weekend free-for-all – July 20-21, 2019

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: Supper Club, by Lara Williams. Two women create a subversive supper club where they indulge in ways they didn’t predict. It’s about friendship and food and the space you take up, and it’s dark and smart and funny and moving and I loved it.

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

{ 1,449 comments… read them below }

  1. RemingtonTypeType*

    What are some tricks you’ve found to sleep through the night? I wake up frequently starting at about 3am. I have white noise for peace and a ceiling fan for air. I’ve tried medicines that help you fall asleep, but I can’t find a way to STAY asleep. Help!

    1. buttrue???*

      How warm is the bedroom. You sleep better if it’s below 70 F (try for 65). But you want to make sure your feet are warm but not hot. You need your body temperature to go down to sleep and your feet are the way that happens. If your feet are cold when you go to sleep you will wake up. I use a sheet blanket folded to slide my feet into. It’s not heavy and helps me keep/get my feet warm while not heating up the rest of me. Also what are you drinking during the evening/day? The more caffeine I drink and the closer to bedtime I do it will disrupt my sleep.

      1. Lena Clare*

        +1 for the temperature. Being cooler definitely helps me.

        I came on here to say “insomnia sucks”. I’ve been awake most of the night.

        I have an eye cover which helps keep the light out and some foam earplugs to help cut out the sound of birdsong so I don’t wake up too early. They help somewhat.

        Otherwise, a nap during the afternoon has to do.

      2. Washed Out Data Analyst*

        Second this. I have trouble staying asleep too and lowering the AC at night really helps. Other things that have worked for me:

        – Eliminating my afternoon coffee
        – Generally staying active and going on walks, so I don’t have pent up energy by the time I go to bed

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          While I don’t lower my AC as much as the others do; I will say that I have it programmed 2 degrees colder (to 74) at night because I sleep so hot and that keeps me from waking up because I am too hot.

          If you are finding that you are waking up to use the restroom; please, please, talk to your doctor.

          Otherwise; there is a thing that is legit – there’s an article out there that indicates that our ancestors used to sleep in shifts – that they’d sleep a few hours; be awake for a few hours, and then sleep again. I’ve talked to a few people that are like this – and one piece of advice is that if this is you; is maybe to just embrace it and see if that helps – maybe falling asleep a little bit earlier and changing your morning routine so that if you need to sleep a little later you can. Google ancestors slept in two shifts for articles about it. But I’m thinking that part of the issue is stress about not staying asleep which might be keeping you from relaxing.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Getting up to pee once is not really alarming, I do that maybe 2x a week if I’ve had too much water before bed.

            Definitely I like cooler temps at night, though for the sake of our electric bill it’s at 71, and never quite gets that cool upstairs.

            1. Jack Russell Terrier*

              Can you put in a ceiling fan? This might not help with your home’s configuration but we have one at the top of the stairs and it made a huge difference.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Not easily, or we would have already — there’s not a ceiling light fixture so we’d need an electrician and new wiring. It’s on my list of “someday home improvements”.

          2. Observer*

            Actually, that article is not all that well sourced.

            The 8 hour work day may be a modern thing, but the practice of being up during the entire day ansd working through it is not at all a new thing. Even in areas where mid-day was simply too hot to work didn’t quite have the kind of schedule that the article claims.

            Having said that, napping during the day could be surprisingly helpful, especially in conjustciotn with some tweaks to your night-time sleep schedule.

    2. Gir*

      Following because I’m a night owl trying to live in the morning person’s world. If the world could operate between 7pm and 11am, and I’d be a much more productive person.

      I have to force myself to go to bed. Otherwise, next thing I know it’s 3am and I have to wake up in a few hours. On occasion, during the weekend, I’ve caught myself awake at 5am like it was nothing.

    3. Marzipan*

      I’ve always woken up throughout the night, but (unless I’m very stressed and anxious at the time) I actually quite like it!
      At those anxious times, I’ve found that having very gentle music playing in the background is better than white noise. I have a playlist of film soundtracks for the purpose, played at a very quiet volume. a) I’ve listened to them when going to sleep for so many years that they’re like a form of post-hypnotic suggestion at this point; b) if I’m overthinking things I can consciously tune in to listening to the music instead; and c) I find music helps to combat my sense that I laid awake for hoooouuuuurs because it often turns out that I went back to sleep much more quickly than I perceived myself as having done.

    4. Bibliovore*

      I know I am supposed to read and not be on a device when I can’t sleep but here I am.going to watch another episode of Veronica Mars. I know not to do that either. Such a rebel.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        Just today on the Dr. Oz show, they talked about a plastic film covering for phones that reduces the “blue light” that interferes with sleep some 80%.

        1. German Girl*

          You can also use an app for that. The one I use is called twilight and it really helps. You can set the times when you want the display to be darker and less blue and it’ll turn on automatically every evening.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I use f.lux, which gradually adjusts the red/blue balance on my laptop for our local sunrise and sunset.

        2. Washed Out Data Analyst*

          Most devices allow you to switch to ‘night mode’ in their settings, which allows to view screens minus the blue light. I have mine set to be at night mode at all times because it helps with eye strain.

        3. Observer*

          It’s pretty easy to do this automatically on most devices, and it avoids the issues that a lot of these screens have.

          Most newer phones have the capacity to turn the filter on automatically. If yours doesn’t (or has issues) you can get an app called Twitlight. There is a free version and a version with some more features that you pay for. I really liked the free version – enough that I paid for it and then discovered that the additional features were quite nice.

          On Windows f.lux works like a charm. If you’re sitting at your computer at sundown, you’ll actually see the colors on your computer change. The only downside is that you really don’t want to do any graphics work that requires really accurate color representation while in this mode.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Yeah, devices are a challenge. I love my Kindle but didn’t love the loose charging port. Now I use a magnetic cable, and it has a remarkably bright LED light. Ever since I got it, I’ve had problems staying asleep through the night. Now I charge my Kindle in another room, and keep it in night mode when I read. Problem solved.

        People who know more than me say our devices cause more sleep challenges than we think. Phones, pads, e-readers, TVs, and even clock radios throw out enough light to mess with our sleep cycles.

        1. KEWLM0M*

          I have a Kindle Fire that I have not been able to use in over a year because of the loose receptacle for the charging cord. Is that the issue you were able to overcome with the magnetic charging cord?

    5. XYZ*

      Are you dehydrated? I will wake up if I get too dehydrated during the night from not drinking enough, of course the key is to make sure you don’t drink so much you wake up because you have to use the restroom. For me keeping a water bottle near my bed, and drinking some right before I go to sleep and anytime I do wake up helps me sleep longer

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      I don’t sleep soundly through the night, but get up several times – and 99% of the time I go back to sleep:
      * I do make it a point to go back to bed and to NOT look at my phone when I wake up (generally I visit to the bathroom just in case – I have no idea if this is a good or bad idea, but I drink a lot of water). Others say if you can’t get back to sleep in a certain amount of time, get up and stay up… but I have found (just me) that if I address what is worrying me and talk to self (see next point), I can usually move past it. Plus, I did read somewhere that you do need to be horizontal for a certain number of hours – it’s good for your heart, leg circulation, etc. So I will rest and close my eyes (I pray sometimes). I am working on feeling the actual feelings, not avoiding them, so staying with them and scribbling them down in the dark on the note pad, is not a bad thing. (even if illegible in the morning).
      * I learned this from my mom (and other sources have said it too)… I keep a notepad by my bed, and if I wake up and am worried about something, I write it down. And tell brain – okay, it’s on your list, you can let go of it… that does help. And then remind myself I do “not” solve it by worrying about it.
      * I wear an eye cover.
      * I discovered when we used to camp, that I slept like a log when I was relatively cool and there was no blue light, no ambient light, no light at all. So I do not turn on lights when I get up in the night, and have no laptop, computer, or any blue lights at all in the bedroom. Clock radio face turned to the wall. Even the nightlights in the hall (motion activated) are not bright. This plus eye shade helps a LOT.
      * I stop caffeine at noon
      * It does help if I exercise mildly (I walk the dog 30+ minutes in the evening) and stop all electronics an hour before my bedtime.
      * I try to make myself wake up the same time every morning, weekend or not. (I got to the earlier time by getting up 5 minutes earlier every morning).
      * I eat more than 2 hours before bed time.
      * Fan/ temperature is a big deal, the others are right.
      * Research “Sleep hygiene”

      1. Lena Clare*

        I love this advice! I take screenshots of all the answers I love in the AAM free-for-alls, and my phone is CHOCK full of them. I actually don’t know what I’m going to do when I run out of space :)

    7. KayDay*

      I don’t really know how to force your body to stay asleep, but as for falling back asleep, the two tricks I use are: first, try not to open your eyes, look at the clock or anything…try this for roughly 20-30 ish minutes (but really, you shouldn’t be paying attention to how long your doing it for, just go with your gut). If that doesn’t work, then try getting out of bed. Sometimes a change of location helps and I will fall asleep on my couch. Other-times, if I feel more awake, I just stop trying to fall asleep and do something not-too-stimulating (reading, netflix (I know blue-light bad), or playing an easy game). Basically, the idea is to stop obsessing over trying to fall back asleep.

    8. Themouthinthesouth*

      Dude. I had been having trouble sleeping for a few months, it snowballed until it was interfering with my job performance. I added an eye mask and a melatonin… the melatonin didn’t help but the eye mask is a total game changer. I thought I kept my room dark, but it obviously wasn’t. It’s SOOOO much easier to stay still enough to wind down, and I, who have had issues with insomnia all of my life, have been passing out within 15 minutes.

      I seem to pull it off in my sleep because I wake up with it on the floor. I just got home from work (Tales of the Cocktail, whoo), but I bet I’ll be in dreamland by 3.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t have insomnia, but do tend to wake up a couple of times during the night. I’ve noticed that when we vacation somewhere that’s really DARK at night (no streetlights, no neighbors) I sleep more soundly. An eye mask or blackout curtains would be worth trying for anyone with insomnia.

        1. Lilian*

          Second the eye mask and blackout curtains, without those I definitely wake up as soon as a tiny ray of light gets into the room.

    9. so and so*

      As a person with sleep disorders (walking, talking, everything else), nothing has worked and I’m just exhausted constantly. I have a very physical outdoor job and sometimes I can just fall asleep. Works so far I guess.

    10. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      Try look up bimodal sleep – it is completely normal to sleep for a certain amount of time, be awake some, and then sleep again. It may be more natural for you.

      1. Asenath*

        Yes, I found that just accepting that I wake up in the night for a while is more helpful than trying to “fix’ it so I don’t wake up. Obviously, if there’s some reason for waking up – stress, maybe causing bad dreams; need to drink or use the toilet; getting out of a regular routine – that should be dealt with, but if everything is going well, you’re waking up when you need to to work, and going to sleep (for the first time) in the evening when you’re tired, waking during the night isn’t always a problem.

      2. Courageous cat*

        I see this a lot and while it makes sense, it seems like such unrealistic advice for (most of) us who have to wake up early for a job, though.

        1. Asenath*

          Well, I’m usually up for the day at 5:30 AM – and I wake in the night. But I go to bed very early – 9 PM or so. It’s quite possible to wake up during the night and still wake up early for the day – as long as you get to bed early enough the night before.

          1. Clisby*

            Yes, my husband has had insomnia since he was a child, and still sometimes gets up for awhile around 1-2 a.m. He and I are both normally in bed well before 9 p.m. (I don’t have insomnia, but my ideal is to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night. I love to sleep.)

    11. Venus*

      I have a co-worker who has celiac disease and it affected her sleep. Once she cut out gluten she changed from 3 to 8 hours of sleep.

      This is an extreme result, but I mention it in case it helps someone.

    12. Julia*

      Calm (the app) just recently came up with a meditation exercise just for those times. Other than what everyone else suggested (especially the writing stuff down and no caffeine after lunch), I read somewhere that counting backwards from 100 helps, and for me it actually does some nights.

      1. Kat*

        Second calm!! In addition the the meditations for that, there are great sleepcasts that are a soothing voice talking about a random boring story… one is describing an adorable snowy village, one is describing a town of cats, etc.

        Sounds weird but it’s SO GOOD.

    13. cat socks*

      I’ve started taking CBD gummies. I find it helps me get a solid nights sleep. I try to stop drinking liquids a couple of hours before bed,otherwise I have to get up to pee.

    14. Elf*

      Weighted blanket!!!
      I actually use a toddler sized blanket that I put just onto my torso. I got it fro Salt of the Earth weighted gear, and they let you custom fill by the weight you want, so mine is five pounds, which is heavier than they would likely make it for a toddler. Works wonders!

    15. Madge*

      Most people wake up several times during the night. It’s part of a natural sleep cycle. The problem you’re having is falling back asleep. Most people are only drifting into wakefulness for a second and go right back to sleep. It might help to reframe what’s happening and what you’re trying to do. You’re not trying to stay asleep, you’re trying to fall back asleep. What if you were to get up and do a quiet activity for 20 minutes and then go back to bed?

      Often a change of scenery helps me. If you have a spare bed or a couch you can move to. One time I reoriented myself on the bed with my head where my feet normally go. I have a rule that if I’m still awake at 2 I move to the guest bed or couch.

      I also have a rule that if I’m awake then I need to be up. No matter how much sleep I got the night before. I can lounge on the couch all day and take all the naps I want, but as soon as I’m awake I must change into day clothes and get out of bed. That often snaps me out of an insomnia streak.

      One thing I’m working on now is my attitude. I don’t like to go to bed and go to sleep; I think because it’s boring and unrewarding. I’m trying to convince myself that I like sleep and I like bedtime. Right now I’m just using self talk but I plan to explore this more and see if it helps.

    16. Alexandra Lynch*

      I haven’t read down the thread, but weighted blanket. Weighted blankets make me relax and sleep deeper.

    17. Angwyshaunce*

      As a point of interest, you may want to research “segmented sleep”. It is believed that sleeping through the night is a relatively recent development – in olden times, people would sleep for a while, get up and do stuff, then sleep some more. I’m not sure of this will help you, but it may lead to some insights.

    18. misspiggy*

      If you’re waking up more than two or three times a night, try melatonin. You can start at a very low dose, ie 1mg, and work your way up. More will probably be needed in the summer.

    19. Earthwalker*

      Fresh air is important to the sleep of a large percentage of us (and I’m one). I read recently about studies of carbon dioxide build-up in closed bedrooms and wondered if that was the reason. I wake often feeling like I’m choking if I don’t have an open window and sometimes a fan to help the air get in. When I wake in the middle of the night and can’t get to sleep, I turn on an audiobook with a quiet reader. Audible – the audiobook service from Amazon – has a phone app and a subscription service, but you can borrow audiobooks free using the Libby app with your library card.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For going back to sleep… it’s not 100% but I’m finding that I can fall back to sleep if I move to the sofa. Something about lowering my body temperature fast, if I’m not mistaken.
      My husband hates it but it’s better than having me cranky in the morning.

    21. Anon for now*

      White noise doesn’t work for me. I generally put on an audiobook (at lowish volume) that I have listened to before and enjoyed. It gives me something to focus on that isn’t so engrossing I stay awake.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Sometimes the radio turned on at a low volume helps. I find a station that plays mellow easy listening type of music, or sometimes I’ll listen to classical. My local NPR station broadcasts BBC news all night long and sometimes I’ll listen to that and it helps me nod off.

    22. Una*

      Don’t know if this applies, but while alcohol can make you sleepy, it makes your sleep quality worse – you’ll sleep lighter, wake up more, and generally have less restful sleep.

      I second everyone who’s saying it’s normal to wake up in the night. It happens in the lightest point of your sleep cycle, which you cycle to roughly every 90 minutes. Many people wake up and don’t remember it because they fall back asleep quickly. You maybe are just waking up more fully, or have a much greater awareness of your waking up. For my own insomnia, I know that the more I focus on worrying about whether I’ll sleep, the less I’ll sleep. And a lot of studies of insomniacs say that we actually fall asleep faster than we think we do – something about our perception of the time it takes is off. If the techniques in this thread don’t work, consider looking into cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia – surprisingly, that tends to be more effective long term than any of the pills, and no side effects! I think you can find some CBT-I workbooks if you can’t or don’t want to go for the full therapy thing.

    23. Booksalot*

      I sleep in an eye mask and ear plugs. I resisted it for a long time, but my tolerance to noise and disruption has gone way down as I’ve gotten older. Trash trucks, neighbors gunning their cars, thunderstorms…getting a solid night’s sleep without being startled by sounds is a rarity, not the norm.

    24. KoiFeeder*

      Honestly, I just sleep outside by the pond most of the time. Waking up on a hair-trigger is actually pretty useful when there’s raccoons about.

      The only issue is that raccoons are horrible and will touch your face.

    25. Lilysparrow*

      Taking my multivitamin/mineral supplement before bed helps. Magnesium in particular is helpful in sleeping soundly, in several different ways – it regulates your stress hormones, reduces restless leg syndrome, and regulates your blood pressure.

    26. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We put on fireplace/fire pit YouTube videos. I’m amazed at how well it works.

    27. Deschain*

      I’ve had insomnia my whole life (or at least since I was five and I’m 41 now) and around my mid 30s it changed from “can’t go to sleep” to “can’t stay asleep.” At my doctor’s recommendation, I started sleep compression about three years ago and it works great. I started by staying up late (like 1:00 when I typically went to sleep at 9:30 and woke up around 1:00). I still woke up after a few hours. But after a few weeks, which were tough, I was able to go to sleep earlier and earlier. Now I fall asleep about 11 and consistently sleep until 6. I still have to do a later sleep time for a few days every few months because the insomnia creeps back up. It’s not foolproof but it’s the best thing I’ve tried.

    28. HS Teacher*

      (Legal with my MMJ card) edibles and my CPAP machine. I have struggled with insomnia all my life. I’ve recently acquired a medical mj card and now have half a gummi before I go to sleep. I am sleeping so well now and finally off of the sleeping pills I’ve used for years.

    29. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have this problem. A couple of things helped. First, I listen to a sleep story (via Calm) to go to sleep, and it helps me relax enough that I usually do stay asleep. Second, if it’s been several hours after dinner, I eat a handful of almonds before bed to keep my blood sugar steady. When it’s really bad, I go to the guest bed and snuggle with the dog, but that’s no longer an option (we moved and got rid of the guest bed, and our sofa hasn’t been delivered yet!).

      I wish you luck! It’s no fun to be up for several hours in the middle of the night. The hardest thing for me is not to make it a huge deal, because that just gets in the way of getting back to sleep.

      1. Chris in NZ*

        When I was very stressed (mostly work) a few years ago, I developed big issues with waking then winding myself up through thinking very negative thoughts, which kept me awake and stressed me further.

        Now I sleep with earphones (so as not to disturb my partner) listening to interesting but not exciting books or podcasts – popular science or novels I’m familiar with in particular. They distract me enough that I don’t descend into a negative spiral, which means I normally go back to sleep within a few minutes. Even if I am awake for a while, the material is interesting and I can feel that I’ve learned something or just enjoyed hearing it.

    30. Kat*

      I used to have horrible sleep issues! These helped me:

      -handle your stress!! I used meditation, meds, and journaling
      -if you need one, get a new mattress. My old lumpy mattress was keeping me tossing and turning but I didn’t realize it
      -EYE MASK EYE MASK EYE MASK. I thought my room was dark, but once I started using one I was sleeping two hours later effortlessly. Even at 3AM streetlights etc woke me up
      -CBD oil and melatonin. Idk if you’ve tried these but they work better than NyQuil and prescription drugs did for me.
      -no caffeine for 9 hours pre bedtime
      -light blocking yellow glasses for two hours. huge game changer. You can get cheap ones on amazon
      -don’t spend too much time awake in bed, because it mentally becomes a place where you’re awake. If you don’t fall back asleep in 10-20 min, go elsewhere (I sleep on my couch). My doctor told me this. I can often pass right out in a second location.

      1. Kat*

        Oh also forgot
        -get some exercise
        -don’t eat for 2+ hours before bed. This makes a huuuuuge difference. I didn’t realize this until I got a fancy sleep tracker.

    31. ATX Language Learner*

      I take lavender pills and sometimes magnesium (there are little powder packets you can buy that dissolve in water). The lavender pills are a brand named Calm Aid, they are fantastic and you can buy them on Amazon!

    32. Parenthetically*

      STRICT blue-light curfew or blue-blocking software + blue-blocking glasses. Managing this stuff made an INSTANT difference for me. I’m talking the first night I installed the filter on my phone, I slept through the night for the first time in months.

    33. Blue11*

      Have you ever done a sleep apnea test? A friend of mine was waking up at odd hours and when his doctor suggested a sleep study, he thought it’s totally nuts. Turned out he has a moderate sleep apnea and is now on cpap machine. The guy is fit, active, normal weight, nothing out of the ordinary.

  2. Gir*

    Tips and tricks for a cruise!

    I’ve been invited to cruise with a friend. The person she was originally going with dropped out, so she asked if I’d go with her instead, since it’s all paid for already.

    I’ve never been on a cruise. It’s 5 days, I think, hitting Orcho Rios and Grand Cayman. If I’ve done my research right, it’s a Carnival Cruise (my friend has to get back at me with details).

    I’ve never been on a cruise before, so any words of wisdom would be wonderful.

    1. Auntie Social*

      Check online and see if there’s a costume night (and often a contest), also a dressier night. Usually the longer the cruise, the more formal the formal night is. The websites give you good tips. Are you doing any shore excursions? I seem to recall Ocho Rios having good shopping—buy your friend some earrings or something to thank her for inviting you. If you can afford it, pick up some of her bar tabs or tours.

      1. Gir*

        I’m probably going to pay for the drinks package for both of us plus a few off cruise excursions, and I’m trying to get her to let me book the hotel for the night before.

        But I like to the idea of a nice pair of earrings. I know she’d appreciate them.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I have mentioned the Cruise Critic website on here before, and there is a whole section on what to expect if you have never been on a cruise before, both in terms of being on a cruise ship and what to see in the different ports.

        2. CoffeeforLife*

          I love the concept of the drink package but I *cannot* get my money’s worth as a drinker. I don’t even break even-unless it’s the package that includes starbux offee.

    2. Amtelope*

      Carnival usually has an early boarding option for a small additional charge (“First to the Fun”) — it’s 100% worth it. You’ll wait in much shorter line to board, and you can get aboard before lunch and have all afternoon to relax on the ship. Your bags will be delivered to your cabin, but it often takes a couple of hours, so carry on anything you’ll want right away, like a swimsuit if you’re planning to hit the pool as soon as you board.

      If you are into spa relaxation and your ship has a thermal suite, it’s worth buying a thermal suite pass — it’ll give you unlimited use of the area of the spa with assorted saunas, steam rooms, mist showers, and heated loungers. Buy it on the first day of the cruise, they sell out after a couple of days.

    3. Colette*

      There is a newsletter that will be dropped off at your room every day – read it, since it’ll tell you what’s happening when, as well as when you need to be back on the ship.

      If she hasn’t picked the room yet, try to get one in the middle of the ship.

      Bring comfortable shoes – the ships are big!

      Bring something to carry your room key in (credit card size) – a lanyard or similar works well.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        If you’re a swimmer, look at floating waterproof lanyard wallets. I had one that held my glasses & room key when we went snorkelling. Well worth it in case you drop it in the deep end.

    4. Numbersgirl*

      I second the lanyard and I also suggest a cheap (fabric) over the door shoe holder. I put my shoes and also had a spot for my sunglasses, sunscreen, lanyard, etc for my partner and I. It really helped with the small amount of surface area.

      1. Deanna Troi*

        Yes, if you bring a lanyard with a clip, you can go to the Customer Service desk, where they should have a hole puncher so they can punch a hole for your lanyard. Best tip anyone gave me for a cruise!

    5. Wishing You Well*

      Watch the time when you take excursions from the ship. A few passengers miss the ship’s departure because the ship stays on ship time and the passengers’ electronic watches/devices sometimes switch to local time. Be very aware of the actual time the ship is leaving port.
      Have fun!

    6. ThatGirl*

      Have fun! Explore the ship your first day to get a feel for where things are. Look over the daily newsletter for activities. You don’t have to go to the port talks, they’re just trying to steer you to stores where Carnival gets a kickback.

      Remember to tip staff well, though you can generally add that on to your room charges. You can link a credit card to your room card for easy purchasing on board.

    7. HS Teacher*

      Check with your cell phone company about data rates. Mine assured me there would be no surcharge, but I came home to a cell phone bill over $300. I was able to get it reversed since I was given bad information.

  3. Lena Clare*

    Do you have and tried and tested stain remover tips for getting limescale off a ceramic sink?
    Bleach or soap and elbow grease isn’t working.

    1. Auntie Social*

      CLR works, so does vinegar. I have hard water and have to give my shower head a vinegar bath regularly.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you have any cracks where the cast iron shows through, that might be an issue. There’s a hard glaze on sinks & toilets designed to handle acids & bases. I used to have a very old sink that had its finish scrubbed off and we did scrubbed with straight dish soap, then bleached: Straight bleach on a peer towel, air dry.
          (Some people recommend waxing after that to give a temporary finish to the old porcelain, but my husband uses enough ammonia for washing cookware that I never bothered to look into it.)

          1. Wishing You Well*

            Sinks and toilets are called “sanitary ware” in the ceramics industry. If the glaze (actually a glass layer) is gone, the item is no longer sanitary since the glaze acts as a sealant for the body of the ceramic. If you have a large area of missing glaze, I’d replace the sink or toilet, since the ceramic body is porous and will absorb stains and other things. (I prefer metal sinks myself.)
            Happy Cleaning!

      1. Lena Clare*

        The limescale remover one? I’ve got the other normal one which isn’t working but I’ll try that, thanks.

    2. WS*

      Grapefruit juice and salt, CLR, or any acid-based bathroom cleaner. Bleach won’t remove lime.

    3. CoffeeforLife*

      Have you tried a pumice stick? It works on porcelain (awesome for removing the mineral ring in toilets). Make sure the surface is wet to prevent scratching-test an inconspicuous spot first! No chemicals needed

      1. Lena Clare*

        I saw that online! I don’t mind trying it out on the loo if I need to, but I’m definitely squeamish about using it in the sink :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’d be worried it would remove the glaze… because our old porcelain sink had no glaze anymore. That might have just been 70 years of abuse though.

    4. Alexandra Lynch*

      CLR, plus light elbow grease. Spray it, let it sit a bit, scrub lightly and rinse. It will work, but it will probably take a few repetitions of this to really get through it.

      When I moved in with Boyfriend, he hadn’t actually cleaned his shower in about 10 years, and he has hard water. Now, I have chronic pain so I’m not taking it all off in one day, but eight passes over eight weeks of the CLR plus a scrub to loosen the top layer of limescale really did the trick, and the shower now looks clean.

    5. Merci Dee*

      I have hard water, as well, and I love Barkeeper’s Friend for scrubbing the build up off my porcelain kitchen sink. It also works great in the bathtub. It’s a very gentle abrasive so it won’t damage the finish, but it works like crazy to get the crud off. Even the weird gray marks that my plastic dishpan leaves in the one side of the kitchen sink that I leave it in. Nothing else would even fade those marks, but Barkeeper’s Friend got rid of them entirely.

    6. Parker*

      Lemishine – it’s citric based, not harmful, and works wonders. They have all kinds of cleaning products – lemishine.com

    7. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      For the limescale buildup on my glass shower door, equal parts dish soap + white vinegar all day! You just spray the mixture on, leave it for 20 minutes and apply the rough side of a sponge and elbow grease. It works because the dish soap stops the vinegar drying before it’s had a chance to do work its magic and it’s the only thing that’s ever shifted that darn limescale.
      I know some people here have mentioned that vinegar harms sinks, so if you’re worried about that I’ve heard good things about Barkeeper’s Friend.

    8. Ron McDon*

      I love viakal or Killrock (both in UK, not sure if sold in other countries). Killrock in particular works really well – I bought a pot which contains quite a thick liquid and a brush attached to the lid. I painted it around my sink and the limescale dissolved right off.

      Not sure if ceramic-safe though.

  4. Marzipan*

    This round of donor egg IVF is underway. (I’m trying to just not think about the possible massive change to my work schedule, suddenly mentioned a couple of weeks ago, that would be epically incompatible with being a single parent.)

    Eight frozen donor eggs – the egg bank say they’ll supply six, but it turns out that if they have a random number of additional eggs from that donor, they just throw them in for free. So that was a bonus! The lab called yesterday to say they all survived the thaw; waiting for them to call this morning and let me know how many fertilised.

    Assuming some did then transfer will be sometime this week. I find transfer really hard (there is no such thing as a ‘comfortably full’ bladder in my book!) but I’m trying to just remember that I’ve got through it before and can do it again.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Very best of luck. For transfers, I’ve found it easiest to “count” my way through it like I do for something painful, just focus on counting or multiplication tables or reciting the alphabet backwards, anything that takes just enough focus off the discomfort!

    2. Erin*

      Wishing you the best of luck! I’m currently 5 months pregnant with a donor egg after several unsuccessful rounds of IVF with my own eggs – I hope for the same outcome for you!

  5. Hermyown*

    A friend of mine has dropped off the planet lately and I’m finding it really hard to know how much to nudge. If he’s trying to slow ghost me, I don’t want to be annoying – but I would like some closure if the friendship is at an end. On the other hand he may just be extremely busy. WWYD?

    1. Weegie*

      Stop nudging! Leave the ball in his court and assume the friendship is gone. If he suddenly pops up again, you get to choose whether or not to respond.

    2. Washi*

      “I would like some closure if the friendship is at an end.”

      I get where you’re coming from, but I would be a little wary of this impulse. You can certainly ask “hey, haven’t heard from you in a while, everything ok?” or “if I did something to offend you, I hope you’ll let me know” but you may not get any answers or equally likely, may get answers that still don’t feel satisfying.

      I think sometimes wanting closure is a defense mechanism – we think that if we get it, it will protect us a little from the sadness and grief and even anger. And also for myself, I know that “what if the friendship is over” often comes from an anxious place of trying to pin down something concrete so I can stop anxiously wondering. If everything has been fine between you up until this point, then most likely he’s dropped out of contact because of his own stuff.

      I went through this with a friend struggling with depression, so I really understand how much this sucks. (I posted about it here a while ago, and a few months later she sent me a text confirming that was what was going on.) What helped me most was letting go of looking for answers and just accepting that if the friendship is meant to pick up again, she knows how to find me.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I love the idea that closure is a defense mechanism. I hadn’t thought about that before, and I think it’s really true.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, it’s a little like the defense mechanism that people use when they get dumped/fired etc. “If they had just TOLD me differently, I wouldn’t have been upset!” “If they’d just told me sooner/later/gentler/harsher etc…” but there’s no perfect way to do it. Not that there aren’t exceptionally bad ways to do those things, but I notice often the focus on “how” it’s done is disproportionate.

    3. Asenath*

      If you haven’t already done so, make a casual approach one more time – ask how he’s doing, etc, – and if there’s no response, let it go. The friend now knows you’re still interested in a friendship, but he has to decide if he’s going to respond. I wouldn’t go for closure, myself – in a case like this, I’d probably remind myself that some friendships simply peter out, it’s too bad, but that’s the way it is, and he knows you’re there if he ever wants to reconnect, and there’s nothing else for you to do except move on.

    4. Zephy*

      I would give it two attempts – two invitations to do something or conversation openers. If he doesn’t bite, let it go and it’ll be his turn to reach out to you next. Phones and email and IMs and Facebook Messenger and all the other ways we have to talk to people these days, they work both ways. If he wants to talk to you, he knows how to get in touch.

      Closure isn’t something someone else can give you, really. You have to make it for yourself. Sorry you’re dealing with this, I know it stings – but there’s a good chance his radio silence has nothing to do with you, specifically.

    5. Overeducated*

      Why does a friendship have to be over if it’s inactive for a while? Maybe it’s hibernating for any number of reasons that don’t have a lot to do with you. Closure is risky, it could close off possibilities for reawakening in the future.

      1. Asenath*

        That’s true, too. My mother had some friendships that had lasted since she was a girl or a teenager, which went through gaps of years or even decades due to, well, life, really – people moving to different places, even different countries and finding it hard to get that time to keep in touch. And yet they could re-connect when they did get together. I have a couple friends like that too – we’re not as close as we used to be, or as I am with people I see more often, but every so often we meet and enjoy each other’s company. Friendship can occur on different levels.

      2. Stanley Nickels*

        Also my first thought here. Friendships wax and wane with who you both are at any given time. It may be good to let them do what they need to do for now and reconnect when you are both on the same page again. Explore new friendships or interests of your own and let them have space to do the same. Let go of any hard feelings so you can be happy to see them in the future. I think you really only need to firmly end a friendship if it is toxic, but what what you’ve described, it may just be some down time. I hope you feel better!

    6. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

      I’m so sorry, that is really hard. I’ve been through it myself and in that capacity I just have this to say. Either leave the ball in their court (maybe with a couple of ‘you OK?’ or something) OR come right out and say, “I don’t know what to make of your behavior, please let me know if this friendship is over.” Don’t do what I did and hint around the fact that you think people should tell other people when they don’t want to be friends any more. It was at least 5 years before I realized they probably thought I was the one ending things and I still kick myself occasionally. My only defense is that I was very young.

  6. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Quitting soda (and calorie’d drinks in general). How do I do this without losing my mind?

    1. Pam*

      I switched to unsweetened iced tea- which gave me the caffeine hit without the sugar.

      I do still drink the occasional root beer

    2. Grandma Mazur*

      fizzy water with lemon or lime juice? Or mint leaves? (I went to hot water which worked for me, until I was able to cut the sugar from tea)

      1. Julia*

        This is what I do because I need carbonated drinks to feel like I’m drinking. Those and cold brew teas that somehow end up tasting sweet, like green rooibos (hate the red) peach tea etc.

    3. verity verity*

      I used to drink _a lot_ of Diet Coke. I’m assuming from your name you are in NZ? I switched to very lightly flavoured sparkling water (Kiwi Blue make several flavours – raspberry, lemon and I think lime, and NZ Natural do a delicious manderin, there’s also the US brand La Croix sold at Countdown which has loads of flavours – pamplemousse is our favourite) which tastes a bit more interesting than plain water so I don’t feel too deprived. So I am living proof it can be done, I still crave DC, but I’ve since tried it again and it tastes unpleasant, like chemicals. I also read a lot of articles about what was in Diet Coke and what it was doing to my body and scared myself off it. Hope that helps. Good luck.

      1. FormerDietCokeAddict*

        Another former Diet Coke addict here. I gave up entirely a couple of years ago and now it just tastes like nasty chemicals when I occasionally try some. I just switched to ice cold water, got myself a nice insulated cup to use. It really is a matter of going cold turkey and sticking with it for a few weeks and then you will have broken the habit.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Ditto! I don’t drink anything with sugar in now, it tastes too sweet.
          I had major caffeine withdrawal headaches so started on decaffeinated tea and coffee, plus occasionally took paracetamol.

          You can do this :)

        2. Good luck with that*

          Cold turkey on diet cola gave me the worst headaches of my life, not excluding head injury in a collision. Caffeine withdrawal is real. Either cut back gradually, or find another source of caffeine at least temporarily.
          Temperature makes a big difference for me. The pop was always ice cold, and plain water from the water fountain or cooler just isn’t as cold.
          When grapes or berries are in season, freeze a bunch loose (I use cookie sheets) to use instead of ice cubes in cold water. Just a few don’t add a huge amount of calories. Or use a water additive such as True Lemon .

      2. I Concur*

        Me too – a lot of Diet Coke and Pepsi Max. I gave it up for Lent this year in solidarity with my kid giving up fizzy drinks and just haven’t looked back since. (I am not super Catholic but I live in Ireland and the school my kid goes to is sponsored by the Catholic Church, as are 90% of schools in Ireland.)

        I also enjoy a lightly flavoured sparkling water. And to be honest, I have rarely missed the diet soda and have no desire to go back to it, for exactly the reasons verity verity mentioned – it seemed super bad for me.

        Also, you know yourself best. Rationing and special treating doesn’t work for me. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, so cold turkey and abstention for basically ever is the only thing that works for me. I kicked white bread in the beginning of June and am currently phasing out candy bars. (Also been on a completely plant-based diet for the last two and half years.)

      3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        Oooh, La Croix didn’t do it for me but I’ll definitely track down the Kiwi Blue ones to give them a try!

      4. The Other Dawn*

        Me, too. Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi were my drink of choice.

        For me, soda was a habit or maybe even part of a ritual or experience. My morning ritual at work was a breakfast sandwich and a diet coke/pepsi while I went through my emails, read this blog and generally just settled in. If the deli downstairs didn’t have diet soda, my morning just seemed off; it kind of got my morning off to a bad start. And anytime I had food, I cracked a can of diet soda. So, three meals a day, plus anything I ate in between, generally meant I was drinking five to six cans of diet soda every single day.

        I didn’t quit the soda because I wanted to, I quit because had to–I was getting weight loss surgery and anything carbonated is generally a big “no” afterwards. I had to quit cold turkey, which is how I need to do most things–all or nothing. I just had to flip that switch in my mind and it worked. Was it hard? Hell yes! But once I got through a couple weeks I was fine. I definitely missed it as part of my morning ritual, but eventually I learned to replace it with water or something else that’s no sugar/non-carbonated. It’s been over five years now and I do crave diet soda every once in awhile, typically every few months or so and only if I’m eating fast food. I’ll ask my husband for a sip of his and that satisfies me.

      5. WellRed*

        What is it about Diet Coke?! I go through phases and am in the throes! Don’t care for water. Dislike iced tea and have Type 1 diabetes so I’m kinda screwed.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My husband was Type II. I noticed that same exclusion in our lives, when we drank DC we avoided water. We both did this and I am not diabetic. I dunno, some folks believe there is addictive stuff in it but I tend to think human kind has a collective weakness for things like this.

          We started with a rule that we could only have a Diet Coke after drinking X amount of water. Of course, after a bit you start feeling like, “This is way too much fluids, I am going to float away.” So we started adjusting downward on the Diet Coke and then finally quit buying it entirely.

          Interesting to me, a non-diabetic, as I switched over to eating healthier one of the last things I got rid of was the Diet Coke. I kept holding on, even it was to allow myself 1 Diet Coke a week or two weeks, etc. At that time I said, change anything but don’t take my Diet Coke.

          It’s been decades now and, of course, my body has changed. I would love the flavor of Diet Coke but I can’t deal with the bloated feeling from the carbonation. Just can’t deal anymore. When I quit it was because of my pain levels going up and panic attacks going up for days after I had that soda.

          1. Earthwalker*

            If diet soda is too fizzy or too sweet, you might be able to mix it with water to get a more palatable drink, and save money and bottle waste that way too.

            1. KayEss*

              That’s what I did when I wasn’t working and found myself drinking way too many cans of diet coke out of boredom/habit… for every can I drank, I had to finish a full glass of water before I could have another. It kept me from mindlessly going from one can to the next.

    4. Charlotte*

      Diet versions of sodas are pretty much zero calories though, is there a reason you can’t switch to those in the meantime a ‘transition’ drink?

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had luck with powdered drink mixes to wean me off the sweet&caffeine separately from the fizz & convenience of a Coke bottle. My problem is I can’t STAY off when I’m with someone who pops a can several times a day–such Pavlovian conditioning in that sound!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Also this is a good place to mention FRESH stevia. I hate artificial sweeteners including stevia powder. My husband does not. He started growing stevia a couple of years ago, and I’ve found that I quite like water steeped with the fresh leaves, fresh mint leaves, and some lemon juice.

        1. LCL*

          There are some anecdotes about people having an allergy or sensitivity reaction to stevia. If you have an allergy to ragweed, stevia may affect you.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh blast. Thank you I do. And that could explain why my allergies have been worse this month than for the last several years.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same – I drink Crystal Light peach mango green tea by the gallon. I’m a super taster for bitter notes, so brewing my own tea doesn’t work, even green and white brewed teas don’t seem to have a sweet spot for me between “flavorless” and “yuck” (and black teas are right out). But I really like the Crystal Light stuff.

        I also have a tracker and aim for 64oz of non-carbonated beverage per day, and I try to do at least half of it as plain water. And I just plain don’t buy soda at home, but I let myself drink it when I’m out for dinner or at a movie if I want.

        1. Owler*

          My 12yo kid is a super taster for bitter. Any advise or comments from your adult experience? (She’s a good eater generally, but hates chocolate; most cooked veggies or those from the store are too bitter. She’ll eat things fresh from my garden because they are less bitter or she’ll eat frozen veggies like peas and corn uncooked and straight from freezer. Her friend love to have taste tests with her and hear her rankings on bitter levels.)

          1. Dr. Anonymous*

            Acid sauces help a lot. Vinaigrettes, lemon aioli, ponzu, some random oil and orange juice concoction. Salt and, if she tolerates them, hot spices help as well. I do eat some bitter foods now but I’m 55 and never did learn to like chocolate, beer, or coffee. I can drink tea if hard-pressed.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Mostly where I find it hits me is that I can’t drink coffee, tea, beer, or wine, or eat dark chocolate. Veggies don’t bother me, though I tend to use savory herbs on them so that probably helps. I don’t have any problems with it from an eating perspective, personally — the most annoying part is the lifetime of people going “Oh, you just need to (add more sugar to the coffee/try white or red tea/drink a less hoppy beer/white wine instead of red/WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T LIKE DARK CHOCOLATE)” instead of going “Oh, ok, more for me!” :P

          3. Owler*

            Thanks, Dr. Anon and Red. It’s nice to hear from adults who are similar to her. Her friends are really accepting (“more for us!”), and it’s only really from grownups that she hears comments like you’ve heard.

    6. Kate Daniels*

      I started a challenge to drink (and track my drinking of) 64 oz of water every day. Turns out, there’s not any room for any other type of liquid after I hit those 64 oz!

      1. I edit everything*

        That “drink 64 oz of water a day” thing isn’t really a thing. Or, it’s a thing that shouldn’t be a thing. It’s really 64 oz of liquid—which includes all the water/juice in the food we eat, especially fruits and veggies, as well as what we drink, with the exception of alcohol. So tea, coffee, pop, juice, whatever, counts toward the 64 oz. of fluid we’re supposed to drink in a day. Most people don’t realize a lot of our food has water in it.

        1. Kate Daniels*

          For me, personally, whether or not it is a “thing” (I’m not giving health advice here), making myself drink eight glasses of water a day has had the benefit of forcing me to cut out other, sugary type of liquids like juices or lemonade because I no longer have room for them.

        2. Thankful for AAM*

          I edit everything is right.
          Count the water in food as well as what you drink.
          And too much liquid can also upset your electrolyte balance and cause health problems.

        3. Parenthetically*

          Yeah, it’s definitely a thing for me, whether it’s a thing or not — I crave other drinks AND alcohol less when I hit that number.

    7. A nony cat*

      The best thing for me is to give up very specific things cold turkey, but one at a time. So, if you drink both soda and juice, first give up the soda, but keep drinking juice. Then once you’ve broken that addiction, try to reduce your juice consumption (mixing it with sparkling water is a good way to do that!). If your biggest addiction is a caffeinated drink, be sure you keep getting enough caffeine (and if you want to give up caffeine as well, do it separately, either before or after giving up sugared drinks). Also, seltzer water and (unsweetened) iced tea are great alternatives to soda specifically.

      If you really aren’t a fan of the cold-turkey approach, make your “cheats” difficult/irregular/less desirable. For example, you might give up all sweetened drinks except homemade lemonade, or all juice except grapefruit juice. Another option is to think of your physical environment and have certain environments be no-go zones for some things. For example, you might never drink soda at home, but it’s okay at a party. Basically, you want to set firm yes/no boundaries for yourself that are very clear, rather than just try to “cut back” on something.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I like to visualize the sugar, coloring, and phosphoric/citric acids that would be washing around in my mouth if I were drinking something other than plain water. I’ve been off sodas and sweetened beverages for about 20 years now (though I’ll have a non-diet Coke once in a blue moon, almost medicinally as a pick-me-up), and this works for me.

    9. Angwyshaunce*

      Good luck! I made it 5 days (broke yesterday). For me, food type is a trigger, so I try to avoid things like diner food and the like.

    10. Alexandra Lynch*

      A lot of water, and eating real food that is tasty and satisfying.

      My own quit was rather weird. At that point I was still married, and we were poor. When we ran out of anything mid month, we were out of it til the next month’s disability payment came, and that was just all. I was used to this, so when I ran out of diet cola, I swapped over to drinking hot tea because it was winter and that was yummy in a cold house. I found that I was REALLY enjoying the hot tea versus a cold soda, so didn’t get any more for the following month. After that, I was doing laundry at my mom’s house, and as I had about five loads a week this took all day in a big push. I decided that soda offered me caffeine in an easily portable and drinkable form, and left them there for me to drink while there.

      I began to notice that Mondays meant a really bad day with my chronic pain. I assumed it was due to no nap and the stress of dealing with my mother for that period of time. (We love each other but we are very very different people.) But one week I showed up and…. no soda! My eldest son had moved in with my mom to help her because she’d ruptured a disc and had two acres of land to keep in order, and he’d drunk all my sodas! Oops, sorry, mom, I’ll replace them. That did nothing for my caffeine need right now, of course, so I made some tea and got through the day. The following week, he’d just forgotten to get any. Tea again.

      And I noticed, hey, wait a minute….I don’t hurt on Monday! HMMM!!! Deliberately tried having a soda when I went out and yep, sore and aching the following day. Well, at that point I was already over the addiction, and they just didn’t taste good any more. So it was no problem to just formally say, “I don’t drink soda any more.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Like Alexandra, I noticed my pain levels went down and my panic attacks went down. Way down.
        I missed the taste of Diet Coke and the fizz.
        I treated myself to fruit waters once in a while.
        Then once in a great while I allowed myself a DC. And that was when the pain and panics came flooding back. Ten minutes of enjoyable sipping was not worth the 5-7 days of agony after.

        I’d still love a Diet Coke. But it’s not worth messing up the rest of my week for. I can find other indulgent treats that will not cut into my life.

        OP, if you are interested, I LOVED watermelon for the sweetness. At least I could get that sweetness somewhere without drinking a coke. My friend is fond of pointing out that watermelon is good for flushing out our systems, also. Perhaps the watermelon helped me move through the DC habit faster? I can’t be sure.

    11. Madge*

      Everyone is giving great suggestions for replacements. You can have fun experimenting with options. If you regularly drink X glasses of liquid a day, you can use one of those to experiment until you find what you like. Then you can gradually replace your calorie drinks with that. It works best if you think of this as replacing soda with water rather than having to give up soda for water. You could switch to nothing but plain water at meals.

      I can easily get into habits with drinks where I want one every day. If I have a Dr. Pepper today I’ll find myself figuring out how I can get one tomorrow. (I don’t live in Dr. Pepper country anymore so there are only a few places that carry it. ) I’ve created a rule that Dr.Peppers can only be a gift, outside the house. So I can have one at a party or on a road trip, but I can’t buy a can to bring home.

      If you’re drinking lots of caloried beverages, you’re probably sipping from a drink throughout your day and getting a low but steady dose of sugar energy all day as well. That’s the habit you really need to break. Your body is depending on that energy and even flavored water won’t be a good substitute. You might want to add in a few snacks for now to give you that same energy boost in food form. You could also try switching more of your liquids to glasses of plain water that you drink right down and save only a couple glasses for flavored beverages that you mindfully enjoy at specific times.

    12. SUE*

      I love a can of plain seltzer, a splash or more of apple cider vinegar, and some mint & cucumbers. So refreshing. It replaced my evening cocktail.

    13. Merci Dee*

      I like the powder packets and liquid drops you can add to water. They’re zero calories, but they add lots of flavor and a little sweetness to something I should be drinking anyway.

      I’m not crazy about sodas, because the carbonation makes me thirstier and then I have to drink a bottle of water anyway to feel like my thirst has been satisfied. So the packets and drops are great for me. And they’re very easy to carry around with you.

    14. Jaid*

      Seltzer/Sparkling water. Um, I don’t know if Countdown is like, your version of Costco, but it shows sparkling water flavors of lime, lemon, watermelon, grapefruit, etc.

      It’s the in thing now, dontcha know?

    15. Trixie*

      Last week I splurged on a Soda Stream. I find I drink less soda but also I can adjust the carbonation levels as needed. For now, the carbonation reminds me of soda without the soda, and I have to add either fresh lemon or lime or grapefruit juice for some flavor. I am feeling the same withdrawals symptoms (small headache) but expect this to ease up before long.

    16. Booksalot*

      I switched to Kombucha, which has been great in several ways. Less sugar, more interesting flavors, and it actually improved my GERD symptoms.

      (I also didn’t totally give up Coke, just cut way down to maybe a can or two per month. Something about a can of Coke knocks out my weather-related migraines in a way that my prescription meds just can’t touch.)

    17. Lilysparrow*

      We like unsweetened flavored fizzy water, like LaCroix or Bubly. Aldi’s has a house brand called LaVie for a fraction of the price. Walmart/Sam’s Club has one called Clear American (but you have to check, some of the CA flavors are sweetened – the boxes are slightly different, which helps)

      Sometimes you can also find litre bottles of flavored seltzer, but those are getting harder to come by in stores near me, the cans have taken over.

      I also like flavored hot tea, like green tea with lemon and ginger.

    18. Sled dog mama*

      I recently discovered that my grocery store has seltzer water that is lightly cola flavored. I thought I had died, this has been the best thing to kick yhe soda habit

    19. HannahS*

      Honestly, I’d start with using no-calorie sweetener in homemade iced tea or lemonade (or soda water, or whatever) for a while. It works as a good bridge in reducing sugar, I find, as long as I approach it as “eventually there will be less.” First two little packets of Splenda, then one, then half, etc.

    20. Shrunken Hippo*

      I buy a bunch of different teas that I can have as unsweetened ice tea. There’s enough flavour and variety that I don’t miss pop. Of course it also means that shops like David’s Tea are very dangerous to my poor wallet.

    21. OhBehave*

      My son quit soda (Mt Dew) cold turkey a few years ago at 17. He lost a lot of weight then started working out. He lost even more after that.
      It’s not only the caffeine that gets you but the sugars and artificial sugars that can harm.

      I would take it gradually so as to not irk your family and coworkers, LOL!

  7. Sami*

    I’m searching for a new purse/handbag. It’s difficult for me to get out and shop. Any apps you’d recommend to find one? Used is fine. I have tried eBags. I’m wondering about sites/apps like PoshMark – any success stories? Thanks.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a shopping problem and Poshmark has helped. The three Vera Bradley bags I bought last month only cost me $50 instead of upwards of $200. :-P (I like bright patterns that look like a paint factory exploded on a paisley stencil. They make me happy.)

      If you know roughly what you’re after – I wanted the three-zipper classic after seeing the style in a store, but didn’t like the patterns the store had – it can be really great. People tend to be pretty detailed about their items, you can attempt to dicker with the sellers a bit, the site has good customer service in my experience. I bought a dress described as style x, which is a sheath dress, and it turned out to be style y, a fit and flare – posh let the seller keep the money, but refunded me anyway and let me keep the dress. Wins all around.

      It gets a little fiddlier if you’re looking from scratch, they don’t provide as many details (measurements, internal pocket sizes etc) as a regular selling site might do. Not impossible, but not as easy as it you’re looking for a specific make and model of something, IMO.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      I bought a beautiful Michael Kors on tradesy. I think I paid around $120 for it including shipping (that’s Canadian $ btw) and it retailed for around $350, I think.

    3. cat socks*

      I like Zappos because they have free shipping and returns. A lot of times they have videos of the products too, which I find helpful.

    4. foolofgrace*

      I just bought a bag from QVC. They had about 600 in the crossover style, which is what I wanted. It was some serious shopping, having to breeze thru that many options before culling a few for final consideration. You might get some ideas of what you find important in a handbag.

    5. Blarg*

      ThredUp has a good bag selection and lots of filter options to get just what you want. Their site works well on mobile which I’m appreciative of.

      1. Fortitude Jones*


        I get most of my bags from thredUP these days. Also, Amazon surprisingly has good bags too. I have some beautiful Chanel/Hermès dupes that pass for the real thing.

    6. Kuododi*

      DH bought me a Brighton bag a few months ago. It’s a very well made, lovely design bag and I honestly think if I tried real hard I couldn’t damage this thing. The nifty thing about Brighton bag is the company offers a service once a year where they will clean/condition the leather. They will also clean and check the metal attachments and replace anything loose. We purchased a small crossbody bag which ended up costing $130ish. (I gave up large tote bags some time ago to accommodate my arthritic shoulder).

      Unfortunately, I have no idea about the +/- of any of the apps. Brighton does sell their products both online as well as brick and mortar locations. Best of luck

    7. NB*

      I got two Vera Bradley bags for cheap on eBay and really like them. I also bought a new Neiman-Marcus tote bag at Goodwill.

    8. OhBehave*

      Zulily has been good for me. TJ Maxx too. I tend to stick with the same bag forever.

  8. A nony cat*

    I’m a cat person, but a flatmate/neighbor (for lack of a better word, we have connected apartments and share a fence/yard/driveway but not living space) recently got a puppy, who is now 4-6 months old. The puppy’s human is now on vacation, and another neighbor is taking care of her. But the caretaker isn’t super into puppies and is mainly doing it as a favor to the human. While the puppy gets enough attention in terms of being petted and getting enough food, I don’t think the puppy is getting enough play/activity/mental stimulation.

    Other than playing fetch with her rope toy, what are some activities I can do in the yard with the puppy? I’ve heard playing tug-of-war with dogs (or maybe just pitbulls) is bad, is that true? I’ve never had a dog/puppy of my own (and even most of my cat experience is with older cats, not kittens), so I’m honestly a little lost on how to help her expend her puppy energy. I don’t mind buying/making cheap toys for her. Are there any dos/don’ts that a cat person might not realize when dealing with dogs?

    (FYI, I’ve played a bit with the puppy while the her human was in town, I have no reason to think he would object to me playing with her while he’s gone.)

    1. Mother of dogs*

      Tug-of-war’s appropriateness kind of depends on the dog’s personality. For a dog who is prone to dominance behaviours, it’s probably not the best thing to do. If you’re not sure, then probably err on the side of not playing tug-of-war.

      Playbowing and doing a little bit of chasing can be fun for both parties. Chasing a ball can also be fun.

      The only advice I’d give in general is not to tolerate bad behaviour – jumping up on you or nipping. Give a stern no and turn your back on the pup. Wait until they are calm before interacting again. Praise and give pets for good behaviour. The advice on not tolerating bad behaviour is especially important for a puppy who will grow up into a large dog. We have a large rescue dog who was never taught manners and was clearly allowed to jump and mouth people. He’s 100+ pounds now and it’s a lot harder to remove bad habits, especially in a dog who can easily bowl someone over, than to instill good habits from a young age.

    2. Venus*

      Is there any way you can walk the dog? That expends energy and gives mental stimulation better than anything.

      If not, then feeding the dog by throwing it’s kibble in the grass is really easy mental stimulation. Do it in a small area (no need to spread it in the yard), yet having to search through grass is great (they sell snuffle-mats to do the same concept indoors).

      I play tug with my dog, but agreed with Mother of dogs – the dog should be submissive or well-trained to ‘release’ when asked. It’s a bit like having a dog on the couch: some people do not like it at all, but the consensus seems to be that it’s fine if you invite the dog up rather than letting it barge up (I taught my dog she can only come up with me when she sits first).

      Also agreed with Mother of dogs – the best thing you can do with a puppy is teach it to sit when it wants something (food, treats, to go indoors, to be pet, to get a toy, etc). I am doing it now with a little puppy and it is a million times more pleasant than the same problem with a 90lb unmannered three-year-old last year.

      Toys are good but may involve more work for you if you throw it and they don’t bring it back (it’s a trained thing). Although you might try a cat wand toy (a cheap one as it will likely get destroyed – dollar stores have them) and have them chase that a bit.

    3. Tugsalot*

      My dog loves tug of war more than any other form of play. She doesn’t care much for other games like fetch, but she’ll tug so hard I worry sometimes about her teeth! The important thing is to train a good “drop it”. It takes a while to teach well, but in the end you want the dog to be able to let go of the toy no matter how worked up she is. There are a few different strategies for training “drop it”, but there are basically three different stages: the first is to get the dog to actually release the toy. You can use treats, pry the dog’s jaw open, offer a different toy, or (my personal favorite) become a dead fish (maintain hold on the toy and just walk with the dog as she pulls, giving little resistance and just generally being a boring tug partner until she gives up). The second part is crucial: immediately reward the dog for letting go. I usually reward by giving the toy back or throwing the toy, but you can use treats or petting if the dog likes them better (though a dog that really likes to tug often won’t want anything but more tug time). Wait until the dog starts letting go of the toy without too much struggle before you introduce the “drop it” command (drop it, leggo, give it, gimmie, give, mine – whatever you prefer. Don’t use “let go” because it sounds too much like “no” and don’t use “release” because that’s a different command the owner might want to use later on). It will be tricky at first, but once the dog learns that “drop it” means “game restarts” instead of “game over”, they get pretty good at it, even when they’re really excited.

      The third stage is to teach the dog not to grab the toy again without you offering it, either by throwing it for her to fetch or by holding it out and saying “get it”. If the dog snatches the toy back right after letting it go, that defeats the purpose of having a “drop it” command. As you are teaching “drop it”, prevent the dog from getting the toy again by holding it out of reach. After the “drop it” part is learned well, make the dog sit or stand without lunging for the toy before you throw/offer it again. If the dog lunges at the toy after dropping it, say “no” and either pull the toy away before she can reach it, or if she manages to grab it, either pry her jaws open or be a dead fish until she lets go again. You have to build this slowly or the dog will get frustrated. Start by just preventing her from lunging immediately after releasing. You might have to physically block her body with your hand on her chest. Then start proofing the behavior by holding the toy closer to her mouth. When she lunges for it, pull it away. Make her wait a second without lunging before you say “get it”. Gradually build to dangling the toy in front of her nose or even touching it. It’s important to teach this, but do it slowly and make sure the dog still thinks of “drop it” positively.

      Things to watch out for: don’t chase the dog to get the toy from her. This is a fun game for the dog, but not for humans. Call the dog over and reach for the toy. If she pulls out of reach, don’t keep reaching farther, just make weaker grab attempts closer to you, then snag it when she comes in closer. It can help to do this sitting down, so you’re not tempted to follow her.

      Don’t pull too hard or fast. Teeth can and do get broken from tug of war, and if you jerk too hard side to side you can hurt their neck or cause them to trip over their feet. If you pull up high enough that the dog’s front paws lift off the floor, don’t pull down again. Especially when they’re young, their shoulders and front legs can get injured from slamming down on the ground. Instead, let the dog pull down with her body weight and slowly let her down. It’s okay to tug downwards while the dog’s paws are on the ground, though.

      As far as dominance goes, I’ve never had an issue because of tug of war. I’ve heard that you should always “win” if you want to be dominant, but I think that’s impractical. My dog doesn’t even like it when I let her win – she just wants to pull forever. For me, once the dog knows “drop it”, I start proofing her by getting her as riled up as I can and then making her drop the toy. I’ll be pulling like crazy, she’ll be growling, we’ll be really going at it, and then suddenly the fun stops and she has to let the toy go to get it started again. I think that sends a pretty clear message of who’s in charge.

      OP, I realize you might not be interacting with the puppy enough to teach all these stages, but I went ahead and wrote it out in case someone else wants to do the same with their dog. Also, you’d be surprised how quickly puppies learn. I know you’re not an experienced trainer, but it probably won’t take more than three or four play sessions for her to at least understand that sometimes you want her to suddenly let the toy go.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      (Just checking – “connected” apartments means you somehow have access to the puppy to take them out into the yard to play, and not that the puppy’s caretaker is leaving puppy out in the yard unattended? If the latter, I’d let owner know when they get back, as 4-6 months is too young to be unattended for long, especially outside – plus cute puppies are very popular among dog thieves.)

      My dog at that age loved to tug, and she still does (she’s almost five now), but her tug mostly requires that someone else hold one end of the tug toy (usually the slobbery end :-P ) and let her do all the work. You could try throwing tennis balls – my dogs both give me a reproachful look, like “if you didn’t want it you didn’t have to THROW it, you could have just gave it back.” But if I have two, we can alternate as long as I’m willing to move around the yard to wherever the other one got dropped. They’re not going to bring them back to me if I’m just going to throw them again. :)

    5. Lucette Kensack*

      Rescue foster here!

      Training is, by far, the best way to spend down puppy energy. 10 minutes at a time 3 times a day will do more to wear that pup down than a 90 minute walk. Make her use her tiny puppy brain!

      You can teach basic obedience like sit, (lie) down, come, etc. But if she hasn’t had much training, you may want to start with impulse control games or “shaping” things that the pup does naturally.

      Example of an impulse control game: With a treat inside your closed fist, hold your fist out to the pup. She’ll slobber all over your hand, lick it, maybe scratch at it. Ignore her until she stops (removes her mouth, turns away, steps back, etc.), then immediately give her the treat. You’ll be shocked at how quickly she learns that the way to get the treat is to NOT try to get it from you. Once she has that down, you can make it harder and harder: hold the treat on your open palm and close your fist if she tries to take it; put the treat on the ground; toss the treat toward her, etc. The trick is to give her the treat as soon as she stops trying to get it, even if it’s just for a split second.

      “Shaping” is a training method that uses what a dog does naturally to teach them to do that on command. For example, rather than pushing her butt down (or luring her with a treat so she puts her butt on the ground) to teach her to sit, you wait until you “catch” her in the act of sitting and immediately say “sit” and give her a treat. “Fetch” can be easy to teach through shaping (if the pup likes to fetch!). Throw a ball and when she runs for it give the command (“Fetch!” or I use “Go get your ball!”) and give her a treat when she brings it back.

      Also, the pup will survive a few days with not enough attention. It’s kind of you to want to help, but if she’s being fed and given some love and attention while her owner is on vacation she’s doing ok and you can ignore her with a clear conscience.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        Ditto, and I love all your advice :)

        I’d also add puzzle feeders to the list of “easy entertainment.” Kongs (often frozen) are the best known puzzle feeders, but there’s a ton more. Just google dog puzzle feeders or DIY dog puzzle feeders for ideas!

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Oh, snuffle mats are also a type of puzzle feeder that is becoming more common – you can “duplicate” the same effect by just tossing a handful of puppy’s food in the grass and letting him forage for it. That is usually a huge and easy entertainer for my foster pups.

  9. ..Kat..*

    Hi. Anyone have experience with AirPods? Do they work well? Is the sound quality good? Do they fall out of your ears easily? Are they worth the money? TIA

    1. A teacher*

      They stay in my tiny ears remarkably well. I can go for a run with them. Sound quality is ok — they are not my main choice for walking in the noisy city but ok. I think this mainly due to them not really being noise cancelling. They are really great for handsfree phone conversations while cooking or meetings or whatever.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I love mine. The Apple earbud shape is the only style I’ve found that ARE comfortable and fit well in my ears. They’re literally the same mold as the ones that come with the Apple devices, so if you don’t like the corded ones you won’t like the cordless. But I’ve jogged in mine, including a half-marathon, with no slipping issues. As to sound quality- I don’t have any issues, with the caveat that I’m also not picky about the fine points. They sound fine to me, maybe they could be better? But they’re not tinny or rattly or anything noticeably unpleasant.

    3. Anona*

      I got some wireless earbuds for $50 that I’m really liking so far. They fit well and are comfortable. I just got the best rates ones from best buy. I use them with my phone.

    4. Coco*

      I love mine for working out. However there are times (maybe 10%) when only the left or the right works. Not sure why. The next time I use them , they’ll both work. My husband has the same issue occasionally. There was an article on the Washington Post and prob a video on YouTube where the Post reporter, Sammy Hagar, and Hagar’s wife test out AirPods 2, the new Beats Powerbeats Pro, and the Bose SoundSport Free. The AirPods won.

    5. FuzzFrogs*

      The only time I have issues with them falling out is when I try to wear them when I’m eating. My husband and I both have them and I’d say the only consistent issue we’ve had with them is dropping them. They don’t break when dropped, but the little case will generally pop open when it hits the floor, and the ‘pods themselves scatter. There’s no guessing where they are; they defy physics. The only real solution is to drop to the floor and look at every inch of it until you find them. I dropped mine at the kitchen table yesterday; the case ended up under a nearby chair, the ‘pods I found across the room and behind a trash can. (Behind!!!) My husband dropped his one time and I found one of them in the fireplace we’d hidden behind a bookshelf.

    6. HamlindigoBlue*

      They work really well, and I’ve had no problems with them falling out of my ears. I wouldn’t exercise using them, though. Even though the promo photos do show people working out while using them, they are not sweat or water resistant. I have a different set for working out that are sweat/water resistant.

    7. Kimmybear*

      I like them a lot. The only time they fall out for me is when my preschooler tries to wiggle my ears or smoosh my cheeks.

    8. Deschain*

      I love mine. I like to share them with my husband and listen to audio books together. I get the left pod and he gets the right. As long as we’re within a room of each other they work perfectly.

    9. Sam Foster*

      Apple has at least a 14-day return policy. I tried the Airpods and they didn’t work for me but my girlfriend loves hers so I’d buy them, try them and return them if they don’t work out.

  10. Rideless*

    One of my great fears came to pass a couple weeks ago: Our car got totaled. No one got hurt, and I wasn’t at fault (though I was driving – scared the crap out of me), but it’s our only car and we don’t have many friends or family members who can help us get rides. I’m currently paying some of my coworkers to take me to and from work.

    After our last car (which was paid off) got totaled while we were at a stop sign, we decided we wanted to pay more for insurance so we wouldn’t need to worry as much about accidents (besides injuries, of course). We’re careful drivers, but having lost a car through absolutely no fault of ours, we wanted to be well covered. So, we have great insurance, but this whole process has still been extremely frustrating and way more expensive than we ever anticipated.

    The insurance company paid for a rental car for a week, and the rental company let us get another week at the insurance’s rate, but now we can’t afford it. We expected to be able to buy a used car within that time period, but it took more time than that for the insurance company to do its investigation and reimburse us the cost of the car. Now the case is resolved and the insurance company has sent a check for the cost of our car + the “car replacement assistance” to the bank to settle the loan. With the extra, we should be able to buy a cheap but functional used car without taking out another loan.

    The insurance company says they’ve done everything they’re supposed to do. They sent the check off to the bank; they’re done. However, the check should have arrived within 3-5 business days and it’s now been 8 business days. There’s no tracking number for the envelope the check was sent in, so we have no idea why it’s taking so long to arrive. Maybe it just got delayed, but for all we know, it’s been lost in the mail.

    On top of that, the bank is super slow. I was told, once received, the check will take 2 business days to be processed, then another 8(!) business days for them to send a letter of closure and get the remainder of the money to us (by check, of course). So, basically, even after the insurance is completely resolved, the bank wants us to experience a minimum of TWO WEEKS of not having a car and not being able to buy one. Not only that, but they sent us a letter saying they are legally allowed to take up to 60 days to give us our money. The letter also informed us that we must continue making our loan payments (including interest, of course) during that time. (Funnily enough, that letter managed to arrive in less than 2 business days.)

    I cannot describe my frustration, anxiety, and anger at this whole situation! First of all, why didn’t the insurance company pay for a rental for the whole time it took for us to get our money back? Or at least until the case was settled and they were ready to release the reimbursement. Second, why the hell are they sending checks through the mail? It’s 2019! Everything is digital! They have no problem with accepting our loan payments or car insurance payments online, why not the reimbursement? Third, why was there no tracking number for the check? I looked it up: it costs $3.77 to get a tracking number for a letter. Surely that’s not too much for a check worth almost $10,000! Fourth, why is it suddenly taking so long? All the other letters and documents have arrived within a day or two of being sent. Why did they switch to slower mail methods as soon as it was time for us to get reimbursed? Arrrrggg!

    Okay, so here’s what I need to know from you guys:
    1. Is this normal? Is this something people just expect whenever a car gets totaled? Or are there insurance companies and banks that do it better? Is there a form of coverage that we could have gotten that would have paid for a rental for this whole time? Is there anything else we could have done to make this easier? (We didn’t have to deal with this before because the car was paid off, so we didn’t expect it.)

    2. How do you manage? Between the rental (we got the damage waiver, which the insurance company didn’t cover) and the cost of paying for rides, we’ve used almost $700. That’s over half our savings and money we would have put towards the replacement car. Thankfully we have savings, but I can’t imagine how someone who lives paycheck to paycheck manages without a car for a month.

    3. Are there any grounds for demanding reimbursement for all this hassle, either from the bank or the insurance company?

    4. How do I manage my stress about driving? I’m already a very cautious driver. When I got anxious, I used to reassure myself with the thought that our insurance would cover everything and although I or my passengers might be harmed, at least I didn’t have to worry about the car. This kind of experience has the potential to make me paranoid when I get into our next car.

    5. I’m starting to get cabin fever. Neighborhood walks aren’t enough. What do I do to keep myself sane in my apartment?

    6. Is there any other advice you can give me for dealing with this problem? (Besides not getting hit, of course.)

    1. Just a guy in a cube*

      (Not am insurance expert, but totaled a car last year, and work technology in the industry) – I’d go back to your claims adjuster and ask that they keep paying for a rental until the check they issued gets to the bank & clears, and you have the chance to get your new car. Their job is to make you whole, and you’re not back to pre-accident status, so they’re not done. If the adjuster gives you trouble and you have an agent, call your agent, they’re good at advocating for you. If no agent, call customer service. I’d think they should also cover any additional expenses to the bank during the time from when they issued the check … they are supposed to cover the gap, not be so slow you make an extra payment and then pocket the refund from the bank.

      My take is that your insurance company is not treating you well at exactly the point when they’re supposed to. See if you can find someone other than the claims adjuster to help advocate for you (including threatening to find another insurance carrier … and honestly right after a loss isn’t the best time to go insurance shopping, but if you weren’t at fault, a good agent should be able to help you find someone better in the future, so regardless of whether they come through for you, I’d see if you can get someone else … you know how you’re going to be treated the next time you need them)

    2. Red Sky*

      I had a somewhat similar experience and frustration about a year ago. I also posted here for advice and one of the most helpful tips I got was to contact my states Insurance Commissioner, which I did, and they were incredibly helpful in explaining my rights as well as offering to contact the insurance company on my behalf without actually filing a formal complaint and starting an investigation. Kind of a ‘heads up, we’re watching’ to light a fire under their a$$e$.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. My late husband was an insurance adjuster for a while. (He could only stand so much and then got out.) He would definitely say call the state insurance commissioner’s office or send them an email. Make sure to include all the points you cover here.

        It’s just plain disrespectful, you know, because when we get a bill we have to pay it right on time or the earth comes to a screaming halt. But if we have a claim they can fiddly-fart around and make things unnecessarily cumbersome.

        (My husband did not last in this field because he was too much about being fair and doing the right thing. His bosses decided he was a rebel.)

        When you write the state be sure to lay out the time frame as you have here so the recipient can see the exact nature and extent of your problem.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          This looks like solid advice.
          After this is settled, I’d look into getting a different insurance company and a different bank. Research which insurance companies and banks have the lowest customer complaints. Some financial advisors suggest switching insurance companies every 2 to 3 years anyway to take advantage of new customer rates.
          Sorry you’re having such troubles. Hope they resolve soon.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am a big fan of having an insurance agent. When you pick out an insurance agent you want an agency that does business with many insurance companies. Mine does business with just over 100 insurance companies. This will help you get really good rates because of the amount of choices the agent has.

            And as others have said, your agent is your advocate. A strong insurance agency would have gone to bat for you in this situation here.

    3. PeteyKat*

      I can only comment on the car rental portion of your issue as I have never experienced as severe an accident as yours. Do you have a car rental reimbursement cap? I know my policy will reimburse us up to $600 per incident. Depending on how long it takes to repair my car, I might go with a smaller vehicle. I’m sorry it’s taking so long. I know it’s a financial and mental hardship. Hang in there. Call your agent and your adjuster. I hope you can put this behind you soon and buy a new to you car shortly!

      1. Gatomon*

        +1 My insurance has different levels of reimbursement that you can elect, there’s a cap by number of days and max cost. A more expensive rental might hit the cost cap before you hit the number of days cap, though I know that’s not always something you can help. Pretty much every time I’ve gone to rent a car they’ve never had what I actually rented available and always tried to upsell me into something else.

    4. Sue*

      Agree on Insurance Commissioner (make your explanation concise, they regulate insurance, not banks or postal) but also, read your policy to know what your coverage entails. Don’t sign a release until they have fully paid all that you are entitled to receive. Paying for your rental car or other expenses for alternative transportation is pretty standard.
      If you have a local insurance agent, they are also helpful but many people no longer get insurance that way.

    5. Trixie*

      I was in a similar accident last year. The other driver was at-fault, and their insurance declared the car a total loss. Sent a check to my credit union and once my loan was paid off, balance went to my account. Now the car rental, I had a rental for almost a month but it still felt tight which it wasn’t compared to a week!
      Once the rental was done, I am fortunate in the my job is fairly close to home. If needed, Uber is decent. I can’t carpool but I did have enough emergency funds on hand to see me through. It was stressful looking at cars at night and either trying to drive them to my mechanic for inspection during the week (personal time from work) or on Saturdays when mechanic was slammed.

      The car I purchased was probably 1.5 hours away and because it was too far to get to my mechanic, I had researched a local shop near the dealer. Again, I didn’t go with the full “buyer’s inspection” but just the highlights since it was a newer car with low mileage.

      Once I found a car I liked (same model I just lost), I started loan paperwork immediately with my credit union. It was a tight turnaround between waiting on insurance check and applying leftover balance as down payment on new car. Like others have said, I would check for a local credit union who are often very competitive with rates and terms. I put down a pretty large down payment because i wanted a low rate and low monthly payment. Plus my credit union allows me to pay off early, penalty-free, and save on interest. Granted I’m paying off interest up front but still saving money.
      Driving will become comfortable again but I noticed I keep a much larger bubble of space around me these days. The cabin fever is real but it is temporary. I just needed to remind myself that this too shall pass. And when it does, it’s such a relief.

    6. YetAnotherUsername*

      If it wasn’t your fault then the at-fault party should be paying for all your costs. Did they have insurance? If so contact their insurance company. If they didn’t have insurance contact them and ask them to pay for a rental car or else you will sue them. If they don’t pay then start the legal process to claim your costs back. I know sueing will cost money but you will also be able to claim back costs and interest.

    7. blackcat*

      No, that is not normal.
      My one car-totally accident was eventually declared shared-fault (they assigned percentages), but payment from the insurance did not require that that be completed. Not at all.
      Car accident was 7am on a Friday before a long weekend, so I didn’t expect anything to happen quickly.
      At 3pm, the insurance adjuster called telling me that it was totaled and how much they’d give me for the car. (This was FAST)
      Money was direct deposited into my account by noon on Saturday. Funds were immediately available.
      New car was purchased by noon on Sunday.
      The report of at-fault-ness took a month? Maybe 2? And because I had bought the new car, I had locked in my rate for the next year before being declared at shared fault.

      I would definitely ask your insurance to keep covering the rental.
      And if you live in a state where they sell insurance, I HIGHLY recommend Travelers based on the above experience. They were so, so good, and handled my crying on the phone so well. (I loved my car!) A++++++ couldn’t recommend more.

    8. Justathought*

      In the town I live in there is a Facebook page for neighbors & friends. Quite often, people are advertising personal services, such as rides to the airports, etc. If your town has a similar page, you might try there, if no one provides a ride service, maybe someone has a car you could borrow for a few weeks at a lower price than the rent a car even.

      The Bank: Go in to your local branch and explain the problem to your local Branch Manager. Having a personal touch might be able to speed things up a bit.

      Oh, and if the check isn’t there yet, request a stop payment and ask for a re-issue to be sent overnight/1 day delivery directly to that Branch Manager.

      All else fails, maybe said Branch Manager processes a personal loan application (no collateral needed and is usually same day/next day service) for the amount you calculated as getting back. As long as there isn’t a pre-payment penalty, you could pay off the loan after receiving what is owed to you. That way you could get the car in a more timely manner.

  11. Kuododi*

    I had the pre-op meeting yesterday regarding the lung biopsy scheduled this Thursday 7/25. Until yesterday, I was able to keep my health concerns in the back of my mind and not get hung up on a bunch of anxiety and “what if” questions. Now, the surgery is closer and I am having more difficulty with the emotional stress. I’ve been checking in with my therapist, DH, sister etc. I’m also actively getting out and doing things to keep from isolating with my thoughts. (A huge new public library branch recently opened at a much more convenient location than previous. It’s fantastic, and my book nerd heart is very happy!!!) Unfortunately I am still finding myself increasingly anxious. (It hasn’t helped that I has to stop estrogen supplements bc my particular cancer is estrogen positive. Needless to say the internal equilibrium is definitely off balance.). Thanks again everyone for the hugs, prayers and warm thoughts. Y’all have been a true blessing.

    1. Venus*

      My heart goes out to you. Please know that you have a big group of people who are hoping for the best, and our thoughts will be with you Thursday.

    2. Breast Solidarity*

      I’ll be thinking of you!

      The stress of waiting is so hard, but you will be on the other side of it soon and hopefully next weekend you can sleep to your heart’s content and do more fun things.

      Hang in there!

      1. Breast Solidarity*

        (meaning, the other side of this step. I know you have a long road ahead, but one step at a time!)

    3. Quandong*

      Sending good wishes and hugs. I’m sorry you’re also dealing with the effects of stopping oestrogen supplements, ugh.

    4. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      Hugs and everything else you need (virtually). Anxiety and nervousness are normal. Don’t forget that. You’re leaning on those around you, keep doing that, it helps ebb and flow the nervousness and anxiety (which may always lurk as you go through this, but it’s good to get intermittent relief). Meanwhile, we are all thinking of you, rooting for you, and sending all the positive vibes your way.

    5. Owler*

      Yes, I’m adding my good wishes to the others. My VATS surgery was eight years ago this month, and I remember the anxiety as being overwhelming. I found it freeing to sometimes just lean into it and give myself permission to be anxious and upset..but set a time to remind myself to move on. I don’t know if that makes sense.

  12. Charlotte*

    I know this is a sensitive topic among commenters here, so thought I’d check before posting. Is it okay to talk about food/diet/health-related stuff here?

    1. PX*

      Generally yes. I’d suggest putting a note at the beginning so people can skip it if they want, but there are usually a fair amount of food/diet threads on the weekends!

  13. PX*

    Stand up comedy thread! Slightly different one today, but I’ve found myself getting a bit more into this recently. Perhaps due to the fact that I love Katherine Ryan and you should all go watch her special on Netflix: Glitter Room, and then watch the older special: In Trouble.

    I’m in the UK where the comedy circuit is slightly different, and comedians tend to work their way up through panel shows (The Fix on Netflix was the first attempt at doing this for an American audience if you’re interested), so I’m used to being vaguely aware of many comedians, but never really following their progress into full standup shows/specials. However now that I follow a bunch of them on Instagram, its making me want to go see more shows. I was very sad to find out I missed a comedy festival in my city which had loads of people I’d have loved to see!

    So in that vein, who else should I go look into?

    At the moment I’m into the incestuous circle of funny, smart, feminist British and Irish women: the aforementioned Katherine Ryan, Sara Pascoe (Lads Lads Lads was so good!), Aisling Bea and Roisin Conaty. Others who I feel I’d pay money to see based on their Instagram presence are Joel Kim Booster and Larry Dean – although I suspect for instance Rob Delaney might also be someone I should investigate (loved Catastrophe and he seems nicely funny). Jimmy Carr is someone I can only handle in small doses now, although I dont mind his type of humour too much.

    I’ve never watched any of the classic American standups (Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock etc) so if anyone has good starting points for shows I should watch that would also be welcome.

    1. Charlotte*

      Have you watched any of Dara O’Brien’s standup shows? Many are available on Youtube.
      My (current) favourite is Bill Bailey, went to one of his shows last Christmas and it was fantastic.
      I find Jimmy Carr funny enough on panel shows, but when I tried to watch his standup I didn’t enjoy it at all.

      1. PX*

        Ooh yes. See, I just know Dara and Bill from like, QI or Mock the Week, but never really ventured beyond that. I’ll put them on my list and see what Youtube has to offer!


    2. Anonymatic YoYo*

      There should be a load of shows coming through now as comedians finalise their routines for Edinburgh. Have you looked up free shows in your town? Most of this I suspect happens in London but hey, its not the center of the universe :)

      I don’t do comedy shows as a rule as I prefer sketch comedy, but I really enjoyed seeing Dylan Moran live a number of years ago – very smart and very funny, and I saw Eddie Izzard do a ten minute shtick a few years ago – however he has gotten quite political. On the American side you definitely have to look up classic clips of George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, and Richard Pryor. Probably good to remember that a lot of the classics were ‘of their time’.

      1. PX*

        Hah, I’ve recently seen a slew of people promoting ‘work in progress’ shows, alas, not near me (damn you London!)

        Ooh Dylan Moran. I just associate him with Black Books but I’ll check him out. Looks like he might be on tour next year :D

        Thanks for the list (and warning) on classic Americans. I’ll see what Youtube has to offer :D

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’d recommend Wanda Sykes. She’s funny as hell.

      And I agree with Anonymatic YoYo that the American classics were ‘of their time’, so lots of very politically incorrect humor.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I really like David Mitchell. I’ll watch or listen to anything with him. Same with Richard Osman.

      1. PX*

        Hmm. I’ve always felt somewhat ambiguous about David Mitchell. Richard Osman however I feel is such a stealthily funny guy. When he’s been on things which arent Pointless, I’m always a bit surprised by just how sharp he is. Will add him to the list!

    5. Dragonista*

      I went to an Edinburgh preview show at my local comedy club last night. Archie Maddocks and Jen Brister did an hour each, both really funny.

      You could try listening to the podcast The Comedians Comedian to get a sense of some people on the circuit right now. There are a lot of podcasts hosted by British comedians – let me know if you want more recommendations.

      Personal faves: Rachel Fairburn, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Suzi Ruffell, Luisa Omielan – two of her shows are available on YouTube. Ed Gamble, Rich Wilson, Rosie Jones.

      Jamali Maddix is very funny, you can see his tv series Hate Thy Neighbor, 2 seasons so far where he goes and meets all sorts of people with extremist views. The programme documentary style intercut with scenes from his stand up. (Vice channel)

      1. PX*

        Oooh. I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts recently so next weeks question will probably be for a good app that I can use to subscribe to everything I want – and then I’ll probably come back for recommendations ;) But The Comedians Comedian sounds like a good starting point so I’ll check that out.

        Thanks for that list of faves! I feel I shall not be short of things to look into for the next couple of weeks :)

    6. Freelance Accountant*

      Wanda Sykes netflix special is great. And, if you haven’t already, check out “8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown”. You can find lots of the episodes on youtube. It’s all those great comedians doing a terrible job playing a gameshow, with Jimmy Carr hosting.

      1. PX*

        Ahaha. I’ve watched way too much 8 out of 10 cats does countdown and actually had to take a break from it :D But as you are #2 to recommend Wanda Sykes I’ll make sure I check her out!

    7. Serious Sam*

      If you can, go to the Edinburgh Fringe, and take in a lot of the free shows. These are free to enter, but a donation is expected on exit, usually about £5.00. The quality will be really mixed, some great, some appalling. Do not be afraid of walking out of a free-to-enter show you are not enjoying without paying. Lots of people start out this way. One worth following is Sarah Keyworth, there are several videos of her on YouTube.

      1. PX*

        Ahh Edinburgh Fringe is always one one of those: “I should really plan ahead and book time to go things” which I never quite get round to doing. Maybe next year!

        Thanks for the Sarah Keyworth rec, will check her out :)

    8. fposte*

      Oooh, this is my thread!

      First, there are two services you might want to know about. There is NextUp Comedy, which is a British streaming service for standup; there are a few Americans in there and a couple of Aussies/Irish, but it’s almost entirely British. It’s got monthly, daily, and yearly passes; the monthly is $6.99 in the US and I think maybe £3.99 for you? It’s not necessarily hot off the presses stuff, but it’s got a lot of material filmed in smaller clubs (lots from the Bill Murray) and at the Fringe from previous years. Second, there is Go Faster Stripe, which produces a lot of comedy media; they have a membership where you get three free downloads and then a new monthly one, kind of a pot luck, every month. I’ll append links to both in followup.

      I super, super recommend Laura Lexx, who’s on Next Up; also great are Danielle Ward and Rachel Parris. Lou Sanders is a taste call; I had to watch her on Taskmaster (and if you are not watching Taskmaster, watch Taskmaster) before I got the hang of her and then thoroughly enjoyed her. Outside of that, I really like a lot of Adam Hills and his stuff on the Paralympics is terrific. I love Kevin Bridges to pieces. Oh! James Acaster is amazing and he’s got a four-parter on Netflix. Greg Davies is very funny.

      Another way to find standups, especially British, is to look at Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Podcast. They’ve actually been videoed for years and they’re on YouTube; they’re hour-long talks with various standups or other entertainers, and they’re really interesting, despite Rich being kind of annoying. Katherine Ryan has done a couple, I think, and I just find her really fascinating. She’s kind of evolved from a Joan Rivers-esque persona to something more interesting.

      In American terms, I’d also recommend Maria Bamford and John Mulaney as the top of my current list.

      1. Not a cat*

        John Mulaney did a 92 Street Y interview (podcast or YouTube) that made me laugh so hard I got a cramp.

      2. PX*

        Wooo thanks for all this info fposte! I had no idea about any of those services so I’ll look into them.

        And Taskmaster! Its one of those things I kept hearing about, but as I’ve realised this week when I finally got round to watching Gameface – apparently titles have a massive influence on whether or not I’ll prioritise watching something. Case in point, I’ve never had any idea what Taskmaster is about, and despite it popping up several times – just the title alone made me assume it wouldnt be something I wanted to watch. But I shall queue it up (thanks Dave!) and put it on the to watch list.

        Richard Herrings Leicester Square Podcasts – I’ve watched a few (eg the most recent Katherine Ryan one), and like you say, he’s a bit annoying but I can definitely see them being a good way to find comedians. If anything, the problem there is just the overwhelming amount of them. Given they’re so long, I’m more inclined to watch them if its someone I already know and want to learn more about vs. just turning it on for a random stranger, but maybe I’ll just skim the names and use that as a way to find new people to try out.

        Thanks for all those names as well – I’m familiar with some (did the usual trick of getting into James Acaster just after he had finished touring and been in my city :/ ), but John Mulaney has floated around long enough that I really do need to watch his shows in full.

        1. fposte*

          He was so much everybody’s quote a couple of years ago that I was kind of put off, but then I watched the shows and was like “Okay, fair enough, this is great.”

          For Taskmaster, don’t start with the current season, 8. 7 would be a good one to start with as it’s the best of them all, but starting with 1 would be fine if you’re a do-things-in-order person. And describing it doesn’t do it justice–the American one with the same formula (comedians have to do silly things) failed because they couldn’t get the dynamics right. (PS to Americans–Dailymotion has UK Taskmaster episodes.)

    9. Kuododi*

      These days I have been watching/listening to comedy such as Jeanne Robertson, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy etc. I find them all quite hilarious and for those who find language an issue…I have never found an uncomfortable thing about their routines. As someone raised in SE USA by people from the”deep South,” I have a deep appreciation for their style of comedy.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I just saw Jeff Foxworthy a few months ago, and he was really good! I also love Bill Engvall, but he hasn’t had any shows around here. I’m hoping to see him live someday.

      2. PX*

        Oooh those names are all new to me, and I probably need more cultural variety in my comedians so I’ll definitely check them out.


    10. Apollo Warbucks*

      Ed Byrne
      Russell Howard
      Daniel Sloss (I think he’s very good but, can be pretty offensive)
      James Acaster (he’s got three specials on Netflix)
      Jo Brand
      Milton Jones
      Stewart Francis
      Michael McIntyre

      1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

        Seconded! Especially Ed Byrne and Michael McIntrye. I know someone else mentioned Dara O’Brein (sp?), he’s a must. On top of those I cannot recommend the stand-up shows of these next two enough – Adam Hills (seriously, you won’t be able to breath from laughing, his interactions with his sign language interpreter are amazing if rather rude) and Jason Manford (the self described ‘fat Michael Owen’) who is just good fun, especially his early stuff. Theirs are slightly older comedy specials, but still gold. Kevin Bridges also has his moments.

        1. fposte*

          Heh, we clearly have similar tastes. Adam Hills on the Paralympics is especially brilliant, but I also just love his routine about working with the Muppets. Which is delightful but involves going down a rocky conceptual road to get there, for those who thought it might sound too sweetsy.

          1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

            I love the bit about the Muppets! But my absolute favorites have to be 1. The kid on the beach screaming about his artificial leg and 2. The man who is ‘passionate about pizza, my friend!’
            Objectively, neither are his funniest stories, but he just tells them with such joy!

    11. MsChanandlerBong*

      I really like Jim Gaffigan, Maria Bamford, Louie Anderson, John Mulaney, Lewis Black, Gabriel Iglesias (“Fluffy”), and Kathleen Madigan. Jackie Kashian (I saw her when she opened a show for Maria Bamford) is also hilarious. If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch all of George Carlin’s old specials on Prime Video for free–he was one of my favorites, and I am bummed he died before I could see him live. Iliza Shlesinger is also good, although I liked her first two specials better than the most recent one.

    12. Foreign Octopus*

      First of all, I loved Katherine Ryan’s Glitter Room. Her bit about Hamilton was so funny. I’ve sent it to everyone I know. She’s brilliant.

      I recommend Sarah Millican from the British crowd (very relatable), also Peter Kay. I think most of his material is over ten years old now but he’s very, very good.

      You have to watch John Mulaney though. He is my favourite comedian by far. His Comeback Kid and Kid Gorgeous (both available on Netflix) are comedy gold. You get so many good bits – meeting Bill Clinton, his riffs on old movies, JJ Bittenbinder, and my ultimate favourite: a horse loose in a hospital. Please do watch him, you won’t regret it.

      1. PX*

        Yes, another Katherine Ryan fan! And yes, the bit about Hamilton was so good!

        Ooh Peter Kay, thats a name I feel I havent seen in years. I’ll see what the good Youtube has to offer and will also add Sarah Millican to my list.

        And I guess I know what I shall do this evening – finally get round to watching John Mulaney!

        1. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

          Please let us know what you think! Also, you’ll enjoy it more if you watch his specials in order, he builds on some of his old material.

    13. PX*

      Thank you guys for all the recommendations! I have lots of Youtube tabs open so I think my next few weeks are sorted :)

      As a thank you, it turns out that Sara Pascoe’s show is now on Youtube (at least where I am), so I would highly recommend it: Lads Lads Lads! My absolutely favourite bit is about two thirds in (~45 minutes) where she talks about First Dates (tv show) and the expectation of men paying. I just died laughing the first time I watched it.

      1. WrenF*

        We’ve enjoyed the Netflix Jerry Seinfeld show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” He interviews/riffs with tons of different comedians and there are several seasons available. You get a taste of lots of different comedians and their styles. He even has one show with Barack Obama that is fascinating. Our faves include Trevor Noah, Letterman, Bill Burr, Fred Armisen, Jimmy Fallon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Sebastian Maniscalco. And Jim Gaffigan.

        It’s easy-going and fun.

  14. Charlotte*

    Has anyone ever had trouble from a downstairs neighbour?
    My upstairs neighbour is quite a heavy-footed (is that the right phrase?) person and I can often hear him stomping around upstairs. I’m thinking that if I was to move would it be a good idea to go for a top-floor apartment.

    1. Just a guy in a cube*

      We had a ground floor apartment where the landlord’s brother liked to work out in the evenings (thumping bass, sound of equipment clanging) … turned out to be more obnoxious than the family with toddler above us. So less likely than problems upstairs, but it can happen

      1. Julia*

        We chose a top floor apartment and can hear the people below us slamming their doors or furniture. We also used to live in a very heavy concrete building where the only noise complaint we had was the gym room right below us and people dropping weights to obnoxiously loud music.

    2. Caterpie*

      I feel your pain, our old upstairs neighbors were incredibly loud but luckily moved out a few months ago. We considered asking to move to a top floor apartment but we figured that there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t have loud neighbors to the sides or other issues like weed/tobacco smoking smells.

      As for downstairs neighbor noise, my experience is that it is considerably less than upstairs noise but at my last place my downstairs neighbors had a lot of screaming matches, of which I could hear every word.

    3. Llellayena*

      In my top floor apartment, my only issue was that about every 6 months my downstairs neighbor decided to blast country music at top speaker volume (powerful system) at 2am. But that wouldn’t have just bothered me. I think if you do have problems, it’s more likely to come from someone who thinks you are too loud above them, and that’s not something you can really evaluate ahead of time.

    4. Pharmgirl*

      I’m in a four unit condo building (two up, two down). I have a top floor unit, and the lady below me is older and hard of hearing. She plays her tv at the highest volume possible, and because the builders didn’t do a great job with soundproofing, I can often hear every word of what she’s watching. I’m sure this is a pretty rare scenario – there’s also no carpeting and higher ceilings so it’s more echoey. It’s something to keep in mind, but generally top floor units will have less noise.

    5. Jaid*

      Depending on the neighbor, I can hear conversations and/or their TV.

      One neighbor was super quiet…except a couple of times a week, it sounded like she dropped a bowling ball on the floor. It didn’t bother me too much,but I’m sure HER downstairs neighbor wasn’t happy about it. Turned out she had her daughter living with her outside the lease, so she was evicted.

      I rarely hear my neighbors, and hope they stay as long as I do!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I briefly lived in a studio apartment with someone downstairs who smoked on their porch. No smoking apartments, but the patio was legit because it was outside. I’ve also heard stories of others whose downstairs neighbors were , er, hygiene risks.

    7. Gatomon*

      I had one place that was just older and thinly built. The people below were constantly complaining about us “throwing parties” all night long. It was me, a broke recent grad who couldn’t afford toilet paper let alone a party, and my rando roommate, a dude who had a tendency to get drunk while cooking incredible meals and then pass out on his bed afterward. My landlord didn’t really buy any of it. I suspect they wanted us evicted so they could take the upper apartment, which was bigger and had a patio.

      Everywhere else I’ve lived top floor I have never had issues (2 other places, one of similar age and another much newer and better built). It’s a huge pain when moving in and out, and day-to-day when bringing up groceries, but after the hellish experience I had in a bottom floor apartment once, it’s absolutely worth it.

      1. Gatomon*

        Oh, I did have a friend who rented a top floor newer apartment that was just AWFUL. The floors were all laminate wood, so there was no sound dampening. And no insulation anywhere I guess. It looked pretty but the place just echoed. And you could hear the people downstairs opening and closing doors, flushing toilets, just talking day to day. One night about 10 p.m. we were on her couch talking in normal voices, and the guy who just moved in downstairs came up to complain about us shouting or something. My friend was glad to move out of that place.

    8. A teacher*

      We briefly had a downstairs neighbour who a couple of times came home from the pub and cranked his music and (I think) fell asleep, because it would go on playing until pretty late. He also would talk loudly to himself and sounded quite angry sometimes, which was kinda alarming. But he was actually a nice enough man and stopped the thing with the music once my husband asked him to. We never did say anything about the loud talking, though.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had a neighbor in college who did that with his TV — turned it up and then fell asleep in front of it. Lucky for me, he usually left his door unlocked (!!!dumbass!!!) so I’d just go in and turn it down.

    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Top floor apartments also tend to be warmer than bottom floor apartments since heat rises from the lower floors. This can be a great cost-savings in the winter if you happen to have a downstairs neighbor with compatible thermostat settings, but can be an issue in summers and/or if you get a downstairs neighbor who wants to live in a sauna. (This is particularly true if your building has electric ceiling heat, since their heater is essentially in your floor.) My grandparents once lived over someone who ran the heat so high that the grandparents never ran theirs at all, and had the windows open and fans going most of the year to try to keep their place a reasonable temperature.

      You can also get people locking bikes to the stairwell in such a way that it’s difficult to get up and down the stairs if you need to use the railing. Some cyclists have apparently never needed to rely on stair railings themselves and don’t really understand why they can’t block them to lock up their bikes.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Not just this, but where I live a lot of buildings are built using slab foundations and the first floor of a house or apartment with a slab foundation always seems cold in the winter time.

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh my god, yes. They played the TV so loud! Not a problem during the day, I can ignore it, but they left it on all night as well and not even ear plugs worked. I had to go and have an awkwardly angry and sleep-deprived conversation in Spanish with them and remind them that other people live in the building.

      The problem was that he was deaf so I helped him looked for wireless headphones and that solved that problem.

      I do recommend the top floor though. It’s always the prime location.

    11. Anono-me*

      In the interim. I had good luck with asking to purchase a rug from Target for an upstairs neighbor. He bought his own rug and started taking off his work boots when he got home.

    12. TechWorker*

      You might have the opposite problem to what you have now – I once had a downstairs neighbour who forbid us from using the washing machine overnight and complained if we did basically anything because it was too loud in his flat below. (Old building where the landlord had just replaced carpet with laminate flooring – so I can believe it was bad!)

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I have hardwood floors. We have area rugs in high traffic areas and wear rubber-soled shoes, not hard soles.

    13. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      We lived in apt for just over two years when we moved to this city. We had two upstairs neighbors. 1st one: 6 yr old son would jump off his bunk bed – from the top bed. The noise was horrendous and our walls would shake. His stepfather would occasionally beat his mom. Yes, I called the police. She finally threw him out and got a restraining order when her son (the 6 year old) started physically bullying the smaller neighborhood kids. Then the first time she had a ‘date’ they were so loud I called the police because I thought her ex had broken in. Seriously, why scream ‘no, no!’ if it feels good?
      When they moved out we got a couple of young women. They were very nice, friendly and mostly quiet. However, they had frequent parties and the guy guests thought it was perfectly fine to throw their empties over the balcony. And to pee over the balcony. And to do flips in the living room.
      I live in a two story condo now, and have for the last 25+ years.

    14. BahahaBlackSheep*


      My last year of college I was in a top floor apartment and the lady below me would smack the ceiling all the time because I was “way too loud”.

      It was carpeted and I made a point to walk carefully after her first comment, but she still complained all the time, even to management. About me, about my 15 pound emotional support dog that she could apparently hear jumping all over everything all the time (what? How!).

      At one point I accidentally hit our glass table top with a carpet cleaner and the whole thing (basically a 5 by 10 foot pane of glass) shattered and crashed to the floor. Me or someone else could have been very injured by this falling glass situation. She came running upstairs, not to check that me and/or my roommate were alright, but to yell at me about all the noise!

      She also once used her young granddaughter to get me to answer the door because I stopped opening the door when I could see her through the peep hole. So i opened it for a 7 year old girl, only to have her pop out and start yelling at me.

      In all my other living situations, I have had no problems with downstairs neighbors.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        That would be an instant door slam from me, accompanied by expletives.

    15. Reba*

      Heh, we just did this exact move. Extremely worth it IMO! Especially since, in my case, I already knew that the landlord was little help and the Upstairs Stomper was an aggressive dude, so I had little motivation to try to ameliorate the situation, and so we just got out.

      We can very occasionally hear the heavy footfalls of our downstairs person, now, but only in one part of the apt where I suspect they don’t have rugs or soft furniture (e.g. office); the place is a bit echo-ey.

      As other comments are suggesting, sound-dampening materials might be just as important as the unit placement.

    16. Kuododi*

      Downstairs no…however upstairs yes. We had upstairs neighbors with a massive, rock concert size speaker in their living room. (The kind that would have doubled as a dinner table.). Long and complicated story short we ended up relocating to a townhouse style apartment. (Completely eliminated the issue of upstairs/downstairs neighbors.). Our new neighbors were a lovely Bosnian refugee family. We became good friends with each other, I would help with the children when needed and they kept an eye out for us, particularly when one or both of us was on hospital call for trauma. Good luck

    17. Nita*

      I’ve had problems a couple of times. Once we lived above a couple that was really sensitive to noise. We got lots of complaints about occasional child running/stomping. The other time, we lived above a smoker who wouldn’t go outside to smoke. They smoked in their bathroom, and the smell stank up my entire apartment. Thankfully they stopped after I complained to management, but if I understand correctly, they weren’t obligated to stop. They could have ignored the request and kept up the smoking, and there’d be nothing I could do.

    18. Parenthetically*

      My first apartment, top floor. Lovely young woman downstairs, studying to be a nurse, working full-time. Super sweet. But listened to music at GOD-AWFUL levels while studying at 3 am until about the 4th time I went down bleary-eyed and asked her to PLEASE use headphones. (It got worse when her shitbag boyfriend moved in, but that’s neither here nor there.)

      I’d always choose to be on the top floor, but soundproofing is important regardless.

    19. AFT*

      I once had a downstairs neighbor who would start texting me to hang out as soon as I would get home. He seemed okay at first but once he got my number (single female living alone) he basically stalked me for awhile. As soon as I would get home (I worked late shifts) he would start texting me, begging to come over to his place. He would also “check up on me” if I wasn’t home at my normal time.
      I finally flipped on him when he told me he could hear me in the shower. I moved out pretty quickly after that.
      I loved that apartment but didn’t feel safe there anymore.

  15. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Gardening thread! I’m going to keep the top of this short because I want to go do what I can to prep my defenseless potted plants from today’s 100° (37.8C) forecast. If you’re in a place with temp like that, what do you try besides water? I’m thinking of moving some into the garage.

    1. Approval is optional*

      Summers where I live have regular 45C + days. I try to stick to native plants when it comes to decorative plants, but for ‘young’ natives and veggies I built a little canopy thing with a shade cloth top and shade cloth on one side – I face that side to the north (southern hemisphere) when it’s going to be very hot. I bury bottles of water upside down in pots if I’m not going to be around to water: the plants in the garden are older so don’t need daily watering.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      It supposed to be really disgusting here in CT this weekend. Since I demolished the old flower garden and it’s flat, I’m using it for my two potted cucumber plants and one tomato plant. I haven’t done anything other than completely soak the potted veggies this morning. I’ll check on them later today and just move them onto the patio if I need to. The garden is in the blazing sun from about 7 am until the sun sets, so I need to water those veggies pretty much everyday. They seem to love it, though!

    3. WS*

      This is pretty normal weather where I live, and I don’t really do anything differently – water very early in the morning, make sure the majority of the water is on the dirt not on the leaves, water again at night. If you can put them in the shade and on dirt rather than brick or concrete, do that, but the most important thing is the water.

    4. fposte*

      Stuff doesn’t last in the Midwest if it can’t take the heat. Pea-type annuals and veg are expected to fade out come July and August even just with the 80s and 90s. I do have a Japanese maple that doesn’t like hot summers much, but there’s nothing special about this weekend for it and it picks up again in fall. (It also helps if it’s well watered, and Nature has been overthorough about that.)

      With container plants, I might rig up some shade if they’re in 100% sun or move them off of a reflective surface like concrete if they’re on it, but I don’t think I’d bother to move them. I’m not really doing containers this year but I’ve done them in past and never moved them around for heat. Just make sure they’re watered. (If they’re really small pots, of course, it might be easier just to move them because they’ll dry out fast.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Shade is my next go-to after water. I save old fruit baskets (the round bushel style that are taller) and I invert them over any new plants or tender plants. If you have to do a large area perhaps you can use old sheets in a clever set up. It makes it a pain to water though.

      I got into ground level water as opposed to overhead watering. I use a lot of soaker hoses on things. It just seems like the plant gets more of the water and there is less evaporation. Mulching is helpful for water retention also. (My community has some problems with municipal water supply, I like to think that I am conserving some of it.)

      Try to keep in mind that SOME heat is necessary. Japanese beetle grubs are a great example, the heat kills them off. We need that die-off or we will be swarmed.

      If you are pumping a lot of water into potted plants be sure to give them a little fertilizer as nutrients can wash out with heavy watering. I have found just a basic 5-10-5 is enough.

    6. Lilysparrow*


      Most things down here are acclimated by midsummer, but if we get a spring heatwave when the seedlings are still tender, I’ll rig up a shadecloth by sticking a couple tomato cages in the ground and clothespin an old bedsheet or a length of white frost cloth over it, particularly to cover from the West. Morning sun is usually fine.

      (We do not have an HOA, thank goodness).

    7. OyHiOh*

      What everyone else said. Water early in the morning and at dusk or after dark and then get as many plants into shade for the intense part of the day as possible.

      Some plants like a tiny bit of magnesium supplement (epsom salt) to help retain water but other plants hate it and die so I wouldn’t risk recommending that without knowing exactly what you have.

      Monday, contact your state’s university extension and ask about scheduling a garden talk with a master gardener. They’ll have lots of localized, specialized knowledge for how to deal with future heat waves.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My husband talked me out of moving the plants, except for the lilies I hadn’t gotten into the ground yet. Those are in the shade. We watered everything, and then I spent the last of my gardening energy picking slugs & beetles off of all the flowers (the zinnias are apparently tender and tasty.) My basil has bolted, so I will need to freeze tops and hope the bottoms come back.
      One dahlia is covered in powdery mildew and I moved it to its own area to keep that from spreading. The other is beetle lace. The fuscia isn’t recovering even indoors so it may be composted soon. But the bee balm burst into glorious red, the baby pineapple is growing quickly, and we have cucumbers ready to harvest.

    9. SAHM*

      Zinnias are apparently a weed in my garden. They exploded all over my yard and were suffocating my poor dahlias and my new baby chrysanthemums. So I pulled a bunch and replanted them, thinking they would probably die, but they grew! So yea, Zinnias are tough MF’ers. My mums are exploding into nice bushy plants instead of the random little sprouts they were. My son planted a pumpkin plant that’s overtaken half of the yard and has submerged two dahlias, four chrysanthemums, and my cheap purple flowering bush thing from Home Depot. He has pumpkins on it too! It’s about the size of two tennis balls and he’s named it “Little brother”. There are two other itty pumpkins which he’s named “Joey” and “Gooey”.

      I want to plant two more Red Baron peach trees bc every year (except the year it had a fungus) it’s exploded in peaches! And I think one of my neighbors must have planted a plum bc this year it exploded in plums too. I’m going to have to learn how to make plum jelly :-D My Asian pear is not doing so well though, I don’t think it’s surviving the fungus from last year so well.

      I am trying to decide what type of tree to plant in the corner that four yards intersect. Something leafy and green all year round bc the neighbor behind my next door neighbor is a two story and their master bedroom window looks into our yard. Not that our neighbors do, I just dislike having people that close/I prefer the illusion I’m alone in my backyard. So I want to plant a tree to block it. Most evergreens are out bc their root system is too invasive and will probably rip up my irrigation system. I’m considering an Avocado tree, my aunt has one and they get huge! But I don’t really know. I’m still researching. Thoughts?

    1. LCL*

      Wow, thanks for this! It is great! How could she make her argument without mentioning “The Only Time”?

    2. Sam Sepiol*

      Hehe, I’m glad other people appreciated it too :)

      Good point about The Only Time!

  16. downunderer*

    Wise ones, I know there are a few people in Germany/with knowledge of German systems around here that might be able to give me some advice. My (semi-estranged) brother lives near Munich and is sadly likely to die in the next few days/weeks. He has no family and few friends there, and has avoided giving anyone in the family contact information (to the point that even though my father has travelled and stayed nearby to support him through treatment in previous years, my brother would not let him attend appointments or meet anyone involved with his care). My father has had recent health problems himself and is absolutely unable to travel to Europe (we are literally on the other side of the world) and I may be the only one able to go there (and only probably for a brief time).

    I’ve just been googling and see that German funerals/estates are very different to other parts of the world, obviously if the worst happens we will take consular advice, but if anyone can point me in the direction of what I am likely to need to do, that would be great. My brother also has very set ideas on what he wants done with his ashes, but it looks like that German law is very strict with no exceptions, and no way to take these out of the country. Is this true (it seems it might be under review?) What would the family obligations be? Sorry to be asking but this has all been thrust on me very recently and my brother has not communicated anything much of any practicalities (we have all been trying to get him to come back home but it looks like we are past that now).

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Not in Germany, but a neighbouring country, and there are likely to be administrative matters relating to registering the death at the local town hall. The consulate should be able to advise on funerals and funeral directors with experience of overseas mourners. Also, I know there is an English speaking church in Munich, so they might be able to point you in the right direction for information.

      My local church produces a booklet which explains what to do when somebody passes away here, and it is divided into 5 headings
      1. Contact with the emergency or medical services
      2. Registration of the death of the deceased at the town hall/local administrative centre
      3. Contact with the undertakers
      4. Contacting the person conducting the funeral service
      5. Other tasks requiring attention (Bank accounts, insurance etc.)

      I hope this helps.

    2. MoarWebcomics*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I can’t really help you, but considering how close things seem to be, I’d go ahead and contact the Australian (? I assume from your name) embassy in Germany now. They’ll probably be able to answer your questions in detail and there’s nothing to be gained by waiting till your brother passes.

    3. WS*

      Absolutely contact the embassy in Germany ASAP – they will have experience dealing with this and will be able to be the intermediaries with local authorities.

    4. Myrin*

      The one person who knows everything regarding death is a Bestatter (Undertaker). You’d have to talk to one near your brother anyway because they’d be arranging the funeral proper, but you can usually ask them literally anything regarding administrative and practical tasks.

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. All the best!

    5. Julia*

      I have worked on a case with a Japanese national passing away in Germany and got his ashes to be delivered to his mother in Germany. It was not easy at all (especially since the cause of his death was unclear and it took some time to get cremation cleared), but it is possible. I don’t remember all the details, but definitely talk to your consulate and the Bestatter. The consulate might have one they recommend (who might be expensive) who may have dealt with similar cases before.

      I’m sorry that this is happening.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      Are you in the US and brother is in Germany? Is he a US citizen?
      One thing you might want to be aware of is if you anticipate needing his death certificate for anything, be prepared for some headaches. It’s possible it’s changed recently but I had an American relative die in Germany and family found out the hard way that, for privacy reasons or something, the info on a German death certificate is very different than what would be on an American one. There were loads and loads and loads of hoops to jump through to get the death certificate accepted in the US. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a known process for this as surely Americans must die in all manner of countries every day, but it was a bureaucratic nightmare.

    7. Lilysparrow*

      Not in Germany, but in my experiences with making arrangements, there were social workers/advisors available through the hospital or the hospice organization who were very knowledgeable and helpful about the process. From my experiences in Germany, people don’t always have the overt friendly/helpful attitude that is standard in my culture, but they will actually give you the info and assistance you need. Just more brusquely.

      If you are the official next of kin, someone is going to have to contact you when the time comes. Just keep asking questions and keep a notebook with everyone’s contact information in it. (I found it helpful to just staple their business cards or pamphlets right into the notebook). Asking a lot of “dumb” questions and being very direct about the fact that you have never dealt with this before, is a good way to get the help you need.

      I’m sorry you are going through this, and I hope you’re able to get there and see him before he goes.

    8. DrTheLiz*

      One thing to know about: in German law, debts are heritable. Your brother shouldn’t have medical debt, but any other debts would (assuming he has no Will) pass to his next-of-kin. You’ll have six months to “reject the inheritance”, which is something you can do, but which then means you won’t get anything else of his. When you talk to the consulate, bring this up – they’ll likely have better advice than me!

      I’m so sorry that this is happening to you, and I hope things get better from here.

    9. downunderer*

      Thanks everyone for your kind words and responses. I’ll talk to my father and look at contacting the embassy tomorrow, I’m not sure if I will be regarded as “next of kin” as a sister even though my father will not be able to travel. The family is based in Australasia, but I’ve realised there’s a new wrinkle which will make things more complicated. My brother and I (but not the rest of the family) have citizenship of another European country, and his residence in Germany will be under this citizenship, so I’m not sure how the notification and process will work. We’ve got very extended family there but I’ve had no contact with any of them for over 20 years so would prefer to deal with just the NZ/Australian/German authorities, but I guess may have no choice?

      1. OhBehave*

        Given his lack of contact with you and not letting you know his exact final wishes, I would proceed with doing what you can with his remains within reason. Someone with such exacting plans should have made sure to keep in contact with those charged with settling his estate.

        I am so sorry you have to deal with so many unknowns. But at least you were given some warning. I hope that things go as smoothly as possible for him and you.

      2. Amerdale*

        Bit late, but I hope you still see it.
        Next of kin means in German the closest relatives – parents, children, husband/wife or siblings. So you shouldn’t have a problem but you might be asked to show some proof that you are indeed his sister.
        But I would also contact the embassy of the other Eurpoean Country (by the way is that country in the European Union? that might make things easier), it that is your brothers citizenship.

        The process in Germany is normaly roughly this:
        Someone notices that your brother has died. A doctor is called to examine the body and confirm his death and fill out the so-called Totenschein (this is NOT the official governmental death certificate!). In the Totenschein the doctor notes time and place and cause of the death.
        You need the Totenschein to request a Sterbeurkunde (the official document) at the local Standesamt (Civil registry) along with your brothers passport and birth certificate. And maybe more documents that I don’t recall right now. But this is something you want someone with with knowledge of the German system and who speaks German (especially the overcomplicated expression governments use…). Either someone from the embassy or a Bestatter (undertaker) who can guide and advice you.

  17. MoarWebcomics*

    I need some webcomic suggestions! I’m pretty much caught up on my favorites and need some new ones.
    These are my favs:
    Schlock Mercenary: A gag-a-day scifi story about snarky, semi-ethical mercenaries far in the future. Plausible science and very interesting plots and characters. Massive archives – one strip per day since 2010.
    Outsider Webcomic: A beautifully illustrated comic about humans developing interplanetary space travel only to find that the galaxy is at war. The only survivor of the first mission has to pick a side with very little information to go off of. (Updates extremely rarely and has very little in the way of archives, but shows a lot of promise.)
    The Whiteboard (by Doc Nickel): Talking animals playing paintball and trying to run a small business. Semi-slice of life with a twist of exaggerated science. Great characters and stories, big archive.
    Question Duck: A sadly finished comic about the travels of a silent man and his duck who likes to ask off-topic but thought-provoking questions about the world. The art starts a bit rough, but gets very nice at the end. Small archive.
    XKCD: You’ve probably read it. If not, it’s a stick figure comic that makes a lot of funny but poignant observations about the world. Lots of random graphs and maps that make you think. Huge archive.
    Freefall: A genetically engineered wolf with human intelligence leads the fight for robot civil rights in the far future while keeping her kleptomaniac “sqid” captain out of trouble. Solid science, simple but well-executed art. Massive archives.
    Darths and Droids: The Star Wars movies reimagined as a roleplaying game in a universe that never had Star Wars. If you read the author’s comments, you get very interesting insight into the world of roleplaying games. The art is made from screenshots of the movies with speech bubbles pasted on. Huge archives.

    As you can guess, I’m very into scifi, but I love almost anything with interesting characters and good art, as long as it’s not too gruesome or sexual. Big archives are a plus.

    1. Lady Alys*

      Girl Genius – they post 3x per week and have archives going back at least 10 years. Artwork is lovely, although it does start out in black & white. It’s steampunk (although the authors call it “gaslight fantasy” instead) and very funny.

      1. Interrodroid3000*

        Thirded! I started reading Girl Genius when it was still a printed comic book, and I still go out & buy the new volumes every few years.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Some of my favorite webcomics:

      Stand Still, Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg, set in a post-apocalyptic Scandinavia and with a generally upbeat tone (with occasional horror – it’s been described as a “cozy apocalypse”); beautifully drawn, often very funny, lovely characters, regular updates and a large archive.

      Wilde Life by Pascalle Lepas, set in a strange little town where life seems quiet and charming but with occasional bursts of supernatural activity: everyman protagonist Oscar has a ghost for a roommate, a touchy teenage werewolf as a pal, and assorted issues to solve. It’s another one that’s often very sweet and charming but with nightmarish scenes here and there. Ongoing, regular updates, large archive.

      Digger by Ursula Vernon, a marvelous series about an anthropomorphic wombat who gets lost in an increasingly strange world; this one’s complete, but with a decent-sized archive. The delightfully snarky protagonist Digger is an awesome character, and her adventures are fascinating.

      Oh, and if you read xkcd you’ve probably already seen that author’s “What If” articles, but if not, do check ’em out – not comics (though they include some amid the text) but often-hilarious scientific takes on very weird questions!

    3. Zephy*

      Gunnerkrigg Court has interesting characters, good art, no sex or gore to speak of, and a 2000+ page archive.

      Questionable Content is a slice-0f-life comic with a ~4000-page archive. Interesting characters and good art (eventually; the early strips are…rough), no gore, maybe more sex than you’re looking for? No straight-up porn or anything, but plenty of sex jokes and suggestive scenes.

    4. Nessun*

      Sluggy- starts off very simple line-drawn art in panels and evolves over time into these huge wild spreads in full color. Premise is loosely a couple friends navigating jobs and relationships, but there’s a rabbit with a switchblade, an alien that keeps morphing, and an incredible war with Santa every Christmas season. The archive is huge.

    5. Rick Tq*

      Most of your list are on my Day Reads tab, so here are some of my favorites:

      9 Chickweed Lane at Go Comics: (from the web site): A rarity in the comics, 9 Chickweed Lane spotlights music and dance with superb artistry that complements Brooke McEldowney’s strong-minded characters. A popular comic strip about three generations of family, 9 Chickweed Lane features strong characters, flights of fancy and an intuitive grasp of all kinds of relationships. Archives go back to 1993, updates every day. Some SF elements and Brooke’s line work is amazing.

      User Friendly: Life at a small Canadian ISP that includes a living Dust Puppy, AI, and visits from Cthulu and the other Elder Gods. Updates have been irregular lately, archives back to 1997

      I also liked Digger, but that comic has wrapped up.

    6. Sheepy*

      Awaken is a good comic with some distopian/hunger games vibes and likeable main characters.
      I also like FeyWinds for a fantasy setting.
      Perry Bible Fellowship does funny one shots, but some can be a bit gory/sexual.

    7. KayEss*

      I’m shocked to see that Outsider is updating again. I first encountered that comic a good 10-15 years ago, and there’s not much more of it now than there was then.

      Seconding Girl Genius, which my partner introduced me to years ago and I have read ever since. He also loves Stand Still, Stay Silent but I don’t read it (and he has also read Schlock forEVER, and Darths and Droids). I’m a devoted Gunnerkrigg Court reader.

      Dicebox is a slow updater (the author/artist has once again vowed to stick to a regular update schedule, but IIRC she has at least one young child and a separate career, SO we’ll see how that goes) but has a meaty archive. It’s a really cool sci-fi story but may be a bit too gruesome and sexual for you, depending on what your threshold is. It’s got very matter-of-fact nudity, sex, and death/injuries presented in a way I find sensitive and realistic, not designed to shock or fetishize.

      I read both Questionable Content and Girls With Slingshots (which is finished, but is rerunning with updated color art and commentary) and both have hefty archives and relateable millennial slice-of-life humor. QC is sillier with some sci-fi elements but will also likely take more effort to get into… you’re gonna have to slog through a LOT of early, not-very-good strips from 10+ years ago to catch up. I honestly wouldn’t recommend anyone start reading it at this point, the return is not really worth the investment IMO.

      Namesake is a fantasy series I read based on the concept that popular stories (The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, etc.) are real other dimensions that occasionally people with special powers get pulled into to influence (Dorothy, Wendy, etc.)… it’s a lot more complicated than that but it’s got very nice art and well-plotted story, updates reliably, and has a respectable archive.

      1. KayEss*

        Oh, my partner would also be mad if I did not recommend Skin Horse. It’s… kind of about a team of government social workers who handle cases that are the result of mad scientist experiments, like arranging therapy and work placement for monstrous creations? But it’s a daily strip that has been running for a while, so it’s got a big archive and can’t really be summed up in a single sentence or two.

        The main artist/co-author is known for her previous multi-year comic, Narbonic, which was part mad scientist hijinks, part IT nerd jokes, and part just general silliness but wrapped up into an actually coherent and well-plotted story. Skin Horse is better, IMO, but I don’t read it anymore because I fell off of keeping up with daily comics for a while and there was too much to catch up on when I got back to them.

    8. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I like The Order of the Stick. It starts off in kind of an off-putting way if you’re not a very specific kind of nerd (a bunch of rules jokes about D&D that haven’t aged well in terms of people knowing what they’re talking about offhand) but turns into a pretty involved fantasy humor story with much less focus on rules minutia with time. The art also has gotten more complex with time (still stick figures, but much more polished stick figures). If you’re up for a big archive dive, realize that many aspects of what the story will be about don’t get really get started until over 200 strips in. (The current strip is 1171. The updates are totally irregular, unfortunately, but it is still being actively updated and the story is not over yet.)

      1. curly sue*

        I’m a fan of Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic, aimed at a similar audience. It’s been going for about… 12? Years now and while updates have gone from daily to a few times a week, it’s still pretty regular. It starts off with rough-ish art and a lot of four-panel gag strips about life from a fantasy monster’s perspective (heroes come through once in a while, etc), and eventually becomes a much more complex universe with ongoing story arcs. There are over 3200 strips up now, so it’s a lengthy archive dive, but worth it.

      2. Owler*

        I second Order of the Stick. It might be written and drawn for an audience familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, but I’m not in that demographic and I still heartily enjoy it.

        I would be hesitant to recommend Yet Another Fantasy GC if the original poster is requesting material that “is not too gruesome or sexual”. I’m a bit on the prudish side, and I find YAFGC a little much.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      SPQR Blues. Beautifully drawn series set in the Romans Empire, on the slopes of Vesuvius in the months before the volcano blows its top.
      Characters & settings are faithful to the historical record, which is not dry at all if you know the time period!

    10. Lady Jay*

      Irregular webcomic is great–try the Space storyline in particular. It goes back YEARS and has recently started updating again. Uses Lego pieces in its shorts.

      1. Beaded Librarian*

        Grrl Power is great if you don’t mind inventive invective beefcake and cheesecake. The plot is about a woman comic shop order who becomes a superhero is a world that is just acknowledging genetic superheroes in an unusual way. She’s not a superhero in the same way most people are.

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          Whoops for some reason I thought I was replying to the whole thread. Sorry.

    11. The Kerosene Kid*

      Achewood. It’s discontinued now, but the archives are still up. Chris Onstad is a weird genius.

    12. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Dominick Deegan – it ended a few years ago and he started another comic (Star Power, also quite good), but it has restarted, 200 years later.

      Devil’s Panties
      Girl Genius
      Waspi Square
      Girls with Slingshots (completed)
      Manly men doing manly things

    13. Free Meerkats*

      It’s concluded, so once you’ve read it, there will be no more. But it was an 8 year project that won a Hugo.
      Digger by Ursula Vernon.

    14. Bulu Babi*

      Strong Female Protagonist! It’s a deconstruction of superheroes/scifi stories, and very clever. Large archive, currently on a break.

    15. Nosh*

      I like Drive the webcomic, by Dave Kellett. It has a sci fi plot line and comedic characters.

    16. DrTheLiz*

      Only Human by walkingnorth, a lovely sci-fan story about people being people in the far future (finished). The same artist is now doing one called Aerial Magic, which is straight fantasy and also very good.

    17. smoke tree*

      I’m not sure how much our webcomics taste intersects, but here are my favourites, in no particular order:

      Bad Machinery by John Allison (on hiatus), also Scary-Go-Round (in archives): Very funny and nicely drawn comics about various groups of friends who get swept up into various supernatural hijinks and/or murder mystery plots. Classics for a reason.

      Skin Horse by Shaenon K. Garrity and Jeffrey Wells (also Narbonic by Shaenon Garrity, in archives): Amazingly written, clever, funny, touching, so, so clever. Stories about mad science, government conspiracies, evil corporations, non-human sapience. The writing is the real star here–Garrity’s art style is pretty simple and reminiscent of Bloom County, but charming.

      Dumbing of Age by David Willis (also the author of a thousand other webcomics, but I haven’t read any others): Pretty sweet and engaging comic about a bunch of kids in their first year of college. I know Willis tends to recycle characters in different ways throughout all of his comics, so I’m probably missing a lot of depth, having started with this one. But it’s still a fun read.

      Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell: A story about a mysterious girl who enrolls in a mysterious school next to a mysterious forest. Beautiful art, intriguing, somewhat slow-moving plot. Mix of sci-fi and fantasy elements.
      Monster Pulse by Magnolia Porter: Very sweet middle-grade-level story about a bunch of kids whose body parts are turned into monsters. Gets a lot darker than you might expect.

      Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio: What can I say? One of the greatest webcomics of all time. Romance! Intrigue! Mad Science! Fabulous art, really fun, very steampunky story. Huge archive, story shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

      Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag: A comic about a generation of kids who developed superpowers, became superheroes, grew out of it, and are now living with the ethical ramifications. Sometimes a little on-the-nose with the social justice themes, but an interesting read. Nice art. Has been on hiatus for a while before the final chapter begins.

      Skin Deep by Kory Bing: A really fun story about people who are monsters in disguise. Art is quite beautiful.
      Never Satisfied by Taylor Robin: One of my new favourites. A newer comic without a massive archive, but the art is wonderful, the story is really interesting, the characters are very lovable. Good queer and non-binary representation.

      Namesake by Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon: A well-archived and popular comic about people who are drawn into repeating timeless stories. The concept is interesting, and the characters are well done. The writing can be slightly clunky at times, but the art is absolutely stunning.

      Octopus Pie by Meredith Gran (archives, currently being re-run with commentary): A serious classic. I don’t know how many times I’ve re-read this. It’s a relatively simple story about a group of friends living in Brooklyn, but turns into a very thoughtful exploration of human connection. Also really funny and clever. Art is simple, but very elegant. You won’t regret reading this.

      Band vs Band by Kathleen Jacques: An incredibly cute story about two girls in rival bands who hate each other, but are also kind of into each other? Great art, very funny.

      The Meek (updates infrequently) and Mare Internum (archives) by Der-shing Helmer: Amazing, amazing art and storytelling. Highly recommended. The Meek has been moving forward in fits and starts for over a decade, so you have to be patient with this one, but it’s well worth it. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it, but I will say that one character is a giant, wise axolotl.

      Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (archives): I believe you can only access the first three chapters online, so you need to buy the print book for the full story. Still, I’m including this here because it’s a must-read. Steampunk technology, shape-shifting, supervillainy, a character named Ambrosius Goldenloin. It is hard to express how hilarious and oddly touching this story is. Read it, read it, read it.

    18. Blue Horizon*

      I second the Gunnerkrigg Court suggestion. Order of the Stick is also a classic, although I think you need at least some experience of tabletop RPGs to appreciate it fully. Both of these are story oriented and should be read in order.

      I have not read either in a while, but Sinfest and PvP Online both seem to be still going and have an enormous archive. PvP Online is gaming oriented and will appeal to people who like gaming history (there are topical comics on the game of the day). It also features a lot of fourth wall breaking. Sinfest is an irreverent look at religion and the human condition (God and the Devil are both characters) as well as topical issues and social commentary (Google “Sinfest Banktron” for an example). It might be pushing your content rules as it’s only-just-PG (a running gag is characters who appear to be watching sport but are actually watching porn, or vice versa). Both of these are mostly single strip jokes like XKCD, but with recurring characters and a few long running themes.

    19. Reliquary*

      It’s only in archives now, but do not overlook Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant, especially if you are Canadian, a fan of British literature, or a fan of European history. It’s at harkavagrant dot com.

    20. merp*

      I’m late but wanted to add Countdown to Countdown, which I’ve only just started reading but am very intrigued by, and Rice Boy, because it’s my favorite thing in the world. Rice Boy is more fantasy than sci fi if that’s less your thing, but it is excellent and complete and long.

  18. Anonnymess*

    Anyone have creative ideas for gifting music? If I just wrap cds or records it will be pretty obvious what they are, so other ways to present them would be helpful!

    1. Tugsalot*

      We always stick obvious gifts in different containers, like an empty tissue box or something. You can also wrap it several times with tissue paper to add some bulk, with some balled up pieces tucked in for extra camouflage. Or just tape a bag/box of candy to the main gift and wrap them together.

      In my family it’s actually a tradition to wrap one person’s gift dozens of times. The rule is you have to unwrap it all without any tools. Over the years, we’ve started including things like duct tape and zip ties to make it more challenging. I think the record was over 30 layers. The gift in the middle tends to be small, like a gift card.

    2. WS*

      You can make a folded gift box out of cardboard – google “folded gift box template” for lots of free versions.

    3. Zephy*

      If you wanted to be real extra about it, you could wrap it such that it looks like something else with a distinctive shape. Or, I like the idea of putting it in a different kind of box. You might be able to get a few records into a frozen pizza box.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      You can get empty round tins (like for cookies) at the dollar store. You could fit a cd in one of those with some padding around it. (I’d probably go for a secondary gift of towels/washcloths for padding, depending on the person.)

      Records are harder because they are already so large that you probably don’t want to make them much larger. I suppose you could use a gift bag to at least give it more depth so it looks less like a record in profile.

    5. Anono-me*

      I like making a fake cover for the CD. Techno pop for someone who loves county and western. Etc.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I once received a Christmas gift of some dish towels that were placed in a gift-wrapped corn flakes box. The gifter was a relative who wasn’t trying to be clever, she just found a box that was the right size and it was what she used.

  19. Anon for this*

    This is a weird question but here goes… I naturally have quite a loud voice – but I’m aware that I get louder after alcohol. I don’t *think* I’m necessarily louder than others in the group but it does tend to be men who are loud so maybe my also loud but higher pitched voice is more annoying.

    On a couple of occasions I’ve been asked to quieten down (like at a curry house where the waiter came over to ask us to be quieter – twice – and it was very unclear whether the request was directed solely at me or he just chose to speak to me). Last night I was out with work friends and a woman from another table came over (on her way out, where I could no longer do anything about it) just to tell me ‘you’re very loud’.

    I react with a mixture of being defensive (my friends claim I’m not that loud – though they are my friends – and these are venues where noise is expected, it’s not like I’m being loud in a library or on public transport – and I think there *is* a gendered thing here where women are expected to be quiet) and complete embarrassment and self-loathing. This basically ruined my night.

    Anyone else come across this? How can I control the volume of my voice? (Maybe the answer is just not to drink…). I did notice when I went home recently that my mum/family in general are pretty loud – so maybe I’m just used to it and annoying more people than dare tell me :(

    1. Goose Lavel*

      My wife is very loud and this has been a problem for me due to my extreme tinnitus for me the past 4 years. She knows loud sounds upset snd bother me and tries to lower her voice, but she is very animated and loud is her natural voice. I usually put out my hand and slowly lower it and she lowers her voice.

      You can try to be more aware that you speak loudly and lower your volumn, but I think you will be just be loud. Neighbor behind us also has a naturally loud voice so I believe this is somewhat common.

      1. Trixie*

        This, I try to practice more self-awareness. I can easily up my volume (perhaps when more animated?) and it is unnecessary when I’m a small office or room.

    2. Bad Brain*

      Can you ask your friends to police you better? In my friend group, several of us get loud when drunk or even just excited and we never have a problem telling each other to bring it down a notch. We’ve never been asked by a stranger to quiet down because we do it to each other before anyone else steps in.

    3. Elf*

      I have this issue (not at all restricted to alcohol consumption). Anytime I am animated and engaged in what I am saying, there is a good chance I will get shushed. I am physically capable of vocal modulation, but only if I’m paying hypervigilant levels of attention at a level that precludes engagement in the conversation. The moment I get into it my voice will likely get louder without my awareness.

      I don’t actually think there’s anything loud people can do to be quieter (other than literally not speaking). Being shushed is exceedingly unpleasant, and being shushed on a regular basis would have already fixed it if it was fixable. I have tried many things, but again, none of them work at all if I’m not paying large amounts of conscious attention.

      I will note that MEN DO NOT GET SHUSHED. Not even in cases where they are unpleasantly loud (I once overheard someone who regularly shushes me and other women complaining behind a man’s back about how unpleasantly loud he was but not saying anything). At this point, I’ve just gotten to a state of F them, because I really can’t do anything about it.

      1. university minion*

        It also may not be the volume, but rather the timbre of your voice. I have one friend in particular whom I can always hear. That’s a good thing, since I don’t hear so well :-) At the same time, it’s a bit of a running joke among our larger friends group that we can hear her coming from 1/2 mile away.
        tl;dr, maybe it is something you can work on, volume-wise, but if it’s simply the timbre of your voice, it is what it is, and I’m sorry others’ reaction has made you self conscious.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, that was apparently the case with my great-grandfather. He died when I was a baby so I never experienced this personally, but my mum and uncle always say that when they went downtown, they could always tell when their grandpa was somewhere around the town square because he had such a distinct voice.

        1. Lady Jay*

          Interesting. I’ve noticed that men’s voices in public places tend to carry more than women’s–if I’m out, I’m more likely to notice the dude talking.

          1. Ainomiaka*

            The comment that men don’t get shushed was not about which voices you hear/who is louder.

            1. Lady Jay*

              Did I SAY anything about who actually gets shushed more? No. Stop reading into my comment.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Y’all, please quit the sniping at each other. Give people the benefit of the doubt (this is directed to both of you) and assume misunderstanding before anything more negative. It makes it far less pleasant here when people treat the space this way.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve noticed that too. I’ve been shushed at family gatherings but nobody EVER shushes my brother. Of course there is also an ongoing dynamic where I’m Kevin from Home Alone in my family (i.e. les incompetents), so that may be part of it also.

    4. misspiggy*

      You could work on modulating your voice so that it’s more controlled and rounded. Sexism definitely plays a part in negative reactions to women’s voices, but women’s voices can seem more grating due to the higher frequency. Singing and core strength exercises can make a difference.

    5. Myrin*

      I’ve never been shushed by anyone other than my family who is fully allowed to do so but yeah, I have an extremely loud voice. As does my mother. As did my great-grandfather. As do my sister and my grandpa, though to a lesser degree.

      I’ve talked about this numerous times before on here and I’ve always come down to, well, I’m pretty limited in what I can do. I have other issues with my voice and also my ears, which make it especially hard to control my volume – basically, I can’t at all tell whether I’m normal-loud or really-loud or rather-quiet, and I also physically can’t seem to modulate my voice very well (my sister is a passionate singer and has done mulitple exercises with me, concluding that something must be wrong with my voice; I suspect I have the same issues with my vocal chords that my grandma had, but I have yet to get it checked out by a doctor).

      I try to be very conscious of it if I’m in a setting where it’s at all important, and I can make my voice be something that seems like barely above a whisper to me but which is apparently just slightly quieter than anyone else’s regular speaking voice, but it takes a lot of concentration and I can’t keep it up for longer amounts of time. I always want to be considerate and tell people to be very loose with their shushes as I don’t mind them at all, but I think people are still pretty uncomfortable to actually tell me to be quieter (which does help! But only in the short term, since, as I said, I basically can’t conentrate on anything else while I’m “whispering”. And I can understand that others don’t want to go “shshsh!” basically every five minutes).

      My only advice would be to try and be more conscious about your voice in general and do the fake-whisper trick, but it probably won’t be a long-term thing, sadly.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Have you had your hearing checked? Being unable to tell you are loud has more to do with hearing than vocal cords. My in-laws are super loud but they got painfully loud (to me) in their older years until they got hearing aids.

        You (and the OP) may want to look into getting a free decibel counter app on your phone and randomly turn it on sometimes. If you are hitting 90+ decibels, you are damaging the hearing of people around you and they have a right to be annoyed.

        1. Myrin*

          I have, several times, and the last time not too long ago – I have above-average hearing, which I could’ve told you without a test but the doctor confirmed it. But I do have tinnitus in one ear and some pressure stuff going on overall, which is what I meant by the “issues… with my ears”.

          And I’m not sure what you mean by your last sentence? “they have a right to be annoyed” sounds like I don’t think it’s legitimate for people to be annoyed by my loudness, which is not the case at all and I don’t think my comment indicated as much. Or did you mean that as just a general observation?

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I have issues hearing my own volume, and I’ve been told that it’s because of the autism-related-auditory-processing stuff. My hearing itself is perfect… but my brain throws everything that isn’t special interest related into the garbage.

            1. Elf*

              Can you please tell me more about this? I have come to the conclusion in the last couple of months (after a lot of reading about women and autism) that I am autistic, and I’m still trying to figure out which pieces are the autism and which aren’t.

              (I have also had my hearing tested, back when I was a teenager, and it came out perfect, though the nurse commented to my mother on the way in that I must have hearing loss because I was so loud.)

              1. KoiFeeder*

                Yeah, sure!

                Basically, there’s nothing wrong with my ears at all! My ears, and the nerves going to my brain, and all that, that’s all a-ok. But my brain, and specifically the part of my brain that processes sound, does not do its job very well, especially when it comes to speech. I’m gonna provide some examples of where I noticeably trip up, and hopefully that’ll be helpful.

                If I hear two or more people talking at once, regardless of who they’re talking to or where they are, I cannot process either conversation. It all kind of mushes together and it’s just sound.

                If someone gives me verbal information that I need to remember, my brain won’t place it in long- or short-term memory. If it’s not written down, it’s gone by the time the person stops talking. This is a huge problem for me in conversations; I can moderate my tone and body language to allistic standards, or I can focus on processing and participating in a verbal conversation, but I cannot do both at the same time. I just don’t have the bandwidth!

                I used to have a lot of trouble telling the difference between similar verbal sounds (ka/ga, bo/po, that sort of thing). This one is a lot better after a language program, but I was much younger at the time. I don’t know how well it would work for an adult.

                There’s two side effects of all this that also make it pretty hard to do verbal communication. One is that I’m so used to not hearing and not processing spoken words that I have to force myself to try to listen- it’s a chore, not something I can do naturally. The second is that I’ll be so busy having to process the literal spoken words that I miss all the implied meanings in it, which combined with autism is. Well. Not great.

                That’s about the gist of how I experience things, although autism is super different for everyone, but I hope this helped?

        2. Wishing You Well*

          Yes, get your hearing checked. If it’s fine, consider a nose/throat check. You may have blockages/issues you’re not aware of. I’m hoping you’re fine and can just work on technique.

          1. Myrin*

            Ah, we commented at the same time – my hearing is excellent and I actually had septum surgery two years ago, partly because they thought it might fix the issues but alas, it didn’t.
            But I’ve always said that there must be something wrong with my throat – I always have a sore throat (and I mean that literally. I’ve had a sore throat every day of my life for at least ten years). I’ve been to various doctors, including several ENTs, and no one could find anything. I bet I have the same thing as my grandma but apparently they have to specifically test the vocal cords to find that, which no one has done so far (and I only found out about this problem of my grandma’s pretty recently, so I could never bring it up myself).
            But I recently changed my primary care physician and he’s truly excellent, so I think I’ll bring it up with him soon, and he’s the kind of guy who’ll really dig deep to find out the cause of something like this.

            1. Yes Anastasia*

              Jumping in to suggest that your doctor evaluate you for silent reflux, if they haven’t already. I’ve had a sore throat on and off again for the past year, and the current working diagnosis is reflux.

    6. Ainomiaka*

      Yeah, echo on the constant vigilance thing. On previous posts here I got so much pushback on the idea that this really is a long term constant effort thing, but for me it is and always has been and I don’t think that is changing. It sucks and always feels like people are asking me to be less me. I am sorry I don’t have better advice, just empathy.

      1. Anon for this*

        ‘People are asking me to be less me’ – it feels exactly like this. It shouldn’t be that emotional and I need to work on my reaction but in the moment that’s how it feels.

        1. Reba*

          I understand how you could feel that way, but that really isn’t it! Maybe it would help to remind yourself that people are spending time with you because they enjoy you.

          1. ainomiaka*

            intellectually yes, of course that’s not what someone is asking. But I think both the
            op and I have the experience of only getting told this when we’re happy and secure feeling. It’s really hard to explain the level of psychological issues that come from having people ask you to act like you do when you’re insecure, even if they don’t mean it that way.

          2. Elf*

            I disagree with your assessment for two reasons:

            1) I am physically incapable of moderating my volume and giving my attention to the conversation at the same time, so people telling me to be quieter are functionally prioritizing my quietness over my participation, whether they mean to or not

            2) I am hardly if ever shushed by people who are in fact fully freely choosing my company, it happens mostly with coworkers, relatives, and in-law relatives, none of whom actually picked me for my company

            1. Reba*

              Elf, this helped me understand why the request can be painful, thank you.
              (In my comment I was responding to the OP’s stating this has happened in social situations — not necessarily a factual or blanket statement, but maybe just something to coach herself through anxiety with, if that makes sense.)

              With people you are with regularly, maybe it’s worth teasing out what exactly they are asking for? I think conversation partners are within bounds to *ask* for –not necessarily to receive — change to mitigate their physical discomfort, if that is the issue. I’m thinking of times when my spouse’s voice is booming around a compact car and actually hurts my ears and makes it hard for me to process what he’s saying. Maybe the speaker can’t modulate their voice, as you explained, but I don’t think it’s wrong or accusatory for people to ask.

              BUT I don’t think the same consideration is due to someone who is just on the embarrassed side of uncomfortable (e.g. concerned about drawing attention in a restaurant maybe), or doesn’t think you fit the social mold of whatever you’re supposed to be like (e.g. soft-spoken as feminine). In that situation I feel like the compromise should be for them to get over it! And certainly no consideration is due to people like the stranger in the bar in OP’s example.

              Wonder if this distinction makes sense to anyone else?

      2. Filosofickle*

        Sometimes I am exhausted from monitoring myself. Not talking as much, as loudly, as energetically. I’m always trying to be “less” and that sucks. On one hand, I’m working on self-acceptance and being okay with who I am. On the other hand, I want to be considerate and make other people comfortable, too. Being yourself doesn’t necessarily mean being ALL of yourself ALL the time.

        My mom and I had a private signal for when one of use needed to lower our volume, so this kind of vigilance been part of my life since I was little. :/

    7. fposte*

      While there’s gendering here, I will note 1) men do indeed get shushed sometimes and 2) just because men aren’t told to knock a behavior off doesn’t mean it’s fine. Sometimes it’s not that women need more freedom, it’s that men need more limitation.

      That being said, it’s so common for people to have too-loud voices that there’s actually a Wikihow for working it (though it doesn’t look great), so you are far from alone. I presume your question isn’t really how to control the volume of your voice–you can quiet down when you’re consciously redirected–but to work on changing your setpoint for the volume, since it sounds like you’ve got the family volume :-). So I’d practice some on my own and with recordings, talking at just above a whisper and moving up to my normal volume while checking volume readings. Then I’d practice talking at about 25% lower volume than usual. I think that it’s going to be a challenging reset, especially when you’re drinking, but I also think the awareness that too loud is a possibility is going to pop up in your mind more.

      It might also be possible to let the surroundings do a little more acoustical work. Go for a booth on the side rather than a table in the middle. If there’s an area with carpet, curtains, or upholstery, go for that; tablecloths can also be helpful. What you don’t want is the lots of glass/stone floor/high ceilings combo that bounces your voice around the whole building.

      1. Courageous cat*

        “Sometimes it’s not that women need more freedom, it’s that men need more limitation.”

        Interesting point, and reminds me of something someone I know said: “Maybe women don’t apologize too much, it’s that men don’t apologize nearly enough”.

        Basically into the idea that men are the ones that should be changing.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I think it’s too easy to default without realizing it into the notion that the male behavior is the correct one.

      2. Anon for this*

        This is an interesting idea but it’s when I’m emotional/excited/tipsy that my volume modulation goes out of whack. I don’t have any problems staying at a sensible volume at work or when talking about something neutral so I’m not sure recording myself would help. I guess I could try to lower the volume of *everything* I say…

        1. fposte*

          If it’s only when you get amped up by something it’s harder to set an internal watch for it. So I’d say try the surroundings muffling if you can, ask a friend for a neutral signal if you think that would be okay, and realize sometimes it might not be enough. I think a cheerful “I’m so sorry–I know and I do try but sometimes I forget” might be good script to have in your arsenal to avoid being mortified–as long as you’re trying and acknowledge that you discomfited somebody, it’s likely to be less of a deal to both of you.

      3. LGC*

        2) just because men aren’t told to knock a behavior off doesn’t mean it’s fine. Sometimes it’s not that women need more freedom, it’s that men need more limitation.

        I was reading the topline post and basically had that exact same thought. Like, yeah, dudes DO need to be told to quiet down sometimes!

        (And to the wider point: I feel like we get the “women should be more like men” message constantly, and – like – we RARELY hear the reverse. Like, the female gender role isn’t ALL bad, and I KNOW the male gender role is far from being all good.)

        Honestly, though – one of my friends has mentioned that she gets loud when she gets excited, and I think that’s the actual issue here. (And…yes, her volume DOES go up when she’s excited about something!)

        I also think the drinking part is relevant because alcohol (quite famously) lowers inhibitions and ability to self-regulate, so that’s a complicating factor. So…maybe she shouldn’t stop drinking, but perhaps drink a bit more slowly than she normally does?

        Finally, maybe there’s a mental association between “booze time” and “loud time.” That is, she gets loud when she drinks because that’s what she does, not because she’s drunk. In which case…hm. I’m not sure how to break that association outside of getting drunk in a library (don’t get drunk in a library).

    8. Una*

      My best friend was like this. She would get very excited an animated and her voice would gradually get louder and louder until it was practically at shouting level. Meanwhile, I love talking to her, and love her excitement, but have sensitive ears. Our solution was for me to give her a little hand signal (sort of the ‘take it down a notch’ motion in slow motion; I thought of it as a volume lever) if she was starting to get pretty loud. That way I’d never have to interrupt her or draw too much attention to it.

      Don’t know if you have people you’d feel comfortable with to do that. In her case, she also had a bunch of ADHD symptoms so trying to pay close attention to it just didn’t work for her.

      1. Washi*

        Yep, I have a little hand signal for my husband, I just sort of flap my hand horizontally for a second. As you say, it’s nice because I’m not verbally interuppting him at the peak of his excitement, and he doesn’t need an explanation, just a cue.

        It’s a tricky issue because from what I’ve heard from louder folks, it feels very personal to be told to be quieter. But as someone very sensitive to loud sounds, being next to a loud talker builds in discomfort until I want to literally run away.

        I’m lucky my husband doesn’t mind being shushed or this could turn into a very serious issue for us.

      2. Anon for this*

        Thank you – yeah my partner does occasionally do something similar, but last night threw me because the people sitting actually at my table didn’t think I was being loud so getting a comment from a clearly annoyed stranger was a bit of a shock.

        1. Public Health Nerd*

          (/Loud person solidarity fist bump) The thing I’ve noticed is that people complain more about my/other loud friends’ volume when they don’t like the topic of conversation. That may account for part of this experience.

    9. Anon for this*

      Thank you for all the suggestions – it’s very reassuring to hear that this is actually not that uncommon and will hopefully help me view it less emotionally/less as a personal failing!

      Suggestions about checking hearing also interesting as I’m pretty sure mine isn’t that great (things like speaker quality which others complain about lots I barely notice), so I’ll get that checked out too.

    10. YetAnotherUsername*

      Some good advice above for helping you make the change if you want to.

      I would also point out that there is a difference between someone telling you to shush in a situation where you are being so loud you are having actual negative impacts on others – preventing them from hearing each other for example, and someone who is basically saying “I personally want you to be quiet because I personally dislike the noise you are making, even though it has no negative impact and is in an area where loud voices might be reasonably expected eg a pub or restaurant or other area with alcohol or exciting things happening. ”

      The first type of shushing you should try to quiet down for, but the second type you can absolutely ignore. If you are talking loudly in a pub with a group where everyone is drinking, and you are not so loud that you are preventing others from hearing their own conversations, then you are 100% not doing anything wrong and you don’t have to change to fit other people’s desires. If they want quiet then they can leave.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      I tend to think it’s more about tone/pitch and not volume. AND I do believe there is a sexist element because loud MEN rarely get told to quit down or get shushed… because loudness in men is considered assertive and manly. In women it’s often described as shrill.

      Not sure what you can or should do here beyond being respectful of others in general.

      One other thing though: Do have your hearing checked. If yours is diminishing it can make you louder as you try to talk over other noise.

  20. Perpetua*

    Who here is excited about the new Veronica Mars season?! No spoilers, please!

    I’ve just seen the first episode, and while I’m so happy this is happening, I hope I still feel the same at the end. This show has been such a big part of my younger years and it remains one of my favorite shows ever. <3

    1. Bibliovore*

      I never watched it before and working my way from the beginning. I love it so much and it is the perfect distraction right now for chronic pain issues that have flared today.

    2. Melody Pond*

      So freaking excited!!! My husband and I got through the first three episodes last night, and so far it’s pretty much everything I hoped for. I actually think the writing is better and sharper than it was in the original series – there’s only one tiny thread (not even a subplot) that I find totally unbelievable, but the rest of it is so good that I can accept it. The mix of old and new characters is fantastically done, in my opinion. J.K. Simmons is a goddamn national treasure.

      My husband was feeling a bit TV’d out, and he didn’t really want to watch it last night. But when I saw that the ENTIRE season had arrived a week early on Hulu, I was of course freaking out about needing to watch it. He grudgingly agreed to watch one episode – but he was laughing so hard and was so engaged, that at the end of each episode he just kept going, “Okay, maybe one more…”

      I’m so, so, so happy that Veronica Mars is back. :)

      1. Melody Pond*

        Uhh, finished the season… without saying anything else… WHAT THE ACTUAL F, Rob Thomas?!

    3. Hei Freya*

      I love love love the series and the film. But I am in Europe and have noisea how to watch it. Hulu is not available over here. Any suggestions?

    4. Alphabet Pony*

      OMFG. I did not know about this. I love VM but had no idea there were new episodes! Thank you!

    5. Belle*

      I am a huge Veronica Mars fan and watched season 4. I am now pretending it didn’t happen and the show ended with the movie (I didn’t care for it without going into details to avoid spoilers).

      1. Alphabet Pony*

        Thanks for the warning!

        Anyone know if we can get s4 in the UK? The internet suggests not.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      Looks pretty tacky to me, but it looks like they are targeting an audience who would find it hilarious.

      You & I would appear to not be in their target market, which means it’s an effective choice.

    2. KayEss*

      Depends on a lot of factors, but from a personal standpoint: as a white person living in a majority-white area prone to segregation, I’d definitely be uncomfortable with the optics of going there.

    3. Buona Forchetta*

      Yes! This is shockingly offensive, insensitive and ignorant. I was going to add, “especially for 2019” but unfortunately it’s still far too common.

    4. xxx9*

      Are there any recs for how to comfortably listen to music while running? Should I invest in AirPods or maybe a more affordable Bluetooth headphone (any recs of this end)?

      1. xxx9*

        Whoops. Nestling failure here.

        But this place seems extremely corny. Definitely can already see the crowd it attracts…

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Eh – I get what the were going for (street art + drinking – this type of indoor golf as socialization thing is quite popular in the UK for office functions and the like) but if you look at their ‘about us’ and how they were inspired by street and graffiti artists from the ‘Philadelphia ghetto’ um… yeah guys. Not cool.

  21. WantToGiveWell*

    How to decide whether to donate to a small non-profit? This doesn’t seem like it belongs in the Friday thread exactly, but let me know if I’m wrong – I’ve learned so much about the potential dysfunctionality of such organizations through this site (as well as increasing personal experience). There’s a non-profit I’ve supported for more than a decade, since soon after they started – they serve a national audience online. It’s time to re-up my monthly CC and I want to make sure they are still a good place to give. Searches turn up some complaints from folks assisted and, even more concerning, a bunch of negative Glassdoor reviews from a few years ago alleging the founder/director is a toxic boss. There are more recent positive ones from current employees. Any suggestions on how to evaluate this particular situation, and small non-profits in general? I know they can be great, but also not-at-all-great. I want to give my money wisely and effectively. Thanks for any advice/tips!

    1. foolofgrace*

      I don’t want to put in urls but google “charity ratings”. It’s possible that small charities aren’t covered but it’s a start. You could google “charity ratings [name of charity]”.

      1. Observer*

        Most small charities are not rated. Charity Navigator has one of the most comprehensive lists, and they don’t even look at charities under $1m annually.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      If you want to get into the org’s nitty-gritty, you can look them up at http://www.guidestar.org, which collects nonprofits’ IRS Form 990’s. This is an annual form where a nonprofit details its income, expenses, salaries paid to the highest-paid executives, and so on.

    3. Ainomiaka*

      Can you find reviews from employees on glassdoor or something? I honestly hate charity rating/anything that ups pressure to lower employee treatment in the name of “low overhead/max going to mission” but I haven’t really found a reliable site for “do they treat their employees like humans”

      1. Ainomiaka*

        Just saw the part where you said you did check on glassdoor. I guess the only thing I have to add then is- do you trust that changes were made? Is there a similar org with better employee reviews?

    4. WantToGiveWell*

      Thanks everyone! I do already always check organizations’ finances and transparency on Charity Navigator, Guidestar and the like, and this one rates high (it’s definitely not a scam). My worry is more around issues that aren’t measured by those benchmarks. Especially when there’s a weak board and a long-term executive director (in the case of a founder, even more so) who doesn’t have internal accountability, the focus can become more about the self-perpetuation of the charity than about its true mission. Ainomiaka, good suggestion – I’m not aware of any other organizations that do this exact kind of work, but I haven’t looked around in a while so I’ll see.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    Recommendations for a good Bluetooth speaker?

    I’m nearly done converting my shed into a home gym. Paint is done (Sonic Plum by Valspar) and I got the floor mats last night. Very excited! Now I’m looking for a speaker with rich sound that will easily fill the room. The shed is about 240 square feet with a high, peaked ceiling. I have wireless earbuds, but I want to get away from those since I’ll have a place where I go in, shut the door and blast some heavy metal.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Kudos to you! I remember reading about your project over the past threads. Here’s a couple recs…

      The UE Boom 3 is probably the best Bluetooth speaker on the market. It sounds great at high volume so if you wanna crank your heavy metal, it can handle it! It’s also water and dust proof so it can handle quite a bit of abuse. It runs about $130ish. You could also do the UE Boom 2 at about half the price. I have the 3 not the 2 so I can’t comment.

      I also have a couple Anker Soundcores which run about $30 a piece that are also rugged and have a non slip silicone exterior which is nice. The only downside is they sound a little tinny at max volume so that may not work for you.

      The best speakers for pure audio quality are going to be Bose but they usually run $200+ and aren’t quite as rugged. Though the Soundlink is still an incredible speaker, it might not make sense for your setup.

      Good luck!

      1. Dan*

        I have the UE Boom 2 as my “backup”/travel speaker, and I like it just fine. But I bought it for when I house sit for some friends, so it’s not my primary.

        Depending on what you’re looking for both quality and $ wise, I’d take a look at Sonos. They’re not cheap, and not blue tooth. It runs on its own wireless ecosphere. But it’s great because you can integrate various speakers in a single room and even integrate multiple rooms together. If you want to fill a whole room with *good* stereo sound, smaller bluetooth speakers may not quite get the job done. If you really want to blast heavy metal, the Sonos subwoofer is awesome. Just don’t do it if you have neighbors, because this thing *will* get complaints.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I’d prefer to stay under $200; however, if I find something I really like, I’d spend the money on it.

        I bought my husband two different Altec Lansing Life Jacket speakers. One, the cheaper one, is great. The waterproof, more expensive one isn’t as great. I find it doesn’t sound as good and it’s a bit tinny.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        It’s my favorite for working out since I’m typically doing body weight exercises, weights, and things like that. I always end my set with Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit. It just seems right for doing all the tough core exercises. During the set it’s usually Volbeat, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Skillet and Hollywood Undead, but I mix it up from time to time.

        1. acmx*

          I used to only listen to heavy metal during weight lifting and pop/hip hop while running. But now that I can’t run as well as I used to I get to listen to heavy metal while running, too! (HM always seemed slower when running.)

    2. KoiFeeder*

      I love my little bluetooth snail (it’s the Beyonce model)! She’s survived being outdoors off-and-on quite well, although I don’t leave her out in the rain or high winds, and she looks so cute that it makes me smile.

  23. coffee cup*

    My post on y’day’s work thread is now moot because I started to get the worst period cramps during the night and even my usual strong painkillers haven’t quite got rid of them. So I’m fairly zombie-like today on little sleep plus medication. I’m missing out on my weekend run, which I find helpful for clearing my head and, obviously, much-needed exercise.

    Instead I decided to sign up for an online course! I want to ultimately try to go freelance with editing and writing (it’s the latter I’m trying to develop now), although I’m aware it’ll take time, so I’m trying to build this into my free time when I can. I’m already experiencing a bit of self-doubt because that’s me all over, but I am going to give it a shot.

    Anyone else taking any courses at the moment? I enjoy hearing about what people are learning!

    1. Skeeder Jones*

      Where are you taking your courses? Are you looking for publishing, journalism, what type of writing? I was a technical writer for a while and now I’m an Instructional Designer and also going through a certification program for that through University California Irvine Extension. It’s interesting getting formal training on the type of work I already do and I’m enjoying networking with other professionals in the field as well as people trying to break into the field. I am not sure a lot of what I’m learning is going to apply to my specific role as I’m learning a lot about the pre-work that should be done to develop content and I usually get the content pre-vetted and my role is to turn it into elearning courses. Interested to hear more about what you are studying.

      1. coffee cup*

        I already work in publishing but I don’t do any writing so I’m taking a course in copywriting to add that ‘branch’, if possible (depends if I’m any good!). I’m taking it online so I can work at my own pace and without a specific deadline (my job often means staring at words all day – I’m sure you can relate! – and sometimes I’m just not in the mood for more). I’m also interested in what you do… how did you get into technical writing?

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          I always wanted to be a writer, my friends from elementary school will tell you that’s how I always answered the question of what I wanted to do when I was a grownup. I actually started out as a creative writing major and I hated it. I loved writing but hated the crap I wrote when writing simply because an assignment was due. I only like my writing when the muse visits and she is fickle. Also, I was concerned about the difficulty in making a living at it. I really only knew about writing books or writing for magazines. I had no idea that there was other kinds of writing.

          I sort of stumbled my way into learning and development and ended up in a brand new department that needed everything written. So I wrote all the things. It solved the 2 things I hated about earning a living as a writer. Problem 1: writer’s block when writing for a deadline: With technical writing, I create an outline for the document. If I am having writer’s block in one section, I just jump to another one until the documents done. Problem 2: technical writing pays a decent, livable wage. I just wish I knew this kind of writing existed.

          Now I am an Instructional Designer which is writing and so much more. I create web based training courses. It combines writing with other creative tasks and I love it! I actually choose to late or on a weekend sometimes because I love watching my ideas come to life.

          If you know you like copy-writing, and maybe you are still figuring it out, I would look into seeing what the respected institutions/programs are. It’s great to take some courses to build your skills and also find out if it is for you, but it’s good to know what people will be looking for when you eventually transition into that type of work.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I want to, but I can’t right now until I’m working again. The better courses with instructor access, certificates, etc. cost money I don’t have. Free overviews are good but don’t allow you to ask questions if you get confused.

      Also, I meant to be working on some other stuff by myself, but packing stress is messing with me!

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m with you Elizabeth. It’s why I enjoy school – you can interact with others and ask the instructor questions. Plus, I think I learn better in a structured environment (i.e. following a syllabus and answering discussion questions) than self-study.

  24. Teapot Translator*

    My bike classes ended badly (going on the bike path was a disaster, nearly hit someone). I went home and cried. The teacher was very nice and he asked me to contact him when I’m ready to try again because I need to conquer the bike path.
    But my anxiety squirrel is telling me that I’m a loser, that I’m going to get hurt or get someone hurt, that I can’t do this. :( I wish it would shut up. It’s sapped all my “I can do this” resolve.
    So, today, I’m trying to motivate myself to go buy a bike so I can practice in quiet neighbourhoods in my town.

    1. Colette*

      I’m sorry it went badly! It’s important to remember that making mistakes is part of learning – it’s really rare to be competent right off the bat. I hope you get out to look at bikes!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for your comment.
        I have bought a bike. It was very stressful, but I got through it and I got a bit of practice coming home.

    2. LibbyG*

      Oh, dang. I’ve been following your story and hoping that you’d have a huge victory by now. If you can afford a bike, I think that might help a lot. Then you can go out just for 5 or 10 min if that’s all you have a certain day.

      I just got back on a bike. I rode as a kid but then not as an adult. I just bought a bike, now in my mid 40s. The balance part is ok, but getting used to biking on the roads is a HUGE challenge for me. Oof.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        So many people on the road! So many distractions. O_O
        Thank you for your comment. Knowing your following my story is encouraging. It means I need to have something to report next week!
        I’ve bought a bike so I’ll try to get some practice.

    3. The Messy Headed Momma*

      For what it’s worth, I’m not cycling but just took up flyfishing again after 12 years & I’m in my 50’s. It’s fun, but I can so relate to the “anxiety squirrel” who has been telling me that this is just stupid. Going to go out again today, with my clumsy gear & try again. But yeah, I totally get the “I’m trying to do the thing & then my resolve dissolves”. Maybe we should both just focus on the fact that it’s fun & we’re going to screw up! Heck, we both got this far… =)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yeah! We both got this far!
        *puts on helmet and walks around the house with it*

    4. LinG*

      You can do it! I’m a recreational cycle and I run on trails – people have little collisions and close calls all the time, it’s part of using shared use paths. You might give someone, or get, some bumps and bruises and while it’s not the best outcome everyone will survive, I promise! It’s hard to silence the anxiety monster, but you’ve already come a long way and you’ll get there.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for the encouragement!
        I bought a bike. And I got a bit of practice in. I just need to calm down the anxiety squirrel.

    5. Llama Face!*

      If the cost of buying a bike is part of the problem I have gotten free bicycles on freecycle before. You can search online for a freecycle group in your area and see if someone is offering a bike or post your own request for a bike.

      By the way I think it is really brave to learn to ride as an adult. Falling and whatnot is scarier when you aren’t a resilient little kid. Kudos to you for what you’ve done already! I hope you can take the time you need to rebuild your courage and try again! :)

      1. Good luck with that*

        Yes to Freecycle.
        Also, check out garage sales and resale shops (obviated ugly not the ones that specialize in clothes) and Craig’s List and all the other online “somebody give me money for this thing I don’t want anymore” sites.
        My hometown suburb used to have annual bike auctions for unclaimed lost/recovered bicycles. Don’t know how common this is now; I was a child a long time ago. But also, once you get your bike, make sure you can identify it if lost: if it doesn’t have a serial number, have something etched into the frame. No lock is unbeatable.

        1. Good luck with that*

          How does spellcheck turn “obviously” into “obviated ugly”? Yeesh!
          (Which it tried to turn into “eyeshadow”. Come on, already.)

      2. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for your encouragement! I just bought the bike. I needed to do it this weekend because a) I had the time; and b) if I didn’t do it now, the anxiety and fear might win.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Probably not what you’d want to hear. I would not want to hear this if it were me:

      Can you talk to your teacher and figure out what went wrong and why? It’s in breaking these things down into parts that we learn how to control a situation.
      I kind of picture that you took on something that you were not ready for such as going down a long hill. A problem like this could involve getting more acquainted with the brake system. A short term remedy could be that you stop at the top of the hill and let others go through before you start down the hill, hopefully the hill would be empty by the time you roll through.
      Just to keep using the same example another helpful thing to do might be to go back to that hill. WALK half way down the hill, then get on the bike and finish. Yes, do HALF the hill and see how that goes.

      Going in another direction, at what point in the class did your near accident happen? If it happened in the second half of the the class time, it could be that fatigue was setting in and you lost your concentration. If this is the case perhaps you can do shorter sessions until you build up your focus. Or perhaps you take some assistance type steps such as walking the bike for a distance to help your body/mind to recoup concentration.

      I was helping a friend get her driving license. A bad thing turned into really cool thing that happened. I needed to take a time out from our weekly rides because of personal stuff. So we took a couple weeks off. When we came back to it, she had improved A LOT. The punchline here is never underestimate the power of incubation time. This is time spent NOT thinking about the New Thing we are learning. Our minds get weary and it’s easy to feel defeated. Sometimes a short break can mean giant steps forward.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Actually, the teacher told me that I handled the situation well. It just brought up a lot of stuff up.
        I have noticed the effect of letting new things learned “percolate”.

      2. OhBehave*

        Ugh, that squirrel! Picture Elmer Fudd hunting squirrels instead of wabbits.
        I so admire your commitment. I never learned to ride a bike and bought one as an adult but never had the guts to learn.
        Give yourself a break. Focus on why you wanted to do this. My kids crashed tons of times before they were proficient. You CAN do this!

    7. LCL*

      It sounds like, based on this post and what you posted earlier, you have reached the point where you can balance on the bike and make it go. If your crashes are from running into things and not falling over, there is one more basic thing you should learn.

      That basic secret is, your body is going to steer you to where you are looking. You see a tree? Look for your path around it, not at the tree. There’s people on the path? Look at how you will pass them, or not. If you are really inexperienced, look into if you can rent a bike for the afternoon or borrow one and practice in a parking lot. Tell the rental place you are really new and want something easy to handle. For the kind of practice you will be doing, a borrowed bike that is actually a little small for you is a better choice than a perfect fit.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yeah, the teacher told me to focus on my destination and not look at what my brain thinks are obstacle because then I’ll go right at them and hit. Which is what happened on my second class. I hit a pole.

        1. OhBehave*

          There’s a hysterical episode of Frasier that covers the guys learning to ride. Frasier had the issue you describe.

    8. Koala dreams*

      It sounds great to practise in quiet neighbourhoods! You can also look for empty parking lots. Bike paths can be challenging because they often end up as a combined bike path/pedestrian walk/playground/dog playground. Tell the anxiety squirrel to go climb some trees and leave the biking to you. ;)

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for your comment.

        It’s a bit too hot right now to exercise outdoors, but once it’s more bearable, I’ll scope out the neighborhood.

    9. TechWorker*

      Keep trying! It sounds like you’re nearly there. I don’t know how your bike is set up, but I spent the first 5 years of cycling frequently (I did not touch a bike between the age of ~13 and ~20 and wasn’t very confident at 13 either) with the saddle lower than its ‘meant to be’. This is a bit less efficient but meant I could basically touch the floor at the same time as braking and made it much easier to stop quickly in traffic or amongst pedestrians. Cycling can be daunting but once you get the hang of it it’s really fun! Good Luck!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for your comment and encouragement.
        The seat of my bike is lower than recommended, but I feel it’s better for me right now. I also set the speed of the bike to offer more resistance than necessary because I feel more grounded when it’s a bit harder to bike.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      anxiety squirrel

      OMG I love this so much.
      Shut up, you chattering squirrel! You CAN do this!!

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Sometimes it’s busy foraging for nuts, then it comes back to tell me all about the terrible things that might happen.

    11. AnonoDoc*

      “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first”

      Wish I remember the name of the woman who taught me that! But really, everyone is a beginner at some time. Some people pick up some things more quickly than others, but no one is a quick learner of everything, and no one is an expert at everything.

      And “nearly hitting” people and things seems like it is par for the course for learning to ride a bicycle. Maybe practice in a large empty parking lot until you are more confident, so there are less things to potentially hit?

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you. It’s hard to remember things take time. And some more because of age.

    12. LGC*

      So – one more thing: it really depends on the bike path.

      There’s a multi use path in my town. It’s pretty high traffic, and is mi

      1. Teapot Translator*

        We went on a busy bike path because that was the point. There’s one near my house that I hope is less busy.

        1. LGC*

          That does make sense, but it might have just been too much for right now. If it’s possible, try the one by your house – you might not have been ready for a super busy bike path (yet), but a slower progression will work better and rebuild your confidence.

          Also, I’m hitting the “yet” because I’m pretty sure you can do it – it was just a quick ramp up.

      2. LGC*

        Lesson learned: don’t comment from the mobile site.

        Anyway, so there’s a mixed use pathway in my town (that runs through five towns, actually) that gets pretty high traffic. You get runners, walkers, and cyclists. At high traffic times (weekend mornings) things get dicey – I’ve had multiple run-ins with bikes and some of those were my fault!

        So I’m supposing that a huge part of the “problem” is that you might have been put on the equivalent of I-95 for a driving lesson! Definitely stick to less chaotic situations for now, and try to go on the path at lower traffic times if possible. (This depends on the path, but generally speaking – weekdays are better.)

    13. Owler*

      Good for you! I love the freedom of getting around by bike, and I hope you can enjoy it eventually. Do you have a coffee shop or friend nearby where you can bike there and treat yourself when you reach your destination?

  25. ToeWoes*

    Warning: Medical Question

    I had two partial/permanent toenail removals back in December. I saw my doctor again in February because the dead skin wasn’t shedding and one toe looked like it was getting swollen where the nail had been removed. He cut my nails super short, scraped away the dead skin, and sanded the surface of my nails down. I went back two weeks ago because I was still having pain and thought the nails were growing back. He said it was just dead skin, so he removed that and cut my nails super short and sanded them again. He said he hasn’t had other patients with pain problems. Now one toe is looking red and puffy again and it’s getting even more painful.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or advice? I’m getting frustrated because the procedure was supposed to stop the minor pain I was having, and now I have more pain than I did pre-procedure. I’m afraid if I go back to the doctor he’ll want to remove my whole toenail. I can’t imagine how much pain I’d be in if my whole toenail was removed instead of just one side of it.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Wow. This has gone on too long.
      If your doctor isn’t a podiatrist, I’d get a referral to one. (Just ’cause he says he doesn’t have patients with pain problems, doesn’t mean that’s true. And even podiatrists mess up sometimes.) Find another medical professional to look at your toes – either in-person or by photo. I think you need another opinion. If a medical advice phoneline is available, talk to them.
      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope you get the help you need to resolve this.

      1. ToeWoes*

        The doctor is actually a podiatrist, but getting a second opinion sounds like a good idea.

        That’s a good point that the “no one else has had pain” comment could be untrue. Whether it’s true or not, I think it’s kind of dismissive.

        Thanks for your comment! :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          [insert mocking SpongeBob meme here] nO One ELSe HAs HAD PAIn
          I am mad on your behalf. That is definitely dismissive! I second a second opinion.

    2. Ranon*

      I’m also team podiatrist. I had an ingrown toenail treated by a gp and then by a podiatrist- night and day experiences. Recovery and time before I was no longer in pain was dramatically faster with the podiatrist’s treatment.

      1. ToeWoes*

        I’m glad your recovery and pain relief were fast. I thought there was something wrong with me since I’m not having a good recovery, but maybe it’s my doctor.

        Thanks for your comment! :)

    3. Good luck with that*

      Third the suggestion of another doctor, and SOON! That sounds like an infection to me.

      While waiting for the appointment, keep up or resume the daily (at least) soaking with the hottest water you can stand. It helps in several ways: keeping the skin softer so it can heal properly; drawing the infection, especially if there’s a pocket of infection under the skin or nail; and soothing the pain.

      I had a toenail removed years ago – the whole nail, but not permanently. It really shouldn’t be that painful after two or three weeks, absent bumping it. Admittedly, it might take longer if you’re diabetic or older, but seven months!? You are not receiving adequate medical care.

      1. ToeWoes*

        I’m not sure if it’s infected, or if the edge of my nail is just poking into the skin now (though I guess that could cause an infection!).

        I’ll try to start soaking it. I think I have some epsom salt I could also use.

        Thanks for your comment! :)

    4. WS*

      This doctor has told you in so many words that he’s decided you’re too much trouble and he’s not going to help you. Get yourself to another doctor or podiatrist ASAP, because this guy is terrible on anything slightly complex.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Seconding the “get another podiatrist” option. Doctors can and do make mistakes, and some of them suck.

        (long story ahead)

        Somewhat related but not really – when I was snowboarding heavily (as in 60-80 days throughout the season from late Nov to early April), I had a pain in the ball of my foot that would get really, really bad while snowboarding. I ignored it (because, snowboarding!) but the season ended and it felt like I had a ball the size of a peanut which made walking painful.

        Podiatrist decided to have an MRI done on it and called me, and I’ll never forget this call. He told me that he thought the ball in my foot was definitely a sarcoma because it “lit up like a GE lightbulb on the contrast MRI” and I needed to see an oncologist, stat.

        Thus followed six weeks of sheer terror and stress and despair for me and my family. The oncologist ordered one kind of biopsy (core), the biopsy surgeon decided to do a different kind (needle) with the result of “not enough cells to be sure if malignant”. I was referred to a sarcoma specialist, who refused to treat me because it was orthopedic-related and she didn’t want to mess with something that would affect my mobility.

        Side note: sarcomas are swift moving and deadly. In the few instances of sarcoma in the foot I could find while Googling, the treatment was a below-the-knee amputation posthaste and no guarantee that it wouldn’t seed itself in your brain, breast, liver or elsewhere. Prognosis was dismal.

        Guess what? No orthopedic surgeon would touch me, because !sarcoma! I must have called at least ten. So I had a cancer specialist who didn’t want to “mess up my mobility” and ortho specialists who were terrified to deal with cancer. Remember at this point, I had only an MRI to go on, and not even a conclusive biopsy.

        My husband finally started calling podiatrists starting with the letter A and pleading his case. The first one blew him off. The second one also was like “nope”. The third’s nurse, after listening to his tearful story (as we were going on six weeks with me being a hot potato), spoke to their doc who said, “Well, whether it’s sarcoma or not, either way, it’s gotta come out.”

        They made an appointment for me the SAME day. I went in, the doc said we could do surgery the FOLLOWING day and she’d have a pathologist right there as she was cutting. If sarcoma, amputation. So I went into surgery the very next day not knowing if I’d wake up missing a leg from the knee down.

        It wasn’t a sarcoma. It was a benign fibroma, caused by repeatedly tearing the flexor hallucis longus tendon from aggressive snowboarding. I have a high pain tolerance. Stupidly high, some might say. In the six weeks that I was being shoved from pillar to post, it had grown much bigger and wound its way through my foot bones, requiring the podiatrist to literally disarticulate the bones in my foot to get it all.

        I have a scar there, and I have to get it checked every few years because sometimes fibromas will decide to reincarnate themselves as fibrosarcomas. I’ll never forget the feeling of helplessness and combined fury at MULTIPLE doctors who either couldn’t or wouldn’t get involved and one fearless doctor who helped me out of the kindness of her heart.

        So yeah – if you have a doctor who is blowing you off when you are in pain and you KNOW something is wrong, keep going to another doctor and another one until you get someone who will actually *do* something about it.

        I have a similar story about a broken facet joint in my neck (also incurred snowboarding!) that started growing a ball of bone and a similar situation of being bounced from neurosurgeon to oncologist and back again but it would take too long to type out here. Suffice it to say that it took nearly nine months to have the surgery I required and three neck fusions later, I’m still jacked up.

        One doctor is not the be-all and the end-all. They can suck, just like nail technicians and car mechanics and lawyers.

        1. ToeWoes*

          OMG. I am so sorry about your ordeal with the fibroma! That’s despicable that doctors didn’t want to get involved with your care because you *might* have had sarcoma. Even if they felt uncomfortable treating you themselves, they could have at least helped you get a confirmed diagnosis and recommended doctors that were better suited to deal with it. That’s so callous that they were just like, “nope!” I’m glad you finally found a good doctor and got your foot taken care of.

          I have a high pain tolerance too. It’s hard for me to figure out when pain is worth going to a doctor for.

          Thank you for sharing your story! I feel compelled to find a new doctor ASAP.

        2. Mimmy*

          Oh Kat that is horrible! I think had the biopsy surgeon done the type of biopsy the oncologist ordered, you would’ve gotten a proper diagnosis a lot sooner.

          I’m also on Team Change Doctors for ToeWoes!

      2. ToeWoes*

        I was wondering if “my other patients haven’t had any pain issues after the procedure” could be double talk for “You shouldn’t be having pain problems–it’s all in your head. Stop complaining.” So, yeah, I guess I am too much trouble and he doesn’t know what to do except point out that no one else had any complaints to invalidate mine. :/

        Thanks for commenting! :)

        1. Jaydee*

          Said before a procedure, “my other patients haven’t had pain after this procedure” is meant to be reassuring. Said once in a mildly puzzled tone after the procedure, it suggests a doctor genuinely curious about why your situation is different from that of previous patients. Otherwise, it’s pretty dismissive, and “Good for them. What are you going to do about my pain?” is a reasonable response.

  26. Penny*

    When you’re out in a group of friends, if the restaurant won’t do separate checks, how do you figure out costs between you all? If we separate each item, we always seem to fall short on tax and tip because people calculate incorrectly or just plain cannot math. We don’t want to evenly split the check because some don’t drink liquor while other have two drinks, or someone just gets an appetizer while others get a full course meal. I’ve downloaded an app that lets you separate items on a receipt and calculates tip and tax based on your amount but my friends say that we don’t need it, the math is easy.

    We haven’t had any fights over it but it’s becoming a real point of annoyance that makes me dread going out with a big group to a restaurant that doesn’t do separate checks.

    1. Tacocat*

      We usually just split evenly, but I get screwed because I don’t usually drink and others typically do. But you can also just divide tax and tip by number of people and then pay for your individual orders? It gets really confusing with a large group though. I’d be tempted to just go to places that do separate checks.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Your friends are kind of taking advantage of you there. If you don’t drink you shouldn’t have to subsidise their drinks.

    2. Llellayena*

      I’m usually the one calculating the split. I think it helps to designate one person rather than each person calculating their own. I’ll calculate the tip for the whole bill first divide that and the tax evenly for the number of people then add up each person’s bill by rounding to the nearest 25 cents (easy math). I add the split tax/tip to that, round up to the nearest dollar and tell them what they owe. I’ll double check the total against the bill once I’ve collected all the money and adjust if I need to. Oh, if there are shared appetizers I’ll split those the same way I split tax. With this method, the waiter always gets a good tip, since I calculate that first and round up when I can.

    3. gecko*

      That’s very annoying!!

      I know you said you already downloaded an app, but my favorite app is Tab—you take a picture of the receipt and then choose what you purchased. In that case you could try saying, like, it’s just like passing the receipt around but more convenient!

      I suspect your friends don’t want to bother going through the IT hurdle of downloading an app, blah blah blah. Can you talk about it at the beginning of dinner instead of the end and ask them to try? Can you use Tab once to demonstrate here’s how no one gets shorted on the bill?

      Very annoying—good luck

    4. Serious Sam*

      What I have done in the past when organizing & booking is to state up front that all drinks will be paid with cash when ordered and the bill for the food will be split equally. Seems to work when people know upfront what the arrangement will be.

      1. Good luck with that*

        That sounds like a really good approach. I think it’s the drinks that really make even splits unfair to non-drinkers.
        Unless one person always orders the most expensive thing on the menu….

    5. Anon from the Bronx*

      No advise, but I really dislike restaurants that can’t accommodate separate checks. If the group is particularly large, I understand it’s a hassle, but I would choose a different restaurant in that case.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Depends on your state/local tax, but growing up in NYC, with 8.25% tax, we used to add 25% to the menu total (because this was back when 15% was the standard tip). Adding up the individual items isn’t hard, especially if you round up to the nearest dollar when prices are $X.95. And if you look at the total on the bill and the total contributed, and see that what’s on the table only provides a 10% tip, you just have to start doing the math for others — IME one or two instances of being caught at shorting the server on the tip usually makes the person much more careful, whether it was deliberate or not.

      But then, most of my friends are dorks like me and like doing calculations in their heads, and are very good at it. If we had one friend who was genuinely bad at it, I’d probably do it for them every time proactively to prevent any mistakes.

      1. Old Biddy*

        When I was in grad school at MIT, my roommate had some friends who were perfectly fine at doing math in their heads but were still stingy AF. They’re still like that, unfortunately. In contrast, my grad school friends were more of the ’round up and leave a big tip’, fortunately.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Make it a point to go to restaurants that do separate checks?

      The friends that say the math is easy, are they the ones who are shorting the group? Who pays when there is a shortfall?

      I’d be tempted to use the app while they are all calculating on their own. Then read the conclusions off the app.

    8. Overeducated*

      I used to have this problem a lot but I haven’t in years; in addition to check splitting getting more common, it seems like as my friends have gotten older they’ve erred more on the side of “err on the side of generosity for tax and tip” than on the side of minimalism. So all I can say is that i hope this problem resolves itself for you!

    9. Jaid*

      Tell your friends that if the math is easy there wouldn’t be an app for that and use it anyway. Hey, make it a contest to see who is the most accurate!

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      How big are these groups? I feel like there’s a certain group size beyond which check-splitting will just always be more hassle than just finding a different restaurant to go to that will do individual tabs. (I suspect this size is around 6 people – larger groups can work if everyone is ordering just a meal that will come as a single meal charge and a single drink, but even fewer if people are ordering large quantities of alcohol and shared apps and may forget what they ordered later.)

      It helps to have one person in charge of the bill and keeping track of who owes what. Make sure this person is assertive and not conflict-averse, because you don’t want them to decide to eat overages themselves rather than “bother people” to get the last parts collected. The hardest is when there’s a drink that no one claims, so if that’s a regular problem in your group you’ll want to develop some kind of drink-tracking norm so it’s easier to settle up later. Maybe poker chips? If each person takes a red poker chip each time they order a beer and a blue one each time they order a mixed drink, they can just count those to see how many drinks they had while settling the bill later.

    11. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I would just put everything into the app and say “hey I already set this up, pass it around the table.” Don’t give anyone the chance to say no! One of my friends uses an app like this and this is how she got me to use it the first time :)

    12. YetAnotherUsername*

      I am usually the one who does the bill because I have a degree in math (and am naturally good at it). I Would still often make mistakes – not big ones though. and my friends would always jokingly slag me off (I think Americans call it “ribbing?) when I would say oh darn I forgot to include your wine or whatever the mistake was.

      Then one night I said I’m way to drunk to do this someone else do it. It took them about 40 mins and involved a million mistakes and recounts. They don’t slag me off anymore when I make little mistakes.

      Basically restaurant maths is hard! Firstly you are often drunk and or tired when you are trying to do it, then you have some people who are drinking and some who are driving or pregnant, but they often have soft drinks, then you have people who had starters and didn’t. Then you are trying to split the cost of x wine bottles between y people. Then there’s the whole who had the espresso and who had the frappe lappe complicicino. Only to find out at the end that there is tax and service charge on top except when it’s already included and then if there’s no service charge or the service charge is less than 10% you have to add on a tip too.

      I have a degree In maths and I make mistakes all the time.

      I haven’t tried any of the apps though so I can’t comment on them.

      Mostly I work out the wine first and say “whoever had the wine add €8 to the bill, plus tip. Then I work out everyone else’s bills individually excluding wine. Then tell them how much is the included service charge and let them add their own tip. We usually end up pretty close. If the total amount we put in is way off a normal tip amount I’ll say “that’s only a 5% tip (or that’s a 25% tip), will I work it out again” and usually people will say nah don’t bother heres an extra euro or we’ll all take out a euro or whatever.

    13. Ron McDon*

      I usually check the bill to make sure it’s correct, then work out what everyone owes – I just use the calculator on my phone.

      It’s easier if one person does it, rather than everyone doing their own, I find.

      If we all eat/drink a similar spending amount I’m happy to split the bill equally, but it always seems to be the people who have lots to drink, and starters and desserts who suggest this way of splitting the bill when everyone else has had just a main course and one drink!

    14. OhBehave*

      Choose a place that does sep checks if you can.
      Pass around the receipt and have people mark off what they got, add cash to the pile accordingly. Figure out the tax % and tell each to add that % plus tip. I wonder if the server would print out multiple receipts, one for each person?
      Such a pain.

    15. Neef*

      Lately my friends and I have been choosing a place, looking @ the menu, calculating a mid-priced drink, app, and entree, tax tip etc, and then sending out a message to the group chat with something like “If you want in on Sushi at So and So Place on Saturday night it will be $40pp up front give the money to Janey by Thursday at noon” Of course if you go over the $40 it happens but that person puts in a little extra to cover it more as a kind gesture not as an exact to the penny thing. This avoids the awkwardness and discomfort at the end of the night when deciding how the bill will be split and one person usually doesn’t mind putting it on her CC to get more points especially if all the money is already in hand. I know it definitely relaxes me and I can actually enjoy the food, the conversation, the wine, instead of constantly running a tab in my head about who owes what and how much cash I have in my wallet.

    16. SS Express*

      I generally split the bill evenly because overpaying feels like a good deal compared to the huge hassle of splitting the bill any other way.

      But if I’m with people who I know will prefer to work out each person’s share I just take change, work out my own share and put that exact amount in, then let everyone else figure the rest out themselves. Alternatively you could either take over and work out everyone’s share yourself (using an app if you prefer), or give the job of tallying it all up to the people who think the math is too easy to need an app. “Can you tell us how much we all owe Jill? You know I can’t work these things out myself but you’re so good at it!”

      Tipping isn’t compulsory where I live so I always take some extra cash for a tip and leave it on the table at the very end – otherwise I’ve found my tip ends up subsidising the cost for someone else and the server doesn’t get any of it. This would also work if there’s a standard tip included in the cost but you want to add a little extra on top of that.

  27. Tacocat*

    I have a friend i would describe as the food patrol. She is always “eating healthy” and claims to be a vegetarian (even if she isn’t). It comes down to her having food issues which I understand from experience as well, but find that the constant Need she has to talk about it and make decisions about all food related gatherings makes me feel pretty aggravated and bad about myself.

    She always suggests going out to dinner, and sometimes it’s pizza or some kind of pub, but then she last minute says “can we get something healthy instead?” And everyone has to change all of their plans and expectations even though she was the one that suggested pizza in the first place.

    Recently I had a group of friends over to my place for a swim and they were coming at lunchtime. I mentioned to her that I was going to stop at the store to grab some lunch and she offered to come with me, which sounds nice but I know was to control what was bought. I told her I wasn’t going to go right before people came over (which was when she wanted to go, but I can’t not be there when people start showing up) but in the morning, and thanked her for the offer to come with me but to let me know of any requests. None of my other friends are picky at all, we host and get a few different options and everyone brings something. But then she got all bent out of shape and said she was going to eat lunch at home and we should all go out to dinner… which was not in the plan at all. And of course it was going to be some health food place no one but her wanted to go to.

    I know she has food issues and this is relatively minor, but it really gets on my nerves. Shes also someone who talks about food and her issues, and I understand what it’s like to have foot issues and have them as well… But she’s always making her issues everyone else’s also. I’ve tried to just avoid food altogether and do movies etc. with her, but she always suggests dinner and then goes on and on about the healthy options and eats something “bad” (her words) instead. This is particularly irritating after she decides the restaurant with healthy options and eats whatever she wants anyway and then laments about it.
    She runs a social group and has a disclaimer for people to not being junk food, and if people don’t notice it and dare to being something she makes a big announcement about it and it’s just cringey.

    I know this sounds uncompassionate, but it makes me want to avoid her entirely. It’s that extreme, and I haven’t captured it all here because some of the “events” are very specific. So… how can I be more compassionate to her without letting her make every decision? It feels like putting my foot down would be a not very nice way of dealing with someone who has a genuine issue around food, but this is exhausting.

    1. Colette*

      Oh, put your foot down, in a kind way. “I’m going to eat lunch before I come but let’s go out for dinner” can be met with “sorry, I can’t do dinner but will see you when you get here!”

      “Let’s get something healthy” when she’s earlier suggested pizza can be met with “no, I’m looking forward to the pizza we planned. I’m sure they have salads if you want something healthier!”

      1. Beatrice*

        Yep, I’d get really pointed about sticking with the plan. Maybe make a point of suggesting healthy from the beginning or choosing a place where you know there are healthy items for her to switch to if she changes her mind, but I really hate it when plans veer off into a different direction after they were already pretty firm, and I’d be shutting that down if it was a pattern.

    2. foolofgrace*

      If it were me, I’d think it’s time to start ghosting her. If she brings up why that’s happening, you can compassionately come clean about how her food issues are getting in the way of everyone having a good time.
      “Well, since you bring it up, we are often not in agreement with you about where to go to eat, and the majority want to eat at places that you don’t like.”

    3. WellRed*

      Please stop accommodating her. She’s gone way overboard with her policing and judgment. It doesn’t matter if there’s an understandable underlying cause.

    4. Beach Bum*

      Definitely stop giving into everything she asks. Don’t let her change plans already in place and tell her to bring her own food if she’s really that concerned about health things. I have one friend who is vegetarian and, whenever we do potluck gatherings, I put her in charge of the salad or veggie tray so that she can control on veggie thing to her own desire without nagging anyone else about it.

      I have another friend who has a severe food intolerance that limits what he can eat. He’s really accommodating though. Typically we pick a place to eat and he does a quick look of the menu. If he can find even one thing he can eat on there, he’s good. If he says ‘Sorry, nothing I can eat at that place’ We pick another restaurant. He’s very grateful that we do accommodate as much as we can, and isn’t demanding, so we’re happy to do it. Your friend constantly pulling an attitude about it would make me not want to work with her on options at all.

    5. Perpetua*

      “Putting your foot down” would actually be a healthy way of dealing with these situations, genuine issues around food or not, if by putting your foot down we mean sticking to the original plan or telling her kindly but firmly that you won’t do ______ (thing she suggests that has turned out not to work in the past).

      You don’t mention it here, but have you ever talked about it directly with her? The situations you mention all seem to fall on the side of you (and other friends possibly) going along with her suggestions in the end and then “suffering” in silence about the consequences of her actions. Would it be possible to stick to the plan of just movies, even if she says “let’s go to dinner”? Or could you try introducing a ban on all food talk with her?

      For what it’s worth, you don’t sound uncompassionate at all, and I can clearly imagine how exhausting all this must be. If it’s a friendship worth saving otherwise, I’d try some more direct communication and being firm (but I do recognize that for some people that might be quite uncomfortable).

    6. Kate Daniels*

      I have a family member who does this, and it’s so irritating. For instance, I mentioned how I thought a pasta dish I made would have been better with more cheese on top, and she responds with how that is “more caloric” (no duh). But then she later that night helps herself to a huge bowl of ice cream or opens up a bag of chips and starts (over)eating without putting a set amount in a bowl. She also frequently says things like, “I can’t remember the last time I had [fries or insert another snack here]” prior to helping herself to one of mine off of my plate… as if presenting herself as eating healthy 99.9% of the time and letting herself splurge with my “unhealthy choice.”

      I think psychologically, it may help her *think* she is actually eating healthier than she is if she voices out loud how unhealthy something is, but it is so, so frustrating. No real advice, but I can commiserate and relate!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Your example is enlightening, as IMO the issue isn’t about the friend’s choices, or even her attempts to change plans (although that is a minor but mostly distinct issue). I think the reason people like this rankle us so much is because they’re judging us, when they fall so short of the standards we feel they’re trying to hold us to.

        But I guess it doesn’t much matter, as the way to deal is as others have said, just don’t change your plans for them. Everyone wants X, and this one person wants Y, so sorry, we’re doing X, I hope you can come. And I cannot imagine listening to someone else at the grocery store, unless they’re a member of my household, and even then, I buy things all the time that no one else in the house will eat, and it’s SO not a big deal!

        The only other thing we can do, and it’s not easy, is to work on not caring about this kind of person’s judgement. I mean, they’re ridiculous! They not only have no business making those decisions for their friends, they don’t even hold themselves to their own standard! When you think about it that way, it should be easier to let go of the resentment about being judged, and just laugh a little (preferably internally rather than outright) at how ridiculous their expectations are.

      2. Tacocat*

        Yes. This is such a great point. And it’s exactly what friend does.. aggravating to know that there is more than one person in the world who does this!! I mean… let’s be real, there are a lot of people who are ridiculous this way.

        1. TechWorker*

          So I agree it’s worth the group as a whole stopping giving in – especially when she agrees to a plan then wants to change it on a whim.

          But also – when someone like this makes a point of how healthy they are and then eats shit anyway – they’re not doing that *at* you. It’s hypocritical – yes – but it usually comes from a place of insecurity and their own bad eating habits rather than a desire to critique those around them. I would genuinely try to just ignore those comments and change the subject/don’t engage.

          1. REALLY!???*

            Reading this —> Another vote for seriously considering the question as to why you are still “friends” with this person. Really. I have food/body image issues and stuff up the wazoo – and I work extra hard and bend over backwards not to have them be issues in any interactions with other people. And to be honest, I don’t have all that many people beating down my door to be friends and socialize. So — consider what this person does offer to you — it must be pretty potent stuff.

    7. Anon from the Bronx*

      I would just start nicely, politely saying no to her requests about food or changing plans. You can be compassionate about a person’s issues without tying yourself in knots or making everyone else change their plans. If you do it nicely but firmly, you do not need to manage her feelings. And whenever she brought up food issues, I would politely cut her comments short. You are apparently all well aware of her thoughts on the subject. No need to reiterate ad nauseum.

    8. Koala dreams*

      It’s nice that you want to be compassionate, but it’s not good to be compassionate of one person and rude to all the others. For example, last minute change in plans is not nice to the other people who counted on eating lunch/dinner/pizza or whatever you decided on. Also, it can be pretty triggering for some people to hear how food is “good” and “bad” and such. I urge you to re-think this idea that compassionate is the same as letting people off the hook for rude and inconsiderate behaviour. Sometimes the compassionate thing to do is to set your foot down, either in the shape of “What a pity you can’t make it to lunch, see you next time” or “Wow, stop policing other people’s food”. Good luck!

    9. I'm a Little Teapot*

      You know how people with anxiety are sometimes told to (essentially and this is not the right phrasing) suck it up and deal? That constantly accommodating their anxiety is actually bad and can make it worse?

      Same situation. She’s got a problem, ok. It sucks. She needs to figure out how to cope better, and that’s not on anyone but her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, this is more than a food issue. This is someone who is using food to hijack plans.
        Suppose the go-to was not food, it was a puppy or a baby or anything else. “Let’s get pizza.” Then later you hear, “I have a puppy/baby/whatever so I need to do something else”.
        “No. You knew you had a puppy/baby/whatever when you said to get pizza. We want to include you so we took your idea and ran with it. Now you are saying that you do not like YOUR OWN idea. You suggested pizza, everyone is set on pizza so it is going to be pizza. Next time you pick you can chose something more to your own liking.”

        Stop changing plans to accommodate her mood of the moment. Tell her she gets to pick ONE place, not ten.

        1. Tacocat*

          This is a really good way to frame it that I hadn’t considered. She is anal retentive about plans in general and introducing food into the mix brings it to a new level entirely.

          1. Quandong*

            I completely agree with Not So NewReader.

            This is about control, and if this person wasn’t using food and social dining choices as a vehicle, they would use something else. I wonder if your friendship group has become so accustomed to working around this behaviour that it just seems normal now?

            Would you tolerate it from a new acquaintance?

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Yes, this. She’s figured out that her food issues give her an excuse to exert her control over everyone else and run roughshod over your plans.

    10. Jaid*

      Depending on how close you are, sit her down and explain that she’s food policing people, and it’s not being very friendly. It’s fine for her to watch her diet, but she cannot guilt people into changing theirs.

    11. Tacocat*

      Wow, thanks everyone!! I really appreciate the input. I wasn’t sure if I was being really uncharitable about the whole situation to do other things with her. I’m sure it’s no shock that this is the only way she’s challenging. I have been distancing myself gradually. It’s too much for me and she often preempts any opening for any kind of criticism in what I consider to be a manipulative way.

      I really wasn’t sure whether I was just overreacting to this particular situation, and I’m actually surprised that it seems I’m under reacting. I guess this Serves as a reminder to trust my gut and my own feelings! I appreciate everyone’s input!!

    12. Stanley Nickels*

      This sounds beyond a food issue, more like a general control/self involvement issue. If you really want to stay friends, you could try firmly telling her, “All this talk about healthy food makes it hard for me to enjoy my meal and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop focusing on it while we are out or making plans,”, giving her one last chance to address it herself. If she can’t do that (or if you don’t want to deal with the headache of bringing it up), it would be perfectly reasonable for you to cool your friendship. She’s using food to try to control other people and she’s not trying to meet you halfway, which doesn’t sound like a good friend at all. I hope this resolves well for you!

    13. Lilysparrow*

      We all have issues about something. They are not a license to be a jerk.

      It’s not your job to absorb the grief of her issues. If she gets left out if things, or starts losing friends, perhaps that will give her an incentive to get better help.

      Right now, her issues seem to be impacting you more they are impacting her. That’s not compassion, it’s enabling.

      Compassion is to politely decline things you don’t want to do. And if she wants to know why your dynamic has changed, tell her the truth with kindness.

    14. Victoria, Please*

      You don’t sound uncompassionate, you sound very patient and kind. This would be *tedious* at best.

    15. Tacocat*

      Oh gosh. Last night might have been the last straw for me. We went with another friend to a show and on the way back she was obsessing about getting ice cream. I mean straight up obsessing, not just saying oh ice cream would be nice maybe we can stop if we see some. Just going on and on about how she wanted it. It was late so she was suggested going to a 24 hour grocery store even though I was the one driving and it was over an hour away at midnight. Anyway, we found a rest stop with ice cream and she gets this giant ice cream and afterwords she gets really cranky and says “”next time we hang out I’m not going to get all the junk food. It makes me feel really bad about myself and I shouldn’t do it.” And she said as if other friend and I forced her to do it when she wouldn’t shut up about it from the time we were still at the show!!!! Neither of us said a word in response. I was dumbfounded.

      Thanks for letting me vent. I’ve been working through a lot of negative feelings about her and have decided that distance from her makes me feel better.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        If she’s passive-aggressively blaming you, the best thing to do is act oblivious: “Oh, yeah, I guess maybe you should consider that first next time!” Or, if that’s too hard for you to fake, maybe something along the lines of “You say that a lot, but you keep doing it. Would it help if we started warning you when you’re sabotaging yourself like that?” Or if you’re really just at the BEC stage with her, when she first starts obsessing over a food, remove yourself from the situation: “You know, last time you did this you got really upset after you ate it and acted like it was our fault. If you want it, I think you should (drive yourself/Uber/anything where she makes that choice without you there).”

        Just some ideas, I hope they help. I’ve had lots of friends with lots of issues, and some I’ve been able to keep and they’ve learned to manage them so that they don’t get called out by me, and some have gotten offended at my lack of participation in their drama and moved on, but either way, it’s not my problem any more!

    16. Nervous Nellie*

      I read this with sadness and interest because this very week, syndicated advice columnist Carolyn Hax addressed a similar question (Title – My Girlfriend’s Anxiety Over Food is Making Me Anxious”). A reader wrote in about his/her girlfriend’s issues with food, and Ms. Hax said the same as the AAM gang here – it’s not about the food, it’s about anxiety. Not all of the details may match, but you may find her words resonate with you in the same way as everyone’s great words here. I wish you the best of luck, and hope your friend can find some comfort in all of this.

    17. Parenthetically*

      If you care about maintaining a friendship with this person, can you have one conversation with her addressing the big picture? Like, “Hey, can I tell you something I’ve noticed? (Describe repeating pattern around food.) I hate talking about diets and I really hate moralizing food choices. Can I ask you to knock off the ‘good/bad,’ ‘junk’ language around food with me? It really stresses me out to talk about food in that way when it’s really just all food.”

      I’m coming out of a pretty disordered place with food, and moralizing language around food is REALLY triggering to me. I’ve had to unfollow a lot of friends who never shut up about their “cleanses” and “clean eating” and “appetite control” and “portions” and on and on. It’s hard, because I know what it’s like to live in that place of feeling helpless and desperate for control around food and putting all these rules in place to try to feel more confident, but I don’t want to go back there. I just want to be able to eat some damn pizza without someone implying that it’s somehow sinful to do so or that I should feel guilty or choose a “healthier” option. I think you can, for the sake of your own healthy relationship with food, draw some firm boundaries about this — and I think ultimately it’s not helpful for HER to have people around her contributing to the idea that it’s normal to act like this with regard to food by giving into her fussiness and rules. Gently and kindly pushing back on her might be just what she needs to see that there’s a better way.

  28. anon_smbc*

    Any single mothers by choice here willing to share their stories? I’m considering going this route since it doesn’t look likely Mr. Right will arrive anytime soon. Did you ask a friend to help or go with a sperm bank or some other way? Did you encounter judgement from your doctor?

    1. foolofgrace*

      Single mom here. No judgment from doctors (and if there were, I’d find a new doctor). But I didn’t go the sperm bank route — three doctors told me I was unable to have children so I tossed the birth control and next thing you know: Surprise!

      It’s a tough road but it can be done — it happens all the time. My mom helped a lot for the first four years (then she died) and I didn’t have a lot of support after that but I made it work and my son is the light of my life. But it wasn’t easy.

    2. Anon for This*

      I’m currently pregnant with donor sperm (20 weeks). I went with a bank but chose a donor whose identity gets released when the kid turns 18. I didn’t have any friends who I thought were the right fit and honestly that way involves a lot of hoops and expenses (unless you’re willing to just sleep with them).

      I encountered zero judgment from doctors though I have done this in two major metropolitan areas (moved halfway through). Reproductive endocrinologists are totally used to working with single women and my midwives don’t care at all.

      If you’re in the US or Canada I highly recommend joining the Single Mothers by Choice group. There’s a fee to join but the forums are so helpful and supportive. And there’s a wealth of information about the TTC process and various options. There are also local groups in most cities though I don’t know of a central way to find them.

      Happy to answer other questions if you have them!

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Two pregnancies, 3 sperm banks, 1 kid. I liked the donor identity option of my final bank. And the fact that they’d ship to me or to my dr, and I was able to do the insemination at home. No IVF and all that. Just insert ingredients and see what happens.

        Supportive family was key, as was making sure to connect up with other parents quickly. I was able to join a Moms Club that had activities and whatnot, but — most importantly — a babysitting coop where we could swap services. Gave me a whole pack of chosen family to connect with and lots of role models.

        One of the best parts … I get to make all the decisions. One of the worst parts … I have to make all the decisions. But I’m happy with how it turned out. Small Boy is now 21, has no interest in his donor, and is a solid, wonderful young man.

    3. Rainy*

      If you ask a friend to help, go through a sperm bank/fertility clinic to protect the friend from unwanted responsibility for the child. If you just have a baby with someone and something happens later on, your friend will be on the hook for support and everything that entails. Clinics are used to the paperwork required, and that will protect your friend legally.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I know a mum from skating (her kid skated, not her) who got tired of waiting for a man to come along and adopted a baby from China. The baby is now in her senior year of high school.

      This person had three things I think were really important in making her decision:
      1. A good support system (family; friends, including a married adoptive mum whose daughter also skates — I think they might have got their babies at the same time from the same place).
      2. A good career with good benefit coverage — she’s not rich but also not low-income.
      3. She wanted to be a mom regardless of the circumstances.

      People have suggested I do this, but I don’t have these, and it would not be a good choice for me. I think if you are sure it’s the right choice for you, that it’s a wonderful thing.
      Good luck! :D

    5. Public Health Nerd*

      A colleague ended up adopting embryos- they were planning on adoption but it didn’t work out. This friend has a magic ability for having a network of people to help, which was important when Kid was little. Now that he’s older, these people are more like regular family members and less in the trenches with day to day parenting. Also, good quality childcare so they could work, and the ability to work odd hours if needed.

  29. Colette*

    I’m looking for off-the-beaten-path attractions in eastern Ontario/western Quebec. Anyone have suggestions?

    1. GoryDetails*

      I don’t know if this counts as off the beaten path, but I’ve enjoyed visiting Stanstead in QC; it’s on the Vermont border, and hosts the delightful Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which straddles the international line. Stanstead also has its own stone circle, combined with one of a series of pioneer monuments; a nice stop if you’re in the area. (I also recommend Le Tomifobia, a charming bistro in Stanstead.) I don’t know that I’d call the place a destination-site (though it was for me, as it’s a scant three-hour drive from my house in NH!), but if you are wandering around the region it could make an entertaining stop.

      1. Colette*

        Within a days drive of Ottawa, probably? I have a week off and no plans, and I’d like to do some exploring. I’ve been to the major cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City) but I know there’s a lot more out there.

    2. WanderingAnon*

      I live about 2.5 hours away from Montreal in Vermont. There’s a lovely food/beverage trail near Hemmingford, Quebec, which is a few miles over the border from eastern New York. There’s always Parc Safari, but I go up there for cheese (I love Fritz Kaiser https://www.fkaiser.com/en/), cider (especially ice cider), and wine. In the summer time there’s also blueberry and lilac farms as well as campgrounds.

      Some of the tours are self-catered, and others are by reservation. There are plenty of family-owned businesses tucked here and there even in rural quebec.

      Link – https://www.quebecoriginal.com/en-us/search/Organic%20food%20products/section/things-to-do/subsection/heritage-sites-and-attractions/category/routes


  30. Llellayena*

    Asking the hive mind for US based* vacation suggestions:

    I’m having trouble getting enthusiastic about any destination for my next trip and need a few suggestions to consider. I’m probably traveling in Feb/Mar to escape the cold. I’ve already gone to New Orleans, Portland (OR) and Chicago. I like excellent or interesting architecture and crafts and craft culture. I enjoy watching crafts in process or trying it myself (glassblowing was awesome!), so factory tours are an option. Unfortunately these are things that don’t often make it into AAA guidebooks so it’s hard to know where to go. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    *I’m saving for Japan for the next year so I want to stay inexpensive and in country this year

    1. CTT*

      Have you ever done Santa Fe and the surrounding environs? Lots of interesting architecture (including, if you want to get historical, the Bandelier National Monument) and a ton of pottery. I’ve never sought out seeing it made but I imagine there are some studios that have open hours.

      1. Llellayena*

        Been there once but only for a day, so it’s an option. I know I did the obvious tourist things in that day so I’m stuck on what else to do there.

      2. The Messy Headed Momma*

        I lived there for 15 years. You won’t escape the cold as it’s at 7000 feet elevation, but the art/craft scene is amazing!

    2. Ree*

      Charleston, SC? It’s beautiful, very historic, nice winter weather and only about 2.5 hours(maybe 3) from Savannah, GA if you wanted to see both cities.

      1. Kuododi*

        A big second on Charleston! DH and I did a long weekend for an anniversary some time ago. It was delightful. Oodles of historical treasures, walking tours and the food alone was worth the trip. (We were introduced to the joys of shrimp and grits while we were there. YUM)

    3. Not A Manager*

      Los Angeles is surprisingly warm in Feb/March and that’s also the sunny time. (Spring and early summer can be very grey even though it doesn’t rain that often.) Both Getty museums are architectural gems, and also have great landscaping if you’re interested in landscape architecture. There are boardwalks and beaches in a number of communities, decent restaurant options, and Venice in particular has a vibrant arts culture.

      1. ArtK*

        Plus dozens (if not hundreds) of small museums all around SoCal. Lots of ethnic oriented ones with tons of interesting crafts to see. LACMA, the Natural History Museum and the California Science Center are great, too.

        There’s Griffith Park, with the Zoo, the Autry Museum, Travel Town (if OP is into trains at all there are lots more places, too!) Lots of Disney-related stuff, like the Merry-go-round that helped inspire Walt. The Griffith Observatory is wonderful, too.

        The Huntington Library and gardens are amazing. Worth a whole day by themselves.

        There’s some wonderful old architecture in downtown LA and across the basin. Union Station is one of the most beautiful of the old passenger terminals and they’ve restored it very well. I love just hanging around looking at all the detail. It’s a blend of Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival and Art Deco that works well. Take the Surfliner south to San Diego — more great architecture down there, especially around the Zoo, and the trip gives you a great run along the ocean.

        SoCal gets a bad rap, because we do have lots of tourist traps. There’s still lots of interesting stuff that we locals know about.

        Lots of factory tours available, just use your favorite search engine.

        1. Katefish*

          One caveat: February and March in So Cal are still in the rainy season. But there are often sunny days mixed within the rainy season and it’ll still be warm compared to most of the U.S. (From a native)

    4. Bluebell*

      I’d suggest Savannah or Asheville. If you go to Asheville, the Penland School of Crafts is only 50 mi away. savannah has its own college of Art and Design. They both have some beautiful architecture, and you’ll be warm! Another suggestion is Nashville– go to Cheekwood, and also make sure you visit their replica of the Acropolis. The city was far more artsy than I had ever expected.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I don’t know how far afield you want to go, but if you get up to White River Junction in Vermont you’ll be near the scenic Quechee Gorge *and* the Simon Pearce glass company, where you can see glassblowing in action, ogle the goods for sale, and have a nice lunch or dinner at their restaurant. Oh, and the Saint Gaudens historical site is in the same general area, and includes the former home and workshop of the famous sculptor along with full-size replicas of many of his most famous works. I think there are workshops there in season, where you can watch other artists at work, but you’d have to check the schedule for that. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area!

      I’ve also had a friend recommend the Corning Glass Museum in Corning NY; haven’t been there myself but he raves about it.

      1. Llellayena*

        I do plan to spend some time in Corning at some point and Vermont sounds like it could work, but not in February! When I’m planning something for summer/fall I’ll remember that though!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Plan ahead for Corning and you can take classes in glassblowing , lampwork, etc. I treasure the lumpy little paperweight I made. (My biggest lesson though? My arms weren’t really strong enough for this art form.)

    6. RemingtonTypeType*

      Scottsdale, Arizona is a popular place to go in the winter. There is a big artsy scene, and it’s a good place to use as a “base camp” for day drives to Tucson, Sedona, or even the Grand Canyon (better if it’s more than a day). LA is about 5 hours away if you want to break your vacation into more than 1 place.

    7. Stanley Nickels*

      What about Austin, TX (known for arts/music) or San Antonio (the Riverwalk area gets rave reviews)?

      Also, for any trip, I recommend checking out TripAdvisor’s tour reviews (google “tripadvisor” + [the city] + “things to do” and it should come up). You can filter them by type (I.e. Cultural tours for art focused things) to get a good idea of what to do in the area. I’ve had a lot of success booking things based on TA reviews (namely food tours, that’s always my favorite thing to do!).

      1. Llellayena*

        I hadn’t thought of Trip Advisor reviews, I’m a bit old fashioned and tend to just get the AAA guidebooks until I know where I want to go, then I check online. Hmmm.

        1. Stanley Nickels*

          TripAdvisor is great for getting new ideas and finding things to do that you wouldn’t have thought of!

          You may also want to try working backwards form how you normally plan – try googling things like “vacations for art lovers USA”, “glassblowing USA” (or whatever craft you’re interested in), or “craft vacations USA” and you’ll get articles/lists about various places. If anything sounds particularly interesting, then check out the city/nearby locale and create a trip that way.

    8. Washi*

      I don’t know how warm you’re hoping for, but DC is fairly temperate in March, and towards the end of the month a good number of things have started blooming.

      There’s a good number of crafts at Eastern Market and if you’re interested in studios, you could go out to Glen Echo, or smaller but closer in, the Brookland arts walk area. And in addition to all the Smithsonians, there’s also the Building Museum and a large number of smaller galleries.

      DC can also be cost effective because you can fly into a major airport, don’t need to rent a car, and a lot of the attractions are free.

      1. Llellayena*

        DC is close enough to be a long weekend for me, so it’s not somewhere I’d think of for a week’s vacation. The weather is also very close to my central NJ weather so it’s not much of an escape. But thanks for the craft leads! I can seek them out when I do get there.

    9. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      If you like artsy and whatnot, St. Petersburg, FL. It’s no longer “God’s waiting room”, but a burgeoning small city with a huge artist vibe. Think…art walks (2nd Saturday), guided mural tours, glass blowing (Morean Arts). We also have the 2nd largest collection of Dali works outside of Spain. And hoo…restaurants GALORE. Plus, it’s 20 mins to the beach if you desire a beach day or two. Also, other towns in our county are also quaint but into art, so lots going on in the Fall/Winter/Spring.

  31. Mammo-anon*

    Biopsy was Thursday and it went well (no pain, bruising or swelling). Results first part of the week. Will you all “wait” with me? Work is going to be excruiating!

    1. Daisychain*

      Waiting is so hard. I’m sending you positive thoughts and keeping my fingers crossed.

    2. ..Kat..*

      Waiting with you. Calm breath in. Calm breath out. Waiting with you. Thinking best thoughts.

    3. Kuododi*

      Oh my dear…you are in my heart. I’m having the lung biopsy on Thursday the 25th. (Lumpectomy will be later) I posted my latest update earlier this am but it was snagged in moderation and just now released. Waiting is the worst of all…answers are preferable in the long run. (No matter what type of answers.). Keep breathing and know you are loved. Blessings

    4. PickyChicky*

      The best positive wishes. This was me earlier this week and I had good results. Here’s hoping you have the same.

    5. Quandong*

      I’m so glad you didn’t have pain or swelling from the biopsy. I’m thinking of you and hope you have plenty of distractions at hand if you need them.

  32. Christmas*

    I’d love to know what each of you remember about your favorite or most impactful teacher growing up, and why you felt that way. It could be a characteristic they had, a learning activity they engaged you with, or anything they did to help you feel supported, and that stuck with you. <3

    1. BeanCat*

      Mrs. N made me love science. She cultivated my interest in bugs (I constantly had a carrier of crickets, caterpillars, the works) and even when I went back years later she let me hold her class pet snake!

      Most importantly she was kind. She was energetic and I could tell she genuinely loved what she did, and loved each of us. Even when we frustrated her I could tell it came from a place of wanting us to be our best selves. I’m pretty sure she’s still teaching :)

    2. Llellayena*

      A high school history teacher had a very active way of teaching (I now have a vivid memory of what defenestration is!) and even though I am very much NOT a history person, I took AP European History my senior year because he was teaching it!

    3. Mammo-anon*

      I don’t know if she was the most impactful buty second grade teacher encouraged my creative writing and was one of my teachers who suggested a career as a journalist or something. I bumped into her thirty years later and let her know I was indeed, a journalist. We both teared up a bit.

    4. fposte*

      I was really fortunate with good teachers. One was just one of those legendary teachers that older kids would tell younger kids they had to have–he was funny, creative, committed, and passionate. He had weekly “Rain Quizzes”–on Monday, if it had rained on the weekend, we had a short quiz; you could test out of the quiz if you correctly answered a surprise question, usually about current events.

      Another was my third-grade teacher who was just a good fit for me. This wasn’t a school with onsite lunch, and when my mom had to be at the hospital all day for, I think, her breast biopsy (this was a long time ago), my teacher took me home to her house for lunch.

    5. university minion*

      Two were music teachers. One, he and his wife were practically surrogate parents when my own family was falling apart. They also taught me to appreciate good food and were one of the few examples I had of a healthy marriage. The other simply gave me space to be a really weird, nerdy kid and for that to be okay. We still keep in touch and GAWD some of the cringey things I’m reminded that I did when I was 11 or 12… let’s just say I maybe wish his 90 year old memory wasn’t quite so sharp sometimes. Not really, of course – this guy is freaking brilliant and I could listen to him all day long and never be bored.

      The last was my high school biology teacher. She’s a badass feminist and all around good egg. Her class was the first class I truly had to work in and she hit the sweet spot of being really supportive, but also challenging and not cutting anyone any slack.

    6. Earthwalker*

      *Most* impactful? There were so many it would be hard to choose. After two months of first grade in public school in which our small reading class groups had not learned to read a single word, my folks and their friends moved us to a tiny Episcopal school. The teacher took my friend and me aside for two half-hour catch up sessions in which we learned to sound out the alphabet. We went home to read our homework, a dozen pages of Dick and Jane, all by ourselves. Reading seemed easy then and with that good start I’ve always enjoyed it. My second grade teacher had the strange practice of dictating poems – like The Owl and the Pussycat – and then correcting our written copies and having us rewrite the poems correctly. I learned about the rhythm and rhyme and vocabulary of poetry and so much about how punctuation works that I came to enjoy writing. Then there were the history, trigonometry, and physics teachers in later years who were so passionate about their subjects that they sparked my interest in subjects I had always thought that I hated. To this day I read history and physics books for enjoyment. Another very impactful teacher was the junior high phys ed instructor who focused all her effort on the talented girls who might win gymnastic competitions and then encouraged them to jeer at the rest of us who struggled with anything that required coordination of our gangly adolescent bodies. I got so angry with her that I spent years afterward proving to myself my own physical strength and stamina in an imaginary “I’ll show her!” crusade. Of course I never saw her again, but I owe my active life in large part to her.

    7. ArtK*

      It’s so very hard to pick just one. I’ve had many who had an impact on me (not all good, BTW.) From elementary school it would be Mr. Carter, who taught instrumental music and gave me a gift that I’ve cherished ever since. Mr. Rigg who was just a great all-around teacher. One project I recall was painting copies of Van Gogh paintings by projecting the outlines onto large pieces of paper and then coloring them. The one my partner and I did hung in the school auditorium for yeasrs, along with another that our class did.

      Middle school: Mr Belba, who introduced me to computers and gave me my career. Mr. Bright, another music teacher who let me switch instruments and grow as a musician.

      Mr. Oliveri in HS; again a music teacher. Mr. Werner, math. He was just a memorable character.

      In college, another music teacher (and no, I’m *not* a music major!) F. Kelly James taught me a lot about leadership and showmanship. One piece of philosophy that has stuck with me over the years is: “Remember who you are and what you represent.” Great for keeping squirrely undergrads in line on a trip, but also good grounding for the rest of life.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I had Mr. T for math for three years in high school.
      In his classes I was actually good at math.
      It was how he explained it and how the home work was closely related to what we had in class. We practiced what we saw in class that day.

      In college there was Mrs. B. She actually worked in her field. So she had real life stories to tell. She made the lessons so down to earth and so practical, she was very loved/respected by the students. She was tough, but you could please her. You could even wow her. Sometimes tough leaders (teachers/bosses) do not show when they are wowed. They are never pleased with your work. Mrs. B had a delightful way of finding something impressive in most of the work she graded.

      And then there was my history prof. This guy could teach history the way a library person would read a book to children. It was easy to forget to take notes because of the way he explained things. Picture an AAM version of a history department. Once in a while, we would derail him with questions, “Why did x happen?” or “What did people think about Y?” etc. He could give these impromptu lectures in full detail to answer these questions. His recall of names and dates was astounding but better yet he knew how to show the story line.
      So he had a 45 minute class and every day I left with not less than ten pages of notes. It was brutal, he moved right along explaining things. He recommended authors for more background.
      I was wowed.
      It was not until years later that I realized his peers were wowed also. Another history prof, 200 miles away, said to me, “You studied under so-and-so? omg. Do you know the good fortune you had?” hell, yeah, I do.
      I recently read of his passing. The world lost someone special. He could present both sides of a bad situation and explain why each side was reacting they way they were. He did not seem to take sides, but rather he just analyzed what groups people were concerned about. We need more people like him.

    9. Ramanon*

      We were supposed to raise butterflies in 2nd grade, the county/school board/whatever gave all the public schools funding for it, but my school “lost” the funding (it went to the principal’s pockets, more like) and so we couldn’t do it.

      My teacher brought in a bunch of cockroach nymphs instead (they were supposed to be all dubia roaches, but there were more than a few hissers in there, and bafflingly, one banana roach). The reason why she was my favorite teacher was because when I got attached to Mr. Hisser and couldn’t take him home (family was making jokes about killing him from the first day), she kept him in her house for five years and told me about him every time we saw each other. It was just a really nice thing for her to do.

    10. OyHiOh*

      Mr Nolting, my high school world history teacher. He was the first teacher I ran into who really *believed* I had the ability to do the things I talked and dreamed about doing. It helped also that he wasn’t the sort of history teacher who required strict memorization of dates and places and names. Rather, he wanted us to understand the relationship between people, places and events. If you understood the sequence of events and who was involved, that was less important than knowing exactly when. Also, he taught us to back up and look for the how and the why. Major events don’t just happen out of nowhere.

    11. Gatomon*

      Trigger warning: 9/11

      I was 12 at the time, and my middle school had gotten a grant a few years prior to put TVs in all the classrooms. They had a few cable channels like CNN, CSPAN, etc. My school was diverse; we had decent populations of black, Asian and Middle Eastern students of all faiths (Jewish, Muslim and Chaldean).

      We heard rumors pretty quickly about the first attack, and my teacher, Mrs. F, turned on the TV to CNN so we could find out what was happening. They put the whole building on lockdown just in case – in retrospect we were in no danger, but we didn’t know if other major cities like Detroit might also be targets. We were watching as the second plane hit. Administration then came in and told Mrs. F to turn off the TV, but she put it back on after they left because she felt we needed to know the latest updates.

      Shortly after that we had to change classes, and my math teacher pretty much bitched us all out for being upset and tried to teach her lesson as normal. We learned nothing, and we honestly all hated her forever after that. We were terrified for our parents and relatives who worked in major cities or who were visiting NYC or DC at the time, how were we supposed to care about math when we were all picturing our loved ones dying in our heads??

      The next two times we came into Mrs. F’s class, we didn’t learn any social studies. Instead she led us through discussing what had happened, how we felt about it and what the implications were. I am really thankful that she did that, because I think the whole situation could’ve devolved into serious nastiness given the anti-Muslim sentiment that gripped the country afterwards. 12 is also that weird age where some people’s families think they are too young to know horrid things, and other’s think they are old enough, and you get these weird gaps in knowledge and understanding within your peer group. You’re also starting to think differently than your parents, but they still have a huge influence on you, and you can easily get pulled in problematic directions.

      I think those discussions really helped me digest and cope with the terror attacks – I honestly did not get any guidance at home. My father fell into a deep depression, quit working and became obsessed with the ensuing wars and became very nasty towards anyone who was of Middle Eastern descent. My mother was too busy working and was basically not around. Had Mrs. F not had that discussion with us, I don’t know if I’d be the same person I am today. My father’s views were oppressive – there was no escaping the cable news or his vitriolic, racist rants at home.

      I really admire Mrs. F all these years later for not only being a great teacher in general, but also being a great role model/leader in a really critical moment for her students. I appreciate her decision to not treat us like idiot kids, pretend it hadn’t happened or tell us how to think or feel in the days afterwards. If I had kids, she is the teacher I would want them to have every single year.

    12. KayEss*

      My high school English teacher, Mr. Weiler, taught me to critically analyze and understand the themes of texts, which set the stage for… everything about the way I think and interact with the world now, honestly. I don’t know if he had some special way of teaching it, or if I was just ready to learn it at that time? At one point he explained multiple interpretations of something as being correct in different ways and to different degrees as like the text being a candle–your interpretation of the text can be closer or further from it, but it’s still being lit up by that source. So, for example, “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening” can be both about how lovely seeing snow falling is, AND about attraction to the peace of death. Maybe one is “further” from the candle’s flame (we weren’t quite ready for death of the author, I think), but neither one is flat-out wrong.

      He also (probably most critically for my development) really encouraged me to trust my own interpretation instincts. We had to keep a kind of journal about the texts we were covering in class and review it and how we had learned and progressed in one-on-one sessions toward the end of the term, and I remember he flat-out told me, “KayEss, your only problem is you don’t trust your own conclusions. You don’t have to wait for someone to confirm or give you permission, you can just make your argument. You’re noticing all the right things and having all the right thoughts, so have confidence in them.”

      (And then there was the massive tool of an adjunct I had for a mandatory course I hated every single second of in college, and that I deeply resent was the critical factor in leveling up that initial analysis education from “texts can have different meanings” into “people can find different meanings in texts depending on their own viewpoints and influences, and those aren’t wrong and should be taken into consideration when a text is being created.” Which is, again, a huge factor in who I am and how I think about literally everything.)

    13. Koala dreams*

      It’s hard to pick one but the teacher I’m most often thinking of as an adult is my home education teacher. She was a bit scary when I went to her class, rather strict, but I remember so many things she told us. About not being wasteful of food, about checking price tags and compare prices, about taking care of your home. I was never very good at cooking and other home education things, but I’m taking care of my home to the best of my abilities and I believe that teacher gave me the confidence to learn and do better.

    14. TechWorker*

      My 6th form maths teacher (ages 16-18) was a complete legend. Not only was she very intelligent and really knew her subject (sadly not the case for the previous teacher of that class) she was strict but *kind* with it. The teacher we’d had before that was generally liked but also took her frustration out on the class sometimes and publicly shamed people for not knowing the answer.

    15. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My 8th grade math teacher was amazing. I went to an alternative school run very much along hippy lines that year. He taught a 7th/8th grade blended math class where he’d teach on a topic and assign homework out of 6 different books for the six different level groups he had us in (3 for 7th grade, 3 for 8th grade). (He just referred to them as “which book you had for homework” rather than emphasizing which book was for high/on track/struggling or 7th/8th grade students – we didn’t use books in class so it wasn’t obvious to other kids on a daily basis which homework group you were in.) He put so much work into differentiation and making sure there were more and less challenging assignments available so all kids could have something useful to work on. (I remember tiered tickets out the door and I think the weekly problem-solving tasks may have also been tired – he had a giant cabinet with tiny drawers and would have all of that sort of thing printed on slips of paper and just pull out the slips he needed.) I don’t know how many years he’d been at it by the time I got there, but it was an amazing amount of personalization. That was pretty much the only year I did my math homework regularly, I think because I didn’t want to disappoint him.

      He’d also always expect 30 seconds of silence after we finished warm-ups (which were mixed review) and before the daily lesson. I asked him why years later (since it definitely wasn’t the kind of school culture where people would be trying to “sneak in” prayer), and it turns out it’s because he needed a little bit of quiet in his day so he could recharge and be patient with the next group of kids! It was useful for a lot of the kids too since school doesn’t have a lot of quiet in it. (He’d just expect everyone to be silent and with their eyes closed for 30 seconds until his watch beeped again.)

      My most impactful teacher was probably my second grade teacher who would tell me things like that I’d grow up to be a juvenile delinquent someday, in that she taught me that school adults are not allowed to hit you and that if you don’t care about their incentives or consequences you can do whatever you want. This was probably not the best way and time of life for me to learn that if you don’t care about the resulting consequences you can break rules all you want, but it sure did have an impact on how difficult to deal with I was for many years of elementary school to come. (My parents basically broke the cycle by sending me to series of hippy alternative schools, which did not give me much to rebel against and instead built relationships and motivated students that way, but I was perfectly willing to go limp and sing at the top of my lungs on the floor as a form of protest in my elementary years, so there were some school struggles there for a while.)

    16. rubyrose*

      My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Dickens.
      The school was in a low income area. I had just transferred from a parochial school. Academically, I was heads above all the other students. She went out of her way to challenge me, to enrich my lessons so I would not become bored with what she had to teach to others.
      But the real gift that still influences me today occurred one afternoon when she had me mimeographing (yes, it was that long ago!) some papers for her. She asked me what I wanted to be when i grew up.
      Now my parents had no expectations for my sister and I, except for us to immediately get married out of high school and have many babies. But I knew that with her asking that question, i should want to be something and having babies was not it.
      So my brain went to what I was doing. I told her I wanted to be a secretary. She looked at me, told me I could be more than that, and dropped the topic.
      Those were the words I hung onto when I applied to college without my parent’s blessing or support. She changed the direction of my life.

    17. Stella*

      Mrs. Cochran from 2nd grade! I was always interested in art and doodled on every piece of paper I had. Most teachers would be irritated that I scribbled all over my notes or classwork, but she always encouraged me and even asked if she could keep some of my sketches (though I’m sure back then they weren’t any good). Right before my family moved away to a different city she came to our house and brought me an art kit that had all kinds of markers and colored pencils and paper. She was a truly kind and generous person who looked for the best in everyone.

    18. chi chan*

      There were so many teachers that affected me. I got validation from them that I did not get from my parents. My maths teacher who encouraged me to apply for a scholarship and my English teacher who recommended extra books that I still treasure and my Science teacher who made learning fun with quizzes and games and projects.

    19. Marion Ravenwood*

      Mrs G., my high school English teacher. She was the one that got me into proper ‘grown-up’ books (I still have the copy of Ian McEwan’s The Child In Time which she lent me after I fell in love with the chapter we read in a mock exam paper), and always encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a writer.

    20. Lost in the Woods*

      I had my third grade teacher, Ms. M, coming off of two years of bad expereinces. I didn’t jive with my second grade teacher at all, and my first grade teacher liked to stand over us and scream if we failed to complete our math problems in the assigned time frame. She also told me to my face that I wasn’t very smart or anything special (who says that to a six year old?). Ms. M figured out that there was something going on with my panic attacks during timed tests, and over the course of the year helped me develop techniques to relax and not panic. I’m getting ready to take the MCAT, and I still use those techniques to deal with the time pressure. I was bullied for most of elementary and all of middle school, and she was the first teacher who asked me to explain why I was upset, and the first to ever tell me that I did not deserve to be treated poorly by other students. When it became eminently clear that the school was a very bad fit for me, she recommended to my parents that we apply to the local gifted and talented program. I credit that program with saving my life.

      She and my mom remained in contact, and we still talk pretty frequently!

  33. BeanCat*

    Stay cool today! It’s 86 in Boston but feels like 93 already at 9 am. :’) stay hydrated and take care of yourselves if you do go out!

    I finally have my surgery date which let one helium ball come down. Now I just have to think about what frozen meals I’ll get those two weeks, and whether I want to rewatch Haikyuu or Run With the Wind while I recover, haha!

      1. BeanCat*

        We’re in Merrimack, New Hampshire to see friends and it’s 93 but feels like 98. We really aren’t meant for this!

    1. Jaid*

      It’s 92 degrees at 11.41 in Philly. I got my snacks, my comfy clothes, and my A/C… I’m staying in for the weekend.

    2. Zephy*

      laughs in Floridian

      who am I kidding, i’m stuck inside in the excessive AC all day, I won’t have any trouble staying cool. Fingers crossed that your surgery goes well!

    3. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending hug. Soups are always good… even when it is warm, I can thaw them and heat in the microwave, and pair with bread or a salad. Wishing you the best.
      I found I needed (when I was post surgery and on pain meds) to eat at a minimum, crackers and cheese/hummus/something with protein so I didn’t have an empty stomach when it was med-time. Something light enough so I could lay back down and go to sleep (nothing heavy). It had to be a little tempting, not too spicy,and easy. LOL. Everyone’s definition of that varies, so no specific recommendations of what to make… just maybe do smaller bits in the freezer, so you can warm two if you are hungry, one if you just need to tide self over and nap again. (one small one heats much faster, of course, and I didn’t feel like standing long.)

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you so much for the advice and well wishes! Last time I definitely didn’t eat much the first few days so I’ll be sure to have more crackers this time. I love oyster crackers.

    4. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      Mid-Hudson Valley, NY here. Staying inside with AC for the rest of the day.

    5. Miki*

      91 (heat index 97 right now) in central IL. Can’t wait for mid 80s weather.
      Good luck with surgery!

  34. Beach Bum*

    Heading to Japan in a month, specifically Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. My itinerary is starting to get filled up but any recommendations that I should consider?

    1. Beach Bum*

      Recommendations for bamboo forests/parks would be very helpful, want to narrow down on some of those.

    2. BeanCat*

      Ooooh!! I’m pretty sure there’s a manga museum in Kyoto if that’s your thing! If not, my dad and I loved the shrines. We were there for a firefly festival and it was beautiful!

      Have a fantastic time!!

    3. Llellayena*

      >following this thread. I’m probably going to Japan in a year and a half or so (though with a tour group) so I’m going to glean some ideas myself! Thanks!

    4. Catherine*

      Tokyo local here! Pack lots of linen and lightweight, breathable clothing. It’s hot here in August!

      Attractions depend on your interests but my friends and I tend to hang out at Diver City in Odaiba a lot. When I’m with my brother we tend to bum around Asakusa to eat ningyoyaki even though it’s hell to get around because it’s so packed with tourists.

      If theme bars are your thing, go for Akihabara and Harajuku. There’s also a great traditional kaiseki restaurant in Ebisu called Igarashi–the chefs do speak some English and can explain the menu if you have questions.

      Nightlife: Roppongi is sketchy, Ginza is classy, Ebisu is trendy.

    5. Not A Manager*

      There’s a moss garden at a monastery outside of Kyoto that is well worth seeing. You need to apply for entrance in advance.

      Nara is a good day trip from Kyoto.

      There’s a Ghibli museum outside of Tokyo that I didn’t get to, but my travel companions enjoyed a lot.

      Kyoto is full of temples and shrines, but don’t miss the temple of 1000 Kannon (Sanjūsangen-dō).

      If you have time and money, try to do at least one night at a traditional inn (ryokan). We stayed at one that was a short train ride outside of Kyoto in the mountains. It was wonderful and not as pricey as some. I can get the name if you like.

      1. Nessun*

        For any anime fans (or fans of whimsy) the Ghibli museum in Nitaka is just lovely. They play a short film daily that’s not available anywhere else in the world (Japanese only, no subtitles). Its not a really huge place but it’s cool. You need to buy a ticket in advance iirc.

    6. LinG*

      There’s an awesome little museum in Tokyo, but I can’t remember the name! It’s was several of the old style wooden houses set up in a larger building with all of the original furniture and housewares intact. You could touch everything, look through drawers, sit on the futons, whatever. I love that type of slice of life exhibits and I really enjoyed it in a rainy day.

    7. Spooooon!!*

      Definitely check out the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. It’s the one that has 1,000 Tori (gates) up a mountain. My husband and I didn’t make it to all of them, but it was such an incredible place. We also rode bikes around Kyoto which was really fun.

      The Ghibli museum is amazing, but it’s very hard to get tickets to. We did it as part of a group tour that included a stop at an architecture museum that was awesome.

    8. Nessun*

      I loved wandering around Maruyama Koen (Park), eating takoyaki and listening to a busker who was there when I showed up each day. Theres a street you can follow from the park that has lots of temples off it (Kodaiji was my favourite), and the street connects to the street you follow up to Kyomizudera, which is a huge temple on the mountain side., great pictures to take everywhere.

      Also agree, Nara is an awesome day trip watching people feed senbei to the deer can be really funny, and the Daibutsu is amazing to see (no picture I took really captures the scale of the Buddha).

    9. Max Kitty*

      We liked the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum in Tokyo. It just opened last year.

    10. Lived in Tokyo for long time*

      Kyoto – My favorite temples are Kiyomizu-dera and the Fushimi-inari shrine mentioned below. Other must sees are the Golden temple, Heian-jingu, the Silver Pavilion and the Sanjusangen-do (also mentioned below). If you go to Heian-jingu don’t miss going to the gardens in the back – it requires an admission fee but is lovely and worth it. For bamboo, I remember there being bamboo at the Silver Pavilion and also in Arashiyama. More like paths you can walk along through the bamboo.

      If you have time, last year we stayed at an old farmhouse outside of Kyoto called Banja Farm Stay and it was lovely. They have two old farm houses they have renovated and is run by a couple who also has a small farm. Wife is an artist and makes wonderful pottery and offers a individual pottery lesson if interested. You can opt to have breakfast and dinner included which was delicious and I would recommend so you don’t have to worry about finding places to eat. We stayed at the Goemon house which has an old bath that is heated by fire which was interesting (look up Goemon bath to find the origin of the name – it’s a bit morbid).

      Tokyo – If going to Asakusa temple, I recommend taking the boat from Hamarikyu garden to Asakusa. The garden is beautiful and it’s a nice way to relax and see the scenery of Tokyo from the water. Omotesando, Harajuku and Shibuya are fun to walk around (and all within walking distance of each other). If you are looking to spend a bit of time inside in that area, the Nezu museum is small but has interesting exhibits and a nice garden. There is a small cafe in the garden where you can eat with a garden view. Jiyugaoka is a bit off the beaten path, but is a nice place to walk around, check out cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s about 15 mins south from Shibuya on the train.

      If interested in onsens (hot springs) but don’t have plans to go to any ryokans or more formal onsens, there are “day spas” in Tokyo where you can take onsen baths and also relax with massages, restaurants or even just hanging out in recliners watching TV and taking naps. One is Spa LaQua near Tokyo Dome. Another is Manyo Club onsen in Yokohama.

      If interested in the Ghibli museum you need to get tickets way in advance. They would already be on sale now for August (and likely sold out) although maybe there are some ways to get them overseas that would still have tickets. Agree with the commenter who said Roppongi is sketchy – I would avoid it at night.

      As someone else mentioned, Japan is brutally hot in August. Walking around in cities and moving around on public transportation can be exhausting. Plan on taking rests in cafes/restaurants and if possible mix thing up by planning on going to places inside as well. Carrying parasols is a thing in Japan, so I would “do as the locals do” and buy one while there to help keep cool and cut down sun exposure.

      Have a wonderful trip! Japan is such a lovely country.

    11. Nana*

      Excellent bus tours (English-speaking guides) out of Kyoto: Kyoto/Nara (half-day each). Beautiful park in Nanra. What kinds of things do you like to do? Lots of uneven stairs (everywhere). Purchase Japan Rail 7-day ticket (available only BEFORE you get there…also good for metro lines.

    12. Mephyle*

      Set aside a half day to explore Tokyu Hands (the big one in Shibuya) from bottom to top – an “everything” store.
      A museum recommendation, if Art Deco appeals to you: the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum. It’s housed in an Art Deco palace, and hosts a series of temporary exhibits of modern art. Looking at the website, the current temporary exhibit (including when you will be there) is “Interior Decorating in 1933: Architectural Materials and People at the Former Prince Asaka Residence”. (‘Former Prince Asaka Residence’ refers to the palace itself.) Nearest subway station is Meguro.
      A couple more possibilities in Tokyo: if you like looking at ceramics and kitchenware, visit Kappabashi Street. If you are interested in fabrics and sewing, visit Nippori Fabric Town. If you like dogs, in your visit to Odaiba (noted by Catherine), don’t miss the Dog Mall at Palette Town. It’s not very big (just a few stores and a couple of restaurants), but fun to see people dining with their dogs at the dog-and-human restaurants. If you’re interested in shopping for Japanese treats (such as KitKats of many flavours, and much more), visit the Mega Don Quijote in Shibuya.
      In Tokyo, the vast Meiji Shrine is located deep within a huge park, or rather evergreen forest.

    13. Minocho*

      Just going to say enjoy Kyoto! As the only major Japanese city not firebombed during the war, you’ve got the chance to see some amazing sights. Of course you have to visit Ginkakuji and Kinkakuji, but if you haven’t already set it up, also try to see the Imperial Palace. I went with my Japanese English teacher as a “tour guide”, because as a Japanese native she had a waiting period to get in, but she got in with foreigners right away.

  35. ThatGirl*

    I like to bake and otherwise bring treats for coworkers. One of my new coworkers has celiac. Should I make the attempt to make gluten free treats she can enjoy? Or just bring extra packaged things she’ll know are safe? I know I can ask her but I’m interested I hearing from people with celiac.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Have you asked her what she would prefer? As someone with a good restriction I prefer that then someone who is well-meaning but not the most knowledgable.

    2. Zephy*

      +1 suggestion to ask her. Prepackaged safe snacks are probably the better route to go, though, transported separately from the baked goods for everyone else; cross-contamination is a real risk, especially if you normally use gluten products in your cooking/baking.

    3. Llellayena*

      Not necessarily every time, but it’s nice every once in a while. There’s a bunch of fruit crisp toppings that are gluten free (check if she can do oats, sometimes that can be a problem too) so you wouldn’t necessarily need to experiment with/purchase gluten free flour just for this.

    4. WellRed*

      Diabetes here so not quite the same. Echoing that you ask her. I appreciate the effort, but I don’t want “sugar free” candy or you to attempt baking substitutes. I am OK with not partaking ( though ocassionally wish people would dial it down with the work food). You’re very kind to remember her.

    5. self employed*

      I have a friend woth celiac who cannot eat anything made in a non-gluten-free kitchen. Cross-contamination is too high. So don’t be offended if she wholly avoids home baked goods.

    6. Aly_b*

      Cross contamination is a thing, and especially if you’re baking gluten containing stuff at the same time I’d be concerned. I’d ask, different people have different comfort levels, but for me I have to have some confidence that people aren’t just dipping their knife back into the same butter halfway through buttering their toast, and then using that same stick of butter in the cookies, to be able to enjoy it.

    7. peanut*

      You’re being so thoughtful, which is great, but do ask the person first. People with celiac usually don’t need just gluten-free ingredients; they need a gluten-free environment in which the snack was made. So a cake pan in which you have previously baked a cake containing gluten cannot be used to bake a cake containing gluten-free ingredients that would be safe for all people with celiac.

      Even if you got a whole new set of bakeware/measuring cups/etc to use just for gluten-free baking, there could still be cross-contamination that could make someone with celiac sick, since you will still be baking with gluten in the same area.

    8. Pyrbennu*

      I bake for coworkers also, and while I occasionally do bake for a coworker with gluten/milk/egg allergies, it’s important to bear in mind that not only do those ingredients for her recipes need to be kept separate (I have them in a plastic bin so I’m sure they don’t get mixed up) but it also takes a lot of time to make sure the kitchen is clean of contaminants. So generally I get a packaged safe treat with making it myself for a special occasion for her.

    9. Dr. KMnO4*

      Until you know exactly how sensitive she is, it’s probably better to bring packaged things. I have a friend who is extremely sensitive to cross contamination, as in, if you use a wooden spoon that was previously in contact with gluten she can get sick. Definitely ask your coworker and see, but as someone with celiac I would probably just prefer packaged things. There is hidden gluten in a lot of foods and I wouldn’t feel comfortable eating something prepared by someone who might not be aware of the fact that, for example, oats are often processed with wheat and thus are contaminated with gluten.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      Probably not. Even if she trusts you as a human, she probably can’t safely trust your kitchen or your methods to not accidentally cross-contaminate in a way that’s unsafe for her. Unless you have other experience cooking for someone else where any cross-contamination is unsafe that would boost the confidence, I’d expect her to either appreciate the thought but still decline to eat any of it, or possibly politely thank you, take some, and then not eat it and hope you didn’t notice. If you ask her and she says she’d appreciate it, then go ahead, but unless she specifically said she’s fine with it, it’s probably not safe. If you wanted to bring something prepurchased and produced in a certified facility so she still has a treat, you could, but you don’t need to. If the whole point is it’s stuff you make, it’s probably not worth trying.

    11. ThatGirl*

      Of course I’m going to ask her. But I did want to get a feel for what others think. And I know I don’t /need/ to bring in alternative treats, but I want to have options she can eat at least occasionally. Thanks, everyone.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Unfortunately, gluten is a hidden ingredient in many things. Couple that with contamination during preparation, and the good intentions of lovely people such as yourself are a nightmare for those of us who have to avoid gluten. The number of people with good intentions who have made me very ill is too many. And they have all been very kind yet insistent that they have prepared something gluten free for me. But, I can get very ill from their well meaning but not truly gluten free offerings. I would prefer that people not try to prepare gluten free food for me. They are well meaning, but don’t know how to do it properly. I would prefer that you offer me something that is “certified gluten free” (a label in the USA that means less than X ppm of gluten) or nothing. I am very used to bringing my own food.

        Thank you for thinking about this.

        1. Rainy*

          I bake all the time (when it’s not a freaking sauna outside), so I don’t make anything “gluten free”, because cross-contamination means that there is no way there’s no gluten on something that comes out of my kitchen. If you make bread and pasta as much as I do, there’s just no hope.

        2. ThatGirl*

          I know—we actually work at a company that makes some food products, and I’m aware of the legal standard because our products don’t meet it!

          I am very aware that anything I bake may be cross contaminated and that’s exactly why I asked.

          1. Venus*

            I think the responses so far show how problematic food can be for celiacs. It’s at a point where each of my friends with it doesn’t trust what the others have made, because the list of what one can eat is different than others’.

        3. spiralingsnails*

          Whole fruit in a separate basket is a nice alternative to offer too! A banana, an apple, or a mandarin orange can be a nice safe snack for multiple food restrictions and diets.

    12. Rainy*

      I mean, ask her, but the celiac/otherwise gluten intolerant people I know are used to being excluded (as am I, honestly, due to allergies). Just be sure to clearly mark that things contain gluten.

    13. Cambridge Comma*

      I have eight Coeliac family members. While they’d appreciate your intentions, none of them would risk eating your cooking as they wouldn’t know how careful you had been and would also assume that there could be cross contamination in your kitchen. Bring something packaged — could be chocolates rather than cake.

    14. Skeeder Jones*

      I love to bake and also have a celiac co-worker. My mom is also gluten-intolerant so I have gotten used to baking gluten free. I have never attempted true cake gluten free, sometimes do cookies but they do come out differently. I use the gluten free flour from trader joes. The 2 most successful recipes are a flourless chocolate cake (no flour – no gluten) and gluten free cheesecake. I buy gluten free Joe-Joes from Trader Joes and make cookies and cream cheesecake. I use them for the crust, crumble them up in the cheesecake and then add some chunks to ganache as a top coating. They have been very popular even with the gluten-eaters. Maybe try some experimenting to get started but gluten-free baking is all over the place and there are recipes and articles to help. Don’t be afraid of it!

    15. Venus*

      Celiac often has subtleties. It destroys parts of the gut which do digestion, so (in my experience) newly diagnosed celiacs often can’t eat dairy, and sometimes eggs, lentils, peanut butter, etc. It is one of those conditions where it is so variable that it’s nice to offer but very unlikely that they will eat home-made food. Both because of cross-contamination and the fact that their diet may be more limited. I tried cooking for a family member and eventually gave up as her restrictions changed daily (three years later they are more stable).

      And yet… I know some (usually who have had it a long time and are stable) who are fine with small amounts of cross-contamination. I made rice krispie squares and they were appreciated.

    16. Rear Mech*

      My mom & sister’s point of view- bring the festive/exotic fruit or chocolate toppings and whipped cream on the side so that they could have a bowl full of sweet yumminess. Please note that they can eat anything that’s not directly contaminated and others may be more sensitive

  36. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    Not much progress here, I’m afraid. Still in the corner I wrote myself into so I’m probably gonna do a small side project for a while and see if that helps.

    1. Christmas*

      A good friend of mine mentioned that there’s this incredible Reddit thread of writing prompts. She shared a few of the prompts with me, just things to get your juices flowing, and they were absolutely incredible. Have you ever checked anything like that out?

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m having trouble with a comment or on my story that I’m posting online to get constructive criticism on, and this person is just rude. They clearly don’t like the story (that’s fine, it’s not for everyone) but she just tells me she hates it or it’s rubbish. She last week accused my character of being a deux ex machina. I’ve tried to see the feedback in her comments but she just doesn’t like the story because it doesn’t fit with what’s in her head.

      I gently suggested that maybe it’s not for her and she said that us authors are always so sensitive about our work. I replied that I like constructive criticism and not just criticism. Eventually she stopped reading, but not before letting me know that she was doing it because it was rubbish, only to send me a message today to complain about the newest chapters.

      I’m at my wit’s end with this person. I could get a hundred good reviews with helpful comments but she just has to send me one awful message and my mood plummets. I’ve finally blocked her since I realized that she’s just going out of her way to find things she doesn’t like (it feels like she hasn’t actually read the story properly because I feel that everything is logical and other readers are getting it).

      It’s just frustrating that someone seems to find pleasure from doing this, and I hate it.

      (Sorry for the rant, I needed to post it somewhere.)

      1. Christmas*

        Foreign Octopus:

        As I was reading your post, I started worrying if you could possibly block her. Then I saw that you did! That was the right instinct. You tried to find value in her comments, but your gut is probably right that she’s just enjoying being harsh just to be harsh, or possibly even enjoying trying to push your buttons.

        This is sort of similar: I’m a teacher and at the end of every quarter I give “Learning Reflections” to my middle-school students. Most of the questions ask them to reflect on their own learning, effort, strength, activities they like, etc. However, the final question asks them to give feedback to me. They’re preteens, so they can be silly (“Give us more candy!”) but I often get great constructive criticism. (Ex: “You don’t give us enough group or partner activities” or “Can we do the ___ activity more in class? I learn better that way.”)

        What sucks, though, is because they’re pre-teens/teens, they sometimes write mean things for no reason. Last year, a student wrote: “Your voice is annoying and you talk too much.” Sometimes I do talk more than I need to, but her criticism was presented rudely/inappropriately. But out of 127 submissions, I found myself dwelling on that one the most!! It’s difficult not to.

        I’m glad you were able to block that rude commenter, and I know her words will linger with you for a little while, but try to focus on the positive/helpful comments and enjoy the (mostly) positive writing community you’ve found! That one nagging voice will fade to the background. Happy writing!

        1. Foreign Octopus*


          Thank you so much for your kind response. I know that not everyone is nice, but it really confuses me why people are mean simply to be mean. It might be naïve of me, but I like to give thoughtful comments to the stories I read and if I don’t like it because it’s not for me, I don’t comment. You’re absolutely right that her words will linger and I’m trying to remind myself that of the nearly 300-odd comments I’ve received, she’s been the only one that has been rude. It’s strange how the bad stuff lingers.

          I’m sorry you’ve experienced that as well. Honestly, it was part of the reason I stopped working with teenagers so I’m impressed you can keep going with that. I just wish it was easier for me to deal with these things.

          But thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice response. It’s helped brighten my day!

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            What helps me, and I know it’s deeply silly, is whenever I read something that’s just unhelpfully critical (rather than critical in a more useful way) I kind of mentally go “Awwww, who’s a Grumpy Gus today? You are!” at them in that kind of baby talk tone. It seems to help me detach from being upset by the comment for for some reason. Very useful in the current acrimonious political climate when you accidentally stumble into the angry parts of Twitter, too.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Some people just like to be that way. It makes them feel superior when they knock someone else’s work down. I don’t think everyone like that has low self-esteem; some folks really think they hung the moon and everyone should bow to their opinion.

            I read an article somewhere once about feedback that basically said you’re not obligated to internalize everything everyone says. You can just take what works for you and leave the rest. If it’s just nastiness without any real feedback, it’s fine to ignore it. It sounds like you handled it well — you didn’t get defensive and blocked her when she got annoying.

      2. Claire*

        This is one reason I don’t post works in progress online.

        For one thing, it uses up your first publication rights. That means you can’t submit stories you posted online to agents and trade publishers.

        For another, you end up with jerks like this one. I’d strongly suggest signing up with a moderated forum such as AbsoluteWrite or Critique Circle, or a private group.

        *offers hugs to you*

    3. The curator*

      As promised The Book!
      I discovered a few typos and was a bit devastated but then I realized that a major theme is letting go of perfectionism that causes writing paralysis so… here is my lovely imperfect open access, free to download book. Let me know what you think.
      The e-book edition will be available Tuesday but the pdf download is available now. http://z.umn.edu/writingboxes

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Very cool! I’m going to pass this on to some people who run children’s programming at literary SF conventions, because this seems like a good format to steal for children’s writing workshops for the ones who are too young to come with things ready for critiques and such (or the ones of any age who just aren’t interested in being critiqued rather than having fun creating, for that matter).

        1. the curator*

          Perfect for the conventions. I would definitely do the postcards templates and the cartoon frames. I had writing boxes at all of our family events. Gives the kids something creative and constructive to do. Not stealing- seriously this is my passion. My hopes and dreams are that the book is a useful guide for anyone working with kids.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I’m also thinking that SF fan kids might have some really cool ideas for the maps one. (Well, most kids pretty much would, but it seems like another good one for fans in particular.) I really like these activities because they seem like such high ceiling/low floor activities that should work well with a really mixed group but still have more structure to them than just “here are some supplies, have fun” (which time also gets set aside for, but it’s good to have more structured activity times too).

    4. Claire*


      To unpack that, I read, marked up, and edited the first third of this WIP. And I liked it! A lot! (One never knows at this stage.)

      I’m now plowing through the rest. Please send good thoughts in my direction.

    5. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      I’ve made a quick sentence outline of the NaNoWriMo thing, but am letting it sit for now and will go back to it next week or so. I’m too much in the phase of “holy crap this is a hot steaming mess!!!!” to trust myself near it right now.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I wouldn’t say I’m “into” it but we did it at a work event. Everyone’s results were pretty obvious. It accurately described how each person fit into the team, but I wouldn’t say it “helped” anyone? It was more like “yup, that seems about right”. There was nothing actionable.

    2. Agent J*

      I love enneagram! I’m a 4 wing 5 and it’d helped me a lot in my relationships. I was already pretty self-aware but I felt like the enneagram was spot on for me. I can avoid some of my more negative habits when it comes to uncomfortable/difficult situations and choose healthier behaviors. It helps me be a lot more present in my relationships as well, choosing how I respond to things vs. reacting without thinking.

    3. Exhausted Educator is Exhausted*

      My close colleagues (at the time) and I did the Enneagram a number of years ago. I believe I came out as a 9 (Peacemaker). The process was part of a fraught work situation, and unfortunately, I can’t say that it helped. It was like, “Yup, we’ve got personality differences,” but the issues were far too complex for this info to be useful. I’ve also done the Strengths Finder (? not 100% sure about the name) in connection with work and found that much more informative in terms of things like how people prefer to communicate, how they respond to stress, how they respond to change, how much of a “drive to lead” they have, etc.

    4. Parenthetically*

      ME. SO MUCH.

      I’m a 4w5 but I’m leaning more 5w4 as I get older. It’s been a great tool to help me set personal growth goals — and that’s actually what I like best about the enneagram, that it’s really growth oriented, encouraging you both to become the most functional version of your own type and to see and embrace the strengths of other types. It’s also helpful for me to see the types as tools in a toolbox — I pick up a couple of tools habitually, but I can and should learn to use the other tools in other situations.

      I think the enneagram has a lot of application for personal relationships but because it’s so much about motivations and inner processes, I really question its usefulness in a work context.

  37. acmx*

    Tipping question:

    I order groceries online and pick them up at the store (delivered to my vehicle). Their website says no tipping is necessary and I pay a fee. I don’t tip. Also, my hometown grocery store was definitely “baggers cannot accept tips”. But it seems like maybe people do tip at this chain.

    Would you tip the person bringing your groceries?

    1. WellRed*

      Back when I was a kid, people (teens) would bag your groceries and wheel your cart out and help load the car. They were not tipped ( or maybe my mom just didn’t). I lean toward no. Otherwise, where does it end? I certainly never got a tip for unearthing the last, hard to find copy of whatever obscure novel the customer wanted when I was a bookseller.

        1. valentine*

          Their website says no tipping is necessary
          Mine says they can’t accept tips. It’s not like restaurants. They receive wages, so, don’t tip.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      It’s a weird conundrum because I’ll tip a server for curbside service at a restaurant but I don’t tip at a grocery store even though it’s essentially the same thing. I think you’re fine not tipping unless it’s an extreme weather scenario that would warrant a couple bucks.

      For home based delivery I tip as my local chain does a great job of hitting my requested delivery time and they’ll help unpack the groceries and take the plastic bags with them if I request.

      1. acmx*

        I rarely do curbside but the couple times I did, first time I didn’t tip because I paid online and there was no option to add a tip to the c.c. slip. I did tip the next time because I was now aware of this process.

        This store (Kroger FWIW) uses so many plastic bags! Items can co-mingle, really!

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I think the difference is that server may being getting paid based on the tipped minimum wage, but the grocery store person probably isn’t. So in one scenario it would be bad to not tip because restaurants are notorious for not following the law and making up the difference if tips don’t get someone to minimum. It’s a bad system we have in the US but it doesn’t change by not tipping people who are being paid with the assumption tips will make up most of their income. Whereas with the grocery stuff, those people are actually being paid for their work by their employer. So even if the action – bring stuff to car – is essentially the same thing, the situation is usually very different, hence different tipping practices.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          This varies by state, though, since lots of states have passed a wide variety of state minimum wage laws. In my state there is no lower “tipped minimum wage”, yet people still routinely tip in restaurants and such.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I wouldn’t, but then I am an Ask rather than Guess person, so when someone says no gifts/tips/etc., I believe them.

      T. Boone Pickens, I think tipping for restaurant curbside or even pickup makes sense, because usually it’s the servers doing that work, and they are almost definitely making a TIPPED minimum wage, and if nothing else preparing/delivering our order takes them away from their tables that do tip, so I feel they should be tipped for that. (Hosts, who are not subject to tipped minimum wage, and owners don’t need to be tipped, but for me I’ll do it anyway unless they turn it down.)

      1. acmx*

        That’s how I felt: said no tips so I didn’t (plus I am paying a fee each time I use this service). But the first time I ordered (in this city) the guy seemed to pause for a tip and then yesterday, the customer in the next vehicle pulled out a five(!) but I didn’t wait to see if it was accepted. My guy just finished and left.

    4. fposte*

      I’m hugely divided, in that yes, I would tip for this, because I can and because the gig economy sucks. But I also *hate* tipping and its economic effects.

      Did anybody see the fascinating recent Politico article “The Racist History of Tipping”? I’ll append a link in followup.

          1. fposte*

            FWIW, I really am differentiating from external services like Peapod–if you order from most of my local supermarkets directly, delivery is still via Instacart. I suspect that’s going to be an increasingly popular model as it’s much cheaper for the store.

            1. acmx*

              I didn’t use online ordering in my last area because it was Insta-cart. (I don’t really like using gig services). And if they stop charging the fee and go to outsource, I guess I’m stuck doing it myself haha

              Hopefully, your article comes out of mod soon :)

              1. Dan*

                Me either. I do use Uber/Lyft, but really, the whole “we’ll hire everybody as independent contractors, pay them peanuts, and hope customers tip them” business model feels really, really slimy and I don’t want to encourage it.

          2. ThatGirl*

            Picking up at the store is usually store employees, IME. But delivery is gig through Instacart or what have you.

    5. Dan*

      So the problem with this kind of thing in the US is that tipping is so culturally ingrained that some people *want* to tip everybody and everything, no matter what. So in this situation, it gets really hard with a “new” market/service because some people are going to tip no matter what is communicated. Take Uber for instance — when the app first launched, they very clearly advertised a cashless platform where “tips are included with the price.” Yeah… and uber would not have added a tipping feature to the app if customers didn’t ask for it.

      And it’s really, really f’ing hard to keep track of who “should” be tipped and who shouldn’t. I totally get the “tipped minimum wage” thing, but even that’s confusing now. “Gig economy” employees are often hired on contract basis, not hourly wage. So “tipped minimum wage” doesn’t apply to them. On top of that, some localities/states are doing away with the tipped minimum wage, so does that mean tips for those positions are no longer obligatory?

      For that matter, many new eateries are using “mobile” payment services as their primary system. (As in, people are using Square or a similar app at a brick and mortar counter service restaurant). Historically, we would not consider this type of position an “tipped” position, but square has helpfully added a tipping option into their software. Am I now obligated to tip just because an option has bee presented?

      If I were patronizing a service that said “no tipping”, I would not tip and I wouldn’t think twice about it. Pretty much, I only tip under two circumstances: I’m at a bar or restaurant, and the employee is making tipped minimum wage (even that’s hard to keep straight these days), or someone has delivered truly outstanding service. What I won’t do is tip at a place where I have to pay before any service was rendered (or it’s counter service where I have to walk up, order, and pay.)

      I do feel bad (somewhat anyway) for people who work in low wage jobs. But the economy is doing well right now, and people can get new jobs quite easily (I’m not saying the pay will be much better) but if these grocery delivery services and what not struggle to hold on to people and actually provide the service, they will be *forced* to pay their employees more.

      One of the grocery delivery services got into some PR trouble a few months ago, because they started guaranteeing a $10 minimum payment per delivery to the delivery person… but then if a customer tipped, they’d deduct the tip from the $10.

      1. acmx*

        I tend to tip if I received personal service: hair cut, server (food or alcohol), shuttle driver/bellhop who carried my luggage. I usually don’t tip housekeeping at hotels contrary to what most people on here do.

        I’ve noticed the mobile/app payment options are becoming more common and like you said, now seems like we’re expected to tip because the option is made available.

        1. fposte*

          My special dislike is situations where an employee is handling the input and asks you if you want to leave a tip. (I suspect they don’t enjoy that much either.)

          1. Bicycle Tour Bot*

            Yes we hate it. However, the booking software that my boss has chosen forces this. I solicit tips for my coworkers- they are fabulous tour guides and the experience the create for folks is worth way more than what the business pays them.

            1. acmx*

              I expect to tip a tour guide (assuming good service). Like Dan, I wouldn’t tip the cashier for a walk up order at a restaurant.

          2. Bicycle Tour Bot*

            Fortunately most people proactively ask to tip on their card or have planned ahead and brought cash for tipping since tipping guides is a well established practice

          3. Not a cat*

            Back in the early 90’s I managed a branch of a well-known homewares store. Many of our clients phoned-in their orders for pickup or came into the store, but had us load up their car. Many clients offered tips–I didn’t accept them but would give them to the person who loaded the car or loaded the order into the cars. (A manager was needed to unlock the backdoor and bring the product to curbside–but I didn’t think I should take a tip)

  38. Zephy*

    I don’t usually see the weekend FFA thread, so I don’t know if this has come up recently or not. BUT! Do any of y’all play any tabletop RPGs? I recently reconnected with some folks I met online 15 years ago in a collaborative storytelling group, and we’re starting a game of D&D 5e this weekend over Roll20. Most of us have some familiarity with d20 tabletop systems, but we do have a total newb among us (every group has one at some point, I guess, right?) – I think the rolling-dice-and-doing-math part of the game will make more sense to him once we get started, because just describing gameplay mechanics in the abstract is boring even to me, and I love this stuff. I play 5e and Pathfinder; my usual group hasn’t met since about February for life reasons, so I’ve had a serious jones for some time.

    I’ve also been wanting to check out a Powered by the Apocalypse system – specifically Monster of the Week (yes, because of TAZ:Amnesty – I know we have a few McElroy fans here, looking at you EIGHT FOOT VERTICAL LEAP, I see you), but I know there’s a bunch of games based on the PbtA ruleset out there. It’s just so different from the d20 and d10 systems I’ve learned (we tried Exalted once or twice), and the novelty intrigues me.

    So, discussion questions:

    * Do you play any tabletop RPGs? (or, possibly more accurately: do you know any tabletop RPGs and wish you could play them more often?) What systems do you know/like/want to learn?
    * Tell me about your parties’ exploits! Favorite characters you or your friends have played? Wackiest shenanigans, dice betrayals, dice being bros and letting you do stupidly effective things?

    1. Jessen*

      Ooo you should know never to ask a bunch of gamers to talk about their characters!

      We literally just wrapped up a year-long D&D campaign last Tuesday. I’m actually starting to really like 5e; it’s not quite as limiting as 4e was but it doesn’t seem to have the same level of downright broken you got with 3.5. Ended up wrapping up a big boss fight and then being immediately challenged by a side boss for possession of the major artifact – only got out of a very bad ending with an extremely well placed natural 20 (on my bard, with a +10 to deception, for a “oh I’ll definitely hand it over to you tomorrow once we’ve rested and regained all our spell slots and hit points, I just want to look at it first.”)

      Going to start a world of darkness campaign in a few weeks. I’ll be running it and I plan to start by haunting the PC’s until they do something. Be a different feel – the fun with ghosts in world of darkness is you can’t just go attack them, you have to figure out what’ll work.

      1. Zephy*

        Oh, no, I love hearing about this kind of thing, haha :)

        A year! And a finished campaign! Your group deserves two trophies. Also, nicely done, bard. I’m not familiar with World of Darkness, is that a system or a setting or both?

        1. Jessen*

          Both, really. The general theme is you’re in the real world, but all the nasty mythological monsters you hear about are real. It’s kind of a dark psychological horror thing. There’s a bunch of different gamelines. One of the best known is the vampire one where you play as vampires and there’s a ton of political intrigue. But I’m running a normal humans game where you basically throw a couple of regular people into a bunch of supernatural stuff.

          The initial encounter isn’t aiming for deadly, just creepy. They basically witness a historical murder by a supernatural being and end up being haunted. They will have to do some work to figure out what happened and what to do, since they won’t initially be able to interact with the ghost. (For bonus points, the ghost speaks french and a few native american languages, but not english. None of them speak french, so they’ll have to do some figuring.)

          1. Zephy*

            Vampire: The Masquerade? I’ve done a little bit of that, wasn’t my jam – I’m not good at political intrigue, lol. Your concept sounds really interesting! Will this be a LARP, tabletop, virtual/roll20 setup?

            1. Jessen*

              Virtual setup. Although it’s less map dependent than the D&D versions, so a lot can be done over voice. Vampire The Masquerade is one of the older versions of the game. They’ve definitely improved a lot since then.

              This one’s going to be a lot more survival based though. And the catch is, unlike D&D, you have to go about your normal life too. It’s in the background, but you all still have to pay for your food and housing and such. You’re not full time adventurers.

        2. Jessen*

          And I think the hardest part of gaming as adults is getting a group of 4-5 adults to all be reliably free on the same night!

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            It so is. One set of my potential players is a triad with four kids among them. I was like “your adults are all invited. Whether that means you claim one seat for the family and take turns filling it, or get a babysitter, or whatever, you figure out what if anything will work for you and I can roll with it.” I was semi-joking that if they want to play a party that was cursed to share the same body or something, we can work with that too :)

            I go up to their house to run Starfinder for all three of them on occasion, because that makes the logistics easier on them, but big campaign games I prefer to run at my home.

            1. Public Health Nerd*

              Ok, that’s fantastic. Am in a long stalled D&D campaign with my nieces, and getting all the adults there is way harder than the kids. Totally going to steal the idea – maybe my bard has a mysterious sleeping illness or something so my travel schedule won’t interrupt the game.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Shortly after Moulin Rouge came out, a game I was in with a player who was regularly falling asleep during the game channeled the Narcoleptic Argentinian and gave her character a sleeping sickness. If Player started sawing logs, someone picked up Character and stuck her in an enchanted bag of holding that the GM made up for us so we had an excuse for how we were carting her around. :)

          2. Zephy*

            Oh, for sure! Our night was approximately Saturday, but the group contained a couple of musicians, so sometimes it was Friday or Sunday or occasionally Monday to accommodate gigs, and some weeks we just couldn’t meet.

          3. Lost in the Woods*

            Oh, lord. My group met in college, but we now live collectively in three different timezones. Coordinating is a nightmare. We’ve put our campaign on hold and we’re just playing oneshots with whoever can make it until the end of the summer (when hopefully we’ll go down to two timezones).

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am getting ready next weekend to start a new Pathfinder campaign – running Giantslayer for my household and a couple friends. I took a six month break after finishing up Legacy of Fire, that was about four years all told for that one.

      At one point (shortly after Jurassic World came out) I figured out how I could play a druid with a T-Rex animal companion and a pack of four awakened fauxlociraptors, if I had a flexible enough GM. My housemate says he’d let me do it, but I’m the only one willing to GM these days, so I’m sitting on it. Heh.

      I’m in Indianapolis and GenCon is coming up here in a couple weeks, so that will be fun. I actually met my husband and housemate at Con umpteen years ago in a multi-sphere World of Darkness LARP. I’m curious about Pathfinder second ed, husband is vaguely curious about the new edition of Shadowrun, but doesn’t know anyone else who plays it right now so he might not bother picking up the materials. We’ll see.

      1. Zephy*

        I played a druid with a velociraptor companion in a PF game once. Once he grew to Medium size and got a bite attack, RNGsus smiled upon me and he ate several enemies. And it was good.

        I want to go to a con, but most of them are so very far away and so very expensive. :( Someday!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My last character when I got to actually play was a wee pack lord with a mess of critters and a propensity for raining bears on the bad guys.

          I need to stock up before next weekend. I play with chocolates for minis – you keep what you kill, and victory should be sweet. :)

          1. Zephy*

            Chocolates for minis, amazing! One of my players usually brings a bag of those little Dove squares, haha. We should have thought of that!

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I started that right after Easter one year, I ended up with a huge pile of mini-sized chocolates of various flavors and I needed a table full of bad guys. “From the left tunnel comes six … uh … Reese’s cups, and from the right, four … Hershey kisses.” At one point I borrowed a Dove chocolate bunny from my housemate’s Easter basket for a really big dude. (He was the DPS, but I gave him a handful of minis too when they killed it :) )

              Support characters get automatic one chocolate per five mobs on the table at the end of the fight. :)

            2. Ktelzbeth*

              Several years ago, I brought chocolate covered dried cherries to a game and gradually started replacing the minis with them. It was a pack of something, so there were a lot that could be replaced without confusing what type of enemy was what. I got about halfway through before the DM noticed. Then we ate what we killed.

    3. Canonical23*


      – I play 5e and Pathfinder. Played Vampire the Masquerade once and still have no idea how it actually works. Learned Pathfinder in college bc I’m friends with a bunch of grognards, then I learned 5e on my own and convinced them it was a good system for a slightly chiller game experience. I’d love to learn PbtA (Mcelboys are my favorites) because I have some other friends who are interested in TTRPGs but who have never played before and I think it sounds easier to explain/get into than any D&D fare. Roll20 is a godsend, I highly recommend buying the modules if you’re playing an AP and have the extra cash bc they have everything pre-prepped for you and as a busy DM, it’s extremely helpful.

      -Currently in 3 games. One is a weekly Pathfinder game that we edit and release as a podcast. One is a 5e game at my local game store. One is a 5e AP that I’m DM’ing. I also DM silly oneshots for the podcast people bc every few months someone can’t show up and our DM wants a break. Some of these oneshots include – a Shrek-based adventure, a skeleton war, and a mystery where every NPC was wearing a cowboy hat (turns out they were all controlled by rats a la Remy).

      -Best shenanigan I’ve ever pulled off was as a lizardfolk barbarian. Threw myself off the top of a 10 story building to tackle the evil sorcerer that was flying away. Rolled a natural 20, grabbed him in midair and tackled him to the ground, killing him instantly.

      1. Zephy*

        I like the crunchiness of Pathfinder but I do agree that it’s a bit unwieldy – “slightly chiller” is a good way to describe 5e in comparison, lol :)

        I LOVE playing barbs. Favorite character I ever played was a half-orc barbarian who was basically powered by racial hatred for trolls. After a session in which I beefed almost EVERY roll, the DM granted her a magic item that basically resurrected her at a cost of -2 to her CHA score if she went down. She was reasonably charismatic for a barb – I think I had a 14? – so I was able to use the magic item a couple of times before she was just too ugly and feral to keep adventuring. So, I retired her, leaving her to exterminate every last troll in the mountain complex.

        1. Jessen*

          The big danger I found with pathfinder is that its too easy to end up with wildly differing power levels between characters. To the point where it was really hard on me as the GM to design encounters that didn’t either leave some characters out, or leave others having to sit on their hands to not upstage everyone.

          1. Canonical23*

            Yeah, I prefer 5e when it comes to players having very different expectations of what they want from the game. When a character does something off the wall in 5e, it almost always prompts a long “now how do you get those numbers?” conversation, whereas in PF, it’s kind of expected to break your character as much as you possibly can.

    4. Ktelzbeth*

      Currently playing Pathfinder online. Using Roll20 for the gaming and Ventrilo for the communication. Busy killing gnolls as a half orc ranger specializing in two weapon fighting. This is a bit of a departure for me as I have tended to play dex-based clever characters, often of the short persuasion. It’s kind of fun just to whack at things.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I used to have TTRPGs as my main hobby. I spent most of the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s playing GURPS, which is a levelless generic point-buy system. I would often be the one GMing, and we always used custom settings and campaigns so it was a lot of prep work. One I hit grad school, I was just too bogged down with school to spend that much mental energy on gaming, plus they updated the rules to a new edition, and I’ve just never gotten back into it again. (It did an excellent job of teaching me the skills I’d need to navigate a college course catalog, though! I credit spending middle and high school creating a bunch of characters using GURPS Magic and GURPS Grimoire as one of the reasons I wasn’t intimidated by figuring out all of the prerequisite chains and course options to graduate college on time while taking an interesting and balanced variety of classes each term.)

      I also used to play in the occasional AD&D game back in the 2nd edition days. 3rd edition came out while I was in college, and I played in a single one-shot that used it but I never picked up copies of the books myself. I was running GURPS when I was running games, and it seems like most other GMs were trying to branch out and run other systems rather than D&D at the time. I remember playing in at least one or two WoD games, a Feng Shui game, and I’m sure I’m forgetting most of the systems people used for short-term games. I know I bought a bunch of single-book specific-setting systems at the time, and so did everyone else, I just can’t remember which of them anybody actually ran.

      I’m finally in a place in my life where I own my own house, and one of the things I want to do after I get things a little more set up here (and my grandma stops having medical crises, unfortunately – I’ll have post with the latest on that up really late tonight when I have time to write it) is have a regular game night. I’m thinking about doing an OD&D open table set-up like Justin Alexander talked about in his blog a while back. The prep for that seems so much more manageable than the kind of prep I needed to do for my old GURPS campaigns, and seems like a good way to dip my toe back into running stuff again. Also, it would make it easier to deal with the fact that adults have lives and different people would be able to show up each week. Maybe I can get that going this winter.

      I’m also tempted to start offering to run Paranoia sessions at the local gaming con(s). That feels like a fun game to run at cons (speaking of less prep than an ongoing GURPS campaign), and I have the right kind of sense of humor to do well at that, I think. (I teach improv acting to teens in another part of my life, for example.) We’ll see.

    6. German Girl*

      Systems I’ve tried:
      The dark eye, 4.1 edition – lovely if you like a really detailed game world and lots of complicated rules. You get a separate skill for almost everything and you get to advance your skills and spells individually, so lots of variety in the characters you can play – I think getting two characters with identical stats would be unlikely even if you collected all character sheets at a large con and magically reset them to starting level. The adventures you can buy vary greatly in quality, but you can usually salvage the not so great ones with less prep than you’d need to write your own story.

      DnD 3.5 and 5th edition – a bit simpler than the dark eye and my go-to system for playing with beginners, but also fun to play with our regular group. The adventures you can buy for 5th edition are decent or better, and you can get great campaigns out of them without too much prep work.

      Shadowrun 5th edition – we tried this with our regular group for a year or so. It’s pretty well balanced but imho some of the dystopian aspects are just a little too close to reality for comfort. I haven’t GMed this so can’t say much about the quality of the adventures.

      Paranoia – I love it for oneshots. Also playable with 1 or 2 absolute beginners in an experienced group.

      Call of Cthulhu – Another one that’s great for oneshots, but you can also play multiple sessions with the same characters and see who goes insane first.

      Currently playing DnD 5e and our rolls are getting more ridiculous by the session. We’ve had so many rolls of 1 or 20 recently that I’d go check the dice if they weren’t mine to begin with.
      Did anyone here watch Gamers? You can find it on YouTube I think. Really fun movie for all RPG enthusiasts. Anyway, it has this scene where the super strong barbarian tries to rip a gate of it’s hinges and rolls a 1 (ouch, backpain, gate doesn’t budge) and then the thief with no strength score to speak of gives it a try, rolls a 20 and tosses the gate aside easily.
      So for the last couple of sessions I got a sense of dejavu of this scene multiple times per evening, and it’s so much fun to play this out! Of course you need a group that embraces fumbles just as much as criticals as devices for fun storytelling.

    7. Lost in the Woods*

      My group just finished a really fun yearlong campaign in Monster of the Week! It’s a really fun system, and it really lends itself to interesting gameplay because of the mixed success roll – you get to do it, *but* something’s going to get more complicated. We’ve also played in DnD 5e, which for some reason always seems to lean silly for us, and in a sci-fi system called Scum and Villainy. I really like Scum and Villainy conceptually but I’m having a hard time internalizing the ruleset, and I’m GMing so we spend a lot more time than I’d prefer looking things up. I also find the rulebook really hard to find things in, which is aggravating.

    8. EddieSherbert*

      I primarily play Pathfinder but have also played D&D 5th edition. I play with a group of work friends (used to be a biweekly campaign, but our GM had a baby recently and obviously isn’t free often anymore!) and then with a small group of friends from college (my partner is the GM).

      I like Pathfinder more because it’s somewhat simplified. I honestly get really annoyed/frustrated when some of my “expert” friends get REALLY caught up in a small detail and then we have to stop everything to check the handbooks/website for 20 minutes to solve this tiny issue for them.

      One of my campaigns had a half-orc cleric who constantly tried to be protector/peacemaker/negotiator despite the fact that every random human who ran into us tried to kill him. That was both funny and very frustrating after awhile (my rogue’s prefered technique is to sneak up and just kill whatever person… he insisted on trying to talk to them all).

  39. Angwyshaunce*

    I’m thinking about starting a youtube channel (yeah, I know) using my expertise to both teach and entertain. I am actually normally against putting myself out there publicly on the net, but feel like there may be some benefits.

    I have the skills to be an inventor, and like making fun and silly projects – but rarely do since there’s usually no point (it’s way too much work just to entertain myself). I feel like sharing these adventures publicly would be highly motivating and fun. I have no interest in trying to be a youtube “star” (I generally hate attention), but teaching and entertaining seem like it would help drive my personal development.

    Has anyone considered (or even pursued) sharing their skills at large on the net? Or have any opinions on this venture?

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Do lots of research before you launch. This will help you decide if you want to go for it. I hope you do.
      Best of Luck! I hope I see you there!

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        Thank you so much! I’ve looked into many aspects, and have only been inspired thus far. Your advice is much appreciated!

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Yes, I started a channel that has languished because I underestimated how much work I was making for myself in the editing phase. I had to completely revise my workflow and got derailed by it.

      Unless you just love video editing (or have someone who will do it for you), plan your shots and your script (or talking points) really thoroughly ahead of time. And a trick I learned along the way was to make a big sound and/or visual gesture when you mess up, so you can quickly find the things to cut out.

      It also helps if you have some standard clips you can re-use – a 5 second logo, a 2-3 second transition, and about 20 seconds for an “out-tro” that encourages subscribes and notifications. Having these on hand will help you cut things together quicker.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        This is great advice, thank you! As an over-thinker, I already have a notebook full of notes and planning (I think I plan things to death in order to avoid actually doing them, in general). So I have ideas already for an intro graphic, transition graphics, and the end-of-video graphics, as you suggested.

        I don’t have much experience (actually, none) of video editing, which is something I should explore before taking this on. It seems that might be just as difficult as creating content, when it comes to making an interesting video. Thank you for this.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          There’s a free program called Shotcut that’s quite good for editing. It’s got enough complex features that it’s not very intuitive, but there are lots of tutorials online.

    3. online teacher*

      I suggest that you think about audio carefully. If it’s not something you’ve dealt with before, you’re likely to end up with audio that’s hard to hear and a lot of background room noise. Using a mic other than just the one on your camera is pretty much a must. A little lapel mic is probably the easiest solution for most cases involving one person talking.

      Also, please caption your videos. I know it’s a lot of extra work, but not doing it excludes a lot of people from being able to watch your video. (The auto-captions provided by YouTube are not very good, particularly if the sound quality is non-optimal or if there are any technical terms or other domain-specific language involved.) This is particularly important if your video is educational in nature, since I can’t share it with my students as something to watch for school if it isn’t captioned and/or transcribed since some of them have accommodations for that, and I don’t have time to write transcripts for random YouTube videos myself so I’ll just look for a different video on that topic to share if the one I find first isn’t captioned properly.

      1. Angwyshaunce*

        Okay, your mic suggestion is great – that’s something that irks me from the crafty videos I generally watch (“I can’t hear you! Don’t rely on the camera mic!”). Thank you for that!

        I haven’t thought about captioning, and that is a wonderful idea. Since I plan on heavily scripting my educational videos, creating captions should be fairly easy. Thank you so much for that suggestion, it is great!

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      Consider the Craft industry Alliance as a resource—lots of small business crafters involved there, a lot of them with YouTube as part of their business plan.

  40. Jessen*

    I finally wrote up a no contact letter to my mother. Not quite yet ready to send it but I think I’m getting pretty close honestly. I’m getting tired of the constant pressure to be more and more involved when she refuses to even acknowledge that there could be anything wrong (as far as she’s concerned we have a great relationship except for these weird times where I randomly say mean and nasty things out of the blue).

    She’s also made threats to use false suicide reports against me, so I wanted to write something that was extremely clear that I was cutting contact with her, specifically, due to her behavior and not just writing some sort of “goodbye forever” letter due to a crisis.

    1. Jessen*

      Still really scary, especially with the aforementioned threats. I kind of know she’s not going to listen no matter what I say, so the point of the letter is more to undermine the inevitable attempt to get other people to help with her “mentally ill” daughter.

    2. Luisa in Dallas*

      Good for you on taking steps to break free from such a toxic person and realizing that you will be better off. (CaptainAwkward.com has some really good stuff on this subject, along with many, many comments that show that you are not alone in this situation.) Wish you the best!

      1. Jessen*

        The hardest part for me is figuring out how to deal with the aftermath. My mother is rather good at recruiting otherwise well-meaning people who take her framing of herself as a parent struggling with a mentally ill and treatment-resistant child at face value. I’m braced to expect a full blowout once I do send it – calling my workplace for information, calling the police to check up on me, possibly even trying to get my church or neighbors involved, anyone she can get to buy her story that she’s a concerned parent of a child who’s suddenly making wildly crazy accusations out of the blue and she just wants to help.

        1. Auntie Social*

          Then you contact your work and church first. Tell them you have a Smother who appears to have upped her smothering. She tells police you’re a danger to self, otherwise they wont do a welfare check, etc.—so they have a taste of what go expect. And if she does contact anyone, add that to a supplemental declaration for court, for your restraining order. Maybe one of the contacted will do a declaration as well.

          1. Auntie Social*

            Contactees, not contacted. Oh, and I had a mom like this. Even when she died I found she’d told people outrageous things. People I didn’t know came to scold me for not helping her financially (showed them my checkbook), etc. Terrible, pathological liar to the end.

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            Yes, I actually think it might be good to get guidance from law enforcement on how to best handle this before you send the no-contact letter. People have died from being SWATted; it needs to be taken seriously.

        2. Kat in VA*

          Captain Awkward refers to the folks who do someone’s dirty work for them as “flying monkeys” and oh, what a pain in the butt they can be.

          1. Jessen*

            Oh yeah.

            The trouble is her script of “I’m a hurt, caring mother trying to deal with a mentally ill daughter” works on a lot of genuinely well-intentioned people. She says all the right words for the role. One of her big tricks is to turn anything I say into some sort of incoherent rant. So when she’s talking to others, the story is that she asked me for reasons and got some sort of wild screaming that she couldn’t make heads or tails of in return.

            That’s a lot of the reason for the letter. If I have something written and documented, it’s something I can point to and say, look, this is a calm and intelligible statement of the problem. She may claim none of that ever happened, but it’s not on me if she chooses to claim the problem doesn’t exist. (In fact that’s really the major issue I cited in the letter – her avoidance of boundaries by making it so that no matter what I do, I’m not presenting them to her in the right way and therefore she can’t possibly be expected to take them seriously.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Use false suicide reports against you? Hmm. Filing false reports is a chargeable offense, I believe.

      Yeah, her behavior is totally unacceptable. And you won’t win with her. Ever.
      You’re planning on keeping a copy of the letter, right?

      If you think you may be in physical danger please loop in a trusted third party (hopefully not family) as to what you are working on right now. Don’t make yourself walk alone, you don’t have to walk alone with this.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s technically a charge, but it’s hard to make it stick because they don’t want to scare people off who aren’t sure. And she won’t phrase it as a direct threat. She’ll phrase it as how I’ve had mental health problems before, and now suddenly I’m making crazy unbelievable accusations about things that obviously didn’t happen and telling her not to talk to me, and I’m refusing to tell her anything about what’s actually going on. So the only conclusion she can possibly come to is that I’m cutting ties in order to kill myself.

        It’s BS, but it’s the kind of BS where you can’t quite prove that she didn’t believe it well enough to hold up in court.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        The problem is she’d probably never be charged because even if it were clearly false she could just claim it was a misunderstanding or based on genuine worry. So I don’t put much hope in filing false reports being a chargeable offense in this context.

    4. Pippa*

      Consider being proactive where you are comfortable doing so – mention to HR that your mother has an unfortunate history of contacting your workplace (really that’s probably enough said because it’s so outside norms), give your neighbors and church folks a similar low key heads up. The focus is on your mother’s history of unusual behavior. Your people know you, they don’t know her but we all have odd relatives to one degree or another and will weigh what she says against what they know of you.
      If you are concerned about the police maybe meet with your doctor now and let her know of your mom’s threats to make a false suicide call on you and get your doctor’s advice on what to do proactively.
      Lean in to your support team and let them be there for you. Spend time with them. Let them know you are sending the letter and why (as much as you care to share). Do what you can to minimize the impact of her reaction but then move forward with what works best for you. You do you and do it well.

    5. families!*

      I want to gently suggest that she may be pressuring you but you are giving into it, and to me, that is the part you can really control. You can send a letter but there is no way to guarantee she will follow it, it actually sounds from what you describe that she will not respect it. So whether or not you send the letter, how will you deal with her if she comes after you (or sends others) after you’ve sent it? perhaps the time before you send the letter can be used to practice setting boundaries on your end of the relationship and practicing not getting involved when she wants to enlist your involvement (and you know she will, it’s what she does). It is super super hard and I suggest working with a therapist because it is so hard, and will bring up lots of feelings. But it is doable. Sending you strength.

      1. Jessen*

        The letter isn’t really for her. It’s a foundation for further action. Because she’s shown that she won’t respect boundaries no matter what I do, and at this point my boundaries don’t have any real teeth because I have no way to stop her from harassing me. Clear boundaries are completely insufficient with the kind of person she is, because there’s no boundary I can set on my end and on my own that will stop her from waiting outside my workplace.

        The point of a letter is that I have something to show to third parties that says that she was clearly informed that I don’t want to talk to her and that I have provided reasons which are not whatever conspiracy theory mess she’s ascribing to me. It’s also a necessary step if I ever have to get the law involved. Plus it should hopefully help diffuse a situation if she does try to claim she’s worried about me being suicidal – I’ll be able to show what I sent her and that it’s a clear statement that I am cutting contact with her, specifically, due to her poor behavior, and that it’s not some sort of “goodbye world” suicide note.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I doubt your mother will honor a no-contact letter unless you’re getting a court ORDER. Even then…
      Has a therapist or legal aid reviewed your letter and plan of action? Since she’s called your work, do you have HR or EAP to help you? You need more than just you on your team for this. There might be better actions to take, but if a no-contact letter is the best way, I’d have a lawyer/legal aid write it on their letterhead. They can help you avoid problems that non-legals might create for themselves.
      Hope this resolves in your favor.

      1. Jessen*

        Yeah, unfortunately this is as much as anything a step along the way to a potential court order.

        I’m honestly kind of afraid to reach out too much for help. I’ve gotten smacked down so many times when I’ve tried. Even therapists and lawyers are often vulnerable to the “she’s family and she’s so worried” crap that she pulls. Therapy for me has been more of a traumatizing experience of reinforcing and reenacting abuse (with a good deal of LGBT bigotry thrown in) than any sort of healing or supportive experience, and at this point I’m not really willing to go back and hope the 9th or 10th therapist might actually help. Or deal with the whole “you must be approaching therapy wrong” or “you have to understand that therapy is hard” that I get when mentioning that it hasn’t freaking been a helpful experience at all, and I’m sick of therapists going straight to “you’re not trying” or “you must not want to get better” when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to.

        I’d be open to legal help, and one of the steps I’m doing before this is writing up power of attorney documents so she is in no way able to make decisions for me no matter what should happen. That said, I’m writing this somewhat also so she can’t spin it into a suicide note or evidence of my mental instability, at least not to any sort of outside party. That means putting in some clear reasoning as to why I don’t want contact, to help forestall her ascribing some sort of crazy beliefs to me.

    7. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Do you reddit? There’s a sub that exists for situations and people like this: justnotalk. You are NOT alone, there are lots of people out there who have dealt with this kind of crap, and they are happy to share advice and experience.

      High level advice:
      Yes, send the crystal clear letter. If there are conditions in which you would have contact again, lay these out in blunt, specific terms.
      Let friends or other groups know that your mother may start doing nutty stuff (wording can be specific, vague, etc – whatever is needed/appropriate.) For sure let your work know, at least some generic basics. You don’t want them getting a crazy call with no context.
      Consider going in to talk to your local police dept and give them a heads up so they know she’s the problem.
      If she’s a church goer and might recruit flying monkeys from there, consider talking to the paster/head of the church person and let them know that you REALLY don’t appreciate it. They may be able to head a lot off at the pass. If you prefer to hold off, you can consider this later.
      Mute her on your phone. Set up an email rule to send emails to a specific folder. Consider if blocking her makes sense.

      Will add a 2nd comment with a couple websites that may help you.

      1. Jessen*

        Oh goodness I love issendai’s site! The whole section on missing reasons is exactly my mother. Like I tried for so long to tell her what was going on, and she’ll literally only remember it as I “got mad at her and said a bunch of mean nasty things.” And then continue to complain how unfair it is when she doesn’t even know what she did wrong.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          Yep. There’s not much you can do aside from enforcing your boundaries. It sucks. Even with the letter, she won’t get it (or accept it, who knows), but if she tries to show the letter to anyone to get sympathy, what they’ll see is that she’s brought expected consequences down on herself. Hopefully she turns out to be trainable, because that’s probably your best chance long term unless she does some pretty extensive work on herself.

          1. Jessen*

            Half the point of the letter is also that I can demonstrate to other people that I’ve clearly indicated to her that I don’t want contact. That’s the kind of thing you need if you have to get the law involved. Plus it just helps with people like HR or pastors at church, to be able to say that I’ve been 100% clear and she’s just continuing to harass me.

      2. Reba*

        Oh I was coming here to recommend these sites! Jessen, I hope they help you have some idea of what to expect… and more importantly I hope that going NC or whatever you decide helps you feel better and lighter.

    8. Lena Clare*

      Meredith Miller on YouTube is fantastic on the topic of narcissistic parents. I recommended listening to her just to build up your self belief and resilience. Having a family member like this is exhausting, and they warp reality.

      As for the rest of it – I agree with the suggestions to first contact police for more advice, then contact your employees, neighbours, and church community to give them a heads up. Get people on your side. (They are anyway, but you and they need to actively know they are.)

      All the best.

  41. Allergy Anony Mouse*

    Hubs is celiac and T1 and now recently developed a casein allergy. Anyone in a similar boat? I’m a generally healthy eater and I bought him df/gf daiya cheese and coconut milk frozen yogurt but man, it seems like an allergy pile-on and I really, really miss mozzarella sticks :((( There’s no df frozen version or gf version, I’ve checked at WFoods.

    Plus yesterday at midnight with friends (nobody drinks—cultural plus friend had kidney stones) so we ended up at a froyo place where I thought they’d at least have sodas and sorbet. Nope. Hubs got cranky, stormed out to the bodega next door for soda and chips but returned in a calmer mood.

    How do folks deal?

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Speaking as someone with a restricted diet (multiple intolerances to common ingredients; a few hive-inducing allergies; numerous voluntary restrictions): It’s easier if I can control my diet by home cooking or packing food for work (snacks, lunch). I try to ju