weekend open thread – September 24-25, 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: Girls They Write Songs About, by Carlene Bauer. The story of two friends over decades. Beautifully written and perfectly captures the intensity of 20something friendship, as well as how time can change the thing you once made together.

I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 905 comments… read them below }

    1. Bluebell*

      My sister is in Scottsdale. Pluses are that there are cool places to hike and plenty of good Mexican food. Minus is that she goes away for a month every summer because it’s so darn hot. Her house was reasonably affordable, which was good, but she hasn’t found a big group of friends. She’s happy there, but I don’t think it would break her heart if she had to move.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        The allergy thing is no longer true, with the importation of non native species. Doctors no longer recommend going to Arizona if one has respiratory issues, unless it’ s to molds and the person knows not to humidify/check for molds in the air conditioning.

    2. Princex Of Hyrule*

      I lived in Phoenix from 2018-March of this year, before moving to DC.

      Pros: Economic center of Arizona; jobs are easier to come by than in the rest of the state. Fantastic Mexican food. Loads of great affordable local restaurants. Gorgeous natural features. Good hiking.

      Cons: Summer temperatures don’t go below 90 at night in the city; it gets colder in the desert but the city traps heat. Not a lot of “high” culture, like museums or performances. Extremely car-dependent and sprawling; you can drive for hours and not leave the city. Public transportation is limited and only s somewhat reliable.

      Take as you will: Comparable price of living to other cities its size. It’s advertised as cheaper, but rents are skyrocketing and grocery price differences are a few cents in either direction compared to similar stores in DC. The unit I rented before I moved was $700; after I moved, they advertised it at $1600, which is higher than I’m paying for a larger sq and nicer neighborhood in DC. (Other costs like medical care and insurance I am not factoring into this, because I went without them at the time.)

      1. Cookie*

        @Princex Of Hyrule How is life in DC? I have two friends there and no strong ties to the reddening upper Midwest, where I currently live. I think job opportunities would be greater for me in DC but how is the cost/ease of living there?

        1. Princex Of Hyrule*

          I really, really like it! I live about half a mile into Maryland actually, but I’m constantly going places and doing things. There’s loads of entertainment, free and otherwise. The Smithsonians are genuinely great museums, for example. I’m paying $1500/m for a one bedroom apartment and can get basically anywhere I want to go on the metro for $2-$5. Grocery prices were similar to Phoenix when I moved. My two main complaints are that all the restaurants cost $15+ per person and I can’t find any who know what “spicy” really means — I recently discovered that the Takoma Park suburb has real Mexican food though, so I’ll be going there more often.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Bad politics. Disturbing water consumption. Traffic. Inversions making air quality terrible. Unhoused being treated poorly. Sex trafficking. Scorpions. Kari Lake.

      Cheap. Easy to prosper. Jobs abound. Diversity.

    4. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

      A brief list, compiled by Bunny, aged 42

      Pro: There’s hockey
      Con: The Coyotes are in the middle of a rebuild, are playing at ASU, and they suuuuuck right now

      Pro: Really good food
      Con: There isn’t one here, assuming you like Mexican food

      Pro: My brother lives there
      Con: He’s going going back back to Cali Cali
      (This one only applies to me, personally, but I’m very excited he’s moving home)

      Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to move to Arizona, but that’s because I think it’s unethical to live in deserts and pipe in water from other areas and like living in blue states where my rights as a person capable of getting pregnant are respected. I realize that that’s very very very me focused, and I have beloved family who moved from California to Tempe and a good friend who moved from Maine to Tempe, and they’re all very happy there, so YMMV

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Water? … isn’t California and California farms a lot worse about piping in water? They’re emptying the Colorado River, and they’re not even on the Colorado River. They’re using the water for commercial gain (farming) instead of just to live themselves.

        1. Double A*

          No, most of the water California pulls from the Colorado goes to Southern California in service of people “just living.” The Central Valley uses water mostly from the Sacramento and American rivers.

          Also California produces like 2/3 of the nation’s fruit so like…maybe water going to food is a reasonable use?

        2. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

          Honestly, I don’t feel super positive about people living in Southern California either.

          And that’s only, like, 15% because I’m from Northern California.

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Re: Arizona in general, here’s a headline from today’s Washington Post: “Arizona judge reinstates near-total abortion ban from 19th century”.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      It’s a dry heat … which coming from the Gulf Coast was amazing. Just as hot, but when you sweat it evaporates instead of soaking your clothes and body with sweat. I literally asked myself: is it really hot if you’re not sweat soaked?

      Little rain, no hurricanes.

      I vacationed there and liked it, but didn’t try to live there.

    7. Generic+Name*

      I wouldn’t move there unless you LOVE hot weather and never want to feel a hint of being cold ever again. I involuntarily stayed there in July (thank you American Airlines and the Phoenix airport), and it was unbearably hot. My company has an office in phoenix, so we see the phoenix weather forecast on our internal homepage. The weather looks lovely in the winter (60s and 70s) but is in triple digit plus territory for months and months. Yesterday it was 100.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        We feel very very cold, actually. We cannot go out in 50 degree weather if we live here year round. It’s weird but it takes about 3-4 years for your blood to “thin”* enough to feel that cold at that temp. I go home to Albuquerque and I feel like I might die.

        *yes I know our blood isn’t thin. It’s just what we say.

        1. Generic+Name*

          I guess it depends on the person then. I’m from the Midwest but lived in Texas for a long time, but I never got used to the heat. I moved because I couldn’t take it anymore.

    8. slmrlln*

      Pros: hiking, winters are lovely, during the summers when it’s outrageously hot there are some stunningly beautiful high-elevation places to visit, good food, and the Heard Museum.

      Cons: water and politics.

      I moved here because I’m in a field with a very restricted job market and this was a good opportunity. I don’t regret it, but if I could work anywhere in the country, I wouldn’t choose here.

    9. e271828*

      Water. Increasingly intolerable heat, unprecedented numbers of days at historical high temperatures. It’s not what it was even fifteen years ago, it’s brutal.

    10. Quality Girl*

      I lived there for 3.5 years and just had to get out. The summers were tolerable (you just stay inside during the day and get out in the evening) but I was afraid of how much worse they would get with climate change. I hated the sprawl and having to spend so much time in my car. It was very difficult to make friends and find a sense of community. I really prefer having all four seasons.

      I do miss a few things though: The Desert Botanical Garden (stunning, especially their Las Noches de Las Luminarias over the holidays), THE FOOD, OH THE FOOD, visiting Sedona, and I do kinda miss winter in the desert (I know I just said I prefer having four seasons but we contain multitudes).

      Ultimately I couldn’t envision myself raising a child there (also the schools are… bad) so we relocated to a Mountain West state and I am much happier here.

    11. Holly the spa pro*

      I lived in Phoenix for 10 years. I moved to Missouri in 2021 so this is a recent experience:

      pros: -lots of events/things to do both in Phoenix and the surrounding cities. if you are into music there are always tons of good concerts of every genre.

      -amazing restaurants for literally any cuisine you can imagine. lots of people have mentioned Mexican restaurants and that’s true but the variety of ethnic cuisines is insane. wanna try Ethiopian? Peruvian? Filipino? polish? there are amazing fine dining restaurants and super affordable local spots. I’ve lived all over the country, 13 states and Arizona has the best restaurant scene hands down.

      -winter is fantastic. I hate snowy Winters so much. not halving to scrape ice, warm the car for 20 min, wait for plows, shovel, etc is so nice. your body definitely acclimated after a couple years. my first few years in AZ, I was in shorts in January. im not particularly affected by heat so the summers weren’t as bad for me as some in this thread. to be fair, when it is still over 100 degrees in October, it gets old and over the year I swear summer got longer and longer but if you work indoors and have some indoor hobbies, it’s fine. or if you can travel in the summer.

      -close proximity to cool places to visit. super cheap, short flights to Cali or Vegas, quick drives to Sedona, Tucson, Jerome or southern Utah.


      -if you have kids, the school system is trash. their community College network is actually really good though.

      -if you have severe allergies or are heat sensitive, you will be miserable year round from either one or the other or both.

      -traffic/drivers are awful. every state thinks they have the worst drivers but please believe me. I’ve driven on the shittiest roads in the biggest cities and Arizona is on its own level. one of the BEST parts of moving for me has been this change.

      -none of the cities in the valley can keep up with the sheer influx of people. traffic is even worse somehow, rent has sky rocketed.ypur thoughts on home pricing will depend on where you are coming from. housing prices have doubled or more since we bought our house in 2017.

      -the politics are pretty contentious right now. you will find like-minded groups no matter which way you lean but there is a ton of vitriol at the ground level

      All in all, I think there is a lot to love about Arizona. for me, it turned into a “great to visit but wouldn’t wanna live there” type of place. there is a lot I miss about it but more that I don’t miss. and a lot of it is going to be subjective, of course. I didn’t realize how much I missed seeing 4 seasons, green things, houses that didn’t look exactly the same all jammed together. I’ve lived tons of places from major cities to rural backwoods and I’d still call Phoenix top 3 for me, based on things I like.

      I’m happy to answer any questions you have btw!

    12. Hibiscus*

      Are you an actual medical librarian? Because I am too and I live in Phoenix.

      Pros: The winter is nice. You can get very into a niche here. The library system is good for users. I managed to live here for 10 years without a car. Pizza is good.

      Cons: Basically everything someone cited below/above is on the money. If I had children, if I were married, if my family had not all moved here, if my sister did not have kids here–I would not be here. This place is unsustainable economically, environmentally, demographically. A sham of a state really. Politically it is just…no. And I’d really recommend familiarity with Mormon religious tenets and customs before coming here. Plus, specifically for librarians there’s a lack of jobs although our medical librarians are mostly middle aged or close to retirement. But there’s no strong educational system (specifically diversity of colleges–it’s ASU, Grand Canyon (no) and the for profit educational mills) to really support growth in the field.

  1. Dark Macadamia*

    Seeking boot recs: knee high, flat or low heel, fat legs.

    I wear size 9 shoes and size 18 jeans, I can wear a standard sized mid-calf boot but the top is usually tight and it’s like the least flattering look possible for my legs lol. The wide leg ones I’ve found in stores can’t zip all the way so I guess I need extra wide?

    Alternately, flat/low ankle booties that don’t look like clogs? I just want to wear dresses and tights this fall and not look like a giant dork in wet ballet flats!

    1. Charlotte Park*

      Lane Bryant sells wide and extra wide calf boots. I can’t recommend specific ones, but I have had boots from them in the past that I enjoyed. They were decent quality and not outrageously expensive.

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

      I have some pretty serious calves, and I’ve had a few pair of Born boots over the years that really fit well, plus the heels weren’t too high. I looked on their website and can’t find the exact knee-high style I used to have, but they do have a few ankle boots I’m now tempted by…

      1. Alex*

        I am also in this boat and have a pair of Born boots that I looooooooooovvvee.

        One tip is that “wide calf” can mean a lot of things–it is not at all standard. Take a look at the specs of specific boots and measure your calf at the widest point. They will have the calf width listed in inches and so you can tell if it is big enough. I’ve seen several inch differences in what is considered a wide calf boot.

      1. DontTellMyBoss*

        Torrid was my go to pre bariatric surgery and they are great for not just having elastic panels that scream SPECIAL PLUS SIZE BOOT like many retailers that claim to have wide calf styles

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I haven’t been able to justify buying them for myself ( I have really picky feet so I HAVE to try on shoes), but Jobearboots on etsy make very elegant boots that are not at all like clogs. No, I shouldn’t recommend shoes I haven’t actually seen much less worn, but on the other hand the aubergine boots are too gorgeous.

    4. Filosofickle*

      The only knee-high boots I’ve found in my adult life are a Saratoga extra-wide calf from David Tate. Very comfortable.

    5. Invisible fish*

      Buy what you want then take them to be altered. A cobbler can slit the leather wherever it is too tight and insert elastic that matches the leather. It’ll be done on the inside of the calf, so the look of the boot won’t be altered; it’ll still look fine if anyone sees it. I’d recommend finding a cobbler and verifying she has the skills to do this before buying a boot.

    6. Boots!*

      I really like my Blundstones – they are very comfy and great for wet weather, and look good with dresses and tights. For another look I find cowboy boots fun.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I have this exact issue and my tactic has been to go for mid calf or tall ankle boots with a loose design (think slouchy suede, or two half pieces buckled together loosely), I’ve had luck with low cowboy boots too; basically anything that hits below the curve and isn’t super fitted. If I do fall in love with a high pair AND they fit, I tend to pair them with a longer midi skirt to avoid the tight tops-unflattering issue. This is good rain proofing for legs, especially in pre-tights autumn weather where you don’t want bare legs either.

    8. Katie*

      I have similar proportions and usually gets pair of blacka and brown knew high boots each year. Honestly, I have had no luck find boots online. My best practice is going to a big shoe store and trying on a bunch of boots. My latest boots are 2+ years old (WFH…) so I doubt they are around anymore.

    9. Esmeralda*

      If you like the lace up granny boot look, I’ve had Dansko short boots. Excellent quality. I also wear purple Lowa hiking boots with tights and groovy dresses when it’s wet or slushy, but the dork look is kinda my style.

      Doc Martens are an option too, but again that’s a particular look, which you may not prefer.

    10. Texas*

      I have chunky calves and love my Cat/Caterpillar knee-high lace-up boots! I’ve had them for nearly a decade now and they’re the best boots I’ve owned.

    11. Executive Whimsy*

      My mom got me some wide calf boots off of QVC which are the only pair of boots that have ever fit me properly. So QVC is another place to check.

    12. Cookie*

      I found extra wide calf boots on Zappos. My body is a size 8 but my calves are HUGE. Also they were flat so I could wear them all day. Look for ones that have visible elastic around the top, like an inset on the sides or back, so they have give but don’t flap when you’re walking.

    13. cleo*

      Chelsea boots may also work for you – ankle boots with elastic panels. Lots of companies make them – they range from rugged to dressy.

      I had a pair that I called my magic boots because they made almost any outfit I wore them with look more put together.

    14. MCL*

      I’m a size 18/20 with super thick calves. I invested in boots from Duo, which makes custom sizes. For custom boots they’re reasonable, but they were still expensive. I overall like them but I have found they’re more comfortable with Birkenstock inserts as I need awesome arch support. I need to get them re-soled but they’ve held up.

  2. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

    Cataract lens folks, if you’ve chosen farsighted/intermediate lens, how has your nearsighted experience been?

    I have been nearsighted all my life and am very intrigued by being able to choose to see far/intermediate without glasses or contacts. I know in that case, reading glasses will be necessary after a certain decreasing distance from my face, or the print is small, etc.

    If this is also you, I’d love to hear how your post-surgery life has been with similar lenses.

    My questions include:
    -If I want to tweeze something on my face or otherwise inspect something really close up, is a lighted makeup mirror the solution?

    -Will I no longer be able to see my loved one’s face if he gets _too_ close? I keep imagining a fuzzy blob.

    – Are my above questions no big deals and you just get used to things and are happy?

    I do realize there’s a point where you can’t focus on something normally that is too close, but…having a permanent lens put in is kind of freaking me out a little bit. For example, right now I can hold my phone a handswidth away from my face and see clearly. I’d be giving up lifelong habits in exchange for a new view.

    1. bratschegirl*

      My dad’s ophthalmologist gave him a distance lens in one eye and a close-up lens in the other. Same as is often done with contact lenses where I think it’s called “monovision.” The brain quickly adapts and just uses the input from the one that’s in focus. Maybe this is an option for you? He’d worn bifocals for decades and now barely needs glasses at all except for reading in low light.

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

        I have that organically because i am naturally nearsighted and had the lens replacement in only my left eye so far. My brain does get used to it, but the midrange…3-5 feet away from my face… is no man’s land neither near nor far. Every once in a while my brain seems to short circuit with trying to figure out what it’s supposed to be focusing on and then nothing is in focus.

        The synthetic lens is REALLY just distance…can’t see anything closer than about 5 feet, and wouldn’t be able to use tweezers or recognize a face without glasses.

        1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

          Eesh! No man’s land sounds quite annoying. Would you be getting your other eye done at some point?

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

            Yes, theoretically, but probably not for a year or more depending on how it progresses. The second cataract is too tiny and in a place that isn’t impacting my vision at all; they won’t do surgery until it gets bad enough and affects my vision.

      2. Just Jo King*

        I also have a distance lens in one eye and a close-up lens in the other. Before my cataract surgery I wore contact lenses like that so I was used to it. I have not needed glasses/contacts since the surgery last September and my eyesight is perfect both near and far. If I am reading tiny printing on a medicine bottle or something like that I do need to have good lighting (and maybe need to squint a little) to decipher it, but reading books, phone, computer, etc is no problem. My distance vision is fantastic. I’m seeing things I never noticed before when I drive on familiar roads!

        1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

          Looks like another vote for monovision. :) That is great that your eyesight is so awesome now.

      3. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        About a year ago (or more, now?) I did try monovision contacts, which worked up to a point. Probably around the time the cataract(s) started appearing, the monovision stopped working, so I’ve been on multifocal contacts & progressive eyeglasses since then.

        I could ask about monovision lens when I go to my next appointment.

    2. Insert cute name here*

      I am following this thread avidly, as I am also a life-long nearsighted person who is scheduled for surgery next month. A guest at our AirBnb told me she wished she hadn’t gotten lenses that let her see medium and far distance, because it made it difficult to do her painting and other close up work. I’ve decided that I’m used to wearing glasses for driving and seeing the world, and I want to be able to relax, take my glasses off, and dive into my books.

      1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        That is a key point. I love reading and writing. I tend to do writing with a keyboard and large monitor these days anyway – my handwriting has devolved considerably over the years – but reading without having to put ON glasses is something I can still do despite these stupid cataracts. Hmm.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Thank you for asking this question because I have the same concerns. I like being able to read and see things close up without my glasses. I think of reading in bed and having to put glasses on and…no, I wouldn’t want that.

          I tried monovision with contact lenses and my brain adjusted but I didn’t like the loss of depth perception.

          I’m not at the cataracts point but I did have a conversation with the ophthalmologist who matter-of-factly said “Of course you’d want to correct for distance so you wouldn’t need glasses anymore” and it kind of disturbed me that he couldn’t understand why near-vision was important to me.

    3. Healthcare Worker*

      It’s been 4 years since my cataract surgery and although I’ve adjusted to things I am not happy. Better adjusted, yes, but not happy. Losing my near vision means now I can’t look at my phone without my glasses, so if I want to check a text after I’ve gone to bed I have to put on my glasses. I can’t see to tweeze my eyebrows anymore – have to have my hairdresser do that – and I can’t read any directions, such as a cake mix, or a medicine bottle without my glasses. All of those things I could easily do without my glasses before my cataract surgery. Having to have glasses ALL the time is a real pain, and I hate it. If I had realized this was what I was signing up for I would never have had the surgery. I became quite depressed after due to how debilitating the loss of near vision was for me and I still grieve. My advice is to wear glasses for distant vision and keep your near vision. I hope you are much happier with your results! Good luck!

      1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        Thank you!

        Your experience is what has been giving me the just-in-case qualms. I have been trying to decide if I’ll be happier keeping my near vision, but having to always wear glasses just to interact with the world (driving, seeing friends from across a distance, identifying animals and trees and things – heck, even the moon), or the reverse where I can pick up a book as I do now and have always done and just read it in full enjoyment, etcetera etcetera.

      2. eeeek*

        I had my cataract surgery about 10 years ago, to remove congenital cataracts that became problematic enough that they interfered with my night vision for driving – I was about 50 y.o. at the time.
        After a lot of conversation and consultation, I chose to go with distance correction vs monocular vision, figuring that I could get correction for near vision, because even if my eyes were perfect to begin with, I would eventually need correction for near vision due to age. What we didn’t factor in was that the focal points of my eyes are misaligned, so I still needed corrective lenses. As a result, I still wear glasses most of the time, even though my distance vision in each eye is PERFECT and AMAZING. (This is fine with me – my face is more mine with glasses than not.) So, I wear bifocals that correct my focal alignment and my near vision. I can certainly see things within 5′ – better than I could before, certainly. But, I cannot easily read, or thread a needle. The convenience of being able to squint to focus well enough to see my watch is irritating. That took some getting used to – but as a practical reality, FOR ME, those moments of inconvenience are vastly outweighed by being able to see well enough at a distance without my glasses. I wear “computer-distance” desk glasses when I’m at work, and bifocals most of the time (often pushed up into my hair). The computer glasses work for hair plucking.
        This would be different if I cared more about the shading of my eyeshadow or the point of my cat-eye. So your mileage may vary.
        Good luck – the cataract surgery was FASCINATING (for me) and the transformation in my vision is still something I cherish. Did you KNOW you can see the needles of pine trees, waving against a very blue sky? I thought they were only ever fuzz…

      3. Heffalump*

        When I had cataract surgery a few years ago, I was nearsighted. I told the surgeon that I needed to drive 25 miles each way to and from work, and he said, “We’ll optimize you for distance.”

        Long story short, the inability to focus on stuff close up has been a real PITA, even with progressive bifocals. I’ve had to get a hand-held magnifying glass to read the comics in the newspaper. I had thought the glasses would take care of this.

        As you may know, they do one eye at a time, and they remove the corresponding lens from your existing glasses—or at least they did in my case. Before getting new glasses post-surgery, I had a pair of readers from the drugstore. Optically they were fine, but they were narrow enough that I had to put one temple piece in the normal position behind the ear and the other temple piece over the ear. I was sufficiently motivated to write the manufacturer and tell them I was disappointed, and in effect they said, “Sorry, it is what it is.”

        I wore my first post-surgery prescription glasses for ~2.5 years and got new lenses (really like the existing frames) 2 weeks ago. The optometrist said my vision had changed slightly, and it was OK if I got a new prescription and OK if I didn’t. Since I got the new lenses reading printed matter up close has gotten noticeably harder, I don’t know why.

        I can read the monitor on my Macintosh fine, but I have trouble with my 2 employer-provided Windows computers (office and home). I should probably do some experimentation with screen resolution, position of the monitors, etc.

        I wonder what monovision would have been like. My eye surgeon never even mentioned that option.

    4. Lore*

      If you can afford them and are willing to pay for them, the specialty lenses are getting better every year. My ophthalmologist thought I was not a good candidate for the multi focal ones due to the shape of my retina, but I got the accommodating lenses and I’ve been very happy with them. Essentially they’re mounted on springs so that the muscles of your eyes can shift them to mimic the flexibility of a natural lens. There are a few very close distance close up things—most notably threading a needle—where I feel like I need reading glasses and I do have low power distance glasses for driving and the theater but I read, use the computer, and function 90% of the time without them.

      1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        My doc did say I could get the multifocals – Vivity was the name of the ones he preferred – but I am going back for measurements in about a week and will ask if he had any other/better recommendations. I like that mounted-on-spring thing you mentioned!

        One of my friends also got long-distance lenses but uses glasses for driving just to get that extra boost.

    5. Nitpicker*

      I basically went from nearsighted (I had really bad astigmatism) to farsighted. I no longer need glasses walking around and can even read some things. I do need glasses for close up and reading but I can get cheap readers at the drugstore instead of having to go to the optician and spend a fortune for a single pair. So I am really thrilled with the results.

      1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        That is great! I also have astigmatism, though I don’t know how bad it’s considered.

        I was also thinking of how readers are far cheaper as an accommodation than the $$ I’ve been spending on distance/progressive/etc lenses all this time.

    6. ESus4*

      I was severely nearsighted all my life until my cataract surgery. My doctor did not give me time to think about it–he said “you want to be farsighted, of course,” and I went along with it. It is very nice to not be so impaired, but I didn’t realize how much I would miss my closeup superpowers!!

      1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        I understand this – it IS nice to be able to look at things in front of my nose and see them without having to dig for a pair of glasses.

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but until age 40 I had perfect vision at every distance. 20/13 vision at a distance, all the way to sharp vision within inches of my face. I became somewhat farsighted in middle age and I’ve been playing around with various solutions ever since. (Currently I have modified monovision contacts for part of it and use reading glasses to correct the rest.) So, yes. A lighted makeup mirror if you need to see your face up close (this one is still unwieldy for me). And nobody’s face really looks that great from inches away, so I don’t really miss that part.

      1. Cataract Lens Wearers: Intel Needed*

        Ha! Your last sentence made me laugh.
        Thank you for sharing your experience!

    8. Mephyle*

      Following this thread with avid interest, since I’m due for cataract surgery in the next half year or so. I don’t notice any vision impairment yet, but the ophthalmologist says better sooner than later, because if left too long, the cataracts could start to damage the eye structures close to them.
      I’m nearsighted with a bit of astigmatism, and I think I would rather preserve my near vision than lose it, because I’m used to wearing glasses lifelong, and I might still have to wear them for the astigmatism anyway. Currently my regular glasses are bifocals, and I also have a pair of single vision glasses just for the computer, since neither the near nor the far vision on the bifocals are right for the computer distance.
      As for the cataract lenses, it sounds like for nearsighted people, satisfaction with the monovision solution for close-up vision depends whether the close lens is for very close-up or for midrange. Am I understanding that right?

    9. 22five*

      Thanks for asking this question! Bookmarked since DH will need a cataract removed, and as an avid reader – he’ll want to preserve near vision.

  3. Lady Whistledown*

    Smoked brisket tips and tricks and recipes!

    I’ve found myself with access to a wood fired pizza oven that can apparently double as a smoker and I am PUMPED to experiment. I like a smoky spicy sweet rub on my brisket but open to any homemade or available-for-purchase spice blends.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      I am highly enamored with spicewalla in general, but their Texas style barbecue rub would be perfect for this.

    2. Cormorannt*

      My husband swears by Meathead’s recipes. I don’t personally smoke/BBQ but I am a huge fan of the results he’s gotten. The cookbook is “Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling” The Memphis Dust recipe is great and might be what you are looking for, although I don’t think my husband has tried it on brisket.

    3. Ali G*

      I’m a simple person when it comes to brisket. Salt, pepper, garlic powder and just a touch of cayenne (can omit). Smoke at 225 for about an hour per pound. Wrap at ~175 internal temp and cook until full cooked ~203.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Yep- salt and pepper for beef. Maybe garlic salt. Nothing else is needed, and for the first attempt I wouldn’t suggest more.

          1. KatEnigma*


            Sorry, for things like rubs, I am completely an “until it looks right” Maybe 2 salt to 1 pepper? Or maybe less pepper?

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      We found rubs and spice mixes a bit of a rort tbh… better to stick to plain or no seasoning and experiment with wood chips for flavour. That said, we got rid of the pizza oven pretty quickly too and went back to the egg – it just couldn’t produce the same smokey flavour. I did find a good recipe for a bbq dunking jus though, will post in a reply.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Thank you for sharing! The pizza oven is built into the house and has been delightful for pizza so far. It has a decent amount of residual heat so I’m experimenting with what else can go in there low and slow.

    5. KatEnigma*

      Explore sauces and woods but keep the seasoning for brisket simple, as others said. Do a blend of wood chips, not just all one. We like maple, hickory and a fruit.

      Also, did you know you could smoke chuck roast? A restaurant we used to live near did a seasonal special of smoked pot roast sandwich, and it was a real “Ohh, of course this should have been obvious!” moment. In case you are interested in experimenting on a less expensive cut of meat.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        I did not know you can smoke chuck roast but that’s brilliant! Another cut that benefits from low and slow.

  4. EdgarAllanCat*

    I will have a hip replacement in a few weeks. Any tips and tricks I should know about? Also, recommendations for distraction? Already have access to Hulu, Netflix & Amazon. What do you think about Paramount + or HBO Max?

    1. Healthcare Worker*

      Understand the precautions you will have to follow before your surgery and practice doing basic activities, such as toileting, getting dressed, getting in and out of bed, while avoiding the movements you can’t do. Trying to understand precautions while you’re coming out of anesthesia is daunting. Consider getting a raised toilet seat with grab bars to make it easier to transfer on and off the commode, and a tub transfer bench if you don’t have a step in shower. A reacher makes life much easier, and I echo KathyG – do your exercises religiously, and don’t stop therapy too early! Good luck!

      1. Pam Adams*

        I agree with all of this- my current situation is non-weight bearing on one foot, so I’m using a wheelchair.

        Multiple reachers/grabbers for the win- I keep them scattered through the house for use as needed.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I took care of my mum after her hip replacement a few years ago.
      * They will give you quite a bit of medication to take post-discharge, and that combined with limited initial mobility will probably mean that you will need to have someone stay with you for at least the first week post-operation.

      * It’s major surgery and the medication may make you more sleepy than usual, so don’t feel bad about resting and not doing too much. Also, you may not be able to focus as much as usual, so don’t be surprised if you can’t read or watch anything that takes a lot of mental effort.

      * The physio exercises they give you to do will be uncomfortable, but you’ll recover a lot faster if you do them as instructed. (My mum used to complain that I was torturing her because I stood over her to make sure she actually did them!)

      * Hospitals will not discharge you until you can walk and go up and down stairs, but it might be best to avoid stairs at home for the initial post-discharge period if you can.

      Good luck!

    3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      There’s an excellent Russian (yes, really) adaptation of Sherlock Holmes from the 80s, the whole thing is on youtube, my flatmate and I watched it during lockdown and it’s excellent distraction.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        The Russian Sherlock Holmes is legit amazing. it’s very slightly satirical of the stiff Victorian upper lip, but great.
        I believe the following are also on YouTube with subtitles, if you want to check them out:
        Ivan Vasilyevich: back to the future (a fun time traveling romp of Ivan the Terrible)
        Office Romance (a romantic comedy of ordinary middle aged people, in ordinary life, actually plain looking, none of that “she took off her glasses, now she is hot).
        These are probably some of the most popular older Russian movies, and they do not have any Soviet politics in them.

    4. Becky S.*

      Clip your toenails before surgery as it will be difficult to do that for weeks after. As someone else mentioned, get a ‘reacher/grabber’ and a raised commode. My insurance paid for that and a walker, long shoe horn, ‘sock donner’.
      Have well fitting shoes that you can put on yourself, if you don’t have anyone who can help put your shoes on.
      Get all throw rugs out of sight. Do your PT.
      Good luck! I’m very glad I had mine replaced.

      1. Nitpicker*

        Regarding the shoes, my foot swelled up for about 3 weeks after the operation and my shoes I was counting on didn’t fit. I had an old pair of sneakers I could use but had to have someone tie them for me until I got elastic laces and could put them on myself as if they were slipons (using the tools in the hip kit).

    5. Lady Whistledown*

      Light hearted and easy shows I’ve enjoyed during COVID (I have had the emotional bandwidth of a potato and need relaxing content):
      – Blown Away (Gorgeous glass blowing)
      – Great British Baking Show
      – The Great Flower Fight (stunning flower and plant arranging)
      – Forged in Fire (Blade making competition – surprisingly informative and interesting!)
      – Glow Up (Pretty makeup)

      Good luck with your surgery!!

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      I had a hip replacement a few months ago. Only advice I can really give is do the PT/exercises as directed, get out and walk when you can, even if it’s just up and down the block.

      And if you’re squeamish, don’t watch any YT videos of the procedure… Even the “minimially invasive” approaches of today still use a hammer and saw :)

      1. No smart name ideas*

        We love paramount + and HBO Max…watch perry mason every night (all seasons but #6 are in P+) and all the new Star Trek shows, as well as I love Lucy. Max has the new seasons of westworld and the prequel to Game of Thrones. Also recommend Hulu for Only Murders in the Building, documentary on Paul McCarthy, and ABC shows like Abbot Elementary

    7. Jay*

      Take the pain meds. Take them on a schedule – don’t wait for the pain to “get really bad” because then you will need a lot more medication to manage it. And when you take opioid pain meds, take a laxative – Senna or SennaS works really well.

      MOVE. It will hurt. Do it anyway.

      Stay hydrated.

      And what everyone else said about adaptive equipment and having someone stay with you for a while if you live alone.

      1. Nitpicker*

        Extreme pain lasted about 1 1/2 weeks and then dropped to a more manageable level. Worst was getting in an out of bed but the occupational therapist helped me figure out how to do it.
        PT us important but I also found that the occupational therapists were vital to helping me manage while I was dealing with the precautions (someone else in the comments has explained about them.)

      2. Pennyworth*

        Seconding pain meds – when I reported pain at 5 out of 10 in hospital my nurse said it should be close to zero because pain inhibits healing. I was sent home with a patch that controlled pain for a week, with another to use the second week.

      3. marvin*

        I recently had surgery (different kind) and the nurse’s one big piece of advice was to stick to the pain medication schedule religiously, including getting up in the night if needed. It’s easier to keep the pain away proactively than to manage it once it starts. I resented setting my alarm for 2 am but I felt fine when I woke up so it was worth it.

      1. EdgarAllanCat*

        I watched the first season of Good Fight on Amazon & was considering Paramount+ for the subsequent seasons. And Star Trek because of Sonequa Martin-Green.

    8. Oh hello*

      Didn’t have a hip replaced but did get a hip scope earlier this year and was on crutches for a month and echo a lot of the other comments.
      -I didn’t need a toilet seat raiser but did buy a cheap handle set that saved me. You won’t be able to lower properly yourself without it.
      – Plan your life around your PT and home exercises. It is absolutely your top priority.
      – Not sure of your protocols but whatever they are, practice them before. For me this meant practicing crutching, putting on the brace, and properly lifting my operative leg onto the bed/sofa using the non-operative. Also, I practiced my home PT moves in advance watching YouTube so I wasn’t figuring them out for the first time after surgery
      – Because of my brace and icing machine, I needed lots of pillows to prop myself, and also never felt like dealing with a huge comforter. Have your bed/sofa ready with different pillows and blankets so you can get comfortable
      – The most annoying thing for me were was getting things room to room on crutches. I kept a cross body tote near me, but also just a small grocery bag with handles worked for being able to transport things around the house
      – This was my first surgery and I couldn’t believe how sore my throat was for days because of the breathing tube. Have warm, soft foods prepped in advance. Soup was all I wanted for days.
      – Speaking of food, in the weeks leading up to surgery I tried to eat very healthy/ follow an anti-inflammatory diet to give myself the best chance at minimal pain. Obviously everyone will have a different experience but I had very minimal pain afterward so I can’t not recommend that
      – Wear lose fitting clothes to the surgical center. My bandages were huge so I needed loose sweatpants until those came off after 48 hours
      – Have some body wipes since you likely won’t be able to shower for a few days
      – Speaking of showering, it is pretty scary. Go slowly and carefully. And have a bathrobe since you’ll get cold slowly getting in and out.
      – The weeks leading up to my surgery were really crazy for me (wrapping up work, trying to get errands done) so I paid a house cleaner to do a deep clean a few days before surgery. It was the best money I ever spent
      – Speaking of cleaning, make sure your place is decluttered and free of tripping hazards
      – The weeks after surgery were pretty lonely so be sure to arrange visitors or trips out of the house so you don’t go too crazy.
      I know that’s a long list because I’m not a laid back person, so let me make sure to say that the surgery and recovery went so smoothly for me! Sending you lots of positive thoughts for a breezy surgery and smooth rehab!

    9. PhyllisB*

      I will be following this thread. I have a hip replacement scheduled for October 17th. Good luck Edgar!!

    10. Laura Petrie*

      Keep to your hip precautions and do your exercises. Moving your legs when you’re in bed really help. You are likely to have to mobilise with a frame at first, listen to the advice from the physios and OTs.

      Keep your pain relief up to date and push yourself without overdoing it. Depending on what surgery you have, you may have more pain or more hip precautions.

      See if your orthopaedic ward has an OT to advise on and equipment or small aids you may need at home

    11. cat socks*

      I like Paramount+ because it has all the Star Trek stuff, but there’s also a good amount of movies on there.

    12. EdgarAllanCat*

      This is wonderful and thank you all very much!! I love the practical advice and will definitely add things to my to-do list. xoxo

    13. Hip DIL*

      Can’t recommend the raised toilet seat enough. You can buy them at a local DME store or on Amazon. My MIL didn’t think she would need it and chose to skip it at first, but the day after her hip replacement surgery she really needed it so we got her one.

      If you have animals, please try to board them! MIL thought her doggo would sense her being ill and be a gentle and calm prescence as she recovered. Doggo instead insisted on prancing all over her, jumping on her, trying to lick the leg where the scar was (dangerous due to the infection risk), and unintentionally trying to trip her the moment she returned from the hospital after surgery.

      We came up with solutions to help, but it caused MIL temporary unnecessary pain as her leg got trounced. Even MIL admitted she wished she boarded doggo afterwards.

    14. Pennyworth*

      I had two anterior hip replacements (they operate from the front of the hip) some years ago. I was up and walking within 3 hours of surgery each time – possibly because I did not have a general anesthetic just sedative and an epidural, on the recommendation of my surgeon. Apparently the same stuff they use for colonoscopies etc. Anterior surgery is far less likely to result in dislocation of the new joint and you go straight to the six week recovery stage usual for old style replacement through the glutes.

    15. Susan*

      Start the PT exercises now so all of the muscles around the targeted ones get used to the movement. Focus on your core.
      Some of the meds can lead to constipation, so think about upping your fiber intake. Ask friends/family for a fruit basket or Edible Arrangement instead of flowers.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      Sorry for the TMI: I always tell folks to ramp up the fiber and water intake pre-surgery because there’s not much worse than a bad bout of constipation due to the pain meds when it’s already tough to sit on the toilet.

    17. LemonLyman*

      Get on your feet as soon as possible. Like, the day after. Don’t baby it! Do your exercises and follow the “what not to do”. I found recovery easy but that could be because I had been in terrible pain and was ready for my surgery.

    18. Laurie*

      My husband just had a hip replacement a couple months ago. Get a shower chair and grab bars for the shower, write down the times you take the pain pills because you’ll forget and you must stay on top of taking them, get a basket for the front of your walker (because you’ll start to feel better and think you carry stuff while using a walker and that’s when you fall), just do the exercises even if you don’t want to (husband was super out of shape and I was worried he wouldn’t recover well but just following the rules really made the recovery go quickly). best of luck.

      1. Lilith*

        My friend had the anterior hip replacement also. Same day surgery so was home in about 8 hours. I was shocked as she was near 80! Anyway, she was very organized: had an apron with many pockets to hold tv remote, water bottle, meds, book, etc. Her surgeon did not recommend any PT except walking: another shock to me. She contacted her local senior center to see about renting equipment (commode, shower chair etc). Good luck to you!

  5. Constance Lloyd*

    Anybody have fun tales of rental woes? I’m coming down from a tumultuous 24 hours during which we were threatened with eviction over an unpaid balance of $50.00. After significant arguing and multiple phone calls with our property management company, we finally got our hands in a copy of our ledger and realized they’d made a clerical error on their end seven months ago. I don’t need legal advice, but I’m furious they threatened eviction without bothering to double check their own finances and would very much enjoy other dramatic tales!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve been told that it’s often standard practice to start the eviction process the moment there’s a late payment, because the whole process from starting to eviction takes a really long time. I lived in a generally well managed building in California that did this, and kept having problems when they would miss one of the two cheques (as my roommate and I were both on the lease and each paid half the rent).

      My personal experience is that renting suites in the landlord’s house is the small business of renting – sometimes it’s absolutely lovely, sometimes it’s a nightmare. A lot of people doing this don’t see themselves as formal landlords, but as a host to a guest in their home (who happens to give them money every month), and that they should have access to the suite at all times, while the ‘guest’ has to follow whatever bizarre house rules they’ve come up with.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Oh man, the shared common spaces would feel so much like going back to college dorms for me! I think what made this experience especially frustrating is that over the course of about half a dozen phone calls, nobody could actually tell me what we owed for. They themselves couldn’t tell us what this was for, but we were expected to pay it without question?

        My most entertaining renter story stems from a crummy house I subleased in college. The foundation had shifted so much the front door couldn’t lock. In Minneapolis. This was especially bad because one of the “bedrooms” was actually the front porch. There was a random working toilet right in the middle of the basement floor (which I understand is pretty common in houses as old as that one) and the landlord’s daughter was using the home as her own personal storage unit. Every kitchen cupboard, every closet space, was packed with her belongings, her empty liquor bottles decorated the tops of the cupboards, and her piano took up the majority of our living room.

      2. Junior Dev*

        For a while I did the Wells Fargo bill pay service where they’d mail a check for you and so I didn’t control when it went out. If my check was one day late in the mail I’d get an eviction notice pinned to my door. Very stressful.

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      Years ago, living in London, a group of us rented a house that I ended up referring to as ‘the house that Jack built’ (used as a derisory term in describing a badly constructed building).

      It had been freshly ‘renovated’ prior to us moving in. Highlights included:

      – No drawers in the kitchen (somehow all four of us missed this at the viewing). We kept our cutlery in a cardboard box for the duration of our time there.
      – New carpet laid directly over holes in the floorboards.
      – The majority of the door hinges were only held on by one screw.
      – The holes in the doorframe where the sticky out metal bit of the handle/lock go had all been filled in so it was impossible to close doors properly.
      – The bathroom leaked so badly that we ended up with huge fungis mushrooms growing on the downstairs hall ceiling. The cowboy plumbers the landlord eventually sent tried to tell us it was because we hadn’t been using the bathmat correctly *rolls eyes*.
      – The landlord regularly defaulted on his mortgage payments and we were constantly getting letters letting us know that the bank was going to reposses the house (which we half hoped would happen because they would have had to get a court order to evict us and we wouldn’t have had to pay rent during the process).

      And that’s just the highlights reel.

    3. Goose*

      Landlord owned a six flat in Chicago, myself and roommates were on floor one. The landlord completely gutted the unit above us, which led to them, needing to run pipes, wires, etc. through our unit. We’d come home to them breaking into our bedroom walls to get to pipe. Wall was left open for weeks. One time the new hot water pipe burst and completed flooded the floor. Maintenance guy wouldn’t come until the next day and none of us had access to turn off the water. My bedroom radiator valve broke and sprayed everything with more boiling water, didn’t heat the room, and the hot water on freezing Chicago window pane broke the window. I had no heat and a broken window in December the landlord refused to fix.

      But that place had amazing original built ins so I lived there two years (most of that shit was year two, to be fair).

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Oh the water! That’s horrendous, water issues are some of the biggest headache. This same place took six weeks to fix our flooding basement last summer. It’s so affordable and otherwise a great place to live while we save for a down payment but oof

      2. Esmeralda*

        Ah, Chicago! The advantage to having our kitchen wall busted open for over two months (break in the hot water riser) was that the exterminator was able to spray INSIDE the walls several times. We had a blessedly bug free apt after that.

      3. Chicago Renter*

        Y’all need to read and apply the stuff in the renter’s and tenants ordinance in Chicago. Nice part about Chicago is of your landlord refuses to fix things like heat and mandated stuff, you can send an email/registered letter and then use up to your full payment of rent to pay to get something fixed. Same with infestations of bugs/vermin if they don’t do anything for x amount of time.

        Document and keep your paperwork, and they can’t legally do shit.

        Also, the city ordinances override any leasing agreement. If you have the time and pettiness, you can make those work for you.

    4. Might Be Spam*

      My last landlord is literally a used car salesman and runs his properties out of his used car lot office. He got mad at me for ignoring emails, because they were from the car sales business and I thought they were spam.

      He has the stereotypical behavior of a used car salesman, too. He refuses to do maintenance and repairs once you move in. The neighbors across the hall had a broken picture window from November through April. He put packing tape over the large crack. He didn’t renew their lease and didn’t fix the window until 2 weeks after they moved out. They were clean, friendly, and quiet, so I don’t know why they weren’t renewed.

      I had a hole develop in my ceiling and the overhead lights in the kitchen shorted out. That didn’t get fixed until after I moved out, 5 months later.

      Even if I die, my new lease still has to be paid in full for the entire term. (Is this normal?) Otherwise, I like my new place so much better.

      1. Texas*

        Even if I die, my new lease still has to be paid in full for the entire term

        My new place has that too!! If I die my landlord would come after my family for payment; the only way to break the lease early is to be in the military. Leases are so weird.

        1. Dont be a dork*

          Can they? I mean, they can submit the lease claim to your estate, but unless your family signed the lease as well how can they go after them?

        2. Tio*

          If you’re in the US, unless your family signed the lease as well, they can’t legally get anything from them. They can go after your estate, which is any money or assets you owned before death, but they have no right to get money from your family if they didn’t sign anything about it.

          Now they can do the dirty debt collector thing and SAY they can get the money from your family, and then if your family agrees because they don’t know better, they can – because once someone agrees to a debt it becomes theirs. But they don’t have a right to any money from them, no matter what they say, even if they try and bluff with threats of lawyers and court cases. It’s scare tactics. Tell your family they should not give in.

          (I mean, I’m hoping you don’t die and this isn’t a thing. But just in case)

          1. Dancing Otter*

            Even if they want to go after your estate, they have to file a legal claim with the probate court. (Assuming your estate goes to probate.) The last time I was an executor, only one creditor bothered, and that one was disallowed because they did something wrong (don’t know what, but I should argue??).

            But yes, it’s a common lease term in Illinois. Since my heir lives with me, I consider it an advantage; she won’t be out on the street until the end of the lease term.

    5. UKDancer*

      I rented a room when I had just graduated and was in my first job. I had very little money so was renting a room in this lady’s house. She was very religious and kept trying to drag me to church which was annoying. She also wouldn’t give me any space in the fridge for my food. She also had a really dodgy boyfriend who was wanted for something serious. One time they went to Barbados for a month and the police showed up 3 times during that period and were increasingly bad tempered when I wouldn’t let them search it without a search warrant.

      I lived there for 6 months and when I moved out to move to London she kept giving me cheques for my deposit which bounced. I had to send a legal letter to threaten to sue her to get the money back.

      After that I rented a very rickety attic flat in a Victorian conversion. It was not ideal and the roof leaked regularly but my landlord was a lot more normal and I didn’t have to share with anyone.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We lived for a brief time in a place we called The Pit. Over the eight months of our residency, the house sank unevenly to the point where large cracks developed in the ceiling, the walls in some rooms stopped meeting the floor, and we had to adjust the front door about every three weeks because the door and the jamb no longer aligned well enough to latch. The landlord’s solution to the sinking was to send a maintenance guy into the crawl space with a literal car jack. Additionally, there were no gutters, so rainfall dripped into one wall and froze, then come spring when it thawed, it all drained out into the house and I woke up to a flooded bedroom (where I hadn’t gotten a bed frame yet, so my mattress was just on the floor, and subsequently was ruined). There were also suspicious water spots growing on the ceilings. We of course advised the landlord (who didn’t give a damn about any of this and flat out told us it wasn’t their problem) that we would not be renewing the lease when they asked six months in advance.

      We subsequently found a craigslist ad listed to rent the house for a date of occupancy starting the day after our move-out, which indicated to us that they weren’t even planning a cursory cleaning, let alone fixing any of these issues. (It included the same pictures from the ad we had answered a year before.) They started bringing potential tenants in to see it (with no notice, which violated the lease) four months before our move-out date and giving very misleading tours. I managed to catch most of them without the landlord in earshot for a sec and was like “COME BACK WITHOUT HER AND I’LL TELL YOU THE TRUTH.” Most of them did, and I showed them all the stuff the landlord hadn’t and told them our experiences. (For those I didn’t get that message to, I just hoped they noticed the big sign we had in the kitchen that was a countdown of “DAYS UNTIL WE GET TO MOVE OUT OF THIS CRAP HOLE” :P )

      Annoyingly, the landlord was known by name as a frequent problem to the local housing commission. She owned and rented out a lot of houses that were literally too out of code to be legally habitable, but because they were all three blocks from the local college campus, students snapped them up and very rarely bothered to report anything, plus I didn’t get the impression that they were likely to do much about her anyway when I did report the house with a page-long list of ways it was violating housing codes. I do know she managed to move someone else into it within a week of us moving out, because my idiot then-housemate had several packages that were still sent over there after we moved and the new residents kept them all. (Like, they told him, we don’t know if we got your stuff, but if it came to us it’s ours now, and I have no idea if he ever followed up on that at all, but after that response we didn’t feel terribly inclined to give them the heads up on the shitty landlord :P )

    7. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Oh, if there’s a higher % concentration of capital D Drones on a power trip than in property management I’d love to hear it! (Not all property managers obviously, just seems freaking disproportionately high compared to other professions).

      I got an eviction threat once for missing rent. When I queried it, they said “actually, you’ve NEVER paid your rent in the 3 months you’ve been living in the property”. (In Australia, by law they’re supposed to kick you out within 2 weeks).

      Turns out junior PM drone had copied and pasted our details over another lease to save time but somehow missed the pretty darn important fields, like the bank account we were supposed to pay into. We were paying the wrong landlord and it took them 3 months to figure it out, and it was somehow all our fault?

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        YES!! Ours deposited our rent check for the month in question but forgot to note that in their little excel sheet. Rent increased by $50 since we’ve moved in, so that “missed” month ate through the recurring deposit and left us with $50 outstanding. Even after we sent them details for all the checks we’ve ever paid them over the past two years, they insisted we were short but couldn’t tell us how. Naturally no apology when we pointed out their error for them.

    8. fposte*

      Not me but grad school friend in West Philly. Landlord was hacking up the three-flat building, and to get to my friend’s top floor flat you had to edge around a hole on the staircase landing that opened up to two stories below. Then heat was cut off to just her flat. She shrugged and went on living there, since she got a fair bit of heat from units below, had very cuddly cats, and had still the ability to use the microwave and get hot showers.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This story isn’t that bad, but we rented a house for five years from a guy who was…. not very bright. We were great tenants, quiet, clean, paid on time, all that good stuff. Didn’t need a repair until year 3 or so, and our landlord was always sending over random guys whom he probably found at the Home Depot parking lot– didn’t show up, didn’t have supplies, all that fun stuff. “Oh, huh, sorry about that!” was all we would get. He also lost his keys to our house. Plus he forgot to forward his mail and would never come by to pick it up, so I devoted at least 10 minutes every weekend to marking all of his mail “please forward”. Again, not horrible, but very annoying.

      He decided to sell the house when we moved out. (There was another time he wanted to sell and his realtor drove us crazy, but that’s another story.) Our neighbors wanted to buy it. They asked us about maintenance and repairs and were kind of disgusted that this guy never bothered to fix things proactively or inspect regularly. They hired a home inspector who easily put a screwdriver through a window frame because the wood had rotted (it was an historic home). I told our landlord because we had a few months left on the lease– he never responded. We taped it and carried on.

      Our neighbors bought the house, fixed it up, and turned it into an AirBnB. We’re going back to town for a couple of weekends and we’re renting our old house. I’m excited to see what they’ve done with the place. I know they replaced the windows, at least.

        1. Generic+Name*

          I googled it, and it looks like my landlords sold it about 10 years ago, and it looks like it’s been restored and is owner occupied. Makes me very happy because it’s such a cool old house.

    10. Generic+Name*

      At the time it happened, I was really annoyed by it, but now i think it’s comically hilarious. For backdrop I lived in a historic Queen Anne-style huge 2 story home. It was an up/down duplex, but the units were connected through the front hallway. It was kind of an odd setup because the “permanent” separation between the two units was the landlord nailed some wooden doors shut that led to our downstairs unit from the front entrance. We entered through a small side entrance into our living room and the upstairs tenant used the actual front door. Looking back, it really wasn’t all that secure, and it was in a bad neighborhood, but we were on friendly terms with our upstairs neighbor. The house was fairly run down, and we were warned not to mess with the exterior siding, as it was transite tiles, which had asbestos. The land lord lived catty-corner from us, but fortunately weren’t up in our business too much. Their house was much smaller and I remember the landlord telling me that the rental was him and his wife’s “dream house” that they hoped to fix up and live in some day. That made me do a bit of a WTF because, as o said, the house was very run down, and when they had the opportunity to make any repairs, the repairs were very low effort with the cheapest materials possible and not at all in line with someone who was thinking of a property as someplace they’d want to live in. Well one day, my then husband walked into the bathroom and his foot went through the floor! We peered into the hole and we could see dirt. The house was built over a crawl space, so we were seeing the ground. He’s not a big guy (he probably weighed 160 at the time), so the floor would have to have been really rotted. We were about to go out of town for a few days and we were worried our cats would escape through the hole to the outdoors that we now had in the bathroom. Amazingly, the landlord fixed the floor while we were away and was able to perfectly match the mint green linoleum floor tiles. The cats, also amazingly, did not escape.

    11. Emotional support capybara*

      The current management at my apartment complex is great, but the previous company personally escorted the bar to the Earth’s core…

      – never in the office during their Saturday hours because they “had to show the property and that’s more important than dealing with people who already rent here”

      – didn’t actually hire anyone to work in the office, had an ever changing cast of temps who were frequently downright nasty to residents. One of them lost my rent payment and when shown the receipt with her own signature on it told me she didn’t lose it on purpose so I still had to pay a late fee because it wasn’t her fault (the actual manager, to her credit, stepped in on this one and shut that nonsense down). A few of them would go “well if it’s your fault you have to pay to fix it, can you afford that?” if you called with a non-emergency maintenance issue, and wouldn’t send anyone to fix stuff if you said no

      – threatened to fine me because they could see my curtains through the blinds

      – multiple instances of paying rent online in full and sometimes a week early, getting confirmation email, seeing money taken out of my account, and still coming home to a letter they swore was Totally Not An Eviction Notice but had “NOTICE TO VACATE” in big bold capslock at the top… because their payment processing service hadn’t given them the money yet.

      — after like six months in a row of this they quit using that payment service but didn’t get a new one so now you had to physically bring a check or money order to the office during business hours on a weekday… and the office closed from 11-1 for lunch

      Anyway the new company is much much better so I’m glad I stuck it out, but Gawd.

    12. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Two stories!
      1. Our complex was sold with little warning and we were informed over Thanksgiving Weekend that we had 30 days to leave and had to GTFO by Dec 27. No option to renew because they sold the building to a meat packing company vi a series of shell company acquisitions. Our old landlord tried to keep our deposit, waffles for four months saying it was I. the mail, then finally sent it in the full amount within a week of me sending him notice we were going to take him to court if he didn’t.

      2. At our current place I came home to a notice that if we didn’t get paperwork turned in for our ESA animals ASAP we owed $600 and/or might get evicted within the next three days. After three days of back and forth with the complex, who gave me contradictory information multiple times, I finally sent all copies of all the paper they could possibly need regarding our cats. I know for a fact we originally gave it all to them (including an original document because they refused to accept a photocopy) but they lost it.

      I hate renting.

    13. JKateM*

      I lived in an apartment for a few years in a complex mainly inhabited by students. specifically mainly less-privileged or international students. It was pretty bad. There was the time the lost my rent check and then tried to tell me I was late. I had definitely placed it in the box just like every other month. There was the time a bat (like the animal that often carries rabies) got in my apartment and I couldn’t even get a hold of the managers. I called animal control and they took care of it (no rabies fortunately) but the apartment complex never even bothered to follow up. There were the CONSTANT water leaks and subsequent laughable repair jobs. And the gap around the front door that snow came in through. And the month after I finally got out of there, the building across the courtyard from mine burned down due to a fault in the electrical boxes. I firmly believe the management just didn’t care because most residents didn’t stay long and/or didn’t have a lot of resources. Oh, and they withheld my security deposit without sending me a bill (which to my understanding is a requirement in my state). I didn’t do anything about it though because I was just too happy not to have to deal with them anymore.

    14. Junior Dev*

      My friend rented a room from his (former) friends who had all kinds of unsavory people come over, including a mother in law who sexually harassed him and some teenage cousins or step siblings (I don’t remember which) who’d literally pee on the floor and smear poop on the bathroom walls. For various reasons he couldn’t move for way too long and his landlords refused to stop having their unhinged family members come to visit.

  6. Yaz*

    Chores hack that has worked for my partner and me:
    We both find different things being messy distressing. I hate an overflowing trash can, unmade bed, and dirty bathroom. In contrast, he hates a messy kitchen, dirty fridge, and crummy floors. So now I do trash, laundry (including bed making), and bathrooms. And he does kitchen stuff (cooking AND cleaning), sweeping, vacuuming, and keeping our counters clean. Tension around chores is much lower since we specified. And the house is cleaner. Mostly just feeling proud, but maybe this idea could help others *shrug

    1. Yaz*

      I think before we had a frank discussion about this, our expectations were weirdly gendered (internalized misogyny eh?). I kept waiting for him to take out the trash and he kept waiting for me to enjoy cooking. Just wasn’t happening. Talking it through made it so much easier to understand and disrupt this pattern. Credit to AAM for always encouraging clear and honest communications.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yup, my husband and I have chores that he always does (downstairs vacuuming), chores that I always do (upstairs vacuuming) and a few tasks, such as cleaning the shower or bathroom countertops, that we do on alternate weeks. It means we spend much less time discussing who should do what.

      And one thing which working at home has made much easier – if I have the energy, I’ll do at least 90% of my housework on a Friday evening. That way, I have most of the weekend free.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        Working from home was godsend for the chores. I do most of the cleaning in the house (he does most of the cooking, yard work, house repairs, and we each do our own laundry). I can take 20 minutes out of my day to vacuum couple of rooms or start a load of laundry.
        I found that doing tasks broken down like this through the week really takes away the dreaded “now I have to spend 4 hours cleaning on Saturday”.

        1. Yaz*

          That’s interesting! I kind of like weekend cleaning lol. Irish coffee and a good audiobook are perfect sock folding conditions imo

    3. thewriterbean*

      My partner and I recently moved in together and we’re looking at chore division — I’ll have to mention this! Thanks for the suggestion!

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I think it’s definitely a good thing to do the jobs you most find satisfying to fix, so long as that ends up being equitable. Yours is a really good example; some people misuse the model to suggest “Oh, I don’t care about about anything”. Or “I only care about the flower arrangements, I’ll do that, you take care of the toilet bow.”

      1. academic fibro warrior*

        This is actually true sometimes. I’m big on doing a little bit at a time and big weekly cleaning. He on the other hand will only take the trash out if I make a stink about it even though he agreed that’s his job. Live in a very old poorly kept up place so in 3 days we have a layer of black dust on the floor that my shoes slide on. Even seeing me having fallen down from that, he assures me he’ll help ‘later.’ Later is, apparently, after we move out.

        We live in a place with no outside chores, but when he did he refused to mow the lawn until the city called (when the neighbor called to complain we hadn’t mowed…usually every 10 to 14 days even in the winter) and threatened to fine us. Then he outsourced that so…here I am with two jobs (one full one part time) and a dissertation and publishing to do, him with a part time job, and I’m doing all the housework. Apparently chores were completely gendered when he was growing up. His mother did it all (only woman in the house).

        If our marriage implodes it will because he refuses to do most things he doesn’t like unless I badger him into it, leaving me to do nearly everything else. He does cook most nights tho and washes dishes so we do have a good process in place to manage my eating disorder. I’d just really like not to have to shove 3 weeks of recycling and other trash out of the way to reach the coffee.

        I’m finally changing things up to lighten my load. I can’t be more invested in things than he is so….I don’t clean his office, wash his clothes, pay the extra costs for putting things off, take his books back to the library and so forth. He truly has no idea what all I do to run the household because he has never had to do it himself.

        There has to be a conversation and agreement and consequences built in. Or it will not work.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          I had a friend in a similar situation and she just moved out into a friend’s house and told her husband she would come back home for a dinner date when the house was clean. She stayed away until the house was reliably clean every time she visited, and felt that he now understood the work involved. She said it kept her blood pressure down to not be living in it while he was learning.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Specialization is efficient. The first few years we were married we tried to share or alternate bill paying and taxes; after a few years it was just much more efficient if I handled the bills (I am good at day-to-day organization) and he handled taxes (he has patience with long complicated forms).

      1. MeTwoToo*

        My husband and I had a similar set up early on. I handled the immediate day to day stuff: school events, doctor appts, daily homework and food, because I’m very detail/task oriented. He’s a planner. He handled most bills, taxes, college funds, 401k’s, vacation planning and car/house maintenance, etc. House ran more or less like clockwork and our son graduated his masters with no debt. Work with your strengths.

        On the other hand, he would rather eat off paper than wash dishes, so that’s mine. He does like to do laundry, so after The Incident I got a smaller hamper for things that aren’t machine wash/dry.

    6. WellRed*

      I have roommates and we have all been much happier since we instituted zone cleaning, rather than the “It’s your turn” method. Small change, big difference.

    7. mreasy*

      This is like what we do. I hate doing dishes so he just does the dishes all week (no dishwasher) and I clean the whole apartment every weekend. We do our laundry separately but I handle sheets and towels. I am not bothered by an unvacuumed floor anymore and he isn’t bothered by a sink fu of dirty dishes!

    8. Generic+Name*

      I think being open minded about how to divide chores is a great thing. My previous husband and I basically split everything down the middle and alternated chores. It worked because we both had the same ideas about cleanliness. When my husband moved in, I unthinkingly assumed we’d divide chores the same way, but that didn’t work very well. I like things cleaner than he does. Now, we’ve settled on a more stereotypical gendered division of labor. I deal with most of the cleaning, and he takes care of the outdoor stuff and all of the home repairs, major and minor. He’s saved us tend so thousands of dollars by rebuilding our deck and painting the interior of our house himself, for example.

      1. Jay*

        My husband does all the outdoor and home repair work. He enjoys it, he’s good at it, and it gives him a lot of alone time, which he needs. We have a housecleaner who comes weekly to do the floors and bathrooms and to give the kitchen a deeper clean than our usual after-dinner wipe. The weeks she doesn’t come, I do the kitchens and bathrooms. I do the laundry most of the time.

        We used to split cooking, shopping, and kitchen cleaning pretty much down the middle – and then we had a kid. That changed both the amount of work and the schedule. After a fair amount of negotiating, we settled on a routine where I picked the kid up and he got home before we did and started dinner. Since he was doing all the cooking, he started doing all the shopping and I did the dishes (eventually the kid took that over). 20+ years later, we’re still in that pattern even though the kid is grown and gone. I’ve started to cook a bit more since I retired in December and right now I’m taking a break during a Rosh Hashanah baking marathon.

        We recently bought a new vacuum, replacing an old, inefficient, and heavy canister model with a very light and maneuverable stick vacuum. Now I’m much more likely to pull the vacuum out on a random weekday rather than avert my eyes and wait for the cleaners and the house feels much cleaner. Wish we’d done that years ago.

    9. Constance Lloyd*

      We do something like this, too! We started by hon g through chores we each actually like (he loves folding laundry because he can watch tv, I love cleaning bathrooms because the end result is so satisfying). Then we divvied up the rest with the goal being that neither of us will be regularly doing something we hate, and we would have roughly the same amount of free time each week. Focusing on free time makes the most sense because our work schedules can be fairly different, and of course we fill in as needed if one of us is working late or sick.

    10. MaryLoo*

      Back in the day when I had 3 housemates, we figured out what needed to be done on a weekly basis (clean bathrooms, vacuum common areas take out trash,a few other things) each person had a week where they did everything on the list. That way you didn’t have to remember whether it was your week for the trash or the vacuuming. And we each got 3 weeks “off”.

      Now with my spouse, we divide by Who Hates it Less.

    11. Junior Dev*

      I have “mess blindness” (my brain just will not register if there is too much mess) and I’ve found it very effective to find the chores that need to be done daily and just do them. In my case that’s taking out the trash and unloading/loading the dishwasher. It helps make it less annoying to my roommate when there is something I didn’t notice and he has to clean up.

  7. Manders*

    I have crazy neighbors and I’m worried that they are going to retaliate against me for perceived slights (I’m on our condo board, they don’t like some decisions but blame me only). We have a common carport area and I’m looking for easy-to-install dashcams (he has a history of damaging cars when upset with the owner). Any suggestions would be appreciated, especially if they work at night/by motion.

      1. Manders*

        I could tell you stories for DAYS about them – I’ve lived next door to them for 14 years and they are, at best, difficult neighbors – but things have taken a turn for the worse lately and it’s really not great right now. And I’m very much conflict-averse and not happy with the current situation. AND I have a new-ish car which I would like to remain undamaged.

        1. StellaBella*

          Get a lockable car cover online and a wildlife trail cam

          Put the camera on wide angle setting and mount above car if possible and test range of sight so you can have visual coverage in full

          And get a sensitive car alarm

          Good luck so sorry these people suck

    1. Anono-me*

      Different idea, but what if the condo association installed security cameras (and probably better lights) in the common carport area? Everyone and their vehicle could be safer.

      Whatever camera you get, please make sure that it sends images to your account in real time; otherwise all a criminal has to do is take or destroy the camera.

      1. Manders*

        We are in the process of reviewing which types of cameras would be be best for our needs and where to mount them. I’m thinking of what I could go out and buy today/overnight on Amazon for this most recent need. If it helps, I get a decent WiFi signal in my car from my router.

        And these 2 (mom in her 70s, son in his 40s) make it clear that they own a gun and are not afraid to use it. They’ve showed it to me a couple of times.

        1. Juneybug*

          Is either one of them allowed to own a gun? For example, if Jr is a felon, no to his gun ownership (and in some cases, that goes for his living arrangements as well – no guns in the house). Or has a restraining order on file which would prevent him from having access to guns? If Jr is a gunsmith and threatens another with a gun, he can lose his gunsmith license.
          Call or visit your local police department and ask how you can research their status of gun ownership, felon or probation status, what advice they have, etc. Law enforcement personnel are (usually) very helpful.
          Be sure you are working with law enforcement, board members, and any insurance companies that support the HOA or board. Use this team of experts for your safety.
          So sorry you are going through this. Sending virtual hugs!!

          1. Manders*

            The police have been out here many, many times for them and their 14-year feud with a different neighbor. They know about it. I live in a VERY red state, lots of 2A protections. She hasn’t pointed it at anyone (that I know of), but she had it in her hand a few weeks ago and showed it to me, just so I understand that she has it.

            Truthfully I love my condo and do not want to move. They keep “threatening” to move but never follow through. It’s a bummer.

    2. Trawna*

      Camera: Amazon must have hundreds. In addition, if you are being harassed because you’re on the Board, the corporation can/should install it.

      If the cars he has damaged are on the condo property, and this is documented, why not bring an action against that unit? A sternly worded letter from a lawyer might cool his jets, and if not it’s great to have on file.

      In addition, you both have the right to not be harassed. Put that in writing to him, then go grey rock. If he gets no traction from you, he’ll get bored and look for his emotional jolt elsewhere.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Through a podcast I stumbled across the non-fiction Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker which is really entertaining about disasters, errors, and mistakes caused by math mistakes. He’s a very engaging writer.

      Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel. It’s a space opera (assassination, murder investigation, spies on a space station, on space ship, on colony planet) where every major character (the spy, PI, police commissioner, cybersecurity investigator, spaceship captain, etc.) is a 60ish woman. There are men, but they’re not the major players in this story by coincidence of their positions. Also queer friendly with bisexual main character, lesbian wives, and numerous non-binary characters who use the neopronouns ze/zir.

      It’s been called Golden Girls in space or meets The Expanse, but that’s misleading because golden girls is solely reference to the age and gender of the characters. There’s nothing else comedic or like the sit-com in the space opera. I think the problem is 60ish female characters are so non-existent that that’s the only other media anyone can think of.

    4. e271828*

      Vantrue has a couple you should look at. Be aware that not all camera systems run the rear camera in parking mode! If that’s the case, given your situation if parking with rear right up to a wall is possible, I’d do that.

      Cameras offering 360 coverage with one unit are using the interior lens—I think you need two cameras, one rear one front, with the front having an interior lens, for best security.

  8. Jackalope*

    Reading thread: what has everyone been reading this week? Also please share any recommendations or ask for refs if you want.

    I recently discovered that Lois McMaster Bujold’s new series of novellas has been released in print (not just ereader), and I’ve been reading some of those.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      Read “The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle” which is a lovely story of a British postman in his 60s who is forced into retirement and is confronted with his lonely predictable life and his past love, George. It touches on the struggles gay men had and what it’s like to come out as an older queer man and find love. So beautiful.

      Currently reading the third book in N.K. Jemisin’s Thousand Kingdoms trilogy. Love her fantasy worlds!

    2. AY*

      I was so saddened to hear of Hilary Mantel’s death today. Wolf Hall was a towering achievement, and I hope to read a few of her backlist soon.

      I’m reading An Immense World by Ed Yong, which delves into how other animals perceive the world. Too many interesting tidbits to name, but here’s one: humans tend to equate eye and head movement with intelligence and interest in one’s surroundings. We, of course, have to move our eyes and head to perceive our surroundings, but birds can see the whole horizon without moving their eyes (ditto cows, I believe). So what we might perceive in a cow as disinterest in the world around them is nothing of the kind! Fascinating and highly recommended for fans of pop science/nature writing.

      1. Lore*

        My favorite thing about Ed Yong is that he has a corgi named Typo (who you will see in the photo inserts). I worked on the book for the publisher and every time I had to review the inserts Typi made me happy all over again.

      2. Russian in Texas*

        If you liked Wolf Hall, have you read the books by Sharon Kay Pennman? They are not the same style of writing, but they are really good.
        The Plantagenet series.
        The big War of Roses book, centered on Richard III
        The Welsh princess trilogy
        The Crusader Kingdom book.

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

        Loved the *Wolf Hall* trilogy — seldom have I looked forward to forthcoming books as much as I did to the last two in the series after enjoying the first so much. I’m sorry that it was her poor health that made her feel like she had no choice but to become an author, but I also find her doing so very cool.

    3. Bluebell*

      Sarah Gailey’s newest, Just Like Home, is truly disturbing ; starts slow but is riveting by the end. I also just finished The Change by Kirsten Miller- really great, even though I saw one of the plot points coming from miles away. For fluffier reading, I read The Suite Spot by Trish Doller. Next up is The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno Garcia.

      1. UKDancer*

        I loved The Change but also saw one of the plot points coming. It was a really good book and gave me a lot of amusement to read.

        1. Bluebell*

          Am guessing it’s probably the same one. I think it could make a fantastic miniseries, but I’d shudder to see Nicole Kidman try to pull off Harriet (Laura Linney or Jane Lynch would be fantastic, and Taraji P Henson as Nessa. )

        2. Jackalope*

          Okay, I just read this last night and am now wondering which plot point you meant. (You don’t have to answer since it seems that others in the thread are reading this book too, but if you have a way to indicate it discreetly….?) I enjoyed it, although I’m still thinking it through now.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro- an author I fell in love with in my 20s but have faded away from in my 40s, picked it up from a 20p charity box and I’m in awe all over again at how she puts things into words that I’ve only felt l. It’s also surprisingly violent and full of graphic, disturbing sex, which you wouldn’t guess based on the twee cover. Canadians: watch out for the quiet ones.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      I just read Claire North’s new one, Ithaca. It is the story of Penelope dealing with the eighteen year absence not only of Odysseus, but essentially all the men. The narrative voice is that of Hera. The gods can and do intervene, in their own way and whey they happen to take an interest.

      I have been reading North since The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. This is, I think, her best (so far). The prose is delightful: witty and deeply cynical. I have seen the book described as “feminist” but I would go with “from the female perspective,” which is not quite the same thing: more observational of men than ideological.

      I know enough mythology to know in broad strokes how everything is going to end (including when Orestes and Elektra show up chasing after Clytemnestra) but there is enough slop in the source material (the Greek myths, it turns out, lacked careful considerations of continuity) that I didn’t know the specifics, and in any case the flow of the book easily caught me up, even if I knew where it was taking me. My only criticism is that the names of the secondary characters tend, to this Anglophone eye, look pretty similar, making it a bit hard to keep track of who is who. A lightly annotated character list would have been helpful. But this should in no way dissuade you, if you are at all interested in the material.

    6. Teapot Translator*

      I read A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan and am now reading The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore.

      I don’t know why, but when I read the description for the latter, I thought it would be funny, but I don’t think it’s going to be? I have a huge list of to-read books and I often forget why I added a book.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      The Bullet That Missed, the third Thursday Murder Club mystery. As lovely as the other two. The club investigate the decade-old disappearance of a journalist; Elizabeth deals with a cloaked attempt to manipulate her into an assassination. Osborn has a real gift for plotting, as new twists unfold organically.

      The Change by Miller, about three women who come into their super powers with menopause. About a third of the way through and really enjoying this.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I can’t wait to read The Bullet That Missed! It’s not yet on my local ebook library, but…SOON :D

    8. MuseumNerd*

      I’m reading The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb.

      Just finished The Devil in the Gallery, which is about shock, scandal, and rivalry in the art world. I enjoyed it but I work in an art museum, am an art history buff, and specifically read a lot about scandals and rivalries because I find them interesting, so my main complaint was that I already knew about the ones included in this book. But it would be a great introduction to the topic for someone who is looking for a basic overview.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Through a podcast I stumbled across the non-fiction Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker which is really entertaining about disasters, errors, and mistakes caused by math mistakes. He’s a very engaging writer.

      Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel. It’s a space opera (assassination, murder investigation, spies on a space station, on space ship, on colony planet) where every major character (the spy, PI, police commissioner, cybersecurity investigator, spaceship captain, etc.) is a 60ish woman. There are men, but they’re not the major players in this story by coincidence of their positions. Also queer friendly with bisexual main character, lesbian wives, and numerous non-binary characters who use the neopronouns ze/zir.

      It’s been called Golden Girls in space or meets The Expanse, but that’s misleading because golden girls is solely reference to the age and gender of the characters. There’s nothing else comedic or like the sit-com in the space opera. I think the problem is 60ish female characters are so non-existent that that’s the only other media anyone can think of.

      1. star*

        Just here to brag. Matt Parker is a friend and previous colleague of mine and I fact checked Humble Pi! (And his previous book “Things to make and do in the fourth dimension”. )

        Glad you enjoyed it!
        Any remaining errors are Matt’s own. :)

          1. LemonLyman*

            Thanks for the tip! These kids of books tend to be be better read than listened too but recently I’ve been preferring audiobooks.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        One reason I love the Thursday Murder Club series is Elizabeth Best casually being a total badass former spy in her late 70s.

    10. Russian in Texas*

      Someone here mentioned the Crown Colony mystery series set in the 1930s – 1940s Singapore by Ovidia Yu. I am highly enjoying the books. The main protagonist is a local Chinese girl (later young woman), the setting is unusual, to me at least.
      Do be ware, Amazon is confused on which is the first book in the series best for some reason they decided to switch the series name in the middle. The first book is called The Frangipani Tree Mystery.

      1. Jackalope*

        Me too! I’ve had it on preorder for MONTHS. She’s left both of the first two books on the worst cliffhangers, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

    11. No smart name ideas*

      2/3 of the way through Stephen King’s Fairy Tale. Gotta agree with NYTimes when they said “it’s the book that makes you fall in love with reading again”

      Normally I listen to most books (so I can commute, do chores, etc). Based on the review, I got the hard cover an am living the whole experience.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Several graphic novels and manga, including:

      X-Gender by Asuka Miyazaki, an autobiographical account of coping with gender identity, mixing some delightfully clear tutorials on gender, sexuality, periods, and more with the author’s own highs and lows. (It’s Banned Book Week and this one winds up on a lot of lists; I think it ought to be recommended rather than banned, and wish it had been around when I was a teen.)

      And lots of cats:

      A Man and His Cat by Umi Sakurai, a delightful, often touching series about a past-middle-age retired and widowed concert pianist, who adopted a cat on a whim. The story (which includes the cat’s viewpoint as well as the humans’) ranges from typical funny-cat-stuff to increasingly interesting relationships between the different musicians, mentors, students, rivals, etc.

      Cat+Gamer by Wataru Nadatani, in which a young woman whose life consists of intense effort at work followed by even more intense online-gaming, adopts a stray kitten and takes on cat-care with a “level up” mindset. Tons of adorable cat-stuff, including the moment of horror when the cat hits the power-off button before the woman’s saved her last quest!

      Creepy Cat by Cotton Valent, with a sort of “Addams Family” vibe, as a Goth-style girl moves into a big dark house and finds a white cat that’s sometimes Very Much Cat and sometimes Very Much Eldritch Monstrosity (but cuddly). This one’s made up of 4-panel strips, sometimes with several forming a mini-storyline, but with lots of standalone gags. There are glimpses of ghosts in the house – the cat can see them, the girl can’t (yet) – and other mysterious stuff going on; quite fun.

    13. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m making progress with the books I started over the summer.

      Real Estate by Deborah Levy: finished this week, and as with her other nonfiction books I’ve read, it left me in awe of the wisdom in her writing. Lots of food for thought on womanhood and making art.

      The Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbø: I’m usually a fan of the author, but his skill for intricate crime plots doesn’t translate well into short stories. One or two are well written (one is genuinely bone-chilling), but most all sound the same and resolve a little too neatly.

      Once I’m finished with this one, I’ll allow myself to start something new. There’s a third book on the go, but I’m not enjoying it at all and am considering dropping it altogether.

    14. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      “A Half-Built Garden,” by Ruthanna Emrys: a first-contact science fiction novel set a few decades in the future, among people who are dealing with and trying to mitigate climate change.

      The viewpoint character finds the alien spaceship because it’s her turn to check reports of nutrient overflow in a nearby stream; NASA turns up later.

    15. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I’ve been reading “What If? 2” by Randall Munroe, I forgot I had preordered it like last year and I was very excited when it arrived!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Stand on the other side from where the physics is happening” I advised my physics grad student, which she agrees is sound advice.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I’m reading “What If? 2” also, and thoroughly enjoying it, from the snarky little “citation needed” inserts to the in-depth science. And the questions – filling the solar system with *soup*???

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There was a bit at the end about how he loves questions from kids because they’re so sincere and straightforward. Questions from adults can get into showing off how much the adult knows as they try to put conditions on the thing, and a kid will be like “What would happen if you filled the solar system with soup?”

    16. Angstrom*

      “Next Level” by Stacy Sims — book on maintaining athletic performance through menopause and beyond.

      “Every Man Will Do His Duty” by Dean King — anthology of Nelson-era firsthand accounts of naval incidents.
      I just finished Cochrane’s account of the exploits of the Speedy, which was the inspiration for the first of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey/Maturin novels, “Master and Commander”. Fascinating on two levels: to see that many of the incidents in the novel actually happened, and to see the inventiveness of O’Brian in bringing these incidents to life with imagined dialogue and detail.

    17. Anono-me*

      TIL “that Lois McMaster Bujold’s new series of novellas has been released in print” so that is what I am reading next week.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Query: I haven’t read much of the Desdemona ones because of a scene early on recalling a magician who magically roofied her into having sex with him–or at least thought he did, but magic doesn’t work on demons, tee hee–and how incredibly attentive he was as a lover. A woman is perfectly willing to have sex with him, but he wants it to be by force, so she lets him believe it is, and it’s a fond and sexy memory for her–I really had a tough time getting past that. Does that sort of stuff come up more?

        1. Jackalope*

          Hmm. I’ve read the first three of what are apparently six novellas and I don’t think it has, so I think you’re safe?

        2. AsPerElaine*

          I’ve read them all, or all but the most recent, and I would say no, but I also don’t remember the scene you’re objecting to, so take that how you will.

        3. Silence*

          Not sure if I am thinking of the same event but I think both characters were spy’s and the magic roofie was for info / figuring out they were on the same side. The sex was after they established their aligences.

    18. Subtle Tuba*

      I recently made the same discovery about LMB’s novella series, and I have been enjoying them immensely! Apparently there’s also a new installment in the Sharing Knife series, which I have on my list for when time permits.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yes, I read that novella too, and enjoyed it. She finished up an open-ended thread that was left dangling, which I had low-key wondered about.

    19. Junior Dev*

      Reading the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, in the middle of the second book now (no spoilers please). It’s a really fun read and I like the care put into the magic system and the way religion plays into the story. I wish that there were more women characters and I think some of the grimdark aspects are sort of ridiculous.

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

      *It Can’t Happen Here* — Sinclair Lewis’s 1930s novel about the rise of a fascist government in the United States. So far, it is enjoyable but low-key terrifying and way too close to what is going on right now.

    21. acmx*

      I’m reading both “Remarkably Bright Creatuers” by Shelby van Pelt and “The Woman in the Library” by Sulari Gentill.

  9. Jackalope*

    I know there are other Critical Role fans who read this blog, and I was wondering how youall are doing and what you’re thinking with the way the campaign 3 story is going right now. Liking it? Tense? Disliking it? Be prepared that this thread is open to spoilers; I won’t put any in this post, but if you want to skip them then probably minimizing this thread would be a good idea.

    1. onebitcpu*

      I haven’t seen the most recent one yet, but my wife and I were wondering when/if there will be a resurrection.

      We are enjoying the story, and yes it’s just a ‘little’ tense.
      I can’t see them going into this without having had a discussion of how this would play out, and there is the possibility of Esteross being able to fix things so Laudna can continue.

      And I really want to see what Delilah will get up to.

      1. Jackalope*

        I enjoyed the most recent episode, but I was frustrated too. Most of the time I enjoy their narrative pace and appreciate the way that they fill in the episodes with their banter and with adventures, but this time I kept yelling inside my head, “Just bring her back already!!!” In particular, Matt had them roll for encounters every day they were on the airship, when I wanted the airship ride to be a “what with one thing and another, five days passed” sort of thing. (And one of the encounters they had could have resulted in everyone but Ashton dying….)

        Have you listened to campaign 1? I just started with CR this year and I’m up to date on C3, have finished C1, and am just under 1/4 of the way through C2. I ask because Orym did get in touch with Keyleth at the end of the episode and they got to meet her. Which made me super excited, but we’ll see what happens next.

    2. brjeau*

      (spoilers up to episode 34) I haven’t watched the latest yet (I watch the youtube VODs) but I’m both excited and nervous to see where it goes! I started catching up on campaign 2 when they were already a year in so in a weird way I’m finding it kinda cool to be experiencing the fallout of a PC death in real time? At the same time the last 2 weeks were really hard to watch! I haven’t cried that hard in a long time and it was so damn stressful (although it would’ve been even worse if Sam had rolled any lower on That roll.) I’m trying not to have any expectations about how it will pan out and trust the players so I don’t get too attached to any single outcome that might not happen.

      Before the most recent Major Event, I feel like this arc has been where I’ve started to feel more connected to the PCs, even though I’ve enjoyed them from the jump. Which I think is largely a time thing, it takes awhile to properly get to know characters in this format. As excited as I am about finally getting the moon lore that’s been slow-burning since like mid-campaign 2 (and even just hearing the phrase “apogee solstice” again) I’m also feeling a little overwhelmed by all of it coming together so fast!

      1. Jackalope*

        Yeah, the past four or five episodes have been where it feels to me like things are really coming together in terms of knowing the characters and feeling connected to them. Which I’m enjoying a lot.

        (And I hear you on the stress around That roll by Sam. I so so wish that Marisha had made her death save! Or that she hadn’t been the one who went next, so that someone could have poured a potion down her gullet! But at least it’s only one down and not all three still.)

  10. ThatGirl*

    Why are jeans so hard. All I want is dark wash straight leg or skinny jeans that have a little stretch but fit nicely. I normally wear a 16. Old Navy and Denizen, which have served me well before, didn’t fit. Lane Bryant and Torrid were both very stretchy and loose in the waist. What gives.

    1. Rosyglasses*

      Yes I am in the same boat!! I’m willing to spend major coin but keep striking out. I’m a 16 but not a Lane Bryant 16 (they tend to be way too baggy for my stomach and thighs).

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        if you’re a regular 16, you have to get a size down in the plus size places like Lane Bryant, Roaman’s, and Woman Within (and probably others). The plus size 16 is the same as the old 16 1/2 from decades ago, which was pretty much an 18.

          1. Juneybug*

            That is the reason I can’t shop at Forever 21 – their sizing is terrible! I am a size large in one shirt and then small in another top. I don’t have time to try on tons of clothes because your sizing is not even close from one item to another.

      2. Cookie*

        Try Chicos. I know their sizing is weird, but go by their sizing chart and maybe order two sizes (or try on if there’s a store near you). A number of my friends swear by their jeans, and we’re not even old ladies, haha.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Every time that happens to me, I tell myself I don’t actually want women’s jeans to be standardized, because then they would be standardized to fit somebody who wasn’t me and would NEVER fit, instead of mostly not fitting.

      Still frustrating.

    3. Sorry*

      I am currently wearing Lee jeans size 20. They are the either Total Freedom or Flex motion. The fit nicely, nothing too tight and nothing too loose.

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

        I’m a big fan of Lee jeans for a good fit too. Also, Gloria Vanderbilts.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Jeans are the worst. The only ones I’ve found in the past couple years that I liked were Lane Bryant skinny jeans and they’re just ehhh. I got a great pair from Maurice’s when I was around a size 12-16 range but I haven’t tried there since I entered plus sizes and I feel like their quality in other items has gone downhill so idk

    5. Gyne*

      Democracy work for me. they have a LITTLE bit of stretch, and thigh-hip-waist ratio that fits well on slightly pear-shaped me. I historically struggled with Jean fit in what sounds like a similar way to you – way too loose in the waist – and I have 3 different pairs of Democracy jeans I purchased at Nordstrom Rack that all fit great AND are comfortable.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        Came to say exactly this. I have several pairs of Democracy jeans and they fit perfectly with no gap at the waist. Very comfortable. Highly recommend.

      2. BookMom*

        Agreed. Democracy is great and also Kut from the Kloth. It’s a little more than I’d like to pay but if they actually fit, it’s worth it.

      3. Ann O’Nemity*

        I’m a fan of Democracy too but find them a little short for tall women. The skinny ones are fine because they end up looking like ankle jeans, but the straight pair were unstylish high waters.

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

      My best fitting, straight legged, dark color jeans have been men’s Levi’s (I’m a woman), but they tend not to have any stretch which works for me. I wish women’s pants were sized like men’s…waist and inseam measurements. Once I figured those numbers out, I hardly need to try it on.

    7. Data Science Dinosaur*

      My favorite jeans are from Kohls. They are Gloria Vanderbilt brand and the specific ones I like are called ‘Amanda’.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I found Amanda jeans at BJ’s for $17 a pair a couple years ago. I’m sorry I only bought 2! they’re comfortable and have held up well.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I have worn GV jeans before, maybe I’ll have to go back and try them again. I am just so annoyed at the inconsistency and my patience is thin.

      3. ElizaC*

        Agreed! I found the Amanda jeans in gray on sale at Costco (I think it was something like 6 or 8 dollars) and bought a ton of them! They fit me perfectly!

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

        YES! Love ’em! No matter how zaftig I am, they make me feel like a million bucks.

    8. Saddesklunch*

      I have a pair of black jeans from Universal Standard that I really like (I’m a size 14-16). I’ve also had good luck with skinny jeans from American Eagle in the past.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Universal Standard jeans are AWESOME! They are expensive, but go on sale fairly regularly. They have pictures of models in all the sizes which is so helpful.

    9. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I get someone to tailor my jeans waists, usually a local drycleaner will do it for £20.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        There used to be a jean shop in my city which tailored and hemmed the jeans for you in the store in a flash. This was when you could still get proper Wrangler Lucy’s, the only jeans to ever fit me in both waist and hip, and the in-store hemming service sorted out the length. I still don’t understand how they went under! It should have become a venerable institution, and they were always packed with shoppers. Still, they were called “Bankrupt” and maybe there is more in a name than Shakespeare allowed.

    10. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I have 3 pairs of Ariat Real Icon jeans, in both straight leg and boot cut. They have darts at the hip to take up some of the sag in the seat (I have wide hips but no booty whatsoever). They aren’t too stretchy, are made of substantial denim, and the darker wash is holding well over a year and a half later.

      I also like that the side-back belt loops are angled a bit, because I can snap my work badge reel to the loop and stick my badge in my back pocket more easily.

    11. mreasy*

      Jeans are so difficult always. I found out that I like a specific American Eagle that they don’t make anymore, so I buy in Poshmark. My problem is my butt & thighs are like 15% bigger than they expect for my waist, so my jeans don’t want to stay up. Higher waists help but not entirely. If you have a pair you like from prior years, see if you can find them on a site like Posh (bonus, they will be less expensive) so you have some you know will fit.

      1. Slightly Above Average Bear*

        Same. You’d think I won Powerball when I find an old style in my size at a thrift store!
        I was going to say American Eagle because they have a wide range of styles and sizes. Each time their styles change, I do go through a marathon “trying on” to see which ones fit like the last favorite that they no longer make.
        For OP the AE 90’s Skinny may be the fit you’re looking for.

    12. Anon5775*

      Duluth Trading jeans are my current faves. a little stretch, no wild jewels or rips or faded colors. just nice, standard jeans with pockets for days!!!

      1. EngineerGradStudent*

        Seconding this! They are good and standard and actually functional! As a plus sized women, it is so hard to find the rise and tailoring for different body shapes and I feel like Duluth has really nailed it! And they last forever.

    13. Girasol*

      Are you trying them all on? I fit men’s jeans, sized by inches, which everyone says makes for a more dependable fit. But the fit between different pairs that are marked the same size varies remarkably. It’s a quality control thing: they can’t be perfect so there’s a range of nearly 2 inches difference each way that’s acceptable by quality control for men’s jeans. (The acceptable range is actually spelled out on some of the tags.) I’ll take a whole stack of my size into the fitting room. One pair the thighs are way too tight, the next the waist is so baggy I can pull it way out like a weight loss commercial, and the next fits perfectly. Women’s jeans are probably sewn in the same factories with the same allowable variances. Is some of the problem with fitting them just the quality control variance and the next pair might fit fine?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I honestly don’t have the patience to try 6 pairs of jeans on in the same size just in case, and it’s generally not a matter of an inch or two. They’re all just all over the place.

      2. Random Biter*

        I had a friend whose sister worked in the clothing industry. She told me that very often if a store put in an order for a large quantity of a certain size of jeans and the manufacturer didn’t have enough of that size to fill the order, the manufacturer would sew in a size label in the next larger size for the ordered size. And seeing the discrepancy in the exact same size jeans makes me a believer.

    14. Wink the Book*

      Try Gap. If ON has changed their cuts, Gap usually has too, and they tend to swap cuts that work. I’d also recommend J. Jill and Eddie Bauer. Both have some solid stuff if it works for you. And New York & Co has some decent stuff.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        Old Navy altered their sizes for their Bod Equality promise last year and it’s all cockeyed now. I’m a 12-16 in plus sizes and I can wear a medium in a lot of their stuff. For years I was a solid L.

        1. Wink the Book*

          Yeah, every 6-7 years ON changes cuts and it is such a pain. I used to be a huge fan of their mens’ jeans and then everyone started putting stretch into everything and nothing fits. Hell, 2008-12 was the heaven of jeans production because, for the most part, brands only put in ~2% spandex; stretchy enough to make skinny jeans tight, but not fall off your butt by 3pm.

    15. EJ*

      I have had various pricey jeans but I will be honest the ones I wear over and over for comfort are from Walmart! Just my size jeans

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

      Last month I realized my current pair of jeans is getting thinner in the thighs and crotch area (the cursw of being curvy and overweight). I googled and the usual places where I buy have their prices through the roof (and less units of my size), so I went to a different part of town to shop/hunt. I tried FIVE jeans of the same size and brand and out of those only ONE fitted. I paid half the price of my favorite brand (and a third of a Levi’s), but I almost had a nervous breakdown after trying out so many.

        1. mreasy*

          Every pair of jeans from time immemorial has gotten the same hole in my right upper inner thigh! They wear like shoes.

        2. eeeek*

          Ditto. I picked up a tip on a sewing blog about reinforcing the thigh area with fusible woven interfacing. Basically, you add another layer of thin, sturdy fabric by ironing it on *inside* the area that wears first. I have had a pair of regularly worn weekend jeans for 10 years thanks to this way of extending their life. (I also mend worn spots when they start to show, before they rip beyond repair…)

    17. SaltedChocolateChip*

      I love my Target (Universal Thread) jeggings! The ones I have now aren’t as skinny at the ankle as I would like but they look like regular jeans but have the nice stretch. Mine are medium wash but they have dark wash, as well as different rises and lengths and some different cuts. Plus Target so not that expensive. They do wear out over time due to the stretchiness but with a belt they will work for a couple years, at least for me.

    18. Voluptuousfire*

      What style of jeans did you try in Torrid? I’d gather you tried the boyfriend style, I’d they’re mid rise. Try the bombshell style. They have a higher, fitted waist and have slight compression so they don’t lose shape.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I did get the boyfriend, yes. I will see if I can find a pair of bombshell to try on. These are so loose in the waist I can just about pull them off without unzipping.

        1. Voluptuousfire*

          Yep, that explains it! I tried the boyfriend style and they were awful for me. They’re mid rise, so that make sense. Try the bombshell straight jeans. I wore them out on Saturday for 8 hours or so and they were perfect. Loosened up a little with wear but did not lose their shape. I’m roughly a 14-16ish but tend to size down at Torrid so I wear a 00/0 in tops and anywhere from a size 00-1 in pants.

    19. Jean*

      Try Arula! It’s a very weird mall brand trying really hard to be Anthropologie, but all of my favorite jeans are from there. Their jeans are so unique – they’re very very stretchy but they don’t have the thin/scratchy/low quality feel most super stretchy jeans do. They’re soft and structured and somehow don’t stretch out too badly. My size fluctuates a lot and I have weird waist/hip/thigh ratio so finding jeans that fit (and don’t need to be put into storage if I gain ten pounds) used to be a struggle.

      It’s way easier to find jeans that fit your waist, hips, and thighs and then have a tailor alter the leg width (super cheap, easy change. Bring in your favorite width jeans and they’ll be perfect every time.) then it is trying to find the perfect level of skinny/straight and something that fits, or tailoring a waist that isn’t right.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right now, finding a new pair of jeans that fits my waist, hips and thighs is my greatest challenge! Even though I’m perfectly average. But I got some ideas here, thanks all.

    20. Little Miss Sunshine*

      Levis Signature Stretch from WalMart have been the best fitting jeans I have had in years. I never cared much for Lane Bryant’s fit, and often wore Avenue jeans, which also run a little big. Good luck!

  11. Nothing left to sell*

    Clothes recommendations? I need a choir dress. Black, ankle-length, at least 1/4 sleeves. I’m having trouble finding something satisfactory, partly because I don’t know where to look. I’m trying to avoid Amazon, if possible.

    1. Squidhead*

      Everyone here recommends eShakti. I just searched for “black maxi dress” there and came up with lots of options. Many styles allow you to customize the sleeves, so even it it’s shown sleeveless you might have more options!

      I never wear dresses and now I am intrigued!

      1. Alex*

        Thirding eshakti especially for something like this. You can specify exactly how long, what kind of sleeves, neckline, etc., and they have a lot of options. One of my absolute favorite dresses of all time is eshakti, and it is a a long black dress!

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

      I feel like if you need a real basic that’s pretty high quality, Coldwater Creek is a good brand. They have what I think of as therapist clothes, nothing too fitted, lots of solid color coordinates. I searched for “black dress” on their site & a bunch popped up.

    3. mreasy*

      I’ve had good luck w ASOS & Boden for longer dresses. Lands End or LL Bean may be good options too. Also you can search black maxi for your sizes on Poshmark or other sites and you won’t be limited to this season.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Many stores that sell bulk choir dresses will sell a single. ConcertAttire dot com, Southeastern Apparel, Formal Fashions, Stage Accents– all online. Google “choir dresses” and you’ll find decent options.

    5. Sopranistin*

      Thinking outside the box – Does it need to be a dress? My choir outfit was a long sleeve blouse tucked into high waisted skirt. I’ve also done a maxi dress plus a cardigan.

    6. Anono-me*

      I like Soft Surroundings and Soft Surroundings Outlet for dresses and they often have long dresses. They are online and also have some brick and mortar stores.
      FYI items start out kind of pricey, but they do have good sales, especially once you have purchased from them.

  12. Princex Of Hyrule*

    How do people find activities and hobby groups? Usually I would go to the library and sign up for a class, but events are still mainly being held remotely. I’m trying to find friends more than I’m trying to learn a skill, and remote events don’t have the natural opportunity for socializing before and after an in-person event does.

      1. Princex Of Hyrule*

        My honest question is: How?
        I already have some hobbies I enjoy: cooking, hiking, writing. They’re fun and I like to do them, but I haven’t been been able to bridge the gap from “writing alone at my desk” to “having writer friends” or “hiking in the woods” to “having hiker friends.” (And honestly, I don’t want to go hiking with other people; that’s me time.) I can’t think of any other hobbies that would get me friends in and of themselves; I have to figure out where and how to find people first, somehow.

        1. Sundae funday*

          My local Meetups are back in person. I also have found groups through Facebook by joining local pages, like “[name of town] news”. Have you looked into Civic groups like Lion’s Club, Kiwanis, Junior League, etc?

        2. anonagain*

          Would you be interested in writing groups? I have a friend who has found lots of connections through writing groups. I used to go to “shut up and write” for productivity reasons, but the people were nice too.

          1. A Writer*

            Or if an ongoing writers group seems like too much of a commitment, there’s also writing retreats and writing conferences where you could presumably find like-minded people, many of whom could be looking for beta readers or accountability buddies etc.

        3. Dragonfly7*

          My two closest local coffee shops have started hosting events in the evenings on the weekend. One has a game night, comedy, and regular music. The other has a monthly book club, plant swap, writing group, and even held a witchy-themed book swap last month.
          I also need to meet more people but am always so tired that I end up not wanting to go. :(

        4. JSPA*

          Some of the dating sites allow non-sex, non-romantic friend dates; “looking to form a small group to share a materials order and weekend sessions for beginner basketweaving” (or whatever)? In general, given youtube and Nebula and Skillshare exist, “does anyone want to join me in learning X from the internet” is all it takes to have a group.

        5. Knitters unite*

          Gotcha Hyrule! I don’t know where you live, but I’ll tell you my experience. I have so many writer friends! I don’t really write, but I love books and I love hearing authors talk about writing…

          I’m an enthusiastic volunteer and so I started volunteering at the local book festival, which led me to a local writing festival, where you volunteered too. Twitter is great for chatting with locals about writing as well!

          A great thing is a writing workshop where you can share your WIPs and get/give feedback… sometimes they’re online.

          Do check out meetup too!

          I wish you good luck. I know it can be hard to meet new people. Volunteering and knitting and now cycling have been a passport for me.

    1. Might Be Spam*

      Try doing an online search for your hobby or interest in your area.
      I got into folk dancing by googling “folk dance near me.” That got me to the first group. Members of that group led me to other opportunities, including billiards and historical reenactments and introduced me to new friends outside my demographics.

    2. talos*

      Personally, I’m a big fan of finding board game groups on meetup. A lot of groups have a set time/location that they meet at every week, often meet at a restaurant/bar so there’s *something* to do if you turn out to not like people/what they’re playing, and are generally willing to teach (as it’s uncommon that everyone at the table will be familiar with *any* given game).

      From there you can just be a regular, and/or you can try and organize a few people you’ve liked from the group to meet at someone’s home and play different games.

      If you don’t like board games, I suspect there’s a lot of similar groups on meetup for other hobbies as well.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      A lot of local hobby groups also use Eventbrite for sign-ups. You can search for events near you by topic and go from there.

    4. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      It’s awful but Facebook is still good for this one thing, as is local news sources. Eventbrite is another place to check out. I feel for you, was in a similar situation a few years back, ended up volunteering at a local radio station and made awesome friends.

    5. Redhaired runner*

      My running club has a walking group, if you are already into hiking that would be a great way to meet people and have some social time.

      1. A Writer*

        Yeah I’ve done a hiking/camping meetup and that was a good way to meet people (caveat I wouldn’t personally go camping with folks I don’t know, YMMV). I know OP says she likes hiking alone but it can sometimes be interesting way to mix it up, go new places and not have to arrange the transportation yourself, etc.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Perhaps add volunteer work to your mix? In smaller communities once you get known for volunteering, the opportunities never stop. ha.

    7. PsychNurse*

      I am amazed that your town is still holding their events remotely. I’m in an area that was extremely conservative Covid-wise (Connecticut) but everything has been back to in-person for months now in my town!

      Anyway, that was a side bar, but I agree with Facebook groups and Meetups. Also, even if you’re not religious, you could look at houses of worship in your town. Several churches around here have knitting groups, hiking events, etc. Even if it is a one-time event, you might find someone you hit it off with. My advice in that situation is to be bold. If you have a nice chat with someone, you have to be kind of vulnerable and say “I’m really trying to get more social after a long pandemic. Would it be okay if I texted you next time I’m going [hiking] to see if you want to join me?” It’s hard to make friends as an adult, and you really have to look at it like dating. Like, you definitely might get shot down or ghosted but you just have to sort of roll with that.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I agree. We’re back in person.

        One of my meet-up groups is still online. The group owner changed during COVID, and I think this new owner is just going keep finding online events and inviting us to them (rather than having local events with a local speaker which I understand is harder). I don’t even bother to look at the topic. I’m not interested in an online meetup.

        Meetup, Facebook events (follow organizations, museums, groups, bars/brewpub) in your area including the library) should offer options for in person meetings. Just got to find one that interests you.

    8. Yaz*

      Volunteer maybe? My friend just volunteered to paint scenery at her local theatre, and I understand she met some really cool folks!

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

      Do you have a community college near you that offers non-degree students access to classes? They might have hobby type classes like ceramics, watercolor, cooking, horticulture, etc.

      Another thought is to join a local Society… historical society, conservation or urban renewal society, arboretum or botanic garden society, etc. While some of them need actual volunteers (eg. run a booth or clean up trails), IME they also have member events like open houses, plant shows, garden parties or tour groups.

    10. Fellow Traveller*

      I met a good friend through a hiking activity set up by our county’s parks and rec department. They have monthly hikes and this one lady seemed to be at all the ones I went to, so one day I asked if she wanted to grab lunch after a hike and we’ve become pretty good friends.
      I’ve also done the same with a yoga class I took, though the friendships didn’t stick liek the hiking one did.

    11. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I have a similar issue. I want to go out and do things and meet people, but most of the Meetup type things are all online. I HATE Zoom.

    12. marvin*

      I’d recommend something like an intro sewing or pottery class, if that kind of thing interests you at all. Those can’t be done remotely because of the equipment needs. They tend to be good places to meet people because there is usually a fair amount of unstructured time to work on projects and you can all bond over how hard pottery is, haha. The kind of person who is up for learning a new skill as an adult is usually also pretty open to meeting new people, I find.

    13. Marion Ravenwood*

      Meetup! It isn’t perhaps quite as good as it was maybe two or three years ago, and you may have to try a few different groups before you find people you click with, but there are loads of different groups on there (both remote and in-person) so it’s still worth giving it a go.

      Or, if you’re on Reddit, I’d have a look to see if there’s a socialising sub for your city/area, or just people posting about fun stuff to do in the city/area sub itself.

    14. meow*

      I’m late to this, but if you live in a metro area, I recommend following a few breweries on social media. They are quite often doing game nights, trivia nights, art nights, etc. that may interest you, whether you are interested in drinks or not!

  13. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    A friend was so helpful to get me jump rings so that I could have my fandom-indulgent zipper pulls. (It’s a character’s earring design that I hooked onto a carabiner keychain.) THEY’RE SO PRETTY!!

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. thewriterbean*

      A few joys:
      1. A recent health diagnosis has actually turned a bit of a corner in terms of management and I’m SO relieved.
      2. I’ve been working on a newish hobby of mine — new adjacent, anyway. I sew and this is basically taking it back to allllll by hand. And it’s so much fun! I love it and am actually loving it more than machining.
      3. Last week, I asked for advice about my grandparents’ dog coming to live with me, and she is adjusting SO well. I can actually hear her and my partner outside doing zoomies together, and it’s so lovely and heartwarming to hear how happy she is.

      1. Four of ten*

        What kind of hand sewing are you doing? I’m an avid quilter and looove hand sewing. Among other current activities, I make Siddi type quilts. All by hand. Starting at the outside edges. Love it.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      I bought a beautiful pair of beeswax candles for Rosh Hashanah. They smell so lovely and look so pretty!

    3. UKDancer*

      Having worked through the summer so my staff could have holidays with their children, I took a few days off for a staycation. It was blissful having a bit of a break to indulge myself and do exactly what I wanted.

      I’ve also now booked my winter holiday to Tenerife for January. I used to have a winter holiday to get some sun each January but haven’t managed one since before the pandemic due to pandemic related reasons. I had some vouchers from a cancelled holiday so I used it to get a really good deal. January is always so depressing so it’s lovely to escape for a week.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      At my grocery store we have hit the season of single-type ciders, e.g. all Honeycrisp or all Gala.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m about halfway through crocheting an afghan by reading a pattern! Although I’ve been crocheting since I was a child, I had never learned to read patterns. It feels like a whole new world has opened up!

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

      After years of using various janky secondhand sewing machines, I finally went out and bought a new one for myself. It’s the least fancy one I could find that still had good reviews, but it runs so smooth and fast and actually has all the pieces, and I’m just so happy.

      1. A Becky*

        Ooh, which one? I have a beautiful old Singer that’s so smooth, but has no motor, backstitch or zigzag and I ain’t doing a second quilt on it (haha) so I’m in the market for a young reliable.

    7. WellRed*

      Saw Stevie Nicks in concert. She’s my favorite and hasn’t played Maine in more than 30 years. Charming, funny and warm. The music wasn’t too bad, either ; ) Gold Dust Woman simply f’n rocked.

      1. allathian*

        We saw Sting in concert. The gig was originally scheduled for March, for our 13th wedding anniversary in fact, but it got postponed by 6 months. Our son stayed with his grandparents for the night and we got a great date.

    8. Andy Dufresne's Secret Admirer*

      After a year of delays (darn panini supply chain issues) they have starting digging the foundation for my retirement house.
      Finally some progress I can SEE!

    9. GoryDetails*

      Typical New England Weather joys – a nice change, as this summer was not typical at all, with most days in the 90s. Anyway, on Thursday we had torrential rainstorms with thunder, wildly atmospheric, and I settled in with hot tea – and with two cats on my lap at the same time, something they don’t usually do.

      Then on Friday the weather turned clear and sparkling, perfect New England autumn – a light breeze, even the first touches of fall color on some of the trees. Went strolling with a friend through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord MA, from “Authors’ Ridge” (which hosts the Alcotts, Hawthornes, Thoreaus, and Emersons, as well as the author of the “Five Little Peppers” series) to the more modern section – really lovely day.

    10. Girasol*

      Biking on the riverside bike trail on a warm afternoon. Warm cottonwoods smell so good! Lots of birds, a few autumn wildflowers, just a few leaves turning so far. An ice cream sandwich afterward to celebrate.

      1. Girasol*

        Hi Four of Ten: I was on the Boise Greenbelt, and its extension in Garden City. It’s not huge but a nice day ride.

    11. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      There was just enough of a break in the rain Thursday for me to eat lunch sitting outside.

      While I was eating, it started to rain again, and the building wall and restaurant awning kept me dry, with rain falling a couple of feet to my left.

    12. the cat's ass*

      I groomed all three of my cats who are shedding SO much, and I’m not bleeding to death and i still have all of my digits!

      Things are simmering down at the Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends.

      DD is submitting a BIG project to school and it’s a corker.

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

      I have gotten over a lifelong fear of power tools, bought an impact driver and some bits (must be impact-rated, can’t use any old drill and driver bits, who knew), and have been fixing all manner of minor annoyances in our new rental.

      I’m surprised by how much joy I get from successful minor wieldings of this tool. I professionally bring order out of chaos and doing so at home is enabling and satisfying

    14. Four of ten*

      Had a nice ride on my Terra Trike (recumbent bicycle). I see things so differently than when driving. Will be fun to see how things change during fall.

    15. Voluptuousfire*

      Stops at my cousin’s house to see her girls and to give them their birthday presents. The oldest is almost 9 (!) and and answered the door and saw me and her face lit up and I got a massive hug. That made my year! I also got to meet her little sister for the first time. She’s incredibly cute and a little chonkster.

    16. Might Be Spam*

      I got to kittysit my grandkitties this week. My daughter treated me like a teenager and stocked up on junk food and soda and gave me access to all of her streaming services. I spent the week cuddling kitties and watching the Murdoch Mysteries on Hulu.
      My friends want to “help” the next time I kittysit, but I’m pretty sure she would institute a “no friends over” rule. Lol

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

        OMG, this sounds like heaven! You and your daughter and the kitties are warming my heart.

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

      Dentist said my teeth look good and that one iffy tooth we were watching had actually *improved* since the last x-ray.

      Got started cleaning off the kitchen table from heck so that I can actually use that space to do my very belated taxes.

  14. Valentine*

    I’m having a hard time just getting started on exercising and learning music. I know the hard part is just getting started. How do I get over that part? Do I just prepare the materials for both, slowly get into it, and then begin? I can’t bring myself to do these tasks and I don’t know why. Maybe I should figure out why first. Hmmm.

    1. Rosie*

      Are you learning an instrument? I teach piano and I think it’s important for my students at all levels to have at least one piece they can play well and enjoy, as well as stretch pieces. Even from the first lesson they’re stoked to spend the week playing Hot Cross Buns :) do you have anything you can play and just enjoy?

      1. Valentine*

        Yes. I’m learning the violin.

        Yes, I have video game music that I enjoy playing. I don’t want to give up playing. But I just can’t bring myself to practice playing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Some stuff I do right when I get up in the morning. I know if I let it go, by the end of the day it will not get done.

          I can say though, that once we skip a day, it becomes easier and easier to skip more days. Think about things you have to do, let’s pick something mundane like washing hair. I know I can let that go one day but after that, I go into a mindset, “Nope, can’t skip another day. The hair does not look good. Must wash.” Find parallels in your life where you DO get yourself to do something and see if you can carry that over to your violin. I might go with, “Jeepers I put money into the violin and [whatever accessories] I should work with it OR I should just sell it and move on. Because what I am doing now is almost torture.”

        2. Cormorannt*

          Trying different times of day to find what works best can help. I started cello lessons about a year and a half ago. I used to practice after dinner, but often I’d be too tired and skip it. Now I practice before dinner. Also, I try to practice 30 minutes a day, but I give myself permission to stop as soon as I like as long as I get everything out and tune the cello. I do that for running, too. As long as I get dressed and out the door, I can quit ten feet from my house if I want to.

        3. Pippa K*

          I’ve found it helpful to think of it as playing, not practicing. Practice is a chore, a thing you do before “real” playing, but I’m not ever going to perform on my current instrument, so all my playing is just for me, in my own time. It’s practice of course, but I don’t demarcate it as a task I have to do to reach a goal. Just playing my instrument is the goal itself.

        4. fposte*

          The joy of learning an instrument as an adult is that you can do it however you please.

          In the early stages, I don’t tend to do exercises. I learn the note fingerings (some of them) and then I start on easy music. 8notes dot com is really fun for finding music and getting backing tracks for free. I figure practicing baroque runs and Irish jigs is close enough to scales and dexterity exercises. I also get mental fatigue quite quickly so I often practice for a fairly short session and maybe do a second later. But once I start getting tired I definitely bail, because this is for fun.

          I also *love* music books, and I like them in print, because it’s just too physically complicated to do e-versions. So I will get motivated by the opportunity to play with a new music book. Sorry, neighbors, but I just got Christmas books for the alto, so it’s a carol day today.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Set aside a time, maybe 10 minutes,to practice a day, and make them sacred.

      Also look up “practice guide for music ron miller”, there’s a glitch page which you may find useful.

    3. tab*

      Getting started is hard, but if you force yourself to do it at the same time every day, it becomes a habit, and then it’s just part of your routine. I never want to go to the gym, but it feels weird now if I don’t go. It’s just what I do on week days, and I miss it when I don’t.

      1. Valentine*

        Yeah, it seems like the only way to do it is if you force yourself. I tried doing research on ways of getting started, but at the end of the day, you just have to do it.

    4. Still*

      YES prepare the materials. If you’re supposed to exercise, lay out whatever clothes and equipment you need in advance. Tell yourself you’re just preparing, so it’s not a big deal. If you go to the gym – tell yourself you’ll just put on your clothes and go, you don’t even need to exercise, just getting your butt there and back is a victory. More often than not, when you’ve gone to the trouble of preparing to do something, it’s easier to do it than not to do it. But telling yourself you don’t have to makes it easier to prepare.

      1. Valentine*

        Yeah. Looks like preparing the materials is the best way to do things. I’ve done a ton of research into this, and it looks like this is the best way.

    5. Ranon*

      I don’t wait to want to start, I just put the thing in my schedule and drag myself to it. in my case I’ve been doing the thing I do for exercise long enough that I know that the getting started is much less fun than the doing, so the dragging comes with the promise that it will actually be fun once I get going.

      You may also need a more fun or less flexible option for exercise, e.g. a class that you have to go to at a specific time. Makes it easier to tell yourself it’s now or never and choose now.

    6. kina lillet*

      To me this is a signal that the thing itself isn’t enjoyable enough to you. I think the need for enjoyment/fun reduces once you’re “in it” enough to find fulfillment in the discipline of following through on your off days. But in the beginning you need to actually enjoy it.

      For music, do you like touching the violin? Do you like how it feels? Is it fun to figure out how to play a song you find on youtube? Is it fun to just play WITH it and get funky sounds on it?

      Similarly for exercise, what kind of movement actually attracts you? Do you need a more social context, or do you need to walk solo but (for instance) have an interesting and sexy romance novel audiobook playing? Do you enjoy competition?

      1. Valentine*

        Yeah, I do find the violin fun! I always enjoy it when I actually play it. I think I got used to playing it out of obligation for lessons, so now I’m having a hard time playing just for fun.

        As for exercise, I think I’m good with whatever is available.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I do find the violin fun! I always enjoy it when I actually play it.

          This is good news! I read something a while ago about people going to the gym, and basically the conclusion was that if people waited until they felt like they wanted to go to the gym before they went to the gym, they never went. If people went to the gym regardless of their feelings, they enjoyed the gym while they were there. The good feelings will follow the action, don’t wait for good feelings to start the action. Sounds like this is applicable to your violin playing.

          I agree with the posters who are suggesting picking a set time every day to play the violin. And you can let your internal monologue be “I don’t want to do this, but I’m going to do it anyways” until you get to the part where you have everything set up and are enjoying yourself.

          1. Valentine*

            I agree with the internal monologue. This is a good way to do the task of exercising and playing the violin.

    7. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, if these are both new habits that you’re trying to start, maybe having two things is too much for you? Self-discipline is a bit like a muscle, we have to build it up – but also it gets over exerted and doesn’t work as well. I don’t think I could plan to do two difficult things in a row (“I’m going to practice violin for an hour and then jump on the treadmill for thirty minutes!”). Maybe have alternating nights and a few free nights in the week?

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

      I struggle so much with motivation, too, & for me the buddy system is invaluable. If you can find a music teacher or personal trainer you can afford for even just a few sessions, that is a great way to force yourself to be accountable in the beginning. Otherwise, find a friend who also wants to practice music or exercise. For me, just relying on my own self to get off the couch and do things– recipe for disaster.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha! Yeah I get crap from my friends sometimes for paying for lessons – “you can learn for free watching videos on youtube!” – and it’s not that they’re wrong exactly, I could absolutely learn out of books or videos, but … would I? I don’t have a lot of self-discipline so having someone else provide structure and accountability is a big part of it for me!

        1. Valentine*

          I think in the end, I might have to rely on self discipline. I have to use it and exercise it, and then maybe things will work out.

      2. Valentine*

        Trying to do things when you have no motivation is hard. I tried doing research into motivation and I didn’t get far.

    9. cat socks*

      For exercise, it’s important to find something you like doing. I hate working out in front of people, so I do exercise videos at home. I have purchased exercise programs from Fitness Blender so I just follow their schedule. I don’t have to spend time picking out a video which sometimes leads to indecision and then I don’t do anything at all.

      Also with exercise, start slowly to build up the habit. Start with a few times a week, until you’re consistently doing that for some time. Then add another day if you feel like it.

    10. RagingADHD*

      I’m a big fan of “greasing the skids.” That means figuring out where all your specific logistical stopping points are, and eliminating them in advance so that initiating the task is as effortless as possible. If you can get to where it’s more work *not* to do it, that’s ideal.

      For example, if you want to work out in the morning, sleep in your workout clothes with your shoes by the bed so you’d have to step over them to even get up.

      Then use the five- or ten- minute rule: you don’t have to commit to doing 30 minutes or an hour. Just do 5 minutes and give yourself permission to stop. (But of course, at that point it’s easier to keep going.)

      And you can reframe the task to be the least committment in your mind. Like, you aren’t “learning music.” That sounds big and complicated. You’re “Looking over a piece,” or “Checking the fingering,” or whatever would be the tiniest sub-task. Then again, once you’re started doing that it’s easier to keep going.

      The opposite of “can’t even” is “might as well.” So try to create situations where you “might as well” do the thing, since you’re already there.

    11. marvin*

      I’ve also had this issue on both counts. I’m great at procrastinating. Here are the strategies that have worked for me:

      1) For music, give yourself permission to have the dessert first. If there is a particular piece you really like, let that motivate you into starting. If that piece is all you feel like doing, so be it.

      2) For exercise, either find something so short that it’s easy to commit to (I used to have these great 15 minute daily workouts) or find something that you like so much that you actually can’t wait to do it. I didn’t think the second one of these would happen for me, but I love getting out on the water so I decided to get into paddling sports.

      3) For anything I want to commit to doing, I personally find it easiest if I do it on a schedule and really stick to the schedule as much as possible. I also find it helps if I have some little “starting rituals,” like putting certain clothes or music on or starting a log entry for the activity. It helps ease me in when my brain is feeling sluggish. Keeping a record of progress is something that I find encouraging too, because it feels like proof that I can stick with it.

  15. KristinaL*

    Can a cat be a tuxedo cat if he doesn’t have any white on his legs/paws? I have a kitty who’s mostly black but has a white ruff and some white on his tummy. He looks very dressed up to me.

    If there’s such a thing as a “blue tuxedo” kitty, I think Wallace is one. He’s very handsome!

    1. Susan*

      I’ve always thought a Tuxedo kitty is simply black and white anywhere. So your loved one would qualify. I have a super adorable one myself.

      1. Russian in Texas*

        Simply black and white are “piebald” (I believe it’s any two – colored domestic animal, one of the colors being white). They come in different patterns, of which tuxedo is one. I have a “mask and mantle” one.

    2. Red Sky*

      I always think of tuxedo cats as having white chest/ruff area, as in that’s the white tuxedo dress shirt area, the white socks are optional.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same. My husband has one tuxie who buttons her jacket almost all the way up to her chin, her white patch is very small and she has no socks on display. Her sister leaves her jacket all the way open down her chest onto the top of her belly AND each of her four white socks is a different length. (One paw has just those little toe covers like you might wear in ballet flats, one has an ankle sock, one has a mid-calf and one a knee sock.)

        1. KristinaL*

          “tuxie who buttons her jacket almost all the way up to her chin” I love that way of describing it!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, our last two black cats both had just a small patch of “shirt” on their chests in just the right place, and we referred to them as either black or tuxedo cats.

  16. likesJazz*

    This might sound odd, but Thelonious Monk’s music always seems very mathematical to me, and I don’t know why or how to express that. I was oddly relieved to find out that he said that if he hadn’t been a musician, he’d have been a mathematician. I know music and math are related, but I don’t feel that way about most music.

      1. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        Agreed. Baroque is very cerebral.

        I used to get a buddy mad at me because I told him I found Mozart “trivial” (along with most classical era composers). I much prefer the Baroque and Romantic composers.

    1. Vio*

      Music has an amazing ability to express things in ways we can’t quite nail down. The most obvious things are emotions but it can convey all sorts of things. Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival Of The Animals does a remarkably great job of portraying the different animals in ways that most people familiar with the animals in question would be able to make a reasonable guess as to the subject of each piece.

      Also I’d recommend the song Academia by Sia, it’s got some very mathy and witty lyrics.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think there is a lot of math in music. Beats per measure. Chorus and verses. Speed, volume and so on. If you start talking about acoustics which support the appreciation of music that is a bunch of math.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Not odd at all. My son’s best 2 subjects in school this year are orchestra and calculus. He says they’re very closely correlated.

    4. UKDancer*

      Britten’s Turn of the Screw has always seemed very mathematical to me with a twelve tone theme divided up into equal parts. As the story progresses and the tension increases, the musical screw tightens in a logical manner. It’s my favourite of his works I think. There’s an amazing recording with Britten’s partner Peter Pears as the villain and David Hemmings as the boy Miles and it’s positively eerie to listen to.

    5. mreasy*

      I work in music and know several musicians with math PhDs! There is something about the patterns and things fitting together that makes the same brains gravitate that way. Totally makes sense about Monk!

    6. Tib*

      Math, music, chess, and programming are all related and if you find someone who does one, they probably do another as well. Meaning many programmers are also musicians, etc.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Also knitting! Patterns are all about math.

        There is a book of knitting patterns based on the Fibonacci sequence.

      2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

        Ever read “Godel, Escher, Bach”? Hofstaedter does a great job of tying music and math together.

    7. Generic+Name*

      Music is very mathematical. I once accidentally went to a wrong classroom in college. I think I was supposed to be in cell biology, but the class I was in was the physics of music. Very intriguing, but not what I signed up for, so I got up and left lol

    8. Westsidestory*

      I had a housemate once who was getting his PHD in math (he’s currently teaching at a well known Midwestern College.) he also played cello and had a small quartet who would practice Sunday mornings in the living room. But with his close friends he formed a hip hop group and you can still find their geeky CD on Amazon. It’s a hoot, one of the songs is about the Reimman math theory.

  17. Loves libraries*

    Suggestions for fictional alternative advice columns in the style of Ask a Manager

    I thought of Ask a Mansplainer in the middle of the night. Any other ideas? Bonus points if you include a sample question and answer (which I can’t right now as the toddler just woke up!)

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Ask a Matriach
      Ask a Drama Llama
      Ask a Troll
      Ask an Amateur Detective from a Cosy Mystery Novel
      Ask a Minor Diety

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Ask a Mansplainer would need to begin every answer with, “Actually….” and from there state the obvious.
      I’d enjoy reading Ask a Pet, with each question having answers from contrasting pets for multiple perspectives. (My dog’s answers would be very different from my late cat’s answers!)

      1. Pippa K*

        Ask a Pet is a brilliant idea and I would read your website daily.

        Dear AAP,
        I’m afraid my pets might be bored, so I had an idea: when things seem dull, I’ll jump out at them unexpectedly! We’ll all have a good laugh and then I’ll give them treats. What do you think? So fun, right?

        Mr Dog replies: ooh so scary! But also fun! Haha I jumped but it turned out to be my beloved person! With treats! I am so happy! Here, let me lick your face! Are there more treats?

        Ms Horse: I say nay. Absolutely not. You deliberately startle a prey animal, you deserve a hoof print on your butt. You know what’s fun? Carrots are fun. Got any carrots?

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Mx. Cat: Oh WHAT the crap crap crap OH my god FFF- oh. I didn’t freak out. I didn’t even see you. I’m just strolling along, the picture of dignity, like always. You want to give me a treat? I suppose I can deign to accept it.

      2. Ask a Mansplainer*

        Well, actually, Ask a Mansplainer should focus on things the reader would already know. Also, I have a great idea for a column with pet responses.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      How about Ask a Preschooler?

      Dear Ask a Preschooler.
      I have been invited to a wedding for the first time in a number of years. What should I wear?

      Answer: A spacesuit! And you should paint your nails all different colours and put glitter on them. Lots of glitter. Only don’t spill it or your mammy will get cross. My mammy has red hair.

      1. fposte*

        This reminds me of the laid back quiz show Richard Osman’s House of Games, which has different rounds, and one has the question-setters’ kids set questions; the contestants have to pick which question to answer based only on the name and age of the child. The eleven-year-old asks questions like “In what historic era did the trilobite first appear?” and the three-year-old is straight up “What’s the best food?”

    4. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’d personally enjoy an alternate “dark mode” version of AAM where Alison is permanently in that mindset she usually is when she first returns from vacation and her responses are full of sass and devoid of f***s.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Ask a Villain.
      Ask a Scammer.
      Ask a TD/MP/whatever other country’s equivalents are/Senator.
      Ask a Royal.
      Ask a Grandparent.
      Ask a Fairy Godparent.
      Ask a Mythical Hero.
      Ask a 1st year College Student.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Ask a Priest.
        Ask a Nun.
        Ask a Convict.
        Ask a Saint.
        Ask a Yes Man.

        The last always agrees with you. So you get questions and answers like:
        Question: Is it OK to have an affair with my married boss?
        Answer: Absolutely. If his wife understood him, he wouldn’t be looking elsewhere, would he? And hey, being in with the boss can only be an advantage to you.

        Question: My boss gave an instruction I thought stupid, so instead of discussing it with her, I went behind her back and did it my own way. Now I’m in trouble for not following procedure. Who is wrong?
        Answer: Your boss, obviously. She should be admiring your gumption.

        I am having WAY too much fun with this.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Ask a Tween. Mostly they would roast you or give answers with NO common sense but every once in awhile they’d actually be helpful :)

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Oh that would be so helpful because they have everything figured out at that age! And they explain so patiently too! /s (Mine is 13 now and has all the answers. Which I did too at that age so it’s payback I suppose)

    7. Four of ten*

      I don’t have a suggestion, but I think this is a great idea. I’m going to come back later to see other suggestions that come up during the weekend.

    8. Gabacho*

      There actually used to be a satirical column carried in a lot of alternative newspapers called, “Ask a Mexican,” that was written by Gustavo Arellano. People would write in and ask (frequently racist) questions about Mexican culture and he’d answer them.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Imagine the headlines for Ask A Mad Menager! “I think my boss stole someone’s identity – should I blackmail him?, my alcoholic coworker peed his pants before a presentation, a secretary ran over someone’s foot with a lawn mower”

    10. Pam Adams*

      There used to be a “Bad Advisor,” maybe on, Tumblr? They would take advice column letters and answer them the way the questioner would want them answered.

    11. Dear Miss Demeanor*

      It’s amusing to see this thread, because I previously wrote a fictional advice column, Dear Miss Demeanor. People sent me humorous, made-up letters and I responded in character. It was fun.

      This is a good reminder that I should digitize these old columns because they’re many years old and tracking them down online is not easy. Time to go through the old box of clippings.

    12. Loves libraries*

      I love all of these!!! Thank you everyone who made suggestions

      I think my favourites are Ask a Pet, Ask a Fairy Godparent (full of wholesome advice but reading between the lines you can tell they just want to wave their magic wand and fix everything) and Ask an Amateur Detective from a Cosy Mystery

      Dear Miss Marple, my employee does not take criticism well. For example, I told her she needed to improve a presentation (giving specific examples) and burst into tears and disappeared into the bathroom for two hours!

      Dear Questioner, she sounds a lot like a companion I once had, Gladys Brookes. Alright at dusting, but when I criticised her flower arrangements she took to her bed. I soon discovered she was plotting with the butcher’s boy to steal from our Dear Parson. Let her go but make sure you count all your silver first!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Oooh, Miss Marple would be BRILLIANT. She’d have a village parallel for everything and be able to predict so accurately what would happen next.

        Dear Miss Marple.
        I am quite sure my boss fancies me. He’s always making flirtatious remarks and takes a real interest in my career. One of my coworkers says he treats all the new young staff like that, but then gets bored and moves on to somebody younger, but I think she’s just jealous and he really does like me. What do you think?

        Answer: Oh, dear, dear. He sounds just like our local lawyer, Mr. Pennyworth. Always so charming to the new young secretaries and never employed one over the age of 23 and all of them such pretty girls. I mean, we did WONDER…well, one DOES, doesn’t one? None of them lasted wrong and the rumours that went around about one young girl. I’m sure it was all very unkind, but you know what they say, no smoke without fire and the girl’s stomach did just look that little bit larger. Poor girl.

        He finally employed this young girl who was a bit tougher than the rest of them. Not what he expected at ALL. She threatened to go to his wife and dear me, if I hadn’t been there…well, they saw it was cyanide he put in her tea. I warned her not to drink it.

        I’m sure your boss would never do anything quite so wicked, but all the same, don’t trust him, my dear. Your coworker is warning you for a good reason.

        Sherlock Holmes and Poirot would be good too. Sherlock Holmes would be so matter-of-fact and would probably point out things like “I can see from the number of typos in this letter that you wrote in a hurry.”

    13. Onomatopoetic*

      I can recommend Dr. Tatiana’s sex advice to all creation, by Olivia Judson. It is a fun book about different animals ways of procreation, written as an advice column. Very informative. Came out twenty years ago.

      The mansplaining column made me think of a joke I liked:
      Where does a mansplainer get his water? From a well, actually. (There’s a darker version where the mansplainer died by falling into a well, actually)

  18. FrozenSky*

    I like to fall asleep while listening to podcasts, but I don’t like having my phone in my bed with me as I get tempted to doom scroll when I struggle to sleep. I also can’t charge it overnight while using it. I used to have an iPod which worked well because I literally only used it for that purpose, I hadn’t set up my email account or downloaded any social media apps. Since Apple stopped updating iPod software however, it’s become so slow that I can’t use it any longer.

    What do other people use? Should I just buy an older model phone and limit its use to bedtime podcasting?

    1. KR*

      Do you have a laptop you can set up possibly? You could adjust the settings so that it doesn’t turn off when you close it/fall asleep so you can close the lid while you’re sleeping

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      There are other mp3 players out there (though mp3 the format is old hat, but I’m not sure what else to call them). You have to upload what you want to it, but it goes quickly and has the same lack of function as an ipod.

      1. FrozenSky*

        That’s good to know, to be honest I didn’t think they’d still make them! I’ll look into it, thanks

      2. CharlieBrown*

        Also, you can use a program called gpodder to download those mp3 files. It’s available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, AFAIK. Very handy.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      There are apps you can use to block yourself from doomscrolling. Some of them let you specify apps that you want to block access to, so you can block those ones during the hours you’re asleep or trying to fall asleep and allow the podcasting app to work away.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      Bluetooth speaker by your bed? Then set a sleep timer on your phone. My bluetooth speaker works even when my phone is downstairs and I am upstairs.

      1. FrozenSky*

        Thanks, that might work when I’m alone, but I share a bed with a sound sensitive partner so I have to use headphones.

    5. it happens*

      You can get a super cheap older model kindle fire. Will download the podcasts no problem. But the web browsing is so slow you’ll have no incentive to doom scroll;)

    6. fposte*

      I use an old phone with no SIM card. I pair it with a teeny speaker, and I set the phone to the relevant track (I actually use certain ad-free YouTube videos) and put it away or under the pillow. You could do the speaker-pairing trick even with a current phone.

    7. Tio*

      I have my Alexa play the podcasts. You can sync to your phone or you can just say “Play (podcast)” and usually she gets it right.

    8. Danish*

      I have a pair of headphones specifically for sleep – its a soft headband with soft speaker pads in it, with bluetooth. You can start/stop tracks from the headband as well as ff/rw so i just plug my phone in on the other side of the room.

      1. OneTwoThree*

        I was coming to suggest my soft headband headphones as well. Mine have the same features as yours. I love them!

    9. cleo*

      I researched this recently to solve a similar problem- I wanted to be able to listen to something while washing the dishes after dinner without getting stuck doom scrolling until bedtime.

      I got a MP3 player from Sandisk and I like it. You do have to manually load the podcast or music files. It also has an FM radio. It connects to my blue tooth speaker.

      I also considered the Sony Walkman II which is very similar to the iPod but it was more than I wanted to spend.

  19. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I’m on day 1 on my first week off of w*rk for a year and I just want to say thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions in previous threads – I’m going to prioritise self care, read loads, see friends, and try to put my bloody phone down more!

  20. Melanie Cavill*

    I’m speaking with someone later today about renting their basement apartment. It looks like a great apartment and I want it, but I also really want apartment hunting to be over. Any tips?

    Moving across the country with three weeks’ notice is wild. I feel like I reached peak stress, rebooted, and am still in start-up mode.

    1. Yezzzz*

      Good luck! The one thing I would say is — consider whether it might flood. My boyfriend’s apartment on the East Coast flooded one year after there had been so much rain the soil was saturated and couldn’t absorb any more. Lots of stuff was ruined and he ended up having to break his lease because the place never stopped smelling off mildew. Hopefully you haven’t moved to someplace where that’s likely to happen. I would also consider what the windows (there are windows, yes?) look out on. Are people likely to be peering in at you all the time, such that you have to keep the shades down? Or will you get cool views of feet and doggies going by, which could be interesting?

      1. Westsidestory*

        Seconding on possible flood issues. Also, look for evidence of rats (including rat traps). Rats and mice are often an issue with basement units.

        Importantly, make sure there are two ways to exit in case of fire (or floods). A friend almost lost two neighbors who wound up to their necks in water – couldn’t open the door due to pressure of Katrina on the other side.

    2. Still*

      If it’s their basement apartment, will they live in the same house as you? You couldn’t pay me to live with my landlord, but if you’re up for it, make sure you talk through the expectations about privacy! If they live there, they in might feel like they’re entitled to check in on you or set expectations about how you live. Make sure you’re comfortable with the setup. Especially if you’re gonna be staying there long-term.

      Good luck! Apartment hunting is soul-destroying, I hope it’s over for you soon!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Check for fire escape passages and windows for daylight.

      If it snows in that area, ask what the plan is for snow removal. Winter is approaching quickly.

    4. kina lillet*

      My tip is stay strong and don’t take this apartment JUST because you want to be done (I am a hypocrite, I’ve rented multiple awful apartments due to wanting to be done). My other tip is even less helpful—all the basement apartments in my area are not good. Flooding, moisture, lack of sunlight, bugs and pests. I say nooo.

    5. anonagain*

      I just moved across the country with minimal notice. It was super stressful. I ended up hiring a rental agent to find me an apartment. It cost a fair amount (one month’s rent) but ended up being such a huge help for me.

      I was also considering finding temporary housing and then looking for a more permanent place. Stressful in different ways.

      I relate to wanting to be done. I hope you find something good, and that this is soon behind you.

    6. Sunflower*

      Have you considered moving into an Airbnb for 2 months with a few suitcases, looking for a place while you’re there and then full moving after that? It’s pretty common for NYC where housing is insane. Of course it would extend your hunting timeline but I imagine it would be way less stressful hunting locally and you’d have time to find the right place.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      A basement is going to be colder than the rest of the house year round. Make sure you ask about that — would you be allowed to use space heaters if necessary, etc.

      Hopefully it’s a properly finished basement, but still, ask about any water issues. (And also, when you get your renter’s insurance which you of course are going to do, make sure your stuff is covered in case of a flooded basement.)

      Do you have the whole basement or are there parts of it that the homeowner may need to have access to, either regularly or occasionally? My brother functionally treats the basement as his apartment, though he doesn’t have his own bathroom or kitchen down there, but the household laundry facilities are in the basement so husband and I have to go down there regularly to access those, and the furnace blower and hot water heater are also down there so when maintenance is needed, we need to get in there.

      I think any other suggestions would be the same for any apartment, I’m just focusing on the basement ones here.

    8. the cat's ass*

      oooooh, basement apartments. I’m so sorry this lightening-round move has been so stressful for you, but i would really think twice about a basement level dwelling. Variable temperatures, bugs, potential flooding.

    9. Sutemi*

      Consider the windows and safety. I’ve lived in two apartments that were below ground level. People can see down into your apartment through the windows, and often the windows are slider style.
      Someone broke in as a crime of opportunity. I had left a window open for air, and while I was gone they pushed the screen in and took my stereo. After that I would never leave a window open while I was gone or sleeping alone, which was a shame since I like fresh air. Too much risk of a break-in.

    10. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      There are some places where basement apartments are illegal, so that’s something you might want to check. Watching People’s Court can be educational!

    11. SaltedChocolateChip*

      Make sure they’ve done radon testing! I found out about that after I’d lived in a basement for a while and we did a test and things were fine, but the health consequences of radon in your living space are scary and often don’t show up for many years.

  21. thewriterbean*

    Just a little update re: dog being rehomed with me last week — she’s settling in so well! Thank you all for the advice. I really appreciate you all.

  22. Anon for this*

    I think I’m getting the slow fade from a friend and I’m not sure what to do about it.
    We don’t meet very often but we normally texted each other several times a day, about everything and nothing, and it didn’t really matter who messaged who first. Over the last few weeks, I haven’t heard from her much and she has left me on read a few times – not because the exchange had ended (which is ok, someone has to speak last) but in the middle of some quite personal stuff. I feel that when she does respond it’s out of duty or habit, and that I’m just not interesting to her any more.

    We have been friends for many years and I know there are times I have fallen short which I regret. She has also let me down a few times. Equally we have also been there during very difficult times for each other. I have always felt that we neither has to be perfect, and it was ok for us each to get it wrong sometimes, but looking back we should maybe have talked about some of these disappointments sooner. I’m worried that we have got to a point where she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore but this hasn’t been said explicitly so I don’t know. I’m not aware of anything specific I’ve said/done (or not done) recently. however I’m very depressed at the moment and have had times when I haven’t wanted to be here (I am not imminently going to harm myself). I’ve tried not to put too much of that on my friends but I might have overloaded them. It is not a good time for a rejection like this especially when it’s being done in this way. I hate this feeling of being managed out of someone’s life, like I’m on a PIP that nobody told me about. If she just needs some space that’s ok. we all need that sometimes and we’re all busy but this definitely feels more like the slow fade.

    I guess I need to get it out into the open but I’m scared and I don’t think I have the emotional resources to cope with that just now.

    if you’ve experienced this from either side I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    1. Sending you warm thoughts*

      I think my comment ended up free-standing instead of a reply to you. Sorry about that. Here it is again. I’m so sorry you are going through this. As a person who has suffered from anxiety and depression for many years (now much better), I would be worrying about this friendship too if it were happening to me. But from the outside and personal experience, I want to say that this may not be what is happening at all. It sounds like this is a long and strong friendship, and probably premature to assume she is fading on you. Perhaps, as you yourself suggested, she is just taking some space, and doesn’t know how to say so. I’ve been there, on both sides, and the friendships endured. Of course it feels like bad timing, I get that — but hopefully it is temporary. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to assume the worst. It sounds like your friendship has come through all kinds of hard times, and there’s no reason to assume it won’t do so again. In the meantime — and I say this having been there myself — I am worried about you saying you don’t want to be here. Please, please, call 988, the suicide hotline (if in the U.S., or look up the one in your country). You don’t have to be “imminently” planning to hurt yourself. They are compassionate listeners and it sounds like you could use that right now. Hang in there.

      1. Anon for this*

        thank you so much for replying, and this is really helpful.
        I probably should not have said what I said about my mental state. I have a therapist and am working with my physician to manage my mental health, so I have good support. I’m safe and have no active intention to harm myself, but I really appreciate your suggestion of crisis services and will keep that in mind. I’m glad you are better now and I really hope that continues.

        1. Sending you warm thoughts*

          So glad to hear you have good support. Therapy has been instrumental in improving my life, hope it’s equally helpful in yours. And thank you for your kind thoughts about me doing better.

        2. allathian*

          I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist and a physician. When you’re depressed, it’s easy to see things as worse than they actually are.

          That said, texting a friend about intense personal stuff multiple times a day? That’s a lot, and I find it completely understandable that your friend is pulling back from that. But you can’t know how your friend’s really feeling unless you ask.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      This sounds like it could easily be a miscommunication. I think relying on messaging works great most of the time, but if someone gets particularly busy and accidentally unresponsive it is going to look the same as someone being deliberately unresponsive. Perhaps it’s time to get together again? You’ll get a better read in person. On the off chance she is busy or hasn’t got the spoons for a lot of support right now, I would plan something she typically likes – something laid back and fun; see if she bites.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It may not be you. She may have her own thing and she may feel that she does not want to be a burden to you.

      Depression can be a lens that distorts. Depression can make things bigger than what they actually are. Gently, I suggest to you that you may have all your eggs in one basket. Maybe now is the time to get more baskets. This could mean seeking professional counseling. But maybe some of your issues are specific- such as a bad job. For something like this you could seek help specifically for finding new employment. So you may/ may not need therapy. It might be more to the point to seek help with the main concerns in your current day life.

      Meanwhile, how’s your self-care doing? Little things can make a difference. I have a stupid example. I don’t like turning my heat on because $$$. Last night it got down to 34 degrees here. I turned the heat on. That was just so comforting not to be shivering and thinking I had to go to bed early just to stay warm. It only took a minute to turn the heat one. Take some time to think about what easy, quick things you can do to help yourself along.

      No one in our lives offers a comprehensive package of care. It’s not unusual for friends to get tied up with their own things when we need them the most. My suggestion is while you wait for your friend to sort things out on her end, figure out what you yourself can do now that would feel good, feel supportive to you. The beauty of this is you get to keep your friend a while longer AND you get something going better in your own life. And you can remind yourself that she might be doing the very same thing here, too.

    4. kina lillet*

      I’d encourage you first to move from thinking of it as a slow fade—something she’s doing to you and because of you—and move to thinking of it as a period of distance in your friendship.

      Second, can you talk to her? Like, “hey, I’ve been missing you lately, and it’s ok if our friendship is going through a slower period, but I’m concerned that it’s partly because I’ve been overloading you with my mental health stuff. So I wanted to check in with you.” And then you can listen to what she has to say.

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

      Based on the feelings you’re describing and the length of your letter, it sounds to me like regardless of what happens with this particular friend, you could use more supportive people to talk to in your life about what you’re going through. As much as you can, take that energy you’re currently putting into worrying about her, and put it into reaching out to therapists/other friends/family/support groups, wherever you can to say “hey, I’m going through a rough time.” I have definitely been on both sides of the equation in terms of feeling like I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth for someone reaching out to me, and also feeling like I was reaching out to someone non-responsive. It’s awkward, sometimes painful, but it’s definitely survivable if you keep trying to build a robust, diverse network of people you love and trust. And if nothing else, please know you’re not alone in these feelings.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Two suggestions (1) suggest an in person catch up / a meal / coffee / whatever you tend to do. Or a phone call. (2) Use your words and ask her before you assume the worst. This is a long term friendship, it sounds like you should have a talk before assuming the worst.

    7. Onlooker*

      You are writing you are depressed – please, please seek help!

      What you are describing sounds very much like my very good friend who suffers from bipolar disorder. When she has a bout of depression, she sees things in excessively negative light and as if they were magnified, and I cannot even imagine how taxing it must be.

      I do not know whether this is able to help you, even a little tiny bit (it sadly doesn’t help my friend, the only thing that helps her is therapy and medication), but please be aware that the reality is almost definitely much brighter than you are able to see it now.

      I love my friends dearly but I cannot imagine exchanging several texts with them every day. By no means does it mean I am rejecting them, and I’d be horrorized if they thought this!

      My friend I mentioned earlier has always been very open about her disease, and I am very grateful for that, because it helped me understand that, as a friend, I am not omnipotent and that there are limits what a friend, no matter how loving and caring, is able to do for you. There were moments when I felt helpless, because she was perceiving the same situation I saw as banal and easily solvable (and it objectively was) as a disaster with no way out – it was as if she was in a completely different, dark world, and as much as I was trying to drag her out, it was just not possible. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for her, and how hard it must be now for you.

      I am very sorry you are going through this, but please bear in mind 1) it is very, very unlikely that your friend is “putting you on a PIP” – she can have something happening in her own life and perhaps not want to add another load to you, and there can be – and likely are – a lot of other explanations. But what is most important 2) you need professional help. It was a world of difference for my friend. It was not immediate nor is 100% perfect, but it did help a lot. Please let a professional help you. Take care. I am convinced you will be able to see the world in a brighter light again.

    8. fposte*

      I totally agree with the notion that this seems much likelier to be a phase than a slow fade. Long-term friendships have those. (I’m now again seeing a friend several times a week that I for a few years so only once a year or so at a NYE party.)

      I recommend deciding for yourself that she still likes you fine and this is a phase. That means you don’t have to ask a friend who’s going through stuff to manage things for you, especially since depression may just trick you back into this belief whatever she does. So if you knew she liked you fine and she’d be texting you again regularly in 6 months, would that be okay? Can you separate the texting from the liking?

      And echoing the urging to get help with the depression. That’s going to make everything read scarier.

    9. Frankie Bergstein*

      Agree – a few weeks isn’t that long. A few months or seasons? Maybe. The commenters here have given such great advice. Hang in there! Be so good to yourself that it feels irrationally indulgent :)

    10. Mewtwo*

      As someone who has been on both sides of a slow fade, accept it and move on. Grieve as needed, but sometimes friendships run their course and expire. You will eventually get to a place where you can appreciate it for what it was but understand that you are in a better place.

    11. Kara Danvers*

      Another possibility I don’t see mentioned here: Maybe she’s not ending the friendship, but that mode of communication (texting several times a day) doesn’t work for her anymore? There was a point in my life where that style of communication was normal, but I would find it exhausting now. Especially if conversations can get deeply personal.

      I think what gets missed in a lot of conversation is that there’s a lot of variation between “business as usual” and “slow fade into cutting off a person entirely”. Sometimes people need to recalibrate a friendship, but don’t know what balance they’re looking for yet, and are just trying things out. Sometimes people just need time for themselves to deal with their own hardships or fatigue (a few months ago, I had a friend ask me if I was slowfading her – I was shocked because that wasn’t my intention at all, but I realized I was just withdrawing from *everyone* for a while and needed some alone time, and now we’re all back to normal). In my experience, people don’t make all-or-nothing decisions without a recent inflection point.

      That said, whether it’s about her or about you, the question is what do you do now? The answer is to focus on getting professional help for your depression (it sounds like you’re doing that) and focus on the other friendships (as people do things with – make sure to not just dump stuff on them).

      Depression is rough. I’ve been trapped in those deep holes that feel impossible to escape from, and I wish you the best of luck in trying to find the sunshine again.

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

        I really like your point about differing preferred modes of communication over time. It’s spot on!

        My childhood bestie went through a phase where she didn’t want me calling her too much and often wouldn’t call me back — she was really busy raising her kid, and our long phone calls were not convenient for her. Then, she started these looooong text conversations instead. I don’t mind reading those, but I have a flip phone and have to go tap, tap, tap all the time to write anything, so I wasn’t good at writing back long replies. Now, that her kid is more grown, I’ll text every so often and ask if she’d like to chat on the phone, and then she can get back to me when it’s convenient for her. It’s all about different needs over time and doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is intentionally doing a slow fade.

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

      I got faded by two of my dearest college friends, and it totally sucked at the time. It took me years to realize that sometimes, people just grow apart, and even though *I’m* not feeling that way, the other person might be.

      When I first felt that they were pulling away, it seemed intolerable, the worst thing in the world — like how DARE they ignore ME, their wonderful, loyal, kind, loving, supportive friend? I hang on to ALL my friends with a death grip, so how could they possibly not want to interact with awesome me?!

      It gets easier (or at least, it got easier for me) eventually. One of them passed away, and I found out from her widower that maybe she wasn’t crazy about my sexuality when I came out. Well, there’s nothing I could have done about that — that’s on her, not on me. And the other one seemed to maybe be in a 12-step program (there was a brief effort to re-connect with what seemed like a 9th step, but then she stopped cold). Again, if she’s going through some stuff that makes it hard for her to connect with me, that’s not really on me, and I decided that I shouldn’t take it personally. I decided just to appreciate the good times I did have with them in the past and not to make myself miserable wanting what I can’t have in the present.

      Wishing you the best of luck with finding the love and support you need — if not from this person, then from other nice people in your life.

  23. Teapot Translator*

    Do you have recipe website recommendations for cuisine that is not North American? But the recipes can still be made with ingredients found in North America? I don’t really know how to explain it.
    For example Made With Lau, Chinese recipes from a Chinese man.
    I’m open to all kind of cuisine.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I know what you mean. When you search X Cuisine recipes, the top 20 or so hits tend to be recipe blogs by white, middle class American women, which is not really what I’m after.

      For Japanese, the website “Just One Cookbook”. For Korean, Maangchi site/youtube channel. For Filipino, the website Panlasang Pinoy. The above are done by US resident immigrant from the countries, so a good combination between authentic and local access. For general African I like the website The Congo Cookbook. For Indian, I like browsing the NDTV food website, which is from India (I think NDTV stands for New Delhi TV), so does involve googling some ingredient names. For Chinese I just read sites in the original language, so I can’t help much there.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Yeah, that’s what I meant. :/ I want to hear other voices than white, middle class American women.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I second the recommendations for Woks of Life and Hot Thai Kitchen! If you like Vietnamese, I’ve liked recipes from hungryhuydotcom.

    2. HannahS*

      I like Indian Healthy Recipes and Just One Cookbook (Japanese food.) Hot Thai Kitchen is great, too. Woks of Life seems good, but I haven’t made any recipes from them yet, just used their dumpling-folding instructions.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I want Indian Unhealthy Recipes. I want to figure out how my favorite place makes their lamb shank with cream-based sauce (it even tastes like it’s been cooked in butter rather than oil).

    3. Russian in Texas*

      Natasha’s Kitchen and Olga’s Factory for Russian and former Soviet (since Ukrainian, Georgian, Armenian, etc) cusine. Natasha’s Kitchen is a bit more mainly Soviet, when the other website does some American food too. I got few friends hooked up on it and they realize the Russian/Eastern European food is not all vodka and borscht (although proper borscht is lovely).

    4. Lilo*

      So this does fall under North American, but there is a popular YouTube Channel that is a Mexican grandma teaching people how to cook called De mi Rancho a tu cocina (Spanish but available subtitled in English).

    5. Ali*

      Check out Maangchi on YouTube – she does all kinds of Korean cooking, and if you have an Asian grocery store in your area you can definitely make her recipes (or sometimes I just buy the ingredients on Amazon.)

    6. Wink the Book*

      Omnivore’s Cookbook has some fab Chinese recipes adapted for NA. And, usually resources for Chinese ingredients available in North America.

      1. Blueberry Jazz*

        Came here to say this. I love her recipes. My favorites are orange beef, Mongolian meetballs, and General Tso’s chicken.

    7. Self-care is a gift to others too*

      Chinese Cooking Demystified on YouTube is a great watch, and has a lot of things I’d happily eat. Some recipes have ingredients that don’t seem readily available outside of China, but they always offer subs.

  24. WellRed*

    Any suggestions on where to go for short, simple wedding vows? The couple in question (well the bride) is doing a very low key wedding and have no interest in writing their own.

    1. Ali G*

      My husband just officiated a wedding in the same way. He Googled “secular wedding ceremony” and found a lot of good stuff.

      1. MissCoco*

        I also got a lot of inspiration from Unitarian Universalist vows (I found a couple versions with a google search, not sure if they are all accurately UU, but I liked them).

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      Do they want something more custom than the standard “in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, as long as you both shall live”? We also did not write our own vows and the officiant had the standard vows ready for us.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our officiant had a pre-set canned version that we went with, but if he hadn’t or we otherwise had to provide our own, we totally would’ve gone with

      “(Bride), do you?”
      “(Groom), do you?”
      “Right on. Go forth and do.”

      1. 653-CXK*

        AKA the Spaceballs vows…

        Priest (frustrated): Now we’re going for the short, short version. Do you?
        Princess: I do.
        Priest (to Lonestar): Do you?
        Lonestar: I do.
        Priest: Good, you’re married.

        1. 653-CXK*

          Slight edit here…

          Priest: OK, here we go…the short, short version. Do you?
          Lonestar: Yes.
          Priest (to Princess): Do you?
          Princess: Yes.
          Priest: Good, you’re married. Kiss her!

      2. Clisby*

        I’m a notary public in SC, and this is what we’re required to do when officiating. Now, we can include all kinds of fancy vows if the couple wants, but the basic legal requirement is that the notary (1) verifies their identities; (2) hears each of them specifically say they agree to marry the other person; (3) signs the marriage license. Religious officiants, of course, might have other requirements.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Our officiant gave us a list of something like a dozen samples to either pick from or use as jumping off points to write something if we felt like it.

    5. Generic+Name*

      I’d ask the officiant. My husband and I got married by a minister in a religious/spiritual ceremony not affiliated with a specific religion, necessarily, if that makes any sense whatsoever. We did not want to write our own vows, but we didn’t want the standard ones, and she had a selection of prepared vows we chose from.

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Utterly simple:

      Officiant: Fergus, do you want to marry her?
      Fergus: Yup.
      Officiant: Jane, do you want to marry him?
      Jane: Sure thing.
      Officiant: Great, you’re married. Sign this form.

      If the officiant is someone they already know, the couple can ask them for advice or sample vows. I’m assuming they’re not just going to show up at City Hall and take a number/get in line, which is one very low key option.

  25. Ali G*

    Hey all I need advice about tattoo etiquette. Tomorrow my husband and I are getting tattoos to commemorate our Old Man Dog we lost a few months ago. My question is – do we tip our artist, even though he is the owner of the business? I know with salons and stuff you don’t tip the owner, since they are making the full price of your service, but I don’t know if it’s the same for artists.
    Also, we’ve met with him 3 times to see our designs (they are custom based on our dogs actual paws) to settle the designs, sizing and placement. So he’s been working for us for the price of our deposits ($50 each).
    The total cost of both our tattoos is about $650, if that matters.
    Thanks for any advice!

      1. Sloanicota*

        To me somehow this depends on if the payment is cash only, as many tattoo places are. If the owner is being paid in cash, the entire payment is going directly to them, so what is the “tip” ? If the payment is not cash, as illogical as it seems, I’d feel more inclined to provide a cash tip on top.

        1. Ali G*

          We are paying cash! I think we’ll be on the safe side and tip, because he does have other employees, so I assume part of our payment to him supports their salaries. I don’t think they rent chairs like salons do, so it makes sense to tip him.

    1. mreasy*

      It is considered customary to tip. I usually do about 20% unless it’s a very small/inexpensive piece when I will do a higher %. In the same way, you still tip your hairstylist even when they own the shop.

        1. Jessica*

          That’s the rule I learned too, that you don’t tip the business owner. But I’m not sure everyone is on the same page anymore with that expectation. My hairstylist is the proprietor but I started tipping when I realized they charged the exact same price as their employees.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I learned the rule too but believe it’s so unknown at this point that if you don’t tip a proprietor in a type of business that runs on tips they will be surprised / disappointed. (And because of how I’m wired, I’d rather over-tip than have anyone think I stiffed them.)

            But noting that the pricing being the same doesn’t necessarily mean they expect to be tipped. They should be getting a a cut of every service, that’s what they get as the proprietor.

        2. Maggie*

          You do where I am… I’ve never heard of not tipping someone because they own the business. So many beauty practitioners are independent, I can’t imagine not tipping them? They all have space for tip when I pay.

        3. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

          What the heckle jeckle and clyde? Of course you tip your stylist, regardless of if they’re the salon owner! Holy heck.

          Many, many stylists rent out a station and then make every penny of the price of the service. Salon owners get those rents, but they also have to pay for rent on the location, insurance, major equipment, utilities, etc etc etc. I cannot imagine not tipping my stylist, good gravy.

          1. henn*

            It’s not holy heck, it’s a very long running rule of etiquette that you don’t tip a salon owner. I believe it is changing but it was the long standing etiquette going back decades. I think the rationale was that owners are getting paid more than other stylists although I am not completely sure. Anyway, if you consult with old manners experts you will see that everywhere. I do think it is less the case today.

            1. Valancy Snaith*

              The other part of the rationale is that the salon owner sets their prices and therefore should be taking into account their costs. If my stylist set their own prices but those prices were insufficient to pay for her rent, insurance, supplies, and other regular costs of business, she’d be out of business pretty quick.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yeah, holy heck is a very strong reaction for not having had any previous notion of the decades of context. Not tipping the owner has absolutely been a thing for decades, for good reasons, but it seems like it might be changing now? But it’s not an outrage that some people still remember the very recent historical context. I always feel awkward when it’s the shop owner and I know I’m at the nexus of some flux in the cultural expectations about this. It used to be an insult to try to tip the owner; now it might be an insult not to. I just tip and hope that if the owner doesn’t take it for herself, that she tips out the staff with it.

        4. mreasy*

          I have read that before but it’s not the norm here for whatever reason. Or I’m a sucker. Either way she is amazing so I’m okay with it! Lol

  26. Dwight Schrute*

    Blender recommendations?
    Mine died this week and I need to replace it. I’m looking for a mid range blender in the price range of $50-$90. It won’t be used super often but needs to blend smoothies, milkshakes, and mash potatoes for my dog lol. Thanks y’all!

    1. fhqwhgads*

      Ninja BL610 is “officially” more expensive than your range but I regularly see it on sale for 70-80, and it has been a major upgrade from our previous 10 year old cheapo Black and Decker.

    2. Tib*

      I’ve made daily smoothies for at least 5 years with a Ninja blender and it’s still going strong. It came with a smoothie specific blade and cups and a big and medium bowl with different blades. Its very loud but powerful. It cost me about $110 US at a warehouse store then so who know how much something similar would be now, but I’d say it’s worth the effort to find a deal or pay the extra.

    3. TheDisenchantedForest*

      I got a Ninja Pro last week on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond for $40, roughly 50% retail. So far I love it!

    4. BookMom*

      Not to be contrary but I hate my Ninja blender. I mostly use it for puréed soups and sauces, thicker things. It’s hard to scrape the last bits out with a spatula, the lid is flimsy, the lowest blade is two inches from the bottom so it’s garbage for small batches of pesto or the like. It does do well for crushed ice, margaritas, smoothies, more liquid things. I’m still in mourning for the blender I got for my wedding that I accidentally shattered the glass pitcher of.

    5. Generic+Name*

      Yep, I came here to recommend the ninja as well. I have no idea which one mine is, but I got it on sale at the grocery store. I like that the blades are set on a removable tower rather than a small rosette at the bottom of the blender. It makes blending much easier. My old sunbeam one took forever and required lots of stirring to get it to blend evenly.

    6. Stephanie*

      I bought a Kitchenaid after I got frustrated with a cheaper blender, and I really like it. I got it on sale, and I think it was around $100. It’s much, much quieter than my previous, highly rated one. And it works a lot better, too. I use it mainly for smoothies, in case that makes a difference. (I think smoothies are a test of a blender’s capabilities: if it can get the right consistency quietly, it’s a good one.)

    7. JKateM*

      I have a nutribullet 600 watt that I use for making smoothies. The pro is that it makes great smoothies. The con is that it isn’t great for many things because you have to make sure the consistency of whatever you are blending is right (ie sufficient liquid).

    8. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      There’s a reason bartenders and chefs use Waring. You can usually get a nice pro model for around $100 from Amazon, Home Depot, or a restaurant supply. If you look for sales or a factory refurb, you can find one for less.

  27. Sloanicota*

    Is there a version of the pomodoro technique that works for *sticking* with a task? At one point in my life, I found pomodoro very useful, but now I’m not having trouble starting tasks like dishes, putting away laundry, sorting the mail – I’m having trouble sticking with them. I said in the work thread that my brain starts saying “ow ow ow, too painfully boring, let’s stop and do something else” after about five minutes of a task, and I find myself wandering off. What I’ve tried so far: setting a timer for 20 minutes and promising myself we can stop then even if the job isn’t done, but no sooner – listening to music / podcasts / streaming something in the hopes it will keep that boredom-pain away. These things are allowing me to achieve the bare minimum but it’s still painful and it’s not like I’m building up longer periods. It’s going to take me realistically at least an hour or two of cleaning / bill paying / a week, so I’m pretty far from my goals here. Any tips?

    1. mreasy*

      I use an app called Forest for this. It’s only my phone and warns you off your phone if you try to use it during your set time. Your reward is planting a little “tree” and you can see your “forest” grow over time. It is pretty helpful at keeping me off my phone to journal/meditate/finish a task.

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

        Along this line of thought…do something to game-ify tasks you don’t want to do; assign levels/challenges and rewards or find an app that helps make it into a game. Level 1, sort laundry into loads…then reward with something… level 2 finish one load of laundry …etc.

    2. Cordelia*

      hi – when you say the 20 minute timer is helping you do the bare minimum, do you mean you can do the 20 mins but thats not enough to get everything done? because if you can do that, you’re not so far from your goals – lets say 2 hours chores a week, thats 6 x 20 minutes, so maybe its a little-and-often kind of thing? do everything in 20 min bursts? or if thats too long, 15 min bursts 8x a week? maybe you don’t need to be building up longer periods, just more frequent ones.

      1. Sloanicota*

        So far, doing it for twenty minutes feels really hard, and it often doesn’t finish the task – almost more annoying to leave it half-done really. Part of my problem is I hit a busy patch at work and got behind, and now I need to catch up – if I could get on top of all the chores and stay ahead, perhaps twenty minutes of maintenance would be pretty good at keeping us afloat.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I’m a bit distractible and I get bored easily. Sometimes I cycle through a series of chores rather than doing one and then taking time off. It does mean that I have a bunch of unfinished stuff going on for a while. So for example, I’ll spend 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen but then even if I’m halfway through loading the dishwasher, I’ll go ahead and sort some laundry and prep it for washing, then go make the bed, then throw the laundry into the washer, then finish loading the dishwasher.

      When I was in school I used to do the same thing, but with assignments. I wouldn’t “study for an hour” and then take a break. I’d read part of an assignment for one class, then move on to some exercises, then start writing a draft for another class, then go back to the reading. It sounds slightly dysfunctional, I’m aware, but I do get more done that way than trying to work through one task with a bunch of breaks.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Can you get rid of the mail? Or make bills more automatic? Seriously, I had to go fully electronic because there is no universe in which I’m okay with shuffling paper around. Five minutes is also plenty enough time to put laundry away or dishes, unless you have a dish or laundry mountain. I have in the past had similar mountains until I realised I was a “little and often” person. I put away dishes whenever the kettle is boiling, or I’m waiting for a pan to heat up. I put my laundry away in stages: fill up underwear drawer time, hang up dresses time, jumper folding time etc. I have been known to keep a special laundry shelf where I generally keep stuff that hasn’t been put away yet. When I go there for X item, I put a few additional things away. It’s fine to not do everything at once so long as you know you’re working through it at enough pace it doesn’t pile up. I wipe the shower down while I’m waiting for conditioner to work on my hair. I dust or hoover a bit of manageable area when the oven is preheating (though I really want one of those little robot things!) Most people think it’s super strange that I can’t launch into full on manual labour mode for a significant period of time, but I simply don’t have that focus, unless I have hyperfocus level of interest in the task. They think it’s odd that I can’t push through, but that’s why I wanted an ADHD diagnosis; so I could stop telling myself what I “should” be able to do, and work with what I can do.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha! Yes I didn’t want to derail, but by “bill paying” I’m talking about all sorts of boring online tasks that I need to do to manage finances and utilities – I have set most monthly payments to automatic. It wouldn’t take an hour but just about every week there’s something – I get a notification that I need to update information in some utility account, or I get a ticket in the mail or a note that my EZ pass didn’t register at the toll, or I have to figure out why the doctor or dentist’s bill doesn’t look right, something like that, that will require me to a) dig up a password or reset, log into the email account I use for passwords to retrieve it, try again, muck around in the system, maybe end up calling the helpline, whatever it is. These are often longer than five minute tasks, even if I tell myself it’ll only take a minute and I should do it right now – at the first setback, I’m up and off thinking “nope” again.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          This sounds….very much like me. I’m just giving a silent prayer of thanks for toll-less roads in my area and the NHS, because I’d be in exactly the same boat with these tasks. I currently have on my desk an old bank account with like two days of wages in it. For some reason I haven’t reordered my change of name documentation, which I lost during a move, and need to access this old account. It would be much quicker than two days of work but ugh, life admin. Fuck it, I’m doing this now and rewarding myself with apple pie.

        2. Elf*

          The “dig up/reset password” thing is *so bad*. Try getting a password manager (I use the free version of BitWarden) and each time you need to go through that BS or make a new username/password for something put the password in there. Getting it set up is a bit annoying but it makes all those tasks *so much better* because all you have to do is the task itself.

      2. Jessica*

        There’s one thing I often eat that takes 3 minutes to cook (unattended), and it was weirdly transformational for me the first time I folded an entire load of laundry while this food was cooking. Both for matching up these two tasks, and also a reminder that the laundry folding doesn’t actually take that long.
        I have a chair in the bedroom that isn’t allowed to hold anything but clean laundry, but makes a great halfway point. And if there’s laundry on it, my rule is I can’t walk past it without putting away at least one thing.

    5. Filosofickle*

      Is it possible to just accept this about yourself and set timers for 5 minutes, more often? 5 minutes 2 or 3 times a day should add up to what you need, once you’ve gotten to a maintenance point. There are tasks that take longer but lots of things (unloading a dishwasher, vacuuming a room, switching laundry) can be done in short bursts. The cleanest my kitchen has ever been was when I used the time it took coffee to brew every morning to clean up.

      Sometimes I intentionally watch TV with ads, and clean during the commercial breaks. Sprint for 3 minutes, then rest. In an hour I’ve done 15 minutes and that’s good enough for me.

    6. Double A*

      I fold laundry in front of the TV and I pretty much always finish it because that is the main way I watch TV. That won’t work for every task, but could work for some.

      Actually I used to watch TV on my phone or an iPad while I did dishes back in my pre-dishwasher days.

    7. Dr Crusher*

      Echoing the sprinting/racing. I also get easily bored but often (not always) it helps to make a list of tasks that I think I can get done in whatever time period and then try to complete them all within the 15 minutes. I also sometimes scrawl myself a sort of quick and dirty bingo card on a piece of scrap paper and fill in the squares with tasks and then try to have them all coloured in by the end of the day. It’s never all of them but I still get a lot done.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Are you rewarding yourself for achieving longer times? The brain needs to get dopamine to counteract the “Ow bored” response. Any kind of silly little reward that makes you feel good for a minute will help.

    9. Elf*

      Have you tried shared chores? I find it incredibly difficult to work on chores if my husband is not also working on chores, and I have also had success with setting a time and then staying on the phone for an hour or so with a friend who is also doing chores. The social thing really helps.

    10. Erica*

      Have you tried the buddy system? Apps like FocusMate can match you virtually with someone, and it’s free up to a few sessions a week. Sometimes feeling less “lonely” with a task helps me and it also provides some accountability.

  28. Squishy*

    Having a baby boy around Thanksgiving. Daughter will be almost 3. Tips or cautionary tales for adjusting to life with 2 and/or helping the older one transition to the new reality?

    1. Tired Accountant No More*

      Find some time to do something with your oldest just the two of you. My oldest was two when my second was born and was having a tough time, but doing something with just her really helped.

      1. Been and done*

        I second this. I did K’nex with my older child during the younger one’s nap and it is such a fond memory.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      My kids are 3 years apart and I found it helpful to have some books for framing conversations. My favorite was “Ready, Set… Baby” by Elizabeth Rusch which covers a lot of the stuff that simpler “I’m a big sibling” type books gloss over: pregnant mom gets tired and can’t move the way she used to! babies are weird and boring and stinky sometimes! who will watch me when my parents go to the doctor to have the baby? etc

      Don’t try to predict or control how your daughter feels. Let her be excited to help, let her be annoyed and jealous, listen and help her manage whatever feelings she’s having and don’t make a big deal of either “you HAVE to love your brother” or “it’s okay if you hate your brother!” lol. One of the biggest things I remember from the day we brought the new baby home was that she cried the whole way, and I kept trying to interact with the 3yo because there’s not much you can do for a newborn’s first carseat experience. 3yo got MORE distressed because why was I helping her and not the baby??

    3. Double A*

      Leading up to our second being born when our first was about the same age, my husband really took over bedtime for her and continued that after the baby was born. So she was used to her dad taking the lead and it wasn’t like the new baby suddenly changed her whole routine.

    4. Katie*

      My daughter was two when my twins were born. She was instantly in love with them. My one piece of caution is to watch what she is doing with them. At like 1 month she tried to feed them Cheerios and tried to lift her sister up out of her swing on another occasion. A five pound baby can be picked up surprisedly high for a 2 year old…

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      If you are going to nurse, I found it helpful to figure out activities to do with the older siblings while nursing. Like I would read books to them, and have them hold the books and turn the page for me. (I would say “Ding!” just like audiobooks…). I tried to prioritize the older kids as much as possible – baby had to be fed, and changed, but otherwise I wore her a lot so that I could more easily engage with the others and take them places. Babywearing was such a lifesaver for me.
      I think every kid is different- my oldest was super into having siblings, but the middle kid couldn’t care less and pretty much ignored the baby.

    6. Sopranistin*

      My 2nd baby is 3 months old, my 1st just turned 4, so we’re still in the thick of it. My husband and I were just saying yesterday that it felt like the tide turned; we’re getting into a routine and our oldest seems to have adjusted. The hardest thing for our family has been the toll on our oldest child. My husband had to take over almost all of his care during the early days, since I was recovering from birth and nursing round the clock. My oldest really missed me and I missed him! I would suggest making sure your daughter and partner (or other caregiver) have a strong relationship.
      “The Second Baby Book” by Sarah Ockwell-Smith was really helpful for me. We also read lots of kids books about a new baby, just whatever we found at the local library.
      Also, a baby carrier has been essential for me to keep baby close and still be able to care for my oldest.

    7. Wilde*

      Every family is different, but for ours, adjusting to the second baby was hard. Complicated by a much smaller age gap (15mo) and PND.

      If you’re parenting with another person, have them take as much time off work as possible in the first few months. That might look like two straight weeks in the beginning and then long weekends or random weekdays as time goes by. When your spouse does have to go back, call in the village. We found it so helpful to be able to each parent one child – taking the older one out to the park, contact naps with the newborn etc. This strategy also meant our oldest wasn’t competing for adult attention for a few weeks.

      Baby wear all day long.

      Toilet train the oldest if she isn’t already.

      Find a safe outdoor space where the three year old can run and play without being out of sight.

      If you can get the baby napping in their own bed, use that time to connect with your older one.

      Let the housework slide. Get food delivered. Get a friend to organise a meal train. Don’t be afraid to ask for more help four/seven/nine months in.

      The first time you take both kids out by yourself, it might be a sh*tshow and that’s ok. Consider it practice for the next time, it will get easier.

      New activities for your toddler when you just need a minute with the baby – pop up books, colouring, play dough etc.

      Expect big emotions from everyone. Including you and your spouse. Acknowledge you won’t be the perfect parent every time your daughter makes a grab for control. Repair your relationship with her if you lose your cool.

      It will be wonderful and some days will be hard. Good luck to you all. I love our little family so much.

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

      There’s a book I like to give to an older sibling when a new little one is born called *I’m a Big Sister* by Joanna Cole. (There’s a big brother version also.) It is full of reassurances to the older child that they are still special and important and loved and that there are things they get to do because they’re older that the baby can’t do yet. It also explains safe ways to help parents with the baby.

  29. Size up vs. Maternity*

    People who have been/are pregnant, did you size up your clothes or wear maternity? How much did you end up sizing up?

    I’m 11 weeks pregnant with my first and I really have no clue how big I’ll get or how I’ll carry the weight. The-place-we-don’t-talk-about-on-weekends is ordering our staff shirts for the year and I thought it would be nice to order a few sizes up so I can wear it past the next few weeks, but I’m not sure how much to size up. I’m normally a medium, how much bigger should I go?

    1. Lilo*

      I wore maternity. I personally stayed mostly the same size except my belly except for shoes (gained half a size). Full panel pants also have the added benefit of providing belly support. Regular pants also buttoned right around where my c section incision ended up being so wearing the stretchy panel pants was really helpful most partum.

      Sizing up alone doesn’t really work third trimester because shirts really aren’t capable of stretching forward, they just aren’t cut that way. So you’ll just be baggy everywhere else with it tight over your stomach.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Depending on the style of the shirt, you might could split the seams up the sides from the bottom and put in (or have a tailor put in) a triangle of some solid fabric on each side, maybe, to give yourself some extra belly room? That might look funky and might not even be worth bothering with, I’m not sure and have never been pregnant myself. But if you did want to be able to keep wearing your staff shirt, that might be a way to do it :)

        1. Lilo*

          I guess, though it’d sort of hang off your stomach. I really was a fan of rouching because it didn’t just drape off you.

          But the big belly time is really not that long, so if you’re expected to wear the shirt long term, I’d just order in the size you wear now. you can’t 100% predict where you’ll end up permanently really.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Maternity wear–it’s designed to have more space exactly where the expansion is happening. (For example, I remember seeing someone wearing a skirt that probably looked fine in the mirror, but the pregnant belly had hiked the hemline in front almost to her crotch.)

      Exception: I bought a winter coat from a plus-size store (my maternity stores were very cape-focused), and then wore it the next winter with the baby inside.

      Do staff shirts come in a maternity cut? Are you going to be the trial run of how to put the uniform on a pregnant body, or has someone trod that ground already?

      1. HBJ*

        Your first paragraph – EXACTLY! Any skirt/dress above the knee is going to get inappropriate very fast.

        The thing is you don’t just need a bigger size. You need both length and width to fit over and around a bump. Unless the top/dress is already long and loose in general, it won’t fit for maternity. I know someone who got away with non-maternity pants for an entire pregnancy by using the ponytail trick. Next pregnancy, she actually got maternity pants and said it was a game changer.

        I go to all maternity clothes once I no longer fit my regular clothes.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      In general I would wear maternity clothes because they’re proportioned to how your body changes and tend to be pretty stretchy. Oversized versions of your normal style aren’t necessarily going to look or fit right but I’d probably go 1 size up on the staff shirt and just see how long it stays comfy

    4. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I would only size up to a large for the shirt. Bigger than that won’t really work well as it will still be too small for your stomach late in pregnancy and too big everywhere else. You’ll be able to wear the large for a couple of months and again after the pregnancy.

    5. Generic+Name*

      I was in my late 20s and like a size 4 when I was pregnant, so I went with that sizing in maternity wear. I suggest not buying a season ahead, as you don’t know how big you’ll be at any given time, for example. I had a really cute fall maternity shirt I bought early but didn’t get to wear it because my belly was too big for it when it was cool enough to wear. :/

      I’d ask if they offer maternity sizing for staff shirts, because the fit will likely be quite off in the chest/shoulders if you order a shirt large enough to accommodate a pregnant belly. By the end of my pregnancy, I likely would have been wearing a men’s XL or bigger t-shirt when at the time I was wearing a women’s small pre pregnancy. Not the most flattering or professional look.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        A good thing about maternity clothes–they tend to stock for the current season, rather than the season 4-6 months out from this one.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I wore maternity and had to get it all last minute because I thought, I’m small, how big can I possibly get?
      Larger clothes didn’t cut it because it was all.in.the.front. I looked not pregnant from the back, but like an enormous weeble from the front!

      1. EllieMae*

        Yes! It all depends on how you carry. I was also all in front, and looked pregnant by 4 months. People told me I didn’t look pregnant from the back. Even though I had a medium size baby (7 lbs) my belly was enormous. A friend who was pregnant at the same time, who has a similar build as me (average height & weight) barely showed in front. She got wider all around and could just buy regular trousers & skirts in larger sizes. She didn’t look obviously pregnant until around 8 months.

    7. Clisby*

      I didn’t wear “maternity” clothes for either of my kids. When my first was born, I was a computer programmer at a place where typical work clothes were extremely casual. I bought a few pairs of heavy-duty tracksuit pants, and then mostly wore my husband’s shirts. With my 2nd, I was working entirely from home, so did something similar.

      As for your question on shirts, I HATE tight-fitting shirts, so even though I objectively could wear a small, so I’d order a large or extra-large anyway. Are these shirts you’re required to wear? If so, I’d go up to XL.

    8. Squishy*

      I definitely needed maternity for the second trimester and on, and i highly recommend online thrifting! ThredUp has been great and often accepts returns. and then when I’m done with the clothes I re-thrift them. I typically wear my size or one size up.

    9. Root Beer Float*

      Congrats! Agreed, maternity. First time mom; delivered in July this year. Pre pregnancy size 6, 5’7”, 130, usually M. I was able to wear my regular workout shorts throughout the entire pregnancy and started needing maternity clothes at week 30. I could still squeeze into my regular clothes too, but the majority of the weight/belly came on the last 4 weeks.

      I worked from home (currently on maternity leave for the next few months) and didn’t go out much, so my clothes needs were few, yet I still bought too much maternity clothes. My favorites were from SHEIN and I also ordered from ASOS, Target, and Old Navy.

      For your shirt…if non-maternity my guess would be to get a L at least.

    10. Washi*

      Early in my pregnancy I was like “I don’t need to spend money on maternity stuff, I’ll just wear my friend’s old stuff and get a few things a size up from the thrift store that I can wear later.”

      The thing is, turns out pregnancy is kind of a long time to not feel good in your clothes if that’s something you care about! It ended up being totally worth it to me to get a small collection of nice maternity things that were my style. I felt like crap for most of the pregnancy so it was nice to at least look cute with my bump! I ended up sizing up, I’m usually a small but my chest and butt got way bigger along with my belly, so I was more comfortable in mediums. That really depends on the person though.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Yes to this! Sometimes having cute maternity clothes was just the pick my up I needed when feeling not great.
        My Husband actually got me a subscription to Rent the Runway when I was pregnant with my third, and it was a lot of fun. (It’s pretty pricy so I don’t know that I would recommend it, but I did look nicer in well made maternity clothes.)

    11. Size up vs. Maternity*

      Thank you for the responses! I work in a school, so the staff shirts are more of a spirit wear item than a uniform. Looking back, I think most colleagues just didn’t wear their school shirts when they were pregnant. I’ll order a large and hopefully it will fit for a bit longer than my current ones.

      I’ll plan to buy maternity for everyday wear. There’s a strong possibility this could be my only pregnancy so I’ll be thrifting a lot!

    12. Cheezmouser*

      Also, keep in mind that you can still wear the maternity clothes postpartum. Many people don’t fit in their pre-pregnancy clothes for several months (or ever) after giving birth. For my first kid, I wore maternity clothes for about 12 months postpartum.

    13. allathian*

      I lost about 30 lbs just before I got pregnant. So I went back to my pre-weightloss pants at about 26 weeks and bought my only pair of maternity pants at 32 weeks, just before I went on maternity leave. I used them at my wedding and not for much else, because I wore sweatpants for most of the rest of my pregnancy on maternity leave.

      I did have a few maternity/nursing tops, but mostly I just bought shirts that were a bit bigger than my normal size, and I got some use out of my pre-weightloss shirts. The dress code at my employer is fairly casual, so that stretchy tops are perfectly acceptable. They’re more forgiving than button-downs.

      I gained a full size in shoes. Partly that was because I was used to wearing shoes that were really half a size too small for me, but when I was pregnant, my tolerance for uncomfortable shoes disappeared entirely, so I switched up a full size and never went back.

  30. Sunflower*

    Advice for bad wifi range- get a wifi extender vs more powerful router?

    My apartment (NYC) is about 1000 sq ft and is rather narrow. The router and Ethernet are at the front of my apartment and my bedroom is in the back. I can barely get internet in my bedroom- I usually have to unplug and replug the modem 1-2 times a day since the service drops out after a few hours of use. Someone from my Buy Nothing group was nice enough to gift me an extender that retails for $20. It works maybe 30% of the time but I still need to unplug my modem multiple times a week.

    Just wondering what you would do- i currently rent my router from our provider (Spectrum), is it set up for shorter range since I’m in NYC? Should i buy a further range router (does that exist) or a stronger extender (do these actually work?)?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I might be misunderstanding you, but if the problem is that your modem is dropping service after a couple hours, replacing the router OR adding an extender won’t remedy that.

    2. it happens*

      Can you use a longer Ethernet cable to connect the router, putting it closer to the center of the apartment?

    3. Squidhead*

      We had an older wireless router and would often lose signal upstairs, on wi-fi phone calls, or outside. We replaced the router with a system from Deco that I think is considered a mesh extender? There are 3 pieces. The first piece is the wireless router and plugs into our modem as well as a standard outlet for power. The other 2 pieces are the extenders and they plug into any standard outlet…no ethernet cable needed They relay signal to/from the base station. There was a diagram on the website about how many extenders you need for how much space; we thought we might need 2 but 1 is actually sufficient for our 2 story house and yard. Setting it up was easy, though you need to put their app on a phone. It requires very little maintenance (occasional firmware updates). I’m sure there are other brands that do the same thing, we just settled on this one and have been happy with it.

    4. WellRed*

      Call spectrum and ask them if you haven’t already. And is there anything “blocking” the signal? An old fireplace or chimney? Can you relocate the router, etc.? Is the extender properly placed?

      1. WellRed*

        Oh and if your router is more than three years old, get spectrum to replace it. They simply don’t last. (I have Spectrum and recently went through a long process of swapping equipment out. God forbid they replace everything at once).

        1. Kathenus*

          I just had Spectrum at my house for 2 1/2 hours the other evening after having my internet dropping out completely earlier in the week. They swear that my 5+ year old modem is fine and doesn’t need to be replaced. Sigh…

          1. WellRed*

            Nah. Every time I’ve had to call spectrum
            Out, it’s consistently been about equipment age and the techs have been the ones suggesting replacement. If you still have a problem. Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw who you get (with any service).

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

      Not quite clear to me if this is a modem issue or a wireless issue. Sounds like it might be both: range issues are wireless problems; drop out issues are not.

      Your provider is your first port of call, have them check that the line looks good to rule out problems with the cabling. If you’re renting the device it should be easy to get it replaced since it’s an ongoing service they’re liable for problems with.

      Are you able to not rent their device? You might be better off with buying outright a better third-party unit. This can get very complicated in terms of compatibility so again your provider may have a list of devices they recommend and support.

      It is often better to have two devices where the modem does nothing but bring internet into the home, and a separate wireless router handles the wifi. There are some tech challenges to make this work. Details available on request.

      Mesh wireless is a newer and better technology than extenders. Anything pushing network over power lines is at the mercy of the quality of the electrical work, but sometimes may be the only way to get past blocking metal like radiators, fridges, bathrooms, laundry machines, etc.

      There are a lot of tricks to try first before buying any new kit. Try placing the router as high as possible (top of a shelf, say), and face it towards your bedroom if it isn’t already.

    6. Lcsa99*

      So I think spectrum is the problem. I am also in NYC and we have also had issues with spectrum. We got a new router from them and it did make a big difference, but it’s still pretty bad, particularly the phone service. I’ve had luck turning off the option on my phone that it’ll automatically use 5G and that also helped. I think the network is just overwhelmed.

      I have no doubt it’s primarily a spectrum issue so you might just have to live with it.

      1. Lcsa99*

        I should mention it’s really easy to replace the router. You don’t have to set an appointment or have someone come to your house just bring it to a spectrum store and they’ll switch it out.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If it’s OK for a while after a reboot, then it is probably either interference from other networks (when you restart it it may be finding a better channel, although it should do that whenever there’s a lot of noise), or it could be a DHCP lease issue with your ISP. Can you wire in a computer (even temporarily) when service drops out, and try a speed test? I use speedtest dot net, it’s pretty reliable. If you’re having the same issues while wired directly to the router, you may need to renew your router or modem’s DHCP lease more often. The instructions will vary based on the router, but you can Google it and experiment.

      If it’s only on wifi, are you using a 2.4GHz network or a 5GHz network? 2.4GHz is very crowded, 5GHz networks have a LOT more channels and are much less prone to interference. If you click on the wifi symbol in the Windows tray, then click “Properties” for the network you’re on, you’ll find the frequency under “Network band”.

    8. mreasy*

      We live in NYC, have Spectrum, and are in a similar sized place. We tried different “extenders” but the only thing that has worked consistently is the Eero system. We have 3 of the bases and we have no more wi-fi issues.

  31. Anon57*

    Any pet bird owners out there? I’ve owned 4 Australian parakeets over the years. All male, all were the normal decibel of loudness. This female English keet a little over a yr old has been cycling through periods of normal loudness and extreme shrieking. Each cycle appears to be about 6-8 wks long. Today she started absolute shrieking/screaming. During these cycles she also is obsessed with sort of standing on her head, by wedging herself between the cage wall and her seed dish. I think this is attention seeking behavior or something like being in “heat”. I would love advice about how to deal with this. I suffer from headaches a lot and this level of screaming really gets to me. She does it when I take her out to play, as well as when she has to stay in her cage, so it’s not strictly a “I want out” plea. Strangely, the sound of a faucet running will also make her screech. Any tips for me? Experience with how long this lasts? I usually try covering the cage with a sheet and closing her bedroom door, but 6-8 weeks of this is hard. I do not want to get a male and encourage them having babies. I just want to enjoy my pet bird more. Thanks in advance!

    1. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Senegal parrot owner here. I don’t know anything about Australian parakeets, but yes, that sounds like she’s in season. My parrot usually gets that twice a year, about a month after each solstice. She gets very loud and cranky, including attacking me AND the dog – never a wise move if you’re a 6 oz. parrot at he’s a 50 lb. pitbull. He was terrified of her, though, and never hurt her.

      I haven’t found a way around it, just tried to get through with my sanity. She has calmed down quite a bit with age. So, no real solutions, just a lot of commiseration.

      1. Anon57*

        Thanks! So far, this is more than twice a year but if that changes, I think it would be easier to handle. I’m hoping it lessens as she ages.

  32. A Writer*

    Just want to go on record to say that my goal is to someday have one of my books recommended by Alison here. I do know someone who wrote a book she recommended them in the past, and I forwarded it all excited, but they weren’t a reader (and the book was already very successful) so she was like … ‘great? thanks?’ but she didn’t GET it.

      1. A Writer*

        I mean, she was a bestseller, her book was in the NYT, so while I’m sure she was happy to have anyone enjoy it, it’s not like being in AAM was the moment she “made it” in her mind.

    1. Four of ten*

      Sadly, I write quilting books. I’d send one free to Alison to ask for a recommendation. But-wrong audience.

      1. Llellayena*

        Which quilting books have you written? You might not have an audience in Alison’s recommendation list, but you’ve got some among the commenters here!

        1. Four of ten*

          The title of my first: String Quilt Style. This will help you find the others. I’ve also got books about a different way to make hexie quilts.

  33. Jackalope*

    I see that our usual gaming thread host is not here, so let’s start a gaming thread. What have you been playing this week? As always this is open to all games of any type, not just video games.

    I’m still working away at Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes. I spent some time last night working on leveling some of my characters up and just kind of messing around without particularly trying to move the story forward, and that was a lot of fun.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve had a weird urge to get back into WoW lately, which happens for a month or two every couple of years. (It’s literally one of three video games that has ever held my attention for more than three minutes, the other two being the original Plants vs Zombies and Super Mario 64.) I’m hoping that I can satisfy the urge without giving Blizzard any money right now, so I’m only playing characters in the first 20 levels which doesn’t require a subscription and we’ll see if that sates the urge long enough for it to pass. That said, I am enjoying myself!

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        I have not played WoW in many years and I still get that feeling sometimes. Lots of reasons why I am not going to play right now and probably ever again, but I still sometimes wish I could. I also still have random scenes from WoW pop into my head when I’m half asleep, lol.

    2. Emotional support capybara*

      Plugging away on Yakuza 5, about to finish up Saejima’s arc.

      In related news I am super excited because RGG Studio dropped announcements for THREE! new games in the series last week (or, well, two new games and a remake the fandom has been offering its collective firstborn for for ages) and I don’t know which has been more entertaining: watching the fandom react to the news, or watching the fandom react to Kiryu’s new hairdo.

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        Hope you’re enjoying Y5! I finished it earlier this year and it became one of my favorite games in the series so far. Also yes, those news were awesome and I can’t wait to get my hands on those games and eventually play them many years from now, since they keep coming and I can’t catch up.

        1. Emotional support capybara*

          Baba-chan you little shit. …ahem excuse me. Yeah, I am particularly excited for Ishin and the passionate manly bathhouse battle memes are giving me so much life right now, lol

    3. DarthVelma*

      About a year ago my partner and I had a 16 deck Magic tournament with our best Commander decks just to see what would happen. (A deck I conceived and built won…go me!) We did brackets and even did a little tourney pick ’em to see if either of us would predict the winner. We didn’t. Even I didn’t have faith in my own favorite deck. *snort*

      Anyway, we decided to do it again. We’re going to try to finish up the first found matchups on one side of the bracket this weekend. There’s an Eldrazi deck on that side that I think is probably going to make it to the finals. But you never know with the RNG and “heart of the cards”.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        I used to play a lot of casual Commander! Who was your commander for your winning deck? I tended to like fun theme decks more than actually good decks.

        1. DarthVelma*

          Tuvasa the Sunlit. The deck was built around either stealing creatures from the opponent or turning their creatures into smaller creatures – frogs, fish, bugs, etc and stomping on them. Nothing feels better than turning HUGE Eldrazi with Annihilator 4 into a 2/2 elk. Or worse, turning their commander into an indestructible 1/1 beetle.

          It also had a crazy infinite squirrel thing going on as a backup win condition.

    4. anon24*

      I’ve lost myself in Skyrim VR. I posted about this a few weeks ago on the gaming thread, but I had gotten it a few months ago and as predicted by many reviews found the vanilla version buggy and virtually unplayable. A few weeks ago I finally had the time to do some research and downloaded the UVRE mod through Wabbajack.

      I’m not sure if it was a good idea or a bad idea. So far at different times my husband has had to pull me out to eat, pull me out to inform me that it’s past midnight, and it’s all I want to do in my free time. The night sky, oh my god, I’ve spent so much time just staring at it. I climbed the 7,000 stairs at night under the northern lights in the snow and I’m not even a religious person but it was a religious experience. Being able to just stand there and look up and be completely surrounded by it all was just amazing.

      Also, the cool factor of having my weapons attached to my “body” and being able to just reach over my shoulder and grab my bow, or reach down to my hips for my swords, and have daggers strapped to my forearms is just insanely awesome. There’s still bugs and some days it crashes more often than others but its been an absolute blast and I’ve put about 150 hours into it in already.

      1. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        I have Skyrim. I have an aging Oculus Rift. I do not have SkyrimVR but I can *imagine* how that night sky must look!

    5. Squeebird*

      I am starting a new D&D campaign this Wednesday! I am DMing so I am frantically preparing things last minute. I’m pretty excited because I’m a librarian and I finally get to run an adventure in Candlekeep; it’s gonna be FUN!

    6. Porch Screens*

      Still working on Hollow Knight here, though I believe I’m about ready to call it done. I’ve explored everywhere, gotten all the mask and soul vessel upgrades and all the spells/abilities/nail arts. There’s one last charm I’m working on and then I think I’ll be ready to finish the game and call it good. Technically I already *did* finish the game once and got the ‘default’ ending but I plan to get the other two endings that are available to me, too. While there’s still some content I’ve not completed (the last Colosseum trial, NKG, and the Godhome Pantheon stuff), it’s all basically just combat stuff that I’m not especially interested in now that I’ve gotten all the story stuff done/figured out.

      Next up to play will probably be the Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous cRPG once the Enhanced Edition goes live at the end of the month.

    7. frontlinER*

      Anyone play Bear and Breakfast? It just came out on the switch (after being on Steam for a bit) and while I love the concept, I need to commiserate with someone over how terrible the controls are.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I played this on Steam. Tried the demo and did not like it, but thought the game itself would be better. I really liked the concept as you did, but I did not gel at all with the gameplay. It did not help that the game would not start and I had to much about in the files to make it work. The idea is charming, but the execution is clumsy, sadly. I put it down after about an hour and never went back again.

    8. acmx*

      Years ago, someone mentioned FlightRising. I picked it back up during the pandemic.

      Next week, I should seek recommendations for board games for groups.

  34. I Heart AZ*

    I have lived in Phoenix for almost 30 years, and I still love it.
    Pros: weather, even in the hot summer, you are in AC and if you have access to a pool that’s even better; you can drive 2 hours north and be in cooler weather; it’s hot from June to September but the rest of the year is fabulous! Great hub, you can get to S. CA beaches in 5-6 driving hours or about an hour flying, short flight to CO/UT for skiing, 4 hour drive to Vegas, 4 hours to the nearest beach in Mexico, many direct or easy to connect flights to the east coast. Cost of living is very affordable; very outdoor focused, eating, living, exercising outdoors, a ton of hiking, walking, biking, mountain biking options very close no matter where you live in Phoenix, so it’s easy to do these things before/after work. Regarding water, Phoenix is VERY good about water conservation, we have never had to do water rationing/cut backs like CA.

    Cons: it’s getting even more red; lack of cultural depth; food choices are mostly chain restaurants but that is definitely getting better.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Do you work for the Chamber of Commerce? Quite a great pitch for a less than desirable area to live. And I lived there for 4 years. I moved to th SF Bay area where the sky is blue and so are most of the people. Especially good if you also happen to be a woman.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        I don’t live in Phoenix and don’t like heat, but surely it’s possible for someone to like a place, even if sub-par by your standards, without being shills for the business community? Sheesh.

        1. I Heart AZ*

          Exactly! Thank you for saying that! And no, I don’t work for the COC, I just happen to love it here, despite the downsides.

    2. Holly the spa pro*

      Hard disagree on the food choices being mostly chain. there are of course lots of chain options but the valley has tons and tons of local options compared to other states. it also has one of the most eclectic food scenes of any place I’ve ever lived and it’s easily the thing I miss most about living there.

  35. KoiFeeder*

    Writing Thread! What are folks writing, anything counts!

    I got a nice comment on AO3 and immediately spent 36 hours banging out a sequel, which I am frantically editing now because I want it to be PERFECT for the person who commented.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      That’s so nice how your commenter inspired you. I’m not a writer myself, but my daughter has a fic she writes on AO3 and she gets that same kind of energy when someone makes a favorable comment; it makes her happily spend hours and hours more on the writing.

    2. Cendol*

      God, I love those kinds of AO3 comments. Bless the readers who take the time to write them!

      Currently juggling two fanfics and two original stories. The place we don’t speak of on weekends has entered a busy season, so creatively I am feeling “thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread” at the moment. If I manage fifty words I consider it a good day, lol.

    3. Kara Danvers*

      Getting nice AO3 comments are the bestttttt <3

      I have 3 working outlines and a few one-shot ideas that I've been mulling over. Unfortunately, I'm recovering from some sort of illness (negative for covid, but certainly a bad cold that has sapped my energy for the week), so it's been hard to get to writing.

  36. Blueberry Jazz*

    I’ve heard about retinol beijg amazing in skincare.
    I’m in my early 30s and have been thinking about giving it a go. Have you tried it? What’s your experience? How to start?

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Retinol is great, IMHO. Start as soon as you can and don’t forget your neck, chest and hands. It’s been a game changer for me and I’m over 60. You don’t have to use a lot, just use it regularly (I use it approx 3x per week, but less in the summer)

      1. Lilith*

        I keep seeing products that have retinol in them, and for me it’s a bit too much choice! Do you have a retinol moisturizer, or use it as a serum separately? I would have assumed it was better to use it as often as possible, is there a scientific/health reason not to use it every day or is it just expensive?

        1. Overeducated*

          Yes! I’ve never gotten into skincare stuff because whenever I ask for advice it’s totally overwhelming. I just want to know of one, over the counter product (not a category of things, a specific thing I can buy) with instructions!

        2. Gabi*

          Retinols can be quite strong for the skin so you don’t want to use it too often – more isn’t always better! You need to introduce it slowly and gently, and allow your skin time to adjust. It usually makes your skin more sensitive and can cause redness and peeling while it adjusts.

          If you’re happy with your existing skincare routine, try adding a retinol serum and introduce it gradually – use it once, leave it a few days, and then use it again. After a week or two, increase use to every three days for a few weeks, then you could go up to every second day if you want to. Eventually you can move to every day, but this should be a long, slow process. If your skin reacts a lot to the product, go back down a stage and let it settle before you gradually increase further. Be meticulous about using sunscreen when using retinols as your skin can become very sun sensitive, and only apply your retinol product at night. Ensure skin is well hydrated at all times. And it’s a good idea to minimise use of other potential irritants when introducing retinols – things like vitamin C, AHA/BHAs etc. can increase sensitivity and can make adjusting to retinol harder.

        3. Chauncy Gardener*

          I have a prescription for generic Retin A from my dermatologist. That way I know what I’m getting. I’m never quite sure what’s in all those expensive bottles at the drug store, Sephora, etc.

    2. Redhaired runner*

      I have seen dermatologists that post YouTube videos about this(I think they are called doctorly). My understanding is that you need to start slowly because it can cause skin irritation and sun sensitivity.

    3. Sunflower*

      I just started in May. You need to start slow or else it can overwhelm your skin. My derm recommended this schedule: 1 day, 1st week, 2 days, 2nd week (space the days out) and work your way up to 3-5 times a week. You should use it at night and with a gentle moisturizer- save your scrubs or anything that would strip your skin for the morning. It cause your cells to turnover more frequently so there is a risk your skin could ‘purge’ when you first start using it (google this to understand what it is). I would recommend what Readhead runner said- watch some videos from derms or ask your own if you go to one. I generally have good skin and it has slightly helped me- I’ve noticed my under-eye circles and lines near my eyes have gotten better. I still am planning to get Botox

        1. WellRed*

          I’ve liked olay retinol 24 (purple bottle). Very mild, affordable. Another option is to see if your preference skin care brand maybe has a nighttime moisturizer with retinol.

    4. mreasy*

      I had great skin results with retinol, but one warning – a rare side effect is that it can cause hair loss around your hairline. This was happening to me after a few months of strong retinoid use and I panicked until a commenter here (thanks AAM!) mentioned this possibility. I stopped and everything went back to normal but bear that in mind. Don’t be scared off though, you should definitely try! The Ordinary’s retinol serum is inexpensive and gets very high marks.

  37. Admiral Thrown Rocks the Blue*

    Any Florida folks here? I’m in Tallahassee, waiting to hear the latest on the hurricane. Hoping it doesn’t landfall near here…. I have no supplies and won’t be able to get any until Friday. Which of course will be too late.

    1. Newbie*

      Tallahassee, and I’m keeping an eye. Right now everyone’s focused on the football game tonight, but I imagine the focus will turn to the storm as soon as the game is over.

      1. Admiral Thrawn Rocks the Blue*

        yeah, nothing interferes with football. I personally ignore sports. Anyway, there will be long lines at gas stations and general pre-storm craziness. Good times.

        1. Newbie*

          Yep, I’m sportsball agnostic. Nothing much to do for prep except cook and eat what’s in my fridge/freezer so there’s less to toss if the power goes out.

    2. Healthcare Worker*

      I’m in Tallahassee too. Even though I do keep up with football (and it’s a great game tonight!), I’ve spent today doing some hurricane prep work. I checked my pantry, organized my fridge and freezer to see what I have. Checked for batteries, etc. And I always clean house during hurricane watch. This evening’s projection at 8:00 said it would be a cat 2 if it lands here which is much better than a 4. Hoping we all stay safe!

    3. Been there, done that*

      I went through Hurricane Irma in 2017 when I was living in Florida, in the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area. For a week I was freaked out about “hunkering down” and “storm surge” and everything else the news was telling me to be freaked out about. Then Irma hit, and I was like, “Um, I am from Illinois, and this is like a bad thunderstorm?”. Because it was like a bad thunderstorm. With no thunder. Ultimately, the worst part was we lost power for 4 days and it was hot as hell, but we dealt with that fine. I am not trying to say a hurricane is nothing to be worried about, and to prepare for. But sometimes…it is just nothing to be worried about. Especially if you are inland. I was less than a mile off of the Gulf Of Mexico, and all was good.

      1. Newbie*

        Irmageddon turned out to be much ado about nothing up here.
        I saw what Michael and Ivan did west of TLH and, well, there’s nothing you can really do to prepare for that.
        The category 1ish storms we had like Hermine aren’t any big deal unless a tree falls on your house and then life sucks. But, trees don’t fall on most peoples’ houses. For the vast majority of folks here, it’s nothing more than dealing with a few days of no power. Storms usually bring a bit of cool air behind them, so at least for a few days, it’s not annoyingly hot.

    4. sagewhiz*

      Tampa here. Hope it still will be by week’s end. (Last time Tpa took a direct hit: Oct 1921; every year I fear we get closer to our luck running out.)

      Hard labor today clearing yard & prepping for possible evacuation. Very worried—95-yr-old mom lives alone an hour south, local adult son and DIL (w/2 teens) both sapped by treatments for cancers. Yeah, not sleeping well at allllll lately.

      Hope we all come through scathed as little as possible…

    5. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Evacuate now! Book yourself a hotel room inland, pack and get on the road before they are choked with traffic.

      1. Ginger Pet Lady*

        If he can’t even get supplies until Friday (payday, I assume) how is he supposed to be able to afford a hotel and gas to evacuate? Sheesh.
        LOTS of people cannot afford to do the things you suggest. Telling them to do things that they cannot is NOT helpful.
        So I suggest that after the hurricane, if people need help, avoid saying “Why didn’t you just evacuate instead?”
        Try compassion instead.

          1. Ginger Pet Lady*

            Sorry about that, admiral. I hope you are safe this week. I feel for your predicament. Please check in next weekend if you are able.

    6. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      Just moved in to the house we’re buying in Belleview (sellers granted early possession) last weekend. Closing is set for Wednesday, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. We’re also in that position of not buying anything. Apparently underwriters don’t care how much money is in your account or that there’s a hurricane- Do Not Spend Money before settlement! Also hoping it doesn’t delay our stuff arriving from PA for too long. It’s only been a week, but air mattresses and washing the only 4 towels that made it onto the truck is getting old. There was a clearly labeled box! Things we needed immediately were in a separate room! How did someone mess it up?

    7. Florida Woman*

      Good luck! We’re down on the Forgotten Coast so we are watching this one VERY closely. Current forecasts show the storm weakening before it even hits land so I am hopeful that TLH will be spared major effects.

    8. CharlieBrown*

      I grew up in Florida in the 80s, and never had to worry about hurricanes (too young and ignorant, I guess). I get the feeling this is definitely a climate change thing. I hope everybody gets through this okay.

  38. UrsulaD*

    On a recent AAM people mentioned classes you could take to help with note taking. Anyone have a good one? I’m starting grad school soon.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      I don’t have any info about note taking but I’ve started using Zotero lately to keep track of references and it’s been life changing. You can add notes, group things into collections, and sync across devices.

  39. Double A*

    I’m looking for recommendations for wordless (or mostly wordless) but narrative driven children’s picture books. My daughter is almost 4 and she’s been really enjoying “reading” to herself but can’t read yet.

    I got Adam Becker’s series (Journey/Quest/Return) from the library on our librarian’s recommendation and she LOVES them. So anything in the vein is what I’m looking for.


      1. North Wind*

        A couple decades ago in college – I can’t remember if it was an education, literature, or art class, but we did a whole section on children’s picture books and how they are (or should be considered) a legitimate art form. From the inside binding color selection to the actual pages, the story is being told.

        Tuesday and The Napping House (Audrey Wood) were two examples, and I actually bought those books back then (and still have them today).

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            When oldest was a toddler we went to a fabulous contemporary art exhibit on children’s books. So many different styles and we came away with many lovely books–I particularly remember one with sewn fabric for the illustrations, about a baby elephant with a banana that becomes the crescent moon in the last illustration.

            Seconding Weisner (Tuesday) as right up Double A’s alley.

      2. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Totally Flotsam, anyone who has ever gone to Long Beach Island NJ will recognize the beach and pharmacy!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day.
      Ten Minutes ‘Til Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann.
      We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbery. This has words, but the song is so familiar she can probably provide the lines given an image to work off of. And they go on an adventure and meet a bear.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I misread this as Goodnight, Godzilla and I was delighted that there were books being published for the direct target audience of my three year old self.

            1. AGD*

              Oh, there you are, haha! I didn’t get to read it in childhood, but I read a magazine article about it that had a hilarious interview with Pilkey!

    2. Squishy*

      Little Red and the Cat Who Loved Cake! An entirely visual narrative with lots of fun nuggets in the pictures (and some words in the illustrations).

    3. e271828*

      There are so many! Have you browsed a bookstore as well as the library?

      Tuesday, David Wiesner — all of his work is good & this particularly so

      Puss in Boots, Fred Marcellino — beautiful illustrations

      Chris Van Allsburg might have something suitable

      Wanda Gag (can’t get the accent) is classic for a reason; there are a lot of vintage classics that would suit, like Snowy Day and Harold and the Purple Crayon

      The Midnight Fair, Gideon Sterer

      Happy browsing!

      1. e271828*

        Anno’s Journey — all of Anno’s books are brilliant
        The Mitten
        Door, Jihyeon Lee, recent, library shd have
        Mirror, Jean Baker
        Tomi de Paola, there should still be loads available

        Check goodreads, there must be lists over there…

    4. Bibliovore*

      YES to all the previous recommendations and
      Lion and Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.
      You can’t take a balloon into the Metropolitan Museum
      Wolf in the snow
      Red again by Barbara Lehman
      Bow-Wow bugs a bug by Megan Montague Cash.
      Where’s Walrus? Stephen Savage
      Draw! by Raul Colon
      Oink by Arthur Geisart
      Adventure of Polo
      Flora and the flamingo by Molly Idle
      Mirror by Jeannie Baker
      Jack and the missing piece by Pat Schories
      Wave by Suzy Lee

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      Beatrice Rodriguez wrote a trilogy, beginning with Chicken Thief that are a lot of fun.
      The same publisher (Enchanted Lion Books) has a few other authors that make really engaging wordless picture books- Arthur Geisert (he wrote a series featuring some pretty clever pigs) and Gaetan Doremus.

    6. 00ff00Claire*

      The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It’s mostly wordless, and I think I have seen a shortened version that does include words, so make sure you find the correct edition. It was also made into a film in the 80s, which you can find on youtube.

    7. Double A*

      I’m making a list of all these recommendations and going to start requesting them from our library! But keep em coming :)

    8. Esmeralda*

      Molly Bang, Grey lady and the strawberry snatcher
      Emily McCully, Picnic
      Istvan Banyai, Zoom
      Peter Sis, An Ocean World
      David Weisner, Tuesday
      Raymond Briggs, The Snowman

      That’s what’s in my sons room (he’s 22, doesn’t live at home any more). There are many others. Ask the childrens librarian at your local library or independent bookstore.

      We used to make wordless books when my son was little. You can staple pages together or buy a blank book. We’d draw pictures or cut them out of magazines. Then we’d tell stories from the pix. That was a lot of fun!

    9. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

      The Owly series by Andy Runton. Three books about a very gentle owl and his adventures in and around the forest where he lives.

  40. e271828*

    Very impressed that the pompom dried flowers are still in the vase. They would not be, in this house! What polite cats!

    1. Aphrodite*

      I know! My three cats are all over any real plants or flowers so I am forced into using nice faux ones. I also love home decorating and I am jealous of all those lovely homes with plants and flowers all over them. They just feel so refreshing! But in my home it’s either that the plants would kill the cats or the cats do kill the plants. And I hate seeing beautiful Boston ferns die a slow death.

      Alison, with your six do you have any issues with plants and/or flowers?

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        My plants live in a bird cage for this reason. I kept finding my aloe plant on the floor of the kitchen or my bedroom instead of the flower pot in the living room.

        The cats didn’t play with the cacti, but they did knock them over, so the cacti are also caged.

        1. Catherine*

          Now I’m imagining a birdcage full of plants hanging from the ceiling, and you can put a cover over it when it’s time for bed.

        2. VegetarianRaccoon*

          OMG! I haven’t had indoor plants at home pretty much ever because of a cat that eats them. I never thought of caging them, thank you !

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      My cat has it in for hydrangeas. Other flowers are fine, but a hydrangea at some point gave her guff and she will challenge them to battle any time they infringe on her territory.

    3. Generic+Name*

      I agree! I have been able to get my cats and plants to coexist, but it’s a fine balance and requires I also have several pots of cat grass around. But no way would these little pom poms remain untouched.

  41. Chaordic One*

    Low Stakes First World problem. I have recently experienced some problems with online purchases that were delivered in not quite new condition and I wonder if I’m being overly picky or if I was justified in my returning them for refund.

    I love suede shoes and, having an unusual shoe size, I almost always have to order shoes online. (Very rarely do stores carry my size.) Anyway, the last couple of pairs of suede shoes that I ordered both arrived with the suede rubbed off of the toes and one pair had little knicks in the suede finish on other parts of it. So I sent them back for a refund and said they didn’t fit. Maybe I should have been more honest about why I returned them. They actually did fit, but I was unhappy about the condition of the “new” shoes. I suppose the suede could have rubbed off from the shoes bouncing around in the box during shipping and rubbing against each other, or maybe they were shop worn from other people looking at them and trying them on. I don’t really know.

    Other items that I recently sent back included paperback books that had major creases in the covers and that were NOT in new condition. I don’t think they were damaged in shipping. I think that they must have been damaged in the warehouse. They probably could have been sold as “used” and advertised as “damaged” noting the damage to the covers and then heavily discounted to reflect that. My sister feels that the value of a book is in its contents and that I should have just kept them.

    Lastly, I attempted to send back a comparatively low-cost collectable item. In this case, the item’s packaging was damaged in shipping because they did a pathetically slap dash job of packing it. Part of the value of this collectible item is having it in its original packaging and having the packaging in “like new” condition. I emailed them and said I wanted to return it. I never received a reply, but a credit for the item showed up on my credit card statement and so I guess I’m going to keep it.

    1. e271828*

      If you are buying off Amazon, be wary of who is fulfilling/shipping the items you order.

      It sounds like you received worn and returned items, which is unfortunately a thing that jerks are doing these days, and you should cite that as the reason for the return. If you are nervous about that, photograph or film yourself opening the package to document that you received the item in X condition: delete if as listed, use for backup if there’s a problem. Warehouse-damaged items should not be sold at new prices, you were right to return those.

    2. Juneybug*

      We have been having the same problem – new stuff being delivered damaged or less than mint condition, and wrong items sent (anything from car parts, kitchen cabinet, leggings, etc.). It’s happen with Walmart, kitchen cabinet store (ready to assemble), and Amazon.
      We are not sure why it’s happening. We read the description, order the correct part and verify with each other, and read the reviews, but yet, we are getting damaged or wrong items.
      It’s very strange. And yes we return the items with comments. Figured the store needs to know there is an error(s) with their shipment process, product, or mail.
      I don’t think it’s karma as we try to be good people in this world. :)

      1. DontTellMyBoss*

        Hello! Tonnnns of retailers are turning their stores into ad-box warehouses, shipping directly from the closest store to have an item in stock as opposed to sending it from a dedicated warehouse. The store employees tasked with picking these orders are timed and get in trouble for marking an item as unfound (ie system says it’s there but it’s not in the correct location/they can’t find it). This encourages them to pick your item even if it’s damaged or imperfect in some way. Oh- and then the team packing has a cutoff time by which all of the hundreds of picked orders MUST be scanned, boxed, and ready to be picked up by UPS. Which is incentive to be fast, not meticulous.
        So if you order from target, Walmart, Best Buy, or most clothing retailers, your items can be coming from several different locations, packed by all different people who are pushed to be FASTFASTFAST and keep their numbers up.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      With clothing if it’s marketed as a new item it should not be visibly worn! Either they’re extremely low quality and it’s good to know that up front, or they’re not actually new.

      I would not return a beat up paperback. It’ll look like that after I read it anyway

    4. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I think you are totally justified in wanting the condition descriptions to be honest and accurate. That would annoy me too. It’s completely fine to sell a used book in whatever condition, but they need to let you know what the condition is, some people will care and some will not.

    5. WellRed*

      For the books, there is no reason not to “buy local.” They have the same ordering capacity, order from the same warehouse, and can ship to your house. I’d hate creased covers too.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      All totally justified. If your sister thinks the damaged book is worth that, she could have bought it from you, but I doubt she would have. There’s a reason that even slightly used items are usually at a significant discount from the cheapest new item. And even if the suede on the shoes was rubbed off in transit, then I would have sent them back for being of such cheap quality, but they were probably worn for a while and then returned or sold as new by a shady seller. A lot of people think they’re buying FROM Amazon when actually they’re buying from a third party seller THROUGH Amazon. I always check the seller ratings, they’re very telling, and I try to always rate sellers when they’re particularly good or bad.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Items sold as new should be new. Used books are sold at a deep discount, so your sister is being ridiculous to say that you “should” keep a damaged book at full retail price. Ask her if she wants to buy your used car at full retail. After all, the value of a car is in the driving, right?

      If you paid for new, and it clearly isn’t new or pristine, of course you should return them.

      As a matter of fact, if you bought something and just decided you didn’t want it anymore for any reason at all, you’re entitled to change your mind and return it (if store policy allows). That’s what return policies are there for.

    8. Workerbee*

      Yes, you are justified!

      I am looking at things like this the way I do with how accommodating we (collectively) are toward a**holes and other toxic types – over and over, we see questions from folks asking if they’re being rude, or a tattletale, or making a fuss, when they either want to or actively are saying NO to those toxic types.

      You exchanged money in good faith for an item. The persons behind that item did not act in a way to warrant either your good faith or your hard-earned currency.

      It’s worth it for us to remember that self-care includes doing what’s right by ourselves, with no unnecessary “first world problem” tagline affixed to it. A**holes depend on the nice people of the world being too scared of words to stand up for themselves, thus letting the a**holes continue to a**hole around.

  42. Not So NewReader*

    If you are not happy with the item, then that’s it. You’re justified in returning it.

    As far as your sis, again, this is something that can vary from one person to the next. Some people truly value and enjoy a pristine book. I don’t care. But I would care if I was paying for NEW book and received something that looked used. I don’t like it if products are mis-represented.

    I think I would make note of these sites and perhaps shop there less or maybe not at all.

    I bought a lot of stuff online when I was working on my house. I fully expected some disappointments. The one time I had a big disappointment, the seller took care of everything immediately, in one phone call. My rule of thumb is “stuff happens” how does the business react when something goes sideways? But I do this with my in-person transactions also. One example of Really Not Good problem is the place I was using to get car repair. I had been in an accident and the car needed a lot of repair. Finally the day arrives where I am going to pick up my car. I get a phone call. Another customer had hit my car as it sat waiting for me to pick it up. sigh. What impressed me was by the time they called me, they had filed for insurance coverage on their end, they had assessed the damage and scheduled the repair. There was nothing for me to do except wait a few more days. What can ya do, stuff happens. They covered everything that was necessary in the situation before they called me. You bet they had my business for years to come.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for this story about the car repair place that totally Did Right By You. Nice to get a bit of good news/there ARE good people in the world in a totally unexpected place! I was just feeling a tad sad and this was a nice counterbalance.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Some folks use their jobs to do right by people. I actually felt bad for them, they had my car for 17 working days, got it done, then WHOOPS, NOT Done. They had to feel like they were going to spend the rest of their lives repairing my poor car. The person who hit it was a person “of the cloth”. I am sure he was really upset. Stuff happens. smh.

    2. KatEnigma*

      That is exactly how I feel about the books. I don’t care if it’s used. But with used comes a discount, normally. I do care about paying new prices for a used book!

  43. NY DMV*

    NY residents or frequent travelers, tell me what I’m missing: I need to renew my NY driver’s license this year. I will be getting a Real ID. Should I get the Enhanced instead? It costs more, but does it actually provide a useful function? (Real ID should let me on planes and into federal buildings. I also have a valid US Passport.) We don’t travel a lot and my spouse doesn’t have a passport (but has an Enhanced DL). My understanding is that the countries we could enter by ground/boat require passports for entry, so the convenience of the Enhanced DL is negated…we’d need Passports anyway, right? Canada is the only border we would be likely to cross by ground; we are not interested in Caribbean cruises.

    What am I missing? Should I spend the extra $30 or save it?

    1. WellRed*

      Omg. It’s $30. Spend it. It won’t impact your retirement plans. You’ve already spent that much debating the question.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        People are fleeing the state because of the taxes here. There is definitely a mindset of not giving the state any more than one has to. This question makes sense to many of us who live here.

      2. Nancy*

        There is no point in spending $30 for something you don’t need, regardless of whether you can afford it. Someone with a passport doesn’t need an enhanced ID; the real ID is enough.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Generally the enhanced DL (at least in Washington) was intended for folks who would be driving to Canada or taking Caribbean cruises, but didn’t want a whole passport. If you have a passport and a Real ID, you don’t need an enhanced DL.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Basically in states that offer it (which is not most of them), an enhanced DL is basically the equivalent of a passport card (as opposed to the passport booklet) that you don’t have to jump through the federal hoops to get.

          Passport booklet: The whole banana, land/water/air crossings worldwide (assuming otherwise appropriate visas etc)
          Passport card and Enhanced DL: land and water crossings only, probably not useful outside of North America/the Caribbean
          Real ID: Useless outside of the US, but required (I think by this fall) for domestic flights and entering federal buildings.

    3. mreasy*

      Thanks for asking this, I have also been confused by it! Am also putting off updating to RealID even though I travel by plane a lot. The DMV is just…SIGH

      1. NY DMV*

        My license is expiring, so now seemed to be the time! My DMV makes appointments, so I hope that will help. The Real ID is the same cost as the basic DL, I just need to present more documents (which aren’t a problem) to get it. So I’ll stick with that, do it once, and should be good for the next 8 years!

    4. just another queer reader*

      I got the enhanced driver’s license. I haven’t used it yet and tbh might never use it, but I like the idea of being able to drive to Canada easily if I ever want/ need to.

    5. J.B.*

      At some point I believe that the driver’s license alone won’t be enough id to fly. That date got pushed back but you would then need a passport to fly domestically.

      1. S*

        You need a Real ID or a passport. It doesn’t have to be enhanced, just the basic Real one they’ve been offering for a couple years now.

        1. NY DMV*

          They released the Real ID shortly after I last renewed my license. I figured if the FAA deadline came up before I had to renew, I’d use my passport if necessary. With one thing and another, the FAA deadline kept getting pushed back anyway, and now I’m up for renewal!

  44. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

    its mainly for people who want to visit Canada and not spend the money to get a passport so as long as you keep your passport current there really isn’t a benefit

  45. Fall Skirt Search*

    I am having the darndest time trying to find a skirt I can wear for fall that isn’t a mini, that doesn’t look like a burlap sack, or isn’t on Amazon via China. I am here seeking help with Googling!

    What I’m looking for:
    -Corduroy, wool, wool-blend, a knit – something heavier-weight for crisper days. I could be missing out on an obvious fabric. Polyester??
    -Midi length or maxi.
    -A-line or that kind of peasanty-tiered/broomstick look – I do like a bit of swirl.
    -Colors: Solids for maximum usage; I have both dark tan and black boots, so colors that work with either or both of those. Burgundy, navy, russet, brown, etc.
    -If it has pockets I’d probably fall over in a temporary faint from joy.

    1. Llellayena*

      Got a sewing machine? Skirts like that are about the easiest thing to make, especially if you’re ok with elastic waist and no zippers. It’s easy to flip through the pattern books for a style you like and then you can control the length and fabric.

      1. Girasol*

        I used to do wrap skirts from a pattern. There’s nothing easier. If you can make a sewing machine go at all, you can make those.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      ModCloth and/or Unique Vintage might have something like that.
      eShakti is always an option as well.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      I have a deep red wool blend skirt from Uniqlo with pockets that I love. It was from a few seasons ago, though. You might be able to find it on Poshmark or some such . Most of Uniqlo’s skirts have pockets, so might be worth checking out what they have this season.

    4. Rosyglasses*

      You might try Boden – they have high quality clothing and tend to have much in the way of skirts and dresses.

    5. beach read*

      I can’t speak to where the clothing is made but you might check out the Coldwater Creek website/catalogue.

      1. No Name Yet*

        I was also thinking of Coldwater Creek, I have 2 skirts (though not sure of the material) that otherwise fit exactly with this. I’ve had them for years, and they’re still in good shape.

    6. No smart name ideas*

      I know you wanted guidance with googling, but I agree with the others and look at specific sites—and yes there are poly blends that work like wool, tweed or corduroy. Look at Chadwick’s of Boston, lands end, and chicos.

    7. fposte*

      They can be a little spendy, but Peruvian Connection has some nice stuff. I pretty much lived in their knit skirts for winter in my office years.

    8. Fall Skirt Search*

      Thank you, all! Your suggestions have given me a lot to bookmark, and also magically unlocked a small horde of Anthropologie corduroy skirts on Poshmark that were just not appearing before. I am zeroing in on final options as we speak. You all rock!

  46. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Someone asked for a follow up, and I didn’t notice it while the reply chain was open. I had mentioned almost getting in trouble at work because it looked like I was drinking beer not root beer.
    I thought I’d be clever and share a picture from the internet. And what do you know….All these years I’ve remembered it as a latch down bottle of IBC Root Beer, but it seems that it was actually Sioux City Sarsparilla. And just a screwtop not even a crown cap. Memories play tricks on you when you’re under stress, and we were a few days out from an earthquake.

    1. Esprit de l'Escalier*

      Isn’t it a weird feeling to realize you’ve been storing a memory for years and it was wrong in some way… it shakes your confidence in all the other memories that you thought you remembered accurately.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh yes. Related…I actually went to the same not-my-taste Broadway show twice because it was definition “unmemorable”. Ouch, even at half price matinee, my student budget was sad.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I had this experience recently re watching a movie which I may have even paid to rent. Unfortunately it was as unmemorable the second time, so there’s a real chance I’ll be halfway through a third showing thinking “Man… I think I remember some of this?”

    2. fposte*

      I drank a lot of Sioux City for a while (love those bottles) and had a similar experience with a neighbor, who called out “What kind of beer you got?” and I answered “Root.” He was surprised.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Do you remember one with a rodeo guy on a bucking bronco? I couldn’t find that variation on the internet but I could swear I used one as a vase to start my Pothos. I can’t imagine another brand doing something that looks so similar.

        1. fposte*

          Yup–I hung on to that one for a while! And now I’m also remembering the time a supermarket cashier paused in ringing my root beer up to call somebody else in, and I realized that she was underage and thought she couldn’t legally do it.

  47. CeeLee*

    Inspired by the question about life in Arizona, what are the pros and cons of living in Richmond, VA? We’re currently in Portland, OR with family a 2, 5, and 6 hour drive from Richmond so that’s appealing. From what I’ve read, Richmond seems like a smaller, less expensive Portland that’s in the same time zone as the rest of my family.

    1. About Richmond*

      I live in the southwestern part of Virginia, but my radio station gives the weather forecast for Richmond every morning so I know that it stays pretty hot there for months, as in above 90 and probably humid too. So that would be a con for me.

      To be fair, Richmond’s winters are milder than mine, but that heat would bother me more than the cold does.

      I guess it’s like moving to Florida or anywhere in the coastal southeastern US, people get used to that kind of weather or learn to cope.

    2. Bluebell*

      I’ve never lived there, but was pleasantly surprised when I visited this spring. The weather hadn’t gotten too hot yet, there seemed to be lots of arts and culture, nice parks, and they do seem to be confronting their history. VCU takes up a lot of downtown and there are definitely gentrification issues.

      1. RVA guy*

        I moved to Richmond (RVA) a few years ago from big cities in the Northeast. I like RVA a lot, although the heat and humidity in the summer is indeed brutal — I get cabin fever then! It has many attractions of a big city — diversity, good restaurants, museums & cultural offerings, distinctive neighborhoods, etc. — but without the huge crowds, horrendous traffic, and other hassles. COL is also much better. Lots of great green spaces and a river running right through the city! There are gentrification issues and other problems rooted in a history of racial segregation and wide economic disparities, and I think the public schools struggle (I’m kidless so can’t really speak to that). But the Confederate monuments are gone!! The city is solidly Democratic in a purple state. I’ve found the people here to be pretty nice and friendly. On balance, a decent place to live.

        1. RVA guy*

          BTW, if you’re in Portland, Maine, RVA is much bigger — about 250K to Portland’s 80K in population.

        2. L. Ron Jeremy*

          Couldn’t live with the heat and humidity. That’s a shame because it sounds great otherwise, especially the low COL. But is the low COL associated with its heat index? Seem like every place that I’m considering with a low COL has a big weather negative.

          1. fueled by coffee*

            The low COL is probably more associated with the major economic center in the area being Washington DC, and Richmond is too far to commute there on a daily basis. It’s a decent mid-size city, and the state capital, but it’s not considered “hip” in the way that, say, Portland is, and there’s not a major employer drawing high-wage earners to drive up rents (like, say, Microsoft and Amazon do for Seattle).

            I *personally* wouldn’t consider Richmond’s weather to be particularly extreme. There’s hot summers, because it’s in the South, and it can get humid, because it’s in the South, but I don’t think the summers are any worse than any other southern city. And compared to the Phoenix thread above, Richmond does get actual seasons — winters are mild compared to the northeast but can still get pretty cold!

    3. Ali G*

      I live in NOVA and have spent time in Richmond. It is indeed a great town, however, to me at least it feels a lot more “southern” than other comparatively northern VA cities. It’s only 2 hours from me and I always feel more like I’m in GA or something when I am there. It’s not in a bad way, it’s more like the slowness of the south – like you might sit in a restaurant for 10 minutes before someone offers you a menu or a drink. And it’s purposeful, they just take their time. I’m a northerner, so this gets to me, but it might not bother you.
      One other thing, compared to Portland, you will find a little less open space accessible, in that you might have to drive further for bigger outdoor activities. For daily stuff like walking/jogging it’s great.

    4. Spearmint*

      I have a good friend who lives in Richmond who really likes it (I haven’t been myself yet). It has a decent, walkable downtown for a city its size and low COL. Also he says the local art scene is pretty good for a city that size. Compared to places like Portland/Austin/Seattle, it is more culturally working class and less trendy but more grounded/chill.

      He loves it and has preferred it to the more trendy cities he’s lived in in the past, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and if you like cities that are trendier and on the cutting edge of culture and tech and business, it’s probably not for you.

    5. Burbs*

      We live in the Richmond suburbs and drive into the city to go to restaurants and festivals. The food scene is amazing. Lots of high quality restaurants. There are also tons of breweries (and cideries, etc). Brown’s Island in the city often has fun summer festivals (Friday Night cheers concert series, Dominion River Rock), either low cost or free.

      We love the area! Way less traffic than Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads.

      We currently have a republican governor, so there are some anti trans executive orders coming through, along with talk of trying to do an abortion ban/restrictions. Marijuana is currently legal for recreational use, though there’s nowhere to buy it (unless for medical), until 2024- but it’s legal to grow 4 plants per household.

  48. Usually a reader*

    I want to mix it up, has anyone used Udemy or Coursea? I am open for any other on line learning platforms. They have some interesting topics, I am thinking I could listen to it while doing house and yard work.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I have done short courses on both. It really depends on the course whether they’d be suitable for background listening. Some of them are very visual with demonstrations and examples.

      The content is member-generated, so the quality and depth of material is variable. Some of them are very useful. Some are just regurgitating material you can find anywhere. But if the format works for you, that might not matter.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      very course dependent. Some are now available through my company training program, and I would be unable to follow the software tools courses without working the software on my second monitor. But the French grammar review I’m taking, it would be possible if you didn’t care to work on reading comprehension at the same time.

    3. Cedrus Libani*

      I have a Coursera subscription, and I am also a “listen to podcasts while doing chores” person. But it’s often not so easy to listen to Coursera lectures while doing something else, because the lecture videos don’t just play – many courses have little quizzes that pop up every few minutes, such that you have to go click something in order to continue.

      Maybe you would get along with the Great Courses series, available on Audible? It’s recorded lectures, like you’d get in a college-level class. Topics are mostly history and literature.

  49. just another queer reader*

    As my life stage (and body shape) are changing, I’m trying to find my new style. What I’d really love would be for Tan France to swoop in and gift me a perfect new wardrobe overnight, but that’s not gonna happen :p

    So, any suggestions on where a late-20s short and curvy queer woman could find fashion (or fashion inspiration)? I enjoy the full spectrum of masc to femme clothing and like to mix it up.

    1. Generic+Name*

      I’m quite a bit older than you, but here’s how I find my fashion inspiration:

      I take note of what the girls at my son’s high school are wearing during drop off/pick up. Not that I, a middle aged mom, want to replicate teen girl looks, but it’s what alerted me to the fact that the fashion industry’s death grip on skinny jeans had loosened.

      I visit websites of stores I like and browse the items featured on the main page. Sites like Nordstrom have magazine-like spreads of their new stuff.

      Fashionista is a popular fashion blog. There are tons and tons of fashion blogs out there, so I’d do some googling and follow ones that strike your fancy.

      One tip for having a cohesive wardrobe is to pick one or two neutrals and build your wardrobe around that. The neutral colors I use are black and grey, because that’s what works with my coloring. I don’t think I own a single brown shoe (well, except for my hiking boots).

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      I just have to say that I initially thought the post directly after this was a reply to this one, and it made me laugh pretty hard.
      It just reads “In a lot of jurisdictions, that’s brandishing, and is illegal”
      And I’m imagining you brandishing all your new fashionable outfits all over town, like a rebel.

    3. marvin*

      I’d recommend looking for some little locally owned queer oriented clothing stores and seeing what they’ve got. One that I really like is Peau de loup, but it’s Canadian. They tend to be a little pricey but the quality is there. Local gays will be able to recommend :)

      On a longer timeframe, I’m knitting my own sweaters and trying to teach myself to sew. I’m motivated because I’m in a place gender wise where it’s difficult to find clothes that fit me, but I’m not sure if that’s an issue for you.

      1. just another queer reader*

        Peau de Loup looks lovely! I’ll ask around for local recommendations too :)

        My housemate has been knitting their own sweaters, which I’m very impressed by! I would also love to learn how to tailor men’s clothes to fit me. I just need to take the time to figure it out! Thanks for the inspiration!