weekend free-for-all – December 8-9, 2018

This 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.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret, by Craig Brown. I love  a good malcontent, and she was that. This book is gossipy and fascinating (for example: she made even close friends call her “ma’am,” and her husband once left a note in her desk headed “24 reasons I hate you”). I am only reading things about the royal family now.

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

{ 1,098 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymouse - piano lessons*

    As an early Christmas present to myself I just bought a Yamaha keyboard. Does anyone have recommendations for online piano lessons or books/dvd? I’m too far away from anyone who offers piano lessons in person.

    1. Thanks For Nothing*

      Great Courses Plus ($20/mo) has an excellent piano lesson course, as well as several excellent programs on music history that might be interesting.

      My kids like Hoffman Academy. The lessons are free and can be found on the website or on youtube. If you want the sheet music and music theory packets, there’s costs that works out to about $100 for about a semester’s worth of lessons.

      1. Anonymouse - piano lessons*

        Great – thank you. Yes I forgot to mention I also need to learn how to read music!

      2. Thanks For Nothing*

        You might like Hoffman Academy a little more in that case. Although it’s designed for kids and is a little bit overly cutsie for my personal tastes, he does a good job of teaching piano skills and theory skills

      3. BunnyWatsonToo*

        A few years ago I bought a keyboard even though I had my last piano lesson almost 40 years ago. I can recommend Alfred’s Basic Adult Piano Course series of books. The level 1 book starts off with absolute beginner information – how to sit at keyboard, where to place your hands. It assumes you know nothing. The series books and supplemental books of just music are all available on Amazon and very reasonably priced.

        1. J Kate*

          I second Alfred’s basics adult course. After going through the first book I could actually play some songs (though I never did go further).

        2. Imprudence*

          Another vote for trhe Alfred course — you can see all the pieces on youtube as well as on the CD that comes with the book

        3. Kendra*

          Seconding the Alfred seires! I learned piano from the Alfred series for Young Beginners and subsequently the standard All-In-One course. They have a lot of books that are graded appropriately and it makes you better at sightreading music because you can learn a large volume of songs, each of which are only slightly harder than the last one you learned.

          1. Susan Miller-Coulter*

            As a 76 year old who started just a couple of years ago, in addition to the other suggestions, I think it would be useful to have in person lessons even if only once a month. While the books do tell you how to place your hands and hold your body, most students need in person corrections. I also recommend looking up The Virtuoso Pianist by Charles-Louis Hanon, is a compilation of sixty exercises meant to train the pianist in speed, precision, agility, and strength of all of the fingers and flexibility in the wrists. It is the bane of most students’ lives, but I love seeing how I am progressing and gaining though pretty darn slowly. Good luck, and welcome to the fray.

        4. Everdene*

          I n’th the Alfred Series. My Dr og music uncle recommend it to me when I wanted to take up piano again as an adult.

    2. FOWG*

      Check out /piano on Reddit. They have a lot of good info in that forum and have a very good signal to noise ratio.

    3. ArtsNerd*

      Yay! Congrats and welcome! I love hearing about adult’s learning new instruments. It opens up new worlds and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

  2. Anonicat*

    Ok ladies, after 20 decent years my period is being a bitch again. I’ll be having a chat with my doctor this week about what hormonal birth control options migh deal with the pain and nausea (bonus points for acne control), but what are you all using and what are its pro and cons?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Ugh same. I actually came off the pill because migraines, so I’ll be interested in others’ suggestions.

      Giving up caffeine helps me (sorry).

    2. Amberlyn*

      I use the progestin-only pill. After the first couple of moths I stopped having periods altogether. I do have mild nausea occasionally, but overall I don’t have many side effects. The schedule is very delicate, though—if you’re more than three hours late, even once, the effectiveness plummets for a few days and its as if you’re taking it for the first time again.

      I should mention, though, that because I have estrogen sensitive epilepsy, progestin-only is my only option for hormonal birth control.

      1. Julia*

        Same! Progesterone only was recommended specifically for my endometriosis, and I haven’t had a period in almost three years. No side effects so far, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for you.

      2. Not All*

        That’s what I’m doing too these days…I hate it compared to the combo pill. I still get pretty heavy periods, but a lot less pain than with nothing at all. Combo pills were the only thing that stopped them entirely but they won’t prescribe them for me anymore (joys of being over 40 with a chronic health issue that means taking my blood pressure with an arm cuff is so painful it shoots up as soon as they try…it’s fine if they do it with a wrist cuff but most doctors won’t use them). Depo is exactly the same for me but then I have to get to the clinic for a shot.

        My first doctor that prescribed the progesterone-only pill told me to be sure to stay within the 2-3 hour window. But when I went to Planned Parenthood to see if there were other options for me, the doctor there said she’s consistently seen drop in effectiveness with people who vary by as little as 30 minutes. I thought maybe she was exaggerating so I had some friends ask their OBGYNs and most of them also said it starts to get less effective at the 30 min to 1 hr window. That is just TOO narrow for me to trust as birth control. So I’m using the minipill for convenience while birth control itself isn’t relevant, and when I think sex is on the table then I switch to Depo.

        I cannot WAIT for menopause! 7 more years if family history holds true (how many bottles of ibuprofen is that?)

        1. CatMintCat*

          Menopause was one of the best things to happen to me. Years of misery and dreading every month just went away; I had reached the point where I was begging the doctors for a hysterectomy just to make it all stop but they wouldn’t because I was “healthy”. It’s fantastic.

          1. Deep Purple Dream*

            I had to fight my insurance to get my hysterectomy. I countered all their arguments with research. Had another procedure that simply made things worse. Life improved 100% after my hysterectomy. My little patch keeps my hormones even. It was the first time in my life since 14.

      3. Jennifer85*

        +1 – I’m on progesterone only specially because of migraines but not getting periods is IMO a massive plus as a side effect..

      4. SR*

        I would be VERY careful with progestin-only if you’re concerned about acne, though, Anonicat. I was on a progestin-only pill because of nausea from the combination pill for three months. The cystic acne I got from it lasted almost a year. (Happy and healthy on Levora now!)

        1. Julia*

          FWIW, I’ve always had mild to moderate acne and didn’t see any change (neither for the better nor for the worse) with my pill.

    3. Anona*

      I have a hormonal iud (mirena) and last time I had it my period almost went away completely (after like a month of spotting when it was initially installed). But if you get an IUD, just be aware that the non hormonal one, paraguard, is actually said to increase your bleeding!

    4. Red Reader*

      I’ve been on Depo for nigh 15 years and change and I love it. (Yes, that is longer than commonly recommended, my doc and I are paying attention and both comfortable with my health status, no lectures please.) But people either love it or hate it, I’ve never met anyone who’d tried it and was neutral. I haven’t had a monthly but three times in the last ten years, and those because I was delayed on getting my shot. People who hate it have had weight gain, mood issues, and acne issues most commonly; I have had none of those. There are also some studies that show bone loss while on it, again, not a problem I have displayed personally.

      1. Amberlyn*

        Another important symptom to watch for with the shot is anemia—I had no idea what was making me so sick at first, when I was on it!

      2. Amber Rose*

        My doctor threw a fit when he learned I’d been on the birth control patch for 15 years, so now I’m on Depo as of yesterday.

        Does it always hurt so much? My whole left arm is screaming at me. :(

        1. Red Reader*

          I remember it hurt for a day or so when I was getting it in my arm, but it doesn’t hurt at all since I switched to getting it in my hip/glut. Bigger muscle helps, I think? See if that’s an option for next time maybe.

        2. Someone Else*

          If you ice it right away, like as soon as you get home after the appointment, an take ibuprofen (or OTC pain med of your choice) right away that can help a lot with the soreness. If you wait long enough that it’s bugging you, neither help as much in my experience. It’ll still hurt in the moment of the shot, but if you ice and take something as soon as possible, the lingering ouch will be significantly decreased.
          That said, I had the shot for years and they never did it in the arm, always the hip.

        3. Nines*

          I’ll third getting the shot in the gluteus only. I got to a point where I was passing out every time I got a shot until a nurse offered to do it in my hip and I never had a problem again! And overall I really loved it! I’m on the mirena IUD now for similar reasons above. Doctors freaking out that I had been on it so long. But I was a smoker at the time so the bone loss was apparently more concerning etc, so I gave in. And I just got my second five year IUD last summer. It’s pretty great.

      3. KAO*

        Same, I’ve been on depo for 20+ years. My doctor has only mentioned coming off it once and I’ve had no side effects. Zero periods, which is fantastic.

    5. Ranon*

      I’m on the hormonal IUD (mirena) as well, and after a few months of random spotting my period has settled down to ~5 days of basically spotting with one day in there of what you might call “flow”. No other noticeable side effects but my body has always played well with hormonal bc.

    6. esra*

      Like others, I’m on the mirena iud. It changed my liiiiife. Also I like not really having to think about it until like, 2022-23.

    7. Dr. KMnO4*

      I just got Mirena 3 weeks ago.

      Cons: Insertion was deeply unpleasant. Actual quote from the doctor, “Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have good pain tolerance”. But that’s mostly because my biology is weird, as it turns out. I had a couple days of cramps and still have minor spotting, which I believe is normal.

      Pros: The doctor said my period may go away after a while (huge pro for me). I don’t have to worry about remembering to take the pill at the same time every day, or getting my Rx filled on time or scheduling my doctor appointment so that my Rx doesn’t run out. I don’t have to think about BC for the next 5ish years if I don’t want to. If I do want to have kids then it’s easily removed.

      If you go for an IUD definitely take ibuprofen before your appointment.

    8. Ali G*

      I use generic Jolessa. I take the 90-day packs. If that’s an option for you I suggest it. If your periods are a pain (mine are now very light), at least you only have to do it 4x a year. Downside is I am pretty sure it’s partly to blame for my lack of libido. Also has your diet changed? Dairy and soy are known to wreak havoc on your hormones, so if you are eating a lot of those, that could be part of the problem. Also sh!t just gets weird as we get older. It sucks.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        I also use the 90-day Jolessa and highly recommend it. It is awesome to only have a period every three months.

      2. Merci Dee*

        I’m on the generic Jolesa, as well, and I love that my periods have gotten much lighter and only come quarterly.

        Main reason I looked into birth control was for symptom management instead of actual prevention of pregnancy. The Jolesa has gotten rid of the pain, volume of bleeding, etc. But it hasn’t stopped the restless legs syndrome that was bundled in with my other PMS symptoms. Oddly enough, even though my period is only every 3 months, I still get RLS every month when my period would have been if not for the pills.

        Anyone else have problems with that?

        1. Ali G*

          oh that’s interesting. I don’t have RLS but I have another nerve issue in my right thigh. It definitely picks up when I have my period. I attribute it to bloating, dehydration, and other symptoms. I think there are links between these things and nerve issues.

    9. moss boss*

      I am also on the Mirena train – three years now and I’m so happy I did it. After beinggiven the runaround on treatment for excessive bleeding and extreme symptoms by my regular doctor, I got a referral to a gyno who said that this was fixable! Today! And if Mirena didn’t work then we would try something else! (Doctors who care! And listen! Amazing!)

      I went in with the knowledge that after insertion, things would get worse before they got better and that I shouldn’t make any decisions about taking it out until I’d reached the 6 month mark. By 4 months, my period had effectively stopped, and I no longer had to take multiple days off every month. And bonus: no ruined underwear! No bleeding through a tampon plus a pad during a movie!

      I can say that for me, it has definitely not stopped ovulation. I still get achy, tired, and hungry for the three days prior to when my “period” (i.e. occasional light spotting) starts. But it is no longer debilitating, I can function normally, and I no longer wish to carve out my uterus every new moon.

      I am extremely pleased with the results and it was totally worth the 3 months of cramping and bleeding after insertion. I have been told by my gyno that we can just keep replacing the IUD until my blood work shows that menopause is done and I will never again be required to go through one of my crazy periods. I still have overwhelming feelings of gratitude for this.

    10. PB*

      This is a tough one, because there isn’t a universal right answer. Everyone’s body is different, and will react differently. I used to take the progestin-only pill, and it was absolute hell for me. Everything went wrong, including heavier, painful, irregular periods and hair falling out in clumps. Other people love it and don’t experience any of those side effects. I’m on the lowest dose estrogen birth control, and it’s great for me. My periods are very regular and much lighter, with only minimal cramping.

      The best advice I can give you is to listen to your body. It can take a couple months to know exactly how you’ll respond to the bill, but if you think something has changed, for better or worse, pay attention. It actually took me a long time to notice the hair loss, because it happens over time, and took me even longer to link it to the pill. Also, find a sympathetic doctor. The doctor I had while on the progestin-only pill was honestly kind of a dick to me and, despite these symptoms, wouldn’t prescribe me anything different. I just had to stop taking it and damn the consequences.

      1. Anonicat*

        I feel so lucky to have my current doctor. Checking that my period isn’t giving me too much trouble is something she always makes time for during my annual checkup, so I’m confident that I’ll come away from the appointment this week with something to try straight away.

    11. TheMonkey*

      I never had very tough periods, so not sure how to advise on that point, but I’ll put in a vote for Nexplanon. Insert a matchstick-sized implant under your skin and don’t worry again for 3 years. My period is essentially non existent–after insertion in May, I’ve had a day of super light bleeding in August and one again just this week. No side effects for me–weight is the same, etc. If anything, I think my moods have evened out compared to being on NuvaRing previously (which I also loved as a “set it and forget it” type of BC each month)

    12. Randa Palfy*

      I went on a plant-based diet and those symptoms disappeared. I drink a little tea but no coffee.

      1. Julia*

        That didn’t work for me at all. I tried going vegan (was already a vegetarian) and even gluten-free to help with my endometriosis, and it did absolutely nothing. Great if it worked for you, though.

        1. Anonicat*

          It’s weird isn’t it? I know someone who saw improvement on a plant-based diet, 2 friends who say the plant-based diet made it worse, and one person who swears avoiding sugar does the trick for her.

    13. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

      I’m just watching this because I was banished from all hormonal birth control after I developed vulvadynia and tissue atrophy (an excellent birth control solution though- no sex no babies). But now that I’ve just had second child and we want some space before 3, I’m pondering giving it another shot. Maybe there are new pills from five years abo, maybe my hormone profile has changed. I do know I want a pill so I can stop the instant symptoms return…

    14. misspiggy*

      I use a progesterone only pill, Desogestrel (Cerazette is the main brand name). You don’t have to take it at the same time every day and it completely removes my periods. Very few side effects for me other than sore boobs for the first couple of weeks of taking it. Also much less chance of thrombosis than the combined pill, which is why it was prescribed to me (I get migraines).

    15. StarHen*

      I take a generic, continuous-for-a-year regimen, Amethyst. Combined monophasic pills work for me: I never have to deal with bleeding, and the continuous dosing makes it more effective than pill regimens with planned placebo/no pill days.

      Mirena did not work for me; I don’t know if it was the physical IUD, the progesterone without estrogen, or both, but I bled for constantly with terrible cramps, and finally gave up after almost a year. I don’t think that’s typical, though.

      Good luck!

    16. ArtsNerd*

      Unfortunately, it’s basically a game of roulette. I’ve tried a few different options over the years.

      My roommate’s lifesaver (Nuvaring) left me with depression so crippling I couldn’t even form a grammatically coherent sentence on the phone with my doctor when I was trying to ask to switch back. Everyone reacts SO differently, and it’s nigh-impossible to say which version is going to work for you and which is going the be a nightmare.

      That crapshoot has been worth it for me, and I hope you hit jackpot on the first try! (I don’t know how casinos work, fwiw.)

    17. Salamander*

      I’ve been on the pill for going on 25 years. For the last twelve or so, I’ve been on Junel Fe 24 or similar (Minastrin 24, Lomedia Fe 24) . It has four days of dummy pills and causes me to have no periods whatsoever. Haven’t had a period in ten years. No spotting, nothing. I used to have nine-day periods that were extremely heavy (think needing to use both pads and tampons, and changing every couple of hours), so this pill will be pried out of my cold, dead hands.

    18. Cheshire Cat*

      Is anyone else reading through this thread thinking of the short story “Even the Queen” by Connie Willis?

      I am postmenopausal now and loving it. Best wishes to you, Anonicat!

  3. Chocolate Teapot*

    On the subject of this week’s book recommendation, I always enjoy Craig Brown’s spoof columns in Private Eye (UK satirical magazine). There was a funny one by Gwyneth Paltrow recently.

    It is horrible windy rainy weather here at the moment, the sort where you would be best off staying indoors, but shopping for groceries is required.

  4. Tonya*

    My mom mentioned that she’s bored. She’s 59 and fairly active with friends, outdoor interests, tutoring and book club etc so this comment kind of surprised me. She’s been divorced for 31 years and mentioned wanting someone to cook for and wait on… In the past, she’s worked multiple jobs but now she has a decent paying job and doesn’t need to. She’s a recent breast care survivor and battles occasional anxiety so idle time does worry me. Any thoughts on a good hobby or activity? I live five hours away but was even trying to think of things we could “do together” virtually.

    1. Amberlyn*

      Have you thought about writing a personal history for her? When we did one with my grandparents, my mom set it up as a sort of weekly interview. She would mail them a list of questions, like, “Who was your favorite teacher?” or, “What happened the first day you met your spouse?” and they would record their answers on a small tape recorder. It was fun for them, and it’s great to have those tapes now.

    2. StellaBella*

      If she likes to cook for people and wait on folks, maybe suggest that she makes baked goods for the end of the year to give to food centres/places that feed homeless folks? I would also ask her if she knows about old folks’ care homes that need volunteers to help with activities and perhaps in those roles maybe there is room to cook for others? Not sure but seems like there may be centres in her town that could use a volunteer to do something like this?

      1. Peacemaker*

        This. There is nothing better than involving yourself in service to others (whatever the time of year) to make you stop thinking of your own concerns.

      2. Natalie*

        Shelters often need volunteers to cook and serve meals. If she doesn’t work they’ll love her schedule.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Does she want to date? Men in her age bracket are typically into being cooked for and waited on, if that’s her thing.

      1. Reba*

        Ha. Tonya, maybe you could draw her out more on what the “cooking and waiting on” means to her — could this mean she is lonely or wants companionship?

    4. Handy Nickname*

      My grandma is also alone, and retired, so lots of free time. She is very involved in her church, so lots of quilting, ladies aid groups, etc. She also does deliveries for Meal on Wheels, which is delivering hot meals to mostly home bound seniors who sign up for the program. She really enjoys that one, because she always goes in to visit for a while when she drops off the food, and the people she’s delivering to usually appreciate that too, since they’re often lonely. I’m not sure if it’s a nation-wide program, but maybe she could even get involved in the making meals side of things, depending on how it’s set up. I hope you are able to find something for her!

      1. CrazyPlantLady*

        Meals on Wheels is nationwide and always looking for volunteers. Also, look for organizations in your community who deliver meals to HIV or cancer patients. I don’t know of a national organization that does this but know of local organizations in a couple of major metro areas. Some of these allow food that you’ve prepared at home, but others require the food to be cooked in their commercial kitchens, which she could also volunteer to do.

      1. Lis*

        Rev.com. If she is used to working a lot, maybe she would like transcribing in spare time. I do NOT get a referral bonus or anything, I just work for them in my spare time and I like it. My day job bores me a bit too

        1. Handy Nickname*

          Ooh I’m interested in this! How do you get started transcribing for them? I poked around their website, but I’m just seeing ways to submit work to them. What kind of time commitment do they require?

          1. Anonomo*

            I checked it out too, this is neat! For Handy Nickname- click the menu, then login and underneath is a “become a freelancer” button for more info.

    5. boots the long haired cat*

      Is she bored or lonely? Having lots of activities doesn’t give you time to be bored, so I wonder if she doesn’t have that many. By comparison, I’m mid-50’s have activities that keep me busy 3-4 nights per week + full-time job, and I’m mostly exhausted. So, if she’s not doing something many nights a week, time to do something there. Sports? Dance? cooking at a food bank/homeless shelter? Volunteering somewhere where she is depended upon and needed?

    6. JxB*

      A couple ideas…

      1) My daughter was in a long-distance relationship and always seemed to be on the phone with him. After constantly feeling shut out when it was just the two of us. I made the rule that if she was with ME one-on-one, she could only be on the phone with him on speaker. Amazingly, it became a ritual and he often “joined” us for food prep, dinner, car rides and more. We didn’t do Facetime, only audio but the phone would sit in the middle of the table on speaker and he’d eat his dinner (also on speaker – no obnoxious chewing noises) and chat with us while we ate ours. They did a lot of things together over the phone, even watching TV. The point is, you don’t have to be on the phone simply to engage in a call. You can actually use it to spend time together remotely while you do your regular stuff. It could be as simple as “let’s have dinner by phone Tuesday night” or customized like “let’s both try this recipe and have dinner by phone to discuss the results”.

      2) Have her check out MeetUp. I’m married, have a nice family and a good group of extended friends. But sometimes I’m bored and just spontaneously want to do something without having to organize a lot schedules. I joined a handful of MeetUp groups with interests similar to mine. (These are interest-based, not dating.) At any time I can simply look at what is available today. One group was smaller and involved ladies who wanted to meet for coffee at interesting places. Another was generation based and had hundreds of users. There were standard items like Tuesday evening walk and imprompu like “who wants to go to XZY movie at 2:00”. If you RSVP’d yes, then expected to show up. But otherwise, very casual – no expectations. Didn’t even need to reply.

    7. anonagain*

      Did your mom ask for suggestions? Or was she just telling you how she’s doing? If it wasn’t clear from your conversation, I would try to figure out first if she was looking for advice/solutions or if she wanted to be heard and to connect with you in that moment. Boredom and loneliness are just part of life, I think. Sometimes you’re working through it already and it’s just nice to be able to talk about it.

      If she was definitely looking for suggestions, there are lots of good ones here. Perhaps she would benefit from a support group or therapy if she is not already doing that.

      I hope you have a good support system in place for yourself too. It’s so hard to have a parent go through a major illness.

      1. Jane of All Trades*

        100% this. Didn’t think of that, but this is such a thoughtful message. Sometimes we just need people to listen, and not to shoulder the burden of our situation.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mom had an ongoing policy of letting friends or family who were moving to NYC stay with her for a couple of weeks while they looked for apartments. She loved her visitors…AND she loved getting her house back to herself when they found a new place to live.

    9. Chi chan*

      She could check out big brother big sister for sometime with a child. Maybe cook a picnic lunch for them sometime.

    10. Tonya*

      Thanks everyone. Good things to consider. She mentioned it in passing that she finally has a decent paying job and is considering dating so she could cook for someone. She hasn’t had the best luck dating but it’s been awhile since she’s had anything serious. She does volunteer once a week but I like the ideas above – a new cause to spark her interest. You all are wonderful, as always.

  5. TL -*

    I have a tiny little book review blog (that I update very inconsistently.) It’s mostly for the enjoyment of talking about the books that I’ve read, but I usually tweet a link when I post.

    I was scrolling through Instagram a few nights ago and I saw the name of my blog and a quote from my latest review! Julia Quinn read my review and liked it so much she posted a quote on IG! It was so very cool! And she was super great about it in the comments -I popped in to thank her and she said she’d looked for an IG account connected to the blog and offered to tag the account I commented with. It was such a cool experience!

    (Link in my name to my blog with the screenshot if you’d like.)

    1. The Other Dawn*

      That’s so cool! Congrats!

      I’ve had dreams of that happening to me, but mine is just a personal blog and I don’t put a ton of effort into it, so what can I really expect? I’ve tried to get more enthusiastic and post more, but the desire just isn’t there most of the time.

  6. Marion Ravenwood*

    My sister asked for that Princess Margaret book for Christmas, so I’m very pleased to see it’s one of Alison’s recommendations!

    Also, Wallace is SO CUTE. *heart eyes emoji*

  7. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread!
    How’s everyone’s writing going?
    How do you deal with writing during the upcoming holiday season?

    1. Julia*

      I ended up being offered a new job and spent some time at home with family before it started, so I got maybe a few hundred words down in November, instead of the 50.000 I had planned. Now I’m getting used to my job and commuting and can’t focus on writing at all…

    2. Sapphire*

      I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, but tech rehearsals and a show and production meetings killed it. I did get about 6,000 words of a new novel, an excerpt of which I’m going to present at an open mic night in February.

      I’m also trying to work on two plays and a stand-up set, but the stand-up only has to be five minutes, so I just need to tweak it.

    3. Thanks For Nothing*

      I had to delete half my script (put it into a redacted file on the off chance something comes up and I want to refer back). The external tensions in my head did not match watch came out in words. Spent three days sulking and watching movies, lol. Back at it this morning though!

    4. Bookslinger*

      Great! I finished NaNo with over 62K (my first win in years). Pretty sure a quarter of them were editing notes to self. The novel isn’t complete, but I’m still plugging away. We live far away from family, so the Holidays are more manageable for me. How did you do? You asked but didn’t say.

    5. CanadaTag*

      Oooh, there are others who do NaNo on here? Yay! Didn’t realize that. :)

      My first year MLing, and I was semi-astonished I managed to reach 55K. And the end of the novel! Still have to get those pesky Chp. 6 & 7 written, but 8 & 9 (the end) are done! (Plus about 1/4 of the first chapter of the sequel….) Also planning to start self-publishing in 2019 with my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel, so there’s that….

    6. Liane*

      I have one more of my weekly articles to finish by Monday deadline for all publishing between 12/17 & 1/7 plus I already finished most January articles too. My last article won’t take long as it’s on a specific set of game mechanics and I know what I am going to write, just have to settle in and do it.
      Several of the ones I have completed are stats of some well-know Christmas characters, ready to use for some roleplaying game systems, and I am finishing up some artwork for one of those articles, which is keeping my graphics card occupied rendering the piece.

      (And then I can spend the next week or so grumbling about a couple of my fellow Staff Writers (there are 5 of us), who may have forgotten about the Monday deadline. Which means I will have at least 16 to do my part of the editing on, possibly at once, instead of being able to get them as they trickle in.)

  8. Anon for this one*

    Yesterday I was informed that texting my mom means I cannot possibly be a literature and linguistics student.
    Okay then.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I was waiting for my train and texting my mom to tell her which train I’m taking when this elderly man with a cane comes up to mek and goes “Ugh, how is that even POSSIBLE?” (bad translation but not sure how to translate it otherwise). I was thinking he meant no one being polite enough to get up from one of the few seats for him so I just looked up all confused.
        “It’s even been in the news this very morning how you’re all addicted to those things!”
        At this point, I’m unimpressed and respond that people do the same things with books too.
        “Pfff, books. How about you read a book maybe?”
        “I’m a LITERATURE student.”
        He just scoffed disbelievingly but I ignored him. Kinda proud of myself for not engaging further, tbh.

        1. Anon for this one*

          And frankly even if I was playing games on my phone wth would’ve been wrong with that?! At least I’m not going around bothering random strangers about things I don’t actually understand.

        2. NeverNicky*

          Literature grad here. I read “books” on my phone – maybe Mr Curmudgeon needs to learn about Kindle!

          1. Anon for this one*

            Hell, our European Literature professor even described some classics as “You need to have these on your phone and take them with you wherever you go”.

        3. Jaid_Diah*

          I read my books on my phone and my tablet. I can change the fonts and switch between books depending on my mood without carrying multiple volumes. I can borrow from the library without traveling and request books from different places.

          That old man can pound sand.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Ah yes, the attack of the curmudgeon. I got harshly told off by one in the parking lot after church one day because I have one of those little Darwin fish on my car. Apparently real Catholics don’t believe in evolution?? I never went back to that church :/

      1. sleepwakehopeandthen*

        Ugh, Catholics who don’t believe in evolution make me so mad (as a fellow Catholic and also scientist). There’s no reason not to! The pope said it was fine! In 1950!

        1. sleepwakehopeandthen*

          (Also, like the overwhelming scientific evidence, but it is something that we have also been told explicitly does not contradict our beliefs).

          1. sleepwakehopeandthen*

            I mean, my opinions on science are also not based on what the pope says, but I feel like most of the Catholics who disagree with evolution are way more into what the pope says (and it’s been multiple ones, so they don’t even have the excuse of really not liking this pope, because IME those two populations often overlap), so I feel like it is an argument that should work with them.

        2. Deep Purple Dream*

          Yep. Two different questions. Why not how. The method is God’s business. One of our former bishops took a parent to task on this when she challenged why evolution was being taught at our parish school.

        3. blackcat*

          It’s my understanding that the official Catholic stance on the bible is much more “inspired by god and full of allegory and important lessons” rather than “the word of god.” So evolution is consistent with Genesis, b/c Genesis isn’t meant to be taken literally in their view (which is good, given that Genesis is self-contradictory! Multiple, conflicting versions of the same events!)

          In fact, my study bible is endorsed by the Catholic church. And it has cool stuff like analysis of who people think wrote what books and when they were edited. So neat! And definitely taking the “this is a book written by real, fallible” humans approach to the bible.

    2. HannahS*

      What?! You mean you don’t write your mother letters by candlelight, bundling them week by week, and then sending a bunch whenever you can scrape together the money for a stamp, not knowing whether or not they’ll even reach her distant shores? Disgraceful.

      1. Observer*


        Of course, she shouldn’t wait to send those handwritten (with a QUILL) letters – she should prioritize finding postage over what ever nonsense these young whippersnappers waste their money on!

  9. Heisnearly30*

    This is kind of a strange one, but if anyone has any advice or insights about my brother’s behaviour, I would appreciate it. We went for dinner out with our parents. My dad started to tell a very long and complex story (hate to say that it was boring, but…) After a while, my mam gently asked him to stop because no one was following the story. A few days later, my brother was visiting our parents with his girlfriend. He asked our dad to tell the story again, and giggled with his girlfriend during it. Basically he asked with the intention of laughing at dad with his girlfriend. What sort of childish ass behaviour is this

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      Immature and off-putting behavior. Also a warning sign for the girlfriend – if he treats his family like a joke, how will he treat her?

    2. Loopy*

      This is really off-putting to me. I know it’s super important that my S/O respects and at least has a decent relationship with my dad. I’d never poke fun at him and specifically cause him to seem like a joke front of a S/O. It’s also really hurtful behavior and it doesn’t reflect well on your brother at all. If I were the girlfriend I’d be fairly judgmental or at least uncomfortable in the situation. It certainly doesn’t foster a healthy relationship.

      I’m not sure I have have great advice but I’d be sorely tempted to say something to him about how hurtful that type of behavior is and how it’s a terrible habit to form, poking fun at people you care about (or anyone of course). I’d definitely be tempted to mention it casts him in a childish and cruel hearted light and he should seriously rethink his actions but that may depend on your brother and the relationship between you both.

    3. Aphrodite*

      It was downright mean, the kind of mean behavior that immature childish people believe is humor. If the girlfriend went alone with his laughing then she is as vicious as he is. If she seemed uncomfortable and uncertain then she might be okay. But I agree that it portends what she can expect in their relationship as it goes forward.

      I’d personally get him alone (or with her if she seemed to be approving of it) and explain in detail why it is wrong and what it says about him. I’d ask him if that’s the kind of person he wants to be. If it is, he’d be out of my life and I’d keep him as far away as I could from my parents.

    4. LCL*

      None of us know your brother. Is it normal for him, to find the most amusement mocking others? Is it normal for your family? Or is this something new he started when he started keeping company with girlfriend? Had they been drinking?

    5. nonegiven*

      My mom can’t quite pronounce Shamu, a whale that used to be at Seaworld, so I would try to get her to say it because it was funny.

      1. Nines*

        I mean… that doesn’t sound like the nicest thing to do, but I think teasing someone about a word is much different than how they tell story/the stories they tell. And I’m assuming she was in on the fact that you were teasing her. There is a part of Nearly30’s story that seems like dad might have genuinely thought his son wanted to hear the story at first. Which I think makes it that much more nasty.

    6. Nines*

      Is it at all possible that he is so self involved he really thought he was just being funny? It would still be problematic behavior. But immaturity in a self-centered way, not a vicious way.

  10. StellaBella*

    Good afternoon, today is the first real day off I have had in 4 weeks – moving countries, etc. I have one more week of chores for the move in the next week, then can spent a lot more time doing things related to ending the year and finding some new (stuff we don’t talk about on weekends). I am hoping for a really great 2019.

    It may be a bit early to discuss the end of the year, but do you have end of year rituals – for your mental health, physical health, etc? Mine for several years has been to do a sorting of clothes I have not work in a while for donating them, and a snow walk on 25 December, and a quiet night in at the end of the year, with a women’s retreat in January to kick off a new year.

    For the past week I am baby sitting a doggo and my own cat, and enjoying the routine of dog walking and feeding rituals and such. They are having a detente of sorts but do tolerate each other some times. :)

    1. Waiting for the Sun*

      I need to do a clothes-sorting (and “”stuff”-sorting myself. The rest of your plans sound wonderful.

  11. Loopy*

    What makes you feel comfortable in someone else’s home? Assume its a first time visit and you’re very casual friends. I never host friends for anything and am having a newish friend over for a movie afternoon. Tips appreciated!

    1. Lcsa99*

      For me, I think its when the host is comfortable themselves. Rather than falling all over themselves. Asking if I want this or that, just chill and sit down and hang out like we would when we’re out doing something.

      1. Loopy*

        I will try and keep this in mind. It’s a super casual visit but I do want her to not be like omg that was awful.

    2. Anona*

      The availability of snacks, drinks, and blankets, and being shown where they are/told to help myself.

      1. Loopy*

        Thats interesting, I get really uncomfortable when people tell me to help myself (I never feel comfortable enough to do so). It’s good to know other are put MORE at ease by the offer, I’ll be sure to make it.

        1. Epsilon Delta*

          Me too, if I have to like dig in the pantry/fridge to get them. But I also feel bad asking the host to get me something or if I can have something after the initial offer, which I know is silly, but there you have it! If the snacks are set out on the table or a dedicated corner of the fridge/counter, then I would feel more comfortable helping myself.

          1. kc89*

            yeah I don’t typically have guests long term but I once had a couple stay with me for a week so I made a big basket with snacks and several 1 liter bottles of water and told them it was theirs for the taking.

            We also had like three meals out a day the entire trip so that wasn’t the only food available to them obviously lol but I thought it was a nice option in case they wanted something to snack on

    3. TL -*

      Having the place clean (but not sterile), offering food and water, and just being pleasant all help. Put a few blankets on the couch in case your friend gets cold and make sure there’s toilet paper and hand soap and a hand towel in the bathroom.

      If you’re in the South, “Can I get you anything?” followed by “help yourself to anything in the kitchen” is often welcoming. In the North, more specific options and maybe a snack platter is generally more culturally normal.

      1. Loopy*

        This explains my own feelings perfectly, I’m so glad you pointed out the differentiation. I’m from the North but living in the South. Friend is also from the North though so perhaps I’ll identify some specific snackage to have out. We’re doing Harry Potter movies and making butterbeer hot cocoa. What on earth complements butterbeer hot cocoa (think butterscotch for non-fans).

        1. Loopy*

          The cocoa was amazing (VERY sweet) and turns out she loves popcorn like nothing else, so we did that!

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes to having a clean place! It’s not that I care if someone is messy, but it’s really awkward when you get to someone’s house and you’re searching for a place to sit that isn’t covered in clutter. Or you’re nervously eyeing the bathroom, wondering when it was last cleaned.

        And yes to making sure there are enough supplies, like toilet paper. There’s been a few times where the paper has run out and I have to search through all the bathroom cabinets to find it. And at least once there hasn’t been extra.

        Also, try to make sure the house is at a comfortable temperature. This one is difficult since some people like it warmer or cooler. Maybe aim for 70 degrees? I find that’s usually a good temp. Or like others have said, keep some blankets around.

        1. SigneL*

          A clean bathroom. Seriously. I don’t mean the floor has to be surgically clean, but maybe run a sponge over the toilet?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Exactly. And the sink. I won’t use my SIL’s bathroom because it looks like a tornado hit with all the clothing and such laying around, plus it’s dirty. Nope, I’ll hold it until I get home, which is 45 minutes away.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Noticed this morning there are kitten paw prints atop my toilet. If you don’t know what they are, it just looks weirdly dirty…

          3. Autumnheart*

            If snacks are being prepared, clean hand towels in the kitchen. For the designated bathroom, clean guest towels and soap in an obvious place. I hate it when I go to someone’s house and use the bathroom, then have to wash my hands and dry them on their questionable bath towel. Yuck.

        2. Loopy*

          Oh gosh, I didn’t think to check toilet paper (just got lucky on that) but I did some light cleaning beforehand. Made sure nothing was too cluttered, vaccuumed, wiped down kitchen and bathroom. Made sure all dishes were away and all counters were clear, etc. Wasn’t a deep clean but the house was tidy and there was no obvious grossness I think! Sounds like I was already on track with most suggestions (whew).

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I think “no obvious grossness” is actually a good goal when having someone over for the first time (or anytime depending how close you are and how much you care about it). Of course, everyone’s idea of what “obvious grossness” means is different. I once had a new friend over the first time (friend through work) and I knocked myself out for days before with deep cleaning (cats!). When we got together at another friend’s house (also from work), we were all talking about cleaning our houses, vacuums we like. etc. (we were a wild bunch LOL). She commented that my house was “pretty clean.” But it was said more like, “Eh, it was kind of clean but nowhere as clean as mine.” Everyone just kind of stared at her for a minute and then changed the subject. And at this person’s house later than night, apparently she ran her finger over the dresser in the bedroom and then told the hostess that she “missed a spot” while showing her her dusty finger. Her defense when she was called out on it at work the next day was that she was trying to help the hostess have a clean house.

            1. Loopy*

              People like that can’t come to my house. I just can’t stress myself out cleaning to that level. It’s a lived in house. I won’t have sticky counters with crumbs on them but I’m also not on my knees scrubbing the floors.

    4. SigneL*

      This may be just me, but I have a friend who has a cat and cat gets up on the kitchen counters, licks dishes, etc….cat hair in food…and if you have a big dog, maybe keep the dog from jumping on people?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Agreed. I have multiple cats and I make a huge effort when people come over to make sure the cat hair has been removed as much as possible and that the cats aren’t doing embarrassing (to me) things. Mine are good about not getting on counters, but they’re not so great when there’s a table full of food (buffet style). I tend to put them in the bedrooms when I have holiday dinners or things like that, just until the eating part is over with, at least.

      2. Loopy*

        No cats but pet behavior is tricky. Fortunately, we both have very lovable pits/pit mixes. We are both dog people and I checked several times if mine was being obnoxious (I thought he was but she seemed to enjoy him). I got lucky that she thought he was adorable and loved him but his immediate, undying love of all guests can be a bit much. His absolute adoration of new people is both good and bad. I’ll have to find some ideas if I have people over who are not as in love with him back!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I would say to check with people before they come over as to how they feel about dogs. If they’re afraid of dogs, you might need to put them in the bedroom or crate them (not sure how big your dog is), or move the party to their house. You also don’t want to surprise them if that’s the case and they didn’t know you have a dog. When I’m having new people over I always make sure to tell them I have 11 cats, that way they can opt out, or come and not wear black clothing (cat hair!).

          I’m not a dog person, but I’m also not afraid of them and I like well-behaved dogs, so I don’t mind when someone’s dog wants to play or be pet. I just hate when they won’t leave me alone. There have been a few times where someone’s dog jumped all over me the minute I walked in and wouldn’t stop trying to lick my hands and stuff like that (they smell my cats). I’ve had pants torn or dirtied up because the dog was jumping up so much.

          1. Salamander*

            I hear you on the cat hair; we have six and I do not own anything black any more.

            I love all animals and love to make new furry, scaly, or feathered friends. The only thing I ever really found off-putting was a friend’s dog who really liked to jump up and wasn’t deterred very much, and his claws put a hole in my shirt. I didn’t mention it, since it was an accident, and doggo is very sweet. But if jumping is a possibility, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the doggos.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Having a couple of house rules is fine. Tell people right away: “We take our shoes off at the door.” Best idea is to tell them before they come to bring slippers. A bad idea is waiting until they have broken the house rules to tell them it’s not allowed in your house. We went to see family member and we got screamed at for wearing our shoes in the house. Well, duh. You could have said that at the door, Family Member, instead of waiting for us to walk all the way in….

      Some things are not so much house rules but just quirks of the house. I do not have a lock for my bathroom door. So I explain this and then I explain what I tell everyone is to close the door then OPEN the top drawer of a cabinet. When the drawer is pulled out , the drawer blocks the bathroom door from opening. Which basically locks the user in the bathroom while they are using it. Most of my animals will open the bathroom door. Not a problem when it was just the two of us, or me here on my own. However, company does not find this as funny as I do.

      In either case, rules or quirks, it’s best to speak up BEFORE anything happens. Most people are fine with this stuff and appreciate being told in advance so they don’t “make a mistake”.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Another reason for telling people the “no shoes in the house” rule: so they can make sure they have clean, hole-free socks. Happened to me once and I was really embarrassed because my friend didn’t tell me ahead of time. And of course I had my worst pair of socks on.

      2. Liz in a Library*

        Please tell people the shoe thing in advance! I have some nerve issues that mean I either wear high-arched shoes 100% of the time or I have hours of pain at the end of the day. Nothing is worse than trying to decide at the door whether to leave and look foolish or deal with the consequences and be unable to sleep later.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Ditto to this…and decide if people who do the same at home can being their “indoors only” shoes.

          Oh and Liz, have you seen the orthotics-compatible slippers being sold at last?

      3. Loopy*

        I missed this but will keep it in mind for the future. We are a no shoes house but I wasn’t going to make her take them off. She endedup asking and I was like well we usually dont but it’s completely fine to keep yours on if you prefer. Which I realize in hindsight isn’t ideal. She seemed fine with taking them off but I am also a person who has socks that are less pretty and those I would have opted for if people had to see them so I wish I had done this ahead of time!

      4. Jasnah*

        Ideally the host should provide the slippers. A couple of pairs of guest slippers should be default for all hosts who require shoes to come off.

    6. HannahS*

      Food and drink being easily available. I always clear off a space and have glasses with a pitcher of water and the kettle with tea bags and sugar + milk handy (I’m from a hot drink culture). Whatever snack I made is also there. That way, people don’t have to go into another room without me to get what they want. When people come in, I tell them what to do: “Hi, please come in! I’ll take your coat. Yes, shoes there are fine. Have a seat! Drinks are on that table; go ahead. How are you? etc.” That way, there’s no awkward standing around.

    7. just trying to help*

      I have usually worked with the idea that the first visit, people are our guests. All subsequent visits, they are family. Show them where things like dishware and glasses are and invite them to help themselves to food and drink if the visit warrants it. Also, point out the bathrooms.

    1. Loopy*

      Are you referring to the game company/Fallout debacle? If so I’ve been following via fiance (who was a fallout fan….) Oof. So sad to see them mess up at every turn and have it get worse (data breach?!?!!) and worse.

      If you mean something else- oops!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yep, that’s what I mean.
        Years of goodwill just…Poof.
        Also to my knowledge even EA never messed up THIS badly so…Congratulations, in a few weeks time you became even worse than EA (although EA still sucks)

        1. Loopy*

          I don’t game but being engaged to a gamer makes me perk up and take notice of reputations for gift buying purposes. When I buy him game gifts in the future this company will be on my blacklist (I never really paid attention to companies but now…I’m going to start!!!)

    2. Torrance*

      It’s been a clusterfudge from start to finish. I’m not a fan of studios pivoting to multiplayer so I’ve been enjoying a bit of schadenfreude, to be honest.

      This has done wonders for The Outer Worlds hype though.

    3. Gingerblue*

      Seriously. How much bad PR can one company possibly rack up in a week? That data breech is hair-raising.

  12. Waiting for the Sun*

    MUSIC THREAD: Christmas songs you’re not sick of yet

    What are some enjoyable Christmas/winter songs that aren’t in heavy rotation this time of year? They can be underplayed carols, or really outstanding versions of common holiday songs that do something fresh with it. Other religious traditions welcome.

    “Fum, Fum, Fum” carol to kick things off.

    1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      Anything that’s not “Winter Wonderland” or that Mariah Carey song, which unfortunately seems to have become a standard. Both songs make me want to set my hair on fire. “Winter Wonderland” just has such a droning melody. I’ve been pretty fortunate and haven’t heard many others over and over, yet, besides those two.

      1. Brightlights*

        “All I Want For Christmas Is the Black Parade” is a good mash-up to make you smile, if you’re an alt-rock fan who hasn’t heard that yet.

    2. Laura H.*

      I like the song “The Gift” by Aselin Denison.

      Also you can’t go wrong with some Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra. (But those are more typical/ standard so they don’t exactly fit your question)

      And I don’t care for that Mariah Carey song either. I like the covers I’ve heard a little better in the past years.

    3. J9*

      I LOVE Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town. And Bing Crosby/David Bowies’s Little Drummer Boy is pretty amazing too.

      1. kc89*

        a lot of people hate her style of music fair warning, but if you haven’t listened yet you might want to listen to zooey deschanel’s version of silver bells

        makes me feel like I’m in an vintage holiday movie from the seventies set in los angeles in the best way possible lol

    4. Auntie Social*

      Patapan–don’t hear that a lot and the tempo is nice. For something slower, Mel Torme’ Christmas Song. For something trashier, Santa Baby–only Eartha will do.

    5. Amberlyn*

      I really enjoy “Candlelight Carol” and “Star of Bethlehem.” Also, “Lonely Pup” by Adam Faith is adorable.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I always like “Carol of the Bells” and it seems to be a less commonly played song.

      1. WellRed*

        Love “Carol of the Bells,” especially a full-on choir version. Also love “Christmas Eve in Sarajevo” which is basically an amped up musical version.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        I love “Carol of the Bells”, but my S/O thinks the melody is aggressive/threatening, as in “Gonna, gonna, gonna, gonna getcha!”

      1. Brightlights*

        Likewise- I listen to the stage show every year and the narration for Christmas Eve/Sarajevo never fails to make me bawl.

    7. Book Lover*

      Pop culture happy hour did a nice podcast on this last week. I don’t do xmas, but there was a pretty song by the weepies – All that I want.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Aaah not for me.
        I’m glad someone likes it because it sure gets played enough here.

        I’m more about “Bring a torch Jeanette Isabella” and some of old English Wassail tines.

        And Transiberian Orchestre…

    8. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      To actually answer the prompt this time instead of giving a snide response (sorry) — Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson. As a former high school band geek, I can listen to this spectacular orchestral piece all day.

      1. Reba*

        Oh man, Do You Hear What I Hear is one of my least favorites! I think only Mary Did You Know is worse to me.

        What does it say about me that it’s easier to think of the ones I dislike than ones I like? ;)

        But I agree that O Holy Night can be lovely. I think I prefer arrangements of that one (and other songs) that are on the simpler side. The melody is beautiful on its own, it doesn’t need to be all swelling strings and children’s choir and reverb!

    9. Rebecca*

      Pretty much anything EXCEPT Holly Jolly Christmas with Burl Ives. Honestly that makes me want to stab someone or myself or something, I loathe it and for the life of me cannot figure out how it ever got recorded.

      1. fposte*

        I’m generally okay with Sleigh Ride, but I heard a cover so freaking annoying this week that I almost left the supermarket to avoid it.

    10. StarHunter*

      Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” It’s not Christmas until I hear that song. And it’s great it’s part of the music for the original Yule Log so I’m guaranteed to hear it Xmas morning.

    11. Kathryn K*

      It is not Christmas for me until John Berry gets played. He is considered a country artist, but he has the voice of a Christmas angel. He puts different but yet traditional spins on some classics as Let it Snow and Winter Wonderland and also writes his own beautiful Christmas music. In my opinion, he sings the best version O Holy Night ever made. If you don’t have a tear in your eye when he hits the high note at the end, you have no soul! You can find his music on Amazon and You Tube. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

      1. TurtleIScream*

        John Berry’s Christmas album is my favorite!

        My tastes run more traditional/religious. Nicole C Mullen is another of my favorites.

        But my absolute favorite Christmas song performance of all time is Andrea Bocelli with Mary J. Blige on “What Child is This?”

    12. WellRed*

      At ( ) this week we played “name that christmas song.” A lyric or two was read out and we called out titles. I generally hate games but this was ridiculously fun. Of course, it works best with a small group, but I recommend it if you ever get tasked with any planning. I didn’t win, but made a good showing ; )

      1. Waiting for the Sun*

        Sounds like fun. I ‘ve been jotting down bits and pieces from the all-Christmas soundtrack to create a trivia game. I have secondary characters, such as a seasick crocodile and Pastor Brown.

    13. Lady Alys*

      Annie Lennox did a Christmas album (“A Christmas Cornucopia”), all of which is great, but the “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” track is PHENOMENAL. I have watched the video approximately 1,000,000 times.

      There is a Spotify playlist called “Renaissance Christmas,” put together by David Meindl, that has over 500 pieces in it that runs for 24+ hours. I used to play that on my work computer (former church secretary here) in December. It is also wonderful.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Christmas albums sell; they’re a simple moneymaker

          Also, no work writing the songs, just arranging them.

    14. Kathenus*

      I never seem to get tired of White Christmas by Bing Crosby, Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee, Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano, and I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas by Gayla Peevey. Oh yeah, and Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid.

      1. Femme D'Afrique*

        Oh dear, I LOATHE “Do they know it’s Christmas!” The lyrics (“and there’ll be no snow in Africa this Christmastime”) as well as the song’s general premise… argh. That’s one song that generally makes me feel stabby.

        I’m finding all these different answers really interesting though. And now I simply must find “Dominic the Christmas donkey.” I wonder if it’s anything like “Grandma got run over by a reindeer.” :)

        1. JenC*

          I’m born in Zimbabwe and hate hate hate Do they know it’s Christmas? as well. The absolute freaking worst.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Ugh, me too! It’s so patronizing. Not to mention that it does in fact snow in some places in Africa, and plenty of things grow, there are lots of rivers and rain…

            1. sorbus*

              And my Orthodox friends would always point out that Ethiopia, as a majority Orthodox country, doesn’t even celebrate Christmas on December 25th!

              1. Femme D'Afrique*

                Exactly! Which made the “Do they know it’s Christmas” question even more ridiculous and out of touch.

                For some reason, though, the “there will be no snow” line irks me the most. Yeah, it snows in some parts of the *continent* but what does snow have to do with Christmas? And why say “THIS” Christmastime? Was there snow in Ethiopia the previous Christmas? Is the lack of snow adding to their misery? I clearly overthought this song, hating it more each time, so yeah :)

                1. Emily*

                  I don’t know this song (which seems like a good thing, from the way you’re all describing it), but the line about snow does seem weird and patronizing. I grew up in the United States in a place that rarely snows on Christmas and have never had songs (that I know of) written about our lack of snow.

      2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Apparently Africa was used in place of Ethiopia specifically due to lyrics scanning properly – I mean the song was more or less written over night. That bit about snow doesn’t bother me so much, its when Bono belts out about being thankful its someone else and not you that gets me (amongst other god awful lines that are beyond ethnocentric). Its definitely a piece of its time, and I seriously hate Bob Geldof in general, but I do still love the tune- have a used copy on 12″ even!

    15. Girl friday*

      I like, “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In;” it throws all the centuries together in one song.

    16. NeverNicky*

      Solstice Bells (Jethro Tull). And my “Christmas/Yule/Solstice) album is The Day Dawn by Boys of the Lough but it’s quite downbeat.

      Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen is also a favourite and so is Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie.

    17. Sled dog mama*

      Carol of the bells is my favorite real Christmas song always and forever especially in ukranian.
      The one song I never tire of is Weird Al’s “the night santa went crazy” totally not appropriate for children but absolutely hilarious and a good break from regular Christmas music.

    18. Asenath*

      This Christmastide (Jessye’s Carol) – there are several versions on Youtube
      For really obscure ones:
      The Cat Carol (sung by Meryn Cadel; warning – very sad).
      More cheerful:
      At Last I’m Ready for Christmas (Stan Rogers)
      The Sleigh (google it as “The Sleigh (a la Russe)”, which is how it’s listed on the album I have, but I could swear somewhere I heard an Estonian version.

    19. Amber Rose*

      There’s this local band called the Heebee Jeebees and they do acapella versions of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Carol of the Bells that I LOVE.

      Also a big fan of Christmas Canon and Do You Hear What I hear by Transylvanian Orchestra. So pretty.

      Silent Night is my favorite but I’ve yet to hear a recorded version I like that much.

    20. Valancy Snaith*

      I really love Light of the Stable by Emmylou Harris, which I have honestly never heard in any rotation anywhere ever. I also like Hard Candy Christmas by Dolly Parton, which is close enough to a Christmas song for me.

      There was also an album called Christmas Songs released in 2000 that is damn near impossible to find anymore, but it was the best album I’ve ever had. It included the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan doing a version of We Three Kings/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen which was fantastic, Gaudete by the Medieval Babes, Christmas Day by Dido (one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time), and a few others–The Cat Carol, Skating on the River, a really nice version of O Come O Come Emmanuel, etc. It was lovely.

      My Christmas music preference is either Sad Songs or Religious Music with very little anything else. Please Come Home For Christmas by the Eagles, Pretty Paper by Roy Orbison, Silver Bells (melancholy versions only please), and non-flamboyant versions of Adeste Fideles are my favourites.

      I also really like non-English Christmas music! Most of the time it has the same Christmas-y feel as Christmas music without feeling so tired and overdone. There are some highly entertaining playlists on Spotify and Youtube.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, I love sad-sounding wintry holiday songs, too!

        Last year I got into Carol of the Birds (El cant dels ocells), an old Catalan song made famous by Pau Casals, and there are several versions recorded (including Joan Baez, though that’s not my favorite).

    21. kc89*

      I love Kelly Clarkson’s christmas album, the original tracks are great (normally I prefer the classics)

    22. Waiting for the Sun*

      Figured we’d have some “Anything but ___” responses :-) Some more I like are:

      “What Child Is This” – I like Ricky Martin’s version.

      “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

      Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan’s version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen “

      “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

      “Wait for the Wagon”

    23. Middle School Teacher*

      The Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I’m also a classical / choral person so Lo How a Rose E’re Blooming and Handel’s Messiah (yes I know it wasn’t originally Christmas). I grew up catholic so I have a soft spot for more religious music. Hark the Herald Angels and all that. A french song called Il est né le divin enfant. Older Christmas music. I don’t really get into the more pop Christmas music, although I admit I love that Mariah Carey song :p

      1. Dara*

        Seconding the God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen version!

        I also love anything by TSO and the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album. I grew up listening to that last one every year on LP.

      2. CanadaTag*

        Oooh, I’m actually fond of Il est né, le divin enfant – maybe because it was a song that we listened to a lot (and sang in choir) when I was in French Immersion.

    24. Waiting for the Sun*

      Not Christmas related, but I want to note that today, December 8, is important in rock music history. Jim Morrison was born in 1943 and John Lennon was murdered in 1980.
      Rest in Power.

    25. LCL*

      Drop kick Murphys-The Season’s upon us.
      Father Christmas-the Kinks
      A Fairytale of New York by the Pogues.

    26. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sick of all of them. I got permanently turned off from skating for fifteen years and having to listen to Christmas songs from about Halloween on, thanks to people choosing program music early for the Christmas ice show.

    27. vonlowe*

      I often sung the Hallelujah chorus by Messiah in school for Christmas concerts.

      My favourite Xmas song (merry Xmas everybody by Slade) doesn’t played much on radio until really close to the day.

      One that gets played a lot is last Christmas by wham so BBC radio 1 take part in wham-addegeon and warn people when they are going to play the song so you don’t have to listen to it if you want to stay in the game.

      1. Jingle*

        I was out on 1st December this year – blooming YouTube’s Christmas recommendations playlist STARTS with it!!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I got Whammed at the mall last weekend.
        Haven’t been Drummed out of the drummer boy challenge yet though.

    28. Kendra*

      I love the silly ones!
      “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
      “Dominic the Donkey”
      “Feliz Navidad” (although it’s not that silly, I like songs that mix languages).

      I also like “Still, Still, Still” and the Mannheim Steamroller version of anything.

    29. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The Phil Spector Christmas album and Wham’s Last Christmas. My tastes are…..unconventional.

    30. Torrance*

      I’ve been listening to Peter Hollens a lot– Grown Up Christmas List is my favourite but, because I’m a fan of his, I can even listen to his more religious Christmas songs and enjoy them.

      And I always have to mention The Christians & The Pagans by Dar Williams; as the sole pagan in a family of Christians, it’s probably the most heartwarming holiday song I know.

    31. Small-town dr*

      White Wine in the Sun by Tomorrow Michin. Best athiest Christmas song ever. And The Hanakah Song by Adam Sandler. As long as I don’t have to hear The Little Drummer Boy I’m ok.

    32. CanadaTag*

      To me, it’s not Christmas until I listen to Boney M’s The 20 Greatest Christmas Songs, especially Zion’s Daughter, because that was the album my aunt always had playing when we went over there for Christmas Eve (a tradition until I was well into my twenties).

      The Latin full version of Adeste Fideles. I can remember the first two verses, but always have problems remembering the whole of the third – and the versions that are on the radio and most pop-rock-type albums generally have only the first verse in Latin. (*pouts*)

      Will have to check out that White Wine in the Sun song!

    33. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I hate them all! ;-)

      Actually, living in the UK I now get a completely different set of songs to get sick of. It would be a bit of a novelty to hear a fun cover of something like Rudolph. I used to enjoy the silly holiday songs and covers, like the Squirrel Nut Zippers version of Sleigh Ride or Grandma got run over by a Reindeer.

      I would love to hear seasonal songs from other regions or religions as appropriate though!

    34. Merci Dee*

      I love “Fum, Fum, Fum”! We sang that in college choir one year, and my best friend and I still text each other the lyrics every December, even 18 years later. Along with “The 7 Joys of Mary” lyrics.

      So, I also love Charlotte Church’s version of “The Angel Gabriel”, because she’s only accompanied by a harp. Simple and beautiful.

      “In the Bleak Midwinter”, arranged by Gustav Holst, is lovely. There’s a particular version for choir with an absolutely beautiful piano accompaniment, but I can’t find a video with that particular arrangement.

      I’ve been singing “Somewhere in My Memory” for the past 4 days.

      “A Baby Changes Everything” by Faith Hill is so pretty, too.

      There’s more, but I can’t think of them.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Oh yes, I forgot The Angel Gabriel! Did that in choir one year; I remember struggling with it. But it’s so beautiful. Benjamin Britten also has some lovely choral Christmas pieces.

        If you like Holst, you might enjoy is arrangement of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. It’s incredible.

    35. Snow Drift*

      I never get sick of Somewhere In My Memory. I think people forget about it because it’s a soundtrack song.

    36. Deep Purple Dream*

      My must listen to every year is John Michael Talbot’s Advent Suite.
      People at work are playing Whamageddon. So, far a George Michael free season.

    37. Gingerblue*

      Steeleye Span’s album “Winter” has become one of my favorites in recent years, and the album “A Victorian Christmas Revels”. Both have some refreshingly different material on them, and some really nice renditions of familiar songs (including Steeleye Span’s breakneck “King Wenceslaus”). “Winter” gets beyond strictly Christmas music; one of my favorites on it is “Unconquered Sun.” The Victorian Revels is mostly Christmas, but also includes some non-holiday Victorian popular pieces. I will say that their “Twelve Days of Christmas” is stab-inspiring.

      I have a soft spot for the Cherry Tree Carol, which is both pretty and has a touch of humor to it. All the renditions I can think of are from the 60’s, and it seems to have largely fallen off the map after that.

      Christmas-adjacent: if you Youtube “Tempus Adest Floridum”, you’ll get a really pretty medieval Latin carol about the coming of spring (the title means “The time of flowers is here”), set to the same music we now know as “King Wenceslaus.”

      Heather Dale’s album “This Endris Night” has some nice things on it, including a mashup of King Wenceslaus and the aforementioned spring carol.

      Also, my local radio station has played this every year since I can remember: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD34J0uO5QU

    38. Waiting for the Sun*

      You won’t hear it on a “listen at w*rk” radio station, unless you w*rk someplace much cooler than I ever have, but the Sex Pistols’ version of “Jingle Bells” riotous fun. A tonic for too much saccharine pop.

    39. Smarty Boots*

      Anything on the Bruce Cockburn Christmas album. Really, any of the songs. Listen to the whole album, that’s even better.

    40. Because no one needs to know how I relax*

      haha, Cheech and Chong, Santa and His Old Lady. Not a song, but fun. Especially if you’re, um, loose.

  13. annakarina1*

    What have been people’s favorite films this year? I usually like compiling a list of new films I saw in theaters or streaming, and these are my top ten choices:

    Let the Sunshine In, directed by Claire Denis: A fun and light French romantic comedy about a middle-aged woman trying to find love and facing frustrating disappointments in screwball situations.

    Sorry to Bother You, directed by Boots Riley: A darkly satirical look at race relations, assimilation, big business, labor unions, and corporations in a sci-fi world of heightened reality a la Michel Gondry.

    Disobedience, directed by Sebastian Lelio: An intimate drama about grief and complicated love relationships among the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community of London, with standout performances by Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, and Alessandro Nivola.

    You Were Never Really Here, directed by Lynne Ramsay: A stark indie film in which the hero (Joaquin Phoenix) carries out solo rescue missions as a mercenary through brute violence while struggling with PTSD and trauma. A fantastic film that says so much more through dialogue-free scenes thanks to its blunt editing style.

    The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos: A fun costume comedy-drama about women rivaling each other for power and favoritism from the Queen, shot in fish-eye lens a la 90’s Busta Rhymes videos, with fantastic performances by Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Olivia Colman.

    Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda: A bittersweet Japanese family drama about a family of thieves and con artists supporting one another while living under deceptions and running various schemes. It’s a warm and touching character drama about likable and complicated people.

    Widows, directed by Steve McQueen: A solid heist thriller with a lot of layered characters, exciting pacing, and a series of complicated women trying to pull off a heist while juggling real-life responsibilities, like their jobs and kids. The filmmaking style reminded me of Michael Mann’s Heat at times, as a heist film with great actors, some really creative camera work, and deep character studies.

    A Quiet Place, directed by John Krasinski: A fantastic suspense thriller with a very effective use of both sound and the lack of sound, and it was eerily quiet in the theater when I saw it. I found it totally captivating, and an immersive experience.

    Private Life, directed by Tamara Jenkins: A really heartfelt and intimate drama about a longtime couple struggling with fertility issues, and the pressure that it takes on their relationships with each other and their families. I really dug this film a lot, and felt a lot of well-worn warmth with the characters, especially the leads by Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamiatti.

    The Bookshop, directed by Isabel Coixet: A quiet little British drama about a 1950s widow (Emily Mortimer), who opens a bookshop in a seaside village, and faces a lot of unnecessary pushback by residents who are resistant to change. I adored this little film, and especially loved her pen-pal friendship with the town recluse (Bill Nighy), a solitary old man who adores Ray Bradbury novels and specifically requests them from the bookshop.

    1. Anona*

      I enjoyed black panther! It was cool that it was so ground breaking. And I saw it opening weekend, which was a great experience.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Ahhh, me too! It was awesome. So many people were there and everyone was so excited for it! I went by myself, but everyone was so happy to be there that it was like we were all friends immediately. Honestly one of the best movie experiences of my life.

      2. annakarina1*

        I liked it a lot too! I also saw it opening weekend. It didn’t stick with me enough to be a favorite, but I’d put it in honorable mentions.

      1. anon today and tomorrow*

        Same. I’ve seen it three times already and I’ll probably see it a few more times before it leaves theatres.

        It wasn’t a perfect movie, but it’s the one that touched me the most and made me remember why I love music. Also it doesn’t hurt that Queen is one of my favorite bands and that Rami Malek has been one of my favorite actors since I saw him in The Pacific back in 2010. I’m so glad they cast him as Freddie (10 years ago Hollywood totally would have cast a white dude to play Freddie and would have never even considered showing his sexuality seriously).

    2. Koala dreams*

      I would like to see The Bookshop.

      Best films I have actually seen:
      Coco (not new!)
      The Raft – documentary of a weird scientific experiment in the 70s, very well dramatized and great music/sound
      Isle of Dogs – animated drama where dogs and humans fight against the evil humans (and cats) who want the dogs gone. Weird and cute and dramatic!

      1. Deep Purple Dream*

        Agreed. A good ol’ rom-com where the unsuitable “girl” is an economics professor. I laughed, I cried, I felt it did the book justice.

        I also enjoyed Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody. I enjoy going to see Fathom Events re-releases of older films.

    3. sorbus*

      Ruben Brandt, Collector was one of my favorite films of the year. Unfortunately it was a very limited run, just for awards season eligibility, but I think it will go into wide release sometime next year.

      It’s a Hungarian made animated film with a very unique cubist visual style about a psychiatrist who is tormented by nightmares of famous artworks and how his patients plan many elaborate art heists to help him out.

      1. sorbus*

        Oh! I also forgot Can You Ever Forgive Me, my other favorite film of the year. Really loved Melissa McCarthy’s performance and also nearly everything else about it.

    4. anon today and tomorrow*

      Bohemian Rhapsody is the standout for me. I’ve cried every single time I’ve seen it, and it’s stuck with me more and more each time. It’s not a perfect movie and definitely has some flaws, and I really wish it had been a miniseries (there’s so much I wanted to see!), but I think it was a great love letter to Queen and Freddie’s musical legacy. BoRhap had a hard job of condensing 20 years into two and a half hours and delving into the life of someone who tried to keep his personal life private and didn’t want to be the poster boy for any causes, but they managed to put a bit of everything in for all the different types of audiences, and they cast it perfectly. It’s definitely going to be the movie from 2018 that I rewatch the most. I want Rami Malek to win all the awards for this movie.

      Aside from that, I also cried my eyes out at Love, Simon because I’ve been waiting years for a LGBT romcom and would have loved this movie when I was growing up. I had to leave the theatre I was sobbing so hard during the scene where Simon talks to his parents about his sexuality, and then again at the end because it’s so, so, SO nice to see a happy ending for a queer couple where the biggest drama in the film is something you’d have in any straight romcom.

      I also liked Colette and how it played with sexuality and gender conventions. It doesn’t hurt that Keira Knightly kissing other women is all I’ve ever wanted from a movie. She’s the reason I figured out I was bisexual way back when the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out.

      It was a really good year for LGBTQA+ movies, and I’m glad we’re inching towards the point where we can have LGBTQA+ movies that aren’t made for straight people instead of LGBTQA+ people or aren’t depressing tragedies.

      1. Forking great username*

        +1 to Love, Simon! I teach HS lit, so I pay special attention to ya novels/movies, and I thought it was really well done!

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          I’ve been reading so much YA over the past year because it’s so inclusive in a way that literature aimed at adults often isn’t. Sometimes all I really want is to read/watch happy endings for people who don’t usually get happy endings because society thinks their stories only hold weight if they’re serious and tragic/bittersweet.

          1. Julia*

            Thank you for expressing (and explaining to me lol) why I like YA so much! And I agree, Love, Simon was a lovely movie.

    5. kc89*

      I was hoping to love the favourite but the queen grossed me out (I did feel bad for her after hearing what she went through, but hated her personality) and I’m not sure I really got the ending. Great acting, though

      my faves were a star is born, crazy rich asians, and love simon

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Some I liked include:
      –A Quiet Place
      –The Killing of a Sacred Deer (I’m not sure I liked this one; it was very weird)
      –Call Me By Your Name (2017 but I saw it this year)

      Saw at cinema:
      –Black Panther
      –Infinity War (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
      –Ant-Man and the Wasp
      –Deadpool 2 (on my birthday; I laughed so hard at this I literally cried)
      –Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (sob)
      –Three Identical Brothers
      –Overlord (advance screening before it came out)
      –Strait-Jacket (an old one with Joan Crawford that Alamo Drafthouse screened as a freebie for Victory Club members; I had never seen it; it was awesome)

      Three Identical Brothers made me cry and also pissed me off ROYALLY. It’s a documentary about triplets who were separated at birth; I vaguely remember when they became famous. I think it’s on streaming now.

      I went to the cinema a lot more than I usually do. :)

    7. Anchorage*

      To all the boys I’ve loved before. Netflix. I think the word that sums it up best is “delightful.” Oh, and the RBG documentary. Actually saw that at the theater. On my birthday. :)

    8. Bluebell*

      I’m not sure if I made it to ten movies in the theater but here’s what stood out:
      RBG – loved it
      Crazy Rich Asians- not quite as enjoyable as the book but still awesome
      Infinity War- silly but fun
      A Star is Born
      Shape of Water- saw it New Years Day.

    9. Waiting for the Sun*

      Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, Crazy Rich Asians, Sorry To Bother You.

      I didn’t see Widows or Can You Ever Forgive Me, but heard good things about them.

  14. Laura H.*

    Kittys tosies are so cuuute.

    Off to the thing that’s not discussed on weekends for me today.

    Also (and gosh I better not jynx it) I think my writers block is FINALLY abating. I’ve missed putting hours into my fics and actually seeing results.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Kitty toes = adorable!
      Truly, the mechanics of cats in general are fascinating.
      I used to have a kitty who enjoyed ‘holding paws’ with me. He’d doze off that way and seemed to enjoy the contact.

  15. The Other Dawn*

    This is just a little rant because I feel like it.

    Why do cable companies continue to sell products they no longer offer, or rather that installers no longer install because the product sucks?

    I bought a smart TV during the Cyber Monday sale, a Toshiba 32 inch. My plan was to use it in the upstairs bedroom to stream cable (Xfinity). I didn’t want to run a cable box, because my house is 280 years old, which means a lot of work and running the wiring pretty far, plus drilling through very thick petrified wood. For probably three years now I’ve been checking with Xfinity to see if their wireless set top boxes are available in my area. I’ve been told no every time, and they don’t know when they’ll be available. So that’s why I got a smart TV, my first one.

    I set the TV up, connect to the internet and then try to install the Xfinity streaming app…and it’s not compatible with the TV. The reason being is that the app needs Adobe Flash Player to run, and Flash Player isn’t compatible with the TV. Of course. I was going to return the TV, but that’s a pain so I thought maybe I’ll put it in another room and get an antenna or something, for guests, and then get another one that’s compatible. Sister suggested checking for the wireless boxes one more time, so I did–and they now have them in my area! I made the appointment for them to come out.

    Install day arrives and the installer calls to say there’s a cancellation and he can come two hours early. Awesome! BUT. Wireless boxes are no longer being installed, and he’s not even able to get one. Hmm, OK. Offers to come anyway and check out the house to see if he can run wiring. When he gets here he says that installers can’t get the boxes anymore, and they’ve been removing them from people’s houses because they’re so defective. He then checks the house and plans out a wired install. It took him almost three hours between running the wiring and then trying to get all the boxes talking to each other (that was half the time he spent here!). At one point I heard him talking to the service center, telling them that they need to tell the sales people to stop selling the wireless boxes because they no longer install them and it’s misleading people.

    It’s done and I have cable up there, so yay. I’m glad he was able to do the installation, especially because I had to leave work so early to be home for it, but it’s so annoying when companies aren’t on the same page. I’d be more upset if it turned out he couldn’t do the install, though.

    1. HBucket*

      Just another rant about cable companies…. when we finally got cable (I put it off as long as i could), the set up didn’t go well. Very long story short, I finally got my friend who works for the competitor to troubleshoot it and he did in 15 mins what my cable company hadn’t done in two days…. Ugh.

    2. Lady Alys*

      It isn’t just cable companies – AT&T used to send us weekly (or it seemed like it…) letters saying we could now sign up for their premium DSL service, yay! Except EVERY TIME I called, it was more like, “oh….yeah….we’re not *actually* in your neighborhood yet….” Oh it made me so mad. I can’t believe I’m even typing these words, but MediaCom was infinitely easier to work with when we eventually gave up on DSL and switched to cable.

      1. BunnyWatsonToo*

        Or companies that send their subscribers offers of special rates and/or faster speeds — that turn out not to be for current subscribers.

        1. HBucket*

          When they tell us that offers are only for new subscribers we say, okay we’d like to cancel. They have always given us the better rate. Try that!!

        2. Smarty Boots*

          Or, when a certain company comes around to sell a dish service to work with our existing wireless and phone service, great deal and lots of additional channels, the installer arrives a few days later and stands by his truck laughing…because we have so many trees there is no place to get a clear signal (insert eye roll emoji here). The installer was nice, called the company and yelled at them for us.

      2. Asenath*

        When I moved, it took a couple visits to get cable set up because the company didn’t know that my building wasn’t wired with fibre op, but with copper, so they gave the tech the wrong information and equipment. Of course, they have other customers in the building, and an online app showing what features they have available where, but somehow didn’t connect the dots.

      3. strangebuttrue*

        Verizon did this for years where I live when Fios hit the market. Don’t know how long before they put fiber optics in the neighborhood. The only reason I have the fiber optics now is because they are no longer supporting the copper and I would have lost my landline.

    3. strangebuttrue*

      I have Xfinity and it’s even current equipment. My box that I had had since they converted everyone to boxes died. I took it to one of their stores and exchanged it. The new box did not work. Went back and swapped it out. They gave me the voice controlled remote one which I did not want. So this time I told them to send out an installer. Interesting conversation. Apparently they are not making new boxes (at least not the one I got). They just refurbish and reuse the ones that are returned. Also he left me with an extra power cord as apparently they go bad faster then the box.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      UGH. That makes me mad. AT&T did that with U-verse; they kept promising it would come into my neighborhood and that was just lies. Glad to be shut of them.

      I cut the cord when they bought DirecTV and went back to Mediacom for internet only, and both my TVs have Rokus. My smart TV is sort of dumb and slow with wireless.

      Someone might have hacked my old router, because I had an enormous overage charge and when we checked, there was a HUGE surge in downloading for two days on the first weekend in November. Well, that was the beginning of NaNoWriMo, and there is NO WAY it was me, because I barely had the TV on all month. Mediacom gave me a new XStream modem with a router built in. I got put in at a lower new-customer price for a year–hopefully by the time this pricing expires, I’ll be out of here.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My computer guy husband says that many wifi routers had huge vulnerabilities exploited this year, so hopefully your cable company didn’t charge you for that upgrade.
        It’s way past neighbors figuring out your Wi-Fi password by the way–now it’s hackers from overseas. (Why yes, Russia is on the list.) He’s heard of someone who had a terabyte downloaded on his data plan before it was discovered.
        (Great coverage on Ars Technica by the way, search on router.)

    5. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

      When I moved from my friend’s house to my Mom’s, I took my Xfinity service with me. I had the package for 11 months, having signed on for a 24 month deal. I arranged the move, thought I’d have the same channels on Sunday as I had the day before…NOPE!! I called that same afternoon, after the tech left, because I was blocked from certain channels. Customer service told me that package expired, you have to pay more to watch the same 3 channels you had before…and all these other channels that you don’t watch? Sorry, you get those too. So, I had signed up for a 24 month deal, that if I canceled prior to that, they would charge me a fee for each month early, but THEY canceled it instead and stuck me with a bigger monthly bill. I am not happy with them at all.

      Now that I’m more settled, I’m going to look into other options. I know Verizon pretty much bites, but Mom has it for her phone service. If they have a decent TV service, I may just cancel Xfinity all together.

    6. C*

      You can get a roku stick to stream Xfinity wirelessly. No cablebox required. Too late if they already ran the wires though.

  16. SigneL*

    I got my husband a Christmas gift that I hope he will like – a kit to keep in the car in case we ever get stranded in bad weather. What did you get that you think was a great gift (I need ideas for next year!)

    1. Laura H.*

      I think that’s a great gift.

      I usually get my mom a pair of the corded Apple earbuds- because she uses hers and wears them out- and it’s a nice thing for her to have a pair on hand, so that when they go kaput, she’s not left without a set.

      Gift cards are always nice but ymmv on that one.

      1. SigneL*

        yes, I give our (adult) kids gift cards – since they live far away, we have no idea what they really need, and frankly, it’s very hard for me to mail packages, although if I see something online that I can have shipped, that works.

        I buy my own presents (the first year we were married, in 1983, husband bought me potholders – “we need potholders!”) – so ever since I have purchased my own gift, which is more lavish than something he would get for me. I do let him wrap it, however.

    2. Red Reader*

      In past years, practical gifts have included a battery pack like a USB backup, that also had a special attachment that was jumper cables so one could jump a car from the battery pack. It takes about half the pack’s full charge to jump my SUV, but you don’t have to look for someone with a car and cables and then maneuver the cars into alignment and all that jazz; upon finding my battery dead it was literally two minutes to get the pack set and get the engine going. Plus it has a USB port and can be used to charge a phone or whatnot too. (Disclaimer: my housemate tried to use hers to jump when her battery wasn’t actually dead, the problem in her car was the starter/alternator, and trying to jump a non-dead battery actually damaged the pack to death. So be careful.)

      1. TootsNYC*

        I -just this very day- ordered one of those for my aunt. I hope I got an OK brand!

        I also ordered one of those cone windshield scrapers to go with it.

    3. Anona*

      I love fuzzy Wicked Good slippers from llbean. They’re pricey for slippers but well made and sooo fuzzy.

      I’d like to get my husband a chain mail scrubber for our cast iron pans. Super useful and cool!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, the Wicked Good slippers are the best. I bought a new pair the day *after* the 25% off sale; I was bitter, but I still bought.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I love these slippers! My husband and I each have a pair and we love them. Very warm, comfy and also good when you need to run outside to grab wood or bring the garbage out.

    4. Lady Alys*

      My husband travels occasionally, so this year I got him a little leather valet to keep in his suitcase – it lies flat but the corners snap up to make a little shallow tray to hold keys/hotel card/phone. Bonus – made by a local crafty guy. For other ideas, if you have hours to kill and don’t mind wandering down a rabbit hole, just Google “everyday carry” or “EDC” and you will find ideas galore. I’ve been getting my (semi-adult) kids keychain tools for the past few years.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      My mom is clearing/cleaning a lot of the stuff that my siblings and I left there, in October she brought us each a portfolio of our artwork and told us to pick which one we want her to frame for Christmas ( I love this gift)
      We recently switched from an electric stove to gas (2years ago) and have realized that our pans are a little light for the gas. So i got hubby a nice pan that I found half off, i know it’s something he wanted but totally couldn’t justify spending the money on full price. We’re also more on the get me something practical that I want with out gifts. I asked for everyone to get me flower bulbs for Christmas to landscape around our house.

    6. JxB*

      My family is so hard to buy for. Struggling with ideas for my adult children. One thing will be gift cards for Uber. They both use that car service when out for festive evenings, and I like the idea of a specific gift card/service I know they will use rather than something more generic like a Visa or Amazon gift card.

      1. Arjay*

        My mom got me a AAA membership for Christmas every year from the time I got my driver’s license until she passed away. She always felt better knowing that I’d be safer on the road, and it got me out of a lot of jams. I renew it myself now, and I get a little teary-eyed every time, remembering her.

    7. Jack be Nimble*

      I replaced our (crummy) pots and pans with a nicer set! Right now, we have castoffs from former roommates, so it’ll be nice to have nice, new pieces!

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Ha! I was going to write the same thing. I have been married 20 yrs, and my original service was done. My sister bought me a new set for my birthday. Best gift ever.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      One gift that was and is still very useful is a kid-sized folding table. Not only was it WONDERFUL for the little kids, but it’s still useful at tax time or any time a lot of papers have to be spread out. The small size is really convenient.

    9. Detective Amy Santiago*

      The most useful gift I have ever given was a small shovel to keep in the trunk of a car. My best friend lives in BC and nearly got stuck at work one day a month or so before Christmas 3 or 4 years ago, so I went on Amazon and found one. She uses it all the time.

    10. LizB*

      I just finished up my shopping, and my proudest find was a set of pens for my aunt that let you write your name on your wine glass (or any other drinking glass) and then wash it off easily after. She loves to host dinner parties, game nights, etc. and I’m hoping this will make that easier and more fun if everyone can label/decorate their glasses.

    11. Lcsa99*

      I think my favorite of the gifts I’ve put together for my husband was the year I got him a bunch of vinyl records. I didn’t want to make it obvious when he looked under the tree, so I got the same amount of mini records off etsy (I think they were supposed to be greeting cards or something), then I printed the images of the covers for the albums I actually got him so they looked like tiny versions of the records, and wrote notes on the mini card albums telling him where to find them (I’m under the bed, I’m in the hall closet, etc) so he spent the morning giggling and looking all over the apartment. It was pretty awesome.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Im getting Other Half something to start the grill faster/easier like a Looftlighter or a charcoal chimney. Also, some grill gloves.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I asked for hearing-protection with Bluetooth & AM/FM in it. I like yardwork & snowblowing, but not having my ears ring after running the mower. Add audiobooks and I’ll be able to work longer at one time. (We have a long driveway!)

        The cook suggests a diamond stone knife sharpener.

        My 7th grader suggests one of the faux fur jackets that is as soft as a Ty Baby stuffie. I giggled and called it a Muppet coat and she says she’d wear it anyway.

        All of us say books books books!

    13. JewelryLover*

      I got my husband a seat heater for his car (my car has heated seats, his doesn’t, and it’s really nice at -40).

      I gift most of the adults in my life food baskets. I buy my dad really expensive blue cheese, I buy my brother and his wife a variety of things so they have a “date night” with my gift.

      This year, everyone’s present is going to be a little less – I decided that everyone is giving chickens through Heifer International with me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Project Night-Night is a good charity gift if you’re going that route.
        They give comfort tote bags to kids in foster care and homeless shelters– each with a book & a stuffie. So many of these kids have had to leave everything behind, or have no way to carry what little they do have.

    14. Loopy*

      I just got my very first experience gift and I’m over the moon with it. Fiance got me VIP tickets to see Lindsey Stirling Dec 22 after I made a comment about how I’d love to see her but was shocked at the ticket prices and decided this just wasn’t the year to splurge. AND I never would have splurged on the VIP experience. I highly recommend tickets to something, especially if you can afford an upgrade they’d never get themselves.

      I’m not worried about not opening anything on Xmas morning at all. I think I’ll still be over the moon from the concert experience.

    15. Lemon Whirl*

      I’m getting flashlights for our stockings – because with an 8-year old in the house, we can never manage to put our hands on a flashlight when we need one!

      I got my husband tickets to a comedy group he loves, so I’m looking forward to surprising him, because he thinks that his present is tickets to see a band with our kid. (He’s getting those tickets as well, but he’s very particular about seats for rock shows, so I needed to check with him before I bought them.)

      I also got some expansion packs for a game we enjoy – he doesn’t know about those either.

  17. Jeff has two tvs*

    US Colleges for introverts – what worked for other introverts -big college with lots of groups, or smaller colleges where participation is more encouraged?a

    1. Dear liza dear liza*

      I was very shy at 18 and a small liberal arts college was ideal for me. Lots of community support, lots of opportunities and encouragement to socialize. Even as a freshman I had a single room, so I could get away as needed. I think in a big university it would’ve been too easy to stay in my room and never go out.

    2. MeganTea*

      For me, small college was better for my bachelor’s. Small class sizes (even for 101s), easier to get to know people due to running into the same people in classes/dorms/cafeteria.
      For my master’s, I went to a big R1, but the program itself was rather small, so it was easy to get to know everyone and feel comfortable in the program.

    3. Doc in a Box*

      I went to my state’s flagship university, but lived in a residential college, where we had theme movie nights and semesterly banquets and our own dining room in the dining hall. It was a great balance between a small and welcome community of quirks and weirdos, while also having the educational might and research resources of a large public R1.

      1. Luisa*

        I also chose a residential college within a huge state school, but in retrospect I wish I would have explored more small-school options. I think the problem in my case boiled down to hyper-competitive majors within the residential college, so even though there were lots of activities and opportunities to engage with that (relatively) smaller group within the huge university community, it never really had the relaxed, welcoming community atmosphere I’d hoped for. I felt like I was always “on.”

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      I was painfully shy at 18, and I went to a big state college. I loved it, and made some good friends there who I still consider close today. It helped that I also had a few friends from high school going to the same college (although I didn’t spend a lot of time with them after the first two years).

    5. PlatypusOo*

      I am a parent not a student (but for sure I am an introvert). We just visited Grinnell and despite the fact that it’s a small school in a small town it seemed like it could work out for introverts and extroverts both.

    6. Emily*

      I really liked my (less than 1000 students) liberal arts college – the size gave me some great opportunities to get to know professors and other students, and participate in campus activities and academic opportunities that probably would have been available but harder to find at a bigger school.

      That said, I had a lot of friends go to my state’s flagship university, and I think they were happy with their choice as well. As far as I can tell, most of them found friends in smaller groups within the larger university, through things like shared hobbies and majors.

    7. LondonBridges*

      Currently enrolled at a smaller liberal arts school, and I’m fairly happy with it. I’m getting a lot of opportunities outside of my major that I likely wouldn’t at a larger school (scholarship for playing bassoon! paid work in the theatre costume shop! chill sports!), and having smaller class sizes is great for really getting to know professors and making friends with the other students who ended up with a similar schedule. I’m seconding dear liza, if I was at a giant school, I would have just burrowed into my room and never come out. If you’re currently looking at schools, keep an eye on what kind of food options there are very close to small campuses. All the outside food options on our campus now are being bought out by the company that runs the cafeteria, so to escape the caf food you pretty much have to have a car or spend the delivery fees from UberEats or GrubHub.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I went to tiny branch of Big State U. I loved it there. The largest classes were about 50 people and that was only the first day. We had less and less each time we met.
      From there I went to a community college to finish my associates and that CC was the best of the three colleges I attended. What made it great was they taught things I was actually going to use in real life/real work. This CC enjoyed a great reputation with 4 year colleges because they made the students work for their grades and it showed in the individual student. When I went there it was a fairly small campus, it has now tripled in size. So the experience now might be different.
      The common thread was classes were pretty small and I could meet friends and learn people’s names. I always had study partners for the difficult courses.
      But with the second school, I also changed something else I was doing. I went to bed at 11 pm every night without fail. No more all-nighters. I learned something, even though I had not review the material for the test to suit my own standards, but by having enough rest I was able to piece together the correct answer out of the materials I did cover. The rest helped my mind to function and my average test was 10 points higher than at the previous school. Introverts absolutely must have their rest.

    9. gecko*

      You could absolutely go either way. If you’re a city introvert maybe a bigger college would be better—easier to walk around without recognizing anyone; if you’re a suburbs/country introvert maybe a smaller one so there’s less density of other faces.

    10. Hannah*

      I am a vehement introvert, and I attended both kinds of colleges.

      I started out at a small, liberal arts college. I HATED IT. It felt really small and closed in, like I couldn’t be anonymous. The selection of courses was also really small and the good ones were hard to get into. It was also in a location that didn’t allow much off-campus interaction, so I couldn’t really go for a walk to someplace by myself–I had to find someone to give me a ride (I didn’t have my own car). I could never have a break from my friends. I was miserable there.

      Then I transferred to a really big college. I didn’t love it, but I liked it a lot more. I felt more free, more like I was living in the world. I could be very independent and didn’t have to interact with anyone if I didn’t want to. There were huge varieties of courses and activities to do. Lots more choices of classes. It was in a big city so I could go places on my own.

      I had been told by my mother and my high school college counselor that a small college was better for “someone like me” because small colleges give more individual attention (LIES they did no such thing) and I would get lost in the bustle of a big school. I NEED to be lost in the bustle. Otherwise I feel suffocated.

    11. Overeducated*

      I think what matters isn’t the size of the college, it’s finding your people in it. I went to a small college but there were still 2000 people! The factors that did make a difference in an introvert-friendly culture were that there were no fraternities, so campus social life wasn’t as centered on them as at some schools, and there were fairly visible subcultures where I could picture myself. The first part is more common at liberal arts colleges, the second you could look into at any type of school.

    12. noahwynn*

      My only experience is with a smaller college where most classes were 20 students or so. I loved it but it was also similar to my smaller private high school, so it wasn’t a huge change. I like the interaction in smaller classes.

      I think introverts can thrive in either situation. For me, I did much better once I moved to a single room instead of a double. When I had my own space to retreat to I was actually more involved with groups and activities.

    13. Anonomo*

      Ive done both, and I liked my small community college better than the big university. The community school wasnt really better academically, but all the people stayed in the same classes so I got used to them (along w the same 25 staff in my main department) and excelled in my coursework. When I went back to university, I didnt have a single person the same in any two classes so the awkward meeting new people just kept happening. Bonus of the university was having a larger city, which meant I could grab McDs at 3 am or walk places instead of driving everywhere.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Beyond the college, look into smaller residence hall style dorms. My university had interest theme community housing–international students with students who love travel & language, cultural ones, arts & performance, etc. Many of my friends breathed a sigh of relief when they moved out of the freshman dorms to a place where they knew they had interests in common with their dormmates.

  18. Bicycle?*

    So I’m thinking about buying a bicycle … but I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on something I might not use that often (depends on how much I like it when I get started really). Are the bicycles from say Walmart that are about $100 decent bikes? I’m not sure how to tell the quality of a bike and what I want out of it….(I realize besides the bicycle I’ll need a helmet and other supplies for upkeep so I’m thinking about the overall cost and if it’s worth it).

    1. HBucket*

      I would start with one of those. They’re fine, especially for occasional use. If you decide you like it and want to upgrade, you can easily sell the cheap one. I started with a Trek hybrid (about $400) but there’s no reason you can’t get a Walmart special… just make sure it has some gears. Unless you live at the beach or where it’s extremely flat, a cruiser is too much work.

    2. Ranon*

      I would see if there is a local bike shop around you that sells used bikes at your preferred price point. The problem with Walmart bikes is not only the quality, but that they also tend to be put together poorly, so you might wind up hating the experience of riding just because the person who put yours together didn’t know what they were doing. My local shop also lets you test ride so you can get a feel for what you’re buying, so you can try out different features and configurations and see what works for you. They also have free beginner maintenance classes and group rides- basically a whole lot more support than you’ll get from Walmart.

      The other thing to look into is whether there’s a local bike advocacy group near you- they may be able to point you to specific stores and resources in your area that meet your budget but will get you something you’ll actually enjoy riding. That’s where I started when I wanted to start bicycling this year and it was super helpful.

      1. RunnerGirl*

        +1 to Ranon’s comment.

        Used from a local bike shop is your best value. If you have a cycling savvy friend, enlist their help. Bikes are one place where a savvy shopper can really take advantage of our disposable consumer culture. If cared for and not crashed, a bike really doesn’t wear out, though components need replaced from time to time. (My frame is 12 years old and I know several people – good, competitive riders – who are riding Ti frames from the late 90’s)

        $300-500 is a sweet spot for a used bike where you can get something quite good, that is comfortable and will last. If you find a ‘nice’ used bike for $100, chances are high you’ll be throwing a couple of hundred at it in short order replacing worn out components.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I am agreeing with going to a bike shop. This will give you trained folks who can help you with questions or problems. And they will make sure the bike is set up to fit you. For example, when you push down on the pedal, your leg should be like straight down when the pedal is at the bottom of the rotation. This means adjusting the seat to suit your leg length. Now you can skip this part if you like, and what might happen is that you have to pedal really hard up hill and exhaust yourself quickly. There is no need to exhaust yourself that fast. There are other points that should be adjusted to suit you.

        My husband kept adding to his bike as he rode it more and more. He added a gel seat for his sore/tired butt. He added air horns because of drivers who are oblivious to bicyclists and dogs that chase bikes. He added lights for night time riding. Then he got padded, fingerless gloves as his hands were sore from leaning on the handle bars.As you go along things come up and it’s good to have a place to go for advice and additional accessories. This will help keep you riding.

      3. Washi*

        I agree. I got a Walmart bike, but it was so clunky and heavy that I avoided using it, which defeated the point. My current bike I got from a friend of a friend for free, but I spent around $200 fixing it since it was in pretty bad shape. I use it so much more that it was worth every penny!

    3. Anonyme*

      Read up on helmet fit & accreditation. Do not cheap out. Do not get a hockey or snowboarding helmet. Keep it buckled!

      1. foolofgrace*

        Don’t get a used helmet. They can be in an accident and the cracks are on the inside of the plastic where you can’t see them, and it affects the protectability of the helmet. Not to mention it being on someone else’s sweaty head and hair, ew.

    4. Sapphire*

      If you intend to use it for transportation or commuting, I wouldn’t get a department store bike. Agree with the folks down thread who recommend a used bike from a local shop, they’ll definitely be cheaper than a new bike. You could also see if any friends of yours would lend you a bike so you can try it out.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I did some research and wound up ordering a last-years or 2-yeaes-ago model Diamondback online for about $250. When I took it to my bike shop for tune-up, they mentioned it is a nice bike.

      From what I can see, bikes are like running shoes. The high-end companies bring out a new model every year. So you can find the older models new-in-box at a big discount.

    6. Annie Moose*

      Another benefit of a local bike shop is that good ones can be extremely helpful in helping you pin down what kind of bike you really want/need/fits you. (for example, my sister recently bought a bike, and the bike shop folks got her on a men’s bike because she’s so tall, women’s bikes just don’t fit her. She’d never even thought about that before!) But they are definitely going to be a lot pricier unless you’re buying used.

      So I’d say–start with the cheap bike and see how you like it; if you find you enjoy biking, then go to a local bike shop and see what they have at your price point.

    7. Notthemomma*

      I got one a Walmart bike a few years ago and ended up giving it away- it rode ‘rough’ for me, extra effort to get the brake to engage, not a smooth ride, even after adjustments and a good oiling. This spring I’m going to the local bike shop and get a cheap refurbished; if you’re biking a mile or two the Walmart one will be fine, but more than that it may put you off.

    8. sleepwakehopeandthen*

      I bought a nice used bike from a bike shop for about $100. I use it for daily (short) commuting and running errands, and it is nice to have somewhere to take it for repairs (I’ve had it for 6 years, and I think I’ve had to take it in 3 times, but it gets pretty heavy use).

    9. Trixie*

      I’ve been spoiled by living in areas with wonderful selection of used bike stores but now, not so much. Next time I look for a used a bike, I will check local FB pages and CL. Many times, folks are looking to upgrade and need to unload an often perfectly good bike first.
      I would also see if you can test ride a few bikes to get an idea what size you need. Seat heights and handle bars can be adjusted to an extent to make it perfect.

    10. Bicycle?*

      Thanks everyone! Looks like a visit to a bike shop is in order at some point soon! And don’t worry the helmet is the one thing I would absolutely not goo cheep on (my mother, a nurse who did a rotation or two in ER, would have a fit if she heard of me doing otherwise).

      1. Alice*

        To be honest, a helmet can protect you from skull fractures, but most people who die in bike-car or bike-truck accidents are injured in the trunk as well as or instead of the head.
        I do not mean to discourage you! I just don’t want you to have a false sense of security. Have fun, stay safe – and get a good lock.

    11. Nita*

      Yes, I got a $100 bike from Toys R Us years ago. It was a big one (for teenagers) so I kept using it as an adult. It did the job for commuting around the city, was reliable, and the only things that needed fixing in 10+ years was the tires. Extra bonus – because it wasn’t a fancy bike, I could chain it up anywhere and know it’ll be there when I come back. It did get stolen eventually… no idea who wanted such a beat-up specimen, I guess they needed it more than I did…

      I suppose Walmart has similar basic bikes, but wouldn’t want to pick one online, only in person.

      1. Overeducated*

        I second this. I was pretty happy with a used Wal-Mart mountain bike for a long time, and then upgraded to a next-step-up hybrid from a bike shop after almost 2 years of commuting 7 miles each way because by that time I felt like I could justify the cost. If you might not use it that much, a cheap bike is just fine.

  19. Lcsa99*

    So I have an unusual problem. We have two different cookie presses. One is the standard OXO Good grips cookie press, the other is a Norpro, all stainless steel. Both use the same size discs, but the Norpro is slightly different in that the middle is slightly raised. But since the discs themselves are the same size and the OXO has nicer designs we usually use them interchangeably. The problem is that this year one of the discs got stuck in the Norpro press. It went in as smoothly as it always does but it’s completely jammed in there. Any ideas on now to get it out??? I would really rather not toss the press, since it’s a nice one and the OXO works worse every year.


    1. gecko*

      It sounds like a matter of oiling/soaping it and gently jiggling it out. You could also wet a towel in really hot water and apply it to the outside of the press to expand the outer walls a bit.

      How annoying! Good luck!

    2. HBucket*

      If it normally goes in and out easily, it may be just a little crooked. Perhaps try gently tapping where it (hopefully) appears to be crooked and see if that helps?!

    3. RunnerGirl*

      It’ll probably leave a mark, but if it’s truly stuck, heat the area around the disk with a torch then poke the disk out. You’ll want access to a workbench with a vise to hold the press, along with some gloves.

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Soak the whole thing in hot water nd then touch an ice cube to the disc. It’s probably aluminum and expands and contacts more with heat and cold than the press does.

      1. fposte*

        What I’ve done with bowls is just to put the whole thing in the freezer. The contraction-in-cold effect means that the walls get thinner and the concavity gets bigger, even though it may seem like expansion is what you’d want.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I’d try submersing it in simmering water for half a minute or so to see if the outer housing might expand enough to get the disc out.

    6. Girl friday*

      Have you tried taking a plastic or wooden spoon and pushing it out from the other side? I would try removing it from the opposite way it entered, rather than expanding or contracting the outside. The other discs might not fit then.

    7. Lcsa99*

      Thanks everyone! A combination of all the suggestions finally worked. I had it a little wet and put it in the freezer for an hour, then started some water in a small saucepan (enough to go just under but not touching the disk) and when that started boiling I dropped the thing in and started pushing the disk until the outside expanded enough that it finally moved.


  20. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have a recommendation for a nearly-indestructible teaser toy for cats?

    One of my cats LOVES the teaser toys that have the feather attached. She’s a really high jumper so she gets some significant height when playing with this toy and it tires her out, which is good. I’ve tried several different ones–Da Bird, Jackson Galaxy, and a couple others–and she stills breaks the wand, usually within a short time after buying it. I’m at the point where I think I should just buy a children’s fishing pole and attach the feather toy to it.

    1. Lena Clare*

      A fishing rod is a good idea. You could also reinforce the rod with masking tape – it’ll last longer.

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      If you can find a long buggy whip or lung whip for horses, they work great.

      1. Lizabeth*

        Those may be too long for inside use but take a look at a dressage length riding crop. My ex-cats LOVE it.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Our big kitten chewed the ends off the plastic wands, so anything plastic and thin is probably a no-go. We’ve used old shoelaces, both the knit kind and the cord kind, and tied a toy to the end (optional). There’s no pole so you can’t flick the toy but dragging along the ground works fine too.

    4. louise*

      We made a dog teaser toy using pvc pipe with rope through it and wave it around like a fishing rod for our high energy dog. That might be a little overkill for a cat, but it’s proven indestructible for us so far.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I was owned by my housemate’s cats, we got a dowel and cotton yarn at a craft store and made our own. We did it because we were all on tight budgets… but it lasted longer than the fancy one received as a gift.

  21. Washi*

    How do people handle card-writing and present-buying with their significant other?

    I enjoy doing cards/emails/calls/presents for my friends and family on special occasions, but I think if I had to do it for everyone, it would become a huge chore. But my husband is not naturally good at stuff like that – he calls his family on their birthdays, but for example, never initiates plans to do something for his mom on Mother’s day, doesn’t do birthday cards for his grandparents, etc. We’ve been together a while and married a year, and I’m starting to feel like I’m implicated in how bad he is at this, especially since we live quite near his family. But I’m also hesitant to take it on since I know it would quickly become my sole responsibility.

    Am I being ungenerous by not wanting to take this on? Is it ok if my family gets more cards/presents/plans made? How does this work in your family? (I’m especially curious for those in non-heterosexual relationships if one person naturally tends to take this on, or if you split it, since there is a strong gendered aspect to this dynamic.)

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I would let him do his family and you do yours. If they are unhappy, they can talk to him about it.

      You are right that you would be taking on a huge amount of emotional and actual labor without any benefit or likely recognition. And it’s hugely gendered so it’s worth not doing for that reason alone.

      If you eventually have kids, you could decide if you want to help facilitate a relationship by planning things with his side of the family. That would be a kindness. But a hard pass to the gifts/cards/birthday phone calls.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with letting him do his family and you do yours.

      My husband’s family isn’t good about remembering birthdays, much less buying cards or things like that. He’s lucky if his parents call him to wish him happy birthday. It’s just the way they are. He’s better about it–he gets me a card on my birthday and our anniversary, and remembers to wish me a happy birthday/anniversary. My family always remembers birthdays, although with both my parents gone now it’s usually an email and maybe a card. When my mom was around we tended to exchange gifts. It just kind of fell by the wayside when she died. Maybe because she was the one that usually mentioned that she bought X to send to the grandkids/kids.

      You don’t need to do all that work if his family is the type that doesn’t really care much about this stuff. I mean, you may get some satisfaction out of it, but they’re probably unlikely to be so moved that they reciprocate. I guess if you’re OK with never having your efforts acknowledge and you want to do it just to do it, then that’s fine, too.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      You are definitely not being ungenerous. My SO and I each do our own, or sometimes we each do something for his parents if we both have good ideas. We honestly both suck a bit at cards and being on time for the actual birthday.

      But if it’s something you would otherwise like to do and there’s something in an unrelated realm of chores you hate that your husband could do, that’s another option. I try not to worry too much about gender roles if there’s a division of labor in my own private relationships that works for me. If you worry he wouldn’t pull his weight at the other task, that’s a more systemic problem to tackle for your future happiness.

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      I would definitely refuse to take it on – unless it’s offered like a chore that you do in exchange for him doing more dishes or something. Maybe I’d suggest it to him every now and then: “btw, I’m taking my mom out for mother’s day – what are you planning for yours?” but that’s it. If his family starts to mention that they’re neglected, just say “you’d have to ask [Mr. Washi] about that.”

      Does that mean your side of the family will get more time? Probably, but if his mom wanted him to send more cards, she probably should have raised him like that, shouldn’t she?

    5. fposte*

      It sounds like maybe you’re the only one of the two of you who thinks this needs to be done with his family, though. Now, as you note, this is gendered enough that you’re the one who might get the blowback if you don’t, but I’m inclined to say screw the blowback–I really wouldn’t want to become the family relationship technician just because I’m female. You do your side, he does his side, or he doesn’t.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. This is where I went to. Almost predictably he did nothing and no one cared. I could have put a lot of energy into that and it would have been for nothing.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah, I think you’ve nailed a lot of it – he’s not concerned (which is partly why he’s bad at it, he doesn’t feel the need to try) but since in both our families the wife is responsible for this stuff, I’m worried that it will reflect on me more than him. We also have this weird cycle going where he doesn’t initiate any plans with his parents, so they flood us with invitations because they think that’s the only way to see us, but because they are constantly emailing us (I’m talking multiple times a week) there’s no need for him to initiate anything because they’ve already invited us to a million things.

        I think I need to take everyone’s advice and just not try to change this and let them talk to Mr. Washi if they don’t like how things are!

      3. Natalie*

        Agreed, ignore any possible blowback. If it bothers your in laws enough they’ll mention it sometime and then they can take it up with *their* son.

        Or you’ll get lucky and it will come up somehow naturally. Right after I got married we visited my spouse’s family around his mom’s birthday. He had brought a gift and she made some kind of joke about how now he had a wife to remind him. I just said (brightly, not snarky) “nope! He can manage his own calendar. I have enough family to keep track of.” It’s never come up since.

    6. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

      I am aggressively you do your side I do mine. My in-laws buy things for me and my parents buy things for my husband, but I buy “couple” gifts for my brother and sister in law, they do the same for us. It makes more sense to me, but husband’s family is all about individual gifts.1

    7. sleepwakehopeandthen*

      I do nothing with maintaining how my husband manages his relationships with his family. I don’t buy presents or send cards or organize get togethers. (Sometimes I will help with the logistics for things that have already been planned, like if I am buying gifts and he asks me to pick up a specific, already identified present for his mom, I would, as long as I didn’t have to choose, and I usually make the desserts we bring to family gatherings). For Christmas cards, I order enough of them for him to send out, but I only send them to my people, and if he wants to send them to his people, he can do that. He’s an adult and managed to have a relationship with his family before we got married, he can continue to manage it after.

    8. NeverNicky*

      Mr Never does his side of the family, I do mine. In the early years I made an effort and made handmade gifts for Christmas for his siblings/ siblings in law and got no thanks so not even going to try anymore. They aren’t big on gifts and cards apparently – which I should have known from the lack on my birthday…

      It does mean I spend more on my family than Mr N does on his but it’s just how it is.

    9. Family Business*

      My ex would never do anything for his family, but they were big on gifts, and he said ‘we’ had to do something for them. We always became me. One year, I did the usual shopping and wrapping for Christmas, but only signed my name on the tags.

      It was quite clear to all that he hadn’t even LOOKED at the gifts because he was surprised that there were no gifts from him.

      So that’s the passive aggressive approach.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You know, some people only dream of doing this but you actually lived it. I have to applaud this one.

    10. Red Reader*

      I solved it by marrying someone who is estranged from the remaining living members of his family, barring his twin brother who doesn’t like me anyway. Heh. But if that hadn’t been the case, like everyone else is saying, he would handle his family and I would handle mine. As it is, I handle mine, he’s probably forgotten to get anything for his brother and I don’t care, and he asks me if I think we should go see my parents more often because he adores them.

    11. Washi*

      I’m reassured to see that so many people are each in charge of their own sides of the family! I don’t have a lot of married friends, and my one closest friend who is married does all the connection-tending for both of them, so I was feeling pretty guilty about my stance.

    12. Gay in the city*

      In our relationship my wife is definitely more into stuff like writing thoughtful cards than I am, but in general I take care of my family and she does hers. However we get big and thoughtful presents from my parents and I don’t tend to get anything from hers (she does, though typically something smaller) so bearing that in mind I do expect some help coming up with stuff for my parents!

    13. EvilQueenRegina*

      My uncle is just like your husband. Before he met his wife, it used to be a running joke in the family about whether Uncle Robert’s birthday card would be late or arrive at all. Once he married Cersei, she took over with all our birthdays. One year she happened to be out of the country on my cousin Jon’s birthday, Uncle Robert sent nothing and then later said he didn’t see why he should given that Jon was 22 that year. But the age thing is a whole different issue so I won’t derail the thread with it.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        The joke of it is the amount of fuss that Uncle Robert expects us all to make of his birthday. I call him Dudley Dursley to his face.

    14. Everdene*

      Oak and I tend to jointly so both our families; ie ‘what should we get our mums for Mothers Day this year’. I tend to wrap (I initially insisted on doing it together but now I usually wrap while he’s doing the ironing and he’ll lend a finger when required) and write cards (better handwriting) but he dictates the message (better ar being nice!). However we both have a love language of gift giving so I don’t feel like this is a burden on me OR his family judge me for his failures.

    15. Olive Hornby*

      I’m a woman married to another woman, and my wife takes on most of this responsibility–partly, I think, because it’s just a bigger deal in her close-knit family than it is in mine. So she’ll remind me that it’s my brother’s birthday to make sure that I remember to call him, or she’ll bring home Mother’s Day cards for both of us to sign for each of our moms, or she’ll wrap the Christmas gifts.

      It works for us, but only because 1) my wife likes picking out cards and gifts and 2) I take on more work in other areas (like keeping track of our finances.) If you feel burdened by the responsibility, or if your husband isn’t taking on his fair share of work when it comes to other tasks, you’d be totally within your rights to not take this on. But before you make that decision, it would be worth having a conversation with him–I have a sense that straight men don’t always view this kind of thing as work on par with cleaning the house or getting the oil changed, so a little reframing might help him understand that he needs to contribute more–even if it means putting a reminder on his calendar to plan something for Mother’s Day, etc.

  22. Auntie Social*

    Party question—when you go up to a group or a couple in a conversation to join the group, and no one acknowledges you, what then? I’ve been on the other end of this, and have never not said hello to someone coming up to us. Maybe with an explanation to get the new person caught up—“Gordon was telling us about his recent appearance in court”. So after a few minutes of being invisible do you just slink off? There doesn’t seem to be an opening or even a “Really? Me, too!” moment.

    1. Koala dreams*

      I say “Hello, my name is X” and stretch out my hand. Usually people shake hands and tell me their names in return. If people are so into their conversation that they won’t even do that, I go find another group, but that doesn’t happen very often.

    2. fposte*

      I’m with Koala–it’s not something to leave to the group if you want officially to connect. You’re standing at the door, so ring the doorbell :-).

      And if they’re so engrossed in conversation that there’s not an opening, that’s probably not a good conversation to happen onto–try another one. But while it’s nice if they notice you and reach out, it’s not a situation where they’re obliged to do so.

    3. ExTexan*

      Funny! My engineer husband was the same way – “What do philosophy majors actually DO?”

      And then we went to our homecoming last month and attended a talk on politics, ethics, and moral philosophy and he skipped the next lecture just so he could stay to talk with the philosopher.

      I was an English major who took Phil 101 and pretty much any other class that seemed cool (Nationalism and Imperialism in the Middle East, Existentialist Literature, Latin American History). I really liked the book “The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers” by Will Durant. It’s a good overview that gives you context, like, one of the reasons Schopenhauer was so down on women is his mom was really successful in her field and he was not.

    4. kc89*

      I avoid tightly cornered off groups who don’t seem to want to be interrupted, but if people at least look open to new people joining their little group or conversation I will usually just do a kind of obnoxious “HELLOOOOO” and then make sure I know everybody’s name and see if the conversation gels from there. If we aren’t vibing I will bow out after a minute or two.

      If the problem is you say hello and nobody says anything back, well that is rude of them!

    5. Anon Anon Anon*

      Group conversations can be hard. Sometimes people mean to be exclusive. Other times, they’re just caught up in the conversation, or they feel shy and awkward themselves. I honestly avoid them to some extent. I avoid that kind of social situation altogether. Or if I have to be part of something like that, I find something I can do. Help out with things, take pictures – something solo. Sometimes I approach someone who’s alone and introduce myself. But I don’t do the group thing.

    6. gecko*

      If it’s a couple and they ignore you, they don’t want you there and are being rude. If it’s a group, they’re still being a little rude, but if you don’t get the sense it’s a private conversation, you can abide with a smile until a conversational opening.

  23. Needs More Aladeen*

    I’m a recovering neckbeardy asshole of the type who used to look down on humanities majors just because I was getting a physics undergrad. Now I’m almost done with an engineering master’s, and in the years since, I’ve been shoved out of my neckbeardy phase.

    Partly because a few life events happened that made me see that life is more than just whatever narrow sliver I want to cut it up into (or anyone, of any discipline, wants to cut it into, if they’re being narrowminded). Part of it was having really good humanities courses near the end of my undergrad that really spoke to me. Partly because I’ve been binge-listening to YouTube philosophy channels. Like Yale courses, and stuff done by notable contemporary figures (Zizek, Zero Books) and philosophy grad students. I am staying away from Jordan Peterson and other alt-lite/right twits like the plague.

    I’m getting really interested in continental philosophy, critical theory, deep ecology, and intellectual Christian theology. I realize if I’m going to pursue this interest, I’m going to have to ramp things up a bit. I don’t have the confidence to pursue further academic studies in these areas at this point, but I’d be more than eager to grab an introductory book or two or three.

    What sorts of next steps would you recommend for a guy like me?


    1. Laura H.*

      History is a great conduit for learning. As an English major, I found that pairing World Civilizations with the corresponding World Lit class (both split into two classes at the renascence iirc) was incredibly helpful.

      It doesn’t work as well with American Lit because the movements don’t feel as “defined”

      But you can also look at the evolution of the sciences too, and that’s kinda up your alley, I assume.

      No real material suggestions, sorry.

    2. Lady Jay*

      Hurrah! Humanities are so fun, whenever you discover them. I have a bachelor’s and master’s in English Lit, with a focus on religious literature; here’s a bunch of things I love; pick & choose from among them to suit your taste:

      Poetry: The Divine Comedy, without question; Esolen translation is best. T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets (his post-conversion poetry, which blends historic Christian theology with medieval mysticism and Buddhism). If you’re at all interested in mysticism, I’d throw Lady Julian of Norwich in here.

      Nonfiction: Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson, Lauren Winner, some C.S. Lewis (later works are better than earlier; Reflections on the Psalms was outside the box & very good, though I also recommend his novel Till We Have Faces). Augustine’s Confessions. For philosophy/hyperrealism, read Baudrillard and Lyotard if you haven’t already.

      Fiction George MacDonald’s fantasy for adults: especially Phantastes and Lilith. Don DeLillo is a good postmodern American writer; White Noise and Underworld are his best, though if you can find his short story Esmerelda, that’s excellent too.

    3. Trot*

      Anne Carson’s stuff is really interesting. She’s a professor in classics but also does a lot of artistic stuff that kind of translates those ancient myths into postmodern lit. For you I’d recommend her translation of Sappho (If Not, Winter) and Autobiography of Red.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Watch The Good Place and listen to their official podcast.

      I know that might sound flippant, but the show delves deep into various philosophies and they actually do the research and present the theories accurately. On the official podcast, they frequently talk about the sources they used for different episodes/story lines.

    5. Anchorage*

      Coursera and the like. You don’t have to pay for stuff if you don’t want the certificate. But you get reading lists, online lectures, peer review of papers in some classes, etc. I’ve done several that were outside my areas of work/study and it was great! Low stakes since you aren’t being graded but with some structure and context beyond just reading and thinking on your own.

    6. gecko*

      I’d look up syllabi, maybe from your alma mater (or current school :) ). That may give you an OK mix of original texts and more introductory explanations of them, especially if you look toward first-year sociology, theology, etc classes.

      I also wouldn’t underestimate the value of writing and discussing this stuff along with reading it. Especially as you get into the really dense stuff it can be so helpful to have someone to guide a discussion about it, or challenge your interpretation of the text—or, have to write a paper that forces you to think really deeply about it.

      To that end, you said you weren’t interested in further formal education, but a class that’s not degree-oriented might help and be fun! And honestly, being interested and willing to say “teach me I don’t understand this” puts you way ahead of lots of young students in intro classes ;)

    7. deesse877*

      The “Very Short Introductions” series from Oxford University Press is inexpensive and high-quality, and covers many topics in theory and philosophy (and some major figures too). You won’t know everything there is to know once you finish one, but you will have a better-than-Wikipedia foundation in terms, context, and bibliography. I have recommended them to college students with good results.

    8. Birch*

      I don’t have any book recommendations, but instead a life recommendation. Listen more than you talk. No education or “debate” is more important than someone’s lived experiences. Learn how to tell when you’ve hurt someone with what you say, and how to apologize gracefully. People who know less than you or believe in things you don’t are not worth less than you.

      I’m not saying that because I think you’re a terrible person from this short description, but because I’ve had a lot of experience interacting with people who match that description who tend to focus on the books and the theory when all they really needed to do was to figure out how to be a better friend.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As a techie with an interest in philosophy you may enjoy “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter. Philosophy and recursion intertwined.

    10. Olive Hornby*

      Liz Bruenig (of the Washington Post) has an excellent list of reading on Christian theology and political philosophy–google her name + reading list and it should come right up.

      For critical theory, the Norton anthology is very solid and comprehensive.

  24. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Thursday night, got bad gastroenteritis from boxed vegetable pumpkin chili BIL’s girlfriend gave us. Had to miss 1 day of work, am able to eat toast/drink ginger ale, but my stomach feels sore. I heard kefir’s good for repairing the gut. Anything else?

    Also, am rather annoyed at getting food poisoning twice in the past 7 months..past items: grocery store sausage, meat in a puffy Saran Wrap. Apart from eating organic meat from pricey stores, any tips to avoid food poisoning?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      You can get just as whopping a case of food poisoning from organic food from expensive stores as Wal-Mart. Best bet to avoid food poisoning is to keep an eye out for food recalls (we just had a big one here for romaine), wash your vegetables well, thaw food correctly and safely, and cook your meat out of the danger zone. Sadly there’s no magic way to keep it away.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      The CDC food safety page has a lot of tips. It’s mostly about cooking and storage. There can still be batches of raw lettuce that are contaminated in a way washing won’t fix (so I guess advocating for better working conditions and hand washing facilities for farm workers is a long term fix), but much of the time what causes actual food poisoning happens in the kitchen (yours or the store’s) or your own lunchbox.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, no that won’t help this kind of problem. Not that better conditions are a bad idea, but dirty hands are generally not the issue in this type of scenario. In the case of the Arizona outbreak the problem apparently was that proximity of the fields and their water source(s) to ranches with lots of animal excrement that was affecting said water supply.

    3. Ali G*

      I don’t think you need to only buy food from pricey stores. It’s not only quality – but how it’s been stored and handled. Check dates, keep frozen things frozen until use, etc. “Puffy saran wrap” sounds fishy to me. If something is shrink wrapped, or on one of those styrofoam bases with plastic wrap around it, it shouldn’t be puffy.
      Other things to eat – egg whites, bananas, applesauce (no sugar added), bone broth.

      1. SignalLost*

        Yeah, “puffy Saran Wrap” makes me think whatever’s under there has gone bad and is outgassing.

    4. Girl friday*

      Haven’t gotten food poisoning lately myself. I like to feel the containers when they hand them to me. If they’re cold or hot enough at the time, that’s a good sign. Don’t eat anything that’s not either pink and very cold or hot enough to feel on your hands. Nothing gray, not even sausages should be gray. Nothing lukewarm. Personally, I would stay away from dairy (kefir) and focus on rehydrating and clear broth and toast. Maybe bananas! Then once better, kefir and yogurt a couple times a week. But I have a very strong stomach and you’ll probably develop one too, eventually. Could be also a hidden food allergy. Smell, color, temp are your guides.

    5. Courageous cat*

      Well, I think part of the problem is that you A: probably can’t say with any certainty which food caused it, as food poisoning can hit any number of hours later, and B: could have had something that wasn’t food poisoning (a stomach bug of some sort). So there’s probably no way to tell or no pattern to look for – just bad luck!

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Aside from food storage and prep, once you’ve had food poisoning a couple times, I think you become susceptible to it for a while. So, pass on anything that you’re not sure about, avoid foods that are more risky, etc. No sushi, etc. Spend 6 months or a year just sticking to safer foods.

    7. misspiggy*

      After poisoning ourselves with a pie that had inaccurate cooking instructions, we bought a digital food thermometer that you stick in to check the temperature. Comfortably over 70 degrees C is the aim.

      Daily probiotic capsules help with repairing the gut situation.

      1. Lemon Whirl*

        Yes +1 for probiotic. When I traveled to Malaysia, we were advised to take probiotics. And the one time I got sick, our on-site manager gave me this amazing probiotic that had something like 30 million good bacteria in it. I was better in nearly no time.

        As for what to eat while recovering – apples, bananas, rice, or toast.

        1. JxB*

          Good advice but note BRAT diet for nausea usually means applesauce, not raw apples. You can cook the apples until soft but avoid eating raw, hard fruit – which is hard to digest.

          BRAT = Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. You aren’t limited to these 4 things but keep it to bland foods and these 4 are a good base.

    8. Observer*

      I’m going to agree with everyone who says that neither organic nor expensive will help you with avoiding food poisoning.

      NEVER eat anything it packaging that’s “puffy”. If a can is even a bit rounded out toss it. These indicate that the food is going bad or has gone bad. Also if it’s, deeply dented, because then it highly probably that the seal has been broken, even though you don’t see it.

    9. Jersey's mom*

      Once I am past the active vomiting and nausea that makes me curl into a ball, I will do the broth, tea, bananas, rice, maybe toast for a day. If I feel OK the following day, I usually crave hot food. I don’t know why. I’ll eat rice with tons of lousiana hot sauce, or baked chicken with tons of hot sauce. My husband of 30+ years thinks I’m nuts but tried it the last time he had nausea, and it seemed to work for him. Definitely a ymmv situation, tho.

    10. wingcolor*

      Another thing that I find really helpful for post-food poisoning lingering stomachaches is water with slices of lemon and cucumber in it. Make up a big pitcher to keep in your fridge and drink for a few days. I don’t know why it helps, but it really does!

    11. Venus*

      From a buddy who works with the CDC on food safety:
      Kill step: if you want to be healthy, cook the food. He does not eat lettuce / greens or packaged / cut fruit (especially berries – apples and bananas unpeeled are okay).

      They think that part of the lettuce problem is that when the plants are cut, the water wicks up into the plant (think of celery in a glass of water with food colouring – the leaves take on the colour of the water). So if the field has any e-coli from fertilizer or nearby animals (which can happen very easily with organic produce as they encourage fertilizer from manure rather than chemicals), then the bacteria get into the leaves and no amount of washing will make a difference.

      It sounds weird as a term, but I say it quite often now when discussing food:
      Kill Step

  25. Alex Di Marco*

    Reading the 99 glimpses. Loving it. Some PM’s repartees – as reported – are such that I have to read them twice to make sure that I read it right the first time.

  26. Be the Change*

    Update on my friend who got the $9000 out of network bill for pathology services during surgery – his surgeon called and barked at someone, so it was reduced to <$500. So, good.

    Not so good – he will be out of work for at least 16 weeks total and his company will let him go because FMLA is 12 weeks. He's a very skilled person with unusual credentials but they would rather shoot their operations in the foot than pay someone expensive to do the job. I'll bring this up on Friday and ask for input.

    Our non-health non-care system should burn in hell.

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m glad that got reduced. My ex husband was admitted to the hospital about 5 years ago with a blood clot the entire length of his leg. His doctor felt it was life threatening, and my employer had Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield under Anthem. As per their instructions, I reported the hospitalization. They ordered an MRI (after the doctor had done scans on his own). Long story short, after 2 days in the hospital, and seeing that the MRI showed the clot from ankle to hip, but not protruding into the abdominal cavity, determined (A) hospitalization was not necessary and (B) he should have been sent home from the doctor’s office when the clot was discovered, a nurse sent to the house to administer intravenous drugs each day to break up the clot and (C) they weren’t paying for the hospital stay or any of the other costs, except the MRI they ordered. I wish I was joking. The whole point of being in the hospital was in case a large chunk of this thing broke loose, and they would at least have a shot at life saving procedures. We’re in a rural area. Had that happened at home, it could take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour to get an ambulance crew to the house and back to a hospital.

      So began the disputes, letters, etc. Empire/Anthem stood firm. I was now facing a hospital bill that exceeded half my yearly take home pay, even after it was reduced. The hospital eventually wrote it off, saying this was not an infrequent occurrence, and I was so grateful.

      Long story short – the way we handle health care in the USA needs to change. Having decent affordable insurance should not be dependent on whether you have a good job or not. Insurance companies should not be able to stick people with bills, especially when your physician says “oh hey, you might die from this, so I’m putting you in the hospital”. It’s not like people get up one morning and say, I think I’ll check myself into the local hospital for a few days for kicks and giggles. The physician is the one with boots on the ground, standing there, evaluating the situation, not some bean counter looking at data somewhere far away. And don’t get me started on the 10’s of millions of dollars the insurance company CEO’s rake in. At that time, the CEO of Anthem made more money in 1 day than I made in a year. The bill they stuck the hospital with was maybe 1/4 day’s pay for him, based on 365 days per year. Unacceptable. And you know what? I bet if was him with the blood clot, he’d have the best treatment available, and his bean counters wouldn’t have tried to force home care on him.

      1. fposte*

        I also think what you describe and what Change describes is pretty common–initially there’s an unreasonably sized bill, and then there’s pushback, and it drops down or disappears. There’s a really unsavory car-dealership flavor to it, like only mugs pay the first price billed. And if you know that and you have the energy, that’s one thing, but a lot of sick people don’t have the wherewithal to argue like that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          We have lemon laws for cars but we don’t protect people’s health in a similar manner. Imagine going to a car repair place and they always say, “Let’s TRY this or TRY that.” Guessing is not acceptable at a car repair shop, but it’s okay in health care. I don’t get it. I can only assume they know insurance will pay whether the outcome is good or bad.

        2. Natalie*

          I’m not sure it even occurs to a lot of people that they could complain, or that kind of weird pride of not asking for help. Particularly in the that lower-middle area of people of who have some real access to health care, don’t qualify for any formal programs, but actually can’t easily manage a thousand dollars or whatever.

      2. Mimmy*

        Oh that’s just awful :( A blood clot down the ENTIRE LEG?! I hope he had a good recovery.

        Adding to what fposte says – I think it was my husband who says that doctors will charge a lot to see what they can get for their services, but then gets bargained down. I may not be remembering that correctly, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          fyi, there’s 30+ companies behind the Blue Cross brand. So there is a huge variety, way more than any of the other big insurers. Some of them are much better than others.

      3. strangebuttrue*

        That’s insane. My husband had blood clots travel to the lungs twice. The first time there was no clots found in the legs. The second time they found a nice large one. This could have killed him.

        I went to the ER once when what I thought was a pimple on my face became a very large swollen area. This was 2 days before Christmas. The first thing the doctor said when she walked into the room was that they normally admit patients to the hospital for this. Swelling near the brain – not good. I explained that I had out of town Christmas plans and they called in the doctor on call to look at me. I was allowed to go home but with one of the strongest oral antibiotics available and all the normal warnings. Got a statement from insurance that they weren’t paying for it and a bill from the hospital. The insurance then was they would pay for the emergency room if you were admitted or it was prudent to go, like a broken arm or potential heart attack. Otherwise you had to have gone to your doctor first. Problem with going to the doctor was while it was a work day it was the Friday before Christmas so of course the office was closed. And this was before urgent care sites became so prevalent. Don’t know exactly what happened but I sent them a letter pointing out what the original doctor had said and I never heard from either the insurance company or the hospital again. Thankfully the insurance changed so there was a copay for emergency room visits. I think about $150 but better than a surprise big bill.

        1. blackcat*

          My student insurance classifies “simple fractures” as non-emergency events. So they do not cover ER bills for non-compound fractures. It’s bonkers.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        That’s INSANE.
        When I had a DVT, the same thing happened–the insurance company and the hospital wouldn’t work together even though my doctor pushed for it. The sonogram tech was even concerned, though it wasn’t as big as your ex’s. So I had to go home and stay off my feet (completely off) for a whole week. I did get up to feed my ex’s dogs and when my doctor found out, he was upset.

        He was so pissed off at the hospital system for other reasons but that was a last-straw factor for him and he ended up quitting and going somewhere else. I was pissed because he was awesome.

    2. Gatomon*

      I’m glad the bill was reduced, but I’m so sorry your friend is losing his job. No one should be let go because they became ill. His company is monstrous. FMLA is better than absolutely nothing, but it really feels like a token effort on the part of our government to avoid actually solving the problem, at least to me. “See, we gave you this bill, you have ‘protections’!”

      Curious to hear how other countries handle this. Or maybe it is a non-issue since healthcare isn’t tied to employment? But do people still have job protection?

      1. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

        A few years ago, a coworker fell and badly broke her leg, at her own home, and had several surgeries, blood clots, complications, etc. At the 12 week mark, HR sent a message to our manager at the time, asking whether she was going to sign termination papers at that time. She said no because it wasn’t right, employee would be back, and had a lot of experience, and it was stupid to let someone go like that for something they had no control over, only to have to hire and train someone new.

        My take on almost anything anymore is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law don’t have much to do with each other.

      2. Observer*

        This is not about healthcare – it’s about protecting jobs for people who need a leave of absence.

      3. Jasnah*

        In my country (not Europe) people can take a leave of absence for medical reasons and their job is protected, I think for 6 months or a year or something? Also they can subscribe to national or company health insurance, pick one but it’s mandatory for everyone. So sad that someone can have a medical emergency through no fault of their own, be saddled with impossibly high medical bills, then be fired because they need time to recover. Then they can’t pay those medical bills and might even become homeless.

    3. Zuisho*

      I work in Human Resources. Since he is disabled for that time, he should be eligible for protection under the ADA. The ADA considers it a reasonable accommodation to have time off to deal with a disability after FMLA is the ends. The company would have to prove it would be an undue hardship. He should be explain that to HR and get a lawyer if they don’t see the light. Good luck!

    4. Anon for this*

      I have a likely torn acl in my knee. I never knew just how painful it could be. Went to walk in clinic, who gave me anti inflammatories, and got me an appointment with an orthopadist a week later. After the fort couple of questions, he wanted to know if I’m in organized sports, and when I said no, said I probably won’t need surgery! Without even taking an MRI. My fury has no bounds. A month later I demanded an MRI and will have the results this week, along with another appt with him.

      My work and play are highly active, and I’ve shown him photos of conditions I work and list of personal activities. I dunno if this is his personal sports hangup or a female hangup, but this is insane. I haven’t blown up yet-I’ll wait for the results of the MRI, but I feel like a ticking time bomb right now. I hate our health care system.

      1. Observer*

        If you’re right about a “female” hangup, that’s not a US thing. If you look at studies outside of the US, the issues women have to deal with are mind-blowing. And I’m talking about Western Democracies, not third world or Moslem fundamentalist countries.

  27. LGC*

    So to get the running thread started this week: I’m actually going to address this to the person who posted last week about planning on running NYC or MCM next year as their first marathon.

    I figure that since I’m 1) a newbie (NJ 2018 and NYC 2018), 2) pretty fast, and 3) most importantly, pretty vocal around these parts…what are things you guys have learned when running (at basically…any distance)?

    Since I’m about to write a novel I’m going to comment with my stuff. I posted a bit (…okay, another novel) in the thread last week but it’s fairly far down.

    1. Bulbasaur*

      Looks like that wasn’t one of your more successful intros. I’ll chip in as a long-time runner who has done mostly casual stuff with one or two longer ones, and target it to people new to the sport.

      1. Have the right shoes. You can get away with this for a while, but once you start running regularly or doing anything over a few km, it’s worth going to one of the stores that can do a running style analysis and recommend a shoe specifically for you.

      2. Know when to seek help. Having a session with a physio before problems get really serious can often save you a ton of effort in fixing them. Some pain/stiffness after a run is normal, but if it lasts longer than a day or so, becomes chronic and reoccurs in the same place(s) every time, or starts restricting your motion in any way then it’s a good idea to see a physio about it. Procrastinate for six months until it becomes really unpleasant and you’ll have a much longer and harder road to get back to full health.

      3. Get a training program for anything over 10km. I found that it was pretty easy to just muddle through up to that distance, but I ran into a lot of setbacks training for a half marathon. Things that you can get away with ignoring over 10km, like hydration, suddenly become very important for the longer distances, and you can get yourself into trouble if you don’t take that into account. YMMV – I know a guy that can roll out of bed and run half marathons with no training (admittedly not very quickly) and there are probably others who will need careful planning to make it to 10k.

    1. Elizabeth West*


      I can’t wait, but at the same time, I’m dreading it. I imagine we’ll get at least one more trailer before the film comes out.

      1. matcha123*

        I hope so! I think I was hoping for more action :p
        At least the Thor side story online was pretty interesting. Where he gets a roommate and lives in Australia.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to do that, but when the Thor: Ragnarok trailer dropped, I couldn’t resist–I watched it eleventy zillion times and now I NEEEEEEED to see the trailers. I won’t read any reviews, though, until after I’ve seen a film.

        Of course, A4 has been the topic of intense nerd conversation with my friends and me since Infinity War, so we’ve probably figured out half of it by now anyway, LOL.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This was supposed to be my marathon Thor #1-3 day but my daughter was so tired after dance (and husband so pissy still) that no homework got done. It doesn’t feel fair for me to be watching movies while she’s slogging through a science project.

  28. Iclock*

    Best book read this year: “The Boys on the Boat.” Best movie I saw: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”

  29. Mimmy*

    Anyone ever flown Jet Blue? It was one of the few options we could find for a conference in Orlando that I’m attending that was a direct flight and fit my timing preferences. Got a “let’s get to know each other” email from them this morning and it’s a little corny. Also, in order to avoid extra fees, I’m only bringing a carry-on – no checked bags. Oh this will be fun…. :/

      1. Bluebell*

        I like JetBlue a lot. Yes they can be silly with marketing but customer service is good an for awhile they seemed to put me in tsa precheck more often than not. And the tv options are good too.

    1. Annie Moose*

      If you’re used to checking bags and aren’t sure how to get everything down to a carry-on, a packing list is your best friend. Onebag.com is probably more extensive than you need for a short trip, but it has a good overall packing list that can get you thinking about the kinds of things you need to bring and avoid that last-minute “throw things in because maybe I’ll need them” panic. Once you have a list, STICK TO IT. A packing list only helps if you keep yourself from adding more things anyway!

      Some general tips on packing lighter, some of which might be obvious but are my guiding principles:
      – Bring things that can be worn multiple times, when possible. If you’re concerned about people noticing, bring stuff in neutral colors/patterns instead of bold and colorful. If you have items that can be dressed up/down, they’ll be particularly useful. (e.g. a shirt that looks good both with dress pants and with jeans, cutting out the need to bring two separate shirts)
      – This should be easy because you’re going to a warm place, but avoid bringing bulky clothing. If you have to bring some, try to wear it on the flight so it doesn’t take up room in your bag.
      – Remember that you have a personal item too! You can pack clothes or toiletries in a large laptop bag or backpack. If you use a purse, bring a small one that fits inside your larger personal item.
      – Bring fewer shoes!! I always want to pack tons and tons of shoes, but if you pick your outfits carefully, you can probably get by with just one pair of casual shoes (tennis shoes?) and one pair of nice shoes. (and maybe a pair of flipflops if you’re going swimming?) Wear your biggest shoes on the plane.

      And remember that Orlando has plenty of stores, so if you do forget something important, you can always just pick it up down there. (flashback to me forgetting my entire liquids bag at the airport the last time I flew… thankfully Connecticut has as many drugstores as Michigan does!)

      1. Annie Moose*

        Oh, I forgot to mention–pack compactly! A lot of people like packing cubes, but folding everything neatly or rolling your clothes will do just fine in most cases (and doesn’t require you to buy something). I’m a big fan of the “Army roll” technique, but it’s not like you need a special method. Just don’t throw things in willy-nilly.

        1. fposte*

          Packing cubes are more of an advantage, IMHO, on a multi-stop trip or if you’re sharing the bag with somebody. If it’s only one person per bag and just one stop, usually bag pockets are going to be more than sufficient for dividing stuff up for in-transit grabs.

          (I love the idea, but I also want to keep things as light as possible, so I’m not going to add them to my packing on trips where I don’t need them.)

          1. Claire*

            I never travel without mine these days, they make packing and staying organised when travelling so much easier. They weigh basically nothing anyway, but they have eliminated so much of the thinking involved that I’d put up with a little extra weight for the sheer convenience of them.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Cheap way to try out the concept… ziplock bags. I’ve been using them since a high school canoe camp. Everyone tips a time or three going through rapids… and my socks&all stayed dry.

    2. Thursday Next*

      JetBlue is my preferred domestic airline. I’ve found their service to be great, especially when traveling with my daughter with disabilities. (United was the worst for that and I have avoided that airline for the last 5 years.)

      1. Mimmy*

        Oh good, I was wondering how their disability services were. I have some sensory disabilities; they aren’t severe but I do need a little extra help navigating large or unfamiliar places, especially the security section! I won’t need baggage claim, so that takes out one step :)

        1. Thursday Next*

          For airport security, there is a program called TSA Cares for passengers with special needs. I have contacted them to make arrangements regarding airport security (which is an airport thing, not an individual airline thing).

          It made getting back home (from Orlando, in fact) sooo much easier.

        2. Reba*

          Sorry if this is telling you something you already know: airlines are required (at least in the US) to help you through the airport if you identify yourself to them as needing assistance. Most airlines have a form somewhere in the online booking to indicate what help you need, but they also have to provide it if you ask them when you arrive. It’s not just wheelchairs, they can also have a staff member escort you all the way to the gate, if that’s what you want–or if you have a family member or friend that can help, provide a pass for them to go back to the gate with you.

          Here is information about the rules https://www.transportation.gov/individuals/aviation-consumer-protection/wheelchair-and-guided-assistance

          Hope you have a great trip!

    3. LilySparrow*

      It’s been several years since I’ve flown JetBlue, because we moved. But I always had good experiences and was sorry to have to switch carriers.

    4. Llellayena*

      Double check the carry on requirements for JetBlue. Some budget airlines are now charging for carry on or have reduced the allowed size. Not sure if JetBlue was one of them but it’s worth the effort to make sure.

      1. blackcat*

        JetBlue does not, but they can
        1) be persnickety about size (though it is not too small)
        2) force people in the later boarding groups to check their bags (but at no cost)

        As others have said, JetBlue is my favorite domestic airline. I once canceled travel because my cat was sick, and they waived the change fee, coding it as a “family emergency.” For a cat.

        I have always found their customer service folks to be genuinely helpful and nice.

  30. Ali G*

    I’m procrastinating. I have to clean our bedroom/bathroom today. It’s been too long. I’ve also been putting off finding a cleaning person, so it’s my own fault, LOL.

  31. Shelby Johnston*

    I was wondering something about the movie “Vertigo”. (I’ll give a warning that there are spoilers ahead, even though the movie is from 1958). So Madeleine runs to the top of the bell tower, and when she gets there, Elster throws the already dead body of his wife out the window to make it look like a suicide. How then did Madeleine and Elster get out of there without anyone seeing them? I assume Scotty stayed around until the police showed up, I don’t see how they could have snuck away.
    Also, later, when Scotty sees Judy- was it purely by chance, or did she want him to find her, since she’d fallen in love with him when she was pretending to be Madeleine?
    Something else just occurred to me as I was typing this. When Scotty is following “Madeleine” around town, surely other people knew that wasn’t really her? Especially when she and Elster were at the restaurant – people would have known it wasn’t her, they couldn’t have looked so much alike as to be mistaken for each other. And where was the real Madeleine all those weeks when Scotty was following the fake Madeleine around town? She looked newly-killed when Elster threw her body from the tower. I have to give this movie a re-watch, maybe some of these questions were answered but I just don’t remember.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t remember these specifically, but that movie is notorious for massive plot holes, and I suspect those are what you’re falling through there.

      See also: The Big Sleep, where the initial murder of the chauffeur never actually gets solved, and nobody seems to notice.

    2. Girl friday*

      I think it’s all about erotomania and paranoia and not really meant to be taken seriously in that way. But, bell towers are notoriously easy to sneak around in? It’s part suspension of belief, and part that the public will run with whatever they’re presented with, for movie purposes.

      1. Girl friday*

        No spoilers, but if you watch the movie you could kind of forgive the townspeople for thinking it. And they don’t really do rigor mortis in movies, because ick. With certain notable exceptions.

    3. FuzzFrogs*

      I think your questioning of the bell tower belies that you *know* she was murdered, when Scotty has all the reason to believe she committed suicide and lots of phobia to prevent him from climbing all the way up the tower. He probably walked down, told whoever came running that his girlfriend just committed suicide. Even if they suspected foul play, he would be the obvious suspect since he just came out of that very tower–they could’ve also been like “let’s call the cops and let them sort it out”. As a nun I wouldn’t be very incentivized to inspect the suicide location of a young woman, just on the off-chance that an unknown murderer could’ve been present when I have no reason to think there was an unknown murderer. In the meantime Elster and Madeleine book it out of the tower and sneak out the back of the church.

      I think the meeting is ultimately by chance but if Judy had used common sense, she would’ve left town for a while. I feel like she’s willing to tempt fate a little bit to see if she does run into Scotty again, because she does seem to love him–I don’t know that I’d go along with his creepy makeover if I didn’t love him.

      I think your last point is the biggest plot hole. This film doesn’t really think out what Madeleine’s life, and the consequences of that life. Where is she? Where are her friends to ask why her husband is supping with strange women?

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Slightly off-topic, but I recently re-watched L’Appartement after more than 20 years to see if it holds up, and it does. Young Monica Bellucci, young Vincent Cassel. Very much a Vertigo vibe (though the plot lines are completely different). I’d highly recommend it.

    5. JxB*

      Sorry, I don’t remember the specifics of that movie. However, I’m pretty obsessed that as soon as I see a movie (e.g., on the way home) I start pulling up the notes on imdb.com and looking at triva, goofs, and discussions. You might check that out.

  32. CurrentlyLooking*

    Gift Ideas

    I was wondering if anyone had gift ideas for older relatives (slowing down physically and doesn’t need more stuff.)

    We have been doing theatre tickets and/or taking them out to a restaurant for the past few years. Any other good ideas out there?

    1. Lady Alys*

      Can you make a donation to a cause that they support? (Assuming it’s one that you are comfortable supporting…)

      1. Blue Eagle*

        No, no, no. A donation to a charity is NOT a gift (unless it is specifically requested). I have been giving gift certificates to a local handywoman to my elderly relatives and while the husband complains that he can fix things himself, the wife is greatly appreciative because then things actually get fixed.

    2. Kate*

      Grocery delivery or a month of house cleaning service? I love anything that gets me out of a chore. Also when’s the last time they replaced their winter coats? That’s always a thoughtful option.

      1. Trixie*

        +1 to housecleaning service or take care of exterior items if they own a house. I would love to do this for my mom at some point.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Especially if you’re accompanying them—it’s the gift of the experience plus your company.

    3. Ruby*

      Spa or salon treatment gift cards? Paid time for their media streaming service of choice? Subscription box for nice teas/cheeses/foodstuff of preference?

    4. epi*

      Warm clothes. A lot of older people get cold! My uncle used to give everyone socks every year. It sounds weird, but he went out of his way to get unique, extra warm ones and they’re always the best ones I own.

      My husband and I exchange gifts that are meant to facilitate having a good Christmas day. Pajamas, slippers, or a sweater to laze around in, a treat to eat, and an activity such as a new book or a game.

    5. Anona*

      Maybe a cozy blanket or slippers (I love the wicked good ones from llbean and I think they may be having a 25% off sale right now?)? Or I’ve gotten preprepared food from a gourmet grocery store before, or stuff from Omaha Steaks.

    6. Amerdale*

      If you live close enough to a river, maybe you could go on a one day cruise / trip. We did this last year as a whole family inclusing my grandmother and she loved it. She just had to walk on the ship and than could sit down for the trip so it wasn’t physically demanding but she could spend the whole day with her beloved great-grandchildren and saw some fancy castles and stuff (it was a trip on the Rhine and there’s an abundance of castles).

      And for Christmas she is always getting a snow clearing service for her external stairs and the sidewalk in front of her house. She loves that she doesn’t have to do it herself anymore.

    7. LilySparrow*

      Books and magazine subscriptions, and consumables like wine or fancy jams or coffee/tea.

      Depending on your budget, a subscription box might be nice.

    8. Small-town dr*

      My folks are in their 80’s. They still like to go out to high school band performances and Christmas parades for the grandkids. They also get cold easily. I got them battery powered heated down wraps that they can take anywhere.

    9. CurrentlyLooking*

      Thanks for all of the great ideas!

      (I am looking beyond the theatre tickets because as the parents get older it is harder for them to access – especially in the winter)

      1. fposte*

        Ah, I can see that. Definitely a dicey time of year for people with less mobility and physical stability.

    10. natty gann*

      Driveway plowing service subscription.
      If they like going to the theater, get them car service – nobody likes driving at night.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If your budget allows…my brother used to get an extra oil delivery for our elderly mom. She was a Great Depression baby, and hated the thought of turning up the heat. But she was old enough she really needed that extra warmth. So with per tank topped off by her son, she would turn up the heat and appreciate it as a gift. (And she stayed healthier in winter after that too!)

      If they use a woodstove, another thought is one of those cast-iron stovetop humidifiers. (I covet the dragon who steams out his nostrils LOL.)

    12. Jackie*

      A gift card to their favorite restaurant or a gas card would be nice but I think you should just keep taking them out to dinner. The gift of time and a free meal is a real treat for anyone.

  33. JxB*

    My husband and I went to lunch to try out a local place always packed with cars. The food was good but the dining experience miserable. It’s a pretty loud place – all hard surfaces and a bar area on one end fairly open into the dining area. Most of the conversations blend into a general roar, except this one guy who SCREAMED every single comment. It was like when you are at a football game and someone calling across the crowd to get a friend’s attention. Every. Single. Word. I can’t believe he didn’t have a sore throat after awhile.

    He was two tables down and sitting with 2 other guys who spoke at a normal volume for the crowd, blending into the crowd. And he was a “talker” who dominated the conversation with his friends. Perhaps this guy was hard of hearing. I know my mom (who is) has difficult times in a noisy place. But being in the same area and enduring his non-stop screaming was horrible.

    He must be a regular as the waitresses just sort of smiled indulgently even during his monologue about how much the folks at the local strip club just love him and how often he goes. At one point he and his friends seemed to finish up and I sighed with relief, thinking we could finish our lunch in relative piece. But they simply moved a few steps away to the bar and started ordering drinks. Really, I tried to block it out, be charitable. But it was like an icepick to the brain every time he spoke/yelled.

    On the bright side, I don’t know this person and only had to survive an hour in his company. But it was frustrating.

    1. TurtleIScream*

      Was he also complaining about a recent date that didn’t go anywhere, even though he’s a “damn good catch”? He was two tables away from us at dinner the other night. He was even more jarring than the toddler who kept throwing toys at my head during my kid’s Christmas concert.

  34. LuJessMin*

    On Monday, weather forecasters in my area were forecasting Snowmageddon for Saturday. By Wednesday, Winter Weather Watches were issued and the populace goes nuts buying out stores. By Friday, all watches are cancelled and all of the precipitation is going to be south of my town. It’s fun watching the forecasters still trying to spin this in their favor. You were wrong, guys, just own up to it already.

    1. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

      I got bitten by this a few weeks ago! They always call for Snow-ma-geddon here in Central PA, mostly, it doesn’t happen, like the times school is shut down the day before and we get a few flurries. I really didn’t believe we’d get more than 8″ of snow…but we got more than that. Ugh. I love the memes that show what weather we will probably get, like zero to 160″ of snow, anywhere from 30 to 60 degrees, maybe wind, maybe sun, it makes me smile. You’re right – just say, we didn’t forecast correctly. And stop naming storms when it snows in the winter! It’s winter! That’s what happens!

        1. fposte*

          I know–it seems like such a self-promoting thing. Like it’s one step away from stadium naming rights for storms.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If they’d just use ONE set of names I could deal better. But nooo we get competing nicknames!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I always like to remind people that predicting the weather, even with science, is not an exact science. And LOL, that happened here too. We were supposed to get three or four inches and it’s not even raining. But hey, I was out of bread and milk anyway! ;)

  35. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Hi everyone! I haven’t been around on the weekend threads for a few weeks. Hope you are all well.

    Saw a new PCP a couple of weeks ago. Really liked her. The intake paperwork was very LGBT inclusive and she took the time to get to know me.

    She suggested cutting back my carbs to help me lose some weight and also wants me to lower my cholesterol, so I’m looking for low carb/low cholesterol meal/snack ideas. I’m also planning to start going swimming in January when I can buy a pool pass for the year because I need to exercise.

    1. StellaBella*

      Good on the pool! For low carb meals you can always do stir fry of like 10 green/red/yellow veggies and maybe a meat or tofu in a big pan. Plus easy to snack on veggies like snap peas and things like celery… try also to look up recipes online on sites like Delish or AllRecipes.

    2. fposte*

      For non-vegetable snacks: cheese is a deeply partisan issue, but it fills the bill. Less partisan are nuts, which get a lot of medical approval.

    3. Mimmy*

      No advice – just wanted to say hey! Good seeing you posting :)

      Although I too need to lose weight and improve my diet as my morning glucose numbers are horrible :( So I’ll be following this thread. I find it really hard to change habits, so hopefully you’ll have better luck.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I’m basically working on it in small steps. Like, my goal this week was to replace my breakfast sandwiches. I got egg whites, laughing cow cheese wedges, ready cooked bacon, and a bag of baby spinach and I’m going to make scrambled egg cups.

    4. cat socks*

      I recently found the blog kalynskitchen dot com that is all low carb recipes. Haven’t tried any recipes yet.

      I like chili without beans. Or ground beef for tacos on salad instead of taco shells. Blackened tilapia – I use the recipe from Once Upon a Chef. Also baked salmon with some olive oil, herbs and lemon juice. I’ll make roasted veggies as a side.

      In warmer weather I’ll grill chicken, pork chops, steak and serve with a salad or grilled veggies.

      Is hummus considered low carb? I like to take hummus and carrots to work for a snack. Not sure what the verdict is for eggs with regard to cholesterol, but I also like boiled eggs.

      1. cat socks*

        Also wanted to mention the site Skinnytaste. The recipes are labeled as low carb, keto, Whole30, etc.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The cholesterol in eggs is mostly in the yolk, so I picked up a carton of egg whites to use for breakfast.

        1. NattyGann*

          The yolk has most of the nutrients of an egg. The whole egg is only 70calories so eat the whole egg.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Dietary cholesterol doesn’t contribute to blood cholesterol. Saturated fat does. And eggs are pretty healthy as a whole, a complete protein and pretty low in calories. Just go easy on cheese.

      3. WellRed*

        Hummus is very high carb, though the fiber content offsets some of it (from a blood sugar perspective).

    5. Blue hair, don’t care*

      You don’t lower your cholesterol by eating lower cholesterol.
      Your body makes cholesterol from saturated fats. So you want to avoid the bad saturated fats. Also your body will use the ch9lesterol it makes to make bile to break down food. So eat high fiber and you will be reducing your body’s cholesterol.

      TL:DR. Eat Cheerios, avoid fried foods.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That is very helpful! New PCP did not mention that and I thought if I paid attention to labels, I’d be okay. Thank you.

        1. Blue hair, don’t care*

          Try using a food tracking app. – I like the my fitness pal o new baby, cause it has almost every food you can buy in its database, plus you can add your recipes and it figures out the values per serving.

          Don’t try to make a lot of big changes to your diet at once, just track what’s you normally eat and see what’s up with your normal intake of sugar, carbs, fats, proteins, etc. once you can see where you are, you can figure out which tweaks will get you on the road to where you want to be.

          For me the best changes turned out to be walking 20min a day and switching breakfast from cereal to one egg over easy with a small glass of homemade green juice, and a calcium supplement. I was able to eat my usual lunch/dinner with the exception being ratio change – now the veg takes up 1/2 the plate, the protein 1/3 and the grain 1/6.

      2. nonegiven*

        I did a test for myself once, my doctor told me that what I ate during the week before the blood draw affected my cholesterol results.

        So for a solid month before my blood draw, I ate low carb/high fat, probably 25% of my calories from just the saturated fat. I ate at least 3, sometimes 4 whole eggs a day, sometimes just the 4th yolk, bacon, sausage, the fatty parts of chops and roasts that I usually trimmed away, the skin from my chicken and from DH’s chicken, cream, butter, cheese on veggies, etc. My triglycerides were low, LDL still low, my HDL was 95. My doctor took one look at my results and said “you must be eating very, very low fat.”

    6. NattyGann*

      Start walking. Nothing big, just walk 5 minutes a day. Every week add 5 minutes. Once you get up to 30 minutes, ever week walk a little faster. It’s okay to split the walking into two 15 minute sessions – just remember to keep the speed up.

      Avoid foods with added sugar (ie cookies, cakes, sauces, candy, drinks).

      That’s it.

    7. Jaid_Diah*

      Try switching up the grains. Teff has higher fiber, protein, minerals and a lower GI than most grains.

    8. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I used to swim laps (in my younger days) and without fail, found myself famished after a swim every time. So be aware of how your body is reacting to this type of exercise (it’s GREAT exercise…for joints, muscles, etc.). Plan your snacking accordingly, etc. post-exercise, if needed. And most of all, enjoy the benefits!

  36. Anonymouse for this*

    How do you get rid of a nuisance cat. There is another cat that keeps coming round my house, trying to get into the catflap and freaking out my cat – its a microchipped catflap so it can’t get in. They also fight if they’re both outside at the same time. It isn’t a stray – it’s one of the neighbours cats. I don’t think there is anything I can do but thought I’d ask. I have a tiny concrete yard and no way to put out anything like a motion activated sprinkler to deter him.

    1. fposte*

      There are air sprays for the same purpose–you just put the can out. You might put a few around the perimeter in your case.

    2. StellaBella*

      OMG I just left a house where this was a problem. The neighbour’s two cats were an issue for my indoor cat. I one time had a bucket of water out to clean off the patio and gently shook out the mop near one cat – never even got him wet but told him to go away. He steered clear after that. Also – I placed paper on the lower window areas so my cat could not see them – my cat flipped out twice and attacked me so I resorted to hiding the other cats from her as best as possible. Now we live in another place and it is much much better for my kitty.

    3. Ali G*

      You can buy synthetic predator urine. Put it where they are getting into your yard. Bonus: It will keep your kitty in your yard where it is safer :)

    4. Asenath*

      I was told rue is a cat-repellent, so I planted it outside the appropriate window. (This was back when I lived in a house with ground-level windows). It didn’t repel the cat that was annoying mine, but on the bright side, it appeared to be a tough plant because it survived my very basic gardening skills. I found a better solution, but it looked and smelled rather disgusting and washed away in the rain. It’s very rainy here. Take a liter (a quart will do; this isn’t a recipe where accuracy matters much) of water, an onion, a head (not a clove) of garlic, and some red pepper or cayenne or something similar. Puree in a blender. Sprinkle in the area frequented by the annoying cat. It’s very repellent.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      I put orange peels by the front door to get neighborhood cats from spraying there. It worked.
      Anything citrus might work.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve read that lemon juice will keep cats from using a particular garden as their litter box.
      But before we did that we loaded up the supersoaker with vinegar water, kep the screen up, and got in a few stealthy bursts. That cat found another litter box.

    7. Anonymouse for this*

      Thanks for all the suggestions. This cat has no fear. I’ve tried waving it off with my arms or the broom and spraying the hose at it and it ran off to a safe distance and then comes back again a day or two later.

  37. Thanks For Nothing*

    I don’t always listen to Christmas music but when I do, I listen to parodies and humorous cover versions.

    Current favorite is Santa Baby sung by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. It adorable – sincere and silly all at once.

    1. Lcsa99*

      Parodies and cover versions of christmas songs are awesome. My husband went on and on again about how much he hates Winter Wonderland (he gets annoyed with it earlier every year) so I found him a death metal version on YouTube and now he doesn’t hate it quite so much.

      1. ExTexan*

        I am tired of the same old versions, but I do really like Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender’s version of “Frosty the Snowman” and their “gordito en su sombrerito!”

      2. LizB*

        My boyfriend is a big prog rock fan, so his play-on-repeat Xmas music is all prog covers, and I loooove them. I linked one of my faves in my name in this comment – it’s a rock mashup of Sleigh Ride / Winter Wonderland, and it’s amazing.

    2. moss boss*

      The Arrogant Worms had a holiday parody album. I remember it being quite palatable and also had the advantage of pissing off my mother (I was a teen when I picked that one up).

  38. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

    The first thing I checked this morning was the Courthouse Roundup, and my divorce announcement wasn’t there, but there were 6 others from the same time frame :( I know it might seem silly, but I really wanted to see it in the newspaper. I’m going to check the printed version just in case it wasn’t picked up somehow online.

    I had a great day off from “W” yesterday, and rescued an ancient 1970’s era Fisher AM/FM stereo receiver/cassette tape recorder/turntable from Mom’s storage area, found the speakers, and by afternoon, had everything hooked up and working, and played a Pink Floyd album. Then I found the local classic rock station, and jammed out to 70’s and 80’s rock for the rest of the day. Had dinner with one of my friends at a new restaurant. Watched Fargo on Hulu. It was a great day. Mom was impressed that the old stereo still worked, and wasn’t happy about the loud music, but I figure, it drowns out cable news downstairs so we’re even. My ex pawned my albums years ago for gambling money, so I’m on the hunt to find replacements. Thrift stores around here have some, but not great ones, although I did score a Carpenters greatest hits, and it’s awesome. Just one of the things along the years that went missing, I’m convinced my wedding rings went the same route, and what really bothers me was my great Aunt’s gold wedding band, gone forever, so he could gamble for a few hours or minutes. I’m so glad to be finally rid of him.

    Funny story about the stereo – I couldn’t find the speaker wires, so I looked in the built in cabinet in the living room where it used to be, and discovered they were still in there. The TV was right there, so I muted it. Mom had it on cable news, and they were arguing about something, and I didn’t want to hear it. While I was half in the cabinet pulling wires, she asked what happened to her show, I told her I muted it for a few minutes while I fished out the speaker wire, as it was annoying, and she started in about the Russians, the book of Revelations in the bible, how I needed to read it, it’s happening, etc. Sighs. I said, right now, I’m just trying to pull out this old speaker wire, so that’s what I’m focused on. And now I’m on a mission to block certain shows on cable, and wish I could limit her choices to Hallmark movies and QVC, but she’d probably notice and fuss about that. I truly believe a week or so without cable news would do her a world of good.

    Today is traditionally laundry and grocery day. I need some groceries, and I know Mom will want to come along, so I’m laying down ground rules before we leave. I’ll let her come along, but she has to not rush me and if she’s done, she can sit on the bench at the front of the store for a few minutes until I’m done. I don’t lollygag in the store, I’m pretty efficient, but she likes to walk in, pick out one banana, and say “I’m done now” and it usually takes me 10 or 15 minutes to gather my items. If she can’t abide by that, I’ll take her, and then go back to town on my own. And I have to talk to her about yelling at me in the store. She’s fond of yelling “REBECCA” at the top of her lungs, waving her hand at me, and yelling, “I’m going down this aisle”. OK, Mom. Other people my age give me sympathetic looks. As far as other people who give me that “what is wrong with her” look, your time will come, LOL!!

    Also, my daughter introduced me to Brandless, and I placed an initial order in October. Very pleased with the selections and quality, and for someone who lives in a rural area with very few grocery buying options (aside from driving 45 minutes one way to get to what you all would consider normal stores), it’s a really great option. Plus there was a Groupon today for $20 for two $20 vouchers. So, I got free shipping and a nice discount on my second order. I’m trying to expand my food choices, and while I eat real food, and not too much pre-processed foods, I want to try new things and get out of the meat, vegetable, potato rut. I made salmon with their teriyaki sauce, and it was quite good.

    I’m still reading The Chronicles of Narnia, now on book 4, and started “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty. What an interesting premise!

    So all in all, things are OK. Christmas is coming. I put up a Christmas tree last Sunday with items scrounged from storage, found a 6 1/2′ artificial tree, it’s all decorated, lights are on a timer so they come on when it gets dark out and go off at 10:30 PM, and so far the cats have batted off one plastic ornament, so that’s a win. I haven’t had a Christmas tree for years, and now I want one. It really makes me feel good to look at it. Mom thought it should be thrown away because it’s so old, from the late 1970’s, but it’s actually a nice looking tree!

    On the Mom front, she got her prescription filled for .5 mg of lorazepam, but refuses to take it unless she’s been awake for hours and hours, because she doesn’t want to become addicted. She will be 83 next week. She has insomnia. She is miserable, and a retired RN, so I can’t sneak it to her, tell her it’s for something else, etc. like my friends do with their parents. No amount of me talking to her about this makes any difference. So I just smile and listen to her ramble on about her health problems, and gently remind her from time to time she has the tools to help herself.

    Off to get on with my day. I’m sleeping better, feel better, and generally have a good outlook. Working toward getting Mom settled in some sort of senior housing so I can get out of rural PA. That’s my goal for 2019.

    1. Ali G*

      What Alice Forgot – is that the one where she passes out, wakes up and thinks it’s 10 years earlier? If so – I liked that book! If not, I’ll have to figure out which one that was. If you like Liane Moriarty, you will like it.

      1. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

        Yes! She falls off her spin cycle @ spin class, wakes up, and she has forgotten the past 1o years. I like Liane Moriarty books, have listened to several of them since “Big Little Lies”. That was a book group selection last summer, I went with my friend while I was staying at her house, in hopes it would help me meet people.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Oooh, I have a fondness for memory loss stories so I will have to add that one to my list.

      2. Nita*

        I just re-read that book a couple of weeks ago! Very interesting. Ever since I read it, I keep reminding myself to look at the people in my life with “young Alice” eyes once in a while.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Wow. I hope 2019 is a great year for you.
      Would melatonin be appropriate for your mom for sleep? 1.5 mg might work wonders (half a pill).
      Be sure you understand Pennsylvania’s filial responsibility law BEFORE your mom is in senior housing. You could be responsible for her bill. Just a heads up.
      Really cheering for you!

    3. AnonyNurse*

      Benzos like lorazepam can be … not great … for elders, and they really aren’t sleep aides even though they cause some people to become drowsy. They can cause paradoxical effects, make falls more likely, etc. Her hesitance may be warranted. 5 mg is a low dose, but lorazepam is a stronger drug in the class. Our elders often need less sleep, so in almost armchair un-diagnosing, does she have insomnia or a reduced need for sleep and boredom?

      Sorry if you weren’t really asking for advice but rather sympathy — you have that, too. It’s frustrating to watch a loved one age and not be able to “fix” things or be able to help in the ways you wish you could. And I know one day I’ll be the retired nurse whose old tricks don’t work anymore.

      1. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

        Mom’s had insomnia for years. She has a lot of anxiety, and feels stressed and anxious about things that many people don’t give another thought about. She won’t take meds. She won’t go to counseling. She won’t do anything but watch cable news and scary televangelists. Me, I’d take whatever I had to in order to get some sleep. I simply couldn’t function, but she doesn’t have to work, so if she doesn’t sleep, then sleeps off and on during the next day, it’s not a problem for her. I just keep an eye on her and hope for the best!

      2. Observer*

        Lorazepam may not be a sleep aid, but for people with high anxiety it can work wonders. Because the REAL problem for them (or at least one of them) is that their anxiety keeps them from sleeping.

    4. Gatomon*

      Been following your updates for a while, and every week I check back hoping you’ve gotten your divorce announcement — hopefully next week is the week!

      Also thanks for the Brandless plug… I’m excited to try their GF pizza crust!

      1. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

        My divorce is final, I have the paperwork, but am somehow fixated on seeing in the newspaper! Sighs. I really wanted it to be in the paper. Maybe next week. If not then, they probably will have missed it, and I’m really tempted to call the newspaper and make sure the reporter picks it up at some point!!

        1. nonegiven*

          Is it possible that someone putting a rush on getting it signed put it off of the list that the newspaper gets?

        2. Chi chan*

          If it is important to you, call the newspaper and put in an announcement yourself. Buy it. I don’t think it will be very costly.

    5. Best cat in the world*

      I missed your update last week so I’m really glad everything’s finally sorted! You sound really upbeat (to me at least) in this one, I hope you have a great end to 2018 and that 2019 is the year you want it to be and deserve :)

  39. Ali G*

    Oh and a question. Any ideas for over ripe bananas that isn’t banana bread or smoothies? I have 2. I don’t eat them once they are really ripe. I could compost them, but I’d rather use them for something.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Faux ice cream with frozen overripe bananas plus other ingredients of your choice (fruit, chocolate, etc). Put in blender and it’s the consistency of soft serve.

    2. JxB*

      You can peel, wrap in foil and place in the freezer to save until you have a need or eat the frozen banana. I have one of those Yonanas machines that shaves pure frozen fruit into a delicious ice cream-like dessert. Loud to make, but delicious! And bananas tend to be the base for a lot of the recipes/combinations.

      You can mash the banana and mix with a beaten egg and vanilla. Either cook like scrambled eggs or like silver dollar pancakes (may need to thin with a bit of milk). Makes a yummy oatmeal-like substitute or flourless pancake substitute.

    3. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Pancakes! Mashed bananas, flour, milk, eggs. I like to eat them savoury with sour cream and pepper, but they work sweet as well.

      1. Jasnah*

        You can even skip flour and milk, just 2 eggs and a ripe banana to make a pancake that’s mostly omelettey and you don’t feel like death after.

    4. epi*

      They can be added to oatmeal to thicken it up and sweeten it. My husband likes it that way in overnight oats.

      A friend once made some into a dessert dip, with sprinkles. (You could do fruit instead and skip the candy if you want.)

      1. JxB*

        Yes, baked oatmeal is delicious. There are a ton of recipes and the result can have the consistency of anything from a soft granola bar to bread pudding. Note many of the recipes are high fat, high sugar. Others are more healthful and substitute mashed banana or applesauce for the fat so look for on of those to use up your banana. Mashed banana can often be substitutes for oil (like 1 cup = 1 cup) in baking recipes.

    5. bananarama*

      My fav is to cook the bananas, just put them in a pan on low, and they’ll caramelize naturally and so yummy.

        1. bananarama*

          No, maybe a bit of water on the pan. Bananas have a lot of sugar and they get all soft and warm and gooey. I suppose you could add some brown sugar but I find them sweet enough without it.

  40. Anonymooseketeer*

    Anonymous confession thread.

    I’m not nearly as hard of hearing as my spouse thinks I am. The tinnitus comes and goes, so I can “hear” important things, but can safely ignore the constant stream of consciousness.

    1. t.i.a.s.p.*

      HA HA HA — I have a touch of hearing loss, and I definitely ignore my spouse sometimes and pretend it’s because I didn’t hear him.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I do that as well. I’m not at all hard of hearing but I always take a book with me wherever I go and if I have to wait for more than 30 seconds, I whip it out; it comes with me on public transport journeys and the works, even if I’m travelling with other people. Because everyone is so used to me having my nose in a book, they assume that I’m just engrossed in the story and forget that I can actually hear what they’re saying. I never repeat it but the amount of personal information that’s given out around me is astonishing.

      I’ve learned that my grandfather was cheating on my grandmother; my sister-in-law got an abortion; a friend was stealing money from another friend; and the various ins and outs of one person’s sex life.

    3. Snow Drift*

      My husband likes to pull the “wait until you’re walking away and then start monologuing” thing, as if I’m supposed to run back into the room and fawn over every word that falls from his lips. I just keep going and pretend I didn’t hear him. I don’t have time for that sheet.

  41. Jessen*

    Had to put down a very sweet kitty this week. I’ve been really impressed with how everyone who’s not my family has been supportive and helpful. I’m really annoyed that I was thinking “how do I manage my mother’s feelings about this” at the time.

    I foresee much more limited contact in our future. This is just ridiculous.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s not. She was a very good kitty. I still look for her behind the door coming home. She’d always wait for me behind the door so she could get all the love and scratches right then.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      That seems to be an indicator when they can’t handle our pet’s passing. I had a relative scream into the phone then hang up when I mentioned I lost a pet. Relative’s meltdown was in some ways worse than losing the pet. I think because I understood the pet was old and not healthy verses I thought the relative was fairly young and in reasonable health. So her meltdown surprised me. Noooo, it shocked me. I did not expect such a poor reaction from an adult. I can deal with a teary eye, I can deal with reminiscing about their own pets but I cannot deal with being screamed at and having the phone slammed down in my ear.

      Very sorry about your kitty. And I am even sorrier about your mother. Some people just don’t have it in them. You are correct in sticking with the supportive, proactive folks.

      1. Jessen*

        Yeah – my mother is the sort that would make all the right noises but it would just somehow end up being all about her. She has a history of trying to force “support” on me without any regard at all for whether it’s actually helping and in contradiction to any requests I make (and treating those requests as somehow selfish/hurtful to her). And I know all that “support” will be a reason for guilt tripping later.

        It looks nice, but the whole thing makes me feel like a bit player in her drama of being the good mommy.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Very sorry about your kitty. It was so hard to lose mine.
      It’s also sad when one has to put a relative on an “information diet”. However, it’s a good, solid technique and can actually make life easier.
      Best of Luck going forward!

    3. LondonBridges*

      So sorry about your kitty. My parents had to put down our sweet old girl last month while I was four hours away and couldn’t come home to say goodbye. Wishing all the best for you moving forward.

  42. Free Meerkats*

    I probably shouldn’t be as annoyed with my cable provider as I am over a minor change. They changed the fonts on the menus and info pages and it’s harder to read. Why do user interface people feel the need to change things for the sake of change? I see this on a lot of things; works great, then an update rolls out and things are changed with no change in functionality. Maybe you should all get off my lawn while I yell at a cloud… :-)

    1. Rebecca (I am still Furious!!)*

      Sympathy!! I need to figure out in Hulu how to make the font bigger! I realize I’m at the older end of the spectrum, and need bifocals, but geez, I have to practically stand on the TV set to read the descriptions! It’s not like I can hit Ctrl + to make it bigger (well, I haven’t actually tried…sooo…)

    2. LCL*

      One of my crank topics that once I get on I won’t stop is how the visual part of the user interface for modern tech is mostly absolute sh@#. It’s not designed from a user point of view at all. The need of the technology has driven the design instead of the needs of the end user. Consumer tech or specific to a trade, cheap ass displays are the default. I made this point at a tech show of specialized equipment. The rep laughed and said we do offer a bigger more readable display, tell your company to buy it. He showed me the example. I told our engineers and they laughed at me. End user techs telling engineers what to buy amuses them.

      That’s why it can be impossible to teach people of my mom’s generation to use modern tech. They can’t read the displays. Now get off my lawn!

    3. Ktelzbeth*

      Make functional changes, not cosmetic ones! And specifically functional changes that make the function better, not just different! Now get off my lawn!

  43. sorbus*

    As I mentioned in the Friday open thread, I thought I had a bad UTI for the past two weeks but it turns out all cultures have been negative and it’s not a UTI. I’m seeing my primary care doctor on Monday but I don’t have an appointment with a urologist yet; everyone seems to be booked up for the holidays until January.

    I haven’t been able to sleep through the night or work through a whole day since Tuesday because of the pain.

    Does anyone have any words of encouragement that this condition, whatever it might be, will get better?

    1. AnonaLady*

      I once thought I had a UTI and it was not; it was a weak bladder that I had to do kegals (I think that’s what they were) for. I’ve had an overactive bladder all my life I think. I don’t think starting kegals will harm anything until you can see a doc so I’d suggest those. And I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. Jen Erik*

        Randomly – and I think it’s a reasonably rare thing – my daughter was told last week by her gynecological physio that she must never do Kegels because her pain comes from overworked pelvic floor muscles that are trying hard to compensate for a wonky spine. (It’s the exception that proves the rule.) If there’s any chance that there might be muscular issues, it might be worth checking with a physio first.

        Other daughter has essentially an irritable bladder, and as everyone else has said, cutting out things like coffee and cola make a huge difference. She can’t have anything with artificial sweeteners. (And drinking lots, because that dilutes the urine in the bladder, making it less likely to cause irritation.)

        I hope you feel better soon.

    2. fposte*

      In my 40s, I developed an incredibly food-sensitive bladder that was initially diagnosed as a bad UTI. It took a while to settle down, but now it’s fine as long as I’m careful with intake. OTC Pyridium was helpful as well.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Are you pregnant? At the end of my pregnancy I had horrible pain that the doctors initially thought was a raging UTI but turned out to be a serious pregnancy complication.

    4. OperaArt*

      My similar symptoms were ultimately diagnosed as interstitial cystitis. I keep it under control through dietary restrictions. You may have another problem, but since you’re going to have to wait to see a urologist, it might be useful for you to try the same diet.

      Look up “interstitial cystitis diet” and limit yourself to the “safe for most people” column since you might be in the middle of a flare up.
      I’m at a point where I can—carefully—eat a little of almost anything. But any hint of symptoms, I’m back to the safe zone.

      Good luck.

      1. OperaArt*

        Adding to say, in mid flare-up, I avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, anything acidic (citris, vinegar, tomatoes, onions, and products containg those), anything spicy (even pepper). I also keep salt and soy to a minimum. Drink lots of water, which might sound counterintuitive when one is already running to the toilet every 15 minutes. Avoid the more acidic apples and berries.
        I don’t know if this will help you, but it might.

    5. Anon IC*

      This was how I was eventually diagnosed with Severe Interstitial Cystitis, which is basically tears in the lining of your bladder. Not saying this is what you have, but if it is you want to avoid foods that irritate your bladder and drink LOTS of water, like so much your pee is always clear. When I was having my initial symptoms and thought I had a really bad UTI, I loaded up on cranberry juice which is very acidic and made my symptoms way worse. For short term, temporary relief you may want to try those AZO Urinary Pain Relief pills that turn your pee orange, but be aware these only mask your symptoms and you need to continue seeing a doctor to find out what’s going on.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this!
      Try drinking only water (no coffee, tea, soda, alcohol) for 3 days. If it helps, keep it up. Also, try bland food – eliminate all types of peppers, herbs and spices for 3 days. See if that helps.
      It’s possible you have Interstitial Cystitis. MANY foods and drinks can cause flairs. There are prescriptions and therapies for this condition, including pelvic floor physical therapy.
      However, you need a real diagnosis from a urologist.

    7. WG*

      As some of the others have mentioned, interstitial cystitis is one possible condition that mimics UTIs. Some research over the years has indicated there could be several subtypes of IC, each with different symptoms and treatments. You may want to research a bit in your own prior to the appointment with the urologist. While IC is more well known than it used to be, there are still some urologists that aren’t as familiar as they should be. The IC Association and IC Network are reputable resources.

      But the diet noted above can help reduce symptoms if you do have IC. There is a dietitian with a Facebook page (Confident Choices) that seems to have reasonable dietary information related to the IC diet.

      Hope your symptoms subside soon and the urologist can quickly determine the actual cause.

    8. I’m tired*

      I had endometriosis landing on my bladder causing a UTI type response. Once the endometriosis was lasered away, the “UTI” was cured!

    9. StrikingFalcon*

      I weirdly enough turned out to have Crohn’s disease when this happened to me – the inflammation in my bowel was irritating my bladder (but not producing typical digestive symptoms). Not a typical cause, but a possible one. I hope it is nothing chronic for you and it gets better soon! And I hope you get in to see a good doc, the urologist I saw was absolutely terrible.

      1. sorbus*

        Oh yikes, I have Crohn’s (currently in remission) and it would be crazy if this was another flare.

    10. Annony*

      I thought I had a UTI, but the dip test in the office came out negative. However, they sent it out to culture and a week later the dr called and said I did have a uTI . So it could still be the case. I hope you feel better soon

  44. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We are expecting snow in my city late tonight and into tomorrow, turning to rain/ice. I live in a city where this happens so little we don’t really have the infrastructure to manage it, so the entire city shuts down, basically. This means my plans for tomorrow are cancelled and I will likely work from home on Monday. And you know what? I am looking very forward to it. If my power stays on, I will get to spend most of the day playing with the new pasta roller and cutter attachments my SIL gave me for Chanukah.

    There will be ravioli. There will be fettucine. There may even be homemade ramen!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Are you in NC? I heard they were expecting snow this weekend.

      Homemade pasta sounds awesome!

    2. Emily*

      Your plans sound delightful! Have fun and stay safe!

      I grew up in Raleigh and my parents are still there, so I’ll be curious to hear from them tonight about how things look in their neighborhood.

  45. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I have plans for this weekend. I need to finish the ceiling painting, paint the stripes in the living room, put the house back together, and put up the Christmas tree.
    I am currently sitting on the couch under a blanket. Send motivation please?

    1. Ali G*

      If I can clean my absolutely embarrassingly disgusting bathroom, you can do this! It took me 2 hours. Yeah it was bad.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      There’s the 5-minute technique – work on a chore for 5 minutes. It’ll get you started and you might voluntarily keep going longer. Set up your favorite tunes, too.
      Other than that, lots of coffee maybe?

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Problem is these aren’t 5 minute things, and you can’t just put it down. I spent an hour painting the ceiling, and will probably spend 1.5-2 hours on the walls. I did get the ceiling painted though! at least one coat, probably need to do another.

  46. Foreign Octopus*

    Book thread!

    What’s everyone reading this week?

    I’m on the last 100 pages of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – a gift from my brother last Christmas that I’ve just got around to as I had a long train journey yesterday – and it has delivered emotional punch after emotional punch. I haven’t been this captivated by a book in years. It’s really hard reading (particularly around the middle), not because her writing is bad but what she is writing about is so awful; I was on the train when I actually felt myself start to cry and I never cry at books.<