipes leave him in a position where he’s not sure where to start!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The story that goes with it is basically that it smells so good that it will tempt a Buddhist priest from his vows of vegetarianism. Entertainingly, at the office holiday party earlier in the week, we were served it, and the vegan at the table immediately said “that smells horrible!”.

        For the radish cakes, I used a recipe off the internet.

        Simmer 600 g grated daikon and 1 cup water until the daikon is soft and the liquid has reduced to ~ 3/4 cup. Cool.

        Meanwhile, saute the fillings in a bit of oil. I used about 4 dried shitake, soaked and squeezed of liquid, 1 table spoon small dried shimp, soaked and chopped, ~1 T of the ham leftover from the rest of the cooking. Plus 1 green onion, finely chopped, stirred in right as I turned the heat off.

        Mix the cooled fillings, daikon and liquid, 1 cup rice flour, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t sugar, 1 T cornstarch (I used a little more than a cup of flour). Let sit about 15 minutes. Pour into a well oiled loaf pan, cover with greased foil, and steam for 50 minutes in a steamer.

        Cool, use a spatula to pry it out of the pan, and slice using a knife dipped in water. Pan fry in a bit of oil until crispy.

        Given the four stage cooking process, I can see why people buy the pre-made stuff, but I’m going to see if it freezes well.

      1. SL #2*

        Hahahahahaha, oh, the hair. I still get a little twitchy when my mom puts it on my plate because it’s so ingrained in me that I’m shoveling forkfuls of hair into my mouth. I cannot get enough of the mushrooms, though.

  40. Veta Louise Simmons*

    Anyone have a good retirement planning book or blog suggestion for those of us making 50K or less? Everything I come across seems to be aimed at people who make a lot more money than I do. Surely those of us who can’t save a million dollars can still dream of retiring one day.

    1. fposte*

      I love your username so much!

      Are you looking for something explicitly geared to that income bracket or just something applicable? Bogleheads dot org does have a lot of high earners but there are lower-income folks there as well, and it’s easy to skip over the “Does it make financial sense to buy a Rolex?” threads?

    2. Lady Julian*

      I found it helpful to talk with my (online) bank & was able to open an IRA through them.

      Mr. Money Mustache is also good; I tend to be somewhat of a saver, but not as extreme as he is, but his blog is informative and geared for those who are not super rich.

    3. Rocket Scientist*

      Your Money or Your Life

      Not only is this book focused on people with smaller incomes, it also changes the way you think about money as tool. The original edition was published quite some time ago and your local library might have it.

      (The actual investment advise about buying treasury bills is outdated but the rest is helpful.)

      1. Dan,*

        I haven’t read the book, but I’d have to agree with that general sentiment. Forgive the use of the term “rat race”, but if you’re running it with everybody else and following “conventional wisdom”, you’re going to get screwed.

        For (a real) example, I rent a run-of-the-mill apartment in suburban DC for $1500/mo. While what I rent is on the “low end” of things, my area doesn’t have much in the way of slums, so the place is perfectly liveable.

        Someday I may wish to buy. If I go the condo route, I’m not going to find anything in the area I want to live in for less than $300,000. The newer stuff is running closer to a half mil. For a condo. These condos are coming with monthly fees in the $600-$800/mo. I’m also going to have to pay property taxes in the neighborhood of $350/mo. I’m also going to have to sock away some money for maintenance reserves. I’m probably looking at $1200/mo in “expenses” that *are not building equity*.

        Conventional wisdom says that renting is throwing money down the drain and that I should buy. Realistically, even if I’m going to stay put for several years, I may very well be better off renting, and putting what I would otherwise spend on a mortgage in the stock market and build equity at 6%+/yr.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          THANK YOU for posting this. I know I have done the same calculation mentally for us here even though plenty of friends have said “oh you should definitely try to buy”. We are in London, we even make good money, – a deposit for a flat that may/may not be any of the following: draft, damp, have major electrical/plumbing issues, potentially loud neighbors, bad transport links, etc will still be (in bad area) at least £50K (if you can find something that isn’t a war zone) up to £120K+ for my current neighborhood which will maybe get you a one bed. Maybe. Hell, we don’t even know if the government will let us stay at this point.

          So we did the calculations where we live in nicer neighborhood closer to excellent transport links and pay a little more in rent (but nowhere near the top end), but everything else gets dumped into the market (here and the US) and savings. I just dont see the growth potential here in London that there was 15 years go, not to mention the housing stock is crap (and you could get hit at any time with additional fixes/ground rent coverage, etc). Why would I pay stupid money for a cold damp flat when I could put that money either into a nice house in the US to rent out until we re ready to move, nice flat in Sweden where there is value growth still likely AND the market is stable and the stock very good (until we are ready to move), or the market?

          I just get really tired of the “you must always buy!!!!!” argument. No, I don’t. We have been living with half our lighting system because mice chewed through the wiring at some point and next week the electricians are coming. As I am tired of the noise of the flt, the neighbors, and the wiring issue, we are also starting to look for a new place next week. Cheap time of year to look, get it done by summer, get better value than this place. Couldn’t do that if we had bought.

    4. Dan,*

      If you can’t save a million dollars, you can still dream of retiring one day, but that’s all it’s going to be, assuming your definition of “retirement” is fully walking away from a typical wage earning job. They don’t write the book that says “you’re going to have to keep working” because nobody is going to buy it.

      A million dollars 30 years from now is worth about $500,000 in today’s dollars. Assuming a safe withdrawal rate of 4%, you can withdraw $20,000 per year. That’s not a lot of money, and that’s the million that you don’t think you can save. If you can’t save that much, then you will have even less.

      The reality is that you need to make more money than you spend, and have the ability to save/invest the difference. The advice you’re looking for is either going to be about reducing your current expenses, or increasing your income via a side job or whatever.

      First things first? If your employer offers a 401k with a match, invest enough to get the match. And do it in a traditional 401k, not a Roth. You will have to pay taxes on your withdrawals in retirement, but realize that the tax man exempts a non-trivial amount of money before actually levying the tax. For example, in 2016, the first $10k in income is not taxable, and then for the next several thousand, you’re only paying 10%. Conversely, if you invested in a Roth, you’d probably pay 15% on all contributions up front.

  41. Charlie*

    What vacuum is good for both carpet and hard floors? My apartment is all laminate and I have a few area rugs. My budget is flexible.

    I’ve been searching Amazon for the past few days, but the choices are overwhelming. Someone please give me recommendations.

    1. Bonky*

      Is a Henry vacuum a thing where you live? We’ve had a few Dysons, but they’ve usually failed in exciting and spectacular ways (I’m looking at you, husband-electrocuting-vacuum).

      A few years ago, we got a new cleaner who brought all her own products and equipment. She had a Henry. I noticed our office cleaners used one too, and spoke to a friend who’d done house cleaning for a living for several years – she said she massively preferred them, and had one at home. So we ended up buying one ourselves. It’s terrific: way cheaper than a cycloney-turboey-whizzbang thing, but if anything, *more* efficient. It does require bags, but that’s no hardship. It works brilliantly on our rugs and on the stair carpet, and on our hard wood and tile floors – it doesn’t lose suction and is very powerful. There’s a reason these things are so popular in the UK with people who clean for a living!

      (I still think the stupid face on the thing looks stupid, but it lives in a cupboard so I don’t have to look at it…)

    2. Red Reader*

      I have a … green Hoover that I paid $99 for on amazon. (Puppy asleep on my legs. I can’t get up and go look.) Hoover Wind Tunnel T-series, Amazon says. We have two dogs and three cats, mostly wood or tile floors and some big low-pile rugs downstairs and regular carpet upstairs, and it does great on all of it.

    3. Jules the First*

      I have a little 1500 watt Zanussi bagless. The filter is mildly annoying to clean, but man does this baby suck! Bonus is that I think it was only abouy $70.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I recently got a Shark Navigator (the NV682) and really like it. It has a floor dusting attachment (kind of like a swiffer cloth) but I haven’t tried it out yet.

      1. JHS*

        My Roomba scratched my brand new wood floors! We loved it but we can’t use it because of that and I feel it was a waste of $300 and really screwed up my freshly stained floors :(

    5. It happens*

      I got the anker robovac when it was on sale for under $200. I really like turning it on before I go to bed and waking up with clean floors. My floors are wood with various rugs – I have to pick up one rug in the bedroom with fringe that the robot wants to eat. Pros – it lives under the sofa, it’s easy and I use it more frequently, con- have to empty the little dust bin every time. I also got a dust buster for detail and non-floor cleaning.
      I also have a Hoover wind tunnel bagless upright ($130 or so) works well and has a detachable hose for sofa cushions, drapes, etc. It’s fine and works well on the wood and rugs. The Hoover replaced a dirt devil breeze canister that I had for five years. I liked that one a lot because it was easy to get under furniture. They stopped making the model I had so I switched.
      Clean floors are so nice, having them done while sleeping is even better…

    6. Cookie D'Oh*

      I like my Dyson. It’s one of the “animal” models. It has an option for “bare floor” and I use that in the kitchen and our hardwood entry way. It doesn’t quite fit under the edges of the cabinets so I use the brush attachment to get underneath. Sometimes with smaller area rugs, I need to weight them down so they don’t get pulled up.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        YES. We have one. I can’t tell you how many small computer bits I have accidentally sucked up since we bought it. That thing is so powerful it takes two people to clean the area rug – one to vacuum and one to hold the edge down. Our place looks amazing when I am done cleaning though (and we have a really dusty place).

        We had a Hoover in the US that worked fine. I tried a friends Dyson and it was…. fine but it just felt overengineered. Like WTF is THIS purple plastic parts function?! The Miele just scoots around behind me and it is super easy to extend the wand, shorten it, swap out attachments.

      2. Pat Benetardis*

        I love love love my Miele. It was expensive but has lasted longer than any other vacuum I’ve had (so not that expensive after all). It works great on hardwood and carpet

    7. Seal*

      I have an 8 pound Oreck that works well on carpets, rugs, and laminate floors. A few years ago I injured my shoulder vacuuming with my old, very heavy vacuum that never worked all that well to begin with, so having a lightweight vacuum has been wonderful. The only drawback is no attachments, so I need a hand-held vac for stairs and upholstered furniture.

      My brother gave me a Dyson V6 cordless vacuum for Christmas this year, so now I have options. I’ll probably use the Dyson mostly as a hand-held. With 4 cats, having good vacuums is a necessity.

    8. Em too*

      A brush! I’ve got a cheap vaccuum for my rugs, and a vileda brush with a foam strip for the laminates and it is *so* much easier & quicker than getting the vac out every time.

    9. Purring Kitty Awww*

      I use a £10 long-handled dustpan and brush for daily/weekly sweeping as needed, and a £100 little lightweight steam cleaner I use once a month or if I need to clean up a stain. Personally, I find it quicker and easier than vacuuming and it gives me better results, but YMMV.

    10. CheeryO*

      We have the Hoover Linx stick vacuum – there’s a cordless version, but the corded one is cheaper ($65ish). It’s served us well so far, but we’ve only had it for a year. It probably wouldn’t work if you have pets – as it is, I need to cut my hair out of it once a month or so – but it’s great for regular dirt/dust.

  42. Allie*

    Does anyone have any tips for moving a cat (apartment, no outdoor access)? Our plan was to shut him in a bathroom or closet with his food, water, litterbox, and cat tree during the actual move. My cat is a bit moody and has already started punishing us for the packing by pooping on the floor.

    1. Bonky*

      Feliway. It’s an absolute miracle. It’s a synthetic cat pheromone which they find very calming. You can buy it as a plug-in diffuser or a spray.

      We moved a couple of years ago, and we bought the diffuser and set one up in our (large) bedroom in the new house two days before we moved in. The cats settled immediately in there. We shut the door with their litter box at one end of the bedroom and their food and water at the other, and intended to keep them in there for at least four days, but by day two they were (totally calmly) wanting to explore. So I squirted the spray at cat-cheek height on corners, furniture and doorframes and other places they might rub – and they were perfectly happy.

      This was very unexpected. They’re wonderful cats, but they’re dim and one of them is pretty highly strung. I’ve recommended Feliway to friends since then, and they’ve also had great results.

    2. Allypopx*

      In my experience moving is really distressing for cats and you have to put up with a little bit of that kind of moodiness. They’re confused and unhappy.

      Isolating him with some familiar things is a good idea for the actual move, your plan is solid. While you’re moving him, putting a shirt that smells like you (or whoever his favorite human is) and a small toy in the carrier with him can help, or if he has a favorite blanket or something that might work too.

      1. Allie*

        Yeah we haven’t moved him since we got him, but when we adopted him (he was already an adult cat) for the first month we had a lot of problems with litter box compliance and peeing on things. I just hope it isn’t as bad during this move.

    3. Lily Evans*

      Definitely move him to a space where he can’t accidentally escape (movers might prop open the inside and outside doors) and where he can’t run or hide. My cat has done both and it’s not fun chasing her in circles or dragging her out of corners.

      And it probably won’t go as badly as moving my parents’ cat did. The cat got so scared she literally climbed a wall and had the crap scared out of her. My mom had to frantically call around to find a friend who could loan them a carpet cleaner at the last minute. It’s officially my “at least it won’t be that bad” story for when I have to move my cat again.

      1. Allypopx*

        I was helping a friend move and her cat climbed up inside a box spring she’d clawed a hole in and viciously swiped at anyone who tried to coax her out. We all walked away from that one a little scratched up….

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          When we moved out of our first house, our cat figured out how to get up into the drop ceiling in the basement and wouldn’t come out. Fortunately we weren’t on a strict timetable because it took three days to coax him out. I don’t even know what we would have done if we had been on a deadline to hand over the keys.

        2. Natalie*

          We very nearly moved our cat to our old roommate’s new house in the box spring. Didn’t even realize she was in it until she fell out.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      Are you moving yourselves?

      I know from multiple experience and other’s experiences every time it comes up on the internet, that if you are hiring movers, trying to get them to listen and NOT OPEN THE BATHROOM DOOR is apparently an impossible feat. Even before we got the dog (who will howl the place down if shut up alone) I would have to either lock myself in the bathroom with the cats, or leave them shut up in their carriers. Telling the movers doesn’t work. Putting notes on the door AND telling the movers doesn’t work. Even a note on the door and locking yourself in, you hear someone trying the door. This was my experience 7 out of 8 times across several moving companies!

      If he is stressed, being in his carrier the whole time during the move will be fine with him- he won’t want to eat, drink or use the litter box anyway. He will like the nice closed in carrier.

      Once the movers were gone, I never worried about letting the cats loose in the new place, but left the carriers accessible (near the new litter set up) and they would retreat to them between explorations.

    5. Cookie D'Oh*

      Lots of good advice so far. During the actual move, keep him secured in a room so he can’t get out. Depending on how skittish he is, you can keep him in a closed room in the new place so he doesn’t overwhelmed with something new. When we moved, we let them out of the carrier into the main house and made sure to show them the locations of the litter boxes. It helped that we kept all the same furniture, so that smelled familiar.

      Expect some time for adjustment. My black cat is very sensitive to changes in the environment. It took her a little while to start eating normally. She spent a lot of time under the bed, but we were able to coax her out with her favorite toys. My two tabbies were the opposite and adjusted pretty quickly to the new place.

      There is a website called Cat Faeries that sells flower essences and I think Jackson Galaxy sells them too. Haven’t tried them myself, but I’ve seen good reviews. With Feliway, you can buy a diffuser and also a spray. I used the spray on cat perches and blankets where the cats spent most of their time.

      Good luck!

    6. Bad Candidate*

      I basically did what you posted while we were moving. I also put a note on the door to not open it because the cat was inside, and to come see ME (not husband, not that I don’t trust him) if they needed to use the bathroom (only one before we moved here). Then when we got to the new place, he was also kept inside a bathroom with the essentials so he couldn’t escape. Some cats are just going to be upset about it all. Ours was a pretty laid back cat in general, he just went with the flow. Still, I did get the Feliway like others have suggested. I don’t know if it helped or he was just super chill. I did get it with our new cat to help with her issues with the dog and it seems not to have helped at all.

    7. Purring Kitty Awww*

      The bathroom plan sounds like the best thing to do; it’s what I did with mine.

      The other option is a thing called a Queening cage, which is a big cage for a mama cat and her kittens. I used that when I first adopted my two because they were ex-feral kittens. I put their bed and litter box inside, threw a huge blanket over the top, and left a little gap at the bottom so they could peer out and see what was going on. I liked that because I could put it in the middle of the main room while they adjusted to being in a house.

      Weirdly, not cleaning things from my old place helped with my two on our second move. It was hard for me to pack things up without taking the chance to clean everything, but cats operate so much by smell, it really did seem to make a difference. And when I cleaned the cat litter tray, I emptied & rinsed it but I didn’t bleach it, so there was still a subtle whiff of cat-territory about it (please don’t judge me) and they used it immediately.

      But I also cleaned the hell out of the new place before we moved in, did some decorating. I tried to get rid of any old smells that might have disturbed them, and then I threw their beds, rugs and blankets (and some things from that one last load of laundry you never get to) all over the floors in every room.

    8. Girasol*

      We moved a few months ago and did just what you said: cat in the bathroom and movers kept out of the bathroom until the old house was empty and the movers had left the new house. On the fifteen minute ride from old house to new the cat yowled and gagged and made the most appalling “This is torture! I’m gonna die!” noises that no amount of cuddling and reassurance had any effect on. When we arrived and set him down inside the door he strutted right in, looked around the place with interest, chose a sunny spot, and stretched out like he had always lived here. I attribute his lack of fuss to a general attitude of “Thank God I’ve escaped that horrible car!” It could be that he had once been an explorer as an indoor/outdoor kitten in farm country. As he aged he stopped going out because he came to hate raindrops, wind ruffling his fur, or the presence of insects that might land on him. So moving from the darkish farmhouse to a much sunnier indoor city cat life suited him. Hope your move goes so smoothly.

  43. Al Lo*

    I saw Fantastic Beasts again last night, and enjoyed it so much the second time. Like most Potter, it gets better after you have time to analyze it.

    This was what I posted on Facebook at 2 AM after getting back from the late movie:

    Saw “Fantastic Beasts” for the second time tonight.
    So, when it was announced that there would be 5 Fantastic Beasts movies, there was a lot of “Eh, that seems unnecessary.” And… (spoilers for this movie (if you haven’t seen it in the 2 months since it opened); speculation for the Fantastic Beasts series ahead).

    … And then we saw it and realized that Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them was a bit of a red herring, because holy crap, this is going to be a 20-year saga that ends with Dumbledore’s defeat of Grindelwald.

    … And then we watched it again and realized that holy crap, Ariana Dumbledore was probably an Obscurial, and of COURSE GrindelGraves was interested in the Obscurious because he was there when Ariana died; and oh my, we’re going to overlap with 1942, which just happened to be when Tom Riddle opened the Chamber of Secrets, and do we get to find out what young Riddle saw in Grindelwald’s rise to power; and wait a second, does Dumbledore meet Credence, and what does that do to him if Ariana was indeed an Obscurial; and are we finally going to find out what impact the wizarding world and Grindelwald’s rise to power had on WWII, and if Dementors can wreak havoc on late-90s London, what happens when you cross the late-30s Muggle political situation in Europe with a volatile magical tyrant; and…

    (And for the record, I don’t consider the HP movies to be canon — when there are discrepancies with the books, the books reign. The movies are supplemental materials that provide an interpretation of the books (of varying quality, depending on the movie, and certainly always inferior). However, since the FB screenplays are written directly by Rowling, neither adapted from her primary works nor written by another author with her blessing, I consider them to be HP/wizarding world canon in a way that the first 8 movies are not.)

    1. Amadeo*

      Yes! It took me a little bit, but I also managed to make the Ariana/Obscurial connection too. I’ve been dying to discuss it with someone, since my sister, who is a bigger Potterhead than me, has not yet seen it. My mother read the screenplay I bought, but it’s just not the same thing. She talked about it with me a little bit, but she’s not really into analyzing her fiction.

    2. Bad Candidate*

      OK I only saw the movie once but I thought Obscurials occurred when the child didn’t know they were magical? I would think a Dumbledore would know. Or did I miss something?

      1. Al Lo*

        It’s if the magic is suppressed. They don’t really indicate whether it’s only in cases where magic is unknown. It would be super interesting if Ariana developed an obscurious as a result of trauma. Still all speculation; It wasn’t confirmed in the first story, and I haven’t heard confirmation about future storylines, at least not that I know of in my relatively spoiler-lite knowledge of the rest of the series.

        1. Al Lo*

          It’s also implied to be a fairly rare condition (one of the MACUSA officials says that there haven’t been any in centuries; Newt says he came across one in Sudan 3 months ago — so less rare than centuries, but still something he travelled the world to find), so it may be like casting a patronus — we all think of it as super common because Harry learned to do it and it featured heavily in the story, but it’s actually a difficult piece of magic that many adult wizards never learn to do. We may overascribe because we see it in Credence, but I can’t imagine that the connection to Ariana won’t be explored.

        2. KR*

          It’s theorized that Ariana was sexually assaulted when muggle boys saw her doing magic so that forced her to suppress her magic. I think that might have forced her to become an obscurial that then killed Kendra.

          1. Al Lo*

            Yeah, exactly. There was definitely trauma associated with her suppressed magic; the new question now is whether it went far enough for her to become an Obscurial. Interesting that Newt describes it as a parasitic creature — as though it’s when the suppression goes far enough to take hold in a different way.

  44. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m at work because we HAVE to be at work this weekend, but I don’t have anything to do. Soooooo…

    We vacationed in Dubai & Oman a few weeks ago during the holidays and I LOVED that fresh juice and fresh fruit salads were easily and cheaply available everywhere (heck even the McDonalds was amazing compared to here but lemme put that in another post).

    Anyway so my husband bought me a juicer as an anniversary present. I made apple juice this AM…looking for any ideas and suggestions on “juicing”.

    I LOVE fruit, and I’ve always wanted to drink juice but avoided the processed ones bc of the added sugars (diabetes) so I’m psyched to be able to make something at home for once.

    1. Observer*

      Juicers are great. Experiment with vegetables, as well. Some give a really good juice.

      If you have the typical juicer that uses rotating grater and centrifugal force to extract the juice, avoid citrus. You wind up “juicing” the membranes, possibly pits and some of the white bits from the rind, and that tend to be bitter.

    2. Dan*

      Fresh juice has a lot of calories, so isn’t the best for you anyway. You really need the pulp if you want to actually be eating/drinking “healthy”. Also, juicing fresh juice is expensive.

      But… I love juicing ginger. I can barely taste ginger in a recipe that calls for “freshly grated” ginger. But if I juice it, I can get all the flavor I want. Try making a sour apple martini and throwing ginger juice in there. OMG.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Be careful with the sugars anyways. Homemade juice is delicious, but is still basically sugar water with vitamins, even freshly squeezed.

      We have a fresh squeezed orange juice guy who parks on the corner near our apartment sometimes in orange season. A flat bed truck full of oranges, and a manual juicer. Mmm.

    4. Elizabeth H.*

      You can pretty much juice anything and everything. Obviously to keep in
      I have a juicer and like most people I don’t use it a lot but I would always just put a random mix of stuff in, I especially loved anything with strawberries in also. I love bitter so would put lemons and grapefruits in and stuff. I don’t like carrots, spinach or beets in juice but there are some good mixes with kale, lemon, ginger, cayenne, stuff like that, and there are some that are like homemade Bloody Mary mix if you like spicy! You can look up all these recipes on the Internet.

  45. Anonforthis*

    My doctor said that I have to start taking a multi-vitamin. I hate taking vitamins because the women’s daily multi-vitamins are like horse pills and I nearly choke. Is it okay to take the gummy kind? Are some better than others?

    1. PersistentCat*

      I worked at the manufacturing plant that makes Vitafusion, and have tried many different gummies, and my advice is to find one with a flavor you personally enjoy. Other than that, look for companies that are members of the Council for Responsible Nutrition or 3rd party certified. NatureMade, Smarty Pants, and the ubiquitous Vitafusion are all pretty good (and each make different store brands if you want to go that direction).

    2. Allie*

      The one thing to watch out for is that some of the gummy ones can be really bad for your teeth (something about the combo of sugar and the unusual stickiness). I managed to find a multivitamin that was about the size of a painkiller tablet at my drugstore.

    3. Swoop*

      Gummy all the way!! I figure a gummy I actually take daily is much better than a pill I don’t take at all :)
      Gummies do have less of everything though, so if you can handle capsules Webber’s has a not-huge one that you take 2 of.
      (as an aside: Jamieson’s gummy probiotics are just like Swedish Berries : D )

    4. esra (also a Canadian)*

      Make sure you get the gummy kind for adults. I take One-a-Day Fruitessentials twice a day. They taste pretty good. I have the same issue you do with avoiding the giant pill dailies.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Probably doner kebabs in Germany. The kebab stands were everywhere when I briefly lived in Leipzig and it was always a treat to stop at one. Basically it’s just a gyro.

      1. Lady Julian*

        Oh heavens yes. I spent a summer in Berlin during college and nearly ten years later, doner kebabs were the first thing I thought of when I read Nervous Accountant’s question.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Belgian waffles…in Amsterdam! We were actually in Belgium on that trip, and maybe it was the places we stopped, but the Belgian waffles we had in Amsterdam were better!

      Also, the herring at a herring stand in Amsterdam! :-9

      Wait, maybe that’s more street food than fast food? I tend to think of fast food as only consisting of large corporate chains, and street food as something separate. (I’m in the U.S.)

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        same, i’m from US, to me “fast food” is corporate chains etc. Although I can understand why others include street food as well. I did enjoy lots of “local” cuisine but Dubai is very mutlicultural and touristy so all cuisines were easily available.

    3. Alice*

      Korean kimbap. Only way I’ve ever enjoyed spam. There was a shop near my bus that left them out in a basket in the morning so you could just grab and go, and leave the money.

    4. katamia*

      I don’t know if Starbucks counts as fast food, but I loved the soy milk hot chocolate in Scotland (and no paying extra for the soy milk there!). They use (I think) unsweetened soy milk there rather than the vanilla soy milk they use here, which makes the hot chocolate too sweet for my taste. I also loved the orange-honeycomb frappuccinos that the Starbucks in Taiwan sold.

    5. Kate*

      Jerusalem falafel (so good, so unlike falafel anywhere else). Filled with pickled veggies, hummus, piping hot falafel, and fries. Yup, fries.

      Turkish pide, hot out of the oven.

      Palestinian manakeesh- kind of like pide but a different shape and texture and filling. So in other words, not so similar :)

      1. katamia*

        There’s a Greek place near me that puts fries in their gyros. I was a little weirded out by the concept at first, but it’s soooo good.

        1. SL #2*

          Spitz out here in LA does that! I looooove their doner fries, though. Imagine carne asada fries, but Turkish.

    6. Turtlewings*

      So I am the pickiest eater in the world, one of those that still eats only white and toasty-golden foods like a preschooler. In high school I went on a school trip to France and Germany for 10 days, longest I’d been away from home in years, and eventually I ran out of the poptarts I’d packed in my suitcase. I was both homesick and physically sick, starving, and just thoroughly, thoroughly miserable.

      So the best meal I had during the entire trip was… plain white rice at a Chinese restaurant in France. It was perfect. Moist and sticky and tasted exactly like rice should taste. I nearly burst into tears.

      1. Anonforthis*

        No worries, I have the palate of a 5-year-old as well. When I would come home from Europe my friends would be jealous that I lost weight. It was from a lot of walking and not eating! (I mostly ate butter cookies and bread, but would walk it all off so I didn’t really gain weight!)

    7. Drago cucina*

      As The Cosmic Avenger brought up there’s fast food and then there’s street food. I really, really like street food. The souvflaki in Greece (so cheap and good), the falafel in Cairo (everyone else in our tour group ate at a big American hotel and got food poisoning), the frittes in Belgium, etc.

      One of my strongest memories is the carnival in Heidelberg that was near my barracks. I had my food mapped out. Shashlik to start and the evening always ended with the best strawberry ice cream I’d ever had.

    8. Gene*

      I think for me the best were the pie shops everywhere in Australia. Nearly every one had a “Ned Kelly” (famous Australian outlaw) and they were all different.

      Worst, without a doubt, was a chain called Wimpy’s or Wimpy in Mombasa, Kenya. I’m pretty sure the burger patty was made from cardboard, gristle, and fat. And the whole thing was strangely soggy.

      1. SL #2*

        I love Aussie pies. I visited NZ years ago and my cousin bought a dozen for me to try. It was like heaven.

      2. Rob Lowe can't read*

        Wimpy’s is terrible, but I think Spur is worse. Not only is their food terrible, their decor is…questionable.

    9. Red*

      Only other country I’ve been to is Canada, and I’m from Niagara Falls, NY anyway so it’s hardly even a different place, but I thoroughly appreciated that Canadian Taco Bells sell fries. Fries. In the same place as nacho cheese and burritos. It’s amazing and every Taco Bell should be like that, but the world is unfair.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        Your Taco Bell’s don’t do fries? My SIL is crazy about the fries they do covered in taco toppings.

        1. Red*

          They do not! It’s terrible and disappointing, but then again, that’s America for you lol (Sorry, Allison, that’s as political as I ever get, I swear!). I’m so jealous of your ability to order Taco Bell foods with fries in it. I asked the cashier very nicely and they even made me a quesadilla with fries inside! It was truly magical and fattening and everything Taco Bell should aspire to be.

    10. Not Karen*

      “rolly” crepes in Japan (the crepes are rolled like an ice cream cone and filled with delicious things)

    11. SL #2*

      Personal hot pots from Maxim’s in Hong Kong! Also got an INCREDIBLE duck and rice combo plate from there once and I nearly died from how good it was.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Maybe not the best, but I have a strange affinity for the gas station hotdog from the Statoil in Sweden. Get a “french” bun and slide a cheese hot dog into the cavity, with lots of garlic sauce. Its so embarassing, like getting a hot dog from 711 but its also really comforting :)

      There is a currywurst stand at Shoenefeld Airport in Berlin that, of all the currywurst stands Ive tried in the city, was the best. Lots of sauce, well-cooked fries.

      I have also limited all McDonald’s eating in my life to the one at Stockholm Arlanda airport. It actually still tastes of something while the ones in the UK seem to be…. not quite right.

    13. Rob Lowe can't read*

      I’m a big fan of Nando’s. Also, if you ever find yourself in either Windhoek or Otjiwarongo, Namibia, the restaurant/take-away counters at SuperSpar are pretty good. The one in Otjiwarongo has these sandwiches which they label as tramezzini (which I guess is a real Italian thing? these are not like the results I’m getting from Google) but I’d say they’re more like calzones but not as melty. And King Pies! There was a King Pie place in Windhoek, but I think it closed, the take away counters at gas stations usually sell them, though.

      1. Colette*

        I need to tell my Nando’s story.

        In 2008, I went to Botswana for work. Every restaurant meal (even breakfast) came with a couple of bottles of hot sauce, so I decided to buy some hot sauce as a souvenir for a friend. The grocery store only had Nando’s hot sauce, which was fine, because I’d never heard of Nando’s before the trip.

        I bought the hot sauce, stuck it in my suitcase, and carried it halfway around the world. And then I got home and went through my mail, and found a flyer for Nando’s, which opened up a couple of blocks away.

        1. Rob Lowe can't read*

          Haha! We have peri-peri sauce in the fridge, too. No chutney though, which was my preferred sauce (Mrs. H.S. Balls brand). I miss the snacks, too. Simba chips, Nik Naks, the Lays varieties they had there. And biltong!

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            If youre in the UK biltong is easy to order through the mail. My other half was introduced to it by South African friend and well… I was almost knocked unconcious by a cascade of dried meat in bags the other morning when I opened the kitchen cupboard for coffee.

            If in the US – there are a few suppliers but it still seems pretty niche. Its way better than jerky though.

            One other South African snack I’ve had – bunny chow – a hollowed out loaf of bread with curry poured in!

            1. Rob Lowe can't read*

              I love bunny chow. I have a friend from South Africa whose family is from South Asia, and she makes killer bunny chow! She calls it “curry bunny.”

    14. AdAgencyChick*

      Kaesekrainer (sausage with cheese running through the middle) in Vienna. Years later, my husband still talks about how every city should have excellent sausage on every street corner like Vienna does.

    15. BBBizAnalyst*

      Not sure what it was called but it was those little flat waffles full of warm caramel back in Amsterdam. Absolutely amazing.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Stroopwaffels! I love those. I used to be able to get them at Trader Joe’s, but not for a while now.

        1. Singa*

          Late to follow up, but they have them at Cost Plus World Market (and some Bed, Bath, and Beyond stores that have a World Market section)! I always stop off and pick up a bag of the mini ones before going to the movies!

    16. Raia*

      Every other year when I go back to Japan, we always make a stop at Mister Donuts just for pure nostalgia. Also Ikkanrou pork buns.

  46. Myrin*

    Okay, this is really stupid, but does anyone else imagine the people they only know online like their avatar/profile pic? Or, well, not exactly “imagine” but more like, does the avatar represent the person in your mind, like, are they the avatar?

    Like here, on AAM – fposte is definitely a fish with a hat, the Cosmic Avenger is the violet guy with the teeth, Wakeen is just a teapot (although I can’t see it lately, but I’ve been informed others can), and Alison has a teacup for the lower half of her face. I cannot imagine you guys looking differently (although I of course intellectually know that fposte isn’t actually a fish – or maybe she is?).

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Personally, I am too literal, I can’t personify avatars like that.

      Mine is Eduardo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, btw. He’s a huge, scary looking monster who is actually a huge fraidy-cat. The image is actually him running away in a panic, which he does a lot.

    2. fposte*

      This makes perfect sense to me. I do that with people’s usernames, or just names when I only know them online. Everybody I know online named Charles looks alike in my head.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and I’m not a fish, but I actually made sure that I picked an avatar I could live with as my “face.”

        1. MommaTRex*

          fposte – When I see your avatar, the 1980s song “Fish Heads” usually starts playing in my head.

          “You can ask a fish head anything you want to…”

        1. fposte*

          No, it’s from Jon Klassen’s _This Is Not My Hat_. One of a trilogy about animals and hat-coveting :-).

          1. Jules the First*

            OMG – it’s a trilogy?!?!?

            If I bought We Found A Hat for my nephew, is he coming in at the end?

            (I love that book)

            1. fposte*

              No, it’s just the animal/hat theme, not the same characters. But how many animal/hat themed sequences do you know?

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I do the same. I even do it with myself — as in, I saw the graphic that I use as my avatar somewhere else online, and I was confused for a moment. I was like, “Wait . . . that’s me!” And when I posted some things about work that I wouldn’t want my coworkers or bosses to know that I had talked about, I got a moment of panic that someone would recognize me by my avatar, until I realized that it only “looks like me” to me, because I already know it’s “me”. My coworkers aren’t going to look at my avatar and identify me by it.

      1. Christy*

        I have at various points been the picture of the cat with the lime on its head, and every time I see that avatar somewhere else I get inordinately offended, lol

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s so wrong of me but you are pictured as a muppet in my head. I know you are a person, I cannot shake the avatar off.

        My home phone announces callers. I may have to turn that off. I am starting to call people by their formal names because that is what my phone yells out.

      2. TL -*

        You’re one of the few that I actually picture a face for – a humanized version of your avatar! (well, humanized in a Sesame Street kinda way, so you’re always cheerful and for some reason have freckles.)

        I’m not too bad about it unless the avatar looks sometimes like a person – Jaime, for instance, is a white hello kitty looking woman in my head. (round face, small mouth, also very cheerful, short bob.)

        And Mallory Janis Ian definitely is pictured as a slightly frazzled, modern pioneer woman (frizzy hair, worn but friendly smile, late 20s, very efficient in her movement.) but everyone looks friendly and cheerful in my head!

    4. Mimmy*

      Sometimes I do. Not so much here, but on a particular celebrity fan site, I tend to imagine the other posts as their avatar, even though most avatars are a picture of the celebrity. LOL.

    5. Corrine*

      Myrin, I’ve been wanting to tell you that for a long time, I thought your avatar was something completely different than what it is. I really thought it was some sort of turkey, with a beak, and standing on one leg with a bird claw foot. Then recently I took a really good look at it and realized it was a bunny- the “beak” is actually the bunny’s ear and the “leg and claw” is actually the bunny’s chair leg!! I also vaguely thought that the bunny’s legs were part of the turkeys feathers puffed out to the side. Funny!!

      1. Myrin*

        That’s so hilarious, oh my god! Although, fposte just recently replied to a comment of mine – and I’m just realising that I never answered because it was already the next day for me and the conversation had moved on. Sorry, fposte! – that she’d only just now realised what my avater is. And yes, it’s indeed a very cool and casual bunny with its legs up on a table in front of a computer.

          1. Jamie*

            New job and in the middle of huge implementation so I don’t have as much time as I like. I still read, but by the time I can comment you all have it covered. :)

            Unless it’s a letter about weird office sex – then I make time. Because…who doesn’t have time to opine about weird office sex?

            (and you guys are so sweet – miss you all too! and I just rotated avatars this morning before I read this so we’re very of one mind today.)

    6. Lily Evans*

      I do that on tumblr! My current icon on there is Nancy from Stranger Things and we actually do look kind of similar, so sometimes it takes me a moment to be like… nope, that’s not actually me. But people actually post selfies on there too and when I see them it’s like, wait a minute you mean you aren’t Hermione Granger?

      1. Chaordic One*

        You’ve told us your age a couple of times, and you look so much younger. I’m just sayin’.

      2. Anonforthis*

        One day I had the realization that your real name is probably not Elizabeth West and I felt slightly sad for some reason.

    7. MommaTRex*

      Although I FEEL like I really have tiny arms, but I only look like my avatar when I need coffee.

  47. Coping with someone's mental illness*

    My sister came to visit on route to moving elsewhere. She’s still here. And her mental health issues are going (undiagnosed &) untreated. She asserts that she’s fine. She’s at least depressed (& sobbing daily in private) and much prefers her version of reality to one others share.

    I’d be grateful for any coping strategies & tips for myself, & from others who’ve had some success encouraging family members to seek professional help. It doesn’t look as if she’ll be together enough to move on soon, as we’d all hoped.

    1. Temperance*

      Is she staying with you?

      My mother has a personality disorder, and she’s always had her own reality, which is nothing like actual reality, as you might imagine. It’s tough to deal with.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Try pointing out that sobbing every day is a quality of life issue. Explain that life does not have to be this hard, there is help and hope. Take whatever she has going on and pull it out into the light of day.

      If it were me, I would have to have a chat about duration of stay and help with the bills. “You are welcome to stay as long as you would like, but if you are going to still be here in X time, I am going to need help with my increased expenses.” I am in a place where I would HAVE to say this or the fridge is going to run a little low and other problems that she would definitely notice.

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      This sounds like a really tough situation for both you and your sister, who just sounds too exhausted to be able to help herself effectively at the moment. If I were in your shoes, I’d start trying to get her connected to local social and mental health services (Section 8 housing, food stamps, free clinics, etc.). If you don’t know what’s available in your area, you might start the process of learning about that by calling the toll-free National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) (I think it operates 24/7, but I’m not sure). Or you could go to NAMI’s website (nami.org); there’s a section for “Find Support” and under that is the section for “Family Members and Caregivers.” NAMI helpline personnel can also give you some coping strategies for how to help you deal with her in her current state (you can call the helpline more than once, by the way!), and for how to approach her about her getting and accepting help. I think it’s reasonable for you to let her know that her staying with you is conditional on her getting into therapy, and keeping her appointments. If she refuses to do that, you may at that point have to “detach with love” by telling her she needs to live somewhere else.

    4. Kj*

      If she is staying with you long-term, you have every right to make in mandatory that she gets mental health treatment when living with you.

      If you want her to seek it on her own, your best bet is to do some of the ground work for her- identify 2-3 sources of treatment, print out enrollment info and give it to her. Tell her you love her and want her to seek help because you are worried. Be kind, but be clear this is a real worry and you would feel better if she saw someone. You can also go and talk to the professional with her- most providers will be cool with this, although you will have to leave for part of the intake. But you should go with her if it will help her engage and if she is OK with it.

      As to coping skills for you, after talking to her, let go the outcome- you can insist she seek therapy, but it is like the old joke about how many therapists it takes to change a light bulb (only one, but the lighbulb has to want to change.) Give your space from her, make sure you are seeing your friends, getting out of the house often.

  48. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Well, we paid off our mortgage! \o/

    Technically we did borrow to do it…we bought a new car a couple of weeks ago, and they offered us 0% financing. But we had actually saved up the cash for the car (which is why we were driving cars both over a decade old). So I realized that the total cost all told was close to what we had left on the mortgage, so we decided to take the loan and pay off the mortgage instead.

    Now out of what we used to pay monthly on our mortgage, we’re putting $500/month into a separate savings account to replace our escrow account, paying the 0% loan (48 months), and the rest of what we used to pay monthly for our mortgage is going straight into the almost-empty New Car Fund.

    1. this*

      Now that’s a win. A new loan usually means more debt. But it sounds like you were pretty close to the end of your mortgage.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, we had it timed for when the minion starts college in a few years, but still, even close to payoff we were paying about $500 a year in mortgage interest. And before anyone perpetuates the misinformation about the mortgage deduction being desirable, I’d rather keep that $500 and pay $150 or so in taxes (net $350) than let the bank have the whole $500 and get $150 back in taxes (net $150).

        Besides, we’re upping our charitable contributions by a lot in this climate, so our taxes will probably still be lower overall.

        Plus, new shiny! This is the first car we’ve had with anything fancier than power locks and windows, so I’m enjoying the Bluetooth, Starlink, seat memory, seat warmers, adaptive cruise control, and stuff like that.

        1. EmmaLou*

          Ahh seat warmers…. I am such a mean wife that I’ve asked my husband to NOT turn on the seat warmer when he has to go to work at O’Dark thirty as he does sometimes. I’m afraid he’ll get to comfy and drift off to sleep. He adores the seat warmer. (Our car isn’t new by quite a bit, but it did come with working seat warmers.) Congratulations on the mortgage pay off!!! That must feel awesome!

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Wow! I have dreams of doing the same, only I know it’ll be years and years down the road. My immediate goal (maybe this year) is to pay down enough to eliminate PMI.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s a really huge step! I remember when we hit that point, it was a Big Deal! Just pay as much extra as you can, the mortgage deduction being “beneficial” is a scam run by the banks. The only way it makes sense is if you have a near-zero percent loan and you can guarantee you’ll make more than that in interest/dividends/whatever with the cash instead.

  49. Mallory Janis Ian*

    I just found out that one of my department’s doctoral students was detained yesterday as he and his wife tried to board a connecting flight from Iran to the U.S. My department head is working with the university lawyers and office of international scholars to try to get him back in the country. He had gone home over the winter break to visit family. The other doctoral students from Iran all returned a couple of weeks ago from their family holiday visits, but this one had extended his stay with the permission of his program chair. He has been Skyping in to the last two weeks of class meetings. We don’t know if the lawyers are going to be able to help him come back. I’m scared for him.

    1. Stephanie*

      Oh wow. That’s horrible. My classmate is from Saudi Arabia and while that’s not one of the targeted countries, he said he’s worried too about traveling out the US.

    2. Alice*

      This is going to hurt a lot of talented and productive people I work with. And I mean productive in the sense of bringing in significant grant money and publishing in high-impact journals. Everything I want to say about it would break Alison’s no politics rule, which I suspect will be sorely tested during the next little while.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Nearly everyone I’ve heard about being detained were just students, scholars, and researchers trying to get back to their universities!

    3. OlympiasEpiriot*

      It is such a disaster. I’m actually on my way to JFK to be another body in the vigil that is going on at Terminal 4. Lawyers from the ACLU are there. They’ve sent lawyers to all international airports. If you can talk to anyone detained, tell then not to sign anything w/o a lwayer.

          1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

            +1 on the thank you for going.
            Yes, we all do what we can….that’s what I tell myself when it would be Utter Madness to rush out to a demonstration.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m so glad about the ACLU lawyers going where they’re needed. I hope our university lawyers have communicated to our student about not signing anything.

    4. copy run start*

      This makes me so sad. I was best friends with some Lebanese refugees growing up. We lost touch after my family moved, so I don’t know if they eventually went back to Lebanon or are still here. While Lebanon doesn’t appear to be included (yet?), the whole thing sickens me.

    5. Lady Julian*

      This is awful. I also work at a college, and I know that this is going to affect our students’ ability to visit their families and complete their internships.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      People are tweeting like mad and there are lots of protesters at airports. I’m so mad about this I could scream. It’s taking everything I’ve got to be careful about what I say, lest goons show up at my door.

    7. anoning forever*

      I’m on my way to the airport in my city for our vigil and going to our protest tomorrow. I have classmates, friends, and coworkers I’m worried about. I upped my normal monthly contribution to the ACLU, which I had been meaning to do for awhile, but all the posts today reminded me about it.

      I’m so angry about this, but I’m also so angry about the people I know on social media who yelled so loudly about the march last weekend, but have been keeping silent about everything else happening. Solidarity is what we need right now, not people only supporting causes that personally affect them and that they’ve ignored for years.

      1. Overeducated*

        I am not sure if social media is the best way to make a difference though. I feel like my Facebook and Twitter lists are all people who already agree with me, so it’s more venting with the like minded than DOING anything. I have made a total of 6 political social media posts this entire year, including sharing 3 march photos, and only one is public. I just don’t see the point. But I have called my reps about way more issues than I have posted about., signed up for multiple local political grups, and went to a town hal this morning. There is a lot more i would like to do and I am looking for more ways to get involved…but it’s not going to involve preaching to the choir.

        1. Trixie*

          For the fires time ever I begin monthly contributions to one organization and am considering a second. I don’t have a lot to give but it’s needed.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I have pitifully little to give. I give about $20/month to my church and about $8/month to my local NPR station. I’d only have about $8 – $10/month that I’ve been considering for either the ACLU or Southern Poverty Law Center. I think it may have been fposte who said, If you’re having trouble deciding between two things, it may be because the difference between them is negligible (totally paraphrasing!). So maybe I just pick the ACLU and get the decision over and my little bit of money going somewhere good.

            1. Allypopx*

              I’ve spoken to Planned Parenthood a couple times about how I feel bad I can’t give more and they always tell me how important small sustained donations are ($10-$35 a month) because that’s money that adds up and that they can count on. Your small donations are still important! I give relatively small amounts ($25 or less) to a few charities that are important to me. I just added the ACLU.

              1. TL -*

                Yes, this! Even if you can only give $8/month if you can commit to that every month, they will be able to budget and plan around that $8 and that is super, super important!

        2. Lady Julian*

          I’ve called my reps (and other people’s reps when appropriate, like for the deVos nomination) more in the last week than in my whole lifetime before this (31 years). Heck, I’m not sure I *ever* called my reps before this. I think I might order a 100-pack of Pantone postcards to start sending to reps, since their voicemail boxes are filling up & it’s getting harder to reach them by phone.

    8. Temperance*

      A federal judge has put an emergency ban on the unconstitutional law. I hope that your student gets back in the US ASAP.