weekend open thread – September 17-18, 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: Happy-Go-Lucky, by David Sedaris. As always, he’s both funny and dark while writing about his family, and this time the pandemic too.

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

{ 1,089 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder of the rules for the weekend thread: Comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas (but please no posts that are merely “here’s an update on my life” as those quickly give the thread a cliquish feel). Recommendations or an update or two on things you received advice about in the past are also fine.

  2. Jane the Fourtheenth*

    New neighbors have frequent parties outside, usually on weekend nights but occasional work nights recently. How late do you consider it acceptable for the noise of outdoor party (music, loud talking)….and if your neighbor goes later than that more than once, how would you handle?

    1. Bubba*

      I would say 11 pm and I would handle it by calling in an anonymous complaint. I don’t like confrontation and have seen too many of those “deadly neighbors” crime shows! I hope someone else will have a better idea for you though :)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our local noise ordinance says noise shouldn’t be audible off your property after 10pm. If I can hear my neighbors’ ruckus from inside my house, I call the cops at midnight on weekends and 10:30 on weeknights.

      This is because about half the time they have parties in our neck of suburbia, there are 50+ guests taking up all the street parking in the subdivision (unsafely to boot), microphones and amplifiers, and live bands, so it’s not like they don’t know they’re making an absurd amount of noise.

    3. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      I’d just go over during the day to welcome them to the neighborhood & bring it up casually, but matter of factly. In the past I’ve asked if I can just call/text them if there’s an issue vs calling in a noise complaint & I’ve never had anyone say no. Caveat: I’ve always lived in suburbia or residential neighborhoods, so I don’t know that this would work in more densely populated communities.

    4. Maree*

      Weeknights 10pm is the limit but people round here frown after 9. Fri & Sat midnight, especially in summer maybe a little light noise up to 1. There is more leeway given if it’s an unusual event than a frequent problem. Here the wise thing to do is to invite the neighbours if you think things will go late. considered bad form to complain if you are invited:)

      1. Gnome*

        I disagree. Inviting me to something doesn’t make it ok to keep me and my kids up if we choose not to attend.

    5. mreasy*

      I would call the police non-emergency line if they are white, but not if they’re BIPOC or have any non-white guests. Maybe come by during the daytime and address in a friendly manner? Or write a note but include your phone number and offer to discuss in the spirit of compromise. I don’t think anyone will pay attention to an anonymous note. It’s likely they just don’t know how well the noise is carrying. FYI I live in NYC where my neighbors tend to be nice and not have guns so perhaps I’m being naive here.

      1. Generic+Name*

        Wait. Are you for real? Or did you perhaps mean the first sentence the opposite way it is typed? Although, I can’t imagine calling 911 for a noise complaint regardless of the color of the noisy people’s skin.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Pretty sure mreasy means they wouldn’t call the cops at all on visible minorities which I agree with – I’m loathe to call police under any circumstance.

              1. Generic+Name*

                “But not if they are non white” I interpreted that as “call the emergency line [911] if they are BIPOC” which sounds terrible. But now that I see the comments and re-read it I see that I was reading between the lines incorrectly. :)

        2. Dont be a dork*

          Non-emergency line is not 911. I know that sometimes it gets shunted over to the 911 center if I call down here, but normally a regular dispatcher? desk officer? answers.

      2. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        @mreasy, I take this to mean you will not even call the non-emergency number if there are BIPOC present, correct? Same here, actually.

        1. AGD*

          Yeah, I read this as “if there are only white-passing people around, call the non-emergency line; if there are visibly BIPOC people around, don’t call law enforcement at all,” and that strikes me as sensible, especially in the United States.

          1. tessa*

            Really? I should just let my kids and pets suffer loud neighbors if those neighbors are being loud and obnoxious because…BIPOC?

            Huh?

            1. calling police*

              BIPOC neighbors are statistically more likely to end up hurt or dead from simple innocent interactions. if the police force in your area doesn’t have a history for that and you trust them, then go ahead and call. otherwise, i wouldn’t want that on my conscience if someone is treated unfairly. obviously if the neighbor is being repeatedly loud and obnoxious and they haven’t listened to your complaints, then okay, escalate. but calling the police on BIPOC shouldn’t be the go-to.

            2. marvin*

              It’s because playing loud music shouldn’t be a death sentence and police can’t be trusted not to escalate to violence.

              Personally I wouldn’t call the police at all. There are a few demographics who can be at risk for police violence.

            3. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yes, really. When I weigh my kids’ or pets’ sensitivity to noise against exposing people to a high likelihood of risk of police violence, one is minor and the other is major and I don’t do it.

    6. Sloanicota*

      I recently bought a really good white noise machine and it’s been lifesaving. The one I bought is adjustable so you can cover higher or lower noises. It saved my relationship with my neighbors and I can control my evenings now.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I have white noise and ear plugs. It’s just an outdoor TV but it goes all the time. Like if I called the cops on an old man for that I wouldn’t see heaven.

    7. Rara+Avis*

      Our neighbors were in the habit of socializing outside, sometimes starting at 3:30 a.m. not crazy loud (just music, talking, laughing) but due to the arrangement of our houses it sounds like they’re in our bedroom. We don’t have AC so keeping the windows open at night is the only way to cool down the house. My husband was brave enough to talk to them, and although he’s not a reader, he pretty much used the AAM model: of course reasonable people wouldn’t want to keep their neighbors up at night. And it worked!

    8. Alexis Rosay*

      I think 10pm is reasonable for a regularly occurring party, later if it’s a holiday like July 4th.

      Try to talk to them first. It doesn’t always work but it’s worth a try. Talk to them right away, during the party itself. Just say, “Hey, we’re going to bed and we can hear the noise from this really clearly in our house. Can you keep it down?” (Otherwise, if they’re not reasonable, people can end up arguing with you about how late it really was, how loud it really was.)

    9. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t factor in my own feelings about the lateness. I go by whatever my local ordinance says.
      Locally we have a specific phone number to call for noise complaints. It’s separate from the non-emergency police line. I’d call that. That said, they also literally told me they were too understaffed to do anything about it. And yet, after three straight weekends of super loud parties and noise, the weekend after I’d called, it did stop. Don’t know if it’s a coincidence or if the call made a difference (or if they have some secret threshold of X calls and they actually act) but mentioning this because even though I always go the Official route, it may not do anything.

      1. Girasol*

        Yes, this. That way there’s no clash of opinions on when is too late because it’s what the city/county says. (One night we could hear chunga chunga chunga indoors with the windows closed. Outside I could hear the words of a country music tune way too loud from a few doors down. I walked toward the sound – hm, not them, it’s a little farther down – and I walked – no, just little farther over there – and I walked and I walked… Three quarters of a mile away there’s a tiny bar that I had never noticed in five years living here that had a whopping new sound system for a band on the patio. It’s annoying. But the moment it’s 11:00 – city noise ordinance time here – we can count on nothing but crickets. Yay, noise ordinance!)

    10. Stinky kitty*

      Oh man, I’ve been on the opposite side of this. Had the police called on us on several occasions while playing in a band. Usually they came before the noise ordinance kicked in as a friendly reminder of said ordinance, and we would time it to wind up at or before then. Most humorous time was when a sheriff’s deputy showed up and we started playing the theme to Cops. That got a genuine laugh from him.

    11. Gnome*

      where I am, you cannot file an anonymous complaint. So we got little foam ear plugs. they aren’t great, but they help.

      We are in suburbia and have one set of neighbors that sometimes leave their large dog out barking late at night, randomly have loud parties, and occasionally these include speakers and (illegal) fireworks. if they were folks I’d reasonably run into (next door neighbors or something) I would say something. but they are behind and to the side, and I don’t even know if I could pick out the right house if I was on that street.

    12. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      I’ll let others speak to how they handle things with the neighbor, and I’ll focus my answer on minimizing noise to help you sleep. I sleep during the daytime when the rest of the world is active, so I’ve had to come up with some good options to help me sleep when other condos near mine are doing construction or otherwise noisy. First, I close the bedroom windows, I also wear good earplugs (the local drugstore kind show ratings of noise blockage and I’ve found softer ones with high ratings work best), then I turn on one or more fans (a white noise machine would do the same), have a soft pillow that covers my ears, and I also take a sleep aid medication like melatonin. I hope some of these options are helpful if you need them.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      It put me in mind of the painting by Pere Borrell del Caso, except cats don’t seem to mind criticism. In fact, they generally don’t even notice it.

    1. thewriterbean*

      My head has been in a bit of a blah spot lately, so I’m going to comfort reads. At the moment I’m reading the Jenny Colgan “Class” series — basically boarding school drama that is very light and fluffy and far removed from my work realities! I’m not sure why, but light and fluffy English fiction is my go to when I’m a bit down. Maybe because from this side of the world, it feels like a magical fairyland?

      I’m also in the market for some funny reads so will be watching this thread with interest.

      1. ElsieD*

        Thank you so much for this- I had never heard of Jenny Colman but Libby had her books and I’m having lovely time. Edinburgh does sound like a magical fairyland in the book I’m reading- with lots of stairs.

    2. Fiction Reader*

      Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher and Straight Man by Richard Russo – both academic satires. Any book by Carl Hiaasen, he writes crazy novels that take place in Florida. The classic Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome holds up despite being published in 1889!

        1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          Loved *I Capture the Castle* — someone gave it to me as a gift, and it was awesome!

          1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

            I can’t explain why, but I feel like if you enjoyed I Capture the Castle, you might also like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (it was later made into a Francis McDormand film that is also delightful).

      1. GoryDetails*

        I thoroughly enjoyed Dear Committee Members – but was let down by the sequel, which is not presented in epistolary form and, for me, lost a lot thereby.

        Three Men in a Boat is one of my favorite comic novels, in print as well as in audiobook form. I’ve also enjoyed Three Men on the Bummel (same characters, cycling through Germany).

      2. I'm currently in higher ed*

        Dear Committee Members is good but ends on uhhhhh a bit of a down note. I read it, thought it was okay, probably wouldn’t recommend it as a comfort read.

        I haven’t read the list entirely but I’d recommend The Eyre Affair (Jasper Fforde) or the Kaiju Preservation Society (John Scalzi). Also the Redwall books are always a good comfort read for me.

    3. Kyrielle*

      I’m reading Glynn Stewart’s Peacekeepers of Sol series. I’m enjoying it very much, but it’s not funny, alas. (I think his Starship’s Mage series is better, but it’s also not funny, so.)

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m reading The Toll by Neal Schusterman. The whole trilogy has been a bit… adequate. I want to see how everything plays out and it’s a cool concept but I often feel like I’m kind of bored of it even while reading.

      “I Capture the Castle” is really funny imo

      1. Ampersand*

        I feel the same about this series and haven’t finished reading The Toll yet…and it’s been so long since I started it that I’m going to need a refresher on where I left off/what was happening. Agreed, it’s adequate, though I had high hopes for the series!

    5. Free Meerkats*

      Currently reading “Into the Drowning Deep” by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire). Mermaids are real, and they’re nothing like Ariel.

      1. Lilo*

        I’m a bit frustrated because I was well into that series and they disappeared from Libby. I know I can go get the actual book, but I’m a Libby addict.

          1. Lilo*

            Ah given the mermaids in her Wayward Children series I thought it was related to that. Her stuff can be a bit tough t9 find sometimes.

              1. PhyllisB*

                Didn’t realize Auntie Mame was a series!! I’ll have to check it out. Loved the Auntie Mame book and both movies.
                In case you’re not familiar, first one starred Rosalind Russel, the re-make starred Lucille Ball.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed “Into the Drowning Deep”, though not as much as Grant’s “Newsflesh”/zombie-apocalypse books. It does have a different spin on mermaids than in other sources – and contrasts interestingly with Grant’s/McGuire’s “Wayward Children” mermaids as seen in “Come Tumbling Down”, “Beneath a Sugar Sky,” and “Where the Drowned Girls Go” – in which we finally get to see the *other* portal-kids’ school, the one ostensibly for kids who are traumatized by their worlds and don’t want to go back.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      Started on the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone, a really interesting series of fantasy novels. Fantastic, if dense, world building with urban settings, a war against the gods, magic and necromancy.

      1. Wink the Book*

        That series is one that kinda broke my brain in good ways. That said I REALLY recommend reading Last First Snow before Two Serpents Rise. Having done it the other way, LFS was a CHALLENGE to get through. Good book, but the character dynamics messed with me.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m doing my annual rereading of spooky stories/novels for the time of year: tons of short stories, Dracula, and Frankenstein. I love them all, and short stories are great because you can find something to appeal to every kind of taste. In that vein (hee) I recommend:

      Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lot 249 (this and his other one, The Ring of Thoth, basically invented the whole “curse of the mummy” genre)
      The Big Book of Ghost Stories, Otto Penzler,Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Press. Edith Wharton’s Afterward and AM Burrage’s Just Behind You are special favorites.
      Novels include every single damn thing by Shirley Jackson but especially The Haunting of Hill House and Hangsaman.

      For just plain ol’ funny novels I love The Cheese Monkeys, by Chip Kidd, and Shirley Jackson’s memoirs Raising Demons and Life Among The Savages. Oh, God, her description of her husband trying to hunt a bat with an air rifle is to die for.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Oh, and!
        Connie Willis, everything by Connie Willis. For lighthearted thoughtful greatness, her short novel Bellwether is one of my favorites of all time.

        1. Artemesia*

          Bellwether captures the insanity of academia so well. Love it. Passage will give you nightmares.

          A quirky book about the staff of a failing English language newspaper in Rome is a good read. It is told in intersecting stories about each of the characters.
          Tom Rackman. The Imperfectionists.

        2. GoryDetails*

          I love Connie Willis’ works – I think Doomsday Book was the first novel of hers that I read, and it and the Blackout/All Clear duology are my favorites of her longer works.

          She has a marvelous collection of holiday-themed stories, A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS, that I adored: some tales are creepy, some SF-themed, some hilarious, a really good collection.

        3. the cat's pajamas*

          I just listened to the audiobook, then listened to it again, it was great! I got the recommendation from someone here, iirc.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Loooove “Life Among the Savages.” It cracks me up so much that she wrote multiple “woman loses her mind in that weird old house at the edge of town” novels and then you find out that’s literally where she lived. Imagine being one of her neighbors and reading Hill House or even The Lottery!

      3. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        Ooh! Goddessoftransitory, if you like Shirley Jackson (as everyone should), you might be into the book I just finished called Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin. Very quietly creepy, very interested in exploring themes of gender roles & xenophobia, which of course were also big for SJ. I felt unsettled the whole way through, but couldn’t put it down.

      4. GoryDetails*

        I’m a big horror fan, and enjoy re-reading the classics – as well as discovering new authors. Glad to see the nod to “Lot 249”, one of my favorite mummy-based stories – delightfully creepy. (The short stories of M. R. James and E. F. Benson are also big favorites of mine.)

        Among newer books, the anthology CLASSIC MONSTERS UNLEASHED – the contributing authors were challenged to take classic movie monsters and find some unexpected spins on them, whether retelling their stories from the monsters’ point of view, coming up with alternate explanations for them, shifting them into different times or places – or, in some cases, telling the tales from a secondary character’s viewpoint. (One involves Maleva, the old woman from “The Wolf Man” whose knowledge of the werewolf curse eases the pangs of the wolf man a teeny bit. The story puts a very different and deliciously creepy interpretation on that.)

        Shirley Jackson counts for horror and humor both; her short stories have included some of the most unsettling scenes I’ve ever read – and that includes the ones without any supernatural component – and her domestic-comedy tales are hilarious.

      5. Grey Panther*

        “Breakup” by Dana Stabenow. It’s a relatively early entry in her Kate Shugak series, and there is a mystery involved, but this book makes me laugh every time I read it. If you’ve ever lived in snow country, you’ll appreciate Stabenow’s incorporating the kinds of unintentional, unexpected insanity that come with the winter-into-spring transition.

          1. Cousin Eunice*

            That was the only book in the series I bought a copy of, instead of getting it from the library! I wonder if the series is on my library’s Libby app–thank you for mentioning it!

            1. Grey Panther*

              Wish I’d done the same, Cousin Eunice. It’s one I’d like to own too, but all I can find is e-copies. For this book I may have to give up my resistance to e-books!

    8. Business Narwhal*

      I read Around the world in 80 days recently for school and it was a surprisingly chill sometimes funny read. It could have helped that I was reading it with my friends. Mr. Fogg and Ms. Aouda’s relationship was all sorts of weird and it was fun to laugh at.

    9. RedinSC*

      I just finished These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. There’s some humor, it’s a series of essays she’s written, pretty recently. I really enjoyed it.

      1. RedinSC*

        I misrepresented, the book does have some humor in it, but the end is sad, It’s lovely, but sad, so if you need something lighter, maybe not this one right now. I do recommend, though

      2. Verbsy*

        I loved that book! I read it in the days after my bestie died of MBC and essays about friendship, knitting, writing, dogs, and dogs in bookstores were the perfect thing to escort me into a world without her.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Not reading them currently, but the Professor Dr von Igelfeld series by Alexander McCall Smith is belly-laugh funny.

    11. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Funny novels recs:

      Mr Loverman by Bernadine Everisto

      Straight Man by Richard Russo

      Any Nancy Mitford

    12. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Phantoms by Dean Koontz. I’ve never read any of his books and decided to try this one since I usually like stories where a whole disappears at once or something similar. (Plus it was only $2.99 on Amazon.) I was fine up until a gruesome discovery in a bakery, and I’m not sure I want to continue the book. Normally stuff like this doesn’t bother me, but this book reads much more like a horror movie that most other thrillers I read, and I don’t like horror movies. My husband is camping this weekend so I’m home alone. And when I read, it’s in bed in the dark, so the scene freaked me out enough to stop reading for the night. (Yes, I’m a big chicken.)

      Has anyone else read this book? Are there a lot of gruesome scenes? If not, then maybe I’ll continue reading. Otherwise, I’ll move on to the next book in my digital library, which is Upgrade by Black Crouch.

      1. WellRed*

        I haven’t read that one but I read several of his books ages ago. I don’t consider them thrillers, leaning more toward horror but he’s kind of hard to classify.

        1. UKDancer*

          I’d say he’s more horror than thriller. I like some of his earlier stuff better than the more recent ones. Lightning is my favourite of his as I like the protagonist, Laura.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I feel like his earlier books are more horror-y, while his later ones moved more toward thrillers.

        In general, the book of his that I recommend to folks who haven’t read his stuff before is Tick Tock, which is sort of a cross between a “survive through the night” thriller and slapstick comedy. With a dog.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I haven’t read any Dean Koontz in years, but I read one time that Stephen King said he reads Dean Koontz for a good scare. Hmm.
          I quit reading his books because they were getting too gruesome/upsetting to me. However, I may try Tick Tock, that sounds like one I might like. I remember reading one of his books (can’t remember the title) where the opening sentence was, “Harry would have had a good day if he hadn’t had to kill someone before lunch.” Now that’s certainly an attention grabber!!

    13. Hiring Mgr*

      Heat 2 which is a sequel/prequel to the movie Heat starring Pacino and Deniro, written by Michael Mann who wrote/directed the film.

    14. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Donald E. Westlake’s *Smoke* about a burglar who gets turned invisible by some researchers for a tobacco company. Westlake wrote a lot of crime caper novels — see his Dortmunder series as well. He was a pulp writer by trade, so he knows how to keep you reading to see what will happen next, and he makes a lot of amusing observations. Content warning, though — his portrayals of Black characters (and in his earlier works, gay characters) can sometimes be problematic.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        I remember laughing aloud at *Bridget Jones’s Diary* and *Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason* (actually read the second one first and like it better). The books use Hugh Grant and Colin Firth for humor a bit, which makes their casting in the film versions very funny. Content warning for some disordered eating/weight obsession.

        Also, though it’s not really my genre, I thought Hunter S. Thompson’s *Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas* was a scream — I’ll bet there’s plenty to content warn there too, but I can’t remember the details. I just remember getting shushed by my then-partner for laughing aloud at the book when he was trying to concentrate.

    15. Retail Not Retail*

      I’m rereading The Magus by John Fowles. I first read it 5 years ago while doing an internship in a tiny rural town (nowhere near as isolated as poor Nicholas) so it stuck with me. I didn’t know what I thought of it after finishing it then but it nagged at me so I eventually bought it. And I’m loving it this time! The prose and story make me feel so decadent and pleasantly discombobulated. I don’t know that I flat out recommend it. It’s 60s postmodern and the protagonist is a self-centered idiot.

      Funny novels? The Shopaholic series, Christopher Moore, and Carl Hiaasen.

    16. Hotdog not dog*

      Just finished Fairy Tale by Stephen King. Mostly I liked it, but there were a couple of things I found either disturbing or distracting from the story.

      1. acmx*

        I read this, too. Now, I am curious as to which parts were disturbing or distracting. Petra falls under disturbing for me; I won’t post the scene.

    17. Falling+Diphthong*

      Funny novels:
      Tepper Isn’t Going Out Today by Calvin Trillin, about parking in New York City. Really, that’s the plot. At least on the surface…
      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, her ode to Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men and a Dog. Time traveling Oxford historians try to find a hideously ugly giant vase in the Victorian era, lest their time travel funding go to Cambridge instead. Hijinks ensue.

      1. Falling+Diphthong*

        Ooh! If you have a fondness for P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, the estate approved a couple of sequels by Ben Schott, starts with Jeeves and the King of Clubs. They become spies, seamlessly, and there’s a lovely set of endnotes with trivia about small things from history or the original stories.

        1. slowingaging*

          Wodehouse, Austen, Jerome, they have such dry sarcasm, sometimes what they don’t say. They all make me laugh. Probably time to revisit

      2. noncommittal pseudonym*

        I love Tepper Isn’t Going Out. “Sir, New York City does not actually own any nuclear weapons.”

    18. Falling+Diphthong*

      Reading myself:
      What If 2 by Randall Munroe. Answers unlikely questions about science that it had not occurred to you to ask, like what would happen if the Earth was made only of protons and moon only of electrons. (Bad things.) I am really enjoying this, as I did What If 1.
      Bright-Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich, about the history of toxic positivity in the US. Interesting read, though the strongest chapter for me was the first. (“Why breast cancer will be the best thing that ever happened to you if you think positively!”) I quibbled with some details, like I think “Don’t spend the first date talking about how horrible your ex is, or how much you hate your body” is sound advice.

    19. Atheist Nun*

      Do you like absurd humor featuring quirky characters in dark situations? (This includes self harm FYI.) If so, I highly recommend Jen Beagin’s novels. Last week I read–and loved–her new book, Big Swiss, as an advance reading copy (ARC). If you have access to ARCs, you could try it. Otherwise, your public library might have her earlier books, Pretend I’m Dead and Vacuum in the Dark. The second is sort of a “sequel” to the first in that the protagonist is the same, but you do not need to read them in order. I liked Vacuum in the Dark the most.

    20. libkae*

      On the funny side of things, I’m currently making my way through Wodehouse’s Jeeves books, which I’m finding hilarious (though, as a warning, they were written mid-20th century, so there is definitely some casual sexism and casual racism)

      If you like fantasy, some that consistently make me laugh out loud are T. Kingfisher’s White Rat books (several books that take place in the same world but that don’t necessarily have to be read in the same order). A lot of people recommend starting with Clockwork Boys, but my favorite is Paladin’s Grace.

    21. Rara+Avis*

      New book by Laurie R. king: Back to the Garden. Murder mystery that happened in the 70’s but is solved in contemporary times. I’m also rereading The Joy Luck Club because my kid is reading it for 9th grade English. I read it the year it came out as a freshman in college. Always interesting to reread at a different life stage.

    22. Bluebell*

      Just finished Abbi Waxman’s I was told It Would Get Easier and loved it. Tells the story of a mom and daughter on a college tour. Last week I finished Clare Pooley’s Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting and really enjoyed it. I’d love to see Emma Thompson make it into a movie and star in it. The main character is a former it girl now in her late 50s who works at a magazine. But much of the action takes place as she commutes to and from work.

    23. GoryDetails*

      Humorous reads:

      DIARY OF A NOBODY by George and Weedon Grossmith, something of the tone of Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat” – it’s in diary form, with its author a somewhat pompous, well-meaning but often inept suburban fellow, whose domestic trials and tribulations make for some very funny reading.

      HOW TO KEEP DINOSAURS by Robert Mash, in which dinosaurs are treated as if available for purchase as pets, guard-beasts, performing animals, or even as livestock to be used for meat or hides. The book has been revised over the decades and seems to include some reasonably up-to-date information about actual dinosaurs, though a lot of it involves humor along the lines of which dinos are good with children and which ones like to eat them. It’s very droll, and the illustrations – showing scenes such as a family at home in front of the TV while colorful feathered archaeopteryxes squabble over snacks – are delightful.

      This one’s got some humorous bits but for the most part it’s more personal-drama: RANCHO ARMADILLO by Judith Stephens. It’s a collection of stories all centering on a small New Mexico commune located at the titular ranch, with the stories following different characters both in their commune lives and in their pasts. I found it quite fascinating, for the gritty details of what is effectively subsistence-level farm life and for the glimpses into the characters’ counterculture/escapist mentalities.

      And a pirate-themed book, as “Talk Like a Pirate” day is almost upon us {grin}: THE DEMON TIDE by Alfred M. Struthers. It’s from a series about a boy who’s inherited a connection to a mystical bookcase, where specific books literally leap at him to nudge him into solving some mystery – usually involving clearing the name of someone falsely accused in the past. The series is great fun, showing details of the kid-heroes doing research, sometimes getting into dangerous situations, but always showing resourcefulness and cleverness. This one focuses on a lost pirate treasure on the Maine coast, and has lots of flawless local detail.

    24. AMC*

      Highly recommend Anxious People by Fredrik Backman – it is funny and heartbreaking. I laughed and cried a LOT while reading it.
      Side note AAM has been a lifeline lately and just wanted to thank Alison and the community for creating such a lovely corner of the internet.

      1. I take tea*

        Oh, I didn’t realise he was translated into English. I can recommend other books by him too. My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry was interesting, I laughed a lot and then got hit so hard with a twist that I cried instead. It tethers on the brink of fantasy, or it might be imagination, very well done.

    25. Forgotten username*

      I don’t have a funny novel rec, but I do have a funny short story recommendation – Simon Rich has a collection of short stories called “New Teeth” and the first one is hilarious. It’s called The Big Nap and it’s about a gumshoe detective and his client, but the detective is a toddler and the client is his sister who is literally a baby.

    26. Manders*

      I’m currently reading Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I have a feeling my house is not going to get cleaned today because I’m just enjoying it too much to put down. For a funny book, I enjoyed Lights out in Lincolnwood by Geoff Rodkey.

    27. CharlieBrown*

      I just read Harry Turtledove’s new novel Three Miles Down which is an alternative history sci-fi novel about Project Azorian. (Which was real; you can google it.) It wasn’t necessary funny, but it was quite enjoyable, and it fun to see him cast shade on the previous administration by talking about the Nixon administration. Highly recommended if you like sci-fi or political intrigue.

    28. PastorJen*

      I’m reading Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn. It was my Book of the Month Club pick for September. I’ve never read any of Raybourn’s books before, but I am loving this one. It’s interesting and she has a dry wit that I am thoroughly enjoying.

    29. Llama face!*

      I just read a relatively lighthearted book called Legends and Lattes by author Travis Baldree. It’s a twist on fantasy tropes where an orc decides to retire from adventuring/fighting and open a coffee shop. It was a nice story about growing beyond what’s expected and finding family. It includes a F/F romantic subplot which is not instalove (a pet peeve of mine).

    30. Girasol*

      Stumbled over a copy of the graphic novel version of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book in Libby this week. I had recently listened to the audiobook version and enjoyed having it to talk me through a very tedious chore. The book is wonderful in any form though the audiobook or standard novel would be my first choice. I love Gaiman’s imagination.

    31. GoryDetails*

      Re Alison’s recommendation for David Sedaris’ new book: I adore his work, from the darker or more poignant bits to the top-notch hilarious. But that cover-art with the clown creeps me out so badly that I’m considering waiting for another edition, just so I don’t have to look at that clown! (Several of his previous books have been reissued with wildly different cover-art, so I can hope that this one will be too. But maybe I won’t be able to wait.)

      I will be re-reading his “Santaland Diaries” as the holiday season approaches!

    32. acmx*

      I just finished FAIRY TALE by Stephen King and THE CHANGE that was mentioned last week. Both were great.

      I have Phone Booth at the Edge of the World to read but haven’t really started it.

    33. small town*

      I love Christopher Moore! Lamb is the story of the years of Joshua (Jesus) when he is missing in the bible. It is told by Biff, Joshua’s childhood friend and absolutely hilarious. Another favorite is Fool, as told by the court jester in King Lear. Who could not like a hero from Dog Snogging on Tyne?

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Absolutely agree with that recommendation.
        Sort of in that vein, Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery’s fiction.

    34. Roland*

      Had some bad reading luck lately! High ratio of DNF to “enjoyed until the end”. Or really just the one DNF in the past month but I’m very on the fence about the book I’m currently reading so half-counting it.

      I did enjoy Paladin of Souls quite a bit. Looking forward to reading more from that author once I make more of a dent in my current library loans.

      And though I have a million loans and new releases to look forward to and a long TBR… I’ve been thinking a lot about Daddy-Long-Legs of all books recently so I may have to reread it for the umpteenth time after I finish(/abandon) my current read.

    35. PhyllisB*

      I tried posting this yesterday, but something happened to it and I have just now had to time to try again. If you like silly funny, try the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Just don’t read too many in a row because they get repetitive. Bill Bryson is also good. I loved I’m a Stranger Here Myself.
      It’s already been mentioned, but Lessons in Chemistry is good if you like geek humor. I’ll have to check my read list for more.

  3. thewriterbean*

    How would you go about making a dog feel more comfortable in a new home?

    My grandparents aren’t able to look after their dog anymore, so I’m taking her to live with me. (Ongoing health issues. They’re not happily giving her up, and I know they’ll miss her enormously.) I’m usually the one who looks after her when my grandparents are away, and I’m also the one who took her to puppy school due to the language barrier. I take her to the beach and for walks as well as my grandparents have aged, so it makes the most sense for me to take her.

    However, I’ve moved house, and I also work full time, so I’m a bit concerned it’s going to be a massive adjustment for her. I have time off coming up and I’ll be taking her then to kind of ease her into it, but as she’s always been a bit of an anxious critter, I’d love to make the transition a bit easier for her.

    Any suggestions on how you’ve done this? I don’t have dogs living here already, but there are other dogs quite nearby. We have a large yard and it’s very dog friendly, plus she can see into the house when she’s pottering around outside (she’s usually pretty reluctant to be indoors unless it’s sleep time).

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Bring familiarity with her – favorite pillows, blankets, toys. Be prepared for some misbehaving, hopefully minor – stressed dogs show it in strange ways sometimes. Is she crate trained or otherwise experienced at being left alone in the house for a while, or will that be completely new?

      1. thewriterbean*

        She’s very used to being left alone — never a barker, and while she’s not used to a crate as such, she loves curling up her kennel and chilling.

        I was just speaking about it with my partner and our closest neighbour, and our neighbour has offered to check up on her over the fence during the day while she’s getting used to us not being here. However, one thing I just remembered was my grandparents constantly have the radio on, so she’s used to that noise. (I mean constantly. Even when they leave the house.) Would it be worth leaving a radio on for her while she adjusts?

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh, absolutely! My Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond spent six weeks with my parents at age four and came home hooked on MASH, like for the rest of her life if she heard Alan Alda she came running into the living room to plop down and hang out. It was the wackiest thing. But yeah, if she’s used to the background noise, that’s an easy thing you can do to be consistent for her.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Definitely leave a radio on. Maybe find a station with soothing music. I am a big fan of using a radio for helping a dog settle. I have turned on a radio for a couple of my dogs over the years.

        3. eeeek*

          Having music on helps our anxious dog – and there are playlists on Spotify and QBoz and other servers that are engineered to calm dogs and mask unfamiliar outside noises. We don’t use a channel that includes talking/commercials/etc., because our doggo gets freaked out if she hears a stranger in the house.
          We listen to a lot of soothing spa music!

      2. thewriterbean*

        Also, THANK YOU! This came so suddenly and I’m so grateful that the AAM commentators know about this — I’ve only ever raised dogs from puppies, so rehoming is a new one for me.

    2. Bibliovore*

      I hope I can be of help.
      Its great that you can be around but also see if you can deputize someone to be her “godmother”
      If she is used to other dogs, start small to form a pack for her. Arrange short puppy play dates in the yard. She should be in the yard with you and the other dog gets introduced.
      If she has been used to having someone home all day, practice not being there and coming back so she knows that she isn’t being abandoned.
      Continue her training to wear her out mentally and physically.
      She may have behavior issues. You might want to consult a behaviorist.

      1. thewriterbean*

        Thank you so much for this! With the godmother suggestion, would you think having my mum or a neighbour pop in to check on her an okay suggestion? She’s very familiar with my mum, and one suggestion was that she live with her as she’s retired — Mum just doesn’t really want any pets now all the kids have left home.
        She’s become fairly lazy for her breed, but my partner is super into fitness so he’s looking forward to going on walks (and eventually running) with us both!
        She always loved training so I’ll definitely keep on that; I’ll also suss out some behaviourists. Thanks again!

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      I’ve adopted two older, rescue dogs. Time has helped so much! They started to trust me over time, and I got to know them better and could anticipate their anxiety triggers. Giving them time to adjust is really the only advice I have. Good luck! You already a familiar person to this pup, so you’re starting out way ahead of me — and my dogs are doing beautifully.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Best Good Dog was about 7 when we adopted him, and hadn’t been kept as a pet prior to living with us. The trainer we worked with recommended taking him for a nice long walk every day, to help him work off his nervous energy and learn to trust us and communicate with us better. Six years later, he’s about 90% adjusted, and the time spent on the daily walks is probably responsible for most of that. (not to mention that the walks are also good for the mostly sedentary humans in our house!)

    5. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

      We had a very anxious dog we adopted from a shelter. There was a plug-in that we got from a nearby pet store that really helped! My husband and I couldn’t smell anything, but whatever it was helped her settle a ton.

    6. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

      Also — I know this seems a little weird — but when you approach the dog, do it with you facing 90 degrees away (almost like a crab walk). Hold your hand out, palm down, while facing her from the side. When she sniffs/seems okay, then you can crouch down, still facing to the side. Then slowly turn to face her. After a while you won’t have to do it this way, but it’s a much less threatening way for dogs to be approached.

      Also, the show “It’s Me or the Dog” — you can find clips online now, or get her book — is wonderful. Her approach to working with dogs, and in particular anxious pups, is so beautiful and makes so much sense and difference.

    7. thewriterbean*

      Just an update — it ended up happening quite suddenly yesterday. One grandparent had a fall, so it became a pretty quick move. Doggo is currently in my back yard chewing her Kong. She apparently watched a TV show with my partner last night and absolutely loved it, because she’s smitten with him.

      She’s adjusting pretty well so far and I’m pleased. I’m working from home today, so I have to quickly run out to work to grab my laptop which will maybe give her a bit more of a sense that I’ll come back when I leave. crossing fingers! Thank you for all your help.

  4. WoodswomanWrites, wondering about offering Airbnb experiences*

    (Alison, I’m not thinking of this as “work,” but if you think it’s better to post in the Friday work thread, I can do that instead.)

    Has anyone here offered to lead Airbnb experiences? I’m considering offering something that could be fun. Also, I’m looking to take the trip of a lifetime next year that’s expensive, and it got me thinking about a way to raise money for it. In scouting around my region, it appears I could offer something that isn’t already out there that might interest people. I’d love to hear how it’s gone if you’ve done this.

    (Alison, I’m not thinking of this as “work,” but if you think it’s better to post in the Friday work thread, I can do that instead.)

    1. StudentA*

      First check if running an AirBnB is allowed in your HOA, community, city or town, etc. My community prohibits these types of rentals. Yet I’ve seen a few people try to get away with it.

      This is from the AirBnB website:
      In many cities, you must register, get a permit, or obtain a license before you list your property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local governments vary greatly in how they enforce these laws. Penalties may include fines or other enforcement.

      Also seeing others run an AirBnB has opened up my eyes. To really do well, you’re supposed to be an actual invisible host. Leave them wine or chocolate, have pamphlets about the area, etc. So it’s a lot of work. At least that’s the experience I’ve seen these hosts have.

    2. In-Home Host*

      Following – I am also interested in doing this. We have an in-home Airbnb but would like to add something in Experiences. Perhaps switch this to the “work” thread because there are tax and insurance implications with offering Experiences that can be commented on as well.

    3. Anono-me*

      I just want to encourage you, because some weekend when you share a happy
      outdoors experience, I think “Oh that sounds so fun and interesting, I wish she were my friend to do things with.”

  5. anonymous shy person*

    Anyone have any dating tips for the shy and skittish? (I am a 30 something woman who mostly dates men, for the record.)

    I hide it well, but strangers make me nervous. I am a little shy anyway, which makes it hard for me when a lot of people are paying me attention, and I was stalked by someone I briefly dated many years ago, which has been leaving me afraid of giving it another go. I guess I could say that I want to want to try again. I am planning on going back to therapy, but if anyone has any complementary practical ideas for ways of dipping a toe back into dating, or of learning how online dating works now (I am clueless), I’d be grateful! One thing that clearly scares me off is starting a profile and getting a whole bunch of messages from different strangers. I just find that overwhelming. I would love to find one quiet (or introvert-friendly) person at a time, though, with a gap between them to recover. Thanks lovely AAM readers!

    1. CheerfulGinger*

      I can speak to online dating. I met my husband through Match and my beast friend met her husband through Tinder. It does feel daunting at the beginning, but you can do it! my best advice is to try and find a “online dating buddy”, ideally someone who is already a friend and is dating. You can have your buddy proofread your profile and help you pick pictures. The best profiles have two components – 1st are very clear about what you are looking for and 2nd give an honest impression of who you are. The more interesting details the better Bland! Bland profiles cast too wide of a net and leave you to sort through people that are not good fits instead of having your profile help prospective dates self- select in or out. Don’t spend too much time messaging back and forth with someone before suggesting to meet up in-person. I would say 3 to 5 messages tops before deciding if you are interested in meeting up. I recommend coffee as a first meet up. Low price point, can do basically any time of day, public space, and could be 30 mins to however long you want. If lots of messages is overwhelming, try Coffee Meets Bagel. You are only presented with a handful of matches per day. Good luck!

    2. TeaFiend*

      I’ve heard Bumble (dating app) only allows women to message first, so you may still get a lot of interest but wouldn’t have to worry about replying. Another thing you could try is making a few ‘matches’ on whatever app you choose, then disabling your profile from view so you can focus on just getting to know 1-2 people at a time.

      I’d also probably mention you’re an introvert in your profile, so fellow introverts can find you and insensitive extroverts can leave you alone.

    3. Elspeth+McGillicuddy*

      So a lot of the dating apps nowadays require both parties to be interested before you’re allowed to contact each other. You’re basically shown a serious of dudes profiles and asked if you are interested or not, while the dudes are are shown a serious of women and asked if they are interested. With two yeses, you are a match and can then message each other. And Bumble requires the woman to message first, which is nerve wracking to do but offers a lot of control.

      When I started getting into internet dating (I still haven’t done much so do NOT take me as an expert), I did a fair bit of browsing on Reddit, which was of course full of people’s bad experiences. They were weirdly reassuring. Yes, they were bad, but they weren’t THAT bad, and they were still unusual enough for somebody to tell the story on the internet.

      Also, the internet has lots of advice on how not to look nervous. I like Charisma On Command from youtube, though the videos definitely tend to get repetitive. Two tips I’ve found particularly helpful:
      * Fill space. Shy folks, or at least me, tend to tuck themselves away tidily in as small a space as possible. You want to spread out, put your arm on the armrest, basically just untuck yourself. It will make you look less shy and feel less shy. (also good for job interviews)
      * Laugh when something’s funny. Not like a fake laugh to make a stupid man think he’s amusing you when he’s not, but when something is genuinely funny, actually laugh instead of giggling or doing a shy grin. In general, don’t be afraid to display positive reactions. You don’t even need to amp them up, simply stop damping them down.

      1. Bubba*

        I met my husand through online dating but, my experience in this area may be out of date (sorry bad pun) because I’ve been married for 10+ years.

        Keping in mind your dating syle, I would suggest starting with one of the traditional dating websites like match.com or e harmony over the newer apps like tinder. Honestly though, this is just based on hearsay as I haven’t used an app based service myself (gee, now I feel old). These websites may be less popular but, that could be an upside in your case if you don’t want to be bombarded by a ton of matches.

        Some benefits to match.com (at least at the time I was using it) as they relate to your post:

        1) When an interested party views your profile they send you a “like” at which point you can review their profile and opt in or out of recieving further messages. So you aren’t just getting a ton of mesaages off the bat.

        2) You can exchange longer more thoughful emails on this platform. I get the idea the newer apps are mostly just txt messaging but, I’m not 100% sure.

        3) You can pause the service at any time which means your membership won’t be canceled but, your profile won’t be seen until you make it visible again. That way if you meet someone and want to focus on them for a while, you won’t keep getting so-in-so liked your profile notices from anyone else.

        4) Your contact info is private assume this is the same for the matches don’t get your full name or personal email address or phone #, all communications are through the site.

        I’m guessing many of the popular apps have some or all of the same features. I just get the feeling from talking with friends that tinder especially is a little more fast paced and may not fit your style but, I could be wrong!

        In general I found online dating to be a great tool because it allowed you to get to know a little about someone before meeting them in person. By the time of my first date with Mr. Bubba, he was more of an acquaintance than a total stranger. I was a hesitant dater at the time too and this aspect of online dating helped put me at ease.

        Hope this helps and wishing you all the best luck!

        Ps. Please excuse all typos, I’m going on day 3 of insomnia and just took a sleeping pill. I hope my writting here at least makes sense :)

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I think this is great wording here and you should be really upfront with what you want; you can screen out a whole bunch of people who want fellow extroverts and really laser in on a good match. Women do get a whole bunch of messages (most are clearly spammy of the “haven’t read my profile, block and delete” ones) on most websites so maybe look into some where that’s not a feature. So, as far as your physical safety it’s also very possible to put some safeguards in place for meeting people if you’re afraid history will repeat itself. One trick is to have a temporary number for dating (Google Voice used to let you do this quite easily). I used to meet people in very public places (with a back door! that’s my dad’s trick). My girlfriends and I always told people where we were going and who with, and when we’d be back. Short coffee dates only; I would have found anything longer or more full on too much for a first meeting. Don’t give out your workplace/ last name/address until you’re ready. Be very aware of those dudes who won’t take no for an answer and want a different kind of date, or to run the show. Just block them and move on. For me? It was fine! I actually felt so safe on one date that I wanted to extend it and go somewhere else with him (Like Elspeth notes below we had both chosen and matched each other before messaging. However this was on a free for all website with “overwhelming” messages and the matching was a new game-type feature). We’re getting married soon.

      1. Jackalope*

        Underlining a part of this statement: going out with someone you don’t know is always going to be a bit awkward if you’re shy and introverted. But if you’re a good match, then by date two or three there should be something about it that feels comfortable or safe or whatever is your green flag feeling. I knew things were going well with my now husband when on our second date we ended up hanging out for 7 hours. Not doing anything physical (was NOT ready for that so soon!), but just enjoying each other’s company. We met up, and then all of a sudden it was 7 hours later, and where had the time gone? We can still just hang out for a long time and enjoy ourselves like that because it’s comfortable and easy.

    5. Jackalope*

      I just posted a comment with a link so that will take awhile to come out, but here are some of my thoughts on what helped me (another shy, nervous introvert who was afraid of online dating):

      For one thing, for your main profile pic, I would recommend using a professional picture rather than, say, a random selfie. I want to underline that you don’t want to get something like a glamour shot that makes you look like something you’re not, but something that is the best version of you and the way you like to see yourself. (I read a study a few years ago that said that people with professional pictures get more responses to their profiles, and when I tried it I found that at least in my experience that was true.) If you post other pictures of yourself, don’t post a picture that’s just you and one dude unless you clearly label it (“Here’s me with my brother on a hike”, for example). I tended to post just pictures of myself anyway since I didn’t want to put up pictures of my friends and family in a dating site without their consent, but don’t post something that makes it look like you’re already dating.

      I decided that I didn’t want to respond to the “Hey, beautiful!” types of comments, so in my profile I specified that if someone messaged me and didn’t ask at least one question for a conversation, I would ignore their message. I then stuck to that, which meant that every time I chatted with someone (which could be just a few back and forth messages or could go on longer), we at least always had something to talk about.

      Also, you talk about the idea of a lot of new people contacting you seeking overwhelming. One suggestion that worked for me was to devote X amount of time per week to the online dating process. An hour per week, two hours per week, whatever. I would gladly do more if I was in the mood for it, but that gave me bite-sized chunks after which I could say that I’d done my due diligence and I was going to go do something else that did NOT involve new people.

      I also found it helpful to come up with a handful of things that I wanted to do with people. I didn’t want to spoil my favorite places with possible bad memories of icky first dates. So I made a list of places in my city/region that I hadn’t been to before and used those as possible date options. I tried new coffee shops for first dates, went to a local museum I’d never gone to before, took a short hike at a local state park that I’d always meant to visit but had never gotten around to… Obviously you’d have to pick stuff that works for you, but the idea was that it gave me the chance to try new stuff that I was interested in anyway. Since I’m shy and have a hard time making small talk, I tried to mostly go for stuff where we could talk or we could Do the Thing instead and just hang out if needed. That made dating fun, and gave me a chance to do stuff I hadn’t done before.

      1. lissajous*

        Hard agree on the on the “hey beautiful” thing, and I accidentally ended up with an additional proxy for that. One, and only one, of my photos is Ye Typical Scrub Up Well For An Wedding, all the rest are me doing various things that I like doing. (Look over here, lots of conversational prompts!)
        If it’s the all-scrubbed-up-well photo someone likes, that’s a skip and go on to the next.

    6. Jessica*

      Slightly vulnerable confession here, but with dating apps, I’ve found you get a whole bunch of messages when you first join (because you’re featured as a “new” member) and then the messages taper off. So maybe you could start a profile, not log in for a couple of weeks, and then have a friend sit with you while you go through the messages and pick just one or two to reply to?

    7. anonymous shy person*

      Thanks everybody – I’m feeling so much better reading all these kind and helpful thoughts. Hoping to be able to return and report on some success even if that’s in the form of “actually went on a date.”

    8. smeep248*

      this was hard for me as a shy people pleaser but after 4 years on Tinder and accidentally meeting the love of my life – remember you don’t “owe” anyone anything. If they set off your spidey senses, unmatch them. If you’re not feeling them, bounce. If they creep you out, block them. You don’t have to be nice to strangers you’ll never meet in this scenario. For men on dating sites, it is a numbers game and they are going to act accordingly. As a woman, you will have more options than you can shake a stick at. Weed through them thoughtfully, be picky, be selective. You don’t have to make nice or talk to everyone that reaches out. Also, I made a lot of friends this way, too. So my advice is be willing to meet people and maybe click with some people, and feel free to opt out of anyone at any time!

  6. HannahS*

    Sigh, I am entering the world of having to have serious talks of the “Actually this is alarming and you need to see a doctor” variety with older family members. Can anyone offer advice? The relative in question is stubborn, listens selectively, is overconfident in their internet literacy, and I love them very much.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Would a “you’re right, it’s probably fine, but get it checked for me so I don’t worry” strategy work?

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I just said this to my dad! I visited recently and noticed he was asking me to repeat things more often than I remembered, so I asked if he had thought of seeing an audiologist. “There’s nothing wrong, my hearing is very good!” “OK, so then the audiologist will confirm that!”

    2. Joie De Vivre*

      Before my mom passed away, there were times I’d call her Drs office and talk to the nurse. She’d ask a lot of questions about what I’d observed. Quite often the doctor’s office would call my mom to schedule an appointment.

      It seemed to work pretty well. She didn’t know I’d called her doctor, but they could get her to come in for an appointment when I couldn’t talk her into it.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Yeah, my late dad would get REALLY angry about my telling his doctors relevant stuff. I wound up doing it behind his back, just to make sure his docs had the info they needed about what was going on, though I hated that it had to be that way. I’m less controlling now, so I don’t know if I’d make the same choice again. But maybe I would — I didn’t want to feel like I had left helpful things undone. My dad did have a valid point, though, that the more involved I was, the less doctors treated him like he was capable of understanding/participating in his own medical care, which really upset him.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          It’s kinda a no-win situation. However, if someone isn’t seeking out medical care when they need to, then there’s an argument to be made that they’re not competent to start with. Overall, aging isn’t for the faint of heart.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            To be fair, I know a number of otherwise very competent people of all ages who react like this (I know somebody who had nurses asking their partner to try and get them to agree to take painkillers while in hospital, because they were pointblank refusing – this was an educated professional in their 30s, who has no impairments that I know of) and most people wouldn’t assume a 40 year old who didn’t seem out medical care when needed was incompetent.

            Not saying Squirrel Nutkin was wrong to give the correct info. It is a tricky one. Just that people do sometimes apply different logic with older people and assume they are less competent than a younger person who is doing the same thing.

    3. fposte*

      This is complicated by the fact that you’re a doctor yourself, right? But are a granddaughter/whippersnapper/whatever. Can you invoke an authority of a senior doctor from med school or elsewhere? “Oh, Dr. Famous said it’s very important for patients to get seen early if they have an alien emerging from their chest.”

      1. HannahS*

        I think it compounds my frustration, because my relative is so ridiculously proud of me, but, you know, they read a thing on the internet, so…. (INWARD SCREAMING.)

        As I’m reading the answers, I’m thinking that I probably have let go of dispelling their health misconceptions (which personally drive me NUTS) and just focus on getting them in front of a doctor (and get them to tell the doctor the truth which is own thing, sigh.)

        1. fposte*

          I don’t know the Canadian rules, but in the U.S. you could give information to the doctor about your relative; the doctor just can’t give you information back about the patient. A lot of people with loved ones with dementia, for instance, submit a statement in advance of the appointment so that the doctor hears about issues that the caretaker can’t report on in front of the loved one.

          Probably overkill if we’re talking, like, eczema, but I just thought I’d throw that possibility in there.

          1. ConsentIsKey*

            You can only do this with the patient’s permission. Otherwise they’re not even supposed to acknowledge that so-and-so is their patient

            1. Jay*

              If your family member tells you who their doctor is you can absolutely call or send a note with info. They can’t give information but they can receive it (US MD who once got a very valuable piece of info about a patient from her granddaughter via FB messenger)

        2. Princess Xena*

          No advice but sympathy – I have family members who have a very hard time figuring out the good from the dross online and having conversations with them is super frustrating. It’s not things like conspiracy theories and Qanon fortunately, but health & beauty, fashion, and electronics and it drives me bonkers.

        3. Observer*

          As I’m reading the answers, I’m thinking that I probably have let go of dispelling their health misconceptions (which personally drive me NUTS) and just focus on getting them in front of a doctor (and get them to tell the doctor the truth which is own thing, sigh.)

          Yes. And it’s NOT going to be easy, based on what you are saying. But it’s definitely more in the realm of possible.

    4. Invisible fish*

      I have no advice, but for the love of heaven, if you figure out how to do this, share. My parents don’t have good doctors who are trained in helping geriatric patients, and my mother keeps going to the same horrible GP for everything!! My attempts at getting them to think more deeply about issues and pursue care to live their best lives is so terribly draining. I’m well over 5 years into this situation with both parents, and my phone conversation with my mother last night basically ended with “And your GP is a ******* quack!! He’s useless!! You’ve got to see a specialist for that! I just can’t handle talking about this anymore! I love you, good night!”

      FYI: That GP told her not to get vaccinated for COVID because he had learned “they” didn’t want the public knowing how many people had died from it ….

      1. Anon for this reply*

        I was in the same position last year with my parents. Family has been begging them for years to switch drs. After mulitple ER visits/hospitalizations in 5 months, I was stressed to the max and I gave them an ultimatum, switch to geriatric practice or I’d do the one thing in the world that I know they don’t want me to do. (I didn’t want to do it, but they know if I say I’m going to do something, it will be done.) I also cried and said that they were making me sick with stress. Which was true. I’m lucky they switched, things aren’t perfect, but it made a huge difference. I don’t recommend ultimatums, and didn’t plan to give it, but the stress broke me and it just all came pouring out.

        Good luck!
        PS. For a minute I thought they had the same GP as your parents. I used to wish he’d retire or drop dead.

        1. Star Struck*

          I’m sorry. There are some horrid docs out there. By any chance if you know anyone who is a nurse, ask them who they recommend, or who they see. Nurses know everything !
          (BTW, don’t ask if Dr. Soandso is any good – just ask them who they would see.)

    5. Girasol*

      You might contact their doctor for advice and also ask at your/their local hospital if there’s a social worker you could talk to about the situation. They may be able to provide some alternate possibilities that you hadn’t considered. Doing that really helped me. Stubborn relative is gone now, but when I wonder, did I do the right things? At least I can be confident that I acted on the best professional advice I could find. It helps a lot to know that.

    6. PersistenceWithoutPressure*

      in my case, it took repetition. carefully applied, choosing my moments, short reminders of the “I still think you should tell Dr X foo” or “I’m still noticing Y and think you should mention it to Dr Z at your next appt” then letting it drop until the next time I felt compelled to bring it up. I definitely had more success with “mention it at your next appt with X” (eventually) than something more urgent or requiring new appts.

    7. Jay*

      I’m also a doc and went through this with my parents. My dad was a doc so I was never the medical expert on anything in my own family (which was fine when it kept them from calling me for advice). I’m a palliative care/hospice doc so I have a lot of experience with guiding people through these sorts of decisions, and I teach and coach communication skills on the side. Didn’t matter. I had to accept that they were competent adults who were going to make their own (misguided) decisions and I was not going to be able to change that. My tack with the disturbing symptom thing was to become a broken record. Every time it was mentioned I said, calmly and cheerfully, “I think you should see your doctor about that.” I offered *once* to make the appointment and go with, and that was very firmly rejected. And then I let it go.

      My parents both had mobility issues and they stayed in their four-story completely inaccessible house. They never left. My brother and I talked to Dad about it and he shut us down, and then after Dad died we talk to Mom about it and she wasn’t going anywhere either. So that was that.

      1. Generic+Name*

        If you don’t mind me asking, how did that play out? The living in an inaccessible house until The End? My parents are in their 70s and are still quite mobile, but my mom recently confessed to me that she can’t lift her leg high enough to get in the bathtub, so she showers in the guest bathroom. And her plan is to stay in the house and have round the clock nursing care and put in a chair lift to handle the two flights of stairs. Neither my sibling nor I are local, so I suppose she assumes she will be driving herself to appointments indefinitely. She is a competent adult so I just said “okay” when she told me all this, but I find her plan a bit….. unrealistic? Fortunately, my parents have plenty of money, so that’s not the issue. Ugh.

        1. Generic+Name*

          To add, my mom’s mother stayed in her house to the very end, and it was only possible because my mother and her sister, who both lived within a few miles of my grandmother, went to Heroic Lengths to make it happen. So I’m not sure if my mom is forgetting all of the family help it took, or if she assumes one or both of her children will return home (after having established lives in other states for decades) to help, or if they will find reliable paid professionals for everything.

        2. Jay*

          My mother went to Heroic Lengths to take care of my dad and installed stair lifts and grab bars. Their bathroom had an accessible shower, so that helped a lot. Mom’s mobility was a bit better than Dad’s and she did OK for a few years after he died. Having money helps. She already had someone coming in to clean weekly and she started doing the grocery shopping on the same day so the cleaner would carry the bags up the stairs, and she had the gardener put the garbage cans at the end of the (steep) driveway and one of the neighbors brought them up for her.

          Mom developed dementia and we hired around-the-clock care about four years before she died. By that time she also needed to use the stair lifts and the aides helped her in and out of the shower. We gradually added more equipment – a lift chair, a raised toilet seat, and a transfer wheelchair. Eventually we got a hospital bed and a bedside commode.

          Because I have a lot of experience with this, I went through the house after Dad died and made some changes to reduce her fall risk. I made sure the lights were bright enough, got rid of all the rugs that weren’t nailed down, and had my husband secure some of the transition strips that were coming loose. It’s worth having an occupational therapist come out and do a home safety evaluation – they are very good at spotting risks and helping mitigate them. And otherwise my main project was managing my own emotions.

  7. Frankie Bergstein*

    I’m so curious about something – what does community look like for you all? Who or what do you consider your community, if you have one?

    My social life looks like this:
    -confidantes/closest: partner, Mom, best friend of 25 years, another close friend, two local friends I see weekly and monthly (the latter is a Mom), a cousin.
    -good friends: many friends I see occasionally for coffee or meals who live near me. I’d invite them to a cookout or hike or coffee or brunch but not necessarily call them for support at 2am. Some family fits here too.
    -acquaintances: colleagues whom I like, members of my running and book club, and some friends whom I don’t really like (I know that’s not great), fellow dog walkers in my area
    -abstract or virtual connections that I really value: you all, folks in my mutual aid group, folks doing things like postcards to voters or working on other causes close to my heart

    When I write it out, this feels like a pretty good life – especially as I’ve recently exited a couple of unhealthy relationships – but I don’t feel a sense of community. These connections are often one-to-one or family-to-family vs. part of a larger web.

    What about you all? What does your social life /community look like? And are you happy with it or does it feel like something is missing?

    For reference – hubby and I live a few states away from parents, have kind of complex families, come from immigrant families, and have lots of really loving rescue pets that live with us :)

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Husband and cats; that’s about it. My coworkers are great but most of them are a good twenty years younger than me, so we are definitely at different stages of socializing! I work weird hours so I just don’t have friends–it’s simply too hard to get together.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I think about this type of thing a lot. I think recently I’ve been feeling a little more sense of community or I guess hope for future community? My husband and I lived far from our families for around a decade, starting during that “oh I’m not in school for the first time in my life, how do adults make friends???” period after college, so I’ve felt really isolated. I still have no local friends and few “distant but staying in touch” friends, but we live near family again and it was so encouraging when I got a job and had to cobble together some last minute childcare that everyone stepped up and made me feel really loved and supported when I was feeling like a burden. We moved into a neighborhood where all the neighbors are SO nice and there are always kids playing outside and that’s really lovely even though I’m still an awkward newcomer. My job is a place with a strong emphasis on relationship building (not in a dysfunctional “we’re family” way) so I feel hopeful there too.

      I definitely think there’s a difference between social life and community, with community being more about fulfilling needs rather than just spending time together.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I have great people, but most do not live local to me so I have lots of love but not much of a social life. The center of my community is mom, who lives nearby, plus a handful of very old friends and a brother who would move heaven and earth for me, but live long-distance. I do have local-ish friends that I see occasionally, and it’s probably on me if I don’t see them more. (I want to do more with people but have conditions that limit my capacity.) Social media is important to keeping me feeling connected to my extended community. My neighbors are really friendly and helpful, I enjoy knowing the people on my block.

      What’s most missing is a partner — I’m really feeling that lack.

    4. Not+A+Manager*

      For me, I’ve realized that community means more than important people that I love. It means familiarity, bumping into people in different contexts and walks of life. I’ve recently moved back to the city I spent most of my adult life in. I like going to synagogue and seeing the same faces even if I don’t know people’s names, or being at a new store except I recognize an employee who used to be at my old store. I was in an entertainment venue the other night and someone called my name, and he used to work at my old hair salon.

      I’m in a major, world-class city, but I love this sense of general familiarity. If I need a referral to a doctor or a tradesman, I can ask friends, sure – but if they don’t know, they ask their friends and then I get this odd chain of community that leads me to whatever I’m looking for.

      This stuff matters to me a lot, as well as the more predictable friends-and-family.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        “It means familiarity, bumping into people in different contexts and walks of life.”
        “I’m in a major, world-class city, but I love this sense of general familiarity.”

        I love your definitions of community! I think you said what I was trying to say, but far more clearly.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        I love this as well! I get a teeny bit of this with a coffee shop where they all know your name and basic contours of your life. It feels amazing; I go for this.

        What a great definition! I can see ongoing, local, in-person groups as something that fosters this type of connection.

      3. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        Yes, the bumping-into people! I became a SAHM a few months before the pandemic hit and if it weren’t for my (smallish city but fairly urban) neighborhood, I don’t know how I would have stayed sane. Even when we were only yelling “hi” across the street, seeing people out walking with their dogs, kids, and chickens on a regular basis. Eventually this evolved into more conversations on the same side of the street, but I still don’t know most of these people’s last names. They are still extreme important to me and we help each other in all kinds of ways – for example, my son pitched a huge tantrum while I was out walking with him, the dog, and the baby. I had to abandon his new bike so I could carry him while also pushing the stroller. Unbeknownst to me, one neighbor happened to see this and the bike was waiting on our porch before we even made it back! It was probably a small thing for him but it made a huge difference in my evening because I didn’t have to go back for the bike with a tantruming kid or risk it getting stolen. Familiarity makes those kind of deeds possible and gives me that sense of community, safety, and care. My husband wants to move to the country but I told him we’re not doing it until I’m back at work because the proximity to others has been a lifeline.

        Random other observation: one thing I love about the community is that, unlike my friend group, it’s a huge mixture of people of all ages, stages of life, and backgrounds. I don’t know where else I would get that and it’s delightful. I also really value it for my boys, who get to see people different from us and living in different circumstances and get to know them as individuals.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Interesting question! For me, community lies in two different activities: my ongoing conversations with chosen friends and relatives, and my observation of and participation in life-cycle events that befall extended family, longstanding family friends, and members of congregations in various places that I’ve lived. I’m not on intimate terms with everyone in my current congregation, but we have logged sufficient years together that I feel connected.

      I stay connected with “more deliberately chosen people” usually but not always. Sometimes we grew apart in outlook or geography. Other times one or both of us decided not to stay connected.

      I’ve always had both single and partnered friends and maintained connections with people independent of my much more shy spouse. When my spouse was alive I regretted that we did not have many “couple” friendships. Now widowed, I am grateful that my friendships include people with many diverse household formations (singles; couples living variously alone, partnered-but-apart, and together, perhaps also with parents or children or grandchildren…). So far I have not experienced the so-called typical transition by which still-coupled folks reclassify a newly widowed friend from “dinner companion with both of us” to “lunchtime companion with only the same-gendered spouse.” Dunno what this says about me except that I enjoy social contact with all kinds of people, not only those with demographics identical to mine.

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      After reading the comments of Not+A+Manager and Dark Macadamia, I want to add one more element to my definition of community: a sense of mutual responsibility for everyone’s well-being. This doesn’t mean that everyone would or should do anything for anyone; rather, that there’s a general sense of shared collective obligation to be helpful when necessary, and otherwise to live without causing major distress most of the time, (not having loud parties that go on all night, or dumping trash on the sidewalk, or not paying one’s taxes, or talking loudly during a public event/concert/poetry reading/religious service when the usual expectation is for folks to listen quietly and maybe speak a few predicted words at predicted times).

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah this. To me community is distinct from friendship/family and comes largely from service. Voting in local elections, supporting block parties, attending trash clean ups, protests, and volunteering are the ways to build a sense of community.

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Interesting question. My closest connections are my husband and grown son for inner circle daily contact and emotional support. Next circle out, people I could call in emergencies or for major help, would be some of my husband’s siblings and their spouses. Next circle, I guess for emotional needs/wants, some of my friends I haven’t seen in a long time but we’re still in frequent touch, the rest of the in-law siblings and some of their adult offspring, and a couple of online friends I’ve never met, but I have very personal things in common with them. Last circle is my sister and her grown kids – she and I don’t get along and the kids are nice but unreliable.

    8. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Ooh, what a good question.

      I’m pretty introverted, but here’s what I consider my emotional support system (socially– I also have a therapist & attend a monthly support group for adoptees):

      1 long-term partner that I don’t live with
      1 aunt that I am very close to and meet for coffee every few weeks
      About 3-4 really close BFFs that live in my city who I try to see at least once a month (but because, you know, life, sometimes it goes much longer– we’ll generally text in between f2f hangouts, tho)
      About 3-4 really close BFFs who now live far away. We text occasionally, especially in times of emotional highs/lows & meet up whenever we can (often a year or more goes by) but the bond of “we can talk about anything” is still strong
      A weekly knitting group that I’ve been attending for about 8 years now, but generally don’t see the other attendees outside of that– conversation is mostly light but people definitely will bring up personal struggles when they need a little support (family illness; job worries).

      I also live in a small-town-feeling neighborhood, and I know/am known (at least well enough to wave & say hi) by a lot of people in the area because of the jobs I’ve worked (local food co-op, local library, etc), so that makes me feel like part of the community, too.

      The areas I feel like I’m missing out on are:

      -family: I’m estranged from my immediate family members, and things are tense with most of my extended family; I’ve been on the hunt for bio-family to reconnect with, but it’s a slow, difficult process, and doesn’t always end happily

      -music: I used to sing in various choirs/small groups but haven’t for years (in part because covid, but even before that I just didn’t have the time/energy) and I miss it so much

      -activist community: especially during 2020, there were lots of protests in my area, and I was the only one I knew in my close circle who was going to them regularly, which felt both lonely and less safe. I regularly sign up for voting reg/campaign stuff, but the people I’m meeting that way are often of the older, whiter, more hetero variety, who, don’t get me wrong, are perfectly nice, but I’m all full up already– I’m craving community with other queer millenial POCs who are engaged in trying to make change, and I’m way too shy to try and make friends actually AT a protest, so I’ve been feeling a little stuck.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I relate so much to the parts that are missing, especially activist community and the way estranged family seems to hang over me like a cloud. I also had a recent friendship breakup that still aches.

        1. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

          Oh man, my heart goes out to you. A friend breakup is so painful but also so impossible to find a good, cathartic breakup song for.

    9. allathian*

      Good question!

      – Closest: My nuclear family, i.e. my husband and son, although naturally I don’t burden my son with confidences he’s too young to deal with. My best friend for whom I’d move heaven and earth and who’d do the same for me, even if we rarely talk more often than about once a month, but when we do, our phone calls can last for two hours.

      – In the next tier I’d put my mom and sister, who are closer to me than my other friends. I phone my mom once a week and usually text my sister a few times a week.

      – In my good friends category I have a handful of good friends, and I’d also include my MIL, her husband, my SIL, and my dad. We’re fairly close, but don’t talk about personal issues much. Sometimes I’ll mention a health issue to my SIL, but that’s because she’s a former nurse. She’s the first one to tell me to call the doctor if I’m putting it off for any reason. My dad is more distant mainly because I’ve only seen him twice since March 2020. He’s been getting more and more reclusive, and doesn’t generally want to talk to anyone other than my mom. I’m sorry it’s happening, but there’s not much I can do about it. In this category I also count a few online-only friends, I’ve known some of them for more than 20 years.

      -Acquaintances: my coworkers, my hairdresser of 7+ years, my beautician of 10+ years, and my neighbors. Both getting your hair done and your facial hair removed are fairly intimate services, I count my providers as acquaintances because they’ve also shared some things about their lives with me, as I’ve shared some things about my life with them. We’re lucky to live in a community with great neighbors, I know most of them by name and greet all of them when I see them in the street. I’d also put my FIL in this category, because I never got to know him very well, and now it’s too late, he’s in a care home with dementia.

      – I also have a number of abstract or virtual connections that I value, both here and in a number of fandom communities.

      I live in the same city as my parents, my sister, and my MIL and her husband. Most of my friends also live quite close, no more than an hour’s drive away. I’m fairly introverted in the sense that I need a lot of time alone to recharge. So I don’t feel like I need to be more connected to the community than I am. All of my current hobbies, unless you count posting online, are solitary. When my son was in daycare, I was a member of the PTA board, but since then, I’ve stopped volunteering my time, although I do make monthly donations to a number of charities. My biggest donations go to a mental health charity and an anti-bullying charity, and I also donate annually to a cancer charity appeal, because my mom’s a cancer survivor.

    10. Blue wall*

      It’s interesting to me that how you identify your community is more what I would consider my social connections.

      Community I consider more as people I have loose social and communal bonds with, often centered around a central activity/place. The craft guild is a community; the Y is a community; my synagogue is a community; my little pocket neighborhood is a community. I don’t know everyone in these communities but we, together, care collectively about the whole and contribute to make it a living thing, often doing things that matter, together.

      I think A LOT about community- both in my own life and as a general concept. Wendell Berry’s fiction works on Port William are a great example of community. I’d love to hear any other book recs, fiction or non, regarding community!

      1. Jackalope*

        If you are a fantasy reader, my personal favorite series is that Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn. It’s a series about 6 people who end up on a journey together, and by the end they’re best friends, more tightly bonded than they ever would have imagined at the beginning of the first book. That happens in book 1, and then throughout the rest of the series they maintain that amazing closeness. I have to reread the series at times just to enjoy the friendships between the characters.

        If you are a YA fantasy reader, I also enjoy the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce, which is a story of four young people who end up becoming very close as well. It is however a much younger read so be prepared for that.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I have a more narrow definition of community- it’s my neighborhood, the people around my home. That’s it. It’s important to me to know them, know their names and at least a few small things about them. Not enough to be nosey but enough to chat with them. So it ends up being whatever they want to share about themselves.

      I have people who are anchors/rocks of Gibraltar in my life, but not all of them live near me. Some are far away. I have one friend in particular who I call my guardian angel friend.

      Thinking of it as concentric circles, the next circle is my town. There are some people in this group who are a true gift in my life.

      My setting is different. I do not have family close by or even in the same state. But I am in a rural area and everyone is aware that in times of difficulty help may or may not get there in time. As an example, one night we had to call the police because of kids vandalizing things. It took the police an hour and a half to get here. NOT their fault, we have a big county. Calling for EMTs is a matter of patience. The building is unstaffed, so people are at home doing life things. It takes a minute to get to the rescue building and so on. It’s a different mindset than I have found elsewhere. Regular people are more willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in until trained help arrives. Some of my sense of of the greater circle of community comes from this shared understanding that we all have. It’s a common ground to build on.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, people in rural communities depend on each other to survive.

        I’m really happy that my suburban street has a small community. I know most of our neighbors by name, and our next door neighbor’s two huskies who can handle our winter and who spend a lot of time in their kennel year round also protect our property by barking when someone’s coming up our drive. :)

    12. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I felt like I finally had a community pre-pandemic — a big gay multi-age musical group that felt like an extended family. I was closer to some people than others, of course, but they all felt like honorary siblings, niblings, or cousins in some way or another. I miss that feeling!

    13. Asenath*

      I don’t think I have a community, or perhaps it’s better to say that I’ve sometimes found groups that might be considered “community” to be difficult to deal with, not the least because there’s the implication that you’ve got them, who else do you need? And you should either join in battles for control and/or accept the community norm. Although I live a quiet life, I do associate with various people I am close to in different ways. They could be classified into groups (at least the ones who live in the same city I do) and sometimes these groups overlap, but I never think of them as my community. They include those of my family and old friends who are still alive and in contact, people I’ve met regularly through one or the other of my activities and whose company I enjoy (they seem to like mine, mostly). Oddly enough, one or two of these activities involve people for whom the idea of community is very important – I just keep my mouth shut on the topic and participate. For me, place is very important to feeling at home, and a home is a kind of community. I don’t think I will ever leave my city – and when I used to travel a lot, sometimes spending a year or more in different places, I always knew I would come “home” – even though it’s not where I grew up, and none of my few surviving close relatives live anywhere nearby. But I like everything from the shape of the earth to the people I meet on my daily rounds and chat casually with about the weather (or often lots of other things) even though I don’t know their names. They’re part of my life, too, but do they make up a community? I don’t think so. I’m generally very happy with my quiet life and the different people I know in different ways. I suppose I do think of it as a kind of web of connection, centred on me. I seem to recall having to draw out webs like that – is is a sociology methodology? Anyway, I don’t think I have any formal community, although some would probably try to claim me on the grounds I participate in their activities. And that doesn’t bother me. This is a very interesting question – is there only one way to do community? What does community look like for you?

    14. fposte*

      This is something I’ve thought about consciously in retirement, as my community was hugely workplace-focused before.

      I can see the word meaning either a collection of people who know one another and who include me in their number, or the network of people who make up my life, who may never meet. One of my best friends is a mental mapper par excellence, and it’s fascinating the way she links together people who’ve met her in different ways. Her network and community are pretty much the same thing–if you’re one of her friends you know which of her other friends are going through something.

      I don’t go quite that far, but I feel like community isn’t simply the physically proximal (though fortunately I very much like my neighbors). The weak ties, as I believe sociologists call them, matter a lot too–on our street you give a wave to anybody out walking, and my pharmacist knows my name and is happy to see me, and my massage therapist knows town politics really well. And having more time post-retirement has allowed me to strengthen ties with people I enjoy but hadn’t spent as much time with.

    15. Overeducated*

      I’m at a conference right now where the word “community” comes up a lot and it always makes me think. As an adult who’s moved around a lot I have realized I really need to consciously cultivate and join communities where I live, and that’s hard. I moved during covid, and even two years in to living in my city, I feel like I’m not there yet. It’s hard to break in as a new person, hard to get to know people, hard to step up to be a giver as well as a taker when your life is busy. Some communities are geographically widespread or have looser connections, so they can’t fulfill all social needs, but I think there’s a fundamental distinction between individual social relationships and communities that are more collective.

      I’ve also seen them change with age and life stage. I know as transplants to our small town, my parents tried hard to be part of school and church and neighborhood communities, and as a kid growing up I felt like we were really part of some of them. But people move on, you don’t keep in touch with other kids’ parents when they’ve grown up if you don’t have a friendship outside of that, a lot of the church members have died or are moving to be near their grandkids, and I know my parents now feel that the communities they’ve tried so hard to invest in are dissolving around them. I don’t have a solution for that, just the sad realization that you are never set for life, community is not some stable everlasting thing.

    16. Russian in Texas*

      Partner, cats, immediate family on both sides (only few people each), few friends of various closeness. I work with some people I like and we are friendly, but not friends.
      I am not going to call anyone at 2am except nu partner.
      The friends circle shrunk over the years, which is natural.

    17. Russian in Texas*

      If we are not talking about social connections, I am not sure I have a community? Or want one? My neighborhood is nice and quiet, the city (we are it’s own tiny city of one square mile) organizes various parties, events, etc. I know that for myself, if the city didn’t, I would never ever participate in something like this as a neighbor. I do not organize, or join, or care. I simply do not care to know neighbors that much, unless they are being a neusance. I’ve lived in this house for over 7 years now, I know some neighbors by face, and talked to couple occasionally, for stuff like getting a new fence up, but I don’t even know their names. Wave at silver on walks, but again, don’t know, don’t care. I used to rent for 15 years prior to living in this house, and I don’t think I’ve learned a single neighbor’s name.

    18. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Just my cat. I only have work friends and text friends. I don’t prefer to spend my time with others.

    19. matcha123*

      I think about this a lot because I don’t feel like I was raised with a community. I was raised *in* one, of course. But, I always felt like I was on the outside looking in.
      The same with family, I don’t have a large or close-knit family.

      As an adult (eek), I still don’t feel like I really have a community. Living abroad contributes to that feeling, too. I have people I speak with regularly, but I don’t feel like most of them really understand me. No partner, either, so it’s all on me.

    20. Jackalope*

      Community is one of the most important facets of my life, and I’ve spent a lot of time investing in it. Some of it is the people I spend the most time with; my spouse, and my housemate who is also one of my closest friends. The rest of my COVID pod is also close community; some of them I see once or twice a week, some I see once or twice a month, but I generally have regular close contact. I’m also close to my family although they’re further away so we don’t see each other as often; every other month or so for some and once a year or so for others. But I do talk to some of them on the phone regularly.

      I also think of my wider community, my city and places I go regularly. Someone else talked about weak ties, and those are important to me. I enjoy going to the same librarian to check out my books, the same cashier to buy my groceries, waving good morning to the same neighbor on my walks around the neighborhood. My friends tease me that everywhere we go in my city, we always run into someone I know. Many of those people I’m not super close to but it still makes me feel connected.

      And both with my closer and broader communities, there’s a sense of responsibility. Being available for friends who have an emergency, going to city-wide meetings to get involved with helping fix local issues, things like that are all a part of my being a member of a community. And I feel like I get that in return from others as well.

    21. E. Chauvelin*

      -Husband and my parents, whom I see regularly and with whom my husband and I regularly go out for dinner
      -Close friends whom I see maybe a couple of times a year but with whom I can discuss almost absolutely anything virtually (and the “almost” is only because, if I’m annoyed by one of them in a low-stakes, not worth actually mentioning it, I should just deal kind of way, that’s going to be something I just discuss with my husband)
      -Good friend I can count on to go out with more often and discuss some life stuff but who isn’t going to be on the receiving end of all of the angst that people I’ve known since adolescence will, and a pair of couple-friends with whom my husband share a bunch of hobbies and with whom we’ve occasionally gone out apart from formal meetings of those groups.
      -Shared hobby friends, some of whom I would absolutely be willing to call for practical emergencies or favors, but with whom I don’t usually get together on purpose for reasons outside of a shared hobby.
      -Coworkers whom I like but whom rarely get together outside of work
      -Church people I enjoy seeing there but don’t get together with outside church activities.

    22. marvin*

      I think gay and trans people tend to be more intentional about creating community, since many of us have fewer family connections and often rely on our communities for various types of support and survival. This is something that I personally feel somewhat lacking and would like to try to build up more for myself.

    23. Fit Farmer*

      I had your question in mind all weekend, surprised I didn’t have a ready answer, and now I’ve got something to add even though I’m late to the party.

      For me I think community arises from a sense of shared history, and an appreciation of that shared history. There’s some mutually-shared identity there, which people can come and go from, but in some way the people who see that history and identity in each other are what defines the membership of a community. Most meaningfully, it’s people in the same place, overlapping in day to day life because that’s just who happens to be there, the people I know *also* knowing each other in a web of mundane but practical connections. As far as particular people—it’s just whoever happens to be there. Whether I feel close to them, or acquaintances, or even dislike them, relationships with individuals are a totally separate thing than the community as a whole. Someone can even be appreciated as a part of a community, while disliking them as a person. In a way completely unrelated to the friendships I have with people, this sense of “community” enriches my life.

      I feel like this is a more rural, older, “conservative” meaning of community, centered around a mutually-appreciated sense of place, as opposed to urban “liberal” sense defined by activities, gatherings, and intentional selections of people. It’s been interesting to talk over time to people I know, and to read comments here on “community,” because for such a common and important word, people can find such different aspects of the word to be meaningful to them.

  8. Free Meerkats*

    Now that it’s almost over, what have you done this summer that you haven’t done in the last two?

    For me, it was Worldcon.

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Traveling of any sort on a plane… I went to Boston. I also did a solo getaway – something I’ve never done before!

      1. flapping wings*

        exactly this. I did 4 plane trips. (for work, but, got a couple of days sight-seeing in there). Haven’t done that in years!

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Ate indoors at a restaurant (few people there, huge place with lots of distancing, with two pandemic-conscious friends),

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I went on holiday. We rented a holiday cottage on the beautiful Norfolk coast (UK) and didn’t do anything for a week except walk the dog, go to the pub and read. It was great!

    4. AGD*

      Live concerts, live theater, live board games, two favorite sports (I am very out of practice!), traveling just to explore, helping look after family members with Covid, and generally having a good and predictable schedule.

    5. CharlieBrown*

      I went to our company picnic, which is back on after two years of being cancelled. I work remotely, so it was good to put faces with names, and meet the dogs I’ve only gotten emails about.

      I didn’t get out often before (thank you, anxiety), so this is really enough socializing for me for the next 6-8 months, but it was a great time, and I was so happy to be there. I am looking forward to next year’s picnic.

    6. Please Exit Through the Rear Door*

      COVID is not almost over. I was just sick, despite being vaccinated three times, and that was the sickest I’ve been since I had mono 20 years ago. My wife also got it and coughed nonstop a month afterward.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          I initially read it as “COVID is almost over” (which it is most certainly is not) but upon re-reading it, I read it as “summer is almost over”.

          I think this is because I wish I were over COVID (so tired of this, so tired of those people, so tired of just being tired) but I know this will be with us for a while, so I just can’t be over it any more than it is over me. Alas.

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

      Attended the cactus and succulent sale at the Huntington Library and Gardens. It’s been cancelled for the last 2 years. After spending way too much money on plants I didn’t need, I spent the whole day touring the gardens and had lunch at their cafe out on the patio.

    8. Might Be Spam*

      I went to 3 regional ethnic festivals. After having to skip them for a couple of years, I was surprised to actually recognize some people that I only see at the festivals. I’m really bad at recognizing people. There was a lot of “I know that I know you, but your name escapes me” going around on those weekends.

  9. Bluebell*

    It’s definitely apple season here in New England. I was at the Farmers’ Market today and tried a Swiss Gourmet, which was delicious. There’s a bakery in my town that has a connection with a orchard, so they often have unusual varieties for purchase. Tell me your favorite apple, or your favorite apple treat!

    1. Firebird*

      My adult kids still ask for my homemade chunky applesauce with cinnamon. My out-of-state son made a special request for it when he comes for his Christmas visit this year.

      I haven’t made it for a few years and I didn’t realize that they missed having it. I had to go and get large canning jars, since I downsized my canning supplies when I moved. Knowing that they appreciate it, makes it worth the effort.

    2. PollyQ*

      Macouns, although they were easier to find when I lived in Massachusetts. I very rarely see them in California. :(

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      Oh boy, this thread is going to make me envious. I’m a Californian who greatly misses the apples from the Midwest. MacIntosh for sure. When I was last in Minnesota, I had my first Honeycrisp. Yum!

    4. RedinSC*

      Here’s my dilemma! We have local apple growers and the put tables out and you leave money and fill up a bag, but they don’t always tell you what apples you’re getting. I got a bag of apples and they were pink inside! They were so lovely, and really delicious. I’d never seen a pink apple (all the way through!) I googled pink apples and have narrowed it down some, but Oh, I hope they put the pink apples out again.

      PINK APPLES!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So I had to do a quick google. I did not realize but there are many varieties of apples that are pink inside. I did not realize there are so many.

      2. KatEnigma*

        In ND, there is a pink crabapple that’s local, whose name escapes me, that we used to get from the Farmer’s Market that was divine!

      3. Bluebell*

        There is a terrific blog called Adams Apples and he reviews pretty much every type of apple. He has one entry for a Pink Parfait.

    5. RedinSC*

      Here’s my dilemma! We have local apple growers and the put tables out and you leave money and fill up a bag, but they don’t always tell you what apples you’re getting. I got a bag of apples and they were pink inside! They were so lovely, and really delicious. I’d never seen a pink apple (all the way through!) I googled pink apples and have narrowed it down some, but Oh, I hope they put the pink apples out again.

      PINK APPLES!

    6. Helvetica*

      I haven’t had it since I lived in the States but Cosmic Crisp was a revelation to me. Perfect texture, flavour balance, and juiciness. Incredible.

      1. Cosmic Crisp for great snack*

        I was going to say Cosmic Crisp as well! It is fairly new – brought to the market in 1998 but had a limited distribution and were really espensive. I bought out one of our local store’s supply and sent them all over the country as Christmas presents! Now they are widely available.

    7. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I love a lot of apple types – Honeycrisp for taste and texture, Granny Smith when I want a good tart one with peanut butter and honey, and it’s my go-to for cooking, and my favorite that’s only around for a short time, Jonathan. I have so many things I love made from or with apples. I’ve always been fond of apple butter, and recently found the best-tasting one I’ve ever had, yay! There’s an apple cake I make that’s loaded with apples and screams Autumn!, and a super apple crisp type dessert called Apple Goodie that’s like a giant oatmeal cookie baked over fresh apples. I also love pork cooked with apples, dressing/stuffing with diced apples, pumpkin soup with diced apples, sauerkraut with apples and sausage… It’s my season for cooking and eating!

    8. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      There’s an apple I used to be able to get at my local farmer’s market called a Golden Russet that I still dream of every fall. It’s gold-green with a matte/papery skin, amazing flavor, and a crunch that makes a Honeycrisp seem like wet cardboard by comparison. Absolute heaven.

      My favorite apple treat is that I make muffins based on the Teddie’s Apple Cake recipe from the NYT. I make them healthy-ish by reducing the sugar & using a mix of whole wheat & buckwheat flour instead of white flour. They’re always a hit.

    9. Loopy*

      I’m in SC and boy do I miss fall and apple season in New England. I usually shop at Aldi so the variety is extra limited. Anyone outside of NE know if interesting apple varieties can be found in farmers markets or other stores? Feeling nostalgic enough to perhaps go seek them out!

      1. Clisby*

        I’m in Charleston SC and we often get NC apples at farmers markets and local stores. One year I even scored Grimes Golden apples, which to my husband is the pinnacle of apple-dom.

    10. KatEnigma*

      Sweet Sixteen. It’s like it comes with cinnamon already.

      This is our first year in Houston and I am going to miss all the apple varieties! Especially miss getting the cheap seconds and thirds from the farmers market to use for applesauce!

      1. Russian in Texas*

        HEB will have some. They are fairly reliable for Envy and Honeycrisp, and right now they have Cosmic Crisp.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Yes, and we’ve been buying them for eating. But they aren’t at the prices I prefer for seconds for making a vat of applesauce! I’ll get some varieties, though. I like a mix for both applesauce and pies- the flavor is deeper and brighter if you mix tart and sweet, etc.

          1. Russian in Texas*

            That’s true, we are not the apple land.
            But just wait for the sumo orange season! Also, HEB’s own guacamole (in the produce section, where salsas and stuff are) and black bean dip (deli section) are really really good.

            1. KatEnigma*

              I actually prefer my own guac. LOL I got used to it in California where it’s chunkier, and I personally prefer heavy on the lime. But there is plenty of HEB store brands that I love. (and HOW do their potato chips end up so unbroken? Less transport?)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I love Macs this time of year. I got into Macintosh apples because of my husband’s diabetes. We were told Macs are lower in sugars that others. In the off season, I like Delicious apples because of their consistency in flavor in the off season.

    12. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Haven’t had these in years, but I used to love Winesaps. Hard to find these days.

    13. Llellayena*

      Staymen Winesap! (Not sure if I’m getting the spelling right) They’re perfect for apple pie (original Joy of Cooking recipe)! They’ve got a little bit of a bite and the hold shape when cooked. They’re also more dry than some apples so you don’t get that super soupy pie middle.

    14. Jellyfish*

      Cortland apples! There’s a beautiful orchard with all kinds of variety about 10 minutes from our house, and we give them lots of business this time of year. Good odds we’ll drop by today even though we went last weekend too.
      I usually make a nice apple crisp to serve with vanilla ice cream sometime during the season.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      My favorite heirloom apple is the Winesap. Favorite new variety is Cosmic Crisp. Runners up are Macoun, Ginger Gold, and Honeycrisp. There is an orchard near me that sells a box of “seconds” for a low price (we’ll have to see if they raise it this year, but it’s been $20 the past 5 years or so). You get whatever varieties you get, but it’s always been more than enough for several pies, cakes, fritters, pancake topping, and snacking.

    16. Pippa K*

      Not an apple treat that uses whole apples, but I love to make caramels with cooked-down apple cider (the fresh American juice kind, not the alcoholic kind). I think it’s Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and they’re so good. I put them in little bags for friends and it’s a popular autumn treat.

    17. Charlotte Lucas*

      Chenango Strawberry & Black Gilliflower. There are a lot of things I like to bake with apples, but I have to be fast. My SO likes a tart apple & often eats the types I buy for baking.

    18. BlueWolf*

      The first local apples just started appearing at my local farm stand a couple weeks ago (honey crisp). I made baked apples with ice cream. I’ll have to stop by this weekend and get some more. :)

    19. Okapifeels*

      I moved from Virginia to Florida as a teenager, and the only apple treat I can get here that comes close to the real stuff is apple cider. That’s how I judge when fall has begun, here–since the weather doesn’t change (in that way), I call it fall when I start craving apple cider.

    20. fposte*

      There was a specialist apple dealer who worked with a few different midwestern orchards, and I used to get a variety box of unusual (and some usual) cultivars every fall. I really loved Ashmead’s Kernel. I definitely run to the Jonathan/McIntosh family, and I agree on Macoun; I also like Jonamac. I prefer William’s Pride of the early PRI apples, though I missed it this year. We don’t get Cox’s Orange Pippin much in the US, but I enjoy it when I can find it. Oh, and Northern Spy is good, too.

        1. fposte*

          I forgot good old ES! I love them too. There was also a hobby orchard near me that grew great Esopus. Plus it’s just fun to tell people the cultivar name.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I got those too! (Not sure if it was the same source but definitely involved lots of rare and/or heritage types, from a variety of midwestern orchards.) I really loved the variety.

        Since I live in New England there are lots of locally-grown apples and good variety – and plenty of pick-your-own options (as well as some stray apple trees cheerfully producing bounteous crops at the edges of parking lots!).

          1. GoryDetails*

            That sounds right. That was pre-internet, so all I knew about their catalog listings was what they included in the writeups. But I really enjoyed getting the boxes of wildly-varied apples!

      2. anonymath*

        Yay, someone mentioned a Spy! Prairie Spy is my favorite (even more than Northern Spy). The orchards near me are also growing something called First Kiss, an early apple that I’ve been enjoying this year. And I also like Keepsake apples, a really late hard small sweet apple. Mmmmmmm….. looking forward to those…..

    21. Generic+Name*

      I grew up in Nebraska, and I loved Jonathan apples. I’m haven’t been able to find them since I moved away. :(

    22. Girasol*

      Jonagold! We went to the biggest orchard around once and bought one of each apple then sat on the tailgate with a pocket knife for an apple tasting. For applesauce – the tart chunky spicy honeyed kind – Delicious and Golden Delicious are too blah and mealy, Granny Smith a bit sour, Rome crisper and sweeter. Honeycrisp had an even better balance of sweet and tart but Jonagold won the taste-off with that plus a much stronger appley flavor. There’s nothing like homemade applesauce that’s chunky and spicy and just a bit less sweet than pie filling. Storebought is like baby food by comparison.

    23. Ranon*

      Zestars are my latest favorite, they’re a Honeycrisp cross and I think even better than a Honeycrisp. Looking forward to getting out to where the local university sells their apples to see if they’ve got anything new this year.

    24. small town*

      The Albemarle Pippin is a wonderful (slightly tart apple), now mostly replaced by Granny Smith. Absolutely great in French apple tarts or for cider. In Virginia you can still find it.

    25. Patty Mayonnaise*

      Didn’t see either of these mentioned: my favorite type is Pink Lady (sweet and a little tart aka perfection) and my husband likes Jazz apples.

        1. Bluebell*

          I had high hopes for Jazz, but just didn’t love them. But this whole thread has piqued my interest in Cosmic Crisp. And I do like Pink Lady.

    26. fluffy*

      Chestnut Crabs, which I first encountered at the University of Minnesota apple barn. The UM developed this in the 1940s. It’s bi for a crab, beautiful robust taste, and just the right size to add to a lunch box

    27. SpellingBee*

      Another vote for Cosmic Crisp! I love trying different apple varieties. Snapdragons are also very good – great crisp texture, sweet with a nice tart edge. I like Opals too, but they don’t seem to store as well so you need to get them early in the season.

    28. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I’ve moved to a place with like 3 apple varieties + crabapples. One of my few complaints is that I miss New England Fall and MacIntosh apples (we get them once in a great while, but usually in very rough shape).

  10. Inadvertent Packrat*

    I’m in my 30s and all my childhood stuff that used to reside in my parents’ basement was recently evicted to my spare bedroom in my house. School binders for elementary and high school, kid hobby projects that I spent lots of time on, kid books I appreciated, etc. It’s the sort of stuff that, at the time, didn’t seem like it should be thrown away but also wasn’t culled or kept with any intention…and now, the whole collection feels like some sort of meaningful record of my childhood years. But I clearly can’t keep all of it forever, and I’m not sure why I’d want any particular piece, but then, I don’t want *none* of it either.

    I’m not sure how to handle this sort of situation but I think the answer is to find an “approach” that works (Marie Kondo, take photos and toss everything, allow yourself 25 sheets of paper per grade/year, decide on a number of boxes you’re allowed to keep so choose wisely, etc). But there must be many creative solutions here and I’d like to get a fuller sense of the range of ideas people have come up with for solving the problem.

    What such approach have you applied to this situation in your own life, or a friend’s?

    1. TeaFiend*

      I culled my childhood stuff in stages. Every year or so I go back and check if I still want to keep it all. I’m thinking of making a scrapbook from it (with photos of non-scrapbook-able items).

      1. Overbooked*

        Seconding this. Doing it in stages is gentler and more attuned to where you are in the sorting moment rather than thinking of some abstract end goal. Going through things every 2 or 3 years worked for me.

      1. Annie Moose*

        This is a great idea. I think doing this would really help with the thought of “well, what if I regret throwing this away later?”

        In fact, it’s such a great idea, I think I need to use it myself!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I had to do this *at* my parents’ place, as I live to far away to ship stuff, so there was a definite time limit, which helped.

      My approach was to first sort the stuff roughly by time period. Then I went through it systematically. I did a bunch of scanning – all photos, report cards and awards, a representative sample of artwork/school assignments etc. Things like newspaper clippings, old student IDs and signed cards also got scanned. I photographed some non-scannable items, and for old souvenir t-shirts I photographed the front and back, spreading them out on a flat surface. I kept physical items that dealt with any sort of official record that I might need (high school diploma, certificates from music exams) as well as some compact cloth things, like my old Guide scarf and sash. For photos, if there was a date or notes on the back of the photo I scanned the back as well, for identification purposes later.

      I spent some time rotating and trimming the scans so they were easily viewable, and then assembled the whole thing into photo albums using Mac Photos. I went roughly chronologically – there are albums for pre-school, primary, secondary, high school and university, and going through the album gives me an overview of my past. YOu can use the caption feature in the album to make notes about what the items are and meant to you.

      The final step, and this is *very* important, is to back up the photo album and original scans, to both a local storage medium that’s independent of the computer your album is on (like an external hard disk) and an offsite backup (on the cloud, for example). That way, if your house burnt down, you’d still have the cloud copy, and if you got locked out the cloud service and your computer got stolen, you’d still have the local backup.

      Oh, and things like old school binders – scan a page or two for an example from each binder, and note in the scan file name what the subject/year was, then recycle the rest. Books – if you are likely to read them again, or have kids that will, move them to the bookshelves, otherwise scan or photograph the cover and donate them to a book sale or otherwise give away.

    3. PX*

      I recently moved and had to do a bit of this. I eventually ended up keeping 2-5 things that would be ~representative~ of the period and then tossing the rest. I definitely need to do that for a few more things, but I think for me it’s probably the best approach.

      I’ve also found that doing it over time can be really good. The first time you look at things, I found myself feeling quite emotionally attached and the idea of letting go felt very hard. But then you come back a month later and look at it again and realise maybe it doesnt actually mean so much. Do that a third time and its like, yup – ready to let go now!

      Also second taking lots of photos of things as you go.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I went back in stages. Sadly I had to get rid of 75% of it when I was about 20 y/o. I couldn’t house it and my father had to sell the house. As the decades rolled by I got tired of lugging it from one apartment to another and the pile went down to several boxes. Now I have one toy box that I keep for when kids visit. But it took decades to get there.

      I only regret getting rid of one thing. The toy piano. It was pink and made out of wood. One key did not work. It’s funny/odd because other stuff I got rid of I have seen at antique stores for $100 or more. But the little piano is the thing I think of. I think that is a pretty good batting average to have only one real regret.

      I had to use a very practical mindset. I asked myself tough questions such as “Do I want to lug this through life?” and “Will anyone besides me care about it?”

      I was stunned when I found out my parents had nothing from their childhoods. Child-me wondered how they could do that. Adult-me realizes that with the Great Depression and then the need to get out into the working world, were probably factors in what happened there. They probably did not have that much to begin with and post war mentally stated that New was somehow better than Old. Eventually I found for myself that I just had to get practical about it all.

      Don’t get mad at yourself if you can’t let go of it all at the same time. Later, don’t get mad at yourself if you decide to get rid of more of it. It’s a journey, trust that how you feel is happening for a purpose.

      1. Inadvertent Packrat*

        YES, what other “tough questions” serve as a rubric for assessing a verdict on something?

        That feels like an approach that would work for me — “Will some future partner or child care to see this?” “How will I feel if I can’t see this again.” “What story is this a part of and is it an important one” ETC. What questions have other people used?

        (Also, thanks for your perspective on just going through it “good enough for now” rather than feeling pressure to curate a “forever” museum-piece all in one go. That said, maybe I AM looking to keep things that tell a story, as a museum does — right now that story just needs a LOT of editing!)

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          After my in-laws passed away and we had to go through their house of stuff, my question to myself is, “Do I want my child to have the burden of deciding what to do with this when I die?” Most of the time, the answer is “No.”

          1. The OG Sleepless*

            I do a total declutter of my house every year right after New Year’s. Some years I get rid of more stuff than others. I did a particularly brutal declutter the year after my MIL died. Every time I saw a pile of old stuff, I thought, “do I want my family having to deal with this stuff in 40 years? Nope? Out it goes.”

      2. WellRed*

        This is good advice. You may get rid of stuff now or keep some things that you rid yourself of in 10 or 20 years. But having gone through two death cleanings in the past few years, I recommend really taking a hard look at the stuff. Do you really need second grade report cards? Maybe you do.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Hey save that 1040 from 1946. Might need it sometime. /s.
          I framed kept it, simply to remind me not to get too ridiculous about every scrap of paper that came into my life. “Oh I can toss this paper because I still have that 1040 from 1946.”

          1. slowingaging*

            lol. When my aunt died, her grandkids found her tax returns from the 1920’s. Really… really. I had my Uncle’s grade card from 1920 something…. He passed. The grade cards with comments from the 20’s 30’s and 40’s are pretty funny. I take pictures or scan everything. Then I share my google drive with family.

            1. Might Be Spam*

              I found my kindergarten report card. It seems that I missed 33 days of kindergarten overlapping the Cuban Missile Crisis, because I had gastritis, most likely from the stress.

              We lived in New York and my mother still talks about how afraid all of the neighbors were. My dad remembers getting a survey at work (IBM) asking if he would shoot a neighbor who wanted to come into our bomb shelter. We didn’t even have a bomb shelter, in the first place.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I pretty much kept nothing from my childhood — a bunch of it was in my parents’ house after I moved out, but they asked me if I wanted any of it when they moved, and I hadn’t missed any of it in the fifteen years I’d been out, so they (I assume) tossed or donated it or whatever seemed appropriate to the items. I moved across the country with 5 boxes and a duffel bag when I was 20, and moved back across the country in a smart car when I was 30, so I don’t have much in the way of mementos from before that last trip :)

      But somehow I’ve managed to fill a four-bedroom house in the last ten years since :P

      1. Asenath*

        I have only one or two items from my childhood. I was surprised when I helped my mother to downsize decades after I left home – and in fact, after she’d moved at least twice, including a major downsizing – that she’d kept a LOT of stuff from my and my siblings’ school years. She gave it to me, I skimmed through it (marvelling a bit at stuff I’d completely forgotten) and threw it all out. It meant nothing to me. It meant nothing to me way back then, once I’d gotten the grade for the assignment or the report card, but it meant a lot to my mother. Everyone puts their own value on memorabilia.

    6. fposte*

      My description is that I weed like an auger–each round I go a little deeper. That’s contrary to most advice, but it works for me. I basically just keep removing the low-hanging fruit, and each round that fruit’s a little higher. That helps keep me from being cognitively and emotionally overwhelmed; for me I get less reward from project completion than I do negative reinforcement from doing too much at once.

      I also find it helpful to outline the planned containers for the stuff. Like currently I’m gradually going through two file cabinets, and the goal is to have stuff all fit into one. Again, I’d employ the auger technique–if I had five boxes of childhood stuff, I’d try to winnow it down to four at first, rather than insist I’m picking the best for a single box.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have found planned, designated containers very useful. I have one for my late father and another for my late husband. It’s for that stuff that really does not make a lot of sense to have running loose in the house but I can’t throw it out either.

        Here’s a key for me, OP, I have no idea if I will keep these containers if I have to downsize. But for now, I have the space, so considering the mountains of stuff I got rid of it makes me feel good to at least have these two containers. I think in time, I will tend to not think of the mountains of stuff that is gone and be more focused on what to do with the two containers.

        1. fposte*

          Excellent point–this is not planning a permanent solution; this is a right-now improvement, and that’s sufficient.

    7. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      You can scan or take photographs of some of it. Store it digitally and toss the analog versions. That way you have a record but it takes up no space

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        If you go to the bother of doing this (which I also recommend, it works well for lots of the paper items you’re describing) – make sure you label the files as thoroughly as you can. It’s usually easier to do so up front when you still have the item or at least when it’s more fresh in your mind.

      2. Elspeth+McGillicuddy*

        Personally, I wouldn’t do this. I might go through a physical old folder of stuff being sentimental and enjoying old memories. I would never do the same for a folder on a computer.

        But I tend to find images on screens less “real” than I think other people do.

    8. Four of ten*

      As a reference, I’m 72 and don’t have any of that kind of stuff. I’m from a large family, 10 children, so there would have been no way for my parents to keep all that stuff. I don’t have much from my own children either. One opinion, but your life will be fine without those things.

    9. Not A Horder*

      When I moved out of home at 20, I moved overseas. My folks allowed me to keep one box of things at their house, and purging was HARD! For many years, every time I went back home I’d go through the box and get rid of anything I hadn’t remembered was in there. By the time I’d settled down enough to take ownership of the stuff, the amount was fairly small. I found this worked really well for me, so it’s how I manage my purges now – decide how many boxes I can store, sort stuff so that I’m only keeping stuff that fits in the box(es), review the box(es) every once in a while and discard items I hadn’t remembered I had.

    10. Manders*

      I love reading everyone’s comments in this thread! My dad saved so much stuff for me, and I really have no desire to keep most of it. Like for my high school yearbooks, they meant a lot to me at the time, but now I think just keeping my senior year one is fine (and honestly, I don’t remember many of the people who signed it, or have any idea what any of those inside jokes were about). When I go through the photos of, say, my 8th birthday party, I don’t recall almost any of those people. And to be honest, I’m mid-40s with no kids, so who the heck would want that when I’m gone? I’m generally anti-clutter, so I’m good with tossing most of it.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I’ve decided to offer three of my four high school yearbooks to the alumni office. The only one that is important to me is the book from my senior year. Maybe someone who graduated in the earlier years has lost their yearbook and would welcome a replacement… along with all of the personalized, addressed-to-me inscriptions that I haven’t read for decades. Of course, now my to-do list has one more item and my bookshelves require another six inches of space. Sigh.

        1. Manders*

          Yep, I considered this and decided that it was just One More Thing To Do, so… I didn’t. And the chances of that perfect alignment of person needing that years’ and person having it… seemed pretty slim.

    11. So Much To Think About*

      Try “Car Talk” on NPR! It’s only vaguely about cars – it’s more like using cars as a way to talk – HILARIOUSLY – about life!

    12. Chaordic One*

      Not to be morbid, but I really like the Swedish Death Cleaning method. (I’m not fond of Marie Kondo and think her method is too severe.) Being in your 30s you probably aren’t thinking about your eventual passing, but it’s never too early to begin. (If you don’t already have a will, you might want to have one made.)

      I started by getting rid of the things that I didn’t like, no longer needed, that were worn out, didn’t work, and that were merely taking up space. Then I started organizing the things I wanted to keep. There are things that I’ve kept because they are family heirlooms and supposedly valuable that I think my family might want to keep, but I suppose I could get rid of them.

      I have made photos of some things AND digitized some of the photos, but I worry about whether the digital images will be safe and accessible in the future. I think about all the people who, years ago, made videos of their stuff and now the videos degraded and are unusable or they have trouble finding video viewers to see them. So I hang onto the photos.

      I found myself thinking about what would happen to my things if I were get hit by a bus. Having things organized will make it a lot easier for my family to decide what they want to do with the things that I have kept. There are a lot of things like books, old magazines, knickknacks that I like, and I do have a few childhood and school mementos there, but I can’t imagine that my family will want to hang on to them and I don’t expect them to. They should have a fairly easy time of it (or at least an easier time), when the time comes because there really isn’t that much stuff left.

      1. Wilde*

        I’m in my 30s and prefer to think of it as “Swedish moving cleaning”

        We’re likely moving cities this time next year and I definitely don’t want to be taking boxes of *stuff* with us.

    13. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I have this problem with my Memory Box, I have pretty good memory storage but need a trigger to actually recall it. For many things, I kept a piece of it, to trigger the memory without needing too much space. For instance, I have single pieces of several toy sets, the front page of a bunch of playbills and guide maps, and a handful of confetti-type stuff that decorated the tables at various weddings/events. I also keep cards with special messages in them, I don’t need every birthday, christmas, and graduation card, but I still have the ones with lovely messages added inside.

      In your case, you might need to take it a little at a time. Maybe you can display the nicest craft/hobby stuff, and if it’s not display worthy but you have fond memories of working on it, keep a piece to remind you. For the binders, you can probably discard any old schoolwork unless it’s something you are still proud of. Unless you still have strong feelings about your report cards and stuff, you can probably discard them without too much grief.

      Anything still is usable condition that you don’t want yourself, can be handed down to children you know, or donated to a thrift store. The hardest part for me is books. It feels wrong to throw them out, but very few places want book donations because there’s just too much! I have the least guilt putting them at the curb in an open box with a FREE!! sign. For larger collections, I’ve had success posting on offerup, with the rule that whoever comes must take it all, not cherry-pick the good stuff and leave me to throw out the rest.

      All in all, you have my sympathy, it can be very overwhelming to pare down a large pile of sentimental stuff. Take it a little at a time and be kind to yourself!

  11. HBJ*

    Does anyone have comedian or comedy podcast recommendations? My criteria:

    -no or minimal/mild cursing.
    -either no politics, politics that make fun of the government generally or politics that makes fun of both sides equally, preferably the first two.
    -around a medium on the clean scale. Nothing horrifically sexual, offensive, crude, etc.

    I’ve watched 6 or 8 Dry Bar acts, but most of them I haven’t found very funny. My favorite has been Jose Sarduy.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      Jim gaffigan is usually good at this. I listened to Mike Birbiglia’s podcast (only a couple episodes) and I thought they were funny at parts and fit what you’re looking for.

      1. Kittee*

        Yes! Jim Gaffigan is absolutely hilarious! You can try short bits of him on Youtube and if you like them, there are full-length standup “concerts” on, I think, Netflix.

    2. Anonymous Cat*

      Cabin Pressure! It’s a comedy that I first heard on BBC Radio website and later bought on iTunes.

      It features a very small airline (or air dot) and funny things happen with the crew.

      If it’s not currently available on the BBC radio website, you could try buying the first episode on iTunes to see if you like it.

      All the episodes are named after cities and are in alphabetical order.

      It’s really hilarious, has little swearing, and no politics.

      It also has Benedict Cumberbatch as one of the pilots if you’re a fan!

      1. Lady Alys*

        I third Cabin Pressure! It’s absolutely hilarious and all the voice actors are just spot on. I ended up buying the CD set from Amazon.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          And the terrific Roger Allam, who is Fred Thursday in Endeavour, and the narrator in Sarah and Duck.

    3. Dumpster Fire*

      Try Kathleen Madigan. generally clean humor (although she uses some swear words, it’s not vulgar humor at all). She comments on her life, her family, current events, etc.

    4. Sundae funday*

      WAIT WAIT DON’T TELL ME is a long running news quiz with comedians. It’s aired on NPR stations so it follows all FCC rules on language, and it will make fun of any politician who’s in the news. For new listeners, I especially recommend any episode with Mo Rocca, Maive Higgins, or Paula Poundstone.

      1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        my Saturday sc revolves around WWDT on my local NPR station. Someday, I’ll be part of the live studio audience… BUCKET LIST ITEM!

    5. beep42*

      Judge John Hodgman. The comedian and his sidekick Jesse Thorn hear cases about minor disputes such as whether a husband can hang his fantasy swords above the fireplace when his wife hates him. or whether furry clogs could be worn in public. Silly stuff but they are great at getting off track.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I’ll second this! I love listening to that podcast, and my favorite is a crossover episode with Chuck from stuff you should know on a home improvement project he did while his wife was out of town.

    6. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      My partner loved Brian Regan growing up – totally clean & more old-school stylings (bits/jokes & performance/physicality).

    7. Rainer Maria von Trapp*

      So it’s not officially “comedy,” but it is DELIGHTFUL, completely clean, family-safe, educational, politics-free, etc. It’s a podcast called “Were You Raised by Wolves?” It’s about etiquette, which I realize sounds stuffy on the surface, but the two hosts are so darling and bounce off of each other so well. I laugh out loud several times during each episode, and I have learned so many interesting things!

    8. Bluebell*

      Josh Gondelman’s Make My Day podcast could work for you. During early Covid he started this game show, where only one guest competes, and they are guaranteed to get the highest score ever. Most of his guests are comedians, and the episodes are only 30 minutes long. It’s sweet, but also very funny.

    9. North Wind*

      You might try Off The Menu; it’s available on the podcast section of the Amazon Music app.

      Two British comedians (James Acaster and Ed Gamble) interview some minor or major celebrity about what their dream meal would be. It seems to mostly be a jumping-off topic to just have a conversation and share anecdotes. I will say the comedic aspect is a little spotty. Some conversations are weirdly stilted and I couldn’t finish listening (the one with Martin Freeman), but others are a pretty good listen (the one with Paul Hollywood – you know, the judge from The Great British Bake Off).

        1. North Wind*

          Oh! Thanks for weighing in. I started listening to it after listening to tons of episodes of Parenting Hell and was struck by how clean the language was, but maybe only in comparison :).

    10. TPS reporter*

      Best Friends with Nicole Byer and Sasheer Zamata. They’re both super funny and talk about decently light topics.

    11. AlabamaAnonymous*

      If you’re OK with southern accents look up LeaAnne Morgan and/or Jeanne Robertson. Both are family-oriented comedy and are excellent story tellers. Taylor Tomlinson is also a recent favorite.

    12. Stinky kitty*

      Not a podcast but can be found on YouTube, but I always found John Pinette to be really funny and fairly clean.No politics, some cursing but it isnt gratuitous, a little bit of potty humour. Funny impressions and singing. Sadly he has passed away so there won’t be any more of his buffet stories.

  12. Glasses on the horizon*

    Happy Weekend everyone!

    Can anyone share or describe to me what it is like to need glasses? My son (2.5) will get some soon; apparently he cannot see well up close (although he can see far away like the best of them…which is maybe why I didn’t pick up on it, which I feel a bit weird and guilty about.) I don’t need glasses and I’m trying to understand as much as I can, since he won’t be able to tell me.

    Also, any tips and tricks I should know about? Both from parents who had littles with glasses and from glasses owners. I can use all the help I can get! Thank you so much in advance.

    1. PollyQ*

      Ever watched a movie that was out of focus? It’s like that. Alternatively, is there anyone you’re close to in your life who does wear glasses? Try theirs on for a minute and you’ll get the basic idea. But please don’t feel guilty. A small child doesn’t have the experience to know that his eyes aren’t working the way they should, and as you note, doesn’t really have the language to express it anyway.

      1. PollyQ*

        Oh, and a tip: glasses can be washed with plain soap or dish detergent and water, then dried with a regular towel. You don’t need any fancy cleaner or wipes. Be careful of kleenex with lotion, though.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Only if your towels are quite soft. Where I live has hard water and the towels wind up very scratchy. They’d ruin my glasses in one swipe.

          A microfiber screen cloth is great and reusable forever.

        2. Falling+Diphthong*

          My optometrist told me that her special spray was 50% water, 50% windex. So I can refill the bottle she gives me. And lintless cloths really make a difference for not just smearing the smear around–I got a dozen on Amazon for not much.

          1. Pippa K*

            Caution, though, glass cleaners with ammonia can harm anti-reflective coatings on the lenses. Windex makes an ammonia-free version I think, but original plain old Windex has ammonia.

          2. smeep248*

            I thought that glasses cloths were a racket until I got some. Way different than using the corner of my shirt!

        3. Ann Ominous*

          FLYlady.net’s purple rags, cut up into glasses-cleaning-sized strips, have been my go-to after years of working really hard to clean them with microfiber or those glasses cleaning wipes and still always having 1-2 streaks left.

          You can literally wipe up cooking oil or engine grease with them, rinse them out, then use them on your glasses and they will be completely clear.

          I give them out as gifts, even. Not as the only gift for an important event, but as stocking stuffers or just giving them to someone who I discovered is using a substandard cloth :)

      2. Sally*

        When you get glasses, the optometrist/optical shop usually gives you a case and a microfiber cloth. Ask for a hard case (as opposed to just a soft envelope type one) and get in the habit of putting the glasses in the case at night. I’ve worn glasses since age 8, and many pairs got scratched from being knocked off the table at night, or fell behind the bed, or the time I accidentally sat on them, broke the bridge, and had to go around with the nerd adhesive tape while my mother ordered a new pair. (“No, mom, I don’t know how they broke….”)

        People who need glasses have no idea that they can’t see properly, because it’s all they’ve ever known. Seeing through the glasses for the first time is a real surprise.

        By the way, you can wash the microfiber cloth, just rinse well and don’t use fabric softener. Wash glasses with dish soap and warm water, they pick up oil and dirt from your skin.

    2. Engineer Gal*

      Don’t make a big deal of it-be matter of fact

      Had glasses or contacts since I was four-it’s just a thing about me like being right handed-doesn’t have to be any more than that

      A second/backup pair can be a good idea

      1. KatEnigma*

        A necessity. My 5 year old lost his glasses for 2 weeks- we found them in the shoe bench the day after the new pair came in. We had looked everywhere and waited a week before ordering. So now we have a spare pair at least. (Got them in January, lost them in July)

    3. RagingADHD*

      It’s like literally not being able to see clearly. That’s all. Surely you can imagine or have experienced some situation where your vision was blurred or obstructed.

      Dirty / fogged windshield on your car? Squinting? Bleary-eyed from being tired or drunk?

      When I was little, I didn’t know I had bad eyesight. I just thought the world looked like that, so it was very confusing when people would discuss things that I couldn’t see. I spent a lot of time feeling like I didn’t know what was going on.

      For a little one, my best tips would be to get 2 pairs, get the extra anti-scratch coating, and if you can get flexible frames, they will last longer. Don’t leave them on the nightstand or bathroom counter at night. You need to be in charge of keeping track of them until he’s older.

    4. lissajous*

      I’m going guess that since he’s young, the prescription will change quickly. I’d have a chat with the optometrist about how often you should go in for check ups, since you son won’t necessarily notice the gradual vision un-focusing, or say anything if he does.

    5. Janet Pinkerton*

      Wash the lenses with soap and water regularly. I do it every time I shower. This removes the skin oils from the lenses and is important to do regularly.

      Buy a big pack of microfiber cleaning cloths and keep them everywhere—his backpack, in the bathroom, his desk, his bedroom, the car. Make sure you actually wash the microfiber cloths too! A tissue also works well but you can’t do a tissue with lotion because the lotion will smear.

      Have a backup pair or two for him.

      If he’s getting headaches, check his glasses. This is often a sign that something needs to be adjusted with his prescription.

    6. allathian*

      I’ve had glasses since I was 11. Glasses aren’t a big deal, usually. Because he’s so young, it might take him a while to accept them, but he will appreciate being able to see things close up at some point.

      Ask his optometrist how often he’ll need new glasses. I got new ones about once every two years when I was in my teens and early twenties.

    7. Lilo*

      I have worn glasses since I was 4 (switched to contacts at 16). Definitely have backup glasses and keep wipes handy as little kids get their glasses super dirty and/or break them. weirdly sometimes you don’t really notice how dirty they’ve gotten.

      Watch out for overcorrection as that causes bad headaches. Fortunately these days they have that machine that measures the issue and I’ve actually had my prescription knocked down since thrn.

      Since he’s male I don’t think he’ll get the weird sexist comments from teachers I got, thank goodness.

      1. allathian*

        Doesn’t apply to kids, but since I hit 40 and started needing reading glasses, my near-sightedness has improved a lot. I’m not yet legal to drive without glasses, but I can travel on public transit without them. A necessity with a mask, because no matter what I do, my glasses fog up with a mask.

    8. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      There were some very little kids in my building who needed glasses, and I noticed they had these cool day-glo soft plastic frames that went all around the back of their heads so the glasses didn’t fall off easily. Looked fun and practical for young kids.

      I started wearing glasses when I was older (around 8), and I had trouble with plastic frames where the lenses kept popping out. (You can pop them back in, but it’s annoying.) My dad finally got me some metal-framed John-Lennon-style glasses where the lenses wouldn’t pop out, and I wore that style for decades because it was so sturdy.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        P.S. It takes a while to ease into a new pair of glasses as one’s eye muscles adjust to them. If he wears them all day on the first day, his eyes might hurt a little, or he might get a headache. You might want him to start off wearing the glasses for just a few hours on the first day and then increase the time.

        Also, in addition to anti-scratch coating, you might want to get the coating that protects his eyes from ultra-violet light. It’s like wearing sunglasses even though they’re not dark, and it can help protect his vision decades from now.

          1. KatEnigma*

            It’s how the Optician sold him on picking out frames and wearing glasses. It’s a Pediatric office, so they know how to do things. And almost every adult who hears that detail comments that they wished they made them in adult sizes.

      2. Princess Xena*

        My brother got a pair with titanium bend-and-break proof frames when he was doing sports. They worked great!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      My husband had to get glass very early in life- probably about age 6? Not sure. He said he felt nothing but relief. The one big deal he had was the gym teacher made people take off their glasses. He was severely myopic and taking off his glasses meant he could not actively participate in sports because he couldn’t see.

      I think once your son actually has the glasses on his nose, this will get easier.

      Don’t feel guilty. It’s amazing that you caught this one at all. I worked with a guy who was blind in one eye and no one knew. He had an eye test at school and that is how he found out. Because he was a kid, he sincerely believed that one eye was supposed to work and the other eye was there for decoration. So he never told anyone because in his mind, there was no need to tell anyone. I think he was 10 or older before anyone figured it out.

    10. Serenity*

      I’ve worn glasses since I was 10. My son has worn them since about 8. But his grade school went to a water park at the end of every school year. By 3rd or 4th grade, his eyesight was bad enough that he couldn’t tell his friends apart at the water park without glasses, but you can’t wear glasses in the pools or on the slides, and regular goggles don’t help. He grew to hate that field trip.

      It turns out there are prescription goggles (kid or adult size) like there are adult reading glasses… not “exactly your prescription” but “basic stepped prescriptions/buy the closest to yours” that saved his field trips. A bunch of years ago I think a pair cost $75 (college town in the Midwest). He didn’t really *need* them for a swim class when it was one pool and a limited set of kids, but a whole water park for a whole day? It changed everything to be able to see and find his friends.

    11. Hlao-roo*

      Two things I haven’t seen mentioned yet:

      Handle the glasses by the frames, not the lenses (don’t want to smudge up the lenses with fingerprints). And don’t set the glasses on a surface lense-side down, that will scratch the lenses.

      Zip-up sweatshirts are better than pull-overs – way easier to put on and take off while still wearing glasses!

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I started keeping my glasses on a neck cord as an adult, after I lost them in a hotel room three times in two hours. I don’t remember ever losing them as a kid (I’ve worn them since I was about five), but god knows how, haha. Plan for ways to not lose them and ways to have backups if he does lose them. I’m not sure how well that will work on a kiddo that young, but.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        OMG, are you me? I am so vision-impaired without my glasses that if they don’t have dark frames and I put them down, I can’t really see them unless I’m pretty close to them. I’m reduced to going to the likely surfaces and patting around until I encounter them.

        Yep, definitely good to have backup pairs (old pairs can sometimes be good enough, OP) for these temporary misplacements. I love the cord idea too!

    13. Practicalities*

      I’ve worn glasses since I was 2. Like the other commenters here, don’t feel guilty—the signs that they’re needed can be subtle! My parents took me to the doctor when they noticed I’d sit close to the TV to watch it — I’m very near sighted. They tell me they never had a problem with me not wanting to wear them and I never lost them, as I couldn’t see otherwise and only took them off to sleep, for swimming and haircuts. However, I’ve hated wearing glasses since I was a tween and have been wearing contacts daily since I was 15 (and still am at 46 with no problems, knock on wood).

      This is waaaaay down the road, but one thing you might want to keep in mind—if your son wishes to, look into laser surgery sooner (young adulthood) rather than later. I finally considered it in my late thirties and didn’t realize that even if I did get the surgery, I’d still need reading glasses eventually due to aging. If I’d been a good candidate (I wasn’t due to thin corneas and I didn’t want implants), I would’ve wished I’d looked into it earlier. Might as well try to enjoy glasses and contacts-free life as long as possible!

      My daughter got glasses when she was 3. She needs them but can function in a pinch without them (she has distance vision like your son), but never had a problem with her not wanting to wear them as she loves them. She’s now 10 and I’ve offered to look into getting contacts for her, but so far she’s not interested. (My optometrist mentioned that his youngest patient with contacts was 8.)

      Good luck!

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, contacts are not for everyone. I hate the idea of putting things in my eyes. I’m on eye drops now for iritis, and even that is a bit of an ordeal for me. I’d never get Lasik or any other kind of cosmetic eye surgery, and fingers crossed that I don’t get cataracts as I grow older, the idea of eye surgery creeps me out. If I ever need cataract surgery, they’re going to have to trank me so I don’t care what happens to me. I feel sort of naked without my glasses, anyway.

        Let your daughter enjoy her glasses, just because you couldn’t wait to switch to contacts doesn’t mean she feels the same way. I honestly think that your optometrist is irresponsible for prescribing contacts to preteens. I’m not convinced the average 8 year old is capable of using contacts properly, unless they’re dailies that can be worn for a day and then thrown out.

    14. Asenath*

      I loved my glasses when I first got them! I put them on, looked out the living room window, and everything was so sharp and bright and colourful! I am nearsighted too. I suspect many people who are born nearsighted think that the way they see is the way everyone sees, and it can be great to find out that it can be better. My mother insisted on having all her children’s eyes checked when young because of her own experience. She grew up in a time and place when you only got your eyes checked when there was a problem, and she functioned just fine at home and in school. One day when she was a teen she was in her parents’ second floor bedroom, idly tried on her mother’s glasses, looked out the window and exclaimed “I can see the ground with these!” Her parents promptly had her eyes tested and glasses prescribed – but she hadn’t known her sight could be better. Your son should adjust to his improved vision quickly.

      1. allathian*

        I’m glad that we got our eyes tested every two years or so when I was a kid. My parents were scientist, and we lived at a scientific research station when I was a kid, and I went to a literal one-room school (so I could instantly relate to Anne Shirley’s school experiences when I read about them). Kids were seated in two rows, so I never had any problems seeing the chalkboard, and I got used to not being able to recognize people until they were about 50 ft away. I can still remember the amazement I felt when I got my first glasses.

    15. Annie Moose*

      Small comment on lens material:

      The lenses can be made from different types of materials. I’m nearsighted, not farsighted as your son is, but generally there’s three options, the cheapest normal option, a lighter and thinner middle option, and an even lighter and thinner expensive option. The higher the prescription, the thicker the glasses will be, so if your son needs a high prescription, you may need to buy the more expensive lenses to keep them from being absurdly thick.

      (that being said, especially for a little kid who might break, scratch, or lose glasses–I wouldn’t worry too much about it lol. Buy him the cheap stuff. This is more for long term awareness.)

      And don’t feel guilty! I first started wearing glasses when I was 6 and I tell you, I have zero memory of my eyesight before that point. You’re a good parent for getting on top of this and learning about it.

    16. Weary*

      Look through a pair of binoculars at something and then change the focus to blur it. It’s like that. I didn’t get glasses till 8th grade (“Cheated” by memorizing the eye chart waiting my turn for vision screening in 5th grade because I didn’t want to fail the test). THAT is what things are supposed to look like!

    17. Nack*

      Look up the brand Ro Sham Bo. They make amazing indestructible glasses for kids. And the lenses easily pop out so if his prescription changes you don’t have to pay for all new glasses.

      My son started wearing glasses at age 3. Could see far away just fine but not up close. Honestly he did great with the transition and we never had to remind him to keep them in etc. I think being able to see is it’s own reward :)

    18. Nopity Nope*

      Jumping on the “don’t feel guilty” bandwagon. Truly, don’t! I’m impressed you caught it so early. I was quite a bit older when my folks realized I needed glasses. But honestly, as a kid you just think that’s the way everybody sees.

      One hint is to create a “home” for the glasses. There are super cute class stands, such kitties, puppies, or other animals where the glasses sit in the animals noses, that might be a fun anchor point. The idea is, though, that when the glasses come off, they go “home” so you always know where they are. I do this as an adult, because I cannot find my glasses if I’m not wearing my glasses. So I’ve learned to always set them down in one of two places so I know where they are.

      As your kid grows, you’ll want a strap/band to secure them. I 100% wore/wear my glasses while swimming (play swimming, water parks, beach; didn’t need ‘em for competitive swimming or laps).

      The earpieces do loosen after you wear them a bit, so check them often and tighten as necessary; you just need a tiny screwdriver for that.

      Talk to the optometrist about ordering glasses online. Glasses can be super expensive if you need anything beyond basics (i.e., astigmatism correction, thin lenses for really strong prescriptions so they aren’t coke bottle thickness/weight, scratch resistant—def get that for a kid, UV protection). I’ve had really good luck getting funky, affordable glasses, but my prescription has stabilized. Not sure if there’s anything else to consider for kids; your optometrist may recommend professional, in-person fitting, esp for a toddler. But keep the option in mind as the kid grows.

    19. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in the second grade. Being comparably tall, I sat in the back of the classroom and after getting glasses I could actually read what the teacher had written on the blackboard. I didn’t know what I was missing.

      My optician told me to rinse my glasses in cold water and to clean them with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol. They did advise me to avoid Windex at all costs because it will remove any kind of anti-glare coatings (that help with computer glare) from your glasses.

    20. Girasol*

      I got reading glasses in the sixth grade to correct for slightly crossed eyes. Nothing looked any different and I proceeded to lose them as often as possible because I couldn’t be bothered to have them on, off, on, off, all day long for nothing. In seventh grade I got bifocals for distance vision since I’m also nearsighted. I had no idea vision could be like that! They never came off me except in bed for about 50 years. So part of your son’s acceptance may have to do with whether he sees a big difference with glasses or not. If they’re comfortable and he has a strap to keep them on his face, that will help. Watch for sore spots on the bridge of the nose and behind the ears since that where the pressure points tend to be. They’ll seem more natural if he puts them on first thing the next morning when his eyes are fresh and he hasn’t been focusing without glasses for hours. Kudos to you for starting so young! I grew up with very poor hand/eye coordination (never did get better) and a hatred of baseball, since people kept screaming “keep your eye on the ball!” and what does that even mean? You may be just in time to give your kid some developmental opportunities that he might have missed.

    21. small town*

      I got glasses age 9. The teacher noticed that I moved up to the from of the classroom and still squinted at the board. The she contacted the parents and I got tested. They were magic! I never knew that trees had individual leaves! Got contacts at 14 and now have bifocals due to age. A friend has a 3 year old and she loves the soft around the head strap type because they stay on.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        That was my exact revelation on the drive home when I got my glasses. I said I didn’t know people could see the individual leaves on trees from distance. Your son had no clue what he was seeing wasn’t exactly what everyone else was seeing. And it got caught very, very early.

        I can’t see distances, but if at all possible and reasonable for him I’d recommend training him to wear them all the time. You can’t lose glasses, leave them behind if they’re on your head. With my vision there’s no reason to be without them except for sleeping or showering. Have a spot to put them next to his bed at night. A hard case to put them in is not a bad idea. I have occasionally knocked them off the bedside table.

        FYI When I hit puberty my prescription was changing so fast the eye doctor recommended I start using hard contact lenses. I started with soft contact lenses to ease in, but after that my growth spurt ended (I’d hit my max height) and my prescription stopped changing too. So expect that when your son starts his teenage growth spurt his vision may change quickly too.

    22. Dont be a dork*

      Get the insurance on them. Really. And consider getting your son prescription sunglasses as well if he ends up having to wear them all the time. They really don’t make clip on sunglasses in kids’ sizes and particularly if you live somewhere it snows or you go to the beach a lot, the reflection and glare can be painful.

      Don’t make a ‘thing’ out of wearing glasses. I’ve had ’em since I was 5. They really are just part of the daily routine now. I’d be lost without them. If he just needs them for close work then he’ll soon get in the habit of reaching for his case to put them on. If he wears them all day he will get very used to grabbing them off the nightstand first thing.

      Also, as his prescription changes, keep the previous pair as an emergency back up until you can get replacements in case something irretrievable happens, like they fall down a well (youngest brother) or the nerd tape doesn’t work because he rode his bike down “widow-maker hill” and his glasses are now in several pieces (eldest brother).

    23. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Considering your kid is a toddler and communication abilities of toddlers are very much in the development stage, the fact that you figured out there was an issue at all is pretty darn amazing. There’s a reason why basic eye tests are often done by the school when the kid starts kindergarten. That’s often the first time anyone checks if the kid can see decently.

      There’s some indication that a lack of strong direct sunlight is linked to development of vision problems. While science figures it out, go the safe route and encourage lots of outdoor play time.

    24. Anono-me*

      Please look into Orthokeratology as a possible future option for your son. Basically contacts that act as braces.
      People with certain types of vision issues wear prescription contacts at night to change the shape of their eyes. For people young enough, it can be a permanent fix. (I was too old for anything but a 6-8 hours fix, so I didn’t pursue it.)

      Also encouraging scratch resistant coating.

      Different eye glass shops have vastly different products at different price points. I would suggest checking several locations to find the right product for your son.

    25. Lorraine*

      Both my kids started wearing glasses as kids.

      While at school, they had to wear those glasses lanyards so if their glasses got knocked off, they just fell on a cord around their neck instead of to the ground (I did this as a kid who wore glasses, too).

      Do not spray the glasses with windex; I ruined a pair of glasses with a coating on them with windex.

      You can use the cleaner the optometrist gives you or just soap and water. Use microfiber cloths to dry and to rub off smudges in between. Be sure to wash the cloths with no fabric softener and just hang them to dry.

      Whenever the glasses come off, they go into the glasses case. Every time.
      No setting them down anywhere else. This keeps them from being lost or stepped on or whatever.

    26. NoOneGlassesExperience*

      how well you see without the glasses/how much they change what you can do or see/what your experience is with them varies a lot. it depends on exactly why he needs glasses and how poor his vision actually is as well as things like the shape of his face and even what type of skin he has (if he has eczema on his nose, for instance, the glasses could exacerbate it).

      Sounds like he needs reading glasses (they use this term for glasses that help you see close by whether or not you’re actually reading); one of the issues there is not losing them when they’re not being used. You might consider putting them on a chain around his neck. also, it’s very normal that he’ll hold toys/books/games etc closer than you or kids without glasses will – the actual focal point for reading glasses varies from person to person. Make sure you get them professionally fitted and know that you may need to do so again periodically (most optical shops will do this for free for their customers; some will do it for anyone even if the glasses were purchased somewhere else).

      Hope this helps!

    27. *daha**

      It was a revelation and a joy to suddenly see details that I had no hint of previously. (I was 12 or so, and it was to correct distance vision.) Since his correction is for near vision only, I wonder if there is such a thing as glasses that only have the correction in the lower part, like half a bifocal, so he looks down through it for near vision but far vision is unaffected. You can ask his prescriber.)

  13. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    This is truly a little joy, but I enjoy wearing my lounging robe/ dressing gown. Nice color, pleasant material and like wearing a light blanket.

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      I got an outdoor folding chair that has no arms so I can finally play my musical instruments when I’m camping.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Sweater weather! I wore a cardigan on Thursday (open weave, over a tank top, but in a nice fall color) and cozy leggings today.

    3. An Australian In London (currently in Australia)*

      I have just moved house, while working two full time jobs. Stress is high.

      What’s bringing me joy is taking this as an opportunity to declutter and clean. It’s making things go more slowly but my preferred approach of “find the best place for storage; wipe down the storage; put things away; clean them first if needed” is bringing me much joy.

      Also seeing how chill our cat is being about it, but perhaps that’s due to the Feliway diffusers in almost every room. :) He’s an indoor cat and goes outside only on harness, and he’s so interested in the new front and back gardens.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I successfully revived my phone in a baggie of rice after I got it so wet that it had been refusing to charge. It took about a week (maybe because the weather was very humid?), but it did eventually work!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Also, got my flu shot yesterday. I’m a little allergic to it, which is scary, but I’m relieved to have knocked off the shot for this year to be better protected! Next stop, pneumonia vaxxes. : )

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      17 year old is currently quarantined due to covid. Fortunately not seriously ill and is recovering nicely. He’s been passing the time playing guitar in his room, and since he’s not aware of having an audience he’s been trying some new songs and techniques. He was already a good musician and has gotten better in just a week, and we are really enjoying the music.

    6. Falling+Diphthong*

      Half day retreat at the local cancer support center. Lots of support, peace, and someone else did all the planning for what to do and eat.

    7. AGD*

      I was feeling colorful on Tuesday so I wore a moderately ridiculous outfit to work (think black and green and hot pink) and it left me grinning throughout the day.

    8. libkae*

      I made crackers last week, which I vastly prefer to store bought, but which are a multi-hour undertaking, so I don’t do as often as I’d like … and then I left home for a few days unexpectedly and completely forgot about the crackers. I opened a cabinet this morning and there they were! It was like a little gift from myself.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Cooler weather, definitely – it’s been a long hot summer.

      And the new season of Great British Baking Show just dropped on Netflix. While I still miss Sue and Mel (side note: I read Sue Perkins’ memoir “Spectacles” recently and loved it, and was reminded of how great she and Mel were as hosts), the show itself still delights me. [The introductory Star Wars-themed skit was cringe-inducing, but did give them a lead-in to a quip about how someone’s pie crust “was on the dark side”. I could do without those skits, thought.]

      1. Nack*

        Oh yes the Bake Off! Every year when it comes on it feels like seeing an old friend again. My husband and I have watched it religiously for about 6 or 7 years, several years even hosting weekly viewing parties. This time it was just us, but felt cozy and nostalgic just the same.

    10. the cat's ass*

      Cooler weather-finally! And impending rain tomorrow, right in time to delay fire season. And it’s finally the weekend after a completely miserable week at the place we don’t talk about on weekends, whew!

    11. Four of ten*

      I’ve always enjoyed riding my bike. The last few years arthritis and pain have made this impossible. I purchased a recumbent trike with an electric assist motor in late July. This week I had some great rides on mostly paved bike paths. I’m so enjoying being outside and moving again. I even found a way to put my cane in the back of the seat so I can use that when I get to my destination. And it’s now a little cooler making the rides even better. It’s a joy to be moving.

    12. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      I was able to complete my entire C25K workout today without stopping. Only up to 3 minutes of jogging at at time, but it’s taken me well over a month to get here & I’m proud of myself for sticking it out.

    13. Girasol*

      I volunteered for a couple hours of litter pickup and ended up working alongside the most delightful person. It’s hard to meet people sometimes and that felt so serendipitous.

    14. Dont be a dork*

      I have, after many, many years, finally pulled out my stamp collection and started working on it again.

      Right now it’s just reorganizing the stock books before I can start putting stuff into the albums again, but those tiny bits of paper that reflect so much of the world’s history are so soothing after a long week of teaching high school kids. Bright, beautiful, and in so many different art styles!

    15. slowingaging*

      Big and little joy. I had new windows installed. When the fall winds come (and they will come) I won’t have dirt in my house. My windows were so loose the neighbors could smell when I was baking. I had city sewer guys working on my street and they commented on my baking. So yeah new windows

    16. Voluptuousfire*

      I helped a dear friend with a little crafts booth at a local flea market and it was nice to be among people. I now have a pair of cat themed pot holders she made. :)

      Also bought a dress randomly and it was awesome. The cut is great and the color is amazing as well. It felt good after seeing pics from a work do where I photographed terribly.

    17. Astoria*

      I participated in an online improv group and loved it. Wish I’d done something like this 10 years ago.

    18. VegetarianRaccoon*

      Your comment made me think of my new pj pants. They’re black velvet in a jogger style, fit me well, and are such a wonderful blend of luxury and coziness! I got them on clearance on impulse even though I didn’t need them. They feel like such a triumph of self-care.

  14. WoodswomanWrites*

    It’s time for a thread about birds.

    In a couple days, I’m heading to the state and national parks in the California redwoods almost at the Oregon border. Recently, endangered California condors raised in captivity were released in the area. It would be amazing to see one. I imagine there’s no chance since even if they’re around they’ll be hidden in the trees. But it makes me so happy that they’ve returned to their ancestral home.

    1. RedinSC*

      I live by the central california redwoods. You’ll have an amazing time in the trees, and the condors fly, I’m told they’re unmistakeable when they’re in the air! Good luck, you might also see a bald eagle, they’ve been moving into CA! There was a pair near me earlier in the summer!

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I’ve been lucky and saw them at Pinnacles National Park, such huge wingspans when they’re flying. In one of my best wildlife sightings ever, a condor perched on a tall rock right next to the trail. S/he was so close I put my binoculars down and we watched each other for a few minutes.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      There is a chickadee in my peach tree who appears to be entirely unafraid of dogs and humans. When I sit on my deck, he hangs out in the tree (about 8′ away from my chair) and chats with us. He’s been around for several weeks.

    3. KatEnigma*

      Driving over our gully yesterday, I saw a Great Egret and it made me so excited. They are so common here in SE Texas, but I grew up in Ohio where they are not. It was like the first time we got tanagers at our hummingbird feeder in California! Birds that you don’t grow up seeing all the time seem more exciting. My husband had never seen a red winged blackbird before we moved to Wisconsin, and always thought they were special.

      My entire life (okay, since the 5th grade unit on birds) I have wanted to see a painted bunting in real life, and this should be very doable here.

    4. Birds Are Real*

      Condors love to soar, so that improves your chances of seeing one! Keep your eye out when you’re in meadows/open spaces. And if it’s hot, you’re most likely to see them in the morning or evening as they head to/from the coast where it’s cooler. I hope you spot one!

    5. All Monkeys are French*

      If you’re driving, I recommend a stop at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge just off 101 south of Eureka. It has nicely maintained trails and wonderful bird watching opportunities.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      There’s an owl that seems to have taken up permanent residence in my vicinity. I hear him “who who-ing” at night sometimes. Am oddly excited about this.

  15. A.N O’Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing, any writing goes.

    I got a good chunk written for a project that has been on hold for a while. Always nice to get unstuck.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I have found a publisher for my book on the vocabulary of baseball. This has the unfortunate implication that I have to finish writing it, but it is pretty close already.

      The interview with the Professor Buzzkill podcast is up. Google on Professor Buzzkill and it comes right up. I am pleased with how it went. It is more about the early baseball book now in editing.

  16. 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 games you want to including board games and phone games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.

    I finally got started on Gravity Rush (the Vita version). Still getting used to the controls, especially in combat, but I like it so far.

    1. Blessed Cotton Socks*

      I was recently gifted a few months of xbox Game Pass (ultimate) so I’ve mostly been filling up my “oooh I want to play that later” – list I’ve had a long hiatus from gaming so would gladly take recommendations.
      What are everyone’s favourites in the Game Pass library?

      I started playing “the Forgotten City” the other day and am enjoying it immensely a lot so far – but I have realised I have become a game-wimp! Even that game without (at least so far) much in your face scary things and combat has me on edge.
      I tried “a Plague Tale” first and was instantly gripped by the story and the characters, but I just can’t seem to do it, lol. I get so jumpy and anxious, perhaps because I get so drawn into the world. I know I could just skip those games, but I’d like to play them. Does anyone have any tips to desentitise yourself? :D

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        Ahh that game looks so fun! Hoping to get it after I get myself a Switch for the holidays. How long did your first playthrough take?

      2. LimeRoos*

        oooh!! I just saw an ad for this! If you see this, please let us know more about it. I’m torn on buying it since I’m currently occupied with Cozy Grove but it looks so ridiculous and somehow whimsical…

    2. Anon5775*

      Shifting Stones is a fun, quick board game that is easy to learn and fast to play. kids that can’t read well would like it since there’s no reading beyond the rule book. As an adult I enjoyed it too!

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      My fourteen year old high school freshman has joined the gaming club, specifically a D&D game. We are running to the comics store this afternoon to get him set up with dice.

      1. Dont be a dork*

        Beware! Once you start buying dice it’s really hard to stop — you’ll need different dice for each new character, and if they get a different skill set you might need contrasting dice for that….

        My husband and I both game; I don’t know how many dice we have between us, but we’ve been playing since HS for him, college for me, so at least since 1981.

    4. Princess Xena*

      In gaming adjacent, I have started moderating a friend’s Minecraft stream! It’s been so much more fun playing with friends than playing alone.

    5. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’ve been loving the new season in Destiny 2. Pirates!

      A board game my husband and I tried out and have absolutely fallen in love with is Dice Forge. The first time setup is time-consuming, but the box and trays are designed so that the setup every time after that is ridiculously easy. The game is a good mix of strategy and luck, with a lot of ways to win.

      I finished the main campaign of Doom Eternal after a LONG hiatus. I then powered through the Ancient Gods Part 1 DLC. Sometime soon I’ll tackle Ancient Gods Part 2. I love the fast-paced gameplay of Doom Eternal, but I HATE the platforming. Overall, I prefer Doom (2016), but Doom Eternal is still fun.

      Does anyone have a friend that they find it difficult to play video games with? For me, the person in question is my husband’s best friend, though I am friends with him as well. The issue is that I like a moderate challenge, but I really don’t want to fail, so I will always prefer lower difficulty content if it means I am less likely to fail a mission. Friend loves super-high difficulty content with a high risk of failure. He gets bored when the content isn’t very challenging. Basically, I’m a Medium and he’s a Very Hard. It means that if we’re playing a game with difficulty options, either we meet in the middle on Hard (which neither of us is really happy with) or one person gets their preference and the other has to deal with it. My general strategy is to avoid playing video games with him, but I’d be interested to hear how other people deal with similar situations.

    6. Dont be a dork*

      Playing the family-friendly Wizard101 and Pirate101, but we are also doing a weekly Space 1889 game and the back gaming room has Gloomhaven set up for solo gaming for my husband. I’d play, but I have like 57 other things I also want to do in my far too limited free time.

    7. Jackalope*

      Still playing Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. I’m having a lot of fun with it, although getting some of the maps on the highest level is a pain. But I recommend it to anyone who is a Three Houses fan.

      1. Smol Book Wizard*

        I’ve been dragging my feet on it because … IDK, the autistic brain is stuck on how 3 Houses is “the story” which is strange bc it’s 4 separate stories? I think it’s that I loved, loved, INHABITED Byleth so much that I can’t quite get into being Shez on my next journey to Fodlan. But I’m glad to hear it’s doing well.

    8. LimeRoos*

      I’m completely submersed in Cozy Grove and totally love it. The characters are hilariously weird and adorable. It’s been fun and really relaxing since it’s so easy to put down, which really surprised me.

      Also still playing D2R on the Switch. It’s been great just melting everything now. I’m really torn on respec’ing my IK Barb to work with Enigma, but I love the Immortal King set so much so I’ve been debating it for weeks.

      Stoked for the new MarioKart courses, I’ve only played the first 4 of the new ones so I’m totally ready for more challenges. Also debating getting Cult of the Lamb because it looks so silly and dark but whimsical. Oh! For non video games, we’re watching how the Villainous Star Wars version does because I’m disappointed by the baddies in the main set so I’m hoping the expansions give us Darth Maul.

  17. Anonymous Cat*

    Hello everyone!

    I used to have an active imagination and could write stories, but life kind of took over for years and I lost the spark.

    Now I’d like to try writing again but my imagination seems to have died.

    Does anyone have any suggestions how I can jump start that again?

    1. RagingADHD*

      Get plenty of sleep.
      Take a hiatus from social media and the internet in general.
      Read books that are fun for you, whatever that means.
      Make time to experience art and beauty- music, museums, parks, the beach, theater, movies, etc.

      You need to fill your creative tank.

      1. Falling+Diphthong*

        You need to fill your creative tank.
        As someone who’s struggled to recapture my creativity after a couple of pounding years, this resonates. Thank you.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      When you read, jot down lines/passages you enjoy or are provoked by.

      Free writing- 5 minutes of putting whatever on the page.

      And seconding the recommendation to put inspiration back into the tank instead of beating yourself up!

    3. mreasy*

      I joined a local writing group – a lot of them are doing virtual meetings. You can also take an online workshop or class that runs on your own time, where you will have deadlines and assignments to impel you to write. I’ve had luck with both of these.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I find that creativity is more of a habit than I would have guessed (it feels like a personality trait but it’s not). Part of it is the act of valuing and appreciating you own ideas. There are lots of daily creativity challenges you might enjoy, either through social media or in a book. Try to boost any creativity if writing isn’t flowing – art, photography, whatever – and stories will come.

      1. fposte*

        I just heard a composer who scores for film and TV say the same thing–the more he creates, the more ideas he has.

        For writing, absolutely use prompts. They’re fun! It doesn’t even have to be a formal prompt–take a concept from a story in print or other media and put your own slant on it.

    5. Sunshine*

      I have The Writers Way on my to do list. It’s a creatives self help book. Start the day with free writing. Weekly creative trip etc.
      The premise is creativity can be strengthened.

    6. marvin*

      Highly recommend A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders. He uses a series of (translated) amazing Russian short stories to describe his take on the writing process. Not like any other writing book I’ve read. It’s really focused on cultivating a mindset that leads to creativity and self expression. I’ve found it really inspiring.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I would suggest that, if your imagination seems to have died, you start writing about things that don’t require imagination. Maybe about something like history, or just your knowledge of, and/or experience of a particular aspect of history or a particular subject. Maybe write about how you are feeling now and what’s going on in your life (like you were writing in a diary). See if that doesn’t jump-start your imagination.

    8. I take tea*

      I used to like to go sit somewhere and focus on describing everything around me. Don’t forget to include all senses, not just what you see, but what you hear and smell and feel. It’s not excactly creative, but when you get started, you can go on. I miss writing, haven’t done it properly for years, but this is how I got started when I wrote regurlarly.

      I like RagingADHDs tip, got to try.

    9. Girasol*

      Doing very short stories helped me. The practice forces me to do lots of small scale development of plots and characters. With little invested I can quit a story pretty easily and try a different idea. It’s made my writer’s blocks into writer’s bumps.

    10. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I’ve taken a few writing workshops recently and a few of them used a really simple but effective warm-up tool of making lists. Like, set a timer for 2 minutes & make a list of X, reset the timer & make a list of Y, & do that about 4 or 5 times. The list categories can range from specific to generic– a few I remember off the top of my head are:
      -animals
      -things that are sharp
      -sense words that make you think of winter
      -things you associate with your least favorite color

      After you have a set of 4 or 5 lists, you go back and circle a few items from each list that most interest you. You can then either be really intentional about trying to utilize all the items you circled in your writing, or you can then pick an unrelated prompt (again, this can be anything, but you can definitely google for some if you can’t come up with one) and just kinda keep the list words hanging out in your subconscious while you write.
      I think part of why it works well is that it’s SO low stakes, like, even the biggest procrastinator in the world (me!) can usually enjoy just, you know, making a list. Lists are the easy part! But while you’re chilling out making lists, your brain is getting its little creative gears turning without you even realizing it.

  18. The Prettiest Curse*

    I’m wondering whether anyone else who didn’t grow up texting their friends (I’m Gen X) has the same issues with it that I do.

    I really, really hate texting people one-on-one, because waiting for a response makes me nervous. It’s difficult enough for me to work up the nerve to text someone to start with (this is not an issue that I have with email – texting seems a lot more intimate than email to me), so waiting for a response just makes me twitchy.

    And if I text someone twice a couple of weeks apart and don’t get a response, I just assume that they don’t like me any more and never want to hear from me again. (I have no problem with group texts and frankly don’t care if people ignore my messages in that context.) But one-on-one messaging is just too intense for me in some way – and unfortunately, it’s really the only way I can keep in touch with most people that I met while I was in the US. Arghh!

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I tend to treat texting/chatting as like a background thing rather than a conversation, and I feel like my friends do the same. If something makes me think of the person I message them with no expectation of an immediate response, more just that it will be waiting for them when they get a chance. So a good portion of how I connect with texting buddies is just us dropping random tidbits into each other’s days, and then if we happen to be available at the same time we chat back and forth more normally but it’s okay if someone suddenly doesn’t respond for awhile. It’s very different from the online chatting I did as a teen when we didn’t have smartphones or wifi, or from a phone call or in-person socializing too

    2. RagingADHD*

      I didn’t grow up texting and really was a pretty late adopter as routine communication. I prefer it now, I think of it like postcards or post-it notes.

      But everyone is different. If you have your friends’ numbers, you can call.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Is WhatsApp an option? I like the group texting options and how you can see if the messages have been read or if people are just not online. I also kind of like how you can just drop a meme or whatever into the group and there’s no specific pressure for one person to respond. Otherwise yeah, I am Gen X and I loathe texting, while also seeing the irreplaceability of it. Even WhatsApp is a bit arghhh for me, especially when group messages turn into the opposite problem of crickets, and start chirping all evening. Maybe set online get together times? Do something on zoom?

    4. Morning reader*

      I feel like we haven’t evolved a default assumption about what texting is for yet. Perhaps a direct conversation with your friend(s) you text with would be helpful. I usually text to convey information that needs to be in writing, like the address of where we are meeting. I’ll have brief conversations but anything more involved gets a phone call. I think of texting as asynchronous, that is, I wouldn’t expect an immediate response unless my message is something like “I’m parked in your driveway.” But some people use it more immediately and conversationally.
      I’m not following how it’s the only way to keep in touch with people for you.is it the preferred communication style of those people? Seems like a regular email exchange would be easier, with occasional phone calls or FaceTime.
      I’m boomer generation and do mostly one-on-one texts. Very rarely do group texts and they actually seem the most annoying to me, but then maybe I don’t have any groups where everyone is equally interested.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I will say it still bums me out to text my family a picture and not get a response, thus I want to do it less. I think they enjoy the pictures (?) but they forget to say that in text. If I haven’t texted lately I get inquiries and occasionally they’ll say in person later that they love all the pictures of my dog or whatever (?? you replied with stony silence to three pictures in a row??). In a mutually satisfyingly text relationship these little friction points don’t bother me as much.

    6. Hot Chocolate*

      I’m a millennial, but I didn’t get my first cell phone until college so I didn’t grow up texting. I’m much more comfortable with instant messaging and e-mail, I think because I’m much faster with typing on a keyboard than on a phone, and once I’m done I can send it off and not think about it.

      I mostly only use texting for informational purposes (if I need to ask or tell someone something, or I come across something I want to share). I don’t really use it for chatting or having conversations. There are a few people who, if I text them at all, I end up in a conversation that goes back and forth for over an hour (at which point I’m like, “Gotta go! Thanks for chatting!”) I second guess texting them now, lol. I don’t like being tied to my phone for that long because it’s distracting if I’m trying to do something else, and it’s awkward because I feel like I can’t just stop texting if they keep responding.

    7. fposte*

      I’m on the edge between X and boomer (depends whose demographic cutoff gets used), and I think we’re in an interesting but frustrating place when it comes to communication preferences. I kind of wish we could do a friend/relative quiz on their practices. Are you an emailer? Telephoner? Videochatter? Facebooker? WhatsApper? Written letter person? What’s your standard response time? What’s your hoped-for response time to your own messages?

      And I think sometimes you have to understand that a medium you don’t like is the price of contact with somebody and decide whether that works for you. I drifted from a friend who was Facebook only, and that was one of the reasons. OTOH, I will never, ever be a speedy return texter, as I have a strong reaction to what feels like urgent demands on my time; when I hear comments from people who feel abandoned by friends if they don’t hear back from a text quickly, I can tell that we would simply be unable to sustain a friendship.

      So I get you on the texts. Can you trick yourself into thinking of your texts as group texts? Or some non-FB Facebook posts?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I totally do that, actually. Once a year or so, I go through my contacts and send a message by what I think is the preferred method, to ask – hey, I’m just updating my contacts, is (this number/FB Messenger/email/whatever) still the best way to reach you or would you prefer something different going forth? Sometimes I get “this is great thanks” and sometimes I get “I took Messenger off my phone, can you switch to texting me at (number)? Thanks for asking.”

        1. fposte*

          Okay, maybe you will inspire me to do the same. This just seems like plain common sense when you describe it.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I don’t do it with people that I talk to regularly – like, my housemate or my best friend or whatnot. But people I only catch up with every couple of months or whatnot. It’s also my opportunity to let them know, hey, I stopped using Messenger, but texting or email is still fine. :)

    8. Russian in Texas*

      I am a Gen X-er as well, and texting and IMing is my favorite method of communication. Emails only happen when there is a need to share documents or itinerary or something of the sort, too long for a text or need a record.
      Phone calls only happen with the older family members.
      Everyone is different of course, I hate phone calls with a passion.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        The only group texts happen when it’s organizing something minor, like a movie outing. The only thinking group I have is a WhatsApp family group of my relatives in Russia.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I see around here is people getting “mad” at each other for not answering either a call or text. What is sad, is that cells just do not work well here. To contact me, you’d be better off hollering out your window than calling/texting me. I will probably not get your call/message. A friend had a cell for a while, it would take about 3 days to get a voice message or text message. By then the sender had moved on to other things. He got rid of the cell because he got tired of explaining his cell did not work at home and dealing with the lack of comprehension that followed.

      At my job, I see that people with cells do not set up voicemail and that is because the caller thinks the recipient will receive the message. And the recipient probably won’t. I estimate that at least 60% of the numbers I dial have no voicemail.

      I can honestly tell you this has squelched more than a few friendships. It’s just a technology issue not a friendship issue. But no one thinks of that and jumps to the conclusion, “Oh so-and-so is not talking to me any more.”

      I consider myself a boomer, but I am part of the last of the boomers. To me cell phones feel like electronic dog leashes or a ball and chain or something similar. I guess that is because in part you have to lug them everywhere with you and because they do not work in my own home where I really need them to work. It’s a PITA to drag around something that is fairly useless.

      And the icing on the cake, companies almost BRAG that areas like mine will NEVER have cell service. No money in it.

      OP, if you don’t want to use text, then don’t. Find other ways of staying in touch with friends and family.

    10. Making up names is hard*

      Think of texting as a less casual email or a readable voice mail. and if you don’t get a text back in a few weeks, realize it’s not them ignoring a conversation, it’s them being bad at keeping up with corespondence, especially if they feel the same way about texting as you do.

      I’m a millennial but I have a few lovely close friends who are horrible about texting. I’ve realized that they cant be counted on for last minute plans or help and to just assume it will take them at least 5 days if not two weeks to get back to me when I want to make plans. It does kinda suck, but I’ve talked to them about it and I know it doesn’t mean they are ghosting me, just that they’re bad about correspondence, busy, and also anxious so they put off replying.

    11. Rara+Avis*

      Also GenX. I tend to text only my family, and only for business — can you get more apples at the store? Coming to pick you up in 15 minutes, etc. but I was also never a phone chatter.

    12. fueled by coffee*

      I also think that there’s maybe a difference in how people use texting. I’m a younger millennial, so I’ve been texting since junior high, but I primarily use texting as an alternative to a phone call: I use it when (1) the information/question is too short to necessitate a phone call, (2) I’m somewhere where I can’t talk on the phone, or (3) I think the person might need time to come up with a response or might not want to respond at all (like sending condolences to someone who isn’t a very close friend/relative).

      But I’ve noticed that other people (including my Gen X mother, but I don’t think this is purely generational – I have friends my age who do this too) sometimes try to hold actual “just catching up” one-on-one conversations over text message. My mom will frequently text me “How’s your day going?” in the middle of the workday, which I tend not to respond to when I’m busy because I know it’s going to turn into an hourlong back and forth of exchanging basic updates about our lives (to be clear – I call my mother periodically! This is about a communication style mismatch, not me disliking her or flat-out ignoring her!).

      All of this is to say that if you are trying to have general hey-how-are-you conversations over text and you find some people being unresponsive, you might give something like “Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve talked! Do you want to chat on the phone sometime to catch up?” and see if that gets you more traction with these particular people.

      On the other hand, if you’re sending texts that ask for specific information in response like “Do you want to grab coffee on Sunday?” and not hearing back, your friends are being rude and this is not about you.

    13. Person from the Resume*

      Hmmm … a “problem” with text is that if someone reads it but it’s an inconvenient time to respond it’s marked as read and could buried. I understand what you’re saying but “I just assume that they don’t like me any more and never want to hear from me again” is an extremely socially anxious response more rooted in your brain.

      It’s also possible some of your friends do not prefer text as a way to stay in touch. I personally like texting but it’s hard to have long in depth conversations through it. Would email work better where it’s easier to write paragraphs?

      But mostly I’d say to try not let it get to you so much. Give your friends a few more more chances.

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I don’t get nervous like you do, but I don’t much like texting. The text and get a response later is fine, but often if there’s an active text message conversation I’ll start getting annoyed by the text messages. Even if I want to talk to the person. My friends and family are therefore not surprised if I call them instead in the middle of a text conversation, which I do quite often.

    15. AGD*

      I’m Gen Y and didn’t get what used to be called a cellphone until college. Texting made me feel weird for a long time. These days I try to think of texts as tiny bonus little pieces of communication – there are so many ways they can be accidentally muted, overlooked, forgotten about, sent to the wrong person, etc. that all my psychology training says there are huge error bars on any of the conclusions drawn.

      Kind of like passing notes in class, minus the part about having to be surreptitious.

  19. Scot Librarian*

    Has anyone tried one of those huge cuddly fleece hoodie things (oodies, etc)? I want to get one as I get chilly while working from home and I’m a little overwhelmed with all the choice. I’m in the UK and I’ve looked at Oodies, Kudd.ly, various look the same on Amazon. Obviously, I’d prefer to pay £25 for the same quality as £69, but it’s all online so I can’t tell what I’m getting. I’d really like it to be super soft and very warm

    1. Despachito*

      I bought one in Primark’s sales for 5 EUR (ie 5 USD I guess) in Europe last year so don’t know whether this would be viable for you (I looked up and there are Primarks in the US).

    2. Kiwiapple*

      I have an oodie and whilst they are nice, they get very warm quickly and sweaty. There’s nowhere for the warm to go
      I would recommend getting a zipper fleece or dressing gown and cozy PJ’s and socks.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have had that same problem. I have fleece jamies and fleece sheets. For a while they were great then they just got too warm and too uncomfortable.

    3. Valancy Snaith*

      My husband got me one for Christmas last year and I lived in it for the rest of the winter. It’s an Amazon one. Super warm and very cozy. I live in a really cold climate so I really appreciated it when it was -30 outside, it meant I could still hang out in the basement rec room without freezing to death or wearing 40 layers.

    4. DarthVelma*

      I have several in multiple lengths and wear a different one almost every day and have for most of the pandemic while working from home. Got mine on Amazon. The ones I really like are from Catalonia, Bedsure, and Felicigeely.

    5. AGD*

      Thanks for putting these on my radar – I’m in a cold climate and my house is drafty, so I’d like to get one of these for the winter!

    6. Nessun*

      My friend gifted me an Oodie (the actual brand) last year. it is amazing- so soft and comfy, and huge. I live in the north and it was amazing in cold weather. I also really appreciated that it was a little on the heavy side (there’s a lot to it), so when I put it in it was incredibly comforting – like being wrapped in a massive hug. I found it very relaxing to wear, or even just put it over my legs like a rug while I read.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I splurged on a winter equestrian skirt from Etsy (HorseRelatedGifts*) because I have comfortable wool sweaters but my legs kept getting cold. I can take it off fast to leave my desk… and that easy on/off makes it better than snow pants for snow shoveling.
      (*they’re in Ukraine and I’m so glad to see them still posting changes.)

  20. Mothman’s Uber*

    I normally really like true crime podcasts but, based on a recent string of nightmares, I need a break. So I’m looking for recommendations for any podcasts that aren’t true crime, especially stuff that’s laugh out loud funny.

    1. mreasy*

      How Did This Get Made, Normal Gossip, Sawbones, You’re Wrong About, Vibe Check, and Decoder Ring are my fave non-crime shows. HDTGM is absurdly funny! I have also been stepping away from my true crime listening and narrowed it down to only my few faves which incorporate other topics.

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        You’re Wrong About is one of my favorites but it does have a lot of death/true crime. For me it’s a definite not-before-bed podcast. That said, I usually don’t like true crime and Sarah is only person I don’t mind hearing about it from.

      2. PollyQ*

        I LOVE HDTGM and agree that it’s extremely funny. One warning: it can be very, very NSFW, just so y’all know.

    2. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      Couples Therapy with Andy & Naomi is comedy gold, while also getting surprisingly deep sometimes & giving people real, decent advice.

    3. Falling+Diphthong*

      Terrible Lizards, in which we discuss dinosaurs and their relatives. The most recent season focused on pterosaurs.

      Says You, the NPR word play show.

    4. Redhaired runner*

      Maintenance Phase, it’s a podcast about the ridiculous history and people involved in the diet industry. The hosts are very funny and do some good research about the topics they cover so you get to learn and laugh.

    5. anxiousGrad*

      I would also recommend listening to old radio shows from the 40s and 50s. You can find them on YouTube or, if you have SiriusXM, they’re on channel 148. Some of my favorite comedies are The Jack Benny Program, The Burns and Allen Show, Our Miss Brooks, My Favorite Husband (the precursor to I Love Lucy), and Fibber McGee and Molly. There are also some really great mystery/suspense shows that are anthology programs, so each episode is its own story (they’re also acted out and sometimes laughably melodramatic, so probably not as dark as true crime). Among those I like Suspense, The Whistler, and Inner Sanctum Mysteries. There are also a lot of great detective shows, like Adventures of Sam Spade, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Richard Diamond Private Detective, and The Saint. And if you like science fiction, there was a show called X Minus One which did radio plays of science fiction short stories.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      My dad wrote a porno cracks me up every time. I also love stuff you should know, and detours for fun listening

  21. Weary of noise*

    Dealing with a flare up of tinnitus from Meniere’s. Sounds like a low pitched motor off in the distance. Going on for 2 weeks now. Fortunately no vertigo. Any favorite coping tips?

    1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      No coping tips, alas, but I hope this clears up soon for you — hang in there!

    2. Sloanicota*

      Oh shoot like a month ago I saw a reddit post for tinnitus that was about tapping the skull and the comments were full of ppl exclaiming that it made a difference for them. I can’t seem to find the link, will keep searching.

      1. Doctors Whom*

        YES. Google “reddit tinnitus cure”. There is a video on YouTube.

        I have tinnitus -mine is ringing. The skull-tapping thing was the first time I have heard quiet in years. I literally cried real actual tears.

        It is not permanent, but it gives me several minutes of relief.

    3. Ann Ominous*

      Pippa K responded to you below with something that works for me and my partner too:

      Just learned this one recently, although apparently it’s been around a while: cover your ears with your hands (palms on ears, fingers around the back of your head). Then tap all your fingers rapidly against the back of your head while keeping your ears covered. Do this for maybe 30 seconds or so.

      I have only occasionally mild bouts of tinnitus but my husband has it more often and more severely, and this works for both us. Not a long-term fix but buys a period of silence or big reduction in the noise

    4. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Hi Weary! We know our brains can ignore sounds, like our own heartbeat for example. Right now I can hear the fridge running, and the ticking of two different clocks, as background external noise. Sometimes when it is otherwise quiet I can hear a high pitched noise from the lightbulbs. The fridge has stopped running and I can now hear some distant traffic noise, and the sound of my cat starting to snore. Where we put our attention makes a difference.
      If you were listening to some quiet music, your brain might choose to ignore the tinnitus as yours is a steady, regular sound. If you are in a quiet environment and the tinnitus bothers you, you could try listening to a ticking clock, focussing on that. Or two different clocks, moving your attention from one to the other.
      You could read up on self-hypnosis techniques, for tips on moving your attention focus to other things. Many years ago I moved to a house on a main road, lots of trucks passing and braking and accelerating etc, and I couldn’t sleep. Someone told me to pay attention to the moments of quiet between trucks, rather than the truck noise. It worked, I was pleasantly surprised.
      Your tinnitus is part of your own very personal background noise, your own body just tootling along, it’s ok to tune it out a bit or a lot, and to focus on it less and less.

    5. Weary*

      Thanks everyone for the help! Makes me feel less isolated. I am getting hearing aids next week for chronic hearing loss (partly from the Meneire’s and that is also supposed to help.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      How’s your vitamin B doing?

      If I slide into eating a few foods that are allergy triggering or just eating to much sugar I end up with ear problems.

      It’s cooler out now and easier to forget to load up on water. Water goes into a lot of things, if you are having other aches and pains just reducing those might help with powering through the tinnitus.

      1. Dreary Doc*

        I have to watch salt, caffeine and alcohol because my tinnitus is from inner ear problem. I take b12 because vegan. Thanks.

  22. Sloanicota*

    How much do you think breed matters in a mutt dog’s behavior? Is there any value to those doggy DNA tests? When I got my mutt the shelter gave me their best guess of what he was based on his appearance, and I figured it didn’t matter much. Having read more about the breeds the shelter named, and joined some FB groups of fanciers, he doesn’t really match the behaviors described, but I’ve learned some really weird behaviors can apparently be breed specific (?). Also, “what is he” is the first question I get anytime someone sees him, so I’m slightly more interested in doing the DNA. But my gut still says it’s a waste of money and doesn’t matter even if you did trust the results.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I think most ways it doesn’t much matter except in ways you’d probably have noticed regardless of breed. Like, a high energy breed, you’ve probably already figured out your dog is high-energy and knowing what breed he is doesn’t really much make a difference. My older dog is a member of a cohort for the Dog Aging Project, and they did a doggy DNA test for free as part of the project, and most of the predictions were either already pretty evident or wrong. Her breed was identified as mostly pit/boxer, which we already suspected, but I rolled my eyes a little bit at “6% mastiff” :)

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is my gut feeling. The dog seems to be a mix of working breeds so I guess it’s interesting to know if he’s doing X or Y because he’s trying to get sheep to the high meadow or whatever, but I have a hard time believing such things can be truly inherited, and either way I’m still just going to be working with him to do and not do the things that make sense in the burbs.

    2. Falling+Diphthong*

      The reason to do the DNA is if you would like an answer to “so what is he?” (Mostly Doberman and Dutch Shepherd, for one of ours.)

      At the breed level, if you’re getting a purebred it helps to know that your dalmatian will want a lot of exercise and your bulldog not so much. At the individual dog level, goldens can be aggressive; pit bull mixes can be mild mannered, and any mutt can be drawing behavior from Grandma A rather than Grandpa D.

      We did have an Aussie who diligently attempted to herd golden retrievers, so for Aussies specifically I’ve seen how much of herding behavior is hard-wired.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Right, this kind of thing! I find it fascinating that aussis or corgis have an innate drive to round things up even without training. And I guess if you had a one-quarter aussi that kept nipping at kid’s heels, it would be good to know he’s not just being a jerk.

        1. KatEnigma*

          And how the herding dogs herd even differs. Our GSD is definitely a nipper (fingers, not heels) but Rottweilers LEAN on cows to get them moving in the right direction, so when our Rottie mix is shoving us… Well, I tell her I’m not a cow and will pick my own direction, thanks.

          Even as a puppy of 3 months, our GSD would curve herself around our son (3 at the time) and try to protect him from the top of stairs when he was running around near our open basement stairs.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, mine is a cross of a border collie and a great pyranean. These two are both shepherd dogs but they interact differently with sheep (herding vs guarding). There’s no way to know if his behaviors come from one breed, the other, or neither. As far as I know he has never actually interacted with livestock anyway.

            1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

              Ha, interacting with livestock reminds me: When I was a kid we had a British Sheepdog/Collie/German Shepherd mix and man some of those behaviours came through – she was not a working dog but we lived rurally and occasionally she would start rounding up cows on the fields when the instinct kicked in or step in to help if the farmer was there with his dog doing the round up. We never trained her for this she just knew what to do. Would’ve made a GREAT farm dog.

      2. Green Beans*

        I find a lot of people tend to assume that the dog behaves like the breed that it looks like too – so if they have an Aussie mix they love they’ll look for an Aussie even if the behavior they loved doesn’t match the Aussie breed standard. That’s why I don’t love DNA tests; they’re not accurate and they lead people to draw the wrong conclusions about what a breed is actually like.

        I think the worst of this I ever saw was someone with a Pyrenees mix – the pup was super social, energetic, loved hiking, really biddable so basically nothing like breed standard. Personality had clearly come from the “mix” part of his heritage. The owner was looking to get a purebred Pyr as her next dog because she loved the dog’s personality so much and wouldn’t listen to the numerous recommendations for breeds that would be much better fits.

    3. KatEnigma*

      I’ve found that most rescues are really, really bad at identifying mutts, even based on looks where it should be pretty obvious. Our first rescue they said was a Pekingese and King Charles Cavalier. Well, he might have been had a passing relation to a Cav, but a Peke is a pretty specifically shaped and furred dog and he had no characteristics in common with one! LOL He was primarily long haired Chihuahua and some kind of terrier.

      Anyway, certain traits are definitely built in, but as already noted, with enough of a mix, you can’t say which part of the DNA a dog is going to inherit which trait. Although herders are always going to try to herd and terriers are always going to go nuts over rodents. I’ve never had a dog DNA tested as I normally have better things to do with $100, but the people who adopted our Shepherd mix’s litter mate had her tested and then shared with the Foster who shared with us. These puppies looked like 100% GSD except our dog’s legs and paws were a lot bigger than would be normal. (So I had suspicions… LOL) The puppies are like 25% GSD, and 60% Husky and Malamute. If I had known I was adopting primarily a sled dog, I might have not. I grew up with a Siberian Husky, and the shedding I can manage, but the energy level is so very very high on a sled dog, even when compared to a GSD… But even there, you can never trust a Husky/Malamute off leash. NEVER. They love to run and run more than anything (other than snow) and they tend to escape and get lost because they’ll be far away before they stop, and not know how to come back. But our girl? She’s not at all interested in leaving our side. The clingy GSD overpowers the instinct to run and run.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Our dog was labeled a lhasa-poodle mix; he had slightly curly hair and a curly tail. A few months in we realized he was probably a Maltese mix instead – had that telltale angry Maltese face :)

      2. Russian in Texas*

        Not a dog, but my two ginormous (10lb each at 10 months), fluffy, chirpy, orange twin boy cats with ear tuffs and fluffy paws, were labeled as “Siamese mix” by the shelter. Whatever is opposite of a Siamese cat, they are that.

        1. eeeek*

          I’ve found that rescues tend to label any “vocal” cat as “Siamese mix,” as though that’s the only breed that chirps or yodels. /eyeroll

          My cat is a purebred steelpoint mouse-murdering badass who was surrendered because he yodels incessantly, so much so that the rescue warned me about how demanding it is to live with a Siamese. (I love him, and our long and interesting conversations…)

          1. Russian in Texas*

            One my Orange Floods talks non stop. He only ever stops when he sleeps, and sometimes not even then.

        2. VegetarianRaccoon*

          hm. Our shelter had Siamese mixes that didn’t look or act particularly Siamese, but the mother was a Siamese/mix. Or we were told by the surrender-er that the mother was. Perhaps that was the case with your boys, especially since they are vocal? Only a thought. Of course the important thing is that you love them :)

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah (nobody’s going to read this but) it’s amazing what different kittens can be born in the same litter – they can also have different fathers, to be fair. But I think that just goes to my point that appearance is a pretty poor predicter of “breed” anyway.

      3. Sloanicota*

        Ooh good example! Now you know the dog has malamute you may shift how you manage them in a different way than if the test had come back, say, Belgian Malinois. For pure bred dogs, particularly if raised say on a farm or pulling sleds or whatever, those breeds would be very different and you’d want to know the type of dog. But, your dog is a mix anyway, so we don’t really know what traits might have been picked up, rught

    4. Redhaired runner*

      We did one on the shelter mutt I had as a kid. It was fun to finally know what kind of dog she was . The other place it helps is the genetic screening a lot of the tests offer, knowing that your dog might be prone to bad hips or similar when they get older can be useful information.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It’s interesting to me about behaviors attached to a specific breed.

      A friend pointed this out when he saw my dog doing something. “Only Siberian Huskies do that!” I have forgotten what it was the dog was doing. I wish I could remember. I asked my friend later and he had forgotten also.

      I stay away from DNA tests. And it is because of my home owners insurance. They have a long list of breeds they will not insure. I have lived here 30 years and had dogs most of that time. No one, not even my husband and I, has ever been bitten. Yes, some of that is pure luck and some of that is because of the work we did with the animal. But the bottom line is I won’t keep a dog I am afraid of. I refuse to be afraid in my own home. But insurance companies don’t care about the details here. They just have a checklist to follow.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ooh I hadn’t thought of the plausible deniability angle. I do think my county has some crappy breed specific language. Yes, my dog trainer observed that huskies make and hold very direct eye contact, which is one reason my dog seems to specifically dislike them.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Since we got our Rottie mix from “Wisconsin Rott Rescue” there is no claiming she’s a Black and Tan Coonhound mix (not a lie. Let her spot a rabbit and the neighborhood is shown this) So we just go with Farmer’s or State Farm- whichever is cheaper. They don’t breed discriminate.

      3. VegetarianRaccoon*

        ‘Plausible deniability’ can also be a reason why shelters ‘get the breed wrong.’ We were all pibble fans, but insurance companies and HOAs may not be, so where there’s doubt…don’t borrow trouble, don’t label it as a ‘problem’ breed.

    6. Missb*

      When we adopted our “lab” puppy from a rescue group, it was clearly early on that he had some sort of bully mix in him.

      For insurance purposes (if it ever came up) we wanted to nail that one down.

      The mom was clearly a lab- the rescue group had her in hand as she was giving birth and when we picked up our puppy, she was still there at the foster’s house.

      Our little pup ended up having about equal parts lab and American bull dog (*not* pit bull) with the rest split between mastiff and Weimaraner.

      He’s a tall 100-lb dog with a broad chest. On the street, people identify him as a lab. Put him next to my sibling’s labs, and he’s definitely not lab-looking. He puts his ears back and he’s a bully. Standing guard, his broad chest stands out.

      He’s quite a big dog with a serious protective streak. He’s held people inside our gate right at the gate, if they’re silly enough to walk through without us meeting them. He won’t bite but he takes our protection seriously.

      Anyway, it’s fun and good to know what our mutt is.

        1. KatEnigma*

          “American Staffordshire Terrier” and “Staffordshire Bull Terrier” are the two AKC recognized breeds of “pit bull”, and more commonly “Pit bull terrier”

          An American bull dog is NOT a pit bull. They have almost nothing in common, other than someone thinking they’d both be good at helping humans handle bulls.

    7. Sorry*

      IF you want to do it for fun. I think that the breed gives a basis but behavior can be learned. My daughter was told her dog (rescue) was a lab/beagle mix of some sort. Turns out it was 50% American Staffordshire Terrier (pitbull), 1/8th German Shepherd, 1/8th Chow Chow, 1/8th Chocolate Lab, 1/8th so mixed as to be undetermined. Friendly dog who lives happily in an apartment and doesn’t like small dogs but does like/tolerates cats.

      1. Sloanicota*

        My favorite thing about my boy is that he’s so sweet with my cat! The dog fancier attribute this to him being a ‘guardian breed’ but it’s just as likely it’s just how it worked out for him.

    8. Dumpster Fire*

      We were interested in what our dog was made of so we’d have some idea of her eventual size (although it appears she’s going to be quite a bit smaller than the great pyrenees/st Bernard mix that makes up over half of her!). Something we didn’t count on was hearing from someone who adopted one of her littermates, and it has been interesting to share info about many behaviors they have in common.

    9. Gnome*

      i have a lab/beagle mix that hates water, won’t fetch, and doesn’t bay (or whatever it is beagles are supposed to do). I think behavior wise it’s a waste of money… just like a family can have two kids with wildly different behaviors and temperament, so can dogs. obviously, some breeds have tendencies, but these aren’t strict rules (and I’ve seen some glaring exceptions).

      yes, people ask. just tell them what you think or say “Heinz 57” or shrug. no need to spend your money to give random people a scientific-ish answer.

      my two cents.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s a complicated question these days. My mom is tolerating chemo well after some initial (and scary) fevers, although she has lost her hair. In a few more weeks she’ll have another scan and we’ll know more. Right now my niece is here for a week, visiting both of us before she moves to Australia for a year, which is a good distraction. (This is M. of past niece posts, now 22.)

      1. AGD*

        Thanks for the update – I’ve been wondering too. Here’s hoping for good chemo results and well-being all around.

      2. Kittee*

        Thank you for the update. So glad mom is tolerating chemo. That’s a victory in itself! And I remember niece M, OMG how did she get to be 22? And thank you for enriching our days with amusing, informative, and empathetic posts on the weird world of work. Continuing to send warm thoughts your way.

      3. Free Meerkats*

        Glad to hear that your mom is doing reasonably OK.

        Does this mean we’ll have another round of Alison’s niece answers questions?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’ve told them that now that they’re adults, the moment for them to guest post has passed. The youngest (18) disagrees and she feels she has much to say, mostly about capitalism.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I am glad to hear your niece is visiting- that’s good for all of you. I am also surprised that she is 22 now. Where did the years go? Does she read your blog?

        Your mom and you are in my thoughts.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think she does, but my younger niece (now 18 and and starting her first year of college in Massachusetts) does! She periodically texts me about something ridiculous she read on it.

        2. CharlieBrown*

          “Where did the years go?”

          My youngest is in his early 30s and makes more money in one year than I did from his birth year to when he hit double digits. Part of this is inflation, and part of this is his hard work. But still, when I think of him, he’s eight years old and asleep next to me on the sofa watching a goofy old movie. (Usually Mel Brooks.)

          Where did the years go? I have no idea. But they seem to go faster the older you get.

      5. Jackalope*

        Crossing fingers that the chemo does its job well and she’s able to tolerate it okay. And that’s exciting about your niece! Hope the visit goes well and youall have fun together.

      6. Avid AAM reader*

        Thank you for a glimpse into your life – after reading AAM so long, it feels like we know at least one side of you! Will hold good thoughts for your mom.

  23. Pippa K*

    Just learned this one recently, although apparently it’s been around a while: cover your ears with your hands (palms on ears, fingers around the back of your head). Then tap all your fingers rapidly against the back of your head while keeping your ears covered. Do this for maybe 30 seconds or so.

    I have only occasionally mild bouts of tinnitus but my husband has it more often and more severely, and this works for both us. Not a long-term fix but buys a period of silence or big reduction in the noise.

  24. WellRed*

    Has anyone sold anything on Poshmark. I have but unlike with other platforms, I can’t figure out if there’s a way to pause an item, say a winter coat over the summer and then relist in appropriate weather. Or does that even matter? I still get likes on it.

    1. Courageous cat*

      I have but I’m not sure. Why would you want to, if I may ask? If it sells, what’s it matter when?

      If it just feels inappropriate, keep in mind many people buy winter wear (or holiday stuff, etc) off season because they’re looking for it to be cheaper and less competition. There’s nothing weird offering it in the summer

      1. WellRed*

        I think it’s more likely to sell in the fall or winter. My limited experience has born this out. I’m just wondering if it’s “ buried” in some way in the site because it’s been posted for four months. For example on CL or FB marketplace you can renew or refresh listings. But I’m unclear how PM works and that may not matter.

        1. WellRed*

          Oh, I’d also like to pause items if I travel. I was away at Christmas and someone bought an item that per the site rules needed to be shipped within a certain timeframe of days. I sent it late and still had to rush to do it.

          1. Seltaeb*

            You can put all your items on a vacation hold if you’re going to be away or won’t be able to ship items for a period of time for whatever reason. Go to My Seller Tools, then choose Vacation Hold.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      Yep! I opened my closet a couple weeks ago and sold three things. I found that finding descriptions on the original clothing website and adding it in helped with moving things and researching my pricing comparisons.

      You might try doing a price drop or discount on shipping to move an item faster – you can send updates to anyone who follows your closet or special offers to folks that have liked the items. Good luck!!

  25. Trixie*

    Probably not surprising due to inflation but my car insurance is going up. No changes in my driving history, but am one year older. Considering trying one of the car insurance comparison sites, which I’ve avoided previously. Not a fan of sharing personal information. Has anyone had luck with those sites to gather quotes, or recommend just comparing directly on individual company sites?

    1. Heather*

      I’d recommend setting up a “burner” email and maybe a Google voice number to use if you don’t want your contact information “out there”.

      1. North Wind*

        +1

        I have an email address I use specifically for any type of potential junk mail situations. Like if I want to buy something from an online shop that I’ll probably only ever use once, or I want access to some article/newsletter but only for one edition. Anything where it seems like there’s a good chance my email address will be sold/shared to other marketers.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve used an insurance broker several times — they do all the heavy lifting for you and come back to you with the lowest quote for the coverage you want. They generally always save me money and there’s no cost to you to use their services.

      1. Miki*

        I was about to write the same: just a week ago I switched from one insurance to the other and saved $300+ per year by going through an insurance broker.
        Been paying the same for years, this time decided why not, I’ll go and get a quote on the coverage I have (car + home) and see if there is anything better out there. And it was so worth it!
        Highly recommend it!

    3. Squidhead*

      I am low-tech when it comes to this stuff, and I call another company and get a quote for the same coverage (with the same payment terms, because that can change your price). Then I call my original company back and say “XYZ Co has offered me the same coverage for $less, so I’d like to cancel.” This should get you directed to someone in their retention department, who will either be able to match the price (and then I stay) or won’t (in which case I leave, stay with the other company for a few years, then rinse & repeat.) It’s usually a couple days of back and forth, plus making sure the new policy has all the VIN numbers correct etc, but it’s worth it to me as we usually save several hundred. Occasionally I’ve been able to short-circuit the process by calling my current company and just asking them to review my policy as I am thinking of leaving. My current company will do this every 3 years but seemingly only if I ask.

    4. Russian in Texas*

      I’ve done this two months ago. Gone directly to the various insurance companies.
      Switched to GEICO from Progressive – Progressive was raising my premiums almost 20% for no discernable reason, and GEICO gave me a rate lower than the Progressive before the hike.
      One catch – I agreed to the driving assessment spying app to get the discount. It tracks only couple things – using your phone as handheld, and hard braking. In two months I got an excellent score from them and got a $98 refund for good driving.

    5. Sundial*

      We use a local agency (small multi-generational family place) and they automatically check all the options under their umbrella for us every time we come up eligible for a change.

      One benefit I didn’t know existed is that they re-wrote an existing policy, so we maintained our long-term customer discount, but also took advantage of the terms they were offering new clients. This is apparently only allowed to do every 3-4 years, but the concept was entirely new to me.

      This kind of business runs almost entirely on word-of-mouth in smaller towns, so possibly not helpful info if you’re in a large metro.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This has been my strategy. I use a local agency that has been around for decades. Here’s the key, you want an agency that uses many companies. Mine uses over 100 different companies. And this is how they are able to find the lower rates by having so many companies.

        A friend went to an agent that was only connected to 6 or 7 companies. His insurance crept up to about 1800 per year for two older vehicles. He changed to the local agency I am using and his insurance plummeted down to $800 per year. Which made more sense for what he was insuring.

        I am fan of having an agency that is local and has strong ties in the community. Then it is just a matter of how many insurance companies do they work with. The other thing that I have learned is that you have to change companies every few years (5-7?) because the rates keep going up the longer you stay.

        You can also check to find out what you can do to lower your insurance. The two things I do is take a driver’s safety course every 3 years and I avoid installment payments. There is a $5 charge for each installment payment made.

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          I was going to suggest the safety course. How exactly it works depends on your state but I did those (all online) a couple times and it was worth the few hours of time in exchange for several years of discount.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Best move I ever made as far as insurance, was to call a local real-human insurance agent. My guy was recommended by a neighbor.

      They found bundles, discounts, and coverage options that would have taken me days or weeks of unproductive clicking and decision paralysis. Sent me 2 or 3 packages to compare, and I just picked one. No extra cost to use them. Saved me an excellent amount of money and even more hassle.

    7. Chaordic One*

      It certainly doesn’t hurt to try, and I would think that using a broker (who can get quotes from different companies to find the best rate for you) might be better than going to a website.

      OTOH, I’ve never had very good luck with these things. I have had the same car insurance company all of my life and it’s the same one my parents have, and the same that my grandparents had before them. All the way back to at least 1937. Anyway, the only time I ever found lower quotes, it was with weird companies that no one ever heard of and the quotes weren’t that much lower (like $7.00 lower every 6 months). So I still have the same old insurance company.

    8. North Wind*

      My car insurance with Liberty Mutual was set to take a big jump in 2019 when it was time to renew. I had been a customer for years and years with no at-fault accidents, and they had no interest at all in chatting to me about how to keep the rate lower.

      I don’t remember how I found it, but I ended up with a policy from Geico. It was a LOT cheaper, and since I was on a deadline I remember thinking I’d just take it and continue shopping (it renews every six months).

      Well, I did get into a car accident – was rear-ended by an Uber driver right around Christmas, and they were absolutely fabulous handling the whole ordeal. Trying to figure out how to navigate this guy’s insurance and what was covered by Uber or not, especially during the holidays, was looking like a nightmare. I was afraid to pay out of pocket for anything and later try to recoup that money, so I had Geico handle everything. They paid for everything I needed (rental car, repairs), I only had to deal with them and not whatever other insurance company the guy had. I was honestly worried that making any claim (even when not at fault) might cause my premiums to increase, but that never happened. Geico was completely easy and straightforward to deal with at every decision point.

      In fact, with the COVID lockdown and everyone driving so much less, Geico proactively let me know they would be reducing my rate since they had fewer overall costs to cover.

    9. londonedit*

      Massively late replying, but if you haven’t already try ringing your insurance company. My automatic renewal quote was about £80 higher than last year, despite no claims and no change in circumstances. Checking the price comparison sites didn’t really give me any hugely cheaper options. So I rang my current insurer, asked why the £80 increase and whether they could do anything about it, and they immediately said they could lower the quote to only £12 more than I paid last year.

  26. NoLongerFencer*

    Went to urgent care today, have bronchitis (from a cold baby gave me from daycare) getting meds, generally feeling self-piteous. Any fun ways to relax while sick? Currently reading Bridgerton curled up on the sofa with humidifier and tea.

    1. KatEnigma*

      Oh, bronchitis sucks. I used to get it every January until I moved to a less humid climate (and with the masking, didn’t get it back last winter when we moved to Houston) Be prepared for that cough to linger… when they say 8-12 weeks, they do not exaggerate.

      When I’m sick I usually play mindless games on my phone. Bubble poppers are usually about what I can handle.

    2. Choggy*

      Commiserating here as I have the same, been doing lots of reading and watching tv. The boredom is definitely getting to me.

    3. Paddy O'Furniture*

      Sometimes a hot bath can feel nice, maybe with bath oil or a scented bubble bath added. The steam will hope open your sinuses and the heat can help with any achiness.

    4. bright as yellow*

      When I’m sick, my eyes are too tired to look at screens or sometimes even read books, so i usually pass time listening to music, audio books and/or podcasts.

      There’s a thread earlier on this page with podcast recommendations

  27. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Am I the only one who thinks that adding a score changes the whole feel of a game?
    Today’s Washington Post Hurdle added a score. I don’t know if I saw that just because my phone changed or if it’s new.
    It was nicer for me as a personal challenge…just did I do it or not. Now I might not go back.

    1. Falling+Diphthong*

      This is a whole thing for me with online games–I just want a puzzle to solve. I don’t mind if there’s a generous timer (I haven’t done anything in 15 minutes, so they figure I’ve left) but I don’t want to race the clock, race other people, etc.

      I noticed after I solved today’s it showed me my recent history, which I think it used to do and then stopped?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And their Mahjongg solitaire being timed also makes it less meditative than it could be.

  28. Invisible fish*

    Recommendations for sheets- specifically, brands and where to buy them:

    Needs:
    – king sized option
    – to remain as crisp and unwrinkled as possible despite being used by someone who just wads everything up around herself in sleep
    – cotton
    – decently high thread count (I’m a linen slob and proud of it.)

    Do not want Jersey type materials … no stretchy materials! Those just get tangled!

    1. the cat's ass*

      Garnet Hill and The Company Store have awesome crisp percale sheets AND a white sale after the December holidays.

    2. KatEnigma*

      For lower cost, I like the ones from Ikea. They seem to be made of some sort of poplin, so keep their snap. They aren’t advertised as high thread count, but they are strong and FEEL like high thread count.

      On the other end of the spectrum, I hate spending $200+, but the Vera Wang sheets that Kohl’s sells have no comparison that I’ve found… THICK. OMG. And the pockets are DEEP, like really deep, and don’t pull off the mattress.

      I tried the Target ones that everyone raves about, and they weren’t bad (not as wonderful as people go on about, but fine), except they attracted pet hair like crazy.

    3. HBJ*

      The best we’ve had have been LLBean, but they’re also very expensive. Recently, we got Target sheets. My big thing with sheets is they have to have good elastic. We’ve only had the Target sheets for a few months, but so far the elastic is like new. We’ll see if that lasts.

    4. Elle Woods*

      I love the Threshold 400 count cotton sheets from Target. Deep pockets, good elastic, remain reasonably unwrinkled. Like that they’re reasonably priced too.