weekend open thread – January 8-9, 2022

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: Dava Shastri’s Last Day, by Kirthana Ramisetti. A wealthy philanthropist brings her family to a private island to disclose her terminal illness and plans for her death. Emma Straub said, “If Succession were about a multicultural family who actually loved each other, it might look like this.” I really liked it.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,216 comments… read them below }

  1. Radical Edward*

    Wow, first one here! *cracks knuckles* So… who wants to talk about The Untamed/Mo Dao Zu Shi/CQL?
    (Or any other book by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, it’s all good! I just started reading the new English translation of Heaven Official’s Blessing.)

    I found The Untamed on Netflix last spring, long after most of my circle had already devoured it. It kept me occupied during the first month of… all this, and I am forever grateful. I have always casually enjoyed wuxia/xianxia films but never tried a TV series before, and did NOT expect to get so hooked!

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      I’ve got to try the new translation! I read an early translation and loved it, because it was the only one available, but it did have quirks.

      I liked the show—the actors bring a really important charisma—but I ended up liking the book a bit better! It’s certainly more ghosty and grisly in a way that I really liked.

    2. Invisible Fish*

      Is this a graphic novel? I ask because I’ve heard of this, it was recommended to me, I like the plot – but any sort of graphic novel/manga just wears me out. I’m all text, all the time …

      1. arjumand*

        All text!!

        This is a recent revelation for me, but the webnovel industry in China is HUGE. Quality varies, but there are some really good authors to discover.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The teen says: The original was the webnovel, which they adapted into a manhua/graphic novel, then they did a donghua/animated series (which is still being created and released), then they did the live action version. So you can get pretty much any format of the story you want. If you’re looking for a good English translation of the novel, I recommend Exiled Rebels’ version. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve heard very good things about it. As for TV shows, Word of Honor is similar and really good, and Guardian is more modern but also magicky, although not as much martial arts.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The mother says: lately I need shows that are a little lighter than many of these get. Which is why one of my favorites is an animated series about professional video gamers & the game world: King’s Avatar (quan zhi gao shou).

        2. arjumand*

          Mo Dao Zu Shi (and her two other novels) got licensed for an official translation into English last summer, and the first volumes of each of her books (The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, Heaven Official’s Blessing and The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System) are now available to buy on most online bookshops (They’re also available at physical bookshops). They’re also available as ebooks, I just remembered. The other volumes are available to pre-order.

          That’s why all the fan translations have all been taken down, even the Exiled Rebels’ version.

      3. Radical Edward*

        All text, and lots of it – with the occasional grayscale illustration. I am looking forward to getting my hands on The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (book title in English) because Heaven Official’s Blessing includes a massive glossary of terms and names in the back. I always appreciate an index of characters in a complex fantasy novel, but I especially like it in this instance because I get to pore over everyone’s names in hanzi. They seem to have put a lot of thought and effort into making the books accessible to new-to-the-genre readers like me.

      1. arjumand*

        This is a great article and thanks for bringing it to my attention.
        I love the detail about the costumes taking all the budget, and I’d like to add to that the set design, which is stunning.
        I love the Jin Ling’s uncles joke and I loved its iteration here!
        Re the costumes, here’s one hilarious coincidence – I’ve always considered the most gorgeous costumes the ones worn by Jiang Cheng. Seriously, whether he’s appearing to threaten Wei Wuxian or absolutely ruining the most amazing hanfu by going for a swim in a cave, Jiang Cheng is MONEY.
        Well, Word of Honor, a series so cash-strapped they had to be sponsored by Wolong’s famous nuts (a real brand) and feature the product and talk about it in show, had one character who was wearing the most gorgeous robes I have ever seen: Wen Ke Xing. What do they have in common? The same voice actor (all/most c-dramas are dubbed).

        1. DistantAudacity*

          Oh yes – Jiang Cheng is the fashionista :)

          For really great costumes though, and a great drama, there’s my favourite ever Nirvana in Fire (Langya Banbg), which apparantly started the trend of decent costuming. This is not a xianxia- type drama (slight wuxia), but intelligent political shenanigans/revenge/etc, with great actors.

        2. Radical Edward*

          I’m watching Word of Honor (about 2/3 of the way through) and loving it. I did not realize that about WKX’s voice actor – thank you for this excellent trivia! I do love all of his swooshy robes. They must be a pain to deal with, but they’re oh so dramatic. The product placement cracks me up whether that’s intentional or not, and the interior sets are just completely over the top. I keep getting distracted by all the decorative surfaces and *stuff* and losing track of the subtitles!

      2. Radical Edward*

        Oh heck yes, thank you for sharing the link! I enjoy all of Tor’s e-newsletter articles, but that one’s my new favorite for including that reference. (Also, bold choice of cover image.)

        I too was first struck by the gorgeous costuming (and the wigs, my GOODNESS) when I started watching, and it helped to keep me motivated. I’m a sucker for fancy things. The framing made it incredibly hard for me to follow at first, so if I hadn’t had the weight of all my friends’ recommendations and enthusiasm pushing me forward, I might have given up – but I popped open a few browser tabs with character wikis and powered through. I still went back and rewatched the first few episodes once I had gotten far enough in, so I could refresh my memory and enjoy a better understanding of everyone’s relationships to each other.

        After watching the show on Netflix, I started watching the animated version on YouTube. It’s good, and also very pretty, although I find it less compelling to watch overall – with the big exception of all the creepy monster bits. I get the feeling that they really wanted to go all-out with the scenes that would have been impossible or harder to portray in a live action show, and it’s been fun to watch. Yesterday I was reminded that there’s also a ‘Special Edition’ of the live action show on YouTube, which sounds like fun. (I’m given to understand it’s like a highlights reel + extended edition of LJW’s and WWX’s interactions, so really, how could it be dull?!?)

        I haven’t read the new novel translation yet (I got partway through the Exiled Rebels version before hearing about the licensing for publication) but it’s on my list! I was given the first volume of Heaven Official’s Blessing for Christmas, which I am excited to read because I *loved* the first season of the animation. It’s almost painfully gorgeous (including the music), and fairly fast-paced, so I am very much looking forward to the second part.

    3. arjumand*

      ONE OF US!
      I started seeing some very interesting gifsets on tumblr around December 2019, and finally I could stand it no more! I watched all of The Untamed and fell down a rabbit hole I’m still traversing, lol!
      Before that, I’d only ever watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (and all of the Kung Fu Panda films, but pretty sure that doesn’t count) – after, oh lord. If anyone wants a link to my MyDramaList page, I HAVE A LIST. IT’S LONG.
      Re. the books – I just bought MDZS and Scum Villain (the second mainly because I watched the animated first season and it’s both hilarious and creepy – also, the way demon lord Luo Binghe says ‘Shizun’ makes me go OOOH). I haven’t started reading them yet (no time) but I’ve read a lot of MDZS in one of the fan tranlsations already.

      Though I must admit to leafing through MDZS and checking whether one scene was represented in it purest form, and it is, and I quote:
      “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA !”
      Pretty sure I left out some of the HA HAs – oh Wei Ying, sweet clown prince.

      Still on the fence about Heaven Official’s Blessing – I’ll watch the donghua season 2 if it ever comes out, and the live action if it’s ever released (which is another issue in and of itself), but I don’t know if I have time for such a long and complex story right now.

    4. Trixie B*

      I am bummed that the Golden Hair Pin won’t be aired now. The book was a good mystery. I hope more works are translated.

  2. Free Meerkats*

    Thought experiment.

    You are omnipotent for one day and have to make 5 decrees. 2 have to be selfish, 2 have to benefit all humankind, and the 5th is whatever you want.

    What are your decrees?

    1. Edwina*

      1. Vaccination mandate
      2. All Rupert Murdoch media shut down
      3. Universal Health Care
      4. Universal Minimum Living Wage
      5. Cats can now live as long as humans

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I’m fine with 5 but can we also make sure they’re spayed/nuetered? There would be SO many cats! Think of the birds!

      2. Lucy Skywalker*

        I think 1-4 are great, and I’d be all for 5 as long as it also extended to dogs and guinea pigs.

    2. Lady Whistledown*

      1. New Civil Rights Act with voting rights overhaul/expansion and meaningful progress against structural inequities.
      2. Ditto Edwina shutting down the Rupert Murdoch hate/fear/lie machine. I want my family back.
      3. End childhood hunger
      4. Universal healthcare
      5. If I can be omnipotent in the God sense, I grant myself the power of shape shifting.

    3. I Forgot what my username is*

      1. Shut down ALL MSM outlets (seen family be radicalized by Fox, CNN, and MSNBC so yeah, it’s a problem on both sides of the aisle).
      2. My family wouldn’t be judgmental.
      3. Solve world hunger
      4. World peace
      5. No political corruption

    4. Captain Lance*

      A few of the commenters already talked about closing down Murdoch/tamping down lying and misinformation and vaccine mandates, along with improving minimum wage and making universal healthcare accessible so I’ll add new things to keep it fresh.

      Selfish:
      1. Get rid of limits for TOEFL/IELTS tests, and if you’ve been colonized by the US/UK, you shouldn’t have to take these tests at all. It’s kind of an insult to have to take an expensive test when I could visit social media and find that I have better spelling, grammar, and comprehension than the average American.
      2. Incentives and grants for freelancers and remote workers.

      Beneficial to all:
      3. Corporations pay their taxes fairly.
      4. Governments across the world become more transparent and corruption and unethical behavior are punished swiftly and punitively. (Also, if you’ve been found guilty, your family members shouldn’t be able to run for public office for a period of time.)

      Anything I want:
      5. Reverse climate change so everyone has a more livable world. The top 10 typhoons that hit my country happened in the last decade or so. Actually, we’ve been dealing with this since the 2000s, so the damage is already at least hundreds of billions, if not tens of trillions worth.

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      1) wipe student loan debt and redo the system going forward so we avoid this situation again
      2) vaccine mandates (not just for Covid- I’m looking at you Florida)
      3)universal healthcare
      4) dish out karma as I see fit
      5) I can converse with animals and people with no language barrier

    6. Barry*

      1. All billionnaires’ wealth is distributed.
      2. All companies and people who got the Covid vaccine while decrying it are outlawed, with their possessions open to whomever can take them.
      3. I get some needed/desired surgeries.
      4. I get a large sum of money (less than a billion!).
      5. I understand women.

    7. AY*

      1. My current home sells and I buy a home with a huge library with fireplace without any work whatsoever on my part
      2. My house stays magically clean
      3. No more dementia or Alzheimer’s
      4. All politicians act for public good, not out of greed or corruption
      5. A good and free public education for everyone everywhere

    8. Silver*

      Genie granting whimsical wish- we all have daemons a la Philip Pullman

      Reversal of climate change, magical transformation of all firearms into bouquets of locally sourced wildflowers, abolish concentration camps in xinjiang, cut out tax loops for billionaire class and corporations

    9. i will do it anon*

      (content warning menstruation)

      1. affordable super high speed rail connecting Massachusetts and Washington State (and the rest of the US too, I’ll be generous)
      2. a zero-cost medication that can stop periods and PMS and PMDD completely, with no side effects
      3. distribute enough mRNA vaccines for everyone in the whole world who doesn’t have a bona fide medical exemption
      4. all fossil fuels stop working but electricity plants are magically replaced with renewable energy sources so no one suffers for it
      5. I get to be fluent in whatever languages I want without any work

    10. Square Root of Minus One*

      1. Full redistribution of any personal fortune beyond 100M$ to fund universal basic income for everyone
      2. Nature gets legal rights for its protection and harming any land, species or ecosystem beyond repair is a criminal offense
      3. No more soliciting EVER at my door or my phone.
      4. Agressive advertising is forbidden
      5. It’s no longer frowned upon to be poly

    11. MissElizaTudor*

      Oooh, I like this! It’s tricky because “decree” could mean a lot of things, something like “everything is perfect” or “states don’t exist” breaks the fun.

      1. Universal basic outcome (basically everyone has access to the things they need to thrive, not just a minimum amount of money)
      2. Everyone starts respecting the sentience, sapience, and experiences of people who are very different from the “norm,” children, and non-human animals
      3. Open borders
      4. All militaries disband
      5. The idea of reducing how much stuff we make and how much energy we use becomes popular, including among decision-makers

    12. Madame X*

      1. I have always wanted the ability to speak any language in the world (I’m bilingual, but i want to be infinite-lingual, LOL!)
      2. The resources and ability to travel anywhere I want in the world.
      3. Universal Healthcare
      4. No political corruption and political leaders support policies that improves everyone’s lives
      5. Meaningful policies and structural progress to address climate change (sustainable manufacturing, more accessible recycling facilities in every community, robust protection of land and water etc…)

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      Y’all are being too unselfish with your selfish wishes lol. Assuming the game won’t LET me have my selfish wishes help all humanity, my family buys a house (we have been trying since last April in a very competitive area), I have a great career (sahm fearing I’ll never go back), universal basic income, universal healthcare, and reverse climate change.

    14. Trixie B*

      I decree all missing persons appear unharmed to their loved ones and live happily ever after. I decree that all trafficked and exploited (including animals) beings are safe, have no memory of their abuse and live happily ever after. I decree that the healthcare system is changed to an efficient system that is not based on money but on patient needs and access is universal. I decree that I And my family have heath, wealth and wisdom. I decree that I have time travel with one other person of my choosing. I

    15. just another bureaucrat*

      I think I might be evil because reading all these all I can think of the loopholes an evil grantor would use to make you regret them.

    16. Free Meerkats*

      I meant to post mine, but got distracted.

      Selfish
      Copy all the knowledge in my brain to my 14-year old self back in 1970.
      Live in good health until I choose to die, not aging past 40.

      Humanity
      Any leader of more than two people makes all decisions so they benefit humankind.
      Becoming pregnant would require a conscious affirmative decision by both parents.

      Free
      No belief in the supernatural – this includes religion.

        1. allathian*

          Awww, a caveat to what I said; no belief in the supernatural doesn’t mean people can’t enjoy supernatural fiction.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          I have zero belief in the supernatural, yet I read lots of stuff with it in it. Including your works.

    17. marvin the paranoid android*

      1. Make all of my transition-related medical care available now
      2. Let me quit my day job so I can write full-time
      3. Reverse human-caused environmental destruction and extinctions
      4. Overturn capitalism and radically redistribute access to resources and technology on a global scale
      5. Every time anyone acts in a bigoted way, they have to live as a member of the group they’ve oppressed for a year

    18. Macaroni Penguin*

      For Humanity
      1) The funding budgets for space exploration and military defence are reversed. This reallocation applies to all nations.
      2) We now have personal replicators that can make everything from chocolate ice cream to glass swans. (Star Trek tech)

      For Myself
      3) Being able to dedicate life to interesting volunteer roles.
      4) Having an unlimited supply of fantastic coffee beans.

      Other
      5) Humanity has Stargate technology

    19. Bumblebeee*

      1. Anti vaxxers who catch covid are last in queue for medical treatment, and need to pay 100% of their own medical fees. Also people who catch covid from them are allowed to punch them in the face.
      2. I get a personal chef.
      3. No one is allowed to have assets more than $30m. All income above $5m have 80% taxation.
      4. Single use plastic is banned. Almost everyone who lived on our planet managed fine without them.
      5. My children are happy and healthy and surrounded by kind people.

    20. allathian*

      Great ones so far.

      Selfish:
      1. To live a healthy life until I’m at least 120, and then die with minimal fuss and pain when the time comes.
      2. The ability to do #1 while eating what I want and as much as I want, while exercising as much, or as little, as I want.

      Humankind:
      3. Reverse climate change and make sure no more species go extinct because of humans.
      4. Universal healthcare and a living wage for all humans all over the world.

      Free:
      5. The ability for everyone to walk a mile in anyone else’s shoes. This would help end discrimination, because we’d understand each other in a much more fundamental way.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm.

      Selfish –
      1-Anything I write becomes wildly successful and nets me lots of money, even if it sucks (I promise to pay my taxes).
      2-Crush falls madly in love with me and we get married and have two smart, cool kids. No divorce, no cheating; just happily ever after.

      Humankind –
      1-Reverse climate change, damn it!
      2-Enough food, clothing, shelter, and money for everyone regardless of where they are or whether they can work. No more poverty like Picard says in Star Trek: TNG.

      Free –
      Saving it in case I need it, like if aliens invade or something.

    22. JSPA*

      If I’m omnipotent, am I also omniscient? Does this mean I get to wish for anything that should be theoretically achievable?

      1. if so: utility scale fusion is achieved, and by someone who opens the patent to all countries equally. If not: a manhattan-project level push, to make this happen.

      2. If so: room temperature sodium-based batteries without rare and toxic “doping” pan out. If not: roll this goal into #1, above.

      3. if so: external gills (or ability to breathe water) with 0xygen exchange sufficient for extending breath hold diving by a factor of 10 or more, in comfort. If not: a portable Oxygen concentrator, a lifetime supply of helium, and a foolproof, self-cleaning, self maintaining rebreather.

      4. If so: error-free, freely available design-your-own CRISPR kits, supplied with a toolbox of epigenetic and genetic DNA motifs, to fix, replace, activate or inactivate one’s own genes on demand. If not: doctors shall default to believing their patients, even if (or especially if) said patient is better informed on a niche topic, than they are.

      5. At least minimal housing, food and basic health care (including vision and dental and psychiatric care) and education available–without time-sapping hoops to jump through–so that those who want to do better can launch from that stable platform, while those who can’t make the shift are not dehumanized, degraded and desperate (and thus don’t drag entire families and friend networks and neighborhoods down with them).

    23. KoiFeeder*

      1) humans now have crocodilian immune systems (this is selfish. I am so, so sick of my autoimmune disease)
      2) snakes gain the regenerative power of starfish (also selfish. people can’t tell the difference between a hognose and a cobra and they’re just out here killing them. I’m sick of it.)
      3) free, safe, and universal basic outcome (all humans have access to comfortable shelter, competent healthcare, three daily nutritious meals, and clean water- thank you miss elizabeth tudor)
      4) the deleterious impacts of rabies and other lyssaviruses are removed from existence (we’re not really sure what lyssaviruses do in bats, so I don’t want to out and out cancel rabies, but…)
      5) beloved pets can live healthy and happy lives for a human-like duration, BUT at 18 years of age they gain telekinetic powers. viva la feline revolution. (I want to see what happens when cats can open their own cat food cans)

    24. Gnome*

      I’m seeing a lot of stuff that falls in the political/social realms… And I’m wondering if we aren’t thinking broadly enough…

      The everybody stuff:
      1) End of covid, including recovery for everyone currently ill with it
      2) Ample and appropriate rainfall to support optimal agriculture as it is practiced locally, spanning the whole world

      Selfish
      1) my kids’ physical and mental challenges would disappear instantly, but they would retain all the valuable skills, empathy, and insights they have developed through them
      2) I would never get migraines again

      Just for fun
      1) chocolate, cake, and ice cream would be the healthiest things we could eat and would contribute to improved cholesterol, triglycerides, BMI, reduce inflammation, and reduce risk for heart disease, cancer, and strokes

    25. No Longer Fencer*

      1. Really delicious tofu hotpot delivery (the closest 2 locations shut down, the remaining 1-2 are substandard to downright abysmal)
      2. That cats could live long like humans
      3. Universal healthcare
      4. Six months paid parental leave to be used all at once or however one likes, with PTO accruing throughout
      5. National vaccination mandate

    26. Lucy Skywalker*

      Selfish:
      1. A job where I use all my talents, where the work I do is appreciated and makes a positive difference, and a six figure salary.
      2. The level of energy that I had when I was 25, and it would stay at that level for the rest of my life.

      Benefit all humankind:
      3. The entire world would switch to 100% clean energy, thus ending climate change and air pollution. (Many people said to reverse climate change, but I like having longer summers and shorter winters, so I’d just stop climate change rather than reverse it.)
      4. No more COVID.

      Whatever I want:
      5. I’m going to with something that would benefit all Americans, but not necessarily the rest of the world: No more filibuster in Congress, which would allow the voting rights act to pass.

      1. Lucy Skywalker*

        Actually, I’m going to swap #2 for an unselfish one: Major reforms in religion worldwide; including clergy members needing to be held accountable for their crimes, same sex marriage would be allowed in all houses of worship, no more wars or crimes in the name of religion, every religion would allow people of any gender or marital status to join the clergy, clergy would focus on theology and not try to serve as their parishoners’ medical doctors, all houses of worship and religious communities would be dedicated to social justice, religious groups would respect and learn from each other, religions would respect atheists/agnostics/people who believe in God but don’t regularly attend services (and vice versa), and all religions would accept science and constantly update their beliefs as scientific discoveries are made. Also, changes in music, liturgy and worship to make the services more appealing for people in the 21st century.

        1. Elf*

          This is something I might put on my list, but I would probably summarize it as “abolish religion”

  3. Confuzzled*

    Question about (possibly) duplicate billing. IIRC some people here have experience with the process.

    I had surgery last month, so I’m getting the typical unpredictable trickle of medical bills. I got two bills for anaesthesia. They are listed as being from different organizations, but the bills are nearly identical and are clearly processed by the same place (same look and feel, same stock images, same 800 number for questions). The hospital, service date, and initial billed amounts are identical, but the providers are two different doctor names. The final total due is also different: in the first one my deductible was unmet, in the second bill it was met and so I owe less.

    I have called, and called, and called. It’s hold music forever, nobody ever picks up. One day I set an alarm to call the second their business hours started, and put the phone on speaker all day. It stayed on hold until the phone battery died. I called my insurance, but they were really rude and told me to take it up with the biller.

    I don’t know what else to do. I only got surgery once, and only got knocked out for it once. I can’t possibly owe two doctors for the same thing, can I?

    1. Tib*

      I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this on top of recovering from surgery. Is it possible your surgery was long enough that it covered a shift change or got passed from one to another for some other reason? That could explain the different amounts if one person got you started and the other finished. Is there someone at the hospital you could call and ask about the surgery? Maybe a patient advocate on staff?

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Is there an email contact? If so, try that. If not, I would write an actual paper letter of inquiry, enclosing photocopies of the two bills.

    3. sswj*

      Did the lower bill arrive later? If so it may be that it was triggered by the deductible being met. Personally I’d focus on that one, but I agree that sending an email, snail mail, or even fax query is probably the way to go.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Email/write your state attorney general. Tell them you are not sure but you think you have a case of fraudulent billing. Send copies of the bills and be sure to state what you have told us here about not being able to reach anyone. Settle back and let them handle things.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Copy the billing company. That might capture the attention of someone willing to actually look into the matter.

    5. MissGirl*

      It is possible to have two separate anesthesiologists on a single surgery. They often don’t work for the hospital so their billing is separate. Have you called the hospital?

    6. Texan In Exile*

      If this is through group insurance from work, get your benefits person involved. That’s how I finally resolved an 8-month dispute with Blue Cross of Michigan (still The Worst Insurance Company in the World).

      1. Generic Name*

        Agreed. A coworker had an emergency appendectomy and our insurance originally denied his claim saying it was “medically unnecessary”. He would have been on the hook for $45K . Our benefits administrator got the insurance coordinator folks to deal with the insurance company, who magically discovered a “coding error” and whoops the surgery was actually covered. Honestly, I think insurance companies pull these shenanigans on purpose on the off chance that the erroneous bills will be paid without question if even a small portion of people don’t question and pay up, more $$$ for insurance execs.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          A coworker had an emergency appendectomy and our insurance originally denied his claim saying it was “medically unnecessary”.

          *sputters incoherently*

    7. RagingADHD*

      Nothing bad is going to happen to your credit in a month or two. Set it aside, give yourself time to heal from the surgery, and take it up in a couple of months from now.

      The billers aren’t answering the phones because they’re dealing with bills from two or three months ago, and they’re swamped. You may also get a correction in the meantime.

      One month just isn’t enough time for the whole thing to sort itself out. It will be easier to deal with in a little while.

      1. the cat's ass*

        The billing goddess in my office recommends waiting 90 days to pay anything, because co-pays,late billing etc are whizzing back and forth and sometimes you end up giving someone $ you didn’t need to and good luck trying to get it back. Then call the actual billing offices and let them help you sort it out. Good luck,and wishing you a speedy recovery!

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Yeah, it took a solid six months for a bill my husband was contesting to get sent to collections (which was partially his own fault for failing to answer or return their calls). Even when it got sent to collections it didn’t hit his credit report because he finally gave in and paid it. It was a small amount, he was fighting because he felt they should have billed a regular doctor visit not an urgent care visit.

        When I had an ultrasound at the ER, they billed it twice and from what I can tell it was legitimate. They had two different medical codes (in your letter, request a list of all medical codes they billed you for. You might be able to get it from insurance too). Since they did an ultrasound on my stomach as well as an internal ultrasound, they got to bill for each one and it was legitimate even though the tech never got up from her chair or told me they were “separate” procedures. Maybe something like that happened with your anesthesia although it seems less likely.

      3. PT*

        This is not the best advice. I had an ambulance ride from a company, contracted by city/county 911, that required payment in 30 days or they’d send you to collections.

        If your insurance took longer than that, you had to front them the $$ and get reimbursed by the insurance company. In my case this was $3500 for a ride under 2 miles to the local ER. We had the 3500 but that was totally unreasonable.

      4. JSPA*

        Yes. Unlike other bills, medical bills (because they’re so FUBAR) don’t hit your credit rating until the 6 month mark. Until that point, it makes sense to have some sort of form letter that you send as a written appeal (if they can do check boxes, you can basically do same, though perhaps not making it so obvious…) and then put a reminder on your calendar, and put it out of your mind for a month.

    8. Girasol*

      Dad had a bill like that from a company that never answered the phone. I called his medical insurer because I had no idea what else to do. They knew all about it and told us not to pay. Try calling your insurance company and telling them about your problem. They seem to be able to pry into medical bill problems we normal mortals can’t.

    9. comityoferrors*

      This sounds like a billing mistake to me. Do the bills include any information about where you can file an appeal?

      In my state, you can contact the state regulatory body, or you can reach out to the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) if you have a senior or Medicaid plan. If you see any language about appeals to either of those sources, I highly recommend that you file an appeal as instructed and note that you’ve tried to contact both the provider and your insurance and got nowhere. If you don’t see any language about that…I highly recommend finding out who regulates insurance in your state and reaching out to them anyway. Your insurance is massively failing at their job.

      I also second the recommendations to send letters, mostly to your insurance, and keep copies for your own record. That’s harder to ignore than phone calls. Be angry (not abusive, but appropriately pissed off) until they fix this for you. It’s not OK to leave you in this situation.

    10. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Many hospital systems have an online “portal” where every procedure they preform for you is listed. Additionally, your insurance company might have something similar. If you have never logged in before, you probably need to set up your login, but they should have all the previous information there. Plus, the support for those websites tends to be much more responsive than the billing department, they can help you log in and understand what you’re reading there.

      That would let you check whether there’s more than one anesthesia listed, if there was two doctors/practices involved, whether they needed to “boost” the initial anesthetic, or whether a single dose was incorrectly listed twice.

      Plus, the online portals often have forms and procedures in place to let you request more information and dispute bills, without waiting on hold.

      One last thought, if you only talked to one person from your insurance, you might have simply caught someone on a bad day. It could be worth trying again if it wasn’t a huge hassle last time. They are supposed to explain what they have/haven’t covered and why.

  4. WoodswomanWrites*

    I want to thank everyone who responded to a couple of my posts a few months ago related to my mother in her 90s. I asked for advice about my own self-care with her cognitive decline and also posted for suggestions related to financial support. Just hearing from people here about your own emotional journeys with aging parents was hugely helpful.

    My mother lives in a retirement community in her own apartment, with meals served in the dining room and nursing care on site for routine things. Happily, she seems to have stabilized mentally with effective pain control and physical therapy for a couple things that were going on, combined with not being so isolated in her apartment with COVID restrictions. With no cases in her facility, she can eat her meals and socialize with friends and that has made a world of difference. I still take her to a variety of medical appointments that come with being her age but I’m not pulled in to having to care for her nearly as much as I was. I’ve got her set up on a twice-daily pill containers that I refill for her twice a month and she’s got a routine down with that, and I manage her prescriptions online.

    I also appreciated the guidance from people here about what to consider when setting up financial support for her, including reviewing tax stuff. She overdrew her account when she was confused about whether or not she had paid her monthly fee. Now that my mom has run out of her money from her retirement fund, my siblings and cousins got ourselves organized and set up a separate bank account with an automatic deduction for her monthly fee, and she doesn’t have access to that account in my and my sister’s name. I also am sharing her personal bank account with income from Social Security, and track that online to make sure all’s well there. My siblings and I started paying her bills a month before she ran out of cash, so she has a cushion there and hasn’t lost her sense of financial independence.

    Again, I really appreciate all the practical comments here. One of these days I will get the inevitable and sad phone call from her facility, but I will know that my siblings, cousins, and I made her final years good ones.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is wonderful news. I am glad to see that your family is pulling in the same direction for her. Sometimes the best we can do is give them a soft spot to land and you guys are doing it. I hope you all feel good about it.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes, I’ve heard so many awful stories from others in comparable situations about family members fighting over decisions, potential inheritance of money and property, etc. and I’m relieved that’s not the case for us. For example, with money they inherited after their parents passed away, my cousins offered to help financially with no prompting. They knew it was what their parents would have wanted for their sister/sister-in-law. I’m really blessed to have such a thoughtful, kind family where we have the same perspective on decisions and trust each other.

    2. gsa*

      Post up the link when you are able. I need to read/re-read.

      Similar situation in our Family. I will circle back and comment.

      All my best,

      gsa

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I looked through the archives and I’m unable to find my original posts from last year, but I’m sure you’ll get equally valuable replies by adding a post about your own situation here.

    3. allathian*

      This is great to hear. I’m glad she’s been able to socialize with her friends again. She’s very lucky to have such a caring family.

  5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    How do you figure out what order to do home repairs/remodeling in when there are lots of things that need work?

    Shortly, before the pandemic, I bought a house that’s older than I am and had a lot of deferred maintenance, and, as I discovered somewhat later, also a lot of DIY repairs of varying skill levels. (I refer to the previous owner as “duct tape woman” – to give you an idea, it turns out that the curtains in one of the bedrooms were hung on a piece of PVC pipe resting on two large screws. Pretty much anything I take apart is either Like That or else older than I am and possibly original to the house.)

    Since I’ve spent a LOT of time here over the past two years, and haven’t felt comfortable having people in the house to actually start any of the repairs yet, I now have a really long list of things that I would like to improve, ranging from the important (I would like the floor drain to not overflow when I use the washing machine, I would like the electrical system to be properly grounded) to the less important (I would like my bedroom and office to not be 4-5 degrees colder than the living room all winter, I would like the bathroom fan to work so I can stop leaving the window open during winter showers, I would like reasonable water pressure in the kitchen sink). I’m sure some of these repairs should be done before others based on how annoyed I am, others based on how much damage they’re causing, and still others based on the fact that they’d end up getting torn up in the process of fixing some other thing if I did them first, so they should wait. For example, I know I should replace the ancient tar paper in the crawl space with a more modern moisture barrier, and probably also some insulation, but it makes sense to get the plumbing and electrical work involving the crawl space done first.

    How do you figure out what to do in what order when there are so many things? Is there some profession where this is their job and they can be hired as a consultant? I feel like I’m trying to build a particularly complicated 3.5 ed D&D character, except that it’s also a great deal of real-world money and taking place in the place I sleep and have more of my money sunk into already than anything else I am ever likely to own. (Also I have no idea what I’m doing as this is the oldest house I’ve ever lived in and I never saw my parents manage this scope of home improvement work. They always bought recent construction and sometimes didn’t even repaint for decades.) I feel like I just don’t know how to get started.

    I would give up and buy a condo instead, but I know my personality and I’d end up on the condo board, where I would still have these problems but also now need to convince a group of reluctant people to spend money once solutions were identified.

    1. Not A Manager*

      The profession that immediately comes to mind is general contractor. Even if you want to act as your own GC, you could certainly do a thorough walk-through with a good GC. Just their casual input during that process would be helpful.

      If it were me, I’d utilize my network and sites like NextDoor to find two or three good GCs, walk through with each of them (take notes!), and ask them for ballpark bids on the work, broken down by phases and categories. You can decide which items you want to contract out yourself, and which ones make sense to have the GC manage and coordinate them.

      If I had one or two plumbing issues, for example, I’d hire a plumber. But if I had to extensively replace the pipes and upgrade the electric, with the ensuing need for opening and closing walls, etc. I’d probably have a GC manage all of that.

      1. Tea and Cake*

        If you are looking for a GC and aren’t sure where to start, you can reach out to the realtor who helped you buy the place for any referrals. It’s likely they will have a name or two for you to contact.

    2. Missb*

      I think you’re on the right path by realizing that you have some things that should be prioritized over others. Getting free quotes on projects is a good way to help prioritize and understand the scope of what you want to do.

      Did you get a home inspection when you bought the place? Have you read that report? It may be a good place to start.

      How much DIY do you want to do? Do you want to tackle wiring a new fan switch or pay an electrician to do it?

    3. IT Manager*

      I would suggest getting quotes for a “remodel”, and compare to pricing for the first few big picture items. There’s a point at which it becomes cost-inefficient to do things one at a time, bc you’re paying each time for getting someone to show up, opening up walls, closing and cleaning up. Depending on the size of your space, it may be worth just rehabbing a whole floor for example, including electric, plumbing, fixtures, maybe flooring.

      Or not, but it’s worth trying to get quotes.

      Otherwise I would suggest starting w plumbing/drains – that can ruin everything else if it gets worse.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      My husband is a GC. He frequently helps his clients navigate a list of projects when they can’t all be done at once, so a reputable GC should be able to help you break the work into manageable chunks.
      First priority would be anything that’s a safety issue, think plumbing, electrical, roof, foundation. Second are things that have an impact on your ability to function in and enjoy your space- like upgrading kitchen and bath, moving walls, adding storage, etc. Last would come cosmetic projects, like upgrading tile, flooring, paint, and trim.
      I would like to note that we’ve been living in a fixer upper for over 20 years, and just as the shoemaker’s children go barefoot, we have yet to get past the “safety issue” projects. Sadly, it appears that you can go on indefinitely with the ugliest flooring in the world! (This is not subjective, it’s a mustard yellow linoleum from the 70s!)

      1. ThatGirl*

        We have ugly yellowing, beat up vinyl flooring in our kitchen and entry and aging carpet in the living room and sadly, it does appear you can go on indefinitely with it, as we’ve instead spent money on things like new hvac and kitchen appliances over the last 10 years…

      2. Idyllic Gulag*

        “I would like to note that we’ve been living in a fixer upper for over 20 years, and just as the shoemaker’s children go barefoot, we have yet to get past the “safety issue” projects.”

        I feel this so hard. In my professional life, I’m managing construction on skyscrapers and high-profile projects, meanwhile our bedroom walls have been skim coated – but not textured or painted – for the last two years, the upstairs carpet is no longer technically attached, and what should have been a weeklong bathroom remodel is currently in its sixth month.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I had a bigger project like this, where an issue with our kitchen stove led us to remodel our basement!

      Long story short, the kitchen gas line wasn’t up to code, and they had to open the basement ceiling to fix it, and we wanted to remodel the basement anyway…there were a lot more steps in there, but even that still sounds simpler than your projects! I was able to visualize the order in my head, but I need to do that, I’m not good at writing things out, I need to understand things as a complete story.

      I’d say make a list of every thing, big or small, that you want done, number it, and start visualizing in your head what needs to be done for each item. When you realize that an item on the list would be better off waiting until another item is done, put a star in front of that item and the number of the dependency. When you’re done, you’ll see some items won’t have stars, those you can do any time, and the numbers you’ve noted the most are probably the ones to tackle first. Of course, if “3” shows up a lot, but 3 is dependent on 27, then see if 27 is dependent on anything else….it may not lead you to an absolute and perfectly clear order, but it should help.

    6. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      When you do reach out to people for quotes also look up their license on your state/jurisdiction website and check for complaints as well as type of license. I hired an electrician with great reviews online and a great manner when he gave me a (low) quote. Paid half up front (don’t do this) and then waited months and months and he never did the work and lied. And then I saw all the negative reviews. Businesses can remove google reviews etc like this guy did.

      I ultimately got my money back and the sheriff and state attorney general were involved but it set my project back 6 months. When I finally figured out how to look up his license he not only had complaints/action but he had a limited license that probably didn’t qualify him to do the work!

      Good luck! I have a new great electrician and plumber who I work with as things come up, but don’t waste time like I did.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Nextdoor can be pretty awful, but it is good for reviews of local businesses (and for buying/selling things locally). That’s the only time I go on there now.

      2. Squeakrad*

        I absolutely agree with This! We had some work done and in trying to find contractors, I saw that the most highly regarded contractor on next-door, Yelp and ETC had several liens against his license and was required to pay back several elderly homeowners.

    7. Idyllic Gulag*

      Sounds like the projects you’re looking at could go well beyond a cosmetic remodel. I’d agree with the suggestion to hire a pro, but do so with caution – plenty of residential GC’s expertise doesn’t extend beyond laying down a plank floor, tacking on some trim, and applying a fresh coat of paint-and-primer-in-one. You don’t mention a budget, but you’re at the level where involving a consulting engineer/building scientist could pay dividends down the line in the event you’re looking at deeper issues with the plumbing/electrical/structural systems of your house.

      In terms of prioritizing, it sounds like your head’s in the right place. Personally, my general hierarchy of project priority is:

      1. Hazards to life and safety: electrical grounding, in your case.
      2. Hazard to the structure – the floor drain that keeps backing up, the bath fan not properly exhausting. I’ve spent a large part of my career personally seeing the concealed damage moisture can cause, and it can be breathtaking.
      3. Comfort – HVAC unit/ducting. The 5-ish degrees cooler issue may be related to a lack of insulation/disconnected duct that’ll be resolved during crawl space work, unit may be undersized, etc.
      4. Cosmetic

      The way buildings systems relate and interconnect, it can be difficult to figure out a starting point on repairs. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a construction manager and sometimes still struggle with where to begin on projects in my own house

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Is there some profession where this is their job and they can be hired as a consultant?

      People who are fortunate have an experienced home remodeler in their friend/family circle, and ask her for advice. It might be worth putting out a general request just in case your coworker’s sister has some experience she’d share. Someone short of a professional you would hire for all remodeling, who has enough experience to say “I’d start with A, B can wait” or “You need to fix C before D.”

      Lacking that, I would just choose a corner and start there. Make a list of either the 5 most worrying things (e.g. electrical grounding) or the 5 most annoying things (e.g. low sink pressure) and start with the first item.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      There is a pecking order: Foundation first because there is no sense to fixing a house that is going to collapse. Roof second because there is no sense to repairing walls and floors if rain water will ruin them. It’s safer to have people on the roof once the foundation is secured. The pecking order goes on from there.

      Looking at your list here (and I realize it’s not comprehensive, I live in a 180 y/o school house, so I get it) it sounds like the most important thing is the electric. I’d have the line checked from the panel box back to where the service comes in the house. Do that first. All the other work is dependent on having a reliable, safe power source. So I would start there. Maybe the electrician could take care of that bathroom fan at the same time.

      Getting the plumbing updated might not be as horrible as it sounds. I had 75% of the pipes replaced and NO walls were cut. I saw an immediate difference in water pressure. In these really old homes plumbing came in long after the house was built, so the pipes can end up being pretty accessible, not buried like in newer homes.

      How I started:
      I relied on friends whose opinions I respected to find a reliable generalist type of person. Once I found this person he lead me to more trustworthy business people. Come to find out they all know each other and give each other work through referrals. This means there’s accountability. If my friend (the generalist) recommends Sam to do my roof and Sam screws it up, my friend will quit recommending Sam. Sam does not want that to happen, so Sam continues doing a good job each and every time.
      I hate saying this but you want someone who has been doing this work for A WHILE. This would be a person who doesn’t get rattled easily over code violations that are not YOUR fault and they know how to bring things back into code with relative ease.
      I ended up with a generalist that a friend knew. I started slow with smaller projects. I watched how he handled the smaller jobs. After a while, I decided to let him know I was looking for someone to come up with an overall plan to fix this house. I did not want to tear apart the same wall several times. I did not want to cross over already completed work as I could not afford to do things several times. He came up with a plan. He took the time to get inputs from people that HE respected then he gave me his plan.

      So start with the generalist. Find out what they do and don’t do. My friend does not do high roofs, furnaces or plumbing. I was okay with all that. And he did find people who would do the work. I am a big fan of going back to the same people. The plumber and oil company are folks I have been doing business with for decades.
      Never underestimate the power of two things: being kind and paying promptly. Those two things will come back to you many times over. You will get help quicker than other people or they will give you little bonuses here and there such as price reductions on stuff or just do a small repair at no charge. A jawdropping number of people are rude to contractors and/or slow in paying. It’s easy to avoid these pitfalls. And you can distinguish yourself in a sea full of potential customers.

      We worked on this house together for 2.5 years. It became my other job as I was up to midnight painting or pulling out carpet tacks or whatever I could to reduce labor costs. (I did a lot of those tasks that required little skill but lots of endurance.) I did not get everything on my list even in the areas that we worked on and I now consider as done. It’s trade offs and not every idea comes to fruition. I now see that a house needs a good make over probably every 25 years or so. I tried to encourage the idea that we set things up so the next make over is not as hard as this one. Happily, even now I benefit as repair areas are easier to access and it’s easier to do the repair if needed.

      If you are interested in recycling or cost cutting ideas be sure to tell your generalist. My friend reused old steam pipes to make closet rods. That alone saved me $100. He dismantled old cupboards and used the wood to make shelves in a storage type area. (I did not have to buy any wood for those shelves.) I also asked my friend to save the easy parts for me to do, to free up funds for him to do more of the difficult-to-me work. He had a steady list of paint this, pull nails out of that, and so on.

      Before I started, I spent many nights wide awake thinking about it all. Once underway, that whole story changed. Things got fixed and I was tired from working so I started sleeping more and worrying less. One thing I did that helped to channel the worry was to take a note book and write down what I wanted for each room in the house. This helped me to see common threads and it helped to settle my restless brain. For example, two rooms needed rugs. I realized I knew of an outlet and I would go there for the rugs when I was ready. I had them both delivered at the same time so this lowered the delivery fees. Things do fall together.

      1. Hanani*

        Your comments about being kind and paying on time are so important. I’ll also add, assuming the feeling is genuine, show your excitement when something is improved or finished. I had some plumbing work done that made it dramatically easier for me to tend to my water softener and water filter, and said as much. The shift in my plumber’s demeanor from that point forward was dramatic – he did great work the whole time, but he was noticeably more comfortable and friendly with me after I got excited over my new and improved pipes.

        Once you find a good person (preferably a GC, but really any single good person can get you started), their recommendations and referrals are gold. And I recommend offering things like cold water/sports drinks, use of your fridge if you’re comfortable, lunch one day, small things like that – my GC rearranged his schedule to coordinate with a frustrating specialist who I was dealing with, I got the crew lunch as a thank-you, and discovered that apparently no one does that. Invest in the relationship for the long term.

      2. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

        This is an excellent write up. I totally agree, houses need updating periodically but so many people just don’t. My hobby is surfing realtor.com ( I cannot afford to buy a house but I like to look) and it’s amazing how many houses are just yuck at this point. And I also work for an insurance carrier, so I see pictures and notes about how the homeowner is denied claims because the roof is older than dirt, among other things. Or the plumbing burst because the pipes are also 50 years old, and they want us to pay for that. This is not good, folks.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Aging population. I did all this work when I was 55. I will be 80 in 25 years and it will be time to redo everything again. So yeah, backslide. It’s amazing how small a role cleanliness plays here. My friend has an immaculate house- eat off the floors kind of clean. The furnace needs help, the roof is shot, the trees are way too big and on and on. She is 80 plus, so yeah, nothing is getting done. This one is not a money issue, it’s an energy and comprehension issue. But the house is so clean it’s awesome.

          I don’t feel I can complain too much. These old houses are often times a point of entry into the housing market for first time home owners. This here was our first (and only home) and it was the previous owner’s first place. We all did something to improve the house and property. Hopefully in the future the next owner will do the same.

    10. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

      An expert to look at it is a good idea.
      But this is an unregulated area (argh).

      I would totally give you my thoughts if i could see your place, but covid and i have no idea where you live.

      Get referrals from people you know and get them to have a look at the house and advise (preferably in writing). But as you are not an expert on this you will have trouble telling what to do and in what order and what it should cost.

      As for the basement overflow, if you can get a product called Green Gobbler give it a try as it saved me a plumber for my issue. The competitors i have tried have not been as good but it worked great. Though somehow it takes longer than recommended, i left it overnight, it did something but a few days later its like it the lines really opened. A second treatment should fully clear the lines.
      All assuming the plumbing is just clogged, if there is no stack or the diameter is insufficient then it won’t work. But its a cheap $20 effort.

      Finally make an account over at Green Building Advisor and ask a question, they have some smart people over there who can advise.

  6. Kiwiapple*

    So…who is following the Australian Tennis debacle with Novak Djokovic (World No.1 male player in the world)? IMO, I don’t think anyone comes out of this situation looking good – not Djokovic, not the Australian Tennis Authority, not the various parliamentary people involved…nobody.

    1. Bazza7*

      The only person who caused this is Djokovic. If his tennis ranking was a lot lower, they would of told him to stay at home and don’t bother flying to Australia.

      1. Observer*

        No, the idiots who gave him an exemption are equally to blame. I mean, seriously?! The Australians have had some of the most draconian measures in place, and they have really refused to budge in even smaller things for people with much greater need. But HE gets a pass? In a situation where he has a choice?! Whoever approved the initial exemption should be fired and whoever approved the approval, too. All the way up the chain.

        It doesn’t matter how high his ranking is. It should have been a hard no from the beginning.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Personally, I’m enjoying the rare spectacle of meatheads fired up about something more important than sport.

      I *would* have enjoyed the political backpedal show, but at this point it has all the novelty of a Jerry Bruckheimer plot line and I’m bored.

    3. Doctor is In*

      I was furious when I read that they were giving him a medical exemption! A real slap in the face of all the Australians who were shut in for so long. Glad they changed their minds.

    4. The Dogman*

      Not surprised at all, he is into homeopathy so he is an owner of a low powered brain.

      The tennis authority just want to make as much money as possible, so while they were wrong to invite him non-vaccinated it is pretty understandable from the point of view of capitalism really.

      I am glad he cannot play, I have had enough of selfish people getting their own way on this stuff!

      1. Observer*

        so while they were wrong to invite him non-vaccinated it is pretty understandable from the point of view of capitalism really.

        Nope. Even capitalists can have ethics. And capitalism is not exactly mutually exclusive with intelligence. These guys can’t just make up any rules they want about who can enter the country. Even if they thought they could someone manage to slip this under the radar, how did these idiots not realize how the publicity would play out?

        1. The Dogman*

          The important phrase you used was “can have ethics” I know they can, but very often they don’t.

          1. Observer*

            True. But since it’s not a given, it’s worth noting. More important and relevant, as I said, most successful capitalists have some brains. And, aside from being ethically moronic, it was a decidedly STUPID thing to do.

            How did they NOT expect the blowback? They are not the ones who runs the border control (whatever it’s called in Australia), so how did they expect the insure that the folks there would fall in line?

            1. The Dogman*

              ” so how did they expect the insure that the folks there would fall in line?”

              They either didn’t care, assuming others would just go along, after all he is famous, or they were told one thing by someone who then didn’t have the power to get him a pass I suspect.

              Intelligence is tempered by greed, when huge money is on the line, and their reputations (and future ability to tap into large wealth streams like global sports), then they make rookie mistakes when bowing to the greed.

              Plus some of them will be tennis morons, the type who think tennis is way more important than, say, a global pandemic… after all seeing some overpaid, over-adored geneticially gifted idiots smack a bouncy ball around is vital… caring about 2+ million dead and tens of millions permanently harmed is just boring I suppose.

              1. Laura Petrie*

                Please don’t use the word ‘moron’. It’s an awful term with racist and ableist origins.

              1. Laura Petrie*

                No, moron is an offensive term. I don’t want to look anything up on YouTube thanks. Perhaps you should look up the reasons why it is racist and ableist?

              2. fhqwhgads*

                He didn’t “win”. The hearing was to determine if his visa processing were improper/didn’t follow protocol. Unfortunately, it was not about whether he lied on his application (sure looks like he did, twice) or whether it should be approved or not. The outcome this morning was basically “yes protocol broken”.
                That said apparently there is a minister who does have the authority to revoke the visa and still may.

    5. londonedit*

      As Nadal said, Djokovic could very easily fix this situation himself. He absolutely doesn’t deserve to be able to flout the rules just because he thinks he’s special. Australia has dealt with horrendous lockdowns and they have every right to refuse entry to people who won’t comply with vaccination requirements.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      “The main thing to remember is, this is very funny.”

      — paraphrase of the discussion I saw yesterday

    7. LDN Layabout*

      Everyone involved is an idiot, but the backstory is someone who was essentially failed by the doctors, got healed by a quackery adjacent doctor and then went full into the anti science lifestyle.

      If the past two years have proven anything it’s that homeopathy and all the adjacent wellness bullshit industry are a cancer.

    8. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I’ve been following it, and I got (figure skating) Stockholm 2021 flashbacks. Although Stockholm was even worse, because despite the absence of public there was no quarantine, no mask mandate, nothing. If it was anxiety inducing for the fans, I can’t imagine how the participants and the teams must have felt.

        1. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

          Crossing my fingers and toes that no one else tests positive, but odds are that someone will!

          1. LDN Layabout*

            Multiple people have already tested positive and people who are close contacts are not being withdrawn. It’s a WHOLE mess, including unmasked musical performers in the skater hotel.

            Check Christine Brennan’s twitter feed for an overview.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        As if the litany of injuries during this season was not enough… * facepalm *

        1. LDN Layabout*

          I know USFS are useless, but they appear to actively want their skaters not to be able to get to the Olympics.

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      Absolutely no sympathy for Djokovic at all.

      Like Nadal said, he knew what was needed to play at the Australian Open and he chose not to do so. He’s free to do as he pleases with regards to the vaccine but his actions have consequences and these are the consequences. He doesn’t get an exemption because he’s a talented player, especially not when Australia has been through very severe lockdowns.

      Yes, the ATA shouldn’t have told him he could play based on having Covid in December but he can very easily fix the situation now. The fact he doesn’t and is preferring to be seen as a martyr for the cause of vaccine scepticism drives my sympathy below ground.

    10. KeinName*

      I‘ve heard his father compared him to Jesus or some such matyr person, which shows a not very sensible approach to matters.

      1. banoffee pie*

        He called him the new Spartacus last time I looked; he may have gone even further since for all I know!

    11. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      On the other side, there is at least one person who can’t compete because Sputnik V is not allowed in Australia.

      1. Observer*

        That I have some sympathy for. I’m not sure I trust the Russian claims about it, but that really is not the fault of the person who got the shot.

        But it makes the ATA’s action even worse. It’s not like they don’t know the deal.

    12. Marion Ravenwood*

      Honestly, at the risk of sounding trite, I feel like Nelson Muntz going ‘ha-ha!’. I wasn’t particularly surprised by the original decision to give him the exemption, but something about Djokovic – who’s come across throughout this pandemic and even before that as seeming like he thinks he’s somehow superior to everyone else (running tournaments during the first wave etc) – being treated like anyone else trying to enter the country and not being seen as ‘special’ is immensely satisfying. If he’s not willing to comply with the country’s rules for entry, then that’s on him and there are consequences for those actions.

      However I suspect he’ll be allowed to enter the country and play the tournament, not do very well, and then complain about the stress of quarantine being the reason why. Which might well be partly true, but isn’t likely to win him any favours, and I get the impression that other than among hardcore Djokovic fans his reputation has tanked anyway.

    13. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      The alternative is going full Japanese and ban all foreigners from their country, no matter if they are tourists, athletes, workers, students or a native’s spouse.

    1. tangerineRose*

      She’s so cute! She looks like she’s holding it tightly so no other kitty will take it.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alison’s feline photos are fabulous, and this is my favorite to date.
      ( apparently I am into alliteration today)

    3. voluptuousfire*

      The cat pics are my favorite and Olive especially. I have an obsession with calicos and Olive just looks so soft. Alison, is her fur as soft as it looks?

    4. Anono-me*

      This is one of my most favorite photos that you have ever posted.

      Since worst boss of the year voting needed to be canceled; may we have a cutest kitty photo vote off instead please?

    5. Dwight Schrute*

      Olive looks like she’s ready to swat anyone who tries to take this from her! She’s adorable

  7. Anon and alone*

    They say that “Necessity is the mother of invention”. So what have you cobbled together out of what you have on hand because you needed this thing right now? I’ll go first.
    After I broke my wrist in July of 2020, I needed a way to pour a 2-liter bottle one-handed. Yes, there are handles to do just that. I couldn’t find one locally, Amazon had a delivery date that would have been after my cast came off, so I made one. Out of zip ties. Six medium zip ties, one for around the neck, three for the bottom loop and two for the handle which I padded with some of that foam that comes in sheets. Ugly, but it worked. (Yes, I kept it because you never know.)
    So what did you make and how well did it work?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I hemmed a skirt with staples while wearing it because I didn’t realize it was falling apart until after I got to work. The worst (best?) part is that I kept forgetting to fix it properly at home so I would wear it with staples AGAIN and be like oh, right…

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I hemmed a pair of black pants with bright colored mini binder clips — I was kinda bummed to take them off and do a proper job, the flash of color was fun :)

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        I did something similar! My dog chewed a hole in my weighted blanket, yay glass beads everywhere, I didn’t have a sewing kit so I stapled it and then never got around to actually sewing it and it still has the staples

    2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      As mentioned in my thread above, my washing machine will overflow the floor drain when it drains. Since it drains into the utility sink rather than a regular washing machine drain (I’m told that this isn’t that weird, but I’d never seen that before moving here), I have pandemic-solved this problem with two buckets from Dollar Tree. I listen for the sound of running water, grab the filled bucket, slide the other bucket under the washer hose (still inside the utility sink, which catches the overflow), dump the full bucket down the shower drain in the adjacent bathroom, and repeat this process while questioning my life choices.

      It works in that the floor drain no longer overflows.

      (Pre-pandemic, I did laundry at my dad’s house every weekend while we hung out, had dinner, and watched tv since I wasn’t yet completely moved into my own house yet and he lives nearby. I didn’t know about that particular drain issue, but I was not originally planning on using the washing machine that came with the house rather than replacing it as part of my deep cleaning and move-in process. I had gotten as far as removing it and storing it in the garage pre-pandemic, but thankfully decided to wait until I had my new washer and dryer set installed before actually giving away the ancient ones that came with the house. The dryer is still in the garage as I did throw away the cheap fire-hazard plastic dryer vent conduit the previous owner had attached to it, so I’ve been line-drying all of my clothes for two years now since I don’t want to deal with buying a new vent conduit and re-installing the dryer until I have my actual appliances.)

      FWIW, the previous owner appears to have solved the same drain issue by putting plastic wrap over the drain cover. The fun day when I discovered this is beyond the scope of this thread.

      1. The Dogman*

        Call a plumber now… DO NOT MESS ABOUT WITH WATER LEAKS… the unseen damage can be extensive really fast.

        If a drain is not draining fast enough it needs unblocking or if the pipe is too small either relaying with a larger drainpipe or rerouting to a drain that can cope.

        Seriously, get a plumber ASAP.

          1. The Dogman*

            Ooooooof.

            That is awful, and that is a fast, single incident one… the slow, creeping rot ones can be way more expensive too!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          For more information, this particular flooring and defective drain is tile over concrete slab, in a garage-adjacent utility room with adjacent 2nd bathroom rather than in the main house or over the crawlspace. I would be much less cavalier about this if it were in the actual house! Also, the current solution works with no overflows since April 2020 when I started the bucket method.

          The plumber has already dug up the related outside pipe once, and whoever decided to install the covered but full of dry rot outdoor entertaining structure in the backyard (with included plumbed sink and electrical outlets) back in probably the 1960s did not put any gravel under the sewer pipe when they replaced it and it back-graded itself as the ground shifted. The new pipe is mostly graded correctly, but there was a limited amount they could do without digging it up all the way to the street rather than just in the area between the house and the fence that we thought would solve the problem we’d identified at the time (which was that the house plumbing would repeatedly back up that same floor drain and/or clog at the backgraded section – this is now fixed, except that the house pipes will clog if all showers are taken in the utility bathroom for an extended time, as the non-original low-flow toilet in the actual house does not send enough water down for the sewer pipe grade grade unless you also shower in the house bathroom at least once a week to introduce more water – these showers do not cause the floor drain to overflow, FWIW, which is part of why I think it might be some weird situation where the utility sink is creating some horrible synergy with the nearby floor drain, maybe because the sink lacks an air vent or something).

          I suspect the current issue is either that the utility sink is too close to the drain and creating localized high pressure when the (non-HE) washer dumps a bunch of water at once and fills the sink or that the drain itself is too close to the level of the sewer pipe (and probably needs a one way valve on it, as well), but any serious troubleshooting of that will involve breaking up a concrete slab and then me getting to install all-new tilework, and we might as well also open the wall and install a proper washer drain while we’re at it, and also fix the Myst puzzle under the utility sink by breaking out the THREE pairs of knobs under there from the same line that all control different things (washer, utility sink, outdoor sink) to their own easier to access knobs, and so on…and probably me having to live somewhere else while my house has no plumbing for a substantial time, so it’s waiting until the pandemic is more settled since my current work-around means nothing is coming up through the drain while I wait.

      2. Just me*

        I had a similar issue with my utility sink. My solution was a cheap small submersible Rule pump with a float switch, placed in the sink with a hose leading to the shower drain in the bathroom. Worked really well until we got a plumber, which took a while due to COVID-related stuff.

    3. Lizzie*

      This may be more relevant to Seven Hobbits – this was to reuse the washing machine water (summer in Australia). I cut about two feet off the end of a garden hose and managed to squash and duct tape one end of the piece into the drain pipe of the washer. Then I attached a hose pipe click fitting to the other end of this short piece, and another hose pipe click fitting to the longer piece. Then I clicked the two pieces together and put the hose end out of the bathroom window and out onto the ‘garden’. The washer then drained outside and kept the plum tree alive. I was using low-whatever washing powder so the plants didn’t mind it. When the washing was finished I unclicked the hoses and chucked the main length out of the window and closed it and the short length stayed attached to the washer drainpipe.
      I wonder if something like that might work for you, Seven hobbits, so you didn’t have the empty buckets but could just have one length of hose pipe attached to your washer with the other end snaking around to the other, functional room drain. Or out of the window!

      1. KateM*

        We had once a pipe leaking. Badly leaking. I put under it a funnel, attached to it a pipe, and that pipe ran through all the house out of back door (because we didn’t want to leave the front door open overnight; the plumber could come only next morning). At least we didn’t drown, our garden probably did.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was late for a plane at a tiny airport. Rushing, I didn’t properly tie my laces when I put my shoes back on after passing through security. In a hurry I stepped on a shoelace, fell, and knew immediately I had broken a bone in my dominant right arm. I explained to the concerned strangers who helped me up that as a wilderness first responder, I was able to do a self-assessment and recognize I was in good enough shape to get on the plane. I could get on plane one, wait at my layover, get on plane two, and go to the emergency room when I got home rather than right now.

      My emergency splints were the tray tables I folded down on the two flights. The other makeshift splint I used when I was walking around was the cushion I had brought to sit on. I wedged it between my arm and my torso during my layover when I sought out a bag of ice from a food vendor, and as I navigated the shuttle to my car when I got to my destination.

      For some extra fun, my car parked near the airport had a dead battery. The kind AAA service guy charged the battery while I looked up the closest emergency room and he started my car for me since I couldn’t. While I discovered that is indeed possible to drive a stick shift with a broken elbow, I don’t recommend it.

    5. CreepyPaper*

      One of my dogs snapped his lead when we were out for a walk once so we walked home with a makeshift lead made from a bunch of dog poop bags tied together…

      To Rambo’s credit, he didn’t run off. He could quite easily have done (he’s a German Shepherd and is Not Small) but I think merely the sensation of having something on his harness made him behave! Now I carry spare leads in my dog walk bag!

      1. fposte*

        Similarly, I used a winter jacket to make a makeshift lead for an obviously distressed and person-searching small stray dog. (It turned out he’d broken away from home under the lax supervision of an indifferent dogsitter. He was about two miles away from that home when we found him.)

    6. Bookgarden*

      Not my doing, but my partner crafted a plumbing snake using a neon pink CAT5 cable and electrical tape after my MIL managed to detach and flush a disposable toilet wand cleaner head down our toilet and it became lodged in the pipe.

      Not only did it work beautifully, we disinfected it and now have it stored in a bag in the garage if something like that happens again.

      1. Bookgarden*

        Just want to add that I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you have better options! It scratched our toilet a little bit. You can barely see the scratches with our toilet color, and we are planning to replace it in the future so it was not a big deal for us, but the potential for damage exists.

    7. StellaBella*

      I broke my shoulder in September and for a couple of weeks was unable to take a proper shower. I got a bath mat, and a plastic step stool with rubber feet to place in the bath tub to take a shower sitting down using the shower hose with one hand.

    8. Missb*

      Currently ripping out our kitchen- we started the process on New Year’s Day. I have culled/packed away all the things I think I can do without for the near future. I’ve set up two rolling racks (metro, nsf stainless multi shelf racks) that I usually use for seed starting. The racks are in the dining room and serve as temporary “cabinets” for all the stuff we need on a daily basis like dishes, cups, silverware.

      The cast iron sink cabinet was removed this week, and we propped it up on a work table that came with the house. The work table was in the basement and had a butcher block top on it so we removed the top, added some bracing and then set the very heavy sink down on it and replumbed. It works but it isn’t pretty. I have some Formica counter on each side- like mere inches, some jagged edges. It’s all very ugly but I’d like to have a sink as long as I can, which won’t be long as we are having new hardwood put down. Once the flooring lumber arrives from the mill, we will switch to washing dishes in the utility sink in the basement.

      Kitchen remodels suck. But this one is staged enough that we can cobble together a semi functional kitchen for a bit.

    9. OtterB*

      My husband had a bad fall and was in the hospital with a broken leg, shoulder, and wrist on the opposite side from his shoulder. He couldn’t reach the patient-accessible buttons that raised and lowered the head of the bed. I took in a wooden kitchen spoon that he could use to press the buttons.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I have used bamboo skewers for a lot of things — putting them in screw holes and breaking them flush so the screw will hold, cleaning a Shark vac and its metal filter, splinting things — so much that I bought a pack just to keep in my tool box.

      Zip ties are also right up there, and to me they’re not necessarily an interim fix. A grill fell off of a one-room heater/AC unit we have (a lot like those you find in hotel rooms), and I reattached it with zip ties rather than trying to find the custom plastic “screw” this unit uses.

      Oh, this one is even better…we had a TV on an old dresser in the bedroom. When we had to replace the TV, I found a ~18″ wire shelf, used a staple gun to attach it to the top of the dresser (which was a curb rescue from decades ago), and zip tied the TV’s feet to the shelf unit. The zip ties were added after a cleaning person knocked the TV off the shelf unit, and to be fair to them, it does hang off a couple of inches.

    11. Morning reader*

      A cat door I made in my front screen door by cutting out the bottom panel and rigging overlapping screens in the space. It involves a bamboo stick cut to the right length, some duct tape and twist ties. Not an emergency but I didn’t have to replace the whole screen door and the cats love it. (Enclosed front porch they can’t get out of, I have to remember to keep the gate shut and they are too old to jump the railing.)

    12. lissajous*

      Had just moved house, and was putting some of my Ikea Expedits back together, only to find that some of the dowels had snapped off in transit.
      A combination of drilling and chipping (and nearly starting a fire the very old fashioned way – the ends of some of the dowels were blackened from the friction heat!) got the dowels out, and replacements dowels were got from Ikea (they were an odd size – standard metric dowel didn’t fit).
      However, what with all the chipping, those holes were now larger than they had been, but not so large that match sticks would work to fill the gap properly.
      I ended up tearing strips of packing paper – which I had plenty of, having just moved – winding that around the dowel, and then sliding the dowel into place. If I’d put a bit too much into place, the outer layer or two of the spiral of paper would just not fit in the hole and were easy to trim off.
      Those shelves are still holding steady four years later, despite the best efforts of a cat who loves jumping onto the top of them.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      I was once out and about with my toddler when I had to change my pad, my period being unusually heavy that day. I thought I had put and extra pad in the diaper bag, but … nope. I had a moment of panic in the bathroom stall. Then I stuck a diaper in my underwear and waddled through the rest of my errands.
      Not the most comfortable, but I guess it did the job.

      1. Missb*

        Ha! That reminds me of the time I took my kids hiking around Silver Falls State Park in Oregon. They were toddlers and very active so we took a hike on the shorter waterfall loop. One of them insisted on running ahead and he fell and scrapped his knee on the gravel.

        Did I have a bandage in my backpack? Nope, but I did have a pad and you know what? They staunch the blood flow of a big scraped knee just fine. The boys were too young to realize what I was using.

        1. Morning reader*

          Pads are so useful and improvisable! I was camping, sleeping in the back of my pickup once when it started to rain and drip inside the bed of the truck. (I had the top window open for the air.) stuck a pad where the drip was, conveniently one of those with a sticky side and “wings,” and it lasted most of the night. I still keep a couple in my first aid kit.

          I agree Cat’s Ass won the thread here :)

          1. Fellow Traveller*

            Yes, I agree! If pads weren’t such an unnecessarily stigmatized item, I’m sure everyone would realize how useful they are to have on hand!

      2. Salymander*

        When I was a teenager, I was homeless for a time. I had no money for food or shelter, let alone pads or tampons. Wads of toilet paper were about the best I could do. When I was having a ridiculously heavy period and that didn’t work, I was fortunate to have found a roll of duct tape. I cut a couple of strips of tape and placed them side by side, overlapping about a half inch, layered toilet paper and some cotton from a bottle of aspirin on top, and folded the sides of tape up to hold the paper and cotton in place. It worked really well, was surprisingly somewhat comfortable, and stayed in place without any problem. Also, it was totally leakproof unlike any of the products available to buy. I know that the whole homeless 14 year old situation sounds pretty grim, but I was really proud of myself for my duct tape pad invention.

        1. moss*

          Thanks for this story! You are resilient and innovative. I’m sorry you had to face that esp being so young but good job!

    14. Sunshine*

      My three year old asked Santa for bear in a cave. I found cute bear figurines but no caves anywhere. The 23rd and 24th was a rush of paper mache. I learned you can fast dry in the oven. And having lots of shipping supplies and packing paper it was both recycled and super strong.
      She opened is and said “I always wanted this. “
      Success.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        This is so sweet! My 6yo asked Santa for a skateboard with a mermaid and dolphin on it. Santa managed to find an Etsy decal that miraculously matched the color scheme of a non-aquatic skateboard perfectly!

    15. Not So NewReader*

      A family member was in the hospital with a serious illness. She managed to get into the bathroom and use the facilities, but found she could not stand up once she was done. She tugged on the pull cord they have in bathrooms now and no one answer. She tugged several times. Finally she remembered she had her cell phone in her robe pocket. She found the main number for the hospital and called that number. The main desk called the nursing station on her floor. The nurses found her in good spirits and helped her up. Fortunately this was a patient with an excellent sense of humor and everyone was chuckling about her clever solution before all was said and done.

    16. anon for this*

      During a period of my job being so relentless that I barely had time to buy groceries, I developed painful tendinitis in one finger on one hand and any bending hurt a lot, so I needed to improvise a splint. I couldn’t find a chopstick or a dowel, but cardboard wasn’t rigid enough, and most of the household objects I thought of were too long or too wide or both. Finally, I took a row of unused staples (still stuck together), wrapped medical tape around them a bunch of times, faced that away from the finger in question, and taped it to my finger. Perfect. I ended up enjoying the fact that after I recovered, I just got rid of the tape and was still able to use the staples normally.

    17. the cat's ass*

      I used a newspaper (theyre sterile on the inside), nail clippers and dental floss (to cut and tie off the umbilical cord) to deliver a baby at a bus stop in 1982.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At the start of the pandemic, I Macguyvered a yarn ball winder & swift. It mostly worked, although the tension wasn’t the greatest. I honestly can’t remember exactly how these all fit together now: A lazy susan. A gallon of water. A vertical paper towel dispenser. An 18″ cook’s chopstick. 4 coathangers. And a lot of rubber bands.

    19. Almost Academic*

      A couple of loop / hook gadgets for picking up and moving nuclear fuel rods. Once because there was a dropped rod at the bottom of our fuel tank that we couldn’t access with our usual fuel handling tool (and we couldn’t just leave there either), once because we had received a shipment of specialty fuel that we were not going to use in our facility but needed to be able to transfer between casks. It’s actually amazing the number of items we cobbled together out of whatever was laying around at that job, but I guess that’s what happens when you have a lot of excited engineers in a room and not much in the way of locally accessible purpose-built tooling.

      (this all was very safe, I promise! No real risk to us or to the general public)

  8. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.
    After a long absence due to being busy and of course the holidays I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I would have liked.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I recently stumbled across a good book on how to write a book proposal for “serious nonfiction,” which seems to mean the market that hovers between academic and trade presses. “Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction” by Susan Rabiner. This is right in my wheelhouse. Most such guides are for trade fiction, which does not apply to me, so this discovery grabbed my attention. It explains what agents and publishers are looking for, which is not at all obvious from the outside. The listing of comparable books, for example, is a marketing question, not artistic or scholarly. The proper response is not to show how you have an original and unique contribution to the field, but to show books that appealed to the same target market–preferable books that sold really well. There is a lot of nerdview, leading to the parties talking past one another with frustration all around. So a translation from the nerdview is very helpful.

      I am thinking of dusting off my football history book proposal. I had shopped it around desultorily, but set it aside when no one nibbled. (Spoiler: American football did not spring forth from the head of Walter Camp, and Teddy Roosevelt did not single-handedly save it.) I have the tools now to produce a proposal more in line with what agents and publishers are looking for.

      In the meantime, I am still plugging away on my early baseball history. The manuscript is not due until next September. I anticipate having it done in plenty of time. I am an eternal optimist.

    2. The Dogman*

      Better than is has.

      Now I need to make serious decisions about what to include and what not to use…

      And that is going to be difficult!

    3. Maryn B.*

      This morning I got back the beta reader feedback on the third book of a series I’d hoped was polished and ready. My reader was more than enthusiastic about the book and its characters, but also voiced some valid objections to some of the things they did or did not do/say/think, the way I phrased a few things, my assumption that the reader would know what something was, that sort of thing.

      I need to make a master list of all the flaws she noted that I agree could benefit from change (at least seventy-five percent of her ideas are terrific, and ten percent more are damned good) and go through the series from the start, making tweaks, additions, changes, and a few deletions. This will take two months, maybe more, but if it goes well, they’ll be ready by early spring.

        1. Maryn B.*

          I found my beta reader at AbsoluteWrite.com/forums. (Transparency: I’m a moderator there.) Two other people have beta read the first of the three books. One had almost no input, the second told me what she liked and didn’t like, but this one, wow. She’s awesome and raises some excellent point that need to be addressed.

          It helps you get a beta reader if you become someone who participates at the board for what you write–novels, scripts, short stories, whatever–and for your genre (romance, westerns, fantasy, etc.) before you seek betas. New arrivals need to have fifty posts to ask for volunteers, but people who rushed to get in their fifty posts don’t usually find anyone eager to do them such a huge favor.

          One way to increase the odds of getting a beta reader is doing critiques and offering yourself as a beta reader. There’s no post requirement to do either one.

    4. RagingADHD*

      My next project started the drafting phase. The challenge with this one is that the interviewee started very early in the brainstorming phase, rather than having their ideas and goal already clear in their head.

      Once we (finally) planned the topics, I did my best to keep each topic discrete and move theough the material in a logical order, but they are just one of those thinkers where everything is connected to everything else.

      Writing this one is going to be like sorting a massive drawer full of random bolts, screws, tiny washers, ketchup packets, ball bearings, and jewelry beads. I planned out my work to try to avoid a crunch at the end, but my brain keeps switching off when I look at the material. I’m already 14 hours behind my plan, and it’s only week 1.

    5. just another bureaucrat*

      I opened my files this week. It doesn’t sound like much and I didn’t type a word but I at least opened them and looked at them again. It’s been too long and I’ve lost a lot so I’m trying to be kind with myself about getting back to it. I’m having trouble envisioning characters or situations so I’m trying to read some, which doesn’t sound like writing but I stand by is part of good writing is consumption of other kinds. Or at least that’s what I told myself this week.

    6. beep beep*

      I started working on a round-robin fic project! (A bunch of people signed up and were assigned teams by the organizer.) I don’t know the other people in my group very well and I’ve never really done this before but we’re working on outlining what we want and it’s been interesting. Timezones are surprisingly hard to work around, though I suppose I should have expected it in an entirely online community :P

    7. Forensic13*

      I’m actually on an individual writing retreat (I got a cheap place for myself for the weekend) to work on a neglected book and it’s going well so far! I’m sorting out a lot of things and found that I had more written than I thought!

    8. Bookish Me*

      I’m a bit late to the thread, but I finished my very first book. I’ve finished the first draft and I’ve put it aside. Ideally I’ll go back and edit it in March. I’ve started researching and outlining for a new series idea I have. It’s going to be a lot of research to do it well but I’m excited.

      1. Maryn B.*

        That approach of setting a completed novel aside for a good long while works for me. I need to read it as if I hadn’t written it if I want to see everything that isn’t working. Best of luck.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I intended to work mostly on conlang but I find myself plotting instead. Honestly, I have so much work to do on it that I’m tempted to not have a full-on speakable language and just keep it basic in the context of the story. It’s hard to even think about it when all I can focus on is the hunt for thing-we-don’t-talk-about-on-weekends. I feel like I should always be scanning listings rather than doing other things and it makes me super anxious.

  9. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this is not limited to video games, so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    Due to being busy and the holidays, I didn’t get in much game time, and even the Steam sales didn’t manage to entice me to spend too much. I did get myself a game called 7 Billion Humans, which is an amusing puzzle game that teaches the principles of programming.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      I’m counting down the days to Pokemon Legends: Arceus. I’m excited about what an ancient Pokemon world looks like, even if it’s not a true open world.

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        Oh yes! From the trailers it looks rather ugly, but I’m so excited to play it. Hopefully they’ll change the formula enough that it feels fresh, but not too much so it still feels like Pokemon.

    2. CatCat*

      I’ve been playing a lot of Beat Saber. I was dismayed to discover the extra music packs I bought cannot be shared with other users in my household on the same VR headset (though the base game can) so I won’t be buying anymore extra music.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        That’s frustrating. We only ever play Beat Saber on my husband’s Steam account so I wouldn’t have thought to check this. I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of the BTS, Billie Eilish, and Timbaland music packs.

    3. LDN Layabout*

      Still deep in FFXIV and leveling up the gathering/crafting jobs. It’s such a soothing process.

    4. Nicki Name*

      I finished Hades! I mean actually finished the main plot, not the part where you get to the credits!

      And I just learned about 80 Days, which sounds very much like my kind of game.

      1. Suprisingly ADHD*

        Ooh Hades immediately became one of my favorite games when it came out! I’ve nearly 100% it using “god mode”, I’m just working on the last few (very difficult) challenges. It’s definitely worth playing to the end of the full story!

      2. Sammy Keyes*

        This is super late in the week for this thread, but 80 days is my favorite game OF ALL TIME. It’s absolutely delightful and I’ve replayed it at least 40 times, discovering new story paths each time. You are going to have a ball!

    5. First of 5*

      After the video game intervention my kids staged for me (they WANT me to play) I’ve been playing Stardew Valley. Still getting lost when I wander past the store, but getting better. My daughter printed out Study Guides for me and asks if I’ve done my homework yet.
      My son is flying home today so we will start playing together online next week.

      1. Ildrummer*

        That’s so sweet! Thanks for being a good sport about it and meeting them in THEIR comfort zone.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      I finally got fed up with my Blizzard games failing to update and reinstalled them. Then started playing WoW Classic: Burning Crusade. Maybe it’s just the server I’m on, but I have yet to see another PC.

    7. Double A*

      I’m not very into video games, but my husband is and was growing up. As a teacher I’ve had a lot of students really neglect school and any other activities because of gaming. So I’m a little leery of video games. I just provide this as background, not to open a discussion of the merits of gaming because I am looking for recommendations but am a little nervous about it!

      This being said, video games will be a part of our lives, and I do like some of them. We have a switch and I play Animal Crossing. The only other game we have is Katamari Demasi.

      We have a 3 year old, and she likes watching us play those games, but I’m starting to wonder if there are any good games that she could actually play WITH us? Preferably on the switch. Needs to be something simple and a team game. I want to really hold off on any independent play games for a long time and establish video games as a group/family activity first.

      Thanks for any recs!

      1. Tegan*

        Mario Party is very easy to play and a fun group/family activity, my 3 year old can do some of the mini games well!

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Also voting for Mario Party and possibly Mario Kart, though the latter may be a tad difficult for her at the moment, and considering her age it might also be worth looking into games based on children’s shows (like the Peppa Pig one if she likes that). They might not be multiplayer, but you could always just sit there with her and interact with her while she’s playing. If I’m not mistaken the Peppa Pig game even has an option for parental controls to set how long you want your kid to be able to play at a time (say, for example, thirty minutes), and Peppa will stop the game once that time limit is reached.
        Another alternative, if you’re up for it, is having her interact in a different way. For example, when playing Animal Crossing, you can ask her to identify colours or animals by having her say the name of a colour/animal every time she spots it on screen. Doesn’t have to be specific like “peacock” or “crow” either – “bird” can suffice.

    8. DarthVelma*

      Well, I’ve fallen back down the Destiny 2 hole. I made cookies for all the NPCs just before this year’s Season of Light ended. Now I’m trying to do all the important bits from seasons I skipped to get the good weapons and see the important story beats before the new expansion comes out in February and they vault practically everything.

      I think the time away really helped me be willing to re-engage. It was getting really grindy before. Now I have tons of stuff to do. I’m sure it’ll eventually get grindy again…but at least for now I’m hooked again.

      1. DrKMnO4*

        Welcome back guardian! You can skip Season of the Hunt stuff, since the initial cutscene/mission is pretty much the only important part. Season of the Chosen is top tier, as is Season of the Splicer. If you want someone to play with, I’m always happy to help out a fellow guardian. Lmk if you’re interested and I can give you my Bungie name.

    9. The Dude Abides*

      Jumped back into MTGO to refamiliarize myself with the interface that sorely needs an overhaul. Found a pauper storm list that looks a blast to play and am building it in paper and online, but for the latter will probably wait for the price of Lotus Petal to tank (fuck you rental services).

    10. The Dude Abides*

      Trying to get back into MTGO, but not sure how to feel about the impending takeover by Daybreak.

    11. R*

      We have a childhood friend (of me and my husband) visiting this weekend basically just so he can watch us play through Outer Wilds in the pockets when our toddler is sleeping. We love games that are rich with narrative and puzzles, and it’s also visually stunning and really wholesome! Although makes me feel deeply sad and I need to cool off for half an hour each night after we stop. Anyway, do recommend.

  10. Lady Whistledown*

    Favorite winter cozy items/tips?

    We have all the soft blankets and a stash of cookie dough and scone dough in the freezer ready to cook up toasty and warm. I’ve got mulled wine syrup and a whole pallet of pellets for the pellet stove. I’m debating buying one of those fancy/silly towel warmer bins so that I can have a hot towel when I get out of the shower. We’re new to a truly cold climate (New England) and I’m loving all the hygge elements.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Yes! I got the Wicked moccasins from LL Bean with shearling wool – it’s amazing home much of a difference warm feet can make.

        1. Lady Whistledown*

          How much*. Early morning typo. We also really like the Sleepytime tea that comes in a green box. Super soothing chamomile. Was initially skeptical of the electric kettle but it has dedicated counter space now.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’d never tried slipper boots before this year, but adopting a rowdy adolescent dog who enjoys pulling the other type of slipper off my feet forced me to try them. I got some inexpensive (£20) ones from Marks and Spencer and I love them! They’re incredibly warm and comfortable. My dog, naturally, hates them…

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        The ability to have a warm homemade cookie or scone from the freezer in less than 20 minutes is a game changer. Plus you can make just one or two in the toaster oven instead of having to deal with a whole batch. And it makes the house smell fabulous! In the Before Times, it was a nice way to pamper visitors.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        The shedding kills me but when my cleaning anxiety isn’t flaring I love to throw down an old sheet over the bedspread so our pup can come snuggle (he has an oversized orthopedic dog bed so sometimes he doesn’t even want to to downgrade to the people bed). Allergic now but had cats growing up and there’s nothing like being the Chosen One in a house full of people to wake up with a kitty in your bed!

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Sounds lovely!
      Mine would be a hot water bottle for my feet and wrapping up in really soft fleece blankets.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Due to rather ferocious cramps, I have a large Sunbeam pad that goes from 1-6 in warmth. Growing up heating pads were plasticky and uncomfortable but the technology has changed and this one feels like a truly moldable fabric. Latest winter thing has been slipping it lengthwise at the foot of the bed to warm up while in brush my teeth, wash my face etc. The warmth is so soothing to then curl up against in bed.

      2. just another bureaucrat*

        Yes! I got a hot water bottle last year and have been using it every night. Boil some water, fill it up, put it in bed and ideally remember to move it around once or twice before I actually snuggle in so a lot of the bed is pre-warmed!

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Oh, and a hoodie to cover my neck (scarf will do) and a 60 second chocolate mug cake ;)

    3. UKDancer*

      I’d recommend a really nice warm bath. I always ask for my favourite bath stuff for Christmas and then enjoy a lovely warm bath and then a warm towel. Sometimes I light a candle while I’m in the bath. Then I wrap up warm and curl up.

      I also enjoy wrapping up warm and having a nice brisk walk and stopping for hot chocolate at a cafe on the way then coming back with a sense of accomplishment.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Oh both of these just sound exquisite! A former house had the biggest bathtub and I miss being able to soak all of me lol. Whenever we buy a place I’m hoping to find another large tub. Alternatively, while no bath products are involved, I LOVE hot tubs. Candles, string lights, some wine – heaven!

    4. rr*

      I received one of the bins as a gift, but never use it. It is impractical for me in a number of ways, but mostly it is too small and having to remember to plug it in is a pain (maybe just me, but I wouldn’t leave it plugged in all the time). YMMV, of course, but maybe a heated towel rack would be good? Maybe someone who has one can say.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        That’s a good point! I’m going to check the outlets in the bathroom since the location I’m envisioning might not have a convenient plug. We’re renting right now so alas I can’t install a heated rack.

        1. UKDancer*

          Heated towel rails / radiators are brilliant. I would definitely recommend. I also had my shower room retiled a couple of years ago and I put under floor heating in. Getting out of the shower and having warm toes immediately has a lot to recommend it. When I move house next (likely to be in the next 12 months or so) I know exactly what I’m going to do with the bathrooms in my new place.

          1. allathian*

            Under floor heating is lovely! We have it in the whole house, and the lack of radiators means you don’t have to account for radiator placement when you set up your furniture.

        2. Lady Danbury*

          Late response, but I have a heated towel rail that plugs into the wall and it’s the best thing ever! I grew up with heated towel racks at home and have also lived in places where I didn’t have them. It’s a little thing that provides an instant feeling of warmth and luxury. Google plug in heated towel rail.

      2. Hotdog not dog*

        My bathroom and laundry room are one and the same, so I like to pop the towels and my flannel pajamas in the dryer as I get into the bath, then grab a hot fresh towel from the dryer when I’m done, and have nice toasty pjs to put on after.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Pre-bed hot toddies, on very chilly nights. A bit of bourbon or rum, a tiny splash of orange liqueur, topped with hot water. Hot water bottles – the traditional Japanese yutanpo are amazing, and come with cute covers. Fuzzy fleece lounging pyjamas, and fleecy socks.

      Not on a nightly basis, but a night at a hot spring hotel is a lovely way to relax. In room hot spring big enough for two people, soak until you’re wrinkly and warm, an after bath whiskey or liqueur and crawling into a comfy bed. Head home the next day after a hotel buffet breakfast, extremely relaxed and smelling vaguely of sulphur.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Sounds fabulous! Are you near Saratoga by any chance? If so, is there a hotel there you prefer?
        Sorry to go off on a tangent

    6. Sloanicote*

      I bought a silly little space heater that looks like a fire, flickering lights and all. Um. I use it … every minute of every day in the winter? My old house is drafty so now I keep the overall heat low and just use the space heater in the room I’m using. Life changing.

    7. PostalMixup*

      Heated blanket! I have the kind you lie on top of, and it has a timer and a range of heat settings. It’s a twin sized, so my husband doesn’t have to feel the warmth (the man is a living furnace, but I’m a living popsicle). There are nights that I just can’t fall asleep, for no identifiable reason. Click that thing on, I’m out in minutes! It’s even machine washable.

      1. Radical Edward*

        Oh my goodness yes. This was life-changing for me – I have terrible circulation and in winter my legs, hands and feet are immobilized by the cold, which makes falling asleep difficult and staying asleep impossible. Sitting on one of these keeps my blood warm and my extremities limber. Putting it on the bed is even better – I can turn it off right before going to sleep and luxuriate in a cocoon of toastiness all night. It’s improved my quality of sleep more than words can say. I now know that whatever heating challenges lie in my future, the first and cheapest solution must always be an electric blanket!

        I also have Lands’ End flannel sheets, which are equally essential. They’re pricey but they last forever and they’re so, so soft.

      2. Juneybug*

        Got an electric blanket for Christmas and not sure how I lived this long without it! Mine has a preheat setting so 30 minutes before I go to bed, I turn it on. By the time I shower and crawl in bed, it has taken the chill out of the linens. It’s a delightful way to go to sleep.

        We recently took our RV to see family and you can bet your life I took that with me. :)

    8. Ranon*

      Electric mattress pad. All those historical fiction scenes where they prewarm the bed with the historic equivalent hands down onto something. We turn it on a half hour before bedtime and turn it off when we get in. It’s amazing how much less tense your body is when it’s not hitting ice cold sheets.

    9. Seal*

      Flannel sheets and flannel pajamas. I live in the northern part of the Upper Midwest where it’s been well below zero for the past few weeks and my flannel sheets make all the difference for getting a good night’s sleep. Pile on a few cats and everyone’s happy.

    10. AGD*

      Heated pad under my desk for my feet. Fleece-lined clothing. Almost too many blankets. Really well-made slippers. Far too much tea.

      I would love to get a heated blanket for my bed, and/or a towel warmer!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Goose-down comforter for the bed. Small down lap blanket to use when on the sofa or at the computer desk. An oversized lambswool sweater, currently replaced by an oversized button downfleece-lined flannel shirt.
      And long-underwear made of silk. Worth the extra static buildup.

    12. DarthVelma*

      Fleece lined leggings. Sherpa lined wearable blankets (both hoodie style and full length). Hot cocoa. And this foot warmer thing my partner got me a couple years back…it’s like a pocket your feet go into. I love it…when I can get the cat out of it and actually use it myself. :-)

    13. Girasol*

      We each have a pound of rice poured into a knee-high sock and knotted at the top. Two minutes in the microwave an it’s cozy heat for neck or feet or a chilly part of the bed. I had to sit in the car in the doctor’s snowy parking lot for an hour last week (I’m the driver while he’s on crutches) and the hot sock I brought in a thermal lunch bag kept my toes warm.

      1. Salymander*

        We have a couple of heavy plastic water bottles (Nalgene bottles) that we use as hot water bottles for the same purpose. Works well because we can set them on the floor between our feet and they keep us warm while we work on the computer. They don’t leak, so they also work as a way to warm up the bed or to keep warm on long car rides.

    14. voluptuousfire*

      Stockpiling cozy blankets on the back of my couch. Also keeping my heating pad handy. My house is drafty and my attic bedroom is unheated (by choice but have a space heater if needed), so the cold air sinking from the attic can make the living room chilly. Putting the heating pad while on my lap and a blanket over my legs makes things nice and cozy. Also helps when my cat decided to sit on my lap and make biscuits. :)

      Also using my shawl heating pad if I get a chill on the back of my neck. Using the heating pads to warm up is such a smart idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier. Also keeping an eye on the winter sales to stock up on cotton sweaters. I love them and they’re more comfortable than acrylic for me.

    15. Generic Name*

      Also, I applaud you for embracing coziness and finding ways to keep warm rather than going around inappropriately dressed for the weather whilst complaining that it’s too cold. :)

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I see you’ve met my boyfriend lol. He will complain he’s cold while wearing shorts and a t shirt

    16. *daha**

      Get a boot dryer. They work slowly and gently overnight, so when you put your boots back on to go out in the slush they are dry and mildly warm. (Dry snow brushes off nicely. Slush penetrates and comes in up over the top, around the tongue, etc.)

    17. Gnome*

      I love having a hot water bottle to fill and put in the bed (by the feet) before getting ready for bed.

  11. StellaBella*

    Can we talk about osteoporosis and treatment with Reclast?

    I had the infusion of Reclast on Thursday. It is a drug that lasts a year, and stops the production of osteoclasts (which break down your bones). I am 52, the osteoporosis is severe (T scores -2.5 to -4) and it was caused by cancer treatments and Letrozole. Now moving to Tamoxifen.

    Has anyone here had Reclast? I still have a mild headache and last night had chills. It should go away soon. What are your tips for managing your bone health?

    I am modifying my diet to include more greens, sardines, milk, yogurt. Any high calcium recipes you can share?

    1. river*

      All I know is that carob powder is a source of calcium. Carob smoothie: Milk, banana, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon carob, a pinch of cinnamon.
      People tend to think of carob as a chocolate substitute, but it has a different flavour. I like it, it’s a warm, comforting kind of taste.

    2. londonedit*

      Oh, I’m sorry. Our last two cats were 19 and 20 when they died, and we just knew. They were bones and fur by the end, had thyroid and blood pressure issues but we didn’t want to stress them by taking them back and forth to the vet all the time so they were just on maintenance doses of medication, and they just gradually declined. Both (a year apart, they were sisters) just got to a point where they were spending the whole day tucked up in a little ball not looking very happy. When that happened we knew it was time for them to go, and in both cases the vet said they wouldn’t have lasted more than a couple of days longer. I think if your cat is incontinent and smelly and a little bag of bones then sadly it’s probably time to think about it before they decline any further. Cats are very good at not showing pain, so when they start to look bad it’s probably a lot worse than you might initially think.

    3. Mary S*

      I’ve been trying to up my calcium intake, too. I’m having trouble because I don’t like a lot of the foods that are high in calcium and recently I feel very tired of cooking, but here are some of the quick and easy options I’ve come up with that I like.

      Some surprising sources I found, that I enjoy much more than sardines ;) , are poppy seeds and almonds. I usually have a bakery item with my breakfast, so I’ve been opting for items with poppy seeds or almonds more often. Like poppy seed rolls and almond paste danishes. I’ll also add slivered almonds to my oatmeal and/or cereal. And I’ve been making my oatmeal with fortified almond milk instead of water like I used to.

      Another easy favorite of mine is a fancy broiled cheese toast with a cheese that’s higher in calcium (mostly the harder cheeses). Two different options: 1) whatever bread you like, topped with jarred pesto, then topped with Parmesan and put under the broiler until the Parmesan is nice and crispy. Or 2) just a broiled toast with a slice of cheddar.

      I’ll also throw frozen greens into whatever pasta or other one-pot dishes I make, since I despise salads. And I buy prepared protein shakes that have a milk or whey base.

      1. StellaBella*

        Great suggestions, thank you. I read today about poppy seeds having a TON of calcium in them, and I usually do add spinach to pasta. I will look for things like fortified almond milk, too. The cheesy toast ideas are great too. I made today a kale soup that is blended with coconut milk, onions, garlic and veggie stock. I am also starting to do yoga for osteoporosis, 15 min a day. Really hoping this helps over time.

        1. wireknitter*

          Just check labels for almond milk-even within the same brand. Some Silk brand items have 35% daily calcium while others only have 8%.

    4. Blomma*

      I was diagnosed with “abnormally low bone density” (osteoporosis in my hips, osteopenia in my spine) a couple of years ago right before I turned 30. I had a ton of blood work to determine the cause, and basically I’m just unlucky. Because all the medications haven’t been approved for someone pre-menopausal, I’ve not been prescribed any of them. My bone health specialist primarily gets on my case about taking Vit D daily. He’s not really said much about calcium (and my level was fine when it was last tested). I know I should do more for low impact exercise, but I have several chronic pain conditions so that’s difficult for me.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Are you a member of Breastcancer.org? There are tons of helpful discussions in the forums there, plus articles, podcasts, links, and just about everything for those going through any part of diagnosis/treatment and beyond. Best of luck on it. I went with Tamoxifen because it helps with bone strength.

      1. pancakes*

        I’ll have a look too, thank you. I’m not on Tamoxifen (Anastrazole daily + a monthly shot of Zoladex instead) and this year I started taking Alendronate once a week for osteoporosis. So far it seems fine.

    6. Observer*

      Sardines are great – but get the ones that have the skin and bones, or you lose most of the calcium.

      Canned salmon also often has bones, and they are soft enough that you can mash them in.

      If you cook soups or broth, put bones in there. Or, if you use egg, wash them and them put the shells in the soup. For egg shells, put them into a cheesecloth or any cloth bag that’s not made of synthetic fibers that you’ve washed several time, at least once with plain water. (The washing is important because you don’t want to introduce dirt or detergent into your soup!) This works especially will if you have something acidic in your soup, such as tomato.

      And, don’t hesitate to use a supplement. Sure, getting your nutrition from food is preferable. But if you have a nutritional need that you are struggling to meet via diet, there is nothing wrong with using supplements.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      How do you know when it’s time to put your cat to sleep? Mine is just shy of 20 years old. She was always high on the chonk chart, but these days she’s just fur and bones. The last few months she’s being getting really fussy (well, fussier) about food and she can’t eat dry food at all any more. She’s stopped going up the stairs, struggles to jump up on the couch, and she’s starting to become incontinent. She hasn’t lived with me for a few years so I’m conscious of how her incontinence affects the family members she’s living with now, who have carpet. I would take her back now I’ve finally settled into a house of my own where she’d be safe, but she’s too old and too fussy to tolerate a move at this point.

      Cognitively, she’s all there and she’s still a sweetheart. She purrs soon as I talk to her and loves cuddles and being picked up. That said, she’s pretty stinky with that toileting issue, so we do that less.

      Because she’s “my” cat, my family are making it my decision, though they adore her too. She possibly has a thyroid issue, but I won’t drag her through a series of difficult tests/treatments/medication that she will hate having and that will be a burden on the household to manage. 20 years… she’s had a good long life. But if she doesn’t slip away on her own soon, how do you know when it’s time? I don’t want to take any good months away from her, but I also don’t want her to suffer unnecessarily at the end either.

      I’d really love to hear from cat owners (slaves) please. I’ve been through it multiple times with dogs, but I feel like cats are very different.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        Skin and bones, not eating well and incontinence are all enough signs for me to say it’s time to say goodbye.

        It’s only going to get worst from here. I regret waiting too long with our last cat.
        I’d call Laps of Love for an in house visit to put her to rest.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The first combined with “Right now she seems happy with you” lean me that way as well. Her body is failing, and there’s an argument to be made for letting her slide away while she still has some happiness, rather than waiting until you are convinced that she seems truly miserable on all fronts. (To be clear, I’m talking about “Downward slide in ability and quality of life with no realistic hope of any improvement” which is true for very senior pets, pets with certain cancers, etc.)

          I had decided to put our 20 year old cat down at a similar point–her body was failing more and more–and then she died of natural causes the week before I’d planned to call the vet.

          When our first cat started to ail our lovely vet explained that there was a surgical approach but if he woke up after (uncertain) it would add 2 months to his life. (Much of which would be spent recovering from the surgery.) At this point I would not be concerned with treating any illnesses like a thyroid problem, and focus on her comfort.

          1. Cj*

            I agree with all of the previous post of mine. We’ve lost our cat that looks just like Alisons Hank about 2 years ago. I believe we’ve waited too long. He eventually died at home after having a terrible few days. But he was still doing the purring, happy to see you thing, so we held off.

            Id it at all possible, have the vet come to your home if you have your cat euthanized, so they don’t have that added stress in their last hours of going to the vets office.

            1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

              I don’t think it’s as much a thing with greeting purrs, but some cats purr when they are hurting FYI. It’s a way of comforting themself. So “the cat is curled up purring, she must be ok,” is about as true as “the person is curled up on the couch with a blanket and a mug of tea, she can’t be hurting too bad.” Sometimes it’s just cozy and warm, but sometimes it’s a way to handle the bad.

        2. Sloanicote*

          Incontinence is the bell ringer for me. I know my cat would be miserable about that too, as they are generally fastidious creatures.

          1. pancakes*

            Yes, agreed.

            When our dog was going, our vet advised us to rate his comfort level / quality of life each day on a scale of 1 to 10 and write it down, and that was really, really helpful in terms of keeping track of how many good days vs. bad days he was having.

        3. Chauncy Gardener*

          Agree with this. My vet always said to let them keep their dignity, and incontinence, for the Supreme Beings on earth, is pretty undignified. I hope you can have a vet come to your/their home. It’s so much easier on the Supreme Being.
          I’m so sorry about this. :(

      2. Barnacle Sally*

        I had to say goodbye to my 15-year-old cat in mid December, so I fully appreciate where you’re at. Animals give us so much joy- but man it’s HARD when they may be reaching the end of their time. For me, it’s about the quality of life they have. What I considered for Mouse(my cat) Is the still eating and drinking comfortably? Does she appear comfortable? Is she making weird or out of character decisions during her day? Does she LOOK comfortable? Mouse at the end had kidney disease, thyroid issues and diabetes. Her days where she slept all day were outnumbering her “good” days and she just looked rough. She also stopped eating and drinking due to the kidney disease her last 2 days so that kind of confirmed she was telling me she was ready to go.
        One other thing to consider is that often cats will pee outside the litter box of they aren’t feeling well. Mine did before the thyroid was sorted out – she got blood work done and a medication that got rubbed on her ears. A vet visit just to see where the cat is health wise may help to give some clarity to the question of if it’s time to say goodbye.
        It’s never easy, hugs

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Uh. Yeah, she started going outside the litter box a couple of months ago. I thought it was bad aim or fussiness, but it’s become pretty consistent.

          She looks old but not rough. She still eats, looks happy, not in pain (other than not being able to jump up as much) and she still plays. That’s what’s making it so hard, if I were only looking at the physical things it’d be a lot easier.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On the thyroid issue – I took in an elderly cat from my folks (who are not very good pet owners in some ways) and we started treating her thyroid issue, and that was how I learned that in elderly cats thyroid issues and kidney issues are frequently found together and the thyroid issues keep the kidney issues in check to a degree. When we fixed the thyroid, the kidney issues roared up and took her out before we even fully realized they were there. So I guess just support on not digging into that one at her age because it’ll probably be even more on her and the family than you expect.

        On the whole thing … if she can’t eat, can’t clean herself, is incontinent, I’d probably be having the discussion with my vet already, to be honest.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          That’s interesting to note about the thyroid and kidney issues being interlinked like that.

          She still grooms and has a good appetite, she just recently decided that she’ll only eat pouch food or fresh meat now. The incontinence only just started (or we’ve only just noticed). But from what everyone is saying, it sounds like it goes downhill pretty quickly from this point.

        2. Sloanicote*

          I’m a bit irked that my vet was so focused on thyroid for my senior cat, the more I read. It seems like that’s probably not as much as a priority as other things? My cat is probably 17 (got her as an adult so I’m not positive) and on thyroid medicine now – I assume the writing is on the wall in the next year or so :(

          1. comityoferrors*

            Thyroid issues are important because they mask other health problems, so when you test for those other problems you get a cleaner bill of health than is accurate. For example, my older kitty showed early signs of kidney disease in 2020. At his check-up last year, his bloodwork showed that he had miraculously reversed his kidney disease…which isn’t really possible with the intervention we took (a kidney health diet). So we then had to test his thyroid, then trial him on medication for his apparent thyroid condition, then re-test his blood several times to determine his *actual* kidney values without the thyroid disease impacting his body. (Spoiler: he did not cure his own kidney disease.) It was a pain, but worth it because we KNEW his kidneys were not right – but it was covered up by the increased blood flow from his hyperthyroidism.

            Hyperthyroidism in particular can cause really serious comorbidities (which of course also exacerbate any other health problems your cat might have) in addition to hiding other diseases. So IMO it is a priority, and I actually think it’s great that your cat is being treated for her thyroid! I wouldn’t take that as evidence that she’s not long for this world. Treating the underlying thyroid disease makes it easier for her care team to identify and treat anything else that comes up. She is on the older side, and I totally understand your concern. But it sounds like you’re doing all the right things to care for her.

            Also just a PSA that it’s really beneficial to start doing comprehensive blood panels on your pets when they’re entering “middle-aged.” It’s expensive, it (hopefully) won’t reveal anything abnormal for a while, but it is so important to establish a baseline so your vets can recognize when things start to change.

            @Expiring – I think you know it’s time, and I hope you can find peace with that decision. It sounds like you’ve given her a phenomenal life and enjoyed her company so much. It’s rough to make that decision “for” your pets, but you can see that she isn’t her normal self anymore. I’m so sorry – sending you love and empathy.

          2. I take tea*

            My parents had a cat that lived to an impossible age and was on thyroid pills for at least five years or more, so it’s not neccessarily a problem. He never developed any kidney problems.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Well, yes, that’s why I said “frequently” and not “100% for sure guaranteed.”

        3. Rara Avis*

          We kept our cat going with balancing thyroid vs. kidney (thyroid pills and kidney food) for a long time. But the vet said you can’t keep the balancing act going forever — eventually the thyroid treatment will cause too much kidney damage. We let him go at 18, but it was the vet who made the call. (Although we could see a steep decline at the end.)

      4. londonedit*

        My phone managed to reply to the thread above instead of this one, so look up there for my thoughts! Sorry about your cat.

      5. The Dogman*

        If she is not in pain I would let her die naturally.

        She will curl up to sleep one day and just not wake up I suspect.

        I am sorry for your impending loss, one of my cats (my childhood cat) made it to 22 years old, and he passed in his sleep peacefully.

        Take care, and I am sorry.

        1. L. Ron Jeremy*

          If only cats could tell us if they have pain. They are designed not to show pain, so “letting her die naturally” would be beyond cruel.

          1. Windchime*

            Yes, this. It’s really, really hard to tell if a cat is in pain. They will do all they can to hide it so it’s not a good indicator of whether or not they are in pain.

            I was trying to keep my 19 year old cat alive and I thought he was doing well. Until his last day, when he ran around the house, crying in pain and pooping all over the place. It was horrible and traumatic and I should have had him euthanized before that day. In retrospect, I should have realized that the fact that I was having to carry him back and forth to the litter box was a sign that he was failing.

          2. The Dogman*

            “They are designed not to show pain”

            That makes no sense.

            Leaving aside the “designed” part, cats do, in fact show pain.

      6. Lizzie (with a deaf cat)*

        It is such a hard decision, isn’t it. The best thing I ever read about deciding when to put a pet ‘to sleep’ was: Better a day too early rather than a day too late.
        We get used to how our elderly pets look and I think that sometimes we just don’t see how they have deteriorated, whether they can still wash and groom themselves, move about without pain and so on.
        I don’t know about dogs, but my experience with elderly cats is that they become more kitten-like in their desire for love and affection, and want to be held more (if they are not in pain), and attended to more, even if they have been very independent and aloof in the past. Sadly incontinence reduces the chance of that happening! If she will let anyone do it, it is worth wiping her tail and back legs with a warm damp cloth several times a day. I highly recommend puppy pee pads as a very useful addition to her bed, the couch, or wherever she usually sleeps, it really cuts down on the washing of things and by absorbing the urine it reduces skin soreness. Fresh urine is warm, so she isn’t likely to move away from a bed or cushion she has just weed on.
        It is a gift we can give to our pets, to spare them from suffering if we can. Choose a day to be her last day. Let the rest of the family know so that they can spend time with her if they want to. If you can, spend a few hours with her, just holding her on your lap, telling her what a great cat she has been. Get someone to take a photo of you with her. If the service exists, and you can afford it, think about having the vet do a home visit on that day, so you can be with her at the end and it takes place in a familiar environment.
        This decision is a sad time for you, but not for her. She will enjoy the affection and any treats and spending time with you.
        Best wishes to you, it’s not easy to say goodbye.

      7. Hotdog not dog*

        It has unfortunately been my experience that once you reach the point where you are wondering if it’s time, then yes, it is. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through.

        1. old biddy*

          This. When they get to the point where they’re not really enjoying their lives much it is time. I watched a couple of friends and relatives go through this and do everything they could to extend their cats’ lives, and also my mom who let her cat pass at home rather than taking it in to be put to sleep. One of them told me that if she could do it over she would not have put her cat through all of the pain. My mom’s cat suffered for 4 days and I didn’t want that either.
          I’ve had to remember this with both my own cats and two of my parents’ cats. In the latter case, I had to be the one who called and made the appointments and convinced my parents it was time. It was hard but in retrospect the only thing I regret was not noticing the signs sooner.

      8. machinedreams*

        Honestly? It’s time for the “is there anything we can do without risking what quality of life she’s got, or would it all be too risky?” conversation.

        One of my cats had a kidney issue for YEARS. Well-managed, no issues (aside from the fact that said kidney issue existed), was a feisty older lady right up to the end. (She was 17 when the end came.) And here’s how it went for us.

        We took her in for another visit — I don’t remember if it was just a checkup or a maintenance visit, it’s all kind of a blur — and got the news that it was probably time to let her go. She was feisty and cranky and doing all her usual things, but… the numbers just didn’t show anything good. The vet said there were things they could do but that nothing was a guarantee especially because of her age, and in any case they wouldn’t improve her quality of life even if things worked out.

        Decision made — as much as I wanted to keep my baby around forever, I wasn’t going to subject her to anything that might not even be helpful. So we took her home since the vet said we could have one last night to say goodbye. We proceeded to let that cat eat anything and everything she wanted because if she was going to be gone, then by God we’d make the last night a good one. I forget what all she nommed on but she ate the majority of a little cup of nacho cheese from a fast food place (she loved that stuff and would frequently try to jam her head in mine). And the humans had gotten Arby’s for dinner. I set my beef and cheddar sandwich on the wrapper next to me, turned away for TWO SECONDS, turn back and this little butthead is DRAGGING HALF A SANDWICH ACROSS THE COUCH.

        So she got one last night of being spoiled, we got some good memories, and it felt… I don’t want to say “better” or “easier”, but letting her go knowing we’d been good to her right up until the end? Made me feel a little more like I’d done the right thing. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain and I’m already crying lol.

        My big issue with letting her go was actually that she was my last big tangible reminder of my mother, who passed away in late 2017 — the cat had originally been hers and I took her when I moved. (My dad would’ve been unable to care for her, since he was largely wheelchair-bound at the time.) But I just have to remind myself that mom would be happy with how I handled everything.

        … this is a hideously, likely unhelpful comment and I apologize. I kind of lost my point — we had to put our 12 year old Belgian Tervuren rescue dog to sleep two weeks ago and we’re still sobbing messes.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          It’s actually a very helpful comment, thank you. I had to giggle at your butthole cat practically being on her deathbed yet still managing to steal your sandwich… cats gonna cat, LOL!
          I’m so sorry for your loss. xx

          1. machinedreams*

            Butthole cat would steal food ALL THE TIME if you weren’t looking. I remember one time after I’d moved in with my roommates, we’d ordered pizza from a REALLY good restaurant chain around here — and I was sitting on the floor because there weren’t enough seats in the living room for everyone (family was also over at the time). I turn away, someone yelps and points to my plate, and I turn back… only to see butthole cat dragging a whole entire big slice of pizza OFF MY PLATE. Like, she literally had it on the floor.

            So by that point we just let her have a little bit of it and then tossed the rest. (She was firmly in Old Lady Cat status at the time and we pretty much just let her eat whatever she wanted — within reason at that point — so it wasn’t uncommon for her to get a couple tiny bites of pizza or a half spoonful of ice cream or whatever else.)

        2. ThatGirl*

          We said goodbye to our sweet doggo three weeks ago, his appetite had been pretty good and then he just stopped eating and we knew. But I’m really glad the last thing he ate was some freshly shredded chicken from the dinner I was making. It was always his favorite and he’d appear at my side in the kitchen when I was making dinner.

          1. machinedreams*

            Our doggo had been sick for a while, but we’d thought it was just a bad cough that was developing into pneumonia. The week of December 20 (also the week I started a new job, so oh man was the last part of the month oh so fun), he started getting way sicker. We managed to get an appointment for him on January 5th but he was so sick by Christmas Day that we spent half of it in the kitchen waiting to see if he was going to pass and then the other half in the living room because sitting there wasn’t helping any of us mentally.

            So we got him in on the 27th and the vet felt that yeah he was sick, and yeah The Conversation might have to be a thing soon, but that in the meantime he was strong enough (he’d rallied a little) that we could at least try some meds before making a call.

            He rallied a little more on the 27th and the 28th, and we thought hey maybe he’s gonna be okay for now. Evening of the 28th he went downhill again to the point where my roommate and I were in the living room keeping an eye on him and comforting him, and she had to force me to go up to my room because he was making this horrifying coughing sound and she knew that if he passed it wasn’t going to be pleasant, and she didn’t want me to see it.

            Come down on the 29th and get told that we’re taking him in as soon as the vet opened because it was just time, that he’d started coughing up gross brown stuff during the night. Most nerve-wracking hour-long ride of my life (small rural town and the vet we use is an hour away). The only good thing was that while the vet was out of the room getting what he needed, Mason horked up the gross brown stuff again. Vet came back in, took one look at it, and went “Yep, that’s cancer.”

            So on the one hand it was nice to know that it wasn’t something we could have done anything about short of surgery that he might or might not’ve survived, but now we wonder if we kept him going too long. (He really hadn’t gone badly sick until about the 20th, though.) Except we couldn’t just let him go without trying everything we COULD. And the thing I feel guiltiest about, I think, is the fact that despite how miserable he was, he still managed to hold on until we could get him to the vet — and I feel guilty because I kept thinking about how hard it would be to lift 100 pounds of limp weight into our vehicle. (100 pounds of unlimp weight was hard enough and involved the tray from a really big dog kennel)

            1. ThatGirl*

              I totally hear that. We knew our dog wasn’t doing great but we kept thinking it might be temporary, he’d improved a lot before, or there was something we could do. Wasn’t till a week earlier that we knew for sure he would only get worse, and at that point he was in decent spirits, still eating well with good bathroom habits. And then suddenly he wasn’t.

              You did what you could, and what you thought was best, and loved him so well. And he hung on because he loved you back. Try to let go of the guilt.

      9. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Something I found really helpful to know: The last time I was going through this, I asked our vet how often pets (of responsible owners) die naturally on their own vs. being euthanized. I, like you, was hoping maybe our cat would peacefully slip away on her own so I didn’t have to figure out when the time was right. He said that almost never happens — they get sicker and sicker to the point that you have to act. Knowing I shouldn’t rely on “peacefully slipping away on her own” helped me feel better about intervening.

        Our tendency is to wait too long, at the expense of the animal. Someone here once said that it’s better to be a day too early than a day too late … and having been a day too late with Lucy, I think that’s really true. (Which is not to say you’re at that point with your kitty! I think if they’re still regularly enjoying life, they’re not there yet.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          We recently said goodbye to our dog, and it may have been a day too late; it’s still hard to say. But it was very clear that day that he was no longer himself, his body was failing and it was time.

          That said I appreciate you sharing that, Alison – as hard as it is to make that decision, it’s helpful to know that mostly it is up to us and we have to.

      10. the cat's ass*

        I’m so sorry. My cheerfully demented clingy older boy is getting to this same place-not grooming well (not that he ever did-he was a rescue and his former owner used to clip him down, even his tail), occasional toileting problems, nocturnal howling, getting bony, sleeping a lot….BUT, he is cheerful, has a lovely warm heated bed, enjoys snuggling with everyone-he’s still a very sociable kitty-LOVES to eat (especially whatever you’re having), is groomed daily by his loyal subjects and gets partial baths for the toileting problems. DH works from home so he’s never alone. I’ve trimmed his back legs, butt and tail so he’s not getting crap in his fur back there. We are loving him up as much as possible and keeping a close eye on him, but he’s been like this since early 2020! Our vet thinks thyroid/kidney issues, possible “indolent lymphoma’ and we are not treating. So we are waiting. I think as long as your girl has a good quality of life over all, you wait. When the time comes, i will have the mobile vet come here and then we’ll bury him in the back yard (the cat, not the vet). Good luck with this!

      11. Missing Patti*

        My Patti was a chonkers too, usually about 11 lbs. When I finally decided it was time and took her to the vet, she weighed in at 4.5 lbs (14 yo). I felt so sick when I realized I had probably waited too long. She was a very fluffy cat, so it was hard to tell she was that skinny, and she didn’t exhibit the symptoms your cat has, but at that weight she must have had some real issues, and I regret being so reluctant to let her go. I agree with those who have said don’t wait until you are convinced she’s miserable all around.

    2. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Oh dear. I forgot about my handle.

      I always comment under this name, fyi. Though I also have a dark sense of humour and am thoroughly amused by the coincidence.

      1. river*

        My cat lived to be 21. A choice did have to be made. She was blind in one eye and had lost all her teeth, and had joint pain. Those things were manageable, but when she started sleeping for 22-23 hours per day we realised she wasn’t doing okay any more.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          At first I would have thought napping for 22-23 hours a day was completely normal. But then, when I add up time spent grooming, yowling at a full food dish and staring intently into my soul, it wouldn’t add up. She’s definitely slowed down a lot. Not quite that much, but she’ll be getting there soon by the looks.

      2. Missb*

        Ha. Sorry. That is kinda funny.

        It’s so hard to say goodbye to our fur babies. I’d typed a long response that seemed to have been eaten.

        Have you taken her to the vet? I would start there if you can. I feel like I can have a frank discussion with my vet on quality of life and won’t get judged and she won’t try to convince me to try further interventions if it isn’t going to add much. But it’s taken me a long time to try to find a good vet like that, so just be aware that not all vets are like that. Know your line, and it sounds like you do.

        The fact that she stinks means she isn’t grooming herself, right? They’re such clean creatures. I’d weigh that fact pretty heavily here.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          I’ll take her next week and see what they say. The practice recently changed hands and I don’t know what the new ones are like. The old vet was awesome and came out to the house when it was time for the dog to go to sleep. But I’m definitely wary, 2 of my friends have been through nightmares recently with their dying pets, they both spent the equivalent of a brand new car getting pointless treatment trying to save them.

          She’s still grooming her usual amount and we also bath her. It’s just that she has a long coat, and I think when she has frequent little accidents she doesn’t realise and it’s getting into her tail fur.

            1. Expiring Cat Memes*

              Hahaha. As sweet as she is and as much as she will patiently give me full belly access to gently snip out matted fur under her arms, we have a mutual understanding that The Tail Is Off Limits.

              1. Lizzie (with a deaf cat)*

                Yes some cats have a strong “Do you MIND!” attitude towards tail touching!

                If you have contact details for your retired vet, it is not impossible that they might still do a home visit.

              2. The Dogman*

                Oh dear, that makes things really tricky then! Perhaps she will be ok with wipes or something now it is dirtier?

              3. I take tea*

                The vet might help there, our vet trimmed the back of our long haired cat when we went in for other things, because she tended to get soiled there. It has helped a lot.

    3. MCL*

      I’m so sorry. One thing we were able to do was to have home euthanasia services for our two former cats. It was so much easier to have them at home and less stress for all of us in a very high stress moment. Could you have a vet do a home visit for a medical consultation? One of our cars had very aggressive cancer and it was not a tough call. The other had congestive heart failure and at the end was incontinent and having painful heart episodes, so that was a clear indication that he was no longer having a good quality life. Some vets may go over aggressive treatment options, but you can certainly decline.

      1. Sloanicote*

        I think this is the key. Go in with the understanding that the vet may offer expensive treatments but that you should decline *for* your cat’s sake, and if they get nasty, be prepared to walk out. This is a 20 year old cat so they should be understanding. Honestly, we also had to do this for my 97 grandfather in a coma – the doctors continually suggesting new treatment options to my uncle, the only one who thought there was more we could do – and the rest of us saying that it was his time and to Just Stop. But we got through it.

        1. londonedit*

          Definitely. With one of our cats, we basically stopped taking her to the vet for the last two years of her life because it just became this rollercoaster of ‘OMG her heart rate, her blood pressure, we need to keep her in to investigate’ etc etc when she was just really old and extremely stressed about going in the car and being at the vet’s. In the end the vet put her on a low dose of medication and she was meant to go back every 8 weeks for blood tests but we just said no, sorry, if she declines then heck she’s nearly 20 years old.

    4. Purple cat*

      {{hugs}}
      It’s such a hard decision to make, and I think so many times we’re looking for approval or blessings for our decision and the cat can’t give that to us.
      From what you’ve said, I think you need to seriously consider that the time is here (or at least very close). The dramatic weight loss, combined with incontinence and poor grooming is a cat in distress. I would definitely bring her to the vet though for a checkup. I don’t remember how many first cat’s thyroid issue was diagnosed, but I don’t remember anything “excessive”. She was a very sweet cat so we were able to give her her medicine without too much fuss. She was also only 12.
      For me, the equation changes dramatically at 20. Your cat has lived a LONG happy life. And she’s not living with you, so you have to consider the impact on her current household too. It’s not the necessarily the wrong decision to wait a little while longer, but it seems like it might be a kindness to all involved to consider it sooner rather than later.

      1. Sloanicote*

        What I have to remind myself is that animals, particularly cats, are not going to show us their pain in many cases. It’s a biological self-protection thing. So your cat is probably feeling a little worse than you’re aware of, sad as it is to say. It’s rare for cats to like, whine or limp about (and if they do, that’s … pretty bad). They will sleep more and perhaps hide themselves away more.

    5. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for your beautiful words and compassionate advice. I knew the commentariat would be good people to ask and I’m so glad I did – I feel a lot better now in knowing what I want to do. Thanks again.

  12. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I caved in and bought myself an iced coffee maker during the holiday sales at target. I enjoy it but I’m getting a bit bored with my “recipe”.

    Any suggestions/tips for flavors/recipes etc?

    1. The Dogman*

      Well I dunno what you have tried, but those syrups for milkshakes work well in cold coffees, you could try some of the flavours you like?

      Otherwise, some chocolate powder, a few frozen cherries and top the blended mix with cream and you have a Black Forrest Gateau style drink… I like that personally!

        1. The Dogman*

          It is… heavenly in hot weather, so about 5 months away for me… it’s freezing here at the moment! ;)

          My recipe is 1ltr (2pints) of full fat milk,
          30 (approx) frozen cherries,
          2 small tablespoons/4 big teaspoons of a fair trade chocolate powder.

          Blend until smooth but thick (add more cherries if too thin) and then serve with some whipped cream and/or wafers/sprinkles etc… I will just chug the lot sans cream though sometimes… :)

    2. ecnaseener*

      I mix pumpkin pie spice in with my grounds. (Not sure how an iced coffee maker works, I do this with normal drip coffee.) Sometimes you can find a spice mix at the store but I just mixed a bottle myself: 1 part cloves, 2 parts nutmeg, 4 parts cinnamon, 4 parts ginger.

      1. Ampersand*

        This is brilliant! I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with pumpkin spice mix—it doesn’t mix well with brewed coffee but this would be perfect.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Do you grind the spices or add them whole?

        I think this is a normal drip coffee as well, I add regular ground coffee to the basket and I can make it either hot or iced. I’m nto sure how its’ different from a regular hot coffee maker but. *shrugs* (I’ll share hte link in a separate post).

        1. ecnaseener*

          Ground spices (which I buy pre-ground). I don’t think whole spices would work as well just from the brief drip through, you’d need to put them in a teabag or cheesecloth or something and let them sit in the coffee for a few mins.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      For unsweetend variations, a few drops of vanilla (or other extract) gives you flavoured iced coffee. A bit of cinnamon in with the grounds works well too.

    4. i will do it anon*

      In India putting chicory in coffee is common and I kind of love it. Also ginger coffee! It’s sharp and spicy but with a little sugar it still goes down easy.

      Making a sugar syrup for cold coffee is very easy (just stir equal parts sugar and water on the stove on med/low heat until it is fully dissolved) and you could add anything like cinnamon, cardamom, other flavorings to steep in warm syrup for a while to add flavor.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I like to make vanilla or cinnamon simple syrup to mix in my coldbrew. You could try other flavors too. Or flavored creamer? Different kinds of coffee? Not sure what you’re looking for.

        1. ThatGirl*

          For cold coffee it can be fun to put a bit of cream and your favorite syrup in a shaker with the coffee and ice, shake well and strain … makes it a little frothy and mixes well.

    6. voluptuousfire*

      Baileys makes a coffee creamer that are the same flavors as the liquers. Back in the olden days, I used to put it in my cold brew at work and it was so good. So creamy and so much less sugar than the original. Or you can buy the little nips of Baileys at most liquor stores, so if you enjoy that may be an idea.

    7. beach read*

      I use caramel sauce or butterscotch sauce and put a little salt on it for a salted caramel flavor. Goes in the coffee itself.

  13. Richard Hershberger*

    What I am reading: “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States” by James C. Scott. It was recommended by the terrific Tides of History podcast and it is indeed really good: so much so that I am willing to overlook its having a cover blurb by Andrew Sullivan, which I would normally consider a red flag. The topic is just what it says on the tin. By “earliest states” think Mesopotamia. The book is a synthesis of modern research, particularly archeology. Archeology is going through a particularly interesting period. It is in the late stage of moving away from the Indiana Jones model of finding pretty objects, through the stage of analyzing pottery sherds, into the stage of digging up mud samples and analyzing them for grains of pollen. At the same time, chemistry is contributing with analyses of stable isotopes in ancient tooth enamel, which can tell us what this person or animal ate. Finally, just within the last twenty years DNA analysis reached the point where they can use samples from bones up to, oh, lets say ten thousand years ago. There are a lot of bones sitting in doors, carefully labeled as to origin, so there has been a lot of material to analyze. This can trace population movements, which was always a topic of debate previously.

    Put this together and a lot more is known than just a few years ago. So far this has mostly been in technical papers, but is reaching the point where it can be put together for general audiences. The Scott book hits the sweet spot for the mythical “educated layman,” on the end of that range where academics in adjacent fields might be interested. Highly recommended. Oh, and civilization sucks. Hunter-gatherers had it much better. One of the discussions going on nowadays is why they made the transition.

    1. The Dogman*

      ” Hunter-gatherers had it much better.”

      Dentistry. My go to answer for why “the old days” are never better than now.

      There are others, food security, personal security, lack of large dangerous predators around our houses… loads of reasons. But dentistry remains the key, most humans in pre-history probably died painfully of rotting teeth. Visiting in a time machine would be fascinating, but only if I can come home to flushing toilets etc!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        My “civilization” I mean 2000 B.C., not 2000 A.D. Most of those reasons you give don’t really apply. Food security? This is actually one of the big points. Hunter-gatherers weren’t starving bands wandering around desperately seeking food. We can get this impression looking at modern hunter-gatherers, but the modern examples have been pushed into the most marginal lands. Rather, the older versions were utilyzing a wide variety of food sources. Consider a hunter-gatherer group in pre-civilization southern Mesopotamia. They had access on the one side to a wide variety of wetlands food sources, and on the other side to migrating herds of gazelle and the like. And yes, they did a bit of light agriculture on the side. The development of agriculture turns out to have been an extended process, done for millennia before anyone made it their primary source of calories. The question is why they eventually made that leap? Agriculture as the primary food source had a lot of disadvantages. A big one was putting all your eggs in one basket. A crop failure was a disaster for the pure agriculturalist, while the hunter-gatherer had a wide range of sources.

        Then there is the issue of disease. Many diseases only arise from concentrations of people, their domestic animals, and the uninvited hangers-on such as mice. Measles and smallpox, etc., were byproducts of civilization. Whoopee. This isn’t to say that there were no diseases that hit hunter-gatherers, but they were far more diffuse. Archeologists over and over see population centers that simply disappear for not apparent reason. Epidemics are a likely explanation. Unlike, e.g., sacking the place and burning it down, an epidemic doesn’t leave an archaeological trace. Once we hit historical times, there are ample examples of spectacularly devastating plagues, and those after millennia of populations breeding for resistance.

        1. Asenath*

          I’ll give you disease, contagious disease at least, and there wasn’t anything very successful anywhere for treating other forms. But all ancient hunter-gatherer societies did not have generous and reliable food sources, especially as their numbers grew – agriculture had its risks too, but different ones which some must have preferred. Many of the great migrations were probably driven by either lack of food (due to some natural collapse in a prey population, some other natural catastrophe or population pressure. And a migratory life isn’t easy for those who can’t keep up, the elderly, the disabled, the infant orphaned in childbirth. Moreover, small groups are not necessarily self-sufficient or even egalitarian (a claim you don’t make, but which often comes up in discussions like this). Think of any small group you know, from a nuclear family or a voluntary association of some kind. Early civilizations often had major sites where they appear to have congregated at regular intervals – maybe for religious purposes, but I’d bet for social purposes, including looking for spouses as well. It doesn’t take much regular congregating in larger groups to realize that cooperation is much easier, and certain skills that can’t be developed or passed on in small groups can thrive in larger ones. This includes everything from manufacturing essential goods (and learning improvements) to sharing ritual and religious rites (including, often, what healing they could do), and developments in language, story and eventually writing for both practical and cultural purposes.

          I dislike many things about my own culture, but there isn’t one in the past that I’d switch to if I could, even assuming the switch replaced my personality and memories with culturally-appropriate ones so I didn’t have to pick them up from scratch as a suspect stranger. No, not even if I got to pick the part of the world, the period in history and my social status. They all had their disadvantages, and I prefer the culture that comes with a nice warm home (having just come in from an errand in the cold) and computers. I can read about the latest theories about the others in comfort!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Agriculture had its risks too, but different ones.
            I think that this is going to be behind a lot of the switch.

            It doesn’t take much regular congregating in larger groups to realize that cooperation is much easier, and certain skills that can’t be developed or passed on in small groups can thrive in larger ones.
            And this. The striking thing about humans, compared to other apes, is how good we are at cooperating in large groups. Despite the myths of the lone artist and lone scientist, actual revolutionary workers were part of an artistic or scientific community exchanging ideas.

            There’s a sociology finding about people being happy if they are not striving and just accept that the way things are is the way they are. Which I can see. But I can also see that that can be “Everyone just roll with the caste system and don’t question it, and we’ll all be happy!!”

        2. Berlin Berlin*

          I think Yuval Noah Harari makes a similar, albeit cursory, argument in Sapiens about the disadvantages of agriculture, and the idea that because the increased food production enables population growth, the resulting larger populations can’t go back to hunter-gathering because they wouldn’t be able to produce enough food for so many people.

          Thinking about the other merits or otherwise of pre-agricultural life, it seems reasonable to assume that death in childbirth didn’t change much when we switched to agriculture, but I wonder what child mortality was like? As you say, food production is less variable and there’s less risk of them dying from disease, but on the other, you can’t produce as much food overall and without birth control then presumably there were frequently too many mouths to feed

          1. Berlin Berlin*

            A cursory search shows Our World in Data have a great article on this citing a peer-reviewed paper* on this which shows fairly consistent child mortality in various historical agricultural societies (including Ancient Rome, medieval Japan and England, and pre-Columbian America) of ~25% in the first year (just the first year!) of life and 50% by 15 years old. This is actually almost exactly the same as our data for modern hunter-gatherer societies; there seems to have been only one study done on ancient hunter-gatherers (in the “Indian knoll” in Kentucky). It found child mortality of 30% in the first year and 56% by 15, but this appears to be based on literally counting the number of skeletons of different ages we have, and covers only a single site, so it’s not exactly great data.
            *(I’m not sure I altogether trust this paper, since there are mistakes in the references – it lists a 1961 paper as being published in 2005, for example – and they don’t interrogate the data they cite)

        3. banoffee pie*

          I guess they didn’t see the diseases coming. They wouldn;’t have understood germ theory. I think the shift might have had a psychological basis. People like to own stuff and agriculture allowed them to say ‘this piece of land is mine’. Then if they had more land than other people they could make more money and lord it over others. Some people like that. Maybe the old hunter-gatherer way was too commie lol

        4. The Dogman*

          I think you have a pretty idealistic view of the past.

          50% of children died before they reached 15 in past societies, that is the same number in current hunter gather tribes.

          I find that unacceptable. We need to have fewer children as a species, but the ones we do have should get a chance at a decent life.

      2. londonedit*

        As a woman, having no means of avoiding multiple pregnancies/childbirth/dying in childbirth/having 10 children to feed is the only reason I need to confidently say that any point in ‘the old days’ cannot possibly be better than now. I’ve just read The Five, which is about the lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper, and even 200 years ago life for a working-class woman was just look after your father and siblings, get married off, get pregnant at least once a year, probably bury several of your children in infancy if they even make it as far as a live birth, live in squalor with a varying number of children as yet more arrive and yet more die, then succumb to some awful disease like TB. No thank you.

        1. UKDancer*

          This so much. I like being able to control my body and fertility, having access to reliable contraception without charge and having broadly equal rights to education and property. I also like having a national health service and reliable sanitation. There is no way I’d want to live in any time or place but the one I live in.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Agree, this has got to be the best time for me so far. In fact, assuming things keep getting better and don’t go backwards, I think I’d like to see how things are gonna be another few hundred years in the future.

            Never mind the real ‘olden days’, even my mum’s generation had fewer opportunites than mine. Plenty of her schoolmates were told there was no point in higher education becasue they were girls; she was just lucky her family wasn’t like that.

        2. Purt's Peas*

          It really depends on what you’re thinking of as “the old days.” 200 years ago in England really still counts as “modern times of capital,” especially when it comes to poverty, especially when comparing our times to prehistoric social organization.

        3. HannahS*

          Yeah, honestly, it’s such an incredibly male perspective to think that things were “better” for women at any point in the past when birth was much more dangerous than it is now. Nope.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      I’ve been going through The Dawn Of Everything by David Graeber & David Wengrow, and really, really enjoying it. I’ll check out the Scott book—I think I’ll be in the mood for a more straightforward history after Graeber & Wengrow.

      If “historíes for the educated layman” is broadly a genre you’re interested in, especially ancient history and prehistory, what kind of recommendations do you have? For context, I’ve been dipping my toe in with books like Mary Beard’s oeuvre, Women’s Work by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, The Age of the Vikings by Anders Winroth.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Mary Beard is excellent! If you like her, you might take a look at Adrian Goldsworthy.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        “More work for mother : the ironies of household technology from the open hearth to the microwave” by Ruth Schwartz Cowan, is also excellent. She details how technology in the past two centuries (I think – it’s been a few years since I read this) improved life for men but not for women.

        For instance, gas stoves meant nobody had to gather wood. Men were the ones who gathered wood, but women still did the cooking.

        1. Observer*

          It’s still al lot easier to use a stove than an open fire, and reasonably good gas stoves are easier and safer to use than wood burning stoves. That’s not to say that gas stoves are completely safe, because they aren’t but they ARE *safER*.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I like the following two theories for that last question:
      a) It is nice to have a lot of people to interact with. Having no one to talk to 51 weeks out of the year other than your 30 closest relatives, and then one week you get to discuss ideas and swap stories and such with 500 other people? I get why extending that week appealed to people.
      b) Beer. If you want beer year-round rather than as a rare seasonal treat, you need to settle down and store grain.

      I will note that hunter-gatherer requires some adaptations like “Well Greta is too sick to walk; need to leave her here to die or catch up if she recovers on her own” and “Well can’t carry a 3-year old and a newborn, Greta needs to leave one of them to die” which I am glad to not be making.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Civilization and sedentism are distinct things, although traditionally conflated. Many hunter-gatherers were mostly or entirely sedentary. This is one of the newer findings in archeology. There turn out to be villages in place where agriculture is nonexistent or only a minor food source. How do we know? A lot of boring analysis of ancient garbage piles and tooth enamel. Furthermore, these villages could exist for centuries. And while the individual village would be small, there would be other villages nearby.

        The current thinking, or at least one strand of current thinking, is that the shift to full agriculture came about as a result of the Younger Dryas. This was a cold snap that lasted about 1200 years, started around 12,900 years ago. This reduced the yield from hunting and gathering, putting pressure on populations to emphasize agriculture. By the time things improved this was how they did things, and with the warmer climate populations increased to the point where they were locked in.

        This is a different discussion from that of civilization. Agriculture is characteristic of the Neolithic. Even in its developed form it existed for millennia before civilization, in the sense of cities of Sumer with kings and priests and temples.

    4. Reba*

      Thanks for the great recommendation! Like Purt’s Peas, I’m planning to read The Dawn of Everything, and it sounds like this would be a good pairing.

      I love reading about archeology (I had a light brush with it in grad school) because it seems to me like there is a lot of imagination involved. This is not a criticism! It’s well-informed imagination, but still the process of pattern-seeking and interpretation strikes me as really creative despite its sciencey trappings.

      1. Purt's Peas*

        It’s so good. I’m halfway through, or so. It’s less a Here’s The Facts Of The Neolithic book than an intellectual history It’s also an effort to reframe the field, and shift the burden of proof from “we need incontrovertible evidence that this historical culture was complex and accomplished” to “why wouldn’t this culture be complex and accomplished? We need evidence that it wasn’t.”

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Archaeology is awesome. I took a class in college from an exceptional teacher and it was just so fun. He took us on a field trip to Cahokia and the Center for American Archaeology in Kampsville, IL and we got to do hands-on activities like dig clay and make things, knap flint, and even dig in a test pit near the old Koster site. I found a stone tool in the plow zone! Also, they gave us breakfast in a cafeteria room at a nearby petting zoo and I got to feed the crying baby bear cub with a bottle. :3 If I were going to be a scientist, I’d probably either be an astronomer or an archaeologist.

        1. Reba*

          Successful digging AND baby animals??? That sounds awesome.

          Cahokia is incredible. Native earthworks are one of my nerd areas and I am fortunate to have visited a bunch!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            It was one of the coolest museums I have ever visited and I say that as a confirmed museum nerd!

    5. Hattie McDoogal*

      I love Tides of History! I read Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome last year after I heard him namechecked on an episode of ToH (and he appears as a guest on The Fall of Rome, Patrick Wyman’s previous podcast). I meant to but had forgotten to look up Against the Grain but I just put a hold on it at my library, so thank you for reminding me of it.

    6. Dawbs*

      My disabled- adjacent self who parents a special needs child always rankles at any “good old days” that doesn’t make really clear what happens to us.
      I mean, yup, we’ve got archeological evidence that the social structure cared for injured group members, huzzah! But what did they do for those of us who would not have been recovered, but would have never ceased being a burden? And if the society was willing to provide the care, what care was there? I rather hate the phrase “quality of life” but without modern medicine, I’m in quite severe pain 90% of all days… my quality would be quite diminished back then.

      (To be fair, this might just be a raw spot where I’m dealing. because the director of the CDC just said (obviously paraphrasing) that it’s encouraging news that only I and my peers and my kid are gonna die. So I’m sorry for the hijack, but i stand by it that It’s hard to be an invisible member of a forgotten, marginalized group.)

      1. Generic Name*

        This is where I land. As much as I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear books as a teen, I’m acutely aware of what my life would have been like then. I have scoliosis so severely that surgery was required as a teen, and I’m able to live a full life with virtually no physical restrictions. I carried a pregnancy and gave birth successfully. Had I not had the surgery, I would have been severely malformed as an adult, and childbirth may have been even more risky than it already was. Honestly, a lot of today’s ills in A Erica are due to capitalism and the extreme uneven distribution of wealth.

      2. RagingADHD*

        As a person with multiple hereditable health conditions easily treatable with even 20th century, nevermind 21st century medicine, I already know why archaeologists never discuss people like me.

        I would not exist because at least one of my parents would either have died in childhood, or their entire generation wouldn’t exist because my grandparent would have died as a preteen.

        And if my conditions arose as a spontaneous mutation, I would have been infertile and died a miserable death in my early adulthood.

        My family is not represented in the fossil record except as a baby skeleton labeled “died in infancy, unknown cause.”

        Hunter gatherers appear to have all been so healthy because anybody who wasn’t healthy died quickly or was never born.

      3. Salymander*

        Good point.
        I had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that almost killed me. The doc said I lost about a gallon of blood. I had to have a blood transfusion, and my belly was sliced open so that the fallopian tube could be removed. I was stapled back together. For most of history and all of prehistory I would have died.
        When my kid was born, they had to be pulled out with a suction device thingy on their head. Without that, we would both have died. Kid was perfectly healthy, just had one arm in a funny position and got stuck, and the doc couldn’t get her hand in to rearrange things.
        I have had pneumonia more times than I can remember, and I have asthma. Inhalers, vaccines, antibiotics and other medicines are awesome. Without them I would have died very young.
        I was born to a young, unmarried woman and adopted as a baby. For much of history and prehistory, there is a good chance that I would have been left on the steps of an orphanage to die of neglect or just left in the woods to die. If I survived to a useful age, I would be farmed out as a servant or even a slave.
        I am a grumpy, outspoken woman. I was raised by a religious fundamentalist family, in a fundamentalist church. I was kicked out at a young age, and was accused of being a witch, a scarlet woman, and a scold. Up until a few hundred years ago, I would have been put to death.

        History and prehistory fascinate me. I studied history at University (female education? also a modern day thing). I just think that people romanticize it and overlook a lot of hard truths.

        1. Dawbs*

          Well put.
          And that romanticizing is easier to do if you’re able bodied and not the 50% of the population more likely to die in childbirth. It put to death for not molding to standards.

    7. Pam*

      I’m wondering if the ability to amass power was part of it. Hunter-gatherers could walk away from a would-be tyrant. Once you are on the land, with possessions, it becomes harder to leave. Serfdom is invented.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It becomes harder to go anywhere new, once that land is in someone else’s defended territory. (And I am empathetic to the someone else saying “Hey! This sustains our current population; it won’t fly with twice as many people. You go find some space no one is using.”)

        Also, no one volunteers to be the serfs. You become serfs due to lack of better options, including that marching off to a nice empty valley next door is not an option.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The evidence is that physically people did not become healthier.

      I wonder about mentally and emotionally, though, and if it’s just that those don’t show up in the archaeological record. Those are things people would have noticed in the short term, too–day to day vs in the dental records after 30 years.

      There’s evidence that art and such may have appeared many times in out history, then petered out. It took a big enough population exchanging ideas and carrying a shared culture to really take off.

    1. Always looking for daily AAM Fix!*

      Glad to wee this question…also wondering…and want to express thanks that you “covered” your vacation and provided us with great reading material. You are appreciatied!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks for asking! Much, much better on all fronts. My husband is recovered from his surgery and was cleared by his doctor this week to resume normal activities. My niece is still recovering from heart surgery but doing really well. And I don’t have cancer, despite a serious scare. (This stuff was all going on in December, for anyone who hadn’t seen that earlier.) So things are much better.

      1. Always lookig for a AAM Fix*

        You need a true vacation!
        Seriously, so sorry you have gone through so much.
        Thankful things are doing better. Looking forward to a better 2022.

      2. Zona the Great*

        Reading this makes me even more upset by the few bunguses who complained about a month of updates instead of fresh content. I hope you got rest.

        1. Beth*

          People complained about that?!? I loved it!! And had I know it was allowing Alison more bandwidth to deal with family and medical stresses, I would have loved it even more. I’ll just have to love it more retroactively.

      3. Mimmy*

        So, so happy to hear things have improved greatly and that everyone is on the mend! I hope you take some time for yourself and have a TRUE vacation!

      4. Medical Librarian*

        So glad to hear this positive update, Alison. All the best to you and yours in 2022.

      5. I take tea*

        Oh my, that’s a lot. Good to hear things are going better, and I hope it will keep that way.

      6. Jean (just Jean)*

        Good to hear all this good news. May 2022 continue to be kind to you and your family.

      7. Elizabeth West*

        I’m so glad you and your family are doing well. That’s a lot to have to deal with all at once.

      8. Observer*

        I’m glad to hear that things are going better. I hope that whatever gave you that scare is also getting better.

      9. Anna*

        Thank you so much for this site. I hope for a bright and happy new year for you and your family

    3. Juneybug*

      Thank you Invisible Fish for starting this thread!

      Allison – so glad to hear the worst is behind you. I hope you and your loved ones have a healthy and happy year. Also, thank you for all you do!!

  14. Morning reader*

    A technology question and request for advice:
    How do I find someone to help me set up or fix the tech in my house? I could probably figure it all out but it just makes me tired, and procrastinate, to think about it. Is there a profession I could search for to help with:
    My wifi says it’s “low security” and I should change routers or something. I have no idea how to do that.
    My fire stick stopped working (maybe just the remote control?) so I haven’t used my tv for anything but dvds since summer.
    I’d like to have security cameras outside my house. I bought some Wyze cameras but when they came they said I needed a google device to connect them to. No idea what that is. (Thought I knew but I was wrong.)
    I’d like to have music in my house and I have several generations of equipment, but none of it is online. I have an old fashioned turntable, a CD player, lots of music on my old laptop, some massive speakers that aren’t connected to anything, and mostly I end up playing a song from YouTube on my phone since that is easiest in the moment.
    Id like to get more things connected, e.g. thermostat, lights. It would be so cool to be like on Star Trek and just say, “computer, lights” and that kind of thing.
    Is there a person or profession out there who can do all this? How do I find one of them? I realize I could probably figure out all these things on my own, but the idea of spending hours on the phone with ATT, or Amazon, or google, customer service leaves me putting it off another day.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      You may get better advice than this, but if I didn’t have any contacts that could do this, including the neighbor’s kid who would find this all trivially easy and be happy to do it for a few bucks, then I would go to an independent locally owned computer shop and throw myself on their mercy. This would likely be more expensive than the neighbor kid, but on the other hand it turns out that kids nowadays are not all tech geniuses, so getting professional help could well be worth the expense.

      1. Morning reader*

        Thanks, Richard! We have a local shop where I got the old laptop fixed last year. I think the guy only does PCs but I’ll ask. I think neighbor kid would laugh at me or not know what to do with vinyl.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Dont be so dure the kid weould sneer at your records. Vinyl has made a comeback in the last few years! And gen Z is part of it.

        2. Observer*

          The guy may only do PCs, but is likely to know someone who can help you. And, as Seeking says, you’d be surprised at how trendy vinyl has gotten. Also, a smart kid will understand that getting your vinyl connected is not all that different than connecting other analog devices, and there are still a surprising number of those out there.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Fascinating observation I’ve run across here and elsewhere is that some young people went straight to phones and so have very limited computer experience.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          A quarter century back you had to be pretty tech savvy just to make things work. I remember when I first got internet, back in dial-up days. Getting connected involved long conversations with the internet provider, with me typing in strings of symbols they read off to me. Nowadays it is trivially easy.

          The same thing happens routinely with various techs. Think of automobiles. If you wanted to have one a century ago you had to know how to do a lot of maintenance and small repairs. Or if you were rich, you hired someone for that. A chauffeur was not merely a driver. He was a mechanic. I am just old enough to remember when changing your own oil, including the oil filter, was something ordinary people might do.
          If you were really into it, you could do a lot of work on your car in the driveway. At one point I had a car subject to vapor lock, so I had to keep a can of gas in the trunk so I could pop the hood, open up the carburator, and prime it directly. All this stuff is pretty much unimaginable nowadays. I don’t know if it is practical for a private person even to change the oil in a modern car. But then again, modern cars are so much more reliable and durable that shade-tree mechanic skills are largely useless. Changing the tire is the only emergency repair an ordinary person might plausibly either need or be able to do. The kids nowadays would have no clue how to fix their car, and really why should they?

          The idea that kids are necessarily tech savvy comes from a brief period in tech when it was mainstream enough that the kids all wanted it, but primitive enough that they had to understand it to make it work. User interfaces have moved past this.

          1. Hanani*

            I change my car’s oil for three-quarters of the year (I pay someone with a lift and heated shop to do it during the winter), but my car is a pre-2000 model. A friend with a much newer car has to take off a wheel in order to change the oil, which is the kind of design choice that boggles my mind.

            There’s plenty of stuff I won’t touch on my car, though, and I imagine that when I have to get a newer one with its attendant increased computerized systems, that will become even more the case.

            I teach college students, and their lack of comfort in just fiddling with technology is fascinating and kind of sad. User interfaces have gotten so smooth that they don’t know what to do when the next step isn’t obvious. And, weirdest part to me, they never think to search their question online. They’ve grown up with the answer to almost everything in a box in their pocket, and they just…don’t use it? Very confusing.

            1. bratschegirl*

              Re bizarre design decisions, we gave up a lovely car in large part because the clutch was going to need replacing soon, and in that car you had to drop out the entire transmission to get to the clutch, making it something like a $4000 job. That, plus pushing 200,000 miles, just was prohibitive.

            2. the cat's ass*

              ugh, the tech stuff. I try to keep it real simple so if the power goes out all is not lost. I just bought a new (gas) stove and while shopping saw a few that were WiFi enabled. WHY?!?
              You can set up a security system using a computer and closed circuit and not involve google at all.

              1. Observer*

                Wifi for the stove? Not so much, but for the oven? That can be enormously useful. Being able to schedule the thing to go on and off can be a big deal. I’ve had ovens with timers and no, they didn’t work for this kind of scenario.

                If the capacity is also there to sense how ready stuff is? That’s huge. For some things the weather makes a difference in how long it should bake, but it’s not always so easy to track it. Such sensors would we soooo useful. But their usefulness would be much higher if I could see that information wherever I am.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Should add: at least in American schools with a decent budget, the kids use laptops. Mine have both their own and the ones (not as good) issued by the school. They are perfectly proficient at the tasks they are called upon to perform, but don’t ask them what a CPU is. They have no reason to know.

        3. Double A*

          As an elder millennial who teaches at an online school, I can confirm this is true! A lot of the kids are quite clueless about very basic computer functions, but I’m sure they can make videos with the best of them (a skill I am rudimentary at at best).

          Your ideal demographic for tech savviness is the elder millennial, born in the early-mid 80s, for the reasons RH spells out nicely, but as we are pushing 40 and well into professional careers we’re past the “few bucks for the neighbor kid” stage. I could probably set up what you describe, but it would take hours and would be a pain and not very fun. So I second the local computer shop!

        4. Observer*

          That’s true. But it’s not uncommon to have a kid who is just into whatever the technology of the day is. Or the one who is mechanically inclined when no one else is. So, I wouldn’t expect any random kid to be helpful. But there could easily be THAT kid, who is maybe nerdy, but when it comes to tech (or cars or whatever) is the person you want to talk to.

    2. WellRed*

      I’ve seen people in my area put out a call for help on a next door or other community forum and get responses.

    3. MMB*

      Try contacting companies like “HelloTech” or local home audio installers. You may need two separate companies, one for the audio and one for the wireless like ontechsmartservices.com. I think Best Buy offers set-up and installation services as well.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Just make sure that when you loose power, you’re not held captive in your house due everything being interconnected.

      I don’t want to be hacked, so I keep everything simple in my house, and if the “internet of everything” becomes reality for you, you’ll need an expert computer hacker to unhack your home.

      1. Observer*

        Just make sure that when you loose power, you’re not held captive in your house due everything being interconnected.

        There is term for this – it’s called fail safe. Any security person who isn’t aware of this is someone you should stay faaar away from.

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

      My parents have used GeekSquad through Best Buy. Not cheap, but they seem to know what they’re doing. The audio set up might not be in their wheelhouse, you might need an A/V tech, but the computer, WIFI, and camera/Google connections should be. If you internet search GeekSquad, you might also get hits on competitors in your area.

      1. Almost Academic*

        Given the variety of tasks you mention, this would be my recommendation as well – probably the best shot you have at finding someone who can troubleshoot / install / make recommendations for the diverse tech you have.

    6. A Feast of Fools*

      My window installer recommended an Audio-Visual tech guy to install my roof-top antenna and help me connect that signal to my Tablo DVR. Chatting while he was working, I learned that he does all audio-visual stuff, including setting up home theaters, connecting all the entertainment devices to a master controller, and installing security cameras (complete with hard drive to record video locally and not in a camera-provider’s cloud).

      So maybe look on Angi (formerly Angie’s List) for an audio-visual installer?

      I also agree with WellRed’s suggestion to just ask on Nextdoor.

    7. Bob Howard*

      We have various bits and pieces, for instance a Yamaha Musicast HiFi in several rooms connected to a library of music on a memory stick in the router, and a “Smart” electric car charger. Yet as a fully paid up member of the cynical old farts club, I approach this with a fair amount of caution. The problems are:

      1. Security. There have been several cases of devices, e.g. cameras having much lower security than you would expect. Some devices do not have their MAC address written on them, so you have to lower the security on your router to get them to connect.
      2. Longevity: Your turntable and CD player will still be working 10 years from now, with no effort on your part. Most internet connected devices have a practical maximum lifetime of 5 years before they stop receiving updates, or the company just turns off the servers.
      3. Dependencies: What functionality are you left with if the internet goes down, or the company goes bust, or just turns off the servers?
      4. Maintenance: As you noticed, things stop working. The cause is often a complete mystery and there are hardly ever any intelligible error messages. Sometimes one of my Yamaha devices just falls off the network, and needs power-cycling to restore it.

      If you engage someone else to setup everything for you then specify exactly what you want, and budget for a regular visit to keep it all working.

      Personally I would consider transferring your music collection to a memory card in your phone and then using a 3.5 mm jack cable to connect to your existing analogue system. In general a wired connection (3.5 mm jack instead of bluetooth, Ethernet lead instead of wi-fi) is MUCH more reliable.

      On a final note, it as a general observation I think that all the people who would know everything about working on cars 30 year ago now spend that time fiddling with their computer and network connections instead.
      k connections instead.

    8. Morning reader*

      Thanks all! I got busy and ran out of time to respond this weekend, but you had some great ideas and things to consider. I think I might get this done this year, even!

  15. Morning reader*

    A question about tv series: is it now the custom that there are no “good guys” on a show, and all the characters are terrible people? I’m thinking this trend started with Seinfeld, or about that time.

    More specifically:
    I recently started watching “Yellowstone.” I usually like westerns, for the horses and scenery if nothing else, and I expected to like this, but I’m having trouble getting into it. There doesn’t seem to be anyone to root for. Is it all villains, all the time!

    Secondary question: where can I find synopses or discussion of these episodes? Part of my problem is that I can’t figure out what is going on, quite often.

    (Spoilers from first few episodes…. )

    They recruit some skinny guy out of prison and brand him… Billy or Jimmy or something. He obviously doesn’t want to be there. Why would they do this? Are they just knocking down random trailer doors and kidnapping dudes to be their cowboys?

    Some woman kills herself in a trailer on the Rez. Who is that? Was I supposed to recognize her?

    Why the hell is the daughter-woman half naked all the time? Who wears slinky off the shoulder outfits on a ranch? Is this just “let’s photograph the cute blonde as naked as possible as often as possible” Hollywood strategy, or is there some plot point to it?

    Is the woman the Kevin Costner character sleeping with also the governor?

    Some of my problem is that I don’t recognize people very well. It’s often a problem in movies where I can’t tell one white guy in a suit from the other white guys in suits. I’ve googled around a bit and haven’t found a place online that has details like this, other than paid sites.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I don’t have any answers since I haven’t seen Yellowstone but I think if you join and post in The Movie Crushers Facebook page someone could help! I know there are a decent number of people in the group who watch that show

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Can’t speak to the specific show.

      “All terrible people” I think is limited in its appeal (which is not zero), and I’d expect something more like The Good Place in which everyone has flaws. And trying to incorporate flaws can be a reaction to characterization problems like “The villain is really interesting and well-developed; the hero is boring” or “The hero’s bad actions are being hand-waved away by him being the hero.”

      I need someone to root for, and would drop a show where everyone seems horrible.

      1. Pippa K*

        Can’t remember which show, but there’s a clip out there of an actor doing an excellent impression of Alan Rickman responding to a child’s question about why he always plays villains. “I don’t play villains. I play very interesting characters.”

        1. fposte*

          I’ve heard that from the (sadly late) John Sessions, who loved a good scenery-chewing impression.

          1. The Dogman*

            I totally missed he had died. That is a bit of a blow, he was a very funny and knowledgeable person.

        2. the cat's ass*

          OH God, Alan Rickman, he was stupendous in EVERYTHING, and, apparently IRL was a sweetheart. That voice. Did you ever see him on Jimmy Fallon with the helium?

          But i digress…

          1. UKDancer*

            He was amazing. I saw him at the theatre in Private Lives with Lindsay Duncan. He was so sinfully attractive it was absolutely irresistible and then so nice when he was signing autographs afterwards. Also he always made me cheer for the bad guy in every film he was in.

      2. CTT*

        I was reading this thread and was thinking about how sitcoms like The Good Place or Schitt’s Creek or Ted Lasso seem almost like a reaction to the antihero dramas, where the buzz around those is “actually, what the show is REALLY about is how we treat other people and ourselves.”

    3. VI Guy*

      Check if the show has audio description (or video description) for the blind / visually impaired. The good captions provide a lot of context! They mention names of characters, what they are doing within a larger context. Sadly many shows don’t offer it.

    4. Elle Woods*

      I can’t speak to Yellowstone as I haven’t watched it. Broadly speaking, there’s been a shift in TV over the past couple of decades to develop more fully-rounded characters. It’s those quirks that make people–and, by extension, TV characters–interesting.

    5. WellRed*

      I’ve definitely noticed, maybe not all terrible people, but tv shows that were so busy trying to be all twisty and who’s the bad guy and what shocker is coming next that they are exhausting to watch. “Damages,” a legal show, was one. And “how to get away with murder” was so preoccupied with wanting to make you wonder who or what that it forgot to get an actual storyline.

      1. banoffee pie*

        They were all so OTT awful in How to Get Away with Murder that I had to stop watching. It was a shame because there were some good aspects to that show but they were just trying to shock us with how manipulative and heartless everybody could be.

        The Seinfeld thing is interesting because everyone always says the characters were bad people, which they kind of were, but they had some good points. They were very kind to Kramer (especially Jerry) He basically let him freeload off him for years.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I’ve been watching reruns of Seinfeld and some
          episodes bugged me so much and makes me disagree with the “they’re so horrible” idea. Like how Jerry gets shunned by his neighbors because he doesn’t want to kiss everyone hello. I mean yeah they had their low points. But rarely anyone is all evil or good on shows.

    6. Texan In Exile*

      I don’t need to like the characters, but I need to care about what happens to them. In “House of Cards,” I found all the characters despicable, but I wanted them to get what was coming to them.

    7. Admiral Thrawn Is Blue*

      I’ve watched a lot of YW, and I can see why so many like it but darn…!! I keep wondering when LE is going to start paying attention to all the violence. And you are right, there are no good guys here. In the end, John Dutton is fighting for something that will die with him, since none of his family really want all this. They will sell when he dies. So much of this show just doesn’t make any sense. I think Monica is supposed to the conscience of the show, but I find her annoying. Kayce has no real backbone, but I give him credit for wanting to not be so violent.

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I think it’s a combination of trying to have more depth (avoiding stereotypes, making everyone both relatable and flawed) or trying and failing to be “edgy” (everyone just sucks and makes baffling choices). To be fair, I don’t tend to enjoy darker shows so I don’t feel like I’ve encountered this much! Just things like Arrested Development where everyone is terrible but the point is to laugh at them for it, or Mad Men where everyone is terrible but in realistic/subtle ways where they’re not all bad and you still care about them.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think this is less a trend of actively trying to make everyone into a (semi-)bad guy and more a try to implement the trend of making characters more rounded, fully-fledged people, meaning they also have flaws etc. and… well, being more or less bad at it.

      2. fposte*

        You’re the Worst was great for that. The characters were genuinely doing really crappy stuff in very unevolved, shallow ways, not just cute sitcom ways, but you get really great glimpses of why they’re like that and you’re also rooting for them, even if you’re not sure what victory you’d like them to have.

        Which reminds me of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which was brilliant. I need to get those songs out again.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Looooove Crazy Ex Girlfriend, and love that all of the characters are flawed and redeemable….except Trent.

    9. Cj*

      I felt this way about “Anarchy” and “The Shield”. Didn’t get past the few couple of episode on either one, and I had been looking forward to them based on the previews.

    10. Filosofickle*

      There are sites that do synopses of episodes. (I miss Television Without Pity!) A quick search turns up that Vulture recaps episodes for Yellowstone, and those are free. Search for “showname recap” or “showname plot synopsis” and it should point you in the right direction.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        That’s my suggestion. I don’t watch Yellowstone, but I do this for lots of shows … google for an episode recap/review if I’m trying to h deters do something.

    11. Girasol*

      I read some study that said that while our 70s culture went for silly humor and clear cut dramas of good-vs-evil, that our modern tastes have become “nuanced,” so now we prefer dark humor and dramas where the good guy isn’t flawless and the bad guy is bad but his mother never loved him.

    12. Lady Alys*

      Not related to “Yellowstone” in particular, but I find that Wikipedia generally has good episode synopses, which I take advantage of when I need to know just how violent/depressing the new show my husband has started watching is, so I can go do something elsewhere if needed.

    13. ronda*

      I did binge watch a season and 1/2 of this with my sister when I was staying over the holidays and can only answer 1 of your questions :)
      yes Kevin Costner is sleeping with the governor (well maybe not later cause his influence is fading in the parts I watched)

      I have a feeling that the suicide is the wife of Casey’s brother inlaw that he killed after he killed Casey’s brother. (but I am not certain)

      I really only do like the daughter-woman character because she is so awful she is entertaining. In real life I would avoid her. She doesn’t really want to be at the ranch, so her not dressing to be at a ranch makes sense…. but the half naked is a general thing that is often done with the attractive women in a show. (the lawyer brother is also hardly ever in anything but a suit)

      Personally I do enjoy an over the top bad person. the assassin in killing eve is a good example.

      and I do remember in black panther liking the bad guy much better than the black panther character (and the female characters better too), cause the good guy came off as boring in that movie.

    14. cat socks*

      Vulture dot com has episode recaps of popular shows. I used to read the recaps for Altered Carbon because I couldn’t always follow what was happening.

    15. All guys in suits*

      Just a note of solidarity for not being able to tell one white guy in a suit from another. Or when a new character appears…have I seen them before? I’m not always sure. Probably one reason why I’ve never been a big movie watcher, which also means I’m not familiar with famous actors, and so can’t even differentiate characters based on “that’s X famous actor vs Y other famous actor.” I’ve found the only solution is watch with a patient partner who will allow us to pause and help me get things straight!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        LOL! I was so confused during the WWII movie Dunkirk. All characters were young white guys with short hair in uniforms.

        Worse a plot point was a French soldier with a French accent put in a British uniform to try to escape with the evacuation so he didn’t speak. Only because they all looked alike I didn’t realize one of the characters wasn’t speaking!

        So I feel you on not knowing who the white guy is.

    16. Potatoes gonna potate*

      One show I’ve been watching is 9-1-1 and the spin-off lone star 9-1-1. That show I can say the characters are nuanced with rich stories but they’re all on the “right” side.

    17. Choggy*

      I have watched all seasons of YW and found a Yellowstone thread on Reddit which was really fun and I asked and answered questions. It was pretty brutal, everyone hates Monica, but was always entertaining.

      I found this last season not as good as the previous ones. I’m not sure if they will have a Season 5.

    18. Morning reader*

      I’m further along in the series and figured out who the characters are (mostly), and it’s getting more nuanced, and slightly less irritating. On the dvds I have from the library, there’s commentary on the “behind the story” menu. I’ve taken to watching that first and it’s a big help figuring out what the heck is going on. Got this technique from a friend who likes opera, and he learns the plot before he sees it, especially when it’s in a language he doesn’t know. Also, you don’t have to be online to watch a dvd! I will check out some of the other sources mentioned. For some reason, vulture won’t let me in without subscribing or something.

      I’ve observed the “even the good guys have to be twisty” phenomena for years reading mystery novels. All the new detectives are alcoholics, or recovering alcoholics, or murderers themselves secretly, or have some trauma in their background. They even put Sherlock on the spectrum, to make him more understandable or something? Who knows.

      Anyway thanks for the input, suggestions and observations!

      1. Morning reader*

        Eek, I didn’t mean to equate being on the spectrum with alcoholism or criminality, sorry! Just that writers work to put something different in their characters so they’re not all cookie cutter “good guys,” and I mostly appreciate that but I like to see more good than bad in the good ones, and at least a glimpse of good in the bad too.

  16. Morning Dew*

    Has anyone transitioned from ACA to Medicare?

    The ACA website says when you cancel ACA, sometimes cancellation could be effective immediately and sometimes not (coverage ending on the last day of the month). What does that mean? How do you know whether your coverage ends right away or not? Does the website give you an option to choose your own end date?

    Medicare for Dummies suggests canceling ACA at least two weeks prior to Medicare coverage. I called ACA helpline 3 times and twice I was told coverage ends immediately so ACA needs to be canceled literally one day before Medicare starts. The third rep said coverage is good until the end of paid premium month.

    I wanted to cancel before the 10th of this month because the insurance company’s invoice comes out on the 10th. I wanted to make sure I don’t pay for February premium (which is when Medicare becomes effective) but I am told insurance company will refund eventually once it receives cancellation and updated coverage info from ACA.

    Can anyone share their experience please? Thank you.

    1. MMB*

      You need to call your insurance company’s customer service line directly, as they will be the most knowledgeable about their specific policies.

    2. AGinGA*

      The ACA rules say the primary insured must cancel insurance on the day you want it canceled. ACA also says you cannot have ACA and Medicare at the same time. So don’t pay the February ACA premium, and it’s nice but not necessary to call the insurance company to let them know you are canceling. You MUST cancel through the ACA service center. Wait until 7pm on the 31st of January (or whenever you’re safely home for the day and they’re still open) and cancel the coverage because you’re eligible for Medicare. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL FEBRUARY 1ST! The ACA will pay your subsidy to the insurance company, and it will mess you up.

      1. Morning Dew*

        Actually I am the primary account holder for ACA (I have been for a year) and recently added my husband. He is eligible for Medicare due to disability and he was on COBRA the entire time after he stopped working.

        Does this change the scenario of when I can cancel and have his coverage still until the end of January? (The fact that I am the primary account owner who will keep the coverage and canceling only his?) I will still have ACA on my own after he starts Medicare but I just need to cancel his at the right time for him to have his coverage until 1/31/2022 and start his Medicare on 2/1/2022.

        I just don’t understand their explanation of some coverage being canceled immediately and some not and they even have on their website about canceling before or after the 15th.

  17. No Longer Fencer*

    I own a Revvl4 phone and lately, charging it has become an issue (yes I know it’s not the greatest phone but it was the one I could afford and I’m a minimalist). I took it to the T-Mobile store and they said to use the original charger. But the original charger stopped working and T-Mobile doesn’t make Revvl4 charger replacements. I ended up buying two Revvl4 charging cords (1 in case) and I plug a cord into the original T-Mobile charger plug that goes into the wall socket but it takes SO long to charge if it does charge at all. Do I 1) get a new phone and risk running into this charger problem again or 2) Keep buying Revvl4 charging cords online which are $8 apiece?

    I really hate switching phones even if I do keep my number and all I want is a phone that charges right that I can call and get email and internet from. Nothing complicated. If I had a choice I wouldn’t use a Smartphone but it’s the most convenient way to get/send urgent emails. Tips?

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      I would probably say upgrade to something with a usb c charger since they’re pretty standard now among androids

    2. PollyQ*

      If you can afford it, just get a new phone. And I’d try a different brand or model, given that this one didn’t seem to be too reliable. Life is too short, yanno?

    3. The Dogman*

      Is it the battery perhaps?

      Is it a phone where you can replace the battery yourself? If so it might be worth spending 30-50 on a new battery?

      Or if you know someone with one of these phones you could try a battery swap to see if that is what you need?

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      In the meantime msybe post a ‘wanted’ on Buy Nothing or Freecycle and see if anyone has a charger kicking around for their long-gone phone?

    5. *daha**

      I’m gonna bet that your battery is at end-of-life. If you like your t-mobile service and plan, go back to their store and ask what your free upgrade options are. They’ve got several phones that seem to be $0/month with a 24 month service commitment (but I might be misreading their website since you’re a current customer.) I’ve got the Motorola One 5G Ace which cost me nothing as a trade in at Metro by T-Mobile (used to be Metro PCS). It can’t hold a candle to the current high-tech phones, but it makes calls, it takes pictures, it plays videos and music, it browses, it does all the things. I handed them my old phone, gave them my account # and transfer PIN (I had to call my own customer service to get that, since you are changing phones same-company you probably won’t) and they did the number transfer and set up all for me while I stood by.

    6. No Longer Fencer*

      Thanks all. I have storage space on it (more than my SO’s phone). I’ll try a charger set I found online that miraculously matches its original. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go with a new phone. But also, why are T-Mobile phones either $90 or $799…there’s no in between.

      1. Observer*

        Nothing in between is because the cheap phones are to hook you in and the expensive ones are where they make a profit on the phone.

        Consider getting a phone not from T-Mobile, if the new charger doesn’t work. And get one that used USB-C as others have suggested, as you should never have to worry about using the “original charger”, unless you are thinking about “fast charging”, which is not something you are likely to care about.

        Nokia makes some very solid not expensive phones. Motorola does some nice phones too, although not as good as Nokia, imo.

        I’ll link some sources of information in my reply.

        1. Observer*

          https://www.gsmarena.com/
          This is my go to for a first round of figuring out what good options are when I’m looking for a new situation.

          https://www.androidcentral.com/best-android-phone-under-100
          I’ll be honest and say that if you can go above $100 you will be better off – these are not really good phone.
          Blu, which is on the top of their list tends to be junk and simply doesn’t have a long lifetime in my experience. Nokia / HMD is much better, and Motorola is also better. But you are definitely cutting some corners here.

          https://www.androidcentral.com/best-android-phones-under-400
          Check pricing – this stuff has moved around a fair bit.

          https://www.androidcentral.com/best-cheap-android-phones#samsung-galaxy-a52-5g
          Same comment about pricing here.

          https://www.phonescoop.com/
          This is a very good place to narrow down what your options. Then you can ask here or on some other sites for more information / find reviews.

  18. My Brain Is Exploding*

    I need sources! My MIL complained that her tshirts are all too long. It’s true, they are (she’s short and short-waisted!), BUT because of her stooped posture, her shoulder-to-waist measurement on the front side of her body is several inches smaller than her shoulder- to-waist measurement on the back side of her body. What she really needs is t-shirts in a medium or large size petite that are longer in the back than in the front. Any ideas? Less expensive is better.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This could be a basic tailoring fix? I’d check your local dry-cleaners. Cost for this sort of basic straight seam (as with hemming pants) would be fairly low, especially when you consider whether you’d pay the same amount more for a specialty top.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        This! Our local dry cleaner also does alterations and they altered my son’s school uniform pants and did a great job! They also do tops, blouses, shirts, etc..

    2. Purple cat*

      High-low hem shirts will give some of a difference, but “several inches” is a lot. A tailor is going to be your best bet. Especially to fix shirts she already has.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Google “women’s drop tail tee shirt.” You’ll get a bunch of hits including quite inexpensive ones on Walmart. (The reviewers dislike those because they run small, which might be what you’re looking for.)

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        OOH! Good search term; hadn’t thought of that one. I’m on it! Walmart seems to have limited choices right now but that term will be helpful. Thanks!

    4. Dawbs*

      You might look at clothing for special needs- your secret Google phrase is “adaptive clothing”

      It’s becoming more common and stylish (tommy Hilfiger has an adaptive line! Target has some for kids). It’s often designed for ease of getting off and on but it’s increasingly including things for body differences. It also makes etsy an incredible place to shop.
      There are things like openatbacks (so 2 layers overlap there) that might at least feel better

      https://www.allheart.com/silverts/silverts/womens/silverts-womens-open-back-active-basic-top/si-139—-hinxlg.html?s=XLG&c=HIN&gclid=Cj0KCQiAieWOBhCYARIsANcOw0ykh4_AbuvUqZGVHDwyK4CHXv6EEkpkmkmpHmhmwNvjZ4VX_5ji3kgaAo3FEALw_wcB

      Or overlap in the front, which is almost the opposite:
      https://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=486073042&vid=1&tid=atpl000023&kwid=1&ap=7&gclid=Cj0KCQiAieWOBhCYARIsANcOw0zDysbCzrN_f-5KvkYDIgFbBI2Mc4ChLLi3BZd03xWcqvZ2OpCukS0aAprAEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds#pdp-page-content

    5. The Dogman*

      Work on her posture? It will save her pain and discomfort, and then t-shirts can be bought that actually fit her?

      Yoga and some weight lifting each week will get her on track.

        1. The Dogman*

          Ohh, I thought she was maybe 60 ish… tailoring is maybe the way forwards then?

          Some local seamstriss/ster could get her whole wardrobe sorted for you I am sure.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Hey, just as a community service, I wanted to clearly identify some of the ways that the above comment is ableist.

        This comment made assumptions regarding facts not in evidence: That the person the OP is referring to would be more normal if they just put a little effort into it, and that the real problem here is not the one identified (“how to find a shirt that works for them”) but actually “lazy person needs to put more effort into becoming Normal, and let me tell you how.” The subtext is that physical differences are due to laziness and/or bad judgement. (Or invented purely to manipulate the innocent Normals of the world, but hopefully that’s a different rant.)

        Instead, it’s a good idea to assume a disabled or physically/mentally different individual has a lot of knowledge about their personal situation, and that you are not likely to– with an off-hand comment based on 1 to 2 percent of their story– hand them the Golden Ticket to The Simple Easy Solution. Golden Tickets based on gumption, trying harder, exercising, (or any version of yoga), are pretty much guaranteed to be wrong. And also pretty much guaranteed to be hurtful.

        It was meant it to be helpful, I have no doubt. But it harms other people.

        Additionally, it’s not actually an innocent mistake: It is also an (unintentionally selfish) method of ego defense, because IF you can convince yourself that people who have physical differences (or mental differences) are in that state because they did something wrong, THEN your own sense of security is intact, since YOU would never be so foolish as to make those bad choices. The scary truth is that everyone, every day, is at risk of accident, genetics, infection, or age. The bodies we have are glorious, and temporary. There is more honor in wrestling with that hard truth than in making yourself feel better by shaming other people.

        TL/DR: The way this type of comment falls on a disabled person (or anyone with differences) is unhelpful, and causes people pain.

        (Climbing down off soapbox now. Carefully.)

    6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Blair usually has some drop-tail tees, also try Anthony Richards. Both are the older woman’s budget best friend! Duluth Trading Company has a lot of longer tees; those would be easy to adapt by slitting the side seams up a few inches and then cutting and re-hemming the front.

    7. My Brain Is Exploding*

      It will take a while to filter through all the suggestions; thanks to everyone. So far, no luck, though. I am finding drop-tail tshirts, but either not in petites or in a longer overall length. Tailoring is out – I know she won’t go for that (plus small farm town with nothing like that aroung) – I can sew, and have altered some of her clothes, but tshirts are harder and require me to bring both my sewing machine and my serger (and I’m a bit afraid that I won’t get a nice longer curve in the back and shorter in front v. me just shortening something the same over all). Anyway, I have some good search terms now as well as places to search!

      1. ShinyPenny*

        If you google “side vent tutorial shirt hem” you might find a fairly simple DIY to get a short front and a longer back on a t-shirt. It’s not fancy but worked great when I made some shirts for my friend’s mother, who also was quite bend forward. Sewing machines are magic!

    8. newbie*

      Talbots has petites and calls this style a “high-low hem”. Your description does sound like the difference between front and back may be too much for off-the-rack, though.

    9. Longtime Lurker*

      well, for casual wear, look at biking gear. Some of the shirts are made to fit while hunched over the handlebars so are longer in back. Not necessarily inexpensive, and the style might otherwise be “out there” for someone in their 80s….

  19. Dwight Schrute*

    If there could only be one cryptid that was real, which would you choose? Think Bigfoot, elves, mothman, mermaids, megalodon currently still alive and not extinct, etc.

    Additionally, which do you think has the best lore surrounding it? I think Bigfoot has some decent lore!

    1. Chilly Delta Blues*

      Selkies would be my vote. I just like the idea of folks that can back and forth from seals to humans and who hasn’t wanted to join a group of them lounging on a rock somewhere with all their friends?

      Love this question!

    2. Sloanicote*

      I really want the Thylacine sightings in Australia to be real and not fake. Also the Ivory-billed woodpecker in the US. Both are probably extinct because of humans and it makes me so sad. I wish they had survived so I guess I’m rooting for them. After that, probably the yetis in Tibet.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        The Ivory-billeds are almost certainly extinct, sadly. Between the sprawl of human habitation and the territory requirements Ivory-billed woodpeckers required, people would know if they were still out there. We’ve got a pileated pair that nests near the house. It’s a very lovely thing, of course, but the process of woodpeckers pairing up and raising their young is… unsubtle.

        Also, fun pileated fact- apparently a defense mechanism for the fledglings is trying to lick you in the eyeball. Not a big fan of that, personally.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I don’t know if that’s an actual defense mechanism! I just picked up one of the kids after they were practicing flying and fell in the koi pond, and it. licked me. in the eyeball. (not really, they have a barb on the end of their tongue and I would have had severe damage and eye infections if it had actually got me. but it was close enough that I had to stop myself from hucking the poor thing back into the pond.)

              1. KoiFeeder*

                Eh, pileateds don’t exactly swim well, the koi were trying to figure out how to eat a bird larger than them, and the parents were deeply unhappy with the situation. Had to be done. Fortunately pileateds are shockingly light. Like a little stuffed animal. Except alive and trying to lick you.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Nessie! I remember reading an article about like, the foremost Loch Ness monster expert basically saying “yeah, she’s probably just a big catfish but that’s okay” which I thought was so wholesome lol

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My vote goes to Nessie too. The Loch Ness visitors center at Drumnadrochit basically presents all the “evidence” and says yeah, this probably isn’t a thing but make up your own mind. The currents and waves in it really do look suspiciously like something is swimming underwater. The loch is fairly sterile in terms of having enough food to support a creature or creatures that size, unfortunately. As a kid, though, I loved the idea of Nessie and passionately hoped she was real.

    4. pancakes*

      I love Mothman, but I’ll never not click on a Nessie or Bigfoot sighting. My favorite was the two guys who claimed to have a deceased Bigfoot in a freezer. (When defrosted it was of course a cheap hairy costume with huge rubbery feet).

    5. just another bureaucrat*

      I’m so excited about this question I don’t even know where to start!

      I feel like I’d have to go with faeries because the lore is so deep and vast and continually built on. Because it would be the most turn the world upside down thing. But I love the thunderbird and all it’s old and new variations and mer-creatures of all kinds too.

    6. The Dogman*

      The Kraken.

      Cos then someone could say “Unleash the Kraken” and it would be real!

      Plus the seas would not be getting overfished if we had Kraken eating ships etc.

    7. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Kobolds, the household sprite characters in Germanic lore (NOT the current fantasy game versions), or their Nordic cousins, the tomtes.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      Coming out of left field here, but the flying snakes of welsh lore. They’re some of my absolute favorite cryptids, because the stories about them are actually quite plausible. People went out and hunted them for their skins? They’re described not as lost wonders, but as terrors of the henhouse and as bad as a fox when it comes to poultry? I don’t know if they were actually snakes, but the way they’re described is such a human way of viewing inconvenient animals that I really do want them to be real.

  20. Dwight Schrute*

    What are your favorite unsolved mysteries? My two favorites are The Dyatlov Pass and The Yuba County 5. I would love to be able to go back in time and observe what happened!

      1. The Dogman*

        Amelia Earhart almost certainly died in the Western Pacific, possibly killed by a Japanese military unit.

        And which colony that was lost? There have been a few…

    1. machinedreams*

      They apparently solved the Dyatlov Pass situation but… uh… it makes very little sense to mee and feels like a lot of reaching.

      As for my own, I’ve got two. One’s vastly more local to me — the Jaclyn Dowaliby murder. Little girl was murdered in the town my grandparents lived in, though a couple years before they moved into the area (unfortunately they’ve both passed now and I never thought to ask them if they’d heard anything about it) . Jaclyn was kidnapped, there was a break-in that may or may not have been faked, and her parents got put on trial for the murder. Mom was acquitted, dad was convicted, conviction got overturned and he was released. Last time I checked, they still hadn’t solved it.

      The other one is Elisa Lam, the woman that died in the Cecil Hotel.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Such a sad story! And agreed on the Dyatolov Pass, I feel like the explanation isn’t great so to me it’s still unsolved

      2. WellRed*

        Oh we have a local mystery. 10 years ago, 2 yo Ayla Reynolds disappeared. She was spending the night with her father and his girlfriend and mom (I think) were also in the house that night. Trace of blood. To this day all three claim she was taken from the house. Biggest investigation in state history. Nothing.

    2. I take tea*

      Kaspar Hauser has always fascinated me. Who was he, and why was he imprisoned, released and then killed?

    3. allathian*

      The fate of Amelia Earhart is an intriguing mystery. Sadly it’s getting less and less likely that the wrecked plane will ever be found and identified.

      Who really killed Swedish PM Olof Palme?

  21. Commentator update*

    Removed per the commenting rules that ask for no “here’s an update on my life” style posts, which were banned because they’d gotten out of control and were making the site seem cliquish to new readers. (Apologies, I know you’re expressing interest in other people rather than doing that about your own life, which is a warm and kind thing to do! But it’s going to directly contravene the rules.) – Alison

  22. FourHornedBrother*

    Any other Succession watchers start mentally composing an AAM letter from Comfrey’s perspective during “Too Much Birthday”? “My boss made me buy 1,000 vintage He-Man lunchboxes and now expects me to resell them”

  23. Sloanicote*

    Is it strange not to like to host? When people ask what I want to do, having them come to my place would be like, my least preferred option. I’d usually rather go out somewhere as a first preference, even though during covid that place would be like, a dog park, walk, or outdoor patio in the cold. Then I guess I’d go to their place, but I don’t really *love* to do that as I usually find it a bit awkward, and last, they come to me. I don’t feel like a good host – I never have a lot of host food on-hand and get tangled up trying to decide what to buy, I worry my house is not clean enough – which it’s not – and I just – don’t really like to have people in my house that much. I live alone which I think is part of it. I also become keenly conscious of the deficiencies when people are over, like having the wrong seating arrangement, not enough space, wrong serving plates or whatever. How many people feel this way?

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Totally normal. We still have lingering cultural attitudes from Ye Olden Days, when in middle class families the wife stayed home, the house had a formal dining room, and they had the good china, all this coming together into formal dinner parties. Nowadays we likely have less space, we only have the good china if our parents managed to foist it off on us and then we keep it in a box somewhere, and all the adults work outside the home so the housecleaning is not up to our parents’ standards. So it goes.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Part of it is definitely the consciousness that my mother’s house was better in every way. She was a stay at home mom, so that’s my standard, which I don’t even kind of live up to – particularly after my sisters and I were off at school and the homemaking was full time.

        1. PT*

          My mom was OBSESSIVE about hosting. She wouldn’t let anyone over without spending the week scrubbing (so no impromptu playdates, ever, no friends hanging out), and then if someone did get in the door she’d spend the entire visit apologizing that the carpet was due to be replaced in the next few years and really we should remod the kitchen, I’m so sorry you had to see it before we got the work done.

          She sometimes asks me if I’m cleaning up before guests like that and I’m just not going to. My house is mostly clean and I’ll give it a respectable adult tidying for guests, and beyond that if you don’t like it then you don’t have to come over again.

      2. the cat's ass*

        Well said. My parents entertained ALL the time, but hated overnight house guests. As she aged, my mom complained a bit about how much work it was.

        I am an introvert with a demanding job, but I’ll host a potluck in a flash and my house is the go-to for Girl Scout meetings (hey, want some cookies?). I am married to someone who LOVES to clean, but either of us enjoy house guests.

        You do you!

    2. LDN Layabout*

      It’s not strange and it can be incredibly gendered in terms of who carries the expectations.

      I personally love hosting and feeding people, whereas my stepmother loves having guests but the actual preparations stress her to the high heavens but she feels she ‘has’ to do them. We’ve all slowly worked on getting her out of that mindset and we’re now at the point where she tends to be ‘support’ for events e.g. my dad will cook and arrange things and she will do little bits of prep or a side dish.

      Christmas this year was everyone pitching in on a delicious but low effort meal vs. doing the full roast and the trimmings and it went over so well we had the exact same meal again days later. This was a full evolution from ‘have to do everything from scratch myself’ -> ‘getting nice semi-prepared food’ -> ‘have everyone pitch in and have it easy’.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I think if I were hosting big family dinners, I’d rather do potluck/pitching in. I like that better than one person doing everything and the rest sitting around.

        1. allathian*

          The thing I like most about our kitchen is that it’s big enough for two or three people to cook and do food prep in.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I think it’s totally normal! That said, I’m the exact opposite in that I don’t normally seek out a ton of socialization but when I do, “Come over to my place!” is my default suggestion because it means I get to be in the comfort of my own home, with my furniture and my blankets and my food, and just add people I care about. (Although it does help that my partner is much more host-y than I am; I’m starting to pick it up by watching him but it’s not my default!)

      Just funny how humans are so varied! :)

      1. Filosofickle*

        My response “maybe this commenter and I can be friends!” I like to socialize but pretty much only if I host. Home is where I am most comfortable and least anxious, and therefore best with people. However, the one anxiety it gives me is that it feels like an imposition on my guests always asking them to come to me.

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Agreed! I’m always worried that people will think I don’t like them or their place or something, so I do try to go to their places or meet elsewhere (before COVID) if invited, but I just prefer my own space (especially during the winters so I don’t have to clean off my car or drive anywhere… LOL.) It also helps that my partner is the social butterfly who wants to see people always, so he invites them over much more frequently than I would have previously, and we’re lucky that our friends mostly don’t care where we hang out as long as we hang out. But I do try not to take it for granted and balance things out when I have the energy to!

    4. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t mind hosting a casual get together like a board game night where I am not expected to create menu, atmosphere, set up he table, etc. I absolutely refuse to have dinner parties or holidays in my house. I don’t like cooking, my dining table seats 6 and no more, I don’t want to deal with nice dishes and glass, etc.
      For a board game nights we make queso, open salsa, cut some cheese, boyfriend smokes some meats, done. Buffet style from paper plates.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      And there is that piece where my house is reflective of me. The things in it tell a story about who I am, what I think is important, etc. I grew up around judgy people. My aunt would walk into my house and straighten my pictures. Finally, one day, I went through behind her and put them back as crooked as they were. That was a big bold day in my life. That was the day I over came most of my fear of judgy-ness. But I still don’t like it.

      Worse my parents very seldom had company. Somehow they made it seem like it was icky to have company. I know that’s weird. But it’s what I grew up seeing.

      Younger me saw plenty of those deficiencies in my own home, that you mention here. I can only conclude that those deficiencies were a substitute for the real concerns.

      1. thebeanmoveson*

        as some whose parents always acted like having someone over was a bfd. i totally hear you. i
        hate having people over now because i have no idea how to act and im constantly afraid that my house isnt good enough

    6. Guava*

      Not strange at all and I feel this way for the exact reasons you state.

      I’ve had my very closest friends stay the weekend with me a hand full of times and have hosted a birthday party with a group of 6 one time. I wouldn’t say never again, but it isn’t my jam and makes me feel low level anxious the majority of the time.

      I feel like you’re either the person who’s house people always go to or the person who is always happy to come over (or I guess a third category of always meeting at a public place like a park, coffee shop, etc.).

      1. Sloanicote*

        Haha yeah I feel like I should want to go over more than I do. I really am social given the chance! I just prefer neutral territory … like a mafioso.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Not strange at all. I actually like the idea of hosting but it stresses me out. A “casual” holiday party means weeks of planning and days of cooking and cleaning, even though– this is key– it never ultimately matters. My home is usually clean enough that a 15-minute tidying is all it needs, I am a master of making quick and delicious appetizers, I love to cook, and my friends would be perfectly content to have a drink and a paper plate of chips and dip. But I can’t get past the idea that it needs to be better. I’m improving, though– I made friends in my building and we randomly visit each other’s apartments, so I’ve become more relaxed about having people over.

      My grandmother had an absolute showplace of a condo (it hasn’t changed much, but without her, it’s not quite as perfect) and she HATED guests. My grandparents always turned the second bedroom into a den and used the second bathtub as storage (therefore making it tough for overnight guests), and while they had/have a formal living room, they only used it rarely. I think it’s a shame, because her home was truly beautiful, and I chalked it up to her anxiety issues.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Yes I should add that my friends are lovely and repeatedly emphasize that they don’t *want* me to spend all day tidying, aren’t concerned about the food, etc. It’s definitely pressure coming from me. I always feel it should be better. Yes, if I had someone who popped by often, presumably I’d do a better job keeping the house always reasonably ready for guests.

    8. Yes, most people feel this way*

      This perspective is so common that there is an entire industry devote to making hosting easier and less stressful – “party ware”, frozen canapés, magazines with tips and tricks on how to make your home “company-ready” with minimal effort, etc. You are expressing a majority opinion.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Not strange at all.

      I much prefer to host, because it motivates me to zhuzz up the house in a way I would not otherwise, and I prefer having something to do while socializing. At other people’s houses I get physically antsy if I’m not involved in helping out.

      However, lots of people feel the way you do. I would say, if your friends frequently host you, it’s important to reciprocate. Taking them out for a meal, bringing potluck, or taking them for an activity can all be valid ways to reciprocate.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        I agree that it’s important to reciprocate in some way, and that there are lots of ways besides having folks over to your place! One of our closest friends doesn’t like to host. She lives about an hour away and she comes over to our house almost every week. We cook dinner for her regularly, and every so often she buys nice takeout for us on her way over. Given how far she’s driving, we’re happy to provide the food most of the time, and we also appreciate her feeding us every so often too.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep, I love the IDEA of hosting stuff but the reality is not very enjoyable for me. I worry too much about providing enough food, having it be good, people feeling entertained, etc and it’s like I end up missing my own party because there’s so much to do while everyone else socializes.

    11. Double A*

      I like to host but there are stressful aspects about it and usually at some point in the preparation I’m like, “Why did I do this?” But a lot of my stress around hosting is worrying people won’t come. If people didn’t flake then I’m enjoy it more. I think a lot of people who don’t like to host take for granted the work that goes into and can take a commitment to show up too lightly (obviously emergencies and life happen, and with covid even a little sniffle pretty much disrupts things, but in more stable times we all know a lot of people just flake at the last minute).

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Nope, I hate hosting pretty much universally. I cannot stand having people in My Space, it sets my teeth on edge.

    13. Almost Academic*

      I don’t think it’s strange at all! I love to host – in fact, it’s my preference in terms of interaction because having tasks to do while hanging out with friends helps to keep my social anxiety at bay. However, my partner absolutely hates having people up in his space and finds hosting to be really uncomfortable. It’s funny too because we come from opposite cultures with this – I grew up in a culture where being invited over to someone’s house is a big deal, reserved mostly for family, and almost everyone gathers outside, whereas he comes from a background of big parties within houses and just dropping by being common. So we each turned out kinda opposite of our upbringing / cultural backgrounds. We’ve managed to compromise with a combination of advanced warning and setting limits on the number of times we host in the year (with me doing most of the legwork for it) but I think that you’re in the more usual camp. At least, most of my friends would much rather come over to our place to hang out than have to host their own gatherings in their spaces. The diversity of opinions on this is actually helpful.

    14. Frally*

      Wow, OP, I could have written your post almost word for word. I didn’t know there were others out there like me! I hate hosting and on the rare times I do it, have terrible anxiety beforehand.

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      How nice to see this thread about other people like me. I am totally self-conscious about having friends visit. I dislike cooking and anything beyond providing a simple breakfast centered around cold cereal, boiling water, and a toaster stresses me out so I avoid inviting people over for meals. The exception is a friend who is just like me, so we both feel relaxed and we visit each other without food involved. Fortunately, I live in a place with inexpensive, good restaurants less than a five-minute walk away so that typically works out for getting together with people.

    16. Bazza7*

      Not strange at all. There’s other people out there like me!!
      I do not like hosting and don’t want to host. Honestly I only want to spend I few hours with people, then I’m ready to go home and that’s easier to do that way.

    17. photon*

      I don’t like to host.

      Hanging out with people is fun! But I tend to reach my tapped-out phase quicker than most people. A couple of hours in at someone else’s place, I can say I’m tired and head out. But a couple hours at my place and… what do I say? “I’m tired now, please GTFO.” I don’t want to do that, especially if everyone else is in the middle of having a good time!

      I tend not to host large things at my place. Having one person over is fine (tires me out less quickly, and it’s a little easier to signal that I’m winding things down). Thankfully, my more extroverted friends are happy to host :)

    18. Choggy*

      I hate hosting too, and never felt comfortable having anyone in my space. I’m always anxious when they are there, and relieved when they leave. Hubby is more outgoing than me but feels very much the same way, thankfully. My parents did not entertain too often, and when they did, it was only family, they would do other socializing just not in our house.

    19. overeducated*

      Honestly this is something I’ve actually enjoyed about the pandemic (of not many things). People being willing to meet up outside has taken so much pressure off, and as someone making an average income in an expensive area, I also feel a little embarrassed about my home compared to my peers’. Not hosting is great!

    20. RowanUK*

      Me! I got my first place just before the pandemic hit, so I’ve only had one family member visit. The problem is, my mother’s side of the family is extremely judgy and can be quite condescending (they’re basically the only side of the family I have left as well).

      My mother used to get very anxious if someone insisted on visiting our house and we’d have to clean for a week. Still, that wouldn’t be enough to calm her (or me, I absorbed her anxiety!) down.

      Now I’m in a position where I’ve resisted making my home my own because I’m afraid of being judged for my tastes. I’ve already been judged for my purchasing decisions. I’m even worried about putting art on the walls in case family sees it and reacts. So…yes, I also don’t like to host.
      (BTW, I know I need to fix my head about this!)

    21. Not So NewReader*

      This has been a super interesting read.

      Of those who said they do not like to host, how many do not mind going to other people’s houses?

      I can vary on this one. If it feels like I will go through the spongy floors, I’m done. But for the most part, there are very few houses that I actually am bothered by. I don’t care how frequently people clean, but if The Smell has set in I cannot stay. It’s probably two homes over the years that I swore I’d never go back. For the most part people’s homes don’t look like magazine pictures but I am not bothered by anything I see. Matter of fact it makes me feel better when a person’s home reminds me of my own – a collection of Other People’s Furniture.

      A funny/odd thing happened. A relative visited and she said, “Your place reminds me of my daughter’s. I think the two of you would have a lot in common!” I went to her daughter’s (another relative) and yep, she even had some of the exact same pieces of furniture. And yep, we were very like minded.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Not strange. Hosting is a lot of work, people are all up in your space, and if you don’t have that much space, it can seem overwhelming. That said, I don’t mind having people over—if they actually come over! Too many times I’ve invited folks to do something and they didn’t seem to care or didn’t have time, so I stopped asking.

      There have been times I hosted and enjoyed it. In college, I threw a Christmas party once in my tiny apartment. We stayed up half the night playing Trivial Pursuit. And a few years ago, I had a tea party with a friend with little treats and served on an exceptionally pretty snack set I found at the flea market (which I dearly hope has survived being in storage). It went well except I forgot she couldn’t have caffeine due to being Mormon, but fortunately, I had some hibiscus tea.

      If it’s just informal, like having people over to watch a movie with pizza and beer, then you don’t have to worry too much about the house being perfect. I just make sure the public areas are clean and the bathroom is immaculate and that’s it. No one is going into my bedroom, so I can throw stuff in there and shut the door if I have to. I wouldn’t go all out unless I’m having a dressy dinner or holiday party or something of that nature.

    23. Salymander*

      I don’t host. Ever.

      I went through a period when I felt bad about this, because on so many tv shows you can show up to someone’s house unexpectedly and they have a spotless home and just happen to have a freshly baked and beautifully decorated cake and lovely cups for tea or coffee. And no cat hair anywhere. And the house is massive and decorated all nicely. With a gorgeous garden where they can sit outside on adorable garden furniture. It is like all those tv people are mocking us.

      Also, I like to be able to get up and leave when the visit is over. If people come to my house, they are hard to get rid of. And they eat all of my baked goods, which are yummy but do not look like the ones on bake-off.

      Maybe I’m just not a people person.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Haha I love on police procedurals, when they go to investigate the victim’s house (or the perpetrator, actually) the places are usually catalogue clean and reasonably stylish. I’m like, oh great, my house looks less good than the house of this guy who just killed a babysitter with puffer fish poison, that’s nice to know.

        1. Salymander*

          Yesyesyes!!! Midsomer Murders was always fun to watch, but the worst for making me look around my house at all the ways I was failing to maintain the standards of the woman on tv who murdered three people with garden tools and poison, but kept an immaculate and very posh house full of homemade wine and professional standard baked goods. I mean, when do these fictional murderers have the time to do all of that baking and cleaning in between murders? I guess they are better at time management than I am, too.

  24. Valancy Snaith*

    As someone who is currently recovering from omicron covid, I’d like to suggest that others have a quick review of their cupboards and medicine cabinets. My husband and I are sick so rarely that we were blindsided and found we had Tylenol that expired in 2015 and zero throat lozenges. We had to get a friend to drop some off, because oh boy, we needed them. If nothing else, the beginning of the year is a great time to take inventory of your medicine chests and pantry to see what’s long-expired, what needs to be restocked, and what can be moved.

          1. Tris Prior*

            Ha, I realized that our thermometer stopped working on the day that I was supposed to come into the office to clean out my cubicle (as I was granted permanent remote status) and needed to report my temp before getting a pass to come in. I don’t think I’d used it since a bout of flu in, hm, 2018?

        1. londonedit*

          Same! I’d never had a thermometer before 2020, then my employer said if we were coming to the office we’d have to take our temperature before leaving the house (which ended up being pointless anyway because we only went back to the office on a voluntary basis for three days in September 2020 before another ‘work from home if possible’ mandate came in).

          I probably need to stock up on paracetamol, though there’s a shopping delivery service that will do same-day deliveries and I have friends nearby who would drop stuff off (contact-free of course!)

            1. Tris Prior*

              LOL. I remember years and years ago, my then-husband asking, “uh, do we own a thermometer that hasn’t been in a cat’s butt?”

              (At the time we owned a cat who seemed perfectly fine but spiked fevers at the vet during checkups so we were instructed to monitor his temp at home in case of white coat… fever, I guess? THAT was a fun daily chore.)

        2. Windchime*

          In the beginning of 2020 when Covid first broke out, my son was a first responder in the city where the first big breakout in the US occurred. He and his wife both got sick almost immediately, but there were no thermometers to be had because they were all bought out. I had an extra and had to send it to him via US Mail.

          I’m stocked up now with current Tylenol, a thermometer and a pulse oximeter (received as a Christmas gift), but I do need to get lozenges so this is a good reminder.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          We bought two at a consignment shop thst had some antique medical equipment. Bluntly they’re so much more reliable than the battery operated ones, and easier to keep in your mouth than the non-mercury ones.
          And as far as I can tell, there is more environmental damage from Mercury lost during chlorine bleach production then in mercury thermometers.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Tylenol that expired in 2015 is still good, just maybe not as potent as new.

      Also, get a finger pulse oximeter to measure you blood oxygen content. Anything below 94% is a concern, but anything in the 80% range means a trip to the ER.

      1. photon*