weekend open thread – October 9-10, 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: The Second Home, by Christina Clancy. As three siblings try to decide what to do with their family’s summer home on Cape Cod, long-buried secrets are reckoned with.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,215 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that comments in the weekend open thread should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Please, no venting without a desire for advice and no “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts. Thank you!

  2. qvaken*

    This week my part of the world took over the world record for being in lockdown the longest.

    How is everyone coping with COVID and lockdowns where you are? Are you in lockdown right now? Is COVID a concern where you are, or are you fortunate enough to have low / no case numbers?

    1. PT*

      I’m in a no-lockdown-ever, high case number, FREEDUMB red US state. But I’m fortunate that my life is such that I have been able to avoid being exposed to the worst of it, thankfully.

      We still have to avoid getting sick or injured while we mind our own business at home, however, the hospitals are still on ambulance diversion. So no ambitious yardwork or home repair projects.

      1. qvaken*

        Wow, it’s hard for me to imagine this. Lockdowns have really taken their toll on me and most people living here, but I am generally supportive of them and I have to empathise with the situation your government has left you in. I’m so glad you’ve managed to stay safe from COVID.

        1. Artemesia*

          I did my career in one of the worst red states during COVID but retired to a big northern city and am so glad I did when I hear what is happening on my former state. People are dying or becoming seriously disabled from injuries and illnesses other than COVID because they can’t get care. Imagine being the parent whose 11 year old ends up with a burst appendix and the family ends up with tens of thousands in bills (luckily the kid survived) because they could’nt get the surgery he needed in time and had to have him airlifted somewhere else — too late to avoid the complications.

          1. Not a cat*

            Because of COVID, my surgery was canceled twice. I’ve been managing by meds–but my last specialist visit was not good. I’m in a blue state in a major city, but there are still issues w/ beds. Hence, I am pretty angry at the Vax NO people.

            1. Rebecca Stewart*

              I similarly have a goiter that has grown a centimeter in a year (and a centimeter is a lot when you don’t have much room. such as, tucked up next to the windpipe and esophagus)and I am supposed to get it out in January.

              Assuming, you know, that elective surgeries resume in January.

              Also, the initial consultation with plastic surgery was postponed. I need a breast reduction, and at this initial consultation we’ll figure out what hoops I need to jump through to pay for it. That’s also in January. Again, assuming that COVID has declined and the plastic surgery RNs, NPs, and MDs are not trying to help with the hospital’s influx of COVID patients.

              I’m handling this by just assuming that I’ll get a call in late December or the first week of January saying actually everything’s postponed to April or May…(sigh) And I’m hoping that the goiter doesn’t constrict my esophagus too much by the time I do get it out; I am already having to drink more with meals to get the food washed down.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Same here; we were locked down for that first three weeks, and nothing since. Barely anyone here is even wearing masks anymore. I got vaccinated in the spring and also got my flu shot not long ago but I don’t know who’s vaccinated and who’s not, so I’m still wearing mine.

        My mom had a stroke in November 2020 while they still had tents outside the hospital. Terrible timing, but of course she couldn’t help it. She was still able to get good care, fortunately, and she was home before the Delta surge. If it had happened after that, who knows?

    2. COVID in Taiwan*

      We’re in kind of a weird situation.

      Domestic caseloads are very low – eight days straight with no domestic cases, in a population of 23 million – after suppressing an outbreak that started mid May. However, we’re still potentially very vulnerable to delta, as only 16% of the population has been fully vaccinated. So right now, it’s a race between getting enough vaccine and keeping delta out. Hopefully by the end of this year, we’ll have all over 12s with at least a first shot.

      Vaccine acceptance is high, fortunately (a recent round of high school vaccinations got 95% of the permission slips back for in school vaccination), and mask wearing is mandatory most places, and actually followed. Restrictions are slowly and cautiously being eased.

      I spent mid-May to early August working from home during level three restrictions, but that’s been the only period of lockdown so far. As you might guess, I’m *really* happy with how the government has handled the whole process.

      I will say that it is frustrating to watch other countries talk over booster shots when so much of the world hasn’t even got a first shot. Not to mention the people objecting so vehemently to being forced to do something so many people are desperate to get.

      1. qvaken*

        Sounds like a positive-but-cautious situation where you are. I’m glad vaccine acceptance is high in your country, because I’m hoping vaccines are the answer to delta.

        1. Trying to remember what "outside" looks like*

          I’m where you are, I think, and they certainly seem to be making a difference for our neighbours to the north. Hopefully us next!

          1. qvaken*

            I really hope you’re right! How did we manage to re-take the record for the highest daily cases in the country?! I sit at home all the time and I’m just baffled by the ever-increasing case numbers.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Is it true that China has been trying to prevent vaccines getting to Taiwan? I read that some months ago.

      3. Cinnamon*

        I’ve been getting a bit salty about the booster shots too, for a slightly different reason. They’re only offering third shots to people who already got the more effective 2-dose MRNA vaccine, not to people like me who got the less-effective single-dose J&J vaccine.

        It feels like getting in line for seconds and having people who want thirds cut in front of me.

        Then I remember that 75% of the world is still waiting for firsts.

        1. Squeakrad*

          I think that depends on where you are. Here in San Francisco county hospital has opened up for a booster shot specifically for JNJ folks.

    3. Elizabeth T*

      We’re treading water wrt fatalities in Minnesota; case # going up; no lock down; vaccination rate isn’t good (60%)
      One of the high schools in town switched to distance learning for 2 weeks after several students caught Covid. I was SO VERY thrilled that the rest of the city high schools stayed in person.

      My family in New Zealand …? Brother is returning from abroad and has a 2 week stay in a hotel room before he’s allowed to actually go home. It is so much easier to cope with disease spread when you have an island nation.

        1. Ariaflame*

          Australia’s federal government has little in the way of spines, most of the good work has been done by the State governments, but even they have difficulty when one of them is slow to react and stuff spreads. So several of the States have active outbreaks, whereas I live in one of the most isolated cities in the world and there aren’t any unquarantined active cases here. Which means I know that what I have at the moment is either postnasal drip from hayfever or an actual common cold.

      1. Biology dropout*

        I think I’m where you are, Elizabeth, and yeah, treading water is about right. My toddler needed emergency care a month or so ago and it was HORRIBLE in the ER (like they sent us home to come back the next morning) because they were so full upstairs that it was affecting the ER. So not good.

    4. Nervous Rex*

      My county just moved from the highest, crimson threat level, down to red. Super excited about that I guess.

      Nobody wears masks or anything. At all. I’m one of the few people I know around here who has gotten vaccinated. But it’s business as usual except the churches always seem to be hosting funerals lately…

    5. Pam*

      Numbers are going down in California. My university campus is mandating vaccines, and masking is required. My sister and I just got our Pfizer boosters. (She works with 3-year olds)

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m in one of the best US states in terms of case and vax rates, but I still feel like it’s not great. We seem to relax measures a little bit and then backtrack every time cases start rising again. What’s boggling to me is that most places are significantly worse than here! Out of curiosity I just looked up case rates by county and we are #3… after the island county and the one that is mostly national park. We are the largest urban county in the state. I feel so grateful to be here and not in the red state I left two years ago!

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        We came out of lockdown in the summer but I still feel cases are high. Vaccinating 12-15 year olds is not yet mandatory so we are still seeing a lot of cases in schools. It’ll be interesting to see the data from other countries in the US and Europe on the impact of vaccination on that age group.
        However we are starting to see break through delta infections in double jabbed individuals (3 family members recently). I think generally the infection is mild but it is worrying still especially as people are masking less.

    7. Llama face!*

      We’re the worst province in the country for cases and hospitalizations per capita. But our premier refuses to put further restrictions in place or accept federal help for our overburdened health care workers who are desperately begging for both. And we have the lowest vaccination rate in the country and a ridiculous number of spreadnecks who are actively protesting our existing measures- even protesting in front of hospitals while our healthcare system collapses. Not trying to make light of your situation but I WISH we were in lockdown. Then maybe we wouldn’t have had to cancel thousands of elective surgeries and procedures and prepare for full on triage situations. Meanwhile a lot of people seem to have gone full COVID fatigue and are not taking things very seriously despite the situation now being worse than it has been this entire pandemic. I’m masking up in any public situation (even where it’s not required) and have drastically limited my close contacts and nonessential activities- even though I’m fully vaccinated- because I live around people who are higher risk. I’m also feeling concerned about the potential for violence with some of our more extreme antivaxxer/conspiracists who are really mad about our vaccine-or-testing-related restrictions that have been implemented. Long story short, it sucks.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’m in Paris right now — no one gets in without being vaccinated so I was reasonably confident that everyone on my plane was vaccinated (including flight attendants — United requires that too). Here you have to have a vaccination passport to go to a restaurant — they even check sitting at outdoor cafes — or museum or pretty much any indoor venue except grocery stores. They even required them to get close to the Arc de Triomphe during the time the Christos wrap was up. AND everyone wears masks indoors everywhere and on the bus and metro. I see maybe 1 in 500 with their nose hanging out like lots of jerks in the US and maybe 1 in 1000 with no mask. And there are tents every few blocks offering COVID testing.

      2. Macaroni Penguin*

        Ah, I see that we live in the same province. It’s a demoralizing situation to live in to be sure. Our hospital system is horribly strained and the ICU numbers are NOT GOOD. Hopefully the plague stabilizes soon….

        1. Llama face!*

          Hi neighbour! Yes we should eventually see some relief at least now that the vax pass system is up. It’s just that this will take time we don’t have with the system so strained now. Very hard to watch as people continue to die unnecessarily because of our leadership’s delayed action (or lack of). And the fact that the excuse used for doing nothing further is that ‘it isn’t fair for us responsible folks to have restrictions’ when we responsible folks are actually saying “The point is people not sick and dying and our health system not collapsing, not fairness! Do the necessary thing!”- that is just the most aggravating part for me!

          Hope you can stay safe too and that we see things start to calm down as soon as possible!

        1. Llama face!*

          I didn’t coin the term so I can’t take the credit. :) Heard it online recently and it made me laugh so I’ve adopted it too.

    8. DistantAudacity*

      We are very fortunate in my location: very low case numbers, and all restrictions formally ended mid-September (we’ve had lockdowns etc as needed earlier). Vaccination rates are high.

    9. Disco Janet*

      Honestly, I’ve stopped checking the numbers as it doesn’t really change much for me – until our kids can be vaccinated, we will continue to be very careful. But based on the number of students I’ve had out with covid, and the “no one cares/let’s pretend it’s not happening” attitude that gets from students, parents, and even our admin when it comes to determining who needs to be quarantined…it’s not going too well here. No lockdown – everyone is basically acting as if things are back to normal (though people I know working in hospitals say that’s certainly not the case.) Fortunately, our county has required masks in schools – most of our state isn’t doing that, and our governor seems to be too afraid to require it statewide.

    10. Care Package*

      Where I live it’s more or less business as usual – masks are encouraged indoors but it’s not uncommon to see bare faces, even among workers. Granted we have better vaccination rates than the southern states but if I’m honest it feels like I’m living in a parallel universe where smoking indoors is legal again and drunk driving is perfectly acceptable (how DARE you mandate that I drive sober. My driving my choice! #FREEDOM). There are many folks, including family members, who I will never be able to look at the same way again. One refuses to wear a mask and yet is pitching a fit that they can’t be around the 4 grandkids who are all under age 5. I know lockdowns have their own emotional cost (as well as economic) but I’d trade a kidney to feel like my son is safe.

    11. Perpetua*

      Central Europe-ish, no lockdown right now (the only true lockdown we had was around April-May 2020, other than that we just had different restrictions regarding restaurants etc). Vaccination rates not great, around 50%, numbers rising, masks are obligatory and generally worn inside, although very often not properly.

      We’re very lucky that my partner works from home and I’m mostly a SAHM with our toddler, so we are able to somewhat choose activities and outings according to our level of comfort with risk. Which has been fairly low, and we have been avoiding almost all personal contact in closed spaces ever since the pandemic began, with the exception of our parents and 2-3 small gatherings with friends when the numbers were very low (the last one was at the beginning of August, and we had a small wedding a month ago, 30-ish people, all either vaccinated or tested right before).

      Which is why it took us by surprise when our toddler tested positive on a routine swab this week . :( She had to have the swab in order to get some more tests done for her allergies, and we didn’t really expect her to be positive, but alas… She has absolutely no symptoms, and neither do the two of us (both vaccinated), and wse’re hoping it stays that way at least. We’re on day 5 of isolation with her, 5 more to go.

      1. COVID in Ontario*

        How easily can the toddler get retested? My friend was very likely a false positive. A second test was negative and there were no symptoms, so he isolated but likely didn’t have it.

        1. Perpetua*

          Yeah, that crossed our mind as well, but we’re not sure whether it’s worth the hassle and the cost (around 70 dollars) to get her retested at this point. I’d like to know for sure whether she had it or not, but at the same time, I’ve read that around 30% (or more) of children are asymptomatic, so it doesn’t seem like such a stretch that she could be as well.

    12. The Cosmic Avenger*

      No lockdown here, but masks are required everywhere in this suburban county of Washington, DC, and we have a 97% vaccination rate for those eligible (those 12 and over), so I feel OK about, say, grocery shopping while masked and vaccinated. People are OK about distancing, but if they’re masked I’m not as worried about that as I am about spending time indoors breathing the same recirculated air anyway.
      I’ve got an event in NYC in a month (WhiskyFest) where they’ll be requiring proof of vaccination, not sure how I feel about that, as it’ll be more crowded than a grocery store, and people will be pulling down their masks to eat and drink.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Northern Ireland here. There’s no lockdown at the moment and things feel quite normal. Although I work from home, proabably there’s lots of testing at schools/workplaces. I can’t imagine another lockdown in the UK unless things get really bad. People are sick of it. I feel like one of the most cautious ones left but even I don’t want another extreme lockdown where you were only allowed out for an hour a day to walk or grocery shop. For a few months you couldn’t even play golf alone or tennis with someone from your own house. I really lost track of how long restrictions went on, even when it wasn’t total lockdown there were loads of arcane rules about how many peole were allowed in your house etc. Except for the first few months, a lot of people ignored them. I am taking it seriously though and think lockdowns could have been shorter if people had actually obeyed them. Everything feels quite normal here at the moment except for all the discarded masks lying everywhere! Most people are doubly vaccinated already and they’re talking about third shots for the most vulnerable, there isn’t so much anti-vaxx sentiment here (though there is some). I got vaccinated as soon as they would allow my age group to get it. It would have been very different to live the pandemic in one of these red/maskless states but probably for the best that I didn’t have to! Hope everyone can stay safe. :)

      2. Ali G*

        I’m also in a DC suburb and we’ve mostly returned to normal. We wear masks indoors with strangers (like the grocery store), but otherwise we just go about our lives. We are in a high vax location and we are both fully vaxed (no kids). We even had a nice meal indoors recently. We do still stay home more and keep distance as possible when out and about. We are lucky that we live in an area that takes COVID seriously and most people are compliant with rules and vaxed.

      3. Jean (just Jean)*

        Also in one of the states that surround Washington, DC. No lockdown and the population seems mostly vaxxed in my immediate vicinity. Some parts of life seems to be returning to pre-pandemic “normal” but most people are being cautious about large social gatherings and one of the sections of today’s paper had a front-page article about the fact that most office workers are still working from home (WFH) rather than in downtown DC.

        Sorry to be vague on the facts. One of the ways I’ve been coping with non-covid life stresses is by reducing my news consumption.

    13. fposte*

      Almost my entire state is still technically high transmission, but overall hospital admission, ICU bed use, and deaths are down. For awhile the numbers were quite different when you broke them out by region/county, with several areas, especially more rural ones with little capacity, doing pretty badly, but even they seem to be improving now. There are a few capacity limits in place and technically a mask mandate, but compliance varies wildly depending on where in the state you are.

      I’m really hoping that local theaters/concert venues start requiring vaccine certification, though. I’d like to attend in person in winter but I’m not sure that I would without that.

      1. pcake*

        There’s no way that I know of at this time for theaters/venues/restaurants to tell whether they’re looking at a legit certificate, a purchased fake certificate or a home-done Photoshop job.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, and that may be why they don’t bother; however, in my neck of the woods, I think the people who’d forge one are fewer than those who aren’t vaccinated, so it would still be an improvement.

    14. Falling Diphthong*

      We just came back from a trip to Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. New Mexico has an indoor mask mandate, and I wound up quite liking it? It took the guess-work out. Where I live in New England mask mandates are town to town.

      I don’t see us doing lockdowns again unless something really changes with the pandemic. I am going to an indoor (in a church) concert this weekend for the first time. Masks and proof of vaccination for the audience.

    15. AGD*

      Vaccination in my large Canadian city is approaching 90%, public opposition is treated (rightfully) as misguided disruptive nonsense, case numbers are declining (still a few hundred every day, but this is much better than it was a year ago), and everyone is cautiously opening things up with extra measures. This is what I want for the entire world.

      1. COVID in Ontario*

        Same here. We have less than a hundred new daily cases and they keep declining, vaccination rates are high, and mask wearing is prevalent indoors and crowded outdoor spaces like markets. Restaurants require proof of vaccination. The hospitals have fewer than 10 active cases. There is a lot of caution and extra measures yet there is optimism that a sense of normalcy is possible.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, the situation is very similar in Finland. We do have a rising number of cases again, but the vast majority of people who end up in hospital are unvaccinated and eligible to get the vaccine (12 and older). There are a few breakout cases in hospital, but AFAIK none so far have affected people who are both fully vaccinated and don’t have any serious illness (including morbid obesity) that would put them further at risk.

        That said, vaccination rates could be higher, it’s currently at 75 percent of those over 12 for one shot, and 65 percent for two shots. Health authorities are aiming for at least 80 percent, but we’ll see if we ever get there.

        Even our prime minister said last week that lockdowns aren’t on the cards anymore unless things get really, really bad, and that we can’t let those who’ve refused to get the vaccine keep the rest of the country hostage. I must say that I agree with this sentiment. Sure, those who have medical issues that prevent them from taking the vaccine (a tiny percentage, there are several vaccines that work in different ways and have different additives, and one of them may be suitable) and people who are immunosuppressed and unlikely to get the full benefit of the vaccines have my sympathy, but even they would be much less at risk if everyone who could get the vaccine actually did.

        Masks are still required in schools and compliance has been high, because most students would far rather wear a mask than be forced back to remote school, which is the alternative. Schools here aren’t putting up with any nonsense from parents, either, I’m glad to say, at least not in our district.

        The WFH mandate/strong recommendation will be lifted next week, and from now on, it’s up to employers to decide whether or not they will require masks on site. Many employers are continuing with some kind of hybrid system, there’s a strong culture here of trusting employees to do their jobs remotely, and covid only accelerated a trend of more flexibility that had already started.

        Masks are still required on public transit and strongly recommended in public indoor spaces like stores.

        1. allathian*

          I do hope that we’ll take some tips from Asian countries and mask up during flu season. And I’ll definitely continue to carry sanitizer for the foreseeable future, in the same way that I always carry tissues. Although I do hope that stores and restaurants will continue to provide sanitizer for their customers.

    16. Nicki Name*

      I’m in a metro area with high vaccination rates, surrounded by rural areas with terrible ones, bordering a state where the hospitals are so overwhelmed they’re doing care rationing. We’re currently under a mask mandate when indoors or in crowded outdoor places.

      I’m still WFH, so I’m able to limit the amount of time I’m around other people, and compliance with the mask mandate is really good in my area. Our hospitals are still stretched because of the patients flooding in from the low-vaccination areas around us.

    17. RagingADHD*

      We have high case numbers (though slowing a bit), no lockdown, and a significant portion aren’t taking it seriously at all. I do see a lot of people masking in public, though it’s not required.

      I think we might be out of net-negative ICU beds this week, which would be an improvement.

    18. Anona*

      I checked our vaccination rates recently, and I think we’re at something like 70%.

      But there’s definitely still spread. My kid was exposed at daycare last week, and though they tested negative now they have some symptoms. Planning to retest, keep the kid home, and hope it’s not covid. I really hope a vaccine can be approved for little kids soon. Even if they don’t get sick, having to quarantine after exposure is so disruptive.

    19. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I’m in New York City. Our numbers, while not perfect, are trending down, and pretty much everything is open and back to normal. That’s the good news.

      The bad news is that many people are definitely done with wearing masks. I work in a public library and trying to enforce our mandatory masking rule has been really anxiety-provoking. 90+ percent of our patrons have been just great. It’s the 5-7 or so percent of patrons who aren’t that have raised my blood pressure 20 points in the past year. Traveling on public transit has also been really stressful. A shortage of train and bus operators and the MTA’s normal daily nonsense have led to some alarmingly crowded trains in the past few weeks, and I’ve had to get very up close and personal with other riders, most of whom mask up but some don’t.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Yes, in non-pandemic times, I love our busy, crowded city, but NYC is still SO stressful because we all have to be around each other so much. I get really upset that people won’t mask in the common areas of our building, not even for the minute or so it takes to get from their apartment to outside. Sheesh!

        And the pharmacy, a place where the elderly and immuno-compromised and the sick and the not-yet-vaccinated-but-finally-getting-that-shot people *have* to go sometimes. It’s common courtesy to try not to give them this deadly, deadly disease. Come on, folks, wear a mask for five minutes.

        And yeah, the public transit problem. I’m now commuting by car, even though pre-COVID, I would have said that would never happen. But even on the most deserted trains and subways at off hours/unpopular routes, there are always people who won’t wear their masks or who won’t wear them effectively.

        I think people who live in detached houses with their own access to the outdoors that’s not shared with others and in neighborhoods where the sidewalks aren’t crowded and who have access to drive-thru pharmacies, etc. have had a completely different pandemic experience.

        1. allathian*

          I definitely agree with your last paragraph. We live in the suburbs, and I work from home. During the worst of the pandemic, when I took walks during my lunch hour, I could walk for 30 minutes in our subdivision with small lots without seeing anyone else.

        2. Florida Woman*

          Another hard agree with your last paragraph. We now live in a rural county, but my husband and I have often wondered how we could have managed the pandemic if we still lived in our prior home in a high rise in downtown Miami. When your living space is on the 41st floor there is just no way to avoid the always-crowded elevators. On the other hand, Miami-Dade County now reports that 92% of people 12+ are vaccinated, while our rural county is at just over 50%. So we are in self-imposed lockdown. The only enclosed buildings that we enter are the grocery store, fully-vaccinated offices of doctors and dentists, and the homes of vaccinated friends for 4-person gatherings. We’ve eaten two restaurant meals in the last 18 months, both on outdoor patios. A neighbor died from COVID-caused hospital burdens last month. He was taken by ambulance to our local hospital with heart problems, was turned away because the ICU was full of COVID patients, and died en route to a more distant hospital. Lucky for us we have outstanding access to outdoor recreation, so we’ve been averaging 100,000 steps per week for the last 6 months. That’s the only thing that kept us from spiraling downward during this very sad time.

    20. Girasol*

      I’m in the US red state making headlines for its “Critical Standards of Care,” in other words, our hospitals are triaging to deal with more patients than they can handle. No lockdown here, officially, but here in a county with a 30% vax rate, we’re voluntarily locked down, getting groceries delivered, necessities via Amazon, and hardly seeing anyone. I’m really tired of this but with my spouse immune compromised, I have to be not only vaccinated but also very careful. Our area is dropping off its big covid peak but the holidays will probably boost the rate again. I’d expect we’ll wait to see real reduction around mid-January. As for coping, I’ve finally started that book writing project.

    21. Amber Rose*

      20-30 people die every day now and our government is making cuts to Healthcare and patting themselves on the back.

      I’m honestly really not holding up well at all.

    22. Windchime*

      My cousin (unvaccinated) died of Covid a few weeks ago. Her family is insisting that she didn’t die of Covid, but of a lung infection. (That she got because she was on a ventilator with Covid, but hey, whatever).

      I live in a rural red county in a blue state. People here are definitely tired of the masking but I have to say they are pretty complaint. We are not on lockdown but we do have an indoor mask mandate for all people, including vaccinated. You can remove your mask when you’re at your table but the servers all keep theirs on.

      I’m pretty much over the pandemic (but of course I am still being compliant, because I live in a society). I know all this is necessary; I’m just tired of it. Most people in the grocery store are masked; probably 1 out of 30 is not. My hometown, which is also in a different red county, had to get a refrigerated truck because the funeral homes cannot keep up with the dying. It’s exhausting.

      1. ....*

        I’m sorry. We lost my vaccinated grandpa last month and it’s not easy. I’m in a blue state and it’s pretty much business as usual plus an indoor mask mandate. I’m doing business as usual myself only I still WFH all the time. Doing yoga in a mask isn’t fun but I roll with it.

    23. Colette*

      My city appears to be holding steady, which is good news. Masks are still mandatory in stores, restaurants are at partial capacity, and you have to prove you’re vaccinated to eat in a restaurant or go to a movie.

      I’m concerned about my family, who are largely in a province that’s not doing well.

    24. StellaBella*

      I am in a small country in Europe. Masks are required on trains, in shops, we have a vaccine certificate digitally that is needed to go into restaurants, pubs, swimming pools, etc. Most people comply. We are only 60% vaccinated, and things are opening up, but our government expects a surge in winter plus the flu. So more working from home, and staying indoors (I live alone with my cat). I am coping ok, I double mask if I have to take a train, and in most places like the grocery etc and I wash my hands still a lot. We still have limits on numbers of people in places indoors, too. Our lockdown last year was pretty strict and well, the government is still being cautious but it is not restrictive. Hang in there.

    25. Rara Avis*

      Vaccination is really high and case numbers quite low in my area. (Which is good, because I had to work a big event today.). Our county is contemplating lifting the mask mandate.

    26. Treasure State*

      All time highs here in my area, despite having a relatively high vaccination rate for the state. It’s a red state and unfortunately the governor and legislature really neutered any possible response to the pandemic back in the spring, so the options we had last year are now gone. No mask mandates, no vaccine mandates – the president’s vaccine mandate for companies with >100 workers is in direct conflict with new state law, so there will be a lawsuit eventually. This will impact my employer. The governor does not care because he’s using us as a platform to run for president eventually because I guess he can’t think of a better way to spend his fortune. Locally they can’t do anything anymore so I’m being as cautious as possible of where I go, it’s basically the grocery store, big box for other items, the craft store and the barbershop.

      There’s been a slight bump in masking as hospitals are moving to critical care standards. It’s not nearly enough though, as there are still open bars, restaurants, concerts, etc. My neighbors have been partying for over 3 hours now, same as last weekend. I hope we are/will plateau in cases soon but I just don’t know with so many being unvaccinated and no restrictions in place. I’m pretty disgusted with the situation and frankly would love to leave this place for somewhere more sensible as state leadership is a joke, but I’d have to find a new job and sell my home, neither of which I want to deal with right now. My company has recognized that remote work is the norm for the foreseeable future (and probably realized this is sparing them millions of dollars they needed to invest in a larger building due to growth) so I’m happily ensconced at home.

      As far as coping, while I haven’t been locked down since spring 2020, I’m mostly in my own ongoing personal lockdown. I live alone, but I’m forgoing any gathering. Instead I have a weekly video gaming night and am active on social media during sporting events that I watch from home. Last winter I tried learning the guitar, but flamed out, so this winter I’m trying crochet and sewing. I thought for a few weeks this summer that things were really over and then delta happened, so I’ve decided to move on from what I’ve lost and celebrate what I’ve gained. I’ve already had a breakthrough case but I just got my flu shot and am hoping everyone can get boosters soon.

    27. No SoCal*

      The parent, who lives with me, was exposed to someone asymptotic and ended up with a breakthrough infection. Asymptotic person obtained from a wedding party who KNEW they were Covid positive but didn’t care.

      Having to care for someone in my own house and pull out as many stops to prevent it from spreading to me or the unvaxxed littles…..yeah my patience is thin for “medical freedom” asshats right now.

      For those in lockdowns- I know it’s long, I know it’s draining, but THANK YOU for doing the right things. There is no way of really knowing how many lives you’ve saved. How many variants you’ve prevented. Thank you.

    28. Amethystmoon*

      We are not in lockdown where I live in the U.S. States are being allowed to determine mask rules on their own. I am in a blue state, but our governor is allowing businesses to set their own mask rules. The numbers are going up here. I’m moving to grocery drive-thru pick up as a result. Where I work is going to let us vaccinated people come in starting in Nov. I’m vaccinated, but worried.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve been doing grocery pick-up for quite awhile now. If I just need a couple of things, I will run into the store but for the most part, I’m ordering online. I also haven’t been to a dentist for almost 2 years; I’m pretty scared to go and be unmasked with people so close to my face. Especially with so many medical people staunchly refusing to be vaccinated. My state has a mandate that healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated before Oct 18 or lose their jobs; we’ll see if that actually happens or not.

    29. It's Quarantime!*

      I wrote last weekend about the stress of my unexpected quarantine with my parents while we waited for their test results after they were exposed to a positive case at a birthday party. Their results came back negative for covid, which I was grateful for.
      The person with the positive case my parents were exposed to is now in the hospital, and their spouse and adult child who is visiting from out of town have also both tested positive. All three were fully vaccinated.
      I’m in an area where the local politicians have taken a very “individual choice” position on things like masks and vaccines. In fact, they have actively pushed back against mandates. So, no lockdowns here, and many, many people are maskless.
      My personal experience with acute covid and seven months (so far) of long haul issues has made me much more cautious than pretty much anyone else I know. I live alone and work from home. I do occasional curbside grocery pickup, and I’m not comfortable with having food I didn’t prepare myself. I am masked whenever I expect to be around other people, inside or outside. I carry pocket sized bottles of hand sanitizer.
      I’m certain that the dissonance between my own hyper-caution and the comparatively lax behaviors of those I love as well as the strangers around me are not doing good things to my mental health.
      It’s one thing to be able to explain that compulsions and phobias are only coping mechanisms, but what can you do when the dangers are actually real?

      1. Llama face!*

        “I’m certain that the dissonance between my own hyper-caution and the comparatively lax behaviors of those I love as well as the strangers around me are not doing good things to my mental health.”

        This resonates with me. I am in a very small minority of people who are taking things very seriously. Even people and groups that had done well previously in 2020 and early 2021 are getting slacker now and I’m just sitting here thinking, “Am I delusional or are you? We’re in our worst wave ever and you are now half-assing it…?”

        But I can’t live like my actions don’t have the potential to do serious harm in our current situation. Mebbe I’m overdoing it but I prefer that to being responsible for spreading COVID to someone vulnerable. And we are having a high proportion of deaths occurring in the vaccinated elderly and people with health conditions where their immune systems are not 100%. The gov is just starting to roll out third shots for some but in the mean time our extremely high level of transmission makes the risk of getting a breakthrough case and passing it on to someone who won’t survive it much more serious. So I’m hypervigilant too.

    30. Marion Ravenwood*

      London, UK here. There seems to be an increasing divide between people behaving like the pandemic doesn’t exist and people who are doubling down on mask wearing, hand sanitiser etc, and there seem to be more of the former these days. I’m hearing multiple announcements on public transport reminding people to wear their masks – our city transport organisation has a mask mandate, although does make exceptions for some – which I don’t recall even a week or two ago. We’ve had a spike in cases here (I think mainly tied to kids going back to school/young people starting university) and yet it seems to be the view among a lot of people that because they’re vaccinated now they don’t need to do all the other stuff.

      Personally I’m trying to limit my social interactions outside my flat to once or twice a week, social distancing as much as possible, and wearing my mask in all indoor public places except when I’m eating and drinking. I feel like that’s a reasonable compromise for me between going out and living life and also taking steps to protect other people.

    31. First time caller, long time listener*

      I am an elementary school librarian, seeing hundreds of unvaxxed (under age 12) students per day (and handling their returned books as well!). While I certainly want to avoid getting sick myself, I am also very concerned about unknowingly exposing my students. I mask for them at least as much as for myself.

  3. PhyllisB*

    This may sound like a work question, but it’s related to home use: on Oct. 6 several people mentioned that printers retain a history of what’s been printed, Is this true for home printers as well? If so, how do you find it? Some time ago I printed some very important documents and saved file to my computer, BUT the computer later went into melt-down and couldn’t be fixed. Still the same printer.

    1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

      As far as i know the answer is no, home printers just print, they don’t have the proper type of memory and software to store past jobs.

    2. The Dogman*

      We would need a make and model to be sure either way.

      Most home printers are not holding much (if anything) and some of the home ones that do only have RAM not permanent memory.

      If you post the make and model here I will go poke about the internet to find out.

      If not can you find the print outs? If you can a scanner will sort you out!

        1. The Dogman*

          In the manual there is mention of

          “Turns on when received documents that have not yet been read, printed, or saved, are stored in the printer’s memory.”

          So perhaps there is a cache memory to recover from…

          Might be worth consulting a PC/laptop repair place and see if they can extract any remaining data.

          Do not print anything else til you have had someone look into it!

    3. Joie de Vivre*

      Even if the computer couldn’t be fixed, sometimes it is possible to pull the hard drive and access the files using a new computer.

      1. Observer*

        Well, that’s one thing the OP could look at – does the unit even HAVE a hard drive. If it doesn’t the chances of it retaining any information are extremely low.

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      This is usually an issue related multifunction printers found in offices. The kind that scan, save, email, etc. Those have a hard drive for storage and can retain quite a bit of information. Most smaller printers have short term memory to assist in faster printing (also storing logs, saved scans, etc.), and usually a reboot will clear any cached data. Several years ago, there was a big thing in the news about companies disposing of MFPs without sanitizing the hard drives properly, and people were concerned that the data on those drives could be accessed. The hard drives in modern printers are more secure, and they’re generally unusable outside of the printer (though, I’m sure nothing is impossible if someone was smart enough and determined enough with access to the right tools).

      If this is a smaller home printer and it’s lost power, then I would feel safe to say any data cached is gone. You can always check with the manufacturer’s support team to be sure.

      1. PhyllisB*

        The printer didn’t loose power, the computer died. (Laptop, if that matters.) I took it to a computer repair place and they said the hard drive was fried and nothing could be done.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          Sorry. It wasn’t clear to me if you were worried about the data on the printer being accessible or if you want to use your printer to recover documents. If it’s the second, no. That’s not how it works. Backups are your friend here, so for the future, set up a backup mechanism.

    1. Rainy Day*

      How many cats does she have, and what are all their names please? I only started reading AAM this summer and I recognise Olive, but I don’t know the others- or how many there are!

        1. Cj*

          Do you know where this is? The only one I know is Hank, because I sent Alison an email of a picture of our cat that looks exactly like him. She responded Yes they do look exactly alike and said he was Hank. I know one of them is Olive, but I don’t know which one

            1. Alice Ulf*

              Sophie always has this reassuring momma-cat vibe, to me. Perhaps it’s just because I know how she and Wallace came to you, but it seems to be something in her expression, too. She looks so wise and content.

              Anyway I love her. <3

      1. Windchime*

        There are six if I remember correctly. All foster fails. Alison is a terrible foster cat-mom but an awesome permanent cat-mom.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Haha, it’s true. Wallace and Sophie were actually straight adoptions, but the other four are indeed foster fails. We’re not letting ourselves foster cats anymore. (When we applied to foster humans, we did disclose this pattern to our agency.)

          1. Purple cat*

            I love the differentiation between “cats” and “humans”. To skeeve me out my kids say if the cats are “fur babies” then they are “skin babies”

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Exactly — it’s kind of a joking term because it’s a good outcome for the animal; they stay where they are in a home that loves them and can’t give them up. But we failed at what we set out to do, which was to foster them for someone else to adopt.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          You might have access online through your local public library–or more accurately through your library card account. My library account offers some sort of online database. The daily NYT lists all articles listed alphabetically by headline. It’s not the same as browsing the home page where articles are grouped by category (opinion, health, style, most popular, etc.) but it is the NYT without a subscription fee.

          I’m always glad to sing the praises of the local public library! :-)

          1. Weisarom*

            Thanks for suggesting this! That’s how I was able to access this article. My library provides a temporary pass to access the full NYT website.

            What a fascinating saga. Reminds me of reading Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair” or “A Novel without a Hero” – by the end I was rooting for absolutely no one.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t have a card at this library. I’m not staying here so it’s not my library. I disavow its existence!
            But that’s good to know, thank you.

        2. Overeducated*

          Yeah, I’m paywalled as well, but I’ve found it really interesting to follow this on social media without having read the original source. It’s sort of like historiography but of current events, trying to reconstruct and interpret a whole from a lot of partial perspectives (and the original, “lost” account must also have it own biases). But…completely low stakes and irrelevant to me. So fun.

      1. Ali*

        I share your interest in mess that does not directly impact me, and I found this a fascinating ride. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Fall Leaves*

      I saw think last night but haven’t been on a device yet where I have access to the full article. I saw a summary and corrections on Gawker I think and they summed it up as mediocre literary feud that isn’t worth your time (I think, I read it at like 1am so my memory is foggy).
      What’s your take?

      1. AY*

        Yes, for sure not worth your time, but I do love to pick over a low-stakes problem that doesn’t affect me at all. So this story was like catnip to me (and I loved Robert Kolker’s recent book)

        Dorland, of course, comes off as unhinged and extremely needy. Definitely someone I would try to avoid as much as possible (reading her emails made me cringe). I’m not sure how Larson should have dealt with her, but she definitely chose poorly. On the one hand, she should have been more direct and not presented herself as a friend to someone she so clearly despises, but on the other hand, Larson knew Dorland in a semi-professional setting, so I understand wanting to keep their relationship outwardly friendly. Because the whole thing is work-related and blew up online earlier this week, I thought it would be fun for us to chew over!

        1. mreasy*

          They are both definitely at fault but… Dorland seems awful but in a vulnerable and needy way (like you mention), while Larson just seems cruel. Though if we take Larson’s word that they weren’t friends to the extent Dorland believed – which seems likely – her actions are fine. The weirdest part, to me, is that this was in the Times! But I definitely enjoyed the piece and how strange folks were acting.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Thanks for the link, that was an interesting read. The details of the feud itself not so much, but the people dynamics definitely. The whole way through I couldn’t help but think how exhausting Dorland must be to know in real life. Though to be fair, I am practically allergic to emotional, needy, ‘Me!Me!Me!’ types.

      I thought some of what Larson did was pretty ordinary too. But Dorland’s own actions paint her out as pretty narcissistic, so it’s hard to feel much empathy for her experiencing the consequences of being like that.

      1. sagewhiz*

        I read the article a couple of days ago, and believe both sides have valid AND wildly inappropriate arguments/positions. Which just totally complicates my reaction to having read the novel _The Plot_ a month or so ago. (With it’s stunning conclusion!)

        As a writer & editor I know that story or ideas cannot be “owned,” but the plagiarism? That takes Bad Art so-called Friend’s act to a whole ‘nother Bad Act level.

        1. Msnotmrs*

          My sentiments exactly. Both sides behaved ethically and unethically in different parts of the story. That’s part of what makes it so interesting, right? You can count on one or two fingers the morally neutral people in this story. Maybe three if you count the kidney as a person.

          I’m Terminally Online on Twitter and everyone over there was freaking out thinking about the possibilities of having group chats subpeonaed, lol.

        2. fposte*

          Yeah, usually I read an account like and am strongly biased by which side I like. I didn’t like either side. Larson is clearly talented but definitely was mean and mocking (I look forward to her entry into YA lit and YA Twitter) and copying, and Dorland is hoping for the world to fill her in a way that would definitely back me off in real life.

          1. Lore*

            This is kind of where I end up. It is also highly disingenuous for anyone who’s been published by a conventional publisher or magazine to act like no one ever explained to them the permissions issues involved with other people’s social media posts.

      2. Rainy*

        Larson should have filed the serial numbers off a lot harder than she did. I feel this is only polite when you are writing something inspired by someone in your network. She sort of patted at them with a nail file and then tee-hee-ed and patted herself on the back. She apparently also sued first, which was just shockingly stupid of her.

        Dorland on the other hand seems…extremely exhausting is probably the *nicest* thing I can say about her. At the point when she’s adding people unasked to a private FB group that as far as I can tell was meant for people to adulate her, well, I think whatever happened after that is probably her own fault. I do agree with someone I saw online though, who said that her elaborate legal assault and even pitching an article to a major media outlet even though that article makes her look absolutely unhinged, just so that she can essentially occupy every moment of Larson’s day with how mistaken she was to “mess with her”…er, I think both people here are not great, but I know who would get the cut direct from me at a cocktail party.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      Loved that article. I couldn’t find the short story on an idle search, but man, I do want to read it.

      I really like the way the article slyly foreshadows what it’s really about, despite putting starting with a long flattering paragraph on her. For instance, talking about Larson’s writing, Larson has “[the] ability to create ‘characters who have these big blind spots.’ While they think they’re presenting themselves one way, they actually come across as something else entirely.”

      And then you get to the part of the story where Dorland mounts a sustained campaign of cyberstalking and legal harassment and it’s like, oh haha. This article is about that kind of character too.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        Fwiw my take is that Larson was a little mean, and I guess should have modified the post more before using it in her story, but none of that deserves being stalked, harassed, and subjected to lawsuits over a facebook post.

        I can very much understand how it didn’t feel like plagiarism, because short social media posts feel less like writing than like speech. While it would be correct to do so, I guess, I wouldn’t feel the need to cite a meme tweet in a short story; same with snaffling up something a friend said and giving it to a character.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      I read the article superficially when it was first making the rounds. My favourite quote was “Do writers not care about my kidney donation?” OMG
      But it did feel like a feud that would happen in fandom. Fun to read about it second-hand with some popcorn, but you don’t want to know or interact with any of these people. They sound exhausting.

      1. Msnotmrs*

        Yes, it definitely reminded me of something you’d read about in the subreddit Hobbydrama.

    5. The Dogman*

      Not a lot to say really.

      Dawn Dorland is a person whos mental health issues and early childhood make her a bit needier than the norm.

      Sonya Larson is a plagarist, a bully, a mean girl gossip merchant, a liar, a fraud and not deserving of the accolades she was set to get from the city of Boston that Dawns lawsuit stopped.

      Dawn seems like a nice lady who is trying to get some form of recompense for the pain, humiliation and the financial costs of the campaign of bullying that Sonya put her through.

      Sonya, and her “friends” seem like characters from a teen movie or seris dealing with bullies in school.

      The desperate efforts to crowbar in “Dawn is a racist coloniser!” into the narrative was pathetic and insulting to all the actual victims of racial oppression worldwide too.

      The author of the article tried as hard as possible to sell “Dawn is mad, and obsessed/creepy” but it didn’t work.

      They also tried to mitigate the actions and words of Sonya and friends but the text and email trove made that impossible.

      I get why, they wanted the reader to be “Err, not sure which of these ladies is evil, but both are crazy!” about halfway through the article before the big reveal of the bullying/mean girls texts.

      But regardless, a well told “low stakes problem”…

      1. fposte*

        I’ve been thinking about the “white savior” charge myself, and I’d be interested in people’s takes. On the one hand, this wasn’t about the white lady saving the supporting player of color, so it really isn’t the standard white savior narrative. There’s also the fact that she genuinely *did* save somebody; Larson really seemed to struggle with this truth, which did give Dorland moral points that she herself lacked. But Dorland did position herself as starring in a drama where she saved somebody less able, and I was thinking that that pattern of seeking validation may come from the same white savior template.

        1. The Dogman*

          “and I was thinking that that pattern of seeking validation may come from the same white savior template.”

          Well it could, but I think an adoptee with abandonment issues is a more probable cause of her desire to “save” someone than some weird race based option.

          After all unless Dawn Dorland could somehow control the kidney post removal and make sure it went to a darker skinned person who needs “saving” I am not sure the whole white savior thing is valid.

          In my view “white saviors TM” are the people who try to tell communities and people who are non-white how to “improve” themselves.

          And I don’t see much of that these days, that is more a holdover from the past where it does exist, if it still does anywhere meaningful.

          Dorland definitely has some pride in “saving” someone, but I am not sure it is quite the level of “starring in a drama” since she kept her statements about it private and didn’t novelise it.

          Larson did novelise it, after engaging in a cyber mockery campaign that was focused on mocking Dorland. Larson did this because she is jealous of the bravery of the Dorland and is doing the classsic angry hurt human move of trying to destroy the thing or person who causes you to feel shame about your own moral inadequacy.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I can see what you’re saying, and yes, I saw some of what you describe in Larson in her writers’ group chat.

            It’s funny how many different facets there are in this one and how different some of the takes are (though nobody seems to be saying that either of them would be a delight to know and befriend).

            1. The Dogman*

              “(though nobody seems to be saying that either of them would be a delight to know and befriend).”

              Lol, yes!

              I would not be able to be friends with a backstabber like Larson, those humans are way too much bother to engage with, but friends like Dorland are exhausting unless they get therapy for their neediness.

        2. Expiring Cat Memes*

          For me, it’s that Larson took the concept of the letter and recontextualised it in a racial sense for a small part in a bigger fictional story, and how Dorland kept aggressively trying to refocus the accolades from Larson’s different story back to her own personal story that it started to come across as self-centred and white saviour for me. The tone comes across as “I enabled this success of yours and you owe me”.

          While Dorland did save somebody, and the action itself is incredibly admirable, there’s something about the way she’s so aggressively sought public recognition and validation for her deed, in kind of weird out-of-context settings, that makes her motivation for it come across as slimy to me. And while I don’t agree with the immature, gossipy way that Larson handled it, I can simultaneously understand that dealing with narcissists doesn’t bring out your best.

          I’m not saying I fall on Larson’s side necessarily, just that I identify less with Dorland’s way of thinking and doing. The whole story is a good example of two opposite personality types feeding off each other in the worst possible way.

          1. Cinnamon*

            Yeah, that’s what I saw too. I think when Larson read the kidney donation letter, she imagined how she, as a woman of color, would feel about receiving it. After all, gratitude is racialized in the US. (Immigrants should be grateful to be allowed in the US, black people should be thankful to be allowed into a mostly white school, etc.)

            I sympathize with Dawn; she did a genuinely good thing and feels underappreciated and attacked by colleagues she thought were friends. But the story really wasn’t about organ donation, and Dawn couldn’t seem to understand that distancing herself from the story, not claiming it, was the best thing to do.

            1. fposte*

              I was reminded of Anne Lamott’s advice to disguise characters modeled on real people by giving them a characteristic they would never want to claim–so any male character based on an ex-boyfriend would have a little tiny penis.

              But I also think this story is rooted in many things, including Larson’s strong dislike of Dorland; I don’t buy that it’s simply the idea of donation and she created something completely different from it. It’s just that literally litigating somebody’s dislike of you is a waste of time and energy.

      2. tab*

        I tend to agree with you. I think Larson and her friends behaved very poorly, and Larson clearly plagiarized Dorland’s letter, even as she was insulting her to her friends. I also think Dorland needs help dealing with her pain about the situation. I don’t think she’ll be happy without it, even if she wins her case.

        1. The Dogman*

          “I also think Dorland needs help dealing with her pain about the situation. I don’t think she’ll be happy without it, even if she wins her case.”

          Agreed, she for sure needs more therapy!

        2. HoundMom*

          My first take on the article was writers could be inspired by anyone telling a story and that would be fair game.

          The fact that she copied Dorland’s letter pretty much word for word and admitted it to her network takes away any sympathy I had for her.

          While both sides escalated it and Dorland may have issues, that was pure theft. Larson should have thanked Dorland for the inspiration and asked if she could use the letter and it might have not turned into this.

          1. The Dogman*

            “Larson should have thanked Dorland for the inspiration and asked if she could use the letter and it might have not turned into this.”

            Exactly right, all this could have been avoided had Larson had a better personality and ethics about plagiarism.

            1. mreasy*

              Yes! That is a great point. And given her scorn for Dorland it seems to have been done out of dislike or underestimating her.

      3. ThatGirl*

        Nooo, Dawn doesn’t need to harass Sonya for literal years just because her feeling were hurt. I’m not saying Sonya behaved perfectly but Dawn clearly thought she was more important to Dawn than she actually was, and wanted alll the praise for an act of charity.

      4. Fulana del Tal*

        Dawn seems like a nice lady who is trying to get some form of recompense for the pain, humiliation and the financial costs of the campaign of bullying that Sonya put her through.

        Dorland- Reached out to Larson because Larson hadn’t liked or commented anything about Dorland being a donor and it bugged Dorland that she didn’t get the fawning praise she was expecting. Dorland seems to be obsessed with receiving credit for being the inspiration for the story. Dorland gave the group texts and pitched the story to NYT, if she feel humiliated she’s to blame. I’m Team ESH but lets not paint Dorland as some innocent lamb.

        1. Cinnamon*

          I really don’t understand why Dorland wants to be known as the inspiration for a story where she is the antagonist. For me, that would be like watching 101 Dalmatians and wanting the world to know you were the real-life Cruella.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            I think it’s become about the plagiarism of the letter for her at this point. She claimed she stopped talking to Larson about the story and organ donation until she read the story and saw the letter had been used, and that opened the can of worms again.

    6. lapgiraffe*

      A big question I still have is – how were they able to subpoena all of those emails and texts? What was the legal rationale? And yes this is coming from a place of freaking out if some of my texts ever came to light. I’m not in a group chat being a bully, but I do speak very frankly with some friends via text or email, particularly my closest friend who lives half a world away from me. It doesn’t excuse all the mean shit that was said between the chunky monkeys, and I wouldn’t say things in a group text specifically that I wouldn’t want shared, just knowing how humans are and perhaps just not trusting most, but man that feels like a major violation of privacy.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Wow that actually adds a lot more context and assuming it’s all accurate makes Larson look a tiny bit worse and Dorland look a tiny bit better IMO.

          1. mreasy*

            Agreed! Though she was over the top in her attempts to engage Larson, this info adds up to more legal needs on her side. I wonder if pitching the NYT piece was to that end as well.

    7. Loopy*

      The whole thing left me feeling vaguely sad and in the end I didn’t really like either side. The mean girl bullying is something that seems to be rampant in YA lit and I was sad to see more of it in the writing community. Dawn’s weird fixation about people not commenting on her charitable act also seemed vaguely sad to me. I’m phrasing it badly but I don’t think either comes off in a much better light than the other or that its possible to have a satisfying resolution to this for either party.

      But, interesting read!

  4. Nervous Rex*

    I am (slightly) pregnant. I’ve had several losses. I’m constantly on high alert, even though I know worrying won’t help. There is so much more time to go before I even start to feel like I’m out of the danger zone,, and every day is so long. I am losing my everloving mind and could really use some advice.

    Tips for making the time faster?
    Tips for disguising the pregnancy, should I get to the point where I start to show?
    Pregnancy and parenting tips in general? (I do have a toddler. When I’m not convinced I’ll lose the baby, I’m busy worrying about whether I can be an effective parent to two children at once.)

    1. Pennyworth*

      That sounds tough. No particular advice other than hunt around for a support group. There must be many in your situation. I hope all goes well.

    2. Same Stormy Boat*

      Oh my heart goes out to you! I am in this same boat, except for the being pregnant part (working on that). Did they also test you for All The Things? I’m in the middle of that now and gosh it is not fun.

      This is going to sound terrible, but it is the thing that I am trying to do for myself: would it be helpful to you to just decide you WILL lose the baby, do as much as you can to accept it, and then be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t happen? I mean, don’t stop taking your vitamins and obviously don’t start drinking or something, but maybe just try to go about your day as if nothing was? I tend to do well with this until I get kicked in the gut with hormones. My hormones always effect my anxiety levels across the board, so in my case it seems to also be tied to generally feeling anxious and my anxious feelings finding a place to land. That is to say, even if I could be sure I wouldn’t lose the baby, my anxiety would find some other topic. It sounds like maybe that is also happening for you? If so, I’d go find resources about anxiety in general because the losing the baby part might be a (partial) red herring in terms of dealing with it.

      I wish so much that I had better advice and tips and the like, but I am struggling too. You are not alone! Internet hugs and tea and cookies if you’d like them.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      I’m 21 weeks with an IVF pregnancy after 2.5 years of medical intervention. My first ten weeks dragged because I was on total exercise restriction (per my doctor) and I was exhausted and felt awful from all the hormones I was on until I hit 10 weeks. I ended up sleeping a lot and not doing much other than work. Less of an option when you already have a kid. If you can exercise, I would, just because the endorphins help mood.

      Weeks 10-21 have flown because I’m in a very busy job right now, and it’s been an excellent distraction from pregnancy worries. Are there any work projects you can pick up? (My mantra regarding worrying about being stressed out was “women stay pregnant in war zones.” Having a mantra helped.)

      Seems like it really depends on your unpregnant body shape how soon you show. For me, my chest grew so quickly that anything that drapes over the chest hides the belly—this includes t-shirts, work blouses, most things I own that aren’t clingy. Then again, I also started with a belly and so I had many clothes that minimized my non-pregnant belly anyway.

      And empathy on the worrying. I didn’t feel out of the danger zone until I hit about 18 weeks, and I didn’t tell my family until this week. (I had told friends, but telling family felt higher-stakes.)

    4. German Girl*

      Best internet wishes to you. I was so incredibly nervous with my first one – having had a few very early losses before him – until about the 12th week, when statistics say it’s a lot less likely to go wrong.

      With trying to conceive the second one, I’ve told myself that the three of us are a wonderful little family already and if another baby won’t happen then we’ll be happy as we are, so I’m a lot more relaxed about it even though I’ve had another very early loss this spring. I’m just gonna keep trying for a bit and it’ll either happen or it won’t.

      When did you start showing with your first one? I didn’t really show that much until about week 20 – there was a little bit after about week 15 but that was easily hidden by winter clothing, so when I finally started to show it was way past the 12 weeks point and I just told everyone.

      1. Nervous Rex*

        I was about 25 weeks when I started showing with my first, but in the 3 years since my body has completely changed. I have no idea what to expect this time.

    5. Sunshine*

      Would counseling help? I found a person who truly specialized in women’s health and reproductive issue. I drive 1 1/2 hours each way to see her. She was amazing.
      My tip for passing time is to enjoy every day as if you have no reason to be concerned about loss. If something should happen You won’t be less sad if you focused only on the worry. Talk to you belly. Send it love.
      As far as coping with a toddler. I had my first then a loss and then twins. A toddler leash saved my life during pregnancy and later with the twins. When there are two kids in the house having good safety in place. I love baby gates you can open with one hand. Keeps the chaos contained to one room.
      Good thoughts to you!

      1. Nervous Rex*

        I imagine counseling would help a lot! Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover online counseling, and I can’t find in-person counselors who will let me bring my child along. (I’m a SAHM in the rural South US, and while there are plenty of day cares and babysitters available, none have any sort of CV protocols in place.)

        1. Observer*

          Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover online counseling

          I know that some insurances have changed that since Covid hit. So if you haven’t checked recently, it might be worth looking into that.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      In reverse order:
      • You can definitely parent two kids at once. It will be imperfect, as all human endeavors are.
      • If you’re in the northern hemisphere, we are moving into long loose sweater season.
      • I was really helped with mindfulness (e.g. not dwelling in circles on things that can’t be changed) by a counselor through my cancer support center. Could any medical people put you in touch with someone who specializes in this? (I’m talking about one session where they listen to you, and make some narrow focused recommendations based on that. Mine recommended half a dozen things, out of a much longer list of possible things, of which 2-3 really resonated and worked well for me.)

    7. RagingADHD*

      Oh, sympathy and good vibes! All my advice on these kind of significant worries would be coming from my religious tradition and prayer, so YMMV, but if you have a spritual tradition, that can be very helpful for your peace of mind.

      For parenting 2 instead of 1, it’s tricky at first but I promise you “level up” in a matter of weeks. As a comedian once said, you learn to play zone defense instead of man-to-man.

      Best wishes!

    8. Lizy*

      Oh momma I feel for you! Hugs and prayers and good vibes.

      As for parenting 2 at once, I strongly recommend that your partner (or mom or best friend) stay home with you for at least the first couple of weeks. While I definitely was still Mom, your body will be recovering. My husband said once that my “job” those first few weeks was sleeping and recovering. His job was keeping the house going.

      I always told people pretty early, but that was my personal preference. I felt that if something happened, I wanted support from those around me. But – and this is a huge but – I never experienced pregnancy loss. So you do whatever you feel comfortable with.

      I love what someone else said – women go through war pregnant. You are strong.

      1. Nervous Rex*

        One thing I’m so thrilled about right now is that my husband’s job allows two whole weeks of paid parental leave. He didn’t have that with our first and what little PTO he had was used up staying with me in the hospital during labor and delivery. I know having him around would help a ton.

      2. Blackcat*

        Yeah, having had one loss after we told people (14 weeks) I avoided telling people with subsequent pregnancies. People I expected to be supportive were AWFUL. Like, a (now former) friend quizzed me about all of the things I could have done to cause it. And lots of people were insensitive a-la “It was God’s will” or “You’ll have another” or “Some things aren’t meant to be.”

        After that experience, I hid my current pregnancy as long as possible. Easier in COVID times…

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      I’ve been there so many times, having suffered a couple miscarriages too. I never really let myself believe there was a baby coming until they were in my arms.
      I think I eventually took a rather fatalistic view and realized that I no control over whether or not I would carry my baby to term so there was no point in worrying about something out of my control. So i just tried to find other things to keep me busy- meet up with friends, volunteer activities, journaling random projects around the house, lots of hikes and walks with my other kids. But I am also a “less information is better” type of person- i did not go to the dr until I was at least ten weeks pregnant and really avoided googling every little thing. I know some people are the opposite, though, and want to stay super informed.
      There are online support groups that meet over zoom. I have a friend who found this one helpful:

      1. Nervous Rex*

        Thank you for that link!

        I wish I could take the less info approach myself. Unfortunately I have a lot of health issues and am going to have to work pretty heavily with healthcare to adjust and re-adjust my meds as things go along. We nearly lost my first baby because my prenatal care was spotty and some issues weren’t spotted when they should have been. That’s also why I know about the pregnancy so early–I have to track everything pretty closely for treatment reasons. It’s emotionally exhausting.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          Ouf, yes, that does sound exhausting on so many levels…

          Oh also- a black or busy print shirt worn untucked with a drapy cardigan and a scarf was my go-to “hiding the bump” look. Usually worn with elastic waist pants. But i think it also depends on your style- this was pretty close to what I usually wore. Changing your style is sometimes just as telling. Kind of like when you stop drinking.
          And I know everyone says parenting is a long game, but it is also a very short game too- just focus on being the best parent you can be for ten or fifteen or thirty minutes at a time. Some days the bar I have for myself is, “Did they kids eat? Did they get outside for a little bit? Did I give them hugs and tell them that I love them?” Answer yes, and that is enough. There is too much pressure put on parents, both working parents and stay at home parents. I’m a part time stay at home parent and I feel so much pressure to make my kids’ life … I don’t know… full maybe is the word? I think i lose focus of what the bare minimum is. So maybe figure out what that bare minimum of “effective” means to you, and let that be your guide.

    10. qvaken*

      I don’t have any advice, I just want to empathise as someone who has also lost a wanted pregnancy. I can understand why you feel worried about your current pregnancy, given your past experiences.

      One thought though – could you access a counsellor? If you do go with this option, you could call them first and ask a few questions to try to find one who has lived experience with this and will “get it”.

    11. Observer*

      Tips for disguising the pregnancy, should I get to the point where I start to show?

      What you wear can make a big difference. But why are you trying to hide the pregnancy? That’s just another piece of stress. And at some point, you won’t be able to hide it anyway, unless you stop walking out of your house.

      If your issue is to shut down discussion, try to figure out how to do that regardless – as I said, you’re going to hit a point where you can’t hide it anyway.

      1. Nervous Rex*

        I live around people who have, in the past, made comments like “God probably knew you weren’t ready for another child.” I have to go on living here without punching anyone, so I’d like to keep this information to myself for as long as possible, ideally until 20 weeks.

        1. Lizy*

          Oh gosh that’s… really rude. I’m so sorry. If it makes any difference, I didn’t really start showing until around then with either of my last couple of pregnancies. I mean, my clothes were tighter, for sure, but no one else could tell I was pregnant.

        2. Observer*

          I know that people say this stuff, but I still get shocked every time I hear of it. It’s just soooo incredibly RUDE. And stupid and cruel and arrogant.

          You’ve gotten some good advice on what might work to keep the information quiet for some time. But I would REALLY think about some scripts, because you know that someone is going to say something terrible at some point, and it’s going to be easier to not punch anyone if you have something to pull up in your pocket. Maybe you could ask them when they became G-d’s spokesman or case manager.

    12. Charlottemousse*

      1) Tips to cover showing: loose shirts and empire waist dresses with jackets and cardigans and scarves. Weather should be getting cooler, so it would be easier to avoid showing with scarves and jackets.
      2) What helped me with the time and waiting was diving into work and talking with friends and family, especially those who had experienced pregnancy loss, too. We waited to buy anything until later in the pregnancy and didn’t set up the crib until late, either. I loved looking through Lucie’s List for all baby needs and a lot of good pregnancy and beyond advice. Congratulations and good luck!

    13. Twin Mom*

      Over the summer, our local library started the 1000 books before kindergarten challenge. What about tackling that with your toddler? There is a website with activities and I believe there are reading logs to download. Some libraries run a local version of that challenge as well, with prizes for the kids and parents. As things progress, you could add in books about being an older sibling.

    14. Been There*

      I am sending lots of positive thoughts and energy your way! I had a late (16 wk) miscarriage with my first and for the subsequent two pregnancies did not tell anyone outside immediate family, and friends whose support I would want in case of another loss, until after the anatomy scan at 20 weeks. I found that a loose dress with a belt loosely belted OVER my bump (not above – think Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy) actually tricked the eye and helped disguise the bump until I was ready to share the news with the world at large.

      I also felt like these babies weren’t mine until I had them home with me from the hospital, to the point that I did not have any showers until after the first baby was born. Second baby was a pandemic baby so no showers at all.

      When I found myself spiraling I would put my hands on my belly and tell my baby that I loved them and would be their home for as long as they needed me, even if that was only for a few weeks, which seemed to help.

      Keeping busy at work helped with my anxiety a lot. Also knowing my response was normal and stemmed from PTSD from my first loss. Hang in there!

    15. HannahS*

      Sending you warm wishes. In terms of disguising pregnancy, I had good luck with Old Navy maternity clothes. I wore a lot of swing dresses, as well as the maternity dresses that they call “Belted Utility Dress.” Luckily, the 80s are back, which means loosely-fitting tops are plentiful right now.

  5. tangerineRose*

    I feel like googling pictures of interesting and unusual animals. Can you recommend animals to look for? For example, the Crested Coua (a bird that looks like it escaped from an animated movie), tree kangaroo, and tapir are all interesting and unusual to me.

    1. Jackalope*

      I’m too tired to think of good ideas for specific animals right now, but I’d suggest looking up animals from Madagascar. They have some really delightful looking critters, and because they’re an island the animals are unique.

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Echidna! Okapi! Leopard seal! Spectacled Bear! Dugong! Beluga Whale! Alpine Ibex and Alpine Pika! Kangaroo rat! Dormice are also adorable, almost like sugar gliders. Hornbill birds! Spoonbills!

      Unfortunately I have to get going now, but I wish you much fun. :)

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Skinks! Banana slugs! Sea sponges, some of them are so beautiful. Nautilis look cool too! Stick and leaf bugs are amazing. There are huge jewel-toned dragonflies where I am, and some neat looking grasshoppers and crickets.

      1. R*

        To add to my list: tenrec, maned wolf, Malayan colugo, saiga.

        Mouse deer are my longtime fav though.

        1. ShinyPenny*

          Saiga! Unbelievable! Should be much more famous. I was an animal-crazy kid, and only learned about the saiga a year ago.

    3. Meh*

      There is the Happy Face Spider from Hawaii and its cousin the Spooky Face Spider that lives on Kauai :)

      1. fposte*

        Honestly, anything unique to Australia is a good plan. Quolls and bilbys (bilbies?) are also fun.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Love tapirs! What about honey badgers? They aren’t that cute, in fact they’re pretty angry-looking. But interesting.

    4. MissCoco*

      I am loving all the answers, now I also have some fun animal googles to do today!

      Kakapo (and lots of other birds from New Zealand!)
      Golden moles
      Patagonian Mara (capybara too, but the Mara is the guinea pigs slightly more unusual looking cousin)
      River dolphins
      Pallas cat (lots of the small wild cats are really cool to learn about)
      Tibetan fox

    5. marvin the paranoid android*

      I recommend looking up nudibranchs, which are colourful sea slugs. If your interests are similar to mine, I’d also recommend looking up images comparing various nudibranchs to David Bowie.

    6. Here Kitty Kitty*

      Ooooo! Look for pictures of the melanistic fox. Very beautiful. Thanks for this thread! I’m going to look up animals today!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A family favorite is the flightless parrot called a kakapo. On the other end of the “want to meet” scale, I just learned about the guar — an Asian bovine strong enough to scare off a tiger and damage cars. As Shiv Ramdas put it (*I am paraphrasing from memory) “People who say they aren’t afraid of cows are people who have never seen a guar.”

      1. allathian*

        The naked mole-rat. Not cute, but it has some very interesting survival traits, such as the ability to survive for 20 minutes without oxygen.

    8. Rainy*

      No one has mentioned a binturong! Also google “european badger” and then “american badger” and recoil from the second! Wolverines are super fun to look at photos of as well. Red pandas and snow leopards are a favorite, and I love to watch videos of volunteers bathing baby sloths and dipping them in tea.

      If you like bats, Bat World Sanctuary (my number one favourite charity in the world) has livestream cams of their bat enclosures, and a lot of great videos of their rescues.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        European vs American badgers are so funny. I (American) have always found it weird to see badgers in children’s books as like, the cute folksy gentleman having tea with a squirrel or whatever because the ones at the zoo are scary! I had no idea until the past couple years that the storybook badgers are based on a different animal

    9. TexasRose*

      One of my favorites is the hoopoe, which I first saw as an Egyptian heiroglyph, and later as a plot point in a Midsommer Murder episode. (They’re a European and African bird.)

      Here’s two good lists:
      (Be sure to scroll down for additional fun lists. )

      If you want REALLY odd, look up the critters unearthed in the Burgess Shale deposits. These were part of an early die-off of prehistoric sea creatures, and well, it’s clear that evolution has definitely taken a DIFFERENT turn.

      Thanks for the fun thread!

    10. L*

      I love this question and all of the answers! I’ll try to only add new suggestions. Here are some of my favorite ones
      There’s a blue tarantula
      Tasmanian tiger aka Thylacine is extinct but super interesting
      Blakiston fish owl
      Fossa – looks like cat but it’s not
      Platypus is always a fun one
      Elephant seal
      The ocean is full of strange and interesting looking animals like the yeti crab, immortal jellyfish, frogfish just to name a few

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Twitter just gave me this for you: Vietnamese mossy frogs.
      Holy heckadoodles, I couldn’t see them at first. Their camoflage is that spectacular .

  6. Pennyworth*

    Pangolins – the only mammals with scales, Manx four horned sheep, peacock spiders – the size of a grain of rice but brilliant dancers.

    1. Sleepless*

      A large, male Jacob sheep got loose from where it was supposed to be and ended up at Animal Control in my suburban/exurban county. He got posted on their “for adoption” page before his owner got tracked down! He was quite a sight.

  7. Pet Lover*

    How about a thread to talk about pets? Share fun stories, ask questions for difficult things your pets are doing, or just enjoy discussing critters.

    (Alison: I tried posting this once and my internet crashed. If this is a duplicate, please delete.)

    1. Pet Lover*

      My story is that one of our kittens is still super excited about sitting on my lap while I’m working. She will bound from the door to the bed in one or two hops, then fling herself from the bed to my lap and settle down quite pleased with herself! Lately one of my older cats saw this and clearly decided that if a kitten can fit on my lap while I’m working, so can she. Spoiler alert: she really doesn’t! But she does. Not. Care.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        When my doggo was a literal baby, 8 weeks old, I kept her pretty close so I didn’t have to worry about her getting into stuff unsupervised. She spent a lot of time napping in my lap. She is now 50 pounds and still spends a lot of time napping in my lap :)

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Best Good Dog is a 60 lb Husky who does not understand that he is not a lap dog. When we’re in the car he needs to be strapped in the back seat to prevent him getting in the driver’s lap. We’ve all given up on being able to see the screen when we watch tv.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            In my house, we call those lap ponies :) Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond was a 70 pound bloodhound/lab mix, and she lap-ponied as long as her arf-ritis would let her.

    2. Pennyworth*

      We had two kittens that found some steak marinating in wine. When we discovered them they were sitting in the sink, quite drunk. One of them had hiccups. We also had a cat with a definite sense of humor – one evening my sister’s boyfriend went out to shoot some rabbits. He came back unsuccessful, and as he stomped into the kitchen in a bad mood the cat got up, yawned and walked out the door. Five minutes later it carried in a huge rabbit and laid it at the feet of the boyfriend, then went back to sleep.

      1. allathian*

        Awesome kitty stories! I especially loved the rabbit hunter. My parents’ cats only got a vole each (on two separate occasions), which they didn’t eat because they apparently taste awful. Still, not bad, considering they were both leashed at the time. They used to endlessly stalk birds, and somehow never connected the fact that they always failed to catch them to the big human on the other end of the leash…

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        That rabbit one is hilarious! “I will now demonstrate competence, human. Observe.”

        My cat used to bring me gifts. Unfortunately she preferred to give her gifts fresh, very much alive and kicking. Her best ones were the mouse that went for the nearest available shelter (which happened to be up my legs, under my shorts) and a grasshopper the size of my fist that was impossible to get out of the kitchen until she managed to re-catch it.

        1. The Dogman*

          As a child my cat (for the Pratchett fans my cat was pretty much Greebo) used to bring live animals into my room only to “train” me to hunt.

          I got very good at catching birds (up to and including a Seagull once) and letting them out the window (if uninjured)… my cat thought I was the most stupid and useless kitten ever I am sure!

        2. Ali G*

          The cat we had as a kid dragged a live crow into our house by it’s neck, and it got away from her. That was fun!

      3. Hotdog not dog*

        My mom once had an old tomcat (he was neutered, but as he was already well into adulthood when it happened he never quite understood that) who found a nest of baby bunnies. He carried them into the house, placed them in his cat bed, and curled up around them. It took Mom a few days before she could get them away from him, he was quite the protective mama bunny! (Bunnies ended up at a wildlife rescue and were fine.)

        1. Pennyworth*

          English writer Arthur Ransome had Siamese cats who used to escort live rabbits into his house. They had killed one and got into trouble so they decided they still wanted to bring gifts without getting scolded. Our friends had a retriever who used to bring in the newspapers that were delivered to their neighbors in the street every morning. They scolded him, and he stopped bringing them home but the newspapers were still being stolen – he was dropping the papers down the drain so he wouldn’t get into trouble.

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My cat is becoming more cat shaped! She came to us terribly overweight. She lost a bunch, then gained some back (argh), which meant I had to put her on a more serious diet (weighing food, etc.) Then she got really sick…but because of that, we figured out some of her dietary problems, and she seems to be doing even better on the prescription food. Our next check up is in December and I hope she’ll still have a clean bill of health in addition to having lost more weight.

      I’ve never had a cat that was so terrible at regulating her own intake, so this was a big learning experience for me. I still have some residual guilt that I didn’t pick up on some of what was going on sooner and I almost blame myself a little bit that she got so sick, but that’s probably going overboard.

      She’s such a lovely snuggle cat! She’s weird though, like all cats are somehow. She likes being pet backwards sometimes, for example. And while she does get the zoomies every once in a while, she’s generally an extremely chill cat. We’ve had dogs and little kids over and she doesn’t bat an eye or go hide or anything. She’s also really really really loud when she meows. Especially in the dark of night, but maybe that’s because there aren’t as many other sounds…

      1. Rainy*

        Our longhair-mix younger cat likes to be petted backward as well. We discovered it when we first got her, and I suspect that the house of chaos she was born into had little children who didn’t understand petting yet.

        For the midnight yell sessions, she may be in a bathtub or shower or a small bathroom. My beloved older cat (RIP) loved to get in the tub at night and sing the song of his people because all the tile made it so loud.

    4. Disco Janet*

      We’ve had our two cats for about a year – I grew up with a dog, so I’m still learning about cats and all their quirks! One of them loves to wake me up for pets and cuddles every day at like 2:30 AM. Not ideal. Any advice for getting her to cut it out? (Other than the obvious thing I’ve already tried, which is not giving her attention during the 2:30 AM wakeup.)

    5. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      Our two cats are helping me with my physical therapy. While I’m stretching my knee, one of them will sit on my stomach and purr, and the other will sit at arm’s length and wait for me to do the stretch where I’m on my side so I can pet him. When my spouse gets to the cool-down part of her exercise, they’ll both run up to her waiting for her to bend over and pet them. They love squats in particular.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Haha, my Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond used to get so very concerned if I tried to do sit-ups while she was around. They say resistance helps the workout – a 70 pound hound dog trying to lay down across your torso so you don’t injure yourself with all that weird flailing around is definitely resistance and most certainly not helpful. :)

        1. The Dogman*

          Ahh yes, my 60kg giant breed choc lab used to like to sit on my back when I was doing press ups…

          60kg is about 120lbs…

          Got strong quite fast though! ;)

        2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

          Haha, my 80-pound hound tries to wiggle underneath me when I do inverted yoga poses.

          1. Juneybug*

            My 40 lb doggie will lick my face when I first start doing yoga, which cracks me up every time. But hey, they say laughter is the best medicine.

    6. MissB*

      We recently discovered that our “lab mix” loves to wear a T-shirt. He has some American bulldog and mastiff in him (so he’s huge) and he ended up with only one layer of hair which is quite thin in spots. Now that fall is here, I decided to get him a shirt.

      I mentioned he is huge? Yeah, I found one shirt on Amazon that would fit him. It’s black and has the word “security” embroidered across the back. He loves it. Each morning he sits in front of the fireplace mantle and whines until one of us grabs his shirt and puts it on.

      It’s his security shirt.

      1. Coco*

        My 7 pound yorkie has a similar if not same shirt. (Black tank with white lettering). Makes her look very tough and serious.

      2. fposte*

        Heh. My old dog loved getting her collar put back on after a bath. It’s funny how they decide these things are important.

      3. Redhairedrunner*

        I had a super fluffy dog growing up that would shiver and act sad until you put a coat on her when she was cold. It was always funny to me since she had such a nice thick and cozy coat naturally.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Well, my dog is visiting my sister’s new apartment and not only is she slipping and sliding like Bambi on the hardwood floors, she keeps falling out of bed! She hasn’t slept in an unfamiliar bed since pre-plague times, poor dear. (She’s fine — it’s a low bed, and we discovered long ago that she is totally immune to fall damage.)

    8. The Dogman*

      I heard a strange noise last evening in the next room while I was prepping dinner.

      It was a muffled “wurrr wurrr wurrr” ‘ing, so I popped my head around the door to see what the pooches were up to…

      My malamute (small breed, think a large labrador ish sized) was play growling… with the Whippahuahuas head in his mouth, while she was holding his tounge in her tiny (by comparison) mouth.

      When they saw me looking they froze (in position) and tried to pretend nothing was going on!

      The Whippahuahua was all like “What is this tongue doing in my mouth? Why am I looking at the world though a cage of massive teeth? I wonder????!!!???” while the Malamute was all “Whaaaaa? Nuffin goin’ on ‘ere dad!”

      I nearly fell over laughing, but couldn’t get the camera out fast enough to capture it!

      1. fposte*

        It never even occurred to me that there were crosses between whippets and chihuahuas; that is like the most fun portmanteau to say ever.

        1. The Dogman*

          It is a great word, rolls off the tongue, but she is a weird alien impersonating a dog we think.

          She is an excellent squirrel hound, at least she thinks so, and she is verbally like a firealarm that has learnt to yodel… at 110 decibels!

          But she is sweet, and loving, and does a lovely curl up and snooze thing that is really the cutest thing ever!

          Think Whippet body, size of a tiny female whippet, with a Chihuahua ish, but longer face on top.

          1. fposte*

            I was kind of hoping she was chihuahua-sized with the speed of a whippet. It’d be like having an ankle-height bullet whizzing around.

            1. The Dogman*

              Lol, that would be funny, but no, she is a whippet sized mad-as-a-box-of-frogs dog who belts about screama-squealing at knee height when excited…

        2. Anonymous Dog Mom*

          We adopted an 8-month-old puppy last year. It was a free-to-a-good-home situation, and they told us she was a Yellow Lab/Chihuahua mix. So we call her our Labhuahua.

    9. Lcsa99*

      Our two cats mostly tolerate each other … well, the older cat tolerates the young, but the younger loves his “brother.” Except when it comes time to clip their claws. Older cat is fine with it. He actually seems to like me rubbing his paws but the younger cat hates it with a passion and will make it as difficult as possible so I have to wrap him in a blanket to get the job done. He will give a pitiful meow the whole time, which makes the older cat come running to his rescue. He’ll sniff around trying to find out what’s wrong and has batted at both me and his brother so I’ve learned to clip the easy claws in one room then close the door between them to clip our drama queen. The whole time I can hear blanket cat complaining and older cat meowing at the door to come in. It’s quite a production! (Btw I say older and younger but they’re really only about 4 months apart)

      1. The Dogman*

        Why do you clip your cats claws?

        I have never heard of people doing that to cats… I thought they just keep them sharp by scratching on their own.

        Some dogs need claws clipping but cats claws shed off once they are old…

        1. Disco Janet*

          Depends on the cat. Mine aren’t big fans of scratching posts or other things that would naturally keep their claws from getting too long. They get pretty long and make their cuddles/kneading painful if I don’t trim them occasionally.

          1. The Dogman*

            I have yet to meet a cat that likes scratching posts… all mine loved/love my wooden table legs though! :(

            1. Windchime*

              I bought my cat a really scratchy, heavy door mat. It’s the kind that is made out of scratchy rope-like stuff. He loves it and uses it for scratching and also lying on.

              I still clip his claws, though; otherwise, he’s always getting a claw stuck in a blanket or the sofa. I only clip the front; he hates it and struggles like I am trying to cut his actual toes off.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I don’t want my cats to keep their claws sharp. :) I want them nice and dull so when a cat climbs on my shoulder or gets a little too rough while playing, all my blood stays on the inside.

          1. The Dogman*

            Ahh makes sense… mine is light enough, or my skin is tough enough that I dont suffer that.

            Lol, perhaps a thicker jumper would help too?

        3. No Tribble At All*

          Sometimes cats keep their claws too sharp, and if you have lots of carpet in your house, the cats will get STUCK. Which is definitely hilarious to see, but then you have to help your poor disgruntled ferocious predator get her little claws out of the carpet. My rule is if I see you get stuck, you get a little peticure right afterwards.

        4. RussianInTexas*

          Two of mine don’t need it, but the third does. She doesn’t scratch anything much, and her claws are like long needles. If I don’t clip her claws, she literally gets stuck to comforters and blankets.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            A kitten I helped rescue & socialize ripped one of her claws off that way–quite the unexpected vet bill, but she was so cute she was worth it.

        5. Chauncy Gardener*

          We have to clip our cat’s claws. She loves her scratching post, but they still get so long that they’ll curl up into her pads if we don’t cut them once in a while

    10. RussianInTexas*

      One of my Orange Floof Twins is super chatty. He is a Mainecoon mix of some sort, and constantly chirps, meows, thrills, and squeaks. We have long conversations. He also loves belly rubs, and will flip dramatically the moment you touch him. His brother is much quieter and chill.
      And you know it’s common wisdom that cats doing meow at each other? Well, no one told George. He is the least sneaky cat possible.

    11. Squeebird*

      My 2 year old pup is now on the verge of being kicked out of his second daycare for jumping/climbing over various gates and fences.

      Daycare is a fun thing, not a necessity, so I’m not too put out. But man! Does anyone else have a dog that can’t get enough of going where they aren’t supposed to? Tell me your stories.

      If anyone has any good resources about doing agility training at home, I’d welcome those too. Something tells me that pup might have an aptitude for it…

      1. Anonymous from Long Island*

        I knew a dog that was a cross of Yellow Lab & Jack Russell Terrier. Possibly the smartest dog ever. He not only opened the back door & yard gate — he would close them behind himself. He never went anywhere, apparently just felt like being in the front yard. Family had to use the deadbolt even if everyone was home. Otherwise he’d inevitably turn up on the front steps.
        I nicknamed him the Jack Daniels Terrier.

      2. Redhairedrunner*

        My current dog can standing jump onto tables and over baby gates like it’s nothing. She also jumps fences and gates at daycare so they stuck her with the big dog playgroup (she is 19lbs of muscle). Fortunately for me it’s not too big of an issue at her daycare.
        Growing up I had a shelter dog that would open the fridge and then hide food in peoples bedrooms, one time we all got a stick of butter in our beds. I think it was a fear of food scarcity.

    12. Smol Book Wizard*

      Our German Shepherd is almost 12 weeks old. He is still periodically mouthy – I think he’s still learning the proper ways to ask for and accept affection when he’s bored. I suppose that’s pretty normal for his age? He definitely isn’t aggressive about it, but will put his mouth on clothes and wrists and things. We try the “ack/no” and moving our hands away from interaction, or standing still if it’s feet or legs.

    13. Dino*

      If anyone has a high energy cat, I cannot recommend The Ripple Rug enough!! My baby is a Siamese mix without a playmate and I wish I had bought this toy years ago!!! She loves it and makes playtime way easier. Plus I was able to donate 4 different beds/tunnels/cardboard boxes because the Ripple Rug replaced all of them, so I got some floor space back!

    14. Rebecca Stewart*

      Jeoffrey is obsessed with cheese stick wrappers. He will dig through the small trash cans to retrieve them, carry them off to a corner, and chew on them. This is a problem as cheese sticks are a good protein-rich snack for my boyfriend, and we are clearly going to have to replace all open trash cans with cans with lids, thanks to Mr. Cheese Stick Wrapper Hunter.

      It has also been exciting, for as the weather cools off the crickets come in looking for a place for the winter. Someone has been catching and eating them. I know this because whoever is doing it is also horking them back up, usually on the carpet. (sigh)

      And because my life isn’t crazy enough I am thinking of getting a dog.

  8. Housecleaning*

    I was thinking about the procrastination thread, and considering options for keeping my bedroom clean. I can sort of manage it for the rest of the house to an extent that I’m generally okay with it, but my room is awful. A part of my problem is that I have stacks of books I’m reading and they pile up; right now I see four or five that I’m reading and some reference books I use a lot (I’m reading a very heavy book subject-wise, a medium heavy book, and a couple of fluff books to balance out the heavy ones). I also tend to get piles of mail and papers; I hate dealing with papers! And I will never be able to deal with mail as it comes in (having tried for years on end, and having reached my 40s with no success, I feel I can say this about myself), so I need something to do with mail while I’m waiting to put it away. Then there are random things like newspapers, snacks, computer bits, etc. Most of the mess is combined to one area at least, which is a little bit larger than 1 meter squared. But the tops of things like my dresser are also dire. Any ideas for an organizational system? A big part of my problem is that I don’t have a place to put things, so I’m trying to figure out something that will be reasonably compact and hold the aforementioned types of stuff. Anyone else a reformed messy person? Or a naturally organized person who has ideas?

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      What works-ish for me is to corral the mess. Instead of trying to fight it and giving up, give your stacks a place to be. So, papers for me go in one particular low-sided box in the place that they pile up. Books, including the ones that I am in the middle of reading, have one shelf or table space near my bed. “To do” things that don’t really have a place yet get another boxy-like-thing next to the paper-stack. So you have stuff on your dresser or other surface? Put nice boxes or trays there so the things can be in a slightly more managed way.

      For me, this also helps in the sense that when tidying I can say “ok, do one box” and I do one corralled boxish thing, instead of looking at a giant pile and feeling defeated before I start. It has helped me be generally cleaner and more organized over time. It also helps me realize when I haven’t created enough space for a thing. If I have a lot of thing X in my Misc box, then maybe I should create a dedicated space for it somewhere, for example.

      Maybe this will work for you in some way? My advice is to start small with things you know–like the things you already noted above. Good luck!

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I have trouble getting started if I know I can’t do it perfectly or completely in one go. So consciously letting go of the perfection mindset and figuring out what is a good enough step for now is how I start making headway.

      My suggestion is to start by grabbing a bunch of baskets or boxes and putting like stuff together in the same box. You’ll already feel better just by having it away in boxes, even if the contents is just tossed in in a jumbled mess.

      Then each subsequent step (could be a different day!) is to take one box and sort through its contents. If you’re really struggling with the volume of mail and papers, pile them into categories or senders when you get to that box, band them together and count that as one big step. Add new envelopes to the category as you get them so you don’t go backwards. Then each time you come back to organising, grab a category or sender pile and sort through it, till eventually you get through the lot.

      I have a couple of those cube organiser shelves from Ikea that you can get a range of different boxes and compartment inserts for. They’re inexpensive, look ok, and I find the flexibility works really well when I have a bunch of differently sized objects.

    3. Care Package*

      You might enjoy Unf*ck Your Habitat (website). I second the having a boxes for your stuff. Honestly a bit like a toddler – they don’t organize their toys, but they can absolutely put them away in a box. I worry less about clean than I do about visual clutter, which stresses me out immensely.

      Much like diet and exercise, there’s a lot of really weird shame wrapped up our messiness. I’ve made way more progress on all of the above by acknowledging the shame and giving myself permission to find a system that works. *Should* is a TERRIBLE word. Many things *should* work. I *should* be able to do XYZ. But if it doesn’t work, that’s ok! Just find another system. It doesn’t matter why it works, just that it does. (Ex. I do my best exercise when trying to get out of childcare. Hilariously, so does my husband. So it’s how we help each other workout. Each agrees to watch kiddo so the other can get some exercise. It feels a bit like getting out of chores as a kid.). If you view this as a series of experiments and not a series of stressful failures, I think you’ll be on your way to success.

    4. Elf*

      Try Clutterbug. I found the “What clutterbug are you” organizational styles thing invaluable (based on your description, I’m guessing you are either a ladybug or a butterfly). She has lots of great suggestions that take into account what your style is (most organizational systems are for crickets and don’t work great for the rest of us).

      Specific suggestions for the things you describe:

      Get a shelf for your books. Not necessarily a whole bookshelf, something like this on your nightstand/dresser/where you use the books might do the trick https://www.etsy.com/listing/1080595886/wood-book-shelf-expandable-book-rack?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=book+holder+shelf&ref=sr_gallery-1-38&frs=1

      Make a mail/papers spot. You want one bin for needs attention/to do (bills, etc), one for needs follow up, and one for to file for later filing (bills after paying, bank statements, anything you are keeping), plus a spot *right there* for paper recycling. Mine is super compact because I have a wall mounted magazine rack plus a wastebasket. When the mail comes in, just sort it between junk and to do, you don’t even have to open it.

      Having the paper recycle right there might help with the newspapers, and just get a little bin for each other category (like computer bits) and put the stuff in. The goal isn’t to be organized per se, it’s just to have everything in a bin instead of straight on the surface. The dollar store is very much your friend for bins.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I second the “buy stuff to put your other stuff in” advice!

        This sounds ridiculous, but I did not own any tall recycling bins for years. Things came to a head during COVID, as I am reluctant to use the elevator very often to get to the basement of my building (thanks to above-mentioned non-masking neighbors) to recycle. Pre-bins, the piles of cans/bottles,/etc. in my kitchen were waist high. Post-bins, I have a bunch of bags filled with recycling, and when I have to use the elevator *anyway*, I grab a couple of bags and bring them to the basement.

        Also, I splurged and bought the chic-est bins I could — these tall stainless steel half moon-shaped shiny ones that you might see at a commercial business — so they look really nice!

    5. Batgirl*

      I have a low bookcase beside my bed (Ikea, billy) so that I have my reading options close by, but it’s also somewhere to rest a glass of water on top. The trick is to dress the top with things you both like to see and use, so you’re not tempted to move it and dump stuff. I have a fancy water jug and glass, a charging station, a lamp, and a ceramic elephant in a saucer who holds my rings, earrings and hair pins. I also have one of those bedside caddies that you slide under the mattress and which hang on the side of the bed. This is filled with the kind of nighttime emergency stuff you don’t want cluttering your bedside table: vitamins, medicated lotion, earplugs, tissues, etc. This does get messy, but an overflap conceals all. I have a drawer for pending laundry before I put it away, but honestly nothing beats a “just do it now” attitude. I haven’t got a good solution for oddments, but I have what I call “knicknack shelves” which are partioned squares in a pull out shelf which fit into the Ikea Pax wardrobes. They’re always shown as being used for jewelry, but I use them for uncategorizable things. This works really well until they’re full!

    6. Jay*

      Our random paper stuff tends to land on the dining room table. I hate that. So we have a big pretty ceramic bowl that sits there and the random paper stuff goes inside it. It can be easily relocated when someone comes over (if I care about that, which I mostly don’t these days).

      Years ago I followed Flylady (and she’s still around! not posting link to avoid moderation – search Flylady cleaning and she’ll pop up). I ignored a fair amount of what she said and took away ideas that are still useful. One is to identify the hot zones – places in the house where clutter tends to accumulate quickly – and police those frequently before the mess gets out of hand. For us that’s the dining room table and the kitchen counter. Once I realized that was happening, I was able to figure out how to corral some it (see above re: bowl on the table). I also check those spots more often and try to put away one or two things – even if I don’t get everything, it can keep it more manageable.

      The other thing I took from her was basically “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” There are a few specifics – like clean for 15 minutes when you have 15 minutes and be pleased with yourself that you did that rather than berating yourself for not doing more. She also suggests taking a bag and picking up a set number of items to donate (don’t remember the number and it doesn’t matter) and then taking the bag out of the house – I put it in the car and then drop it at the donation shed in our neighborhood.

      Getting our bedroom (mostly) tidied and organized was my first pandemic project. My study is right next to the bedroom and once we started WFH I was in and out of there all day. I started making my bed regularly and then gradually bit by bit tackled the rest of it. Just last week I finally went through my nightstand drawer.

      Also books are not clutter. They’re just not. If the stacks get too high, they can fall on you, and that might be a problem, but they’re not clutter.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Amen, books are not clutter! I was pretty happy when I ordered a bookshelf and put it together, though, so more of my books finally had a home.

        If I really think I’ll never use/read a book again, I’ll totally get rid of it, but if I think I will, I keep it. That was reassuring during the beginning of COVID when we were in lockdown and a concerned friend asked if I had enough to read. I was like, I am surrounded by books; I am GREAT.

      2. ampersand*

        All good points, and I fully support the idea that books may be physically dangerous but aren’t clutter. That made me laugh!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Flylady was a start. These days I’m more Dana K. White (Decluttering at theach speed of life…keep only what fits in your container, and when you have too many X to fit in the container of , get rid of your least favorite.)
        I miss the long-ago original HabitHacker which worked on creating good habits to get the results you want –for creative pursuits as well as a clean-enough-for-you dwelling.
        I took two ideas out of Marie Kondo. I put my tshirts in the drawer in a way I can see them without rummaging. And if I have extras of something, I make sure I’m discarding the one that is associated with a bad memory. (My inverse to her “sparks joy” concept.)

      4. Housecleaning*

        I agree in general that books aren’t clutter. The thing is, a) we have literally hundreds of them in the house right now, so they have to have some sort of order so we can find any of them, and b) they are currently scattered throughout the other piles of stuff on the floor. I want an option so they will be separate from the papers and such, so I don’t lose them in old newspapers.

    7. fposte*

      I am a big fan of baskets (fabric, plastic, natural fiber, whatever) and fabric boxes for stuff by category. Books don’t go super well in those but just about everything else will. Also, my favorite new trick, since I have a ton of extra mugs, is to use mugs to corral things on bedroom surfaces–glasses, device peripherals and cables, pens, hairbrushes, all kinds of things can go into them vertically and take up less space. I got superfancy at one point and put three mugs into a long narrow basket (I was also sleeping on the floor at that point so it was easier to move them to vacuum).

      I also found that a small, shallow bookcase is useful in my bedroom as a staging place for current reads. Hell, you could double up and put a basket on a shelf if you like. One of my mess motivations is that I hate putting things out of site while I’m still working on them, and I found an official “working on it and it’s near to hand” bookcase a stealthy way to not mentally put things away but to minimize the book pile.

    8. Girasol*

      When we moved there was no place for our tiny three-drawer bureau except beside the bed as an oversized nightstand. My evening reading, night shade, ibuprofen, kleenex, and such nightstand clutterers hide in its drawers, so I have the mess out of sight and nothing but the bedside lamp and sometimes a small vase of flowers on top. It was an accident that it worked out that way but I really like it. A neat bedroom feels so luxurious.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Minimize intake of paper. Go paperless on everything you can (bills, bank statements, utilities etc) – less clutter and better environmentally.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      The way I dealt with mail was to eliminate it as much as possible. I pay bills online, I stopped getting catalogs and print magazines, and if I get something random, I call and ask to be taken off their list or switched to paperless if it’s a company or organization I actually do business with.

      Before doing this, I had tons of paper everywhere and it nearly gave me hives to think about going through it. You should have seen the vast amounts of stuff I shredded before I moved. Why did I think I had to save all my cable bills? I did not.

      I even got rid of a vast trove of magazines, including a whole box of MAD and Fangoria magazines I’d been lugging around since puberty. Those, along with a box of comics, all got sold. The only ones I kept were a couple of rare issues of Fangoria, my absolute favorite MAD issues, and dolls house magazines because they have instructions in them. That’s it. It’s all in one box.

      I’m a pack rat who watches hoarding shows to scare herself into not keeping stuff, and it was hard to let all that go, but I did it. Do I regret it? A little, but I think once I unpack and have less messy paper around, I won’t.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Yes to minimizing mail. Catalogchoice dot org is great for some of this, there’s also a site where you can request to not receive credit card offers, and you can also request nonprofits a) stop mailing you and b) not share/sell your info to any other entity. This and going paperless when possible has cut down my mail immensely.

    11. LQ*

      Formerly such a messy person that my family had an intervention weekend where they came and helped me throw stuff out.

      Now try to be a fairly minimal clean person. My brain is better when my physical space is cleaner and less cluttered.
      1. No more physical books. (I do still have a few but mostly sentimental value ones and like 2 shelves worth. I used to have like 7 large double filled bookcases worth.) I don’t want to fight with anyone about how much people love physical books, but honestly this made a huge difference in my home.
      2. No more DVDs. I had a full bookshelf of these too.
      3. Mail I don’t want never makes it in the front door. I live in an apartment and there is a recycle bin at the mail room, I use it. This was weirdly powerful for me. Mail I do want gets stripped of it’s envelope there tool. When it gets to the door there is a basket with a lid for these things. I only actually have to go through it way less than once a month and file stuff. All my bills are online which helps.
      4. A “giveaway/goodwill/trash I can’t throw in garbage” box. (It’s a storage ottoman sort of….) Once it’s full I deal with all of it, but otherwise it’s where all that stuff goes out of sight out of mind.
      5. A designated time (Friday evenings for me) to clean up the by the bed random stuff and take out the trash or recycling the next morning. this would be any random things that end up next to the bed get cleaned up one night a week. For me it makes the weekend feel nicer if I’ve just cleaned up and I may as well do it Friday evening because my brain can’t handle anything but zombie-ing around my home.

      And then I aim hard for a once a season day to sort of do a bunch of cleaning. I keep thinking I should hire someone for that but i just haven’t gotten there for that yet.

      1. Jay*

        We have a hamper in the guest room closet for clothes for donation. I had bariatric surgery four years ago so for about a year I was constantly getting rid of clothes and it helped to have someplace to put them. I keep a plastic garbage bag in the hamper instead of a laundry bag and when it’s full it goes to the local donation shed.

        We put a large shredder in the garage next to the recycling buckets. Most of our mail goes directly into the recycling and the stuff that needs to be shredded is immediately shredded. I also have a small shredder upstairs by my desk so nothing has to wait to be shredded. I used to accumulate piles of stuff waiting to go to wherever the shredder was.

    12. Jean (just Jean)*

      No new wisdom on how to clean one’s own house but I can share a new way to harmlessly indulge one’s packrat tendencies. Go to a thrift or resale store, walk through admiring all of the STUFF and imagining creative ways to adapt them, and then walk out of the store. All of the STUFF stays gloriously behind!

    13. old biddy*

      The other posters have some great suggestions. I have the same problem. All the mail I need to keep gets tucked away in the ‘to file’ corner. I’m aggressive in throwing away junk mail and most catalogs when I get them, and if a magazine/catalog sits around too long on the reading pile without me reading it I throw it away. For books, try putting them away if you haven’t looked at them in a while or set a size limit for the active pile.
      The top of dressers is also a problem area for me. It helps to pull all the orphan clothes into my clean laundry pile when I’m dealing with that, otherwise it gets covered with all the random unmatched socks, things that I pulled out of the closet but changed my mind about wearing, etc.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Not naturally organized, here.

      I got on the do-not-call registry and got on the junk mail registry. Start nipping the crap before it comes into your house. Don’t skip this step. I have so much less crap in my mail. I should have done it years ago.

      I have a rule in my house after years of not sleeping well- no clutter in the bedroom. I have some books and that’s it. TV is not healthy for me to watch in bed, so no tv. In the same vein, no bills or other financial paper work. Money concerns and paper clutter really trashes my sleep so it’s a big no-no for me to keep it in my bedroom.

      I have to believe our junk collects where we stop once we get in the house. I mean when I walk in the house my arms are usually loaded- I’ve got mail, groceries, work tote, handbag, keys, and who knows what else. I go out to the kitchen set everything down and then go back to hang up my coat. And this is where the problems begin. I stopped in the kitchen so everything lands there.

      Here the thought is look at how you enter your house and figure out where you stop. Can you change where you stop?

      Next thought and this is really odd but I was so excited so see an author mention it, because I had often wondered about correlation here. In Taming the Paper Tiger the author said to look at the size of your garbage can. Often times people with piles of papers and maybe other stuff have a tiny little garbage can. I have to chuckle because I am thinking of certain family members. It is worth having the correct size garbage can to match how you use a room.

      I even went as far to make sure my cans are not annoying to work with. It’s not such a big deal now, but years ago kitchen cans were either too small or too big for a 13 gal garbage bag. I actually took a garbage bag to the store and checked it in the can before buying the can. (I did not care what people thought I was sick of trying to make a garbage bag fit properly and I was sick of scrubbing cans because the bag did not fit.)
      A little while ago I bought a Simple Human garbage can for my bedroom. omg. I love the thing. I want to replace each of my garbage cans with one eventually.
      Never underestimate the power of having the proper equipment to do the job. A smooth running system can make a person want to use the system.

      The same thing goes for your recycling area. I estimated that I had the most of cardboard (cereal box type), so that has the biggest bin. I try not to buy things with batteries, so my battery recycling bin is much smaller comparatively and so on. In my previous place it was a one-stream recycle, I had one bin and I emptied every few days as a routine task.

      Take a closer look on how you get rid of other things. I keep a donation bag next to my closet. It’s much easier to decide that I am sick of a particular shirt in the moment, than it is to go through the entire closet and make a bunch of decisions in one day. Purge as you go. But only get rid of stuff in this manner that you are 100% certain that you are DONE with it. When the bag gets full I throw it in the donation box on the way to work then start a new one when I find the next item to donate.

      I have a shelf to put things on that I need to return to the person I borrowed it from.
      Things have to exit the house and I took a really close look at what my patterns were for how I got rid of things and all the different ways I “get rid” of things. There’s bottle deposit returns, there’s things to be mailed, gifts bought during the year, the list is long. But it explains why there is stuff piling up here and there and gives us clues as to what types of storage devices or plans we need to have.

      For papers I have to keep I have tried using stacking letter trays to sort them. That looked messy fast. Now I have a small filing box with hanging files that I can drop papers into. It looks neater. We will see how well I do with this. It’s a temporary file, just a holding box until I put them in the big filing cabinet where they will stay for a while.
      Last thought. Do you have an retention period on paper work and after that period is up you shred it or burn it? I keep seven years. So this year I will destroy everything in the 2014 file. Getting rid of stuff frees up space for the incoming stuff. Years ago when I started this plan I had so many years of records to shred. Now it’s a breeze to handle it.

    15. Chaordic One*

      I really like the Swedish Death Cleaning approach much more than, say, Marie Kondo. It just makes more sense to me. Recently I’ve gone to some garage and estate sales and the estate sales, I don’t know what to say. They scared me and make me think. There was one house in particular that haunts me. It was clean and neat, but packed full of various beautiful objects and collectibles all neatly displayed. It was like a gift shop in someone’s living room and everything was for sale. However, they weren’t going to sell any of the shelves, cabinets, or display tables until they had gotten rid of the knick-knacks. It was creepy.

    16. Housecleaning*

      Thank youall for the ideas! I went out yesterday and bought one of the cube organizers. We’ll have to get it put together, but once we do that I think it will be helpful for keeping clutter at least corralled. More long-term solutions to come, but not having piles on the floor I think will be a big help.

  9. Care Package*

    Care package ideas?

    Sending a thank you to a very kind colleague who lives abroad (so lighter items ideal). So far I have a giant college sweater from a school she’s interested in and a small maple syrup bottle since I live in New England. In the past I’ve sent domestics colleagues and friends:

    – Mini bottle of champagne
    – Airplane alcohol minis
    – Snacks (Goldfish, Oreos, Dunkaroos, Gummy bears)
    – Lavender sachets
    – Sourdough bread starter
    – Branded items (pens, card holder)
    – Nice hand lotion or chapstick
    – Candy (chocolate)

    What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever gotten in a care package or bought for yourself as a bit of self care?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Anything she loves that she can’t get locally? A friend of mine always wanted reese’s and kraft mac and cheese in hers care packages lol!

      1. Care Package*

        Reese’s and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese are CLASSIC. She’s not originally from the US so I think she’d be unimpressed by Mac n’ cheese (oh how I craved it when abroad though!). A bit if halloween candy might be whimsical and fun – thank you for the idea!

        1. RussianInTexas*

          She might not care for Reese’s either, peanut butter is a very American thing, and not really eaten outside the country.

          1. Windchime*

            My son was shocked to discover this when he lived in Ukraine for 6 months. I had to mail him a jar of peanut butter.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              I’ve been living in the US for over 20 years now and peanut butter is still weird to me, including Reese’s.

            2. the cat's ass*

              same in Japan. Our Japanese GS who were visiting thought a PBJ sammie was really gross and neof them burst into tears when confronted with one.

    2. Michelle*

      Cute sticky notes or sticky note pads, face masks, cozy socks, Tervis tumbler with a cute design, small card game (The Mind, Sushi Go, Fox in the Forest, etc.), or Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. We send maple sugar candy or fudge, since we can’t send liquids through the post office. Items from Stonewall Kitchen are “New England” (they make crackers and mixes, not just jams), as are Yankee Candles (they make small ones that wouldn’t be as heavy). Alex & Ani are Rhode Island based. New England also has a number of local chocolate makers.

      1. Michelle*

        Also, when it comes to snacks, Trader Joe’s always has some unique items that make great additions to gift packages (peanut butter cups, Everything But the Bagel seasoning, etc.). Other snacks to consider would be things like Halfpops (half-popped and flavoured popcon), Sahale Snacks (so many great flavours), Brownie Brittle, Parm Crisps, Pop Corners, Stacy’s Pita Chips, Outback Barbecue Potato Chips from The Good Crisp Company (available at Whole Foods; like Pringles, but SO MUCH better). Honestly, just a quick stroll down the snack aisle may produce a number of options that aren’t Cheetos or Pringles. If you are in New England, Ocean State Job Lot often has unique items in their snack and candy sections as well (and great prices on items like (Haribo Gummy Bears, gummy worms, peach rings, etc.). I tend to shop there when looking for items for my family for holidays.

      2. Michelle*

        I also recently learned about another New England company (from Maine) that would make a great gift idea–Casco Bay Soap Company. I’m pretty sure they are only mail order, but they might be worth checking out.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        Great Massachusetts candy stores are Ye Olde Pepper Company (the BEST turtles ever) and Harbor Sweets

    3. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Watch out on sending alcohol. Depending on where you send it, there can be very strict and not very easy to understand rules that can hang up the package for weeks, months or forever. The same is true for meat, dairy, and any unprocessed foods (e.g. fruit and veg). I don’t know if sourdough falls under that because it is microbial…but I might be over thinking it.

      Keep an eye on the cash value of the items you are sending, too. More than once I have had to pay taxes on an incoming care package because it was over the value limit.

      As for content suggestions, here are mine: tea, socks, books (not lightweight, but small and I love books), spices or spice mixes, chips of the sort that are not available where I am, small helpful crafts or kitchen stuff…anything regional that is good, like local honey.

      1. Rainy Day*

        I was going to say the same thing re- alcohol, and chime in to say that aerosols, perfume and nail polish may be restricted too. Best to check any local restrictions first to be on the safe side- when I worked in a post office before, we couldn’t accept any of those things to send abroad.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Also watch for the packaging. Things that are metallic can get flagged by the x-ray machines that checked for explosives.

    4. Laura Petrie*

      I love to buy different spice blends when I visit the US. I got some fab ones from Penzeys last time. I’ve also bought some nice varieties from Trader Joes and also ‘normal’ supermarkets.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Books or magazines in her home language. While living abroad I would read anything in English.

      If she’s in a bare-bones sublet spot, arty cards can be stuck on the fridge or wall to brighten things up.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Yeah it’s always nice to get a paper/magazine in your own language. When I’m abroad for any length of time I’m always pathetically grateful to find a copy of The Times (UK Times, not New York Times) even though I never bother with it at home. It’s all they ever seem to have at train stations though. That or the Economist (?!)

    6. Not A Manager*

      At first I thought she was not from the U.S. at all. In that case, I would send small/light souvenir-type items. I’ve sent/brought small books of Ansel Adams photos, Frost and Sandberg’s poetry, sports pennants, team hats, maple syrup, maple sugar candy, Wisconsin dried cherries, Virginia peanuts, California dates, etc.

      If she has some U.S. nexus, then I’d send her things she might miss from the States. Unless this is supposed to be a big surprise, I’d just ask her. You’d be amazed what people miss from the U.S. One lady asked me to bring her a bunch of Beano in my luggage.

    7. Nessun*

      Nice tea bags or sachets of hot chocolate can be lovely to get. I also second cozy socks, or nice slippers for inside on cold floors. Depending on scent sensitivity, a nice sachet or small oil diffuser (some can be USB stick sized) can be nice for a scent they love or recognize from home.

  10. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Here’s a longshot of a question: I wrote a horror novella that I honestly think would work far better as one of those cheesy Syfy or Hulu movies you see around the holidays (a movie that’s so bad, it’s good) than as a printed book. Is this something that’s pitchable to either of those networks? 

    Neither Syfy nor Hulu have any information posted on their websites about how to do this, which is understandable, because they’d doubtlessly be inundated with millions of emails and letters if they did.

    As someone who’s tried to go through the publishing process before, my rudimentary understanding is that I’d need to get a literary agent, hope against hope that they can sell it to someone as a printed work, and then hope from there that the film rights are optioned. Although I understand it would be pretty much one-in-a-million regardless, is there another way I’m missing? Thanks in advance. 

    1. Venus*

      Maybe have a look at the end of their shows to see what production companies they use? I’m just thinking of the big ones, CBS for example, and I think they buy programming from other companies, like Chuck Lorre Productions. This suggestion is only a guess based on watching TV, not on knowledge of the industry, so sorry if you already know that those channels do their own content.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Is your primary goal here to publish the book, and the bonus is getting it adapted for the screen? Or would you be okay with getting someone to adapt the screenplay and pitching that directly?

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        It’s a really good question… At this point I think I’d be happy with having someone adapt the screenplay. I don’t really imagine it getting much traction as a published book.

    3. Jules the First*

      You want a showrunner or production company, not the network as a starting point. Identify a few shows that have the right vibe, make a note of their producers and writers, then you should be able to get contact details from IMdb Pro (or Twitter-stalk them). The podcast Happier in Hollywood has a few episodes that will give you a primer on the commissioning process and maybe some more ideas.

      1. banoffee pie*

        I’m no expert but could there be people who are kind of the TV equivalent of literary agents, who act as gatekeepers to the networks? I definitely know what you mean about a project being a better fit for TV, and just wanting to cut out the middle man of publishing it as a novel first!

        1. banoffee pie*

          Actually come to think of it, I have seen on a few literary agents’ websites that some accept screenplays too and will pitch them, but I’m in the UK. Not sure if it’s the same in the US. Even then it seemed to be one or two agents per agency who did it, not the whole bunch, and some said they were already booked solid.

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thank you and to the others who suggested noticing the production companies and working from there — that should have been obvious to me, but my brain hasn’t been making the logical connections lately sometimes! I’ll take a look at Happier in Hollywood and look into the Writer’s Market-type books (I work in a library, so that won’t be hard!)

    4. Jen Erik*

      Not in the US, but my daughter interned for a film company. They clearly said on the website that they only accepted scripts from agents, but people constantly submitted them anyway. Part of her job was to write polite refusals (which some writers took as encouragement, and others as a personal insult), but she was allowed to request a script if a treatment caught her eye. (I don’t think she ever did). FWIW, what she was told to think about was not whether a story was good, but why you’d make this film now.

      As for the printed work, I’m not quite sure how it works, but she temped for two production companies in a row who were interested in the same not-yet-published book (she didn’t share that information, obviously) so maybe agents send books with potential for adaption to various companies?

    5. Maryn B.*

      This is not my area of writing expertise, but I can parrot the people who know.

      Studios and networks have use for fiction only when it’s commercially published with such high sales that any film or TV adaptation based on it would have a built-in audience. A book with acceptable or modest sales, no matter how perfect it might be for a given network or studio, is extremely unlikely to be something they’d pay for.

      So they’ll option the rights to your novella and have someone they choose write a screenplay based on it only if it’s already pretty popular. This might mean your best bet would be to seek commercial publication–which probably means expanding it to the length of a short novel, since novellas don’t do well in most genres.

      However, studios and networks do have use for screenplays and teleplays. If you think you can adapt your own work into that form, that’s step one. Before you undertake it–scripts take a different skill set, without all the exposition fiction uses–you’d be wise to research whether the perfect studio, production company, or network accepts unagented screenplays for consideration. (Most do not. The agents are gatekeepers for quality and marketability.)

      Sorry to be discouraging, but my understanding it that it’s many times more difficult to get your work on the screen than on the page.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Yes I’m going to second everything said here and Jen’s comment above. You’re unlikely to get a production company to option the short story if you are a complete unknown, and most production companies won’t look seriously at a script unless there’s an agent attached. So your best bet is to either adapt your story as a screenplay or team up with a screenwriter to adapt it (make sure you agree to payment or terms beforehand!) and then try to get an agent to represent it.

    6. Marion Ravenwood*

      If it doesn’t have to be a movie, would you consider pitching it to a podcast or app development company? Six To Start (which makes the Zombies, Run! running/horror podcast but has offshoots that do historical and science stuff) was recently looking for possible new story ideas for one-off stories – that would potentially be worth looking into.

  11. Bobina*

    Gardening thread: how are your plants – indoors, outdoors or imaginary doing?

    I always hear how mint is unkillable, but I think I’m managing to do it.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I KonMari-ed my potted plant collection in preparation for moving and realised I should have done it ages ago! I was unreasonably attached to plants just because they were alive, or wanted to be alive and were limping along (they’re still going… kind of!… they can make it!). But WOW I feel so much better without the weedy looking succulents that no longer gave me joy, the “plant hospital” window ledge and the tubs of mostly dirt. I did struggle to let go of a few that were reshooting now that we’re well into spring, but thanking them for their service before tipping them out into the garden helped :-) I now have about 25% less pots to move, yay!

      Speaking of spring, is it getting colder where you are, Bobina? Some varieties of mint die back in winter and shoot fresh again in spring, even here in the warm subtropics.

      1. Venus*

        A very good point, as my mint is dying off but it will be back in spring.

        Our local Buy Nothing group is a great way to rehome dying plants as they are often popular. Although someone was trying to rehome an annual herb and we kindly explained that they die naturally this time of year so no one can save it. I think she was happy that it wasn’t a reflection on her skills

      2. Bobina*

        Hah, it is getting colder, but this has been an indoor mint in the kitchen window. Its been pure negligence on my part, I’ve needed to repot it for ages and just not done it, so its both overgrown for its pot and I’m fairly sure the soil has literally 0 nutrients at this point. I also went away for a few days and came back to find most of its leaves had shrivelled up and even a good soak didnt seem to revive it.

        But I bought some bulbs I’d been wanting today, so tomorrow is going to be a planting day, so the aim is to repot it and hopefully that should help. If not, I shall just have to accept my fate as a mint killer!

    2. Ali G*

      It’s clean up weekend here (since it’s fall). I have to clean out the garden that was rather unsuccessful this year, so no big loss.
      Dead-head a lot of flowers, clean up the potted plants and move the ones inside that can’t stay out over winter. I need to relocate some Russian sage that got beaten up by my Echinacea this year.
      And yes your mint will die back for the winter. It will come back next spring!

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I need to get outside and do the fall cleanup this weekend. The weeds are launching a vigorous attack on the perennials and must be vanquished! Also just about everything needs to be deadheaded. The toad lilies and asters are in full bloom.

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

      In the past I’ve purged potted plants before. I used to be the recipient of potted holiday plants my mother, who lives 1 town over, receives as gifts from various sources…e.g. shamrock at St. Pat’s, Chrysanthemums at Mother’s Day. I’ve wound up with plants that I would never choose and don’t really fit my plant personality — I actually don’t like flowers that much. I don’t know why I feel like I have to take them in. But I limp along half-heartedly caring for them until they die, or in the case of the shamrock, I finally do throw it out…that stuff doesn’t die! I’ve finally gotten to a place where all my plants are ones I’ve chosen and they have complimentary care needs so I’m not looking at dying plants, or keeping 2-3 plant calendars. That makes ALL the difference in whether I enjoy my container garden or hate it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      If you’re in the northern hemisphere, the mint might just be dying back for the winter. Mine is, and it’s rampant in that bed.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I made an impulse buy: a Venus flytrap kit, from a local supermarket. Yeah, bad idea! I had a flytrap some years back, bought from the discount shelf at a hardware store, and it lived happily in my sun-window for a couple of years, but it was a grown plant when I got it; turns out the kit involves starting the plants from seed, a tricky situation at best, requiring loads of patience. If all goes well I *might* get seedlings within 1 to 3 months, and if the seedlings survive I might get actual flytraps in another year or two… I’m going to give it a try anyway – those little flytraps are so cute! – but am prepared for failure.

      The regular garden is past production now, though I do still want to pot up the rosemary and bay so I can bring them inside when frost threatens. And I’m enjoying the New England asters, which are loaded with tiny blue flowers and swarming with bees trying to load up before winter.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The one thing I know about fly traps is that they’re very sensitive to water treatment chemicals. If you know someone with a well, ask to fill up water drugs when you visit. Or catch some rain or the condensation from your air conditioner or dehumidifier.
        When I was tempted by fly traps, I lived in an area that treated heavily so I didn’t try it. I shall live vicariously.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re flytraps and water – yeah, the instructions specified avoiding tap water, suggesting rainwater or distilled or reverse-osmosis-filtered. In summer I have a rain barrel and could use the water from that, but I expect I’ll rely on distilled over the winter.

    7. Anon scientist*

      Just bought some iffy perennials from the two local nurseries at a discount. They don’t looke particularly pretty but I hope they’ll come back in the spring. I’m also about to mulch my raked leaves by weed whacking in my big trash bin (think immersion blender) so we’ll see how that goes. Some guy on YouTube swears by it…

    8. Girasol*

      Winter is coming! We’re expecting frost this week so there’s going to be a busy day of harvesting the green tomatoes to ripen on a sheet on the floor, the peppers to be frozen, the potatoes to be root cellared, and all the green cantaloupes to ripen in the window.

    9. LQ*

      So many tomatoes on my indoor aerogarden plants. I finally made it through the last picking and am ready to pick some more, it’s so nice. And more basil is almost ready to be picked too. The three things I can do well on are tomatoes, basil and thyme. Anyone have any other recommendations for indoor plants I should give a try to? I keep thinking about lavender and rosemary.

    10. Lizy*

      Ignore the mint completely. That’s what I did and I have even more this year than last. (I planted it spring 2020. I think. It may have been summer 2019…)

    11. londonedit*

      I mentioned my Christmas cactus cuttings the other week – I was dealing with an irritating number of fungus gnats from the compost. Happy to report that with some pyrethrum spray (thank you for the recommendation, whoever it was!) and some no-gnat grit, it’s almost under control. And the plants don’t seem to have been affected, fingers crossed.

      In other news my cyclamens are going crazy – I had an original plant that I was given about eight years ago and all of a sudden earlier this year it sprouted a seed pod. Getting the seeds to germinate is quite an undertaking including washing them and putting them in the fridge for a few weeks, but out of 25 seeds we have eight successful plants. I’ve got two, my sister has two and my mum has four. And they’re doing really well! Plus I repotted the original plant and it’s pretty much trebled in size since – poor thing really needed a bigger pot!

  12. Richard Hershberger*

    I told my thirteen year old last night about The Mouse That Roared. She was delighted. Not politely interested, but actively eager, both for the book and the movie. It turns out my wife has the movie on DVD. As for the book, the entire series is in print. We were planning a bookstore trip today anyway, so I will put in an order.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I … have never heard of this and now I desperately want to read it myself, thank you!

        1. Not a cat*

          Trivia: That’s sometimes how the press referred to Diana, Princess of Wales after she gave her infamous BBC interview.

      1. Pam*

        I first read it in a high school English class, and much preferred it to the usual fare. Time to reread the series.

    2. allathian*

      That’s so cool. I hope she enjoys them!

      My little big joy for this week is that our 12 year old son got his second dose of covid vaccine, and soon all of us will be covered and we’ll be able to start doing more things together as a family, out of the house. My husband’s done most of the grocery shopping, my son’s gone with him when he needed new clothes (none of us have the patience to order stuff online and then send it back). I haven’t bought any new clothes for two years…

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Yay! Not so little a joy. My younger got her second shot going on two weeks ago. We soon will be able to take her to visit my mother, who hasn’t seen her in over a year and a half.

    3. ccr*

      Thank you for reminding me about these books! I remember enjoying them a long time back; time to reread.

    4. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My favorites in Junior High. A bunch of us read those right after Prisoner of Zenda, which made it even more fun.

    5. Observer*

      Oh, that’s a GREAT series. Never saw the movie, but if your kid is a reader, I can see why she would be interested.

    6. RosyGlasses*

      Thank you! I watched this today and it was lovely – and then enjoyed another Peter Sellers classic – the return of the pink panther.

  13. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Home reno advice! Mr Memes and I have bought a house – after 2 years of searching, finally! We will have a couple of weeks overlap between homes to complete the move, so before we bring our furniture in we were hoping to get some small but messy reno jobs out of the way.

    I have 2 separate questions:

    1) Removing carpet to expose wooden floorboards. From the corner I saw, the floorboards under the carpet seem to be in excellent condition. I’m thinking to save time and cost, perhaps we could just carefully prise out the carpet tack strips and touch up any visible spots that need it. Is it possible to touch up a varnished floor or would we have to sand and repolish the whole thing for it to not look awful? Most of it would be hidden under furniture, but there’d be a visible strip along the door threshold.

    2) Removing paint from a brick wall. We’d love to expose the original brickwork, but the wall is about 10m2 and internal, so it’s tricky to find a solution that we can use inside (ie: minimal water) and that doesn’t involve hours and hours manual labour. I’ve been looking into those 48hour paint strippers that peel off on paper backing sheets. Has anyone used those before? Or have any better suggestions?

    1. MissB*

      I’ve never removed a carpet from a wood floor and had a magically perfect floor underneath. I still think it’s worth it to pull all the carpet up but be prepared to deal with more than just cleaning it.

      I wouldn’t spot varnish. I don’t think you’ll like the result.

      If it were my place, I’d pull the carpet and clean the floor. If it’s in reasonable condition i would just leave the floor as is until I could afford to deal with it properly (sand and refinish).

      When we moved into this place almost 20 years ago, the living room hardwood floor near the big front window had some sun damage. The finish was gone and the wood was slightly gray.

      And it is still like that. I haven’t gotten to that room yet. It’s covered by furniture and not visible. All in good time.

      Congrats on the house purchase!

      1. DistantAudacity*


        Yes, I agree that spot sanding/varnishing won’t give a good result – it will just be uneven in a different way. And possibly actually worse, in that tried-and-failed-way :) unless everything gets covered in such a way that you only see the fixed area…

        However, it is one of those jobs that is way easier to deal with before you move anything in, so factor that in as well if you think you will definetly get to it soon-ish.

      2. Jay*

        Second that. We pulled all the carpet within a few years of living in this house and didn’t refinish the floors for a long time (18 years? something like that). Partly money, partly time, partly we started with a toddler and two big dogs and it just didn’t seem worth it until all three had left the house. If you can afford to do it before you move in, great. Otherwise I had no problem living with the imperfect wood floors – it was a HUGE improvement over the scuzzy carpet.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Laughing at “scuzzy carpet” – that’s how I feel about it too! The carpet actually looks fairly new, but carpet in general grosses me out so much that I’d rather live with bare concrete floors than the trapped dust and allergens. I don’t care if the wooden floors aren’t perfect, I’m happy with “good enough” for now.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          OMG same. When I bought my house, the living room was covered in turquoise carpet that looked very 1950s. In fact, the house was built in 1952. It was a pretty color, but it didn’t go with anything I owned. The back bedroom had a sculptured gold carpet that emitted an odor—the pad had begun to deteriorate and it had to come up. So I just pulled it all up.

          Underneath were really lovely maple floors with big dark stains in the living room that I suspect were from dog pee (the late owner had a dog). No idea if she carpeted over the stains or the stains came through the carpets; it looked more like the former. I was never able to refinish it so I just put rugs/furniture over the worst parts.

      3. Stephanie*

        We have pulled up carpeting and exposed old varnished hardwoods in three houses. There will very likely be some spots that are more worn than others, but I found that Johnson’s Floor Wax helped to even things out a bit and add a little bit of polish to the old floors, no sanding necessary. You can buy it at any hardware store. Just follow the directions on the can.
        However, once you’re all moved in, sanding and refinishing the floors is a HUGE job. The rooms have to be completely empty, for at least several days, and if you’re doing, say, a living room and attached dining room, you really need to do it all in one go. So you essentially have to move out, at least of that area of the house. And it creates a LOT of dust and mess, and the fumes from the are strong, and linger for quite a while. In a nutshell, it’s very, very disruptive to refinish hardwoods while trying to live in the house. If you think you’ll want to eventually do it, I highly recommend doing it before you move in, if you can. We moved into our current house 2 years ago, and had all of the hardwood floors redone (living room, dining room, stairs, bedrooms and upstairs hallway) professionally before we moved in. It pushed our move-in date back a bit, and it wasn’t cheap, but it was definitely worth it (and we had the funds to do it). In a previous house, we refinished (sanded and stained and poly-ed) the bedroom floors piecemeal. It was messy and tedious, and took us a long time. We did it that way mostly to save money, but also because we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into doing it ourselves.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Thanks for the rec, I’ll look into Johnson’s Floor Wax.

          We’ll have to move everything out again in another 5 years or so to get the roof replaced and ceilings replastered, so if we can just make the floors good enough to live with in the meantime I’ll be happy.

          1. Stephanie*

            We lived with the old varnished floors for 16 years. If your floors are in decent shape (meaning, no huge gouges or splintery spots) you should be fine for 5 years. And area rugs can cover a multitude of issues.

      4. Clisby*

        I agree. Even a much-in-need-of-refinishing wood floor is going to be better than a carpeted floor. . I’m entirely on Team Get Rid of Carpet Because It’s Nasty.

    2. Lynn*

      There’s a good chance the wood floor will be fine. I did that with four rooms in my current home. One was a mess because of the type of carpet padding they used – it was so stuck to the floor. The other rooms I was able to just do a good cleaning. They don’t look perfect, so if you want “brand new” wood look you would have to sand and varnish. But wood floors can look great with a lot of “character “ too!

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        The rooms where you got by with a good cleaning, how did you clean them and what kind of products did you use (beyond normal vacuum/mopping)? I’d like to be ready to go with any extra tools and cleaning products straight away.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      1) I hope your floorboards are good enough not to need sanding and refinishing. The floorboards have to be thick enough to re-sand and re-finish. A friend thought a great hardwood floor was under the carpet she pulled up but she was mistaken. The hardwood had to be replaced or new carpet put in.
      2) Ask someone in the brick business if paint removal is possible. That’s a daunting job, if it is.
      I hope all goes well.

    4. Windchime*

      I pulled up my carpet in a 1920’s home. The hardwood was in surprisingly good shape; I think the carpet was at least 20 years old. There were a couple of spots that needed to be patched and the finish was worn in places, but I lived with it like that for a few months while I thought about what kind of finish I wanted. I considered doing it myself but ended up paying to have it done; it was more affordable than I thought to just have it sanded and then a Swedish finish applied.

      Good luck! Going from old carpet to hardwood completely changes the look and feel of a house.

    5. Pam*

      My sister took up the carpet when she bought her house. She found boards that were painfully thin, due to multiple refinishing, and one area where the flooring had been replaced with plywood.

    6. SWF*

      I, a small woman with relatively few practical skills, was easily able to pull up old carpet myself before I moved in (as others have said, this is key; you don’t want to be doing this once the furniture is there). I used a prybar type thing and it was physical but not hard; then I pried up the tackboard around all the corners, and then the leftover staples. The staples took the longest and some were quite stuck. I ended up doing a staple-pulling party. The stairs were an especially difficult spot. I had original hardwood and it was actually in good shape, but I’m not sure I would have been able to live with it without sanding and refinishing; maybe that varies. I found that with the whole house empty it was less expensive than I thought to pay a guy to do every floor (and bonus, they had some way of getting out the last staples that I couldn’t get). My floors are my favorite part of the house now and I think added a *ton* of value so it was very worth doing.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      For question 1, if the finish is no good but the floor isn’t too dinged or scratched, you can check for a refinisher who can just screen off the old finish and revarnish. You don’t lose so much wood that way. Still costs, but it’s less and it’s easier on the floor.
      For Question 2, I got nothing. My family painted the outside of a brick house when we moved in order to sell it (the brick was a dark, purpley-brown on a ranch house in New Orleans so you can’t tell me we did the house a disservice) and when I drive by 50 years later, that bad boy is still white. Getting paint OFF without sandblasting sounds really tough.

    8. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Ok,for the removing paint from brick, this may work…Ive seen it done to remove dirt,grease and grime from the inside of a large electric motor. Its quite possible that it wouldnt be cost effective to rent the equipment but it is a liquidless process. There is such a thing as dry ice blasting. Its essentially the same as sandblasting except it uses dry ice pellets instead of sand. I couldnt guess the cost of renting the compressor and hopper/hose unit. But abrasive cleaning is usually quick and the dry ice will sublimate to gaseous CO², so no cleanup except the paint that was removed.

    9. Might Be Spam*

      If you hire a contractor, definitely check the state and county court systems for any lawsuits against them. I didn’t realize I could do that the hard way. Check his suppliers, also if you can. My contractor had 22 lawsuits including 2 from the IRS. The six week estimate turned into three years and we ended up hiring a new contractor when the first one abandoned the job. His supplier tried to file a lien against our property even though we didn’t receive the supplies. Fortunately we came out OK.

  14. Lawyer necessary?*

    TW: Death of a parent

    My much-loved dad died yesterday and as we know when this happens, we still have to handle logistics even in the midst of grief.

    We have his signed and witnessed will. There are assets. Do we just…go to a lawyer? I am assuming this is what people do, but death sure isn’t cheap.

    1. Jay*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      If you still have access to the attorney that drew up the will, then start there and ask for next steps. When my mother died, her attorney handled all the estate work (and yes, it’s expensive). Otherwise yes, you need to find an attorney and I’d look for one who does a lot of estate work – it’s arcane.

      Ask the funeral home for many copies of the death certificate because you will need them for bizarre and seemingly random things. When my dad died we had to send a copy of his death certificate to Netflix to cancel his account because we didn’t have the password and couldn’t do it online.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh yes, you always need more copies than you think you do, although I was able to upload or email scans of death certificates more often than I though I would be able to.

        Keep track of all related receipts, not just the funeral; even if you hire, say, a moving company to clean out the apartment, those are estate expenses. I even used my travel and lodging for the cleanout and funeral as estate expenses, as I was the executor/estate administrator.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Thirding many copies of the death certificate.

        Are the heirs chill and in agreement with the terms of the will? Is there a lot of complicated property to dispose of? If “yes” and “no” you can probably skip the lawyer. Is there an executor? Is that person good with forms and details? Certainly lots of people have handled this stuff without a lawyer, but it requires patience with forms.

      3. Clisby*

        Yes, that was my family’s experience as well. Fortunately, the funeral director knew that and told he was going to start out with 15-20 copies. I think that covered us, but it wouldn’t have been hard to get more.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m sorry for your loss. You may not need a lawyer; I didn’t, but I am an only child and was the only heir for both (divorced) parents, plus the only things I ever had to deal with other than bank/investment accounts were cars and household items. I’ll add a link in another comment to Nolo’s page on estates and wills, but your state might have a “small estate” provision, which is much less complicated. That doesn’t necessarily depend on the amount of money, just on what is subject to probate. You can do some of the research yourself if you’re up to it, or ask a dear and trusted friend or family member to help if you’re not.

    3. beach read*

      I’m so very sorry for your loss. If you have an EAP, if they have legal services available, you may be able to get some helpful information. Your bank should be able to advise what is needed to open an Estate account. An accountant can advise as to taxes. Take care.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Best course of action is to try to get a meeting with the lawyer who drafted the will. If they’re not in practice or you can’t find them or whatever, call your state’s lawyer referral service (search terms: statename lawyer referral service) to find someone reasonably local. Have a sit-down with them and ask them to explain the process. You might spend a couple-few hundred dollars on this meeting, but if the estate has assets, it’s probably penny wise, pound foolish not to do this. After the meeting, you don’t have to hire them to do anything more, if you don’t want to.

      After paying for the initial meeting, you can likely eventually get yourself reimbursed out of the estate. If you or the named executor(s) hire the lawyer to act as executor of the estate, then their deal may be to take a percentage of the value of the estate plus administrative costs.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I am so sorry for your loss. Whether you need an attorney depends on where your father lived, where you live, and what kind of assets are being transferred. You will need copies of the death certificate and also a court appointment (may also be referred to as a surrogate certificate, certificate of appointment, etc) which is a document issued by the court that confirms who the official administrator/executor is. Banks and investment firms may also want an affidavit of domicile to verify the state and county the decedent lived in.
      I was the executor for a relative’s estate a few years ago. I didn’t use an attorney, but it was a fairly simple estate (she rented, no car, no debts, and few assets.) Also, I work in the financial industry so I had a basic working knowledge of how investment firms process estates.
      The important thing to remember is that the logistics will all get worked out eventually. There’s no need to put extra pressure on yourself if you’re not on top of every detail right now. Grief is very personal. I found it therapeutic to fuss with all the paperwork, but I know some people struggle with it. If you find it overwhelming, it would be well worth the cost to hire an attorney and/or accountant to help.

    6. fposte*

      I’m so sorry. It’s not cheap, and I would also say that dealing with it isn’t quick–which is good in that it takes some of the pressure off, but it may help to be aware that you could still be doing admin for a year or so.

      The more family, the more I’d be inclined to do a quick consult with a lawyer, just so everybody involved knows that you officially checked on what the legal steps were. As noted, that’s an expense that can get charged to the estate. Take as many notes as you need.

      Also worth knowing that the IRS tends to be very forgiving about tax glitches in a situation like this, so if it turns out an RMD doesn’t get taken this year or you missed something when filing for him next year, it’s not that big a deal.

    7. CJM*

      I’m so very sorry.

      I went through this almost a year ago after my mom died. My siblings and I immediately contacted our mom’s estate attorney, financial advisor (who managed most of her assets), and CPA to let them all know. They all wanted copies of the death certificate, and the financial advisor and CPA also wanted to see copies of the trust and will to confirm who the trustees and executors were. That was necessary before they’d discuss particulars with any of us.

      The estate attorney was invaluable in giving us an overview of what was ahead and what to do. We phoned him a few times as questions arose, like when we were at the bank to transfer my mom’s checking account to the trust and couldn’t answer an important question.

      I posted here at the time and received great advice. You can find with a search using “site:” with this site’s name and “weekend open thread – November 21-22, 2020”.

    8. WellRed*

      Consult a lawyer. This is so varied by where you live as to probate laws or where you obtain death certificates from to how an obituary is placed. The funeral parlor will also be helpful in answering some questions. I’m sorry for your loss.

    9. tab*

      My sincere condolences. My father died in 2019 (I still miss him very much!), and I was the executor of the estate. He had a will, and a trust set up for the house and for one of my brothers who had special needs. I did not need a lawyer at all. (He lived in CA, and I’m in GA.) His assets were in Vanguard accounts, and he had already named the trust as the beneficiary, so it was easy for Vanguard to distribute the funds for me. I got many copies of his death certificate, because I read that I would need them, but I only ended up using half a dozen. It took a few months to sort everything out, but I kept my siblings and my late brother’s daughter informed every step of the way, and doing the work felt like a way to honor his memory. (I’m tearing up as I write this…) I’m sending you good wishes and a virtual hug.

    10. Windchime*

      I’m so sorry. My dad died in May, and it was so hard to have to make arrangements and think of this stuff while suffering from the grief and shock. My parents did have a lawyer, so I think we contacted him. The day of his passing, we had to go to the funeral home to start planning arrangements (that was really hard).

      I don’t have useful information, only to say that I understand and I am very, very sorry that you are going through this.

    11. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m also sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. As I’ve learned both online (here) and in real life, grief takes time and energy. Also, it will not be denied or deferred. (You can do it for a few months, but no longer.) Fortunately life offers all kinds of ways to cope, both online and offline.

      I eventually found an online grief support group provided (with no charge) by grief counselors at the county hospice. The same service may be provided by funeral homes, social service organizations, and/or your own congregation if you belong to one or are interested in finding one.

      Grief is not easy but it is part of of the human experience. I find that strangely comforting. Full disclosure: I’m traveling a similar road; my father died earlier this year after a long period of poor health.

    12. The Dogman*

      Sorry for your loss.

      Lawyers are the way to go, best to start with the ones who sorted the will out for him if possible.

    13. Clisby*

      I’m so sorry. It’s hard to deal with legal issues when you’re grieving.
      Assuming this in in the US, the process of settling an estate probably varies by state. My oldest brother was the named executor for both of my parents, so he handled it, but if he hadn’t been able to he could have hired a lawyer. The size of the estate or the complexity of bequests probably would be a factor as well. In our case, the county probate judge’s office was very helpful in walking us through the steps.

  15. KeinName*

    The book recommended last week (about uploading yourself to Slack) was SO FUNNY!!! I loved it and it really is so true to the pandemic working life. I‘ve just been to my first in-person conference after working virtually with the attendees for 1,5 years. I noticed several people look quite different in the flesh than as a Skype face, and also lots more people knew who I was than I recognized since I can never see faces when presenting. Some didn‘t show up, maybe they got trapped in Slack. Not trying to start a work thread here, just wanted to share my enthusiasm about the book (and would be happy for similar recommendations from you all!).

    1. sagewhiz*

      Slate dot com has a cool story about this effect, titled “I Can’t Be Surprised Like This Again!”

      1. KeinName*

        Thanks, I just read it! Very interesting! Weirdly, everyone I met, male and female, was surprisingly petite (compared to what I imagined).

  16. coffee is my friend*

    I need advice on finding child care.

    Context: I’m 4 months pregnant with our first, but due to the nature of our jobs we won’t need daycare until Jan 2023 (baby will be about 10 months). We live just outside a large US east coast city.

    When /how can I ask about cost? I’m noticing no one includes it on their website. Can I ask when I call to ask about wait lists? Or wait till after a tour?

    Suggestions for good questions to ask? I’m already making a list,but I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed so would love guidance!

    Things to keep an eye out for on tours? Advice on navigating virtual tours?

    Hope everyone has a chance to decompress this weekend!

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      You can ask up front about costs—it starts out highest for the youngest babies and then comes down as they get older/the staffing ratio goes down.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      You can ask about cost in the first phone call. Just, as with house-hunting, be aware that it may take a few “… seriously?!!!!!” to discover what the going rate in your market is, so don’t rule out the first few places until you get a feel for “normal.”

      There’s no point falling in love with a place you can’t possibly afford, but no point skipping places because you haven’t yet adapted to the reality of local prices. (Again, like house or apartment hunting.)

      Watch for: Kids are mostly engaged and happy. Be aware that tears at drop-off are very, very normal and don’t judge on that. “A crying kid has a calm, empathetic adult tending them” is what you want if someone misses their dad or bumped a knee or damn it really wants little Hardison’s toy.

    3. Joie de Vivre*

      There should be a state inspection form at the daycare. It will show if the site failed inspections, or if they are lacking in some areas. When I was looking at daycares a long time ago, a day care that looked good turned into a “oh hell no” once I read the inspection report. If they don’t want you to see it, could be a huge waving red flag.

    4. Disco Janet*

      Most states have a childcare licensing database online where you can make sure places are licensed and view any past investigations/inspections – one of the places I kept seeing recommended online in our area turned to have lost a child earlier that year, and left out bleach that a child then spilled on themselves just a bit before that! Obviously we didn’t send our kids there.

      1. Joie de Vivre*

        An online database would be great. When I looked at daycares (in the dark ages) the only option was to see the physical form at the facility.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      This is probably a bit different in COVID times but ask how long the teachers in the infant and toddler rooms have been there. Lots of turnover isn’t a great sign and having a consistent caregiver rather than a rotating cast is better for your child’s natural attachment process.

    6. Anona*

      When you call you can ask both about waitlists and cost. Some places may not have waitlists or may not put you on them this early but if not they can tell you when to register.

      And also, costs may go up slightly between now and then. Ours typically do, but it’s usually just by $50 -100 or something.

      1. Anona*

        As far as questions, I found seeing a sample schedule helpful. And sample menu, if they offer food. And what’s included/what you need to provide. What’s the teacher to child ratio? How long have most staff been working there? If it’s care for a baby, do they have a separate napping space, or are kids taking naps while others are playing? For babies, do they use a lot of baby holders/bouncers, etc or do the kids get to roll around on the floor unencumbered (better)? What covid precautions do they take?

    7. Lizy*


      Ask about teacher turnover. Ask about policies and how strict they are. For example, if you breastfeed, will they toss unused milk or will they let it sit for a couple of hours until Baby needs it again? Some people really like strict policies and schedules; others not so much. I preferred in-home daycares because they were typically cheaper, and while regulated, they were often ok with slightly bending the rules. For example, my 8YO could NOT sleep without being basically swaddled in a straightjacket. He was like that well past 6 months. A “regular” daycare I looked at wouldn’t swaddle him tight enough so he literally never slept. My in-home was ok with it, and I knew she was always right there.

      Ask about days they’re closed. Do they have recommended back-up? Do they still charge for those days? If it’s in-home, ask what their policy is if the main provider is sick.

      Ask if they allow drop-ins. If not, ask why. IMO it’s one thing to say “you can’t stay here all day” but another to say “you can’t stop over lunch and feed your baby”. Ask if they send pictures mid-day. The fact my provider would send random pictures of my kid/s was a lifesaver, especially right after leave.

      Above all, please remember it is absolutely your right to change providers at any time, for any reason. This doesn’t mean they’re a crappy provider. It doesn’t mean you wouldn’t recommend them to someone. It doesn’t make you a bad parent. No one cares if you prefer quesadillas over spaghetti. Changing providers should be no different.

      1. DaybyDay31*

        I go into several daycares for work. Right now, during Covid, most daycares are not allowing parents into their centers. However, I do live in the Northeast where we have been strict with restrictions.

        Ask about NAEYC accreditation and check your state’s official website to see if they have any violations.

        I agree with finding out how long the teachers have been there.

        One big thing I would recommend is to not judge a book by its cover – some dumpy (but safe) daycares have the best teachers and some fancy, sterile centers have a high turnover rate with terrible teachers.

        Run from any daycare that gives kids screen time, whether tv or tablet.

        1. DaybyDay31*

          Also, maybe ask what new staff training looks like. I’ve seen many workers that I would assume have never worked with children and are just thrown into the classroom because centers need staff.

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      I would ask about if there is a parent’s listserv or parent’s advisory group. Like what is the degree of parental involvement.
      Degree of parent communication. One of my child’s day care, there was an incident form for almost everything, including what the kid ate every day and how many diapers they went through. Another child’s center was more of the tack- “We prefer to handle things internally and not bother the parents.” I mean if it was a serious injury, they would tell the parents, but a little bit of pushing and tears on the playground, they didn’t. I think you need to decide which you prefer or if either is fine for you.
      Ask if they are full year or just school year and what holidays they take.
      How much time they spend outdoors and what they do if it rains/ the weather is bad. How bad does the weather have to be for the kids to stay inside.
      Vaccination policy for employees and children.
      I would also ask their COVID policies and protocols. Fingers crossed that this won’t be a thing by 2023, but you need to be comfortable with how they handle these emergency health situations.

    9. Charlottemousse*

      Definitely ask about costs and waitlists when you call. Some places even charge to be put on the waitlist. I think others have given good ideas on what to ask, and I’d add the following, which was advised to me by someone else who runs her own daycare when I asked the same question:
      1) Ask about their (manager/owner) qualifications and who else works there & qualifications
      2) Their philosophy
      3) How many kids they have in the daycare
      4) Their discipline policy
      5) Their emergency plan
      6) Their schedule & what your child would be doing all day
      7) How they talk to parents and keep parents updated
      8) How they are staying COVID safe and what their COVID policies are
      9) Why they wanted to start a daycare

      Good luck!!

    10. FashionablyEvil*

      Oh, I totally forgot my favorite/best piece of advice on going back to work: make your first day back a Wednesday. It’s going to be bananas from an organization/getting everyone out the door perspective, you may (probably will) miss your baby a lot, and it’s generally an overwhelming time. Having the weekend clearly in sight makes a big difference.

    11. coffee is my friend*

      Thank you everyone! You all both confirmed some of my thinking and give me new information!!

  17. Happy surprise?*

    Has anyone found something out this week that was a pleasant surprise?

    I was a big fan of the tv show Leverage. Had no idea there was a sequel, Leverage Redemption. I know what I’ll be binging this weekend.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Stargate (I think all of it but specifically sg1) had been marked for removal from Hulu last week, but this week it was just…still there, the “Expiring in X Days” flag gone!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      “Damn it, Hardison!”

      I loved it.

      Not quite this week, but this month: Jeeves and the King of Clubs by Ben Schott is a loving ode to the classic gentleman’s gentleman. Set in the 1930s, Bertie and Jeeves now get to be spies! This and the sequel both have nifty notes at the end explaining various turns of phrase.

    3. Pharmgirl*

      I too just learned about this. Will probably rewatch the original first since it’s been a while but I’m excited!

    4. AlabamaAnonymous*

      I thoroughly enjoyed the couple episodes of Leverage: Redemption that they released a few weeks ago. I’m super excited for the ones that were released yesterday! I think they did a great job of showing growth in the characters but still capturing the essence of the original show.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      By chance I found the two most recent books by my favorite mystery author, Julia Spencer-Fleming, in the library. I checked both out and am happily spending the weekend in her fictional world! Taking the Fiction Cure is one of my favorite ways to recover from a long, hard week.

    6. ....*

      Yes! That I have access to a TON of on demand shows and the Peacock app through the TV that’s included in my apartment utility package. I also got a free donut and coffee randomly. And I got to pet a police horse hehe!

    7. Camelid coordinator*

      Last week another commenter mentioned that the second Scholomance book was out, which added some fun to my week.

  18. Red Sky*

    We’ve taken in an abandoned neighborhood cat and after getting him neutered and vaccinated and his health issues addressed I’ve come to realize he’s been having a reaction to his monthly flea treatment. We use Revolution Plus and he has pretty obvious and immediate hair loss at the application sight and seems to also be itchy in that general area.

    I like the Revolution brand because it offers so much more than just flea treatment. He’s an indoor/outdoor cat so the extra heartworm, tick and earmite protection is helpful but based on my googling it doesn’t seem like other brands offer all this additional protection. I’ll be contacting the vet this week but was hoping to hear if any of y’all have experience with this issue and which product(s) did you switch to?

    Also, please don’t suggest making him indoor only. I’ve had both indoor only and indoor/outdoor cats and believe me when I say, given our current home situation, there’s no way this guy can be a happy, indoor-only cat. He was raised primarily outside and has zero chill.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve used seresto on my cat before but it doesn’t do the additional worming work. Maybe an oral medication?

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      If you’re using a topical treatment, and the cat is having a reaction, I would ask the vet about an oral option. It looks like there are a few oral options out there, but I don’t know how effective different brands are.

    3. The Dogman*


      Does fleas and I think ticks.

      Get a seperate wormer and give it in an alternating schedule to avoid stressing his system.

      Some cats (and dogs) do not respond well to group medication, it seems to me it can be a bit much all at once for some of them.

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Know what you mean about taking in an outside cat – I have 2 of them and I can’t adapt their routines to being indoors only, there’d be uproar and carnage >.<

        1. Princess Deviant*

          And I have to do that with their flea/tick spot-on and oral worming meds – there’s much less of a reaction with them being spaced out.

        2. Xenia*

          I have one who starts very pointedly peeing on things if we try to keep her indoors only—and this is after we had to treat her for an infection from being bitten in the face by something large last March. She refuses to be imprisoned indoors.

      2. Red Sky*

        Thanks, that makes sense. Fortunately we’re well past the super-traumatic-for-everyone-involved daily oral antibiotic administration so hopefully a monthly pill wont be a big deal.

    4. CJM*

      One of my cats had a bad reaction to one flea medication, but he did fine with a different one. Unfortunately it took a while to get the correct diagnosis, so the poor guy itched like crazy for a few months. I wish I’d sought a second opinion sooner after the first vet didn’t help. And I wish I could remember which medication worked and which didn’t, but it’s been too long.

      We’ve adopted two neighborhood strays who needed help, and one of them sounds like your cat: very much an outdoor guy. If it’s below 40 degrees out, I might be able to coax him inside overnight. I worry about him when it gets cold, but he runs off if he’s not in the mood to come in (but he stays mostly in our yard). It’s better since we put a few “cat huts” on our deck made from storage bins or bought from Chewy. I pad them with old towels that I change frequently, especially after it rains or snows. Later this fall I’ll add insulation and a heating pad to one of them to help him out.

    5. Cats R cool*

      Note: cats are ok with the dissolvable Claritin tabs. Generally half a 5mg tablet mixed in wet food. Helps mitigate the already happened reaction.

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I have asked someone who works for Zoetis if they have a suggestion. We had a similar allergic reaction with a foster cat recently so I’m curious. The Plus has an extra ingredient so you might try the regular Revolution and check regularly for ticks? Also the dosage is 0.05ml per kg, so you might be able to give him less of it and maybe he won’t react as much? Unlikely, but it is so useful in comparison to others.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        The response:
        Try to add some vitamin E. If you can find some capsules, just a tiny dab of the oil before or after applying the Revolution on same spot.

  19. Bibliovore*

    Streaming suggestions please .
    I have recurrence of shingles. (Yes I had the vaccine) just lucky I guess. Stress. Yah think?
    Have the anti virals and lanacaine ointment.
    Now I need distracting videos.
    I have Hulu , Netflix and prime.
    Love Ted Lasso, but also like stuff like Star Trek , and Bosch.
    Can’t do sub titles right now.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      It flew under the radar, but The OA on Netflix if you like something with a slightly mysterious/sci-fi bent. It’s utterly engrossing and totally binge worthy. I’m devastated that they only made 2 seasons!

    2. Hen*

      Season 1 of Evil is on Netflix- it’s a really cool show! Not least because it stars a woman and two men of color.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      There’s 3 seasons of Travelers on Netflix, and that was super engrossing. I also loved Sense8, two seasons on Netflix, though it has several very racy bits, so be mindful if that’s not your thing. Manifest (I believe on Hulu) might also appeal. All three have a little bit of sci-fi feel to them, not quite as sci fi as Star Trek, but – Travelers is time travel (done in a way that was new to me at least), Sense8 is about psychic connections between people, and Manifest starts out with a plane that lands five (or so) years after it took off, but the people on the plane haven’t experienced any more time than the normal length of the flight, and then goes through both some investigation as to what happened, and also how the plane-ful of people reintegrate into society and their families and such after having been gone for five years.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I second the Travelers suggestion. In my opinion it’s three seasons of pretty fantastic science fiction with a beginning, middle, and end: you’re not left wanting because it’s only three seasons.

        1. Windchime*

          I loved the Travelers. I stumbled across it while looking for something else and was quickly engrossed. It’s a great premise and the characters were all good, but flawed, people. I was sad when I got to the last episode.

          Also…..The Americans. An oldie but goodie.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Abstract: The Art of Design Each episode focuses on a different designer. Of toys, of art, of fonts. It will probably introduce you to some neat minutia about everyday things that you hadn’t thought of before. Counter-intuitively, it was the episodes I almost skipped because “eh, I’m not into fonts” that wound up being most fascinating.
      The Good Place An AAM favorite for a reason. Eleanor dies and wakes up in The Good Place, and realizes they think she was a human rights lawyer rather than an Arizona dirtbag, and tries to fit in so she won’t get sent to The Bad Place.
      Avatar A kids’ show that hooked a lot of adults, self and spouse included. Great world-building and story-telling.
      Dark Matter On if you like Star Trek… grounds. Six strangers wake up on a spaceship with no memory of how they got there. Zippy space opera on the top, interesting philosophical questions in the undercurrents.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I loved the Abstract episodes I’ve seen (and that font one was amazing); I need to go back to watch more.

      2. AlabamaAnonymous*

        Oooh … I loved Dark Matter! A really deep exploration of good and evil but with lots of fun action.

    5. The Dogman*

      The Expanse (its awesome!)

      Stargate (bit of cheese it good for the mind sometimes and 9 seasons or something, plus spin offs)

      and if you like music perhaps the Metal Evolution series?

      Plus all the Britannia music documentaries are worth a watch, lots of them are on Youtube too.

      Get well soon!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ll put a big caution on The Expanse. It’s creepy and has biological warfare. Not for everyone, during a pandemic especially.

    6. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I’m currently binging Brooklyn Nine Nine (Hulu). Loved “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu) – it was funnier than I expected and I thought it was delightful (even though Martin Short’s character was a smidge grating).

      Have you watched “The Americans” (Prime)? It seems like it might be up your alley if you liked Bosch.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Second The Americans.
        One of very few American productions that have Russian speaking actors playing Russian characters. It’s a small thing, but it made the snow even better.

        1. Windchime*

          I mentioned The Americans up above. I love that series and have watched it twice all the way through. So, so good.

    7. Dear liza dear liza*

      ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING is delightful, especially if you like podcasts. (Hulu)

    8. Janet Copenhaver*

      Jeanne Robertson is a humorist and a fun story teller. My favorites are the ones about “Cleaning the carpet”, ” Don’t send a man the grocery store”, “Baton, “Red Porsche”, etc. Jeanne recently passed away. Her humor will last forever!! Enjoy!
      Hope you feel better!

    9. Ginger is my name, bingeing is my game*

      If you like period pieces, the new remake of “Vanity Fair” on Prime is really good. (It’s a series, not a movie.) Carnival Row (fantasy) is good. And my standbys for feeling better when having a rough time (some may be on one or the other of the streaming services, not sure): Galaxy Quest (and the documentary about it, which is fun and fascinating), School of Rock, The American President (from which The West Wing sprang), Dave, Enchanted, A Fish Called Wanda, Yellow Submarine, Some Like it Hot. And on YouTube they have a BBC program called “Secrets of the Museum” which I really loved. Hope you feel better soon!

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      Netflix – I see Ted Lasso compared to Schitt’s Creek a lot. The Good Place, Stardust (movie), Avatar: The Last Airbender

      Prime – Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Orphan Black

    11. RussianInTexas*

      The Expanse! On Prime. The best sci-fi show of the last decade.
      The Boys on Prime (disclaimer: violent and crude).
      The Rookie on Hulu.
      Babylon 5, it’s streaming somewhere, but I can’t remember where.
      Lucifer on Netflix.
      Shadow and Bone on Netflix.
      Locke and Key on Netflix.

      1. allathian*

        The Expanse stars Cas Anwar, who got fired from the 6th season because of accusations of sexual harassment and assault (more than 30 occurrences). I haven’t seen the show, but many people who have say that the character he plays is so unpleasant that they weren’t surprised by the accusations.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I don’t find Alex’s character particularly unpleasant, in the show or in the books, but he got killed off, regardless.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          Besides, a character is written and directed. The pleasantness or unpleasantness have nothing to do with the actor. Otherwise we can presume that all unpleasant characters are played by actors and actresses who are bad people IRL and all the characters that are nice are played by the actors and actresses who are good people IRL. That is decidedly untrue.

        3. Natalie*

          Based on the character of Alex I would never have guessed that the actor was a predator. When my husband told me about the charges against the actor I remember saying how could they pick an actor that was so opposite in character of Alex. I guess that actor can really act.

    12. Anono-me*

      I am loving “The Indian Doctor” on prime right now (although the Scarlet Fever story arc is a little too something.) and am just starting “Desth in Paradise”.
      The “Atlantic Crossing” was good and so was “Eureka” and “New Tricks”.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’re at all interested in documentaries, DIY, architecture and/or history, try Secrets of the Castle. A short BBC series (5 shows) about the current 20+year project to build a ~13th c castle.
      I’m moving on to the Tudor next.

    14. RosyGlasses*

      AppleTV —> Home (documentary style of amazing homes around the world – the first episode features a house inside a greenhouse in Sweden!), Scmiggadoon (if you like musicals), MythicQuest (starting a few folks from Always Sunny in Philadelphia about a video gaming company and is very hilarious)

      Prime —> Loudermilk (grumbly guy from Office Space leading an AA style group and the funny/dark humor of it all, The Expanse (amazing sci fi, LulaRich (documentary/expose about LuLaRoe)

      Netflix —> The Good Place, Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience, Dynasty, New Girl, Love, Grace & Frankie, Dear White People, Great British Baking Show, Downtown Abbey

    15. Missouri Girl in LA*

      If you like British, Prime has Midsomer Murders. It’s a fabulous murder-mystery police show but it’s not gruesome and takes place some sleepy village/county in England. The plots are well-written and it’s just fun to watch. We are also watching 3rd Rock from the Sun-quirky but well-written. In our quest for The West Wing (although we own the complete set on DVD, couldn’t find them and the player), we signed up for HBO/Max. We don’t do a lot of streaming sites, but I’m enjoying this one.

    16. Marion Ravenwood*

      If you can get it, Ghosts is wonderful (it’s on BBC iPlayer here in the UK but may be on other streaming services elsewhere). It’s a sitcom about a couple who inherit a large dilapidated country house where the wife has a near-death experience, which means she can see the ghosts of all the people who died in the house/on the piece of land – there’s a WWII Army captain, a Georgian socialite, a Romantic-era Byron-esque poet, a caveman, a disgraced politician etc. It’s by the same team that made Horrible Histories/Yonderland and is very funny and sweet and charming. I binge watched all of it recently when I had bad food poisoning and it’s at the point where I’ve been holding off on watching the last episode because I’m not ready to leave them all behind just yet.

  20. Paquita*

    I lost my mother three weeks ago. I lost my husband last Sunday. Buried him yesterday. I am still numb. My church, family, friends and neighbors have been very supportive. One neighbor brought me Chic-Fil-A Thursday. Another brought a casserole. Her church makes and freezes them as a ministry. Very nice with a printed label with cooking instructions and ingredients. I am not looking forward to the day when it finally hits me. :(

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I am so very sorry for your losses and so glad to hear your community is there for you. Sending you all good wishes as you walk through this difficult time!

    2. Hen*

      I am so very sorry. Is there no one you could stay with for a while or who could stay with you? Just so you are not alone with your grief? Again, I’m so sorry for the twin losses.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I am so sorry.

      Give yourself the time you need. You are fortunate in your community.

    4. Burnt eggs*

      I am sending virtual love and support. I too lost several people in a short time and it is rough. One minute at a time, give yourself grace as you adjust. Make lists as brain fog is real. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m so sorry for your losses <>

    5. The Dogman*

      I am sorry, do you have close family or friends that you can maybe stay with for a few days?

      Take care, all my best wishes!

    6. fposte*

      Oh, Paquita, how horrible. I’m so sorry. I’m very glad your circle is there for you, and I hope you will trust them to help you as the process goes on.

    7. tab*

      Oh, that’s so tough! My friend’s husband died right after her mother’s funeral. She had a rough time, but is doing well now. Like you, her community of family and friends came together for her. I wish you many happy memories of your mother and your husband.

    8. Wishing You Well*

      I am very sorry for the loss of your mother and husband. I can’t imagine.
      Please hang in there.
      Sending good thoughts, Paquita.

    9. Jean (just Jean)*

      So much sympathy! Like others on this thread, I am glad that you have supportive community close by.

    10. bibliovore*

      I am so sorry for your loss. This site was so helpful to me. Search my name and May or June and you will see answers to the questions I had.
      Big thanks to the person who recommended “Its OK you’re not ok.” repeatedly as I missed the recommendation the first tie. I found it very helpful.

    11. Elle Woods*

      Oh my goodness. I am so sorry for your losses. Sending you love as you navigate this difficult time.

    12. Anonosaurus*

      I’m so sorry. Nothing a stranger can say will help, but this stranger has you in her thoughts.

    13. AnonToday*

      sending my heartfelt sympathy (widow too). Let people help you if they offer. Keep a small list of things that you “might” be able to use help with (raking leaves, cleaning gutters, taking car for oil change, helping with going through the closet). It was hard for me to ask / accept help, but it was healing to see how my network reached out to love and care for me.

  21. Meh*

    Adjustable Beds?

    I have one but no headboard/footboard frame for it. I want to put a wood frame around it and have it look like a traditional bed..but I don’t know if it would accommodate the base movements. When I search the interwebs looking for bed frames to go around my adjustablebed frame… I’m directed to adjustable bed frames. Ugh. Has anyone bought one or can point me to the right search terms?

    1. fposte*

      I did a quick search and it looks like it needs the solidity of a platform under it; I found some informative articles when I searched for “adjustable bed on a platform bed.”

      Another possibility is more of a hack approach. I have a freestanding homemade headboard for my bed (fabric and padding over plywood), and I bet you could attach a footboard to a frame and then add side pieces to connect.

      1. Meh*

        The adjustable base is a large platform with hydraulic things(?) That raise and lower the top and bottom of the bed. It’s so frustrating because I can’t attach a headboard to it (I have one leaning on the wall but that moves) and I feel like it looks so unfinished.

        1. fposte*

          Right–so maybe you could instead build a wooden frame around it and then upholster it with padding, fabric, and a staple gun.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      They make headboards that attach directly to the wall— would being able to screw the headboard into the wall, so it doesn’t move, look better?

    3. Chaordic One*

      I have an adjustable bed and the really big issue is that the (adjustable) frame supporting the mattress doesn’t extend to the end of the bed at either end and there is nothing to attach a headboard or footboard to. I see a lot of headboards that say they are supposedly compatible with adjustable beds, but it looks like the headboards just sit against the wall (between the bed and the wall) and are not attached to the bedframe.

      Supposedly, most manufacturers of adjustable bedframes sell brackets that attach to the bedframe and act as frame extenders so that there is something to attach a headboard and/or footboard to. One manufacturer of adjustable beds (Leggett & Platt Prodigy) sells kits that consist of such brackets.

      Here’s a YouTube video about a setting an adjustable bed inside a conventional bedframe with a headboard and footboard. It certainly would work if the bedframe was larger that the adjustable bed. This sounds like what you are proposing. I’ve also seen some instances where people have removed the legs from adjustable bedframes and then placed them on top of platform beds. This can also work, but the mattress usually ends up very high off of the ground. I’ll post a link to the YouTube video as a response to this post.

  22. Dwight Schrute*

    What’s your personal paradise?

    What’s your personal hell?

    For me, paradise would be having a woodsy property and space for lots of dogs and outdoorsy stuff. Hell would involve being stuck in some sort of hot, sweaty mosh pit I couldn’t get out of

    1. Hen*

      Hell would be a corporate zoom call with boring ice breakers.

      Heaven is harder to think of… some place with the people I love.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My paradise is actually pretty close to what I have now – my house is a good size for my family, my yard is a good size for my dog (and for more dog in the spring), I have plenty of easy access to things I need and want by either driving to them or having them delivered. If I could get a reliable housekeeper to do floors and bathrooms and a garden person to do the mowing, weeding and mulching, and if the temperature was perpetually between 60-80 year round, those two things would make it perfect. (And I’m actually looking for a garden person/service, but can’t get anybody to return my calls. :P )

      Hell would be somewhere that’s constantly cold and snowy, or dreary and drizzly, and out in the middle of nowhere with no delivery services and spotty internet. :P

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My brother-in-law found someone to do their mom’s property (out in the countryside) by noticing a truck with mowers in the back at a nearby gas station.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I posted to Nextdoor right after leaving this comment (ours is hit or miss so I hadn’t tried yet) and within ten minutes had a retired landscaping pro from the next subdivision over message me that he’s out of town for a few days but would be happy to come take a look at the garden beds next weekend and give me a quote for the fall cleanup weeding and mulching, which is at least a start! :)

    3. Forensic13*

      Oh this is fun!
      Personal heaven: the house from the 90s Casper movie (with Christina Ricci). There are multiple libraries and a huge garden outside that somebody else weeds, heh.

      Personal hell: I’m at a wedding shower for somebody I barely know. I’m wearing pantyhose. It’s hour four. The food was all casseroles. I’m seated next to a man who’s explaining the role of women in marriage. And someone stole my phone.

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      My paradise is dusk on the beach, when the intensity of the sun has abated and my senses are completely filled by the warmth of the powdery-soft sand, the roar of the waves, the stunning hue of the pink-purple sky, and the smell of the warm, salty, humid breeze.

      Hell is a Westfield shopping centre in the lead up to Christmas.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Heaven: Small (so easy to clean and maintain) house in the country, but not too far from a good grocery store and library system.

      Hell: That mosh pit sounds like it.

      Purgatory: Drawn straight from NK Jemisen, a world in which you wake up each day in your little apartment, everything outside it a drab, seemingly VR-manifesed, landscape. You go through your day for a bit over 10 hours and then wake up again. Repeat.

      1. banoffee pie*

        Great question! Hmmm, let’s think. Heaven would be a good loud rock concert as long as I don’t have to go in the mosh pit ;) Or more long-term heaven would be living in a really cosmopolitan city where you can get whatever you want any time of the day or night. Loads of museums, shopping, great music, food etc. But I would also have enough space/money to have a big house with a music room, and for some reason the air would be clean like in the countryside lol.
        Hell is when there is someone who hates you/is out to get you at work or school or some place you can’t get away from them.

    6. Ali G*

      Just somewhere quiet, wooded with plenty of space. A one floor house with open spaces and high ceilings. We hear birds and wildlife when outside instead of cars or people.
      Being stuck on a plane in turbulence.

    7. Dear liza dear liza*

      Paradise: On the beach on a not too hot day with few people around but lots of books and snacks.

      Hell: It’s a windowless, freezing cold conference room, for a very long, poorly run meeting, where nothing gets done or decided.

    8. Disco Janet*

      Paradise: One of the houses at Golden Oaks. It’s a subdivision right behind the Magic Kingdom where you can see the fireworks from your yard, and all the homes are gorgeous with amazing amenities. Disney is our family’s happy place.

      My alternate paradise option would be somewhere tropical – turquoise water, laid back lifestyle, sandy beaches, etc.

      My personal hell would be a political rally for…well, we’re not supposed to get political here. But let’s just say I’m pretty sure most of the AAM commenters from the US would agree with me on this one. And in my personal hell, I’m not allowed to protest it – I have to just sit there and listen to the hatred and lies.

    9. fposte*

      Heaven: cozy, quiet house across the street from great bakery and around the corner from good friends.

      Hell: massive, heaving drunken party on a cargo plane stuck in a holding pattern. I feel optimistic that I will never experience this hell.

    10. CTT*

      Very specific to the past three hours of my life:

      Paradise: beach at 8 am, cloudy and slightly cool, no one but a few people walking

      Hell: beach at 10 a.m., crowded, full sun, so sweaty.

      (I’m at the beach for a wedding and walked to a breakfast place and was like “maybe I love the beach??? This is great!” And then on the way back was reminded why I don’t do the beach)

    11. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Personal hell: Having tinnitus (currently) that is unrelenting, very high pitch 3 tone screech, squeal along with thousands of electronic crickets. Nothing drowns it out. 24/7/365 for the past 7 years.

      Personal Heaven: No tinnitus and the return of a calm, focused mind.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I already wrote about that in Tunerville. :)
      Heaven: like the Realm in the book.

      Hell: in the book, Callahan calls it the Melancholy, a roiling dark place where your own bullshit keeps you trapped and you can only leave when you get out of your head.

      In real life, I’m with Sartre; Hell is other people. Plus a bit of the Melancholy.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      personal paradise –

      large, air conditioned room enough for personal space but if someone wants to sit net to me or cuddle, that’s fine too
      everyone that I love in said one room
      maybe I’m falling asleep, maybe I’m participating
      my baby quietly giggling in my arms (she’s 14 months now so very little cradling time now)
      yummy food, enough to go around
      nice smells

      personal hell –
      hot with strangers on top of each other aka NYC subway.

    14. Anonynony*

      Paradise is being outdoors enjoying nature, whether it be the beach, a nature trail, hiking, or just walking around my neighborhood.

      Hell is being somewhere that I’m not comfortable to make someone else happy. Have been doing that for two days until I up and left to get some alone time.

  23. RosenGilMom*

    does any of the commentariat own/use a hair removal device using intense pulsed light (IPL) (for home use, not a salon) ? I’m thinking of making this investment and would love to hear about recommendations / results.

    1. MinotJ*

      I don’t have an at-home IPL, but I do have a Tria home laser. I’m not crazy about it. After doing laser hair removal at a dermatologist’s office for years, I’d worked up a tolerance to the zap. So with the at-home version, I feel like I can’t turn it up high enough for it to really work well. Like I’m zapping and zapping and the results take soooooo long.

      I think they have to make the at-home versions so weak that they’re not really worth it.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I had an early model Tria and found it useful on my upper lip hair even tho it stung with each little zap. And the unit was’nt rechargeable so after it ran out its lifetime number of zaps, it died. And it was $450!

    2. A Wall*

      I have one of those Bella Flash home IPL things. I’ll tell you my experience, which is that it both works and doesn’t work.

      My skin is extremely delicate but I have very coarse body hair, so shaving anywhere delicate leads to my skin being extremely angry for a few days as the regrowth comes in, which sucks and I hate it. So I figured that, if I even just reduced the amount of regrowth (rather than getting rid of all the hair permanently), it would enable me to shave without my skin going nuts.

      And it did work for that! Every time I use it, noticeably less hair grows back over the next few weeks. You’re supposed to use it every two weeks, and if I go way longer (I’ve gone a few months several times) a lot of it will gradually grow back in, but still always a lot less than before I started. If you actually stuck to the every two weeks, trying to remove all hair regimen that they recommend, I think it would make the regrowth very sparse. Totally gone, though? I’m not sure, because I never tried, but it seems like you might never get to 100%, or not for very long. And you do have to use it periodically to keep it gone, which is what I’d heard from everyone I know who’d used one before. They’d also told me that they could never be bothered to try for 100% removal but that they got near it while being lax about it. So for me, it’s great, because much sparser hair was all I needed. But it won’t keep you from ever having to shave at all, probably.

      Here’s a real weird bonus, though. My very most delicate skin usually gets irritated within a few hours after shaving and stays that way for a while. But if I shave and do the IPL before the irritation sets in, though, it’s fine. Even if I wait until it’s already irritated, using the IPL makes it almost entirely better and stops it from getting really irritated from clothes rubbing or anything like that. I have no earthly idea why that would be, but if this thing was marketed purely as an anti-irritation device it would almost be worth it for that alone. I have no clue if it would also do that for anyone else though, I have never seen anyone else mention this particular side effect before.

  24. Falling Diphthong*

    Shadow and Bone question, as I think there are some fans of the books and show here:

    Picked up the Netflix series on the strength of its very positive reviews on RT, and having recently read the fairy tales set in this world by the same author, which had the dark roots of fairy tales combined with world building, good characters, and deliberate zigs when the story seemed to be building to a zag. A few episodes in and the show is… very meh? The world-building feels paint-by-numbers. Mal and Alina are incredibly passive, and on the rare occasions they try to do something their plans are painfully terrible. Is this a case of the show taking a bit to find its feet? Books better than the show? Just not my taste, like coconut creams?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I haven’t watched it but my boyfriend did and he enjoyed it but likes the books better now that he’s reading them. And thanks for sharing there are more books by her, I just ordered him six of crows and the fairytale books for his birthday this month!

    2. CTT*

      A little bit of all three? The show is a combo of two series so it’s has to do a lot of work and you can only elegantly cram in so much. I thought the book version S&B was fine – also very paint-by-numbers and nothing special but enjoyable (formulas work for a reason!) and I think the show is an accurate translation of its vibe. But I genuinely love Six of Crows – none of it really has been in the show, and it’s basically Ocean’s Eleven + teenagers + a lot of murder.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I have put in a library request, as I adore a good caper. The three crows are the one part of the Netflix series that sparks for me: partly that they are active, partly that the casting definitely hit on three charismatic people who look like they are about to get up to something interesting.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I started watching Shadow and Bones because Ben Barnes is in it (and that man is both handsome and utterly charming no matter what he’s in) but, sadly, I didn’t finish it even with him in it. I found it to be very paint-by-numbers too and I tried the first book in the series but was so frustrated by the plot. I think the problem I had with it is that it’s probably aimed at young teens and as a woman in her early thirties, I was more frustrated and annoyed by the romance and by how quickly everything moved along.

      There was also a lot of focus on how plain Alina was that was just unnecessary: like, we get it, she’s ugly and poor and boring but she’s also incredible all at the same time. It was lazy characterisation, in my opinion.

      Also, Mal is extremely very not cool in the book. His behaviour towards Alina borders on the possessive and manipulative and I just couldn’t deal with how Alina was bending over backwards to appease him. I actually think one of the things the show does better is by making Mal more likeable and expanding the universe by incorporating parts of the other books into it earlier.

      Basically, all this is to say that if you didn’t enjoy the show then I don’t think the books will be your cup of tea either.

    4. Batgirl*

      I watched the series first before reading the books, which I think is the better order because the books are definitely better and the reverse might be a bit of a let down. However I do remember it getting significantly more interesting after a few episodes, which is why I ended up getting the books.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I read the first book (Shadow and Bone) and was unimpressed. It was fine but I never finished the series and haven’t picked up anything else by the author even though the fairy tale one is my type of book. I enjoyed the series but it was definitely more of a “this is fun and pretty-looking” show than anything particularly amazing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I recommend the fairy tale one–it was a good blend of the classic tropes that make fairy tales resonate, with new twists and curls that make them feel like instructive folk tales from a coherent world. (Some are clearly twists on specific classics, but in a “Whenever I watch The Nutcracker I itch to rework it” way.) The strength of the fairy tales is part of why I found the meh Netflix world and protagonists such a surprise.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          That’s good to know! The show did make me feel like I might enjoy Six of Crows more as well, despite being a huge fan of “special girl saves the world” YA in general :)

    6. Loopy*

      I’ve read both book series that were in the show long before they were on TV and am so glad you asked.

      Six of Crows is bar far my preferred series- it’s a duology. Much, much better.

      The other series set in the Grishaverse is actually amazing….once you get past Alina’s bit. Overall, yes, the book is better than the show but her storyline is by far my least favorite. Whereas I think after her storyline wraps up, other characters step forward and it gets MUCH better. I would maybe start with Six of Crows and if you like the world, jump to the other series knowing the Alina Sun Summoner story definitely doesn’t represent the whole of that world/series :)

    7. Eden*

      I couldn’t get into the show despite having read the books. But tbh, the actual Shadow & Bone trilogy wasn’t all that impressive either. I read it mostly based on good feelings left over from the Six of Crows duology which I did enjoy very much, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend powering through the shadow&bone books as your first move.

      Re: liking the fairy tales book, you might be interested in The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

    8. WS*

      Books considerably worse than the show at this stage, but as you go on the books get considerably better! I disliked all the Mal and Alina parts and the parts with the captive/captor storyline, but I enjoyed the rest just fine, especially the trio coming to capture Alina..

    9. not that Leia*

      Read ALL the books, haven’t seen the show. In the case of the books, they improve significantly after the first one—goes from being very formulaic YA romance-centered (though excellent world-building) to a more complicated geo-political story. And then agreed with other comments that Six of Crows is even better.

    10. marvin the paranoid android*

      I saw the series but only read Six of Crows so I can’t comment on the Shadow & Bone books. I thought the Six of Crows parts were really underserved by the series. Without giving too much away, those characters seem to mostly just hover around the margins of the story, making me wonder if the showrunners just tacked them on to increase the audience. I wouldn’t say I’m a massive Six of Crows fan, but to me its main appeal is how well the heist works and how much you appreciate the cleverness of the characters, and none of that made it into the series at all. And I tend to agree that the world building is a bit uninspired.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Episode 4 down. Spouse agreed with my wish that the crows were planning to steal something a lot more interesting than Alina.

  25. Breakable Bummer*

    Yesterday, a painted porcelain tile (done by my grandmother, who is no longer with us) was dropped on our concrete garage floor by a friend who was trying to be nice and find a nail to hang it and, of course, shattered. Most of the pieces were recoverable, and the original picture is mostly visible with some small gaps, and several missing pieces around the outside. The friend found a restorer and took it there to try and get it repaired, but we have to wait four weeks for an estimate and from what they said the price will most likely be prohibitively expensive and way out of what my friend can afford. Assuming the restorer comes back with a cost estimate that she can’t afford, what are other ways we could potentially fix the tile, or salvage the pieces? It was a gift from my grandfather to my daughter, which meant a lot for him to give so I would like to at least hold on to it in some way.

    1. Meh*

      Oh, I am so sorry! You could do Kintsugi and highlight what is broken in turn making it beautiful.

      Or if the paint is durable (like enamel or glazed) you could have the pieces shaped and turned into cabochons for jewelry setting (I’m a metalsmith/small batch jewelry maker so this is what comes to mind).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I really like the kintsugi suggestion of highlighting the cracks.

        Do you have a person in your circle who likes doing small fidgety things–jewelry making, tying flies, puzzles? There’s a personality for which patiently coaxing all the pieces into place is soothing.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’ve been saving up broken pottery & china,to practice on before I tackle some sentimental pieces. I’ve talked about this before, because I’m giving over the pros&cons of traditional vs modern. (Traditional is expensive, highly allergenic, and slow to set–but that’s also good because it gives time to reposition pieces.)

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Try resin! Maybe something like an epoxy resin art tray. It might end up a little abstract, but there are some really beautiful pieces that might be great inspiration.

      It could be a fun art project for you and your daughter to do together, or if you’d rather leave it in the hands of a capable professional, I’m sure there are local artists who could take on the commission within your budget.

      1. fposte*

        I like the idea of involving a local artist. Would there be enough (or is there something you could pad it out with?) to decorate a picture frame? Then you could put a picture of your grandmother in it.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Maybe buy a similar tile and also drop it on the garage floor. Then try any promising methods. See which one you like, and get the experimental oopses out of the way on a piece that doesn’t matter.

        1. MissCoco*

          This is a great suggestion, I’ve heard epoxy can be deceptively tricky with things like bubbles and surface defects.

    3. WellRed*

      Please free your friend from feeling like she has to pay up a lot of money for this unfortunate circumstance.

        1. Not a cat*

          It would be reasonable for her to offer and you to accept. I can’t imagine breaking someone’s heirloom and not being at least partially responsible for the fix. Don’t know why WellRed thinks it’s any of their business.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      Can you reassemble it mounted in a shadow box? (There is an episode of This is Is Us where a character breaks a plate and then has it reassembled and framed and hung it on their wall- I thought it such a sweet idea.)

      I also like the jewelry idea above. I have several small things (a small pill box and a pendant) that were fashioned from shards of pottery that were shattered during the Cultural Revolution in China.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      My first thought was an artist called Bouke de Vries – he’s done some sculptures that are broken patterned vases inside glass vases which preserve the beauty of the broken vase without actually fixing it. An equivalent for a tile might be something like framing it with the pieces arranged and mounted somewhat close to how they originally were, but not worrying about filling in the gaps or lining everything up perfectly

    6. Breakable Bummer*

      These are all great ideas! I feel like I have some good next steps to look into. Thank you so much everyone!

    7. Squirrel Nutkin*

      If anyone in the family/friend group is a potter, maybe they could make a pottery item and incorporate the porcelain pieces into whatever they make? (Not a potter, so not sure if this would work.)

    8. Anono-me*

      I would suggest a shadow box. (Get a $30-$50 Michael’s shadow box, put a piece of foam in it. Cut out spaces for the tile pieces and then cover the foam in velvet. )

      The advantage to the shadow box is that it allows the friend a way to make reasonably priced reparations and still allows the owner of the tile (your daughter) to make her own decision when she is an adult.

    9. Mstr*

      I guess this depends on the numbers, but would you consider paying for it yourself, or paying half or something? It may be worth it to you simply because the sentimental value is high & you would like to keep it (and perhaps keep it in the best condition possible). You could also get additional estimates or think about repairing it in different ways — perhaps having the prices mounted professionally is a shadow box would cost less & yet preserve it without adding to or altering grandmother’s original work.

    10. Dr. Anonymous*

      Maybe ask the restorer if it’s possible to conserve rather than restore–in other words, glue the pieces together in a reversible way but not try to make it look as if the accident never happened. It wouldn’t be MUCH cheaper, but it might be possible to afford, and would allow you to have it restored later when you have the means.

  26. Ali G*

    What’s cooking, my friends? My husband is spending the weekend putting a shed together so I am delving into cooking projects.
    What is your favorite thing to cook when you have all the time in the world? So far I am making chicken stock from scratch, a small brisket low and slow, and am contemplating falafel from dried beans.
    I also accidentally bought 2 10 oz packages of baby spinach (online ordering whoops!) so there is either a pesto in my future or I will rehome it to a neighbor.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      my favorite thing to do with baby spinach is to whiz it up in the food processor (along with a can of artichoke hearts if I have them) and put it in manicotti filling or a white-cheese mac and cheese with chicken and bacon :)

      1. banoffee pie*

        All the time in the world? Cinnamon buns or a pizza, base, sauce and all from scratch (I draw the line at making my own cheese ;) Or one of those stews that takes hours to cook. I like making my own pesto too with fresh basil and pine nuts. Or maybe a cake with icing, that takes a while. I waste way too much time in the kitchen :)

      2. Ali G*

        OMG I cleaned out the fridge and freezer today and I found 3 bags of frozen spinach too! I am fricken Popeye! I am going to be spending the evening googling spinach recipes. Any other ideas welcome!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          If you like spinach artichoke dip, there’s an excellent recipe for it on the website “six sisters stuff”, and that particular recipe (and probably others but that’s the one I know of) makes a fantastic dip hot and an excellent bagel or sandwich spread cold.

          If you do one of the pasta ideas, either the filled manicotti/shells or the mac and cheese, those will both freeze well :)

        2. Esmeralda*

          Spanakopita triangles. I use equal amounts of cooked spinach (squeezed very dry) and chopped herbs, plus green onion and crumbled feta for the filling. Freeze baked or unbaked.

    2. The Dogman*

      A roast dinner is my long cooking ideal.

      A good piece of meat, or a whole chicken, some fresh local veg, roast potatoes and parsnips, lots of gravy and sauces…

      It can take me a half day to prep before hand and then 4-6 hours of cooking to then eat WAY too much food in one sitting and pass out in a food coma/overdose.

      I don’t do it often cos I would get fat, so once or twice a year (ie Christmas and once in summer) is about the limit.

      You can freeze spinach if you are going to use it in sauces in future, I chop that sort of veg and then freeze it, then I can just chuck it in a sauce or soup later.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, so “what’s cooking” is “lots!”

      But my favourite thing to make when I have plenty of time and no reason to rush is cabbage rolls, which is a 4- to 5-hour project, or something like a filled braided bread, because when I make all the fillings from scratch it takes up more time than I’d like.

    4. int*

      steamed buns with kimchi, tofu, and mushrooms and stir fried kimchi and pork belly with cauliflower rice

    5. wingmaster*

      I have been making a lot of freezer meals for my “No Spend November.” A lot of it is bone stock from scratch, and I’ve made two things of chicken fajitas. Next couple things on my freezer meal list are breakfast burritos and chicken noodle soup.

    6. GoryDetails*

      Long-term cooking – probably a roast goose; I adore that, but it is such a production, at least if I want to avoid overcooking the meat and flooding the oven with delectable melted goose-fat! (Also, geese are expensive; I make do with duck if I can find that on sale.)

      Most recently I made stuffed peppers with the last of my garden produce: rice cooked with chopped sweet peppers and jalapenos and some onion, stuffed into the biggest sweet peppers and baked with cheese on top. Came out very well, and the leftovers reheated nicely next day.

      Oh, and I also had a luscious roasted-marrowbone as a treat: roasted the bone, spread the tasty marrow on some toast with a little salt and a touch of parsley. Yum!

    7. Girasol*

      The butcher gave me a whole carton of bones with the last quarter I bought, so I stewed a few all day and then used the stock to make campfire stew (tomatoes, ground beef, and mixed veggies, an old standard from scout camp.) It’s the season for a good thick soup.

    8. Bon voyage*

      Priya Krishna’s saag feta is so tasty and would use up that spinach in a jif! I have the cookbook but the recipe is online, too.

    9. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Tuscan shrimp or chicken to use the spinach. It’s a cream based sauce with sun dried (or roasted tomatoes) plus spinach. Ver good

    10. Elle Woods*

      One of my favorite meals in the world, one that I only make when I (a) have nothing going on that day, and (b) it’s cold outside, is beef marsala stew. I got the recipe a few years back from Cooking Light. It requires a bit of work but the end results are oh so worth it.

    11. Esmeralda*

      Today I made sourdough bread, put up pints of tomatoes, made sauce for baked ziti for tomorrow’s dinner, and tried a new biscuit recipe (it was meh). Plus dinner.

      I love big cooking projects. Especially when I should be grading student work instead!

    12. Chaordic One*

      Today I tried a new recipe for carrot ginger soup and it turned out to be excellent, if I do say so myself.

      If I have all the time in the world, I love cooking a roast. I also love to bake, but for some things (say fancy pastries or cakes) it can be quite a lot of work and take a lot of time.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I tend to make jelly or jam, even though I give it all away. It doesn’t necessarily take a really long time, but it can be tedious because of the canning process. I also have a few recipes that don’t use pectin. That means boiling it until the gel point, which means lots of stirring, watching, and checking the temperature as I go.

      This weekend I’m making the last of the jelly/jam. I was able to grab more apples of my trees and made apple juice from them, which I’m using to make apple pie jelly. I tried to make that specific recipe yesterday and didn’t check first to see if I had brown sugar–I didn’t. Since I had already dumped everything else into the pot, I had to make spiced apple jelly instead. Today I’ll go get the brown sugar and make the first recipe. Tomorrow I plan to make another batch of blueberry cinnamon jam. Last weekend I made strawberry apple jam with my own apples and it came out great.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I burned a club-sized bag of blueberries last night — no blueberry sauce for my pancakes this week. But my teen caught it before it ruined my favorite so it’s just a waste not a tragedy.
      I have bones boiling for stock…probably to become chicken/bean stew.

  27. banoffee pie*

    Does anyone else find themselves suddenly liking something they swore they’d always hate? For me it’s the music/personality of Ed Sheeran. I don’t know if he’s popular in the US but in the UK he’s huge. Unavoidably huge. I used to find him bland and annoying, especially since he’s so ubiquitous. But when Shape of You came out I found myself tapping my foot in spite of myself. Since Bad Habits was released I’ve decided to just give up and admit I quite like him lol. I balme the pandemic lol. Though Lego House has always been a great song, I’ve always admitted that. Has this happened to anyone else, suddenly liking music, books, food or even types of guy/girl to date that you used to hate? Or the opposite, going off something you used to like?

    1. Meh*

      Your username been nagging at me and I finally did something about it. I made my first banoffee pie and it was freaking amazing (never had one). I made the dulce de leche and cookie biscuits for the base and added an espresso whipped cream. Muah!

    2. Lore*

      Watermelon. I didn’t *hate* it but was at best meh and would choose another fruit over it just about always. All of a sudden this summer it’s all I want to eat. I think the availability of mini watermelons has helped maybe?

      1. Jackalope*

        All of my life I vaguely disliked watermelon and couldn’t understand why people liked it. Then for a few years I moved to an area where the climate is right and you can actually get GOOD watermelon. All of a sudden a light bulb went off in my head. Sadly I am once again living in an area with highly mediocre watermelon, but at least I can appreciate the good stuff now.

        1. allathian*

          When my husband was a baby/toddler, his family lived in Atlanta for a few years. My MIL tells me that he loved watermelon there, but now he won’t eat it. Our watermelon is watery.

          I had an internship in Spain as a student, and the peaches there were abolutely amazing. They were much bigger than the ones we get here, the size of a large orange or small grapefruit, and so juicy that when you bit into it, it’d run all over your face and clothes if you weren’t careful. I quickly learned to bite a small hole in the skin, and suck most of the juice out before eating the rest of the fruit.

          1. marvin the paranoid android*

            I feel this way about figs and tomatoes. It only took a couple of weeks visiting a place where the climate is actually correct for these for me to realize that the ones I’ve been putting up with at home are sad imitations of the real thing.

    3. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Driving to work and medical appts. I would *never* have decided to do that were it not for the pandemic and public transit around here having a lot of maskless folks, but I kind of like it! It’s cool to have so much flexibility about when I leave the house and when I leave work — there’s none of that “If I miss this train, then I’m totally screwed” anxiety. I like listening to music when I’m driving, and it often puts me in a really good mood. Also, drive-thrus = getting food without having to be indoors. Love them! I do miss my commuting buddies, but it’s not like I would feel okay commuting with them right now anyway.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Being *on time* to medical appointments. The Big, Bad, Medical Insurance companies finally surmounted my lifelong inability to realistically plan my travel through space and time (not by centuries, just by the hour it takes to anywhere from anywhere else in a large, congested metro area).

      Oh, and when I was about 14 years old I learned to like the bitter-and-sweet-juicy contrast of grapefruit. Before then I only registered the bitter. It also helped that my grandmother had served it as a first course before dinner and I wanted to appreciate her cooking.

      Based on myself as a data point of one person: People are weird, y’all.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I only learned of Ed S from that movie Yesterday, if you can believe it. It took a fair amount of convincing to get me to believe he was a real-life heartthrob type of guy.

      For me it’s talk radio. I never turn the dial from NPR.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        How did you like the movie? I watched it initially for Ed Sheeran but the movie itself was pretty decent IMO. I choked up at some points and actually ugly cried lol.

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            I enjoyed it too, even without Ed Sheeran, subbing another pop star or even a fictional one, it would have worked well I think.

            I started listening to the Beatles in 2000 when their “1” album came out. So listening to the songs, even though they were recorded in the 60s & 70s, it brought me back to my teenhood in the 2000s. Funny how music works huh.

            I liked the premise as well – any premise of “what if” regarding historical or personal events can grab my attention.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I like Ed Sheeran. Yes, he is known in the US; maybe not quite as big as in the UK but we know him.

      With anything you suddenly like, I believe it lies in getting drawn in by one element and then realizing you thought the rest was off-putting or uninteresting because you didn’t really look at it. Or you could find you can look past it. When you fall in love with someone, they become beautiful to you even if they don’t typify what you’re attracted to.

    7. Lizy*

      My husband likes mushrooms. He eats them out of a can.

      He claimed for YEARS that he hated mushrooms. I have literally avoided mushrooms for 14+ years because of him. I have never made chicken Marsala. I LOVE chicken Marsala.

      I am convinced he is really Edgar from men in black. There is no other logical conclusion.

    8. Double A*

      Sci Fi books. I really didn’t care for it as a genre for years, but I’ve come to like it more as I’ve gotten older and a lot less snobby about “literature,” and also as I’ve found more women and/or POC Sci Fi writers to read.

    9. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Can’t answer your question but chiming in here to say I LOVE ED SHEERAN SO SO SO MUCH. <3

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Brussels sprouts. My inlays make them with bacon and omg… Now I even like them without bacon.

    11. PT*

      I hate Ed Sheeran. Every time I hear his voice, I just get the urge to punch him in the groin. I don’t know why.

    12. Chaordic One*

      As I’ve gotten older I’ve really taken a liking to jazz and all kinds of singers and musicians and bands from the 1960s and 1970s that used to seem old-fashioned and corny to me. Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra.

    13. Cambridge Comma*

      If you want to stop liking him again google ‘Ed Sheeran plagiarism’. (Or search for ‘shape of you no scrubs’ on youtube.)
      I never liked him, but this made me feel comfortably justified in my intense dislike.

  28. HRT Lady*

    I’ve just started HRT and it’s going pretty well already. It must be a placebo effect because I don’t seem to have any side effects and I’m feeling pretty good all things considered!
    Because of migraines, I have to be on estrogen gel and am on the progesterone-only pill too.
    It’s only been a week and I haven’t had another migraine so fingers crossed!

    I do feel a bit sad though cos I guess it’s another phase of my life coming on, and now I’m finally having to accept that kids won’t happen for me. Plus, it’s already damaged my joints a lot, and exercise is hard… and weight gain. Ugh.
    Any good stories about HRT? How are you taking it?
    Any good stories of losing weight in middle age?

    1. fposte*

      I liked HRT and I’m wistful about going off of it recently after years on it; I’m glad to hear it seems to have helped with your migraines. You’re likely to be much more effective stopping the weight gain than trying to lose, no matter what age we’re talking about. Can you find some water-based exercise for fitness that’s easier on your joints?

      1. HRT Lady*

        Yes swimming is good for me. I can’t go at the moment but am planning to when current injury gets better thank you :)
        Can I ask what ages you were on it?

        1. fposte*

          Maybe 50-57? I’m pretty sure I exceeded the 5 years of general recommendation but don’t remember exactly when I started. My only real menopause complaint was hot flashes, and I had a big Crohn’s flare last year that meant I hardly ate any of my triggers for months, so I figured I’d take that moment to go off HRT. I’m trying to keep consumption limited so they don’t come back ferociously; so far it’s going okay.

        2. Ariadne Oliver*

          I’m 60 and still in it. I started about six years ago due to excessive bleeding and just feeling really aggressive all the time. I went off it for about a year, two years ago but I restarted because I turned back into a mean monster. I’m planning on staying on it as long as I can.

          1. HRT Lady*

            Thanks! Glad it’s helping.
            I’ve not heard anything negative about it from any of my peers either so far. I know there’s a risk, but the benefits seem to really outweigh the risks.
            I’m finding that I’m sleeping better, which I’m so happy about. Unfortunately got a migraine today.
            But the sleeping thing- that’s really made such a massive difference to my quality of life already.

    2. tab*

      I was able to lose weight after menopause, but I mostly cut sugar and refined carbs out of my diet to do it. (I say mostly, because I allow myself 4 dark chocolate almonds after dinner on weeknights, and I share a dessert with my husband on our weekly date night.) It’s not easy, but I also restricted portion sizes. My Fitness Pal was a big help. I loved being on HRT too, but developed breast cancer after a couple years, so I had to stop. Just be diligent about checking your breasts regularly. HRT doesn’t cause the cancer, but if you develop the cancer, it will feed it. (Stupid cancer!) I didn’t have kids either, but I’m not sad about it. I have lots of nieces and nephews, and now they have babies. I love being an aunt and a great aunt.

      1. HRT Lady*

        Thanks! I will and I’m sorry about your breast cancer. The advantage of being the age I am now with all the issues I’ve had is that I’m very aware of my health and trying to make sure it improves or at least doesn’t get worse, so I’ll definitely be checking regularly.

    3. porpoise with a purpose*

      I’ve been on HRT for 5 years. Estrogen gel/progesterone pill. No (bad) side effects, other than expense. I went on it due to severe sleep disruption (progesterone helps with sleep hormones, apparently). As for losing weight: the usual: embrace vegetables, beans/chickpeas, portion control and limited sugar. I’ve sadly found no magic solutions. Also, I’m not really losing weight, but not gaining is my win.
      I’m not sure what’s damaged your joints: HRT? That’s news to me. Keep as active as you can. Is swimming possible for you? Cycling? walking? X-country skiing? Can you cultivate a moderately active group of friends? Where I live there’s 50+ and 60+ hiking groups (via meet-up). And the aquafit group is definitely 50+.

      1. HRT Lady*

        It’s hormones that have damaged my joints! I’m hoping the HRT will at least stave off any further deterioration for the next few years
        I did wonder if I was young for it, as I’m actually 47, but I’ve always had problems with hormones all my life so… probably not. But I’m not ready to join an over 50 group yet :)

    4. Not A Manager*

      I love my HRT. It’s been a game-changer. I have no real side-effects and the results for me were almost instantaneous. I doubt what you’re experiencing is a placebo effect.

    5. Squirrel Nutkin*

      I feel for you with the “having kids won’t happen for me” thing. I’ve seen that work out in surprising ways for other people who, for example, wound up falling in love with someone with kids and having a great time being a step-parent. That unfortunately didn’t happen for me, and I’m still sad about it, but I am less sad about it than I used to be. At this point, I just try to be kind and supportive to young people whenever I have anything to do with them. I may not be able to be a mom, but I can be that person who sends you a copy of *Our Bodies, Our Selves* when you turn 18.

      1. HRT Lady*

        Ah thank you. It’s hard I find.
        I’m not very good in romantic relationships, so I’m not really looking.

    6. MassChick*

      HRT Lady, I have been on HRT for .. more than 20 year now! I went into premature menopause in my late 20s and was done with menses by 30 or 31. My then doc recommended HRT, so I did a lot of reading to overcome the fear of breast cancer that everyone would bring up. My reading convinced me that estrogen was important for brain health (it explained why I was dealing with confusion and anxiety at work doing stuff that I had easily done before) and that was the clincher.
      I opted for the non-contraceptive and bio-identical forms of oral estrogen (daily) and progesterone (10 days a month to bring on the bleed). So I still dealt with periods but was able to “schedule” them every other month with my doctor’s blessing. After some years, I switched to a skin patch for estrogen and stayed on it for several years. In the meantime I had moved countries, and the patch version was only available in a couple of places. Then Covid happened and that supply dried up and so I switched back to oral estrogen. I actually prefer the oral form – the skin patch was often itchy especially when I exercised and perspired.
      I am now in my early 50s and mulling over the decision about when to pull the HRT plug. I am dreading the return of hot flashes etc. It had really affected me 20 years ago and I felt SO much better within a few days of starting HRT and so am in no rush to stop.
      As must be evident, my experience with HRT was good – probably a lifesaver. I never could get pregnant naturally and opted to not try fertility treatments and have never regretted it.
      It looks like you and I are on HRT for very different reasons, but I would be happy to answer any questions. I was also confused by your second para – do you mean kids won’t happen because of HRT? Because you can have non-contraceptive options. Also “it has damaged your joints” – what has? It can’t be HRT because you seem to have just started it?

      1. HRT Lady*

        Thanks for posting. That’s really helpful. I mean that because of menopause I won’t be having kids and hormones/menopause has also damaged my joints already!

        1. MassChick*

          Ah, ok. Then I’d say HRT is right decision for you and I hope it improves the quality of your life. It certainly did mine (no more hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety). I have always struggled with weight and IME, HRT didn’t really affect it one way or another (though I like to blame the hard-to-move last 10 pounds on it, I think that may be just me!). Good luck!

    7. Rebecca Stewart*

      I’ve lost 60 pounds and maintained the loss since 1/3/20. I’d like to lose about 80 more, but my thyroid has to be removed for growing benign tumors, and so just holding the line is pretty good for now.

      I reduced portions radically and weigh my food before I put it on a plate and count calories. It gets easier with time, and by now it’s just habitual. I think of it as the lifestyle change that is necessary to manage this chronic condition and it may be something I always have to do. But, eh, people with type 1 diabetes do this sort of thing all their lives, so I can too. The relief from pain and the ease of moving is enough to keep me going, and I can only look forward to how good I’ll feel when I get my thyroid in order and can actually finish losing the weight.
      I also want to start working out and lifting weights, which will also be good for me as I age, and that’s partly waiting on the breast reduction, because that’s getting in the way of working out.

      1. HRT Lady*

        You’re weight loss is so cool! Thank you for posting your experience and good luck with the breast reduction.
        I very much enjoyed weight lifting when the gyms were open – you’ve reminded me that’s something I can safely get back into.

  29. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    So, duvets…

    I want to make a set of ice tie dyed bedding for myself. Looks like the best thing to dye is a duvet cover-quilts are too thick and every other cotton coverlet I can find is is matelasse or otherwise patterned. I’ve never used a duvet, mostly because I like heavy, drapey bedding and I’m pretty sure duvets are light and fluffy. I want something that goes down my sides instead of skimming over them and leaving massive freezing air gaps.

    So my question is, are heavy, drapey duvets a thing? Preferably at an Ikea price range. Or if you can think of another type of top layer that would tie dye well?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      A duvet cover is just a bed-shaped pillowcase, so you can put it over whatever bedding type you want! I’m not sure what you mean by heavy vs fluffy, although now I’m picturing a thick quilt versus a poofy more modern duvet? You could put a duvet cover over a quilt, but duvet covers tend to include a bit of vertical space for the thickness of the duvet— think a briefcase vs a folder.

      I’ve tie-dyed a tablecloth before so I’m sure this would be similar! It’s lots of fun

    2. Squidhead*

      I also have always thought of the duvet cover as a cover for something else, and you could pick how heavy the filler item is. In any case, could you also get it one size larger than your mattress so it is guaranteed to drape down over the edges and leave you plenty of material for tucking in/making a cozy nest?

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      How about a duvet cover? I’ve had a few and I really like them. When the weather gets warm I take out the comforter and just use the duvet. I have a solid green one, no pattern, and an embossed solid chocolate brown. I’m getting a black or dark gray one and am planning on appliquing on it – my hubs and I like the Tommy Bahama type comforters but they are expensive and the patterns are a bit too ‘busy’. So I’ll make my own.

    4. Eden*

      Duvets can be pretty weighty! It’s not gonna like, drape down the sides of the bed, but if you get the proper size I don’t see why you’d have any freezing air holes. I can curl up no problem in a twin-sized duvet. I love pulling my down duvet out for the few months cold enough for ot specifically because it’s so nice and thick.

      Of course you can also put a duvet cover on anything if the size is right, it doesn’t have to be marketed as a duvet. If you have a blanket you like, you can use it. In any case, dyeing a duvet cover seems like a good option, cheaper to try again if you need a few tries than if you had to get an actual blanket/quilt each time.

    5. MissCoco*

      I think you could definitely tie-dye a duvet cover and then just put a quilt inside it! Or put a quilt + a comforter/duvet inside the cover if you want the fluffier look with the weight of a quilt, or if the duvet cover isn’t opaque enough to cover any pattern of the quilt you use inside it, especially a thinner duvet (like a cheap one) would probably still fit with a heavy quilt inside the cover.

    6. anonymously*

      Duvets come in all different weights and fillings. You can get ones that are much heavier and they are all long enough to go down the sides of your mattress. If you’re looking for ikea type prices you’ll probably want to look for one with synthetic filling

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Kingsized comforter on a full sized bed = long & drapy enough for you?
      Sew two sheets or lightweight bedspreads together, partly open at one end to insert your quilt/comforter.
      And you get what we used for years.
      ;) Not as much overhang as we like on our newer queen alas.

      1. londonedit*

        This is what I was going to say. I live in a country where duvets are pretty much ubiquitous and there is a whole range of choice in terms of weight and filling materials – and you could easily buy a king-size duvet for a double bed if you wanted it to be really big and drapey. Duvets are measured by their tog rating – the higher the number, the thicker and warmer the duvet will be.

    8. Sara*

      I’ve always had duvets since I was a little kid and really love them. There are lots of different types – from fluffy feather-y ones to heavier/solid ones. The one I have now is a silk one that’s really dense and I think would match your description of heavy. For drapey, you’ll want to size up if you can. A queen duvet is only very slightly larger than a queen mattress so doesn’t drape over the sides very well. If you can swing a king duvet, you’ll get much more drape. I’ve had it for at least 5 years so I don’t remember the price.

      But also you can put anything that fits into a duvet cover – so if you have a quilt or coverlet that you really like the weight and size of, you could just figure out the right duvet cover size to match.

    9. Bagpuss*

      a others have said, duvets come in lots of different weights and if you have one which is a size larger than your bed it will be more dray , and/or you can simply put the quilt or other bedding you like into the duvet cover.

      Another option might be to dye a plain throw to have over the top of whatever your normal bedding is – you can make the throw whatever size you like, either to just cover the top of the bed to provide a nice appearance or to frape as well.

  30. MinotJ*

    TLDR: How do I walk just one dog at a time?

    I have two 70-pound female shepherd mixes. They’re wonderful loving dogs, but they’re too much of a handful for me to walk them together. I’ve started running early in the morning before work and it would feel safer to have one with me. I live in a medium-sized city but it’s pretty safe, but rationally something could happen (I’m a middle-aged woman with absolutely no self-defense skills but I’ve never been scared to wander around at night.)

    When I had my previous dog, a greyhound, I could walk him anywhere because he was the sweetest, most compliant creature ever. Then when we got the older shepherd, I could walk the greyhound and the shepherd together. But after the greyhound died and we got another shepherd, I realized I could not walk them together. They’re just too rambunctious and they amp each other up over the exciting adventure.

    So here’s my current problem: when I try to just take one out, they both get crazy excited for the WALK!!!!! And then the one left home alone screams and freaks out as we walk away. And when I come back and trade dogs, the story repeats. They just don’t listen to logic. Even if I leave the “home” dog with the best treat ever, she won’t eat it until the other dog is back home. We have a decent-sized yard and they chase each other so much that they’re getting plenty of exercise, plus my partner (an enormous man) is able to take them out together for walks.

    This is a human problem, not a dog problem. I feel so guilty when they get jealous and I just avoid the problem. Plus, I run at 0530 and my partner would prefer to sleep for another few hours instead of listening to one, and then the other, dog scream and bark.

      1. MinotJ*

        I did do training with the older shepherd to get her to heel and be less reactive on walks. The trainer was really helpful and I’ve used her various methods to improve the dogs’ behavior. I’ve considered it for this problem and I might end up back there.

    1. fposte*

      If they’re not crate trained, it sounds like it might be time to try. Pair crate time with something like a Kong filled with peanut butter, so the not-walk isn’t a punishment but an access to a different reward. And focus on discipline during the transition from one dog to another–we don’t go through that door until you’re sitting down next to me, and the human always goes through the door first or else we go back and try again.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      You can find several videos on YouTube on walking two dogs at once. I like Beckman’s Dog Training, and he’s got a video called “How to Successfully Walk More than One Dog” that might be helpful.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The head collar someone else mentions below (halti or similar – we called it a “nose harness”) helped a lot with my dog’s terrible leash manners – she wasn’t fond of it, but it did the trick. You could also practice with them later in the day – wear them out in the backyard :) then take one on like, a three minute walk, bring them back, swap them out, three minutes. Get them used to the idea that this is how it works and that’s okay.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        I think you’re talking about the Gentle Leader. We use it for my Doberman puppy, my 83 lb. “puppy” who isn’t even a year old yet. He’s really strong and definitely a puller. The Gentle Leader has been a real game changer on walks. I hope to eventually wean him off of it and onto a regular collar, but that won’t be for a while.

        1. DobeMon*

          please be really careful using a headcollar, halti, gentle leader with a doberman. there is a congenital problem that is common in dobermans called “wobblers” it is a cervical vertebral instability and can be made worse or possibly (depending on which specialist you are reading) cause the problem in a dog who is predisposed to it.

    4. Meh*

      My dogs feed off of each other and the worst part is getting them leashed. They are smaller, 45 and 59 pounds, but quite muscular pitty mixes. I use harnesses for better control and a waist leash. It clicks around my midsection so they can’t jerk me as easily if it’s a hand held leash. Separately they are fine, it’s the excitement of a joint walk.

    5. The Dogman*

      Hi, I am a dog trainer. The following is friendly advice not an online consultation! I am not YOUR dog trainer, just a dog trainer…

      You need to consult with a dog trainer ASAP.

      You are (unintentionally I am sure) making it (a bit) worse walking them separately, although I know you likely have no option at the moment, so please consult a few trainers who are local to you sooner rather than later.

      A few tips that may help.

      A halter style face lead is often useful with large breeds. They can still open their mouths (to defend you if needed) but their powerful shoulders are mitigated by all that power having to pass through the relatively small muscles in the top of their necks. These leads can take some getting used to, the first time you put them on make sure the dogs are both tired from a long play somewhere they can get off lead and get exhausted. “Haltee” and “Gentle Leader” are two brands (in the UK, and I am not affiliated or rewarded by these brands) I have used successfully in training various dogs to not pull on lead.

      Make them work for their walks. So when you start getting ready, and they start getting excited, make them sit and stay while you get your shoes on etc. Reward with treats for sitting and quiet. This will also take some getting used to. And a lot of patience!

      Make them walk WITH you not them WALKING you. So when you have one on lead and are getting set to leave the house (same approach when you are able to take them both out) they must sit and wait while the door is opened, then they can walk out with or behind you, but NEVER ahead of you, then must stand or sit still and wait while you lock the doors etc. Then focus them on walking at your side, not dragging ahead.

      On the return (or going in a car etc) they must again sit/stand and wait while you unlock and open doors, then on command enter after/alongside you. With the car a “hup” command is useful as you will likely only use such a noise when asking a dog to get up somewhere. Personally I go with “huppity-pups”!

      Good luck, you can do this, and if the 1st trainer and you don’t click fast then find one who you like and respect, you will get more from that person and your dogs that way!

      Take care.

    6. Pam*

      Could/would the other dog hang out quietly in the bedroom? Mine are okay with one going out if the other is with my sister.

    7. Squeebird*

      Hmm. I’m not sure if this is a good suggestion given that it sounds like your partner would prefer to sleep, but it’s what worked for us, as we had the exact same problem. My husband would do the dog-walking, and I would engage the one left behind with some training or activity, so it became sort of reframed as “yeah, Max gets to go out right now, but YOU get special fun time with ‘mom’! Oh boy!”

      The younger one still cries and pouts for a minute but I can at least redirect him fairly quickly and we just do things like learning new tricks and playing games like catching treats out of the air or whatnot.

    8. OneTwoThree*

      What if you somehow worked to indicate a familar schedule/ ques. For example, one dog would always have the word “walk” with their leash for their walk. The other dog would have the word “adventure” with their leash for their walk.

      I’ve also managed to teach my dog “you’re next.” Indicating, I know you want xyz. However, I’m busy at the moment, but I’ll get to you. She has learned to wait patiently for xyz. I started small with her dinner (while I was making mine), but have worked it up to going outside, play time, etc.

      It might help to wear them both out in the backyard together before you go on separate walks.

      I also think that if you stick to the route/ schedule they will eventually figure it out.

  31. 8 Days Free*

    Today marks the eighth day of being free ….of playing Lotto scratch offs. It’s a major win for me; you have no idea how much you can spend, and overspend, even on $2 tickets. Quite a few years lost to this little hobby, and so. much. money. I’m in debt because of it, of course. And the money I overspent to play these games, meant I am way behind on many other things. Like retirement investing, and car repair and…. Unfortunately I have a compulsive personality, and a total lack of control of my life, so this became how I coped with the world and my feelings. I did all I could to break the habit, nothing worked, but apparently this latest round of prayers and some other unfortunate events did the trick.

    So, these past 8 days have been seriously wonderful. Freeeee!!!!! I’m not controlling the compulsion, it’s simply gone. Free.

    1. A313*

      Congratulations! You didn’t ask for advice, but if you’d like some: maybe build on your success and plan out the money you’re now saving for retirement, a rainy day fund, a vacation, etc. And being purposely thoughtful about it, so you don’t become a compulsive saver who never wants to spend their savings.

      This is no small accomplishment, and I hope it leads to bigger and better things for you!

      1. 8 Days Free*

        I’m not saving anything for retirement yet, and at 50, I’ve become keenly aware of what that means. I have to pay down debt, get my old car fixed, etc, before I can even think of doing something long term.

    2. Not a cat*

      If you are willing to attend (even online) Debtor’s Anonymous is pretty great. You should be able to find a local-ish chapter via googling.

    3. Squirrel Nutkin*

      So happy for you — that’s awesome! If you feel like you want it and you haven’t already tried these options, you may find support and advice about digging out from debt someplace like debtors anonymous (or maybe gamblers anonymous?), where other people have dealt with similar issues. At any rate — I’m thrilled for you that things are going in a good direction now.

  32. fposte*

    I’ve been having a strange relationship with family history recently, with reconnecting with distant relatives and digitizing family films from my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. I’ve never seen these films before and I find myself making some snap judgments about family members based on them, which isn’t fair but also isn’t likely to be harmful. But it is funny how much people in them seem to fit into narrative roles and how interesting it’s been to discuss them with relatives of my generation who share interest but have no particular stake in who was the most beloved uncle or whatever. It’s also funny how many feet of precious film are devoted to recording people nobody now alive can identify at all. Sorry, little blonde girl from the 1920s.

    1. fposte*

      Sorry, forgot I wanted to ask about other people’s experience with dealing with old family photos, etc. from before they were born.

      1. Lore*

        In helping my parents clear out their basement I found a giant (slightly mouse eaten) box of family photos from my mom’s family that include a photo album that begins with my grandparents’ honeymoon (or at least we think that’s the trip). A lot of the album photos have come unglued but since my grandfather the engineer labeled and dated them all on the back before pasting I think I can reconstruct the whole if I’m patient enough to go through the box (and I can get back to it before my mom is impatient enough to toss most of it). Excited about this little project—my beloved grandfather died when I was about 10 and my mom’s family is not great about memory sharing so most of the stuff is news to me.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          From the Department of Unsolicited Advice: Run, don’t walk to your parent’s basement and abscond with the box of photos before your mom can toss it!
          Seriously, feel free to toss my advice (instead of the photos :D ). You may have all kinds of valid relationship or logistical reasons not to be able to grab the pictures ASAP.

    2. WellRed*

      As the last in line, I’ve come to the realization that … no one will know or care about these photos, documents etc. it’s kind of depressing.

      1. fposte*

        I can see that, but I sort of enjoy the mystery. Who knows, maybe I’ll pop them up on YouTube and see if people recognize long-lost ancestors. It’s kind of like old-school photobombing.

        Did you ever see Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the Past? It’s about a fictional museum of photography and the life stories that staff were able to put together from its contents.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      My brother and I digitized very old, multiple-generations-back, family photos, labeled them, put them on memory sticks and sent them to first cousins (in the hopes someone cared but nobody really did). I am now putting those photos on FamilySearch and Ancestry, in the hopes that someone in the future cares. Oy.
      Sometimes, you have to just sow seeds and hope for the future.

    4. RagingADHD*

      My mom, as the youngest sibling and temperamentally the least able to say “no” to anything, wound up collecting the picture and document troves from everyone in the family who went before her.

      But the family was extremely dysfunctional, and the various family lore was so distorted and full of secrets and lies, that when she was able to bring herself to talk about the bits she knew, it didn’t make any sense. A lot of it was also just holding onro grudges and spite, like the paperwork for the house (long ago sold off and knocked down) that Grandma received in a land swap where she got ripped off because the property she relinquished turned out to be far more valuable. In 1938.

      So when it was my turn to try to make space in our small house for all those boxes of papers and unidentified photos, I just said goodbye to all the ones I didn’t know (or personally care about keeping). I sent a few originals to first and second cousins who might want pics of their own parents or grandparents, and recycled the rest.

      It was kind of sad but mostly cathartic. I don’t have to hold other people’s grudges for them.

    5. Weekend Warrior*

      Perfect timing as I’m just about to go through some basement boxes with my sister. Many family photos from many generations and as neither of us has kids, we’re the end of the line. I think we’ll just take a first pass, tossing any photos without identifying information and sorting the others into files. Looking forward to discarding/donating a lot of frames! The plan is to spend time together talking about our family history as we go through the photos. I found this video from Dawn, the Minimal Mom inspiring around this approach. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9YMz-9ZydQ “Do you need to tell the story?”
      My sister and I will savour the stories and let go of the items. Even if we had kids, would we want to “gift” them with a box of yellowing photos of strangers? Swedish Death Cleaning for the win!

      1. fposte*

        I love the Swedish Death Cleaning concept; I’m doing a trickle version of it and it’s very satisfying.

    6. GoryDetails*

      A friend of mine is heavily into genealogy, and mentioned posting some of her own old family photos in neighborhood-specific Facebook groups – this only applies if you have any idea where the images were taken, but if you do, it might be an option. She got lots of surprising hits from people who remembered the area from when they were growing up, or having similar photos in their own family albums, able to connect along the lines of “my grandfather worked with your grandfather in…”

      There may even be groups for “can anyone ID the person in this photo” queries, though I don’t know if you want to go that far!

      1. fposte*

        There is one video of a small airport that closed down in the 1990s or so, and I thought there might be aviation freaks who’d enjoy seeing that.

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

      If you have a local historical society and any of the photos show enough of the surrounding area to identify a street, landmark or event, even if you can’t identify the people, they might be interested. I attended a historical society show that had random photos of citrus pickers, a long-long mule driven street car…etc. it was interesting to see “life back then” in a historical sense.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      After both parents died, I became the keeper of the boxes of old pictures since no one else wanted to store them. The plan was to scan them all and then share them on Drop Box or something like that. I didn’t get very far because there are SO many. Plus I got to the point where I couldn’t figure out the best way to name the files or even sort them after scanning.

      I now have a new box of pictures, which belonged to my late brother (passed in 2017). My sister-in-law passed away a few months ago and her kids found the box in her storage unit (she sold the house after my brother died and moved to Alaska). They didn’t feel right throwing them away, so they gave them to us at a cookout last weekend, which was in my SIL’s honor. My sisters and I had a blast going through the pictures. It was especially nice for me because I didn’t grow up with my brother. He was 18 years older than me and spent most of his adult life in prison (robbery, drugs, stuff like that). Many of the pictures were ones we’d all sent to him over the years, pictures of our own lives; however, some pictures from his life were in there. Even though I know why he was in prison and have heard the crazy stories from his years before, it was still surprising to see certain pictures and I’m not sure how to feel about them. Especially after seeing him completely turn his life around once he got out (10 years before he died). It seems like a disconnect, I guess.

      While going through this new box I found a picture I’d sent to my brother two months after I’d met my husband. It was 1990 so we were quite young. He was happy and smiling with his arm around me, and I had my arms around him with my head on his shoulder and looked completely smitten. I’m so happy to have found that. Every time I look at it I tear up a little, thinking about the fact we’ve been together 31 years now and I still feel the same way.

      I’m on vacation from work this week and have nothing planned, so my new plan is to finish going through this new box of pictures and separate out ones that should go back to family members who took them, and hopefully do the same with those older boxes. I want to scan them all, but it seems like such a daunting task to have to do this one at a time.

  33. acmx*

    WellRed is probably right that they may need training.

    Can you take both on a short walk before the run? Could you leave the home dog outside while you run? Have you tried a Halti (headcollar; goes over their noses)?

  34. Allistic Anon*

    TL;DR: Are there resources to help autistic people navigate the medical system with complex conditions?

    I have a mildly autistic sibling. They were able to live independently and hold down a job until they developed a complex medical condition with some rare aspects. They’re now living on disability with our parents while they try to get it sorted out. There’s a combination of medications that worked well for them for a while, but for some reason their doctors don’t want them to be on it long term.

    This situation is really playing to their weaknesses. They’re plenty verbal, but bad at tone of voice, bad at conversations they don’t know how to prep for, and not great at coming up with overall strategies for a social problem. I’m living several states away so I can’t help much, and I don’t think they’d take detailed advice from me anyway.

    I’m wondering if there are any resources I could point them toward? Sites with advice about this kind of situation for the neuroatypical, or a forum for autistic people to swap tips about it?

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      more obvious ones are: bring someone else to medical appointments as it is hard for most people to absorb information in those situations. Another option is to ask permission to record appointments- this could be hit or miss depending on the doctor and shouldn’t be done without permission.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Twitter has a very active autistic community. If you use it, post your question and hopefully you’ll get some answers. It’d be helpful to put your country of origin.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      It may be worth investigating if they have access to a case manager or medical social worker through their local disability office or their health insurance.

    4. Anono-me*

      These suggestions aren’t specific to your brother; but as medical appointments to deal with life redirecting health issues tend to knock most people off balance; maybe these steps will be useful.

      1. Email a list of known questions to the doctor about a week before the appointment.

      2. Have a journal to take notes in, keep it up to date and bring it with you to every appointment.

      3. Bring someone with you as a support person, preferably the same person each time.

      4. Carry multiple up to date lists of all of your medications (with dosage intervals and strength) photo copies of your medical insurance card and ID. Yes some people will probably have to verbally confirm things, but the data entry will much faster and easier. Plus you won’t have to worry forgetting any.

  35. twocents*

    The weekly gaming thread! What are you playing? Can include video games, tabletop games, etc.

    I’m playing Atelier Sophie still, probably about 80% of the way through, based on the loose walkthrough I’ve been checking against. Next is Atelier Firis and then Atelier Lydie & Suelle to close out the trilogy. It’s a very easygoing, cozy kind of RPG, so it’s a bit of a nice break after some more intense games.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Took a pause from grinding the Historic ladder. Currently working on various landfall/gates brews in the casual queue.

    2. something*

      My partner originally wanted to watch me play Yakuza 0 while I watched them play Mass Effect 1, but they realized that they didn’t want to watch me grinding for yen or practicing all the minigames. We agreed that I’d do that stuff on my own and they’d watch me play the main story. I’ve been playing quite a bit on my own since then and using Nvidia GeForce to record any interesting/funny parts, which there are a lot of. I’ve now reached a point where there aren’t many more things left to do before the next main story mission and there’s quite a “video debt” waiting for my partner.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Still on that silly phone game, EverMerge. It’s repetitive but calming. I have three islands and seven palaces now. :)

      One island is an ever-growing zoo; it’s cute but frustrating. When you merge an animal up to its adult form, a habitat opens up. But the way the game rewards are configured, I often end up collecting animals without anywhere to actually put them. So I’ve been sticking them in enclosures based on what kind of animal they are. Birds all go together; reptiles together, etc. Dinosaurs go with lizards. Babies without a habitat all go in an empty enclosure I call the nursery. Eggs of all kinds stay in one spot until I have enough to merge into an infant. Adult fantasy animals have a place. No prey animals ever go in with predators.

      I spend way too much time doing this, haha.

    4. Smol Book Wizard*

      I am up to my ears in Fire Emblem: Three Houses and still getting plot surprises all the time. I had to put it down for a day after the Holy Tomb fight because I was just so keyed-up and overwrought. Yes, I DID have to pick the Black Eagles route; yes, almost every choice I made I made knowing it would get me deeper into Confusion Land… I have made my bed, as they say, and now I must lie in it, angst and all. I feel like a book character, and I’m in awe of the whole narrative… I don’t know where I’m going but I’m going there with my kiddos as safe and sound as possible. WE WILL SEE. :D

        1. Smol Book Wizard*

          Edelgard. Couldn’t hurt my sad Empire girl. I have a reflex response of adopting troubled fictional teens

          1. Jackalope*

            She’s my favorite too. I’m now on my 3rd run – I picked Edelgard the first time, then Claude the second, and now I’m on to Dimitri – but I still like Crimson Flower the best. I’m planning to do a 4th and final run with an idea I saw on Gamefaqs, Edelgard and the Girls Smash the Patriarchy – an all-women run. Not sure how it will work (I’m thinking of declaring Linhardt an honorary woman since he’s my most-used character of all!), but I think it sounds fun.

            1. Smol Book Wizard*

              BLESS Linhardt. Ever since I had his support scene where he talked about not wanting to kill people, I haven’t used him for a single violent casting action. He’s so good.
              So glad to hear the Edelgard love. Most of my folk I hear about chose the other houses, so I was like, “did I make a mistake? Well, if I did I don’t want to be right…”

              1. Jackalope*

                Every now and then I have to use him for a fight, mostly when enemies creep up on him and attack him first. But I too try to keep him out of battle since he clearly doesn’t like it. But I can imagine that if he hates killing people, he would be happy to be the person on the field saving his friends’ lives through his healing and warp abilities.

    5. LimeRoos*

      I have been completely sucked into Diable 2 Resurrected. Like, hubby & I played through Acts I & II for him to make a new character and join my Barbarian yesterday and ended up halfway done with Act III. I’ve only played for a week and already have a Druid, Amazon, and Barbarian (Marigold, Bartok, and Barb respectively). Perspective – I got Metroid Dread on release date and have only played 22 minutes so far.

      But also!! Feelings on Metroid Dread – I love playing as Samus again, she is my favorite. The graphics and aesthetics are gorgeous, I love the environments and new slide move. I hate being chased by the EMMI’s. HATE IT. It has to be my least favorite game mechanic ever. I just want to shoot stuff, explore, do the puzzles, and find the lore. So I will be playing through Metroid, but I think it’s going to take longer than I thought. Anyone else have similar feelings? Because I feel like such an outlier as the game is getting fantastic reviews, which I mostly agree with, but oof, it feels less Metroidy to me because of all the running.

  36. SWF*

    I should be over this, but I’m a single girl who bought a house three years ago and I hate the way my neighbor (single, male, a little older than me) “checks up” on me. Ever month or so he’ll text something about seeing that the car is gone or the gate unlatched or whatever, let him know I’m ok, “you know how I worry!” I know I should be appreciative and this could be important some day but all I hear is I NOTICE HOW VULNERABLE YOU ARE, with a dose of “I am always watching your coming and goings.” I try not to live my life like I’m seconds away from being murdered at all times. I’m being crazy, right?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      You’re not being crazy.

      This would drive me mad too because all I want to do is live my life without a running commentary from the people around me and I would feel deeply uncomfortable to have someone monitoring my comings and goings to the degree that your neighbour is doing.

      Honestly, if you want this to end then the only way to do it is with a deeply uncomfortable conversation otherwise you’ll just have to grit your teeth and deal with it, which you may want to do but I’d probably be hitting crackers stage round about now too.

      1. SWF*

        I just feel like if I ever actually said anything, a week later I’d definitely go missing and no one would report it because I told him to mind his own business. It’s not rational but that’s how I feel :P

        1. tangerineRose*

          Trust your instincts. I hope they’re exaggerating about this, but better safe than sorry.

          Are there things you can do to make it harder for him to watch you? Can you park your car in the garage (if you have one)? Keep the shades mostly lowered, that kind of thing?

          What about getting some kind of security system?

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          Trust your instincts.

          Your instincts are telling you something serious here and you need to trust them. The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker is often mentioned here and that’s for a good reason. If you haven’t already read it, then you should do so because trusting your instincts is key in these situations.

          NotAManager has some great advice further down the thread that might suit you more.

          Good luck.

        3. SWF*

          I miss-stated this and I apologize; I don’t think he would kill me, and my instinct is that he’s not a threat; I mean that if I tell him to stop, something else terrible will happen to me (unrelated to him) and I’ll wish I had a neighbor who noticed my gate was open / car was missing / I never came home or whatever.

          1. Actual Vampire*

            Well… that’s an easily solvable problem, right? Can’t you just develop a relationship with a different, less-creepy neighbor and ask them to keep an eye out for you? Or if you don’t like your neighbors, maybe create a system where you text a friend or family member every few days and they raise the alarm if they can’t get in touch with you.

            It’s also worthwhile to evaluate how real this fear is. Do you live an exceptionally isolated life? Are you not employed? How likely is it that you will disappear and absolutely no one will suspect anything wrong except this one guy, who will magically crack the case wide open by pointing out that your car has been gone for days (by which point – sorry to say – it would probably be too late)?

          2. Sparkles McFadden*

            Don’t worry about that at all. Nosy neighbors, especially guys like this, are not actually helpful. In their most benign form they only “check up” on you to make themselves feel better or superior. “I am a good person because I checked up on Single Girl who needs me to watch out for her!” The creepier version wants you to know “I could do something to you, but I am choosing not to.” If you really needed help, you wouldn’t want it from this guy.

            I am speaking from experience. I’ll spare you the details.

    2. Codex*

      Oh hell no. You are 1000% right, please never doubt your instincts. I’m also a SWF living alone and this gave me chills. Please invite him to back off and block his number.

    3. Exif*

      Oh yes, “benevolent stalking” is a classic “nice guy” tactic. Don’t drive yourself nuts second-guessing your reaction to this crap. You’re NOT crazy.

      Saying something to him will result in gasps of indignation and denial of any bad intentions on his part. If you choose to do so, explicitly tell him “Your intentions are not the point, the results are the point. You make me feel X and Y.”

      1. SWF*

        At least two people I’ve tried to describe this to have told me I should be glad he’s watching out and that if something ever did happen I’d be lucky to have an attentive neighbor. I think the truth must be somewhere in between. After all, in three years he’s never actually made a move on me or done anything inappropriate so it’s a little hard of me to still be suspecting him of being some terrible creeper.

        1. Rainy*

          Those people are wrong.

          I think this guy is way more likely to *be* the problem than to prevent the problem.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          I think if you had expressed worry to him at some point about living alone, or he only checked in when something was weird (like, your front door is ajar at night) it might be nice. The idea of your neighbors not just ignoring you being in distress is comforting. For me what crosses the line into unacceptable is that he’s paying enough attention to your comings and goings that he regularly notices and comments on something as normal and expected as the car being gone. You should not have to account for your whereabouts!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      God no. I’d have blocked him after the second “You know how I worry” (EW EW EW EW EWWWWWW). (Ok, I probably wouldn’t have given him my number in the first place, but I watch too much murder TV and I specifically don’t want to have any particular interactions with my neighbors.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I would also be pricing CCTV camera systems for the outside of my house, but see also, too much murder TV and I’ve been contemplating CCTV for the outside anyway for a while now because cars in our neighborhood get rifled a little more often than I’m comfortable with.

    5. Batgirl*

      This might be a regional thing, as a British person, but even here in the friendly north that would be way overstepping into an intimate tone and is incredibly overly familiar. He’s not your dad or boyfriend! Also he has your number? And texts you? No, nope, very bad; abort relationship parameters. I’d block his number, and if he queries you on it: “I had to get a new number (because of annoying texts from a guy I know)”. Inclusion of brackets optional. If he asks for a new one: “I don’t think that’s necessary, do you?” Try to instigate a newer relationship where you are too busy to talk, limited to nodding from a distance etc. Walk into your house on your headphones or on the phone for a while to reset things. Don’t answer your door, or if you do: “Is this urgent because I’m in the middle of something?” (if he says “what?” Reply “something”). If he dares raise his “worries” again with you, say: “Well I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s probably because you don’t know me very well. I’m actually really capable and have taken care of my safety for some time now.” Or “Well I’m not too worried, and I’m also very busy. Take care of yourself though!”

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        American here and I agree this is overly familiar. I’ve always responded in the ways you’ve outlined: in a polite way that doesn’t invite familiarity.

    6. RagingADHD*

      You’re not being crazy. This is intrusive.

      Odds are that he’s a chauvinist NiceGuy who thinks you will find this Daddy ProtectorMan role endearing. That’s more likely than being a murderer. But it’s still icky.

      The tricky part is making it stop without making it unpleasant to live there.

      Perhaps the polite fiction of “I know you mean well” would fit here.

      “I know you mean well, but when you text these comments it seems as if you expect me to report to you. That’s really not appropriate and it makes me uncomfortable. Please stop.”

      IDK, sometimes too much honesty breeds unwelcome familiarity. However you handle it, I hope it works out well.

      1. SWF*

        Yeah, after three years I genuinely do think he’s just a bit of a white knight kind of guy and enjoys this role rather than actually being a terrible stalking murderer (going with my gut instinct on this one). He hasn’t escalated at all in the whole time I’ve been here, if anything he’s backed off a little when I wasn’t very receptive. I think he did hope maybe we’d hit it off but he seems willing to accept that we won’t, other than these “just checking on you because I see the car is gone” type texts.

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Nope, not crazy. Sounds icky at best. Your feelings are telling you something.
      Can you talk to a human-behavior expert about this? Describing the problem in detail and getting their take on the situation would be helpful. They might give you good ideas on HOW to ask the neighbor to stop what he’s doing. Maybe start with a casual request to stop texting. Determining if he will honor a boundary you establish is a valid test of his intentions.
      Can you park your car somewhere he can’t see? Or consider getting outside cameras or motion lights or a Ring doorbell. Maybe indoor lights/radio on random timers or blackout shades, so he can’t tell when you’re home. Doing something material might, at the least, help the feelings of vulnerability. I beefed up my deadbolts and outside doors and put in peepholes, just as a homeowner-ly thing to do.
      Very sorry you’re going through this.

    8. Generic Name*

      Huh, I had a similar experience after my ex husband moved out, except the neighbors who were checking up on me are women about 20 years older than me. It made me feel cared for, but I probably would have felt creeped on if it were my single next door neighbor. I don’t think you’re being crazy at all. A single woman living alone sadly needs to have a well-honed gut instinct. Please don’t discount your feeling about this guy. He may be harmless, but that fact that you feel uneasy about his texts is important information.

        1. SWF*

          I guess this is part of it. I don’t live in the best neighborhood but it’s not the worst either (my last place was way worse) and I watch too much TV, where women my age and appearance get murdered constantly by strangers – but that’s not really real life, right?? Isn’t that what they say? Home invasions are actually a pretty small risk in the US I’d guess, and I’m not sure being a single woman increases the risk that much over anybody else … wish I had better stats on this. This neighbor clearly watches the same TV shows and believes there are millions of serial killers roaming around just looking for pretty girls to murder.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Well as far as I know women are most likely to be murdered by a man they know, usually even a man they live with. That’s true here in the UK and probably in the US too. But for TV murder shows they seem to think that isn’t ‘exciting’ enough and everyone has to get murdered by serial killers etc. I also have a suspicion the writers don’t want ‘nice men’ to get offended at too many domestic violence storylines…although, why should they, if they’re not committing any domestic violence? I never understood that argument.

            1. RagingADHD*

              You are correct that statistically a woman is far more likely-many times over-to be harmed or killed by a male partner, ex-partner, or family member than by a stranger or acquaintance.

      1. Blackcat*

        Yes, my neighbors are all up in my business. We totally have to explain if we are going away for the weekend. And they are largely retired women. But you know what? When we got COVID, delicious meals appeared on our doorstep daily. It comes from a place of genuine care, as we are the same age (or younger than) their kids. They dote on my kid like an extra grandchild. The positives outweigh the negatives.

        But a single dude? It would be a bit much.

    9. Not A Manager*

      This is me personally, but I absolutely wouldn’t tell him how this makes me feel, or even explicitly ask him to cut it out. This is not because from what you report I actually would be worried for my safety, but because Nice Guys can become really annoying pains in the ass when their tender feelings are hurt.

      What I personally would do, is completely gray rock him. I would respond to his texts ONLY with the tapback thumbs up if you have it. If not, then the thumbs up emoji. Nothing else. When he comes over to check up on you/chat you up, I would respond to the first comment (“oh yeah, it is a nice sunny day”) and then I’d immediately go inside with no excuse (“bye, Ted”). You can even smile and give a little wave. The idea is *not* to convey anything about how you feel, it’s just to be super boring and not give him any satisfaction from the interaction.

      My guess is that he won’t push or confront you about this, and that he will probably back off after a month or two of getting (as close as possible to) no response at all. If for some reason he wants to know if he’s offended you or why you’re cold, I would not acknowledge it. “No, of course you haven’t offended me. See you later!” Your tone should be as if someone on the bus were asking you this. Someone who couldn’t possibly have the kind of relationship with you where offense could even occur.

      In my experience with pushy Nice Guys, a slow fade and refusing to engage leaves them feeling disappointed but not immediately rejected, so they don’t blow up and get reactive.

      1. SWF*

        This is in fact exactly how I have handled it and continue to handle it. Crazy that women seem to instinctively grasp this system of management from a young age :( Subtly discouraging but not overt enough to make him mad.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I like this approach more than confrontation.

        First, I 100% support OP in knowing what feels right/wrong and needing to distance herself — if it’s creepy to you, it’s creepy! Definitely listen to your instincts and don’t downplay that. The “you know how i worry” would definitely bug me. However, it’s worth noting not everyone necessarily finds this out of bounds. I have a female friend with a male neighbor who checks in on her, calling/texting her if her garage door is left up and she even leaves her gate open when she goes on walks so someone would know if she didn’t return. Stuff like that. (He does it for all the neighbors, not just hers.) She finds it incredibly comforting and kind. But you don’t, and that’s what matters.

        1. SWF*

          Yeah, I find there’s a huge range among the women of my personal acquaintance in terms of how dangerous they perceive it is to be a single woman living alone / doing things alone (traveling, walking home, going to bars etc). I try to stick to the middle ground of being reasonably cautious but not living as if I’m a rabbit in a tiger pen.

          1. banoffee pie*

            yeah I was told at university I would be in trouble living in a ground floor flat with other girls and *gasp* no guys for protection. Nothing ever happened and cue MeToo, where there were plenty of stories in the news about female students being attacked by male students in their flats. I haven’t heard people going on about ‘men in the house’ as much since. Also what if the guy students were out for the night or something, I’m sure the bad guys would make sure to arrive when the guys were at home!!
            Also men don’t always win fights either. I once saw a group of about 15 guys beaten up by another group (didn’t see it happening but saw their bruised sad faces the next day). I love the way some women think bad guys come at you in ones, like in a James Bond movie, and wait to be punched one at a time by their convenient boyfriend. Also they won’t bring any weapons either which will be handy;) OK obviously I can get quite wound up about this so I’ll quit now ;)
            And yes I do know having men about is probably meant to be more of a deterrent than anything, but still. I feel like some women think their boyfriends are 007 or something lol

          2. Filosofickle*

            If I had a dollar for every time someone was shocked that I walked home alone from the subway at night I’d be a wealthy woman

            1. SWF*

              Strangely, the only time I’ve ever been mugged in my area I was actually with another woman. Usually I’m alone and have no problems. It was weird.

              1. Filosofickle*

                It could be a fluke, but it’s also possible they saw you as more distracted then. When I’m alone, I walk faster, with purpose, and I’m very aware. When we’re with other people, our attention is often on each other and our conversation more than our surroundings.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Or all the times someone made a shocked face when I mentioned my trip to the UK: “You’re going ALONE? By yourself? Aren’t you SCARED?!”

              1. banoffee pie*

                lol I’m learning from this site that people in the US are taught to be scared of Europe, and here in Europe some people try to teach us to be scared of the US!! I used to think Americans thought the UK was safe/boring. Must be a ‘fear of the unknown’ type thing. I hope you enjoyed your trip to the UK with no incidents! Yes there are some bad areas in the UK but the same boring advice applies – be careful at night, in badly lit areas, etc. Also often men get beaten up here at night as well, not just women. I saw it happen *inside* a pub once, which was unpleasant.

                1. Filosofickle*

                  FWIW I’ve not witnessed a specific fear of the UK in the US — when I hear weirdness like this, it usually has to do with traveling making you vulnerable more than the destination. Some people are afraid of cities, though, foreign or domestic. I can see someone being weird about London the same way they might be about NYC. (Too many people, too much crime!) OTOH, I also hear fear of rural / wilderness areas. (Not enough people, too isolated!) People are strange and fearful.

                2. chocky biccies*

                  Part of it is just not knowing what signals to look out for. My (white) UK boss had a story about a trip to the US south (forget which state). He found himself wandering around a (city -forget which) late at night. Graffitti/punched out windows/broken things everywhere. (ie, just like the relatively safe London borough where we worked). Some police picked him up and said: you’re not safe here alone at night.

                  Moral: what looks “bad” or “dangerous” is very local, and if you go somewhere else, you can’t tell, because your own compass is wrong in a foreign place.

                3. fposte*

                  I think women traveling on their own get a lot of concern trolling; it’s not necessarily about the particular destination.

                4. Magda*

                  I blame this entirely on the film “Taken” which made Paris, of all places, seem like a very dangerous destination for young women because sex!traffic! … which I’m not sure is all that legit. There is a cult of crazies here who are obsessed with sextrafficing but I think mostly around children; my understanding is that when it does actually happen, it doesn’t tend to be about women traveling alone getting abducted so much as at-risk teenagers being pulled in by “boyfriends” or other people they know.

                5. Elizabeth West*

                  I agree with Filosofickle; it’s less about where you’re going and more about personal safety. But I’ve spent my entire life running around by myself and I know how to take care of myself. I hate when people do that because it’s infantilizing.

                  Obviously, some places are more dangerous than others—for example, a war zone or the site of an ongoing natural disaster, or somewhere particularly hazardous to tourists. But those hazards are usually known and I tend to avoid them or do my best to mitigate them.

                6. Blackcat*

                  My parents both got anxious when I went off to Peru/Ecuador/Chile alone at 19. While my mom was somewhat anxious when I traveled to Europe alone/in groups of young people, my dad was never worried about my European travels. My mom was more scared of the unknown in general, my dad more of a “third world” countries are scary.

                  Honestly, the least safe I’ve ever felt in a city while traveling was trying to walk back from a conference to my hotel in Cincinnati. And I wasn’t afraid of being attacked, but rather run over. So poorly lit! Such aggressive drivers! That was the only walk I remember when traveling that I was like “OMG I might not make it home.”

              2. Bagpuss*

                I made a solo trip (from the UK to the USA) when I was in my early 20s. The two older women I worked with were horrified. They were convinced I would be shot or mugged (or both) and that it was very very unsafe for me, a solo woman, to visit New York.

                They were not convinced when I explained to them that large numbers of people lived in and traveled to New York, and most of them did not get murdered, and that I had done my homework and would be taking sensible precautions.

                I had a great trip.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      Nope, nope, nope. I got physically tense just reading this! Since it sounds like you’ve put up with it a long time, it might help to say something like “I didn’t say anything at first because I thought it was like a new neighbor thing, but I’ve just realized it’s been a couple years! You really don’t need to keep doing this.” And then after he makes a big deal of how he just worries and blah blah blah “That’s very kind, (nooooo it isn’t what a creeeeeep) but I’d prefer not to have my comings and goings monitored and I won’t be responding to that kind of message anymore, thanks!” Please make sure someone you trust is aware of this, preferably including an actually good neighbor who can let you know if they saw him doing something sketchy

    11. What Is Sleep Even*

      Nope nope nope nope nope. You are not crazy, that is not cool. If my neighbors are keeping close tabs on me, I do not want to know about it, and I would have no interest in managing some random dude’s “worry” about my extremely normal life. “Gift of Fear” is the usual book recommendation here.

      If you block or otherwise stop responding to his texts, which I agree you should, Batgirl’s script is good. One possible evasion for giving your ‘new’ number would be to ask for his (since of course you lost all your contacts) and promise to call him if you need help with anything.

    12. Mstr*

      I’d lie & tell him you have installed a top notch security system so he needn’t worry (or think you’re vulnerable to him).

      1. Batgirl*

        Yeah I would definitely try to convey some kind of “I’m untouchable” message. Like in the Art of War: “When (feeling) weak appear strong”.

    13. Pocket Mouse*

      Ooh, strongly dislike. How about something like “I have a car for a reason, which means sometimes I take it places. If you ever see someone actively trying to break into my place or there’s a fire, by all means let me know. Otherwise, please assume I’m doing just fine and there’s no need to check in.”

      Him: “But I worry…”

      You: “There’s really no reason for you to worry about someone living their life, and I’d really rather not have someone contact me with their unfounded worries. Like I said, if you see someone in the act of breaking in do let me know, but I really don’t want to have anyone—even my parents!—ask me to check in with them about mundane comings and goings.”

  37. Medical coverage*

    Is it normal for a job to terminate your health care the day you leave? I’ve always had it go through the end of the month at previous jobs. Now I was told to “stay home and be careful” the weekend between jobs.

    (I know COBRA exists, that’s not my question.)

    1. Texan In Exile*

      I don’t know if it’s normal, but it’s mean. :( My previous employer did the same thing.

    2. BRR*

      You should check what you’ve had deducted from your pay check. Also you can elect cobra retroactively so in case something happens you can enroll still for a certain number of days and it will be back dated to when your insurance ended.

    3. Ice Bear*

      It might depend on how it’s deducted from your paychecks. Is it possible the day you left also fell on the last day of a pay period?

    4. InMyBones*

      It’s not normal but it happened to me when I turned 26 and got kicked off my parents health insurance. No one I spoke to had ever heard of such a thing happening.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My last employer swore my insurance was canceled on my last day. They were wrong– I had coverage through the end of the month. Any chance that’s the case with you?

    6. Skeeder Jones*

      When your employer purchases a health plan from the healthcare company, they have coverage eligibility as part of their contract. They determine when a new employee becomes eligible for insurance and when their coverage will terminate if they leave that employer. Standard contracts are usually until the end of the month of the employees last day of work, but having them terminate on the last day of work is not uncommon.

      I know COBRA isn’t your question but a little known facts on that is that you have 60 days from your last date of coverage to sign up for COBRA. Once you sign up, coverage is retroactive to your last day of coverage so that there is no break in coverage. Technically, you can wait out those 60 days and then only sign up for COBRA if you used services. But if you don’t sign up by that time, you won’t be able to. But you would also be eligible for ACA coverage so you’ll want to check to see which plan gives you more bang for your buck. (have worked in healthcare for 15 years and started in member services where you have to explain this to callers many times)

    7. Observer*

      I’m going to agree with all the people who said that you should double check that – in most cases, you pay up front for the month, so your coverage should last at least that long.

  38. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

    Music thread?
    I’m sort of embarrassed to say that as much as I love listening to music, my knowledge of music pretty much ends at the early 2000s. I always used to explore bands by going to music stores, all of which closed 15-20 years ago in my area except for a very small number of vinyl record stores, and I’ve been slow to get into online stuff like Spotify. Somehow I’ve totally lost the thread of exploring new bands and artists.

    I’d love to know what rock and alternative-type bands people listen to in 2021 — as sad as I am to ask this, is rock music even still a thing? All I ever hear anymore are snippets of Taylor Swift-type music, Ed Sheeran-ish music and hip-hop, none of which are not my thing.

    I could listen to ’80s and ’90s music all day; is there good stuff out there now that sounds similar to that? I also appreciate some good heavy metal sometimes; metalheads of AAM, what are you listening to in 2021?

    1. WellRed*

      I feel ya! I hear newer stuff I like on the radio on the alternative rock station but couldn’t tell you who it is. They’re not new but I’ve had disturbed and foo fighters in heavy rotation ( check out their cover of Baker Street).

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Yes, the Foo Fighters cover of Baker Street is great!

        I liked Disturbed a lot in college, still only have their first two albums, ha.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Haha, I have said frequently that my taste in music ended when I got my first iPod in 2002. Having come from a background of Godsmack, Disturbed, A Perfect Circle and similar – I’ve found some appreciation for Seether, Shinedown, and Five Finger Death Punch recently. (Where “recently” still means “in the last five years” :P )

    3. Exif*

      There are a lot of apps and services now that use algorithms to suggest artists based on what you already like. Try these to start:

      Last FM
      Spotalike (for Spotify users)

      and my lazy favorite, YouTube. Just click on an option at the end of the current video.

      Alternate method: I like to research based on producers, not on singers. I’m not a pop fan, but I am going nuts for the new Halsey album because Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross produced it.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thank you. I’ve been so resistant to use those sites for some reason — I guess I’d rather someone invent a time machine and take me back to 2000 — but I’m realizing now that I don’t have much choice and I bet I’ll get addicted to them fast once I give them a shot.

    4. Amber Rose*

      I’m listening to Sabaton. They’re like the best cheesy 80s metal but they basically only sing about historical events. The Last Stand is my favorite song and it’s about the Swiss Guard during the sack of Rome. It’s an absolute jam.

    5. Squidhead*

      I like using YouTube better than Spotify. Put in a couple of band names and it will offer a “playlist” based around your previous choices. My “alternative” tastes run more towards The National and The Decembrists and Fleet Foxes…which aren’t really new either…but when I choose “My Mix” YouTube does a decent job of peppering in some stuff I haven’t heard of but turn out to enjoy. Spotify, meanwhile, plays me all the Decembrists songs including a couple I have told it to always skip, and then adds in stuff I don’t really like. I’m using the free versions of both apps, so ads come with both. (To be fair to Spotify, my spouse says I haven’t given it enough to work with, which might be true but I’ve given YouTube just as much info and I like what it comes up with better.) But they’re both free, and if you hear a band you like you can search for that band directly to hear more.

      1. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        Thank you. I’ll play around on YouTube. I’ve used it a ton to listen to classic rock at work, so not quite sure why I didn’t think of it as a method to explore new choices.

    6. Bobina*

      If you do radio, I know BBC have the Rock Show (you should be able to listen online) which is likely to be new rock music. If nothing else you can look at the tracklists and see what the artists they play are to check them out.

      Radio is usually where I go to for new music, I dont know about stations in the US, but in the UK there are often shows or stations dedicated to new music – just find the one for the genre you like and off you go!

    7. Princess Deviant*

      I absolutely love Nightwish. They’ve been around for 25 years not I have only got into then recently. Dark Passion Play is a brilliant album (*I don’t like song 1 because of the lyrics though).

      1. banoffee pie*

        I have to recommend Killswitch Engage. I may be biased but I can’t imagine any metalhead not liking them. And I still like Metallica, I don’t care if they’re old/assholes ;)

      2. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

        I have one Nightwish album and really like it. Might need to get some more.
        I think Killswitch Engage was becoming popular in the metal community just as I was getting out of listening to metal all the time — it’s sort of reassuring that some of the bands from my college era are still going.
        As for Metallica, have to admit that I’m one of those folks where the Black Album was the dividing line for me. Love everything up to and including it…after that, eh.

        1. banoffee pie*

          yes I think your opinion is usually considered to be the sensible outlook on Metallica’s oeuvre! I’m one of those eejits who even likes some of their new stuff. Also you could try Bullet For My Valentine. They’re from Wales.

      3. Nessun*

        Oh Nightwish is indeed incredible- the operatic singing with the orchestral sound and amazing hardcore guitar and drum…soooo good. Seeing them live is a total experience, if you’ve had the chance. Within Temptation is a similar trip – also incredible.

        1. Voluptuousfire*

          It’s so sad Marco Hietala left Nightwish.

          If you like Nightwish, try Tarot, Marco’s
          Other band. They’re fairly classic metal/ NWOBHM sounding and their last album came out in 2010.

          1. Princess Deviant*

            Thanks both for the additional recommendations. It is indeed hard to find new music as I get older!
            What is NWOBHM? And yeah Marco’s vocals – wow, he was amazing. Such a shame he left but I will check out his new stuff.

            1. banoffee pie*

              New wave of british heavy metal. It’s a pretty cumbersome acronym lol. It’s iron maiden and stuff like that. It isn’t new music any more, but it was at the time the name was coined. :)

    8. KR*

      As far as newer releases, rock music is of course, very much a thing. Some of my current favorites are: Cherry Glazerr (I love all of their music tbh), The War On Drugs (song “Strangest Things” in particular), Fuzz “What’s In My Head”, Lucy Dacus (check out the song “Timefighter”), Santigold, Tame Impala, The Black Angels, The Horrors, The Strokes, Warpaint.
      If you can get into Spotify, that’s where I discover a lot of my new music. Once Spotify learns your music taste they build custom playlists that they think you would like, and their algorithm is pretty good. I also use Shazam to find songs from movies/tv shows/the radio that I hear and I want to remember. I discovered a lot listening to KCRW, the NPR station for southern CA. Their DJs are excellent and you can listen on their app from anywhere, which I love now that I don’t live there.
      Another song I heard recently that I LOVE is Masquerade by Clan of Xymox and Anemone by The Brian Jonestown Massacre

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Use YouTube to listen to the musicians in the last few years of Eurovision and listen to extra for the ones you like, and see what the algorithm turns up.
      Also check Twitter & Instagram accounts of performers you like to see who THEY are talking about! (Twitter is my secret weapon for new books, so why not music?)

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

      If you use a music app that let’s you find radio stations, like iheartradio, KLOS 95.5 is a good Los Angeles station for both new and classic rock and sounds like what you’re after. New bands that sound like classic rock are Dirty Honey and Rival Sons.

    11. The Other Dawn*

      I was a teen in the late 80s to early 90s, so it was all heavy metal and hair bands for me. Once grunge hit, I switched off rock and onto to country for some reason. Then I eventually came back to metal and rock and have shunned country for the most part. I’ve discovered lots of bands I like, either through my husband or my trainer, both of which like the heavier stuff. Some stuff I like: Architects, Hollywood Undead, Stone Sour, Disturbed, Shinedown, Skillet, Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, The Score (not really rock I don’t think, but I like them), Volbeat, Rammstein, Fozzy, Pop Evil.

    12. Sara*

      I think if it weren’t for the fact that one of my fave local bands is always shouting out their other new favourites, I wouldn’t have discovered any new music in the last 5+ years… They’re not always to my taste but I’ve found enough new songs and artists that I consistently check out their recommendations. It maybe helps because they also actively support young artists, and also one of the band members manages some other artists.

      So ya, I’ll recommend Said the Whale – might be more alt-pop than you’re looking for but I like them lots. And they even got me giving other bands I’d written off as “meh, not my style” a 2nd chance (I’m looking at you, Arkells). And if you follow them on instagram, that’s where I see most of their recommendations lately. I think they also have some Spotify playlists.

      And if StW isn’t your jam, can I suggest trying to see what your favourite bands listen to – maybe they have a curated playlist somewhere? Or if you can find a list of all the artists they invited to open for them, etc.

    13. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      If you lean towards heavier stuff, check out Jinjer. A good first listen from youtube is the live session of Pisces. Im like you, kinda stuck in one era of music the Black Album is my cut off for Metallica. Early 2000s and before. Ever see Metalocalypse? Its a toon about a death metal band. But the music is actually very listenable. Reminiscent of Iron Maiden and old Metallica with death metal vocals.

    14. Becca Again*

      For bluesy-ish rock, I am loving Blacktop Mojo. Great sound, good vibe. I recommend Dirty Honey as well, southern rock/almost a Zeppelin sound. La Dispute is a good band my daughter hooked me on. Great lyrics and musicality.

      Red Dragon Cartel, Black Label Society, Pantera, White Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch, Rage Against the Machine … I have recently discovered these and they rock.

      Cant go wrong with Led Zepp, Metallica, Tesla, Ozzy, Skynyrd, Dio, and old Motley Crue. Graduated high school in ‘87 and these guys were my jam!

  39. blue*

    For those of you with a tv in your bedroom, where is it located? I have mine on a dresser but don’t actually need the dresser for clothes and would like to get rid of it.

    1. Exif*

      Inside a wardrobe/armoire. I like being able to close the doors on it. The drawers are used for seasonal clothes.

  40. Sleepless*

    Any suggestions for how to spend Black Friday in the central FL/St. Augustine area? Going down to visit family. I loathe crowds and have never wanted to do the Orlando parks, but I could be talked into Animal Kingdom if it’s not insanely crowded that day. If I were by myself I’d probably happily putter around the Jacksonville Arboretum all day or hit a hiking trail. Five adults, one of them a relatively active senior citizen, kids ranging from 12 to young adult who are generally down with anything.

    1. acmx*

      If you do end up going to AK, be aware that you have to make reservations. That’s a blackout date for basic annual pass holders so there’s a chance that it will be busy. The 50th anniversary celebration has started.

      You could check out Bok Tower in Lake Wales. I mean, St Augustine is the oldest city, you explore the forts. There’s gardens, beaches.
      Orlando area has Gatorland, airboat tours, drive to the Cape, zip lining, Henry Leu gardens.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Animal Kingdom will be insanely crowded. Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest for the Disney parks and Black Friday will be one of the worst days.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        If I were going to be in Central Florida and didn’t want to do a Disney park I would probably go spend the day over at Kennedy Space Center – I haven’t been over there in almost 25 years, and I’m sure it’s changed a lot since then.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      All the Orlando parks tend to be insanely crowded the week of Thanksgiving through that weekend – especially that weekend.

    4. Florida Woman*

      Check out the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. It’s one of Florida’s oldest attractions, but has made it to the modern era as a zoo showing all known species of crocodilians in the world. It’s all outdoors, watching the animals get fed is fascinating, and there is a boardwalk through a natural area that has outstanding bird watching. Might be crowded around a holiday, but being an outdoor attraction tends to make it seem less noisy.

      Alligator Farm is a stone’s throw from Anastasia State Park, which has one of the nicest beaches in Florida for a long beach walk. There are some short nature trails there as well. The weather in late November should be really nice for outdoor activities.

      I think Kennedy Space Center is one of the best attractions in Florida, especially if you like science/space, but it is primarily indoors and has extremely heavy visitation. Everything there is crowded, from the exhibits to the cafe to the shuttle buses.

    5. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I second the Kennedy Space Center! I do NOT like Disney, or I-4, or also I-4. I live on the west coast of FL. I’d say arboretums/botanical gardens would be great. Also suggest the St Augustine Lighthouse.

  41. Wayne Bruce*

    My question might be a bit heavy and emotional..does anyone come from a family that is dysfunctional but where the people are loving and not horrible, violent etc.? I have just come to realize over the past year that this is my family.

    After my parents got married they bought a fixer-upper that they never fixed. They were married for 11 years before I was born and 15 years before my sibling was born. When I say the house is unfinished I mean that none of the rooms have doors, the bathroom doesn’t have a sink, if you run the bathtub/shower water for more than 10 minutes at a time the pipes leak through wall, only one room is painted and the rest is drywall, no flooring etc. They just never fixed it. They are not hoarders but the house has a lot of stuff because they just never bothered to fix it or set it up properly. Two and a half years ago my mom passed away. I live with my dad in the house. My brother lives in house my parents bought around the corner to be a rental. He badly fixed it up but it is still dysfunctional and the layout makes no sense. My parents also own another fixer upper that is uninhabitable.

    My parents always supported my brother, found him jobs with their friends, gave him, money, a free house etc. As a result despite being in his 30s my brother has no idea how to adult or function. My dad wants to fix up the other house before his own. He also won’t let me take charge of it even though it is supposed to be my house. He says he sees the problems with his house but does nothing about it. My mom was the same. We’ve never been able to have people over and that was hard as a kid. I’ve tried and gotten nowhere.

    I have told my dad I’m moving out. I’ll help him with his house and the other house but I can’t live there any longer. I said if he leaves me the uninhabitable house and 50% of his house with my brother as they are I will disclaim and have nothing to do with it. My brother doesn’t see any problems here and fixing up and cleaning out with him would be a nightmare. I love him but no.

    I signed up for a therapist and I am waiting for my insurance to go through. I used my EAP at work in the meantime and was diagnosed with situational depression and it’s possible I have OCD (my obsession with cleaning my own space is borderline and I have to explore with my therapist). I’m struggling because my parents and brother (and extended family as well who have issues) aren’t horrible, mean, violent, abusive etc. They are doing their best but the dysfunction is huge even more than I have written here. Sorry for the novel, but has anyone here ever struggled with dysfunction where the people were loving and tried their best but it wasn’t enough?

    1. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Ugh, yeah. My long-term ex-boyfriend’s parents were kind of like this (massive hoarders too), “nice” people with a house that was not very functional and in some ways, dangerous. Like, when we stayed over, we had to stay in a room with papers nearly up to the ceiling AND turpentine in it: One spark, and we would have been toast. I felt like if we had kids, I would never have been able to let them stay over with their grandparents for their own safety. I am a messy person as well, but it was too much for me. It’s not the only reason, but their level of dysfunction was certainly a factor in ending our relationship. I finally had to GET OUT, and the fact that I don’t feel regrets tells me I did the right thing.

      In your case, I predict that you are going to feel MUCH, MUCH better as soon as you have your own place that you can fix up and keep clean and orderly without anyone thwarting you. The power dynamics where people won’t let you improve or clean your shared living space can be extremely oppressive.