weekend open thread – January 2-3, 2021

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: Park Avenue Summer, by Renee Rosen. This part is true: When Helen Gurley Brown became editor of Cosmopolitan magazine right after publishing her notorious Sex and the Single Girl (a book I stole from my mom and read incessantly as a teen), her plans to sex up the magazine created scandal and she faced aggressive opposition from people (mainly men) who were shocked and outraged by the content she wanted to run. The novel is a fictionalized account of a young woman who moves to NYC in the ’60s and becomes Helen Gurley Brown’s assistant in the middle of all this. It’s fiction, but it’s based what really happened and it’s pretty fascinating.

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

{ 1,167 comments… read them below }

  1. Your Local Cdn*

    Does anyone have favourite beginner workouts that don’t require special equipment? I’m in a tiny condo and just don’t have room for more stuff, but I do have 10 lb weights.

    1. MBK*

      Do you like video games? Ring Fit for the Nintendo Switch is great, and while it does require the console and the exercise ring, they’re pretty small and unobtrusive when not in use. (I’m sorry, I know the request was for stuff that requires *no* additional equipment, but this one is so good and includes such a wide variety of workout options I thought I’d speak up.)

      1. Disco Janet*

        I second this! Helps me work out much more efficiently, and the time passes by more quickly.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      I’ve been using the 7 Minute app, which is decent strength workouts that take about 8 or 9 minutes including the ‘rest’ of a few seconds between exercises. All you really need is a yoga mat. The workouts are good – you do 30 seconds of each exercise and do about 14 exercises altogether. You can do an overall workout or focus on an area. I’ve been doing the overall and arms and it’s definitely helped with my strength.

    3. Kiitemso*

      Bodyweight exercises can take you pretty far. Planks, squats (especially with added weights), burpees, pushups, crunches (I’m not sure what the verdict on crunches is, but my physio told me to avoid them due to my lower back issues), other stuff I’m not thinking of right now.

      You can also do yoga routines through youtube videos. There are some starter yoga routines that are very easy (and therefore not very physically demanding either) that you could combine with bodyweight stuff.

      And if you don’t have downstairs neighbors or don’t think that minor noise will be a huge issue, a very good cardio can be jumping rope. If you genuinely want no extra stuff in your place, just jump at the rhythm you would for a jump rope routine. 15-30 mins is usually enough for me, it’s very efficient.

      1. Nessun*

        Second body weight exercises! I work out in my apartment when the gym is closed…for whatever reason. I do squats, push ups against the countertop (if you can’t stretch out along the floor, or cant go all the way down to the ground), and if you buy a band ($5 – $10) you can use it for stretches and working your arms and legs. There are lots of videos on YouTube, you can search by body type, size, or fitness level.

        1. Kali*

          Nerd Fitness had a basic routine of push-ups, pulls ups, squats, and planks, with ideas for how you could level them down to start with and then up as you improved. I’ll put the link in a reply to this comment (since links take a while to come through), but if you google “nerd fitness angry birds” it comes right up.

          We got an Amazon Echo thing for Christmas, and I’m using her for stretching. There are some skills others have made with basic routines, and it’s pretty easy just to make your own routine of “Alexa tells you which stretch – wait 30 seconds – repeat with next stretch”. I struggle a lot with muscle stiffness, especially in my neck and shoulders, so just a few minutes a day makes a huge difference for me. Other than that, I like walking and I’ve found it easy to get the weekly recommended active minutes (150 mins moderate intensity, recommended by the NHS) that way.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I third body weight exercises, though I consider burpees to be more advanced. But I hate burpees and can’t do them anyway (back surgery <1 year) so YMMV!

        I'd say squats, walking lunges (or alternating lunges standing in place if there's not enough room to go about seven to eight steps in one direction), jump squats, squats with an upward press using one 10 lb weight (or just hold the weight near your chest), wall sits, planks, flutter kicks, and crunches (assuming no lower back issues).

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Haha! This is when I’m happy I still have some doctor-imposed physical limitations. If I didn’t, my trainer would make me do them!

      3. AdAgencyChick*

        Yes! Google “Crossfit travel workouts” — a lot of Crossfit gyms have a list of workouts that require no equipment that members can use when traveling, and that would work great in an at-home setting too. Scale as needed — if you can’t do pushups on your toes, do them on your knees or elevate your hands on your coffee table or couch.

        If you have dining table chairs that will bear your weight without moving around (or you can back one against a wall with a towel on the back to keep from marking the wall up), try step-ups: Plant one foot on the chair and, using the foot on the ground as little as possible, step up so that both feet are on the chair. Start off with body weight, then work up to holding your 10# weights while stepping up.

    4. Bee*

      I really love the Fitness Blender you tube channel/website. Some really great workouts on there that use body weight only or just dumbbells

    5. VictoriaQ*

      You can try also looking on youtube for no equipment workouts (I personally try to find 30-day workouts if I can, since it saves me the hassle of repeats or trying to find new videos). I just started Holly Dolke’s 30-day workout quarantine edition. Her stuff is real short and fairly simple, with no equipment so far. And I haven’t really needed much space for it either.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I found a ton of options on YouTube by searching HIIT (high intensity interval training), which advertise low impact and no equipment, plus varied times and levels of difficulty. I did one last week by Popsugar, 30 minutes and they showed and talked about modifications which is great when you’re starting out.

        Yoga with Adrienne just started her 30 day series to kick off the new year, and her previous series are on YouTube as well.

    6. Fran*

      Fitness blender has a lot of beginner workouts and on almost every workout they offer beginner modifications.

    7. LST*

      If you are up for trying an app I can recommend Centr – huge range of workouts and you can filter so just have no equipment workouts (that will definitely be a good workout!). It is a paid app but they have a trial period if you want to try it (just go to your account settings to cancel). Has a nice Facebook community too that I’ve found encouraging.

    8. nep*

      A lot of great comments and suggestions here. Just here to echo many of them–please don’t think that if you don’t have much special equipment or space, somehow that degrades your workout and what you can get out of it. Far from it. You can build strength, mobility, and flexibility; or just get/stay fit–whatever your goal–with bodyweight exercises (and using the weights occasionally if suitable).

      1. Lifeandlimb*

        Agreed. I first started working out in my little 10×10 ft apartment bedroom, on an area rug on my floor in between my bed and dresser. I did mostly body weights for the first year before progressing to a few small weights.

        I love working out at home. I would always find reasons to avoid the gym and feel weird around strangers there!

        1. nep*

          Same. I worked at a gym pre-COVID and didn’t work out there except the group ex classes I led. At home for me, all the way.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yes, absolutely. It’s not less legit to work out at home and without equipment. You can be fit as HELL doing bodyweight workouts in your living room.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m going to be starting in with Jack Lalanne. I found an official channel on YouTube. He made it to 96, and my mom who followed him regularly made it to 94, so maybe that will keep me on board.
      For people who don’t remember him, his big thing was exercises that 1950s housewives could do in their living rooms with little prep.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, gosh, that takes me back! When I was a kid we’d watch Jack LaLanne’s show and follow along with the exercises – kind of silly in retrospect, for a kid who spent the reset of the day climbing trees, galloping around pretending to be a horse, and/or engaging in lively games of tag, but I guess for me it was a fun challenge to mimic his movements.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Me too. I didn’t do much formal sport, but was always in motion. Mom didn’t skip his show when I was kept home from school sick, so finding him on my firestick was a nostalgia blast (with a flashback to chickenpox).

    10. Sp*

      I use Nike Training Club – you can tell it what equipment you do have and how much you want to work out and it will create a workout plan for you. Also free.

    11. Girasol*

      I do the UNC Tarheels medicine ball routine with a 10 lb medicine ball as a light morning workout, and you could do it just as well with a 10 lb dumbbell. It’s a good warmup or beginning workout if you’re working up to more serious bodyweight exercises. Just google it.

    12. Stephanie*

      I’ve found resistance bands to be useful. You can use them like weights for strength training (and they take up less space than free weights).

      1. Nessun*

        Bands are great! I use them at home for strength and auxiliary training, and they’re a huge help. (When I go to the gym I do weight training, and my endurance and my PRs ate fantastic with all the home work using the bands!)

    13. not_salad*

      If you have amazon prime, there’s a series of 20-minute workout videos done by Maggie Binkley that I love. She has a schedule of videos recommended for M-F, and increasing levels.

      1. Heffalump*

        What’s good specifically for cardiovascular fitness? My doctor recommends that I take a daily 20-minute walk. It’s not that I absolutely can’t do this, but it’s hard to motivate myself to do it in these cold, rainy winters in Seattle.

        I have a dumb flip phone, not a smartphone, so anything that requires a smartphone is out, but exercises that I could run on my desktop computer would be OK.

        1. TextHead*

          I jog in place inside. I’ve done it while watching TV, talking to my partner, on non-video calls, etc

        2. pcake*

          Can you get a cheap folding exercise bike and do 20 minutes of moderate effort per day while watching TV? Less motivation as you wouldn’t have to get dressed or go anywhere, and watching TV can take your mind off.

      2. Rescue Dog*

        Thanks for the recommendation! I tried one today and it was perfect for where I am right now. I also enjoy Joe Wicks’ workouts.

    14. violet04*

      Highly recommend Fitness Blender. Lots of free videos for all fitness levels. On their website, you can search workout videos based on difficulty level.

    15. All Hail Queen Sally*

      The Jazzercise studio in my city is all on line now and offers 0ver 40 classes a week. I live in a super tiny apartment and had to move furniture to clear a 6-foot square to exercise, but it is working very well for me as I prefer the dance-type moves. The owner has had people from all over the US and a couple of other countries join because of the variety of classes. It’s not cheap though–I think it is about $65 a month to join now. I justify the expense because it is for my health.

    16. Why isn’t it Friday?*

      I just started watching Blogilates videos on YouTube for workouts. A ton of them don’t require any equipment at all and can be done in small spaces. They’re also short and intense – think 15 minutes of abs – but still leave me sore. Enjoy!

    17. Intermittent Introvert*

      For those who are less young, Silver Sneakers has a bunch of great workouts and other exercise options online. No cost.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you did yourself wanting smaller weights, try filling plastic jugs or bottles to measured levels. 9.5 cups of water weighs 5 lbs.
      Water bottles preferred to milk bottles in case anyone forgets and goes to drink it later. I also added blue food coloring for same reason. It triggered some silliness when spotted on a club Zoom: What ARE you drinking!?

    19. Ranon*

      There’s a book called “You Are Your Own Gym” that has very good bodyweight routines and difficulty progressions.

      The same author has one targeted towards women but it’s exponentially more full of toxic diet culture b.s. so I’d skip that one.

      There’s also a website called MommaStrong that has really good minimal equipment (e.g. cans, rolled up towel) home workouts (they also have PoppaStrong, the workouts are different to accommodate basic physiology stuff like pelvis shape, etc.) – they’re designed for parents so they’re short (15 minutes) but they cover basically all the ways you need to move your body to continue having a functional body. More maintenance, less progression, but really really solid technical foundation for not getting yourself hurt and fixing stuff that does hurt.

    20. Disguised as me*

      I like Git LIIT with Amy for her low impact cardio workouts, with and without strength intervals. (She also has HIIT workouts. For the light weights, I have used water bottles. Mobile Fitness and Pilates has some beginner mat classes and her instructions are very clear. If you are open to inexpensive, unobtrusive resistance bands, I like Achv Peak, since they show how to get the right amount of resistance without attaching the bands to anything. (They are generally under your feet or looped around the body.)

    21. bluemasonjar*

      Search for fitness blender on youtube. It’s been life changing for me since the pandemic started. They have several apartment friendly and low impact workouts (no jumping).

    22. Not Your Sweetheart*

      I like belly dance workouts. I don’t remember the name of the ones I’ve used (I’m not at home, so can’t look), but your local library probably has a few DVDs. They’re low/no impact, but work all the muscles, especially the core.

  2. Analyst Editor*

    I mean, Cosmopolitan magazine as I know it (“10 ways to wake him with a BJ!”) is honestly awful, though so are lots of non-sexed-up things. It probably made a lot of money but was it For The Best in some grander sense? I don’t know.

    1. Kali*

      I read UK cosmo sometimes and they do have some good hard-hitting articles. They did one on abortion, one where a journalist wore a full burqa for a week and diarised her experiences a la Black Like Me, one on seeing your parents die…

      There’s a lot I don’t like, like the way they keep calling stem people “boffins” as if we must be another species and not literally their readers. What a message huh, cosmo readers can’t be scientists or mathematicians? That’s a nasty stereotype – stem isn’t fem – that needs to die. They also wrote an article on a face cream that claimed to change your skin by changing your epigenetic markings (literally turning genes on and off), and presented that as if it were possible and reasonable and would not give you super-cancer.

      … So, I have the impression that UK cosmo does things a bit differently to US cosmo, but it’s still a bit hit and miss.

      For me though, this ties into feelings of anger about the idea anything women – especially teenage girls – like must be frivolous and damaging and should be criticised at all costs. So I’m going to be inclined to keep finding and pointing out the good bits of UK cosmo – and to their credit, they keep bringing it – even if it’s not perfect. Yeah, some things could be better, but few of the things aimed at women deserve all the vitriol they get. Like Barbie. She’s a doctor, president, astronaut…if anyone thinks she’s a “dumb blonde”, that’s coming from the idea that anything feminine and pretty must be stupid, not from the character herself.

      This is also what the “not like other girls” thing is about. Lots of women go through a phase of “I’m not like other girls, caring about frivolous things, I care about cool and important things”. And it’s not because most girls are shallow, it’s because we’re told they are and so we think we must be unusual for being human.

      This is almost a complete tangent, but the movie Jumanji: Into the Jungle really stood out to me because there’s a teenage girl – portrayed by Jack Black for most of the movie – who cares about her looks and her social life, and is less interested in academia or hobbies like reading or video games, or whatever is approved of as not-girly-and-therefore-stupid. In most films, she’d be mean and dumb and her character arc would be about learning the error of her ways. But, this movie actually seems to like her and see her as a person. She’s searching for her phone, a character gets in the standard dig about how some things are more important than her social life, she’s frivolous, blah blah blah, and she points out that being able to make a phone call would be very useful under the circumstances. A lot of her moments aren’t so much about her growth but about other characters and the audience seeing she already had something within her that they’d missed because they saw the stereotype and not the person. She does develop some new hobbies – like hiking – and gets some character growth, but the movie doesn’t act like she’s fundamentally wrong and must change as a person to be acceptable. And I didn’t realise how unusual that was until I saw this movie.

    2. Jen Erik*

      Also, maybe depends when – historically – you came across it. My sister and I read it (UK version) in the 70s, when I swear to you, our entire sex education was – I have since come to think – the biology unit on the life cycle of the rat. I assume they thought we’d make the connection, well, if that’s how rats make babies…

      So our entire real sex education came from Cosmo, which was not entirely perfect either, because they did tend to dwell on advanced sex ed – G-spots and the like, and not cover the basics, but it was a window into a world where women’s jobs were as valued as men’s, and where women were entitled to choose whether to have sex and could expect to enjoy it.

      I haven’t read it for many years, but I’m grateful it existed.

    3. WellRed*

      I’m not old enough to know what magazines were like when HGB came along but I can imagine. I’d say what she did is for the best if she put sex and other topics in the hands of women who might Not otherwise have access (remember: no internet but also in the sixties many women didn’t make their own money.)

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Don’t UK and US editions of magazines sometimes pool material? I am thinking of an interview with a particular front cover star, and an article I read in UK Glamour magazine about “Powering Up” your career, but was illustrated with an American electric plug!*

        UK Cosmopolitan did a good campaign “The High Heel Vote”, in which they tried to get more young women to vote in the next general election, since the age group who were the demographic of the magazine’s readers were the age group least likely to vote.

        (*Side note. I can’t help thinking US plugs don’t look very safe, but maybe you need to be used to them)

        1. ThatGirl*

          Three-prong grounded plugs exist here! They’re just more common on higher voltage products – hairdryers, microwaves, large appliances. The two prong ones aren’t inherently unsafe, and US electrical systems are a lot safer overall than they used to be.

          1. Urt*

            It’s not so much that they are two pronged. But that they usually appear not to be sunken. So the plug hangs unprotected on the outside.

            1. Urt*

              And it appears that the prongs are completely conducting. The prongs here are typically covered by plastic for almost half their length, so by the time plug and outlet make contact and start conducting, no conducting parts are still uncovered and could be touched. At least for the typical Europlugs. Schukos are different type of behemoths but they two rely on being sunken into an outlet.

              Japan is pretty similar and, yes, it feels very unsafe and flimsy.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          For what it’s worth, US runs lower voltage on most lines. 120V is standard; lines for 240V appliances have special 3- or 4-prong plugs.
          What boggles me is Norway: 230V and 2-prong plugs. I got badly zapped on a visit, when I jostled a plug retrieving something that had fallen behind a sofa.

        3. Curly*

          Yes, I used to travel back and forth often about 15-20 years ago and I used to buy magazines to read on the plane (you know, before I was able to bring along multiple devices stuffed full of all my media with me). They did share articles and what was really interesting is that they often didn’t run in the same issues. So I would read an article in the US version and then 6 months or a year later, see it in the UK version. Having said that, the UK versions did have unique content as well.

        4. Heffalump*

          If it were up to me, we’d adopt British-style type G plugs in the US. They joke about the plug being bigger than the device on the other end of the cord, but they’re very safe.

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I’ve run across vintage women’s magazines in antique shops around here…there was a lot of advice for women on how to please and take care of men or run a household (with again emphasis on making it comfortable for their husband) and not a lot for…gasp…Single Women!, taking care of herself and her needs, and career advice for women. Including sex articles aimed at female pleasure was the click bait of its time…come for the mysterious and debated G-spot, stay for the article on the fight to end child marriages.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      I run a sex blog, which is kind of the descendent of that kinda thing, so I’m actually going to defend the “sexed up” articles.

      My first exposure to sex positivity was from magazines like Cosmo or YM, often sneakily read at friends’ houses in my early teens. I was raised in a very sex-negative Christian home, and magazines like that were my first introduction to the idea that sex was a thing that you could enjoy, even if you were born with two X chromosomes. They weren’t the be-all and end-all of my education, nor should they have been, but they were the first time I was presented with the idea that having a sex drive did not make me a bad person, and that adults who had sex outside of heterosexual, monogamous, Godly marriage weren’t basically The Worst.

      Then again, now in my 30s I’m non-Christian, queer, polyamorous, and review adult toys, so maybe it was a slippery slope after all lmao

    5. Judgey McJudgemental*

      I think it is one of those things that has its good points and its bad. It was something I started looking at in the 1970s when I was teen. I never actually subscribed or even ever bought one, but if it is sitting on the table at a hair salon I’ll pick it up and thumb through it while I wait. It is what it is.

      Apparently it was just a bland family magazine until 1965 when Helen Gurley Brown (the author of 1962’s groundbreaking, “Sex and the Single Girl,”) was named as head editor. With Brown as editor the magazine became salacious with sexually provocative articles and covers and photos of scantily-clad women (and men). It championed her view that single women should be able to experience and enjoy sex without shame and stigma and so I think it was very sex positive and worthwhile in that way. Through the years it has provided (and continues to provide) a lot of valuable information about birth control, contraception and the risks of STDs.

      It was an early advocate of equality in the workplace and featured articles about how to advocate for equal pay and for jobs that had been traditionally held only by men, so it was generally good in that way. From time to time, it featured pictures of nearly nude men for women (and gay men) to enjoy, which hadn’t been done before. It informed readers about controversial subjects such as “swinging” and “polyamory” in a usually non-judgmental way (although the article titles were usually pretty provocative).

      I remember watching a talk show in the 1970s where Helen Gurley Brown was a guest and she made a salacious comment about her readers experimenting with sex and having multiple partners. Like have sex with someone, then go somewhere else and have sex with someone else like an hour later. The talk show host responded with, “Wouldn’t you hate to be the second guy? Ew!”

      Through the years it made some blunders. I think the worst was in the late 1980s it published a false article claiming that women were unlikely to contract AIDS even if they had unprotected sex with an HIV+ man which was just untrue. I don’t know that I buy the argument that Cosmo targets children or teens. Teens are going to naturally be curious about things and it will have some appeal to them, even if it isn’t targeted to them. OTOH, Cosmo did show poor judgement in having covers, photos and articles about underage celebrities who were legally minors.

      I always felt uncomfortable about some of the articles that (I feel) advocated behavior that is unethical and/or immoral. (I’m admittedly a very judgey mcjudgmental person.) I’m paraphrasing and exaggerating slightly here, but over the years there were a few articles along the lines of, “How to have an affair with a married man,” “How to break up your boss’s marriage so you can have him all to yourself,” and “How to have a discreet affair without your husband finding out.”

      Then there were the inevitable follow-up articles along the lines of, “How to get along with your husband’s bitter first wife and stepchildren after you’ve broken up their family,” and “How to save your marriage after you’ve been caught cheating.” There’s value in discussing those kinds of issues and weighing the pros and cons of them, but still.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I might be misremembering things but i thought some of those “how to cheat” type articles were written sort of sarcastically or with a twist at the end that made it more “don’t actually do this” than the read-bait headline made it sound.

        1. Judgey McJudgemental**

          Or I could be misremembering. I recall the “How to get along with your husband’s bitter first wife” article ended with the writer saying that when she was driving to the country club in her Mercedes she just didn’t think about it.

    6. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I read Como (US) throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s and I thought it was great. There were some “scandalous” articles, but nothing anything like Playboy, Hustler, and such. I happened to run across a Cosmo from this year in a doctors office recently and was appalled at how awful it was. Mainly, I couldn’t understand half the articles as it seems the younger people like to talk in acronyms that I have no idea what they stand for. The articles I did understand I thought were stupid. Perhaps it is all due to the generation gap now that I am in my middle 60’s.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I’m in my 40s and I’m with you. It’s written for a 10 second attention span with a lot of text speak and teasers to check out the real content on their social media…i assume because it’s easier to track/monetize clicks and likes than page flips in a magazine.

    7. Otter Dance*

      1970s Cosmo reader here.

      What was wonderful about it then, that wasn’t available in Seventeen or Ingenue or even the more grown-up women’s magazines, was the idea that sex wasn’t just to please a man. Women could, and should, enjoy sex. Orgasm was a perfectly reasonable expectation, and a man who didn’t at least make an effort to give a woman equal pleasure was a selfish jerk.

      I’m not sure exactly when the focus changed to articles about how to please HIM, instead. But that gradual shift was a big part of why I stopped reading Cosmo back in the 1980s.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I read Cosmo in the 70’s, also read Sex and the Single Girl. I even have a copy of her cookbook that was published then. (Still use a few recipes from it.)
        Cosmo generated a storm of controversy when HGB started working with it (never read it before, so don’t know what it was like then.)
        I didn’t agree with a lot of what was printed, but it educated a lot of women about sexuality, myself included. I had never even heard of an orgasm until I read about it in Cosmo.
        I know that’s hard to believe in this day and age, but mid-century Southern ladies did not discuss such things.
        Haven’t looked at a copy for maybe 30 years, but it did have its place.

  3. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    The only thing I got done was for That Which Shan’t Be Named In This Thread, but I’m still quite proud of it anyway.

    1. DaisyAvalin*

      Started another fanfic story, despite having several I’m supposed to be working on! Actually making progress on this one, and hoping it kickstarts some movement on the others.

    2. Kali*

      Working on an essay on how/if race should be considered in identifying skeletal remains of those who’ve died within the last 100 years. My essay is either brilliant and ground-breaking or complete nonsense, and I’m not sure which.

    3. CatCat*

      We’ve been doing “Unlock” escape rooms in a box. We have yet to escape in the time allotted!

    4. Mystic*

      I’ve been writing fanfiction for the past year, and the website tells me stats. Turns out I’ve written 55K words! I’ve never written that much before. I’m proud.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Haaaaaaa omg whyyyyyy did I do this

      I forgot I’d said on my blog that I would do JaNoWriMo, and then on January 1, I had to commit. Lucky for me I already had 1,961 words jotted down for Book 3, because I am FLOUNDERING. But is okay; the point is to get started. While also studying for the Project+ thing and editing Book 2. Watch me get a job now and the whole thing will implode.

      Someone please stop me, lol.

      To be fair (to be faaaaaaiiiirrrrrr), Book 2 leads directly into Book 3, so I already did most of the background work. It might be easier than I think since I don’t have to work that up from nothing.

  4. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual, this is not limited to video games or even “real games” (whatever that word means) so feel free to discuss how you utterly crushed someone at Monopoly or how you finally got past That One Level in a free game you play on your phone. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or for help tracking down the title of a vaguely remembered game.
    Also for the person who asked for recommendations for a Christmas present for a gaming husband two weeks ago: I hope he enjoyed his gift!

    1. Kali*

      Fiance and I have beaten the rest of the household at scrabble, trivial pursuit, pictionary, and cluedo. My mother-in-law threatened to murder me.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I thought this group might be interested in an article on the epilepsy/Cyberpunk 2077 issue. I’m going to spin it off into a separate comment because it might also interest non-gamers.

    3. Firefly*

      Loving CodeNames Duet for two player coop fun. And I am solo playing Overcooked, and for the first time I used a walk through for three stars.

    4. Curly sue*

      The family is slowly working through Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it at first, because combat-focused games usually aren’t my thing at all, but this one is incredibly compelling story-wise. Especially playing it after we finished Breath of the Wild & Champions’ Ballad! It’s a lot of fun, even when we get our butts kicked.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I bought my husband and I the Atari Flashback for Christmas. It’s a lot of fun, but, man, we are NOT as good at it as we used to be!

    6. Holly the spa pro*

      Im patiently waiting for the Stardew Valley update to come to consoles so my husband and i can have the co-op farm ive always dreamed of!

      Still working through Fire Emblem: Three Houses. It’s still not gripping me the way FE:Fates has but now that the battles are getting more complex, its getting better. Im also enjoying some of the quality of life system changes.

    7. DarthVelma*

      This weekend we finally got back to tabletop gaming and I really enjoyed both games so far.

      Thursday and Friday we played Cthulu: Death May Die. It took us 4 tries to beat Episode 1, but there was SUCH a feeling of accomplishment when we finally did. Episode 2 went much easier, but was still a close thing at the end to defeat the elder god. (In both victories, my partner’s character died right at the end to give my charachter the chance to finish off the big bad.) BTW, the miniature for this game are glorious – especially the big Elder Gods. So. Many. Tentacles.

      Yesterday we finally cracked open Aliens: Bug Hunt. The rules are set up in an interesting way, but that also makes it a bit more difficult getting started with just 2 players. We were getting slaughtered in game one, re-read the rules, realized we were making things WAY too hard on ourselves, and started over. The re-play seemed to go way too easy. So we re-read the rules again and watched a game play tutorial. We’re hoping to play again today now that we understand things better. Even with the rules issues, we had a good time. The basic setup and functioning of the game seems well thought out and it may be the easiest combat system ever.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I got quietly addicted to the ornament-smashing game in this year’s Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar; it’s a kind of Tetris-style game of finding groups of matching ornaments for maximum points, with a series of grids of increasing difficulty. I suppose one could devote a lot of strategy to it, but for me it was a pleasant, semi-mindless “click and watch the ornaments shatter with a satisfying little tinkle” activity {wry grin}.

    9. Lifeandlimb*

      Started playing Arise, a really beautiful stylized adventure/puzzle game with great design and color palette. It’s based around the main character’s memories and plays with time, a little like an old game I love, Braid. Also there’s a co-player option where one player can control movements and the other controls time!

    10. CatCat*

      We’ve been doing “Unlock” escape rooms in a box. We have yet to escape in the time allotted!

    11. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      We started going through a T.I.M.E. Stories module Estrella Drive. It’s kind of a mystery solving game.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      LOTS of time in Wintersday in GuildWars2….and rollerbeetle collection in progress.

    13. Coenobita*

      My spouse and another couple have been having semi-regular game nights for a long time – we moved online this year, of course, so we’ve been playing a lot of stuff on Tabletopia. This week we tried The Crew, which is a cooperative trick-taking game. It’s nominally about space but you could totally just play it with two decks of regular cards. I’ve never played a cooperative trick-taking game before (and one of the other couple isn’t normally a fan of trick-taking games in general) but we all really liked it!

      Last time, we played Dominion, which I previously swore up and down that I hated (due to a previous experience playing with people who had basically memorized the entire deck and were obnoxious about it). But as with most things, it turns out that if you play with people you actually like then it is fun. :)

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Had the same reaction to Dominion. That was the “study break” game for my partner and his college buddies; they’ve all played thousands of games. I played it maybe twice, got beat like a dirty rug each time, and refused to play again. It’s probably a great game if you can play with people at your level…

        Also why I can’t play Set anymore, except with my own college buddies, because we’ve played thousands of times and will crush anyone who hasn’t.

    14. Office Grunt*

      I’ve found a free version of Ascension, and am tempted to ask for a tabletop version for an anniversary gift.

      Due to Christmas spending on the little one, I’ve had to ease up on the MtG purchases.

    15. HamlindigoBlue*

      I built a gaming PC for my son last week. We were supposed to build it together (his idea), but it turned into me doing it alone. :( Since then, he’s been playing Cyberpunk. We also broke out the family edition of Trivial Pursuit, and we played a few rounds of that. I bought a couple of new board games (Ctrl and Second Thoughts), but we haven’t played them yet.

    16. Finny*

      I beat Shantae and the Seven Sirens, but only at 99% item collection, as I never managed to get the one last heart squid from the dance mini game. Also beat Shantae 1/2 Genie Hero with 100% item collection. It’s not as fun for me as the other Shantaes, as it’s more linear than dungeony like Pirate’s Curse and the rest.

      Other than that I’m bouncing between Seven Sirens in the “more magic, less defence” mode, Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero in the assorted alternate modes, Goblin Sword, Wonder Boy and the Dragon’s Trap, and Freedom Planet, all on my Switch Lite. Yes, I love platformers (particularly Shantae–there’s a reason Limited Run Games got all my money this year for collector editions of all the games on Switch–and Gameboy for the original–so I now will have all the Shantae games in physical editions for the Switch, except for Pirate’s Curse which I will have to track down second hand for way too much money), but prefer 2D ones, as my visual issues (legally blind and no real depth perception) make 3D platformers ridiculously hard–looking at you, New Super Lucky’s Tale!).

      The husband, on the other hand, has been alternating between Animal Crossing New Horizons, Trials of Mana, and Mega Diminsion Neptunia VII. He muchly prefers RPGs to platformers.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        If you don’t mind some very dark humour and very grindy gameplay (as in: I recommend having some paper with you to take notes on so you don’t forget what you’re collecting and what you’re collecting it for), Graveyard Keeper might be a good one. It’s essentially Stardew Valley in a graveyard. I haven’t gotten around to buying the DLC yet so I can’t really say how good those are.
        You could also have a look at slime rancher, where you go to a different planet to farm all kinds of adorable slimes, because apparently their poop is valuable? Haven’t gotten around to that one either yet, but you bet I’d be farming all kind of cat slime in no time if I did.

    17. TextHead*

      I beat the main game of Control last night and am onto the DLCs. I’m glad there’s more because it was really fun.

      I bought my partner the board game Spirit Island for Christmas and we played that the other day. We barely won using all the easy mode set ups, so we still have a lot to learn!

    18. Nicki Name*

      I’m participating in the 58th annual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which is a map rally. You follow the instructions and travel virtually across the US on a paper map, then try to answer questions to see if you took the correct route. Signups are open until Valentine’s Day. I’ll put the link in a reply.

    19. Nynaeve*

      I’ve started playing Spiritfarer based on several people’s recommendation here. Overall, I’m really enjoying it!

      However. I am SUPER ANNOYED at Gwen right now for being such a needlessly picky eater. She won’t eat fruit, she won’t eat the same thing twice, and also, she apparently won’t eat steamed mussels? I want to grab her and yell, “Look, you prissy little prima donna, eat what I make you or starve to death. Your choice!” (This is why I shouldn’t have kids, lol.)

      I am literally out of all the food she could eat and she’s hungry again. It doesn’t help that basically every fish just turns into “grilled fish,” so even though I have tons of different fish, it’s pretty much only one thing I can offer her (and she’s already eaten it). Same thing with vegetables. I even tried planting odd seeds in the hopes that it would help, and it just grew, like… jewelry? Not even food! NOT HELPFUL! Can she die if I don’t feed her? I feel like she’s probably going to die at this rate, and not the way she’s supposed to, ushered peacefully into the next world, but just… ignominious starvation. *sigh* Too bad, because overall, I really do like her…

      Realization: I think I’m tapped out on trying to support people and manage their needs right now, which is why this is making me so mad! Clearly, I need to take a break and play a game that doesn’t demand that of me until I calm down.

      1. Telgar*

        I also just started Spiritfarer and I find it enjoyable but weird. Also uncomfortable controls.
        People don’t die if you’re not feeding them. Also, you can give Gwen the same things several times, you just have to alternate (as far as I can tell, I’m not very far in).

    20. lady gamer or something*

      We started playing the Resident Evil 2 remake after enjoying the 1st remake a few years ago. I only played the originals for 1 and 3 (skipped 2), so I can’t speak to the accuracy of this remake, but it’s been pretty fun so far!
      Also started playing Let’s Go Pikachu a few days ago and I’m basically back in the 90s. Yes, there have been many changes, but it’s basically how I pictured it as a kid anyway.

    21. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We just (mumble mumble spoiler for Guild Wars 2 mumble) in Kourna and the traps were diabolical! Hurrah for the Ranger’s staff leap. First stage roller beetle collection wrapped up too.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve given up on games for now, except for the stuff on my phone. My consoles are still packed and I don’t really have time to play on the PC. The games will wait until things settle a bit.

    23. Casey*

      I’ve been playing so. much. Hades. I’m on winter break, so I think the stat is about 80 hours in the last two weeks?
      I don’t normally get the urge to 100% games, but Hades is fun and accessible enough that I’m willing to sink some time (and paper) into it. Getting close!

    24. Formerly in HR*

      I played The Room: Old Sins – started it yesterday and just finished it. Years ago I played the first three games and last week revisited them. The second time felt like I needed to rely on the cheat sheet too much and there wasn’t much excitement. But the new game got me gripped, the puzzles were interesting, I was happy to figure out clues before the tutorial would guide me (but also managed to botch some and then hiss at the tablet that I already did what they suggested – only it wasn’t quite as it should have been.

  5. Anónima*

    I wanted to give an update on the PCR-Covid-test-before-travel-abroad question I posted here a few weeks ago. It doesn’t really have a happy ending.

    I had been worried about being about to return my test via courier in time to get the results before flying, but I ended up finding a clinic 3 miles from where I live which could test me in the actual clinic, so I returned my postal test for a refund and booked an appointment with the clinic 2 days before I was due to fly out.

    However, the UK government suddenly advised against foreign travel, and Spain banned entry for all but nationals and in an emergency (I’m not a Spanish national) so it turned out I couldn’t go anyway – even if my dad had been alive, because as it happens he unfortunately died the day before my test.

    I have been devastated. I saw him via video chat only a few days before he passed. I hadn’t seen him in the flesh for over a year. He was cremated the day after; the funeral home did not stream the service so I was unable to attend his funeral either.
    The day after that was Brexit.

    Man, this year…the holidays, Covid, and Brexit, a sad and difficult combination.

    1. allathian*

      I’m sorry the funeral home didn’t stream the service, if I were in your shoes, that would probably be the most devastating part of the whole thing. That doesn’t mean you can’t hold a memorial service of your own if you feel like that would comfort you. Even with covid restrictions in place, it should be possible to do something over a video call. Do you have any family you’re close to in the UK? Do you have any contact information for your father’s friends? I would suggest grief counseling if at all possible, either religious or secular. Losing a parent is an ordeal for most people and I imagine it’s been even tougher for you because you weren’t able to say goodbye to him, either in person or at the funeral.

      I wish you strength and comfort in dealing with the aftermath.

    2. PollyQ*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and for how awful the circumstances around it were. Yes, so much of 2020 was terribly sad & difficult.

    3. Zooey*

      So sorry for your loss and all of the things making it harder. I hope you have a good support network.

    4. Crowley*

      I am so very sorry. That’s a hell of a lot to go through. Sending hugs if you want them <3

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Losing a parent is a life changing thing. I am so sorry for your loss especially at such a difficult time.

      Be sure to take good care of you, even if you go through spells of “not feeling like taking care”, each day is a clean slate to try again.

      I wish you peace for your aching heart.

    6. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Oh no, this is such a terrible combination of circumstances. I’m sorry for your loss.

    7. Anónima*

      Thank you everyone – I have been reading your comments all weekend, and it means a lot to know that people are thinking of me. You’re so kind.

  6. Billy No Mates*

    (Quasi)Friend break-ups – how do you do them?

    I moved to a new city a few years ago where I knew absolutely no one, so I have been an active friendmaker. As with all things in life, sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesnt. My dilemma isnt quite what I tend to see on Captain Awkward (ie people you’ve known for a really long time) – but more for those in between friends. Usually people I’ve gotten to know for maybe 6-12 months, and initially things seemed to be going well and you had enough in common to enjoy each others company.
    But as you start to approach that point where you see each other more frequently or you start to find out more about them/their personality/background/whatever, you realise actually maybe you dont like this person as much as you thought you did. How do you gracefully extricate yourself from this situation? Slow fade? Do you say something? If so, whats a good script? And how do you deal with the people where you have a friend group in common, and its like – I dont mind seeing you in a group context, but really dont want to hang out 1-1 anymore?

    1. Lena Clare*

      Slow fade for me. I think being on the receiving end of it – can you think of a way that would hurt less if someone were to say it to you?

    2. Nela*

      I had a few situations like that and just slow faded. Stopped initiating contact or suggesting hanging out, politely responding to their messages, being unavailable when they suggested hanging out.
      I still have one ex roommate who I get together with once or twice a year which is fine with me, always at her invitation. Others I don’t keep in contact with anymore at all, but if we run into each other it’s fine. No big conversations or awkwardness.

    3. Kali*

      I just…stop hanging out with them one-on-one.

      I know Captain Awkward has some posts on the African Violet of broken friendship, that might be worth a Google?

      1. RagingADHD*

        I think the African Violet treatment is overkill when the friendship never really solidified in the first place.

        Slow fade is fine.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure what you are doing that you need to extract from. Perhaps you have a shared activity? Or perhaps you call each other regularly?
      If it’s none of these things then I’d say go for a slow fade and say nothing.
      Overall I am big fan of saying nothing, unless the person actually did harm. Hurtful people are more of an issue in my mind. They can be told to stop it but probably the best thing is to just move away from someone who is hurtful as soon as possible.
      What I like about saying nothing is that if you run into this person in years to come, you don’t have to struggle to remember what was said, what the emotions were at that time and so on. You can focus on some fun times you had together and let it go at that. See, my thinking is that it’s my luck that I will run into this person again, we will cross paths later. Don’t leave things awkward so that you have to clean it up in the future. Just find a peaceful place and leave it there.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Yes, a slow fade allows for reconnection in a situation where the person isn’t hurtful, but you just don’t click.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      Slow fade! It’s always worked for me and it isn’t awkward if you have to see them in a group setting agai.

      1. Billy No Mates*

        See, this is probably the one I struggle with more because when you see them in the group setting, it seems to trigger that thing of “Oh, we havent hung out in so long! Lets plan something together!” and then I have to politely dodge another invitation to hang out.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          I always just say oh sure, something vague and never reach out to make plans and most of the time they don’t either

        2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          Sometimes though it triggers a public, “why aren’t you making plans with me anymore? Why are you avoiding me?” A slow fade sounds nice if both sides are coming to the same conclusion that they don’t really have much in common, but what sometimes happens is one thinks the friendship is over while the other thinks they’re getting closer. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. Slow fade if both sides agree; or honest answer if one side is becoming attached…it can just be as simple as “I’m sorry but I’m not interested in [these 1-on-1 activities] anymore. I’m still looking forward to [other activity] with the group.”

    6. Billy No Mates*

      It looks like the group consensus is slow fade which is indeed probably the best answer. Having thought about it more, I guess my main issue is I feel like one of them is the type to eventually just come out and ask why I never have time to meet them – which…how do you answer that?

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        If anyone asked me that in such circumstances I’d probably say something like how sorry I am that it never seems to come together but I’ve been so busy with this and that, blah blah blah. Especially if it’s really just a vague reason why you decided you don’t like this person as much as you thought, and not because they offended you in some way.

        1. Billy No Mates*

          Thanks. This has been a good exercise in figuring out that apparently I have a very weird line about things that I feel fine to give as an excuse when slow fading and things that I dont (lol). But overall, I think the group consensus of slow fade, and any further probing gets bland excuses about why I cant make it is probably the best way to go.

      2. Washi*

        I don’t think anyone has ever asked me point blank why we’re not hanging out/why I don’t like them anymore. I know there are some folks who wouldn’t pick up on the cues, but in my experience, the majority can sense the difference between:

        “Haven’t seen you in so long, we should hang out some time!”

        “Yes, that I would love that! I’m pretty free next week”
        vs.
        “Oh yeah haha I’ve been so busy! Hope you’re doing well!”

        1. Fern*

          I *have* had someone (repeatedly) ask me why I don’t have time for them anymore, after attemping a slow fade. It was someone I knew I would see with some frequency (small town, kids in shared activities), so I was really endeavouring to keep things friendly so we could still pleasantly chit chat when we ran into one another. Knowing this person’s explosive temperment, I had no interest giving them a real reason. It’s caused me a lot of stress. For the time been it’s been solved by the pandemic – fingers crossed once we can see people again they will have moved on.

    7. allathian*

      Slow fade works. I’ve also been on the receiving end of it and it’s not something I ever actively think about, unless I get a reminder, like this post.

      That said, there’s been one case where I really had to be cruel because she just wouldn’t get my hints. She always initiated contact and seemed needy in a give her an inch and she’d grab a mile way. Being around her got exhausting because she was so intense. I’m not even sure why she latched on to me like she did, but in the end I had to flat out tell her that I wasn’t interested in hanging out with her anymore and to please leave me alone. This after I’d been avoiding her, not returning her calls or texts for more than six months and she’d contacted me at least once a week. Luckily for me we didn’t have any friends in common, so I never saw or heard from her again after my outburst. I’m not proud of what I did but there really wasn’t any other way to make her understand.

    8. young professional*

      just a comment on the slow fade. maybe just my bad luck, but I slow faded a new friend and he did NOT pick it up. I one-word replied texts, then straight up stopped replying, and he still initiated contact 10 (!!) times in a row with no response back on instagram, facebook, text, and whatsapp, until I had to straight up say “do not text me anymore I don’t want to hang out.”
      Just be mindful if it doesn’t seem to be working. My script at the end was “It was super fun getting to know you but I’ve been busy struggling to maintain longtime friendships/work/school, so I would rather we not attempt to hang out anymore because I don’t want to be in this weird space of not prioritizing time with you.”
      I just accepted it was an awkward convo

      1. Billy No Mates*

        Ahaha yes, this is basically something I’m a bit worried about happening. Thanks for the script you provided, hopefully I wont have to use it, but it provides a good starting point!

    9. Marillenbaum*

      Team Slow Fade for life. I find it comparatively gracious, especially with people you would like to keep as acquaintances/friends in a group context. I might not invite you to my wedding, but we would exchange holiday cards, if that makes sense?

  7. Lena Clare*

    Seeing the cats cuddling and knowing that they’re rescue cats really warms my heart – especially Laurie. I don’t know why, but Laurie and Hank’s situation really touched me and I was so delighted that Alison adopted them (and, of course, we get updates via the pictures!) That’s a beautiful photo, Alison.

    To my questions: do you set NY resolutions? If so, how? What are yours?
    I tend to not bother because I usually fail, but I do like to do Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Mapping – focus on how you want to feel rather than tasks to complete.
    I actually do want to make a weather scarf though; inspired by the knitting posts on here, I’ve decided I’d like to get back into it as I haven’t knitted for years.

    I haven’t made a start on anything though – too tired so far. A trip to the local Abakhan is coming up today though.

    1. Kiitemso*

      I’m pregnant and fast gaining weight. I know it’s not a big deal right now, but I would like to fit into my old clothes post-partum so I am making a loose resolution to go on regular walks during my maternity leave and try to lose 10k-15g off the pregnancy weight. I’ve lost weight before in my 20’s but I know metabolism makes it more difficult to lose weight in your 30’s, so I will be gentle and forgiving to myself if this resolution doesn’t come to pass. Slow and steady does it.

      1. Fran*

        Life with a newborn in a pandemic is tough. Keep the gentle and forgiving approach and do your best for yourself and your family.

        1. tangerineRose*

          One year I made a resolution to not make any more New Year’s resolutions. I was able to keep that for a few years.

      2. Blackcat*

        Just a comment… I rapidly got back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but few of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit correctly. I was the same weight but it was distributed differently and my pelvis was permanently widened. So my pants fit all wrong. And a lot of shirts/dresses didn’t fit until I weaned my son (and my boobs went back to their normal size).
        So even if you hit your weight loss goals, your pre-pregnancy clothes may never fit again….

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I think that the celebrities who can afford to hire a PT and spend hours every day working out and have someone else to babysit their baby are giving new moms false expectations of what is normal, when they’re showing off their sixpack 8 weeks post partum. For the record, I think their priorities are out of whack, but whatever…

      3. Jim Bob*

        Good for you!

        It can in fact be done, despite what you hear all over the internet. The post-30 metabolism change might lower your TDEE some, and require an adjustment, but it doesn’t negate the laws of thermodynamics. I lost 40 pounds with basic calorie counting since May, despite turning 32 this year.

        1. Tired of Covid-and People*

          This will do it every time. A three thousand five hundred calorie deficit is needed for each pound of body fat lost. People can choose to lose at a fast, slow, or medium speed just using this principal and a reasonable calculation of the caloric requirement at their present weight. Meeting the reduced calorie allotment with a balanced diet is sustainable for the long haul. Not sexy, and people just want a quick fix, but slow and steady wins the race.

      4. Zooey*

        I am also pregnant right now and I am doing a workout programme called Mommastrong which I’m finding SO helpful. It’s focused on strength and function with 15 minute daily workouts. I’ve been cut off from my normal workout options for my whole pregnancy due to the pandemic (oh how I miss swimming!) so it’s been brilliant to have something that’s so doable – 15 mins a day is easy to squeeze in. I’ve had to watch my weight gain a bit during pregnancy for health reasons and I think this has really helped – and it’s definitely helped me deal with the changing stresses on my body. Sorry to evangelise a bit – I swear I’m not getting paid but just saw your post and wanted to share something that’s helped me so much!

        1. allathian*

          Yeah this. I did some exercises recommended by my ob/gyn when I was pregnant, but in retrospect I wish I had done more. Life post partum is so much easier if you haven’t been sedentary during your pregnancy. Of course, for some pregnant people that’s the only option. If you get put on bedrest for 16 weeks, you’re going to be out of shape when you’re allowed to get up again.

    2. Kali*

      I’m not making any this year, but in previous years I’d start by doing a brainstorm of the generally thing I wanted to do more/better and then try to think of how to measure improvement and specific actions that could be taken. Like “fitter” would branch off into “exercise more/learn a new skill (eg, dance, fencing, kickboxing)/walk more)”, and then I’d pick whichever was most feasible based on money, classes nearby, etc, and decide to do it X times per week. I did krav maga and pole dancing in different years, and one year I just walked a lot, up to 12 miles a day.

      1. Kali*

        Forgot to add, if it turns out you don’t like the specific thing, this approach also means you can just go back and pick one of the other options instead, in pursuit of the original higher-level goal.

        I take it back, I am making resolutions. I’m going to do some stretching and go outside, every single day. Even if it’s just one 20 second stretch and one step outside the kitchen door.

        1. Kali*

          A big part of it was replacing my commute (bus) with a walk, which was 45 mins to 1 hr (I had two different jobs at the time, and one required working at a bunch of different offices, with varying distances from public transport). That was easily 5-6 miles. And then I’d go out for a 5-6 mile run in the evening. I wouldn’t hit 12 miles every day, but I was consistently hitting 8. If I didn’t run, I’d nip out to the shops (15 minutes each way) or loop around the cemetery opposite where I lived at the time, which was about a mile and a half around, or just go for a 20-minute walk at lunch. I walk a mile in 17-18 minutes.

          I guess a large part of the context is that, while I was doing that, I’d recently gone through a break-up and was heartbroken, and running/walking was a big part of helping me to sleep and getting out of my own head. I didn’t want to wait for the bus and have time with my own thoughts, I wanted to just get going, and, at each bus stop, it just kept seeming easier to keep walking than to start waiting, so I did that. I’d listen to audiobooks and podcasts, and that plus the physical motion stopped me thinking too much and brought me some inner peace.

          Atm, I walk maybe a mile or 2 on a good day – if I leave the house at all – and I can’t imagine building up to that distance again unless I ended up with another nice commute. One of my jobs involved either a nice hour’s stroll along the canal or a crowded train journey and the former was definitely nicer.

        2. Kali*

          I walked two and from work, which was generally around 3 miles each way. I’d hit 12 miles if I also went for a run that day. My average was closer to 8. I walk a 17-18 minute mile, so 144 to 216 minutes per day, which is a lot, but the commute was a huge chunk and then a lot of the rest was much shorter walks, like 20-30 minutes during lunch or 15 minutes to the shop and then back. I lived near a cemetery at the time, and a lap around the outside was a mile and a half. It was a good walk for audiobooks and podcasts, because there were no roads to cross and you just kept turning the same way, you didn’t really have to pay attenion.

          Important context is, I was heartbroken at the time and walking was important to the healing process. I felt like I couldn’t sit still and needed to be out there, especially running, because it’s hard to fret and run at the same time.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not so much resolutions but goals? I’m tracking my books read again, I want to have more plant successes than failures, and I want to set up and do a project on the inkle loom I’ve been afraid to take out of the box for almost four years.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I used to cringe away from this because I had some really strident “personal improvement” perfectionists in my earlier life. I started getting the fun of it back after I ran across Flylady (house cleaning & organization for the chronically challenged). She used the phrase “progress not perfection”…. and something clicked.
      It’s been my goal ever since. This year my focus will be on paperwork (including electronic records).

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      One of my goals is to be able to comfortably touch my toes without bending my knees. I can’t remember the last time I was able to touch my toes comfortably!

    6. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I have a mix of goals (one year one of them was to learn to do a shoulder stand in yoga) and a list of ideas: people I want to travel to see, top vacation ideas (oops, COVID), ideas for hobby projects to pick and choose from, ideas on house projects, etc. One for this year is to read a book a month (I have a LONG list to choose from) on the subject of race/racial history.

    7. PhysicsTeacher*

      I’m not sure if I’d call it a New Year’s resolution per say, but I’d like to read 24 books in 2021. During the times I’m off work I tend to just read organically, but during the school year I come home feeling like I’ve used up all my brainpower. I’m hoping that having this goal will keep me more consistent.

      Started yesterday on The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin.

    8. Jim Bob*

      I prefer to set personal SMART goals rather than resolutions and make sure to include concrete plans to achieve them. Been doing this for a few years, and it works much better for me than traditional resolutions.

    9. Wishing You Well*

      I used to set New Year resolutions until I realized I tend to break all of them by noon on Jan. 1.
      Daily to-do lists are more effective for me. The specific nature and short deadline of the lists are more helpful to me. I keep my bigger goals in mind when I make my lists.
      Happy New Year!

    10. violet04*

      I don’t make resolutions. I like using a habit tracker to keep track of certain things I want to accomplish each day. For example, I’m really bad about drinking enough water. So one of the items in my tracker is to drink one bottle of water each day. This is one of those large Swell bottles so it’s a good bit of water.

    11. Disco Janet*

      My resolution is to do one thing every day to help me feel more confident in myself. I like it because it’s broad and pushes me to do just one thing, even something small, to get out of my ruts I tend to fall in. It can be working out, making a healthy choice with my eating habits, painting my nails, taking a nice luxurious bath to relax and get my skin all soft, trying out a makeup look, even something as simple as taking a shower (hey, if you’ve ever suffered from depression you know that sometimes just forcing yourself to take a shower feels big!)

      As I type this list I realize it might sound a bit superficial to others – but I’ve been very down on my appearance since pregnancy hormones wreaked havoc in my hair, weight, and skin, and the goal is for all those little baby steps to eventually lead to bigger changes. Last year I lost 20 pounds and managed to (mostly) stop picking at my skin, which was a big deal for me!

      The kids set resolutions too – they would like to play more board games as a family, learn how to ride a bike without training wheels, and try gymnastics when it’s safe to do so.

    12. lazy intellectual*

      I actually prefer to set small quarterly goals rather than big year long goals. Probably because my ADD means I will forget what grand resolution I made halfway through the year.

    13. Arban*

      I like to set resolutions that are more about a practice than about a specific achievement. This year I’m doing “go outside, every day” – this is an easy one because I’m very close to doing it anyways but those few days I don’t are always bad for me ( and if it goes two days in a row I feel mentally and physically awful). I’ve already told the kiddo it’s a new rule so I expect I won’t even need to do the enforcing, lol.

  8. anon for this*

    I wanted to thank everyone who offered suggestions and/or kind words in response to my dermatology dilemma months ago, or even those who read my note and considered. I posted because things were out of control. My face is extremely oily, my dermatologist told me to stop washing it altogether, and I have some sensory issues including a lifelong aversion to gooey or creamy substances against my skin. The combination had me a little bit miserable. My face felt gross all the time, left huge oil stains on my pillowcases, and itched so badly it was waking me up every night.

    Experimenting with some reader ideas, I started washing my face ONCE a day and then putting on a liquid moisturizer with aloe vera that isn’t gooey (it just dries). Things are much better and I am immensely relieved. There were also some very thoughtful words from readers going above and beyond, which have stayed with me. I am deeply grateful and hope to be able to return the favor somewhere in all this!

    1. Batgirl*

      I’m so glad! As someone who’s had skin issues your question stayed with me and I wondered how you were.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m glad you found a solution! Honestly, I think the idea of washing one’s face/hair less to control oil is a bit of a myth. I mean maybe there are a few people out there who are truly overwashing, but some people just have oily skin, and not washing it leads to the problems you described. I have oily hair, and I’ve been washing my hair every other day (rather than daily) because I’ve gotten lazy during my pandemic isolation, and 9 months on, my hair is maybe very slightly less oily the second day than it was at the beginning. I’ll go back to washing it daily when the world opens again

      1. ampersand*

        I wash my hair daily to control the oil/because it feels better to have clean hair, and I’ve struggled with wanting to wash it less in an attempt to cut down the oil production but not being able to because it’s gross and unmanageable if I skip a day. It’s nice to hear that there’s at least one other person out there who is pro-just wash it vs pro-wash it less!

        1. Generic Name*

          Yes! I think there are definitely hair types that benefit from less washing, but those hair types tend towards dryness, and washing makes things worse. Honestly I think the thought process of telling someone with oily hair that looks and feels better when washed daily that the secret (and more evolved) way to care for their hair is to wash it less and that their hair will then magically be not oily is just weird to me. Just no. My hair is oily, and nothing will make it not oily, and not washing it just means I have oily and dirty hair.

      2. Emily*

        “Wash it less” helped a lot for my face when I was struggling with acne, and I think (this was a while ago, my memory is fuzzy) that I could see improvement within a month or two. “Wash it less” has only helped to a certain extent for my hair – I do prefer to use more gentle shampoos and not wash every single day, but I will experience oily hair and scalp if I try to stretch it out for longer than a few days, despite trying for much longer to get my hair to adjust.

        I think it can be worth considering, but that the results will be very person-dependent and it’s okay if someone trying it realizes that it doesn’t work for them!

  9. Loopy*

    Warning for semi related covid talk.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I know a lot of people have already posted about how to deal with struggling with resentment for those going about normal life while some have been taking covid precautions since March but man, this week it was doubly (triply?) hard for me. I use Facebook for a lot of really good stuff, animal and baking groups, so I hadn’t wanted to delete it. But the photos of travel and the NYE gatherings hit me in the gut lately. It was so pervasive and at times really unexpected. I feel overwhelmed by the thought of trying to unfollow everyone who is flaunting the guidelines. I was so looking forward to seeing family and friends again post-vaccinr but I lately I’ve found myself so resentful of the same people I was looking for are to seeing when it’s safe. It’s really started some negative thoughts and severe jealousy of those who haven’t had as a hard of 2020 in terms of giving up social events, travel, family and holiday gatherings- because they just chose not to!

    I feel like my relationships are going to be impacted if I keep Facebook but am sad to deactivate for the good bits I’ll lose. I’m looking for folks to help me make the jump I guess. I suppose I need to hear that it’s only going to get worse in terms of struggling with those feelings for people I really care about and like otherwise. I feel like if I keep seeing the behavior, I won’t have anyone to reunite with when it’s safe I’ll be so angry! So, am I right in thinking Facebook has GOT to go?

    1. Pamela Adams*

      I am currently staying off FB- I found it easier to leave it alone. It’s been several months now.

      1. D'Euly*

        This is what I do generally–I still *have* FB, but I never log in; I just do messenger instead. Much less of a headache.

    2. Meh*

      You can just unfollow but remain friends with everyone and only get the groups in your feed. That’s what I did after everyone got political and I didn’t need that in my life. Though I haven’t checked facebook in a couple of weeks and haven’t missed it so that may be the better route anyway.

      1. Loopy*

        I liked the idea of u following at first but the activities that frustrate me pop up so much I feel like it would quickly just become a game of wack a mole and I’d be upset everyone I had to do it.

        Probably just better off leaving it. I have before but recently have been enjoying groups related to my interests. Fortunately, I think I’m going to explore Reddit as an alternative for that! Feeling a bit better since I thought of Reddit as a potential way to get the best of both worlds.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is what I did. I have posted some things I want to remember, but mostly I read only groups.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I’d say it’s worth using it less and seeing how you feel. I haven’t deactivated mine but I just…don’t use it anymore. Deleted the dedicated app off my phone. I reduced my usage in 2016 and pretty much stopped after announcing my engagement in 2018.

      It might be very possible to *just* visit the groups you like—especially if you don’t mind having unread notifications up there. You could make a quick post about reducing facebook if that would feel less like ghosting, as well.

      But yes: I can personally attest that getting off facebook was a good freakin decision. I didn’t get much good from the platform after college, and I was constantly getting slugs of misery and anger.

      1. Loopy*

        I’m a little sheepish admitting this… but I’m not entirely I have the discipline for a minimalism approach. I *know* I don’t want to spend all my time scrolling or clicking on those stupid articles, but I’ll be darned, I end up doing it anyway! And now clicking Facebook is so habitual, I like the idea of just not going to the site….but can see myself failing!

        Though I’m glad I’m not alone in how negative the experience can be!

        1. Purt's Peas*

          That’s entirely fair and it’s barely a matter of discipline: the entire system is concentrated on one thing and that is Spend Time Here. It’s incredibly successful at getting to spend time there.

          It did take me a while to break the habit of going to facebook–I’d have a cycle of tumblr-facebook-twitter to check each compulsively for new content. Making it harder to get to facebook really helped. (Removing the app, deleting any favorites, etc.)

        2. Homophone Hatty*

          I took the app off my phone, logged out of Facebook on safari on my phone, and added the word REMOVE to the password in my password catcher (so I still have access to the password if I need it, but it won’t automatically log me in like it does with other apps and websites.) So if I need to I can log in, but it’s a real pain.

          I am still logged in to Facebook on my laptop but not having it on my phone has reduced my use a lot. Also I’m really not a fan of their new desktop interface so that helped too.

        3. Marillenbaum*

          I don’t have discipline either, so I use my phone to do it for me. Since I have an iPhone, I use Screen Time to limit how much I can use certain apps on a given day–often, I’m only allowed 30 minutes of my problem apps during the week, with an hour on weekend days.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Since the main source seems to be FB, then I think it’s gotta go. Or at least go temporarily.

      A good number of people engage in various forms of risky behaviors. Hang on to this thought. I am not saying it’s right. I am not saying you have to accept those behaviors. I just think it’s wise to realize that people take risks all. the. time. and in so many different ways. Stepping back might be just the thing for you to get through this time right now.

      Another thing to think about is, why do these behaviors upset people so much? Well, we don’t want to lose our friends/family. And it’s not comfortable thinking that a friend/family member might cause harm to another person because of their own risky behavior. And yeah, there is some of this “I want to be able to do that thing, too” going on. It’s no one reason, and when there are multiple reasons for an emotion that emotion is going to need a bit of work to redirect.

      Life is much more fragile than we like to think about. It’s good to think of every moment as a gift and every interaction as a gift. We can focus more on what we appreciate right now, while we are in the moment. I never did a lot of FB stuff. So for me to keep my appreciation levels up, I had to dial back on the news. The news reports are super repetitive and there is not much new added that often. We don’t need to have the news on all day.

      I have also had to think about how I am using this down time. I have tried to work through some old projects or neglected life issues. My wise friend used to say, we can use down time to build ourselves up in some manner. FB is bringing up a lot of energy for you, you can channel that energy into something that might improve your life or improve your future in some small way. One problem with worrying about other people’s vulnerabilities is that we lose concentration on taking care of our own vulnerabilities. Focusing on what we CAN do is not only practical but it can be therapeutic, also.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you for such a thoughtful reply.

        I think hopefully moving away from social media and reconnecting with my love of reading will help shift my perspective. 2020 has been a hard year and my mental health has really not been great so, approaching emotions logically hasn’t been the easiest. I probably wont be able to manage my emotions as well around social media just because I haven’t had access to a lot of my favorite healthy outlets that help keep me happy and positive. So I should probably just stay away more for now and focus on what I can do to feel better in general.

        1. freed*

          I deactivated fb and deleted twitter in 2017 and it was the best thing. I see many more birds, read more books, write more, look at news less (still working on that particular addiction), and generally agonize no more about what others do or think. I’m lucky because I have a partner in my de-social media-ing crime, but it is great. I text or even email (old skool) the friends who were able to make the transition (most of them) and let the rest go. The frenemies mattered not a whit, and I just needed to see that clearly.

    5. 00ff00Claire*

      Unfollowing a lot of people is what has helped me. And finding other things to occupy my time so I’m on there less. I don’t have the app anymore and just check it on the mobile version or my laptop. After this week though, I may continue to edit down until I’m just seeing puppies and kittens in my news feed :)

    6. LGC*

      Honestly, don’t fully disconnect. But do disconnect from the News Feed?

      The easy way is to not visit the News Feed at all, at least for a time. (So think of it as social distancing for your news feed.) The hard way is to snooze or unsubscribe from people who do things that make you feel angry (they’re not going to know that you unsubscribed from their updates) – I say it’s the hard way because you have to do that individually for each person.

      For what it’s worth, I don’t often check my News Feed anymore – I’ll be honest, the more I’ve learned about Facebook in the actual news, the more I’m convinced that the News Feed is by far its most toxic product. (It’s also its core product, which…um.) Facebook’s algorithms don’t care why you’re paying attention – or rather, they can’t care why you’re paying attention. They just care that you are.

    7. Jenny*

      I’m struggling with this because one of the people traveling and doing stuff like going to parties is my older sister. My mom is of the opinion that it is okay because she lives alone and if she didn’t see her friends she’d be by herself. But yeah I’m not cool with it.

    8. Holly the spa pro*

      I deactivated facebook 5 years ago for the exact same reason. The people i love were making me hate them. I cant even imagine how it would be in current year. Id guess you wont miss the good bits as much as you expect and its honestly a good litmus test for friendships in the sense that people need to make an effort to reach out to you. I found i made more meaningful connections with friends when i had to reach out to them off FB or vice versa.

      This is kind of a hot take but ive chosen to end or pull back from some relationships due to the exact thing you are describing. Not necessarily because certain people have had an easier time of the pandemic but if they are being reckless, going to parties, not masking, or otherwise being selfish then i dont want to keep spending time and energy on those people. But if that isn’t your path then at least not seeing it on FB will help.

      If you want to keep FB an option is to “mute” people in your feed. No drama from unfollowing people but you wont see their dumb opinions pop up in your news feed either.

      Everything you are going through is very relatable, best of luck.

    9. Chilipepper*

      I just . . . stopped FB at some point this summer. I also used it for some good groups that I enjoyed a lot. But for me, I guess I made up for the good bits but doing other things IRL and online. I started crocheting (yay to Alison and the commenters here for inspiring me). I go to specific crochet sites online, and I follow some YouTubers and generally just search for videos I like to watch.

      It was not my reason for jettisoning FB but an added benefit has been that I am not seeing all the ppl who are breaking protocols. I am having a hard enough time with the people in my neighborhood I see breaking them or ppl IRL who tell me they are breaking them. Without FB, I avoid all the news I don’t want to see and I avoid getting angry at people for the kinds of things you describe.

      For me, getting rid of FB was much easier than I expected and much more beneficial than I expected.

    10. ThatGirl*

      I very briefly had a Facebook account when you needed a college email address to sign up, and deleted it less than a year later. At the time it was for seemingly silly reasons, but I’ve rarely regretted it (only on rare occasions when I missed news from friends). Now? I’m extremely glad to not have an account. Facebook is honestly terrible, all-around, and people tend to report feeling better, less depressed and anxious, after deleting accounts. Do it. You don’t need your account, I promise.

      1. D3*

        How do you KNOW it’s terrible if you’ve been there so little?
        IMO, all social media can be terrible or it can be great, and it depends on how you use it. It’s honestly been a life saver for me during this pandemic, I would be terribly isolated without it. But then I am very careful about who is in my social media, and I use the unfollow and snooze liberally as needed.
        But your opinion that it’s terrible is a very uneducated one, since you’ve not been there at all in such a long time. You come off as a snob who thinks you’re sooooo much more elevated for avoiding it.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I know it’s terrible because the company’s policies are terrible. They foment misinformation and don’t do a damn thing to prevent conspiracy theories from spreading. Their privacy policies are horrible too. And they contributed to genocide in Myanmar. This is not hyperbole. I’m not talking about an individual user’s experience so much as a societal level.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            As someone who works with refugees from Myanmar–THIS. That misinformation has lead to people I work with losing homes, losing family, losing years of their lives and education living in refugee camps. Truly, a horrific business.

        2. Purt's Peas*

          I’ve been there plenty and I know it’s terrible ;)

          You sound like an unusual user of social media, and it’s great that facebook works you and I’m so glad it’s helped you through the pandemic. Also: facebook’s actions as a company and platform don’t reflect on you as a consumer. Your choices as a consumer in this case are fine, just as someone’s choice to avoid facebook is fine.

        3. Morningstar*

          You keep tone & language policing everyone’s comments & letting them know how they “come off.” Do you think that’s an appropriate or necessary thing to do here? You “come off” as someone who unnecessarily bristles at a lot of things … genuinely hope this perspective helps.

        4. Homophone Hatty*

          I was on there a lot until recently and purely from a single user experience it is pretty much the worst social media I’m on these days. Wasn’t always so.

          Plus, you know, the conspiracy theory propagation and the links to genocide and such.

      2. Loopy*

        Honestly, I’ve had both extremely negative and positive experience on Facebook in my personal experience. For perspective I raised $800 this year through a baking fundraiser that I was doing all my myself. I couldn’t have possibly reached as many people as I did without Facebook, and I was just overwhelmed by the love and generosity of people I hadn’t even spoken to in a while! In the same span of a few months, the political postings near drove me absolutely out of my mind in terms of emotional stability. So I guess I’m saying I totally see that it can really truly go in either direction- and sometimes both at the same time!

        I’ve deactivated quite a few times in the past and have always appreciated the time away- yet I’ve always had a reason to jump back on. So I guess I appreciate both perspectives :)

    11. HannahSnow*

      It’s definitely hard, especially if some of those people had been posting early on about how we all have to do our part and such. If you’re not ready to entirely pull the plug, something weird that has helped me when I want to cut back on the amount of time spent: logging out and not saving my password on my device. I have to take a few extra steps to access it, which is just enough time to decide if I really needed to be on there.

      I’d also consider whether there’s another platform where you can find the baking/animal content you want without the personal life stuff intruding. I’ve been spending a lot more time on YouTube and Instagram to get my hobby fix with less Facebook.

    12. Blackcat*

      If you use it for groups primarily, you can make sure to only browse from the “groups” tab. That will restrict your feed to just stuff from the groups you’re in.
      And I hear you. I have a couple great groups that keep me on FB, but I do think about ditching it for good sometimes. (Though, to be honest, my real COVID-related FB problem right now is vaccine envy. Many of my friends are medical professionals so my FB feed is full of vaccine selfies)

    13. RagingADHD*

      I’ve just let social media go dormant.

      You can delete the app off your phone without deleting your account. Make it less convenient to go on there and just work on breaking the scrolling habit.

    14. Disco Janet*

      At least unfollow those who aren’t taking precautions! If you have friends who are taking precautions and who you like keeping in touch with over FB, that might make sense as a middle ground option.

    15. Bluebell*

      Since Thanksgiving, my approach has been to do a 30 day snooze for anyone posting a vacation or extended inside unmasked get-together. It’s definitely thinned out my newsfeed, and there’s some satisfaction as I click the snooze button.

    16. Jay*

      Over the summer I realized I had to detox from politics. I didn’t want to lose the social connections on FB and I participate in two communities that pretty much require it, so I didn’t want to delete it. I did a few things. I got out of every even vaguely political group and unfollowed or unfriended people who posted a lot about politics, even if I agreed with them. I also stopped following every news outlet I could. I closed the tab on my browser so I don’t look at FB on the computer and I set a one-hour limit on my phone. It’s worked for me. In your case, you could use the “mute for 30 days” button for people who are posting photos of unsafe gatherings. I totally get it – I have been struggling with some of the same issues and I muted a bunch of people after Thanksgiving.

    17. Malarkey01*

      I really struggled with FB, not with CoVid but with politics and racism, but was using it for groups and didn’t want to lose that. One night I deleted my account in a fit of anger over some truly horrible things I read…honestly, for me, it was the absolute best thing in the world. I didn’t realize how much I was really going on there, how the negativity was sucking up brain space, and how my blood was boiling over stuff I didn’t need to engage in. I found out that there are lots of great ways to engage with groups other than FB (and also discovered some benefits in more reading and less social engaging on some topics), and in the year since I quit it’s surprising when someone mentions they are so mad about what so and so did on FB and I start to get annoyed and think if mom hadn’t told me this I would be blissfully unaware.
      I’m in the camp, that for me and many others (not all), FB is toxic and breaking that habit lead to happier and healthier life. If you try it and hate it there’s nothing to stop you from going back.

    18. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Is it such a bad thing if relationships are impacted? If you kick puppies regularly, then people probably aren’t going to like you. If you ignore covid precautions, then other people may decide that you’re selfish, lack empathy, or are simply dumb. These people have told you who they are. It’s ok to believe them.

    19. Loopy*

      Wow, I didn’t expect so many to respond to this- and I’m very grateful. I’m surprised at how many advocated for me to try and make a shift in my Facebook use rather than immediately jusp to deactivating. Yesterday, I felt skeptical I could do this approach but I decided to see if maybe I could find a more healthy online outlet in Reddit. I started a newsfeed (I don’t know if thats what you call it over there?) of really positive subreddits and have already started replacing my Facebook time with Reddit time.

      So far I’m finding it easier to moderate my time on and more positive- so maybe I will be able to find a better way to use Facebook/use Facebook very minimally. Thanks to everyone, I’m feeling like maybe there is a good middle ground and way to keep FB without exposing myself to all the nativity as much.

    20. Invisible Fish*

      I don’t know if permanent deletion is the answer, but the temporary deactivation is a must. I went off all social media in the summer in order to be able to actually be able to keep people in my life when things are less physically dangerous due to the pandemic. I miss the cute pictures and keeping up with friends casually, etc., but my mental health has been MUCH better.

  10. Kali*

    Is anyone else really enjoying the reboots of 20-year-old TV shows?

    I got a Disney Plus subscription for Christmas and I’m doing my first rewatch of Boy Meets World since the sequel, Girl Meets World ended. The first series follows Cory and his friends from 12 to graduating from college, and the sequel picks up when Cory’s daughter – born a few years after the first series ended – is 12 and ends when she’s 14.

    The one who really gets me is Cory’s friend, Shawn. He doesn’t know he’s different to Cory until season 2, the first time he’s rejected by a girl because he lives in a trailer park. From there his upbringing plays more and more of a role, and on this watch, I know where he’ll end up in his 30s and how he’ll get there. :(. Just to name a few things, his mother leaves and his dad leaves him to be fostered by a teacher while he chases her. He struggles with school and a lack of confidence, and with his lack of familial support. He’s unhappy enough to nearly fall victim to a cult, he struggles with commitment phobia and a fear of being left and hurt, he finds out his mum isn’t his mum, his dad dies, and he develops an alcohol abuse disorder. Despite his fears, he does succeed in developing a successful relationship by the end of the series and he gets into college and goes on to have a career as a photojournalist. I like seeing the few bits of school he really gets into and enjoys, and seeing him gain confidence in his abilities. Plus his amazing language skills, which are treated as a running joke but presumably help a lot with his career. And the whole time he has Cory. In the cult episode, Cory holds him and won’t let go and tells him “this is how you hold someone when you love them and you want them to know”. Shawn goes to New York with Cory and his wife.

    But… In girl meets world, we learn that the night Riley was born, Shawn left and he’s only rarely come back. When she confronts him, he confesses that he didn’t feel like there was a place form him (paraphrased from memory). We learn he still sees his father’s ghost some 15 years later. We learn his relationship didn’t work out, though they’re still friends. We learn he’s still lonely and struggling, it wasn’t just happy ever after.

    Because girl meets world is a generation Cerix, Riley’s friend, Maya, has similar struggles. Her father left – something she blames herself for – and she barely sees her mother who must work multiple jobs to keep them afloat. She and Shawn are able to bond over that and see their similarities. And Shawn ends the show married to her mother. Maya has a father figure she loves and her mother can be around for her more, and Shawn finally has his own family.

    I also love that Shawn’s actor, Ryder Strong, hit his adult height (5’8) at around 12 and towers over the other actors until they slowly creep up and surpass him. I was the same – tall until I was 15 and then, suddenly, average height (5’6).

    I’ve been rewatching That’s so Raven too, and I love knowing that she ends up in a happy two-mommies parenting situation with her best friend Chelsea. Even though, because it’s Disney, the show makes it very clear there are bunkbeds in their shared bedroom!

    I know Full House got a reboot, and Lizzie Mcguire had one planned, but I didn’t watch the former until adulthood and I wasn’t that into the latter. I didn’t grow up with them like BMW. Are there other shows?

    1. Kali*

      *generation Xerox – on phone, couldn’t see the line as I was typing it, please forgive other typos.

    2. Queer Earthling*

      I haven’t watched GMW yet, but BMW is one of my comfort shows so it’s been on my list. When I was in high school and my older sister was still living at home, we would watch the reruns on Disney Channel when I came home from school almost every day and it’s one of the nicest memories I have from childhood. My sister absolutely loved GMW, I just have to find time to watch it. (Also I love that it got Will Friedle back in front of the camera! His anxiety has apparently been so bad over the years that he’s stuck with voice acting, which is fine because he’s an AMAZING voice actor, but I love that he loved that show enough to manage the sequel series!)

      1. Kali*

        I’m disappointed that Disney Plus doesn’t have more of Will Friedle’s old movies like My Date with the President’s Daughter and HE Double Hockeysticks. I’d like to see those again.

    3. Double A*

      I’m not sure of this is a reboot or remake, but I really enjoyed the remake of One Day at a Time. I never watched the original, though, so I’m not sure how it compares. But Rita Morena is incredible. And I never watched the original of most of the shows that are being rebooted but they don’t interest me a lot so I probably won’t.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is one of the very few reboots I’ve really enjoyed. I like it better than the original. Unfortunately, after Netflix (stupidly) canceled it, it went to Pop and I don’t have that.

        Netflix seems to be throwing a lot of weight behind new shows and then dropping them even though they’re good, as they move on to the next shiny thing. I was really upset they abandoned The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. But we are getting a second season of The Witcher; they can keep going with that forever, as far as I’m concerned. There’s lots of source material. :)

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Wait–MASH is on Hulu? This is amazing news! In high school, I spent many wonderful afternoons not doing my homework because I wanted to watch Hawkeye and Hoolihan and the gang.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I really loved reading your take on BMW. I watched it obsessively in its original run and then again as an adult in 2012, right before the announcement of GMW. Didn’t watch GMW though. In the original series I hated how cartoonish Cory and Eric became. The writing for both of them just became very poor.

      1. Kali*

        Yeah, they definitely did Eric dirty. :(. I was never there for Cory in the first place, but thinking about, I think you’re right there too.

    5. Analyst Editor*

      I’m suspicious that it’s jsut all cynical money-grubbing based on name recognition and nostalgia. The live-action Disney remakes and the endless Marvel and Star Wars spinoffs feel that way a bit.

      I watched the new Magic School bus and think it’s far inferior to the original. I don’t like the new teacher or how they did the kids. I was watching Daniel Tiger, a sort of reboot of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and it’s pretty nice for toddlers but even there are elements of things being dumbed down when they don’t have to be (I’m specifically thinking of the episode with he crayon factory, if anyone cares.) I haven’t found a new kids’ show I really like yet.

      I need to check out reboots of Clifford and Busy Town by Richard Scarry. You can tell it’s new because the animation is computerized, the voices are different of course, and the style is hair different than what I remember from as a kid. But for now I opt for the originals.

  11. Lifelong student*

    Yarn thread- what’s on your hook, needle, or loom this week?

    I did something unusual for me this week- put aside one WIP to do another item and made a 7 day sampler baby blanket. Finished it in the 7 days. It was a stitch along (SAL) with new parts of the pattern each day. Now back to the first work in progress (WIP). I don’t like leaving things half done.

    1. Kali*

      I crocheted a little boat on a blue doily for my friend, who’s last name is Ocean. Then made another for my grandad in law who was in the merchant navy.

      I’m slowly working on a pair of Sanquhar gloves, which are my knitting everest.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I added handles to finish off the crocheted basket that my daughter took over in the middle. It’s lumpy, it’s floppy, and it’s going to absolutely delight her grandmother. The crafting gene continues.
      I started a small afghan doing just double-crochet stripes, using the muted colors my daughter’s into, and I’m hoping she takes over some of this project too.

    3. Likethecity*

      I’m still crocheting a C2C graphghan that was supposed to be a friend’s Christmas gift but it’s taking longer than I expected. Luckily, she’s a knitter who understands that particular dilemma as she’s still knitting something for me, haha! I’m getting ready to do the first two days of a temperature blanket and the first square of a CAL blanket I want to do.

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      I started the Forest Fair Isle stocking yesterday, but not sure I made a smart decision to have my first waistcoat stitch be a project in the round with slightly smaller yarn than I’d normally use. Excited that this pattern has different options for animals and names though. Can’t wait for next Christmas to use our rabbit and squirrel stockings.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m on chart 3 of 3 of a Star Wars double knitted scarf, rainbow on black. I didn’t have a particular plan for it, but my husband (who is a total Star Wars nut) has started expressing interest in it as I’ve been working on it, so that’s nice, and if he wants it when I’m done he can have first dibs.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve been stash busting for a few months, and got tired of looking at all the same yarn! A local friend had the same problem, so we swapped stashes (we bagged everything up and I dropped mine in her driveway and picked hers up, so no contact other than waving at each other like lunatics through her window!) I’m currently working on a new blanket from her stash, which included a super soft bamboo yarn that I am in love with.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        What a fun idea! I love this concept, though I think the few friends who might be interested have much more expensive yarn tastes than I do and it wouldn’t be fair at all.

    7. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished a chunky sampler crochet throw that the cat has decided belongs to her (photo link in comments). My next project is going to be a pair of socks for my mom. She sent me a pair of her favorite sleep socks that are on their way out and asked if I could make something similar. I found a pattern that will work with a few modifications (Toot Sweet Socks from Knit Picks). I just need to check the yarn I have to see if I have anything that will work. I’m sure I do.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I’m crocheting an afghan for a friend in a bobble ripple stitch. The pattern itself is lovely, and the yarns I’m using are lovely, but as I’m working I don’t really like the hue very much. It’s a gradated series of grey blues (which is one of my favorite colors), but it’s working up to look very… elderly. Sort of like your granny’s blue hair.

      It’s weird because when I look at the colors themselves I really like them, but when I look at the finished work, I don’t like it that much.

    9. Pippa K*

      I need to make a baby blanket for the new baby in the family. I’ll probably do it as two separate panels on my rigid heddle loom, rather than double-width all at once. Just need to figure out a stylised Maori fern pattern (to reflect the baby’s heritage), so if any experienced weavers have ideas, I’d love to hear them! Right now I’m thinking clasped weft, but maybe there’s a better way?

    10. MissCoco*

      Started my first diagram-only pattern! Also my first pattern where mistakes keep stacking, so I’ve had to restart/tear out at least 5 rows, but it’s been fun to watch it move along :)

      Also found out a friend is pregnant, and I’m eagerly planning colors for an afghan

      Anyone have favorite methods to design or pre-plan colors for more complicated squares?

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I decided to get back to crocheting. It’s been probably 10 years or so. I only know the simple stitches my late mom taught me, but it’s enough to make a small blanket for one of the cat beds or something like that. I still remember how to do it, but I need a little practice. I had to buy a variety of hooks since I owned only one and I had no idea that different yarns need different sizes. Who knew?

      I’ve been trying to find one of those old-fashioned wood or metal framed fold-and-carry yarn/craft project bags (when it’s open the frame looks like an X), but pickings are slim online. They don’t make them anymore so I have to either get something used (they’re not in great shape) or get one off Etsy (start at $49.99). I found one this morning at Walmart online and ordered it, simply because it was cheapest ($29.99) and I can’t find anything better. But I’m going to continue to hunt for one I like.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, and I caved and bought a new counted cross stitch kit. I have a bunch and I haven’t done cross stitch in years due to my back problems and sitting, but now that I’m recovered from surgery and working from home, I’d really like to finish the one I started years ago and then start a new one.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Haha that’s the one I just bought! And now I remember it was Michael’s and not Walmart. I mostly want this specific type because it’s nostalgic for me–my grandmother had one and so did my mom. I’m not excited that it’s black since I have a million cats, but it’s a decent price, especially with the coupon I got in my email.

          If you go to Etsy and search “Antique folding knitting bag, wooden frame, tapestry style fabric” (PaulinesEmporium) you’ll find the one I was eyeing. I love it, especially the height, but I think it might be too small for cross stitch because of the hoop and all that. Plus the shipping is 50.00+ since it’s coming from France.

          1. Otter Dance*

            If it’s solid black, why not decorate it? Embroider or appliqué something to make it less boring.
            You could also try whether you could replace the fabric section entirely, just saving the wooden frame. I had a kit to make one, but that was years ago.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              It’s black with a white polka dot pattern. It’s not that it’s boring, it’s that the base color is black. Black doesn’t mix well with pet hair. If it’s gets to be too annoying then I’ll probably just look for another one.

              1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

                That bag looks extremely simple to make. You should be able to take a pattern off it and make a new one in a material you like better. Just need a yard of fabric, so it shouldn’t be too expensive either.

    12. Em*

      I’m restarting my 5 year old’s baby blanket….

      I had purchased acrylic yarn on two separate occasions for the blanket and the second skein turned out to be spun much more loosely than the first one. I mistakenly assumed because it is an industrial, synthetic product that purchasing the yarn on separate occasions didn’t matter. The blanket is in 5 panels so the first one is probably about 5 inches shorter than the second one…

      So while this project has been dragging on for years (and I’ve finished numerous ones in the meantime), I’m restarting. That said I’m enjoying updating the pattern (and expanding it to make large enough so he can snuggle in it as he grows) and excited to use some lovely superwash wool. My son was able to pick his favorite color. So while this is no longer a “baby” blanket and I’m restarting after putting a lot of work in, I think the final product is going to be a much more cherished item.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Temperature blanket makers what’s a good resource for figuring out temps & yarn colors/quantities for a long-ago year? I want to make myself one some day. I love the joyful summer-flower mixup of colors and it would be a nice change to work with those instead of the muted colors that have been on my hooks for so long.

      1. All Hail Queen Sally*

        One thing I accomplished this past year was to dig out and sort all my yarns. I discovered that I have TONS of acrylic (I have cats so anything that is put out, like blankets, has to be made of cheap yarns. ) I want to make a temperature blanket too, but do not want to buy any more yarn so I decided different temperature ranges would be “light, med, and dark yellows,” and “light, med, and dark blues,” etc. Then I will sort my yarn in groups of light, med and dark of the same color and just use this light blue here and that light blue there. I hope it works out OK. I just can’t decide if I want to make a really big blanket with 365 rows.

      2. Pharmgirl*

        I googled average temps for my area for each month to get the range I would need to cover, and then honestly, just picked the colors I liked and put them in my range. It took a bit of rearranging to get the scale I wanted, but I went with colors I like vs trying to mimic online pattern. If you want brighter colors, go for it! For my temp blanket, I started with pastels for colder weather, then deeper colors for cool going into warm, then bright for the warm to hot days.

        The fun thing about temperature blankets is that you can use whatever color scheme you want – from a rainbow to different shades of one color or whatever takes your fancy.

        If you’re trying to make one for a prior year I think there should definitely be a site somewhere that should have all the temps for the whole year. Find the highest and lowest to figure out your range, then figure out your increments and pick colors for each one. I’m in New England so I went with 0-100, a new color for every 10 degrees. I only crocheted the high of the day so my blanket only goes from the 20-100 range and two colors didn’t get used at all. Since you’re doing an already complete year you’ll be able to plan accordingly and get to use all your colors.

    14. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Panna frost flower lace shawl in a pale blue-grey. Been working on it on and off since June. Knitting again and finally in the home stretch.

    15. All Hail Queen Sally*

      I am knitting small (4.5 inch) squares in garter stitch to sew together into a sampler afghan. I plan to make each square from a different colored yarn. So far I have 18 different yellows. I have tons of scrap yarns so I will be making scrap afghans for at least the next five years.

    16. Otter Dance*

      I finished my KAL ADVENTure cowl. I had exactly one foot of yarn left. Talk about yarn chicken.
      Today I started a new shawl with worsted weight yarn on size 11 (8 mm) needles. They feel like kindergarten crayons, so big and clumsy, after a year not using anything larger than a size 7 (4.5 mm). I realized that none of my dozen shawls goes with purple, so clearly I need to make another, right?

    17. Can't Sit Still*

      I’m weaving a couple of placemats in plaid, with Brook’s Bouquet on each end. I haven’t decided how fringe-y the ends are going to be yet. I need to get them off the loom before my weaving class next weekend, though.

  12. aarti*

    I asked a question last week about not experiencing early pregnancy symptoms and I think I jinxed myself lol! Because this week I’ve had terrible nausea (worse in the morning, but present all day). So I’m especially grateful to everyone who responded with tips and tricks for combating it.

    This is very much a wanted pregnancy but I’m sort of surprised at how little excitement I feel. I think maybe it doesn’t seem real to me yet? I look the same and I just feel really sick all/most of the time. So, when in the pregnancy did you start feeling excited? Right away or did it take some time?

    1. Fran*

      The first few months were filled with anxiety. I think I started getting excited around the 20 week scan. Congratulations and be gentle to yourself.

    2. Firefly*

      Honestly, I was actually surprised to end up with a baby at the end of my pregnancy. I think I had been so worried by my mom’s very challenging pregnancy experiences when I was a child that I didn’t let myself connect pregnant to baby. My pregnancy was uneventful, everything went reasonably smoothly birth-wise, and then I immediately fell in love with my baby – who is now fifteen. So, I wasn’t excited through my pregnancy, but was thrilled to have a baby at the end of it!

    3. Kiitemso*

      I felt excitement fiddling baby clothes, thinking about baby names, discussing the baby with family, my partner and friends, and feeling the non-painful kicks. Weirdly enough I also felt excitement budgeting various baby things like the bassinet, pram, approximate food budget, approximating the nappie budget etc. I guess I really just like budgeting, haha. But the first trimester can be fairly miserable, and we did wait until week 15 to tell most family and friends, just in case something went wrong. We discussed names and bought one tiny baby overalls amongst ourselves, and both me and my partner told one very close friend each, so we had somebody to share the good and the bad with.

      My nausea cures: eat every 2 hours (small portions), drink plenty, eat immediately after waking up (within 15-20 mins of waking up). Some people also mention ginger sweets or ginger ale as helping them. My least fave symptom was heartburn, which came as soon as nausea left me, though thankfully I got OTC medication for it. And my fave symptom was – oddly enough – cravings! I loved desiring random things. Pico de gallo, cottage cheese, Nutella and banana sandwiches, baked beans with fried tomatoes and eggs.. It could be a weird mix, simultaneously grossed out by some things, and alternating between nausea and cravings.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      You’re growing a human….parts of that process are awkward and uncomfortable, but no less amazing! I mostly felt sick and bloated, with interludes of excitement. Just roll with each day. I wish you a healthy pregnancy and a fast birth!

    5. Jenny*

      Don’t worry, it’s totally normal to have mixed feelings. It’s a lot because yes being a parent is great (I love toddlerdom) but the baby has to come out and that part is hard and painful and the first couple weeks are very hard (getting breastfeeding going was very hard for me). So it’s something you want but it’s also going to involve a lot of hard and unpleasant stuff (it gets better, I promise).

      But society also guilty you for those bad feelings too because how can you not immediately be blissful with your new baby.

      It’s okay to feel weird.

    6. MissHell UK*

      I was excited after the scan to detect abnormalities was over and done with, I felt I could relax. While I was lucky and didn’t have morning sickness at all I did get extremely bad heartburn during the last few weeks of pregnancy but it was worth it in the end xx

    7. 30ish*

      I got much more excited when the nausea faded after the first trimester. Nothing worked against the nausea and I was miserable for 2 months, if I got pregnant again and experienced nausea again I would get medication for it.

    8. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I really did not like being pregnant, even though both were planned and very much wanted pregnancies. I was nauseated for the first 5 months with my first, then had heartburn for pretty much the rest of the pregnancy, so it was not fun. But, I did feel some excitement. It just came later, I think. The first few months are tough–even if you’re lucky enough to not have much nausea, you’re tired all of the time, and you just don’t feel like yourself. It got better for me mentally when I was actually showing, I think it made it all feel much more real.
      I didn’t comment last week, but two things really helped with my nausea: 1) Avoiding a completely empty stomach was a huge help. I had a sleeve of Saltines and a glass of water on my nightstand every night and would eat a couple of crackers before I even got out of bed in the morning, and I would eat one or two if I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I also carried crackers with me everywhere, along with things like Nutri-grain bars or granola bars, and I snacked often. 2) Good old fashioned ginger ale was super helpful. I stuck with Canada Dry because it actually has real ginger in it (Vernor’s doesn’t). One of the keys was to just sip it throughout the day, not guzzle it. Drinking it too fast just made me feel more bloated and gassy, but sipping more slowly calmed my stomach. If you’re not a soda person, a ginger tea would probably work, or you could just make ginger water (a small chunk of ginger root in a bottle of water).
      Don’t worry about not feeling excited right now. You are growing a human inside your body. That is some serious stuff, and there is not really a right or wrong way to feel about it. And it’s hard to be excited when you’re nauseated all day. Be kind to yourself, and those feelings of anticipation and excitement will come.
      Congrats on your pregnancy! As unpleasant as it can be, it’s also pretty amazing, and it is all worth it in the end!

    9. ten-four*

      Ooh seconding 30ish: I also took the anti-nausea meds the second time I was pregnant and it made a WORLD of difference in my entire experience of pregnancy. I have some lingering anti-med biases from my family of origin, and my mother LOVED being pregnant so I kept thinking I’d get better and could gut through it. And the nausea did die down eventually! But it really set the tone of the pregnancy for me, and I really wish I’d taken the anti-nausea meds and avoided things like vomiting in the alley on my walk in to work.

      Being pregnant IS weird (and cool!) and I heartily recommend doing whatever you can to make it as easy as possible. Anti-nausea meds are a game changer! I had a lovely, easy second pregnancy with hardly any barfing at all.

      1. Double A*

        Unisom & B6 are seriously a miracle in the first trimester with the added bonus of helping you sleep!

    10. Blackcat*

      I hated the whole first trimester and any excitement I felt was drowned out by the nausea and fatigue. Honestly, the year I was pregnant was awful personally and professionally, and I never got super excited. Pregnancy was very, very hard on me. HG during the first trimester devastated my body in a way that made everything harder later on–I lost some huge fraction of my muscle mass, not just fat, so I didn’t have the muscles needed to stabilize my pelvis. My kid had colic as a newborn, so I’m afraid to say it didn’t really get better until he was like 4 months old. So my “when were you excited” answer is like… once he was a socially interacting tiny human. I enjoy parenting a lot more now. I knew I wasn’t a baby person. Everyone said it would be different with my own… and it wasn’t. And that’s okay! One of my aunts–who is also not a baby person–offered me the advice long ago to not try for a baby when I was a year away from wanting a baby, but to try when I thought I was 4 years away from wanting a 3 year old. And now my 3 year old is a lovely delight!

      More nausea tips if you want them
      1. Preggie pop drops, at Target or Amazon, or some other extremely tart hard candy.
      2. Homemade lemon ginger tea. Buy fresh ginger to make it from. Make a tea, add some lemon juice.
      3. Almonds or other nuts every ~1hr to keep a steady flow of protien

    11. Parenthetically*

      I wasn’t excited at all when I first got pregnant with my son! Very much a wanted pregnancy, right on schedule, and I just felt kind of… ambivalent about it, when I wasn’t feeling anxious all the time. I did eventually get excited, but I didn’t have a context for it because I’d never experienced it before so the whole thing seemed really abstract — whereas with my daughter, I was excited right away because I had the experience of knowing that this was a real person who I would get to meet in a few months, and not just an abstraction or an idea.

    12. Not A Manager*

      I was lucky in that the nausea faded after my first trimesters, and in my second trimesters I got that surge of energy that people sometimes talk about.

      I started to feel real excitement when the baby started to move. That was very cool, and I was very excited, but it still didn’t feel connected to an actual child. The initial flutters were more like a magic butterfly inside me. Over time, as the bump got larger and when the baby moved you could see that it was a fist or a foot, then I started to feel more of a connection.

    13. Em*

      During pregnancy, I loved seeing my first one kick (didn’t like feeling it so much, especially near the end)

      But actually excited about the whole having a baby thing?…. not till #1 was almost a year old.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I was excited finding out & sharing the news, but I didn’t stay excited the same way the whole time. It comes and goes, that’s normal.

      40 weeks is a long time, and there’s a lot of regular living to do where you’re just going about your day. It’s also really normal to have different, sometimes unexpected, feelings crop up – there’s all the physical changes to your body, all the life changes of becoming a parent. It affects all your relationships, your social life, everything. Of course there are a lot of different feelings.

      I think it got really real, less abstract, when I started feeling the baby move for sure. There’s those early flutters that might be gas, and then it gets more definite. That was a big turning point, because I could tell the baby was having her own separate life going on in there.

    15. Disco Janet*

      Being completely real with you here – I felt excited once my son was born. It is okay to not feel excitement during a wanted pregnancy – it doesn’t say anything about what you’ll be like as a mother! Maybe you’re not worried about that, but I did – I questioned my maternal instincts a lot during pregnancy, but they just didn’t kick in until there was an actual baby there to see and hold.

      I thought I’d feel excited right away…it didn’t feel real. Then when it did feel real, I was honestly kinda weirded out by the whole having a living, moving thing inside me aspect of it. But then he was born and I fell in love ❤️

    16. allathian*

      I was lucky enough to avoid most of the nausea, and I too kept crackers and water by my bed so I could have something before getting up. But I was tired to the point that I’d sleep 10 hours a night and fall asleep at my desk at work. That’s how my boss found out about it before I’d planned to tell her, she found me sleeping at my desk. Luckily that exhaustion faded somewhat in the second trimester, but it was no fun. I only really got excited when I could feel the tiny kicks, but I didn’t really believe we were going to have a baby until I saw the ultrasound scans.

      Congrats again. I wish you a trouble-free pregnancy and birth.

    17. Lizy*

      Still waiting. Had my 3rd kid in May. Don’t get me wrong – I actually really enjoyed being pregnant. I just never felt that connection. I also talked about “it” for each one. Even though I knew if it was a boy or girl and for the most part we had names picked out. Until it’s born – it’s an it lol

      1. allathian*

        LOL
        A big deal for me was not knowing if I was going to have a boy or a girl. I had my scans at our NHS and they will confirm your suspicions if it’s really obvious, but they won’t try and turn the baby just to confirm its sex. I don’t get why people want to know. Especially since it’s not really foolproof unless you do a genetic test or one of those 3D scans. Most of the baby clothes I got before birth were in gender-neutral colors anyway (I’m in Finland and we invented the “baby box”).

    18. Ranon*

      I think I was excited, oh, about six weeks after the baby was born? I didn’t really like being pregnant and after the baby was born I was too tired to be excited. Oh, and I guess scheduling my induction was a little exciting because of the whole “going to be not pregnant/ finally meet this baby” thing.

      Our kiddo was 100% planned/ wanted/ etc and I still spent most of my pregnancy going “oh my, what have we done?” It’s a big thing!

  13. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Here’s the item i mentioned in the gaming thread above.
    I thought this group might be interested in an article on the epilepsy/Cyberpunk 2077 issue. Short version, the developers have responded quickly & appropriately & involved the woman whose game-testing triggered a grand mal seizure; there’s also background on the industry, fan reactions (spoiler: some bad), government/legal policies, and even development/testing procedure changes to prevent/reduce re-occurrences.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2020/12/31/cyberpunk-2077-seizure/?itid=hp_dontmiss
    (Yes this one counts towards the Post’s articles-per-month limit for non-subscribers.)

    1. Catherine*

      I’ve been around online gaming communities long enough that it doesn’t shock me that people would harass Ruppert over calling attention to the issue (although I am still angered by it), but I absolutely think the deliberate attempts by other commenters to trigger subsequent seizures for her ought to be considered attempted murder.

      1. Observer*

        There is so much that is toxic about a lot of the gaming community.

        As for attempted murder, I’ve heard that before. And every time I hear of some reason it couldn’t work. In any case, it would probably have to be assault, because a seizure would not necessarily be life threatening. Which is probably one of the reasons why prosecutors would not want to deal with it.

  14. nep*

    Kitties.
    It’s been 3.5 years since we had to put down our dear cat. We were finally ready to get another and started to look when COVID hit, and we left it be. Well an opportunity recently came up to adopt two 7.5-month-0ld sisters via a friend. They are so lovely.
    We went to visit them at friend’s home the other day. They were shy…barely went after a toy when we held it and they stood behind their cat condo peeking out at us. The current self-designated foster mom is due to bring them over to our house today.
    I gather that it will take cats this age (as opposed to 8- to 12-week-old kitten) longer to acclimate, just because they’ve gotten used to foster family and that ‘territory’…is that the case? It varies from cat to cat, I reckon.
    I’d greatly appreciate any tips/insights around helping them be at ease here, and just tips about what we should watch for. We’ve set up a nice room for them, where we plan to visit quietly–never forcing them out of hiding places or forcing them to come to us. Just letting them take the lead. (Friend is loaning us one of their cameras so we can monitor them down there.)
    I’m super excited, and nervous.

    1. mreasy*

      I adopted a 5 month old little girl earlier this year, and she was quite shy/anxious at first. I would spend an hour or two at a stretch every day just sitting in “her room” without making any overtures toward her, and eventually she got curious and comfortable with me and came over to say hello. It took some time, but now she’s extremely comfortable in her home and an extremely demanding lap cat.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep this is what my husband did with two of our shy girls. He sat on the floor and quietly read. Even when she came out and sniffed his shoes, he did not budge. He just kept reading.

        Both of ours were several years old when they came to us. The first one stayed in the guest room. When she started opening the door on her own we knew she was ready for change. She came out of the guest room and lived in our bathroom for a while. I moved her food and litter into the bathroom because that was where I planned to keep them long term. It took her a full year to be able to go into any room in the house.

        The second cat hid longer, I got a little scared for her. She stayed under the bed for 3 weeks. Just when I started thinking I needed to intervene, she came out on her own. Perhaps because of the differences in breeds, the second one was much more adventurous. She got used to all the rooms in the house much quicker. And she also climbed into spaces we could not get her out of, but she got herself out when she was darn good and ready.

        Both of them went on to be normal cats and live normal lives. Initially our baseline rule was safety. They could do as they wished as long as it was reasonable to think they were safe doing it. Interestingly, because of their bashfulness they never really put themselves in an unsafe situation. Their shyness worked for them and protected them. Once they pull themselves together there is no looking back. It’s just a matter of putting in the time, letting them regroup and get themselves oriented to life with you.

        I should think sisters would be a lot of fun. They will help each other along which probably means they will adapt quicker.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I agree that reading while hanging out in the room with the kitties should be helpful. You’re there, but you’re not being threatening, they get a chance to get used to you. I usually try to keep a new kitty in the main bedroom so they have a bed to hide under when they feel like it.

        1. It'sTrue!*

          We’ve adopted 5 senior rescues by now (we have two at a time, and some were over 10 so they, well, weren’t with us for more than a few years)… and they all reacted differently. It takes awhile to get to know them, and them you. One lived under our couch for a month! Came out at night to eat and do the litter thing that we kept upstairs for her only during that time.

          It’s so interesting, the courtship process. One was pretty fractious, and I decided to have naps with her. She ended up being my biggest cuddlebug and I miss her still. But we figure we’ll get to know MORE cats this way, adopting seniors, and it is so rewarding.

      1. nep*

        Thanks! New year, new family members. I’m giddy. (And I just love the idea of keeping the sisters together.)
        The account of your experience is reassuring, and I’m really hoping that will be the case here. I really like discovering cats’ different personalities.
        Appreciate your input.

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I would ask the foster family if the kittens are openly friendly with them now, and if they did anything special to get them friendly.

      Kittens that have been born indoors and well socialized at 4-8 weeks tend to be outgoing even around strangers. I take mine on occasional outings to the pet store or to see neighbors outside in warm weather so they get cuddles from strangers, and they have a lot of confidence when meeting strangers or in new situations.

      But if they arrive after 8 weeks from a life outdoors then they almost always need to build trust with each new human that they meet. Ideally they are comfortable with their foster home and just need time to settle.

      If they were rescued much older, after about 12 weeks, then they have deeper trust issues with strangers. They will need more proactive work, but if they are friendly with the fosters then they will be friendly with you. I can provide tips and tricks for socializing a semi-feral kitten, but we do those as specialized adoptions so I’m assuming that yours are typical Slightly Skittish, Just Need Time.

      Have them in a small room with a few toys and kibbles. When you visit, bring wet food and wand toys (active play at a distance). If they like the wet food then gently stroke them as they eat, to associate your touch with good things. Ask their foster if anything worked well for them.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Yay! New cats! I’m so excited for you!

      I got my girl when she was six or seven… And she felt right at home immediately. She’s the opposite of skiddish, though. I will say that her behavior did change a bit here and there over time for a good year plus, so be aware that feeling comfortable in the house isn’t the only factor. :) But yours are young, so maybe they don’t come with quite so much baggage.

      1. nep*

        Thanks. I’m excited.
        They will be so loved here; they just don’t know it yet.
        I so hope they’ll come to love their new home.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Congratulations! I think you have everything arranged very well already, and you have the right mindset going in. It my take some patience but so worth it. I adopted two cats in March (who were not related or in the same cage) and set things up the same way that you did. I got incredibly lucky – they bonded immediately, cuddling together in the same cat bed (after huddling together under a bookcase for a few minute), and within an hour they were sitting with me and my husband (actually on us). We were anticipating a long settle in time but they certainly surprised us! I hope everything goes well and they settle in beautifully.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Husband adopted two 9 month old sister cats at the tail end of 2015 – they’d never been fostered, but went from the street to the shelter to us. One of them had some health problems, including a repeating eye infection that ultimately led to an enucleation around her first birthday. The other one actually was the one that picked us — I was standing in the lobby in front of a bank of kennels waiting for him to hurry up and pick cats already, when suddenly I could not move my head, because the kitten in the kennel behind me had reached out with both paws and grabbed hold of my bun. After a minute I waved at one of the workers and was like “Can you stick your head in that room and tell the guy in the green shirt that his cat has his wife by the head out here?”

      I already had a one year old sighthound at that point, so for the first three months we had the cats they were mostly in their own room (with regular people visiting) so that we could slowly acclimate the dog to the kittens – after that, they got free reign of the house, including an entire floor that the dogs aren’t allowed to access.

      Now, five years later, the cat who had the enucleation (Captain Kyna Whitepaws, SCOURGE OF LAND AND SEA) is totally fearless, scrambles all over the house, up in everybody’s face, thinks she’s a dog. Her sister (Princess Kiara Scaredyfluff the Dark and Unseen) is a total chicken who almost never leaves my husband’s office (but totally rules the roost in there) – like, she’ll come down the stairs and sit at the bottom and watch me in the living room, but if I so much as stand up off the couch, she practically teleports back upstairs to the office. (But if I go in there, she’s all up in my face demanding pets and even belly rubs, which are not actually a trap, because that’s her comfort zone. And she still grabs me by the bun if I get within range of her cat tree.)

      So basically, they might react pretty much any which way, and they won’t necessarily react or adjust the *same* way. :) Have fun!!

      1. Seal*

        One of my cats picked me the same way. I thought I was just looking but he grabbed my hair when I was standing next to his cage and made such a racket that I came back the next day to adopt him. He was only 4 months old but already an outgoing acrobat who was very deferential to my older boys. Interestingly, despite all the noise he made at the shelter he’s not very talkative at home. He’s almost 9 now and still into everything though!

    6. nep*

      Looks like we’re holding off for now. I think it’s to do with current cat mom’s approach, but all day yesterday she worked on getting them into a crate (off and on), and around 7pm decided she’d try again today. They have eaten some, but she’s also used food as a way to lure them in. I don’t understand exactly how it’s going down over there, but I don’t feel good about the cats going through this for another full day. (As of noon, they’ve not gotten them into the transport crate.) I’m telling her to hold off. The transition would be tough enough; I don’t want her to keep this up with them–they’ll end up being too traumatized and that will just add to troubles, no doubt.
      We’ll see what happens.

      1. Generic Name*

        Uh, has this woman had cats before? Of all the cats I’ve had in my life, I’ve only had 1 who would willingly go into the cat carrier and he’s a very tolerant boy who will let you do literally anything to him). All the rest I had to grab and shove them in the carrier. Some took up to 30 mins of searching for them and wrangling them from their hiding spot, others resisted a ton, and others I just scooped them up and placed them in.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. If you wait for them to be willing, forget it. They will just choose not to go in there.

          My first cat was a kitten when I got her. I had gotten her from someone at work. To keep her at work I used a very tall box, probably about 40 inches high or so. She had bedding and food/water. It was a big box. For transporting, I tucked her in my coat. She was actually quite happy inside my coat. She settled right in.
          (It was also very funny to watch people’s eyes as I pulled this kitten out of my coat. You couldn’t tell that I had a kitten in the coat because it was a big, puffy winter jacket.)
          I suspect foster mom is have regrets about giving them to someone else.

          1. nep*

            As things evolved–as it were–I was half-thinking that foster mom had promised to husband or other family members–OK, I’ll try to adopt them out, but if for some reason it doesn’t work out, we keep them.
            She seemed genuinely excited to have them go to a friend. She had put out a flyer in her Christmas letter. And the family already has a few other cats.
            Who knows. Anyway, I’m relieved in a way because the kitties needed to just get back to their routine instead of this long drawn-out thing foster mom was doing.

        2. Figgie*

          We drove two cats from the upper Midwest to California and then flew with them to Mexico. One of them was fine in the car while in the carrier, as long as the door was left open. She didn’t leave the carrier, but she didn’t howl as long as the door to the carrier was left open.

          The other one (who I swear is a dog in a cat body) was like: “why have you never told me about traveling???? I LOVE traveling!!! Can we get in the car now??? PLEASE!! I’m getting in my carrier!! Take me out to the car! NOW!!! Is this a new hotel?? I LOVE hotels!! See, I’m rolling around on the bed like it is catnip”

          Weirdest cat on the planet! My spouse said that if we would have let him, he would have hung his head out the open car window with his tongue hanging out and his ears flapping in the breeze! :-)

        3. Jules the 3rd*

          My new feral kitten ran for the carrier when she realized that I was pulling her out of her favorite hiding spot. It was full size, and dark, I don’t think she even realized it was a carrier.

          Her brother, otoh, was a full 20 minute wrangle. And he’s usually the easier one.

      2. Ethyl*

        That is really odd. I mean, not that I’m cruel to my cats but they also do not like their carriers and we manage to get them into them for their vet visits just fine. We burrito the really difficult one in a towel, put the carrier on end and deposit the cat with the towel, and shut the door. If she’s doing something that is taking all day, you’re likely right that it’s upsetting and traumatizing them way more than necessary.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Very odd. Cats have to be shoved into crates, sometimes with a good deal of force and strategy. It’s how cats are. (With exceptions.)

          Especially with two. Are they sharing a crate and have to magically enter at the same time, or is one getting shut in her crate for hours while the other gets slowly baited in? I don’t see either working.

          Car rides are usually stressful for cats anyway and new houses definitely are. An extra two minutes of mild stress at the start isn’t going to traumatize them. They’ll get over it!

          1. nep*

            Of course. Exactly.
            I learned all of this only in real time. So I told her thanks for all her time and efforts but stop.

      3. Cruciatus*

        Here’s a link to a photo of me trying to wrangle my cat into a carrier for the vet last year, and, joy of joys, I get to do it again on Tuesday. It sucked and took about 15 minutes. He hates the carrier, but he got over it very quickly (after we were back from the vet). But on this day I actually got sweaty trying to get him into that damn thing! https://ibb.co/SwDJ22f

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ha! That could be one of my girls. I had one bright one who figured out if she put her front legs out side ways, like wings on an airplane, I would not be able to push her through the door of the carrier. I. could. not. get that cat into the carrier for the life of me.

          1. It'sTrue!*

            I put the carrier on end and lower the cat back legs dangling first into the carrier… then it’s a matter of taking each front paw and delicately unhooking them from the carrier door (or from your new sweater that is now ruined).

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          How did you get a picture DURING teleportation? (Because seriously cats teleport when they don’t want to be in the transport box. Or at least ours did.)

          1. Cruciatus*

            We had reached a standstill. Despite how it looks, I was trying to comfort him (without him getting away). He went stiff. I decided to just chill for a second and I realized I had my phone on me and took the pic. I think he tried to escape 1 second after I took the pic.

      4. nep*

        Odd, yes–completely agree. This, I’ve concluded, isn’t about the cats. It’s about the current mom/family. And that’s fine. I’m taking things as they come and I told her I didn’t want her to continue whatever she was doing (trying to lure them with food, etc) because I didn’t want whatever was going on there to be the beginning of the transition.
        The part I disliked most about having cats was wrangling them/putting them in the carrier. Of course no cat goes willingly. (!) As I said, whatever her approach is, it’s not how I would do it and it sounded more traumatic to me than the quick, one-off discomfort of grabbing them and putting them in the crate.
        I’m very much go with the flow here. Our kitty sanctuary is ready for whenever the right cat/situation comes along.
        Really appreciate everyone’s input, insights, tips, etc.

        1. Ethyl*

          Y’know……it sure seems like every time we have decided “ok we are ready for a new cat,” it sort of happens on its own when it’s meant to be. I don’t much believe in the supernatural or anything, but damn if we didn’t have:
          1) a kitten show up on our porch and literally jump into my arms
          2) a coworker find a kitten in her flowerpot on her porch and ask us first if we wanted her
          3) stopping at the adoption center in Petsmart only to be accosted (accosted I say!) by a cat who *really* wanted my attention (and had a sister that they didn’t want to separate from him, that one was a two-fer!)
          4) roommate’s boyfriend’s parents found a mama cat and litter of kittens in their shed
          5) cat showed up on back porch and refused to leave

          Maybe a cat will happen to you, too, now that the universe knows you are ready!

          1. nep*

            Thanks.
            Yeah–we thought this might be one of those, as we’d stopped actively looking during COVID. And we loved the idea of adopting from a friend. When we saw the pics and info, we thought, maybe this is the moment. But no.
            As I said, I’m very much ‘go with the flow’ on all this. The right thing will happen at the right time.

    7. Generic Name*

      My mom recently adopted an older cat (I think she’s 11). She’s a very sweet kitty and spent the first few weeks hiding. My mom got a feliway plug in and she emerged just after that. Now she sits on my mom’s lap and is very affectionate.

    8. Ethyl*

      Also, make sure you have a variety of types of toys (furry, feathery, skittery, crunchy) to try out. If you can find one specific type they really love, you can use that to bond and socialize with them, to build up those associations of “these people = good times” :)

  15. Pomp&Circumstance*

    Single late 30-something lady grappling with the biological clock and wanting to hear how others are doing/have done it. It’s been on my radar for a few years now and over that time I’ve had some preliminary testing done with regard to fertility as I have some gynaecological issues which would most likely make any type of conception harder. I’ve always wanted to be a mom and just figured it would happen the old fashioned way with a partner but haven’t had any luck meeting the right guy, despite my best efforts over the last few years since coming out of a very long relationship. Most of my friends are younger or older and settled with families so I don’t have many people to talk to about it!

    With hopes of finding the right guy fading (even before COVID) I’m exploring alternatives so to speak but it’s such a huge decision and lifelong commitment that I never get much further along than thinking it’s a possibility…..but at the same time I’ve been thinking about it for years. I can’t even begin to know how people make a decision around having a child with the help of a donor, and I wonder if I cross my fingers will the need to be a mom eventually just subside. I’m just fearful of silencing it until it’s too late and then regretting it…if that makes sense?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Childless person here, so this may or may not be relevant because it’s too general. I don’t think anyone gets through life without some level of regrets. I also think that if we let go of one thing, it’s super important to decide what we will do instead at the same time. Every time we let go of something, that means we have room for something else that we would not have had room for otherwise. If you do not have children, what do you think you would like to do that you would not have done if you had kids to consider?

    2. Kali*

      I’m 32 and I struggle with this too.

      For me, my mother had her ovaries removed when I was about 6 or 7, and she was in her mid-twenties. I didn’t understand exactly what was happening, and I somehow got it into my head that women went through menopause really early, around 30. It did not help that the last 5 generations of my mother’s family had their kids in their late teens. Even though that impression was corrected later, I still had that feeling and it really affected my relationships in my early 20s.

      It also didn’t help that I studied genetics, so I know exactly what’s happening to my eggs. Very simple summary, they were formed almost exactly 33 years ago, when I was a foetus, and have just been hanging out in there this whole time like par-baked rolls waiting for their final development step to occur as I ovulate each month. That’s why the chances of birth defects increase with maternal age, because the eggs get older. Men’s sperm stem cells also form very early, but they’re earlier in their development – like flour or dried yeast instead of par-baked rolls – so they’re not affected as much by time. The cool thing about this is that your very first cell can be 2-4 decades older than the rest of you.

      I did consider having a child with a donor, but the other things affecting me are where I am with my career, my feelings about monogamy and relationships, and my relationship with my own parents (bad) and how it affects my own feelings towards motherhood (very negatively). I’m now accepting that it might be something that doesn’t happen for me – though we would consider adoption later on – or, at most, we might have one biological child.

      1. another_scientist*

        thanks for this explanation, very interesting! Also thanks all for contributing to this thread, lots of food for thought.

    3. HannahS*

      I’m not exactly in your situation, but my attitude was that if I reached a certain age (mid-late 30s) without meeting someone, I would take an amount of time (say, a year) to make it my top priority. Dating is really hard and not something that I ever enjoyed, but if I gave it my best shot and didn’t meet someone, I knew that I want children too much to keep waiting. I never really got farther than that–I wound up meeting someone before that time. But I have a few others in my life who are still single who have a similar plan. I can’t imagine a future for myself where I don’t have children; it’s always been very important to me. If you feel the same, then I think you should look seriously at your life–is your income/lifestyle/career suited for being a single parent? Who will be your support system? Do some googling—you must be able to find blogs and articles by women who’ve done it. See if there’s a Facebook group that you can join.
      As NotSoNewReader says, no one gets through life without regrets. But reading your letter, it seems like maybe you feel overwhelmed or fearful. I think the best remedy to that is research. Learn about all kinds of different lives, and see which ones feel right to you.

    4. Ali G*

      I’m in my early forties and childless by choice, but in the last 10 years, I’ve seen all my friends go through variations of what you are going through. I have one other friend childless by choice, 2 others not by choice, but have found other ways to fulfill themselves (one is a very involved and amazing aunt) and a couple that really struggled getting pregnant (but did!).
      I think if you really want to be a mom, you should at least give yourself the chance to see what that would mean and what it would take. It might be too hard and you decide you will be OK with no kids, or it might solidify this is your future. Arm yourself with information and options and see what works for you.
      Also, I recently read an article where people are basically online dating but for co-parent partners, not romantic partners. I thought that was an interesting prospect for people that want to reproduce, but want a little more than a donor (also better for men that want to be dad’s but not donors).

    5. Blackcat*

      Two of my good friends are single mothers by choice, one by IVF (at age 42) and one by adoption (40).
      COVID has been BRUTALLY hard for them (loosing childcare and having no back up is HARD–for both of them, their parents are too old to help), but neither regrets their decision at all.
      That said, I think it’s better to regret *not* having a kid than regret having one….

    6. Jules the First*

      So I am 37, single, and currently 17 weeks pregnant with my donor baby. Like you, I have some health issues that made it a bit less likely that I’d get pregnant, so it was my doctor who started the conversation four years ago. I did a few sessions with a therapist, had a fertility evaluation with a private clinic, read some books, listened to some podcasts, talked to a few people, ran the budget numbers, and found myself no closer to making a decision than before. So I had one last conversation with my fertility clinic who said that in all honesty, I probably had a few years to make up my mind before my fertility cratered but that my best chances of success would be before I turned 40, and that if we needed to go beyond a simple insemination (IUI), that could take a couple of years to work through the process. I’ve spent much of the last three years turning it over in my head – was I being selfish? cavalier? getting in too deep? If I held my breath, crossed my fingers, looked the other way, threw myself into being an auntie, would the decision make itself?

      Finally I poured my heart out to a friend over drinks one night, confessing that I thought I’d reached the point where I could live with never having a baby, but not with never having tried, but that I was still not sure whether I was being honest or foolish and self indulgent. The next morning, she turned up at my doorstep with strong coffee and painkillers (for the hangover) and a box of ovulation tests. Her advice? Pee on the stick. When the line goes blue, you’ll know, one way or the other. She was right – the day after the line went blue, I called the clinic and started the process. It takes about four or five months to work your way through the tests and consultations; choosing a donor is bewildering and overwhelming and fairly surreal (a cross between internet dating and trying a new Chinese takeaway…); and the actual act is very much like getting a pap smear from a bunch of munchkins who are strangely enthusiastic about it (followed by two weeks of nervily pretending you are pregnant while you wait for a test to work, while also trying to be rational about the odds of it actually happening, which are pretty slim). I won’t pretend that I made peace with the decision to do this solo immediately – I don’t think I felt really secure in the decision to try until the clinic got my sperm shipment – but it absolutely feels right now. Happy to chat more if that would be helpful…

    7. Lulu*

      I am 31 and had always expected the usually house, husband, children scenario but none of those have appeared. I know with my energy levels I simply won’t have neither the physical nor mental capacity to go through childcare alone. Maybe I will find someone to share my life with and have kids with but I don’t worry about it because no matter what happens right now I am content with my life. Wishfull sure but not anxious about maybe’s because I know I need a partner first and he doesn’t appear, well fine, I won’t be an exhausted single mother.
      (Let’s see how I feel about this in ten years time..!)

    8. Double A*

      “The old fashioned way” ended up working out for me but I had definitely thought about what to do if it hadn’t as I got married a bit older.

      After I had my daughter I was like, “Oh. I would definitely have done this alone if I had to.” As in having her and having known I always wanted kids, being a single mom by choice would have been the right choice for me if it came to it. Basically, I’m saying if you want a kid, then go for it.

    9. B*

      Which would you regret more 1) pursuing having a kid on your own ( and all that being a single parent would mean for you and the kid) or 2) choosing to not have a bio child (whether or not you might consider adoption).
      Another point to consider is that some or the pros of having a partner are not guaranteed. People get divorced. People are together and have kids and struggle with division of labor/parenting styles.
      I think a more important question is what your support network is like. Will your parents/ siblings be supports. If something happens to you who will be guardian.
      I struggled with not thinking the traditional path would happen for me. It did. We had three kids (twins!). These kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s hard. I’m tired. But I can’t imagine life without them.
      I wish you peace in your path.

    10. All Hail Queen Sally*

      If you want kids now, do it (adoption, sperm bank, whatever). I never had the biological clock alarm go off so I just continued on a fun adventurous life (I spent 11 years living in five different countries), and then one day I realized that I had forgotten to have children! I tried the step-mother thing, but it was a disaster all around, so I got out of that situation as fast as I could. When my friends started having grandchildren is when I really started regretting not ever having children –but it’s too late now. (Now my friends are having great-grandchildren.) I keep all my pets neutered and spayed, so I’ll never have grand cats or grand pups. And now that I am staring senior citizen ship in the face, I am starting to worry about who is going to take care of me if I get dementia or am otherwise incapacitated! When I was in high school (early 1970’s) I had planned on moving up in the mountains somewhere in the western US and having 12 kids. That never happened, but I did have a fun adventurous life though!

    11. Anona*

      I’m not sure when she decided to become a mom, but my friend had a kid as a single mom by choice through ivf at around 41 or 42. I know it was hard getting pregnant, but since then she’s had an additional child, also through ivf.

      I thought, and still think, that it’s an incredibly brave thing to do. She’s a certified bada** in my book.

    12. Me*

      Being an older mom is just fine, if that’s part of your concern. The mom of one of my son’s friends is an older single mom by choice. I don’t know much about the situation other than she chose a donor. She was definitely an older mom when our kids were growing up. But heck when my kid was in kindergarten I realized that the age of the parents of my kid’s classmates varied wildly. I felt young or old depending on the kid.

      My boss is the same age as me and had her child at 45. She wanted one for years but her long term relationship just wasn’t working. She ended up marrying a different guy a few years later and then became pregnant, giving birth at 45. My kids are in grad school or finishing their undergrad studies and her kid is in 2nd grade.

      If I remember correctly, being pregnant at any age over mid-30s is a geriatric pregnancy. Don’t let that wording sway you if you want a kid. Don’t feel like you need to make that decision this year. Let the idea roll around until you are sure.

  16. Goose*

    Cross country movers—what’s a budget friendly way to do it? It would be a 4 day drive with a cat who hates cars, otherwise I’d rent a trunk but I can’t subject either one of us to that. I don’t have much stuff—less than ten boxes and a duffel bag. (*maybe* my bed and mattress if a truck is the only option.)

    Has anyone shipped their stuff through the mail? Or used the same commercial flight heir on and just paid for extra bags/boxes? What about something like upack? I’m looking for reliable alternatives that aren’t likely to break my few things

    1. peasblossom*

      I had a fantastic experience with ABF/u-pack when I moved two years ago. Nothing got broken, the company was very easy to work with, and it was by far the cheapest option. You’ll just want to invest in a good lock for your cube (they recommend what to get); otherwise it’s so reliable and inexpensive that I’d recommend it to anyone.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I moved abroad twice, so it was over an ocean and a truck wasn’t an option. But, with that caveat, we shipped once and had movers for the second. Both worked fine for the most part. When we shipped, we didn’t pack breakables well enough and the postal folks were NOT gentle with our boxes, so a few things broke… but we would totally pack them better next time. YMMV.

    3. TTailor*

      When our daughter moved to Newfoundland, she flew across the country with her cat and basic luggage. She was staying with a friend for the first month.
      We mailed most of her small household goods, clothes, art supplies,books. We mailed boxes, but also mailed large suitcases full of things. It was surprisingly less expensive to use Canada post than we anticipated. I think it worked out to close to 1$ per pound. So I sent a 50lb packed suitcase for close to 60$.

    4. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      If you’re in the US, check Amtrak and Greyhound too. They have specific requirements for boxes and shipping stuff, and of course, you have to go to the station and pick it up yourself, but it’s pretty cheap. I’d say for nonbreakables/nonprecious items, it’s worth checking into.

      For cross country too, it sounds like you’re mostly taking boxes. For the most part, no furniture except special heirlooms and pieces you’re emotionally attached to, is worth taking. It just isn’t. You can buy sofas, coffee tables, bookshelves, all that stuff in the new town, maybe at a thrift/consignment store and complete your new place inexpensively. I’m contemplating a possible big move in the next year, and the only piece of furniture I’m taking is my Dad’s dresser that’s been in the family since the 40s. :)

      Good luck with your move!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This is what I did when I moved from Seattle to Indianapolis – I shipped about 15 boxes via Amtrak and in 2012, that cost me under $300.

        I had a few boxes of books I wanted to keep and I mailed those to myself via USPS media mail. I think DVDs can also go media mail, but check, they’re sticklers about what qualifies. (And if you do that, for the mail carrier’s sake, keep the boxes small, the ones I used were 12x12x8 I think and they still ended up on the heavy side.)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also tape them *MUCH* more than you think they need. All the way around in all directions as well as corners & sides. My fatherinlaw shipped his favorite cookbooks across country when he moved back — and the box broke. None of the books were found.

    5. Reba*

      I have used the U pack cubes twice, they are good! It sounds like Goose doesn’t actually have enough stuff to justify one, though. A friend has used a U-pack service where you load your stuff in a big truck, and pay by the foot so to speak. It worked because she had a few pieces of furniture, but it has the long wait time of a traditional mover.

      I have also shipped stuff via UPS, and taken some as extra luggage. It just depends on the weight and fees what is more cost effective. Some airlines no longer allow boxes to be checked. You can also ship suitcases as well as boxes! And then you can schedule a pick up and not have to haul everything to the airport :)

      1. Coenobita*

        We did something similar to the upack truck thing – I forget exactly what it was called. But you basically share a truck with other people, so it’s a good option if you don’t have a lot of stuff and you’re not in a hurry. In our case, my spouse and I were moving (back) in together after being long distance, so we already had a household set up at the other end and were fine with the longer wait time.

    6. Wandering*

      Drove 3 days with two cats, each in their own carrier. They did not enjoy it, but we had a system. First, the vet said no to meds (interferes with their temp regulation) said feed only at night to avoid car sickness, just water in the morning.
      Day one, they sang the song of their people for half an hour. I pulled over & explained that that wasn’t going to work. They shut up. Phew. After that they’d fuss for 5 min or so each time we started out – starting out for the day, after refueling, etc. Put their litter box in the motel bathrooms. One hid under the bed the last morning, but I offered treats & she came right to me. Overall it went much better than I’d feared, so if driving is your best option – & weather is cooperative – it will probably be ok for each of you.

    7. Holly the spa pro*

      As others have said, i also highly recommend ABF. Ive done several cross country moves and i had about as much stuff as you are describing. It will seem silly to see your cube with only the corner full but it is so worth it. You can do the pay-by-the-foot trucks from them too which might be more economical but i preferred the cube method.

    8. Not A Manager*

      Whenever these questions arise, I recommend looking into U Ship. It’s like Taskrabbit but for shipping. You post the items you want to ship, and truckers bid on what they will charge to haul them for you. They get to fill up odd spaces in their loads, and you don’t have to ship a full pallet or whatever minimum a moving company requires.

      The truckers are community vetted by stars and reviews, so you can choose the one who seems best.

      I’ve used it twice and had a good experience both times.

    9. Nicki Name*

      I know someone who shipped their large book collection via UPS when they moved some years ago. For a shipment that big UPS was willing to come to their house to pick it up.

      PODS would be an option too, these days, but I have no idea how the price stacks up.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Get something from the vet to chill the cat out. With any luck, said cat will be fine for the move. My cats didn’t like cars, and they were ok. Not precisely happy, but ok. No idea what the vet gave me, but the cats basically just slept most of the time in the car.

    11. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      have you researched LTL trucking options. Put everything on a pallet and let the trucking company pick it up, drive it to your new place and deliver it. I’ve done it in the past and it was economical, but i’m old so I don’t know what it costs today.

    12. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Used a small POD to pack what I had to move halfway across the country. They have a lot of sizes, and in 2016, I think we paid about $1500 or so for everything. You pack it yourself, and supply your own lock.

      I can’t remember exactly what I brought, but I would say maybe a queen size mattress/box spring, dresser, bookshelf, desk, futon, and general stuff. I didn’t fill it, but we roped everything together/down.

      They drop it off, pick it up, and bring it to your new location! Well worth it, IMO.

  17. Shiara*

    Packing books separately and mailing them at media mail rates is the cheapest by weight way to handle them, when renting a truck isn’t an option. My family does this for international moves as well. Between that and paying for extra luggage has usually been enough., But it’s been ages so not sure how current pricing would affect things.

  18. Goose*

    Podcast thread! What are you listening to?

    I’ve been going through the Sawbones back catalog (weird medical history) and just finished Chameleon (recent Hollywood scam investigation). I’m looking for more non-murder investigative podcasts if you have any suggestions!

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I listened to one of the BBC’s In Our Time: Culture podcasts this morning on Dante’s Inferno that was quite interesting. I enjoy all of the In Our Time series though I wish the host would just let the guests speak uninterrupted as I’d prefer to hear from the experts rather than Melvyn; although, saying that, he always does his homework so he’s not asking layman questions.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I love In Our Time! The gin episode is really great too. I really appreciate that Melvyn isn’t forced to do that thing that almost every other similar podcast does (looking at you, RadioLab), where the host plays “super slow-understanding audience stand-in” and instead assumes the audience will figure things out on their own if they aren’t explicitly explained to them.

    2. LGC*

      I have so many Sawbones episodes I need to get caught up on. (And FANTI episodes. And shockingly, I have yet to subscribe to MBMBaM.)

      Okay, so. Non-murder (but still really graphic content):

      – It depends on how you define “non-murder,” but both seasons of Dr. Death were fascinating. (For almost entirely opposite reasons.)
      – If you enjoyed The Vow, you need to listen to the very first season of Uncover by the CBC. (Which is what I think really kicked off the current wave of interest in NXIVM.) Actually, all of Uncover’s seasons are worth a listen, although I do think most of them have murder elements (Season 5 – or whatever the Satanic Panic season is – is just about murder allegations).
      – Finally, one that lives in my head rent free is Once Upon A Time In The Valley, which is about (famous and infamous porn star) Traci Lords. Because of the subject matter, it’s…very explicit, and deals with sexual violence and drug use.

      Let’s see…now that I got the ones that were super graphic:
      – WeCrashed is about WeWork’s fall from grace. It’s a story that’s been told a lot, but it’s still interesting to have an extra perspective.
      – Bad Batch (which is the third Wondery series I’ve recommended – Dr. Death and WeCrashed are also by that studio) is about unregulated stem cell therapies. This isn’t quite as intense as Dr. Death is, at least IMO, but it still does mention people getting very sick and dying.
      – …like, honestly, I know I’m being a studio shill, but the majority of Wondery’s shows are six-part investigative series. And yes, they did one on Joe Exotic because they needed to get in on that Tiger King money.
      – And now that I think about it…there was another pod series that mentioned the wider world of big cat exhibitors (Cat People, I think? I’m going to have to look it up).

    3. fposte*

      The Taskmaster podcast is going back to the series beginning to cover all the episodes, and I am very excited for a listen and rewatch.

    4. CTT*

      I’m currently trying to knock off all the podcasts from early 2020 off my queue; there are some that I know will involve a higher level of concentration – like a Kaiser Health News analysis of how health care works in other countries – that I usually would save for when I was traveling and had uninterrupted listening time. That obviously has not happened this year, so I’ve got a pile of those.

      One on that list is the last two episodes of “Wind of Change,” which may be up your alley. It’s by Patrick Radden Keefe, who’s a New Yorker writer, about a rumor he heard that the CIA was somehow involved in the production/distribution of this hair metal song “Winds of Change” that was big in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. It’s half investigation and half history, and I thought it was super-interesting, but I just haven’t found a good moment to finish it!

    5. KeinName*

      I am not a monster (about a mom from the US who lived in the ISIS capital)
      The Theranos podcast from ABC about the lsboratory industry scandal/fraud

      1. LGC*

        The Theranos podcast from ABC about the lsboratory industry scandal/fraud

        The Drop Out? That one was good.

        (I have still to read Bad Blood, but yeah, that was informative.)

    6. mreasy*

      I am listening to Chameleon now – what a WILD story! You’re Wrong About will always be my top recommendation. They get to the truth of the media storms and scandals of the past, just brilliant.

      1. comityoferrors*

        I found You’re Wrong About recently and I listen pretty much non-stop now. So so good.

    7. Glass Piano*

      Not quite investigative, but with a similar vibe, is The Edge, about the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. I’m not a huge baseball person but I found it to be really gripping, especially since the journalist doing the podcast is personally intertwined with the events of the series.

    8. Forensic13*

      The Dream is great—an investigative look at MLMs in season one and alternative health fads in the second.

    9. Bobina*

      This doesnt fit the investigative theme, but my podcasts are generally about people because I think people are fascinating. So a good one for anyone who wants is Changes by Annie Mac.

      People in the UK may know her as a radio host and dj, but she started podcasting last year and I’ve really enjoyed them. Essentially its just talking to people who have had big (or small) life events and how that has affected them – and its just a lovely insight into the lives of people who have had interesting things happen to them.

  19. nep*

    Anyone else adore looking at home interior pictures? There’s something about it–not only does it inspire and make me want to tidy up and beautify my space…it’s calming and just brings simple joy, which is especially welcome in these times.
    I used to love birds-and-baking on tumblr, but apparently the curator has made it so only those with accounts can access. Here’s another absolute beauty that I love: https://damn-heavenly-place.tumblr.com/
    Any suggestions for other sites along these lines? I like when the photos are large enough, not just the small grid.

    1. Chaordic One*

      This is something that I can waste a lot of time doing. I’ve never really gotten into Tumblr or Pinterest, but love HGTV and decorating magazines. Some of my guilty pleasures are magazine like “Traditional Home,” “Elle Decor,” “Veranda,” and “House Beautiful.” As a practical matter, I should probably be looking at magazines about cottages and apartments.

    2. Tex*

      Remodelista, Apartment Therapy, Elle Decor (esp the UK version which has a different sensibility than the US designs).

    3. AGD*

      I am the same way. My own house is decorated very plainly (I am a bit of a minimalist), but I love looking at other people’s spaces and choices. I sometimes poke through Apartment Therapy.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Me too! I use apps like Pinterest to “curate” the mid century modern home I’m never going to buy and HGTV Design Home to play at decorating a room based on their requirements. I second Appartment Therapy and add Domino dot com.

  20. Yarn?*

    Does anyone know a good place online to buy soft wool or alpaca yarn? Looking for bulky yarn to make a rug.

    1. nep*

      I don’t have answers for you, but I’m interested–how are you making the rug? Do you have a loom? I am looking to revive a loom we’ve had for years in the rafters of the shed. My grandma made countless rugs on it. I have no idea what’s up there, but I’m determined to lay it all out and see whether / how I can salvage it.

      1. OP for this*

        Hi.

        I was thinking either punch needle or latch hook. I have not used a loom before but would be open to it as well.

        I have a pattern in mind and wanted to do something with that. (Geometric dogs)

        Thanks.

    2. Washi*

      I like Knit Picks! It’s a step above what you would get at a craft store, without breaking the bank (definitely a factor for me with a project like a rug that needs a lot of yardage.) Curious why you want the wool to be soft though? I’ve knitted several rugs and I wouldn’t bother using a fancy soft wool like merino when the bottoms of my feet can hardly tell the difference.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Softer yarn will also wear faster, which I think is probably not as good for a rug.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          I’m also concerned about using soft wool for a rug unless the rug won’t walked on. Knitted wool will felt with friction and moisture. I’m more familiar with homemade rugs of tightly-worked cotton.
          Whatever your vision, I hope you find the perfect yarn!

      2. OP for this*

        I have in my mind that wool yarn is scratchy? But that may just be ignorance on my part. I don’t know how much I’ll be walking on it but I can picture my dog napping on it and want it to feel cozy for her.

        1. Pippa K*

          If it’s a small rug for dog naps, you might want it to be washable, so maybe some bulky cotton yarns? Also, Yarn dot com has an end-of-year sale on until tomorrow.

        2. Washi*

          A lot of wool yarn is scratchy right against your skin, particularly sensitive areas like your neck. But in a rug, I doubt even the scratchiest yarn would be a problem. Or at least, I have a rug knitted out of a yarn I would never wear on my body, but it’s totally fine on the feet (and probably for a dog!) Something like Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks would probably work well.

          I haven’t had a problem with the yarn felting, but it does tend to pick up bits of lint and I imagine it would similarly attract lots of pet hair. I don’t have a dog or cat so I can’t really speak too much to the hair + handmade rug thing but you might want to make it out of a yarn similar in color to your dog for that reason :)

    3. DistantAudacity*

      When I crocheted a rug (using a 20mm hook), I bought jersey bedsheets (on sale), and cut them up into one long strip to make up the “yarn”. Good to walk on, durable, quick and easy to make and, with the jersey being stretchy, easy to work with.

      (My design was a simple single-crochet circle, which ended up about 1m in diameter).

    4. DistantAudacity*

      Oh – and to answer your question – I’ve had good experience with woolwarehouse (dot co dot uk) – they ship worldwide (but I’m Europe-based).
      I’ve also got good experience with Rito Hobby, but they are focuse on the Nordics, and I’m guessing that’s not where you are :)

  21. Peppermint Patty*

    I was organizing our storeroom and ran across a box of my high school and college memorabilia. In the box were two of my old journals that I wrote in during my college years. I am struggling with what to do with them. I am mortified to think that when I die, someone will find them and read them. I’m sure there is a lot in them that I won’t even remember anymore and I am really curious about what I wrote. Knowing I am a much different person now, I think I am going to spend some time reading through them, but then what? Do I put them back in the box for the time being? Do I burn them so no one else will ever be able to read them? Has anyone else run across old journals or writings? If so, what what the most surprising thing you wrote? Did you end up keeping the journals or getting rid of them?

    1. nep*

      I can’t stand reading what I wrote in journals from years past.
      I destroy/burn them.
      (Meanwhile I’m little by little typing out journal entries of my grandpa–50 years of daily entries. Of course his content is infinitely more interesting.)

    2. Asenath*

      I kept mine. I’m not going to be worrying if anyone reads them when I’m dead, and in any case, unless you are survived by very close relatives it’s unlikely anyone will read them. I actually went through them all, and found it interesting to see what I was like, how I have changed in some respects and repeat the same unchanged patterns in others – and how my memory of some things differed from what I wrote at the time! But I also had separate places where I wrote the most personal and private stuff and those documents have long since been destroyed once they’d served their purpose of allowing me to let off steam privately. I knew someone who went through their diaries later in life and tore out anything that was too private to leave. And I’ve known people who found reading diaries provided a fascinating view of someone long dead. In some cases, that might be a stranger who wrote well or lived through interesting times, or an ancestor who wrote about the reader’s own family. So there are a lot of options.

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      I toss them. I hate re reading what I’ve written in them so I always throw them out when I finish them

    4. Washi*

      I am team Keep, but while there are plenty of really embarrassing things in my journals I wouldn’t want shared, there’s no deep secrets or anything. Partly it’s because I know it takes ~10 years for me to complete the cycle from writing something, maturing, being embarrassed I wrote it, maturing some more, then finding it fun to look back at how I’ve grown. Like I’m glad I have my middle and high school journals because now that I’m way past that stage, the stuff I thought was humiliating is mainly kind of funny, or at least a learning experience.

      I don’t think I am worried too much about someone reading them when I die, though I would want to leave a disclaimer that I mainly wrote in my journal when I was unhappy, so it’s kind of a skewed look at my life.

    5. Workerbee*

      Depending on your comfort level—

      —my first thought was to fictionalize them and publish a novel! I should dig out my own. They will be mortifying, but maybe useable or at least spark ideas.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I have some of those in the basement somewhere; maybe this year I’ll get around to dealing with them (and everything else that’s piling up down there!)

      It’s fine to destroy them if you want to, but what I’d suggest is browsing through them to see if there are tidbits that might be worth preserving – good memories of family members, holidays, a vignette from a hot summer day, thoughts on the moon landing (if you’re my age or older!), etc. If so, you could transcribe those into a document – or, for nostalgia points, scan the page and use the image directly – to compile your own “best of” memories, to be shared with friends or family if you like.

      Given that this could take some time, especially if you were a prolific journaler in the day, it might not be worth it to you, but I know that in among the embarrassing bits and the boring ones, I have a few tidbits I’d like to save.

      Similar-but-different issue with the collection of letters I have, mostly from my late father, who wrote regularly from the time I went to college until fairly late in his life. I don’t want to just discard them, but have been putting off the “browse for specific bits worth saving/showing to family” – yeah, I do a lot of putting-off these days.

    7. Blue Eagle*

      Interesting question because I just found an old journal of mine. I wrapped it in a plastic bag with a twist tie and tossed it in the trash.
      And for a twist – after my Dad passed I found the old letters that my Dad wrote to my Mom before they were married which she wanted to keep. It didn’t feel right to read them after she passed and it also didn’t feel right to throw them out, so I had them buried with her (near her feet so they wouldn’t show).

    8. D3*

      A friend of mine burned hers. And then super regretted it when her daughter was college age and thought she was the only person EVER to have those kinds of struggles. My friend tried telling her daughter she’d been there, done that, but the daughter didn’t believe it. My friend WISHED she could have let her daughter read them!
      And also, if you think other people’s diaries/journals are infinitely more interesting than yours, well, that’s what everyone thinks. I promise they’re not as bad/embarrassing as you think.

    9. Shell*

      I’ve been keeping a journal and asking myself the same question. I am thinking about scanning it into my computer, and saving with a file name nobody would ever want to open. Specifically, I’m a historian, so I think hiding it among my dissertation files with a name like “whig_party_draft” would pretty much ensure nobody would ever see it.

    10. Generic Name*

      Ooh, interesting question. I used to journal fairly regularly starting from about age 8 going into young adulthood. Sadly, I stopped journaling when my relationship with my ex husband started getting serious. I’m not sure why, but I now wonder if I had kept up with my journaling practice if I would have recognized how toxic my marriage was earlier. Anyway, I started journaling again sporadically about 3 years before my marriage ended. Once I divorced, I started journaling more regularly on the advice of my therapist. It’s a good way for me to process my feelings, and I enjoy going back and reading earlier entries. I’m married again now, and it’s really lovely reading my entries from when we were first dating. I was a little unsure of being in a relationship with him at first (largely due to past trauma and class differences between us) but he consistently made me feel amazing, and that continues to this day.

      I recently read my diary from high school, and I honestly felt so sorry for 15 year old me. :) what a tough age. I plan to keep all my old journals, and I’ve decided I really don’t care if my grandchildren read my explicit entries about a guy I slept with for one month. I’ll be dead anyway.

      For me, reading old diaries has been a good way to help my personal growth, but if it brings you pain or embarrassment, I say toss ‘em. I had a similar concern over keeping photos and memorabilia from my first wedding. For a while after my divorce, I kept them out of a sense of obligation to my son in the future. Like maybe he’d benefit from looking at that stuff. I actually asked for perspectives on here, and the comment that helped me the most was from a person whose mother had kept her wedding album for decades after her divorce and then showed it to the commenter who said that while they enjoyed looking at the old photos, they wouldn’t have been pining away for them if they didn’t know the photos existed. It was healing and cathartic to unceremoniously chuck them in the garbage. So keep your old diaries only if you want to.

    11. RagingADHD*

      I look through them and decide what to keep or trash based on whether they describe things I’d like to remember and read again, or not. Some stay, some go.

      Not necessarily because of negative or embarrassing things – sometimes they’re just irrelevant or dull. I journal off and on as a way to process things. When something is fully processed, there’s no point keeping it (to me), unless there are good memories or entertainment value. It served its purpose.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I shredded much of my old stuff like that. It wasn’t helpful to keep it. I never looked at it, all I did was tote it around though life with me.

    13. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I thought I was going to shred mine, but then I started reading. Although all the stuff I wouldn’t want someone to find was definitely there, I was also surprised to see how I learned something valuable about myself at a pretty young age. Unfortunately, selective shredding isn’t possible. Everything good is inextricably bound up in everything potentially embarrassing. So far I haven’t shredded. Not sure what I’ll do later.

    14. Analyst Editor*

      Save them for you kids, who might inherit your struggles too and might want to know that you too were fallible in youth – and conrstualize it for them (e.g. “I only wrote in this when really stressed, thai is not me 100% of the time” or whatever is true).

    15. Nela*

      I’ve shredded mine. The most surprising thing was reading about my suicidal thoughts at age 13. I completely forgot about that, and it gave me more context for my present time mental health struggles. I was a lonely and misunderstood kid and the journals were painful to read. And when I started dating, that was just nonstop drama. Nobody ever needs to read that.

  22. NotBatman*

    Does anyone with frequently-misspelled last names have recommendations for how to help people achieve the right spelling the first time?

    My last name sounds the same as multiple common nouns, a first name, and a more-popular last name, all with different spellings. This causes me to miss many emails as individuals misspell my last name, not in the least because I work mostly with undergraduate interns who are new to email. (E.g. if my name was Bruce Wayne, then I’d have far too many emails going to colleagues named B. Wane, B. Wain, Waine B., and B. Wayn.) Mnemonics make the situation worse, not better. So far signing my full name and email address at the bottom of every correspondence has not helped. Does anyone have recommendations for how to impress the correct spelling on new interns and minimize errors? Thanks!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My surname is long and somewhat unusual. People often add a letter at the end to make a German word into an English one. The best I can do is ask people to spell it back to me (usually CSRs) or send the first email just in case. I also remind people to be careful when sending me messages. If I’m expecting an email and don’t receive it, I always call the sender and make sure they spelled it right. I try to keep my sense of humor up because it’s super annoying, but I have people in my life I’ve known for 10 damn years who can’t spell my name.

      Fun fact: my first passport was also misspelled, with the extra letter, and because of the font I had no idea until someone was copying my name and got it wrong. This was pre-9/11 and not an issue (and an easy fix when I renewed) but damn.

      As you might imagine, I am hyper careful when spelling names!

    2. Chilipepper*

      I’m not sure of the circumstances surrounding how you first interact with the interns and if it is only the interns you need to fix this with. But can you point out the problem in some way when you first meet them or as part of the materials you hand out (if you do hand any out?)?

      We have a similar issue at work, we hand out a set of instructions that involves an email that people misspell all the time. When I hand it out, I have a quick script I use. I say, Here are the instructions with the email address. People often misspell the email and the task does not get done, so be careful how you spell it.

      That seems to work to cut down on the lost emails.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Maybe bring that up when you first meet them? “My name is Wayne, W-A-Y-N-E, people misspell it a lot and if you get it wrong your email will not get to me, so for both our sakes, please double check when you are emailing me!” I’m not thrilled with that wording, but if someone I would need to email told me up front they often have a problem with people getting their name and subsequently their email address wrong, I (no, that’s LastnameSON, not LastnameSEN) would totally understand. :)

    4. Janet Pinkerton*

      I certainly don’t have any advice for the first time, but I usually have success when someone calls me Janice in an email (despite my name being Janet in my email address and signature) with saying, right before email signoff: “By the way, my name is Janet, not Janice.” It usually embarrasses people into remembering.

    5. Sylvan*

      I don’t stress about it in print. People who misspell your name while it’s in writing right in front of them would misspell anything. Correct it once or twice, bluntly, and then move on.

      Out loud, I spell it out whenever someone needs to write or type it. It’s one letter off from a well-known last name, so if someone’s having a hard time, I say “It’s Othername with an extra X” after spelling it out.

    6. aarti*

      I also have a frequently misspelled last name (there’s no “e” and everyone loves to add an “e”!)

      The one thing I’ve found that works well is when someone starts in my department (or somewhere like HR or security), I email them first, something like:

      “Hi this is Aarti Correctlyspelledlastname. Wanted to share my email, as it’s really common for my last name to be misspelled and I can miss your important emails. Feel free to save this email as my contact. Looking forward to working with you!”

      Once my email is saved in their system, it pops up when they start to type my name and I don’t have to worry if they know the correct spelling.

      Since you’re working with interns, I think this makes it even easier. I’d send all new interns some sort of intro email and ask that they please reply so you know they’ve saved your email correctly. I was worried when I started doing this would rub people as pushy, but I think with interns you have a lot more leeway to demand certain behaviours. Plus you’re doing them a favour. People have lots of different last names and having some attention to detail about it will help in their future careers. Best of luck!

    7. LQ*

      Saying it right up front is very helpful for this. “It’s John Johnson, there are lots of other John Johnson’s in the email system so please make sure you use john.johnson@emailaddress, anything else will go into the black hole of email and I won’t be able to help you!” If this is a mailed letter you’re expecting email responses to I’d include a slightly less jovial version of that. Or is there another way of handling the physical to email? (I know no one likes qr codes anymore but…) If it’s digital to email then make sure it’s always a link.

      I think that this is something you can’t just expect people to figure out because it’s so easy to correct and so weirdly hard to get right. You have to tell them.

    8. CC*

      If there is a common misspelling, could you claim that incorrect name email & have it auto forward to the correct email?

      1. NotBatman*

        The issue is that people often type in part of my name, the server autocompletes a different coworker (e.g. Wayne Jones or Bob Wane @companyemail.com) and they do not double-check that they’ve got the person before sending. If the email addresses were unclaimed, then senders would probably catch their own errors in time.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          I’ve had that for years at my university and all us “Bruce Waynes” in our various spellings have just gotten to forwarding on the emails to the intended person and cc the sender…”Hi Bruce Wine, I believe this might be a question/info more suited for you. Cheers, Bryce Wynn.”

      2. PostalMixup*

        This is what I did for my personal email address after I nearly missed an important document (ironically, they misspelled my last name but spelled it correctly in my husband’s email address, so we still got the info we needed). We have one of those German “two Ns at the end” names that people like to truncate to a single N. I set up the one-N address to automatically forward to the two-N address.
        But our surname is unique enough that there’s only one other person at our large multinational employer (yes, we work together) with the last name, and that person is on a different continent, so it’s not really an issue for us at work.

    9. Chaordic One*

      If you’re already signing your full name and email address at the bottom of every correspondence, I don’t know. I guess you just have to make a point of constantly reminding people and correcting them, which is a PITA.

      I have a fairly common last name that is not spelled the way it sounds. There are quite a few celebrities sharing the same last name, but people don’t seem to make the connection. (The name has a silent consonant and an extra vowel in there.) Think of a name sounds like “Wooster,” but that is spelled like “Worcester”.

      I can always tell when a telemarketer calls, because they inevitably butcher the pronunciation of the name.
      Sometimes I will tell people my name is pronounced like “War-Cess-ter” so that they will hopefully spell it correctly. Often that doesn’t help, but sometimes it does.

      Curiously, when I had my DNA analyzed by Ancestry.com, I found I have some distant cousins who spell our last name exactly the way it sounds (think Wooster).

    10. Epsilon Delta*

      I spell it out. My maiden name was a long Dutch monstrosity and people didn’t know what to do afterthry got past the “van” part, so they welcomed it. My married name is mercifully shorter but has a lot of letters that get confused for other letters and is kind of hard to understand if you hear it spoken. So I use something close to the Nato alphabet when I say my last name. Example “B as in Boy, Y as in Yeti, Z as in Zebra…” It’s annoying but really cuts down on misspellings.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      What I have been doing and now I am seeing people at work do it- is to just spell the whole email address out each and every time.
      I am not exaggerating when I say a person will spell out “bob smith @ email.com”. I thought, his name is Bob Smith, how hard can this be? Well apparently for some people it can be very hard and they conclude on their own that the speaker said, “rob smyth @ email.com”. I guess getting the habit of spelling it out each time is not a bad habit to have.

    12. RagingADHD*

      I have a short but often screwed up surname, and I spell it aloud with one or two slightly unusual letter designations, like “B as in Bungee” or “L as in Lemon”. The rest will be ordinary ones.

      Or else I’ll use one of the common nouns it resembles, but alter it. So if it were Frack, I’d say “It’s like fracking without the -ing”. (Sorry, couldn’t think of a better example off the top of my head).

      Seems to help, because people I have done that with nearly always get it right from then on. I think the slightly unexpected tweak makes it stick.

    13. Jay*

      My last name has only four letters and people get almost all of them wrong. It’s compounded by the fact that my first name is a common name with an unusual spelling. People remember “something is weird about Jay’s name,” can’t remember what, and decide to adjust the last name instead of the first. One of the letters in my last name is also easily misunderstood over the phone. I automatically spell it “N-as-in-Nancy, A, M-as-in-Mary, E”

      At this point I am direct about it. “Since people often have trouble remember the spelling, I remind everyone to double-check before they send me an Email.” With new folks I use it as an opportunity to show them how to use the lookup function in Outlook (which seems to be a mystery to a lot of people). I also will offer to send them an Email first so they can put me in their address book (and then show them how to do that if needed).

    14. Sunflower*

      It’s odd you’re dealing with this in the context of email. Your last name is in your signature. People should know if they want to spell your last name right, copy and paste from that. It doesn’t seem like this a matter of you have an odd last name, it’s that the interns don’t understand etiquette.

      Of course it’s fine once in a blue moon but generally if you are emailing someone and all of their contact information is right there in front of you, there’s no excuse to get it wrong. I think you’d be better off explaining that if you don’t know a person’s name spelling from memory, that you should copy and paste and sending emails with spelling errors is unprofessional.

    15. tangerineRose*

      Can you tell them about the problem and also send them an e-mail and suggest they use that address?

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sympathy! My name is one letter varied from a very common one, with one pronunciation difference to go with it. When I tried to give people a cultural reference for spelling, it mucked up their pronunciation. So I just say “it’s a variation of $CommonName” and spell it out slowly. At work I used to say “so-and-so get each other’s email frequently”….and that seemed to help people watch for pre-fill errors.

  23. Dwight Schrute*

    Has anyone used Curology before? I just started my one month trial after battling adult acne for what feels like most of my adult life. I’m hoping this helps! I find it embarrassing to be an adult in a work place and still struggling with acne.

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      Ive not used Curology personally but wanted to drop in to say that adult acne is super common, which is not a huge comfort but just know that you arent alone. Especially now, people who never or rarely struggled with acne are having a huge resurgence due to wearing masks.

      That said, have you ever seen an esthetician and gotten professional facials? I would highly recommend that for acne just because there are so many individual factors to consider for which ingredients will work best for you. Are you oily acneic? Dry acneic? Cystic? Horomonal? Sensitive? Combination? Youd tackle all of those different ways so its really helpful to have someone see and touch your skin up close. Professional facials also give you access to treatments that you wouldn’t be able to do at home.

      Please update on how the curology works for you though. Id love to hear about it.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I have in the past! I opted for curology because no in person visits and the convenience of having it mailed to me, and it’s fairly affordable. It’s been a while since I’ve last had extractions and peels/facials done.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        My dad’s in his sixties and still gets acne. It’s not as bad as it was when he was a teenager, but it happens. His is hormonal, and spiro’s contraindicated for him, so he just has to live with it but I’ve never noticed anyone acting like he should feel shame or guilt about it.

        Now, I also have bad acne that I can’t get rid of, so I’m also very interested in the curology results.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          It’s something I’ve always been self conscious about but it got worse after my face temporarily cleared and my former boss commented on it!

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Yay! I’m hopeful it will work for me! So far my face just feels really soft which I’m enjoying

      1. B*

        I struggled into my early thirties. I worked with teens in the legal system. It was tough. My dr put me on accutane. It has been life changing.

        1. Dwight Schrute*

          My friends have tried accutane and unfortunately most had to stop using it because of side effects. Their skin looked great though!

  24. Ginger Sheep*

    So this is a long shot, but maybe worth a try. I am trying to identify a cartoon/movie I saw when I was a kid, of which I have no recollection whatsoever, but whose theme song became incorporated in family lore. The issue is that it sort of became a mashup with Casper the friendly ghost, and with our family pet, so it’s become hard to identify the original motif in our version of the song. So our family song goes « [Some name] the ragtime cat, friendliest cat can be, he’s going to the city where the good times are to see what he can be ». I’ve tried online searches of several variations on the latter half of the sentence to no avail. Due to family circumstances, we are definitive we saw it in Canada between 1985 and 1989 (but it could easily have been an older rerun). I would be very grateful if any commenter here has an idea of what it could be!

    1. Come On Eileen*

      There’s a good subreddit for stuff like this called Tip of My Tongue. If you don’t get any good leads here, maybe try over there!

      1. Ginger Sheep*

        I really can’t remember anything… It seems to me the main protagonist was some sort of animal (a cat? A bear?), and that there was something about a tree in the song as well. (I have a feeling it wasn’t positive – either he’d been scared up a tree, or others made fun of him because he lived in a tree? I’ll try to dig further in my memory, but am not very hopeful.)

    2. AGD*

      If nothing turns up here, TVTropes has a page called ‘You Know That Show…’ that exists to crowdsource the identification of things like this. Might yield suggestions!

    3. GoryDetails*

      The first one that came to mind was “Top Cat” – I don’t think “ragtime” was in the lyrics, but the general tone seemed similar. If you search for “top cat theme” you should get a clip of the song, to see if it’s the one you’re looking for.

      1. Ginger Sheep*

        What a good suggestion – and it worked! I’ll have to check further but I’m fairly sure it’s Banjo the woodpile cat! I’ll confirm later on.
        The commentariat here is really amazing !

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I love that this worked! I didn’t think there were really all that many animated cats from that era, which probably helped narrow it down.

          I personally do not remember Banjo the woodpile cat, but yeah Don Bluth had a lot of characters.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Felix the cat, the wonderful wonderful cat. Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks.

    5. Ginger Sheep*

      Thanks everyone, you are wonderful ! The cartoon is « Banjo the Woodpile cat », a 1979 animated short by Don Bluth, and the actual lyrics are « Banjo the woodpile cat, as good as he can be, is off to the city where the good times are to see what he can see / Banjo the woodpile cat, he’s always up a tree, is off to the city where the good times are to see what he can be! »
      I’m so relieved I found the answer, I’ve been searching on and off for the origin of that song for over a decade!

      1. AGD*

        Hurray! I love being able to solve ancient personal mysteries like this. I spent 20 years looking for one video series before a clip finally showed up on YouTube.

  25. fposte*

    Ugh, ice. We got iced up here on NYE and branches are still coated, so I’m guessing walking surfaces are too despite their innocent look. I have Yaktrax but am still nervous about going for a walk, which I usually do several times daily and missed very much yesterday. My driveway has a slope that I’ve slid down before so there’s no real noncommittal exploration possible. Any ice negotiation tricks or tips?

    1. LGC*

      Walk like a penguin. (Which I’m guessing you already do – I’m assuming since you have Yaktrax, you have more experience with ice than I do.)

      Other than that…I just want to commiserate! Yesterday morning I made the mistake of running at 6 AM across two grade crossings (two commuter rail lines merge in the town just south of mine, and both lines cross the street). I learned that rubber apparently freezes before asphalt. It wasn’t even that cold – it was 25 degrees.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, man, and there’s a little extra added thrill when anything goes wrong in a crossing!

        I’m going to hold off and see if things melt a little by afternoon, since right now I’m not even seeing dog walkers out. We’re unfortunately expecting ongoing precipitation and temps that waver between just above and just below freezing, so I may get my money’s worth from the Yaktrax.

    2. Reba*

      There are reddit forums for these kinds of questions that might get more eyes on it. :)

      If it was an old cartoon, you might poke around the Cartoon Research blog by Jerry Beck and see if anything rings a bell.

    3. Miki*

      Use Yaktrax! Trust it, I climbed on the frozen waterfall with Yaktrax. Make sure they are on your shoes correctly, and take them off before you shred your floor/carpet. Also have a ziplock bag to store them/carry around.

        1. Miki*

          It was a smallish waterfall in Turkey run State park (Indiana). Lots of canyons where you can walk around in the summer. A couple of years ago we had a very cold snap and I figured it would be nice to go: that time I didn’t bring Yaktrax and promptly slid off the waterfall (no injuries, aside of bruised ego) Photo of where I fell: https://photos.app.goo.gl/3Y6iXACEhtgDt7ER7 Next weekend I came prepared: Yaktrax on, and had a wonderful time passing all other people that were sliding left and right on the trail and finally having to bail.
          https://photos.app.goo.gl/5Zpfe1pe25sjL7fE8 It’s a very popular park, with lots of fun trails.

    4. LQ*

      If you have grass walk on the grass. Anything but sidewalk if you can manage it. Yaktrax are great if you can get traction, but they can be more slippery on barely slicked smooth sidewalks, you’ll be lots better off going for anything that looks crunchy. If there’s snow with ice walk on the icy snow. Don’t walk with your phone in your hand or your hands in your pockets, keep them out (ideally well mittened up) as balance tools. If you have hiking poles or ski poles take them. If you have a bad moment they can keep you upright. I’ve snapped one or two, but better the pole than my bones!

      Don’t wait and go after peak of the day if you can, go earlier or at peak, the thaw and re-freeze is dangerous.

    5. Myrin*

      A complete tangent but I just had that weird thing I experience all the time where I misread “NYE” as “NYC” and was like “… wait. I’m pretty sure fposte isn’t from New York?!”.

      1. fposte*

        Correct! And I bet NYC would have throughly salted surfaces so I might not have this problem there.

    6. Purt’s Peas*

      Do you have any dirt or snow you can walk on to avoid the icy pavement? Those surfaces will be better on yaktrax than pavement will be. Plus in the future—I used microspikes when I went out to walk around Lake Superior a few years ago, and those are REALLY effective on thick ice and icy dirt. Dangerous on pavement, but they might feel more secure than yaktrax on a slope.

      1. fposte*

        It’s all pavement, unfortunately. The upside is that if I do faceplant there are people around.

    7. Stephanie*

      Shuffle like a penguin and put the YakTraks on shoes with good traction. I used them with my winter boots a lot in grad school in Pittsburgh (which is hilly and icy in the winter) when I had to walk or take the bus to campus.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      Wear socks OVER your shoes to walk on driveway ice – if you must. I’ve tried it with cotton socks and it WORKED!
      (Still can’t believe it but it was the only way I got back to the house on a sloped driveway!)
      As for a walk on ice, wear wrist and elbow guards in case you fall. This is not the time for an injury.
      Best Wishes for Smooth Sailing

    9. Doreen Green*

      As someone currently recovering from a concussion as a result of slipping on ice, I encourage you to be cautious! It’s not worth it!

    10. fposte*

      I went (I saw dog walkers out) and the surfaces were okay (though they may ice up again tonight). It was pretty wild. I could hear the tinkly rattle of ice shivering off of the trees, and I saw a startling scene on the grass of long rows of tubular ice pasta—about 1” diameter by 4” in length—and finally realized it had blown down from neighboring utility lines.

    11. Mella*

      Yes, don’t do it. My wrist has never been the same since my fall during the Valentine’s Day ice storm of 2018. Losing a few days of exercise is better than permanent ligament damage.

    12. ThatGirl*

      You’ve gotten good tips, but just a quick funny story from me.

      It’s been snowy and just above freezing here, and I walked out to the mailbox to get the mail today, with my old Uggs on. Crossed the snow, thought the pavement was clear, skidded and totally did the arms flailing and wheeling about for what felt like a full minute before I regained my balance and made it to the mailbox. I felt like a cartoon character!

  26. Venus*

    How does your garden (planning) grow?

    For those in the southern hemisphere, do you have gardens that are growing well?

    In a month or two I will start growing my seedlings, and I am wondering if I should plan for more than my typical tomatoes and maybe a few herbs.

    I am thinking this year that I will do raised beds in a new part of my little yard. I have tried for several years to grow tomatoes between the asparagus, because they are so wispy and I didn’t think they blocked much light, but any plants in those areas fail to thrive so I can only conclude that I should maybe add more asparagus and definitely give up on that area for anything else. I will likely have work done on the inside of my home this spring / summer (planned for last summer but delayed a year) so I want to have something manageable outside as I expect to be distracted and tired with renos.

    1. fposte*

      It’s still early, but I’m thinking about winter sowing some veggies. I am amply supplied with containers this year and have had good luck with starting flowers that way. And I have plenty of containers this year, that’s for sure.

    2. LQ*

      I’m still doing the indoor gardening. I’m on the same cherry tomato plant for about 5 months now and still producing quite a bit! I’ve got 2 more growing up to replace it but I’m getting a meal’s worth a week or so.

      I don’t know about asparagus all that much but I know when I was little and we grew a lot of it, nothing else got grown in the asparagus area. Some things we would put together, but never anything with the asparagus. It also gets…wild, so I wouldn’t trust it around anything else. More asparagus!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I fwas finally able to put in my little box of daffodil bulbs after Christmas. (Weekday w*** hours were crazypants for most of fall….then we froze… happily the area where I wanted to put them is downhill of the roof runoff so it defrosted along with our snow. Fingers crossed they don’t rot.
      I’m planning to take up the little white garden rocks from the 2 beds alongside our front walk. Two patches that are about 2.5x6ft long (almost a meter x 2), and almost full sun–rocked up. If it turns out to be total bedrock under that, I’ll either do raised beds or brick it properly so I can roll planters in & out after we get too old to lift them. Just no more weeding gravel beds for me.
      I’m going to have to move tender perennials around to make space for seedling trays–thanks for the reminder.

    4. GoryDetails*

      My trio of high-end amaryllis bulbs are sending up stalks and showing healthy buds. I ordered them too late for them to bloom for the holidays, but it’ll be nice to see them during dreary, icy January! [That is, if the cats don’t knock them down; I’m having to set up protective barriers to keep them away from these new “toys”.]

      My Aerogarden crop of mixed lettuces is at about 20 days and already has a nice crop of leaves large enough to start harvesting – not for a whole salad yet, but it’s lovely to grab a tender leaf or three as a small snack. And the bright light and green-and-red leaf colors are very welcome as the ice/snow/slush mounts outside.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Asparagus roots are heavy feeders, so anything you interplant with it won’t get enough nutrients. I top dress the asparagus bed with compost at the beginning of each season so it keeps giving me a nice healthy quantity of new shoots each year.

      1. Venus*

        Thanks, I feed the asparagus with compost yearly and there is a lot of space between them, so I thought it might be okay (they form a perimeter of a larger area). But I think I will just add a bunch more in the middle and abandon greater ambitions.

    6. Girasol*

      Did my Christmas day seed selections and vegetable garden map for next year. I did my own tomatoes from seed on the windowsill last spring, successfully for the first time ever, so I’ll try that again this year. I can’t get any of my favorite old reliables from my favorite seed seller this year so I’m branching out to Brandywine, a fairly common heirloom, and a specialty one with the fabulous name “Pink Berkeley Tie Dye.” Every year I plant something new – last year it was woad and salsify – so this year I’m trying a new short season celery. I’ve never had luck with regular long growing celery but I do love celery. Meanwhile there’s a dusting of snow on the garden bed and nothing out there except last year’s woad all mulched to winter over.

      1. Me*

        Have you considered lovage? It’s a perennial but can be used in place of celery. Mostly the leaves but you can use the stalks too. It’s stronger so I use less than I would if I had celery.

        I bought a lovage plant from a farmers market quite a few years ago. One fall I gathered the seed pods before the rains started and then put them in the fridge. It won’t self seed here because our winters are too mild. But a bit of artificial cold stratification gave me many more plants, many of which I gave away.

        Anyway it’s a tall showy plant that takes zero effort each year other than tying a string around the stakes beside where it’s planted. It wants to tip over once it gets to about 5’ or so.

    7. PX*

      Some of my bulbs are sprouting already! I’m so excited to see new life. Its the Duch Iris and Ranunculus which I planted in mid November. I planted the anemones late, but looking forward to those as well.

      I also ordered some grasses and a hosta bare root which I planted but obviously are still pretty dead for the moment, so just anxiously waiting for the days to start getting warmer and lighter so I can find out if my vision for the patio will come true.

      I also have some seeds I’m attempting because why not. Attempt #1 has failed I’m pretty sure, but have a few more so will see what happens.

      The only cherry tomato plant that was fruiting has finally died, the other one still looks healthy-ish but not a single flower has formed at any point, so I’m basically just keeping it for…entertainment at this point I guess?

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve been thinking a long time about a large flower garden in the side yard, something to match the time period of my house (1735). I’ve now realized I really should get going on the planning. I don’t even know how big I want it to be, though I definitely don’t want something small. When I go to Old Sturbridge Village or Colonial Williamsburg, I really enjoy walking through the gardens, so it would be something along those lines.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I pulled out the catalogue and started planning yesterday!

      We have guinea pigs now, so I’ll be dedicating more space to lettuce, cucumbers, and making another attempt with bell peppers, which I haven’t has success with in the past.

      Then our normal tomatoes, green beans, carrots, and summer squash. Maybe try again with okra. We had a good run with okra for a few years, then a bad summer for bugs. Time to try again.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This was an interesting question to me, so I did a quick google. Apparently asparagus are among a few plants that just do not want anything else near them. Like walnut trees can chemically choke out other plants so can asparagus. There’s not a lot of research on this and most of it is lore or word-of-mouth info. It sounds to me like your conclusion is correct. Have a dedicated asparagus bed and that is all you have in that area.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Oh, no – asparagus and tomatoes are both heavy feeders, so I wouldn’t think they’d do well together.

      I have heard of interplanting strawberries with asparagus. Haven’t tried it myself.

      1. Venus*

        Good to know about strawberries, I’ll look into those! The asparagus form a wide perimeter and I feed with compost so it wasn’t an unreasonable option, but I know to give in when mother nature is telling me what doesn’t work.

      1. Me*

        It’s totally normal here in the PNW. We have mild winters. We did have a night of freezing weather last week so I made sure the bed was well covered with straw.

        I usually feed my garlic in February.

    12. Em*

      We’re getting new raised beds this year. We did some work on our house this summer and our yard was destroyed. I’m going to do our new garden plan today or this week. I’m super excited!

      I’m planning on using plant starts from a local nursery, but hopefully in the next few years I’ll transition to seeds. I have tried to use seeds for a late summer second planting of winter vegetables…but my very curious son got into container I was starting them in and destroyed everything. I was surprised–he is a fantastic helper in the garden. But I guess they didn’t look like plants yet…

      What do you all use to start your seeds?

      1. Nita*

        Raised beds are great! I tried for the first time last year. Started most of the seeds right in the beds, and very late (late May and early June) but still got a pretty good crop of beans and tomatoes, and even some zucchini.

      2. Me*

        I have a rack that I bought from Lowe’s. Just one of those stainless metro racks- maybe 6 shelves, 4’ long shelves. I added casters to the rack. I also bought 4’ LED light fixtures from Lowe’s. Nothing fancy, just basic LED. Think: shop lights.

        Anyway I hang those from the top of each shelf using chain and hooks, so they can be lowered right down to the plants and moved up as they grow. For the very top shelf, I just plop the light on the top of the rack and put really tall things there.

        When I start things, I use flats- the kind that you’d find at a nursery. I buy the ones *without* the holes in them. Once things sprout, I move seedlings into individual 4” pots (unless I’m doing micro greens and then those just stay in the flat). I’ll up-pot plants like tomatoes and peppers usually one more time, putting them in the gallon or larger pots.

        At first I’ll only need to use one shelf of the rack and then I’ll suddenly need all of them. Things grow fast. I have a partially underground unfinished basement that stays about 3 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. I start them down there, because it’s easy.

        I harden off on a covered porch for a few days, bringing them in at night. Not everything gets hardened off at once- tomatoes and peppers get hardened off towards the end of May.

    13. Me*

      I bought seeds last week, just to fill in the ones that I was running out of. I keep my seeds in two big plastic 4×6 photo sorting boxes, each one has about 18? smaller boxes in it.

      I still have three Birdie beds in my basement, unopened and certainly not set up. I just couldn’t get it done before winter, and we’ve nearly bought a different house twice this winter. I’m finally convinced we are staying put so I’ll clear off the space for the last three beds and get them set up, likely during the month of February when things warm up briefly. I have 5 set up already so I’ll have 8 total. I think I could fit another two in the fenced garden area but I may just coast this spring and stick with what I have for now. I’d really like to get a short one for potatoes but I may just get another tall long one instead, because my knee really hates bending right now.

      I’m reworking my herb garden this year. I kinda lost it amongst the alpine strawberry plants last summer so I need to hack out a bunch of those and find the herbs again. I’ve left part of that garden unplanted and I think I’m going to (over)commit to thyme. I use a lot of it, and my one thyme plant just isn’t enough. I’m also going to put some rosemary plants just off the front porch in the south facing bed. I’ve been growing annuals there but it gets quite warm and sunny there so the rosemary should thrive. I’ve been clipping some from my brother’s bushes whenever I’m over there. His rosemary bushes are huge and he doesn’t seem to use them much!

  27. IntoTheSarchasm*

    Seeking input on exercise equipment. We used a NuStep recumbent stepper at our gym and liked it very much, being very out of shape, but we have moved shortly after discovering it and no longer have access. We have looked into purchasing one but the price is daunting, cheapest model is north of 3000.00 USD and used ones are rare and often old/no longer supported for repair if needed. We prefer a stepper over a bike d/t to hip mobility issues, something with limited rotation is preferred. We found a Physio Step HXT which has less rotation that seems like a possible option, wondering if anyone has experience with this machine or can suggest something similar. Input is appreciated and thank you!

  28. HannahS*

    I’m buying a lemon tree! A dwarf meyer lemon. I’m soooo excited!

    For the outdoor plants, we have a tiny balcony (it’s literally 18 inches wide) so not a ton of room, but it’s south facing. I’m thinking some cherry tomatoes, in addition to the herbs we’re trying to keep alive indoors right now. It’s tough, because we’ll likely try to move in May or June, which will necessitate moving the plants. So I’ll reign in my excitement and limit myself to maybe two cherry tomato plants and some basil; they co-plant well together. But oh, I can’t wait until we have enough space for tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, eggplants, peas, radishes, potatoes….mmmm.

    What’s your favourite cherry tomato that’s suited to a container garden?

    1. Venus*

      I grew whatever cherry tomato was available from a local seed company, as it happened to be an heirloom and I hope those are sturdier. I think almost all of them tend to do very well with enough sunlight.

      I look forward to lemon updates! Good luck.

    2. Tris Prior*

      Red Robin does really well in containers, in my experience. Small, squat, thick plants that produce well.

    3. Nita*

      Cherry tomatoes are relatively hassle-free. Usually I save some seeds if I’m eating one and it tastes good. They always come up very nicely. The hard part (for me) is making sure they have enough light and water. If you have a nice sunny spot, they shouldn’t give you any trouble.

  29. Sleep Number Mattress*

    Sleep number beds! Tell me the good and the bad! How has it held up? Good for heavier people? Light people? Extra-curricular activities?

    1. Beautiful Dreamer*

      I have had a C4 sleep number bed for almost 10 years now. I consider myself a meduim person at present, but I have had 100 pound weight swings in both directions while using this bed and I have enjoyed being able to adjust the firmness on the fly. I have found that, for heavier people who like a non-firm mattress it is possible to “bottom out” in the center depression, and they’re basically sleeping on the floor. My dad had that issue, and so my parents did not get a sleep number bed. But, that had not been a problem for me.
      There have been no extra curricular activities in this bed, so I can’t speak to that. I have the Forever Alone (single chamber) version so it acts very much like the high end air mattress that it is.
      The main issue I’ve had with the bed is that the seasonal temperature swings of my home state affect the firmness of the mattress. As in: when I get in the bed it’s saggy due to being filled with cold air. I firm it up to my sleep number (55) and fall asleep. My body heat begins to warm the air in the chamber causing it to expand and I wake up in the middle of the night on a slab so rock solid that I can feel my hips and shoulders starting to bruise. I adjust the air back down, and the cycle repeats most nights, all winter.
      I don’t regret getting my sleep number, but I am starting to consider getting a memory foam topper as, like I said before, it’s been nearly 10 years and the minimal padding it came with has compressed pretty completely now.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      If you have to share the bed with someone, i dont recommend it. Epsecially if there is a large weight differential or if you like to be close in bed its not a good choice, imo

    3. Jay*

      We are on our second. The first lasted about 15 years, and during that time we both weighed north of 300 lbs. We love it because we have very different firmness preferences so he can have his (IMHO) way too soft mattress and I can have my (in HIS HO) hard-as-a-rock side. When the first one died, we had no question about buying a second. Not crazy about their sales approach, which tends toward the pushy upsell, but love the bed.

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      My friend has an adjustable one and says that the base is very, very heavy. Like so heavy you can’t move it at all. She wanted to replace the rug under the bed and her husband said she had to wait until they buy a new bed because it’s literally impossible to move!

  30. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Home accounting 101 question: learning it as an adult & teaching a young teen. I’ve been tracking my teen’s allowance on the calendar since initial lockdown. I’d like to set it up more formally because I never was taught good money-management skills, just to be frugal (*bordering on tightwad).
    Where do I begin? There’s so much online it’s overwhelming.
    As a side note this is a kid who loves math and problems with perfect answers so I’m thinking it’s worth introducing her to business finance.

    1. Chilipepper*

      Why do you want to track her allowance? Shouldn’t she do that? Not sure what you mean, tracking what she spends it on?
      I’d suggest an app like Mint or others, there are many good ones! Try them out. My son, in his 20s, found some focus on what you have left and others on what you spent and he preferred one over the other.

      I would also recommend the book The Index Card as a good financial 101 tool. It covers all the basics of good financial planning so that your teen has an idea of what is coming in life.

    2. GoryDetails*

      Are you looking for tools or tutorials (or both)? I’ve used Quicken to track my own household expenses, and found it very easy to use and quite helpful. (I did drop it back when things got so tight that I couldn’t bear to look at my bottom line any more – ironic, as that’s when the software would be the MOST helpful – and once things improved again I didn’t pick it up, so I don’t know how the latest versions are, but there should be a mix of tools and tutorials with the software. Also, graphs and charts!)

    3. fposte*

      Do you have access to Excel? Just playing with it is a great teacher. There are sample budgets and budget templates available to start with, and you might turn her loose on the household finances as well (on a read-only basis). I agree with The Index Card as a read, too.

      1. Kiki*

        Seconding Excel. My parents are both accountants and made us use excel from an early age to track our earnings/savings/etc. The experience was helpful both for my money management and my knowledge of excel, which has been helpful for every job I’ve ever had. I also personally liked this approach compared to specialized worksheets and tools because it made me realize I was managing my money on my own– I didn’t need help. But everyone is different!

    4. CatCat*

      The book “Blue Chip Kids” is targeted to young teens and teaches about money. Super good book.

      YNAB (“You Need A Budget”) is great for learning budgeting skills and definitely something a teen could learn.

    5. AGD*

      Thank you for this question! I’m going to be up against the same thing – all I was taught was to be extremely careful with money, and I grasped that so early and firmly that I never learned how to budget.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sorry I edited out some early morning rambling and took out too much explanation. I literally mean tracking the total of what she’s saved, not what she’s spending it on.
      Because all of us are working & going to school remotely, there’s not much cash used in this house anymore. We write down down her allowance instead of handing it to her. We write down when she gets us to order something online for her. With no casual shopping or street fairs, she’s saved up quite a bit. It’s just long past time to move it off the calendar — if nothing else, we’re into the new year and a new calendar.
      And when I say I didn’t get any training …. I mean I never even got taught to balance a checkbook. I’ve just kept a bigger buffer than would be needed if I were good at this. And got lucky that I’ve never had a crisis that required me to be careful. I don’t wish that on anyone else.
      I’ll track down “The Index Card” as a first step and see if that’s part of what’s in there — thanks.

      1. KR*

        I think a checkbook and the two of you looking up how to balance one together would work fine if you want a low tech option. She can “deposit” her weekly allowance and make “withdrawals” when you two buy something online or give her cash.

      2. Green great dragon*

        Ah yes, I do much the same (and you remind me I’ve got a deduction to make). A spreadsheet does fine for us – really simple just to keep a running total with date/what spent on*/amount/running total.

        *as she’s reasonably maths literate I’d definitely put in a couple of cells of explanation – say ‘clothing’ as a category and ‘orange hat’ as item, then if _she_ wants to track her spending all the info’s there and she can do anything from spending by category/per month to charting patterns over time, as her interest and Excel skills dictate.

      3. Malarkey01*

        Not sure how old your child is, but I’d second the idea of opening a bank account. We’ve gone so far as to also get a credit card with our son as an authorized user. Translating money in an account to using a card/phone online or in a store and then paying a Bill was crucial for us and him. It made money “real” in a way that’s a struggle as so many of us move away from physical bills and online ordering can seem like it doesn’t involve “real” money. So many cards have apps that allow you to monitor things if you’re a little worried in the beginning about their level of responsibility.

    7. Girasol*

      Do either of you use spreadsheets? Although there’s financial software out there, I prefer a spreadsheet designed to track what I want to know. What do you want to know? You could help her set up a simple spreadsheet that shows how much she gets each week and when, if it’s saved, there will be enough for something she wants. You could expand it to subtract her spending, so if she wants to buy something this week, she can see how much longer she’d have to wait to have enough for what she wants. For adult financial tracking we use one to categorize everything spent on our credit/debit cards (utilities, groceries, medical, etc.) so I know where our dollars go and can budget. Then we can figure out how much we can save and how that will grow with interest. If your child is old enough, perhaps she could do some of that work and begin to get a handle on household finance. I wish my folks had started me early on that.

    8. Stephanie*

      I third YNAB! Their method really worked for me for earmarking funds and seeing my actual spending. Should be easy enough for a teen to use. You could also just work on zero balance budgeting with her in a spreadsheet. It might be good to have her figure out a reason for the savings, if that makes sense. I was never great with having savings for a nebulous purpose and if you gave me $10 or $1000, I would have only a vague of idea of what happened to it. Even something vague like “this is my money for if I get laid off and it needs to be $X” was more helpful than “I need to have an emergency fund.”

    9. Dan*

      I’m not entirely sure what you’re after here, but I’ll try…

      I grew up pretty broke, but my dad was adamant about saving money. When I had jobs (where I grew up, you could get restaurant jobs at 14, and we lived in a big tourist town) dad made me set up different sets of savings accounts for “short term” and “long term” planning.

      As an adult and a mathematician, I do think an area where we fail as adults and that we should be teaching kids in age appropriate ways is the financial value of money over the long term. I mean, most people know about “the power of compound interest” and inflation in the abstract, but that’s about it.

      What we don’t do is teach people how to compute these things outside of college level finance classes. But with college as expensive as it is now, knowing how to compute what college is likely going to cost when your kid gets there, and how those bills are going to fit in your kid’s long term financial planning is kind of important. So I’d think about teaching how to actually do that math. Along with it comes retirement investing and things like that. “Everybody knows” that the sooner you start that 401k, the less per month you need to save to make that nest egg, but can people really do that math?

      I’m going to go out on a limb here, but if I were working with a numbers geek kid and trying to teach them money math, I *might* consider trying to teach the Financial Math exam that actuaries have to take. I studied to become an actuary at one point, and my recollection that the math behind the FM exam isn’t all that hard, it’s just that there’s a lot of it and it’s very precise. Bonus: If the kid likes this stuff, being an actuary is a pretty good career.

    10. Jessi*

      Why not just open her a bank account – one account for savings and one for spending? Then you won’t need to keep track of it all at. I would encourage you to read the barefoot investor, both for your own personal interest in finance and to help teach your teen.

      The barefoot investor is an Australian guy, so his book is made for an Aussie audience. This means its both very easy to read, and that some parts won’t apply to you unless you live in Auss. I am a kiwi who lives in the UK and still found this book life changing for my finances

    11. Generic Name*

      I set my son up with a teen bank account at our credit union. It’s set up as a joint account with mine so I have full access to it (but I never withdraw money from it). I like it because it’s really easy to transfer allowance to his account and he’s learning how to use a debit card and now he can walk to the convenience store and buy stuff with his own money. Since I have full access to it, I can see when I’ve paid his allowance. I’ll have to check to see if it removes me as a joint owner automatically when he turns 18 or if I’ll have to go do that myself.

      1. Enough*

        You will probably have to remove your name. But the process is more likely to be close the existing account and open a new one.

    12. Jr. Woodworker*

      Just wanted to second (third?) looking up The Index Card. I’ve a similar background to what you describe (very frugal but not financially literate) and it was a very useful read, lots of foundational knowledge. Also helped with my confidence re: finances a lot :).

    13. Lady Alys*

      The website vertext42.com has lots of budget spreadsheet templates, including at least one for kids – search for “kids-money-manager” on the site.

    14. OyHiOh*

      Check with your bank, especially if you bank with a credit union. Many financial institutions have financial literacy for teens programs, either live/virtual classes, or workbook style materials.

    15. Banker here*

      I would also recommend a kids saving account. You still technically own it until the child turns 18 and you can set up access for your child. Then you can transfer money to the account and your child can learn to use a debit card or transfer back to repay you as you purchase items at their request. Need Wallet would be a good resource to look into one that best fits your needs, such as where you live, access options, etc.

  31. My Brain Is Exploding*

    Movies suitable to watch with parents? No sex scenes, very little violence, very little bad language. (Just watched The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and it was FABULOUS! )

    1. Chilipepper*

      I just watched Knives Out and enjoyed that.
      A helpful way to find similar titles is to look up a movie you like in Amazon and then look at the “customers also bought” and “customers also viewed” recommendations.
      We have Novelist at the library for finding book recommendations (in case that is ever relevant to you).
      There is a website that makes movie recommendations, I’ll post in a reply. It is bestsimilar dot com.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I poked into this thread and I’ve never heard of that website and plan to check it out. Thanks for the tip.

      1. Coenobita*

        Knives Out is also my suggestion! There’s, like, adult themes and stuff but it’s PG-13 and utterly charming. I’m super picky about movies – I think this was the only movie I saw in theaters in the past two years or so – but I loved it and I’m looking forward to watching it again now that it’s on streaming.

      2. PhyllisB*

        AARP does a write-up titled Movies For Grown-ups. I don’t know how often it’s published, but you might check on their website to see if there’s some in the archives. They usually have some good titles mentioned. I remember watching Shall we Dance? with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon after seeing it mentioned there. It was very good. Calendar Girls was also good. (You may want to read what’s it’s about. Has no bad language or sex, but if they’re conservative it might be a bit much for them.)
        Does anyone besides me think it’s funny that while our parents used to screen movies for us now we screen movies for them? The circle does turn.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, it is odd. I doubt they have any illusions about their kids not knowing what sex is or what swears are. It’s just that watching some things with your parents can feel uncomfortable for both the kids and the parents, even if none of them are particularly conservative in their viewing habits otherwise. It’s a bit like humor, I admit that my sense of humor is pretty immature in many respects, but that doesn’t mean that I’d want my parents or my boss to see me laughing at off-color jokes.

          It’s been ages since I’ve watched any movies with my parents, I don’t remember doing it since I moved out at 19, with the sole exception of going to see The English Patient with my mom and sister in 1996 when I was in my mid-20s, and that was because either my mom or my sister had some free tickets. My dad doesn’t like watching movies for some reason, I don’t think he’s been to a movie theater very often since he and my mom were dating in the late 1960s, definitely not since he took me as a preschooler to watch some cartoon reruns from his own childhood at a local movie theater. I’m not sure how often, if ever, he watches movies on tv, although he has mentioned James Bond so probably sometimes. My mom watches British crime shows and period dramas (both of us enjoy Poirot and Downton Abbey), documentaries, sports, and the news. My dad pretty much sticks to documentaries and news most of the time. My mom used to go to the movies once a year with her coworkers until she retired, but I must admit that I have no idea what kind of movies she likes… Maybe I should ask!

        2. My Brain Is Exploding*

          This is for a friend and her parents and partly about awkward watching with your folks (they live with her). But the same applies if we were watching with our own adult kids, no one wants to watch steamy love scenes with their parents OR their kids! Also her parents prefer not to watch violence/sex/bad language (they do not use bad language at all), although friend is more open to it. It’s not about screening as much as selecting things they would enjoy.

        3. Esmeralda*

          Haha, my sweet 80 something mom has always loved murder mysteries and horror. Just sent her Parasite on blue ray. She’s gonna love it.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      The newer Jumanji comes to mind! Clue but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it so I can’t remember if there was bad language or not.

    3. All the cats 4 me*

      Fisherman’s Friends

      Ten fisherman from Cornwall achieve a Top 10 hit after they are signed to Universal Records by a cynical London music executive.

      Heart warming, great music, we thoroughlyv enjoyed it.

    4. Llellayena*

      My parents enjoy movies that are adaptions of historical/real events. So Filomena (sp?), Lincoln, Monuments Men and similar movies. Can’t guarantee no violence or cursing, some of them are war settings, but many are more drama and people. Depending on your parents general interests and age, some of them might cover events they’ve lived through (Apollo 13?).

    5. ???*

      Enchanted
      Sense and Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version)
      Dave
      Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightly)

    6. pieforbreakfast*

      I watched First Cow last night and enjoyed it. When I last spent time with my mom, almost a year ago, I remember watching and enjoying Judy, Zootopia, and The Two Popes.
      She’s also a fan of Christopher Guest movies- Best in Show, Mighty Like the Wind, Waiting for Guffman.

    7. Squeakrad*

      Saving Mr Banks – A fictional story of how Disney worked with the author of Mary Poppins.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      you & your parents? or your kids and you?
      Things that have come up in the last 15 months that we & our 14yo all loved —
      Abominable. Karate Kid. Namiya. The Spy Next Door. Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Coco.
      One that I’ve read but not seen and the book “felt” like Guernsey — “Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day”.

    9. Voluptuousfire*

      I like Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. A little bad language, slight nudity (Jack Lemmon sitting for a sculpture his wife is making) but overall a hoot.

      The best scene is when Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau’s characters are fighting like they did as kids and Jack Lemmon’s
      Characters’s dad breaks it up and is like “damn kids.” The two characters are 70 and the dad is 94. LOL

    10. Lindsay*

      Little Women (new or 90s), Pride and Prejudice (miniseries or movie), Knives Out, Bright Star, Emma (new one), Yesterday, Pixar movies (Soul was good), The King’s Speech, Jane Eyre, Bend It Like Beckham, Blinded by the Light, Billy Elliot (ok there are a lot of f words but the movie is really not objectionable otherwise), Coco, the Untouchables, the Walk, the Princess Bride, the Princess Diaries, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Ever After, Enchanted, The Secret Garden (90s one), the first couple Harry Potter films, Flight of the Navigator (or basically most stuff on Disney Plus lol). These are all things I’ve seen fairly recently that aren’t objectionable.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Yes, my 90 year old mother and I loved Little Women (the recent version.) I didn’t really want to go, having seen it years ago, but she did, so off we went. So glad I did, it was great. We also liked Murder on the Orient Express. I could kick myself for not going to see Knives Out. I didn’t know any details, but the title made me think it was a ninja movie. By the time I found out different, it was too late. Also A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was good.

    11. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      * Hunt for the Wilderpeople (moving)
      * The Biggest Little Farm (feel good)
      * Leave No Trace (this is sad tho and feature a PTSD major plot point)

  32. Anono-me*

    Happy 2021!

    I received an Alexa for Christmas. I like it, but am having some difficulty with playing music by specific artists. For example, I ask it to play songs by ‘June Carter’, I get songs by both of the Cashs instead. I ask for songs by the ‘Lady A’ or the ‘Original Lady A’ and I get songs by Lady Antebellum instead. (I know that I
    could request songs by a specific Album name and then on to the next etc., but I like just having a mix of one artist playing all afternoon without having to babysit my sound.) Does anyone have any advice?

    Thank you for your time and any advice.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t have one but my understanding is its algorithms should adjust to you in particular the more you use it. So without any info, it assumes when you say those things you mean the most popular result. But I think if you do intentionally request specific songs or albums, repeatedly for a while, after having done so it will be more likely to interpret the prompt the way you mean. Especially if you never otherwise play the other stuff. It might take a few weeks though.

    2. Dan*

      I ditched my amazon prime music hd subscription, mostly because of the things you’re getting at. If I wanted to play music by an artist, it would play one song by the artist and then start playing random crap by whomever. And most of the time, the subsequent tracks weren’t anything like what I was trying to play.

      I stopped after the free trial.

    3. Doctor is In*

      You can create your own playlists, name them and tell Alexa to play your (named) playlist. If you find Amazon Music doesn’t find the artist/songs you want you might consider upgrading to Unlimited. You would think 2 or 3 million songs would be enough but we upgraded to 10 million and it always finds what we want.

  33. GoryDetails*

    Reading thread! What are you reading to start the new year?

    I just finished the beautiful – and wrenching – THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END, by Adam Silvera, a YA book about two teens who meet after receiving notice that they’ll each die that day. [This is set in a world where such notifications are a fact of life, despite there being no logical way that could work. It did make for an involving story, though, as we get glimpses of many characters whose lives are affected and/or ended on the same day.] I read it via audiobook and totally fell in love with the characters.

    Then there’s THE SILENT TRAVELLER IN BOSTON by Chiang Yee, a Chinese poet and calligrapher who wrote a series of personal travel books in the ’50s and onwards. This one’s from 1959, and features lovely illustrations and a charming sensibility about the author’s experiences visiting Boston – really delightful. [And poignant, in these “shouldn’t be traveling” days…]

    And my current audiobook is MONSTER, SHE WROTE by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson, about women authors of speculative fiction, including well-known names like Mary Shelley and Edith Wharton, and more obscure ones as well – a fount of titles-to-add-to-the-wishlist!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I didn’t quite manage to finish “The Glorious American Essay” compilation in 2020 — I wrapped it up yesterday — and am now starting “Me” by Elton John, which should be a much breezier read!

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Just finished reading – The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh. It dovetails nicely with your book in that the small town recently got a DNAmix machine that would use a swipe of your DNA to reveal your “Potential Life Station”. The book follows several people and some of the stories are quirky but the changes people make in reaction to their “potential life station” provides funny comic relief.

      1. GoryDetails*

        The Big Door Prize does sound interesting – and a more upbeat spin on the forecast theme. [The description of the way it works sounded a lot like the stories in the marvelous “Machine of Death” anthologies, in which people learn HOW they’ll die but not when; some truly marvelous and inventive spins on the basic concept in that collection, and even though they all do involve death, some of them are surprisingly heart-warming.]

    3. Loopy*

      I was gifted the Mistborn trilogy (fantasy series) after a few people raved about it. Anyone else read it? I’m about 130 pages in and liking it but still curious as to what’s got people over the moon about the series. Hoping its just too early for me to be at that stage!

      1. Annie Moose*

        Oooh, I am a massive Brandon Sanderson fan, so I’m always excited to see someone else reading his books. Without giving anything away, his books are infamous for the “Sanderlanche”… the endings tend to ramp the tension up and have a bunch of plot twists or otherwise unexpected turns that nevertheless make perfect sense in retrospect. The second Mistborn book (The Well of Ascension) has my favorite plot twist/reveal of all time.

        If you can correctly guess the ending of the trilogy… well, I’d be very impressed!

      2. LDF*

        I was kind of over it by the middle of book 2 honestly. I did finish the trilogy to see what the hype was about but greatly disliked almost everything by the end. I don’t want to tell you to stop reading it if you enjoy it though. Without going into spoilers, I think the worldbuilding spirals into an overcomplicated mess and as a leftist feminist I dislike the themes by the end.

    4. TextHead*

      I finished Ready Player Two. I really liked it! The pacing was faster, though, and I think the first book was better. I read the criticisms of the book after the fact and don’t disagree with most of them, but none of that took away from my enjoyment of it.

      I’m currently reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which is a short story collection by Stephen King. It’s quite good!

    5. udon the day away*

      I’m reading/re-reading all the Alan Garner and Robert Macfarlane I can get my hands on.

    6. tangerineRose*

      Wow, those books sound intense! I’m re-reading a cozy mystery called “Murder she barked” by Krista Davis. It’s a fun read.

    7. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      I finished Hench today, Alison’s recommendation from a couple weeks ago. I liked it, although not usually my thing. I think I’m going to purchase it, though, it’s TOTALLY up my husband’s alley!

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      Started 2021 with American Royals, a bit of fluff — and I’ll be checking out the sequel. Next up: Conversations in Black (interviews by Ed Gordon) and Small Island. I have a half-full book basket left over from 2020.

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m reading A True Novel, by Minae Mizumura. I’m not sure if it’s good yet but it’s definitely interesting.

      As I’m trying to read more short stories this year, I’ve also got Fragile Things, by Neil Gaiman on the go for when I’m waiting between lessons or only have 15 minutes to spare.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I spent a chunk of Christmas to New Year’s Eve reading some YA fantasy — the Bayern series by Shannon Hale. (GREAT strong female leads in all 4 books of the series. If you read them, realize that the publisher pushed for the characters to be made younger than the author originally intended for market focus. I learned that after reading “Goose Girl” so I re-read — and it changes the feel of the storyline for me for the better.)
      Now back to some non-fiction: “Brick: A Social History”, by Carolyne Haynes, and “Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames”, by Lara Maiklem

    11. Smol Book Wizard*

      I have been giving another try on the Lymond Chronicles, by Dorothy Dunnett (first one, The Game of Kings)… I read the first book twice and the second book once in high school but really failed to click with it. It’s very much a “rousing adventure tale about a witty, amoral scoundrel who turns out to have deep feelings after all” type of book, which is not my usual type. But the writing is good enough that I very much want to continue anyway – and goodness only knows it’s time I stretched my Plot brain a little more, my writing could use it. Haha.

  34. Kay*

    Happy 2021! Trying to remember the title/author of a novel I read as a kid. It was probably a gothic type romance of the 70s/80s.. Was old when I read. Anyway what I remember of it. – the heroine returns to a place where there are horses. She is pretending to be someone else who is afraid of horses when she really is quite a good rider. Not sure why but it’s been driving me bonkers to figure it out…

      1. Kay*

        Thanks…. Didn’t think of Mary Stewart.. Plot sounds similar but I thought it took place in US…. Maybe not remembering right.

      2. Weegie*

        Definitely The Ivy Tree. It has a Canadian back-story. Brilliant novel! Uses Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar as an inspiration.

    1. PX*

      Ahh. This sounds vaguely familiar (or the plot has been re-used) but I definitely couldnt tell you who its by. As others have suggested, Reddit can be really good for this if you want to try there?

    2. MissDisplaced*

      If you Google “a gothic romance novel with horses” and view the image results, you’ll see a whole bunch of book covers. When this happens to me, I can usually recall the artwork on those older paperback novels as they could be quite dramatic!

    3. AGD*

      If nothing else, Loganberry Books in Ohio has a site where you can pay $4 and post an ad for this kind of thing.

    4. Volcano*

      Could it have been “Ring of Fire” by Anne McCaffrey? It’s one of her few non-SF/fantasy novels. I only read it once but your description made me think of it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Do you mean “Ring of Fear”? That’s got a disturbing enough situation that I would think readers would remember it especially from teen years.

        1. Volcano*

          Oh! Yes! That’s the one I meant. (It’s very appropriate that I subconsciously changed it to “Ring of Fire” given my user name!)

  35. Coenobita*

    Covid vaccine content below, skip if you don’t want to talk about it!

    I have an ethical question about getting the covid vaccine. (Let’s not make this about politics or vaccine safety/efficacy, please.) I’m a lay/non-clinical volunteer for my local medical reserve corps. I’ve been helping out a bit with a county covid vaccine clinic, where they’re currently vaccinating EMS, firefighters, and other high-priority municipal employees. My job is to run around and do stuff like bring more band-aids to the nurses who are doing the real work. It’s fun – as a public health nerd, I love getting an inside view of this sort of thing and of course it’s a good cause. But I also have a day job and can’t do it very often.

    As a volunteer helping with the clinic, I get moved WAY up on my state’s priority list to get vaccinated. In my “real life,” though, I’m rightfully at very the bottom of the list as a healthy 30-something with no caregiving responsibilities and whose day job is fully WFH (not to mention that I’m white and financially comfortable with good health insurance, and live in an urban area full of well-resourced hospitals). My spouse has to work in-person in an office a couple days per week and we go to the store when we need stuff, but other than that I basically have no exposure risk.

    In my shoes, would you take this opportunity to “jump the line”? My dad (an actual doctor) says it’s justified for public health reasons, almost as much for modeling good public health behavior as for actually increasing the number of vaccinated people. But, like, I don’t deserve it. I’ve mostly been sitting on my butt doing non-essential work and feeling guilty this whole time. What are your thoughts?

    1. Blue Eagle*

      If you get COVID, you aren’t going to be able to help out at the clinic, are you?
      Shouldn’t that be your answer.

    2. Llama face!*

      I understand wanting it to go who those who need it most. On the other hand, I think it does make the whole community a little safer with each person who gets the vaccine so it isn’t just a “selfish” choice to take advantage of this opportunity (in quotes because I don’t think it is really selfish). One other data point from a fellow healthy 30-something: it appears that our demographic is more likely to get long COVID symptoms so that is also something to consider when making your choice.

    3. Courageous cat*

      It sounds like you’re still getting exposed to nurses who are getting exposed, yeah? If so, just take it. You’re supporting the people who do all this stuff, and it sounds like your job is important enough to them that they want you to not get sick, so it doesn’t create a wave effect.

      1. tangerineRose*

        That’s what I think too. Seems like you’re at more risk than most because you’re around the clinic a lot.

    4. Alex*

      If you are continuing to volunteer, you should get it. There is a reason that they want to vaccinate their volunteers! They want their staff vaccinated. It doesn’t matter if you are carrying bandaids or performing complex medical procedures.

    5. MissGirl*

      Interesting question. I just read that my state hasn’t yet distributed more than half the vaccines that they received. There are delays in who and how. So I’m not sure that by you skipping it that it’ll go right away to the next needy person. If they allot 500 to your group and only use 490 how quickly would those ten be redeployed or would they simply go back to storage for a bit and in the meantime more come in. It’s hard to say.

    6. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s jumping the line. It’s not like the virus will swerve around you at the clinic because you have a different paid job. It’s about proximity, not paycheck. To paraphrase Alison on another matter, go get your shot.

      1. Coenobita*

        The idea of the virus swerving around me made me laugh! “I’m not a clinician and feel guilty about it- so YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” Maybe that is the real secret to stopping transmission. :)

        The clinic itself is SUPER safe – tons of thought has gone into the spacing, ventilation, number of people per hour who can come through the space, etc. Also everyone is on their very best behavior because it’s so high-profile (we actually had a little briefing about it like “do not even THINK about coming within six feet of someone if you don’t have to, the last thing we need is for someone to post a picture of us looking unsafe”) and because it’s a closed clinic not open the public. I’m sure there’s less exposure risk there than in the grocery store. But you have a good point, of course.

        1. Grey Barrier Reef*

          Other commenters may or may not agree with me (and I’m curious to see those opinions), but I run these clinics and it worries me that you feel like it’s “super safe”. It’s not safe. It is as safe as they can possibly make it.

          You are seeing many many high priority people every day. They are at high risk of having been exposed and being infected already. This is not safer than the grocery store (tho probably safer than being a worker in a grocery store). Real risk is present, and the healthcare providers there know this (both during the every day routine vaccination, but also when adverse reactions occur).

          I’m moderately concerned that you don’t understand the risk – if everyone feels that way, it can be very dangerous *and* I do think that we have an ethical obligation to make sure workers including volunteers understand the risk involved. If you don’t, I worry you are a risk to yourself, others and also that you haven’t made an informed decision about your presence and contribution.

          1. Coenobita*

            No, that’s fair. It feels “super” safe relative to the horrible, absurd covid-denier situations that I encounter (online) via my day job and the people who walk around the grocery store not wearing masks and my in-laws who won’t stop eating indoors in restaurants and the staff in my 94-year-old grandma’s assisted living place who have to work in multiple facilities to make ends meet so they’re bringing the virus with them between jobs. All risk is relative, no? It feels safe(r) to be around people who take things seriously and can take steps to reduce risk to the best of their ability. This particular clinic is also a safer setup than others I’ve seen in the past. I deal with statistics and risk calculations on a daily basis and do understand it mathematically and practically (if not, perhaps, emotionally when it comes to my own self-worth).

            1. Grey Barrier Reef*

              Yes, I get it 100%. I’m immersed in it but I still oscillate between understanding it from a population perspective and seeing and processing it as an individual. I think we all do. I hope I wasn’t too curt, my filter got clogged and discarded sometime mid April.

              PS I have that stamp!

              1. Coenobita*

                Definitely not, I really appreciate your comments! Understanding from a population perspective
                vs. processing it as an individual is exactly where I’m at, especially since most of the time I just sit at home over-thinking things (like this!) :)

    7. The Other Dawn*

      You’re volunteering with a medical reserve corps and working alongside nurses. Just get the vaccine and don’t even worry about getting it earlier than you normally would have.

    8. BRR*

      Get vaccinated. It’s for the overall public good and it’s important for your position. This sort of reminds me of people who feel guilty about surviving lay offs. Your feelings about this a make complete sense but i would 100% get the vaccine if I was you.

    9. Blackcat*

      “I’ve been helping out a bit with a county covid vaccine clinic, where they’re currently vaccinating EMS, firefighters, and other high-priority municipal employees.”

      I frankly want anyone who is coming in contact with vulnerable people–which obviously includes those assisting with vaccine administration!–to be vaccinated. It’s not about protecting you, it’s about protecting those who you are coming in. Honestly, if you are offered the vaccine, I think you have two choices: take it and continue your (great!) volunteer work, or decline and stop volunteering.

      1. Coenobita*

        I think if they had offered it to clinic personnel in advance, I’d take it with no hesitation! But the first responders/frontline health staff are still a higher priority than me, so I won’t get my appointment until *after* they get their first doses. For all I know, I’ll get mine after my day job’s schedule heats up and I can’t volunteer anymore. I think that is where a lot of my weird feelings are coming from.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Well, even if you can’t volunteer anymore, you will at least be contributing to reducing the risks for your day job and anyone else you encounter in your daily life. Everyone deserves to get the vaccine, you just might get an opportunity to get it earlier than you expected.

        2. Courageous cat*

          You are def overthinking this IMO. Let them give it to people in the order they deem appropriate. It is a good thing you are getting it, and letting your feelings of being over-privileged get in the way serves no one in this instance.

    10. Stephanie*

      Nah, it’s not quite jumping the line. I had a similar thought — I got bumped up to like group 1C (i.e., behind the first responders in the end of the first wave, but before I would have gotten it otherwise as a healthy 30-something) since I have a non-medical non-remote role (I’m a manufacturing engineer and there are projects I work on that have to be done in-person).

      I would trust that your public health agency isn’t letting you get it sooner than you should — plus it’s in the common good to have anyone in the medical arena get vaccinated.

    11. Dr. Anonymous*

      Logistics aren’t perfect. Take it when it’s offered. We had a few doses at our large medical group clinic given to people who weren’t in the first group because the designated people couldn’t make it to their appointments and the vial was open. Quick! Rustle around the building and get someone in the second or third group so we can finish off the vial before it goes bad.

      1. Malarkey01*

        My sister and brother in law got vaccinated this way. There were 2 doses left in the vial and they live next door to a nursing home and are friendly with a few staff. The staff called over the day they ran the clinic at the nursing home and said if you can be here in 5 minutes before we wrap up we can vaccinate you (my sister was in the middle of coloring her hair and threw a scarf on it haha). They both feel guilty for “jumping ahead” but she’s a teacher in an economically challenged school and he is a former combat vet- I told them this is just karma repaying them.

        1. Observer*

          To be honest, teachers should have been put higher than they were in most places – while it’s true that schools are not the big spreaders, whenever a teacher gets sick, the impact is very high. Keeping schools – ESPECIALLY in economically challenged areas – running safely is a major boon to the health of the community.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        This! I know of 3 non-clinicians who work for 2 different healthcare providers who have posted on FB about getting the vaccine. AFAIK they were working from home/mostly working from home. One was a social worker not seeing clients b/c her clients were high risk, but I’m not sure they’ll resume home visits until the clients have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

        Logistics! I presume their clinic got a number of vaccines and prioritized their employees. If you don’t get it, I’m sure it won’t go to waste, but it will go to someone below you and not a nurse or doctor at another facility.

    12. Grey Barrier Reef*

      You aren’t jumping the line, you are being vaccinated based on priority. It causes more issues when you second guess the process, as now that priority group has one less vaccinated person, and they’ve spent time and resources trying to get you classified and vaccinated – and you aren’t vaccinated.

      And it sounds like you are prioritized correctly.
      You are supporting and interacting with essential workers, including those who are not yet vaccinated (read: are getting vaccinated by your team). Of course you need to be vaccinated – otherwise you create risk for all those essential people you are interacting with. Put your own oxygen mask on first!

      Things are different if you aren’t prioritized correctly based on guidelines, wherein I think there is an obligation to report actual misclassification so the teams can verify processes.

      Priority groups are broad brush strokes. The team should have mechanisms to check that the system works (generally) and address issues of equity etc. But *you* should just get vaccinated and move on.

      You are a “public health nerd”, but end with the idea that you don’t “deserve” to be vaccinated yet… this doesn’t connect. I encourage you to dig more deeply into PH concepts – what a perfect time to do it!

      Thank you for the work you are doing. You *are* part of the essential team. Source: vaccinating large populations.

      1. Coenobita*

        Thanks, I needed to hear that! I guess a lot of this is just my own hangups about feeling privileged and useless this past 10 months. A lot of my friends/family are “real” healthcare or frontline workers, while I push paper around and don’t use my MPH – but you’re absolutely right that my own issues shouldn’t have anything to do with this.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, there’s some over thinking going on here.

          If you were on an airplane and the plane was in trouble, would you pass YOUR oxygen mask to someone else AND still expect yourself to be able to help people?

          There’s a reason why front line people get it first.

    13. LGC*

      It’s not often I say this here, but: your dad is right and you’re wrong.

      I was going to launch into a rant about how I hate that you said “But, like, I don’t deserve it. I’ve mostly been sitting on my butt doing non-essential work and feeling guilty this whole time” when you’re literally providing support to front-line workers for free, but honestly that’s way too much to put on you personally.

      Basically, though, I can make a few arguments about this:
      – The concept of “herd immunity” has been corrupted thoroughly, but before COVID, the premise in human epidemiology was that we vaccinate enough people that diseases can’t spread – whether they’re “deserving” or not. It’s why people get the influenza vaccine, regardless of whether they’re at high risk for complications (like my 88-year-old great aunt who’s a former smoker) or low risk (like me, a 36-year-old runner).
      – There are a lot of people with doubts about the COVID vaccine, so I think that good health behavior needs to be modeled. This is a case where efficacy and safety do play into it – I think people will be more convinced of safety if they see their friends and family getting it.
      – You just stated that you volunteer in a moderate-risk environment (a health care setting, but not with direct patient contact). You don’t work there every day, but it’s still some risk you have in your life. (This is a risk that you should have in your life.) There is a clear reason why you were offered to “cut the line.” It’s not like you magically turn into a different person every time you go to the clinic – you’re still you, and that’s as much a part of your real life as your WFH job.

      Sorry if I got a little ranty (I…actually toned it down a bit here). But dude, you absolutely deserve it – because everyone deserves to be vaccinated ASAP.

    14. Wishing You Well*

      Get the vaccine. You’re an essential worker. (Being a volunteer is irrelevant.)
      And THANK YOU for helping in the pandemic! The nurses are grateful for your help!

    15. Laura H.*

      Ok here’s the thing. Forget your socio economic and raicial status for two seconds. It matters but… what matters more is your volunteering in a field where you are at a higher risk. I think you should get it.

      Ditch the “jump the line” framing-you are assisting in a medical adjacent capacity.

      I’m Covid positive at the moment and I’m still gonna get vaccinated as soon as I am able- likely in general public- but just like I’m stopping my spread now by staying put and adhering to the suggested protocol – you getting vaccinated also helps slow the spread.

      Social responsibility has many forms. In this case, it takes the form of getting vaccinated.

    16. Not A Manager*

      This is a really interesting question. I’m super frustrated by the lack of coherent COVID guidelines in general, toothless “mandates” that are really honor system, people denying science in favor of their own gut feelings, etc.

      If there were one very clear, national vaccination protocol and you happened to be erroneously misplaced on a list, then I would agree with you that you should refuse the vaccine, call the mistake to someone’s attention, and the next person on the list who actually qualifies for the vaccine should get your dose. But that’s not what’s happening. In real life, some front line health workers who absolutely qualify for the vaccine are refusing it. Unused doses are literally waiting for hospitals to decide where to distribute them, because there’s not a clear upstream distribution system for them to be returned into. Different states, counties, hospitals all have their own protocols for interpreting and fulfilling the general recommendations about who to inoculate.

      In this context, I would say that the fact that you are on your clinic’s list in itself demonstrates that you “qualify” for the vaccine, by some definition of the term “qualify.” Your unilateral decision that you don’t qualify isn’t likely to improve our chaotic system, and it would mean one less person with immunity in your immediate medical community.

    17. Parenthetically*

      Get the shot. You’re volunteering at a vaccination clinic. You need to be immunized.

    18. ....*

      It’s not jumping the line if you’ve been given that spot in line by the vaccine roll out plan. If you want it, take it! There’s no way that it can roll out perfectly from absolutely most deserving to least. So if you want it and it’s offered, take it.

    19. Sam I Am*

      I’d get it if I were in your shoes, simply because you volunteer with medical staff who have higher exposure. If your community has a distribution plan, sticking with the plan will help it run smoother.
      I’d also like to mention that some time ago, I worked hard to rid myself about thoughts regarding who “deserves” medical care. We all deserve medical care, and no one “deserves” to get sick. If you’re in the US, as I am, you have been living in a society that puts these labels on healthcare, and I realized I disagreed with this train of thought and worked to break myself of it. I’m a lefty, and have always supported access to medical care, but these ways of thinking about things colored my thoughts none the less.
      Good luck and thanks for your volunteer work for the community!

    20. RagingADHD*

      The clinic doesn’t want you vaccinated for fun. You’re in contact with high-risk people, and they want to keep the system working smoothly by keeping you healthy.

      And they want to reduce the risk that YOU might infect the other frontline workers by being an asymptomatic carrier!

      When they tell you it’s your turn, take your turn. You are taking one set of doses, but helpi