weekend open thread – September 12-13, 2020

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Juliet, Naked, by Nick Hornby. A woman whose rather ridiculous boyfriend is obsessed with a reclusive musician secretly connects with said musician online and things ensue.

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

{ 1,015 comments… read them below }

  1. Nela*

    I wanted to thank whoever recommended Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid a couple of weeks ago. I just finished it and loved it. Would love recommendations of books in a similar genre, which I guess I’d describe as literary fiction with strong character development and a focus on interpersonal relationships. Or any recommendations at all! What have you read recently and loved?

    1. c-*

      Going with your description, I think you would like White Teeth, by Zadie Smith :) It’s really good and follows a diverse cast of characters through several years.

        1. c-*

          Yeah! I think her depictions of race, gender, religion and class in White Teeth make it one of the best satires I’ve read: it’s loving, but clear-sighted and unafraid. And it was really bold of her not to skirt around colonialism and its consequences. I definitely need to read more of her works.

        2. Scc@rlettNZ*

          I’m the complete opposite. I absolutely hated White Teeth, I just couldn’t get into it and didn’t even bother forcing myself to finish reading it.

    2. KeinName*

      I loved it too! I would also like recommendations on books that deal with race and class in a Simulator way. I just read FRIENDS AND STRANGERS and WANT, both also deal with motherhood and money.

      1. AVP*

        Was just going to suggest J Courtney Sullivan! I really loved Maine and Saints for All Occasions as well – currently half of the way through Friends and Strangers.

    3. The Original K.*

      If you liked Such a Fun Age (as I did too!) you might like Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. The protagonist is also a young Black woman trying to figure it out. It’s set in London. I loved it – my favorite book I read last year, and I read a lot (45 books a year, on average).

    4. GoryDetails*

      Recent reads that I’ve enjoyed include:

      JEWISH PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN by Edward Kritzler – a historical look at, well, Jewish pirates, including the fascinating Samuel Pallache, a Moroccan-born Jew who lived a long and active life as a merchant, diplomat, possible double-agent, pirate – and rabbi. (I picked up the book to pass along on this year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, September 19th – I enjoy BookCrossing, where uniquely-labeled books are sent traveling in hopes that future readers will log their thoughts online.)

      THE SECRETS OF WISHTIDE by Kate Saunders – this one’s a mystery novel for an upcoming book-group, and I enjoyed it, not least for its considerable nods to Dickensian characters. Protagonist Laetitia Rodd is a 50-something widow who does private investigations on behalf of her brother, a London solicitor. Here, the case involves a character based on poor Emily from “David Copperfield” – I was pleased to recognize the references before I read the author’s afterword explaining her choices. The story’s lively, with likeable main characters, and a plot that’s Dickensian/cozy.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Cool! (If you have trouble logging in, you can contact the support team for help.) Things have been a bit quieter during the pandemic, but people are still leaving books in Little Free Libraries and book-swap shelves, and the occasional scenic outdoor spot – allowing for local conditions of course.

    5. Tara R.*

      I haven’t read Such a Fun Age yet (on my list), but if you don’t mind a bit of well-written YA I read “I’ll Give You The Sun” by Jandy Nelson again recently and cried my eyes out like I do every time. It’s about two teenage twins whose relationships with each other (and themselves) have been profoundly impacted by the death of their mother. Jude and Noah have gone through something of a role reversal in between the two timelines followed in the book; in their younger years, Noah is an artistic outcast dodging bullies and falling in love with the boy next door, while his sister Jude is finding new friends with the popular crowd and doesn’t seem to have much time for him anymore. Fast forward to two years after their mother’s death, and they’re barely speaking; Noah is a popular track and field star who has given up art for good, while Jude’s only friend is her grandmother’s ghost and she is convinced that her mom’s spirit is breaking all of her sculptures.

      I read it as a palette cleanser because I needed something with a hopeful ending after reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which was also an excellent book about a very fractured family which is broken even further when their teenage daughter dies, but left me feeling very morose.

      1. allathian*

        Thanks for the translator shout-out! As a translator myself (albeit of non-fiction) I always appreciate it when the work of my colleagues is recognized.

  2. WoodswomanWrites, West Coast wildfire thread*

    With fires expanding across California, Oregon, and Washington, I’m wondering how folks here who are affected are doing.

    The other worldly smoky air combined with fog that we had in the Bay Area a few days ago really did look like the eerie photos of the orange sky that made national news. I had to keep my lights on inside the house all day. Surreal. You can see how the West Coast has the world’s worst air quality right now by checking out the website PurpleAir.

    I know many people in vulnerable locations in all three states, and I’ve been reaching out to them. It’s stressful being far away and wishing I could do something to help. It’s a strange tableau for them of various states of evacuation–watching in case it’s needed, getting ready to leave, or getting themselves and animals out. Thankfully everyone I know is safe, and they all have places to stay. The pandemic is making everything so tough without the usual shelter space available due to social distancing, and many people in Oregon are just camped out wherever they can find a spot or they’re sleeping in their cars in the smoke and heat. I’m sending donations to groups that are offering support.

    In Oregon, a local has been arrested for arson for the fast-moving fire that killed a bunch of people in the communities near Medford. Horrifying that anyone could do that on purpose. (Weird rumors are going around Oregon that left-wing arsonists are starting the fires with no basis in fact, adding to an already dangerous situation by amping up hostilities and encouraging others to be vigilantes.)

    For those I know who have evacuated, they just have to wait and see if they’ll have a home to come back to. While the smoke is horrendous here and across the West Coast, with my air filters and inhalers, it’s just an inconvenience compared to the suffering of so many. In the meantime, I pore over the maps and incident reports online and hope hope hope it will rain soon.

    Stay safe, everyone!

    1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      My brother and his family and my wife’s entire family are both on the West Coast. They’re safe from the actual fires but are getting all the smoke. The pictures I’m seeing from the area around where my brother lives are horrifying — orange darkness in the middle of the day. I’m really worried about them.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, that light was so creepy when it happened where I am. One friend said, what’s next, zombies? That sums it up.

    2. MinotJ*

      I’m in Oregon, halfway down the I5 corridor. The fire is a few miles from the edge of my city and it’s bizarre. Or, one of the fires. Depending on the wind, sometimes ash falls like snow. The sky ranges from bruise-yellow to Mordor-orange.

      I’m from the Midwest (been out here a decade or so) and I know how to handle tornadoes and thunderstorms. But this is just four days of miserable waiting. We have the house closed up tight and an air purifier running all day and night. I’m not worried, really. But my escape plan was Portland, and, well, fire.

      I work in healthcare and we still have to go in every day. They’ve given us one N95 mask per person and we work wearing that now. The air still burns our eyes but it’s so fresh inside the mask!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        The lack of an escape plan for what’s going on is different than previous fire situations. I know of people who evacuated to stay with family who are now potentially facing their new location being evacuated as well. Someone I know lost their home in the first fires in Northern California last month. Those are contained now. The ash is still accumulating here, too. It’s awful to watch the rest of the West Coast ignite.

        I’m from the Midwest as well. My family members there have invited me to come and stay with them if the smoke gets to be too much for my asthma. My doctor had me increase the dosage of my preventive inhalers and with staying indoors with my air filters and an herbal formula for my lungs, I’m hanging in there.

    3. Me*

      I’m just outside of the city limits of Portland, south of the city. Our property has lots of majestic fir trees which we’ve always cherished. Good fuel though.

      I’ve honed my go bag in recent days since a fire popped up one evening just over a mile away. The fire was quickly put out by multiple agencies. It would take me under ten minutes to grab the items on my list and another ten to cram everything in the car. Another ten minutes if I had to gather the chickens.

      Yesterday I went around and photographed all the rooms, including opening every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen. Just in case.

      Two sets of friends have evacuated. They are fine and they were able to move most of their animals out before they left. Except their chickens, which they’ve both left behind. We’ve offered coop space but they’re in level 3 zones so it’s too late to retrieve. Both sets of friends would weather the loss of a home okay but still the memories…

      The air is chewy. The air quality index has been hovering near 300 for the past day. I’m running the ac and a portable air cleaner. Still a slight smoky smell inside now and then.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’m sorry to hear about your friends and their chickens and your own situation. I’m wishing you the best with everything.

      2. Sesquedoodle*

        those poor chickens :( your poor friends too; that must be a heartbreaking decision to. have to make

    4. another scientist*

      Apparently some people jumped to conclusions at the mention of BLM on police ticker. Now, the Bureau of Land Management would be involved with fighting fires in their territory…

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        That made me chuckle. But it is insane how easy it is for people to believe the rumors. I read about one community where residents were setting up their own checkpoints for cars coming and going, based on nonsense about antifa arsonists. The local authorities had to tell them to cut it out.

    5. Tara R.*

      The smoke is really bad up here in Vancouver (BC). I bought an air purifier which will get here tomorrow, but today is going to be uncomfortable. Of course that’s nothing compared to what people are going through in Washington/California/Oregon. Thoughts are with anyone in the danger area, what a terrible situation. :(

      1. Sandi*

        Apparently Vancouver is tied with Portland for worst air quality in the world, so any worry about fires might be zero but the concern about air quality is very reasonable.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      The statement about an arson-caused fire killing a bunch of people is not accurate. There are 30-plus fires burning in Oregon with 7 casualties statewide so far. Governor Brown’s “mass casualty event” refers to the entire state and all the fires.
      What a miserable year.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Thanks for the correction. The news may have been updated since the initial article I read last night about one of the fires being caused by the arsonist, or maybe I was just fuzzy from posting late at night. I see now that the incident was limited to a small group of houses. I wasn’t referring to the governor’s announcement, which I know references fires statewide. Yes, a horrible year. Wishing you well also.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      My eyes have been burning and I have a sore throat from all the smoke. Everything smells like smoke, even my face masks. My sheets have ashes in them. I feel fortunate that we haven’t had a fire that endangers my apartment complex, although I think that’s because we had one…last year? Year before last? Anyway, everything burned a couple of blocks away and they’ve kept it mowed and trimmed since then.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I hear you about not being able to remember when which fire happened. There have been so many that I can’t even keep them straight. I hope you get some clearer air.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I just wanted to mention that the whole U.S. has been experiencing strange weather. While not as extreme as what the West Coast experienced, the same winds that spread the fires along the West Coast, met a high pressure area from Canada and it resulted in snow in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana last week. Temperatures that had been in 90s, 80s and 70s during the week before Labor Day, dropped down to the 40s, 30s and upper 20s in a 24 hour period. Last week there were violent wind storms in northern Utah that uprooted thousands of trees and knocked out electricity to thousands of people, some for several days. The local governments opened “warming centers” for people who didn’t have electricity. Neighboring states are now getting hazy skies from the smoke blowing eastward.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Wow. I heard about the snow in Colorado only a day after it had been in the 90s, and the smoke across the country. I didn’t know about the Utah wind storms. I’ll refrain from a rant about those who deny climate change.

    9. Melody Pond*

      I’m in Portland. I’m not in an area that is under any evacuation notice, but I’m not too far away from Clackamas (south of Portland), which is under a level 1 evacuation notice. My husband started an emergency packing list, so that we can pack more easily/quickly if anything changes. The smoke and air quality are surreal. According to some of the websites and apps I’ve looked at, the AQI has at times gotten as high as 1200. We are in an older 1950s house, and the windows are old and leaky, the basement is definitely not thoroughly sealed. And we don’t have any sort of an air purifier. I ordered one, of course, but a bit too late, and it won’t be here until Friday.

      I’m feeling really exposed and vulnerable to the bad air. I’m sure it’s better inside than outside, but it’s still probably not great inside, and I hate not having a way to make it better. I’m also worried about a big camp of homeless people that we regularly drive past, at the outer edge of our neighborhood – their exposure is definitely way worse than ours.

      So, yeah. Feeling pretty doom and gloom at the moment.

    10. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

      I’ve been thinking about moving back to Portland after spending the last few years in the Northeast. Not urgently chomping at the bit, but realizing I miss the weirdness, and the sense that anything is possible. Plus being able to go to Floating World, and the Spritely Bean when it was still open, and browse through the zines. (Am rural-ish, and even in cities it doesn’t feel like there’s the same spark, although I really only have experience with Albany so who knows.)

      Do y’all think this is still a good idea? I don’t buy into the “bOtH sIdEs” takes on the protests that a lot of people living around me have (the *actual* rioting happens only on a couple of blocks in the whole city, so no, the “rAdIcAl LeFt” is NOT trashing the city); if anything, I’m more afraid of potential collusion between rogue LEOs and militias. The fires, presence of white supremacist gangs, and rising rents (which originally forced me out) are really making me reassess things. It’s just that I live so far from the area that it’s easy to get a distorted picture of what’s actually happening, and not know enough to parse out the BS.

      1. Me*

        It really is only a few blocks of upheaval. The mayor has a new police chief (last one resigned just after she was appointed, stepping aside so her Black lieutenant chief could take her place) and so while the trust in local LEO isn’t strong I do think it’s trending the right way.

        I bet rents are still somewhat high but I’d guess they’ll drop next year. There is an eviction moratorium thru the end of the year (statewide and citywide) so when that plays out I think rents will drop.

        The fires this year are apocalyptic though. There will be a lot of cities in oregon that will NOT be the same when the fires die out. It’s just awful. The tillamook burn probably comes closest. But still, it’s awful. Folks with lung issues probably have to go several states over to find good air quality. It’s just awful. Fleeting but awful.

        Oregon still has a lot of water though so that’s a point in our favor. We won’t be a Las Vegas.

        1. Have dragon, will quest in exchange for hummus*

          Thanks! I’ll definitely keep my eye out on the rents. I’m in a low-ish rent place here, and the town I’m in is walkable, but I don’t have a car/license, and I miss public transit. (Granted, I should probably get my license already.) If the rent goes down in PDX, then the balance might become a bit more reasonable.

          My lungs are ok (thankfully), but I remember walking outside my apartment during the 2015 wildfires near Tigard, and I remember realizing that the fog outside didn’t smell like fog, it smelled like smoke. I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like having to inhale that crud. Although masks probably help (at least a bit).

          I got my undergrad at UO. I hope my friends and former professors in Eugene are all ok and staying safe.

      2. Marie*

        Other Vancouver. Vancouver WA is right across the river from PDX so same air. Vancouver BC is 3.5 hr north of Seattle. I’m in Seattle & am struggling with awful migraines and fatigue, with many coworkers reporting the same.

    11. Anax*

      We’re ok here in the East Bay, just… worn out. Everyone who’s had to evacuate in my social circle is back home. The air quality is bad, as it is for most people, so my asthmatic butt has been stuck completely inside for a month; I’m so glad I could spring for a $200 air purifier, because it’s been a lifesaver. (Levoit LV-H133 Tower HEPA Air Purifier, if anyone wants a rec.) … and an exercise bike, because being cooped up this long is driving me nuts.

      The dark orange skies this week were exhausting; time already feels unreal, and having the sun blotted out really threw me off even more, I felt jetlagged for most of the week.

      I guess, like Covid, the biggest drain is that it feels like this will never end. We can expect the virus to continue at least into 2021, and we can expect wildfires like this every year – maybe not this bad, but bad enough that we have to stay inside and watch the news like a hawk. And down here in California, we probably won’t have rain until December, maybe November if we’re lucky, so the fires won’t really go out until then.

    12. Hana*

      I moved to Seattle 1.5 years ago, after spending most of my life on the east coast. Before this week, I’d never even smelled a forest fire let alone be inundated with smoke. It is terrifying! We have a lot better than much of the west coast right now, just dealing with a smoky, hazy sky. But this is all new for me and I do not like it.

    13. Nynaeve*

      I packed a bag earlier this week and went to stay with friends. Part of me worries that I’m being a prima donna about it (yes, there are evacuation warnings in part of my city, but I’m below the evacuation line and it *probably* won’t get to me…), but on the other hand, if I didn’t leave, I was going to ruin the rest of my vacation sitting alone in my apartment doom-scrolling through fire alerts. I have to go back to work (remotely) on Monday and I’m trying to decide whether I should go home or just stay here. When do I decide to go back? What’s a good threshold? I have no real idea.

      I also have family in Oregon and am worried about them as well. I’ve checked in with them over group texts and it sounds like they have plans in case they need to leave, so that’s good.

      Anax summed up the feelings really well, so thanks for putting words to my amorphous dread!

    14. Rara Avis*

      Two of my colleagues lost their houses to the CZU Fire. It’s a mess. Walking has been my family’s only way to exercise during Shelter in Place, and we’re now on Spare the Air Day number 28.

    15. NoLongerYoung*

      East bay as well here. Not Asthma (yet – had it as a child but mercifully not triggered yet). WFH but now even my daily dog walks are curtailed. I did go out and wash (not just rinse) the ash off my car to try to ensure I didn’t get clearcoat/paint damage.
      But I’m safe and contributing to the charities that are helping those displaced. And called up some friends and offered my (spacious huge parking for over a dozen vehicles) yard/storage area/ barn for their use if they wanted to bring one of two vehicles, for example, or (insert name of very expensive hobby) gear “just in case.”
      I might lose electricity but only for very brief times (due to my location – they never leave the (insert name of specific public agencies that have high risk inmates)without power. They have backup generators but apparently the proximity makes our quadrant a priority for restoration.
      But the 4+ smoke allergy makes a constant headache and burning eyes, regardless of the amount of medication. It’s not a good thing, I just remember how much worse others have it.

    16. For goodness sake, wash your hands!*

      I live in Southern Oregon, less than a quarter mile from the origin point of the Almeda/Glendower fire. It’s devastating. FEMA is reporting 600 homes lost, but since it tore through some mobile home parks that they are not counting, the number of homes lost is probably triple or quadruple that. I’ve been spending the last week trading turns volunteering at a donation point, and I just want to say, if you want to help the most number of folks, do not donate used clothing, toys or household goods. We need money here. If you feel called to help, Rogue Credit Union is matching funds donated up to $50 k. We also have an amazing local chapter of United Way, with amazing leadership. I honestly have no idea where the Red Cross is right now. They seem to have no presence right now.
      https://www.roguecu.org/
      http://www.unitedwayofjacksoncounty.org/give/

        1. For goodness sake, wash your hands!*

          Thanks so much! This is all so draining, but despite my defeated tone in the earlier comment (sore throat due to smoke inhalation in donation center with substandard filtration and a toddler who refused to nap today), I am so incredibly impressed with the generosity of people.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    I am trying to organise the mess the plot bunnies left…it is not going well.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve been trying to get myself to write a blog post for almost two months now and can’t seem to sit down and do it. I’m not sure why, as I have plenty I can talk about. It’s not geared towards anything other than whatever is going on in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot over the last year or so that maybe I’ll just stop my blog, but I never do. I have several posts I started and then just never finished. Perhaps I’ll try and pick them up again later today.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I can relate to this. There was a long gap in my blog posts as well before I finally posted something a few weeks ago. I have more in the works. Mine are integrated with my photography and I have a bunch of photos just sitting on my laptop waiting to be worked with. Reading about your experience, you’re motivating me to get it together and add a new post. In fact, I’m promising myself now that I will do it this weekend.

    2. Ina Lummick*

      I am finding it a bit difficult – after work I just don’t have the brain energy to do much. However as I’m working remote full time again now (had been going into the office a couple of days a week) I might feel more able to do more soonish.

      I feel like it’s just the writing is going to take a long while- I enjoy the sound design (writing an audiodrama).

    3. Sapphire (they)*

      Aw crap, this reminded me I have a first draft for a script due next week. It’s paid writing work for a local geek con, where we’re writing PSAs about vaping and COVID-19, to be released on TikTok (that’s the most Gen Z thing I’ve ever said). The pitch I chose was about a D&D adventuring group that has a sanctimonious paladin that refuses to go into a crowded tavern because “they’re vaping, and I shan’t partake!”

      So I should probably write that this weekend.

    4. curly sue*

      I’ve got second round edits due to my editor in eight days. Have I started? Noooo. The beginning of the school year is such an awful chaotic time, then add the holidays on top and my brain cells have all gone on strike simultaneously. I’m hoping to get some solid writing time tomorrow, because this afternoon is D&D and it’s been planned for ages.

    5. Well...*

      I’ve had a really vague story cooking in my head which may really just have been me processing all the sh*t I went though in grad school, that I never thought I’d write.

      Anyway Friday evening I sat down and a whole scene flowed out onto the page! I don’t know if I’ll keep going but it was nice to make something.

    6. Banana Naan*

      I revised a short story to near complete, but it still felt like something was missing. By a stroke of luck I found an article online that pointed to the gap, so today I’m going to give the story another round of revision. I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate with everything going on tho. Taking it easy, but taking it.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games.
    In Friends of Mineral Town I got married! I…may have a slight addiction to that game.
    Also got a little further in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, just beat Valac (Twin Dragons) and the speedy boy whose name I can’t remember.

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      if you like friends of mineral town…have you tried any of the rune factory games, specifically Rune Factory 4?

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Not yet, but the games are definitely on my list. The older ones seem to be a bit difficult to track down over here, but I have been eyeing Rune Factory 4 Special and may get it sometime in the next few months.

        1. Holly the spa pro*

          Rune Factory 4 is the best of the bunch for sure. Its all of the fun of a harvest moon style game but the dungeon crawling element makes it more engaging and there is so much to do that it doesnt ever feel too grind-ey. I was excited that they did a friends of mineral town port for the switch but i havent picked it up yet.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I’m interested in picking it up. Farming sim AND dungeon crawling? Yes please.

          2. Stormfeather*

            Add me to the Rune Factory 4 = amaaazing list. It has so much I love in games. An RPG-y mechanic/storyline where you go fight your way through dungeons and Save the (corner of the) World. Great characters, including the bachelors/bachelorettes. Crafting systems. Build-up-your-farm-and-room systems. Town development. The farming sim stuff. Just… <3. I am very impatiently waiting for 5 to see how it turns out.

            I'm kinda weird though in the fact that I didn't like FoMT for the Switch as much as I wanted to/thought I would. I guess partly that step back to basics is hard after getting to a lot of the innovactions/additions to the series… but a lot of it I think is straight up not much liking all the changes to the characters after I've "known" them for 20+ years.

            Oh well. I mean, it's not like I hated the game, and did play quite a bit, but wasn't quiiiite what I wanted. And definitely don't wanna rain on anyone's parade who likes it! I'm just hoping at this point for some slightly-improved versions of some other games on the Switch maybe, like Animal Parade (so I don't have to find a disc and run the Wii U and try to have a working Wiimote to play it and so it gets rid of some of the few flaws), maybe the DS/DS Cute games combined into one. From the mentions in FoMT though I'm kinda betting on Wonderful Life though if they do anything.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In Guild Wars 2, my husband has gotten way ahead of me, he has a griffin and a beetle. I’ve been tied up too many hours with mouse work at the place that shall not be named. :(

      1. Nessun*

        Skip the griffon and go straight to skyscale when you’re on it. It takes longer, but the grind is way worth it, and the vertical abilities plus sustained lift are really useful for the later maps. (Just my opinion!) But I do hope you get time for the beetle- the racetracks are a blast!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Oof, I read this AFTER doing more than one of the Open Skies achievements…including the 3 purchases. (Even in-game gold has a cost in time!)

    3. Sapphire (they)*

      Since I’m an adult who has disposable income, it only occurred to me a few months ago that I could just buy a 3DS if I wanted to. I’ve been playing Pokemon Yellow (the Gameboy version) where I’ve named all my Pokemon after Lord of the Rings characters. We just beat Lt. Surge and I’m working on beefing up a couple of my Psychic Pokemon before we move on. My player character is Frodo and I named my Pikachu Samwise.

      1. Sapphire (they)*

        I also finished this indie horror puzzle platformer game called Limbo, and legit cried at the end. I don’t want to spoil too much about the game, but it was fantastic and I highly recommend it. I was even able to play it on my phone since it has a mobile port.

    4. BlackCatOwner*

      Borderlands 3 with my Dad. We’re in the Guns, Love, Tentacles DLC.
      Also I’ve recently joined an on-line LARP (the Modern Enigma Society is running a new Vampire the Masquerade chronicle beginning in January) and I’m running a one-shot online LARP call the Great After Party in a couple of weeks. It’s a LARP-within-a-LARP.

    5. DarthVelma*

      Still working my way through Elder Scrolls Online. But that may end up taking longer since one of my old Fortnite squad turned us on to Spellbreak this week. It’s a lot of fun, but boy had I forgotten how bad it can be picking up a new battle royale game. The controls are always just different enough to be annoying until one day it finally just clicks. I haven’t clicked yet. Plus I’m still feeling my way through the different weapons and trying to find a play style that works for me. Same with everyone else I’m playing with. So we’re all grousing about it together. But the game play is fun and it’s full of bright colors and fun weapons. Hopefully it’ll give us something to do together again since War Zone and Killing Floor 2 didn’t seem to stick for us.

    6. RagingADHD*

      We got a new (to us) tabletop game from the library called “Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective”.

      It’s basically interactive fiction on paper, that you play collaboratively. I’m very interested in finishing it, but the kids find it quite slow, so I’m having trouble getting buy-in. Maybe we can play together this evening and at least get through the first case.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Ugh, do not recommend. It’s very badly written, in terms of the story arc. Also shockingly badly translated. It was originally published in France, and they seem to have relied on Google Translate instead of an actual person.

        We struggled through the first round of “witness interviews,” and then gave up. Just unreadable.

        1. Telgar*

          I also found it slow and confusing, even though I love mysteries and cooperative games. We are now playing Chronicles of Crime which is faster and more interactive (you need a smartphone to play). Highly recommend!

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m still playing Game of Sultans. The ads are sill hilarious. and I’m crazy enough that I’m now playing on 2 servers. I’m having fun.

    8. Tara R.*

      I finished Undertale!! I cried at the end. Took me a couple tries to get into the game but once I did I was totally hooked.

      1. Banana Naan*

        You should play Delta Rune next! It’s by the same creator. Only the first chapter is out now, but it’s pretty promising.
        Night in the Woods is fantastic too.

    9. Nessun*

      I’m finding myself nostalgic lately for earlier FF works. Kinda want to pick up my FF VIII remaster and play, but I also know I’d get sucked in and ignore all my GW2 guild officer duties in favour of fighting the Sorceress LOL

    10. Nynaeve*

      I’ve been playing GRIS and What Remains of Edith Finch. I got inspired to do some GRIS fanart (the next step in my nerd evolution) and I posted it on the Community Tab on Steam, even though everyone else’s art is SO much better. Still, it was fun to try out some new art supplies and I can always try again – maybe wet-on-wet technique next time?

      Also, Monster Prom was on sale, so I bought a copy of that :)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I loved What Remains of Edith Finch and have GRIS on my rather sizeable wishlist. Monster PromnI don’t think I’ve heard of but now I’m intrigued.

    11. All the cats 4 me*

      These things all sound so interesting, but I honestly have no idea about the gaming work!

      I like playing match 3 games and hidden objects games on my ipad so I am wondering if I would like the games you cool kids are talking about.

      How did you get into games? What tech does a newbie need? Suggestions for starter games?

      1. MEH*

        Hello! I am similar in that roughly a decade ago, I mostly played hidden object and match 3 games with the occasional time management game thrown in. Then, I had a friend coax me into the world of ‘hardcore’ games, and it’s been a wild ride of me figuring out what kind of games I like because I don’t have one genre that appeals to me over others. I realized what I like most is exploring in games, and I tend to gravitate towards quirky indie games.

        I game on a PC but there are tons of hardcore games on the iPad if you want to start there! There’s a list of the 50 best games for the iPad on pcmag dot com with that description as the title. Take a look and see what appeals to you. There’s one called Hidden Folks that is hidden objects crossed with Where’s Waldo? that you might like. Do you want a story-rich game or a combat-heavy game? A fantasy or a sci-fi setting? I’d say pick one or two and give them a try to see what you like and don’t like about them.

        It can seem overwhelming, but it can be fun to try different kinds of games to see what you like. Oh, and there’s a game called Cat Quest if you like cats that has exploration, combat, and loot.

        1. All the cats 4 me*

          Why, yes I do like cats! I will check that out! As well as the ipad games list. Thanks!

          I also looked up What Remains of Edith Finch, as mentioned by Nynaeve, and it seems interesting, so I guess I could try that on my desktop or laptop?

          These games have a start and end, like a book? They aren’t infinite (or so it seems) levels like match 3?

          1. MEH*

            Some games do have a beginning, middle, and ending like What Remains of Edith Finch while others go on infinitely like Destiny which is online and multiplayer. I agree with what Nynaeve posted below me to you especially about just playing around and finding what you like. Also, Steam is a great resource if you’re going to play on your laptop/desktop; they have so many games.

            The one thing with tech is that you’ll want to make sure you can play the game you buy on your laptop/desktop. Steam shows the requirements for each game. In the past, I have bought games that I couldn’t play on my computer, which is no fun. For example, Edith Finch takes 2 GB of memory to install.

            I was also thinking puzzle games/exploring games from what you mentioned. I’m going to suggest Spiritfarer which I talked about below just because it really captured me. There’s lots of exploring and resource management, and it’s gorgeous to look at, too. It does have a beginning, middle, and end, but you can also just explore as much as you want. Oh, I haven’t played Cat Quest so I can’t say how good it is!

            1. All the cats 4 me*

              It turns out that I already have one of the games on the list in the article Love You to Bits. I must have picked it up back when the app store was having free things on the reg (wow, I miss that! ).

              Anyhow, I opened it up again and started playing it from start. I had to cheat and look up how to do some things, but I am sort of getting into the game’s mindset. It drives me bonkers though when one of the action points doesn’t seem to “do” anything. I feel like I am not figuring it out and if I just kept trying the qazillion permutations something awesome would happen!

              Also picked up Two Dots, which risks becoming my latest obsession!

              Thanks to everyone for the info and chat, I feel like I have a new group of friends!

              1. MEH*

                I’m glad you found a few games you like! Looks like Love You to Bits is a point-and-click which are known for having, um, complicated logic (I’m putting that kindly!). I like to joke that the mentality is “make a fishing pole by combining a light bulb, an old shoe, and three pieces of lint–all found in different rooms”. Sometimes, actions can’t be done until later, too. Not sure if that’s the case in LYtB.

                I hear ya on obsessions. I tend to obsess over one game at a time until I’ve wrung every ounce of content out of it. Ain’t no shame in that!

        2. BlackCatOwner*

          “there’s a game called Cat Quest if you like cats that has exploration, combat, and loot.”

          And there goes the rest of my weekend….

      2. Nynaeve*

        Hi, I’m a pretty new gamer myself! My advice is: start small, play around until you figure out what you like (and don’t like), and ignore the gatekeepers. There’s nothing inherently better about any particular platform or type of game – it’s just what you personally prefer. If you decide you only like match 3/hidden object or other “casual” games, great! Enjoy them! You’re not any less of a gamer for it.

        You don’t have to get new tech if you don’t want to. In fact, I would recommend looking for games on platforms you already have first until you figure out what kinds of games you like. I only really play computer games and use Steam to buy them. There is usually a major sale about once a quarter and you can also wishlist games and get notified when they’re on sale. (I can’t speak to iPad games, but I’m sure there are plenty of those.) My gateway games were Undertale, Gone Home, and Bear with Me, all of which various friends introduced me to. All of them are fairly short with contained (and surprisingly emotional) stories.

        Based on the types of games you like, you may want to start with games described as puzzle games, walking simulators, or exploration games. Portal is a really famous puzzle game, but you may want to start with something easier first. (Or not! There are no rules here!)

        General Organa also asked a similar question in the weekend open thread two weeks (?) ago, so you may want to check there as well for more suggestions.

        1. allathian*

          I enjoy match-3 games, my current favorites include Homescapes (although I play way less on championship days, I want to get on with the story and the rewards aren’t worth it) and Cradle of Empires. In my 20s I used to play strategy games as well, but now I just want to play casual puzzle games.
          I played Minecraft with my son on the PS4, but I quit when they took away the ability to fly in anything except creative mode…

      3. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Like others have mentioned, start with the tech you already have. Accounts on online game stores are free (Steam is the biggest, GOG is DRM free and Epic Game Store gives away lots of free games and gives a larger cut to developers, though they all have their downsides as well: Steam gives a smaller cut to developers and is basically DRM, GOG has a smaller selection and Epic Game Store is run by 12 year olds – that whole ordeal with Apple isn’t only about money). There are other launchers, but I’d say those three are the most popular (also Origin is owned by EA which is such a greedy company that has some absolute dumpster fire practices).
        Personally I also find I’m currently leaning more to smaller studios and independent developers, not out of any snobbishness but because often AAA games (the games with massive budgets etc., Basically gaming Hollywood) start to feel the same. Take Assassin’s Creed: that series is basically becoming a rather generic RPG, with Valhalla (from what I’ve seen) not being designed for sneaking despite the fact that it is technically still possible. Occasionally there’ll be a surprise in there, but lately I tend to find myself ignoring them. Indie games can be unpolished, but they’re usually very creative labours of love. Plus, I’m also into retro gaming so I’m quite used to mechanics that would be unacceptable in modern AAA releases.
        If you do decide you want to branch out to new tech, there no harm in being a generation or so behind – PS3/Xbox 360 is dirt cheap these days and a lot of games are still pretty good. Similarly, expect to see price drops for PS4/Xbox One once PS5 and Xbox Series X (still don’t know what Microsoft is thinking with their naming convention) release.
        You may also find you prefer certain kinds of games on a certain type of console – for example, I love RPGs and increasingly find I prefer them on handhelds (or hybrids like the Switch) because that way I’m not stuck in the same spot for 100+ hours.
        I think that covers a lot of the basics, if there are any more questions feel free to ask! Normally me or someone else starts up a gaming thread every weekend.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Also as others have mentioned, pay no attention to the gatekeepers. If you find you want to stick to what you play now, that is perfectly valid – it is a hobby and you’re meant to have fun in whatever way you want :)

        2. A.N. O'Nyme*

          Also just realised I used some terms you may not be familiar with so
          DRM: short for Digital Rights Management, so a sort of copyright protection. Nothing wrong with that on its own, but sometimes it can get quite draconic.
          Launcher: digital stores often have an app that functions as your game library through which you can launch the game. Steam’s you are required to use, as Steam is essentially a store and DRM at the same time. GOG’s launcher, GOG Galaxy, is fully optional. I don’t know about Epic Game Store, as I don’t use that.

          1. All the cats 4 me*

            Thanks! And Gatekeepers? They are the purists who boss people around and disapprove if you do things differently (real people, not game characters)?

    12. MEH*

      I finished and 100%ed Spiritfarer (because I never wanted to leave the game) last week and I’ve had a hard time finding something to replace it. It’s heartwarming and lovely, but also deals with death, loss, and grief in a real way. I cried my way through it, but it’s not a heavy game in spite of the heavy topics. Some of the gameplay got old with repetition, but it always had heart.

      I’ve tried the demo for The Almost Gone on Steam and it has some of the same feel to it and is charming in and of itself. Unfortunately, it triggers slight nausea and a headache when I play (an issue I have with certain games), but I’ll still probably buy it.

      1. MEH*

        Added: Spiritfarer is my GOTY so far. I highly doubt it’ll be surpassed unless Elden Ring suddenly is released in the end of the year (sob, sigh).

      2. Holly the spa pro*

        I hadnt heard of Spiritfarer but looked it up based on your post and it sounds right up my alley. Im going to try it! Have you played co-op and if so, is it worthwhile?

        1. MEH*

          I have not played co-op. I’ve heard it’s quite good but if you’re the cat, Daffodil, you don’t get to talk to other people. I hope you enjoy playing it! If you use Steam, they have a demo.

          1. Holly the spa pro*

            I started playing it today and it is absolutely comfy af. Ive spent the last couple weeks replaying fallout 4 so this is a nice change of pace.

    13. Trying Not to Lose My Marbles*

      In normal times we often got together with friends to play strategy board games like Terraforming Mars, Roll for the Galaxy and such. Since we can’t get out much these days, we’ve set up gaming get togethers on BoardGameArena.com and also using iPad apps and Steam versions of some of our favorites. It’s really making the year a lot more bearable.

      1. Nynaeve*

        I just played Terraforming Mars with friends the other day! I’m also about to log in to BoardGameArena to play games with my friend for her birthday.

    14. Stormfeather*

      Oof, late to the party but… this past week I’ve mostly been playing Crusader Kings III (I poured way too much time into II over the years, so of course I was looking forward to the next one) on Steam, and Kingdoms of Amalur, Re-Reckoning for the PS4. With a little bit of messing around on cell phone games (which… I really need to play fewer of TBH, they’re more “time waster” types than “actually getting into and really enjoying the game, and yet I still play).

      And of course that apparently wasn’t enough so I ended up finally hooking up the spare PS4 I’d bought to my TV in my bedroom (basically I wasn’t sure if my current PS4 was going to be okay, plus I thought I’d end up wanting to spend more time holed up in my room than I actually do now that I have a large TV and suchlike in the living room, thus a spare that I found used). So now I’ve been downloading a few of my games to it and playing around. Of course, I’ve also been feeling a bit under the weather this weekend, so lying in bed playing games was about my speed anyhow.

      On the non-video-game front I’m also in a few tabletop RPGs, though not sure if that’s the type of game you mean. In theory I’m in a D&D game on Monday nights but it seems to have died, or at least is resting its eyes at the moment. I’m in a pretty big one on Tuesday nights with a large group containing a few newbies, so that’s fun because a) I like my character a lot and b) it’s fun to be a part of the new players’ learning and getting used to the game. And I’m in another d&d game on Friday nights, run by one of the players in the Tuesday night game that’s a core group of players that have played in a few games together now. (The DM on Tuesday is also part of said group, and part of the Monday night group and in fact pulled me into it.)

    15. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I’m almost done with the FF7 remake. It’s my first Final Fantasy game, and I gotta admit, it’s really not my jam. I do not enjoy the battle mechanics, and one has so few choices it really doesn’t feel like an RPG to me. However, because I’m not all that invested I don’t care about 100% anything or being good at it, so it’s a nice chill gaming experience.
      Next up: Ghost of Tsushima. I’m kinda killing time until I get to be a Viking in November, which I’m really looking forward to.

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Crocheting update: I have completed my first blanket. Two photos here:
    https://imgur.com/a/DttVjKQ

    This only took me a week! I was braced for it to take something more like a month.

    I’ve been buying a lot of multi-colored yarn and realized that I don’t like it, other than ombres. I thought it would make for more interesting variety, but I’m finding I don’t like the patterns that emerge when the colors are sort of randomly splotched around. (I made a dishcloth that inadvertently ended up looking like a camouflage print, which I was not happy about.) So I am breaking up with variegated yarns (aside from ombre yarns, which I wish I could find more of).

    Thanks to everyone who’s been answering my questions as I teach myself. I feel like I have the basics down now. I have not, however, branched out in my stitches and am still limited to sc, dc, tc, and hdc. So that might be what I focus on next.

    1. Lena Clare*

      That looks really good Alison. What are you going to crochet next?
      And are you going to try your hand at knitting again?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m going to try another blanket, this one with thick blue and white stripes. I didn’t like the color pattern this yarn made and I want something more soothing to the eye. And when I’m done with that, I’m going to revisit the first blanket I tried and messed up (the one I asked about last week, where I made one piece way too wide).

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          You may find the color choices, striping suggestions on Daisy Farm Crafts appealing. They design some very modern but relatively easy blankets. I also like that about half their blankets use only the stitches you mentioned, but some add just one or two new stitches so it’s a good way to branch out. They also have videos and written patterns for their work.

            1. NoLongerYoung*

              Oh, I loved these ideas – even their solid color blankets are wonderful. And… I like that their hints in the write-ups are so good – the yard, the hook (‘you may find that you need to go down a size..’ on one of the velvet yarns).
              Thank you!

              1. Tortally HareBrained*

                Glad y’all both enjoyed them. They also have an active Facebook group where people share color ideas but also help people troubleshoot any issues with their patterns. I found them super useful when I started, and still interesting enough a few years in.

        2. Germank106*

          It looks really comfy. There is a group on Ravelry that specifically deals with planned color pooling for yarns like that. I’m not a big fan of variegated yarns either, but some of their projects look really amazing.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yay blanket!
        For new project, have you considered a badket? I’m pretty sure the cats would model it for you.

      3. Always Late to the Party*

        I taught myself to knit and have made exactly one scarf, although it is still on the needles. Waiting for supplies to arrive for my second project! I guess I could teach myself to cast off while I wait…

        Any general tips for beginning knitters?

        1. BetsCounts*

          Scarves can get boring so I often recommend potholders- as long as you use cotton yarn they will be fine. I knit really right so I don’t worry too much about holes or gap-y pieces but if I did I’d just make it longer and fold it in half.
          I got a **ton** of use out of Learn-To-Knit-Afghan Book by Barbara G. Walker. But I am not a huge fan of finishing/sewing pieces together so after the first few squares I switched over to cotton yarn and- now have a ton of potholders! Good luck! I get a lot of yarn from knitpicks high quality and inexpensive- I give Dishie high marks for (wait for it) POTHOLDERS!

        2. Germank106*

          Find a pattern you really like and then just go for it. My first project was a fair isle sweater and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Thankfully I had lots of help from friends and family.
          Look for Very Pink Knits on YouTube. She has excellent beginner videos. She also has a group on Ravelry called “Verypink”. If you want to get into Sock knitting look for Roxanne Richardsons Videos on YouTube. But beware, sock knitting is terribly addictive.

        3. NRG*

          I recommend smaller accessories like hats, headbands, arm warmers, mittens (glove fingers are not a super-beginner item), cowls, pot holders, square and round pillows, etc. The cylinder items usually call for either circular or double pointed needles. This is much easier than it initially looks, but there are patterns for straight needles, wherein you join pieces when you are done, as well if you prefer. As a general tip, for learning a new technique, I like to use light colored yarn, maybe slightly bulky, and kind of smooth texture, so I can see what I’m doing. My first attempt at anything not a flat square was to try to make a black mohair sweater. Do not recommend I still hate mohair to this day.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Personally I tend to use variegated yarns for small projects like a little carrying case for my GBA or maybe children’s hats (I know a woman who knits tiny baby hats for preemies….been meaning to ask her about the name of the charity). But that blanket looks good!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Call your local hospital’s NICU and ask — it’s often just done through the hospital’s volunteers.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If you want to try an alternative option for your multicolors- there’s a group on Facebook and Ravelry called Hooked on Sunshine who does granny square style afghans, both smaller squares meant to patchwork together and also larger afghans that are crocheted around from a center point. You might like the color pooling better when the yarn is spiraling rather than back and forth, end to end.

      Also, granny squares are fairly small and a good way to learn and practice new techniques – I’ve been crocheting for 35 years and I’m still learning things, I’m working on the Phoenix blanket – because the FB group is full of helper fairies, the pattern writer has video tutorials available for a lot of patterns and the written patterns (or at least the ones I’ve seen so far) have a lot of pictures and step by step instructions for any stitches beyond the standard sc, hdc, dc.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Honestly though the vast majority of patterns are made up of sc, hdc, dc and trc so you’ve already built up a substantial repertoire. Congratulations!

      I know what you mean about variegated yarns. I prefer plain with clean colour edges (you talked about working BLO “back loops only” a week or two ago, and I find this a very good way to make a clean boundary at colour changes).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Alison, that came out really nice. I am so impressed with how the edges are nice and straight. My first afghan was more like a trapezoid than a rectangle. I was okay with that because I used scrap yarns of various weights and it was just a car blanket. It was more important that I knuckle down and learn how crochet work goes.

      I do agree that these variegated yarns work up in an odd manner and somehow can be less attractive once made into something. I saw the same thing with knitting. Probably just me, but the multi-colored mittens I made looked “tired” quicker than other mittens and I ended up throwing them out sooner. When I started I wasn’t very picky about yarn but I hadn’t developed preferences either because of being a newbie.

    6. Julco*

      I’ve never cared for the way colors pool in variegated yarns either, but I’ve found that if you use them with coordinating solid colors you can get some interesting looks. Also, the pooling is affected by how wide your project is. A narrow project will be more splotchy and a wide project will have more of a striped look.

    7. Sled dog mama*

      Alison I’ve been so excited to read your crocheting updates. You’ve inspired me to pull out a couple of old projects I had set aside when I was working on a certification for that thing we don’t talk about on the weekend.
      I am currently working on a rug for my daughter’s room.

      I don’t really like variegated yarn either but as someone mentioned the aesthetic is generally more pleasing when working in the round rather than in rows.

      1. Crafty Crafter*

        Agreed—I’ve found that variegated yarn makes lovely kids’ hats (i.e., smallish) when crocheted in the round. Not fond of the results when the same yarn is used on a back-and-forth pattern. Or when knitting, for that matter—the color changes too quickly.

    8. Crafty Crafter*

      Yay on the blanket! Thick yarn and big hooks make for quick work. Multi-colored yarn can be tricky, and the results vary depending on several things—stitch used, number of stitches, and if you’re doing back-and-forth rows vs rounds. Ombré, striping yarn (long stretches of each color), and variegated (quick color changes) are all different. Don’t give up on them totally, as they are great for some things!

      As for the stitches, now comes the exciting part! Once you’ve got the basic stitches down, it’s a matter of combining them and using variations. When you see things like “v stitch” and “shell stitch,” those are really just a grouping of the basic stitches that repeats. You’ll do great!

    9. Sapphire (they)*

      It sounds like self-striping yarns may be more of your thing (I also dislike the more splotchy yarns, which is why those end up in my I-cord rug). That’s going to give you more of an ombre effect and you can specifically look for self-striping yarn.

    10. Pucci*

      When using variegated yarns in knitting, I use in alternate rows with solid or semi-solid yarns: slip stitch patterns work well too. In crochet, a pattern with two rows variegated, four rows solid would be really attractive, especially if the pattern is wavy or zig-zags.

        1. All the cats 4 me*

          Welcome to the yarn world!

          I have a whole drawerful of that awful eyelash yarn from the dollar store (it is so Pretty. And Colorful!) that I can’t bear to get rid of cause I have this thing in the back of my mind that someday I will design amazing cat toys or stuffed animals with it.

          Right after I master machine knitting. And get my fixed loom twined rag rugs done. And satisfy my insane desire to get a floor loom to make rag rugs. And make miles of icord from crap yarn to make coil rugs. And finish crocheting a set of rugs from hand me down Colourmart cotton.

          As you go on your yarn journey, you might want to check out ColourMart .com in the UK. They sell high end yarn mill ends that are fabulous. Majority are natural fibres (cashmere, wool, silk, cotton) and to drool over. I have no affiliation, just an ardent admirer!

    11. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Here’s another question: I made that blanket with Bernat Blanket yarn, using double crochet. I have a bunch more Bernat Blanket for my next blanket. Could I use a more interesting stitch with that yarn, like the moss stitch or a v stitch or a ripple? The yarn is so bulky that I’m not sure how well those stitches would show up and maybe it wouldn’t be worth the effort? (Or does that not even make sense and the bulkiness won’t affect that?)

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        I’ve made one with a V stitch that worked well. You are right that not every stitch will show well with yarn that bulky, but most should be doable with the right size hook.

      2. Crafty Crafter*

        Generally speaking, I would recommend choosing between interesting yarn or interesting stitches. You’re right that a really beautiful stitch won’t show to advantage with a bulky and/or fuzzy yarn. Ripple or v stitch should be fine with Bernat Blanket, as they are just variations on the basic dc. Moss stitch, not so much. I love a good moss stitch, but I’d save it for when you have a smooth, worsted weight yarn.

      3. Sled Dog Mama*

        I’m working with a yarn that is very similar to Bernat Blanket on my rug. My pattern uses front and back post stitches to create texture. I’m about 7 rounds in and that texture shows very nicely but I don’t think texture from different stitches would show as well. I can barely see the individual stitches and trying to join the rounds is going to make me crazy.

    12. Thankful for AAM*

      Does anyone have a suggestion for a place to buy yarn online. I’m inspired to do some crocheting (amigurumi) and dont want to try stores near me.
      Thanks!

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        Most of the big yarn companies and craft stores carry their yarn online. If you already have a preferred amigurumi yarn I’d go with that. Personally I like making toys with Caron Simply Soft which can be ordered from pretty much any big box craft store and shipped to your house or directly from the manufacturer. If you prefer to support Local Yarn Stores I’d do some googling and see if one in your city will place a drop ship order by phone or through their website for you.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Jo-Anns and Michaels both have their yarn online, some with curbside pickup at local stores. Some local yarn shops are doing curbside pickup. And I had surprisingly good luck finding a discontinued color on etsy. Happy hooking!

      3. Thankful for AAM*

        Thanks all, made my first little amigurumi with odd bits of yarn I have and ordered some yarn and a couple of patterns. I also pulled out some wire and had a go at crocheting some jewelry.

    13. Gamer Girl*

      Once you’re ready to move on to more stitches, you can always check out the Rainbow Sampler Blanket CAL by HaakMaarRaak. The pattern is free, but there’s a really nice pdf version for just a few dollars. She has a Facebook group to answer questions and give support for the pattern. The yarn is just basic DK weight yarn, and the designer made this blanket as a learning project for herself several years ago, so there are lots of helpful tips for the stitches. Also: Loads of colors in the project, but no variated yarns, :)

      I am on week 3 myself, but I will have to restart in October or so–I’m only doing fingering weight cotton scarves till the temps get cooler. I have no air conditioning!

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        Thank you thank you! I loved her other patterns, too – the star stitch (striped) rainbow baby blanket may work very well too, for using up rows of color and having natural stopping points. In the late 70s I made a wonderful rainbow prism blanket that I miss… I’ve always loved stripes and plaids.

        1. Gamer Girl*

          Glad you like it! It’s actually one of the projects that inspired me to actually start crocheting a couple of years ago, so I’m pleased to finally make it. And! It is a great stash buster–I was lucky enough to get a bunch of half skeins of yarn passed on to me in all sorts of different colors, and this project is perfect for it :)

  6. Mari*

    I’m looking for a laptop recommendation. I’m a dinosaur, and would just keep my current laptop forever, if I could. And that’s essentially what I’ve been doing. I have a Toshiba Satellite, and every time I needed a new laptop I would just go and buy the latest model (which gives you some idea of how old my laptop is). But that era has ended.
    I don’t particularly like Windows 10, so I waited until (past) the last minute to update. But it was too much for my poor old laptop, which is now very sluggish. Also, I could install my antivirus, but not my VPN, which I want.

    At first I thought I would get a MacBook Air, as I like my iPhone. But it only comes with a 13” screen and I want something bigger. The MacBook Pro seems like too much money to pay just for a bigger screen. Also, I hear that MacBooks don’t have USB ports, which I would like to have.

    I don’t particularly like the Chrome books, but only because I don’t want to be that tied to Google.

    If I go with Windows – there are just so many choices. Does anyone have any recommendations? I don’t do anything heavy duty with it, and I just want a laptop so I can move around my small apartment with it.

    The other snag is that I live in a foreign country. It would be easy to buy an Apple with an English operating system here, but harder to find a Windows with an English operating system – though not impossible. Or, if it were cheap enough, I could just order it from Amazon US.

    Any Windows recommendations? Or should I go with the MacBook Air and hope I adjust to the smaller screen?

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I went through the process you’re describing a couple years ago. Just so many choices, and it was really hard to pin down what to get.

      First, don’t settle for a screen that is too small. It will get more annoying, not less so.

      How you will use your laptop makes a big difference. For example, do you need something lightweight because you’ll be traveling with it a lot? Do you play games on it? Use it for editing photos? Just need basic word processing for documents? Use detailed graphics programs? One thing that really helped me was going to reputable sources online and looking for recommendations for specific purposes. I just didn’t need some of the options that were out there.

      Once you settle on what you’d like to purchase, my suggestion is to spring for the top of the line model in your price range with the greatest capacity. Since computers can become dinosaurs in just a few years with how fast technology progresses, it can ultimately save you money to get something beefier than you think you need now so that it will last longer with upgrades.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        One more recommendation. Depending on your time zone since you’re not in the US, I highly recommend the customer service folks at B&H Photo based in New York City but available through online chat if an international call isn’t workable. These folks really know their stuff, and they won’t try and hustle you to buy the most expensive computer. They have consistently given me good advice when I’ve told them my price range and what I wanted to use my equipment for. And the reviews from other customers there are really helpful, even if you ultimately end up getting your computer from another source.

        1. Coffee Cup*

          I once bought a Windows laptop in Poland and was definitely able to change the operating language to English. I was later able to change it to a third language to pass it on to someone

            1. Bobina*

              If you get it new, there will usually be a step in the settings when you can pick the language. I’ve definitely never had issues changing languages before.

            2. Coffee Cup*

              It wasn’t very hard to change from what I remember. The first time I did ask a Polish speaker for help (I don’t speak Polish at all). The second time after it was reset to factory settings I googled how to do it on the OS (Windows 8 at the time) on my phone and did it by counting down the menu options etc until I got to system language. It was easy enough.

        2. Lizzo*

          FYI: B&H has been hit with at least one—if not more—lawsuit re: discrimination in the workplace within the last 5 years. I used to shop there regularly, but have since taken my business elsewhere.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            After reading your comment, I looked up this info and I won’t be ordering from them again. Thanks for the heads-up.

        3. Squeakrad*

          Another vote for B and H photo – we buy all our computers and peripherals for them and they are really helpful in the pre-sales sales and post sales process

    2. Bobina*

      Posted pretty much the same question below. So far I’m leaning towards a Lenovo but hoping others will either confirm or deny my suggestion.

      I often start by looking for “best laptop under $X” to narrow down my options and then decide within that what seems to suit my personal situation best.

        1. Laura H.*

          Same. Well I replaced the refurbished one a few years ago but with another Lenovo. And technically my refurb still works just not as a portable or as my primary. I got 6 years and a Bachelor level thesis outta that. Definitely look into a refurbished one if you can.

          1. blue wall*

            Yeah I think I’ll be getting a new-to-me one sometime in the next year- I dropped the laptop and the screen doesn’t love me anymore, and the trackpad is worn.

      1. curly sue*

        I’m a huge fan of the Lenovo Thinkpad series – I haven’t used the Yogas or any of their other styles. They live forever, honestly. My son’s using my brother’s old X1 from 2013 for school and it’s still going strong.

        My current Thinkpad is a T480s. It’s small and durable enough that I can haul it around campus in my briefcase without worries, but the screen has a lot more usable space than my old XPS13. That one was a Dell and a decent computer, but the USB ports and battery died at the three year mark as though it were planned. I was unimpressed.

        1. curly sue*

          I should add that I don’t do any gaming on this – it’s 90% writing and now Teams meetings. The speakers are not great, but a decent headset fixed that issue. I don’t think the onboard graphics card would be able to keep up with the newest games.

        2. Filosofickle*

          My Dad has been extremely happy with his Thinkpads. Solid, reasonably priced. Mostly for internet / mail / documents but he likes to have lots of power and customized the build for his (amateur but frequent) Photoshop editing.

        3. WoodswomanWrites*

          I like my Thinkpad as well. I picked it specifically with the idea of longevity in mind. It’s two years old and works just as fast as it did when I got it, and I hope that will continue for years to come.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        My previous, just replaced one, was Lenovo Yoga and I hadted it with a passion for 5 years I had it.
        My issue was though I cheapened out on it in the beginning so it was always under-powered with a small screen.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      MacBooks these days don’t have “normal” USB ports, they have usb-C. I have a 13” MacBook Pro, upgraded with the last version update, and I have a $25 doohickey that plugs into one of the usb-c ports and does power pass through plus adding regular usb (x3 I think), HDMI, and… something else. SD card reader maybe? It’s basically a dock for when I’m at my desk, easy enough to unplug when I go mobile. But I don’t actually have anything plugged into the USB ports, my external mouse and keyboard are Bluetooth. I have an external USB hard drive, but I ordered a new cord for it that was usb-c on the computer end for $8. There are also usb-to-usb-c adapters, I got mine 2 for $7 and they work fine too. So if you decide to go MacBook, there’s ways around the usb thing. :)

      I cannot speak as well to the windows side of things – I have a Lenovo t510 (t530? I forget exactly) thinkpad that would be fine for basic use that I got off Amazon refurb for a couple hundred bucks but it’s not my main computer, I only use it when I have to have windows for something.

      1. Lizzo*

        When did they make this change with the USB ports? My MacBook Air is only a couple years old and I still have USB ports on mine…

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Recent. Last year I think? Might even have been early this year that the last of the models got switched to usb-c.

      2. fposte*

        Hey, can I hijack for a moment to ask you about MBP sounds? I just got a new one and I haven’t had SSD laptops before, so I don’t know what their normal noises are. It seems to make a very quiet ticking sound, almost a whirr, when working harder. It’s very quiet if it’s a fan–I’m used to the more jet enginey type sound–but I’m hoping that’s what it is.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Hmmm. If I’m doing anything with mine more than just like, web surfing and document editing and such, I have it plugged into a cooling tray which obscures most noise. If you just got yours, it’s in the same family as mine, and mine isn’t making any noise right now. What kinds of things are you doing when you say “working harder”? I’m reading that Chrome is a bit of a resource hog and tends to make the fan work harder to compensate, but I don’t use Chrome myself so I’m not sure.

          … and now I’m actually hearing a little bit of what you’re talking about, I think, now that I’m specifically moving everything else away from Ivanova and sticking my ear down there, haha. The quiet ticking noise I’m hearing, at least, is actually something I’ve been used to from all my Mac computers (laptops, minis and an iMac) in the past, and I’ve always just chalked it up to disc noises. Maybe SSDs don’t make disc noises and I’m totally just fooling myself, but whatever it is, if yours is the same noise I’m hearing, it has never caused any of my computers to melt down, take off and fly away, or anything else distressing. :)

          1. fposte*

            It’s mostly just browsers but I tend to keep tabs open so God knows what’s working away. I’m also working in a different location and setup so it may be something all my computers have had and the acoustics were never right for me to hear. I appreciate your reassurance!

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              ahh — I have in the past had issues with safari on my *phone* where a couple of open tabs caused my phone to work so hard it overheated to the point of shutting off. So if you have some busy (-er than necessary) tabs open, that could be part of it too. I’m not one for huge numbers of tabs, so narrowing the offender down was pretty easy, and I reduced the problem by switching tabs from the offending sites to Reader Mode until I was ready to actually look at them – if you’re using Safari on your MBP, I believe you can do the same thing if you wanted to give it a try, it’s the three-and-a-half bars on the left end of the URL field up top to toggle it on and off.

              1. fposte*

                I did not know about Reader Mode–that sounds very useful! Thanks. I channel all my hoarding impulses into tabs these days so periodically I just have to hit the “save all tabs as bookmarks” and start over again.

    4. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I faced the same dilemma a few months ago and got an HP 15t laptop. Nice big screen, pretty fast for normal use (much better than the last HP I bought in the mid-2010s), and HP has it on sale now for $549. I’ll post a link in a separate post (it’ll probably go into moderation).

      I’ve never liked Macs and I hate to support companies that take away popular and functional eatures just because they can.

    5. Red haired runner*

      I have had two Samsung laptops (not chromebooks) that have both lasted 4+ years without getting slow. They aren’t the cheapest on the market but for my level of use (nothing with heavy graphics) they have been very robust and reliable.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      You might find the computer recommendations at The Wirecutter helpful. They have separate recommendations for business, gaming, etc. I used them when I bought my Asus laptop a few years ago. It gets pretty light use (I use an iPad for most things) but I haven’t had any issues with it at all.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      We picked up 2 Dell notebooks for my parents, and it’s worked out really well. When something went bad, Dell replaced the laptop including moving the data over. My parents are middling tech savvy but didn’t want to do much tech support / research themselves, and the Dell support contract was worth the price premium.

      And yes, get the size screen you want.

      1. Nita*

        I have a Dell Inspiron and am pretty happy with it. It does everything I need. The laptop I had before that was a Toshiba, and it had some issues with being slow – it was so bad I’d lose half and hour every time I tried to log in for work. Partly my fault for buying the cheapest model on the market, but my husband’s mid-price old Toshiba also has issues with freezing up and slowness. I also have a ten-year-old MacBook and it drives me up. the. wall. It’s fine for typing up college papers and listening to music, but very difficult to work on – doesn’t interface with Windows well, no USB port, the SD card reader doesn’t seem to work, the file structure is bizarre and I can never keep it straight what’s stored where, and this year, the charger is going bad…

    8. Foreign Octopus*

      I had to do this a couple of months ago and decided on the MacBook Air 13in. I was also worried about the screen size but I can honestly say that after a week’s adjustment, I don’t notice it anymore. As far as laptops go it’s really good; I’m a little disappointed with the fan but I do a lot of video calling so it needs to work overtime, but I’m pleased I went with this one.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Would you consider Linux? Are you techie enough to want to try?
      My “in house IT guy” husband says there are laptops shipping with Linux from major name vendors. He added that you can sometimes get a performance boost on an older computer by changing operating systems to Linux.

    10. Ali G*

      I have a Dell that flexes into a tablet. I’ve had it about 3 years, bought refurbished and it’s been great. It actually came with a bad video card and Dell took it back and fixed it. It was all very easy. My husband did all the research and has one too. We’ve been happy with them.

    11. disambiguation*

      I just bought this Lenovo Flex: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086226DDB/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and it’s even better than I expected. It’s Windows 10 and a 14 inch screen, so you may not like it, but I’ve had no issues. It’s smaller than the laptop it replaced and it took me a couple of days to get used to that, but the better portability made up for it.

      Pros: very lightweight; interesting flex feature (laptop/tablet/tent); touch screen; blazing fast SSD

      Cons: No ethernet jack, which is annoying. I bought a cheap ethernet/USB hub and that works fine.

    12. Summersun*

      New Macs do have USB, but it’s USB-C. I actually really like that aspect, because you can charge from either side. That said: do not get a Macbook Air or a new Macbook Pro. I’ve worked with both. The Air overheats like crazy, and the fan constantly sounds like a jet engine. The Pro’s touchbar is an idiotic nightmare, and the keypad is so low/limited strike that even one tiny crumb getting underneath can freeze it up. The current Mac line-up is trash. If you want a Mac, a refurbished last-gen Pro is an excellent choice.

      Contrary to your experience, I will never buy another Toshiba. I have a Satellite 17-inch laptop that’s had multiple recalls, and some weird problem where the OS is incompatible with the battery and drains it. I had three batteries replaced in this thing, and it’s still so sh*tty that the second you unplug it from the wall, it dies. It cannot function without the cord.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Define “new”? They redid the keyboards on both the Air and the Pro with the model versions that were released earlier this year to do away with the ones that were so problematic, so right now the last-gen models are the ones with the crappy butterfly keyboards. Or are you saying the current (“Magic Keyboard”) keyboard is problematic too?

        1. Summersun*

          I’ve had my MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports) for six weeks, and the keyboard still sucks. Less than the butterfly version, but still not satisfactory. I keep a can of compressed air at my elbow, and use it constantly. I would not use this model by choice, but it’s my work machine.

          So, doing a deep dive of the Mac timeline, I think the ones I liked best are the Retina models from 2015 to mid-2016, before the touch bar came out. That IS old at this point for tech, but I still have a functioning Powerbook G4, so not unheard-of for Macs.

          Mac definitely had a sweet spot that I’m still mourning. My husband’s 128GB iPod Classic just bit the dust, and there is just nothing comparable out there.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I gotcha. I’ve not had any problems at all with the magic keyboard on my 2020 13” Pro, personally. But the model I had before it was a 2016 that I got about three months before the Touch Bar versions dropped, so I think that one is the version you’re talking about, and my husband still uses that one regularly :) I specifically kept it til they moved on from the butterfly keyboards because those were just that awful.

            I have in my home office a small collection of vintage Apple computers, ranging from 1983 to 2008, and every single one of them still works exactly as it’s supposed to. :) (That doesn’t make them still USEFUL, of course, and most of them aren’t even plugged in. But. Still pretty cool, I think.)

          2. Wehaf*

            I got a thin silicon cover for my MBP keyboard, which keeps stuff from getting inside the keyboard. And I got the non-touchbar option ( I have the touchbar version as my work machine and I don’t like it).

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have an Acer Aspire. It’s a good machine, not fancy, but just works. I do see that Acer is on Amazon.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      I got 2 in 1 Dell two weeks ago. I wasn’t specifically looking for 2-in-1, but it had the best combination of the price and specs.
      14″, 12 gb ram, 512 SSD drive. Windows 10. So far (two whole weeks) I am really happy with it. Especially comparing with my old, barely alive laptop.
      It was on a pricier side, just under $900 full price, but my partner had nice discounts via his employer.
      Word of advise – if you find what you are looking for, buy immediately, because laptops and Chromebooks, especially on the lower end, are in super high demand now, and go out of stock FAST.

    15. ...*

      I think you’ll get used the smaller screen easily. I would get the MacBook Air. I have a regular MacBook thats actually smaller than my work MacBook Air and now the MacBook Air screen seems MASSIVE. Like so big I dont even like it.

    16. LQ*

      Do you actually NEED a laptop? Would a tablet be sufficient?

      Are you traveling/away from home base a lot but need full computer tools? If so I lean toward do not go with the macbook air you’ll just be unhappy with it. And you’ll have to learn a new OS.

      If you are mobile frequently but don’t really need full horse power consider an ipad/pro. Get the keyboard and it does a tremendous amount of stuff, the OS will feel really similar to your phone and you will have a fairly low entry there (especially if you do lite computing on your phone currently).

      Either way I’d also strongly consider getting a full screen monitor to connect up with when needed as you are doing Computing things and need more real estate. Any laptop should be able to easily connect to external equipment. Monitor, keyboard, and mouse are entirely worth it and can make a very cheap machine feel much more workable.

    17. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I would suggest a refurbished business notebook rather than a consumer notebook. Lenovo Thinkpads last forever, as do good HP Elitebooks and Dell Latitudes.
      They are built to last as for business users the incidental cost of replacing a system ( data migration, time lost) is high and they are usually bought with service contracts, so repairs eat into the Maker’s profits.
      You can usually get decent ones for around $300 to $400.
      These machines mostly come from three-year business lease contracts and are professionally cleaned and refurbished, including a full new Windows install (if you phone ahead, they can set up the OS in the language of your choice and may even have US keyboards available; they at least should have professionally-made keyboard stickers to relabel the keys to US QWERTY standard).
      I bought two refurbished HP Elitebooks for my nephews five years ago as Christmas presents; they were $230 each (in Germany). They are still in use for school, now with desktops for gaming on the side.
      You will not only get solid kit for a decent price, it’s also good for the environment!

    18. Mari*

      Thanks for the recommendations. I feel like I have a much better idea of how to start looking now. But all the various preferences also made me realize that this wasn’t as big of a decision as I was making it into. So thanks especially for that.

    19. parthenon*

      I’m a lifelong Windows user. I bought a Macbook 4 years ago because I really wanted something lightweight (I was in grad school and carrying it around a lot.) I liked how it was lightweight and sharp-looking, but I never did get used to the Mac OS (even though I use an iPhone) and I didn’t really like the keyboard either.

      When work went remote, I got a work-issued Windows laptop, and immediately felt so much more comfortable using it for everyday tasks. My Macbook was also getting old enough that it would slow down if I had more than 3 tabs open, which does not work for some of the research projects I’m working on in my spare time. So I just got a new Dell XPS 15, and I absolutely love it. It does have the USB-C ports, which I like but aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. (The slightly older XPS 15 has the regular USB ports.) It weighs more than my tiny Macbook but it’s not at all heavy. The keyboard is a real keyboard! It’s an actual laptop and not trying to be a weird tablet hybrid! Huzzah!

    20. MissDisplaced*

      Well, I’ve worked at several companies and they usually issue Dell Latitudes as their workhorses and they do seem to be pretty sturdy things that last a while and are economical to buy.
      I currently am using a E5470, but there is a newer model out, I think it’s now the Latitude 7470 laptop.

      Other than that, my personal computer is an iMac desktop model.

  7. Rosie from the seaside*

    Juliet, Naked is a lovely story! I highly recommend the film with brilliant performances by Rose Byrn, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke. I’ve rewatched it several times, makes me smile and feel cosy.

  8. Rosie from the seaside*

    I’m looking for a recommendation for a facial suction cleaner (and a steamer if that helps). I have combination skin with blackheads sitting deep on my nose and around my lips.
    Getting a facial isn’t really an option where I live, even outside corona times, so I have to rely on what I can do myself.
    I’ve read mixed reviews and don’t know if these cleaners would work at all with my blackheads that even a professional suffers with. I’d love if anyone with experience could weigh in.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not exactly helpful for immediate purposes, but my pores used to be a mess- I had the blackheads but my pores were also big and they looked dark/clogged. At that time, I was embarrassed, in part because I couldn’t figure out what was happening. Diet can be very helpful over the longer haul. Make sure you are drinking water daily and loading up on veggies. I also started using a luffa sponge regularly. I read that a light touch is all that is needed, the goal with the luffa is to take off the loose stuff that collects on top of skin. I think the thing that helped the most initially was the tip I read to wash the face at night before bed with cleanser/soap/whatever. Then in the morning just rinse the face with plain water. I definitely saw differences once I started this routine.

    2. Sleepy time*

      I’m a bit obsessed with my pores and haven’t been convinced by those vacuum products. They seem to mostly peel,off the top layer of skin. I know a lot of people recommend fiftyshadeofsnails’ pore cleansing routine (link in next comment.)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I wish there was one of these for folks who have allergies. :(

          (this is not meant to be a sandwiches comment, I just have awful gross pores and I am envious of people who can use skincare products)

          1. rear mech*

            I have horrendous skin allergies and I do the oil massage that she describes using mineral oil. Since it’s non-organic, it’s tolerated by most of us who have intense reactions to various plants, fragrance, etc. If you’ve put vaseline on your skin without having a reaction, you should be good to go. Most of the mineral oil in the pharmacy section has added Vitamin E, which *is* irritating. Someone recommended looking for “wood oil” that’s marketed for treating cutting boards, and is labelled 100% pure, as well. good luck :)

    3. Holly the spa pro*

      Hello! Licensed esthetician here. I have yet to meet a pore sucking device that works well. They are also really rough with the skin if used frequently and can decrease elasticity in the skin.

      A couple things to consider: are your blackheads difficult to extract because yoir skin is naturally dry and congested? Or they are deep and frequent because you are oily?

      What products do you use and how often do you use them? Many times these problems persist because you just havent found the right ingredients or are using products that are wrong for your skin type.

      If facials arent an option id recommend doing your own extractions. You dont need a steamer unless you want one for fun, after a hot shower works just fine and there are tons of videos of proper extraction technique so you dont destroy your face.

      Thanks for coming ylto my TED talk.

    4. A313*

      I was getting monthly facial peels at my dermatologist’s office pre-COVID. Now, I’ve discovered Dr. Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel. I use them every day, although I worked up to that. They are pricey, but in the end, they cost about the same as my co-pay for my aesthetician at the dermatologist’s office. And if you get a subscription on Dermstore, you can get them for less. I really love them. They keep my pores smaller and cleaned out and my skin is so much softer and smoother. Even though my dermatologist’s office is open for facial peels again, I’ve decided I like these even better!

    5. Disco Janet*

      I wouldn’t recommend them. I’ve tried a couple and they did absolutely nothing for me. None of the funk or blackheads came out of my skin. Husband gave it a try as well and it irritated his skin while still doing nothing.

    6. ...*

      I would strongly discourage you from using one of those pore suction things. Those are not healthy for your skin and you could cause damage. I would use a light acid topical treatment to help bring the blackheads to the surface. Drunk Elephant Framboos is my rec.

    7. Wehaf*

      Aztec Healing Clay facials (with apple cider vinegar instead of water) has helped with my blackheads. You should be able to get a bottle of vinegar and a container of clay for under $15 (maybe a bit more if you need to have it shipped) which should be enough for months of twice-weekly facials.

  9. WellRed*

    My sib is in the hospital, dying. It’s sudden and yet not. My question: what on earth do people do when someone dies without money for burial? I mean, we’ll figure it out but? I don’t have money, neither does my mom. And With Covid not sure what we’ll do anyway.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m so sorry to hear that you are in this position. I hope things remain peaceful.

      In my country, the local authority will cover the cost of interment/cremation if the family cannot, but as I understand it that’s absolutely minimal, and if the family wants any input whatsoever then they have to cough up. Daytime TV has frequent commercials for “funeral plans” which are like very limited life insurance to cover literally the funeral costs and nothing else – they quote an average UK funeral cost in the region of £4-5k.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I looked around a bit on the net- one site suggested contacting the county coroner’s office, they should have advice.
      Another suggestion was to donate the body to science. You can ask others to help or you could set up a GoFundMe account.
      Cremation can be a lower cost solution, also. If you or a family member are connected to a church, the church may have advice also.
      Some bodies go unclaimed because no one can pay for the funeral. Several sites point out that funerals run around $8500. The meshes with my experience. The last funeral I arranged for was about 7500 and I thought I was pretty frugal with my choices.
      Do double check to make sure there are no life insurance policies and just make sure they did not have any savings of any sort that could be used. Sometimes people are thought to have nothing but then later it’s found out that they had a little bit stashed away some where.

      1. Similar situation*

        I recently had a sibling die and cremation was our path. It was not for financial reasons, it had always been the plan, but it was about $800 in a midwest city (just cremation, no service, ashes in a plain plastic box).
        Since we were also in a city not home to any of us (treatment travel), it allowed taking the remains home and we plan to have memorial activities after people can gather again (perhaps on an anniversary).
        Donation to science may not be an option due to Covid.

        1. Asenath*

          Even pre-COVID, not all body donations are accepted. I know in at least one place, the body of someone who died from an infection could not be used for either donation to science or organ donation. I can understand why.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, me too. I know this is a bit morbid when we’re talking about someone’s beloved family member, but I wonder if body farms still accept donations? That said, I’m not sure if it would be ethically or morally right to donate a body without knowing the wishes of the deceased person.

    3. WellRed*

      I should add: he does not want cremation. Only thing he specified. I’m thinking of donating my own body to science. Although I have a generous life insurance plan, too so no one will be financially burdened.

      1. Jay*

        I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been a hospice medical director so I have a fair amount of experience with this. Unfortunately, in most (or all) of the US, the family is solely responsible for funeral costs. Very few places still have a “Potter’s field” where the government pays for burial. Donating a body to science is not as easy as you’d think, although you can certainly look into it.

        If a hospice service is involved, the social worker can help you figure this out. If they’re not involved, they often offer bereavement services to the public and it’s worth a phone call. The hospital social worker and chaplain would also be a resource if your sib is hospitalized. If you have any connection to a faith community, no matter how tenuous, and it would not be harmful to you or your family to reach out, the spiritual leader can also help you.

        Be gentle with yourself. This is a terrible loss, no matter the circumstances. Sending gentle hugs through the ether, if hugs are comforting.

        1. Not A Manager*

          What does it mean that the family is solely responsible, though? If someone doesn’t have any resources and the family chooses to walk away from the situation (not suggesting that the poster do that, by any means), does the locality literally hold them financially liable? Like sue them for the costs?

          1. Jay*

            The municipality absolutely can come after the family for costs, and they can hold the body without burial until they come to some kind of agreement.

          2. Observer*

            Either that or the body gets dumped. Often literally, although officially the municipality is supposed to bury them – generally in mass graves that are often unmarked.

            google potters field.

        2. Natalie*

          I would definitely check this out for your actual county – indigent burial absolutely still exists in plenty of states including very populous ones, so I’m not sure that “very few” places is an accurate assessment even if it doesn’t exist in your particular area.

      2. Asenath*

        Burial will usually be more expensive than cremation. If he doesn’t qualify for government support, a good undertaker should be able to provide something similar to a low-cost government burial. As a friend’s relative said, “Don’t waste a lot of money on the funeral, but get me the next most expensive coffin to the government one.” I would strongly advise that you, or your relative if he is able, make arrangements now when you are under less stress and more able to walk away if you encounter an undertaker who is not willing to work with you on cheap services. Also, find out your local laws – are expensive options like embalming really legally required? Where are the cheapest burial plots? (Rural ones, often, particularly if you have family connections in a small town. ) Hospitals sometimes have brochures and staff who can help. Religious groups often have experience making arrangements after a death, especially for poor people. Its good that you’re thinking about this now.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          And be sure to ask if there are cheaper coffins in the back. Or if you can use a corrugated box (they have them at Costco, or used to). Or if a green funeral – wrapping in a shroud – is an option.

          And yes, embalming may not be required. Ask ask ask. I wish I had known these things when my dad died. We would not have wasted money. He would not have wanted us to waste money for sure!

          And with respect re cremation – I know that’s your loved one’s wish, but – I would not want my family to go into debt to bury me.

      1. Jay*

        Also if they’ve belonged to a union or any other kind of trade group, or if your family is part of an ethnic group that has some kind of society (like the Knights of Columbus) or any other community group (Elks, Lions, Masons).

        1. Deanna Troi*

          I had no idea that Knights of Colombus was based on an ethnic group! A quick consult with my friend Google suggests that it is Irish.

          1. Squeakrad*

            Knights of Columbus is definitely not Irish it’s Catholic – I grew up with the Knights of Columbus with entirely Italian and Italian American.

            1. Deanna Troi*

              Thanks, Squeakrad, for the clarification. Jay said that it was associated with an ethnic group, and when I took a look at the history, it said it was started in 1882 by Father Michael McGivney, so I concluded that it was affiliated with the Irish. I’m sorry for assuming that. Sounds like it is associated with a religion, not an ethnic group.

              I’m sorry for what your brother and family are going through, Wellred. I hope you find a way forward that brings your family some comfort and peace.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m so sorry. The first thing I would do is speak with the hospital social worker or chaplain. Find out what your actual options are.

      But also, and I mean this gently – sometimes we don’t get all of what we want. I understand your sibling’s stated preference against cremation, but you need to balance your family’s needs against the reality that you’re offered. Do the survivors need some kind of ceremony that is connected to tangible remains? Does medical donation feel good, like a meaningful service that honors the deceased, or does it feel bad? If he received a burial for indigents, would that process feel disrespectful or unpleasant? Then you need to make the best decision you can under the circumstances.

      I think that sometimes we tend to over-stress people’s quote-unquote “last wishes” (or their last moments, or our final interactions with them). Of course this is understandable, but for me it can be helpful to remember that a person’s life is their whole life, and our relationship was the whole relationship. Lives don’t just lead up to death and culminate in that one moment. Anyway, this is a long way of saying that if you do decide that cremation is the best option available, please try to accept it in the context of your sibling’s whole life, and all the preferences they had, some of which were met and some of which were not.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It might be worth asking why. Someone I knew changed her mind about cremation when she realized she could still have a headstone. She had thought cremated remains were always scattered. She chose it when she realized her ashes could be buried in an otherwise full cemetery with her parents, her name next to theirs.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Yes, ashes can be buried on top of another burial plot even, such as parents. Names can be added to existing tombstones or most churches (burial at a church is still a thing where I live) will provide a metal plaque of some type with the name and dates.

          So, unless there is some type of religious objection to cremation, honestly it is your best way to go in most cases.

      2. Lizzo*

        This is excellent advice. I’d like to emphasize the part about “you need to balance your family’s needs against the reality that you’re offered.” Would your sibling want you and your family to be in debt as a result of their funeral arrangements? Remember that memorial services are just as much–if not more–about the living people left behind as they are about the deceased. Mourn, remember, celebrate, but do it in a way that will help everyone move through their grief. All that is possible without being buried in thousands of dollars of debt.

        Sending you comforting thoughts for the days ahead.

      3. Been There*

        Thank you for this. My father made arrangements to donate his body to science, but when he died, my mom wasn’t sure she was comfortable with that. The funeral director very kindly and compassionately said the same thing—that it was ultimately Mom’s choice. We discussed it and Mom eventually decided to go with the donation, and she was so at peace with that decision that she decided she wanted to do the same thing, when the time came.

        A couple of notes about donating your body, for anyone who is interested. You can (and should) set things up beforehand. In Florida, it was through the State Anatomical Board. You do not get to say exactly where your body goes or for what purpose it will be used, so be sure you understand and are comfortable with the possibilities.

        Donation is NOT free. We needed a funeral home to handle the transfer, and if I remember correctly, it came to about $2K. Mom went to the UCF med school. We received a partial reimbursement of the expenses about a year later ($800), and we like to refer to that as Mom’s scholarship for her medical degree. It takes about 2 years to receive the cremains. For both Mom and Dad, we also received a lovely letter from the school letting us know how the donation had benefited the students, and an invitation to a ceremony honoring those who donated.

        Honestly, this was a gift to me and my sister, as well as to the medical school. My parents very clearly stated their wishes, taking that burden from me and my sister, and they were able to perform one final act of generosity when they died.

        1. allathian*

          Your last paragraph is so important. Thankfully my parents are still alive, but funeral planning takes away so much of the distress of organizing a funeral. At least if the necessary funds are available to implement those plans. In the OP’s case, that’s not true.

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      Credit cards. I’m not kidding. It was $3K/per parent and I was broke too.

      Both my parents died with ZERO funds. The only things that saved us were…

      1) funeral home in a less $$$ area didn’t gouge us.

      2) Dad had VA benefits so we dodged the plot costs, casket, and money for digging the grave.

      3) No viewing, service at the VA cemetery only.

      Be brutally up front on what you can spend. Every little thing costs at
      the funeral home. Transportation to the funeral home. Transportation to the cemetery. Embalming. Mom didn’t have it. Dad did because the home teaches mortuary science students. It was free. Memorial cards may or may not be free.

      Because of COVID-19, most likely it will be to the home for preparation/cremation, then cemetery or you take the ashes home. You will dodge the viewing costs (this is where the homes get you), and transportation church/house of worship.

      Social security chips in a little money for burial. Your state might too. It may be a cardboard casket, but if you don’t want cremation it’s better than nothing. I would start calling around now to homes. You’ll find out who wants to work with you. The home we used did payment plans if the funeral was under a certain amount. It is in a low income area. People don’t have $30K to spend.

      Look at green burials if it’s a shroud, and hole in ground. I want that when I go, and it’s currently $3K in my area. Costs are transportation and hole in ground. Cremation is about $1K, depending on what you want.

      This sounds gross, but shop like you are looking for a car. Prices are all over the place. Someone homes only want people who can spend serious jack, and some will bend over backwards to help you. Some will hustle money from SSI and the state, others let you figure that out. If people offer to help pay TAKE IT.

      I’m sorry you are going through this. It is the most miserable experience trying to bury someone when the money flat out isn’t there. Let people help you, and be blunt ugly honest on what you can and can not do.

      (gentle hugs)

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sympathies for your present situation and pending loss. US resident here, so apologies if you’re in another country.

      I know nothing about finding an affordable cemetery plot. Perhaps a social worker from the hospital (or the municipality/county/state of the hospital) can help.

      Aware that some faith communities traditionally use plain wood coffins and/or avoid embalming, I did a brief search online and learned that
      – there is a U.S. organization called Funeral Consumers Alliance, which has affiliates in some but not all states.
      – the web site for dying (dot) lovetoknow (dot) com discusses cheap caskets, including pine boxes and cardboard coffins, and has links to some vendors.
      – My home state offers burial assistance under some circumstances, with restrictions; I did not probe for details but hoped that if one state has this, others will also.

      Covid limits the size of groups attending funerals (graveside or elsewhere), but people have streamed ceremonies to enable virtual attendance.

      Caveat for all the above: I am not a funeral professional, just a concerned stranger and moderately savvy internet searcher. Good wishes as you plan for a difficult experience while in difficult circumstances.

    7. Aza*

      I’ve heard that funeral homes are legally obligated to use any coffin you want even if not sold by them. I’ve heard Costco sells coffins.

    8. Sunny123*

      Contact your local Catholic cemetery (even if you are not Catholic or religious). They may be able to help. Wishing you and your family peace during this time.

    9. With Sympathies*

      I’m so sorry you are going through this.
      I second the thought of whoever said “GoFundMe.” Especially if you somehow let people know it’s you (WellRed GoFundMe?)…I would certainly donate, even if just a little.
      Also, please read up on your rights with funeral homes. This will help you decide what services you want without being forced into services you do not need. Not sure if it’s ok to post a link here (will try, may n0t work), if it doesn’t, just google “FTC funeral rule.” It’s a national rule enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule
      Sending warm thoughts your way.

    10. Black Horse Dancing*

      Definitely check with your county. Many have indigent funds. My county is as follows: Application is made and family states they have no funds nor does deceased. The applicant is normally a family member, often out of state/area. They discuss on the phone with our indigent department. Once approved, the body is cremated. No burials are done because the county is paying for it and they are choosing the cheapest option. For my county, the cremains are NOT given to the family. The county and the funeral home decided to prevent people from abusing the indigent policy, they would not give the cremains to family. (The funeral home saw this as a run around their outrageous prices. We have one funeral home and their costs are eye watering. Yes, they are gouging.) So the county pays for the cremation and the funeral home takes care of the abandoned corpses/indigent. If you can’t afford the funeral/burial/cremation, definitely look into this. It’s not what your sib may want but if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it.
      Sorry for your loss.

      1. Venus*

        They also have info about natural burials, without embalming or coffins. I don’t know if they would be much cheaper, but in theory they should be. This is their link to service providers, as natural burials are harder to arrange (very few funeral homes offer them as they are rarely requested):
        https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/

    11. Venus*

      Ask A Mortician has good videos about the realities of funeral homes in the U.S. For example, donations to science are logistically complicated and need to be set up ahead of time, so that might not be an option. She also explains that the reality of GoFundMe funded funerals is that the successful ones are almost all tragic young deaths.

      I agree with the comment that your sib may not have the choice of not being cremated, as it is the cheapest option and they can’t contribute funds.

      If you decide to contribute financially, then I suggest watching some of her videos. The link below is about cremation, as the cheapest option, so I know it’s not what you would prefer but I offer it as a place to start and you can get some other recommendations from her on how to save money on burials.
      https://youtu.be/MzrTl3kYHBE

    12. Anono-me*

      I am so very sorry for the pain that your family is going through.

      1. Please check Facebook and Craigslist for single funeral plots being resold at a lower rate. Also it may be worth putting it out there in real life that your family needs one. (It is not unusual for people to buy funeral plots for themselves and their children and their children’s spouses and then have things change.)
      2. Coffins are very simple wood boxes at the heart of it. You can often find people know how to work with wood who will make them at a much lower cost than anything you can buy at a funeral home.
      3. Many Jewish communities have burial practices for faith reasons that also happen to be more green and more cost-effective. Your local synagogue or Jewish Community Center may be able to offer suggestions and provide the names of resources that would be helpful to you.
      4. Crowdfunding a funeral is a painful experience. But it is absolutely something most people are willing to do. Many people already include a small amount of money in with the sympathy card specifically to help with the costs of the funeral (that the family can choose to donate to a memorial also). But I have alo shared front.
      5. Flowers for the funeral. If you want flowers for the funeral, look at the grocery store and the farmer’s market and ask your friends and neighbors. If my neighbor or friend asked me for flowers from my garden in your situation, I would gladly share what I have.
      6. Check to see if your sibling has any small automatic free with membership life insurance policies or one from an employer. Most union memberships and Credit Union memberships include a small one. Both of the credit unions I have belong to had a free $1,000 life insurance policy available to the members. (The insurer would gladly upsell you.)
      7. Seconding gently asking your sibling why they don’t like cremation. There is alot of misinformation about cremation and some Faiths that were opposed to it have relaxed or even changed their stance recently.
      8. Be kind to yourself as you go through all of this. The best that you can do in a horrible situation is still the best that you can do and all that anyone can ask.

    13. Nita*

      I’m so sorry… Re your question, there may be charitable burial societies. I know of a religious one here in NYC. A relative was buried through it – they cover the cost of the burial, if the family signs a document that they cannot. They do later charge for a monument, if the family has some limited funds for that (if not, they can direct you to applying for a fund that gives loans for this expense). I don’t know how you’d start looking for these, but maybe the hospital’s patient advocate can be of help there.

    14. NoLongerYoung*

      We found that if you donate the body (we chose a local medical school program), in some cases, they pay for the cremation, and it was not that long to get the ashes back. They give you two options – have the ashes returned to you, or they actually have a burial, and a service where there are students and faculty who thank them for the help.

      So we opted to get the ashes back… there’s a post-Covid internment planned.

      It was very helpful in a time of great financial stress, AND the family member was one who had been through a lot, with many fine doctors who gave terrific care of them. We felt it was good to give back and help the next generation of docs. And it helped give meaning to the ending, for us at least.

      1. NoLongerYoung*

        I am sorry I missed the piece about not wanting cremation. But maybe this would help someone else.

    15. Jxb1000*

      If burying, you can buy a coffin directly much cheaper. Literally even Amazon sells them. Some even qualify for Prime delivery. So check around and compare.

  10. Coffee Cup*

    I once bought a Windows laptop in Poland and was definitely able to change the operating language to English. I was later able to change it to a third language to pass it on to someone.

  11. Bobina*

    Laptop advice please!

    Pretty sure my ancient HP bit the dust this week so I need a replacement. This is just for personal use so browsing (and I’m a tab hoarder), streaming and occasional light photo editing. I don’t want a chrome book as on the rare occasions I take it travelling Internet isn’t guaranteed. Budget is £500.

    My quick search yesterday pretty much pointed me to a Lenovo Ideapad 5 which seems ideal, but just wanted to crowdsource a bit more feedback. So if you have a Lenovo and like it, tell me! If you don’t like it, also tell me. And if you think there is a substantially better option, I also want to hear from you.

    Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My work computer is a Lenovo ideapad, so I use it, you know, 40-45 hours a week, and it’s fine. I also have an older Lenovo thinkpad T510 that I bought for schoolwork that required Windows – usually I’m a Mac gal – refurb off Amazon for just a couple hundred bucks and it would be fine for you too. Your demands, from your use description, aren’t high :)

      1. Bobina*

        Good to know! And yes, my demands aren’t very high so hopefully I won’t need to spend too much money on something *fingers crossed*

        I’m just excited to not have to wait 10 minutes for things to load ;D (My previous laptop was truly ancient)

    2. Fran*

      I have the Lenovo yoga with the screen that is suppossed to turn 180 ° to be used as a tablet. Under 2 yeas old and already broken on the hinges though I have rarely used it as a tablet. Stay away from it.

      1. IntoTheSarchasm*

        I have had the same for four plus years and still going string. I don’t use in tablet mode a lot, but do occasionally. It is an educator edition and slightly “ruggedized” so that may be the difference as it has slid off the couch or been assaulted by the dog more than once.

        1. Workerbee*

          I have one, but noticed that if I don’t keep it plugged in even when not turning it on, the battery drains. Is this…normal for this laptop?

      2. Stephanie*

        I’ve had one of these. My hinge is starting to go now (such that the screen falls at certain angles). But I got in a car accident last year and the computer hasn’t quite been the same since. I didn’t use it as a tablet too much (it was still a bit too heavy and I have a tablet).

    3. KiwiApple*

      My Lenovo is 3 years old and on its last legs – I don’t game or do anything heavy duty on it. I preferred my previous laptop which was a Dell. I w9uld sum up Lenovo as being “average”or “meets expectations”

      1. Bobina*

        Interesting. I had initially considered a Dell but…I don’t know. I feel like for a while I never heard good things about them. I think the issue I have is that with my budget Dells seem to have worse specs than Lenovos. May need to look at that again.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          A few years ago Dell’s reputation for quality took a nosedive, but they reacted and they’re improving again. It’s worth checking *new* reliability reports. (Consumer Reports, PC Magazine, etc.)

          1. Pennyworth*

            I got a Dell Vostro a couple of months ago to replace my dying Lenovo. I took advice from our local computer repair guy and he recommended Dell for being tough and the Vostro has a CD/DVD reader built in, which is uncommon now but was one of my requirements. Also has a USB port.

        2. curly sue*

          I’m a very heavy user – I have the same machine for work and personal use (adjunct professor, zero institutional support for tech) so I’m probably on it 100 hours a week, and the Thinkpad line has so far been the only one where the units have lasted longer than five years for me.

          I had a Dell (XPS 13, bought 2015) as an experiment because I’d always had Thinkpads before, and the Dell had half the lifespan of any of my Thinkpads before things started breaking – USB ports, the battery swelled up and dislocated the touchpad, it was a debacle and Dell support was less than useless. Maybe it’s a difference between Canada and the US? Dell is pretty widely known among my computer-savvy friends up here as having utterly abysmal-to-nonexistent customer service. I’ve made some repairs since and now my daughter uses the Dell for homework, so it’s okay, but not worth the money ime if you’re not able to crack the case and fix shorted wires or replace fans yourself.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        The laptop I replaced literally two weeks ago is a Lenovo Yoga, 5 years old. I almost never used it as a tablet, so that is still fine, but it gotten insanely slow.
        Replaced it with 14″ Dell Inspiron.

    4. 2QS*

      I have a ThinkPad and like it. It’s only about 18 months old but I do nearly everything on it and I’ve had no problems with it at all.

      1. Bobina*

        Ooh. My previous work laptops were Thinkpads and I quite liked them. I think that’s why I’m leaning towards Lenovo to be honest. I’ll see what prices on Thinkpads are like.

        Thanks!

        1. 2QS*

          Seconding the recommendation above to buy refurbished – I only spent about $600 but have never had such an enjoyably uneventful start with a computer. :)

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’ve got a Lenovo Thinkpad that I got a couple years ago. It replaced my Lenovo Yoga that was still going strong at five years old but slow. I never used the Yoga in tablet mode so I didn’t have the problems others describe related to the hinges.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have an Auss I bought from Amazon. It gets pretty light use, but I haven’t had any issues. You might check out the recommendations at The Wirecutter, which has different recommendations depending on what you’re looking for.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have a 3 year old Ideapad that I am still very happy with. I do run my anti-everything ware once a week usually over the weekend. I got nervous and bought a cooling pad for it and I think that was a good investment.
      The person I do business with for computer stuff, picked this particular laptop out for my use. My description was similar to yours, I wanted to look at email, some videos on YouTube, and cruise around the net. I was feeling pretty good about the setup when Covid hit because I could just start using Zoom, no fuss, no muss. I said to this person, that I wanted something on the modest side, if I found I needed to do other things I would upgrade later on. No need to upgrade yet!

    7. Temperance*

      I have a Lenova Yoga for work which I really like. It’s a laptop with a touchscreen and pen and some tablet features.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      No idea what the cost is, but I have an Acer Aspire. 2nd one I’ve had, the first I replaced after 5ish years. Good basic laptop, should be just fine for what you need.

    9. Another prof*

      Lenovo Thinkpads are workhorses. It’s one of my very few electronics brand loyalties. I’ve had five so far, and all of them are still going strong – except three of them have been passed on to other people.

      Ideapads are not as durable. They’re fancier and look prettier, but the Thinkpad is a better investment.

      1. Laura H.*

        Agreed.

        I think my next computer will be a think pad. My idea pad’s predecessor was definitely the workhorse I needed through my last 3 semesters of college (and 5 years after too). Agree on the durability angle.

    10. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I still use a ten years old Lenovo T410 as a second laptop. Put Kali Linux on it for cyber security work and replaced the hard disk with a $30 SSD. Works like a charm, but it is rather on the heavy side.
      For your needs, a refurbished business notebook is better value than a new consumer notebook. See my post in the other laptop thread for recommendations.

  12. PreNup-Yup?*

    Can we talk prenups? I would be interested in hearing your experiences, how you felt about when they were brought up, and any advice on my particular situation. My boyfriend has brought up getting married a few times and has mentioned he would want one. He wants to retire early and protect his pension (gov’t employee). I didn’t really give it too much thought as we would be going into a marriage with pretty much equal assets and equal salaries (except I also own a house and he doesn’t). We’re both in our mid-30s. I was thinking about it last night: if he retires early as he plans (in his early 40s), I would still be working. Just making up numbers for convenience, he might be making 50K with a pension, and I would be making 150K at my job. So I guess that would mean if for some reason we got divorced in our 50s or 60s, I would have no right to any of his pension, but he would be entitled to a cut of all the non-retirement savings from my earnings over those years? I’m just not sure how this would work, when there is no income disparity now, but there will be later.

      1. Nita*

        Same advice :) My one minor regret about merging our finances without getting into insane levels of detail first is, sometimes we have massive disagreements on what’s a spending priority. It would have been much easier for both of us to set aside some savings for things that mean the world to one person, but are completely useless to the other. I guess, since you’re doing a prenup, that’s a good opportunity to hash out this kind of things. Might give you peace of mind down the road, and fewer arguments about money.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, this. A prenup is also a contract like any other, and can be modified at a later date if necessary and the circumstances warrant it. But it should definitely apply to both parties equally, if you have no rights to his assets, he should have no rights to yours.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If you are located in the US, most pensions have a minimum age to be before you can start getting payments. For FERS for federal employees, it is 57 if you are born after 1970. So he may not get a pension in his early 40s. Might be younger for militant I don’t know. Assuming he has to wait on his pension, would both live off *your* income?

      However it works out, you should both have your own attorney to come up with something fair to both. Attorneys for a simple prenup that you both agree on shouldn’t be too expensive and well worth it.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Should be military not militant. Even if he does get a pension, the prenup should take into account your likely greater contribution to expenses once he retires and should also protect your retirement money. An attorney should be able to help you with both.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We both have baggage from previous marriages and knew we wanted to keep our finances completely separate, so we agreed on the prenup without any hesitation. Ours is basically written such that all our accounts are the sole property of whoever’s name is on them and that no debts or assets should be considered joint unless both our names were deliberately added under both of our signatures. My house and car (and the associated mortgage/loan) are mine, his car is his, each of us has our own retirement accounts, credit cards, student loans, etc. We do have one single joint savings account that we each put $100/month in for our vacation fund, so if we separated we’d split that, but that’s it. We file our taxes jointly, but we generally plan the use of any refunds together for mutual benefit.

      When we set this up, I made a little over twice what he did. I still make more, but the gap has narrowed significantly, I think he’s now at about 80-85% of my salary.

      We haven’t discussed in depth what would happen if one of us won a significant lottery jackpot. Neither of us usually buys tickets – we sometimes do when the powerball goes over $300 million though :-P so if the universe puts us in that position, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it :) (Universe, we’re willing to take the chance. Just saying.)

      1. PreNup-Yup?*

        This is really helpful- thank you! “Ours is basically written such that all our accounts are the sole property of whoever’s name is on them and that no debts or assets should be considered joint unless both our names were deliberately added under both of our signatures” – really good idea!

      2. PreNup-Yup?*

        One follow up question if I may. Since you are in a similar situation where the house is yours (and you say the associated mortgage/loan are yours) and I assume he is living there too, is he paying rent or making some sort of contribution towards the mortgage?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          More or less. We don’t have any formal leases, but he and my brother (who also lives with us) both pay me a lump sum every payday, and I pay the mortgage and all the utilities (including our family cellular plan) and buy the groceries and household consumables (TP, soap/detergent, the general medicine cabinet/first aid, etc). Husband pays more than brother does now (they used to pay the same until husband got a big promotion and raise) and I end up paying more than either of them, but it’s agreeable to all of us, on account of they’d both be paying rent (and more of it) somewhere else anyway.

    3. Loopy*

      I was very open to a prenup (husband suggested and I readily agreed). My lawyer basically said the reason each party has a separate lawyer is that it’s supposed to be fair (not sure if that was the exact word choice) and protect you both. Basically your lawyer is there to protect you from any sort of uneven advantage and make sure it works for YOU. I had an easy, non-stressful experience with ours and really felt comfortable because I had my own lawyer to look out for my interests (not that he/his lawyer tried anything alarming at all). And once it was in place I thought no more of it. I would definitely invest in a lawyer to address your question and review the prenup for you. Costs a bit, but I found the peace of mind worth it.

      As for how I felt, I didn’t take it personally at all, but a lot of people get very emotional about it and wedding boards have a lot of debates where plenty of people bring emotions into it when arguing against it. I had none of that. My personal take is that it’s a practical financial decision that doesn’t mean you’re planning for divorce or don’t trust each other or want to support each other. Going on this tangent because you may find a lot of opinionated people out there that make it into a emotions-thing.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yep – my explanation of the prenup was, this is my third attempt and his second, so we have no illusions that marriage is guaranteed forever. We’re not going into it expecting to get divorced, but if that comes to pass, there’s going to be a contract of dissolution arranged by *someone*. We wanted that someone to be us, not a judge, and we wanted it to be done while we still liked and trusted each other and had each other’s interests in mind. Then when it was done, we signed it and put it away with the hope (and expectation) of never needing to see it again. It’s like an insurance policy. Better to have it and not need it than the other way round.

        (But also you don’t have to tell family and friends about it if you don’t want to get into that discussion with them. That’s okay too, it’s not actually anyone else’s business, unless you’re part owner of a business or something and need to reassure your co-owner that the business is protected, and then you still don’t need to get detailed.)

      2. Summersun*

        I once read a great take on pre-nups: the current versions of you want to protect each other from possibly-angry future versions of you. You are setting down fair guidelines now, to be followed in case you become too emotional to react fairly in the future.

        1. university minion*

          This.
          And looking at a marriage as a contract between two people, you can either accept your state’s terms or write your own contract. I’m not married and never have been, but am 100% on team, “make our own contract” if it ever comes to pass.

    4. Janet Pinkerton*

      The most important thing is that the prenup serves both of you, not just one of you. We have one (DIY, mostly to establish intent) that protects my wife’s premarital assets (inheritance) and means I don’t have any claim to her inherited house across the country, which is totally fine by me.

      Also, I’m a member of several different online personal finance communities. I would encourage you to think carefully about your boyfriend’s proposed early retirement. I think you are already, which is great. Some questions for you to consider individually and with him: will you resent him for not working when you are? Will you resent his steady contribution to the household expenses as inflation continues? Will he resent you for not having the same amount of free time he does? Does he have plans for the forty or so years he won’t be working? I have never heard of a couple where one person retires early and the other works. (I do work with women who married older men who retired before they were eligible, and that situation seems to work well for them, but these women married later in life than mid-30s and the men were traditional retirement age when they went.)

      1. Anon for this*

        I agree with looking at the functional / budget issues in the prenup— if you are making $150k and he’s drawing in $50k, is he contributing that to the household or living off of your income and that stays “his”? Who pays for the home, the vacations, the medical bills? There’s more than just “protecting his retirement” here, logistically speaking.

      2. PreNup-Yup?*

        This is an interesting perspective and I honestly hadn’t considered some of those questions. I think I would go crazy retiring in my early 40’s, but he will be perfectly content with his hobbies. So I just assume I’ll still be working then and he will be pitching in more around the house. I guess if we were to have a kid (don’t know if that will be in the cards or not yet), I would expect him to take care of a lot of the school/activity drop-offs, but maybe resentment would arise then since I would want us both to be contributing to a savings account for college or private schools. Are there any particular online finance communities you recommend looking up that go into more detail on this stuff?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Please talk about your assumptions here out loud. Say this stuff, ask him what he envisions. These things where we assume, can bite us later on.

        2. WellRed*

          Why wouldn’t he be contributing to both? I’m assuming the plan is not for him to retire and play with his pension while you foot all the bills and the future.

        3. Jay*

          Worth thinking about and definitely worth discussing. It’s a serious problem to realize you had different assumptions about child care and household responsibilities *after* the kid arrives. Whatever plan you come up with will change because babies don’t respect our plans, but it’s absolutely essential to understand your assumptions and needs going in.

          1. lunch eating mid manager*

            I think you need to discuss if you’re having a kid as a prelude to the prenup discussion. Seems like a critical piece, because if you’re not on the same page about offspring, save yourself the trouble of the prenup conversation.

        4. Janet Pinkerton*

          I was a devout reader of The Billfold, which doesn’t publish anymore but has excellent archives.

          Honestly, though, these are relationship questions that are spurred by the early retirement. As silly as it is,
          I’d suggest going through the book 1001 questions to ask before getting married. (Title may not be exact.) It gets you and your prospective spouse talking about issues you may not have considered yet.

        5. Bob_NZ*

          Re: finance communities: I think the FIRE (financial independence; retire early) community would be a good place to start.

          Tanja Hester from the Our Next Life blog has written a great book called “Work Optional” which includes a ton of checklists and things to think about in the context of finances. It wouldn’t surprise me if she covers something about pre-nups in among them. [Sorry to sound so unsure, I read a library copy and skipped over the couple-specific sections because I’m unmarried!]

          I found an online article she wrote which might be thought-provoking for you: https://ournextlife.com/2017/06/05/pre-fire-agreement/

      3. Jay*

        My husband retired three years ago at 57. I’m still working pretty much full-time (we’re the same age). I was always the primary wage-earner – when he retired, I was making triple his salary. We are both SO MUCH HAPPIER. He has taken over all household responsibilities. I do the dishes and sometimes I do the laundry. He does everything else. Our yard looks amazing (he’s a serious gardener), our garage is actually clean and organized, and this summer he built a large and very attractive shed in our backyard. And he’s taken up glass-blowing, which he loves.

        It works for us because we both recognize his contribution as essential to the smooth running of the house and it actually resolved a lot of low-level conflicts. He always wanted to work in the yard and build things and do home repair. When he only had weekends to do that, he resented any plans we made to do things together on the weekend and felt stressed and anxious by his to-do list. Now he has all week to do whatever’s on his list and he’s happy to go off on adventures with me on the weekend without any stress or anxiety. It’s AMAZING. Don’t know why I ever let the little man work in the first place ({KIDDING}

        1. CJM*

          I have a similar story. My husband and I are another married couple (we’re the same age and married 39 years today) where he retired before I did. It just made sense given his career path and our savings, and I wasn’t ready to retire. (He was the higher earner, by the way.) So the first four years of his retirement were the last four years of my full-time career. It worked well for us too. It seemed to puzzle a lot of people that we weren’t in synch, but we’ve always been pretty independent from each other compared to most couples we know.

          So yeah, it can work to pick different work/retirement paths. It depends on what you both want. I’d definitely make it my number-one goal to prevent resentment.

          1. Jay*

            Congrats on your anniversary! The most important thing in my experience is a conversation about wishes and expectations. Our daughter was a senior in HS when he retired and we had an explicit agreement that he would step in as the primary parent for all college-application related whatever. I’d been doing it up till then. We also talked directly about the household responsibilities. Assumptions and unvoiced expectations are landmines in relationships. It helps to use your words.

            1. CJM*

              Thanks! We’re going to enjoy nachos and beers on the patio for dinner, and we may go for a bike ride this evening.

              Yes, that’s a very important conversation to have. We still struggle with that — or I do. I was raised as a people pleaser and sometimes forget to speak up at the first tickle of upset. But I’m getting better. Life after 60 is wonderful compared to my younger years because I use my words so much better!

              1. Always Late to the Party*

                Happy anniversary!!

                You sound very similar to me (raised people pleaser, relatively independent relationship with your partner). So if you could give your 30 year old self advice what would it be?

                …we also had nachos and beer on the back porch last night for dinner and it was great. :)

                1. CJM*

                  Thank you! There’s nothing like nachos and beer on a summer evening.

                  Ooh, great question! I sometimes daydream about going back to my life around age 20 to live all the years over again. I’d have today’s wisdom in my head in this fantasy, of course, and I’d be happier and make fewer mistakes.

                  I can think of a few important things I’d tell my younger self.

                  1) Most of all: Be true to yourself, even when you feel pressure to be agreeable and pliable. I like to practice kindness and generosity, but not at my own expense — and that’s what I often get wrong. For example, why on earth did I spend every holiday for over 30 years (many of them with little kids in tow) driving for hours to visit two sides of the family in a mad and exhausting rush? There were compelling reasons, it seemed, but it would have been smart and sane to listen to that screaming “no!” inside me and set up alternating years (with some spent quietly at home). I wasn’t strong and clear like I wish I’d been, and I know now when I succeed at “strong and clear” that it feels great. Tied to that, I’d work to build confidence. That wasn’t instilled in me as a kid, and it’s been hard to develop. It’s worth gold! I really like the person I’ve become, and there’s no reason to wallow in any bad feelings. (Of course I make mistakes, and I try hard to be honorable and apologize to make those situations better.)

                  2) Learn to manage depression and anxiety ASAP if they dog you. I started individual therapy around age 32, and it helped enormously. It took a bit to find the right fit (for me that meant an encouraging approach to help me build my confidence), but my wise therapist helped me enormously. I wish I’d started sooner.

                  3) Learn to manage anger, which I tend to stuff deep inside. When I feel it tickling, that’s the best time to be brave, take a deep breath, and get any relationship imbalance resolved — and not wait until I’m worked up and overthinking it.

                  4) Lastly, who cares if somebody doesn’t like me or my decisions? I don’t like some people and their decisions, and that’s okay. Some people won’t like me and my decisions. What’s important is that *I* like me and my decisions — and I do. I read this some place a few years ago: “When you stop pleasing people, people will not be pleased.” Even loved ones may balk, but that’s okay.

                  Thanks for asking and giving me a chance to share. I enjoyed that and feel honored that you asked.

                2. CJM*

                  Thanks! And thanks for asking. I responded but don’t see my comment yet. I’ll try to re-post it tomorrow morning if it doesn’t show up by then.

      4. Oldbiddy*

        my pre-nup is similar to yours. Although my husband didn’t want to get a lawyer to craft one for him, mine is set up to make things better for him than if I got an asshole lawyer, as well as to protect most of my pre-marriage assets
        I’d be very wary about OP’s fiance’s early retirement, though, unless he’s planning on starting a different job/career at that point. my spouse is 8 years older than me and will probably retire before I do, but he’s 60 and isn’t planning on retiring early.

    5. Julco*

      A prenup is really just another estate planning document. It should protect both of you and work in conjunction with your wills and other documents. You should have your own lawyer review everything as a whole to make sure your assets are protected but also to make sure that, should you want it, your spouse is provided for in the event of your passing.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This too! Part of our agreement (this isn’t actually in our prenup, just an agreement we made, like the Vacation Accord and a couple other things that make our partnership work better) is that we both carry enough life insurance that if something happens to one of us the other one can pay off the house.

    6. Venus*

      As was suggested by others, I would definitely get your own lawyer as there are so many different rules based on where we live. I spoke with an expert lawyer about the legalities of common-law marriage shortly before I moved across the country and was told to speak with a new lawyer in the new place because it’s so unique to the location.

      The lawyer said that homes become shared after marriage, and it has to be very carefully written if you want to keep it to yourself. In the end we have stayed common-law as that works well for us.

      So be careful to protect your own assets, and then look at what seems equitable over the long-term. Is he contributing to the housing costs, or just getting a free ride, which isn’t fair to you. But if he contributes to housing then be really careful to protect your full claim on the home. If your monthly housing costs are:
      $700 in mortgage interest
      $300 in mortgage principle
      $500 in bills like electricity and water
      Then I would ask him to pay ($700+500 = 1200 / 2) $600 to you monthly in ‘rent’. I would be cautious and not include the principal to make it clear he has no claim on the home.

      I was the one who brought it up as I have more that is worth protecting. He does contract work while I have a full time job and pay into a pension. I’m thankful that he was very supportive, although we haven’t moved from common-law so there’s no need for a prenup yet.

      Good luck!

      1. Natalie*

        The lawyer said that homes become shared after marriage, and it has to be very carefully written if you want to keep it to yourself. In the end we have stayed common-law as that works well for us.

        Which is in and of itself a perfect example of why you need to speak with a local attorney, because this is *not* the case in most states. We had to factor that into our estate planning as I purchased our home before we were married, and I’m still the only person who owns it.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      My friend is a lawyer. When she talks about prenups she says make sure each party has their own lawyer. She points out instances where a prenup got tossed out because it was so lopsided and the shorted person did not have legal representation at signing. If you want the prenup to stick then both parties should have their own lawyer to review the prenup.

    8. Not A Manager*

      You need a lawyer. Pre-nups absolutely don’t need to be adversarial, and they shouldn’t be, but they are contracts and you need someone who knows exactly what you are contracting for and what you are contracting away. That means that the person needs to understand what contract terms the state would impose on you if you DIDN’T have your own pre-nuptial contract. Marriage is a contract, and all you’re doing with a pre-nup is modifying some of the standard, default terms for your own, personalized terms.

      You’re asking good questions in your post, but basically you are having to play lawyer by wondering about the relationship between pension/early retirement and your saved income. You’re much better off making a list of questions like these and taking them to an attorney. You’ll be surprised at the number of things you didn’t think about and weren’t aware of.

      In terms of how pre-nups made me feel, I think that marriage is a wonderful way to create a social and religious and relational identity, but it’s ALSO a contract. I think it’s important to be sure that the contract actually meets your needs and expresses your intended obligations, rather than accepting whatever your state has patched together over the past century.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Lawyer here. I had no pre-nup with my first husband, but I did have one with my second.

      First, get your own lawyer. If it’s worth having a pre-nup over, it’s worth hiring a lawyer over. And it doesn’t matter what your relative current or future earning powers are. If you’re married, you’re married; and if he wants to be able to exclude you from his pension post-divorce, then you are allowed to think hard about excluding him from your income post-divorce, as well.

      Second, if you are looking to have kids, then consider who will be staying out of the paid workforce for a time, or will be giving up advancement opportunities (meaning “mommytracking”) because of childcare responsibilities. What happens over the term of this kind of marriage is that the non-mommytracked spouse ends up being able to command a higher salary after the marriage ends. Make sure your pre-nup protects the spouse who stayed home to raise the kids once the other spouse goes and finds a younger trophy wife. This is usually much more of an issue when it’s a younger couple who gets married shortly after college, husband goes into a highly lucrative career, wife works a few years then quits to raise the kids, wife is out of the workforce for 10-20 years, marriage breaks down, wife can’t get a decent-paying job, and — oops — the pre-nup, which they negotiated back in the day at the urging of the husband’s parents, determines that assets accumulated during the marriage belong to the spouse who brought them in, in the event of divorce. Without a pre-nup, your state law will determine or guide your lawyers to a more equitable solution.

      Third, definitely address your house in the pre-nup. As an example, my second husband and I separately owned homes when we married. Our pre-nup kept the proceeds from each house sale separate. Although as a practical matter the money all went into the same pot, at this point, if we split, either we’d have to re-negotiate what to do with those funds, or (if it went to litigation) they would be exclusions from whatever a court might order us to share.

    10. spouse of retired military*

      Check on the rules for military pensions. It’s been a while for us, but there were things a spouse has to sign off on regarding pensions (like waiving survivor annuities). I don’t remember about divorce, but you should check to see if a prenup can override the government’s distribution of pension rules.

    11. Temperance*

      You should both get your own attorneys to negotiate these. I don’t think you’re obligated to just give up all rights to his assets AND also pay all the bills / keep working.

      Does he plan on just not working after he retires from his government job, or will he consult or pick up a second job, as most people do?

    12. RagingADHD*

      I used to work for an attorney who did marital mediation (prenups and uncontested divorces).

      The purpose of a prenup is to protect both parties from their own worst impulses, as much as it is to protect them from each other. When you are discussing how to divide things up now, you will be looking out for each other and wanting to make sure everything is fair to the other person.

      It’s a much better situation than in a divorce, where everyone walks in feeling defensive and taken advantage of.

      Doing a prenup doesn’t prevent or cause divorce, but hopefully it makes one less thing to fight about should a divorce happen.

      If you have any concerns about being treated fairly yourself in the long term, this is the right time to work it out! We all have assumptions and expectations about money in a marriage, but so many of them are unconscious. We rarely surface them and talk them out ahead of time.

      I think all couples should do financial disclosures and work up a joint budget before they live together or get married, even if they don’t have enough assets to need a prenup. It would prevent a lot of fights and divorces later on.

      (In some cases, it would prevent unhappy marriages from happening at all).

    13. LQ*

      I think it’s a really good idea to do one because it’s an opportunity to make sure that you get into the nitty-gritty of what your expectations and understandings are and hash through them in a way that makes sure there’s clarity because someone else is advocating for you and for clarity. It can help separate out feelings (I LOVE THIS PERSON FOREVER) from practicality by having someone else around to write things down and be boring about it.

      And what does this mean for us on the other side of this relationship can help make sure that everyone is clear on what the path inside it is too. I think you’ll both be happier if you go through and hash out all the details.

    14. HannahS*

      We talked about it, and ultimately didn’t go for one. We had similar amounts of money. My understanding is that a prenup only relates to the assets you bring to a marriage, not what you earn afterwards, but I’m in Canada, so things may be different.

    15. Observer*

      So I guess that would mean if for some reason we got divorced in our 50s or 60s, I would have no right to any of his pension, but he would be entitled to a cut of all the non-retirement savings from my earnings over those years?

      Why would you do that. A pre-nup is not one standard agreement that is there specifically and only to protect the assets of the husband. It’s an agreement that is entered into before the marriage. Period. It can cover anything and everything. And it can cover a lot of situations, not just divorce. Many pre-nups also cover the death of one spouse, especially if one or both are coming into the marriage with children from a prior relationship. It can also even cover what partners put into the marriage during the marriage, although that tends to be less common.

      A GOOD prenup is equitable to both partners. So, in your scenario, you could, for instance say that in the case of a divorce, neither of you will be eligible to get any part of the income of the other partner going forward, regardless of the source.

      The most important thing is for you to have your lawyer (even one you hire JUST for this) give a good look at the agreement to make sure that the agreement is fair to you.

  13. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    About two months ago, I posted on the weekend thread about how to combat frequent spam calls and texts intended for someone else. I followed much of the advice in the thread and the constant cell phone buzzes from the nuisance calls and texts gradually died down to a much more manageable level. But this week, they’ve exploded again.

    My wife’s theory is that “Lucretia,” the intended recipient of these texts, is playing a Candy Crush-type online game that rewards you with points or some nonsense if you enter your phone number, and Lucretia, wonderful person that they are, decided to input my number as a “fake” number for a second time. (My wife says this because she had the same problem: she played an online game on her phone, had to enter contact info to get bonus points, and then was barraged with spam calls for weeks.)

    Here’s my question: One of the spam texts I received displayed Lucretia’s full name and their home address. Do you folks think there actually is a “Lucretia” and that this address is legit? If so, would I be completely insane to mail an anonymous letter to that address — maybe I’d make up letterhead for a fake law firm — asking her to cease and desist giving out my phone number? I’m guessing this would be a complete waste of my time (the address she gave out is probably also someone else’s), but I don’t have other ideas, and the buzzes for bogus calls are coming more frequently and generally driving me insane. Thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, it’s almost certainly not legit, so all you’re going to do with your mail fraud is scare the heck out of some poor folks who are throwing away more junk mail than they used to. Lucretia won’t know, care, or stop using your phone number. (Also, mail fraud. Come on.)

    2. WS*

      No, if Lucretia is using a fake phone number, they’re also using a fake full name and address. Don’t pass on what’s been done to you!

    3. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Thanks for the reality check. I was pretty certain this would be a waste of time and energy, but for whatever reason I didn’t think of it as mail fraud, too. So, nope.

      I just wish there were some way that I could (harmlessly) scare this person, whoever they are, into cutting this out. Blocking calls is useless. All the apps out there that identify calls as potential spammers are also useless, because they don’t actually stop the calls from reaching your phone and making it buzz. Sigh!

      1. valentine*

        I just wish there were some way that I could (harmlessly) scare this person, whoever they are, into cutting this out.
        It’s possible Lucretia has no idea your number is even in service or that you’re receiving spam calls. You want to break the law to scare them with the law. That’s an outsized response.

        It sounds like the buzzing is the biggest problem for you. Can you not set your phone to block or do not disturb for unknown numbers?

        1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

          I can, and have, blocked unknown numbers. The problem is that my phone still buzzes to tell me that it blocked the call, and it still puts the voicemails through, rendering the feature useless.

          I think my only real defense at this point is to change my phone number — but there’s no way to prevent another Lucretia from using my number as a dumping ground for the solicitations they don’t want.

          1. Observer*

            What phone do you have, and what are you using to block these calls and texts? If you have decent spam blocking and the right settings you should be able to reduce the buzzing.

            1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

              Thanks for asking. It’s nice to get a comment that isn’t about dick pics, to be quite honest.

              I use a Samsung Galaxy S10. I have spam protection turned on — which doesn’t actually stop the calls, but will mark calls as “Suspected Spam” (since I’m suspecting everything is spam anyway, this is completely useless). I have what must be over 200 different phone numbers blocked at this point. I think I’ve done more than this, but am having trouble finding additional settings at the moment.

              Turning on Do Not Disturb mode and making exceptions for contacts caused me to miss important calls (as I use this phone for work sometimes), so I gave up on that.

              1. Observer*

                I’d suggest getting on a couple of Android specific forums, or general support forums with an Android section and ask how to improve the spam blocking so that your phone doesn’t constatnly buzz, but you’re not missing calls. Make sure to note what model phone you are using, what version of android and who your carrier is, as those are the 3 biggest variables.

            2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

              The general consensus on the forum I went on was to try the Nomorobo app (a suggestion actually made by commenter in the original post I wrote months ago that I missed!), so I’m going to try that. It’s $2 per month for mobile devices. I’m happy to take the gamble that it might help for that price (and it seems it can be easily canceled).

    4. Zona the Great*

      Fun and true story: almost every weekend, I get an unsolicited dick pic from a new guy. After much back and forth, I realized someone is meeting new men at bars every weekend and giving out mine as her fake #. How she cultivates so much intimacy so quickly to where they feel comfortable sending her dick pics they next morning is a mystery.

      1. Monetize that nonsense!*

        You should start a blog called Dick Pic of the Week. Post them, and see if anyone claims them.
        (I’m not serious, but I do think the idea is hilarious.)

      2. Catherine*

        In my experience it takes absolutely zero cultivation of intimacy for people to send me dick pics. They’re distributed indiscriminately like dianetics flyers.

        1. Zona the Great*

          I knew my current guy was my guy when he sent an email titled “dick pic” and inside was a picture of a dik dik deer.

  14. nep*

    PSA, though most of you are likely aware: If you experience pain and skin sensitivity in one area, and see a red spot or two eventually appear, don’t delay getting it checked out. Could be shingles. I reckon due to stress levels these days, shingles is probably fairly prevalent. (No science on that–just a guess.) Anyway, the sooner you intervene with antivirals, the better chance you’ve got of shortening or lessening the severity of the outbreak. As it’s a virus it’s got to run its course, but if you’re OK with taking meds/antivirals, it can help.
    Warm baths are a godsend too.
    -Signed, someone on day six of taking antivirals for shingles.
    Peace and best of health to all.

    1. AM*

      Yes! I am in my mid 30s and literally just had the shingles three months ago. I was so lucky to have caught it early. I thought it was mosquito bites at first, but then saw a bunch of raised blisters in a cluster, so did a tele-medicine appointment where they prescribed an anti-viral. I didn’t realize people my age were susceptible to it, so it didn’t occur to me that it could be shingles at first, and I’ve very happy that I did not wait until it got worse to check in with a doctor.

      1. nep*

        Great that you checked. Indeed, as I looked into it I’ve seen many accounts of people in their 20s and 30s experiencing it. So it’s not just older people. (I gather there’s a debate over the age threshold for the vaccine.)
        Glad you got through it fine.

        1. AM*

          I hope yours is not as painful as some folks have experienced (I was lucky in this respect). Warm baths are indeed fantastic. One thing- it seems like the marks from the blisters take forever to go away… I still have mine. I hope to be able to convince my doctor to let me get the shingles vaccine, even if insurance will not pay for it due to my age.
          A speedy recovery to you!

          1. nep*

            I gather I have to wait a good while after the illness passes before I can get the vaccine. (Seems to me ridiculous to have an age restriction for it.)
            How long did your pain last? I’m still having the skin sensitivity on all of left side and it’s been a couple weeks since onset (almost one week on meds). I know it’s different for everyone. I just hope it’s really shingles and just shingles, so I know I’m tackling it. And I need to be better at keeping my immune system strong, especially in a pandemic. (As for the stress, well, doing what I can…Lord knows there are a lot of stressors.)

            1. AM*

              My pain was apparently very mild compared to most and only lasted about a week. For me, the worst part was the way the blisters looked (it provoked such a strong reaction in me). Mine were on my leg, which I think is not as common, and it was just a disgusting jigsaw of blisters.
              I hope your pain/sensitivity goes away soon!!!

      2. Mimmy*

        Did yours itch or was it painful? Every few years I get bad rashes that start out looking like simple bites then blister and spread. I just want to make sure that I can distinguish it from shingles if it happens again.

        1. nep*

          Not much itching. Pain throughout entire leg (mine on leg also), and skin burning and sensitive, as if sunburn.

    2. AGD*

      Oh heavens, one of my relatives had shingles in the ’90s and said it was the worst pain she’s ever been in. Thinking of you and everyone going through this!

    3. Ranon*

      And, if you’re eligible and haven’t gotten the vaccine, or got your vaccine before 2017, you should get vaccinated as the current recommended version (Shingrix, in the US at least) is much much more effective than previous versions.

      1. nep*

        I had a former client who regularly urged me to get the vaccine. I didn’t.
        As with other vaccines, apparently you can still get shingles but it won’t be as severe. And be careful if you get shingles and you happen to be around anyone who’s not had chickenpox or the vaccine for chickenpox–they can get it from contact w your rash.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I was also coming here to recommend the vaccination.

        nep, I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    4. NeverNicky*

      Also the same with chickenpox if you’re an adult.

      Mr NeverNicky acquired chickenpox at the end of last year (he’d never had it as a child) and I noticed the spots breaking out. Within 12 hours he’d seen our GP and got a prescription for antivirals and apart from a little lethargy, hardly noticed it.

      We did have to quarantine until the spots scabbed over, which was inconvenient as this was between Christmas and New Year and we had a lot of plans to socialise with family and friends. However, it was a good rehearsal for lockdown!

    5. Summersun*

      Getting treatment early is SO important to stave off permanent nerve pain.

      My GP referred me to a dermatologist, who took their sweet time getting me an appointment and then scolded me for not coming in sooner. I was furious.

      If you suspect shingles, be loud and insistent about being seen NOW. This is not the time to be polite and accommodating.

      1. nep*

        Yes. 100%. I could have/would have started treatment two days earlier if the first urgent care I went to was any good. I specifically mentioned the red spots to both PA and doctor. The doctor barely took a passing look at it and said, Nah… coincidence. I paid a lot of money for that ridiculous consultation. Health workers must consider shingles, especially during these stressful times.

    6. Parenthetically*

      Arrrrgh, nep, that’s awful. My mother had shingles a few years ago and said it was SO painful. Sorry — sending you quick recovery vibes.

      1. nep*

        Thank you. Truly, I have so much to be grateful for–comfortable house, not threatened by wildfires or hurricanes, headaches I’d suffered from for over a year are still GONE (touch wood), shingles is not on my face threatening vision or hearing, I had the means to go to an urgent care and buy the antivirals. The list goes on and on.

    7. Deanna Troi*

      Oh, I’m so sorry. I hope they caught ot early enough that it isn’t full blown. I waited a long time to go to the doctor and bu that time she said it was too late to help, although she did give me the antiviral medication. I was in my 30s and otherwise healthy and in good shape. I missed about a month of work total. Not all at once but I went back part time because I was too tired to work all day. I slept 12+ hours a day for about 3 months, it was 6 months before I was living my normal life again, and a full year before I feel completely over it. It was on my face and I have some scarring, but I actually feel lucky. I know two other people who had it on their face. One lost hearing in one ear, which was permanent, and the other had some difficulty with one of her eyes, which fortunately was reversed with treatment

      I’m not trying to scare you, but to support you in telling people not to ignore this. It is so incredibly painful, exhausting, and can cause permanent damage.

      1. nep*

        Indeed–it’s very important for people to know. (All the more shocking and disappointing that the first urgent care I went to didn’t seem to have it forefront on their minds…This should be one of the first things they look to rule out or in when similar symptoms present.)
        I’m grateful I didn’t get it on my face…and will definitely seek help fast if I ever suspect it there.
        Your ordeal sounds awful. Glad you don’t have permanent damage.

  15. nep*

    Who eats amaranth? How do you use / prepare it? Do you ‘pop’ it before you use it in recipes? I’m going to get some today and see whether it agrees with my system.

    1. Workerbee*

      We used to get amaranth cereal! Though my only anecdote is that despite it tasting great, it has a tendency to get mushy in the milk faster than other cereals, and then wasn’t as palatable.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      omg, I LOOOVE amaranth. I don’t use it as much as I used to but in my experience I just purchased it as a flour, so no, I did not pop anything. I went 1:1 ratio for whatever the recipe called for with regular flour.
      By popping it, I assume you mean grinding up the seeds to make a flour?

      I have seeds, I want to grow my own and see how that goes…. some year.

      1. nep*

        Cool.
        Popping–putting the amaranth in a super hot pan till it pops, as with popcorn. Raises the volume. I’ve seen videos where people eat it like that as a snack, or use the popped (or puffed) version in recipes.

    3. mreasy*

      I used to have it as a breakfast grain, prepared like oatmeal. For me, the texture isn’t right for a savory meal for whatever reason. I have never been able to successfully pop it, but have always wanted to!

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      So hard to think of buying it…it’s a common weed at my MIL’s place. Also known as pigweed. Leaves are edible, but only “desirable” when small. The leaves not the people. ;)

    5. Mephyle*

      I buy it already popped, and sometimes add it to baked goods – muffins, quick breads, bread, cookies, etc. You can substitute it for some of the flour (by weight, not volume).

  16. Sarah*

    Anyone have tips about rental negotiations? (I’m in the UK in case it makes a difference)

    I’ve lived in my current flat for the last 3 years (the length of my rental contract). When I signed on there was a specified % rental increase per year. The property manager has now asked if I intend to renew. The landlord wants the same terms again (3 year contract, with the same % yearly increase in rent). Thing is, the amount I’m paying now is already above what I can tell is the market rate (especially given current circumstances), and flats of similar sizes in similar locations are going for around for what I was paying at the start of the contract.

    I really love this place (before this I’ve moved pretty much once a year for the last decade or so), and would like to stay. I’ve been a model tenant since the start (always paid on time, kept everything in clean and in excellent condition etc.), so I want to ask if they’d be willing to renegotiate. But I’ve never done this before and am obviously a bit apprehensive given the balance of power is in their favour.

    Has anyone had success doing this and willing to share how they went about achieving that?

    1. PX*

      Are you negotiating directly with the owner or through an agency? I’d say you’ll have better better luck if it’s with the owner.

      Regardless, simply say what you’ve said here! Based on the market rate you don’t believe fixed increases would be beneficial and would like to renew at a fixed rate for the next 3 years. I would also say that with all the uncertainty of the world right now, it’s better for them to have an ideal model tenant who can pay rather than risk renting it out to someone who may lose their job in a few months given all the uncertainty of furlough schemes and companies downsizing.

    2. BRR*

      Have your comps ready to share and say that other units in the area are renting X and how you’ve been a good tenant so would they be will to do Y

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I hate this aspect of renting in the UK – it drives so much unnecessary BS in life.

      We just had this situation whereby we moved our contract from short to long let (REALLY long story as to how that happened). We spoke to the owner in person before so both sides could see if terms were amenable. He noted he had to go through the agency as he had signed a contract, alright no problem. He could see that we were taking care of the place (and its extensive garden) and our timeline suited his.

      The agency completely dropped the ball and didn’t get in contact with us until 10 days before the lease was due to be up, and then demanded almost 800 a month more than what we had tentatively agreed with the owner. It was a mess – they had fired someone and the guy who took over was going off paperwork filed in January and then tried to tell me that this place had previously rented out at that rate. I knew that was bs – we had met everyone on the street and I knew it had only been intermittently rented previously (as in Air BnB style). But – the owner and I spoke directly and sorted it out and he instructed the agency. Why the agency exists I have no idea. But I had an idea of the actual value, of the comparables in the area, and when the owner asked to consider his position of the price I said sure, have at it. Took him about an hour to realise the price we were offering was more than fair.

      With any real estate transaction you need to be somewhat ready to walk away from terms – that is you getting your power back. But these guys also need to get that depending on where you are they SERIOUSLY don’t have a leg to stand on for rent and if they have half a brain they will realise it is better to secure a known, high-quality tenant at the same rate (or even a little cheaper – see what comparable properties are going for nearby) than stick it on the market right now before Brexit and with this govt screwing around. The amount of money they could lose if it doesn’t rent right away, or if they get tenants that all of a sudden can’t pay if they lose their jobs, is far higher than not raising your rent x% this year or next.

      You can offer a shorter term at the higher rate (no increases yearly) if you would really prefer to stay. Or you can split the difference between your current and comparable rents at the 3 yr term with a nominal increase (lower than what it is now) – assuming he is making any improvements. Why the increase anyway – is he doing any upkeep to the place or is it just what the agency suggested at some time and was agreed?

    4. Not A Manager*

      The balance of power is not in their favor. If they don’t give you terms that work for you, you’ll move out. They will have to repaint and repair the place, they might have to pay an agent a fee for bringing them a tenant, even if they don’t they will incur their own costs in finding, vetting and placing the tenant, AND if your rent is currently over market, they’ll have to lower the base rent anyway.

      So go into your negotiations the way you would using Alison’s advice about negotiating salary. Both parties have something the other party wants, and both parties will benefit from reaching a mutually-beneficial agreement.

      If I were you, I would start by researching what they are offering comparable empty apartments for now, if there are any, and if not comparables in the neighborhood. Then I’d stress that I’m a known quantity, I pay on time, I’m a good neighbor, a good tenant, etc. and I would ask that the new lease re-set to whatever is the current market rate in your area.

      You might not get that in the end, but it’s a good starting point. Also, don’t be timid or apologetic. You’re not “asking if they’d be willing to renegotiate.” You’re choosing to open a negotiation.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I can’t speak specifically about the UK but I’ve successfully negotiated rent on my apartment with a large property management corp. Present what you know about the market rate in your area, and if you can gather the vacancy rate too…how many comparable flats are currently listed for rent…propose your own terms don’t leave it up to them. The more specific info you have the better…if you can find out how many flats in your building or direct neighborhood are for lease that’s better than places across town. They’ll probably come back with a counter offer…maybe less increase… maybe a shorter term lease so you aren’t locked in and can revisit it again next year. If they won’t budge, be prepared to move and have a preliminary plan in place…what it will cost you time and money, and start looking at a few places you’re willing to live.

    6. Jessi*

      I asked this question in my local community (Hammersmith) recently as our landlord raised our rent mid-pandemic!

      I was not successful but basically the advice was:
      Write an email to the landlord, point out that you have been a model tenant, quick to report maintenance issues, pay rent on time ect. Point out that due to current situation London is emptying out, and rents are decreasing, (and I think you can use local flats as evidence that here are other flats just like this one going for less – zoopla and rightmove are your friends here) and that you would like to rent the flat at the current market value of £x per month.

      As many people pointed out to us you totally have the power as if you move out there is no guarentee that the landlord will find someone to fill it. Also do you really want to stay if you know every month you are getting ripped off? you also might find as you look for similar flats on letting websites that you find a cheaper one that you like more – if you do Kiwimovers are a great company ;)

      Good luck!

    7. Lissajous*

      I’ve successfully negotiated rent down after living in the place for a couple of years. Australia, so probably slight variations in how the contracts and stuff work (we had 12-month leases, for example).

      It was not Ye Modern Times of Plague, but market rate had dropped significantly below what we were paying. From our real estate institution website you can get data on average rental price in a given suburb in a given quarter, split out by building type and size (house vs apartment, and then number of bedrooms.) I took the average 4 bedroom house rate for the suburb in the quarter we’d started renting ($X1) and compared it to the rate we paid when we started ($Y1), and got Y1 as a percentage of X1. (So say our rent $Y1 was 120% of the average $X1 at the time.)
      I used that to figure out a new rent ($Y2) based on the current 4 bedroom house in suburb average ($X2). That is, $Y2 should be 120% of $X2.
      And then I rounded down to the nearest $10.

      I think the figure I ended up with was 15-20% less than the previous rent? And we got nearly all of it, because the market had dropped that much, and we were very good tenants. The real estate did say they hadn’t ever seen that particular negotiation strategy before, but it was very clear and there certainly weren’t many arguments. (Arguing using facts is the only way I know! And it makes it nice and clear that I’m not trying to massively underpay them, I’m just trying to make sure I’m not overpaying. I may have included a spreadsheet. I definitely included links to data sources.)

      This was all sorted out a couple of months before the lease end, and I do recall politely following up after a week or so and saying something about while I’d prefer not to move as I quite liked the place, if I was going to need to move I’d like as much notice as possible to start coordinating things. So that leverage was definitely stated.

      (At the end of the next 12 months, the market had continued to drop markedly. I would have used the same tactics again, but I bought a place instead. The house was on the rental listings for over 3 months, and the advertised rent was eventually 20%+ less *again* than what we’d negotiated the previous year. The rental market here really did just do a massive slide for a couple of years.)

  17. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    We have a threat of frost this week, so I will be picking everything today. I will give a final tally later today!

    1. Penguin*

      Tomatoes are still going strong here! Our wild grapes will be ripening soon, and today includes apple picking (elsewhere) hurrah!

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I wrote last week about restarting my garden and my iguana issues. It looks like they nibbled the basil but did not like it and have left the tomatoes alone!

      And my kale seeds are sprouting and growing and I’ll be putting those in the raised bed too.

      On a side note, my city bred husband has always pulled plants and mowed around weeds. Today he came to me in alarm.
      Him: your raised bed has weeds!
      Me: where?
      Him: * pointed at the mint.
      Me: that’s mint.
      Him: points at tomatoes growing up the trellis
      Me: that’s tomatoes.
      Him: * points at basil
      Me: thats basil.
      Him: *shakes head, they all look like weeds.

    3. Me*

      Smoky.

      I’ve been out to water twice since we got socked in with smoke. Instead of upper 80s and 90s, the temps today might hit 60. I’m thinking this may hobble tomato and squash production a bit.

      I have more birdies beds arriving in a few weeks so I’ve been plotting where they go. I’ll have a ton of yard debris to put in the bottom of them since the wind storm on Labor Day dropped so much.

      1. Black horse*

        Yep, same. I finally put on the N95 this morning to go rinse all the ash off the vegetables and strawberries, and deep water everything. I suspect this may be the end for the heat-lovers; between cool temps, ash falling and the meager sun barely coming through the smoke, they’re not very happy.

    4. NeverNicky*

      I’ve been potting up my cuttings for over-wintering and I’m about to take some different ones.

      Our friend/garden contractor has been and done the heavy pruning and clearance so things are getting ready for autumn.

      We’re supposed to be having unseasonably warm and sunny temperatures in England this week which hopefully will ripen some more tomatoes – we’re not bored with them yet! The Honeycomb ones especially are almost as sweet as grapes.

      And I’ve tidied up my potting shed, swept it out and cleared one of the benches for cuttings and the plants that will need some protection later in the season.

    5. Wireknitter*

      My zucchini has blossom end rot. I am fertilizing but am still losing about half of the fruits instead of all of them. What else should I be doing?

      1. Me*

        It probably just means they weren’t fertilized.

        You can look at the flowers and tell the difference between a male and a female flower. You might just not be getting enough pollination. If you can find a male flower, take a Qtip or small brush or small stick and grab some pollen from the male flower. Then rub the pollen on the female flower.

        Usually with my squash, I get one type of flower for the first few weeks. If it’s been more than that, I’d assume poor pollination. I plant borage and tithonia near or in my veg garden to attract bees.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Blossom set spray is the only reason we have any produce at all this year! It’s not expensive and it’s widely available.

    6. pancakes*

      My dwarf sunflower (in a pot on my windowsill) is in full bloom! It’s 11” tall. I can buy sunflowers at just about any bodega in the neighborhood but it’s satisfying to grow one from seed and put it out for pollinators. I’ve grown much taller ones on my fire escape before but this little guy has been indoors until now.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Everything is still pretty sad and stunted. I have some edible beans to harvest and I bought some plants this week that I need to find homes for (heather and cyclamen). There’s also some piles of sticks and such that I need to gather up and dispose of plus various other weeds and stuff to pull. I’m just not motivated to get out there and do any of it right now.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      Working on the fall cleanup this weekend. Still have a few zucchini, tomatoes, beans, and peppers coming, but the rest seems to be done. It looks like we might get some chilly nights this week which will put an end to most of the veggies. I’ve dried and/or frozen most of the herbs already. We’re finding some great bargains on perennials at our local nursery and have been working on sprucing up the beds.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Half the exotics came in last night. We have way too many plants to overwinter and I’m overwhelmed. Wish me luck, I may have to clean the garage for this. :(

    10. GoryDetails*

      Got a colorful bounty of eggplant (three varieties) and peppers (sweet and hot – dark purple, yellow, red, and green), with a few tomatoes and tomatillos. Padded out the haul with some zucchini and some heirloom beefsteak tomatoes from a local farmstand, and have been enjoying tomato sandwiches with inch-thick slabs of tomato, and oven-roasted ratatouille (put the chopped-up veggies on a sheet pan and oven-roast them ’til carmelized; then add some tomatoes or tomato sauce to juice them up a bit, along with the desired herbs).

      The time to put the garden to bed is drawing nigh, and I need to get some help to clear the brush and get the yard and garden in shape for winter; if I don’t do it before snowfall I’ll probably spend all NEXT summer fretting about the overgrowth. And I need to plan for better fencing for the veggies – between the chipmunks, woodchucks, birds, and rabbits, anything not fenced in is getting nibbled to the ground.

    11. KoiFeeder*

      We’re one week away from 180 days of me keeping crocus seeds in a pot of dirt in the fridge.

      The results are… not promising, actually.

    12. SpellingBee*

      Cleaned out the “done” tomatoes, green beans and lemon cucumbers several weeks ago (here in the southeast US late summer heat tends to put paid to veggies) and at the same time did a fall planting of beets and leeks to overwinter, plus put in some snap peas and also replanted green beans and lemon cucumbers to see if I could get a few more before it gets too cold. Also put in 2 tomato plants that I had successfully started from cuttings earlier in the summer; one is doing well and has a few tiny tomatoes on it but the other is languishing. It was still a bit too hot to put in the fall lettuce crop, but I can do that soon.

      The flower beds are looking kind of sad (as they’re wont to do this time of year), so I‘ve cleaned out a bunch of dead stuff and tidied up. We had a few trees taken out earlier in the summer, and some lantana that had been getting a bit too much shade absolutely exploded this year! There are 2 plants of a reliably perennial variety called Miss Huff, and they’ve become a hedge that’s probably 4’ tall by 6’ wide by 10’ long. They’re incredibly care free, require almost no supplemental watering once established, thrive in clay soil, bloom constantly and the butterflies love them. I’m thrilled and am already planning to plant more. The only downside is that you must plant them where they have room to get big, but I have a lot of suitable spots.

    13. Liane*

      Just a Thanks to Venus for the advice on getting the red bracts on my poinsettia. I have both it and the Christmas cactus outside & hoping shot days do their magic again.

      1. Venus*

        Good luck! I feel badly that I have no good answers for 98% of the questions people ask, but I knew this one and am hopeful it will go well for you.

    14. Nita*

      My grandpa’s rose bush, the one that got razed during yard repair, is still alive! It’s sent up a new shoot and will have time to grow up a bit before the frosts start. It was a pretty big bush when we moved in, so now that it’s starting from scratch I’ll have to learn about pruning and supports all that, yay. But I’m just glad it’s alive.

      Still picking lots of tomatoes. This is great because the toddler refuses to eat any other vegetable. One of her first sentences, last week, was “grandma bring tomatoes!” The indoor peppers are going crazy – I guess the angle of the sun is changing and they like it. I’ve planted a few beets and lettuce for the fall, but it’s mostly an experiment. They didn’t really grow well for me this summer, so it’s going to be a learning curve.

  18. Grim*

    I’m in the SF Bay area and been stuck inside since August 16th, with the exception of about three somewhat clear days when the wind shifted. Not in a fire zone, but smack dab in the middle of the smoke.

    Very bizarre to need indoor lighting during the day, as the deep orange sky made my house too dark to see inside. Don’t have an air filters, but do have AC, which helps keep things livable.

    Having headaches and sore throat for the last three days as the smoke is finding ways in; the chimney is the main culprit. Blocking with cardboard has helped.

    Could be this way for many more weeks. Hoping for a wind shift, but this means that someone else will get the smoke.

    Unfortunately, this is the new normal for California.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I loved near SF durinf the big Oakland Hills fure, i cant imagine the scale of this year.
      If you have old windows, consider mail ordering the shrink wrap window covers sold in the north for extra winter insulation–their whole point is to block drafts. Just be careful with the adhesive on wood, it can strip paint & varnish.

    2. Black horse*

      I am with you. We finally broke down and bought air purifiers; expensive, but the constant headaches and sore throats were affecting us all. Apparently this is life in CA now, so I’m sure they’ll get plenty of use in the coming months. I hate it and it makes me so terribly sad. It’s one thing to keep an eye on the sky during Red Flag warnings, but not being able to go outside for weeks at a time? That’s very, very difficult.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I hear you. Air purifiers have been a lifesaver. I have two portable ones, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. Should you decide to go that route and are open to recommendations, the Levoit HEPA filters are less expensive than many and have the added bonus of being relatively quiet. I and several people I know use this model effectively.

      1. Anax*

        Agreed – we got the large room Levoit filter, and it’s been working well for us so far. It’s been a lifesaver; I was having to take off work when the headaches and brain fog got too bad, and 2/3 household members are asthmatic.

  19. Curved manual treadmill*

    Does anyone use/ own a curved manual treadmill like the Woodway Curve or the TrueForm Trainer? Do you like it? Does it take a while to get used to?

    I like the idea of a quieter treadmill that used no electricity and no electronics / software that can have problems. I use the standard treadmills at the gym and it can take a while for them to boot up or they stop working because of software issues. But I like how you can set the incline and track speed, distance, etc.

    1. AGD*

      I ran on one of these for an entire summer years ago at my local gym. From a distance they weirded me out a bit, but I adjusted quickly. It’s a little more effort than an electronic treadmill, but not as much as outside. Harder to get a sense of pacing (I tend to speed up unconsciously after the warm up period if I get to set my own speed, and that affects how the rest of the run goes), but this was only a minor issue for me.

    2. Doctor is In*

      I used one at a resort and really liked it. My husband did not. Definitely try one out somewhere before you buy.

  20. Electric Trimmers*

    I need electric trimmer recommendations!

    I’ve (she/her) been shaving with a manual razor for decades and am finally sick of it. I have tried all the manual razor suggestions of shaving in the direction the hair grows, sensitive skin lotions, different blades and companies, and I still end up with nicks and bumps, bleeding and unevenness. No more!

    I have also decided I am fine with some hair growth. I stopped shaving altogether for the past few months and found out that what people say about your body knowing what to do with itself was true: I have also suffered from armpit sweat since I started shaving, despite trying all the recommended things. With hair grown in, for the first time in those proverbial decades, the antiperspirant works! I am dry! And unsmelly!

    I’d like to try keeping some hair around while maintaining it when I choose. It seems like an electric trimmer is the way to go, if I even am thinking of the right product.

    But I have no idea what to look for. What _really_ works versus what marketing says works? I also don’t know anything much about trimmers to start with. Am I really looking for a trimmer/shaver hybrid? Something else?

    What I’d like it to do/be:
    -Rechargeable
    -Legs and armpits definitely; bikini line if possible
    -Ability to maintain a length/growth I want but also able to buzz it off closer to the skin if I decide to.

    1. SP*

      Ok, not a razor recommendation. I started using an epilator on my legs at the start of the pandemic and I wish I had discovered/started using it decades ago (late 30s). Mine is a Phillips and comes with trimmer/razor attachments that I use on my bikini line as well. I am inconsistent about using it but appreciate that when I want to do hair removal I can keep my glasses on and see what I am doing. It’s way less effort and mess than home waxing ever was. For my underarms I got a Tria laser thing a few years ago (feel like I should have gotten a less expensive option) that I am super lazy about actually using so I shave and use the laser very occasionally – my hair under my arms is a lot thinner so I don’t worry about it being longer.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I also got converted to epilating, by accident (my husband thought he was buying me a fancy electric razor for my birthday). I don’t do the bikini line, but I do use it on my underarms. It’s fast, can be done dry or wet, leaves you beautifully smooth, and lasts much longer than shaving. And I can’t cut myself.

        I do tend to get short lived itchy bumps on my leg after using it (it’s an antihistamine response), but washing down my legs with very hot water right after using it prevents the itchiness.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Recommend looking at ‘manscaping’ style products. They’ll probably be cheaper, and substantially more interested in preserving some length of body hair. (And will be understanding of the delicacy required of the bikini line.) I found some Philips ones that look decent on Amazon, though I haven’t tried them.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        When I’m landscaping rather than shaving, I use my spouse’s Philips One Blade – we each have our own blade, just to be clear! It’s cheap enough that I should really have my own.

        I have stupidly sensitive skin but rarely have trouble with irritation etc after wet shaving now that I just use a cheap two-blade disposable (used more than once, maybe a week or two) and plain white soap to make a lather, and under no circumstances try to moisturise at all afterwards. “Better” products and regimes only compounded the problems for me.

  21. NeonFireworks*

    I have ten thousand diet restrictions and am trying to introduce some new things in order to add interest. Seeking recipes and suggestions – bonus points if vegan.

    1. It turns out that I love cassava crackers! Can I buy cassava flour and just use it in baking? Any interesting things I can do with it?

    2. Tempeh. I like it when I order it in restaurants, but have never managed to prepare it at home to my satisfaction. Does anyone have any tips? Do I just need to marinate the heck out of it?

    Thanks!

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      You can buy cassava flour but you need to look at recipes bc for most, you cannot just sub for wheat flour. I’ve made a kind of flatbread/tortilla with it. I think if you approach it as an experiment, you can have fun.

      Tempe – what restaurant dishes do you like? I think looking for recipes will help figure out what leads to the texture and flavor you like. It does work well with lots of marinade.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure if this helps. I fell down a rabbit hole involving tapioca and cassava root. So apparently tapioca is made from cassava root.

      When I did a binge of trying all different flours, I tried tapioca flour. It’s a very light flour and it needs to be paired with another flour for baking. If I did not pair it up with something I got much smaller muffins or whatever- like 75% smaller. To me it also seemed super sweet, so I did not need a ton of it. I landed on that I really liked it, but I would only use it in desserts because of how sweet it was. And I really don’t need desserts…. sigh.

      Interestingly Walmart sells cassava flour. I did not know that.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I came in to talk tapioca. From my year of trying to figure out if I’m celiac’ (I’m not), I suggest starting with recipes for the actual item. Tapioca & cassava open up recipes from many cultures–African, Indian, Carribean, English. (My English grandmother was into tapioca pudding. My teen loves bubble tea. I used it to thicken stir fry when I was corn-free.)
        Just remember if you go for raw manioc root, it has toxins and MUST be carefully processed. I never risked it.

    3. Anon for this*

      You have to use cassava-specific recipes, and unfortunately absorption varies widely between brands, so you may have to use half as much liquid or twice as much cassava flour as written in a recipe. Definitely a learning curve to using it, but worth doing.

    4. Alex*

      OH tempeh is one of my favorite things. Yes to marinating, and also, before marinating, give it a quick steam. What I do is slice, steam (just for a couple of minutes in a regular old pot + steamer basket), and then marinate in a combination of soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, water, and just a smidgen of sriracha (optional). If you don’t have sweet soy sauce you can add a little brown sugar instead. I marinate for a few hours up to a day. Then just put some olive oil in a pan and fry it a couple of minutes on each side, until it is browned. I then put this on top of stir frys, salads, or sandwiches.

      1. mreasy*

        Seconding the soy marinade – I will marinate and bake without the steaming but that is a key to getting out some of the bitterness. Otherwise I love to use tempeh in a curry recipe – as long as you’re cooking it in a liquid for 20-30 minutes, you’ll improve the flavor.

    5. Doctor is In*

      Tempeh is like chicken, has nice texture but little flavor so you can cook it lots of ways. Microwave for a few minutes, oven in foil for 15 minutes, on the grill (but not too long or it dries out), chopped up in stir fry. My favorite is balsamic vinegar, thyme, turmeric and honey. Wrap in foil and put in oven about 350 for 15-20 minutes.

  22. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Anyone else with chronic hand/wrist issues here?

    I got my 6th steroid shot in my wrist in 2 years. I’m always having tendon issues in diff areas of my hands such as both sides of my wrists, index finger etc. this time it’s my left wrist.

    I’ve seen 4 diff orthopedic doctors for this. They all say there’s no cause for it, unrelated to my health issues, and nothing to do with my habits. (the left wrist I can pinpoint to exactly what exacerbated it but not the others). Surgery was mentioned but it’s in so many diff parts plus Im terrified of the recovery.

    I’m sick of being in pain and not being able to use my hands. I don’t know what else to do or what other doctor to see. Thought I’d ask here.

    1. nep*

      Sorry you’re struggling with this. Not an answer to everything, but it’s always a good idea to check your nutrition–are you getting enough Vitamin D, magnesium, and other essential nutrients? Just putting that out there as it’s always a good idea to check.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agree so very much. Also you can check out collagen. I use a powder and put it in water. It handles many little random problems all over the place… sigh. When the tissues such as tendons go weak many times it can be traced back to something missing in our diets. Nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s hard to get food with actual nutrition in it.
        If you have run out of where to look I would find an experienced chiropractor who also works with nutrition.

        For more immediate purposes I’d recommend getting wrist braces. I bought a cheap one and it gave me so much relief. I am going to post a link to something that is very close to what I bought in my reply to this post. There’s not a lot to the brace compared to other braces but worn consistently it did help me while I waited for the doc and for the nutrition to kick in.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Didn’t think of nutrition, my diets been terrible since I gave birth and no longer restricting myself. Just now starting to get back to healthy(ish) eating. The ortho dr gave me a wrist brace which I wear at night but I find myself in more pain in the morning.

    2. Purple Sage*

      Have you ruled out referred pain? I was scheduled for CT surgery when a physical therapist realized the pain I felt in my wrist and hands was originating in my shoulder/neck. After a lot of body work on my neck, shoulders, and back, the pain virtually went away.

      I have to be very diligent with stretch breaks, ergonomics, and hydration, but I can manage flare ups.

      I also found the book IT’S NOT CARPAL TUNNEL very helpful.

      Nerve and muscle pain seem to be very hard to accurately diagnose and treat, and it seems like everyone responds to slightly different approaches. I hope you find a path that works for you.

      1. Amethyst*

        THIS!

        I spent 7 years bouncing from specialist to specialist, OT to OT, & all of them said: It’s carpal tunnel. No, cubital. No, tendinitis. Nope, tendinosis. Nah… It’s actually carpal tunnel. ‘Round the hamster wheel I went until the pain in one arm got so bad one day I lay in bed and cried because OTC ibuprofen (800mg) didn’t touch the pain. A friend of mine who’s a Reiki master suggested I go back to my original specialist & ask them to check my shoulders.

        After an x-ray, it was revealed it was my neck. I had been involved in a car accident roughly 10 years prior to any of this happening, & they suspect the whiplash caused the muscles in my neck to stiffen around my cervical spine & just never relaxed. So my neck is now extremely straight–there is no curve. An MRI revealed a slight bulging disc on the side that affects me most (left) but as for why my pain is so off the charts sometimes, they don’t know. I was supposed to go to another specialist in this particular area to discuss my options (steroid shot in my neck was a possibility), but COVID happened & I’ve since misplaced his information.

        DEFINITELY have your shoulders &/or neck checked out.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          That’s a great point. I had neck spasms many times over several years and it turned out to be a muscle knot at the lower end of my shoulder blade. For me it was pegged by a chiropractor who was willing to do *short term* treatment only, I specified no maintenance when I first made the appointment.

        2. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I see the dr again on Thursday. I’ve had x rags done on my hands but I don’t have any shoulder/neck pain so this never crossed my mind. Half the problem is that these visits are so rushed and quick.

          1. Amethyst*

            I never had shoulder/neck pain either, but I did experience grip loss/weakness, arm stiffness, hand/finger numbness/tingling that moved around, hands that were swollen in the morning for 1-2 hours, pain that moved around, switched hands, locations, tendons that snapped/cracked/popped at random, which HURT… Currently I’m experiencing moderate/severe cubital tunnel pain that’s radiating into my fingers. I do have that, but the cervical radiculopathy is my main issue. I’ve also noticed that I tend to experience more symptoms during the cooler/colder months.

            Now that I know what I have, I’ve also realized that working for much longer than usual will kill my neck, so I have a neck pillow & ice pack I use for when it flares. This is a more recent development (within the last year). Really push for the shoulder or neck x-ray. There are major nerve bundles running in those areas & knowing that nothing is impinging on any of that would give you peace of mind. In the 7 years I went from doctor to doctor, *not one* thought to check those areas. Instead I was given medications that dulled the pain but never took it away, & had an experimental steroid shot in one wrist, & was on a low dose of a medication meant for those who have rheumatoid arthritis (“If your pain diminishes, then that means you have it even though your hand x-rays are clear”). Fight for it.

          2. TG*

            Definitely get it looked into. I know someone who had back problems and even had surgery on his back. When the back surgery didn’t work, they realized it was a hip problem!

            Have you been to a PT? I have a bad hip from years of yoga and always felt rushed/not listened to by all the specialists I went to. Until I went to a PT, he listened, he explained everything, and he gave me exercises. When some of those exercises made the pain worse, he changed my plan and gave me different exercises.

    3. Jessie*

      I have something called avescular necrosis (sp?) which gave me really bad wrist pain for years. Pain killers didn’t work. Wearing a wrist brace helped a bit. Can you try a wrist brace? Did you do an MRI?

    4. Almost Academic*

      Have you seen a physical therapist? I injured my wrist repeatedly over the past few years and a good PT did way more than most doctors I saw for healing. Taught me the mechanics behind good movement and exercises I do regularly for prevention. Really made a big difference, and no surgery involved.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I was seeing one for back pain but I can get a referral from the doctor for wrist pain. It’s just so difficult to take time for 3+ visits a week

        1. Purple Sage*

          It doesn’t have to be that often. I go 1x/week. It’s really more about doing The exercises at home with the PT spot checking you periodically to assess progress.

        2. Almost Academic*

          I hear you about the time commitment! In my case, it was only once per week and usually telehealth because of covid. However, the exercises definitely took more time – up to about 1.5 hours in a day (broken up into 30 minute chunks). I usually did them while in zoom meetings or watching TV. I figured if it was that or months of recovery from surgery, I could spare the time. Good luck, I hope you are able to find someone to help!

    5. Stephanie*

      Yes, I’ve had trouble with my wrists off and on for years. It’s mostly under control now, but it was awful at times. I just suffered without seeking any treatment for a very long time, because it wasn’t consistent. But I finally saw a doctor and found out that I have De Quervain’s tenosynovitis. Plus, a pinched nerve in my neck, which was causing some of the wrist pain. I got splints for both wrists and wore them 24/7 for a while, and then only at night. Now I only need to wear them very occasionally, usually after I’ve been doing something repetitive with my hands. Physical therapy was very, very helpful for me, too. It took weeks of therapy before I really felt a difference, but it eventually really helped.
      I know you’ve seen several orthopedic doctors, but can you find a hand specialist (if you haven’t already see one)?
      I would try another doctor before I would agree to surgery, even knowing that you’ve tried several. Surgery is just such a drastic measure, I would want to be completely sure that there aren’t any other, less invasive options.
      You could also try calling a physical therapist for doctor recommendations–they usually know who the good ones are.
      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope you find some relief!

    6. Texan In Exile*

      This is second-hand anecdata, so take it with salt.

      I have started using CBD oil for hot flashes (it appears to be working – don’t know if it’s coincidence or merely placebo but I don’t care).

      The guy who sold it to me is only about 30. He uses it because he has arthritis, including in his hands, from high school wrestling.

      So – you might want to give CBD a shot.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve been avoiding carpel tunnel for 25 years. Posture & keyboard shortcuts are critical for me. It sounds different from what you’re facing, but I sympathize. At my worst I was wearing a skateboarding wrist brace at work to remind myself to not use tiny finger/wrist motions if my elbow & shoulder could do the job.
      It’s why I use speech to text even though the results are sometimes weird on screen… It’s easier on my hands then typing with one finger on a phone.

    8. JenC*

      Potatoes, are you the commenter who is either pregnant or recently hsd a baby? I had my 4th baby in January and right up until probably the end of July I had wretched hand and wrist pain. To the point I could not open jars or carry anything heavy without trouble. It is finally getting better, not that I have done much to help. I read on t’internet that severe postpartum joint aches are common. Your issue sounds like it has been long standing, but (if it is you who is preggers or a new mama) maybe the pregnancy severely exacerbated it.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I did have a baby in July. For the left wrist I can definitely blame the baby lol bc I hold her on that arm while feeding with the right hand. Usually any hand/wrist pain starts and takes months to get unbearable but this one happened suddenly. The other pains have been for 2 years now.

    9. Can't Sit Still*

      Have you seen a rheumatologist? Many autoimmune disorders start or become apparent in the wrist and fingers.

      1. Anax*

        Ditto, a rheumatologist might also be able to identify connective tissue disorders (like Ehlers-Danlos), which can be more obvious in the hands, because there are a lot of joints which are used there. Personally, I have splints for a few problem fingers, because I’m prone to hyperextending or dislocating my fingers during ordinary activity, which can also aggravate the tendons and other tissue.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        No, but I can search for one. I never considered arthritis at my age (35) but I’m open to seeing one.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          Luckily my insurance allows me to see specialists without needing a referral from a primary care physician.

    10. Kathenus*

      Echoing Can’t Sit Still on a rheumatologist. I have psoriatic arthritis and my wrists and thumbs are the most affected areas. And psoriatic and rheumatoid present differently than some arthritis, and psoriatic especially to younger folks (mine was early 20’s), so it’s often missed for a while.

      But regardless, a paraffin bath might be a good investment for you, very soothing and therapeutic. I also just got over the counter braces for both wrists and my right thumb that I could use as needed, throwing them on when one was bothering me made a lot of difference, both in support and helping keep me from overusing it at that time. Good luck.

    11. The teapots are on fire*

      I agree to check your neck and to see a rheumatologist to rule out causes that are not inside your hands. So sorry you’re dealing with this!

    12. Handsy*

      *Copying/pasting some parts from another thread reply* Since Jan I possibly have carpal tunnel in both wrists (after seeing 2 orthopedics and a neuro). It was suggested to try physical therapy and bracing first. I did a shot in one hand and ibuprofen but didn’t work. Also the nerve test showed no nerve damage. I didn’t do PT until Mar – Jun, and now mid-Sept I’m finally 99% healed (though still bracing at night). The pain is awful and it truly felt like it wouldn’t go away. But the physical therapist was truly the most helpful in my recovery process. Wishing you the best in your recovery!

  23. EmptyCup*

    Does anyone have experience with Medicaid?

    I’m looking for good resources for learning about, or someone who can share experiences about being on, Medicaid. I’ve been unemployed for a few years but kept paying for private insurance because I have chronic health issues (and now I’m worried about getting covid). But I can’t afford to keep paying high premiums and deductibles forever with no income since my savings is dwindling.

    I can’t find any information about what specific things are actually covered under Medicaid or how much it costs. (My current insurance has lists of what kinds of doctors/procedures/medications/tests/etc. are covered and how much I would pay to use each of them.) I have no idea if I’d need to find new doctors, stop taking vital medications, end up paying more than with private insurance, etc.

    Are there professionals who could help me with this? (I found a page on the healthcare marketplace website that tells you what insurance agents are in your area, but none of them help with Medicaid.)

    Thank you!

    1. nep*

      I was on Medicaid one year, as my state is one that did expanded Medicaid as part of AHA.
      I had a great experience with it. I was given time to choose which plan I wanted, and I checked with various practitioners to see whether they accepted these plans (including a dentist) before choosing. I never had any issues at all. I definitely plan to get on it again during open enrollment.
      As for whether specific things are covered, maybe that would be outlined in the plans.
      Hope some of this helps. Best of health to you.

    2. AnonyNurse*

      Medicaid is incredibly complex, and very state-specific. It doesn’t have the federal management/oversight like Medicare.

      Assuming you live in a state that expanded Medicaid to non-pregnant adults with the ACA, you should have a few options. You are absolutely not going through insurance agents, but rather your state’s Medicaid agency, often in the health department. I’d start by checking with your medical providers and asking if they take Medicaid, and which kinds. Most places have started using what are essentially HMOs (but called ACOs — accountable care orgs, or other acronyms) for Medicaid, and while there can be benefits, if you have existing providers, you want to make sure you can stay with them. Generally, you’ll want “straight Medicaid” or “regular Medicaid.” But it can be hard to ensure you get on it rather than being shuffled to an ACO.

      Medicaid usually backdates for 60 days prior to date of application, and always from date of app til approval. But that can be a pain to cover needed expenses with cash til then and then get reimbursed.

      Straight Medicaid is a dream if you can find providers. Very little won’t be covered of routine medical care. (Things like private duty nursing are a challenge, but they are always a problem). Rx will be free or a couple bucks. It’s just getting on and staying on. Open every piece of mail and respond immediately. If you move, tell Medicaid before you tell USPS or your landlord. If you miss a recertification deadline, they summarily cut you off.
      Pay attention to asset testing and income limits carefully and follow the rules. There are so many hoops to jump through, it gets ludicrous.

      Consider reaching out to a local FQHC (health clinics for low income people); they usually have navigators or care managers who can walk you through the process and may even be able to help you apply.

      Medicaid is there for YOU. You’ve been paying in, directly and indirectly, your whole life. Do not feel guilty about it. Get the care you need. It should be available to everyone. That it isn’t is a disgrace, but where it is — take it.

      1. It Could Have Happened*

        I had the misfortune of being unemployed and living in a state that did NOT expand medicaid coverage to subsidize ACA insurance coverage. My state would not provide any ACA subsidy if I was unemployed and had no income and so I did not qualify for coverage under the ACA. However, if I had a low income and no other access to insurance, (or if I had a low income, access to insurance and the insurance was too expensive for me to afford) I would qualify. At that time, in order to qualify you had to have an income of something like at least $14,000.00 or so for a single person. It might be higher now.

        Moreover, when you are applying for coverage under the ACA they are basically asking you to guess, predict, estimate what your income will be in the future. So I guestimated that I’d have an income of $15,000 (it could have happened) and I paid a subsidized insurance premium out of savings for a year. I never did find a job that year, but I did have health insurance under the ACA for the first year after I lost my job, and I used it. It was a lifesaver for while I had it.

    3. Lizy*

      In my experience, basically everything is covered. My kids are on it (Medicaid / state insurance) and we quite literally pay nothing. There have been a couple of specialists that I’ve needed to confirm whether or not they take Medicaid, but for the most part, I haven’t had any issues. I also used it for a couple of my pregnancies. (Planned, but the circumstances in which I needed Medicaid were not.) I had to pay a couple of dollars out of pocket for prescriptions (like $2 for a 90day supply of prenatal).

      Best way to see if you’re eligible is honestly to just apply on your state’s website.

    4. Black Horse Dancing*

      I’m on adult Medicaid. Each state runs their own and you should be able to go to your state website and find out more. My state has three insurance companies that you can choose from and they will send you a policy book, etc. I have had really good luvk with it.

    5. Laura H.*

      Have you looked locally? Maybe start investing with a disability support group- one with a physical presence in addition to virtual. The one I’m kinda with is knee deep in that stuff and has a few programs on it from folks who do that stuff as their job.

    6. Torrance*

      Unfortunately it’s highly dependent on what state you live in. Most states run their Medicaid programs differently and some have sold their Medicaid programs out to private insurers, which comes with some of the usual private insurance nonsense. So what will be covered & what won’t be, what you’ll pay, and even whether or not you’re eligible depends on where you are living.

      I can share my experience though, if it might help. My state privatised their Medicaid program several years and I’m currently on my third different insurer. The first pulled out because it wasn’t profitable enough for them and then I switched again on my own because my long-time GP wasn’t covered by the new company.

      I’d recommend looking up your specific state’s Medicaid website, if they have one (hopefully they do). It should have a provider directory available for you to search and see if your current doctor(s) are enrolled in the program. There may also be a section that will tell you what is covered; my state has a chart that breaks down the differences between the tiers available.

      I’m on one of the most generous tiers due to dealing with several chronic illnesses and pretty much anything deemed medically necessary is covered. I have no co-pay for most medications & no co-pay for visits, dental & vision care is covered (though what services I can receive are restricted & on a time limit), & my therapists can get any treatment they feel I need approved without too much hassle (at least on my end). I get whatever medications my doctors feel is appropriate, though anything non-generic has to receive PA first.

      I’ve never been on Medicaid as a non-disabled & non-poor person though so my experience is likely different than it would be if I was a person of any means and in better health.

    7. Doctor is In*

      In my state your out of pocket costs are minimal, but many private providers do not take Medicaid because of very low reimbursement. Some doctors will keep existing patients if they have to go on Medicaid.

    8. Purple Penguin*

      I’m on it – I just joined a few months ago. I moved home to my parents bc of covid after living overseas for over a decade. I mention my background because I was worried that not being in the US system for ages would limit my access, but it hasn’t.

      I initially used the ACA website and, based on my answers to the site’s questionnaire, was redirected to my State’s medicaid sign up. It has been a relatively easy process. I choose which health care plan I wanted to belong to once I was approved. Doctors, allied health practitioners and medications have all been easy and affordable to access. For example, medications are $1 or $2 a script. Reminds me of the NHS in the UK in a positive way.

      As others are saying, access is State specific. A friend in very similar circumstances (30s, lived overseas, no assets or job in US, stuck bc covid) applied in Texas and was ineligible. Good luck!

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If any of your current health care providers are associated with a hospital (outpatient clinic or such?), most hospitals that take Medicaid will have a department of folks who’s purpose in work life is to help get patients set up with payer options that they qualify for. At my hospital, they’re Patient Financial Navigation, other hospitals may call them other things. But they’ll help you go through your needs and work out whether Medicaid is a good option for you and help you through the setup process.

    10. Mimosa Jones*

      Even if you found an insurance agent who could help with Medicaid (and my state has them) they may not know much about the policies. The agency that helped us didn’t really even know how to navigate the healthcare site and gently tried to steer us to a paid plan. A state might provide money to agencies that help with Medicaid but it certainly can’t compare with the commissions that insurance companies pay. But your state’s department of health and human services, the one that also likely administers programs like WIC and SNAP, also often administers the Medicaid program and they can answer your questions. It would be good to contact them now. They get crazy busy during open enrollment.

      If you’re not signing-up during open enrollment, then you need a qualifying event like moving, losing a job, having a baby, etc. You have 60 days from that date to apply for coverage through the healthcare site. Your insurance coverage will be backdated to the day you applied. The open enrollment period for 2020 is from November 1 to December 15th and your policy will take effect January 1, 2021. There’s a lot of helpful information on the healthcare gov site, although it’s not well organized or very clear. And since it’s a Federal site it won’t have any information about your state’s Medicaid plan and policies.

      You sign up for Medicaid through the Healthcare gov website. You’ll fill out your information as though you were shopping for a new plan, and if you possibly qualify for Medicaid your application is automatically forwarded to the state. They have 45 days to accept or deny you but they often move faster than that. Since the open enrollment period is also 45 days, you should shop around for a cheaper paid plan in case you’re denied. (Although I can’t imagine why you would not get coverage since you have no income) If you qualify, then you’re automatically enrolled into a plan which is administered by an insurance company, or you may be offered a choice of companies. My small New England state has 3 companies with a Medicaid plan. The plans are all supposed to be identical so it would just depend on if you like one company over another.

      You can call your medical providers or check their websites to see if they accept Medicaid plans. I have yet to have a provider not accept my Medicaid insurance, but my family uses the local teaching hospital network for all our medical services and we don’t have any serious or chronic conditions. Coverage will vary with smaller providers.

    11. Sara(h)*

      In many states, you cannot get Medicaid based on income alone, but can only get it (as an adult) if you are disabled or have child dependents. The coverage also varies greatly by state, but usually is decent and often very good IF you can get it. I would recommend finding out whether you qualify and that you go ahead and apply — the application process can take months, again depending on where you live. There is often a backlog of applications, especially now.

    12. Sparrow*

      I’m on Medicaid in California. My summary of benefits is literally all $0- no copays or out of pocket costs for doctor visits/procedures/medications/therapies. There was an online portal where I could check to see if my doctor takes Medicaid- she does, but I haven’t been to see her yet because of COVID. Also I’m not sure what your primary care situation is, but my health plan has a “home clinic” that I am aYou canssigned to for primary care.

      I’m also a medical student so I’ve worked with medicaid from the provider side. We usually don’t have many issues getting the necessary things covered, and I don’t often hear about issues with out of pocket costs. The medication options can be limited though, especially for newer, more expensive drugs. You can ask your state mediciad office for the formulary, which is the list of medications that the insurance will cover. If you take a medication that’s not on the list, there can be exceptions, but that takes time and paperwork and proof that older/first line meds didn’t work for you. So having a copy of your records from your current doctors may be helpful.

      1. Social Service Worker*

        Medi-cal (aka Medicaid) is the most generous of any state I’ve known (which is a handful) in terms of eligibility requirements. Although the coverage itself is good in a lot of states, it is harder to qualify for in many states than it is in CA. Also, CA Medi-cal provides dental coverage to adults, which again is not the case in many/most states. CA is in general quite generous with public benefits as compared to most states.

  24. oxford comma*

    Anyone have thoughts about how to do the holidays in the era of covid-19?

    I’ve got elderly relatives who don’t have computers so zoom is out. They are also out and about at stores.

    I live in a region where cold weather will mean that an outdoors Thanksgiving/Christmas is out.

    1. Workerbee*

      Honestly, what I’m thinking is if they’re bound and determined to go out to stores, encourage them to go to a store that will sell them as foolproof a tablet or laptop as there is that they can use just for video calls. If libraries are open, they might have Zoom classes.

      I say this because my dad is bored at home and I think he’d love to watch his favorite old movies again, but he doesn’t have cable, doesn’t have a DVD player, and has morphed from someone who used to get all the newest electronics to someone who has no interest in learning new things…or relearning then. I saw a product that looks like a laptop but only plays DVDs and am tempted to get it for him. Play, Eject, Pause…he could handle that. So I’m hoping there’s an equivalent for just video calls with a relative degree of comfort (no holding a phone at awkward angles, etc.)

      1. oxford comma*

        That’s not an option. A couple of them are on fixed incomes and there is no way I can get them up to speed with how to use tech even if it was.

        My other thoughts are getting tested or maybe trying to self quarantine for 14 days but I just don’t know.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      I think you either write off this year’s holidays or you self isolate so you pose a minimal risk to your relatives. There’s nothing you can really do to minimize the risk they pose to you.

      1. pancakes*

        Not socializing with people who won’t social distance is a pretty solid way to minimize the risk they pose.

        1. Old and Don’t Care*

          These are older people who don’t have computers. The OP said they are going out to stores, not going out to bars. Your comment seems quite harsh.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            Thanks. Yes, I should clarify. They go out for groceries, medical appointments, church (the precautions the parishes are taking here are pretty solid. We’re not talking mega churches or the like. My mom’s church is at 10% capacity). None of them have smart phones. Only one has wifi, but she can barely use email. I have one relative who doesn’t even have a car, but he still likes to go out and get his own stuff.

            Nobody’s going to bars or rallies or super spreader events.

            I think maybe pop-up masked visits where we exchange treats at the door may be the way to go. Maybe I can figure out a way to get everyone on the phone for a holiday phone call :(

    3. CJM*

      I’m starting to wonder about holidays too — especially with my 91-year-old mom in an independent-living place. There’s been at least one case of covid-19 there, so I won’t go inside. And I want to protect her from my germs.

      I think we’ll skip seeing each other and have a nice talk on the phone instead. It’ll have to do this year.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Me too. We usually do a small holiday (me, my husband, my sister) but my sister is a teacher and her district is going back to in-person school before the holiday. My husband and I are still able to WFH indefinitely.

        I feel kind of rotten making her spend Christmas alone, though.

        1. CJM*

          Yeah, I feel kind of rotten too. This is the craziest year (and holiday season) of my life for sure. Good luck to us all!

    4. BRR*

      I think holidays are just going to be cancelled for me. Possibly (and that’s a huge possibly) I’ll do a Friendsgiving or have my cousin and her husband over. But frankly since nobody is in our bubble I think it’s going to be too hard to figure out people’s behavior. At the end of the day it’s simply a sacrifice we’ll have to make but will be small in the long run.

    5. PollyQ*

      I’ve been going to a big multi-family/multi-generational shindig for a bunch of years now, but that’s almost certainly not going to happen this year. I’m not sure what my more nuclear family will do. My area’s numbers have been gently declining over the past month, and if they keep going in that direction for another 10 weeks, maybe our two pods will feel comfortable having a 6-person dinner together.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, I haven’t even thought about this yet. My family always goes to my mother’s and she makes a big fuss. I’m afraid they’re going to try and do it this year even though I don’t think it will be safe until next year.

    7. Aly_b*

      We’ve already started work on breaking the news that we won’t be travelling for the holidays this year. It’s going to take a few discussions for us but is rather set the expectations early. We’ll mail some gifts and have a call on Christmas Day, but I think it’s just gonna be a weird one. I know your relatives won’t do a video call, but I imagine you can have a nice audio discussion that doesn’t revolve around unfamiliar technology.

    8. Old and Don’t Care*

      If it were me I’d think along the lines of short, pop-in type visits, preferably masked, and would probably abandon the idea of gathering around the turkey with the carving knife. (I’m not really into the turkey thing so easy for me to say!) Maybe try to think of something to make the visit fun and special without being tied to the big gathering; pop-in with a special dessert, etc.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s September. A lot can change between now and Thanksgiving, and from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It’s really too early to decide. At most, I’d plan out a range of possibilities so that when you get closer you can pick from a list of already figured out things.

      I’ve already decided I’m staying home though.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My older neighbor has a Facebook Portal. She does not use a computer at all and has no desire to learn. It does allow her to have frequent visits with her family on the opposite coast. Drawbacks include they need help setting it up and they need help learning to use it. Once that part is done, it’s over and they can just use the thing.

      It’s been great because she can see her family’s home and she can see her grandchild’s new toy etc. So she really gets to participate in their lives. She also used it for a video doctor’s appt. This was kind of funny/cute. The doc asked if she was in her own home or a family member’s. Nope, it was her house. It’s immaculately clean and neat like a magazine picture. The doc learned a lot about the health and activity level of his patient by seeing her home.

    11. Loopy*

      I’m struggling with this too. My father *always* comes to visit (by plane) because he has no one local to celebrate with. He’s at risk and mentioned researching if there’s a safe way to fly (which terrifies me- he’s older and has lung damage- there’s really not for him!). I don’t know if travel plays into your situation but I’ve been considering driving up (14 hours is painful) or driving and meeting somewhere in the middle and renting a place to just hang out to at least keep him out of an airport. He doesn’t seem interested in the second option. I don’t have a good answer because for him I don’t think a zoom call is really enough since he lives alone. The best I’ve gotten is driving > flying at least.

    12. Emily*

      I may drive to my parents’ house (~12 hours, which I would find unpleasant but doable) for Christmas, but I’ll have to think about it more when the holiday gets closer. They’re being reasonably careful and would probably be willing to adjust their behavior in advance of my visit if I had any concerns about specific activities.

      My S.O. lives significantly farther from his family and would have trouble reaching them without flying, so he’s not sure about his plans yet.

    13. Nita*

      Do you go to stores? Maybe you could meet up at/near one, with masks on, to exchange presents and a home-cooked meal?

      We’re struggling with this decision – several elderly relatives in the family really want to go visiting back and forth. We’ve spent a lot of time isolating from them, and they’re not getting younger, and in NYC the virus situation seems to be quiet despite everyone ramping up their circle of contacts. We can’t cut risk 100%. Isolation has its own risks, and there’s really no end in sight. So far, we’re still meeting up, but I’m keeping an eye on how the statistics look now that (private) schools, and some indoor activities, are coming back. We’ll see closer to the holidays…

  25. Blue Eagle*

    Note to Teatime is Goodtime
    A couple of weeks ago in a post about ginger you mentioned you made ginger lemon shortbread. If you would be willing to share the recipe I would love to have it as eating ginger lemon shortbread would be delicious! Smacznego!

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Thanks for replying. I’ll look forward to seeing it next week (or the following weeks – – – no hurry and sending positive energy your way, I know what its like to have a week that slams you).

  26. nep*

    Anyone have one of those Audubon bird clocks? I found one at an estate sale yesterday. The sounds work when I press the red test button, but they don’t sound on the hour as they should. I’ve gone through the steps in the instructions on the back, but nothing. I hear a little click on the hour as if it ‘knows’ it should do something, but no luck. It might just be broken and maybe I should consult a clock expert around here who might know.

    1. nep*

      (It’s charming as it is anyway, and I’d be fine if I don’t get the sounds to work on the hour–I just love the look of it.)

    2. Doctor is In*

      I used to have one; had to turn off the hourly chirp, too annoying after a while! There was a switch on the back. Your switch may be broken.

    3. Kathenus*

      There’s a light sensor on the front that turns off the sound after dark. Sometimes people have covered those up so they don’t make the sound at all. Check to see if that sensor may be blocked, or if not that could be faulty.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have a train clock that makes sounds. There is one battery to run the clock part and there is a second battery for the sound part. You may want to clean the battery contacts with a q-tip and some hydrogen peroxide to see if it is just a particle of corrosion on the power supply. I have cleaned battery contacts that looked like they were totally fine. But there must have been something not visible to the eye on the contacts because once cleaned it went back to working correctly.

  27. Stephanie*

    So house hunting has been…going (low interest rates and no inventory has triggered bidding wars for anything priced appropriately). Have been outbid 3 times. Aware this may also be the case for flips too, but has anyone bought an older house and flipped it? Any suggestions on how to identify what would have “good bones” and may just need to be brought into the 21st century? I’ve been using price as a proxy. I’m in a Rust Belt city with a lot of vacant houses–definitely want to avoid the $1000 houses, but it’s hard to gauge the ones that are still inhabitable.

    1. Ranon*

      There’s lots of types of “bones”- e.g., good proportions and good light are difficult but but not impossible to fix (you can add windows, etc). Houses built in the 70s/80s/90s tend to have been built with particle board and skinny sticks so are generally not resilient to water damage, nearly as porous to air as older houses , and difficult to insulate well. 50s/60s houses tend to have been built with the notion that more energy expenditure would solve all comfort issues and so are very difficult to keep comfortable. Any house with a lot of prior renovations will have more potential skeletons in its closets and general weirdness than a house that largely has not been touched. Rooms that used to be porches and are now conditioned space are usually nightmares. Houses that were built as a one-off rather than part of a development generally have more care and attention during construction.

      Generally, water damage, foundation issues, drainage issues, sewer = expensive fixes with unknown upper bounds on cost fixes. Ugly cabinets, questionably colored bathroom fixtures, poor flooring selective- easy fixes and much easier to maintain a fixed budget

      1. Ranon*

        Also, when you’re considering a budget for work, if you’ve never done a renovation before you need to hold at least 30% of your budget (and 50% would frankly not be unreasonable) as contingency for the unknowns that come up. People will tell you 10-20% which is true for pros most of the time but inexperience is expensive and best planned for.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Adding, if you hear it was once a school house then it may not be for you. I have heard people say that school house owners could form a club and write books. From my own experiences here I would agree. The building was built with whatever they had on hand. If they did not have something on hand they fudged it. Matching things up was not critical.

    2. Annie Moose*

      To be honest, unless you are skilled in construction work yourself, I would hesitate to try to flip a house. It’s almost always going to cost more than expected and if you have to pay contractors to do most of the work, you aren’t going to make much money unless you start cutting corners you don’t want to cut.

      My parents have worked in construction/renovation for years and helped me when I was looking for a house this spring. My dad was adamant that I shouldn’t even bother with a house earlier than 1970 because it’d be more trouble than it’d be worth (this is in Michigan)! I have a coworker who recently bought an early 1900s house and is running into loads of issues as a result–she basically has had to rewire the entire house, and it wasn’t even knob and tube.

      If you know anyone in the construction or home inspection industry, you should get their feedback on any house you look at, as they’re going to know what to look for. A trustworthy contractor who will be honest with you is worth a lot!

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m in Detroit, actually. Were things built in SE Michigan after 1970? There’s some new construction around the corner, but the condos start at $450k or something insane. That kind of seems to be the trend with the new construction…

        Ideally, I would just find the flip where someone else did all the dirty work…

        1. Disco Janet*

          What cities are you looking in? Staying in Detroit city proper, or willing to go nearby? Generally you’re going to find much more reasonable pricing if you go a bit south of Detroit than if you go north. I see lots of new builds happening when you start getting towards Woodhaven, Flat Rock, Monroe, etc. Our subdivision is expanding right now, and two story 3 bedroom/2bathroom homes are going for right around $250k.

          1. Stephanie*

            Mostly Detroit because of cost and house size (I’m considering 1000-1500 ft since I’m buying this solo). No kids, so schools aren’t as much of a concern. There are only a handful of neighborhoods in the city that have stable housing that’s sub $200k, so that’s been some of the competition. Also looking in Dearborn (since I work there for who you could probably guess). Looked a little in Ferndale, but everything there was at the top of my budget and still needed some work. I actually went into this wanting a condo, but there seem to be very few (and I’ve heard they don’t resell well). Trend I’ve heard is anything that’s priced appropriately is ending up in a multiple offer situation, regardless of area.

            But not wedded to these areas! I’m also fine renting another year since it looks like the market is still nuts (which is what looks like may happen).

            1. Disco Janet*

              Market is definitely nuts! We bought ours in 2012 for 133k and would currently be priced at at least 185k. From what my friends in Dearborn have experienced house shopping, I think it’s generally a little nuts there anyways in the housing market. Good luck, even if you don’t end up needing it until a year from now!

              I loved the Downtown parts of Dearborn back when I used to attend the University of Michigan branch there – seems like a very nice place to live…but yep, a competitive one. Hope you eventually find something you love!

    3. SunnySideUp*

      I’m going to rain on the house flipping parade. If you have to ask what constitutes “good bones,” you’re in no way prepared for the reality of buying a needful home. If you don’t understand construction, you’ll be in for major shocks at what things cost, what things are doable, and how long things take to fix. Do you need a general contractor ($$$), or will you GC it yourself (massive amounts of stress/time/required knowledge)? Can you find an honest, capable GC who can take the project at the time you need them to? Because right now, all the good tradespeople are booked up, helping homeowners improve-not-move.

      And then there’s the issue of redoing a house no one wants. If the location isn’t fine, if the school district isn’t good, if you put in materials/finishes that aren’t popular, if you have to cut corners due to budget constraints…. all of these will mean a house that lingers on the market and costs you money with every passing month.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I think this is a fair point. I actually went into this wanting turnkey, but everything is in a multiple bid situation (I offered on something that had literally 22 offers). I’m leaning more toward just passing on buying anything until this market calms down and hoping I can find a two-bedroom* that isn’t super expensive (and hoping housing costs don’t get too out of control). I’ve definitely looked a few “needs some TLC” and it’s given me pause.

        *Working from home in a one bedroom has been a lot. I was definitely that person volunteering to go back into the office, but my company is keeping us remote through next summer, probably.

    4. Double A*

      I’m confused–do you want to flip the house (i.e. fix up and resell for a profit) or are you asking about buying a fixer-upper (ie you will live in it). We did the latter, but I wasn’t interested in turnkey and wanted something we could really make our own.

      We bought a foreclosure with good bones, which to us means solid foundation, no plumbing problems, and good electrical, because fixing issues with any of those would have been prohibitively expensive and those kind of problems also tend to be total rats nests that are never quite fixed.

      Otherwise, HVAC was shot, appliances needed replacing (including oven/stove), the place was filthy so needed to be expensively cleaned, new floors, completely repainted with intense primer to block the cigarette stains. We did floors and painting ourselves. We’ve been slowly replacing the HVAC with mini-splits so we didn’t have to pay for that all at once (but live in a mild climate). I’ve enjoyed learning how to do a lot of this and you can learn how to do so much on YouTube. But there’s also a lot that it’s way more worth it to just pay someone (and sometimes just necessary).

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, fixer upper. Sorry if that wasn’t clear! No, not trying to flip for a profit. Would live in it. I’m fine with turnkey, but seems like there’s not a lot available.

    5. Stephanie*

      Thanks for the replies everyone! Lots of good info to ponder. To clarify, was wondering about fixer uppers, not flipping for a profit. I think the concerns raised about budget and labor availability echo a lot I’ve had. Leaning toward just fighting everyone for the turnkey ones (or just moving to a bigger rental with central air next year).

      1. TurtleIScream*

        I am also in Michigan. Besides labor issues, there is a shortage of raw construction materials, which is driving up prices as well (a project my sister priced out in March has tripled in price for the materials they can actually get!) Now really is not the time to purchase a fixer-upper, unless most of the issues are truly cosmetic and you could live with them until costs stabilize.

    6. Sandi*

      My suggestion would be to keep an eye on what fixer-uppers are available in your price range, just in case the right place pops up, but otherwise continue to rent so that you aren’t stressed about finding a place within a specific timeline. Real-estate is really dependent on location, so don’t take my word on the timing, but I have seen news articles that everything is very competitive right now but will drop in a year when the Covid effects hit hard. But who knows.

      I have bought fixer-uppers every time, for three homes. Not to stereotype, but… they were all owned solely by men, and were maintained reasonably well yet decorated really badly. The first place was 90s and really dark paint with old white carpets, so it didn’t cost much at all to get it looking good. The second place was 1950s and needed paint as well as updates to the kitchen (I painted the cupboards, and put new handles and countertop). I also updated the flooring and a few other things. Plus I just remembered that it had curtains that must have been from the original owner, as they were decades old and very floral. I assumed that the guy couldn’t be bothered to change the curtains when he moved in. My third home is also 1950s and was well cared for but not updated in 20+ years so I’m slowly dragging it into this decade.

      This will depend on your city, but I would strongly recommend to anyone on a budget and any enthusiasm for a bit of work that you consider a place that is dated yet well maintained. I wouldn’t do anything pre-1945 as those are more likely to have nasty hidden surprises, and it’s still possible to find surprises in more recent homes (lead paint, asbestos, bad wiring, etc) but I have found that if I trust my gut and find a good agent then it really helps. For one of the homes I had an agent that had worked in the construction industry for a few years and knew enough to know when a home was badly built, although I obviously hired a home inspector each time. I did a lot of research into finding an experienced and reliable home inspector, as they are critical.

      I quickly dismissed a number of homes, for all sorts of reasons. One had a black basement (I assume mold but I can’t know for certain as I turned around as soon as I saw it), and another had such a tilt on the main floor that it was impossible to ignore (it was extensively renovated to be more open-concept but I think someone must have messed with the structure).

      With each one I first asked the home inspector to confirm that it was solidly built and with a good foundation. Once that was confirmed, I got a list of all the problems, and worked on fixing them in the first year. The updating of style takes place over a much longer time, as I’m in no rush. Each home was very livable, even if a couple of the kitchen floor tiles cracked early on because they were cheaply done or the light fixtures were really ugly.

      In my current location, people pay a substantial premium for a turn-key home. If you have more limited funds, like me, and are in a similar type of city then you can have a lot of benefit if you are willing to organise to do the work yourself. You don’t have to do the work, but as an example I bought my home for about $100k less than a very similar one nearby, and I hired a contractor to do $25k worth of work. It wasn’t the easiest thing ever, but it was relatively easy as my realtor gave me a few names of people they trusted from their network, and that more expensive home wasn’t even an option financially.

      I would look at ones that have been lived in continuously, as that is critical. I would not trust an empty home, as that can quickly have problems. If you can find a good realtor then they should be able to help find the right types of homes, although there will be a lot of visits that won’t work out, for example the problem homes I mentioned above looked good online but were obviously bad within minutes of looking around, but if you are willing to put in that work then I definitely think it’s worthwhile.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      ALWAYS get an inspection. Get recommendations for an inspector from someone other than the listing agent. I once looked at a bank sale house of the same vintage as my mother’s once, and spotted the exact same asbestos bearing pipe wrapping that she had had to pay a mint to remove. I backed away quickly. 2 years later it came back on the market after renovations so I put in an offer. My home inspector flat out said he wouldn’t let a family member buy it. Not only had the asbestos had been incompletely & unprofessionally removed (visible pieces remaining from the basement pipes I noticed), they had missed asbestos in other interior rooms. They had done things like upgrade the electrical supply without upgrading the 1920s cloth-wrapped wiring to support it. They had installed a new bathroom in a place that a leak would travel straight down to the electric panel, and the water pipes were routed alongside the 1920s wires.
      Best $600 I ever spent getting nothing.

  28. Argh!!!*

    Mental Health Care Rant: Why can it be so hard to find someone with solid experience evaluating adult women for ASD?

    1. MatKnifeNinja*

      If you don’t live in a huge city like Boston, it is really hard.

      My cousin was diagnosed as an adult. There are two providers in our area that screen the over 18 crowd. Cash only. The one my cousin saw says he also has experience screening women for ASD. Why the lack of specialists?

      There are literally no treatments for adults diagnosed with ASD, so why bother? My cousin has Aspergers. He could use OT, PT and speech therapy. If he was 10, all that would be offered to him. There is absolutely no one who will bother with him, even for cash, as an either. Everything is geared towards pediatric patients.

      Providers look at testing like a useful data point, and then there’s not much they can offer an adult. Not many people can pay $3K for an in depth neuropsych evaluation for an aha moment. Usually testing is done for a crisis situation. “No he wasn’t being a jerk, he has this issue.”

      With not much to offer a client afterwards, and insurance almost never pays for it, the client pool is small. Specializing in woman makes it even smaller pool.

      I live in the midwest US, and in a fairly metro area. It seems if you have ASD, anxiety, OCD and depression, the ASD is almost never addressed. The psychiatrist only want to work on the depression/anxiety, and never factor in the ASD into the mix. It bites.

      So you are talking about a sub speciality of a sub speciality with very little money to be made. Only places I know that might be decent are doing research work on ASD, and they don’t accept everyone either..

      1. KoiFeeder*

        You’re absolutely right, with one nitpick. Social skills therapy is also something that should be offered to adults that isn’t. I still see my social skills therapist despite having seen her for over a decade because I’m still terrible at being a human.

    2. Anonymous healthcare person*

      Healthcare person here with family member on the spectrum. I know great psychologists who diagnose kids and teens and have been told that adult diagnosis of ASD is difficult and highly specialized, so very few are qualified to do it. (I think it may be because it’s a relatively new thing to do, so not much research/validated tests/expertise to teach others to diagnose). So – gonna be a challenge to find someone even in a big city. Is diagnosis required to get help and resources? I am not in the US, so perhaps it is? Where I am, diagnosis is only needed for work or school accommodations, although of course it can be helpful for other reasons.

      But – there is treatment for adults with ASD, and symptoms can be worked with even without a diagnosis. Look up Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson and the PEERS program, if social skills are an issue. They are mostly for teens and young adults, but the resources can be helpful for older adults too. There are youtube videos for PEERS, for example. Other difficulties (like attention problems, anxiety, etc) can be helped with meds and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy, as some possible options. Local organizations (charities, self-help, non-profits, private and public clinics) for children with ASD are worth contacting for info on resources for adults too. There are some good books as well for adults, including manuals for the PEERS program that are very practical. Good luck!

    3. fposte*

      MatKnifeNinja made some really good points. I’ll note that if you’re anywhere near a university, that’s a place where providers may offer the service to adults because of its relevant to disability accommodation, though most of the adults will be 18-22.

  29. Should I apply?*

    Cat training recommendations needed

    I just adopted 2 kittens, a week ago, who are 4-5 months old. They were rescues, and are extremely food motivated. I have only give them kitten food, but any time they see me eating anything they swarm me. They jump on the table, try to crawl up leg etc..

    They also do this anytime I am feeding them or giving them treats. They eat extremly quickly, pretty much racing each other. Any recommendations on to address the behavior? I can ignore the meows, but would rather not have them try to climb me or jump on the table.

    In general they are very sweet kittens, who aren’t shy & aren’t afraid of loud noises with the exception of the blender.

    1. CJM*

      My vet gave me a few tips just the other day to help with my cat who throws up a lot. She said cats often do that after eating too quickly, and cats often eat too quickly in a multi-cat household because they’re worried another cat will swipe their food.

      She suggested we press wet cat food onto the plate so it’s harder to get up and put dry kibble into a large, deep container like a skillet. (I didn’t catch the reason for that one — maybe to give the illusion of plenty or to add inches to their reach to slow them down?)

      Is there a bathroom, laundry room, or basement you can put them in when *you* are trying to eat? Light on, short stay, etc. might do the trick.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Another slowing option for dry kibble – a muffin tin. You can actually use it either upside down or right-side up, which gives them different enrichment options. Some cats get fratchety though about the cups being too small and their whiskers brush the sides. If so, flip it upside down, scatter the kibble among the bumps and they can fish it out with their paws, if they will do. (And if they won’t go for it either way, shrug and wash the muffin tin and stick it in the cupboard for next time you want muffins :) )

    2. Black Horse Dancing*

      This may be best as a time out situation. Only eat at your table, put them in the bathroom, bedroom, etc. You can also feed them just before you eat, so you are all eating at the same time. And make sure they are getting enough to eat–I free feed my cats dry food. Kittens burn calories fast so make sure they eat enough.

      1. Should I apply?*

        I do try to feed them before I eat, but they eat so quickly (~2 mins) that it doesn’t do any good. I have been feeding them wet kitten food 4x day, per the recommended amount based on their weight. It doesn’t seem to matter if they just ate, they act like they are completely starving. Thankfully there hasn’t been any issues with them throwing up so far. One does eat faster, then goes for the other’s food which I have also been trying to prevent.

        I will probably try putting them in another room when I am cooking / eating. I have been eating standing up, which is not a long term solution.

        1. CJM*

          We have a rescue who was so starved as a stray kitten that he’s still insecure about food — even after about eight years with us. We leave a bowl of kibble near his favorite hang-out spot and add to it a few times a day, and that seems to reassure him. Can you leave a bowl of kibble out at all times and see if that helps? They should self-regulate after some practice.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I agree about trying to leave out a bowl of kibble. Last time I adopted a kitty, at first he spent a lot of time eating, but after a while he started feeling more comfortable and seemed to be relaxed to know there was always some food out.

        2. fposte*

          It could be past deprivation, but some cats are just, well, doglike about food, even if they’ve had lovely secure lives from birth. You could look at slow feeders/puzzle feeders to slow them down on their own. I’ll post a link in followup with some entertaining DIY tips for those.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I did Kitten Jail – after the first time they swarmed me during any given meal, I put an empty laundry basket over them until I was done eating (like, 10-15 minutes, not a leisurely three hour repast :P ). This may not be a great idea, admittedly, but it seemed to work okay. I also used Kitten Jail when the kitten was loopy post-neutering and wouldn’t stop trying to jump onto things, missing and crashing back to the ground. Basically it was a “here, look, you just stay there a second and chill.”

    3. c-*

      Apart from the good advice about ways of teaching them they won’t run out of food at your home, I’d advise starting to discipline them out of undesirable behaviours like climbing the table or stealing the other cat’s food.

      I used: a firm no + time out alone in another room (20-30 minutes) OR a firm no + gentle squirt of water, immediately when the behaviour happened. You need to be very consistent and firm, not angry, so they learn that X behaviour is forbidden but that you won’t hurt them when they mess up. Don’t punish them by withdrawing food, as that could contribute to their stress around food. Praise them warmly (or with a treat or cuddles) if they do what you want them to.

      You also need to tackle this now, as kittens are considerably easier to teach than adult cats. Part of being a responsible pet owner is teaching your pets boundaries, but it is a hard and involved process.

      1. Should I apply?*

        I don’t think the squirt of water is going to work, as one jumped in the shower with me and seemed perfectly fine. I will have to try time out. I have been saying “no” but with no consequences it doesn’t mean anything.

        1. Anax*

          Water squirts can work even with water-tolerant cats! It’s more startling than unpleasant – a little mist is unlikely to get through even a shorthaired cat’s fur effectively. Make sure the water/squirter is clean, of course, and then… aim for the face. Many spray bottles will make a slight noise when you squeeze, and that noise alone is enough for my cats to recognize that they have Done A Naughty Thing, even if they don’t get wet.

          Positive reinforcement is always best, of course, but I don’t move so fast these days, and sometimes they need to be dissuaded from some new travesty. XP

        2. c-*

          If you use time out, don’t speak to them or give them any attention during the time out, but once it’s finished, act normally (cuddle them if they ask for pets, etc.). Some days you’ll have to put a kitten in time out more than once, so maybe shorten the lenght of time a few minutes after the first time. Ideally, the time out room would have a water dish and their litter box, but no toys.

          For adult cats, you can time them out for about 30 mins to an hour, but for kittens, I’d say more than 15 minutes but no more than half an hour. This is based on my experience as a cat owner, but you may want to contrast with other sources to expand your toolkit.

          1. c-*

            (You can definitely include a dry food dish in the time out room once they feel a bit safer about it, but right now they would probably interpret it as an award for the behaviour, which would be counterproductive)

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      They are basically extremely mobile permanent human toddlers. You need to decide your rules and stick with them, long term. Consistency is key, and cats will do well with a predictable routine. They’re also, cat-age wise, teenagers. So, “no” and not giving them attention for the bad behavior. Look up how mama cats disciple their babies. I tend to use those approaches, since they already know them.

      Part of the food is they’re probably still insecure. That will take time to resolve. Make sure that you’re feeding them on a schedule. Same time every day. That will help them learn that food isn’t something they have to worry about. If you’re feeding dry food, the puzzle bowls might help slow them down. Also, they have a ton of energy, so the more you can do to wear them out that will help them chill. Having 2 will help with that.

      As for the blender – they’ll probably learn that it’s not going to eat them.

    5. Animal worker*

      I’d definitely suggest a slow feeder or food puzzle. My rescue cat now gets 100% of her dry food in a Cat It Food Tree – I love it. She still gets some wet food am and pm, but she has to work for the kibble which slows down her feeding and gives her something else to do during the day.

      From the behavior standpoint, focus on what you want them to do instead of bothering you during feeding. Something like go sit on a certain mat, and then every few seconds you toss them some food for being there, gradually extending the period between the rewards. For when you’re eating, then give them a bowl of their food when you’re done. So they learn that the only place they get food is on this mat or in this spot, and that you have to finish eating for them to be allowed to eat. Then completely ignore behavior you don’t want (as long as there’s no safety issues). The combination of teaching them what TO do and ignoring the bad should work over time.

      1. Auntie Social*

        Slow feeders are expensive. My vet recommended a roasted chicken carrier (heavy black plastic) that has a waffle bottom. You mash the wet food down into the “waffles”. Works for puppies too, and the price is right!

    6. Esmeralda*

      No advice, I just have to laugh every time I see the words “cat training”. In our house, that means the cats have trained me very well.

    7. Osmoglossum*

      Have they been checked for worms? That could be a reason for their constant hunger.

      And, congratulations!

  30. Blarg*

    I’ve hit a wall of isolation and I don’t know what to do. I’ve always been the independent type, moving around, maintaining friendships over decades but slow to build them. My whole family is largely estranged from each other. So late last year I moved across the country for a job that turned our to be awful and I lost it in March. New city. No car — transit would be fine if things were normal. Didn’t know anyone here yet. Like, at all. I got a new, remote job, which is actually great. But I have had two hugs since the mid-March, from a relative who has done some essential travel and both times I quarantined hard for two weeks after just in case. That’s the only person I’ve had an in-person convo with beyond pleasantries at the market. I’ve been on transit once since this started. Otherwise if I couldn’t walk there, I haven’t gone. And there’s no end in sight. I’m so introverted that this is just now becoming an issue. But like … what am I to do?? I feel incredibly strongly about safety and my absolute worst nightmare would be making someone else ill. I can’t just go meet people. I can’t travel to see people I know and love. My region has been in “not terrible but no one wants us visiting” for quite a while now. I’m fed and clothed and safe and can do work I love from my home. I’m very fortunate. But also. At this point I want to curl up in someone’s lap and cry. And it seems like it’ll be another year before that can happen. How do I hold it together?

    1. Jessie*

      I know this sounds crazy. But a few years ago, I moved to a new country and didn’t know anyone. So, I searched for people living in this country on Fb. Just a random search. And a couple of searches came up and I found that I had a common friend with one of them. I contacted my friend and asked her to introduce us, and viola I had a new friend! How about you start with social media? Find people in your new city. Maybe even through FB groups focused on hobbies etc. Make friends with them on social media first, then gradually you can meet up? It could be in a park or an open area?

    2. Not A Manager*

      This is really tough. I can tell from your post how seriously you take COVID and how careful you want to be. I’m not at all trying to talk you out of that. You need to take the precautions that are reasonable for you.

      But. There are a lot of risks in life, and right now there’s a serious risk to your mental health. I don’t think you should completely discount how serious that risk is, in order to completely eliminate the risk of COVID.

      Are you willing to consider undertaking a few, careful, targeted risks involving COVID if that would significantly reduce the risk to your mental health? If so, things you might consider:

      Reaching out in your new location and trying to have some in-person contact with other humans. A masked, socially distant walk outdoors is very safe. Even an unmasked cup of coffee outdoors on opposite ends of a bench is pretty safe.

      If you know anyone locally that you would like to hug, consider this: You are outdoors, you are both wearing masks, you each turn your head in the opposite direction, you hug.

      What about an outdoors massage? This could be as simple as you sitting in a chair or on a bench, with the massage person working only from behind, wearing a mask. There would be no face-to-face contact even through masks.

      This is a bigger deal, but if you have some discretionary money, you might consider travel by car. You could rent a car, clean it however deeply you want to, let it sit overnight with the windows cracked, and drive to your nearest person that you love. Again, this depends on everyone’s circumstances, but I know people who have rented an airbnb in a central location and met there for a few weeks, especially people who work remotely. They’ve tested twice before meeting and then considered that they were in a pod for the duration of the visit.

      I know the last one is probably outside of your comfort zone, but maybe keep it in mind if things seem like they are getting worse for you. There is more risk than if you stayed home, but again, being completely socially isolated isn’t risk-free either.

      1. KeinName*

        This is great practical advice I think. Also the point about the risk to your mental health from continued isolation. I Hope you find a way that feels good for you!
        I have a friend who is on immunosuppressants (for IBD) and she still meets me for walks in the forest, but does nothing else outside the home I think (we‘ve recently had 900 new infections in a country of 9 mio, w/ super healthcare system, just for comparison).

    3. Laura H.*

      Isolation of ones own choice is easy. You have some control. Enforced or highly encouraged self-isolation like what we’re in right now is different. I do hope you figure something out.

      I have a porch and decent weather so I make sure I get porch time which helps. (as an added bonus- I get to wave at all the folks on their walks.)

    4. Alex*

      Would you be open to online dating? People are doing socially distant video dates, etc. I know that this doesn’t take the place of interacting with people you already love, but it can be something new and socially interactive. I haven’t done it but my friends who are active on Tinder are still active on Tinder. There’s people out there.

    5. KiwiApple*

      At this point we have to live with covid being in our lives. Going on for another year (or more) like you have seems incredibly unsustainable and really damaging to your mental and emotional wellbeing.

      By all means be careful and minimise risks (wear a mask, social distance,be outdoor as much as possible, get stuff delivered etc) but putting your life on pause doesn’t seem the best? See about online meet up groups or socially distanced ones. Go see a friend. Our public transport is running and people are mostly good about mask wearing and staying away- and if they don’t, then I move away. But I still see my friends from time to time (supplemented by online video chat and phone calls) and they live outside the city I do. I saw my dad for the first time in 8 months last weekend – we hired a car to drive. While I wouldn’t go to an indoor concert,cinema or to the pub on a night out, I have eaten out and again,like the transport, if I don’t feel comfortable I speak up to the staff or leave. But I am living my life (whilst being mindful and wearing a mask)

    6. Kathenus*

      I live alone and don’t think I’ve touched a human in months, thank goodness for my pets! But I do social distanced stuff with friends and neighbors – on porches at more than 6′ away. Coffee, cocktails, take out food. Sitting on opposite sides of the porches chatting and eating, masking whenever we need to move closer to each other for some reason. Also walks, masked and keeping our distance, but together, with one of my friends. I think you can be safe and still carve out some social opportunities. I won’t eat in a restaurant, and I won’t take the risk of things not socially distanced, but with proper precautions there are some options out there to get non-contact interaction at least.

    7. TPS reporter*

      Is there some volunteer thing you can do and still stay distanced? For instance, he cat rescue I volunteer with exchanges a lot of messages on a shared Google group. We foster the cats in our homes and communicate with potential adopters via email and zoom. If you could distance volunteer or join some other online community and get to know some of the people virtually, you could arrange a time to meet in a park. Try NextDoor to meet people near you. Maybe meeting virtually first will help ease social anxiety.

    8. anonlurkerappa*

      Some thoughts/suggestions:
      – is there anyone you could have a driveway or sidewalk visit with?
      – doing some sort of activity where you are outside and masked and just passing people (or other people are passing you, ie taking a walk or picnicking in a park) might help partly and safely scratch the being-around people itch/need.

    9. Nita*

      That sounds so difficult. I guess, at this point, you have to weigh the risk of getting sick (or the risk of spreading the virus) against the risks of months of isolation for yourself, and others around you. It’s never an easy decision, but the virus is not the only risk in life, and it’s not like you’re looking at locking yourself up for a couple of weeks – there doesn’t seem to be a firm end in sight. There are precautions you can take without keeping yourself totally isolated.

      A lot of people here in NYC started meeting up outside in late spring, and it seems fairly safe. Many also coped by slowly expanding their “bubble” to close friends, or extended family, or neighbors. So far so good. I honestly don’t know how much of this is due to the fact that the city still isn’t running at its pre-COVID speed, vs precautions like masks, vs the possibility that many of us here are immune, so my experience may not be that useful to you. But maybe some of these things will work for you also.

  31. Plumbing Help*

    I did something stupid last night. After flossing with one of those plastic y-shaped floss things, I attempted to toss it in the trash but missed and it fell in the toilet. I was too tired to want to reach in the toilet so I figured I’d get it out this morning. But of course I used the bathroom in the middle of the night and flushed without remembering the piece of plastic that was there. I’ve now remembered in the morning and am kicking myself for not just taking the floss out immediately. I haven’t put anything else down there but the toilet is definitely not flushing right (it’s slow to drain). What can I do to remove the floss? I don’t really know how far it is.

    1. Too old for this*

      Google “toilet snake”. Amazon has several for less than $20. Be sure you get one specifically for toilets.

  32. No Name Today*

    Removed because this thread is no work, no school. But you can post it on next Friday’s work thread!

  33. Stephen!*

    I recently got an adult cat. The person who I got her from said she was spayed, but after the 2+ months that I’ve had her, I don’t think that’s the case! And now it’s frustrating, because my vet seems rather reluctant to try to figure it out whether she is or is not spayed. I realize that it’s slightly complicated, but her being in what I’m pretty sure is heat is really unpleasant for all involved! Any one else have a cat who perhaps wasn’t spayed when you were told she was? How did it work out for you?

    1. CJM*

      Our neighbor had a cat who went into “false heat,” according to the neighbor, even though the cat was spayed. I saw firsthand some of the behavior that suggested she was in heat. Google says it can happen when ovarian tissue remains after spaying. So it might be that.

      We had one stray cat who was hard to figure out. One vet couldn’t find the scar that indicated she’d been spayed, but his colleague came into the exam room and noticed it immediately. Can you get a second opinion? I wonder if a different vet might have a stronger skill set in determining that.

      1. tangerineRose*

        That’s what I’m thinking too. Has the vet said why they’re reluctant? I don’t like the idea of the kitty being miserable so regularly.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      My cat was found as a stray and my friend who rescued her took her to a vet to be spayed and it turned out she had been spayed. That was found out after she had been shaved for the surgery. The fact that someone put my precious girl out is another story!

      I can’t see how your vet would be too relucant to have the cat shaved to see if there’s a scar or a tattoo. Some cats are tattooed as a tag that they’ve been spayed.

    3. Stephanie*

      Not a cat, but we are going through this right now with our most recently adopted dog. She was rescued from China back in November, (we adopted her from the rescue group in early February) and the rescue group had been told she’d been spayed. I took her to the vet this week and found out that she is in heat. Whether she was actually spayed and some tissue was mistakenly left behind, or they just lied about having done it, we don’t know.
      We have two other dogs, and we’re starting to see some ramped up behavior with all three of them. It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks, I think. We will have her spayed as soon as we can (we have to wait a certain amount of time after her cycle is finished), and our rescue group said that they would cover the cost of it.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Our cats – Siamese – were not spayed, even though their records from the cat rescue place said they had been.

      Shirley went into heat.

      I had never heard a cat in heat before.

      I had especially never heard a Siamese cat in heat before.

      A Siamese cat in heat is very very very very loud.

      The vet spayed them both.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s actually really easy to tell if they’re spayed – just shave that area and check for a scar. If your vet won’t do that, you need a different vet.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Dog, not a cat, but my brother’s dog healed up so well (and was spayed as soon as possible, which probably contributed) that she doesn’t actually have a scar.

        Scar or no scar, there are definitely medical tests that can confirm for sure, so it’s weird that the vet is reluctant to try. Some vets are really hesitant to propose treatments that cost a significant amount of money, so maybe that’s it?

    6. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      The shelter where I got my cat from, tattooed a stripe on the tummies of all of the kitties they spayed. It’s visible through her fur if you look, and it’s something a lot of vets do so that if the kitty ends up back in the shelter, they don’t accidentally subject the poor kitty to a second surgery!

      Private vets don’t always do this, but it’s worth a look. It’s on the lower tummy, under the fur, where it thins out a little, roughly in proportion to the kitty’s hind legs that a human’s tummy would be to their legs.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      My friend had a cat she was told had been spayed. She discovered that was not accurate when the cat gave birth to two kittens a few weeks later! Fortunately the kittens were placed in a good home (mine!) and the rescue she adopted mama from took care of the spaying as soon as medically possible.

    8. Dog and cat fosterer*

      It’s not that easy to tell for absolute certain, as the scar can be hidden or be very difficult to see. Our rescue gets a lot of outdoor cats and almost all of them are unspayed, and we need to confirm that they aren’t pregnant before their spay. So we either get them fixed immediately if they are thin, or we wait 9 weeks during Covid times when vets have a long waiting list. It would be nice to know if they have been spayed, but we often only know when they are prepped for surgery. I suspect the vet isn’t keen to confirm it because there is a chance that they will be wrong. Due to our situation, where we take in a lot of outdoor cats, we assume that they aren’t fixed and on rare occasions we are pleasantly surprised.

    9. Amy*

      Vet student here! It can be really tricky to tell from the outside if a cat is spayed because they can heal up so well the scar is not particularly visible, especially without shaving her belly. The scar will typically be located just below the cat’s belly button, on midline. Sometimes there may be a tattoo, depending on the vet who spayed her.

      If she’s displaying signs of heat there are a few potential causes: 1) she’s not actually spayed, 2) she was spayed but some ovarian tissue was not fully removed (called an ovarian remnant – not uncommon!), 3) she’s getting exposed to exogenous hormones, such as estrogen cream on someone’s skin, or 4) she has an adrenal tumor (probably unlikely). If your vet is not willing to try to find the cause then you probably need a new vet – the cat will keep cycling and it is super annoying living with a cat in heat. A potential diagnostic plan would be: 1) shave her belly to look for a scar, 2) abdominal ultrasound to look for uterus, ovaries, and/or adrenal masses (sensitivity of this will depend on how good of an ultrasonagrapher your vet is, and how good their machine is – an ovarian remnant can be tiny and adrenals can be hard to find!), 3) blood tests for AMH and/or progesterone, hormones which will only be present in cats with ovarian tissue.

      Good luck!

  34. It’s All Good*

    The audiobook of “Juliet, Naked” is one of my favorites! Highly recommend. – I couldn’t get into the movie. Might try again.

  35. Twisted Lion*

    Been wanting to ask peoples thoughts/ideas. My dad is in assisted living which is basically under lock down for all residents (limited interaction and they have to eat in their rooms). Its a wonderful facility but he has to spend almost all of his time in his room so he is going stir crazy. The other problem is that got memory issues and is severely visually impaired. Im also on the opposite coast which makes things more difficult. Things I have been able to do: help him buy craft kits for paper models that he loves to do. Also after 4 months of hair pulling, he knows how to order groceries via instacart although he often still needs help with that. And he seems to be ok with ordering the occasional thing on amazon but he does get frustrated. Netflix and Prime are too hard for him to figure out for now. I call and skype but he is lonely and just suffering. I was thinking about sending him a care package but need ideas on anything you think someone who cant see well might do to alleviate boredom. He is one of the smartest people I know but a stroke from a few years ago made it so he cant read. I send him audio books but I know they are getting old. Running a dvd playing isnt an option because its too complicated to use the remotes. Any ideas y’all? Thank you!

    1. Ranon*

      Is there any way you can hook him up with podcasts? Does he have a radio?

      For crafts something like polymer clay and carving tools might be enjoyable? Would also assist in maintaining hand strength.

      Would he enjoy some kind of low care plant?

      My grandma actually really enjoyed her Furby and I think you can still find them on eBay (or some other sort of responsive robotic toy)

      1. Twisted Lion*

        Lol he has a purring stuffed cat that he gets a kick out of. The clay is a good idea! He might like making something. Thanks!

    2. PollyQ*

      Seconding podcasts, and if the whole “get online, download, figure out the app to play” thing is too complicated for him, you could get him an old-fashioned portable CD player, burn the podcasts to CD, and mail them to him.

      1. Twisted Lion*

        Good idea. I forgot about podcasts. He does have a radio and listens to NPR a lot. He would enjoy them I think.

    3. Old and Don’t Care*

      Check with your or his local association for the blind/visually impaired? They may have audio content that would be easier for him to manage, as well as other suggestions.

      Bird feeder? I’ve noticed requests for those on holiday giving trees.

      1. Twisted Lion*

        He does get audio cds from an organization like this. He lives in a super small town so Im grateful for anything he gets. Hmm. He would enjoy a bird feeder

        1. Anono-me*

          Will someone who works at his residence be willing to load the feeders regularly? If so, please also look at some of the goofy squirrel feeders